What I dreamed last night - Page 6

It was really dark outside now, and we'd been forced to keep the lights on for Tom's work, so we must have stood out like a beacon in the city. The crowd outside had reached terrifying proportions, and some were climbing over one another to try to get at the upper windows of the building, which were fairly flimsy. We were throwing ancient hardbacks out of those windows to keep them unbalanced, although I felt guilty every time a book bounced off and fell in the lake.  Daisy, I could tell, was enjoying the whole thing immensely. I'm pretty sure Philip was too, but Will looked unhappy. "They really hate us," he said.
   "Yeah," I agreed, "they really do. We're different, and they think we're keeping good stuff for ourselves. They think we're privileged. Like a mister in prison."
  "Oh." said Will, who'd understood that last bit. "Are we?"
  I didn't know. We had warmth and light, and they didn't, right now, but probably they had homes to go to with those things somewhere. Of course, we were sane, which could be considered a very great privilege but... not one we were excluding others from attaining.

The hordes outside reminded me of nothing so much as the zombies from the various old movies I'd used to watch as a teen. (Back then, 3D stories featuring any sort of horror or violence tended to be illegal… but old movies were cultural.) Zombies don't attack one another, they only attack the living to take away what makes them different. Egalitarian, in a sense. And zombies are stupid, they'll keep piling up to be knocked back down, and they'll never learn or care or try to protect themselves.

Even when Philip got cruel, and started boiling water in the big kitchens to pour down over them, our zombie horde only got more determined. We'd been fighting them off, all thirty of us, for about an hour and a half when Tom yelled up that he'd fixed the generators. They came on with the kind of humming sound which seems loud at first, but fades into the background almost at once. The first thing that happened was that all the towers of piling bodies trying to reach up to the windows collapsed at the same time, because somebody at the bottom had been leaning on the now glass-shielded wall. The next thing was that the attacks on the door started to bounce off, and the girl with the axe fell over backwards after trying to swing too hard.

But because Major Tom was Major Tom, things didn't stop there. Our zombie horde kept moving backwards, away from the door, further and further. The shielding was expanding, and the attackers were being forced back over the bridge. Once they were off it entirely, we hit the controls to draw it back in, and Tom shrank the field back in, to save energy until he could up their generator efficiency. The zombies were still gathered in droves on the shore, and they started throwing rocks out at us once the field retracted, but we were too far out for any of the throws to reach us, and the generator would have dealt with it if any could. We were, more or less, and for the moment, safe. Bliss. The feeling of relief was wonderful, as was being able to get some sleep, although Tom only looked sad when I told him he'd beaten the zombies.

I don't know how long I slept. It was still dark when I was woken by the sound of bodies throwing themselves repeatedly against the glass-shield. I was terrified. I thought they'd started to swim the lake, that they'd stay there until morning, waiting for us, that'd we'd never be able to leave. When I struggled to my feet, and went to look out the entrance peep-hole, though, I was surprised. They'd come in a boat, just twenty or thirty of them, looking tired and cold and... old. These were older people. And they were making signs and gestures and begging to be let inside.

I acted almost under a compulsion. Maybe I am a mister, really, predisposed to do just what my elders want. I opened the doors, and let them come streaming in. The museum's workers looked shocked and scandalised: this was what Tom had promised Doreen that none of us would do. Even Daisy and Philip looked shocked (Will was still asleep). But the people who entered just formed exhausted huddles on the floor: couples holding hands, or with arms around each other, still shaking with terror. One woman claimed they'd be chased out of their homes, and the last man in begged me to close the door quickly, before "they" caught up. I saw the staff slowly relax, and it wasn't me who got up to let in the next batch of refugees.

I got up for the last batch, though, just before dawn. These had swum, roped together for safety and for guidance in the dark. They were dripping wet, and desperate, and more assorted than the other groups. They could have been a family, or perhaps two or three large families: there was a wide range of ages, anyway, and about forty people. I let them in, and watched them flow, dripping and panting, into that wide space. Many of them thanked me, a few were in tears, one lady in her thirties gave me a smile brighter than sunlight, and I felt good. I spotted a young man, about my age, waiting to get in. He had wild hair, a sideways smile and a pinkish cloak, and my heart clicked with fear the minute I saw him, even though I knew he was probably no worse than Philip, just an ordinary boy wearing the ordinary fashions for people his age. Even though I knew we outnumbered him immensely.

 Site by Sian Hogan. Last updated on 1st June by Sian.