“Where are we going?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” she starts driving, infected running towards the car and bouncing off when their bodies hit the sides of it or getting thrown in all directions when mum drives through them. Beth gets out of her state of shock as she watches an infected slam against her window and she starts to cry. I hold her as mum continues to drive.
An hour goes by and we’re still driving. Beth has stopped crying but she’s still hardly talking, mostly just watching all the buildings we pass. In every town, we see infected people walking the streets, some have less than others but all of them have some. Some of the, notice the car driving by and try running towards us while others just keep walking or slamming against the doors and windows of nearby houses.
“Is anywhere safe? Is anyone safe?” Beth asks softly, watching a family getting attacked on their way to the car.
“At the hospital, we were told the government would help those who need it. We should listen to the news and find out what’s happening,” mum turned on the radio. We sat in silence, listening to the radio for four more hours, they only mentioned what we already saw on the news the other day, they didn’t mention how much it had already spread or what they were going to do about it. I toned out the radio and looked at our surroundings and finally realised where we were going.
“We’re going to dad’s?” I asked.
“The mad scientist?” Beth asked.
“He’s not mad,” mum said, he’s just a regular scientist.”
“Then why was his madness the reason for your divorce?” I asked.
“We have more important things to worry about than that right now, don’t you think?” Mum said, focusing on the road again, driving past a crying pregnant woman who was waving her arms for us to stop.
“Why didn’t you stop?” Beth asked, looking at her through the back window.
“She was bit, her neck was bleeding,” mum kept looking at the road, “she would have turned and then we would be trapped in the car with no way to save ourselves.”
Beth turned away, looking sick. I turned and saw the pregnant woman was on the ground with three infected people on her.
We’re close to his house now, “does he even know that we’re coming?” I ask.
“Yes, I called him when the two of you were asleep,” she said and turned onto his road.
“Nicole! Chloe! You made it,” my dad said when he opened the door and saw us, “you must be Beth, hello.” After my parent’s divorce, I chose to live with my mum and could choose when I wanted to go see my dad. It’s been a few months since I last went to see him because every time I came here he was more and more obsessed with a new experiment and sometimes seeing that scared me. That was also the reason I had never introduced him to Beth.
“Hello,” she paused.
“James,” he said and shook her hand then led us inside. “You know where your room is, Beth can stay in there with you, there’s room for two in there.”
“I can take the spare room in the basement,” mum said, “unless you’ve turned it into storage.”
“No, it’s, Uhm, filled with my work. You can take our room, I’ll take the sofa,” dad said. She agreed.
“Why is the curtain open? What if they see you?” I ask when I notice the curtain for the living room window was open on one side. I run to close it.
“That’s happened already, they run up to the window, hit it a few times then walk away when they’re bored.”
I pull up the curtain a little and check the window to see if there are any cracks anywhere, there were none. I saw a man leave his house, he was slowly sneaking to his car. He was only looking in front of him which made me worried. I thought he wouldn’t make it when I saw someone close behind him. He reached his car door when the infected person behind the man spotted him and started running towards him. He made it into his car before the infected man got to him and drove out of his driveway, backing into three of them and speeding off.
“Every time I look out the window more people are leaving,” dad said beside me, “soon it’ll be only those things left,” dad said, then he left the room. I saw him go into the basement. Mum took my hand off the curtain and pulled me away from the window.
“We don’t know how long that glass will last. Let’s stay away from windows as much as we can, be as quiet as we can and hopefully we’ll be safe here,” mum said, “I’ll see if I can move the car into the garage later.”
“You’re going out again?” Beth asked.
“If we need to get away again for whatever reason it’ll be safer if we just need to get to that door,” she points to the door on our left side, “It looks like fewer people are sick here, it’ll be safe enough for me to go out and quickly move the car. I just have to wait for them to go away from it.”
“Where’s your mother?” Dad asks, coming back up from the basement.
“She’s moving the car into the garage, what were you doing down there?”
“I’m documenting,” he sees the curtain is still down and opens it again,” whenever someone leaves.”
“Is that important?” Beth asks.
“I guess not, at least not in a way I can explain now,” he left the room again, this time to the garage when he heard the car door shut. I go to the basement door, it’s locked. I guess he doesn’t want us to touch anything and disturb his order even though his desk always looked more like a semi-organised mess.
I couldn’t sleep again that night, neither could Beth. We both stayed awake listening to the sounds from outside, infected growling and healthy people getting into their cars and driving away. Inside, it sounded like dad was walking around downstairs like he was pacing.
“Do you think he still has the curtain open?” Beth asks.
“Probably, I heard him arguing with mum about it having to stay open so he could see what was happening outside.”
“Do you think we’re safe here?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never liked staying at dad’s before this but I guess it’s better than driving around until we run out of petrol and are stranded,” I sat up on the bed.
“Your mum doesn’t seem to like it here either.”
“She likes the bedroom, he kept all the furniture after the divorce…She picked it all, I know she’s missed the bed most.”
We heard a door open and shut downstairs.
“The basement?” I ask.
“Only one way to find out,” Beth says and we quietly go downstairs. The streetlight was shining through the window, lighting the room, it was nearly as bright as during daytime. We couldn’t see my dad so we crawled on the floor, making our way to the basement door, trying not to be seen by anything that’s walking by outside. I reach the door handle.
“Locked.” I heard a car crash into something outside. We stayed still and quiet, waiting, listening. After a few seconds, I saw a shadow on the floor next to me in the light, I looked up and saw a man in the window, he was banging on it and shouting.
