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    WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

    THE NEW VIKINGS by Kevin Fortune
    December 4, 2009  Short stories   Tags: , ,   

    “Mr. Whelan, Mr. O’Keeffe, why do you persist with this ludicrous idea of returning to Dublin? Even on some amoebic intellectual level you pinheads must understand that Dublin is shut to us forever. It is home only to the teeming dead. Teeming! Pressed tightly together in the parks and thoroughfares. Moaning beneath the statues of our baffled Patriots. Staring myopically at nothing. Bereft of stimulus. Swaying in the wind from the Dublin Mountains. Sodden and mildewed by the rain off the sea. There is nothing for you there anymore my little ex-junkie friends. I’m afraid you can never go home. Don’t ask me again.”

    *****

    Ahh, Seamus…Just look at all those stars up there. Do you see how the Milky Way sweeps down the sky from high Cassiopeia through Cygnus to southern Sagittarius – the grand blazing heart of our galaxy. The failure of electricity years ago solved the astronomy world’s old problem with light pollution, allowing you and I to enjoy this unprecedented view of the great silent cosmos. You must pity the poor astronomers though when, on receiving their fondest wish, they go and disappeared with the power as well. Poor old them, eh? But hurray for us! We’re still here.

    Nights spent outdoors on lonely hillsides such as this, surrounded by Gorse bushes and admiring the wonders of the night sky are one thing, but there are other nights, while sitting in the cosy glow of our hidden camp fires, that I find myself admiring the sleeping forms of Whelan and O’Keeffe. Purely, of course, from the point of view of how big an imaginary steak I could slice from either of their skinny arses. There’s just no decent meat to be had these days, and I do miss a good steak.

    Fate smiled on us earlier though, didn’t it, when I rediscovered the trapdoor to the Souterrain, that ancient underground bunker. I knew it was here somewhere, cleverly hidden within this thicket, but I hadn’t been sure of its exact location. It’s been a while, after all, and then to find inside, as a bonus, a pair of ragged, huddled survivors. What luck, eh?

    Lucky for us too that there was enough meat on that malnourished toddler to satisfy our bellies, yet as I prepared and cooked the child her mother, filthy and white faced from shock, fear and lack of sun, was stupidly murdered by those simians Whelan and O’Keeffe – after they had forced her to satisfy their baser desires, that is. They really make me laugh, those two. As soon as they were finished with the woman they bashed her brains in with a piece of lead pipe- to prevent her from reanimating, they said- yet within ten minutes of her unnecessary killing they’re back using her for sex again. Listen to them below. They’ve been at her for ages now, taking turns.

    Those two are perfectly adapted to this era, you know. They are living proof of Natural Selection yet they haven’t got a pair of brain cells to rub together. They’re thugs. Animals, pure and simple, yet they are the new human, the pinnacle of evolution and, along with the dead, they are the inheritors of the earth. What they lack in intellect they more than make up for in savagery. They question nothing. They appreciate nothing. They simply do. Unless, that is, I tell them otherwise. They consider me to be more savage than they are. And I am. And I suspect this little fact is all that keeps us alive, you and me. The day will come when I will fear to turn my back on them, and I don’t intend for that day to arrive anytime soon.

    I first came across them..oh..when was it now? It must be eight or nine years ago; within a week or two of this undead upheaval beginning in earnest on these shores. I saved their lives I suppose, idiot that I am, and I’ve been asking myself ever since then; why? Why? They are boils on the arse of this suffering planet. A blight on the landscape every bit as deadly as the undead. But they’ve been useful, I suppose.

    I freed them, starving and close to giving up, from a crashed prison van I happened upon as I cycled quietly along the motorway close to Newgrange. I heard muffled voices from within a relatively fresh tangle of smashed and abandoned vehicles so naturally I paused to investigate.

    Their driver was dead, poor man; the lower half of his once corpulent body crushed and trapped in a spaghetti of dried entrails beneath the overturned wreck. But, deceased or not, he still regarded me with fierce interest, his shattered forearms dangling from his elbows like limp puppets as he reached for me.

    I crushed his skull with a convenient concrete block. The eejit should have worn his seat belt. I searched for the door keys but they weren’t on the ignition keyring. I suspect they were in his pants pocket – mangled into the unreachable remains of his legs. The cab of the small truck was a twisted mess of metal and broken glass. The driver must have been thrown through the windscreen and then had the truck fall on him. The back of the vehicle was quite intact.

