Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2278965-Feral
by Sumojo
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Death · #2278965
A mother tries to protect her children.
Word count 1822

Prompts used:
"All men kill the thing they love." Oscar Wilde.
Image one.

My hand trembles and hovers over the gun which I’d loaded with four bullets yesterday. The bullets which, unthinkably, are meant for me and my children if the worst happens.
In my heart I know we aren’t going to survive this, but until then I need to do everything in my power to keep myself alive to protect the only things I have left.

Shifting the window blind slightly, I peer out at the empty street. The faint, sickly pale green light of the approaching dawn shows no sign of life. I wonder, not for the first time, if the children and I are the only ones left alive in the street. There are no sign of neighbours and no way to call to check on their welfare. Nothing works anymore. No electricity or phone networks. We may as well be marooned on a desert island, castaways, alone and terrified.

“Mummy? “

I turn to see my seven-year-old daughter, her eyes seem way too big for her tiny face.

“I’m hungry.”

“Come here, baby.” I hold Christie gently, “I need to go to the store to get food,” I whisper in her ear in an attempt not to frighten her. She has been scared of letting me out of her sight since Richard failed to return.

A sound from the top of the stairs makes me raise my eyes above my child’s blonde head. Daniel is standing, looking down at me.

“Good, you’re awake, Danny.” I smile and try to sound as if it’s just another normal day before I speak. “I won’t be long. Just keep an eye on things, there’s a good boy.”

The whiteness of his face gives me a pang of concern. I know he’s worried. As the eldest he feels a responsibility which no ten-year-old should have to carry. But I need him to be strong and take care of the others while I’m out.

The thought of going out of the house into those empty streets terrifies me, yet I can’t let us all starve to death. I’d had to abandon the car several streets away last week. It finally ran out of fuel and now walking is my only option.

I think of Richard. If only he were here. I try to banish the thoughts of where he may be, or what had happened to him, but I can feel the tears wet my cheeks and scrub them away before my children see them.

“Peter’s still asleep,” Daniel’s voice is croaky with tiredness.

“That’s good. Leave him sleeping. I’ll try to be quick.”

Taking the gun from the table, I stuff it the waistband of my jeans. Shoving some banknotes in my back pocket, I leave my children alone, going against all my maternal instincts.

The front door closes behind me. Out here I feel exposed. Keeping to the edge of the path I walk as close to the once manicured, now overgrown hedges as possible, breathing through my mouth to avoid the stench of death which fills the air.

My thoughts turn to a time only a month ago when life had been normal. Before the virus.

“The virus is taking hold. Today the government declared it’s imperative everyone receives their booster before the end of the month.”

That was the day I’d convinced my husband, Richard, to follow the official mandate and get his booster.

“Well, babe,” I’d said, “it’s time to step up, again.”

“It’s beyond ridiculous. I’ve done what was required. Now they want us to get another bloody booster. I’m covered. I hate needles.” He’d complained.

I remembered his face. He’d looked like a petulant child. I wished now I hadn’t convinced him when I’d coaxed, “Come on, honey. The kids and I have had our boosters. Just go and get it done.”

He’d gone and done what I asked, but no-one knew then the boosters being given after mid- January, were defective, effectively wiping out any protection against the virus from any previous vaccinations.

Vast numbers of the population contracted the disease. Thousands soon died, but those who remained turned feral, seeking human flesh to assuage their hunger.
Simply thinking of my husband brings a rush of saliva into my mouth. I turn and vomit onto the sidewalk, that’s when the stink of rotting corpses assails me. I gasp when I see a half-eaten body of what appears to be an elderly woman. She’s lying in the road, her legs half eaten, as if a pack of dogs had been disturbed, mid-meal.

Hurrying, still I see no one. I’m approaching a store which is still open, but for how much longer I’ve no idea.

They’ll need proof of my identity and the date of vaccination. I show my papers to the armed guard who permits me to enter the store. Huge generators are keeping the power on.
Other desperate people have made the hazardous journey from their homes to get their hands on any available goods. The lights flicker but remain on. I scan the almost empty shelves. I wasn’t expecting to find any meat; the abattoirs were decimated weeks ago by the ferals.

