Poems

The Spider

The great spider must be fed.

But not by severed tail or head.

But fools blood instead

never satisfied.

Vast is its great web.

Endless are the flies caught within.

Were do I start, where do I begin.

The great spider must be fed.

 

 

Strength

When everything falls down.

I will still be standing.

When everything is turning to dust and ash.

You will see me clearly.

When your guiding light is gone.

I will be the brightness in the dark.

When all hope is gone.

Turn and I will be your comfort.

When the black dog is having his day.

I will be there to keep it at bay.

I am hope, I am light.

T am the clearest sky.

I am your support.

I will tell you to stand tall.

I will show you how to see clearly.

I will watch as you embrace the light within.

I will show you there is hope.

I will watch as the dog is kept back.

I am strength.

 

 

untitled

Priceless memories

broken dreams

scratch the surface

nothing as it seems

pick the strings

falls apart at the streams

shattered and stretched

shouldn’t have edged our bets

its a painful view as the sun finally sets.

 

 

Vow

If I had wings

there would be nowhere I would not go.

I’d fly over the endless oceans and vast lands.

I’d sore over the coldest ice caps and the hottest deserts.

I’d gaze a pone the Taj Mahal and the Empire sate within my mind.

I’d look on in wonder at the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China

my great wings would take me everywhere.

But I would still end up back where I belong.

By your side.

My world.

My love.

 

 

A man

I am a man of many contradictions

I am a man of many faces

I am a man of many moods

I am a man that has been places

I am a man that rarely laughs

I am a man that rarely smiles

I am a man that has walked this road for miles

I am a man that makes choices

I am a man that lives with regret

I am a man that wont forget

I am a man that makes mistakes

 

 

Just

Just because the door is open,

doesn’t make it any less a cage.

Just because I walk free,

doesn’t mean I don’t feel locked up.

Just because you are in my life,

doesn’t mean you know me at all.

 

 

Affair

The suit is creased

The tie is straightened

Pants are slipped back on

Belt is tightened

Sly smiles

A quick kiss

A mumbled goodbye

A ring reapplied

Guilt denied

 

copyright@leejohnmarshall2018

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IDIOT, A Zombie Tale

Idiot

By Lee Marshall

 

1.

I’m an idiot. That’s what I am. A complete and utter idiot. Yeah, I’ll stay and fight with you.

What the fuck was I thinking? Jesus! IDIOT! I’m standing behind a blockade holding a gun in my hands. Don’t know what gun. Like I said I’m an idiot, I haven’t got a clue what gun it is, I know what type of gun, it’s a machine gun, I think.

Standing here, with a gun, in the rain, why’s it always raining when you’re facing your death? Huh? Answer me that one? Where was I? Oh yeah, standing. Gun. Rain. Idiot. Idiot standing in the rain with a gun behind a blockade. I could make a joke and say this is how I always spend my Saturday nights, but this stopped being funny a decade ago.

Idiot. I’m going to cry, honest to god going to cry. Idiot, gun, rain, blockade, zombies. Zombies? Zombies! How the fucking hell do you get zombies? One day your watching your favourite film and the next your running from zombies. Zombies. How the f….

‘Here they come’

She always interrupts me when I’m thinking. Sarah, my girlfriend, standing beside me in the rain, gun in her hands, wish it was another kind of gun, she’s just as terrified as me. Expect she’s better at hiding it. If you asked who has the most balls, she’d win, I’m a wimp.

WHAT THE FUCK!…. ZOMBIES! ….GOD!

How the hell do you prepare for something like this? Not like there’s a zombie survival guide, hang on, there is, I’ve read it. Bet the writer of that book is laughing his head off in a cabin in the woods.

Haha I told you about them, you thought I was nuts, haha, whose sorry now? haha.

Bastard.

I’m cold, wet, holding a gun and there’s a thousand undead townsfolk walking towards us, some run by the way. Don’t know how, thought zombies walk slow and drag their feet.

Sigh. Zombies. Stupid fucking zombies. You wondering how we have zombies? Bet you are. Who I’m I talking too? Myself? Great now I’m talking to myself, in my head, out loud will get me shot.

Well, no monkey madness, no moon space virus, no hell too full shite here my friends. No sir, not here, this undead walking crap is down too, too? Okay I don’t know what it’s down too, but its here and it’s real and I’m going to shit my pants.

Think someone said it’s a military thing, read once on a website that a mosquito bite had brought back some people after they died, said they came back for a few hours in a violent rage then they died again.

The military came and took samples and left.

Always the military’s fault but come on, mosquito bites? What a load of shit.

‘Shoot the fucking things’

Sarah interrupting my thinking again, good call.

I snap out of it in time to see a zombie coming straight towards me with the idea of wearing my guts as a hat. I lift the gun and pull the trigger and close my eyes. Damn thing has a kick. I open them again after a couple of seconds and see nothing. I take my finger off the trigger and look over the blockade and see my zombie with his head missing. Seems my shot had cut up his body before finding his head to take off.

Damn proud of myself for that and I didn’t shit myself.

2.

‘What the hell are you doing?’

Sarah again, she’s such a considerate person, I just killed someone and she’s acting like I farted in a lift.

I mutter something; don’t even know what I said but it got me a slap.

‘Snap out of it you useless idiot’

Got to love that girl, she makes me fell two foot high; damn I want to fu…

SLAP.

Another slap for thinking about sex on the job. Woman always knows when I’m thinking of it.

I turn back round to see the wall of family, friends and nut jobs coming towards us. The police, army and any one that stayed to fight is firing at anything that moves. I raise my gun again and open fire at the nearest target. My bullets ripe though the upper body of an old woman and across. Her arm falls off but she doesn’t stop, she just looks at me, her eyes filled with blood and something else, I stare into her eyes and watch her walk towards me. I open fire again and take away her legs. She falls to the floor like a bag of shit. She lifts her head and locks eyes with me again and that’s when I realise what’s driving her, what it is she wants, what it is in her eyes.

Death.

A uncontrollable hunger to consume living flesh. You hear about the reports, you listen to them, you hear them say and you know from books and movies that that is what they want but until you see it for yourself and you look into the eyes of your death, you never really believe it. Now I do. Now I’m truly terrified. Now I want to go and hide and cry and piss my pants. Now I want to be on a beach under the sun. Now I want to tell Sarah I love her and fuck her brains out before I die. Now I want to live.

I open fire at the undead old bitch and I don’t stop until I take her head off and I don’t even stop then, I fire this big stupid gun until it runs on empty and her corpse is nothing more than a pile of blood and pus and ripped meat.

‘Give me your gun’

I turn to see an army man standing there.

‘GIVE ME THE FUCKING GUN, KID’

I hold it toward him. He takes it off me and in a blur he takes the empty clip out and puts a new one in and shoves the gun back in my hands. He turns to Sarah and hands her a bag of clips. She looks like she’s about to cry.

‘This is all I can give you. If you run out, run and kid, don’t ever stop running’

With that he turns and runs towards more people, I watch him as more people around me fire on, he takes their guns, he gives them a bag, he says the same thing to them and he runs again.

But I catch his eye before he disappears. His look says everything. His look shouts at me.

‘Kid, don’t ever stop running’

Then he’s gone. I hope he lives to see better days.

Sarah screams my name and I turn back to see her on the floor staring up. I follow her gaze and there standing on top of the blockade is my enemy. Not a friend, not a brother or sister or the guy that jumped the queue last week. Just my enemy.

Things clear and I lift my gun. I follow the front sight and I open fire at the bastard. He turns to look at me. His face ripped apart. Teeth showing though what’s left of his face. Blood pouring out of his mouth. A nightmare I’m always going to have.

The bullets cut though his face and blood and brains leave though the back of his head. The body falls down hard against the blockade.

I watch and I turn to face the other monsters coming my way. I’m terrified, I’m a idiot, I’m going to die, but before I do I’m going to kill as many of this cocksucking fuck-witted undead pieces of shit as I possible can.

Sarah gets up watches me. I can feel her eyes burn into me, I don’t move my body as I glace from the corner of my eye and smile. She returns my smile and opens fire on the zombies.

Two months ago I was sitting in my room playing video games and watching films, now I’m standing next to my girlfriend firing endless rounds of death into mindless zombies.

Funny how things change.

The zombie advance on us and I watch as they overcome the blockade to my left. The soldiers fall screaming as they are eaten alive. I continue to fire on our section. The zombies make their way over the blockade, a tidy wave of rotting flesh and snapping teeth.

Sarah shouts that they are getting too close and turn to the right in time to see a police officer get dragged over the wall. The screams ring in my ears and I watch as zombies overcome us.

My gaze takes me form one end of the blockade to the other and I catch Sarah’s face. I look at her and notice the tears rolling down her face and that the barrier that she put up has fallen. I give one more look around us.

Nothing but death and screams and I remember his words.

‘Kid, don’t ever stop running’

Fucking great advice. I throw the gun over my shoulder and I grab the ammo bag and a grab Sarah’s hand and shout at her to follow me.

3.

We run, I feel like shit for running, no, I don’t, I should have done this in the first place, should have said fuck off to staying and fighting, should have done a lot of things.

We run and run and I realise that I’m an idiot for not knowing where it is I’m taking us too.

Then I notice something. The zombies are smarter than I thought. The police and army had tried their best to get all the dead to come at us from one place. They forced them all into one street and blocked all side streets off. I guess it didn’t work.

The zombies were making their way though the side streets by using the building. They were coming though the god damn buildings.

We didn’t stop. Running forward and not looking back. I could still hear gunfire in the background, there were some still alive. Why the hell didn’t they run? Why stay and be eaten. I used to think drowning would be an awful death but being eaten alive is a more horrifying end.

I hear something else in the background as well, I hear Sarah’s crying, I stop and kiss her quickly and tell her its going to be okay, I tell her I’m going to get her out of here and we’re going to be safe and happy.

Look at me, from idiot wimp to confident hero in less than an hour, zombie plagues do wonders for your self esteem.

She hugs me and won’t let go. I try to look around for a place we can head too that would be safe. I’m thinking of everywhere and anywhere that we could hold up in till the morning light.

Oh did I forget to tell you that’s its night. Wonderful isn’t it. Idiot. Gun. Rain. Zombie plague. Night. Yep, you’ve got everything you need for a good zombie movie there.

Back to the task at hand, saving our arse’s so I can get laid. Sorry, but I’m not dieing before that happens.

Zombies ruin your sex life.

Then it hits me. I know of a place. I place that will be safe. Big doors, stone walls. History said it kept out the townspeople, they attacked it trying to get at a murderer. You’ll never guess what it is.

A bloody church.

I whisper in her ear and I tell her where we’re going. She just nods her head and wipes away the tears. She looks me straight in the eye and opens her mouth to speak but no words come out.

I pull away and open fire on some zombies. I’ve gotten used to this gun. I’m really started to like killing things. I’ve turned into a damn American.

I scan the street and take in all the chaos. Cars on fire, people screaming and shouting, gunfire and bombs going off all around us.

People running for their lives and praying to god.

The monsters crawling and biting and moving forward in their search to quench their hunger.

I’ve only ever seen a battlefield on the news, images from Iraq, they’re not anything like this. Right here, right now, blood flows though the street and body parts lie half eaten. A corpse is still breathing, impossible considering his face has been eaten and the skin on his rips has been torn off.

Sarah asks can we go now.

I take us up though the main street. Always looking out for attackers. As we move further along the street, pausing to catch a quick breath, I notice that the street is emptying, that we are leaving the damned behind. There are still one or two walking about. Staring at themselves in shop windows. Clawing at their own images, wondering why they can’t eat themselves. Think I gave them too much credit before, saying they’re smarter; they’re smarter because they’re acting so dumb.

I take us further up and tell Sarah that we’re going to cut though a side street, side street meaning an ally way.

‘Are you stupid?’

Just as I’m starting to feel good about myself.

‘Are you completely stupid? We don’t go walking though an ally way. If there are any zombies down there, we won’t be able to get out. We’d be taped between two walls and the undead.’

She had a point but walking all the way round the long way will take forever and more chance of them spotting us.

‘We have to go this way, it’s quicker and even if there are one or two zombies, we can take care of them’

‘What if you’re wrong? What if there’s more?’

Looking down the ally and realising she’s got a good point, what if I’m wrong? I could be leading us to our death and there will be no one around to save us if we get into trouble. I do my best to reassure her.

‘If we run into trouble, I’ll shoot you first.’

Idiot. Another slap, getting more today than I have in a lifetime. A zombie starts to make its way towards us which makes Sarah’s mind up for her.

‘Okay, this way but if we get into trouble I’m so going to kill you’

Woman, no matter what, they always say they dumbest of things in the worse situations.

4.

I tell Sarah to watch the zombie coming towards us as I look for a flashlight in the ammo bag, I push aside ammo clips, food and medical supplies, this bag was put together with some thought. I find what I’m looking for at the bottom of the bag. A heavy duty flash light, no wonder the bag weighed a ton.

Sarah lets rip with the machine gun, her aim far superior than mine, she takes the zombies head off at the neck. Its head hanging from a strip of flesh to one side. Still walking forward. Let it try and catch up.

I turn the light on and go first into the ally, Sarah following quickly behind. The light makes the shadows jump and dance upon the walls, I find my eyes darting from one shadow to the other, looking for something that isn’t a shadow, looking for some nightmare creature to come out of the shadows and bite another hole in my ass.

Sarah glares back down the ally as we turn a corner; she says there’s no sign of being followed. She asks how far this ally goes. I tell her that this ally runs the length of the shops. It goes a though the shopping centre and out towards a park were the church is.

We make are way as fast as we can. We move past locked back doors of shops I went to recently, we moved over turned over garbage bins and bags of crap, we moved slowly under a broken window that emitted moans of countless monsters. We got half way down the ally when things turn to shit.

A shadow I didn’t give a good enough look comes alive and grabs Sarah by the ankle. Sarah falls on top of me and I went face first into the floor, my gun goes off and bullets imbedded themselves into the wall, my gun sliding away from me.

I turned and saw the creature; he must have been one of the homeless that made their way here from time to time. It didn’t matter now, all that mattered was that he wanted to kill and eat us, like fuck was I going to let that happen.

A made a grab for my gun but Sarah was kicking at the zombie and holding on to me, trying to get away. She screamed as it made its way towards her. I got some ground on the gun and reached. Sarah screamed again and this time, something screamed back.

She went silent for a second and then started to kick at the thing again. She had one foot loose from its grip; she kicked it hard in the face, smashing her heal into its nose, the strength of her kicks forced the creature back for a few seconds at a time, its nose disappeared in a explosion of blood and the front of its face caved in.

I pushed forward and grabbed the strap, I pulled the gun toward me and managed to stand up, that’s when I saw it, the zombie had its lower body missing. It was dragging itself across the floor with its intestines dragging behind. My kick nearly took the damn things head off.

Sarah crawled free, I helped her up and took aim at the zombies head, I looked at this pitiful thing before me and hoped to god that I never become one of these things.

Just about then the sky rained glass.

Sarah screamed. Looking up all I saw was falling glass; I covered my face and tried to shield Sarah with the ammo bag.

We heard the moans of the zombies.

Sarah was looking up. ‘We should run’

I looked up to see the first zombie fall out of the first floor window. We didn’t wait around for the rest.

We ran like hell.

5.

More glass shattered and the sky began to rain the undead death. Sarah’s scream had given the zombies everything that they needed to know. You tend to forget that not every single zombie was making its way though main street. These had been stuck eating there way though WH Smith or giving the manager something to complain about and all of them were drawn towards this ally.

The backdoors of the shops were banging, the zombies trying to force them open. I hoped that they found a way to open them after we had made our way out of this place.

