Sibling Rivalry in
a Zombie Apocalypse
and I were the personification of sibling rivalry. Let me start by saying, I
loved her. I really did. After all, as they say, blood is thicker than water. Sandra
was two years younger and from the moment she made her entrance into this
world, she became my rival. Suddenly,
she was getting all of our parent’s attention. I had always been at the centre
of their universe. I was the golden one. Adored and cherished. Now, I found
myself competing with this new interloper.
twenties, we have never stopped competing for our parent’s attention. Sandra
is my nemesis. We competed at everything. Academia.
Sport. Even relationships. Tirelessly
seeking our parent’s attention and affirmation. If I came home from school with
an “A” in a subject, you could bet your last dollar, not long after Sandra
would waltz in with an A+. If Sandra ran track in a personal best, I would go
out the next day and smash her time into oblivion. If either of us brought a
boy home and Mom and Dad didn’t immediately warm to them, then they were gone.
History. Kicked to the kerb.
Dad dealt with
it all with patience and good humour. They always ensured we received equal
attention. Letting us know we were both loved. Though deep down, I always
suspected they loved Sandra more. And Sandra believed I was the golden one.
when we were
in our teens. So, Dad became the centre of our attention. It never phased him,
he just dealt with it in his own interminable way.
struck, I was working in finance and living in London. Sandra was studying at
Edinburgh uni. The government advised us to remain in doors and only leave home
for essential supplies. I called home to check in on Dad. Sandra answered and
explained she had moved
back home to be with him. The devious bitch. That very day, I packed a suitcase
and caught one of the last trains out of Kings Cross and headed back home to
disrupt her little scheme. No way was I leaving her alone with Dad.
strange being back home. The three of us back under the same roof. In the past
few years, we only got together
for Christmas, birthdays and Mom’s anniversary. We soon fell into a simple
routine. Sandra and I would shop for
food and cook, while Dad kept a check on the unfolding disaster.
We still competed for Dad’s attention. That would never
end. Though now it was done
with less malice and more humour. Our competitive nature took the form of
cooking. Sandra and I would take turns to prepare and cook the evening meal. We
always chose one of Dad’s favourite dishes.
six, we would gather ceremoniously around the dining room table, taking it in
turns to present our culinary delights. It
was Sandra’s turn this time. She presented her beef casserole to Dad and handed
him an ice-cold beer.
up and placed the plate down before him, as if she were making an offering to
her god. As Dad tucked into the meal, Sandra, a twinkle in her eye asked him, “How’s
the casserole, Dad?”
he replied, theatrically dabbing at the corner of his mouth with a kitchen roll.
lasagne?” I asked, suppressing a giggle.
heavens. “Please, ladies. Not again. Can we just enjoy the meal?”
a beat. Then Sandra started. Just like she always did.
Can I ask
you something. It’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time, but
never had the courage.”
a concerned expression on his face. “Course you can love. You can ask me
important, Dad”, Sandra continued, taking a deep breath. “Which of us is your
favourite. Me or it?”
this day would come, Dad,” I said. “Give it to her straight. Put her out of her
misery. We all know it’s me, your first born. I’m your favourite.”
Sandra squealed. “I’m his favourite. Tell her, Dad. End it now and we need
never speak of this again.”
heavens once more, seeking divine intervention. “Now, now girls. You know the
We all laughed. Sandra and I in unison
repeated his mantra, “I love you both the same. Always have done and always
and made light of it, but deep down, I knew neither of us believed him.
played its final card. And what an ace
it was. The dead were resurrected. Rose up like Lazarus and began to pour into
the streets. We gathered round the television and watched the news in horror as
the army and police fought to control the situation. Soon, the television
screen went dark and began to broadcast an ominous message.
indoors. Do not leave the safety of your home. The authorities will get to you
as soon as we can. If any member of your family dies, you must immediately
place them outside. You must remain indoors.”
appear on our street. Initially it was just one or two. Dad said if we were
careful, our food should last a couple of weeks. We just needed to stay put
arrived. We lost power a week later. Thankfully we could still get water and so
we filled the bath up as a precaution.
television, we spent the days watching the street outside as it filled with the
dead. We even recognised some of our neighbours amongst them.
we heard a commotion outside. Mrs Burnett, the old lady across the street was
stood at her door. She held a broom in her hand and we watched in horror as she
stepped out onto her porch and tried to move the dead that had gathered on her
lawn as if she was trying to brush up fallen leaves.
