Sarah was frantic. It had been more than twenty four hours and she had not heard from Max. The worst part had not been hiding in the attic all day and night nor was it the discomfort of having to stay up in the rafters amongst all the insulation and Christmas decorations, no the worst was simply not knowing what was going on. All day she and the kids had to listen as ‘things’ happened in the neighborhood around them, could they have helped? If the druggies or terrorists had been stoppable wouldn’t the police have been able to bring them to justice by now? Finally on one of her frequent bathroom breaks down the ladder, Sarah had ventured into the garage and gotten a few supplies to make their lives more livable, both on the practical side and on the mental comfort side of things. First she gathered up six of the long boards Max was going to use to make the bookshelves in the basement ‘someday’, these would spread across the rafters and give them an easier place to perch up in the attic. Secondly she grabbed an extension cord Max used to plug in his tools in the garage, it was a heavy duty model that plugged into one outlet, but had three plug ins for his tools on the other end. Finally she also grabbed his wind up combination light/radio that she and the kids had just given him on the last father’s day. In the house she told her daughter to grab a bag and throw in the bread, peanut butter and the six pack of juice. She had her son take up a stack of paper plates and a knife for the peanut butter, as she hustled the kids up into the attic again she pondered getting the gun in the wall safe.
‘No.’ Sarah told herself, ‘That is not the answer. Besides Max has the only available key.’
She did, however grab two more bats from Max’s collection, she just grabbed the loose ones, what he would call the ‘better than average’ signed bats, not one of those off of his wall of fame.
Heading back into the attic she made the kids a modest lunch and then set about arranging the environment to be more usable. She set five of the six shelves up across some of the unoccupied rafters, thankfully Max had put up several boards to hold their holiday decorations and as this was an emergency, she just dumped them in the insulation, making more room for the three of them. With the kids on the new platform she had created she turned back to the other miscellaneous junk stored in their attic. She picked out the fan and one of the old lamps and plugged them into the extension cord before turning to plug the extension cord into the outlet Max had an electrician put in when they re-designed their kitchen two years ago. It had caused an argument at the time, why put an outlet in the attic? However Max had won that one, saying it could be used to run electricity to the outside Christmas lights and if they ever needed a plug in up here for a fan or AC unit they would have one. Sarah was glad now that she had lost that fight, as the much more modest fan than Max had imagined came to life circulating the stale air around them.
That done she warned the kids to play quietly and started cranking the radio unit the required fifty five times to get the advertised forty five minutes of power. Turning it on she started the slow hunt for news. The radio was not digital, it had no search function and she kept the volume low to keep the kids from hearing any of the bad news that she might catch. It ended up being a search of futility; she found several stations still playing music, with commercials and no disc jockeys, obviously canned stations still running on automatic. Sitting the radio down Sarah crept along the rafters to the front vent that was cut into the outer wall below the roof line, when she looked down she would see a section of her driveway and with a little straining she could make out part of the street too.
Sarah looked at the vent closely and decided that being able to see out was pretty damn important, so she grabbed one of the wooden vent pieces and started twisting it upwards to make a straight slot instead of a downward pointing vent. That done she could at least have a limited view of the houses and street around her house, better still she could bend the piece back pretty easily too, the nails seemed to yield in the old wood pretty easily. ‘Probably dry rot.’, she mused, ‘I will have to get Max to look into that when this current emergency is over.’
As Sarah looked out the slot she had made into the street she watched ‘One of them’ walking or stumbling rather, across the street. This was not working out, she could not stay up in the attic all day and all night, for how long? Days? She called Max. Nothing.
Part of her died each time she tried to contact him and he did not answer. This time around she was hit with guilt, where was he? Dead? Dying? Obviously this was a major catastrophe, not some run of the mill suicide bombing that had become all too common recently. Oh God! Here she was crying about staying hidden in the attic while her Max was out dying on a street corner somewhere! She shut the cell phone down to save power and went back to the radio. Eventually she found a station that called the terrorists ‘Zombies’ not, terrorists. It said she had to bash their heads in, just to be sure and that the ‘zombies’ were pretty much immune to most other damage. As she listened people called in and added their reports to the dj’s growing list of ‘how to deal with this threat’. Supposedly he, the dj, was the last survivor at his radio station and he seemed to feel it was only a matter of time until he succumbed to the ‘horde’. Sarah found the station in poor taste and while she could not bring herself to believe what the man was saying, she did not find any alternative stations to listen to either. Eventually the radio wound down and she chose not to listen anymore.
Near sundown Sarah hustled the kids downstairs again to use the bathroom and get ready for bed. She scanned the street again carefully and only let the kids use the upstairs bathroom while she stood watch over the hallway and stairs with her trusty baseball bat. No problems. They even ate in the master bedroom instead of in the attic. While they ate Sarah tried the cable channels. This was an eye opener, most channels were off the air and Sarah could not help but think of the old adage, ‘Three hundred channels and nothing is on’, that stopped when she hit the news channels. Nothing could have prepared her for what she was seeing. New York, Beijing, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Houston, Denver, LA, Seattle, Tokyo, the list of cities scrolled on and on, every place that was anyplace looked to have been hit. Live footage was rampant on some of the channels and what she saw disgusted her. Sarah sent the kids back into the attic at sundown, with instructions to go to sleep if they could. She pulled the heavy drapes tightly closed, kept the bedroom door open and watched until she could stand it no more. Everything was lost, everything. This was the end of civilization; nothing would ever be the same again. People had come to life as flesh eating zombies.
No thoughts of Max entered her mind as she helplessly wondered, “What can I do? What can I do?”