Mummy and Daddy have stopped shouting at each other and now I am just bored again. My DS has run out of battery and Dad didn’t pack the charger for the car. He shouted “There are more important things than your bloody DS!” at me when I asked if it was in the boot. In fact this is the worst car journey I have ever been on. We have been stuck on the motorway for hours with nothing moving, and the girl in the car next to ours keeps making faces at me and sticking two fingers up at me. Spotty cow.
I thought about asking for my CD again, but I know they will just shout at me or each other like before. They have had Radio 4 on since we left this morning with this boring bloke going on and on about “infection rates” and “demilitarised zones” whatever they are.
I still need a wee as well.
“Yes babe” She says, sounding bored too.
“How long have we been in the car now?” I say.
She looks at the clock.
“Mum I need to go to the loo.”
“So do I babe. How badly?” She says.
“I’m alright for a bit.”
“Good. We’ll be moving in a while I’m sure and we can stop at the next services”
She said the same thing last time I asked.
“Yes mate?” says Dad.
“How long until we get to Auntie Cassies?”
I should be on the beach at Auntie Cassies now. Eating an ice cream and scaring Mum with crabs and gippy things found in the rock pools. We had such an ace time we went to Cornwall last year that I was really excited when Mum said yesterday we were going to visit for a while.
“Sat nav still says three hours but it depends on traffic” He says, sounding annoyed.
“Why aren’t we moving?”
“I don’t know mate, must be an accident or roadworks or something. Same as the last time you asked.”
“Sorry.” I say, but don’t mean it.
“Dad can I get out of the car?”
“No son. If a motorbike comes down in between the cars he might hit you.”
“Well can I get out of my seat then and lie along the back, my bums gone to sleep.”
“No.” Says Dad.
“Oh let him stretch out, its not as if we are going anywhere.” Says Mum.
“Fine” says Dad sighing and rubbing his face. He looks tired.
I unbuckle my seat and scramble to the other side kicking newspapers and bags to the floor. I stand up on the seat and look out the back, past all the camping gear and boxes of stuff we brought from the house. What was weird is when we went on holiday before we didn’t take boxes with wedding albums, and the pictures off the wall.
I look out the back and see the lines of cars stretching back up the hill behind us for miles. Some people are sitting on the bonnets of their cars, some of them are standing round in groups talking. Everyone looks bored.
Suddenly there is a massive bang and I turn round to see a mushroom cloud of smoke and fire out of the front window. Its a big explosion like you see on the telly on Yu Gi Oh or Dragonball Z, but its a fair distance away.
“Wow!” I say
“Fucking hell!” Says Dad
“Dad!” I can’t believe he said the F word!
Mum looks at Dad, they both look scared.
“You don’t think they are here do you?” Says Mum.
“Who? Who’s here?”
“Shut up you. No. Its not them, they haven’t reached this far west yet, its just an accident. I’m gonna go and see if anyone needs help.” Says Dad, opening the door.
“Jamie no!”Says Mum grabbing his arm.
“I’m just going to go and have a look. If I see any of them I’ll come back. Besides someone might need First Aid.” Dad pulls his arm away from Mum.
“Jamie you aren’t a bloody paramedic, you’re a First Aider at work.”
Dad steps out of the car.
“Its ok hun, I’ll be back in a minute I promise.” He smiles at her. He closes the door. She gets out of the car and calls him back. I can’t hear what they are saying. Ew they are kissing now, that’s grim. Mum gets back in driving seat and winds the window down. Dad disappears in between the cars jogging towards the cloud of smoke.
“Wheres Dad going?”
“He is going to see if the traffic jam is clearing and we can go to Auntie Cassies. When we get there we’ll have fish and chips for tea. Sound Good?” She smiles but its not a proper smile, its only her mouth that’s smiling and not her eyes.
“Yeah” I say, doing that sort of half smile as well.
I clamber over and get into the seat next to her.
“mmm?” She says, staring down the road after Dad.
“What’s going on?”
“What do you mean?” She says, still staring.
“Well all this? We have been to places before like Legoland on Bank Holiday and we never got stuck like this? And Dad said that journey was the worst he had had for getting stuck in a jam, and what’s a Zombie?”
Mum looks at me with a weird expression on her face. Really serious.
“Where did you hear that?”
“Bobby Driscoll at school said they were going to come and eat our heads and stuff.”
“Well Bobby Driscoll is wrong.” She says, still looking at me. She shuffles round to face me better.
“There is a disease that some people are getting, and it makes them angry and violent. Thing is there are a lot of them getting it and that’s why we are going to Auntie Cassies to be safe. She says they are building a wall where we can hide behind in Cornwall.”
“Oh.” I say, not really getting it.
“How do I know who’s ill? Is it like a cold?”
