A Teaser...


I've decided to be really mean and put this opening up as a teaser.
It sets the scene, gives some background and just hints at what's in store.
Imagine it's a trailer for a movie that hasn't been made yet...
because the rest of the story hasn't been written yet.

It could take days, weeks or months, but it's something to think about.

~o0o~


We used to have the best holidays... Dad said he was preparing us for the zombie apocalypse and took us off the grid for a camping adventure on an uninhabited private island owned by a family friend. When we were young he'd build a raft using driftwood and discarded plastic bottles; whatever was laying around, lashed together with anything he could find amongst the flotsam and jetsam on the beach. Once he could only build a small raft and ferried us and the bags across one by one, swimming and pushing the makeshift vessel the entire half a mile to the island on which we'd spend the week. Another time we found loads of buoyant fence posts and made a raft big enough for three plus the baggage, and paddled us across... that raft made a great bonfire, which was what we always did on arrival. “Burn your boats and burn your bridges...” Dad claimed. “...those zombies aren't far behind.” he'd say. Dad also claimed that zombies can't swim so an island is somewhere we'd be safe, but I'm not so sure... in Pirates of the Caribbean the zombies can't swim but they can't drown either, so they can walk on the seabed. Being a clever clogs, Dad points out that in that movie, they're un-dead rather than zombies and assures us that the island will be safe. It's just a game anyway... we always knew there wouldn't be a zombie apocalypse but the idea made our camping holidays a real adventure.

The island is two miles wide with a craggy coastline and one short stretch of sandy beach. There's fresh water, wild meadows, an untended copse as well as scrub and bushland. We ate dried soups and stews, tinned sardines and beans, brought over from the mainland, but also foraged for mushrooms and leaves, nuts, berries and edible seeds. As we got older, Dad taught us to fish and fashion workable spears as well as making bait traps... and once we were strong enough to swim across, we no longer needed to waste our time building a raft. “If you're running from zombies... they'll have eaten your face off before you'd even gathered enough driftwood.” Dad used to say. “...so the quickest way across is to swim.” We'd tow our tent, sleeping bags, clothes, equipment and supplies in dry-bags. They're waterproof and float but are a struggle to tug... but tug them we did.

My brother and I always got on but when he got to the age where he began thinking he's a man, he started to get really annoying. I can swim as well as him, run as fast as him, climb as well as him and am probably more successful when fishing and foraging, but he seems to think I'm inadequate at everything because I’m a girl. The last time we spent a week playing survival on the island, he kept pushing me out of the way and butting in... claiming that lighting the fire or gutting the fish was 'boys' work, or climbing the trees to gather nuts or chopping wood was 'a job for a man'. Keeping an eye on the stew, fetching fresh water from the stream and washing the pots and plates was OK for a girl to do... according to my brother anyway. Dad tried to tell him that girls are just as capable as boys but my brother was just at that age when he thought he was the great 'I am'.

This time Dad's not coming with us... so it's just gonna be me and my brother. Dad drives us to the shore with our baggage already packed in dry-bags, and since there's three sizeable bags and only two of us, we decide to make a small raft to tow them on. Peter's so far being OK... he hasn't told me that he should do something because I'm just a girl, but he did claim that the way I’d lashed the bags to the raft wasn't tight enough... and after redoing it himself, it wasn't any better. Of course he claimed otherwise and I did feel patronised... but I didn't react. Having already changed into my swimsuit and packed my clothes and shoes into my dry-bag, I smugly pointed out that if he'd left 'my' lashing alone, he'd have been able to pack his clothes and shoes into his bag without having to undo the ropes. “Oh yeah.” he grumbled as he stripped down to his swimming trunks. Rather than doing the sensible thing and undo the lashings and pack his pants and top and plimsolls in the bag, he decided to haphazardly wedge them here and there... stuffing his plimsolls deep into a void between the dry bags and wedging his clothes under the ropes. I told him they'd get wet but he claimed that didn't matter. “They'll dry out in no time when we get to the island.” he said. Maybe so... it's a hot summer day so I didn’t bother advising him otherwise.

After tethering ourselves to the raft with ropes tied around our waists, we said our final goodbye to Dad before getting in the water. We've swum the half mile distance numerous times, and dragging luggage with us so there's no doubt in anyone's mind that we won't make it. We swim some ten or fifteen feet before the ropes become taught and we begin tugging the load. It's quite choppy in places and about half way across, I notice that my brother's pants and top are slowly working loose as the raft rocks and yaws on the turbulent surface. “Pete!” I say as I begin treading water.

“What?” he asked.

“You might want to secure your pants.” I said. He turned and looked then looked some more, before realising that he had to swim toward the raft and secure his clothing... but it was too late. By the time he'd got there both his jeans and T shirt had hit the water and quickly sunk. “Shit!” he growled, before quickly getting over it... he'd packed spare clothes so all was not lost, and his plimsolls were still tucked safely in their niche between the luggage on the raft. I feigned disappointment but was quietly grinning from ear to ear that he'd lost both his pants and his T-shirt due to his own stupidity... I was planning on burning them when we burnt the raft anyway.

Sunday School


We'd moved here a few months ago and I quickly made new friends, both at school and in the neighbourhood. There's a place called Cooper's Quarry which is now a formal garden with paths, benches, flowerbeds, an orchard and a glade. It used to be an adventure playground and according to the group of kids I'd befriended, it was 'totally ace'. They spent many hours playing there, and the more dilapidated it became, the more fun they had... then the council decided it was dangerous and removed all the fun stuff, replacing it with flowerbeds and benches which are only good for OAPs and parents with pushchairs.

A few weeks ago, we were passing through Cooper's Quarry and reminiscing about how much fun they had there, as well as grumbling about how boring it is now. I could only take their word for it since the space was redesigned before we moved to the area. Climbing frames, elevated walkways, rope swings and a 'death' slide sounded loads better than what there is now. Looking back, I'm not sure who started it, but it didn't take long for the rest of us to join in; stomping on the flower beds, uprooting shrubs, breaking branches, booting the bins and benches over and generally destroying or disturbing whatever we could.

The act of vandalism was front page news in the local paper, which stated that one of the gang had been caught at the scene and the others ran off. That one was me, but I didn't grass my mates up. I'd have got my head kicked in if I had, and no one wants to be friends with a grass... so keeping shtum and taking the rap all on my own was, I believed, in my best interests. Being a minor meant they they couldn't print my name in the paper, nor could the authorities fine me for the damage caused, make me do x hours of community service or anything much... the most they could do was make me attend Sunday School which sounded really boring. The judge who heard my case said that I'd have to attend Sunday school for a period no less than 48 weeks and no more than 48 months, and that my attendance period would be closer to 48 weeks if I did the decent thing and gave the authorities the names of my accomplices. I refused and claimed that they were some kids I’d just met and I didn't know their names or where they lived... but they knew I was lying, I knew I was lying, and I knew that they knew I was lying.