Deep breath in.
Kevin let the other tractors go first so he could spend some time breathing.
He looked in the mirror at his passengers. Two old ladies, two boys, and one angry-looking teenager with a spear.
The boys looked scared, but they were holding themselves together because the two older women were both strong in spirit.
Betty looked good, calm. The older woman, he didn't catch her name, she looked fragile physically, but her eyes were steady and focused.
For some reason, he realized the survivors were either over fifty or under thirty, except the new guy. That suddenly seemed odd to him.
It didn't matter right now. He turned the lights on, did the three-point turn then followed the tractors out the gate. This time, rather than turning towards Kyneton, they drove away. Before making the turn to the right, he looked the other way.
He predicted six hours for the mobs to arrive. They were leaving in the fifth hour. Down the road, he saw what looked like a wall of zombies. It was weird, because between them were very few zeds. It was like a literal wall.
While the wall was not stretching across the entire fence bound road, it wasn't far from it. He could see the zombies stretching down the road like a terrible snake weaving itself along the street.
He felt sick.
He was sure that saving these people had allowed the zombies to follow them back home.
The tractors were not wasting any time, they were already traveling the road at a good pace. Betty said, "You were right, Kev, and thank god you were right. They would have always found a way to us. We are lucky you went back for these people. You not only saved them, but you also saved us."
Kevin turned the wheel and caught up with the tractors without issue.
Betty said, "First stop is John's family farm. Fred knows the way."
John said, "The diesel pump is in the first storehouse."
Betty smiled at him and squeezed him close.
Ten minutes later, and dozens of zeds tractor cleared away, they had made it to the farm. Carol opened the gate, everyone drove it, the gate was closed and locked.
John got out of the bus to lead the way. He looked proud and stern at once. After some confusion about how to pump out diesel without a generator or electricity, they resolved the situation with the hand pump. While there was a sense of relaxation caused by their escape, Kevin remained tense.
Too many smiles, too much nervous laughing, too much belief that they had escaped.
He couldn't handle it, "Hey, we can't piss around. Those things are no more than fifty minutes away."
The sense of relief in the tribe disappeared immediately. Eula said, "We will be okay. We have time."
He shook his head. "How do we know the road we are going down doesn't have the same march of zombies as is behind us?"
Betty touched Eula on the shoulder with a nod towards Kevin.
Kevin said, "Don't do that, just don't. This is not over. You are all too relaxed. That mob is coming, and those tractors can't run them all over. They could stop the bus in its tracks, they can stop tractors as well."
Only Jeremy kept moving, pumping as hard as he could, filling up the first tractor. Jeremy said, "He is right, lets focus. When I get too tired to pump fast, someone else takes over. There was no letup. We have to fill the tanks of all three to make it tonight, and then some just in case something takes us off track."
Betty said, "You are right. Those with guns stand guard at the gate. Give updates on how far the zombies are."
Bill and John walked to the gate.
Kevin said, "How long before we get the tanks to have enough?"
Jeremy said, "Twenty minutes for each vehicle."
Suddenly, nobody was relaxed.
Eula said, "Maybe we only fill the tractors?"
Betty said, "If we do that, we need to move the vital things to the trailers."
With that said, they all moved into action. Kevin was angry with himself. He was angry with Betty as well because she should have known the pump wouldn't have power, that it would have to be hand-pumped.
Eula was walking beside him, she said, "Good thinking to bring us back to reality."
"Yeah, it would have been better to move earlier than we did."
"Still, good thinking. Maybe we should not bother to fill both tanks, we don't really need to make it all the way in one go, we can stop at another farm. Most of them have fuel pumps anyway."
Jeremy called out, "Next."
Eula smiled, "My turn." She ran up, Jeremy looked unsure about letting her have a turn, but in true Eula fashion, she pushed him aside and pumped the lever as fast as she could. Jeremy gave an approving nod then joined the crew that was moving things to the trailer.
For the next thirty minutes, the rotation of people pumping the diesel worked. The bus was mostly cleared out, the trailers were full of things and people. That was when Fred appeared, he looked pale, "They are here. Ten minutes at most."
The pumping stopped. Everyone loaded onto the trailer quickly.
The tractors were turned on, Kevin ran to the gate to see the sight. While waiting, the watch people had been busy dispatching the zeds.
Anton opened the gate as the tractors arrived.
The zombies, hearing the sound, created a united groan that reached out to them all and locked their throats up in fear.
Kevin got into the trailer of Eula's tractor. Fred led the small tractor train. They turned away from the chasing zombies and made their own slow tracks into the night.
They were heading East. Kevin was losing faith. Betty said, "What are your concerns?"
He looked at Betty. "Well, Kyneton is about the same distance as Pucka is from Melbourne, and look at what happened. I am wondering if heading East is the best direction. I think we should head North."
Betty said, "It is a military base. They know how to defend themselves."
"From people, yes. But a million zombies who never stop coming?"
He saw her understanding in her eyes.
She said, "We will go there and explain this to them. If they listen, they will either explain how they are right to stay. If it makes sense, we stay. I not, we leave with or without them."
Kevin said, "Well, let's just get there, shall we."
When he said that, the tractor came to a stop. Kevin stuck his head out to see what was happening.
In the powerful headlights, all he could see coming into sight was a wall of zombies.