Wildfire

What do you do when a disease ravages the world?
What do you do when the dead come knocking?
Was this the resurrection that God promised?

Liam Cross woke up one morning to find the world he knew long gone. Instead of the many pedestrians roaming the streets, it was filled with dead and infected victims of an apocalyptic disease. Together with his friends, he must not only come to terms with his new life as a survivor, but accept the responsibility given to him as leader to keep his group alive. But in this battle against the dead, can he really trust the living?

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1. 8 Years Before The Outbreak

Liam Cross limped slowly down the street, his right leg dragging behind him. A cold tear ran down his red hot face as he fought the pain brought about by his injuries. He begged his leg to hold out until he reached his home two streets away but he wondered whether it would because of the blood oozing out of it. He questioned whether his mother was in and if so, how he would disguise the wound from her until he could use whatever supplies he had in his house to aid the suffering. His bruised eye throbbed unbearably as the water swelling up from his tear duct blurred his vision. He rested his arm on a nearby bin, supporting him as he used his ripped, white school shirt to   clear his eye so he could continue walking. Liam was in his school uniform or what was left of it, they had torn most of it; his blazer; his shirt and his trousers with his tie stolen from around his neck. The older boys did this. He had tried reasoning with them once before, at the start of their reign of terror, but they would not listen. Gradually their bullying had got worse, first it was just pushes and shoves, then weak punches, but this time they had ‘gone to town’ and put everything they could in beating him up. He may have been able to fend off one of them, but to have to fight off 4 was just too much to ask and it showed in his obvious inflictions.

   It had been a weird sort of year for Liam, with what was the worst start. It was before the bullying, before the drop in his grades, it was caused by one letter. Delivered by hand by a man dressed in formal attire, and as Liam clung to the bannister half way up the stairs, all he could remember was his mum struggling to open the door. She knew what was awaiting her when she eventually did, but she muttered to herself, Liam thought she was trying to convince herself this was all a dream. But it wasn’t a dream. Evie Cross unlocked the front door, pulled on the handle and accepted the letter and began to open the envelope. She collapsed on the tiled floor, crying hysterically as the officer said the only thing he could, ‘I’m sorry’. He looked up at Liam and stared; Liam looked into his eyes and saw the sorrow in them, the officer had done this many times but Liam believed that every time he had, he meant it. He immediately ran up the stairs, into his room and slammed the door behind him. The anger rose up inside him, like the mercury in a thermometer rising up ready to explode. And then…the explosion. He screamed at the top of his lungs and launched his arms at his desk. Liam threw his drawings around the bedroom, the pencil crayons flying like bullets through the air, smashing into the walls and splintering. He flipped the small desk sending the glass of water crashing onto the floor, its content spreading outwards across the carpet and the glass shattering into millions of tiny fragments. After, he climbed slowly into his bed, pulling the covers over his head and tried to block out the rest of the world. He closed his eyes and placed his hands over his ears, and cried silently as the night went on.

Liam wished to cry like this now, in the middle of the street, no one would care. No pedestrian had bothered to ask what was wrong as he stumbled home, so why would they decide to help if he was crying. He was 8 years old, walking home from school, scared and wanting to curl up in bed like he did almost 12 months ago now. One step, two steps, three steps. He was taking it one at a time but then; like the sudden pain of pins and needles, he lost feeling in his right leg as his pain subsided into a numb sensation in which his leg seem to turn into a dead weight lumbering behind him. He couldn’t support himself on his left leg, so he fell against a car, slid down it and slumped onto the ground. The street was deserted and no cars were passing, he was on his own, just like he had felt since that day. Since his father had died protecting this country. His own brave soldier, a man to look up to and aspire to be like, gone.
Liam thought this day was just another day of his pathetic life and that this wasn’t the worst day to come. Every second he spent on the floor was another inch closer to the dark abyss of his broken life, but he couldn’t escape it, he couldn’t get up.

     “Are you okay?” a voice said as Liam squinted and opened his eyes, his vision was still blurred from all the tears.
     “Excuse me?” Liam replied in confusion, still trying to make out the distorted shape before him.
     “Do you need help?” the voice responded in a concerned manner, which made Liam realise what the person was asking. His vision cleared to see another child standing over him offering Liam his hand. The sun flickered in the lenses of his glasses as a trustworthy smile grew across his face.
    “Yes. Yes I do” Liam took his hand and using the boy’s weight, he stood up.
     “I’m Jake, do you live nearby?” the boy said as he placed Liam’s arm round his shoulder to support him and started to walk him along the pavement.
     “Yes I do… I live just round the corner, 14 Oakwood Road -”
     “Wait, number 14? My family just moved into number 15.”
     “So you live next door?” Liam pondered as the pain started to appear again.
     “Yes, so you gonna tell me what happened to you and maybe your name?”
     “Maybe, depends whether I can trust you or not,” Liam said jokingly.
     “Well I am your neighbour, and I’m helping you limp home so I guess you can” Jake said with a wink as they turned the corner onto Oakwood Road.
     “I guess. Let’s just say I got on the wrong side of some boys at school.”
    “And they did this to you?”
     “Yes they did, and no one can know.”
     “Why not?” Jake questioned as they arrived at number 14. The gate clicked as he pushed it open and Liam took the house key out of his pocket.
     “Because they said if I told anyone, that my injuries would be even worse next time…” Liam trailed off as he wondered what could be worse than this. Liam turned the key in the door and it swung open. Silence. No one was in, much to Liam’s joy.
     “Well I’ll be there next time,” said Jake valiantly as Liam tried to figure out whether he was brave or just overwhelmingly stupid. He realised that Jake was about his age, if not the same, and that if he had just moved in, he would soon be coming to Liam’s school.
     “Thanks Superman, but I’ll be fine,” Liam replied with a grin, the first proper grin he’d had in over a year.
       “Anyway,” Jake said as he placed Liam on his living room sofa, “I better be off then, mate”
       “Mate? Well I guess you are then,” joked Liam.
       “And about those boys, when that day comes, I’ll be there for you,” Jake said with a smile.
       “Thank you Jake, I’ll hold you that,” Liam smiled back as Jake walked out the living room and towards the front door.
       “Oh and Jake,” Liam yelled before Jake exited the house, “My name’s Liam, Liam Cross.” And with that, the front door closed and Liam made a new friend. A friend who promised to be there for him on a dark day, when Liam was in need. But that dark day wouldn’t come for 8 whole years, and it began like any other day.

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