At the doctor’s office, Tamara was faced with her worst nightmare. It occurred to her that if the last few days were anything to judge by, most situations were more than likely going to end in her worst nightmare. It didn’t bode well for her efforts to keep Caleb alive.
The sweet suburban bungalow was surrounded by trees… and by infected, grasping corpses. It was built like two square boxes stuck together at the corners, with a gently sloping roof. There was a small yard and car park at the front, with a cute fenced-in lawn at the back. Several windows were broken and Tam saw huge, smeared bloodstains in the main hall and waiting area through the glass of the front door.
They idled past in first gear but the Wrecks gathered around the door saw them and started to advance. Their mouths made noises. It was the sound of doors opening within a frozen fog. Every face that turned was coloured like a deep bruise, especially the eyes and lips. This was a feature common, as far as Tamara could tell, to all Wrecks.
Tam put her foot down but the Wrecks gained on them considerably before the car got out of danger. These ones were more athletic than the one they had passed in the street before.
“Go round,” said Caleb. She picked up speed and went round the back of the medical centre. The windows were intact on the other side but there were one or two more fiends at each side of the house. There were several bodies in the yard. Tam didn’t look at them closely but her peripheral vision picked up the amount of blood and the huge chunks that were missing.
Tam realised something that made her kick herself. It was obvious this place would be overrun. When people get hurt, they come to a doctor. But anyone actually infected was more than likely to succumb to the Epsilon Rex bacteria and become a Wreck themselves. When that happened inside the doctor’s surgery it would be disaster.
She pulled the car up to the kerb and they looked.
“There’s probably nobody left alive in there,” she said, “especially doctors.” Now the METMA centre in Rounlin was the only option and they’d wasted precious time coming here first. She was furious. This really was her nightmare.
Caleb started singing.
It was a kids’ tune, something they had been working on at the school. To pass the time they were making up an educational song about Wrecks, to teach kids how to survive. Problem was they didn’t know the right or wrong way to act. Wrecks were like a new animal. The right thing to do when you encountered one was crucial. They had started with the basics and put together a few verses based on assumptions.
He sang: “If you think you see a Wreck… do not panic, hit the deck.” He shrank down in his seat and Tam followed. Despite everything, she loved how he kept his cool. While she fretted about the future, about options and risks and consequences, he was rooted in the here and now. “When you’re hidden you’re okay… if they see you, run away!”
Tamara had her morbid side and this tune, being sung by a man covered in dried blood, made her laugh. Caleb shushed her. The Wrecks that followed them were coming to the back of the house. There was a wide lawn between them. They edged along the fence.
Caleb was staring at the house as if transfixed. She was about to ask if they should get going but changed her mind. It was one of those moments where, if it was a movie, he would suddenly spin round with glazed eyes and a zombie hiss. But he seemed to be muttering to himself. Apart from a slight horrific injury he looked okay. She tried to focus on what he saw but could make out nothing worth sticking around for. She was struck by the shimmering sun that speared through the leaves of the Eucalyptus trees.
Suddenly he shouted, “There!” and pointed at the building. At the roof, in fact. Tam looked and thought she could make out some movement. Caleb rolled down his window and waved, not a wise thing to do. Some Wrecks noticed and the whole bunch lurched into action. Tam revved a bit in case of a stall.
Somebody on the roof was waving back.