Kevin was finding the uneven farmland route unsettling after a few hours. Eula and Andersen seemed to be okay with the jumps and jolts, so he figured it was just his city boy's softness.
He knew the options were limited. They attempted to backtrack the way they came but the zombie river road crossings meant broken fences that let them walk onto the farmland.
The noise from the engine and crashing had attracted them as well, and like lemmings, the filed through the openings to follow the sound and those followed simply because that was where the others were heading.
Andersen had noted, “These things are a total pain in the ass, they basically plug up anywhere you have been and deny access. This is not good, not good at all.”
She was right. They had to veer further West than they were happy about to reach a road that was either clear of them or had so few that it didn’t matter. Kevin took note of how Andersen had stopped trying to drive around them.
By the time they were closing in on Bendigo, with it's one hundred thousand zeds occupying it and spreading out like a poison, driving the roads had become impossibly slow.
That was when they took the farmland highway for the next hour and a half. Then there was a short twenty minutes of driving on the road until Castlemaine and its six odd thousand zeds made the roads slower than farmland driving. They would have avoided Castlemaine entirely except Loddon Prison was on the edge of town.
The approached it off-road, Eula was beginning to doubt the idea was so clever due to the scale of zombies in the immediate area and Kevin saw her wanting to give up the idea so he nudged her and smiled with a thumbs up in support of the idea.
Then the prison came into sight. Andersen smiled and said, “Fuck yeah, this will do the job for sure.”
Andersen was extremely pleased about the facility. They spent twenty minutes driving around the perimeter to get a good idea of how big it was. None of them were in doubt after they completed the first lap.
Kevin said, “This is about as good as it gets.
With the sun dipping down the horizon, and to hours of driving to get back to Pucka, Andersen put her foot down and drove as fast as she dared to.
Zeus was handling the zed battering with ease. Even when they had to slow down, he was confident that they were safe.
The trip to Pucka, which took them down some of the same roads they had taken in the tractor run from Kyneton, had none of the fear and uncertainty of that trip.
That changed a little as they closed in on Pucka, the numbers of zeds had suddenly increased, even from the morning. They were heading home down the same roads they left on, but twice as many zombies were on the roads.
Eula said, “The Melbourne ghouls are beginning to arrive. They will be here in full force from tomorrow.”
Andersen said, “Yeah, but we have somewhere to go. Although Loddon still needs to be cleared before we bug out of here.”
Kevin said, “It will have to be done tomorrow.”
Eula added, “Hopefully a unit will go there tonight while the base is packed up to leave.”
Andersen said, “Look, don’t assume Phillips is going to run with this. I agree, this is a solid idea, but bear in mind there are two hundred people to move, most are civilians and scared, plus forty soldiers who will mostly have to remain here to defend the base from the zeds. The prison has at least two hundred zeds inside it and security measures to figure out. It isn’t an easy walk in.”
Kevin was suddenly feeling deflated. “But we have Zeus.”
Eula slapped him in the ear while saying, “Idiot.” They all got a good laugh though.
As they approached the base up the usual road, there were dozens of zombies walking toward the base. They could hear the gunfire ahead.
Eula said, “They are coming because of the guns. That needs to stop.”
They rounded the corner with the roadblock then saw the piles of zombies. There were at least one hundred of them scattered across the road. Andersen drove over them then parked beside the two soldiers. She opened the door then said, “How fast is it worsening?”
The soldier, the same man who greeted them days earlier, answered, “Quickly. There wasn’t much action up until about two hours ago. Then a mob of sixty-odd turned up and we have been picking them off since. But they keep coming.”
Andersen said, “Stop using the guns, the noise is attracting them. Use these, but practice first and have a gun in support.” She grabbed the four spears and handed them out.
She added, “These two used them and got out of towns with them. They work, we will improve on them later, but for now, reduce the gunfire.”
She closed the door.
The soldier tapped on the window, so she wound down the window. The soldier said, “Hey, two of your people took off in a tractor this morning. The old guy and teenager. Are you aware of what they are doing because it was unauthorized?”
Eula said, “What? No. What the hell?”
The soldier gave the thumbs up while saying, “No worries, just checking.”
Andersen put the window back up.
Kevin said as if he hadn’t heard what the soldier had just said, “I thought you said the spears were ironic. As in, pointless.”
“That was before I figured out those monsters come toward noise like moths to a flame.”
She drove directly to the Colonel’s office. Parked, then told Eula and Kevin to come with her to the Colonel’s office.
They entered the office, got directed immediately to meet with Phillips who said, “You better be telling me you have an answer because those fucked up things are coming at us on all sides, and the eye in the sky told us that these are just the warm-up for what is coming.”
Andersen answered, “Echuca is not ideal. Eula suggested Loddon Prison, so we checked it out and it is workable, but we need to clear the zeds out first and disable or control the security features first.”
“How many are in Loddon?”
Eula answered, “Two to three hundred.”
Phillips said, “Fine. Anderson, pick four soldiers and go clear it out. Pick Leys, he knows how to sort the security out.”
Andersen saluted and turned to leave.
Phillips added, “And take those two, they know how to survive.”