‘I see the end’ Sarah shouted to me from far in front.

I pushed myself to catch up, told her to wait for me, wait and not go out into the open alone. I saw her head faster to the street light before I could call out her name the door to my left explosion and the zombies made there way out.

I can’t get past, I can’t get past, bitch left me and I can’t get past. I screamed her name and screamed it until I could think straight again. I lifted my gun and fire at them. I shot as many as I could see but they didn’t stop and fall down dead, then I heard noises from behind. They were coming from both directions.

This is it, I’m dead, I’m gone, I’m fucking fucked. Lord, if your up there, get off your ass and save mine.

‘Get fucking down’

I did as I was told and dropped to the floor. Gunfire lit up the ally as the zombies were shot from behind. I looked up and saw Sarah standing just over the other side of them; she opened fire on the pile of building up outside the door.

‘Come on, Hurry’

I got to my feet and ran forward, I put every thing I had into jump over the zombies. I heard them moan and saw them reach out for me. They came so close to getting me. I made the pile and fell forward onto my ass, straight into a bin.

‘I fucking love you’

‘Oh, I know. Can we go now?’

One look at the zombies said that it was a good idea to get away fast. We made it out of the ally and ran across the street towards the park. This were the idiot me kicks in again. If the ally was bad, then going into a park at night is down right stupid, you’ll never see anything coming in the park.

‘Turn off the light’ I said as soon as we entered the park gates. See told you I was an idiot.

‘What?’

‘If the zombies see the light then they will come for us here, if they can’t see the light then they can’t see us and if they can’t see us, they can’t eat us’

‘Yes, but if we can’t see them then we get fucking eaten by things we can’t see’

‘Yes. No. I, …erm… damn it, shut up, they’ll see us and I don’t want them following us, okay. We can’t be seen going to this place. They’ll follow and they’ll get in, that’s what they do, they find and kill everything, we just need to live till sunrise, we need somewhere safe till sunrise then we can get out of this city’

‘But how are we going to get to the church though a dark park, the lights never work in this place, it’s always dark and scary, please don’t let the light go out.’

Out of all the people I’d expect to be little cry-babies, I’d expect it to be me and not her.

‘Okay, close your eyes and I’ll lend you though; you can’t be scared of what you can’t see’

‘I’m already scared of what I can’t see, you idiot. How’s this going to help?’

‘Just do it, think a sandy beach and the waves or something.’

She looked unsure but we didn’t have the time to argue about this anymore, the zombies were moving out of the ally and soon they’d know we were here.

‘Sarah, please trust me’

She hesitated; she took my hand and closed her eyes.

I moved us forward following the path, looking out into the dark for sign of movement. That’s when I noticed that I hadn’t freaked out in the last half hour; I was dealing with all this shit and making the best of an impossible situation. I was starting to grow up. I couldn’t help but smile to myself.

The path lend past a pond that was the centre piece of the park, a dead body was floating in the centre, there were rats picking at the flesh, I don’t think this guy would be coming back. I didn’t care if he did, I’d deal with him when the time came.

The path split into two, a sign post pointed the direction of the church, I didn’t need the sign. I’d been here before when my Nan died. It was a big church with high windows and a solid oak door, there was a smaller oak doors round the back and side but they wouldn’t be too hard to block if need be.

The church stud out in the darkness, the bell tower rising up into the night sky, a small light was coming from inside.

‘We’re here’

6.

Sarah opened her eyes and looked up at the doors. I tried to push them open but they didn’t move.

‘Shit’

‘What’ Sarah said, almost jumping out of her skin.

‘The doors are locked, we’ll have to climb the side and get in up there.’ I pointed up above the door archway; there’s a small window that leads into the tower. The only way up was to climb the drainpipes at the side.

‘You first’

Sarah looked at the pipe and back out into the dark, she didn’t wait around for me to ask again.

She took hold of the pipe and pulled herself up, hand after hand, climbing toward the window.

I followed and that’s when I realised, I can’t climb, I’m too scared of heights. I looked out at the darkness and thought which am I more afraid of, Heights or being eaten alive?

I found out that I’m a pretty good climber that night, after the first few falls.

I watched as Sarah went first though the window and I followed a few seconds later, I collapsed on the stone floor of the church tower.

The stone staircase was silent and rose up toward the bell. The spiral staircase leads off to the left and down toward the heavy front doors.

I caught Sarah in deep thought, looking out of the window and out over the park, I watched her for a few minutes, wondering what she was thinking, it was obvious what she was thinking really, it’s what all the survivors are thinking, am I going to live though this, am I going to see my family again. I hoped I saw my family again, I hoped I live to have a family with Sarah.

She looked at me and smiled, she leaded over and kissed me, it felt like a life time since she kissed me like this. Passion and fire filled the kiss, for once no insults or a slapped face from her. Must be my lucky day.

A door slammed somewhere in the church, Sarah pulled away and reached for her gun, I pointed mine down towards the stair way, it sounded like it came from somewhere below. Sarah glanced up the tower. She moved forward to look up, I moved in the opposite direction. I looked down the stairs and down towards the tower archway that lead into the main hall. A light was flicking somewhere in the main hall, something past the light and a shadow rushed across the archway.

The shadow scared the hell out of me; I jumped back and slammed against the wall. I pointed the gun towards the open stairway and waited for something, anything to come up so I could open fire. Sarah turned and moved back against the wall in fright a second after I did, she didn’t take her eyes off the stairway.

‘What is it? What’s down there?’

I couldn’t help myself, I had to laugh and I had to take the piss.

‘What the hell you think is down there, lassie?’

She shot me a look that said she’d slap me one if she could. What a stupid question, ‘what’s down there?’ what else could be down there, not like there’s tons of different monsters running around from some big evil corporation. It’s a zombie, plain and simple and I said that.

‘It’s a zombie, plain and simple’

‘What are we going to do? You said that this is a safe place. If we shoot it then the ones outside will know we’re here. Oh god, we have to go down there don’t we?’

I wish to god almighty that she said ‘let’s go hide in the tower and block ourselves up there’ damn woman.

‘Guess we have to go down there and kill whatever is moving about’ I said, I hope I sounded like I had a plan, wait a minute, that is the plan, go down into a dark church, where the candle light is making the shadows jump, and look for zombies.

Turning into a hell of a zombie movie, more clichés today then I can name. Well let’s see.

Gun.

Rain.

Night.

Zombies.

Church.

Dark.

Candles.

Shadow zombies. All present and accounted for. Still can’t get over the fact, and it is a fact, that zombies exist and are walking about and eating people. What the hell’s next? Vampires? Werewolves? Maybe a few trolls? As long as I get out of here and live to see another day, I don’t care.

Sarah pokes me in the head and I snap back to reality.

‘Your leading the way’ this isn’t a question, Sarah tells me this as thro it’s a fact and before I can object I’m being pushed forward towards the stairs.

I have my gun ready as I start to descend the stairs. I tread as lightly as I possibly can. One painfully slow and terrifying step at a time. Sarah follows, holding her gun ready, it dawns on me that holding the gun ready to fire is stupid, we can’t use it incase we attract more zombies to us.

I lower it and remove the strap form around my neck. I hold the gun so if anything comes at me I can smash its fucking face in.

Sarah whispers in my ear ‘We should drop down at the side of the stairs’

I look were the stairs lends, it stops right in front of the archway, if we step down there, whoever is moving around would be on us before we could defend ourselves. I nod and look over the side of the stairs. It’s not a long drop and it looks safe, no hidden monsters.

I go first, I’m getting good at this hero stuff, I drop down as quiet as a mouse, Sarah follows I help her down some of the way, neither of us takes our eyes from the arch.

I give a quick scan of the room where in for anything that would be useful to smash a zombies head in. I found the most iconic thing, a lovely metal Crucifix.

I pick it up and the weight tells me that I can cave someone’s head in with this thing with ease.

I put the gun strap over my head again and moved forward into the light, crucifix ready.

The main hall was dancing with shadows from the candles, I looked to see were the light came from, there were candles lined across the far walls of the alter and running along the wall to the exit.

The light was barely enough to see from were we where, it didn’t matter much, if something moved in here, we would see it and I’m sure as hell that it would see us.

We moved forward along the aisle, walking slowly toward were the alter was, then a blur.

7.

Something moved in the shadows to our right. We spun round and faced the darkness. God I wish there was more light in this place. Sarah kept looking behind us as I moved forward slightly; I raised the crucifix up and spoke into the darkness.

‘Come on out you fucked up ghoul’

I wasn’t expecting a reply.

‘How dare you use that language in the house of God’ a tall thin priest moved forward out of the shadows towards us. Is voice echoing around the church, his voice a voice of authority.

I lower the cross and stepped back, more scared of a pale old priest than of an undead church goer.

‘I, I’m sorry. I didn’t think you were you, I thought you were one of them’ I said in a childish mumble, felt like I’d just been caught stealing.

‘You thought I was one of whom?’ said the priest standing no more than a few metres away.

‘One of the zombies?’ Sarah said in a low voice.

‘Zombies?’ His voice echoed around the church. ‘There is no such thing as zombies. There are only demons and sinners. Zombies, how preposterous’

Crazy bastard, I should have guessed then and there that this guy had a few pieces missing from his jigsaw.

‘There are only sinners in this world. Zombies! They are the stuff of fiction. The people out there are not these ‘zombies’ they are sinners indulging in their depraved lusts’ he said it with such conviction that I almost believed the crazy sod, almost.

‘Oookay, you alone in this place?’

The priest just looked at me, as if he was weighing up what kind of person I was, I couldn’t look him in the eye, something about him.

‘No, I am not alone. My sister is ill in the back room.’ He turned and walked towards the alter ‘she has given into the sin, she was indulging in her dark lusts for flesh, I done my best to restrain her, she’s.. .’

His words trailed off and he started to talk quietly to himself, his hands clasped as he kneeled down to pray to his God.

Sarah whispered to me making sure that he won’t hear.

‘She’s one of them, you have to go back there and kill her’ her eyes met mine; I knew I’d have to go something but it didn’t mean I had to like it.

‘Okay, I’ll take care of it,’ I looked at the priest, not sure what to make of him. ‘But be careful around him and don’t get too close’

She nodded and moved towards the door that leads into the chambers in the back. I asked as politely as I could.

‘Father? I’m just going to check on your sister if that’s okay? I won’t be a minute.’

He didn’t stop praying, he didn’t seem to hear me.

I moved though the door and give Sarah one last look. She saw me and mouthed the words ‘hurry up’. If that crazy priest does anything to her I’ll kill him.

I followed the small corridor down towards what I thought was the living quarters. The whole place was lined with candles, I turned a corner and the corridor doubled back on itself to the side, a door was open at the end of the corridor, flicking light was coming though, a fire place must be on.

I peeked though the open doorway and scanned the room, a fireplace was in the centre of the room, with a desk just off to the right, a bed on the far side of the room, next to another room, the door was open and it appeared to be a bathroom.

To the right of the desk was a yet another door, I hadn’t seen any sign of a ‘sister’ yet, I got the awful feeling that this door lead down some dark stairs too a lovely creepy basement/cellar/crept type of thing and there I’d find his sister.

I opened the door and wished that I’d stop watching horror films. Damn door hid a stairway and it went down beneath the church. I hate being this right.

8.

Sarah watched the priest pray and she prayed herself but unlike him, she didn’t dare take her eyes off the fucker. She prayed that her family were okay and she prayed that they’d get out of here alive; she also prayed that they lived somewhere far from here and remote so nothing could ever get them.

‘My sister was full of sin before it overcame her’ his voice loud and echoing, enough to make her jump to her feet with fright.

The priest got up and made the sign of the cross. He turned to her.

‘She was always full of wickedness, our mother always said that she had the devil in her and now it appears that the devil has finally claimed her. When she first started to show signs that the demons were inside her and the devil was telling her to give into sin, I tried my best to control her. I tied her to a chair and I try to exorcise the demon from her but the exorcism failed and in trying to help her, she bit me.’

He rolls up his sleeve and shows Sarah the bite mark on his arm.

‘So I killed my sister, I killed her, I hit her and I didn’t stop hitting her until the demons comes crawling and sliding out of her broken head and, and…’

He trailed off again, his words becoming a mumble, it didn’t matter, Sarah just wanting her boyfriend back and she wanted to get away from this mad man.

‘She bit me, now I can feel the demons inside me,’

Oh shit

‘I can feel them in my head, the hunger is taking over, I was pure for so long, never gave into sin and the devil still comes to take me, God has forsaken me.’

Oh shit

The priest looked Sarah up and down, his eyes alight with hunger, it was slowly creeping up apone him.

Oh shit

‘If I have to become I demon then I want to indulge in a sin I have long fought’

Oh shit

‘I want the pleasure of a woman’s embrace’

Oh shit

‘I want your flesh’

The priests’ eyes start to whiten, a sign of the change taking over, in a few more minutes he will no longer be human.

‘I want your Flesh’

His last words turning into a scream, He breaks his stance and runs towards Sarah.

‘OH SHIT!’

Sarah turns and tries to run but it is too late for her to escape, the priest is on her in mere seconds, he throws her to the ground and grabs her arms, he lands on top of her, the mad hunger in his eyes.

She screams her boyfriends’ name.

The priest gets both her arms in one grip, his grip tightening as a new strength takes over, he tries to get her pants off, his free hand trying to work the buttons’ on her jeans.

Sarah screams, she looks up at her attacker, his face whitening, his eyes going from white to bloodshot within a few seconds, his words becoming a hiss and growl.

She gets one hand free and grabs the priests jaw just before it snaps shut on her throat, his eyes locked on her neck. She struggles against him as he pushes down toward her; she lets out the loudest scream she can manage.

9.

‘Well, least nothing popped out at me’

I made it to the bottom of the stairs without shitting myself too much. The room below the church was long and narrow, on the walls hung candles, giving little light to the room.

At least the floor was made of concrete, so no zombies dragging me down for a midnight snack. Small archways lined the wall, each housing a small candle, all nearly burnt out, the light flicked as I passed, if there was anything down here, it would be at the back of this room.

I looked hard at the far end of the room and saw a dark shape, it was big and unmoving, the candles at that end had died out a while ago making it hard to make out what was down there.

I picked up one of the good candles and made my way towards the shape. Moving slowly forward, I raised the cross up ready to smack the crap out of the bitch if she tried anything funny.

She was tried to the chair and had her back to me, father must have turned her to the wall to make sure she didn’t know where the exit was, pointless really, if she was one of them she’d find a way out and she’d find a way to food.

‘Why aren’t you moving?’

Bloody stupid talking out load, like hell is she going to answer me, then again, dead back to life is against everything I ever believed in, why not have a few that talked?

Found out to my horror why she wasn’t talking, her face had been smashed in. there was a bloody metal pole on the floor, he must have done it with that, but why? Why kill your sister?

A scream took me away from the question.

‘Sarah?’

That fucking priest.

She screamed my name again.

I was out of that cellar faster than I’ve ever moved, the stairs didn’t seem scary any more, and the room and its contents didn’t matter. The question was answered the minute we saw the priest, that sick son of a bitch had killed his sister and he’d been bitten. That’s why he was acting so crazy.

‘SARAH!!’

I broke though into the main hall, ready for a sight I didn’t want to ever see. I couldn’t see her.

‘SARAH?’

I heard her call my name then I saw her, they were near the back and he was on top of her trying to rip her throat out.

I ran across the church as fast as I could go, I brought the cross back and I swung it as hard as I could into the side of his head.

His skull creaked with such force that the sound echoed around the church for what seemed like a lifetime.

I kicked the bastard hard in the face and pulled him off her; Sarah crawled free and ran to get a weapon.

