Irij had never thought about what kind of reaction he would have to the dead body of a child being cradled and eaten by his father. If he had, he might have thought he would be afraid, perhaps shrinking against the wall like Victor behind him. Perhaps, he would have been furious at the murderer, rushing in to deliver a drop kick to their neighbour’s face, like Kerb had just done in front of him. Or just maybe, he would have frozen, like Ryan had done, right next to him. But instead, he was calm. He could not never have imagined being as calm as he was right then. He walked in slowly, deliberately, checking around the doors, stopping only to put on his glasses again. Kerb was laying furious kicks into their neighbour as he lay unmoving on the ground, looking down at him. He was breathing heavily and looked like he felt more punishment was in order for Mr. Dawson, but his first kick had knocked him out. Irij bent down at the child, checking the pulse for any signs of life.
“Dead” was all he said as he closed the child’s eyes and then moved to Mr. Dawson’s body. His whole face was covered with blood and he did not feel like touching anything that might be contaminated. Then there was the risk that just like any standard zombie movie, Mr. Dawson would come to and make him his next victim, so Irij asked Kerb to hold stop kicking Mr. Dawson and to hold him down instead. Kerb complied by putting his foot across his neck.
“He’s still alive. It does not seem like the blood is his, though” he said, almost as if announcing his plans for lunch, “We need to tie him up.”
“That is a zombie!” said Kerb, still breathlessly furious. “We should pop him as soon as we can!”
“We don’t know if he is a zombie. This could be a standard murder for all we know. Ryan, can you please call the police?”
Ryan finally snapped out of his state, reacting to his name. He fumbled taking his phone out of his pocket, his hands shaking visibly as he struggled for a while blankly staring at it, and then finally coming around to dial the number.
“It’s busy.” He said, looking at Irij. His face clearly suggested he was panicking.
“He just killed a child for God’s sake!” started Kerb.
“Jack. Listen. Calm down” said Irij. It was always interesting how Kerb often reacted differently to his first name. “If we kill him, and he’s not a zombie, then that is murder. I don’t want to see you, or myself, in prison. We need to tie him up till we know more.”
Kerb looked like he wanted to respond but he didn’t. Instead he sat down beside Irij and helped him turn over the limp body of Mr. Dawson. Irij found an extension cord in the living room and they used it to tightly bind Mr. Dawson to his armchair. Vic was still attached firmly to the wall, so Irij moved to help him but right then they heard another scream from somewhere below them. Hurriedly, he opened their flat door as Kerb and Ryan dragged their neighbour in still tied to the armchair. Vic seemed to have heard the scream as well and hurried inside, sitting down on the sofas farthest from where they placed Mr. Downson, his eyes wide and unblinking. Irij felt like he should help Vic, but offering comfort and consolation to someone was not really his forte. Vic was well over 6 feet tall as well, and had a heavy build and the sight of patting him was quite comical in his head.
“We need a plan” said Ryan, finally breaking his silence. His panicked expression was gone and was now replaced with resolve. “We need a plan, in case this is a zombie outbreak. We need something!”
Kerb had been standing next to the window looking down all this while. He had been peering intently down at the street and did not seem to like what he was seeing. After a while, he moved to turn on the T.V.
“Quickest way to find out what is going on” he said, giving their prisoner an empty look. It became apparent very quickly that turning on the TV was something they should have done a lot sooner. Every single news channel was showing different scenes of carnage, senseless violence, bloodshed and occasionally what looked like cannibalism. At the bottom of the screen of nearly all the channels was the one word that looked like it had been burnt in. The one word that was perhaps the most appropriate, terrifying explanation for all of it: Zombies. Kerb put on the national news network channel and raised the volume to hear the report.
“…We strongly advise citizens to secure their homes, and stay indoors till the authorities have resolved the situation. We advise all viewers to keep calm.” said the reporter looking more than a little worried. Just then there was what sounded like another crash out on the street. Everyone except Vic, whose eyes were still glued to the television, walked over to where Kerb had been standing and looked down into the street.
It was chaos. There were no zombies in sight– yet. But the felt the panic they saw through the window right up in their bones, within the safe confines of their apartment. There was an overturned van in the street outside and people seemed to not even be taking notice as they ran around without any regard to whatever injured passengers may be within it. They all looked like they were carrying bags that were too heavy for them, and Ryan suddenly realized something.
“Food! They’re carrying food. We need more supplies as well… We don’t know how long this is going to last and we don’t have nearly enough to last even a week… I got some things, but that was before I realized what was happening… I bet we need a lot more than what we have! Let’s go get some before this gets any worse!” he said, already moving away from the window as if to go outside.
