Chapter 4. Alone
Driving on a main road with no other traffic in sight was an eary experience but it was not so much the lack of other cars, it was more to do with the feeling of being totally alone. And Mark’s feeling of apprehension did not improve as the kilometres rolled by. The old Land Rover rumbled and shock as it went alone slowly covering the kilometres to the next town. For the most part the country side was farming land, cattle still wandering around in the paddocks.
After a few hours driving Mark pulled over to stretch his legs and let George and Jen walk about for a bit. He wondered weather he was doing the right thing as he might not find anyone and if he did they might not be friendly. He drove on for another few hours before stoping for lunch and a break as the old Land Rover was a tiering vehicle to drive on the high way. He pulled into a large garage come truck stop and parked near the petrol posers in order to keep out of the sun. As he sat on the tail gate eating from a tin he noticed that the door of the shop part of the garage was open so he wandered over to check it out. It didn’t look like it had been open for all that long, everything was in its place. But some shelves were empty, all the food was gone.
This was the first time he had see evidence that there might be other people alive. He searched around inside and out but did not fine any other signs of life so he got back on the road. The country side started to change from farming land to forest country which made Mark feel even more apprehensive.
One of the hazards of driving on deserted roads was the unexpected like things on the road, tree branches, dirt and the wild life. As Mark came around a corner a number of rabbits were sitting in the middle of the road and one of them was not quick enough and he hit it. Mark stoped but it was dead so as he had not eaten meat for a long time he decided to clean it up and have it for dinner.
Mark pulled over into a pick nick area to break the boredom of driving when he saw a camp site. As he got out of the Land Rover he could smell smoke as if the camp fire was not long out. He walked towards the camp site which consisted of a medium sized camper van with an awning attached to one side with a fold out style table and chairs under it.
He called out, “anyone about,” and again, “anyone home,” but there was no reply.
He tried again, “hello anyone, I’m harmless, just travelling and saw your camp site.”
A woman about Mark’s age came out from behind the camper van, she looked nervus and un easy. She had long red hair and was wearing jeans and a tee shirt. She just stud there looking at Mark with both fear and joy in her eyes.
“High, my names Mark, you know I have not seen another person in over twelve months so I’m really glad to find someone alive, what’s happened?”
“She took a few tentative steps towards Mark before stoping and saying, my names Carroll, did you say twelve months.”
“Yer,” said Mark, “I was,” but before he could continue Carroll said, “you’re that guy from that TV show.”
“Yer that’s me, I only left the property a few days ago,” said Mark, and then, “What happened?”
“A virus, it killed just about everyone,” replied Carroll.
“Have you seen anyone else?” asked Mark.
Carroll waved in the direction of the camper van and said, “only these.”
Two children walked out from behind the camper van, a boy and girl both aged about ten.
“This is John and Kathy,” said Carroll.
“Hello you two, may name is Mark,” said Mark. The two kids looked nervus and said nothing.
“I have tea, would you like a cup?” asked Carroll.
“Yes that would be nice,” replied Mark.
Carroll said to the kids, “you two can find some fire wood and get that fire going.”
The kids walked away to look for fire wood when George started to bark. “Hay mister is that your dog, can we play with him?” asked John.
“Yes of course you can but the fire wood first,” Mark said to the kids and then to Carroll, “I’ll just unchain the dog, back in a minute.”
Mark and the kids walked over to the Land Rover where George was looking very excited at the prospect of being out of the back of the Land Rover. Mark unchained George and opened the tail gate as George jumped out. “Sit,” said Mark, and then to the kids, “this is George,” and to George, “this is John and Kathy.” Mark got an old tennis ball from the back of the Land Rover and threw it to John and said, “fire wood first.”
He walked back towards the camper van to find Carroll sitting at the table.
“I think we might have a bit of a wait for that tea,” said Mark. As he sat down opposite Carroll.
“Are they brother and sister,” asked Mark.
“No,” replied Carroll, “I found John about four months ago just wandering along the road and Kathy a few weeks latter.”
