22

They had been in a little village for a while, enjoying the serenity as they learnt how to farm… causally of course. Brian seemed to have settled down a bit and Andy was currently sitting in a rocking chair watching the children running across a field of long grass, pondering who was on duty as he seemed to be able to see everyone and they were all preoccupied with daily life.

Then he realised no one was watching for Meaters.

Andy leapt to his feet and reached for the rifle by the back door, then started for the perimeter. He was angry, not sure how to react without yelling and shouting like a mental case but really … it's only been what… six months? Seven? God!

Andy was still steaming when he heard footsteps and turned to tell whoever it was that had finally remembered they were supposed to be on duty that he had it. Of course… he found someone he didn't even know standing there looking at him and for a moment he wondered if they were still human. Andy felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up and believe you me, it was getting long these days.

Finally he sighed "Fuck!"

He raised the gun as the young man started to hiss, low and menacing. Andy waited to see what he was going to do, the voice in the back of his mind whispering that there may be more than one and a gunshot might not be a good idea.

The thwack of the axe as it flew through the air, cleaving the man's skull made Andy jump. Andy tuned to find Mickey standing there with a look of disbelief, the firewood he had dropped to throw the axe around his feet.

"Where the fuck did that come from?" Mickey asked with confusion.

"Clearly from an open gate somewhere. Unless they remember how to open one and since they can't turn door knobs… I doubt it" Andy replied with growing anger. Mickey and Andy walked the path left by the man's stomping through the grass.

They found the open gate.

Andy hated being right and he stood with a cold anger now. The footprints leading out. Someone had left for a little wander and left the gate open. They had let this Meater in and… hang on. Andy looked at Mickey as it occurred to both of them that someone was out there in MeatLand.

Great.

"What do we do?" Mickey asked "Go out after whoever wandered off?"

"No, we sweep inside our fences. If one got on, others might have. Our first concern is the safety of the group. Whoever decided to do this… was clearly not thinking of the rest of us were they!" Andy huffed.

"Fair point" Mickey nodded, "I'll go left, you go right. We meet back on the opposite side?"

"Then we spiral in towards home base" Andy nodded "I think we REALLY need walkie-talkies or something to warn of attacks and things. If there were Bitey things here fighting with us now they wouldn't know until the first gunshots."

"Shit. Yeah!" Mickey agreed as he started to take off, letting Andy move away as well. Both men moved quickly, scanning around as they ran. They saw one another and waved, then started to turn toward the homes, now passing one another and running again to meet back at the gated area, by now half way back to the houses.

Clive ran to met them "What's happening? This some sort of exercise?"

"Someone left the gate open. We got a wild one, might be more" Mickey panted, "Come on. Let's check everything at the village. We can rule out the green belt."

They were relieved to find the place clear of the Meaters. Scary to even think about it. God, it was fucking scary. Andy knew he would not find sleep easily tonight, the 'what if' too raw.

They entered the main house and told everyone what had happened, doing a head count.

No one was missing.

"OK … so who opened the gate and went walkies" Mickey demanded. "They can't open gates so who…."

Andy had raised his hand to shush him, and then looked down at their feet. He pointed to the floor and then started to walk from the room. Everyone looked at one another with confusion at his weird exit.

Outside Andy knelt to look under the house into the darkness "Hey… whoever you are. Want come out and get something got eat? We are freaked out about the gate left open but not mad ya know."

Silence, just the creaking of floorboards and the murmur of voices as those inside continued to talk. Andy settled back to wait. After a few minutes a woman slid out to look at him warily, looking around furtively before focusing on him again "Sorry. Did I leave it open?"

"Yeah. But I found it. Only one Meater got in. It's OK. The area is clear" Andy assured her.

"I'm Tess"

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Just this post today, a friend of the family had a massive heart attack this morning and time is precious today xxx