Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2265898-Feral
by Sumojo
Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2265898
When the vaccine fails, death comes from an unexpected place
1630 words

         Ruby’s shaking hand hovered over the gun on the dining table. It was loaded with a bullet for each of the children and another for herself. She shifted the closed window blind slightly to one side and peered out at the empty street.

         The faint sickly, pale green light of the approaching dawn showed no sign of life. Ruby wondered, not for the first time, if she and the children were the only ones left in their street. There was no sign of the neighbours and she couldn’t call them. Nothing worked anymore, no electricity or phone networks. They may as well have been marooned on a desert island. Castaways, alone and terrified.


         She turned to face her six-year-old daughter, whose eyes seemed way too big for her tiny face.

         “I’m hungry.”

         “I know, baby. Come here.” She held her child, whispering softly, “I need to go to the store to get food.”

         The thought of walking the empty streets in search of food terrified her. And yet, she couldn’t let her children starve to death. She’d abandoned her car streets away last week when it finally ran out of fuel. If only Richard were here, he’d know what to do. Simply thinking of her missing husband made her gasp.

         A noise from the top of the stairs made her raise her eyes over the top of Christy’s blonde head. Daniel, her ten-year-old boy, looked down into his mother’s gaze without saying a word.
Her heart broke to see the worry on his pale face. She knew then she had to keep going for the children’s sakes.

         “You’re awake, Daniel. That’s good. I want you to watch your brother and sister while I go to the store.” She tried hard to make her voice sound normal and to hide her fear.

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

         “That’s good, leave him sleeping. I’ll try to be quick.” Ruby grabbed the Glock from the table and stuffed it in the waistband of her jeans. Shoving some banknotes in her back pocket, she left her children alone.

         Closing the door as quietly as she could, Ruby left the house. Feeling exposed, she kept to the inside edge of the path, walking as close to the once manicured, now overgrown hedges as possible. The smell of death permeated the air.

         Her thoughts went back to a month ago…

         “The virus is taking hold. The government has declared today that it’s imperative everyone receives their booster shots by the end of this month,” the newsreader intoned.

         Ruby turned down the television and turned to her husband, Richard. “Well, babe, it’s time to step up again.”

         “It’s beyond ridiculous. I’ve done what was required, but now they are saying unless we have a bloody booster, we’re not covered. I hate needles.” For a moment, Richard’s face looked like that of a sullen child, which made his wife laugh.

         “Come on, honey. The kids and I have had our boosters. Just go and get it done.” Ruby urged.

         Richard had reluctantly complied with his wife’s wishes. He got his booster shot, but little did anyone know that the boosters on offer after Mid- January were defective. This effectively wiped out any protection against the virus they may have had from previous vaccinations. This had led to a vast number of the population of Sydney contracting the virus. Thousands soon died, but those who remained turned feral, seeking only human flesh to assuage their hunger.

         Richard had been working from home, as had many of the population, until the day he went to get bread and never returned.

         Soon, people began to get scared to leave their homes as these creatures began to grow in number. Power outages remained unfixed, deliveries to stores almost stopped. Food shortages became critical. Law and order declined to such a degree it became too dangerous to leave the relative safety of home.

         Ruby reached the nearest store. After she’d showed her proof of identity and date of vaccination, the armed guard at the door permitted her to enter. The store, powered by generators, was busy with desperate people seeking to buy whatever they could get their hands on. Lights flickered but remained on, allowing Ruby to scan the almost empty shelves. There had been no meat for weeks, the abattoirs had been decimated by the unvaxxed.

         She grabbed the last bag of rice, some cans of beans and tomatoes and bottles of water before preparing to leave for the perilous journey home.

         Retracing her steps, all her thoughts were on her children. She hated having them out of her sights, always waiting, expecting the unvaccinated to get their scent. Fresh meat.