    The trapped men called out to me as I considered their predicament. I crouched by the rear of the van and whispered through the door that I would soon have them out. I asked them to be patient and I specifically asked them to be quiet. At this point in the game I felt a rare feeling of goodwill towards them – but that was about to change.

    This world demands silence, for obvious reasons, yet they didn’t seem too aware of this. As I tinkered and teased at the complicated lock with my little Swiss army knife I could clearly hear them making a plan to jump me once I had freed them. I mean really.. What was in their heads? The idiots must have mistaken my educated vowels for deafness.

    That was my introduction to Whelan and O’Keeffe and the other one.. What was his name? I can’t recall. It doesn’t really matter about him, anyway.

    So my nice thoughts fled and I decided on murder. It wasn’t because they wished me ill. It wasn’t because they insulted my intelligence by thinking I wouldn’t hear them. It was because they were retarded enough to allow me to hear them. Now anyone else; some saner person, would have walked away right there and then and simply left them to their deaths, but the Urge was upon me. I wanted to harm them. That’s what I like to do; indulge my baser instincts. Anyway, who’d miss them.. and who’d convict me of any crime?

    I counted three voices. On one hand I didn’t know how strong or fast they’d be, but I reasoned that they hadn’t eaten for a while due to being trapped. Whereas I, on the other hand, dined regularly as foodstuffs were still available enough, at that time, for the canny looter. It’s even possible they had already resorted to drinking their own urine – I never asked.

    When I eventually disengaged the lock and the door fell open sideways I found myself the subject of three feral teenage stares. Their membership of the lower class was obvious from the slack jawed ugliness that poverty and bad breeding creates. Their whole gormless demeanour, as they regarded me with jackal smiles, betrayed their places on the lower rungs of the evolutionary ladder. I smiled back of course, though not with the confidence I had previously felt. You see, I had just heard a fourth voice groan dismally in the gloom behind them.

    And there you were; poor silent Seamus the prison guard, barely visible behind them in the wreckage. So, luckily for those ugly tree dwellers I was forced to implement plan “B”.

    What a fright! I didn’t know whether you had been assaulted or injured in the crash, but I could see that you were a professional man, still in uniform. As such you were a representation of what we were rapidly losing; order, security and discipline. In my opinion your life was valuable, yet I couldn’t help you by myself. What could I do alone? Who could help me? Why simple, the lower castes, that’s who!

    You know Seamus, on recollection; it’s really your fault that those two cretins are still alive. Yes! That realisation makes me feel so much better. Its good to talk, isn’t it? Oh, don’t be like that; you know I’m just kidding.

    Anyway, it took less than a second for a sharp man like me to assess the situation, so before they could put their plan of attack into action I implemented my own. I reached out and grabbed the closest young thug by the ear and pulled him roughly over the lip of the door. His head hit the hard surface of the glass strewn roadway and my little knife was at his face is a flash. I released him when he squeaked and turned to await Laurel and Hardy’s move.

    They stared in slack jawed shock as Thug Number One regained his feet and staggered backwards away from us, his hands clawing at his pimply face. His pals watched him bump and ricochet off stalled cars and burnt out trucks; pinballing about like a clown as he attempted to push his eye, which I had deftly hooked out of his head, back into its socket. But, surprise surprise, he was an untalented surgeon.

    At this, sinister stirrings, like the low buzzing of bees, began along the lines of traffic. Sluggish movements could be seen in both directions as the semi-hibernating dead rose moaning in undetected numbers from their vehicles to the irresistible sounds of human distress.

    As he convulsed and cried I directly addressed Thugs Two and Three as they cowered in the bowels of the van. “Boys,” I said in a reasonable, yet urgent tone of voice, “We have no time left, so let’s not allow this little situation to degenerate into a pissing contest about who’s boss. Do you agree?”

    Whelan and O’Keeffe, (yes, for it was they), were gobsmacked, not only by my actions but by the joyriding potential right under their noses. Perfectly good cars abandoned just outside of their little van. They were unaware that the world had gone to hell during their incarceration! Their ignorance still beggers’ belief.

    I mistook their silent surprise for defiance. So to hammer home the point I grabbed Thug Number One again (he happened to be passing at the time) and neatly removed his remaining eye as if it was an act I practised twice daily. He stood stock still in surprise, gobbling like the birdbrain he undoubtedly was, and off he went running into cars again. I may have told him to shut up. Unreasonable of me really when you think about it.