The zombie slumped to the floor, dead.

Sarah was standing holding another cross, I ran to her and hugged her as tight and close as I could.

I never wanted to let her go.

‘He’s still moving’

Okay, so he wasn’t dead after all. The priest got up, the cross was still embedded in his head, the blood was flowing down the side of his face, his eyes red and hungry and it still wanted us.

I looked around for anything that I could use, anything at all, A there was were Bibles, what was I going to do? Give him a paper cut?

I spotted something at the Altar, something that could drive that cross home into his skull.

I told Sarah to distract him, before she had chance to slap me for risking her life, I ran to the Altar, I grabbed my weapon.

Sarah was backing into the archway that we came from earlier. The zombie wasn’t taking his eyes off her.

‘FATHER!!’

That got his attention. I smacked the cross as hard as I could with a big hard leather bound Bible. They come in useful for something after all.

He fall to the ground, the cross driven further into his head, I didn’t stop hitting him with that book until his head was nothing more than a bloody smear across the floor and all I was hitting was the marble.

The headless body still twitched but the zombie was dead, once the head is gone, the treat is gone and your safe until the next undead fuck tries to take a bite out of your ass.

Sarah fall back against the wall in relief, she looked at me and laughed.

‘You cut that close didn’t you?’ she said.

She walked over and gave me the best kiss I’ve ever gotten from a beautiful girl in distress. She broke it off and looked at me with a smile, all I did was look at her like a love stuck little puppy.

‘Let’s try and make this place abit safer, shall we’

10.

Sarah was looking around the church and her eyes found their way to the front entrance.

One or two zombie wouldn’t be able to get though that door but there’s a city full of them outside and eventfully they will make their way here and find us, it’s only a matter of time that they think to look outside of the city streets and come clawing at our door.

‘We should move the benches, if we can, to the doors, make it hard for them to push them open.’ I suggested.

Sarah nodded and we went to work fortifying the church, we moved as many benches as we could and placed them up against the entrance, fixing them so if the zombies pushed the doors open, the benches would be jammed so they wouldn’t get too far.

Sarah went round the rest of the church, making sure there weren’t anymore places that they could get in and if there were, we made sure they were well boarded and jammed shut to stop them.

I got rid of the dead preacher; I wrapped his headless corpse up in an old heavy bed robe and started to drag his heavy ass down towards the basement, so he could at least rest by his sisters’ side.

Sarah was in the priests sleeping quarters; she was trying to make it comfy in case we had to spend the night in the church, which was looking more and more likely.

I continued to drag ‘heavy ass’ down to the basement, a basement that was fast becoming a lovely little crypt. I put his body next to his sisters, lying down by her side, I wasn’t about to move her from the chair, it wasn’t a dignified place for her to be at rest but considering what was going on outside, I don’t really care, dead is dead and I don’t care what state she’s resting in, as long as she stays there.

I made my way back up the stairs to the sleeping quarters and closed the door. There was a key in the door so I locked it and made sure it was locked tight, just because their not moving doesn’t mean they will stay that way, okay one has no head and the other, her head is half gone but, why take risks? Plus, I don’t know if there is anything else buried down there, I don’t want zombie cats and dogs to fight.

Sarah had moved the mattress down to the floor and must have found every set of sheets that the priest owned. She had made herself one very comfy looking bed. She also set some candles on the desk, not too many to attract attention but enough to give us light to see were we’re going.

I moved across to her and sat next to her on the bed; she was sitting cross-legged and was going though the backpack that was given to us.

She emptied it out onto the bed and we looked at what we had been given. It wasn’t just ammo that he had put in this bag, the torch we still had, I don’t know when I picked it up from the zombies earlier or if I dropped it at all but we still had it.

There was ammo, enough for our two guns, ten clips each, I hope we don’t need to use them anytime soon. A small medic kit was inside, usually stuff, bandages and tablets and stuff I don’t know what to do with.

The best item was a radio, the radio was preset on the channel we should be able to rise someone on. There must have been radios in every bag that was given out in the hope that if anyone survived, we could contact a rescue team and get the hell out of this place.

Sarah picked it up and looked at me, she got the radio on and it crackled to life, at first all we got was static, she pushed a button on the top and spoke calmly into it, I prayed to God someone would hear it and come and get us out of here.

‘Hello can anyone hear me? Hello, this is Sarah, me and my boyfriend are inside a church and we need rescue’

She let go of the button and the static came back.

‘Shit’ I said, Sarah tried it again and repeated herself.

Every awful thought came into my head, what if the were all dead? What if rescue had left? What if they didn’t care about two people stuck in a church?

The radio crinkled back into life as we got an answer.

‘This is HALO ONE rescue copper, please repeat your position’

Sarah smiled and jumped up.

‘We’re in the church in central park, two of us, there are no zombies so far, please, please come and get us’

The radio was silent again. The silence was worst than the nightmares outside. Then it came back to life.

‘Is the church secure?’

‘Yes, yes it’s secure. We made it safe. Please come and get us’

‘We need you to wait for us there, we are helping other people out of the city, we are undermanned and the infested areas are delaying our operation and slowing us down’

‘What? You’re not coming for us?’

‘Kid, calm down, we are coming for you, but I need you to wait until morning, okay and I need you to give us a signal that you are alive and well inside that church, get up to the tower and give us a signal, but wait till in the morning to let us know, if we can, we will contact you to confirm we are on route to get you. Do you understand?’

‘Yes, we understand. You are coming to get us? Right?’ Sarah was in tears, finally some good news and I way out of this shit hole to safety.

‘Kid, I promise, we’re coming to get you out of there at first light’

‘Thank you’ she sobbed into the radio. Then it went off and we sat in each others arms, happy and waiting till dawn for pickup.

11.

We sat there holding each other, all I could think about was what was going on outside.

The things that I had seen in the last few days, last few weeks even. The zombies started slowly, the plague growing day by day and then the panic and then the battles then hell on earth, I haven’t seen so much blood in all my life, if you combined all the horror and violent films together to get how much blood ran over this city, then you would fall short by about ten million gallons.

I hope someday these images will fade and I’ll forget that this ever happened. I don’t think that will ever happen.

‘What are we going to do when we get out of here?’ Sarah asked.

‘Hhmm, what?’

‘When we get rescued, what do we do then?’

I could only think of a few things.

‘I’m not sure, I don’t think we’d be able to settle down or rest in anyplace for too long. I guess, we could either joined the war effort and try and fight back, reclaim what we have lost or be like millions of other people and run and hide, always moving away from the danger, but that’s not a life’

‘I think I’d like to help fight them’

I smiled ‘So would I, not much of a decision though, fight or die.’

‘What about us?’

I looked at her and didn’t know what to say, I’d given it thought but not really thought about it, if you get me. I didn’t know if we’d stay together, I want to be with her forever, I’d love to marry this girl, in the far, far future of course. Hell, I didn’t even think we’d survive the night, never mind staying alive to be together forever.

I said the only thing I could think of.

‘I hope we’re together long enough to consummate the relationship’

Sarah’s face was priceless, surrounded by death and all I could think of was sex. Some things never change.

‘Oh, well that is just charming’ she jumped on me and started to kiss me, last time I mentioned anything like this I was greeted with a slap, thank you God and your zombies.

‘I love you and I don’t want to die without telling you that. Sarah rested her head against mine.

‘Sarah, I love you too and I’m not going anywhere.’

I guess the end of the world has you thinking about all the things you did do and all the things you didn’t do. Showing the person you love, how much you love them is the one thing you want to do before the end. I don’t know how long I’ve been with Sarah but I do know that I love her and I don’t want to be without her. So making love to her is the one thing I want to do before the end.

12.

I awoke to the sound of the moaning zombies and heavy thumping on the church doors. I don’t know when I went to sleep the first few rays of light where coming up and they know we are here.

Sarah was still asleep next to me, any other time I think I would lie here watching her but any other time, I hope to God there weren’t a thousand zombies outside the front door.

‘Sarah get up, we’ve got company’

I shake her awake and then go for my clothes. She stirred and looked dazed, then she heard the moans coming from everywhere. Her cute little butt went straight for her clothes, she got them on in record time and though her gun over her shoulder and grabbed the radio.

I grabbed my gun and shoved everything back into the pack, there were more things that we overlooked but the one we should have took notice of was a flare. I grabbed that and threw the bag over my shoulder and took aim at the door.

Sarah was trying to reach the rescue team.

‘Please come in, the church is under attack, we need help now, please come in’

The radio stayed silent and Sarah looked at me with fear and terror on her face.

‘Please, for Gods’ sake, come and help us’

The same voice form the night before came over the radio.

‘Send off a signal, we’ll be there ASAP. Try and hold out, we are coming for you

The radio went off and a showed her the flare.

‘We need to get to the tower to set it off’

Sarah agreed. I went to the door and pointed the gun at it, I told her to open it and if anything was there slam it shut as hard as she could as I kept the gun pointed on the door.

She pulled open the door and we looked out into an empty corridor. We moved though the corridor and towards the main hall.

The noise of them pounding on the door was echoing around the church and it was deafening.

I looked at Sarah and saw that she was moving towards the tower entrance. I followed and watched every window and entrance I could see, no matter how high they were or how tightly locked the place was they will get in.

We climbed the tower we first crawled into, Sarah went further up as I stopped and looked out of the window.

The zombies were all over the place. More than a hundred, all moving forward, all pushing and shoving each other. At this rate they wouldn’t take long to break that door down.

A zombie looked up and saw me kneeling in the window, his eyes were black and it felt like I was looking into the soul of hell, the zombie let out a moan and it set of a chain reaction as the other zombies looked at me and moaned.

A light shoot out from the top of the tower and the zombies looked at it for a few moments, the flare was up and away and all we had to do now was keep ourselves alive for, hell, just keep ourselves alive full fucking stop.

13.

Sarah coming running back down the stairs and stopped to look out of the window, we both watched as one by one the zombies turned their heads back towards us, the one that spotted me, looked straight at me, his mouth twisting into a smile, his teeth covered in blood from his face and whatever poor soul he had devoured. He let out another moan and they all started to push forward, the banging on the church door began again.

It wouldn’t be long.

Sarah dragged me down the stairs back to the hall, we stopped and looked around, there wasn’t anywhere that we could stand and make a fight, it was a big hall, the only place that would make a good standoff point was the…Alcove, the Altar, the whatever is was, place were everyone faces forward and listened to the vicar talk bollocks about Heaven and Hell and forgiving your neighbour for banging your misses.

‘The alcove’ I said whilst grabbing Sarah’s’ arm ‘where the Altar is’ dragging her in the direction of our stand off point.

We stud in the alcove and looked around. Solid walls to the sides and back they only way for them to come at us was from the front, straight through the church and towards the Altar.

‘All we need to do is last long enough for the rescue chopper to get here and rescue us. We can make a stand here’

Sarah looked doubtful, ‘Sarah, we have to make a stand’

She looked around at our surroundings, weighing up our options, whatever options we had left, the sound of the zombies banging on the door was getting louder, the door was starting to creek and crack under the weight of the damned.

‘We need to move what benches we can up here, make a blockade, slow them down abit, we can make it pretty high if we hurry’ Sarah said.

She moved towards the benches and started to pull them towards the alcove.

‘Are you going to help or not?’

I smiled and helped her, we dragged the benches one by one towards the alcove and we lined them up straight across the alcove, we pilled as many as we could on top of each other and made other row in just behind the blockade in case they got too close we could jump over that one and that would be our last line of defence before we….

Crack.

The door was starting to give way, zombies’ hands and arms were reaching though, there moans echoed throughout the church. Blood was pouring from their cuts on their arms and hands. You could see their faces as they pushed their way though the door. We had a few more minutes at best.

‘COME ON!’ Sarah shouted.

She pushed the last of the benches up against the others, making the wall of our blockade higher and harder to get though. She ran over to where a few candles were still burning and pulled the table clothes of the display areas and set fire to them, she dragged them across the centre of the church.

‘Do the same to them over there, hurry’

I ran over to the other side and grabbed the cloth table tops and set them alight, I dragged them across the church floor just like she had done, there were now two lines of fire running from one side to the other, yes, its one big table cloth.

The wall of fire would slow them down for about 30 seconds before they hunger would be too much to even notice that they had become walking matchsticks, okay, maybe not the best idea to be eaten alive and burnt to death at the same time, but like they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The church amplified the sound of the doors breaking apart, the top half of the doors snapped and broke into two large parts and the pieces fell to the floor followed by a waterfall of zombies.

The zombies in their quest to gain entrance had slowly piled on top of each other and their weight and consistent clawing at the church doors had taken its toll. Now they were pushing and ripping the door apart as they started too stumbled though.

‘Let’s go’ Sarah grabbed me and dragged me back towards our blockade.

Sarah jumped over and opened the bag we were given.

I started to make by way over but turned back to look at the zombies at the entrance, it looked like the gates of Hell themselves were bursting open.

‘We should have made more fires’ Sarah said ‘slow them down abit more, they don’t like fire, remember? The first time we saw a street fight? They were throwing molavok cocktails at them and they were going down pretty easy, set them on fire and cook the brain, that’s what they told us once’

I looked at her and then over her shoulder into the alcove, I looked around and couldn’t find what I wanted, I looked at the doorway to the Vicars room.

‘Stay here, I’ll be right back’

‘What! Where are you going?’

Before I had even finished my words I was running though the door and down the corridor.

14.

Sarah watched the door that her boyfriend just ran though, what the hell is he doing?

She turned back to the front doors. The zombies were still pushing there way though, the ones that had fallen though the top half had smashed their heads on the hard floor, the ones that had survived going head first into concrete were trying to drag themselves out from under the others, it seemed that the fall had broken one or two bones that they needed to walk and function.

Thank god.

The benches pushed up to the doors were starting to move backwards, it wouldn’t be long till the door swung open and hell descended.

A zombie pushed his way though one of the gaps near the top half of the door, it crawled down the door wreckage, if moved forward clawing his way across the floor, his mouth open and blood tripping from his arms and hands and face as he stumbled to get his footing, he got one foot under him and pushed up, his other leg helping him to gain his balance, he stud up straight and let out a cry of triumph.

A shot rang out and the zombies head went back as a hole appeared in his head, he stumbles and his milky white eyes roll to the back of his head, he lets out a moan and falls to his knees and then crashes into the floor, a pool of black blood pouring out onto the church floor.

Hhmm I’m getting good at this.

The door crack and creek as they finally break open, the door rips apart as the zombies pull pieces off and push the door and benches to one side, what’s left of the top half of the door comes crashing down on top of the zombies, buying a few more seconds.

Sarah shouts her boyfriends’ name.

‘WHERE ARE YOU?’

The zombies push the final pieces of door away, they stand for a moment, taking in their surroundings, looking for something, Sarah ducks down under the benches, she peeks though a small gap in the blockade and sees that they are looking for the food they have thought so hard to get at.

The first of the zombies look in her direction and stumble forward, they let out a low moan, Sarah lifts her gun and points it though the small gap.

The zombies start moving into the church, spreading out and looking around.

Sarah’s breathing grows faster as panic slowly starts to take over. She closes her eyes and takes a few deep breaths and then looks back though the gap, the zombies walk towards the flames unsure on what to do. Sarah makes up their minds for them.

She screams her boyfriends name one last time and then opens fire.

15.

Did I just hear my name being called?

‘Sorry Sarah, you’ll just have to hang on a few more minutes’

I’m tearing the victors’ room apart looking for the communal wine. There should be a few bottles somewhere around here, its Jesus blood for Christ’s sake.

Out of all the things to hide, he hides the wine. Bet the crazy son of a bitch drank it all, might explain some of his craziness.