“No its not like a cold, if they are ill with this they look all grey and erm, they will probably have blood on them. If you see them you have to hide and when they have gone come find Mummy and Daddy. Got it?”
Boom! There is another huge explosion, a bit closer this time. I can see flames and smoke. Mum stares out of the window.
“Can you see Dad?” I say.
“No.” She say very quietly. She looks in the rear view mirror.
“Babe, can you scramble in the back and pass me Dad’s binoculars in the Tesco bag?”
I climb to the back and rummage around until I find them and pass them to Mum. As I get into the front of the car Mum opens the door and uses the binoculars to look down the road.
“Can I have a go?” I say.
She doesn’t answer and I can hear glass smashing and tyres screeching. I can hear screams as well. My legs feel a bit funny and my mouth goes dry.
“Mum?” I say, but she doesn’t answer. I look out the window and see a car in the distance go off the motorway and down the ditch at the side, its wheels shoot mud up into the air but its not moving. Mum is still looking through the binoculars, but her hands are shaking.
“Mum?” I say again.
This time she turns and looks at me, her eyes are wide, my legs go really numb, she looks really scared but her face is blank like she’s thinking.
“Mummy?” I say again.
She beckons me over the seats. I scramble over and she picks me up in her arms, the fresh air outside feels nice but I can hear more screams, and glass breaking, and tyres screeching, and I can smell burning. Mum has turned me away from where Dad went and I try to turn round in her arms, but she is holding me facing back up the road. I see her face and she has tears in her eyes. I stop struggling.
“Babe. Remember when you were little and we used to play the ‘Stop’ game, where you had to stay very still when we shouted stop!”
“When we were on busy roads and in car parks?”
“Yes thats right. Good boy. Well I want you to get under the car and play the stop game until I come and get you.”
“But I don’t wanna get under the car, its dirty!”
“Listen. This is very, very important and you mustn’t make a sound for anyone until I come and get you.”
The sounds are getting louder now and I want to twist and see but Mummy’s face is red and she is crying. In her eyes she looks like she loves me when I have been a good boy all day and she tucks me up with a nice story.
“Your Dad and I love you more than anything, you know that don’t you.”
“I love you too Mum.” I throw my arms round her, she smells warm, like bed. My neck feels wet and I realise its her tears. We hug like that for ages. I hear another explosion and it makes me jump its so loud. There is another sound too, like someone moaning.
She lowers me to the floor.
“Now Paul. Get under the car now!”
I scrabble under the car, its still warm from when Dad was running the engine earlier. It smells like the garage. I think about calling out to Mum. I can still see her feet, but I remember the ‘Stop’ game and stay quiet. The screams are louder now and I can hear running and something like a dog growling.
I can see Mum’s feet walking backwards slowly, and then there are people running past her and the screams are so loud I cover my ears and want to cry and I can hear the growling again. Then I see someone hit Mum and knock her over and she’s lying on the ground and I can see the back of her head and I want to crawl out to her but I remember the ‘Stop’ game, and someone is hurting her and I can see her blood and the man has blood on his face. Oh…my..God ..its a Zombie. The man gets up and carries on running and the screaming won’t stop and all the people running past the cars and I see Dad’s shoes I think and I can’t cover my ears hard enough to stop the screaming and growling but I can’t see any dogs and there is blood spraying on the floor and Mummy is just lying there and I want to go to her but the ‘Stop’ game won’t let me and I feel wet on my legs and I don’t need a wee any more and I lie there for hours and the people keep running and the dogs I can’t see keep growling and the tyres keep screeching and things keep exploding and then Mummy gets up slowly and something red and covered in blood falls from her as she stands and then she runs away and she’s gone. Mummy’s gone!
Then it starts to go grey.
Paul Jollie sees the images from a lifetime ago fade away, but the feeling of fear stays with him like a child. It’s so real, the letterbox view from under the car, but soon it fades to milky mist like a cloying London fog. He can still feel the fear in his legs, still see his Mum lying on the ground a thousand years ago. Before……
Before something happened.
Before he died.
Now all Paul can see is the fog, so close he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, yet all around he could see myriad specks of black off to a billion miles. Specks in pairs, like soulless eyes all facing in the same direction. Billions of black colons looking past him.
Paul turns slowly to see what the eyes see around him see, and, with the feeling of dread spreading through his dead mind, he sees the monstrous black shape that they stare at. Slowly it rotates like a massive black hole in the grey and he finds himself on the edge of its centrifugal force, both repelled and attracted to its horror and majesty like all the other Dead around him. They are waiting for the black to cast its vastness at them and tell their dead legs how to function.
Paul died in a kitchen in Edinburgh with a sword in his belly and his image reflected in the black eyes of the Minister. Eyes that contained the black hole in front of him, and the boy was how it all started.