    The boys silence dragged on as they stared past my shoulder. “Well?” I urged them.

    So at my instruction, and at the sight of the closing undead, (which their reptilian hind brains recognised as dangerous), they lifted you from the van – none too gently I may add – and thus accepted my leadership. The only sign of intelligence I’ve ever witnessed in them.

    I can tell you now we were running a severe risk of being trapped. I had completely underestimated the volume of dead in the vicinity and they were creeping and slouching closer to our little tableau every second. There were hordes of the bastards surrounding us! It was absolutely time to trot.

    Then an unexpected line of ragged reinforcements crashed and stumbled through the trees and bushes that marked the median of the motorway, bumping shoulder to shoulder in our direction like the clumsy army they were. We were about to be caught in a pincer movement that Patton would’ve admired, but happily for us Thug Number One’s distressed antics, which had attracted them in the first place, now diverted their attention marvellously. We fled with all possible speed; me leading the way on my trusty bike and you in the clumsy arms of the starving teens.

    The boys later claimed later they could hear Thug Number One.. Ryan, didn’t they say that was his name? Well, they said they could hear him all the way to Dundalk- but they exaggerated. All sound, even that monotonous, chilling moaning, just faded as we put blue water between ourselves and the motorway.

    Whelan and O’Keeffe were pathetically grateful to be free and they were astonished at the state of the country – of the world! As I said they hadn’t an inkling of the situation. Nor did they realise that they were alive simply because I needed them to tote you about until you were strong enough to travel unaided.

    As I nursed you through the next few weeks I came to appreciate, through orders they willingly carried out, the dark nature of my new underlings – as they already appreciated mine. They admired me because I had casually blinded their friend to make a point, whereas I had no regard for them whatsoever. They were less than pack animals to me. Or trained chimps. My opinion hasn’t changed since.

    They’re not like you Seamus though, eh? I have come to depend on you so very much though I rarely know what you’re thinking. You keep your opinions about our way of life to yourself. That’s good, I suppose. You’re not like us at all, are you? We are criminals and you are a warder. An ex-warder. I’ve seen you turn away in disgust at our excesses. I know that for a man of your character and background we must be the worst, most disagreeable troupe of bandits you could have fallen in with. Though you are stoic as we are what we must be! It’s all about the survival of the fittest, the smartest and the toughest; by whatever possible means.

    But Seamus, we must soon discuss our immediate future. That flight of aircraft we heard to the north some weeks ago has great significance. It’s been on my mind too, you know. Aeroplanes! The human race may be rallying at last in an organised fashion, if not in the Republic than perhaps in Ulster or the Mainland. We must seriously consider our prospects, you and I, in light of the terrible things we have perpetrated for our survival and amusement. Only let’s not say anything to the boys just yet. Maybe later on. You know how the poor darlings fret.

    I know you appreciate the importance of silent witnesses. When required. As for my part? Well, I’ll simply remember, for my sins, where the bodies are buried. Not all of them though, as I foolishly lost count some time back.

    I fear I’ll wake by a cold campfire some morning and you’ll be gone, having melted away into the big wide world in the wee quiet hours; escaping at last from the clutchs of our wicked band. But maybe you won’t. Maybe, like the boys, I just worry too much. I think perhaps you’re in too deep. If law and order is re-established you’ll be put against the wall along with us as an accessory. Don’t misconstrue my words Seamus, I know you’re not like us; but the possibility is there.

    Oh.. listen to me rabbiting on! It’s getting chilly. Let’s go into the snug stone chamber below and see if those troglodytes have finished with their live performance. Based, no doubt, on the Karma Sutra for Dummies. The entrance hole in the earth is very narrow. Raise the trapdoor there but take care on that home made ladder. It’s very rickety.

    *****

    And.. we’re down. Home sweet hole in the ground! Look; the lads are still making sweet, sweet luuvv! How precious!

    Now, now boys, don’t stare at me in that insolent manner or I’ll be forced to remove your thumbs for broth. You know I will. Why not leave the dear departed to rest in peace for a little while. She’ll still be there in the morning. And put those objectionable appendages back into your pants, you’ll only frighten Seamus.