‘For fucks sake. Where the hell is it?’

I’ve searched every room in this in this place and no sign of the booze. It has too be somewhere close.

Could it be down in the crept?

I didn’t see it down there. Well, I didn’t look that hard at anything that wasn’t a zombie.

God, I have to go back down there, don’t i?

I stare at the door; the key was still in the lock.

I’m trying to find the balls to go back down there, okay, I know what’s down there is dead but it still creeps me out and I still don’t want to go down into the dark again.

I hear my name again and gun fire.

‘Fuck it’

I walk towards the door, grabbing an empty bag I uncovered a minute ago and I turn the key and unlock the door.

I pull the door open and take a step back and raise the gun.

Nothing.

‘C’mon man, get a grip’

I run down the stairs with my gun aimed and ready for anything. I reach the bottom of the stairs without a problem and my eyes take a second to adjust to the darkness. The candles having died out some time during the night.

My eyes adjust enough for me to see it, a wine rack on the right of the stairs.

How did I miss that?

I open the bag and throw every bottle I can manage in.

THUD.

I turn and look into the room behind me, something has just crashed into the room from somewhere, could this place have had a outside access, some kind of coal shoot?

I hear something drag its self up onto its feet I don’t stick around to find out what. I grab the last few bottles and head up the stairs as quick as I got down.

I get make in the room and I run head first into a zombie knocking it back, it turns and drive at me, I manage to move and the zombie, with a little help from me, goes head first down the flight of stairs.

I slam the door shut and lock it.

I’m getting my breath back as Sarah screams all kinds of hell to me.

I but the bag over my shoulder and press the machine gun hard into other, keeping it still, I raise it up and look down the front sight, anything that sticks his head in front of the sight gets it taken off, I advance forward.

Time to go help my girl.

I walk though the corridor and off to the right a female zombie is the first to stick its maggot ridden face into my sight. It lets out a hungry growl as it spots me.

I squeeze the trigger and the muzzle flashes; a bullet rips though the maggot covered eye socket and the woman’s brains decorate the wall behind her.

I continue forward toward the main hall and that’s when I hear Sarah scream and the gunfire stop.

‘SARAH!?’

I shout her name at the top of my voice and no reply comes back. That’s just the kick up the ass I need to get me moving faster, running to try and save her.

I run straight into the hall and into the arms of a zombie and I can’t help but do this.

‘AARGH!’

Scream like a girl.

I push the zombie back as much as I can and a gunshot takes the things lower jaw off.

The zombie doesn’t seem to notice or care that half or its mouth is missing. Blood is starting to pour from the wound, the blood soaking his teeth and a bloody tongue sticking out in the centre. The zombie makes a gurgling sound from his throat, blood being coughed up and running down his front.

I manage to get my gun up and stick it into the roof of his mouth. I watch as his body falls to the floor.

I can’t help but wonder when exactly did taking people’s lives become so easy?

‘MOVE YOUR ASS’

I look at Sarah and then reach for a bottle out of the bag. I throw it straight into the flames that have started to die down. The bottle smashes and the wine ignites over the floor, setting everything in its path alight.

Honestly, I didn’t think wine was flammable.

I make a run for the barricade and bolt over to land next to Sarah with a smug smile on my face and a witty one liner.

‘Did you miss….’

SLAP!

‘Where the hell have you been?’

16.

I’m rubbing my cheek and looking at her like I’ve been told off by my mum and I’m looking for a damn good reason to explain myself.

She takes a glace forward and then slaps me again.

‘What are you waiting for? Open fire!’

I grab another bottle and throw it into the centre of the group, it smashes on a zombie and the fire engulfs him.

I open fire on them, picking my targets and taking careful aim at the head, making sure that every shot I take counts.

I tell Sarah to do what I do but she’s already ahead of me. We aim and take our shots and the zombies go down one after another. More zombies make their way though the broken doors and I use the rest of the bottles trying to keep them at bay as we reload.

Sarah runs out of clips as I put in my second to last, I hand my last to her. She grabs my hand and I look at her. She smiles at and I can see tears in her eyes.

‘I just want you to know that I love you, in case we don’t….’

I cut her off.

‘We’re not going to die here, just keep shooting. They’ll be here soon.’

She gives me a weak smile and turns back to the oncoming wall of flesh. She opens fire, same as before picking our shots, making them count, hoping to God that the rescue team get here soon.

The zombies push forward, crawling over the bodies of the fallen and relentless in their desire to get to us and eat fresh meat. A wall of maggot filled corpses and rotting flesh, facing hanging off, parts of their bodies missing and eaten. Eyeballs eaten out of theirs skulls, jaws missing and skin pulled away from chest and skulls. Some so far gone that one or two have their stomachs ripped open and their intestines dragging along the floor.

All pushing forward.

My gun runs empty a second after Sarah’s. Whatever bottles of wine we have left are used to set the first barricade alight and draw back to the second.

We use anything we can to hit the zombies and keep them back.

Sarah grabs the radio, panic finally taking over, she screams into the radio.

‘WERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?’

Our answer comes in the form of Gods wrath.

KA-BOOM!

a kiss and again.

KA-BOOM!

Over the flames, over the walking dead, over and out of the broken doors, we see a mass of corpses explode into the air. A fireball engulfs the graveyard in front and a helicopter comes down into view.

‘We’re here’

17.

Sarah’s screams of joy are cut short as zombies make their way though the barricade, crawling though every available space. I use a cross as a bat and swing it at the zombies that have crawled though the most, bashing in their heads as they appear though the cracks. Sarah grabs a cross and does the same, trying to stay alive long enough for them to get us out of here.

Over the gunfire and explosions I hear Sarah.

‘We can’t get though to them. They have to come to us.’

‘Tell them that.’

She does.

The radio crackles to life.

‘Find a place and take cover, somewhere next to the wall and stay down.’

Sarah looks at me and I take a quick look round, I see a place and grab her, pulling her behind a pillar.

Sarah shouts into the radio.

‘We’re safe, fire!’

I see the zombie stumble and push the barricade down, spotting us hiding behind the stone pillar and making their way towards us, victory nearly theirs, nearly.

I hear the helicopter guns start up, I hold onto Sarah as tight as I can as the bullets rip though the dead.

The bullets rip and tear though the flesh of the zombies, shredding them to pieces. The bullets cutting into the stone pillar, smashing the wooden barricade to bits. Flaming pieces of wood fly past us and glass shatters, the church organ getting pierced and making deafening sounds as the bullets cut though and bounce off.

KA-BOOM!

I turn my head and I se the tower were we first came in crashes down away from us, the church bell following crashes though the wood and stone, clanging on its descent. A cloud of dust rising up and being pushed away by the helicopter blades.

The gunfire doesn’t stop pumping the bodies of the dead; I see some of them getting back up, or at least trying too. Broken and shattered bones stopping them from getting to far but they still pose a threat.

I turn to Sarah; I see her eyes filling up with tears and so do mine. I’m terrified that we have come this close to getting out of here and that something will go wrong and we’ll die in the rumble.

I look her in the eyes and tell her that I love her and I kiss her. If I am to die today then I want the last memory to be the taste of her lips as she kisses me with more passion than I have ever felt.

She grabs hold of me tighter as she wraps her arms around me, pulling her self closer.

I don’t want this moment to end, I don’t want to die and loose the woman of my dreams and the one I have killed and will die for. Someone I just can’t live without.

Something grabs me by the shoulder and I’m forced up and away from her, my eyes opening wide in fright.

‘You two can do that later’

I turn and come face to face with a soldier, one who I remember from last night at the barricade. He was the one that was running from one group to the next handing out ammo bags, the one that has helped save our lives.

Sarah is pulled to her feet and I grab told of her.

‘What did I just say? Do that later. Go!’

He shouts and points to the exit.

I take her hand and we run though the church. Looking around as I go I see soldiers opening fire on the surviving undead, securing a path for us though the carnage. The ammo bag soldier following close behind.

A soldier near the exit is taken by surprise by a zombie hiding in the shadows, the man falls down hard with the zombie on top of him.

I don’t even think, I run over to the guy and grab the zombie, pulling him backward and swinging the bastard round and into the wall.

Sarah helps the soldier to his feet and he opens fire on the downed zombie and thanks us and tells us to go.

I push Sarah first over the rumble and the soldier grabs me and pushes and me out into the light of the day.

The ammo bag soldier shouts to the others.

‘Everyone back to the helicopters’

I stop and look at him walking towards us, he gives me a smile and puts his hand on my shoulder as he reaches me.

‘That includes you two kids’

Sarah pulls on my arm and leads me onto the helicopter. The soldier points to some seats and we gladly take it. He watches the rest of his men get onto the other copters.

‘Everyone present and accounted for?’

‘Yes sir’

‘Then let’s get out of here’

The helicopter lifts off and I see what’s left of the church. The tower had fallen away into the trees, with the bell tower collapsing it had brought some of the roof down as well. The doorway was falling in on itself and the rest of the church was slowing catching on fire.

I couldn’t help but ask.

‘What about the zombies in church?’

The ammo bag soldier looked over his shoulder at me and smiled and then turned to the pilot.

‘Level that church for the kid, will ya’

The helicopter turned and I saw two others turn toward the church. Our rescue team had a lot of fire power and enough helicopters to put on a flying show. When they go to save people they do it in style.

A hiss and a whoosh sends a missile at the church tearing into its foundations. More follow, leaving smoke tails as they bring the church to the ground and leave it a smoking rumble. Whatever survived the fire fight now had a few tons of bricks and mortar to crawl out form.

The ammo bag soldier takes a seat opposite us and takes a look around. I follow his gaze and I see for the first time all the other survivors, dozens of them sitting holding onto each other, all with a distant look in their eyes. Wondering if they were ever going to wake up from this nightmare.

‘My name..’

I turn to look at the soldier smiling at me.

‘..Is General Nicholas Apone. And what be your names?’

Sarah raises her hand to say hi.

‘I’m Sarah’

‘Hay Sarah, welcome aboard. You did very well out there. Have you ever thought of joining the army? Both of you. We could use all the help we can get.’

Sarah gives me a look.

‘But first, I think I should get you name, can’t keep calling you kid, can I now?’

I reach forward and shake his hand and told him my name.

 

 

The End…

 

….for now

THE
LAST
OF US:
ONE OF ME

The Last of Us: One of Me

Everything had turned to shit.
It wasn’t great before but now it had really gone to the dogs. A virus had ripped its way through civilisation and turned 60 per cent of it to fungus-infected creatures with no spark of humanity left. The good old 40 per cent that still lived, well they had gone backwards in their own way. Survival of the fittest, strongest take all, an already shitty world now turned to hell. But then, it depends on how you look at.
Some might think it an opportunity just waiting to be had. Maybe before all this, they were down trodden, pissed on and angry. Then, this setback to mankind was what they needed to light a spark in them and they took what they wanted and raised to the top. Others barely survived; they became refugees of the world and tried their best to make it. Depending on the person you are, depends the life you manage to make for yourself afterwards.
The man? Well, there was just one of him and he intended to look after himself the best he could and make sure he didn’t fall foul of the ‘infected’ or the gangs or the militia. To do that he needed supplies, and he found himself going towards a place he’d been trying to avoid for a long time: the city.
Infected and gangs are the biggest nightmare lurking within. True, he could be lucky and find himself alone in the city and have a nice, easy time of it. But the realist in him knew otherwise. Nothing good is in the cities. Not the first he had been in but that didn’t mean he wanted venture inside them. Walking though the outskirts of town and going through empty houses and ransacked rooms, means coming up empty at every turn. Food and supplies were a much sought-after luxury in this world and the need to eat is constant. So, he needed to take risks, no matter how much of a risk it is.
The outskirts had been picked clear, row after row of empty homes and businesses. He remembered when the world turned and this place was a busy little hub of activity, you could not move for traffic and people. Now he walked between the husks of cars, burnt out, decayed, some had the remains of families that could not escape. The rusted transport becoming a tomb for the people they once carried. Nature was taking back control and the grass was slowly working its way through the road. Flowers had grown in the most unlikely of places, trees were starting to take root and one or two had grown up and around the cars. Vines, spread out, were creeping though the undergrowth and over low dormant structures.
He searched one or two vehicles of interest and took some time to go through the rubble, although there was little left to live on, so he continued to town. Nothing much stirred anywhere, the sound of birds overhead but the still quietness that lay in the air made it easy for him to pick out the dangers. He crossed what used to be a major road though the city. A small pond had developed at the curve of two hills, offering fresh water. He passed into the narrower streets which lead into the centre and could make out one of the old train stations. Best to avoid the indoors where possible, too close quarters, hard to get away if it went wrong. The open would do just fine for now. The road led past the hall counting house and museum. A water fountain stood between the buildings, dirty water lay within and a rotted body had sunk to the bottom. Nothing else of interest.
He did think to go into the buildings but they were empty when the world still lived. Now there would be nothing of interest to him. Maybe later he could find a place to sleep but he would have to be careful, as old buildings could become a maze to those unsure of the place. Or for those in a panic.
He continued forward, the bus station was just round the corner, another open space and more potential danger. The other route would take longer and be in a tighter space; not the places he is looking for. The road was clear and looking ahead only a few buses lay motionless at stops; some had crashed into others and were burnt out. He could make out the shapes of bodies inside, nothing else. No danger. Yet.
The sidewalk was clear and he made his way forwards. The overhanging shopping precinct was to the left of him; its main doors were sealed and looked like someone had tried to hold out inside. There was a truck parked directly in front of the doors and in between the gaps he could see benches and chairs thrown up to block the way.
He knew the shopping precinct and he knew that is was a fool’s hope in securing it and defending it at all. He could see where they had got in. Smashed glass and dried blood. He passed over the rubble of the overhead walkway. Someone had the bright idea to blow it and take out an entry point. He smiled at the plans the survivors had. Such a shame it didn’t work.
When he turned the corner he was in one of the squares. It had an old, rusted water feature to the far right from where he was standing and it looked like a few medical tents to the left leading up a side street and towards the main shopping street. He walked around a tent and stopped short, In the middle of the square was a pile of bodies stacked as high as the tents.
There were several piles.
All burnt.
He could make out some of the skulls, bullet holes dead centre. Burnt infected. He saw this from time to time in places. Piles of infected shot and burnt to keep it controlled. It didn’t work but whatever makes you feel safe.
He walked round each tent.
Nothing. Only corpses and wreckage and empty boxes. He kicked over the stack of boxes. This was all coming to nothing. The side street; maybe there be something there. He left the square and turned into the street and stopped.
At the far end he could see a figure standing there. He pulled out a metal pipe and stared at the figure. Infected? Human? Could it be a survivor? Not unheard of but … He walked forward. If it was infected he would soon know. He kept his eyes on the tents either side to make sure it was safe. The figure didn’t move. As he walked closer he could make out the size, was that a little girl? It looked like it. Why hasn’t she moved? She is alive and it wasn’t one of the infected.
So, what was wrong? Maybe she just hadn’t seen another human before. The shock had frozen her in place. Maybe, who knew?
She would be a smart little girl if she was still alive in the city and with infected and with the lack of food! But then, that would mean there is food here. Or what passes for food. If she has survived here then he would be more than happy to share some supplies.
He got closer to the child and stopped some way from her. She stood there staring at him. She didn’t move and didn’t say a word, just stared. Did she even see me? He wondered. He looked at her. Her clothes were dirty and well worn. Her hair was blonde, what you could of it see under the mess of dried blood matted in her hair. Her blue eyes shone out from the dirt mask she wore.
She looked well, didn’t look sick, but healthy and full enough figure. Yeah, certainly well fed by the looks of things. He had to find her food source.
‘Hello’ he said, ‘What’s your name.’ No answer, she just stared. He tried again but still nothing. He took a few steps forward and asked again.
The girl turned and took off running; he swore under his breath and ran after her. He watched as she bolted to the right towards a more built up area. There were some vehicles and she bolted over them with ease and shot towards a ruined shop front. He kept pace as best he could. He didn’t want to lose sight of her. If she knew this city then she could disappear anywhere.
He ran after her into the shop and caught a glimpse of her at the back area of the store; he followed and saw only an open window. He jumped up and saw her staring back towards him. He pushed his way out the window and, again, she took off towards more shops. He dropped down and ran after her again. She jumped over a cart and crawled under a shutter door. He followed as fast as he could but slipped on the cart and went head first into the shutter. He swore out loud and cursed the girl.
‘All I wanted was to talk!’ he shouted after her, he crawled under the door and it led to a set of stairs. He followed. This was the only way he could see that she could go. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He could see her hands on the railings higher up.
Every exit from the stairs was barricaded. The girl was definitely not alone then. All this takes some work to achieve.
He reached the top of the stairs but the rest of the way was sealed. He looked around. There was a wooden board against the wall, he went over and pulled it to one side, a slim alleyway led into a corridor beyond. He slid though the gap. It was a tight fit but he made it. He looked along. It was dark and quiet. He could not hear her. But this was the only way she could have come. He put his bag down and fished out a flashlight. He shone it into the corridor. All open doors leading off. He didn’t like this at all, even if she came this way. It didn’t mean it was safe. He walked slowly down the corridor and looked into each room. Darkness within. Where did she go? There was no light in this place. .. She either knew it very well, or she had gone a different way, but then there was no other way. He had checked. This was the only way she had come. He walked along the corridor, kept as quiet as he could. The floor underfoot felt weak; as he moved further down he could feel that the building had been weakened. She must know this place like the back of her hand. Every last inch she would know the weakness and strengths. Clever girl. Whoever else was with her, they knew the layout and been at this for a long time.
They made their home here. He crept further in and he felt the floor underfoot give way. His foot and leg went through the rotted floorboards and he swore out loud and pulled his leg free.

