12

Michael Collins

Bastards.

Spineless, fucking bastards.

Once I’d decided to leave that was it, I was going. It made so much sense. No-one could be sure what was going to happen next and no-one knew how safe we were going to be. Problem was the rest of them all seemed to agree that we should move on until the time came to actually do something about it. Until it was time to walk out the door they all agreed that getting out of the city made sense. When it came down to it though, none of them had the nerve to go. They were scared just sitting and waiting in the community centre for something to happen, but the thought of taking those first few tentative steps outside their new found comfort zone seemed to be even more terrifying. I stood there in the middle of the hall right in front of them all and told them why we should leave and like fucking sheep they nodded their heads and mumbled in agreement. Five minutes later though, when Paul Garner and Stuart stood up and had their say and told them why they thought it was better to sit still and wait for fucking eternity, the deal was done and the matter was closed. Suddenly it felt like it was me, Carl and Emma against the rest of them. I was beginning to identify more with the bodies outside on the streets than with the empty, lifeless bastards I found myself locked up with.

But that was it. Long and short of it, that was it. We could stay there and rot or we could go. It wasn’t much of a choice.

That morning Emma stayed behind to pack our stuff together while Carl and I went out into the city to try and get everything we might need for our journey to God knows where. Once we were outside the stupidity and short-sightedness of the people hiding in the community centre became even more apparent. It was a bloody gold mine out there. Just about anything we wanted we could have, we just had to look for it. It was like shopping with a credit card that didn’t have a limit, and the dead shop assistants were infinitely less irritating than they had been before they’d died. The strangest thing though was standing in the shops and looking out onto the silent streets. There were plenty of staggering bodies drifting about aimlessly. Truth be told, there wasn’t much difference between the hordes of dead creatures today and the hordes of equally aimless consumers that had trampled the same streets less than a week earlier.

We found ourselves a decent sized car from a high-class garage. It was one of those people carriers with seven seats. We didn’t have much stuff to take with us but it seemed to make sense to get the biggest car we could find. We decided that if push came to shove we could use it as a temporary shelter. We thought for a while about getting a Transit van or something similar but we decided against it. There didn’t seem to be much point roughing it when we could have a little bit of comfort for no extra effort and at no extra risk.

We collected food and clothes because none of us had brought very much with us. From time to time while we were out in the open the option of actually going home to get our own things cropped up. At first I wasn’t bothered about going back but Carl was certain that he didn’t want to. He’d already told me a little about his wife and child and I understood why he didn’t want to go anywhere near his place. I lived alone and the more I thought about it the more unnerving the thought of going back to my empty house seemed. The memories and emotions stored there were enough – I couldn’t have coped if I’d left anyone behind. At the end of the day apart from my past all that was there were possessions which could easily be replaced. Just about anything I wanted I could take from the shelves of one of the desolate shops we looted.

I was losing all track of time. We had been up and out since nine o’clock but it felt like it was much, much later. During the week my days had lost all form, structure and familiarity. No-one slept much. People woke up whenever they woke up and kept themselves occupied as best they could until they couldn’t keep their eyes open any longer. There were no set mealtimes, rest times or bedtimes, there was just time. Each hour dragged and seemed longer than the last.

Just before eleven Carl and I drove our silver van loaded with supplies back along the silent streets to the community centre.

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