“Please, let me in!” He looked behind him. Beth and I stood up to see the infected were running towards him and we had to get him inside before it was too late. We could hear mum coming down from upstairs and dad coming up from downstairs. I started going towards the door and mum grabbed me.
“What are you doing?”
“The man outside needs help, we have to let him in before they get to him,” I said.
“You can’t,” mum said, “we don’t know if we can trust him”
“We can’t just let him die,” I try to get her hands off me so I can get to the door before the infected get the man.
“What’s going on?” Dad asked, locking the basement door behind him.
“Chloe was going to open the door,” mum said.
“There’s a man out there, he needs our help.”
Beth was by the window, “they’re coming closer, we don’t have much time left.” Dad went and opened the door, pulling the man in so fast he fell to the floor.
“Thank you,” he said to me and my dad, “thank you so much.”
Beth closed the curtain and went away from the window, “they’re still running towards us.”
“It’s fine, the window will hold,” dad said. Mum looked at him like he was crazy, which he was. If the whole street came banging on the glass with the strength and aggression they use, the glass wouldn’t last too long at all.
“Are you okay?” Beth asked.
“Have you been bitten?” Mum asked.
“I’m fine and no, I wasn’t bitten,” the man said. “They never got close enough to hurt me.”
Dad looked at his legs and arms, “I’m James, this is my daughter, Chloe, her mum, Nicole and her friend, Beth. Who are you?” He asked.
“I’m Li Jie,” he decided to finally stand up and look at us all. Dad shook his hand.
“Are you alone?” I ask.
“Yeah, I got home and my parents weren’t there anymore, everyone else had turned into…Whatever that is,” he pointed to the window where we could see a few of them walking into the glass. We moved closer to the door, out of sight from the window. Mum started asking Li Jie more questions about where he came from, how he got here.
“Stop interrogating the guy, he’s here now and I’m sure he can be helpful somehow,” dad said. The banging on the window hadn’t calmed down so mum decided the safest place for us would be the garage.
“So, you think this can be cured?” Li Jie asked dad.
“I think so, it’s just a sickness after all,” dad said. “Any sickness can be cured, you just need to find the right person who can figure out what the cure is.”
Mum started handing out blankets and jackets we had in the car from before to use as covers. While we tried to sleep, dad and Li Jie spoke for hours. They seemed to get along, their conversation stayed friendly which was something that didn’t happen in dad’s conversations with mum.
We were woken in the morning by dad’s and Li Jie’s phone beeping.
“The government is asking that everyone heads down to London,” dad read the text out loud, “they’ve heard what’s happening here and they have a few safe houses there for us to hide out until they come up with a cure.”
“There’s few to no sick people there so they claim it should be perfectly safe to wait this sickness out.” Li Jie added after dad had rolled his eyes and given up on the text.
“Load of rubbish,” dad muttered to himself.
We sat still and quiet for a while, listening for any noises from outside or inside the house then we silently walked into the house then the kitchen. Dad started making coffee.
“Do you believe them?” Mum asked him, “about the cure?”
“I believe there could be a cure, yes,” he said, “Do I believe they won’t give up trying to find one and leave us all to die? No. You?”
“I don’t believe in a cure, nor do I believe in any safe house of theirs. When I called them from the hospital, they said they’d help those in need, and close by, but for us all the way up here, there was nothing they could do but pray we manage to contain and get rid of it,” she sighed. “But going there could be our best chance at surviving this.”
Li Jie shook his head, “Everyone who is still alive will have gotten this message, there’ll have masses of people, the whole country, to put in a few buildings…It doesn’t sound possible.”
“He’s right,” dad said, pouring himself a coffee, “does anyone else want some?”
“I do,” mum said, the rest of us said no. He poured her a mug of coffee. The sun was shining in through the curtains. We could see the silhouettes of people walking outside. Mum and dad were busy talking about what they thought was the best and safest option, staying here or going to London.
“What was it like where you’re from?” I asked Li Jie, getting bored of mum and dad’s conversation.
“It was bad, most people were running to their cars and getting attacked before they reached the door,” Li Jie said, “or as soon as they opened the door. What about you guys?”
“Our mums worked in one of the main hospitals it started from,” I said.
“Where’s your mum?” He asked Beth who just shook her head, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, I’ll be okay,” she said, looking down at her hands on the table.
“So your dad’s a scientist and your mum’s a nurse?” He asked me.
“Yeah,” I said.
“He’s the mad kind,” Beth added, “you?”
“Med student,” he said, “so, a mad scientist?”
“He gets pretty obsessed with his work, yeah,” I said then my parents conversation started to get louder. The three of us stopped talking and listened for any sounds that weren’t from anyone living. We heard some random growls from outside, nothing that indicated they were interested in the noise mum and dad were making so we relaxed in our seats. I tried to hear what my parents were arguing about. It was just about the curtain again, same arguments as last time. Dad said the glass will hold and we weren’t in any more or less danger with the curtain open, mum saying with the curtain open it’ll attract the sick people.
“So will you two shouting,” Li Jie said, looking bored of their argument. His statement made them stop speaking. They went to different rooms. Mum went to the bedroom she was supposed to sleep in last night and dad went to the basement. Li Jie went to the basement door.
“No point, he always keeps it locked,” I said but when he turned the doorknob, the door opened. Beth and I looked at each other then went to Li Jie, the three of us started going down.
This is part 2 of New Life. I hope you liked this story, I will be continuing it so let me know if there’s any way I can make the story more fun for you to read or any way I can improve. 🍓