Friday, 4 June 2010

Friday Flash - No Place Like Home

A thud, a groan, then another thud. Shaun peered through the gap in the blinds. One of those things leaned against a door down the street, thumping the wood with a bloody fist. Shaun spotted a battered station wagon in the drive and guessed the creature was at Mr Treeger’s place. Treeger must have been stupid; he must have let them know he was there.

“Janie, I really think we should leave now.”

He looked out at the brilliant blue sky and mid-morning sunshine. Things like this shouldn’t happen on quiet Sundays. The street should be alive with skateboarding kids, jogging soccer moms, and dads washing their cars.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Shaun turned away from the window. Janie sat at the bottom of the stairs, an old baby blanket folded neatly in her lap. She stared at a spot on the rug.

“Sweetie, we have to go. One of them is outside Treeger’s. Those things move in packs – more will come, and then they’ll only be a few doors away.”

“We should stay here.”

“We can’t. If we leave now, we can be out on the open road in fifteen minutes. There are no houses out there. Less chance of seeing more of those things. We can get supplies from the Pitstop.” Shaun turned back to the window. Their SUV sat in the driveway, tantalisingly close.

“We’re staying. The man on the TV said to stay in your homes. We don’t know what’s going on out there. We should wait for help.”

“That was hours ago. We have no idea if help is even coming. I think it’s fairly safe to say that it isn’t, not since the power went out.”

A shotgun blast tore through the neighbourhood. Through the blinds, Shaun saw the creature shoot across the street, away from Treeger’s. Its head exploded on contact with the hot tarmac. Shaun thought he recognised the bloodstained Hawaiian shorts, but couldn’t be sure.

“What was that?” Janie looked up. Shaun shuddered to see her vacant expression.

“Treeger just shot one of those things.”

“Good.” Janie resumed her focus on the floor.

“No, it’s bad. They’ll have heard that and they’ll know there are people here. We have to get away before they come....” Shaun trailed off as he scanned the street. He couldn’t see anything except the abandoned possessions scattered along the road.

“Maybe they’re too far away. Maybe they couldn’t hear it.” A spark of hope haunted the dull edges of Janie’s voice.

“I don’t even know where that one came from, but I don’t want to stick around to find out. Come on, honey, we can just get in the car and go.”

“Go where? No. We’ll stay here. This is home.”

“Janie, please,” said Shaun. “We don’t have a chance if we stay here.”

“We might not have a chance if we leave. No. We’ll stay. We’ll be extra quiet and maybe they’ll never find us. We can hide in the basement.”

“And risk being cornered? I don’t think so.”

“If I’m going to die, I’m going to die at home.” Janie stroked the baby blanket on her knee.

“Who says anything about dying? Janie, I’m trying to stop that happening!”

Shaun moved away from the window, searching the room for potential weapons. He gathered up the pokers from the hearth, and grabbed his softball bat from the umbrella stand. There were tools in the back of the SUV; he knew he had a tire iron and a crow bar in there.

“Shaun, please. Give up. We could leave, but where would we go? We’ve got more chance of defending ourselves here, and we have more chance of being rescued from a home than we do from a ditch.” Shaun stopped, surprised. Janie still focussed her attention on the floor, but determination sculpted sharp lines out of her features. She continued to stroke the blanket.

“Janie...this isn’t a movie. We stay here and we die.”

“Then I’ll see my baby girl again soon. I’m okay with that.”

Shaun stared at his wife, his mouth agape. He wanted to pick her up, strap her into the SUV and just drive. At least if they came across any of the creatures, he could run them over. He doubted an undead sack of flesh stood much chance against two tons of steel. The part of him that loved horror movies and Grand Theft Auto liked the idea of doing his part in the Zombie War.

Yet he couldn’t. Susie died here, and Janie had decided she would, too. Shaun didn’t want to die, but he couldn’t leave Janie behind. He dumped his armful of weapons on the floor by the door.

“Fine. We’ll stay here. I’ll just sneak out to the car and get some supplies.”

Janie nodded. Shaun opened the door, and slipped out onto the driveway. The air hung heavy and still. He strained his ears, but heard nothing. No groans, no thuds, no shuffling. The absence of sound made his flesh crawl.

He raided the SUV, filling a cardboard box with tools and First Aid supplies. He doubted that a Band-Aid would do much good against a bite, but it might help if one of them fell over in the dark. Janie would want torches, but they couldn’t risk it.

Shaun left the SUV door ajar. He didn’t want to slam them and advertise his presence. Besides, they might still need to make a quick getaway. Hefting the box under his arm, he slipped back inside the house. Janie sat on the stairs, her face wet with silent tears. She smiled as she looked up at him.

“You came back.”

“Of course I did. I couldn’t leave without you. If you want us to stay, then we will. We’ll just have to be extra quiet.”

Janie opened her arms, and Shaun leaned into them. As she hugged him, he prayed they were doing the right thing.

14 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

Ooh, this story gave me goosebumps! At one point I was saying, "Go on, Janie, just get in the car!"

Really good flash!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

A very slice-of-life piece for a zombie piece, this :-)

Icy Sedgwick said...

Thank you! I love zombies but wanted to do something without any head shots in it. Though I still got an exploding head into it anyway. :-)

Carrie said...

SHAUN! Is this a tribute? We can go get mum and girlfriend and end up safe and sound at the Winchester pub. Rocking. Thanks for a nice chiller.

Gracie said...

Very suspenseful and creepy. You leave just enough to the imagination to let me terrify myself. :)

Great story.

Jen Brubacher said...

I admire him for staying. And I love the moment when we see that his wife wasn't sure that he would. It's great to see loyalty like this. Very poignant, for a zombie story!

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Carrie - I do believe I might've been thinking of Shaun of the Dead when I wrote this!

@Gracie - I've always been a big fan of the 'let people imagine, don't show the monster' style of fiction.

@Jen - Yeah, I don't know how I'd react in that situation, whether sheer panic would override any loyalty...I like to think I'd be a Shaun!

John Wiswell said...

"The part of him that loved horror movies and Grand Theft Auto liked the idea of doing his part in the Zombie War."

I didn't know you were writing me into a story, Icy! I think there are a lot of people like us. I hope we survive this apocalypse.

Icy Sedgwick said...

@John - Have you also read the Zombie Survival Guide? I've got my World War Z plan ready. :-)

afullnessinbrevity said...

Hey Icy, great piece. Zombies seem to be the soup d'jour amongst writers at the moment. Thought I recognised a Shaun of the Dead reference, but it's the focus on the relationship that really sticks with you, particularly the loss of the child, however that happened (nice to leave it open for interpretation).
Blessings
Adam

G.P. Ching said...

Loved this! Clever zombie piece with realistic dialogue and strong characters. Well done.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I do love zombies, but I love zombie stories with a bit of realism to them.

Tim King said...

Hi, Icy. I really enjoyed this story, especially the characters and how the story revolves around them. It was one of my favorites this week. -TimK

Icy Sedgwick said...

Aw thank you! I'm really glad you liked it. :-)

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