It’s just a little after four. I am riding my bike through the park, something about the warm weather seems to make people just a little happier. A man with his daughter smiles as I ride past. I get home just before five. Kerry is cooking a duck and making salad. I kiss her neck and she giggles. “There are some new potatoes, I just cooked them. Could you make a potato salad?” Kerry has a thing for slightly warm potato salad. I always thought it a bit odd but it’s just one of the many things I love about her, I mix mayonnaise, black pepper and a touch of salt as she carves the duck. We take our plates and glasses of wine into the garden and sit and eat and chat.
“Oh I forgot to tell you, Peter is here for a conference, he staying at the Royal but he thought we could have dinner together tomorrow night.” I smile and say yes. Peter is my Step Son. Kerry’s’ first husband died when Peter was just nine years old. Two days after his Eighteenth Birthday he sat us both down and told us he was gay. There was tears and hugs and laughter, his Mother and I had known for a while. For the last Eight years he has lived with a lovely chap called Justin. They alternate their Christmases with us and Justin’s Parents, Liz and Dave. A we are finishing off the garlic bread and sipping the last of the wine Mr Meadows from next door walks into the garden. “Sorry to disturb you. I was just wondering Jack if you wouldn’t mind checking on my wife. I called the Surgery but they don’t have anyone free. Sorry” I put down my glass on the picnic table. “No that’s fine, is she not feeling too well?”
Kerry picks up our plates and glasses and heads into the house. “The thing is Jack, she started feeling sick last night but you know how she is. She didn’t want any fuss. I just went to check on her and… Well something isn’t right.” I pause for a moment wondering if I should just call an ambulance. “When you say not right Chris, what do you mean?”
Sandra Meadows is dead, I find no respiration or pulse. Both pupils are fixed. I put my hand into my pocket for my mobile and realise I left it in the kitchen. “Chris? I need to use your phone. I really am very sorry.” He is staring past me. I can’t help but feel such an enormous sorrow for him. If anything happened to Kerry or Pete I would be just as useless. I put my hand on his shoulder. “Chris?”
“It’s those bloody kids! One of them was in the garden and Sandra went out to tell them to bugger off. He bit her! He actually bit her!”
I don’t even know what to say. “Chris I don’t think that a bite…” He smiles. “Oh hello love. See she’s fine.”
Sandra is sat up in bed. There is some terrible black liquid pouring out of her nose. Chris walks over, I think to hug her and she leaps out of bed, knocking him to the ground and start biting lumps out of his neck.
I wake up as my mobile starts shrilling in my ear. It’s Justin. “Hey babe, you okay?” I look over at the clock it’s 05.11. “Oh thank God. Are you okay? There is some really weird shit on the TV!”
The remote control is next to the pillow, I must have fallen asleep watching some film or other. “Justin? What’s wrong?”
“Pete something terrible is happening. You remember the mad old cat lady fron number 24? She tried to bite me. She was lying in the road and I went over to check on her and she tried to bite me. I’ve been calling your parent’s since 11 last night and I can’t get hold of them. I’m in the car but the traffic is back to back. I’ll be there soon, they are sa…”
The signal on my phone stops. There is a moment of television as someone in an army uniform is telling people to stay in their homes and then it just stops. I throw on some clothes and take the stairs down to reception, there is no one. I call out but no one comes. I jump into the car and get off the motorway at the first chance. Justin was right it is just a tailback as far as you can see. It takes a ridiculously long time but the backroads get me to my parents house. The front door is smashed in, most of the windows are broken. I run through the living room and kitchen and then double back towards the stairs. There is no one one any of the bedroom or the bathrooms.
I am leaning over the banister, breathless and feeling sick. When I hear movement behind me. I barely have time to turn when Jack throws his arms around me. “Jack? Dad?”
“Oh my god Pete. We were so scared. I thought… Are you okay?”
That was 11 months ago. The official version of what happened was an engineered Rabies Vaccine mutated and caused a ‘Violent and aggressive form of the illness’. Oddly most of the people stuck in their cars survived. Mom and Dad were fine and Justin, despite the nightmares is more or less okay. His Parents were in Melbourne and at no time did the illness effect Australia. Jack, my Dad has been working flat out, all Doctors are now required by law to test for certain protein markers that could indicate the Hyper-rabies.
Me my Parents and Justin and his Parents,i his brother Elliot and his girlfriend Leigh are having a barbeque. Dave, Justins Dad hands my a few burgers and I start to put them onto buns. “Don’t tell Liz son, I already had four.” We laugh and click our beer bottle together.” I think your secret is…”
Elliot is screaming. Dave and I both start to run towards him but but he has already bitten through my Mothers throat. Jack jumps forward and Justin tries to grab him but he knocks them both to the ground. Leigh turns to run but she gets her foot caught in her chair and falls to the ground Elliot drops on her and starts ripping mouthfuls of skin out of her back.