Something growled in the dark over to the left side of the building. He looked around and then he heard it again and fixed his gaze towards a doorway further up. He froze; this was not the place for a confrontation. Close quarters and dark, cramped, no not a good place for a fight and unstable footing underneath him. The growl again, closer to him. Not just a normal infected, not a clicker. Something else. Something more. The big ones. If it was one of the big guys then he was in trouble; the rest he could fight off but not the big guys. He moved his feet and went back the way he came. He looked around him for a quick way out or some sign that he could follow the girl out of this place. If she could get by the big guy, then so could he. And if it was a big guy then he had been on this floor for a long time. So, she was using him. As what? Defence? Smart girl.

Whoever was in this place had used their head and come up with a perfect little home, with infected lapdog built in. As he looked to the right he could not see anything to suggest he should go that way. The left held the big guy. Again, he shone his flashlight on the floor. He could see down and it looked like it just went into darkness. He could see a few items on the floor; he kicked one of them down into the darkness. He could hear a splash so he kicked something else down and counted in his head. The count suggested that it went down a fair way. There were no floors below. Interesting. He smiled. Maybe there was a way out of this. He shone the torch along the floor again and saw where the weak spots where. There was what looked like a stronger side than most. Maybe… he slid across hugging the wall as he went. He needed something to draw the creature out into this hallway. He pressed himself close to the wall and kept to the far side away from the doors – just in case anything came running out at him. The big guy could be dormant for the time. He couldn’t hear any movement. When he got to the other side of the gap he stopped and looked ahead, his eyes adjusted slightly to the darkness around him. He was sure the big guy was on the left side of the building and so he made checks to the right side. He looked in through the doorway closest to him and could just about make out a desk. All its draws were pulled out and whatever they held was long gone. He moved his eyes over the floor, checking for any other weak spots and anything he could use as a weapon. He could just about make out a pile of items in the far corner. Looks like a collection. Someone had made it into a display. Someone had sat while the big guy slept and made a display. Either brave or stupid. He wasn’t sure. He glared around to the hallway again to check for any movement. Nothing. Still quiet for now. He looked back into the room and he could make out a door to the far left. Solid, by the looks of it. He was about done with this room until something at the bottom of the door caught his eye. There appeared to be a gap. As he narrowed his eyes he could make out something like a dog door at the bottom. Big enough for a child. He had to smile at the setup of this place. A lot of thought had gone into this. Well, now he knew the way out!

He turned back and stood listening in the dark. He looked over the hallway and thought how best to do this. He dug into his trouser pockets and pulled out two glow sticks. He didn’t want to use these but he needed to see more around him. He took them out the packets and he put one in his mouth as he wrapped both hands round the stick. He slowly and carefully broke it. The stick cracked, not loudly but in the silence it felt like a thunder crack. He swapped them and broke the other.

A grunt came out of the darkness beyond and his head shot up in its direction. Two more grunts came out of the dark. The sound cut through the blackness. This slight sound told him the big guy was moving his feet. He didn’t move. The glow sticks shook in his hands as he stood and stared into the dark hallway beyond. His heart was beating in his chest and he could only hear the sound of his blood pumping in his ears. His breath was starting to speed up but he was not panicking just yet. He was still in control.

He stood there for what felt like a lifetime. Listening. No sounds came again. He didn’t feel safe to move but he had to otherwise he would be heard trying to get through that door. He went to the edge of the drop and looked across and measured the gap in his head and looked around the flooring. Looking ahead, he tested the weight of the glow stick in his hand. He threw the stick across the gap and it hit the far side. It rolled to the left, and, for a horrible moment, he thought it would roll back and fall into the darkness but it stopped near the wall and rocked slightly before stopping completely.
The noise of it hitting the floor was loud enough to get the big guy to wake up and pay attention, he could hear the grunts as he started to move around the room. He crouched down and listening to the creature. It didn’t sound fully aware. That one noise was enough to get his attention but not enough to bring him running. Which was good.
He needed a run-up himself. He forced himself to move forward. His arm outstretched with the glow stick. He could not stop himself from shaking and beads of sweat started to run down his forehead. His breathing was picking up no matter how he tried to control it. As he moved closer to the door he heard movement from the big guy and his shaking got worse.
He had been in enough situations to handle himself but the big guys were different. Not as fast as clickers but in close quarters, if they got hold of you, it was over. He saw someone once get cornered. The big guy grabbed his head and one hand holding his jaw and the other the top half, had pulled the man’s head apart before it feasted on the body. The man died screaming.

He shook the memory from his head and pushed himself forwards, peering into every room along the way. There really was just him and the big guy. Last door on the left and he was close to having a full-blown panic attack. He closed his eyes for a second and used every last bit of willpower he had to control his shaking and breathing. When he opened his eyes again he knew this was what had to be done. He moved slowly into the room. The light from the glow stick the only source. His eyes moved quickly around, checking every last inch. Litter was strewn around; empty bottles and old newspapers. Clothes were piled in the corner, and something that looked like an old bed. Then the smell hit him and he had to fight the overwhelming urge to puke. He gritted his teeth and swallowed the vomit that hit the back of his throat. He had smelled infected before but this was bad. Rotted meat, decaying flesh and the smell of shit and piss had hit him. Nothing ever prepared you for that. He looked dead ahead and could see where it came from. The big guy had his back to him and was breathing heavily in the corner. The big guy appeared to be looking from side to side but he knew that wasn’t the case, after being infected for so long, they learned to ‘see’ by sound.

The man stopped and glared around, all he needed was to get the big guy’s attention enough for him to run. He picked up one the bottles and he stood up. This was it. He threw the bottle at the big guy’s head and it stuck hard. The thing turned with such speed it caught him off guard, and it roared its disapproval at being disturbed. The man backed towards the door then kicked a pile of rubbish at the creature. It lunged forward. The man turned and ran out into the hall as the thing crashed its arm and fist into the wall. It moved, roaring into the hallway, and he stood and faced it just for a second so it knew he was there. The big guy ran forward, raging, roaring. The man turned and bolted straight down the hallway, follow closely by the big guy, its heavy footfalls echoing around the hallway. The smell of it; overpowering and getting stronger. The man saw the light from the glow stick and when he was close enough he jumped. His heart stopped, if he misjudged this, he was dead. He landed on the far side and ran a little further then turned to see the big guy still coming. He stopped just for a moment; he knew the way out so he could watch. The creature came running down and as its foot came down on the weakened floor boards, they gave way and he crashed down, his arms trying to grab the other side as he hit the edge. He was too heavy and there was nothing strong enough to support its weight. The floorboards gave way and the big guy fell, crashing down into the darkness below, letting out an outraged roar as he went.

An impact thud and the sudden cut off of its roar marked the end of his fall. The glow-stick slowly rolled from its place and went into the darkness below, it bounce off the creature’s bloated stomach and rolled away to rest by its side.
The man looked down into the hole, being careful not to step on any of the loose flooring. He saw the creature below, barely visible in the dark, lifeless. He stepped back and hunched over trying to catch his breath. He closed his eyes and counted to himself to gain control again. The smell from the big guy was fading but he knew it would cling to him for a while. He pulled himself together and made his way to the door way he’d found earlier. Yeah, small enough for a child. Looking in he could see a maze of desks and wardrobes that she must have worked her way through. He pulled at the edges of the gap, widening it, being careful not to destroy the door completely. He crawled under, pushing his bag first, then slowly made his way through the barricade maze. It was a tight fit and at one point thought he would not be able to get though it but he was stronger than he looked and he pushed some of the items back out of his way. Still careful not to destroy the hard work that went into this defence, he finally pushed his way out into the larger room and noticed another stairway going up, on each side of which was nothing but sealed doors. And one final door. He sighed. He climbed the rest of the way. He didn’t see were else the girl could have gone so she had to be here. He reached the top and went through the doorway. A gun, shoved in his face, snapped him back.
“Who the fuck are you?”
The man’s eyes quickly shot from the gun barrel to the owners face. Not the girl, the girl’s mother?
Tall, blonde, slim, blue eyes.
Then back to the dark eye of the barrel.
“I asked you a question, who are you?” She said, just before she cocked the gun.
He stared. “I’m just looking for supplies.”
“Really?” She said, “You look for supplies by running after a girl do you?”
“No,” he said. “I saw her and followed as I was worried about her safety; nearly got myself killed trying to help.”
“Didn’t need any help,” she snapped, “We’re doing just fine until you triggered our guard dog and put him down by the sound of it, now they will find their way in.”
“Who will?” He asked.
“The infected,” she snapped back.
“Sorry, didn’t think of that.” And he meant it; the infected stay away if there are more of their own kind close by. When it’s empty they wander in, searching for food. Now that the place was clear they would sense it and come looking.
“Listen, sorry about the…. dog, but any chance you can get that gun out of my face? I’m not a fan of having guns pointed at me, pisses me off just a little.”
She smiled at that.
“Poor baby doesn’t like guns, I don’t like men chasing my little girl, so, gun stays or you fuck off. Decide.”
He backed up slightly and sighed.
“So,” he said at length, “How long we staying like this, then? All I want is supplies, if you do not have any to spare, fair enough. All I ask is a place to hole up until tomorrow.”
He smiled at the end, hoping that it would disarm her, convince her he is a nice guy.
“Does that work?”
“Does what work?” He asked.
“That dumb-fuck smile?” It faded quickly after that. “So, a strange man who we have never met before wants to stay the night with two females! Hmm. You have a nice smile so that means you’re on the level and we should just trust you?”
He stood there with a blank expression on his face.
“So,” she continued, “We are to trust that you don’t want to rape, kill and eat us and maybe not in that order either? Is that it?”

For a moment, he didn’t know what to say. He looked from the barrel of the gun to the woman’s face, then he moved his gaze from her to the child who was standing away from them both in another doorway.

“Listen” he said at length, “You have no reason to trust or believe me. All I wanted was to check on the girl, see if she was alright. Been awhile since I’ve seen anyone and a child in the city is a rare thing. She has you, she’s fine and so I will make my way back out. Am I allowed to leave?”

He looked her straight in the eyes then, hopefully she could see he was on the level and wasn’t a monster that so many become. She stared, weighing him up. Then she smiled and he smiled back. It worked; he was in.
“Fuck off” she said and nodded the gun in the direction of the door. His smile faded again fast. “Lovely speech, but I’m not taking the risk. I didn’t live this long by being soft. So, fuck off.”

He stared, then nodded and started making his way back towards the door. Not taking his eyes off the gun. He got to the door and she was still holding firm. He turned and started making his way down again.

“Can’t he stay?” The girl said.
“No.”
“Why not?”
“We don’t know him and I don’t trust him.”
“But he came all this way just to see if I was alright and he didn’t look like those nasty men,” said the girl.
The woman looked at her and looked at the doorway.
“Please, let him stay. Just for one night. We have some food. Please.”
The woman looked at the girl; she had spent a lot of time keeping her safe and didn’t want to let the wrong people in. But even she had to admit that he seemed on the level. But then, a lot of years have gone by and normal decent people have had to become something else to survive, but even so. The woman looked at the girl’s face and saw her pleading eyes and sighed.
“If this goes wrong…“ She began to say.
The girl’s face lit up and she ran to the top of the stairs and shouted down.
“Hey! Hey mister! You still wanna stay?”
The man looked up and smiled.

They had made their camp on the top floor of the building which looked like it used to be a storage area for the shops below. Most parts were sealed and the windows were boarded up even though there wasn’t much chance of anything getting in. Not at this height. There were other rooms leading off, what he saw was nothing special. Same kind of set up that he had seen many times. The woman had followed on behind them as the girl had led the way, so chatty, so happy to see someone else other than the woman. He thought of asking if they were related but it didn’t matter. Not in the end. He followed and smiled and listened to the girl and she mentioned all the things she would love to see but won’t as they are long gone. Like zoos and fun fairs and all the people at festivals and how people cheer at sports games and a sports game itself. How she would like to play with other kids her age, and play hide and seek and tick and house and do normal things that are now lost to her. He felt sadness at this, he had lost everything when the virus hit and when it destroyed his world he didn’t think nor care much after that about anyone else’s. About what they lost and were never likely to get back. But this girl made him feel bad, just a child and she will never get to know what the old world was like. She will only ever know hunger and terror and fear. Always be living in places like this and watching her back in case she lets the wrong one in. It was heart-breaking to think how dark the world had become. He shook the thoughts from his head and tried to focus on something else. Tried to get the conversation away from what was.

“So, er, have you guys been here long?”

“Why?” came the woman’s sharp reply.

“I just wondered.”

“Oh right, well as long you’re wondering, it’s none of your business is it?”

“3 years!” The girl said cheerfully.

The woman shot her a look as a warning not to say more. The girl ignored it.
“We’ve been here a while. I don’t remember our last home but I like it here. I like all the hideaway places in here. And there is one place where the ceiling fell in. I cleared some of it and when it’s a nice, warm night, I lie there and stare at the stars.”
The girl had stopped talking and was smiling to herself as she spoke. “I wish I had friends to play with but I have pets and they keep me company.”

“What pets?” The woman said, eyeing the girl, wearily.

The girl’s eyes went wide as she realised that she had said too much. The pets were her secret.

“What pets?” The woman said again with more command.

The girl looked at her then dropped her gaze to the floor and rocked left to right. Knowing she had done something she shouldn’t. The man looked from one to the other. He bit his lip so not to get involved.

“Well?” The woman said. The girl looked up and her eyes shot to the man for support but found none. Then she looked at the woman.
“Just… pets, you know, rats and mice and they’re my friends.”