“Wait! We need a plan”, said Irij. Rushing out into the street where they could possibly encounter zombies was something worth a lot of consideration for him. “What do we need? We need to know what we absolutely need to do, and divide tasks, so we can do it efficiently.”
Kerb had an answer ready. “Water. Food. Weapons. Medical supplies. We should not need anything else if we only want to hide here the entire time.”
He was right, as usual. Kerb had probably run through this situation a hundred times in his head. He was a weapons enthusiast, and the idea of a zombie apocalypse probably did not even frighten him. In fact, if Irij knew him well enough, it excited him. This thought was slightly unnerving but he still had to appreciate the fact that Kerb had not just gone running outside brandishing a baseball bad.
It was Ryan though, who spoke. “Yes, you’re right Kerb, but what foods do we need? How much water do we need? What kind of medical supplies? And what do you mean weapons? How on earth are we going to get our hands on weapons in the middle of Britain?”
“Tell you what. You guys handle the food, the water, and the medicines. I’m sure Irij can figure out the medicines we need. I will take care of the weapons. You guys just leave that to me, and take care of the rest.” He said, with an unmistakable smile. It was this smile though, more than anything else, that worried Irij.
“Can we be sure that you would not do something completely ridiculous like going zombie-hunting alone, if we leave this to you?” he asked Kerb. His smile disappeared after hearing this question. “There will be people relying on you to come back here, Jack. Like you said, we need those weapons.”
This seemed to have the desired effect on Kerb, as he nodded and seemed resigned to not doing anything rash. “Okay, weapons are done. I think we could probably find the medicines and the food at the Giantmart. Ryan and I should probably do that. What do you think?”
Ryan looked over to where Vic was sitting, still in shock of what he was seeing. “He could probably carry a lot more than you”, he said “But I think in a pinch, he would be a liability for both of us. So yeah, I think we should go together”. Ryan looked quite worried as he said that. Irij would have given him a moment, but he realized that time was of the essence, and so moving quickly he went over to Vic and poked him on the shoulder. Vic nearly jumped out of the sofa as turned towards Irij, snapping out of his state. “Are you okay Vic?” asked Irij.
Vic merely nodded. This was not very encouraging for Irij but he had to get him to function. “Vic, are you listening? We need water. Lots of it! Can you make sure you fill every pail, bowl, pitcher, bottle, tub… whatever that can hold water, with water? Do you understand me?”
Vic was nodding his head furiously but his eyes had a glazed look in them. “I’m guessing we will have running water for a while but we need to prepare ourselves. Do you understand me, Vic?”
“Yes, I understand you, but where are you guys going?” he answered. This was not encouraging at all for Irij, who was getting slightly frustrated now. Victor seemed to have completely missed the exchange between the rest of them. But, still, he could not afford to lose it.
“We are going out to get supplies. We will be back soon. Block the door while we are out. You should be fine.” He said, in as calm a voice as he could manage. Vic was still quite bewildered though, and looked around to where their neighbour, Mr. Dowson was tied up. “You’re leaving me alone with him?”
“Yes. He’s tied up, and knocked out. I’m sure you can manage him. Or would you rather go outside with Ryan to get the supplies we need?” Irij spoke as clearly and calmly as he could, making sure Vic absorbed all the possibilities that going outside in a zombie outbreak implied. It seemed to work, because Vic nodded his head again and said “Okay. I can start storing the water. Just… make sure he’s tied up strong enough before you guys leave”.
This put things in place the way Irij wanted them to be, and so, going by their plan, Kerb soon left to find his weapons. Irij and Ryan both were soon ready to follow after Kerb, after they had made a list of what they needed to get. Even as they got out of the apartment though, Irij felt quite uneasy. Part of him was unsure about Kerb going away alone, searching for weapons. He was fiercely loyal, and like a brother to him, but he had a darker, crazier side as well, which could make him a wildcard. And then there was Vic. He had always been a pampered prince, and a bit of a coward, Irij had thought. But he wondered if he would be able to overcome this predicament and come to terms with the biting reality that had been imposed upon him. Ryan, fortunately, was proving to be quite reliable. But it was not really what he was truly worried about. He had been icy cold when faced with his neighbour, the zombie, and the scene was still fresh in his mind. “Is this how I really am? Is this my true nature?”
Soon these thoughts were replaced by something else entirely though, as he started noticing the fires lit in the distance. “Zombies! Right here! This is real! This is happening!” It was all he thought about, walking beside Ryan, and was still coming to terms with these thoughts when they started jogging, on their way to Giantmart.
‘Survive’ Chapter 2
Salman Shahid Khan
Copyright : : Salman Shahid Khan. All Rights Reserved