“Have you seen any evidence of other people in your travels?” asked Mark.
“Some,” replied Carroll, and then continued, “some shops have been broken in to but I don’t think it was recently.”
“Where you heading?” asked Mark.
Carroll got a piece of paper out her jeans and handed it to mark and said, “I was planing to try this.”
Mark unfolded the paper, it was a notice which read.
Community, all welcome. Come and join use and let’s rebuild our society. Maryville, Mid North Coast.
It was dated three months ago.
“There are everywhere I’ve been so I thought I would go and see what’s there,” said Carroll.
“Do you mind if I tag along?” asked Mark, and then, “but I do need to get back to my property within the next three weeks as the animals there will need looking after.”
“I think we will skip that cup of tea and get dinner on,” said Carroll to mark before calling out to the kids, “if you kids want any dinner you better find some fire wood soon.”
“What are you having for dinner?” asked Mark.
“We found an over grow veggie garden at a house yesterday so we have some fresh potatoes and karats so I would call it a vegetable stow.” replied Carroll.
“Well, I think I can find something to add to that,” said Mark as he got up and walked towards the Land Rover. Returning with a fresh ready to cook rabbit.
“From watching you on TV I didn’t think you were prepared to kill things,” said Carroll.
“Your right, but one, this was road kill and secondly I have not had meat in over a year, so lets call it rabbit stow.” replied Mark.
“I want say no,” said Carroll.
After dinner they sat around the fire talking, for Mark it was a delight to have company and for Carroll it was nice to have another grown to talk to. The kid were exhausted from playing with George and fell asleep early as did George.
Mark retired to the back of the Land Rover with George and Jen while Carroll and the kids slept in the camper van.
The next day after packing up their camp site, they headed south towards Maryville. After a few hours driving Mark started to look for somewhere to pull over for a break. There was no reason to find somewhere to pull over as the road was not being used so they could just stop on the road but it did not feel right to just stop on a main road.
As they drove through a forest area they can upon a tree over the road, it had been down for some time, but someone had cut a piece out of it. Here seemed to be as good a place as anywhere so they pulled up for a break and to have a look. It looked to Mark that the tree had been cut only a few weeks earlier as when he scratched around in the saw dust it looked freshly cut. Someone had driven along here in the last few weeks.
After taking a break and stretching their legs they got back on the road with a certain amount of trepidation. Some people when faced with the situation that everyone now found themselves, may not react well, which could lead to violence. The people who put up the notices seemed to be trying to bring people together so with a bit of luck they would find a safe community of people whose aim was to rebuild.
As the kilometres ticked away it looked like they would be there by the late after noon so at the lunch break Mark and Carroll decided to make camp before they arrived so they could arrive at Maryville the next morning. Just in case they did not like the look of the place they could then leave in day light. They studied the map and determined a likely sport about two kilometres short of Maryville that looked like a good place to camp for the night.
It was about three in the afternoon when they arrived at their destination but they did not fully set up camp just in case they needed to leave quickly. Mark then continued on foot so he could check out the lay of the land, to see how many people, if any, were there. After about an hour walking across country Mark came to the outskirts of town but it was not immediately obverse that anyone one was there. He was behind the change rooms at the local foot ball field but could not see any signs of life but just as he was about to walk across the foot ball field to get a closer look he her the sound of a car.
A car was speeding toward the foot ball field which then drove straight onto the field heading toward the change rooms with another car in pursuit. Mark retreated about ten metres to the bush behind the change rooms and took cover behind a large tree. The first car became bogged on the foot ball field about twenty metres before the change rooms. Two women got out and started running towards the change rooms as the second car became bogged as well. One male got out of the second car and fired a shot at the women but missed so he started chasing them. The two women ran past the changing rooms and straight towards Mark, they were heading towards the track that Mark had used to get there. They ran past Mark at which time one of them saw him, he gestated to her to keep running. Mark picked up a stick and as the male ran past he tripped him and then hit him with a rock and took his gun. The two women looked back and saw Mark hit him so they stoped. Mark ran up to them and said, “let’s get out of here, keep running.”