The woman sighed. “Do you know how much you put yourself in danger? They could be infected. One bite or scratch and you…” She broke off as her voice cracked. Her tough exterior had given way. Just for a moment as she fought to control herself. She looked up at the girl.
“You are all I have in this world. You can’t leave me. And it’s my job to protect you.”

The girl went back to staring at the floor and kicked at nothing in particular.

The woman stared up at the ceiling for a moment. The man simply looked uncomfortable. He understood her concerns and everyone in this new world needed something to live for. Otherwise there was no point in anything, any more.

“Those pets,” the woman said at length. “They are gone. You are not to play with any animals you find or come across, you understand? They might not look infected but they could be and we are just good at surviving. We’re not immune. Is that understood?”

The girl nodded still staring down.

“Do you understand?” The woman said again. “I want to hear you say it!”

“I understand!” The girl said.

“Good, and we are going to get rid of those pets. The girl’s eyes shot to the woman’s.

“But…” she began to say.

“No buts.” She was cut off. “They are dangerous. I don’t want them around and they are going.”

The girl nodded and turned on her heels. The woman followed after throwing a look towards the man. He didn’t say anything. It wasn’t his place and despite it all, she was right. Wild animals were too dangerous to have around.

They finally stopped at what looked like the end office. The woman stopped outside and then pointed to the door next to it.

“That’s a fairly big store cupboard. You can sleep in there. This is us. And if you’re thinking about killing us when we sleep. Don’t. The door locks from inside. She smiled and the girl just looked on. There is some bedding we had spare so you should be comfortable and there isn’t much of anything to steal.”

“Can he have supper with us? I’m hungry and we don’t talk much anymore,” said the girl. The woman looked down at her for a few seconds, weighing it up. She nodded and the girl smiled and ran into the other room.

“I’ll make supper,” the girl shouted back.

The woman looked for a long moment at the man, then walked into the room. He followed.

The room was fairly large. It must have been an office at one time as there was a desk and some cabinets. There were two beds to the right of the room. As far from the door as possible. The desk was being used as a workbench by the look of it and one of the cabinets lay on its side. That was the table with the drawers acting as seats. At the far side of the room lay what passed for their worldly possessions. And also another little cupboard. Maybe an en-suite bathroom…

The girl had set about lighting a small cooker and getting pans together. She poured some water into the pans and set them down on the cooker. The girl turned and went towards the door in the corner – the one he thought could be an en-suite bathroom. It turned out to be just a normal cupboard but he could see the shelves lined inside with row upon row of food tins. He stepped a little closer. Supplies. More than enough to get him by. So many, he guessed, that they could spare a few of them. That he was sure. Just had to talk them out of the cans. But then he could be a sweet talker if he really wanted something.

“No!” Came a reply to an unasked question.

He turned to face the woman. She was staring at him with keen eyes.

“Just, no.” she said again.

“I didn’t say anything.” He said. Her look said that she didn’t trust him. He turned to the cupboard and the girl was coming out with a smile on her face.

“So, what’s for supper?” He asked.

………….

They sat and ate their food. Nothing special, but it was hot food and it was a luxury in these times. The girl had not stopped talking and he told stories about himself of what he had been up to and why he was alone walking around the city. The girl sat on the edge of her seat and listened. She was fascinated. The woman not as much. She just didn’t want to hear anything that could scare the girl. In her innocence, the girl spoke as if all the horror that was around them was just something that was going to go away. She spoke of how there will be a place where nothing had happened and everyone was happy and had normal lives and that they just fixing certain parts of the world first before they got to us.

The man sat and listened with sadness in his heart. The world was never going back to how it was. The only hope was that the infected would eventually die off so that mankind could sleep a little easier at night. He had even lost count of the years between normal life and when the outbreak happened. All the horror of this new world. Everyone was a monster now. There was no going back from that.

“So how did you guys end up here?” He asked, stopping the girl mid-sentence. The girl looked at him then at the woman. She hadn’t said much of anything since before and she just stared and stopped eating. She bit into her food and chewed over it, like she was chewing over her answer. She looked for a long time into the flames of the cookers that kept them warm. She finished her food and put the tin down then wiped her mouth in a way that said she came from higher upbringing. Elegant. Measured. He had forgotten how people were before. She sat up straight and looked towards the girl.

“We were in a town on the outskirts of the city. It was me, her and as many of the family we could get together. We had land and a house, standing on its own. Through the woodlands, you could see our neighbour’s house some way over the fields. We’d heard the stories and we made sure that we got ahead of the infection. And we did and it worked. We stayed in that house for what seemed like a lifetime. But then we got another mouth to feed here. She smiled and looked at the girl. And so we had to make changes, which was hard, as the infected had not come anywhere near us. We had one or two lurking around but as a whole we didn’t get much hassle. The house was secure and we guarded it and kept watch and we did our best to make sure that no infected ever built up too much so they would become a problem.”

She signed and took a drink. She seemed to be looking back at that moment in time. Lost to it.

“What we didn’t expect was the bandits and the gangs. “It was stupid to think that people would band together to help each other. When there is no comeback to their crimes, man goes back to being the scum of the earth. Basic nasty creatures.”

She paused and wiped away tears. .. She looked up at the girl, who made her way round to sit next to her and put her head in her lap and close her eyes.

“You don’t have to say anymore.” He said.

“It’s fine. She will be asleep soon. She drops off so quickly. Wish I could sleep so soundly. She smiled down and true to her word the child had fallen fast asleep. They listened to her light snoring for some time. The darkness seemed to close in around them. He got lost in his own thoughts staring into the flames.

“A gang of men came. I can’t remember how many. It looked like they were just going to pass by but they didn’t. What happened was that supplies were low so some of us had ventured out to gather more. Not far. But when we were out we must have been spotted by these men. So they came calling. No laughter, just slaughter. They broke in, so I grabbed her and ran and hid in the house. We had little areas in the old house were we could hide from the infected. Same went for the savages.”

“She was too young to know but I heard my family being raped and slaughtered by those men. I don’t know how long we hid but we were slowly starving to death. She kept quiet. Such a young age to stay so, so quiet. I think she knew how much danger we were in as she heard the screams and pleas. I tried to shelter her from it but there was only so much I could hide.”

“I awoke one day to find her staring at me, smiling. I asked her why and all she said that they’d gone. I listened for hours, too scared to hope they had gone, but she was right. They had left. They took everything they could get from us and left nothing but broken bodies behind. My family was gone, too.”

She looked down for a while. Lost to it again. He didn’t have anything to say. Nothing that would help. Everyone had lost family and people one way or another. Some people lost them in the worst way. Not from infected but from the nightmare that man could inflict. He thought about everyone he had lost. Each one felt like his soul being ripped from him. Leaving nothing but broken pieces of a man that had seen too much horror and gone too far down a road from where there was no coming back.

“We should get some sleep,” the woman said. Her eyes looked darker and maybe it was the light, but she looked older, as if reliving that nightmare had aged her. He nodded and walked towards the door. Before he left the room he looked over at the girl, fast asleep. From what he had seen it was a miracle that she was the way she was. Others would have become something darker having gone through that. He saw the woman standing staring at him. Maybe someone else had taken all the darkness for the girl instead, he thought as he left the room and heard the bolt click home.

….
….

Morning came and with it ideas in regard to the way he was going to get his hands on those supplies. He didn’t want all of them. But he did need some. The last night’s meal was his first for a few days. He had been living off barely anything for a long time and now he was getting desperate. He could use force but he had a notion the woman knew how to handle herself and anyway, he liked the child. So that idea was out. He thought of convincing the girl to hand some over to him but she was never away from the woman for long enough while he was around. Stealing was out with them both around. All of which meant the tricky way of doing things; causing a diversion so that he could steal what he needed whilst they took care of the distraction. Then he’d slip away from them both. He had an idea on what to do for a diversion. Just needed to put it in place.

……….

Sunlight was making its way through the gaps in the sealed windows. Rays of light hit the dust-filled floor and dust swirls danced in the air. He watched them like he didn’t have a care in the world. He used to do such things before it all went mad. He’d sit with a coffee and watch the world go by. Watched people go about their daily routine. Now all he watched was dust and the dead streets. There were very few times when you could sit and relax in this dark, new world. He missed those days. Instead, he sat most of the time in some dirty hole of a place and listened out for signs of approaching danger. Danger from the infected and danger from the hunters. Restless nights and tension-filled days. He guessed, right at this moment, that this was as good as it gets.

The girl came skipping out of the room and smiled at him.

“Morning!” she said with such cheer that he could not help break out in a smile himself.
“Morning back,” he said, pushing himself up from the wall. The woman followed out of the room just after.

He looked at her and smiled. But it wasn’t returned. Instead she looked at him then said,
“We’re going to get rid of the pets. You can join us.”
It sounded more like a command than an invitation. But he shrugged and walked after her.

They took a different way from yesterday. They went up though what might be called attic space. This area of the building didn’t look like it had stood the test of time. The ceiling had caved over on the far side and it did indeed look like a skylight. The floor boards were starting to rot away due to the excess rain water being soaked up. The floor was still solid but it would give in one day with enough wear and tear. He looked up into the bright blue sky. Not a cloud in sight and brief glimpses of birds flying overhead.

“I see why you come here,” he said still staring upwards. “When did the ceiling cave in?” He asked no-one in particular.

The girl had sat herself down on some rubble and was also staring at the sky.
The woman was searching around for the pets and looked from him to the girl.

“Dunno,” she said. “This is new to me.”

Then she was gone, continuing her search.

“There was a thunderstorm a few months back and it happened then. There was a great crash and a few days later I came across this skylight,” the girl said. “It’s nice here. I like it.” Then the girl smiled and stared up into the sky.

He looked at her for the longest time. Something so innocent and sweet. She was rocking slowly where she was sitting. And then she started to hum a tune.

“How come you kept pets?” He asked.

“Because I was lonely and I wanted something to play with.”

“But you understand the dangers of them?”

She rolled her eyes like he was an over-protective father. Then she went back to singing a tune he didn’t recognise. He heard a whistle and looked over to the source and saw the woman standing there. She beckoned him over. He followed her behind a fallen partition wall. She was standing there, staring down at something in the corner and when he looked he saw a makeshift cage. There were several pieces of wood around the sides and front so that the pets could not burrow though. And there was wire mesh over the top. It was pretty good build he thought to himself when he was looking it over. Inside there were three rats. Heaven knows how she caught them and got them into the cage but he was impressed with the girl for doing so. He took a step forward and then he realised the woman was standing perfectly still.

“What’s up?” He asked, with genuine concern in his voice.

She stood and her eyes went from him to the rats and back again. He looked puzzled at first and looked towards the rats. Then it dawned on him and he turned back with a smile.
“You don’t like rats!” He said, with a little too much cheer in his voice.

“Shut up”, she said in one go. Still staring down at them.

He laughed at her.

“You really telling me that you, who last night was such a badass and going to kill me if I caused any trouble, who has survived this dark, new world, is scared of a few rats?”

She turned and gave her best take-no-shit stare and he had to smile. He could see it on her face that she wanted to hit him. But she was holding back.
His smile grew wider and he looked at the rats and then at her to ask if she was going to deal with them or not.

“Shall I just deal with them then, seeing how you are clearly unfit for the job?” He said, with more than a little amusement in his voice.

“Piss off and don’t get cocky,” she snapped back, finding nothing amusing in the way he ridiculed her. “Just get rid of the damn things and make sure the infected don’t find them and come calling.”

His smile faded but the amusement was still on his face. He bent down and grabbed the rats one by one. Then smashed them against the wall by swinging them by their tails. When all three were dead he held them up for the woman to see.

“See?” He said, his smile gone now. “Nothing to worry about.”
He walked off in the direction whence they came, rats swinging in the air. The girl didn’t look at her dead pets. The woman looked on after the man. She was worried more about what else he could be capable of.

The man took the rats away and went to the roof. He was going to throw them some distance away from the building but then he thought that they could come in handy.
He took out a small knife and slit one of the rats down the middle. Then he pushed out its insides down the side of the building and threw the rat down to the street. It hit close to where he had followed the girl inside. He took the other two rats with him and made his way to the same stairwell where he’d met the big guy. He cut open another rat open and spread its blood and guts in places. Finally, he used the third rat’s innards to stain the final staircase.
All he needed now was live bait. He waited patiently in the dark. He constructed a makeshift trap that he had used many times before to catch vermin. When he first tried this, years ago, he didn’t have the patience. But now he could sit in the dark and wait for as long as it took.
He was rewarded.
He got his live bait. Another rat, bigger than the others. He wrapped around its neck some wire and went back to the stairwell. He cut off its foot off and then dangled it, screaming at the bottom of the stairwell.
Just like fishing.
The infected would hear and smell the rat and come calling.
Just the distraction he would need to grab a few supplies.

……..

The woman and girl were back at the main room the time he walked in.
“Where have you been?” The woman asked. He didn’t stop walking till he sat down near the small fire they had going.

I went for a walk along the roof. When I got to as far as I could go I threw them as far as I could away from the building. We should be safe.

“Should? You said ‘should’!”

“We’ll be safe. Stop worrying,” he said, with a little irritation in his voice.

“Don’t tell me to stop worrying. I need to know if we are still safe. We have no protection now. And it’s dangerous to be on the move,” she snapped.

He was about to say something when the girl spoke up.

“I would like to move one day. I get bored here. Maybe one day we can and we can find me some friends to play with.” She smiled, then added, “Human friends,” she said again while looking back to the woman and man. “Do you think there is a safe place for us to go to?”

The woman sighed. “We have been over this, Hon. This is the safest place we have. We can’t risk moving. Maybe someday we will find somewhere or maybe the infected will die off or there will be a cure or something will happen. But this is as good as it gets right now, Honey.”

The girl looked at her feet. “But I wanna play with kids my own age.”

“I know you do Hon. But, right now, you can’t. Sorry.”

The girl rocked back and forth for a time, lost in her thoughts. Then she looked up straight at the man.

“What do you think? Do you think there a place we can go?”

The woman turned on the girl. “There is no ‘we’. He isn’t staying with us! He is only here for a day then he going on his way!” She snapped.

“I didn’t ask that, did I? The girl said, snapping back. “I asked if there is a place we can go to. Doesn’t mean he has to come with us!”

The woman was lost for words. She stared at the child and then turned on him. “Right then, what do you think? Is there anywhere we can go?”

The man was sitting quietly and whittling a few sticks. He knew enough already to stay out of it and he also knew from past experience to stay out of family arguments, especially if it wasn’t even his family. He looked up and his eyes darted from one to the other. He put his sticks down and cleared his throat. He sat up straighter and then looked towards the child.

“Er…” He begin, in truth he didn’t even know where to begin. What could he say? “Well, I know of one or two places. But I don’t think they have survived. At the time they had heavy attacks by infected and they also had internal issues.”

“What issues? Where were they?” Asked the woman.

“One was on the coast further up north but as it was the coast the sea breeze brought nothing but issues, spoors, enough on the wind to cause too many infected problems. Things went south quickly in that place. They could not control the panic and they sure as hell could not control the infected problem quick enough. Those that got out did so by the skin of their teeth.”

He sat and thought back to that time. He barely managed to get out. He was on the outer fringes of the outpost so he wasn’t anywhere near the infected. Lucky escape, as it were.