         Ruby averted her eyes from the gory scenes displayed as if they were some sort of staged horrific dioramas. Bodies sprawled by the roadside, their clothes torn and blood soaked. Skeletal creatures with crazed eyes were distracted, attached to the dead, gnawing their flesh, faces smeared with blood. It was as if the dead were nothing but roadkill. She averted her eyes in case she recognised anyone she knew. Both the dead and the so called living.

         At last she let herself into her front door, leaning back on it with relief once she was safely inside the house.

         “I’m home, kids,” she yelled.

         Her three children threw themselves on to her as she stepped into the kitchen.

         She laughed. “I guess you missed me!”

         Daniel breathed a sigh of relief. Being the oldest, he felt the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings. Of all the three children, he alone understood the danger they were all in. Five-year-old Peter hugged his mother, “what did you get to eat from the store, Mummy?”

         Ruby shrugged off the backpack, which contained her few staples, “nothing exciting I’m afraid, but we can at least have beans and rice. Which will be great, right?”

         She began to cook the meal, whilst keeping up cheerful banter aimed at making the children less afraid, although her heart wasn’t really in it. She was thinking of all the mangled and savaged corpses she’d seen on the short journey home. She knew her darling Richard was one of them out there, somewhere.

         A loud bang against the front door startled her. It had sounded as if something heavy had fallen against it. Following shortly came the screams. Sounds Ruby had never heard before. Her blood seemed to freeze as she listened with horror to the poor creature who’d come to her door, seeking sanctuary. Perhaps it was someone she knew. A neighbour? The sounds of tearing flesh drove her upstairs to be with her children, to hold them close. Until it all went quiet.

         Had they gone? Or were they looking for a way to get inside the house?

         Ruby checked every window and door, ensuring everything was locked up tight. They ate their meal together in the kitchen. Ruby tried to keep her fears away from her children. They played board games whilst it was still light enough to see. All the while, though, her nerves were like wound springs waiting for any sign of intrusion.

         It was getting late, the stresses and strains of the day caught up with Ruby. “Come on kids, let’s light a candle and get you all to bed.” She ran her fingers through her short curly black hair, yawned and tried to shake off the absolute exhaustion she suddenly felt.

         They all went up the stairs together, following Peter, who’d insisted on being tonight’s candle carrier.

         When she thought everyone was asleep, Ruby took the candle and went back downstairs. She desperately needed a drink to steady her nerves and poured the last dregs of Richard’s whisky into a glass. Leaning her head on the table, she wept. She knew tomorrow or the next day she’d have to leave the house again in search of food. That meant opening the front door and stepping over the remains of the body, which she knew was lying there.

         The sound of something or someone on the roof made her freeze. Holding her breath, she walked to the window and peeked out. Yes, there was a movement in the bushes. She gasped for air, then heard the sounds of movement on the roof. She was sure it was the unvaxxed trying to find a way in.Someone was in the attic, footsteps thumping. The ceiling shook.

         She flew up the stairs and looked up at the attic hatch. Yes, something was trying to open it from the inside. There was nothing she could do to stop them. She flew into her bedroom and closed the door behind her. She pushed a heavy chest of drawers against the door and turned to see her three children all fast asleep in the Kingsize bed. The bed they’d all been sharing since they’d lost Richard.

         Her thoughts were racing, trying to figure some way out.

         The creatures were outside the bedroom, Ruby could smell them, hear them.

         Her breath slowed. She knew what she had to do. There was no other way out. Going as quietly as her beating heart would let her, Ruby slowly opened the top drawer of the chest and slid out the Glock. Checking there were still four bullets in the chamber, she waited, hoping against hope the unvaxxed would pass on by and leave.

         She watched as the door handle turned slowly and the door opened a fraction of an inch before banging against the chest of drawers. She heard the sniffing like a pack of dogs and knew for certain there was to be no miracle escape for any of them.

         Moments before the door was pushed open wide enough for them to enter, the creatures heard four single shots.


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