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Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Barry sat; he sat and waited, his body motionless. The binoculars shook gently in his hands, and his arms were beginning to cramp from having been raised in the same position for almost 45 minutes.

A wind rustled the dried leaves that covered the hide but Barry didn't really notice it. He was waiting, his heart racing with excitement. He had first heard the rumors that the Split Tailed Wagpile had been spotted nearby a few weeks previously, but there was no way it could have been true. No birds had been seen this far inland since the virus hit.

Yet much like the virus, the notion of a real bird, and a Split Tail nonetheless got into Barry's brain and consumed him. He couldn't sleep, he didn’t eat, all he wanted to do was catch one more glimpse of the feathered friends that had made his life so meaningful before.

His eyes were dry, it was hot and arid in the small, hastily built shelter and the dusty earth didn't help either. Still Barry kept his focus. He knew exactly which tree the Split Tailed Wagpile would go to, and he wasn't going to leave until he had seen it. If he could prove that birds had the ability to survive the virus they would write books about him. Not that he cared about fame. He just wanted that one last glimpse at his old life before he died.

He knew his time was short, the zombies had smelt him the minute he left town, picking his way over the pile of decomposing bodies that blocked all entry and exit points; a sort of sacrifice to the walking dead, who despite their condition seemed to understand and in return for the meat left the town alone.

If he left now, Barry knew he stood a good chance of making it home... but he wouldn't see it, and he knew that he wouldn't bring himself out here again. So he waited. The zombies crept closer when suddenly, there is way, sitting on the lower branch of the tree, a Split Tailed Wagpile. It was a large specimen, but what a beauty, its plumage was full and healthy, the emerald green tips to its wing feathers, the azure blue of the split tail and the gorgeous chestnut brown of its body. Barry took a deep breath and smiled, he had seen it, it had survived; there was hope after all.

Twenty minutes later, Barry emerged from the hide, his legs stiff, his body aching, the blood still drying on his shirt from where the first zombie had bitten him. He walked to the tree, where the Split Tailed Wagpile still sat, he stared at it, reached upwards and with a swift movement snatched it from the branch and shoveled into his mouth before turning and heading towards town.

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