“The second outpost,” he continued. “That second one, well, it was inland and very tightly controlled. But the main problem was that it was over crowded, if you can believe that. There were too many other players who wanted power. The military wasn’t a strong force there but it knew what it was doing and made sure that no one was going in and out who shouldn’t be. The area was tightly controlled and everyone got treated equally in regard to food and water. They assigned jobs to people and every one had work to do to keep the area running smoothly. But, there were other factions that didn’t want to do as they were told. It took a while before anyone realised that there were others trying to gain a foothold. There were two main groups, each with a stupid name and each with their own agenda. Funny, no matter what you do for people, they always show their true colours and how ungrateful they are. Certain people don’t like being controlled. And these people didn’t like it before things went bad. They were people you didn’t mess with and all they did was bide their time ‘til they could come into power again. The zone came under fire from within. The factions wanted control of the supplies and food coming into the area. They wanted control to do as they pleased and make others work for them. And in this new world they could get what they wanted. People like that don’t think of the bigger picture. They are too busy thinking of their own selfish needs. They didn’t realise that we were all safe and well feed – to a certain standard. They didn’t think of how well the infected were kept at bay. How safe we really were. The war between the factions and the military left us open to attack from outside. Some people refused to be controlled and they thought to run beyond the walls. They forgot how dangerous it was out there. When they remembered, they ran right back. The zone crumbled quickly once the rot set in. Everyone was fighting each other more than the infected then it all went to shit. The factions realised too late how much they messed up. Most ran.”

“I have been around a lot of places and seen a lot of things and it always ends the same way. Either I have witnessed the chaos first hand or stumbled into the remains of forgotten zones. If there is a safe haven anywhere – well, I hope there is a safe haven somewhere – maybe there are radio signals out there stating were these areas are. Or maybe you will stumble over them if you get out of this city. Maybe there will be children there for you to play with and you can have as a normal a life as you can make in this world.”

He stopped talking and saw that the girl had made her way into the woman’s arms and was sitting quietly staring into space.

“When I go to sleep tonight I am going to dream of playing with the other children and having pets; dogs and cats, and going to the park and playing all day!” The girl spoke with such longing and had the look of one with happy thoughts running though her mind. She started to hum whilst thinking of all the games she would be able to play. The woman put her arms around the girl and pulled her close. She buried her head in the top of her hair and tried to hide the tears that were beginning to show.

The man got up and walked to what he jokingly called a room. The sight of those two were bringing back memories he didn’t want to deal with. And his attachment to the girl was growing. He had sympathy for the woman but the girl he wanted to protect and he knew he could not stay around long enough. He closed the door to his room and lay down on the bed. He stared up at the ceiling and tried to bury his thoughts. All he wanted was supplies and to be on his way. He didn’t want to get involved with other people. Other people get you killed.

……….

The night was quiet. Once, the city would have been alive with people. Hen and stag parties, pub crawling celebrating the last days of freedom for their loved-up friends. The lone drunks walking from place to place; searching each bar for someone to make them whole. Work colleagues drinking away a bad day and others righting the world with their deep insight on how it should be run. The homeless, lying in doorways, trying to keep warm and wondering where things went so wrong and if they will ever be whole again. Bar staff standing outside having a smoke break while it was quiet in the bar. Police, walking the streets, showing all those who were stupid enough to cause problems will be dealt with quickly and severely. Staff serving takeaways to drunken punters who can’t even hold their own piss at this point, let alone a bag of chips or bucket of chicken wings. Couples who had just met and looking for something to make them feel good, using the cover of darkness to consummate their need. Questionable people, fully aware of danger but unable to pass up the chance to do business with all those good-time people. No, nights in the city were never quiet. Always busy with all sorts of life, the lows and the highs. But that was then, this was now. Now it was dead and nothing stares. The wind whistled though empty streets and into the broken buildings of the past. The litter and rubbish of the old city was gone and had been replaced by leaves and the dirt of the new. Grass bent in the breeze and the trees rustled and swayed. The wind passed over and though cars, trucks and buses. Long-standing and beyond use. Nothing stares, usually. But that night something was staring. Something was coming. The first sign of it was the screeching. The vermin of the city running. A living river of rats, screeching; their mass made a sound that would send shivers down people’s spines knowing that so many were so close by. They spilled out of the underground station and swarmed under and over cars. What nature had reclaimed got trampled in fear. The vermin divided and went their own way to escape. It didn’t matter. The infected came bounding out of the station, hot on their heels. They were hungry. They needed to feed. Their prey was escaping.

The vermin’s screeches were matched by the gagging breaths of the infected and the clicks of the others. The speed of the newly infected was easily a match for the vermin. Some of them reached and grabbed the creatures and ripped them apart with their teeth. Others, who weren’t so lucky to catch their own food snatched what they could from the jaws of the others.

Bloodlust controlled their senses. They were people once. Now, they are gone. The infection had taken hold of some quite recently. Their eyes were bloodshot and their skin was beginning to change and rot. Some were different. Some had growths sprouting from their skin, like plates of fungus. The infected took over the host body and made them root out new prey. It was a parasite of some kind which had been found to infect insects and motivate them to do the seeking. In the end most of the infected prey would be overtaken and the insect would die. In their place, fungus growths would take over the body, and, at first glance, it looked like nothing more than fungus. But, a closer look revealed the insect it had consumed. No one knew when it made the jump to people. A mutant strain. There was a disease called in layman’s terms mad cow disease. Once it just infected bovines. It was contained at a cost. Then, when it reappeared, it mutated enough to infect people. Not to a great degree. 200 victims. But there was a worry that this disease could have been a man-killer. But the fungus was a silent killer. The silent enemy. It came from nowhere and it took everyone by surprise.

In man’s eyes it was just a parasite. No-one was worried or looked for a cure. This evolved to be the man killer. It changed the world and there was no cure. There was no going back to happy days.

The infected fed on what rats they could and slowly walked down the centre of the city. No aim in mind but driven to something. Most were dormant and happy to stay where they were until food came their way. This was not the case in this pack. This pack walked on. The clicks came forth seeking out prey, as would a bat. And the others followed without cause. Their eyes focused on a different world as they moved on past silent buildings and hollow shops. Past rusted and burnt out cars with their ancient occupants. One infected came to a stop outside a building. It turned its head, sounding out the clicks. It sensed something so remote that it checked again and again to make sure. No eyes. Bug fungus plates shifted slightly as if mimicking an old human gesture. It tilted its head and then looked in the direction of new hosts. It sensed the blood and the movement of trapped prey. It sounded out the clicks again… it was closer.
Closer than it first thought. It let out a low growl to alert the others. They turned and followed where the clicker led. They moved as one, making low level growls and grunts as they neared their prey. One smelled the blood stronger in the air and let out a cry of lust.
…….
The man lay there on the makeshift bed, listening to the night. Thoughts ran though his mind. A million old memories of a forgotten life. Happy times and the best of times… now long gone and nothing but dust and broken, bitter memories. Times of failed actions and stupid mistakes which cost him everything. But then, had he known better, would anything be different, would he be happier or would he just be putting off the inevitable? Would he have the strength to continue if they lived past those first few months? He didn’t know. That was then and this was now. A whole different world. Why dwell on what has long since gone? He closed his eyes and tried to focus on something else, anything else. His put his hand on his chest and felt it beat, tried to clear his mind by thinking of the waves of the ocean and not the horrors of the past. He could feel his heart rate dropping and his mind clearing. Then, a cry cut through the night. His heartrate spiked as he recognised the cry. Infected. They had taken the bait. It was time for the next stage of his plan.
…….
The woman shot out of the bed and grabbed her weapon. She, too, recognised the cry was an infected. She knew she would have to face infected one day but they had gone so long without any incidents that she stupidly thought they were safe. What if they got in? She turned to the girl and could see her already awake, frozen to the spot. Her eyes were wide open in fear.

“It’s going to be ok, baby,” the woman said, trying to reassure her. She grabbed her backpack and pulled the girl to her feet. She passed it to the youngster and went to one of the windows. She pulled a board to one side to look down into the street but couldn’t make out anything. No movement. They had to be close. Could they sense us? She wondered. If there was a clicker, then maybe. But they were high up and clickers didn’t move around much at night and, besides, they had never had any bother before. So why now? Something must have triggered them to come this way. The man! The girl was by her side and she held her close.

“Stay by me.” She said. “Do what I say, when I say, and we will be fine, okay?” The girl looked up into the woman’s eyes and nodded. She knew better than to doubt her. They made their way into the other room. The man was up looking down out of the other window. He didn’t turn to face them as they made their way over. He was watching the creatures below. His body tensed and his hands were balled into fists. He tilted his head to the side as they walked by. Into their building.

“I don’t know how many there are,” he said. “I know we have a problem and if they get any further in the building we aren’t going to be able to fight them off.”

He moved his face closer to the window.
“Is there an exit plan?” The woman didn’t answer him. He turned his head and looked at her. Her face was full of anger and fear and silent accusation.

“What?” He said.
“What the fuck did you do?” She shot back.
He was taken aback, there was no way she could know but it looked like she had taken a very good guess and knew something.
“We were fine for ages and you turn up and then a day later those things turn up.” She said, holding her anger in check. “So, I will ask again, what, did you, do?”
He hated this part but he wasn’t about to admit to his plan.
“I didn’t do shit. I didn’t bring them with me, did I? I can’t control those things any more than you can. They were always going to come if I was in this place or not. I don’t care if you don’t believe me, but we have to go. They will kill you, me and the kid if we stay. So I will ask again this time, is there an exit plan?”
The two of them regarded each other, the woman looked down at the kid and could see how scared she was. If anything happened to her… She shook the thought from her head. Nothing was going to happen to her, she would make sure of that.

“We can get through to the other buildings over the roof. If they try to follow, they will fall. It’s hard to get across, we should be fine but they won’t be able to. That will hold them off.

“Right, good,” he said. “Should we go?”
She regarded him again, felt a tug of her clothes and turned to face the kid. She grabbed her hand and took off towards the other room.
He made sure she couldn’t see before he physically relaxed. He slumped against a boarded up window and tried to catch his breath. He wondered whether he was doing the right thing. If all went to plan they would be fine. Mostly, things worked out fine. Mostly. All he wanted was what was in that room. He cleared his head; he had started this and now he was going to follow it through.
……

The infected had made their way inside the building. They moved though blockages with unnatural strength and agility. They smelt blood; fresh blood; and with that, fresh prey; fresh hosts. They made their way through the buildings, up towards the movements of the prey. The clicker sensed whatever was there and wanted it.

 

Within minutes they were ready. He had his pack and had pulled put a hammer. The woman and child each had a pack, neither of which looked full. He’d decided that they’d not taken everything.
“We’ll double back round when those things have cleared out,” he said.

They looked at each other. The woman weighed up the options and decided that they had no choice to trust him. She knew he had done something. All this time they had been safe yet within one day, this happened.

“There is a path across the roof. Might make it tricky to follow if we go that way.”

The man nodded. His eyes not leaving the street below. To the woman, he appeared calm. She didn’t like that. She knew he was after supplies. Finding them was a bonus. She took the girl’s hand and led her away.
“Time to go.”

They made their way through the same rooms as yesterday and stopped as they heard crashing and the screams of the infected. They found the rat, he thought. Fighting over fresh food would send their bloodlust level through the roof. Wrong choice, he thought, wryly. He gripped the hammer tighter in his fist. The infected driven crazy with bloodlust was not something he wanted to go up against. No matter how much he needed them here for his plan, it wasn’t anything he enjoyed.

The pounding feet of infected running up the stairs startled them.

“Move!” He shouted. The woman took tighter hold of the girl and started to run through the rooms and up towards the rooftop. The man followed, and made hurried mental notes of each room; how many doors there were and if they were connected. Screams echoed thoughout the building.
The girl clung onto the woman’s hand, too terrified to let go. Her face was one of absolute horror. She looked back the way they had come for any signs of the infected.

“Don’t look back baby,” the woman said.

Sounds of inhuman screams came back though the building. The echoes in the empty rooms made it impossible to know from exactly where the screams came.
The man told them to slow down and the woman turned to him in frustration. They didn’t have time to slow down or stop.

“Is there another passageway that can lead to those stairs?” The man asked. The woman turned to him.
“What?”
“I said, is there any other way they can get though? Is there a chance of them getting ahead of us?”
The woman thought for a moment, then turned and started walking away. “Let’s just keep moving.” The man looked at her.
“That’s not an answer.”

“It is,” she fired back. “It’s a big building. Plenty of ways in and out. When it comes to the infected a few locked doors won’t stop them.”
The pounding of footsteps and shrill screams continued to echo though the building.
“Again, can they get ahead of us?”
“Yes,” came her reply. “They can.”

The man’s face soured, he looked behind him and listened and tried to place how far away they were in the building, whether they were gaining on them or not. It was too hard to make out with the echoes.
His breathing started to quicken. His heart raced. He wondered if he had made an error, all possible outcomes ran though his head. The worst being if he misjudged his cause of action.
What if he became trapped? What if they got ahead of him? What if he could not double back?
What if all this was for nothing and he got himself killed?
What if he got the woman and child killed with his selfish actions?

He could have taken their supplies by force, but when he saw the child, something changed, he didn’t want to revert to how he’d he had been in the past. Could he have lived with more blood on his hands? He looked at them as they walked away and reasoned he could. That was the world now. Everyone for themselves. They lived in a world of hunter and hunted. Evolve or die. Such a shame evolve meant becoming something less than human. Darwin’s survival of the fittest. Brave, new, dark world where hope was simply dust in the wind. He watched and wondered and asked himself one final question. What type of man had he become?

Clicks sounded off the walls. Each click triggering an inhuman body spasm. The clicker’s head tilted slowly and took in the room. Sound waves being emitted bounced back within the room. It sensed movement; slight vibrations, picked up by the clicker’s inhuman senses. Something made its way towards the clicker.
More infected crashed into the room. Baying for blood. The clicker sent out a low, warning hiss followed by more clicks. The others stopped statue still. Their screams silenced. The clicker tilted its head, let out another burst of clicks, the noise sounded like a clock counting each millisecond.
Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click.
It detected something faint; close, but so faint.
A low growl, another burst of clicks. Then a crash from above sent a thousand shock waves which overwhelmed its senses with everything it needed to know. Up. The clicker spun around and let out an inhuman scream. Blood and rot slabbered from its deformed mouth.
It sprinted in the direction of the sound waves. The other infected screamed in hunger, old human thoughts pushed their way through the haze of an infected mind.
Food. Eat. Devour.

“Shit!” He spat the word though gritted teeth. He had been looking back as he ran and hadn’t seen the broken floorboard ahead of him until his foot went through it. His body seemed to leave his legs behind and he crashed into the floor. His face and hands hit the floor first followed by the rest of him. With a sharp intake of breath his slowly pushed himself up from the floor. An intense pain shot from his ankle.

“Fuck!” He tried to put weight on his ankle. It hurt like hell, but he moved forward, pushing through the pain.

The woman and child were a few metres ahead. They had turned to see what the crash was; the woman had her gun pointed at him, fearful that an infected had caught up to them. They will not have missed the noise he had just made.

“Can you run?” She asked, without lowering the gun; her eyes filled with fear. !f he couldn’t, they would catch up and she wouldn’t put the child at risk. He knew that much.

A scream echoed through the corridors; they had heard and were on their way. Suddenly, the door between them slammed against the wall as a stage 1 infected crashed though. It eyed the man, immediately. The child let out a scream; the infected snapped around and laid its bloodshot, inhuman eyes on the other two. It moved forward, looking to claim two victims but the man reacted fast in its hesitation and brought the hammer round 180 degrees and smashed it into the back of the creature’s skull. As it staggered forward, the woman pulled the girl behind her and had two hands firmly on the gun, aimed to get a clear head shot. It wasn’t necessary. A second, third and fourth hammer blow floored the creature; its screams dying with each strike before it stopped completely and lay there twitching with its skull crushed.

The man stepped over the corpse.