After a few minutes Mark said, “hang on girls I think we are clear.”
“No we’re not, there will be more coming, we need to keep moving,” said one of the women.
“OK but what was all that about?” ask Mark.
“Are you here because of those notices?” asked one of the women.
“Yes,” said Mark.
“They are a con to get people in, once your there the women become sex slaves and the men either join them or are used as slave labour or their killed, we don’t have time for this we need to keep moving,” said one of the women.
“I’m camped about one and a half kilometres from here so as soon as we get there we can leave,” said Mark.
The women started running as if their life depended on it as did Mark.
“Slow down we are nilly there,” said Mark and then, “I want to check all is well before we go charging in.”
“Quite I think I can hear a car,” said one of the women.
They could see car head lights coming towards them so they all lay on the ground until it had pasted.
“Their going to find your camp, we need to get out of here,” said one of the women.
“Hang on I have a friend with two kids at that camp,” said Mark and then continued, they are probably looking for you so what do you think they will they do when they find my friends?”
“They will be all friendly and nice but that will change once they take them into town,” said one of the women.
“OK you stay here I will go back to camp and play friendly and hopefully take them by surprise, if all goes well we will pick you as we leave,” explained Mark.
“And what if things don’t go well?” asked one of the women.
“You will be on your own,” said Mark.
Mark walked away towards the camp. As he got closer he could see that there were two men sitting on fold out chairs, the kids were playing with George and Carroll was standing by the fire cooking. He checked the gun, but he did not really know what he was looking at as he had never used a hand gun before. He tucked it away in the back of his jeans.
Mark called out, “hello what’s this, visitors?”
Carroll answered with, “there from Maryville.”
One of the men got up to greet Mark and said, “high I’m Ken and this is Phil.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Mark, as he shook both men’s hands. He then continued with, “are you blocks the welcoming committee?”
“Yer that’s right,” said Ken as he sat back down.
Mark looked over at Carroll, a look that told he something was wrong.
“You blocks want something to drink?” asked Mark and then added, “I think I have enough for three very small drinks.”
“That would be very nice,” said Ken.
“Do the honours love,” said Mark to Carroll again looking at her in a way he hoped would convey to her that something was wrong.
“So what’s Maryville like then?” asked Mark.
“Its paradise mate, you’ll love it,” said Ken as Carroll brought the drinks over. She walked behind them and handed them their drinks. Mark pulled out the gun and pointed it at them as Carroll pull on the back of the chairs and they both over balanced and fell on the ground.
“Don’t you blocks move an inch,” said Mark, and then to Carroll, “get some rope or gaffer tape and we will tire them up.”
Mark dragged the chairs out of the way and said very forcefully, “rollover and put your hands behind your back.”
“I’ll get you, you want get five kilometres,” threatened Ken with lots of aggression.
“Yer, Yer, blar, blar,” said Mark
Carroll returned with some rope and handed it to Mark and said, “will this do?”
“Yer,” replied Mark, he then handed Carroll the gun and said, “don’t hesitate to shoot them if they try anything, and trust me these guys are bad news.”
Carroll was not keen but took the gun and pointed it at Ken and Phil. Mark started tiring them up and as he did, he asked Carroll.
“How did you know I wanted you to pull on the back of their chairs? asked Mark.
“I don’t know, I just knew,” replied Carroll.
“We need to get out of here,” said Mark and then added, “we’re not out of the wood yet.”
Carroll quickly through everything into the camper van, checked the kids were in the van. Mark called George who jumped straight into the back of the Land Rover, he check Jen was in the front and went over to Carroll and said.
“There are two women just down the road who we need to pick up and then we need to put some kilometres between us and them. We’ll talk once we are away from here, we’ll need to work out which way to go.”
They drove down the road a few hundred metres where they stoped, Mark called out to the women, “come on lets get out of here.” Both women ran out of the bush and climbed into the Land Rover, they then drove away into the dark.
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