We all frantically waved, urging her to go
back inside. The dead fell upon her like a pack of wild dogs. We covered our
ears to try and block out her screams as they ripped her apart.
curtains closed. But the horror remained. We could hear the dead as they clawed
and brushed against the outside of the house. The smell of rotting flesh was
unbearable. The slightest sound would animate the rotting mass.
should retreat down into our basement. I was reluctant at first. No way did I
want to be trapped down there if those things broke in. When Sandra bounced
down the basement steps, I quickly followed.
we sat, an old camping lantern our only source of light. Above us, we could
still hear those creatures, scratching to get in. When our food ran out, we
knew no one was coming to rescue us; so, we agreed it was time to get out and
crept up from the basement and looked out into the front street. A sea of dead
swayed back and forth. Submerged beneath this rotting mass of flesh was our
car. No way would we be escaping that way.
Dad frantically rubbed at his forehead. “Let’s check the back yard,” he
said. We followed him into the kitchen.
we counted twelve dead. They stood like sinister scarecrows, barely moving.
to go out this way,” Dad said. “We just need to get past those bastards.”
car,” Sandra replied. “There is no way
any of us can out run those things.”
me take a look
from upstairs,” Dad replied. After a few
minutes he rejoined us in the kitchen.
yard next door is clear. The Berlin wall has kept those things out. His pickup
is there as well and I have a spare set of keys for it.”
neighbour. When he first moved in next door, he had torn down the battered
fence between our properties and built the wall. He worked offshore and had
been away when the pandemic kicked off and we hadn’t heard from him since. The
wall was over six feet tall and ran the length of our yard down to the back
all we need
to do is get over the wall and we’re on our way. So, girls if you want to grab
a few things and we’ll get this show on the road.”
packed a few items of clothing in our back packs then rejoined Dad in the
kitchen. He was stood at the door that led into the yard, watching the dead.
ready? When I open this door, you run for
the wall like the devils on your tail and get over into Howie’s yard.”
Sandra asked, pointing at the dead.
I’ll take care of them with this,” and he held up one of his golf clubs. “Rosie
will be right behind you. She’ll help you over the wall. Okay, you ready?”
don’t think I
can do it,” Sandra whispered.
love. No problem. Rosie can go first. You
follow her okay.” Dad turned to me “Okay kid, you’re up.”
do it,” Sandra cried. I could see the fear in her eyes. “I’ll go first.”
Now, get ready. When I open this door, you kick for that wall and don’t look
back. You hear me?”
clutched the holdall to her chest. Dad’s hand hovered over the door handle. She
stepped forward. I watched as Dad brushed the hair from her face and gently
planted a kiss on her forehead. He then hugged her close. “I love you
baby girl.” Then he unlocked the
touched Sandra’s arm. “I’ll be right behind you.”.
door open. Sandra leapt through it. I
watched her go, legs pumping as she made her way across the yard towards the wall.
The zombies had already started to move towards her. I took a deep breath and
stepped forward, ready to follow. Dad blocked me and pushed me back inside and
closed the door.
the fuck, Dad,
what are you doing.” He was crying, tears streamed down his cheeks. He held the
door firmly closed.
had reached the wall. The dead were already closing on her. She looked back at
the house, searching for me. She turned and leapt at the wall, got a grip of
the top and began to pull herself up. I gasped as she slipped and fell, landing
on her back.
to help her. He looked down at the floor and held the door firmly closed,
pushing me back. Sandra was back on her feet. The zombies almost upon her. She
swung her backpack in a wide arc, trying to keep them back. Our eyes met.
Confusion and fear etched upon her face. She pushed a zombie back, avoiding its
snapping jaws. All the dead in the yard had now converged on her and the
realisation hit home.
and pushed me outside. I tried to run to Sandra, but he grabbed my arm and dragged
me across the yard to the wall. The zombies were preoccupied with my little sister.
onto the wall then clambered up next to me.
Just before he dragged me down into the safety of Howie’s yard, I
glanced back to see one of the zombies had broken through Sandra’s defence and
was dragging her down the wall as she held its snapping jaws away from her
Howie’s pickup and climbed in beside me. The pickups engine fired into life. I
watched as he wiped his arm across his face, punched the pickup into gear and we
leapt forward, crashed through the wooden gate and bounced out into the back
As we drove
the lane, we could hear Sandra’s screams. Dad looked straight ahead, hands
pickup’s steering wheel. His cheeks were
wet with tears and he kept repeating, “I had no choice. I had no choice.”
And I smiled. He
did have a choice. It was me. I was his favourite.