“Go!” He shouted, then watched as the woman picked up the girl and ran. He followed close behind, the pain shooting up his leg and the overwhelming urge to fall as his ankle wanted so much to give out. They ran at pace along more corridors and finally pushed through a door and slammed it shut. As he looked round, he recognised the room with the collapsed ceiling and the beam from the roof that had given way and smashed to the floor and weakened it.

“We can go up that way, get out onto the roof and then it’s harder for them to follow.”
“Then let’s move, we don’t have much time,” he said limping forward, his ankle still hurting.
He looked around the room.
“Anyway they could get in?” He asked, as he pointed to all the doors.

“Yes, ahead and behind, these others doors are offices and storage closets, not much in the way of a way out.”

He nodded, taking note, he needed to lose them, all he had to do was get them up to the roof and then…

Screams filled the corridors again as the door smashed open. Three infected came through. One was the clicker. The girl screamed as the first two came running at them. Each going for a victim of its own. The man moved forward to swing the hammer at the oncoming creature. The woman raised her gun, looked down the sight and took careful aim at the other’s head. The man swung and the hammer connected with the creature’s head. He looked to see where the clicker was and saw it slowly moving into the room, the woman opened fire and blew a hole into the other’s shoulder. It staggered back and the girl screamed again as the clicker selected its prey. It lurched towards her and the girl turned and ran towards the nearest door. The woman shot again and the infected lunged forward, a head-shot having taken it down. Brain matter and fungal growths spewed from its body. She turned to see the girl running for one of the doors, knowing there was no way out and that she’d be trapped. The man was still struggling to fight off the infected near him, the hammer blows connecting with the hardened fungus plates, he kept hitting it as hard as he could and turned the hammer round for the claw at the back to connect into the top half of its exposed head. The hammer lodged home. He looked around and saw the clicker going off in the other direction then heard the woman scream.

“NO!” She ran forward, chasing after the girl. Her arm rose to aim the gun at the clicker, she fired and got one of its legs, the clicker screamed and crashed down but was already pushing itself up. She ran past it, saw the girl already in the room holding the door open. She pushed in and glanced back, just for long enough to see the man look at them and then turn his back, she slammed the door shut, just as the clicker slammed into it, close behind her. This was every man and woman for themselves.

He saw her run into the room after the girl, then turned as two more infected lumbered into the room. The infected didn’t stop as they moved forward towards him. He turned and ran towards the felled ceiling beam. He scrambled up it, just out of the reach of the infected. The clicker pounded on the door and screams were heard from beyond it. He didn’t have time to worry about them, his own skin was so much more valuable. He was near the top as the two infected reached the pillar and jumped onto it. One got a decent hold and had its feet firmly on the beam, the other fared less well and simply crashed into the bottom of the beam. The weight pushed the beam forward and down, he heard the cracking and splintering of wood as the beam collapsed down into the weakened floor. The infected near the bottom had its head crushed under the beam’s weight. The other hung on, its eyes fixed firmly on the man.

The man weighed his options in an instant; fall and die with the infected or jump and make it.
He jumped. His fingers found a grip on the edge of the roof. He turned his head to see the beam twist and shatter the floor, the infected still on it as it slammed into the ground. The floor didn’t give way much but one more hit and it would. The infected tried to get to its feet. The man turned away and shifted his hands to get a firmer grip. He could still hear the banging on the door below which told him that the clicker hadn’t got in. The women were safe, for now.

He started to haul himself up, arms shaking under the strain. He saw that the part of the roof he was holding wasn’t particularly stable so he took it slowly. He lifted one arm over and brought it down on the roof. He pushed himself up and got his other arm on. His lower body muscles worked hard to aid his ascent, then just as he got his hands flat and firm on the roof and pushed up, the roof gave way with a deafening crack and he was fell, backwards, cement rained after him. The wide-eyed horror and terror of the situation hit him; the infected! He fell towards the infected.
The fall felt like an age. He came down on the other side of the beam to the infected. It looked up, triumphantly and made its way, crawling under the beam as the man hit the floor and continued straight through it. The shattered wood splintered into the air and the beam groaned and also fell though the floor, following his descent.
The infected was trapped under the beam and was crushed as it was brought down on him. The man slammed down into the next floor, the wind completely knocked from him. He looked to see the beam crash into the floor next to him and with it the now lifeless body of the infected. The beam started to come towards him, and he gathered what little remaining strength he had and rolled out of the way as it crashed into the floor beside him. He lay there on his stomach trying his best to get his breath back, and finally pushed himself up back onto his feet and stood there in silence. He listened for danger and heard the continued pounding on the door upstairs. He thought of the woman and girl as he stared up at the hole in the ceiling, then turned his head and walked towards the door. This was his chance, now or never. They were on their own.

They heard the crash from the other side of the door, guessing that the roof had given way. The floor trembled with the shock waves of the falling beam, whilst all the time the clicker still slammed at the door. She hoped that it would have been drawn away from there, at least giving them a chance to make a run for it. She wondered if the man was still alive, then realised she didn’t give a shit. He was the cause of all this, she was sure of it. Now she and the girl were trapped with the infected trying to get in. She looked around the room for anything to wedge under the door handle.
The girl had stayed close to help hold it shut.

“Get that chair!” She nodded over to it. The girl looked up, not willing to leave her side.

“I can hold the door. Get the chair!” The girl dragged it over and the woman forced it under the door handle, making sure it was jammed tight. She held her position and pushed up against the door. They might be fine, but years of damp had affected near enough everything; what once could hold your bodyweight, couldn’t hold shit now. She felt each blow to the door as she rested her head back. She surveyed the room, hoping that there was something that might help defend them, more importantly, she hoped for a way out.

The girl was trying not to cry, although she could feel the beginnings of tears in her eyes, tears and fear. The woman pulled her close and wrapped her arms around her, her hands on her head trying to block out the noise. With her back against the door she surveyed the room again. The window looked like the only choice, but she had no idea if it would lead anywhere. The only other way out was through the clicker and make a run for it.
She felt the girl trembling in her arms. Every single day since the outbreak was spent protecting the girl; she would move the earth for her, give anything for her, but she knew that no matter how much the girl knew and had been through, if she was to die saving her, the girl would not last long on her own. She had no doubt that the girl knew how to survive, she had been out in the city on her own a few times, had gathered supplies, escaped the infected and led them away before. But on her own, so young, and in this world? In every version of the future she saw for the girl without her, she saw her die, screaming as the infected ripped her apart, or worse the survivors found her, and do what desperate men did. No, she thought, if it came to it she would be the one screaming, she would put the gun to the girl’s head and pull the trigger. She wondered if she was strong enough to do that. A screech from the clicker told her all she needed to know. She had no choice.
She checked the gun chamber; four bullets. Three for the infected, one for the girl. She guessed, deep down, she knew it would come to that. Backs against the wall with no way out. Using the window was pointless, unless they wanted to fall to their deaths, there was no way through the ceiling or the walls. No holes to widen.

The only way out was through the door, through the infected. The chair holding back the door was starting to give; the ceaseless pounding from the other side starting to take effect. The infected knew they were still inside. It sensed them. From the pounding she could tell that there was only one infected. The clicker. One of the hardest to kill. She raised the gun, her hand shaking, all she needed was one good shot. The woman was terrified, she knew that one day it might end like this but hoped with all her heart that it wouldn’t. She closed her eyes, calmed her breathing that had started to race as panic began to set in as if this was how it was going to end.

Suddenly, the door finally cracked and the chair legs splintered and snapped. The door was pushed forward. She saw the creature’s arms first. The chair fell and the door slammed open, as the clicker stumbled into the room. Its clicks bounced off the walls and its ugly head turned in their direction. The girl held tight to the woman’s waist, the woman’s eyes were wide in fright. The creature screamed as it located them.
“I love you baby girl,” the woman said, tears filling her eyes.
The infected moved forward.
A gunshot rang out.

….

The man heard gunshots. The echoes carried through the building. He looked up.
“Was that three or four?” He asked himself. He didn’t know. He turned and kept throwing supplies into the rucksack. Time slipped away from him. He needed to get out of here. He couldn’t hear the infected anymore. They must be searching the building. They knew full well that prey was inside. They just had to play the ultimate game of hide and seek. The loser being the one that got killed.
He threw the last of the supplies he could carry into his bag, zipped it and hauled it onto his back. He tightened the straps so that the bag had no way of moving. Sealed and ready to go he moved though the rooms. Now all he has to do was get out. “Piece of piss,” he thought.

Best trying to get out the same way he got in. He hoped the infected were deep inside the building and that there wasn’t one lurking around the front. He moved as quickly and quietly as he could through the building, scanning each room he passed, always listening. He heard running steps, faintly on another floor above him. He couldn’t tell which way they were going. He thought for a moment, trying to figure out how many infected were inside, roughly, based on what he has heard, seen and come across. He felt that there should have been three of them, but couldn’t be sure. He told himself that he was so close to getting out, and to go back the way he came. The clicker would be a problem to deal with if it came to that but the others, the others would be easy. As long as it’s one on one. If there were more than that, well, it might be more difficult, it might just be the last of him.

He made his way down the silent corridors, although from time to time he heard movement from somewhere in the building. It was difficult to pinpoint. The overwhelming silence, so different to when he first walked that way; then it was the scurrying, hurried feet of the woman and the girl, now there was nothing. He rounded the corner, barely stopped to listen and gave even less a thought to the woman and girl. It didn’t pay to overthink or dwell on others. The girl’s face surfaced and a pang of guilt washed over him. The thought that he should have helped came to mind, that he should have gone back and protected them, protected her, she was just a kid.
Once upon a time he would help anyone, he wouldn’t see anyone in distress, especially kids. Then the world changed, helping people could get you killed. Sure, in the beginning he helped save lives but times changed. Situations changed. Putting one’s own neck on the line for strangers came with enough drawbacks that it wasn’t worth the time or effort. Or the risk.

Then, over the months and years, he found that those people he no longer helped were useful in helping prolong his life. If they were to die protecting him then that was acceptable. He would use their supplies to further his selfish existence and he was fine with it. But this, this was wrong. He knew it but he was past the point of no return. They had to live or die without him. He wasn’t going to lose any more sleep then he normally did.

He moved towards the stairwell. He hadn’t come into contact with any infected so far. Maybe he could get out of this without any more incidents, maybe.
He looked down to the lower floors. If he remembered correctly, the rest of the doors off the stairwell were boarded up. Unless the infected had knocked through them he shouldn’t meet any issues. He started down, trying his best to get down the flight of stairs quickly and quietly. He eyed the doors with suspicion as he went. Boarded and none disturbed; so far so good. If anything, they were likely to find a way through from the other side. Even places so heavily fortified could not stand up to the infected.
If they wanted in, they would get in. He had watched them rip though barracks with hunger overwhelming them. Most infected only moved in small groups. When the outbreak first hit, the infected would kill anyone they got their hands on. If you were lucky to get out with just a scratch then you soon realised the virus was transferred that way. Perfectly healthy people suddenly turning and attacking within a safe zone. If the national guards were good at their job then the spread of infected was shut down quickly. If not, it would be the end of the safe zone.

It could be said that their hunger was misleading. The spoor that mutated and took over their bodies simply wanted to reproduce and move on, using whatever means it could of the host body. It’s just that the host fought back but ended up in a violent state, the virus damaged all control functions. He always wondered if there was anything left in there of the host.

At first they worked on a cure, hoping that the infected could be turned back, that normal life could return. They only killed the infected when it became too big of a liability to others around them. People at first were forced into killing, people as a rule avoid confrontation. But more and more extreme situations forced them to use more extreme solutions. In the end, after the virus had taken a foothold and ripped apart humanity, those who, at one time, wouldn’t argue over spilt milk, became efficient killers of the infected and of the uninfected alike.
He thought to himself when it was that he went from meek and mild to militant survivor. He supposed it didn’t matter in the end. He had done shit he wasn’t proud of and there was no going back to change it.
He made it to the bottom of the stairs, where he came in though the makeshift barricade. The infected had made short work of it. They had ripped it apart to get in, it wasn’t completely destroyed, just enough so that they could squeeze through and gain access to the stairwell. He pushed his way through the gap, being cautious of anything lurking on the other side. The smell of rotten meat was still overwhelmingly strong in the immediate area, his stomach reached.

As soon as he was free of the barricade he doubled over and vomited. Whatever food he had managed to consume came back up and made him pay. If he hadn’t been puking up what felt like most of his innards, he might have heard the infected long before it slammed into him from the side. It knocked him against the wall. He looked up in shock, the creature stood there staring, weighing up its prey.

It was newly turned, to a degree, its eyes were bloodshot and it looked like it was fighting against itself. It lunged at the man and he moved quickly to avoid the things reach. He pushed it hard towards the wall and the man turned and brought his knee hard up into the creatures back, just under the ribcage, the creature let out a pained growl and turned to face the man. The man swung his fists; a right, then a left then followed by a right again. Making sure to keep the creature on the back foot. His right hook managed to knock it off its feet, while it struggled to get back up the man looked around for the hammer he’d dropped. He didn’t see it, so he turned again quick and kicked the creature as hard as he could in the ribs.

The creature went over on its side with a pained growl. The man walked quickly out the room searching. He saw the exit point at the end of the corridor. All he had to do was get to the street and he could make a run for it. He had outrun worse odds than this. The infected was faster than he thought, however; it was up on its feet and its eyes burned with murderous intent. He ran at the man, teeth bared, as the man moved into the corridor out of line of sight. It would have to slow to turn into the corridor, then he could hit him again. He hold himself to be ready. He could hear footsteps above. He needed to finish this before other infected came to join the fight, then this fight would be one sided and over in seconds. The creature rounded on him and the man hit it hard in the face but this time the creature had prepared for it. It gripped onto the man’s shirt and pushed him against the wall. The man grappled the creature’s jaw to stop it from snapping into his neck. He brought his knee up into its ribs again but the creature didn’t go down like last time. He hit it hard with his free hand, over and over in the side of the head. The creature growled but didn’t let go of its grip. The man had no options left.

He moved his fingers to either side of the creature nose and pushed them into its eyes sockets. The creature howled in pain and moved quickly back, too quickly for the man to disengage and the creature pulled the man backwards down the hole that was in the centre of the corridor. The man screamed as they fell into blackness, they both landed hard in the water below. The man was lucky as the creature’s neck snapped with the force of the drop and the weight of the man on top. The man pushed himself up from the creature. Looked at it to make sure it was dead. He stood in the water looking up. This is where the big guy fell he thought. He looked around, where was the body? He heard the water move with force and he turned in time to see the big guy come out of the darkness. He turned to run. But there was nowhere. The creature swung its massive arms at the man but he ducked. As he moved away, he became aware of the footsteps above; more infected. This was it. This was the end. He looked quickly up and saw two figures standing above. One was smaller than the other. The woman and the girl.
“Help me!” He shouted.

They didn’t move. The big guy lunged quickly towards him again. He turned to move out of it way but it caught him from behind. With one hand it lifted him up by his neck, the other coming forward to grabbed hold of his jaw, the man’s handed shot up and grabbed hold of the arm around its wrist. Hoping to push it back.
“Help!” He let out again.
He saw the woman raise the gun at the creature, then move it towards him. What was she doing? The panicked thoughts ran though his mind. He saw her pull back the hammer and then pull the trigger.
Click.
It was empty. The gun was empty.
The woman smiled a sick smile and pulled the girl away.
His thoughts ran wild. How? How could this happen to me? I’ve been so careful. It never happened to him. It happened to others; he made it happen to others.
The big guys’ arms were too strong, his hand went into the man’s mouth. The creature pulled the man’s jaw away from his skull. The last thing that went through his mind, beyond the pain as the creature ripped his jaw from his face.
He’d survived because there was only one of me.