What little is available is rationed and I buy what I’m allowed, a few cans of tomatoes, beans and bottles of water, before preparing to make the return journey back to my family.

Retracing my steps I think of my children. I hate having them out of my sight, but even when we’re together, I’m always waiting, expecting the unvaccinated to get our scent. The odour of fresh meat.

I avert my eyes but can’t avoid seeing the gory scenes displayed as if they are some sort of horrific, staged dioramas. Bodies lie sprawled by the roadside, their clothes torn and bloodied. On the opposite side of the deserted highway, I can see skeletal creatures feasting on some poor individual. They’re distracted for the few minutes it takes for me to pass, but I can see them attached to the corpse, gnawing on the flesh. Their horrific faces are smeared with the blood of their victim as they feast, much as buzzards would gorge on roadkill. The hellish scenes are made worse because the participants are people I once knew. The dead and the so-called living.

At last, I reach home and let myself in through the front door, leaning back gratefully on the hallway wall, before taking a deep breath to compose myself.

“I’m home, kids.”

My children hurl themselves at me. I can’t help but laugh at their exuberance, despite my horrific journey. “I guess you’re pleased to see me,” I say, attempting to untangle arms from my waist and legs.

Daniel gave a deep sigh of relief that I was home safe. I smile at him, giving him a nod of the head to let him know I realise how much I’m asking of him. We share a look, and he visibly relaxes his shoulders.

Six-year-old Peter is demanding my attention, “What did you bring to eat, Mummy?”

I shrug off the backpack which contain the few staples I was able to buy, “Nothing very exciting, I’m afraid, Pete, but at least we can have rice and beans.” I try to make light of the fact that we’ve been living off rice and beans for the last month.

Keeping up a cheerful banter aimed at keeping the kid’s minds off our situation, I start to prepare the meal. It’s difficult as I keep thinking of the mangled and savaged corpses, I’d seen so close to home. And what’s worse is Richard is probably one of them or he may have turned into a Feral. That thought is the most horrific.

A loud bang against the front door startles us all. I cease my inane chatter; the children stop what they were doing and stare at me. Then came the screams. I’ve never heard screams like them. For a while I stand frozen, unable to breath, waiting to see what will happen next. My heart begins to race, mouth so dry I can’t swallow. I stand like this for what seems an age, I’m literally paralysed with fear listening with horror to the poor creature who’d come to my door, perhaps seeking sanctuary.My nerves are like wound up springs. The sounds of tearing flesh forces me upstairs with the children. I hold them close until all goes quiet.

Have they gone? Or are they looking for a way to get into the house?
I check every door and window to ensure everything is locked up as tight as possible.

We eat our meal together in the kitchen. Afterwards we play board games while it is light enough to see. All the while I feel as if my nerves are like wound up springs as I wait for sounds of intrusion.

It’s getting late. The stresses and strains of the day are catching up with me and I say, “Come on, kids, let's light a candle and get you all to bed.” Anxiously, I run my fingers through my hair. I attempt to shake off this feeling of absolute exhaustion which threatens to overwhelm me.

We all go up the stairs together, following Peter, who insists it’s his turn to be the candle carrier tonight.

When everyone is sleeping, I take the candle and go back downstairs. I desperately need a drink to steady my nerves. I pour the last of Richard’s whiskey into a glass and knock it back, before dropping my head onto the table and weep.

Tomorrow, or at least the next day I shall have to leave the house again in search of food, which means opening the front door and stepping over the remains of the mutilated body I know is lying there.

The sound of something, or someone, on the roof makes me freeze. I hold my breath and walk to the window and peek out. Yes, there is a movement in the bushes. I gasp when I hear sounds of noises on the roof, positive it must be one of the ferals attempting to find a way in.

Now someone’s in the attic. Footsteps thumping. The ceiling is shaking.

My tiredness forgotten I fly up the stairs and look up at the attic hatch. Something is trying to open it from the inside. There’s nothing I can do to stop them. We’re trapped.

In the bedroom, I close the door and push a heavy set of drawers against it. The three children are all asleep in the king-size bed where we all have been sleeping together, since we lost Richard.

My thoughts are racing, trying to figure out some solution. But the creatures are outside the bedroom. I can smell them.

I knew what I must do. There is no way out.

I open the top drawer and take out the Glock.

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