    Oops.. I’ve hurt your feelings. I apologise. Do you know what, lads? I’m talkative tonight! I’m in that kind of mood. Seamus and I have just had a great chat up above on the surface, didn’t we Seamus? Learned discourse is what separates us from the animals and all of that. But in your case I’ll..well..never mind. Come on; let’s sit round this little peat fire and have a good old chinwag.

    Ignore the cold stones against your back, gentlemen. This is a safe and secure subterranean hideaway. Has been for over a thousand years. This passage is what; one metre wide? Five long? Stone walled and slab roofed. And it’s astonishingly dry for its age, perhaps because it’s been lived in recently by our late hosts. Safe from all the lumbering monsters above! Bar us, that is. Can you see how this passage once wound back into the earth before a cave-in blocked it?

    I was an archaeologist before all this plague stuff, you know. Yes, I was! In fact, I’ve been down here before, you see, in this very chamber. That’s how I knew of its existance. But I had a laptop and a measuring tape with me then instead of a knife and a bludgeon. I had a hard hat and a yummy little assistant named Rose who was built purely for speed. When I had finished surveying this little hideyhole for the local council I went and surveyed Rosie, who didn’t mind at all. Afterwards we enjoyed a packed lunch just down the hill in my Beemer.

    These Souterrains were built in their thousands by the plain people of Ireland to hide them from the Vikings. Those Norse murderers sailed their longboats round our coast and simply took what they wanted, without pity or mercy, from those too weak to resist. They butchered the men and stole the women as slaves. They were vicious, evil, immoral bastards. But what fun they must have had!

    Yes, O’Keeffe. I suppose. They were like us. You could say that we are the new Vikings. Except that they were after plunder whereas our excuse is survival. My Urges help; I’ve never denied them in these undead times, and why should I? You know about the Urges too, don’t you O’Keeffe? We recognise each others traits; proper Vikings. A pair of terrible Norsemen, we!

    But unlike the Vikings, who were proud and vain and dressed in fine garb, we dress in rags and smell. Our teeth are falling from our jaws. Who in their right mind enjoys washing in the frigid waters of our brown boggy rivers and lakes? No one! So we rarely wash. Even if we had the balls to withstand the cold we’d have every chance of becoming fodder for some submerged, watery monster.

    Houses and shops, if many still stand, have been plundered dry. We’re lucky to have the shoes on our feet. Having a shave is a beautiful memory. There is nothing left of the previous world, or if there is I’ve seen no evidence of it in five years. Shaving with a knife is only tolerated when the fleas get too bad. And barbers? What’re they? Scurvy’ll kill us long before the cursed undead get their naked claws on us.

    Nevertheless, I feel blessed that the Reanimation of the dead should have happened in my lifetime. It freed me from cloying respectability. It released me from hiding my true nature away. I’m so grateful I could almost believe in a god again.

    Ever since walking corpses became commonplace across our fair green land I have submitted entirely to my Urges and I have had such delicious fun smashing heads and breaking bones, severing limbs, crushing ribcages, ripping out livers, kicking in faces, popping eyeballs, cutting out tongues and destroying, destroying, destroying. This is my time.

    And we all know, my uneducated friends, that if the action gets sparse, why.. we can always kill a zombie or two just to get by. Sure, aren’t they just standing around in their millions to be had, as the fella said.

    Lads, don’t you ever feel it? The beauty in death and its delivery. The exuberance! The wonder! The screams and shouts and cries for mercy, the arcs and spills and trajectories of blood. The visual art in the skyward vector of a lopped off limb. The sweet music of a sucking wound- whose melodies I could listen to for hours- or at least until the musician expires to the appreciative patter of my respectful applause.

    These times though I’ve probably gone a bit mad; I’ve lost the run of myself completely. At least that what I hear you whisper to each other when you think I’m out of earshot. I’m looking at you Whelan, you maggot, so don’t be coy. I happen to agree with you. What harm does a little madness do these days? And who would expect a Viking band to behave any differently?

    We may have to change our ways soon though, boys. And I say this with sad regret. Who know what light may be at the end of the tunnel, eh? Who knows? But if not, it’s my considered opinion as a thinking man that we’re not long for this earth. The food chain is in disarray and I expect that many species, Man especially, are heading for the black abyss of eternity. Hah! Do you like that, boys? Doesn’t that just conjure up the despair and hopelessness of it all? “The black abyss of eternity.” I just made that up right now. Good, isn’t it?

    Let’s face the inevitable, my cranially challenged companions, it’s been two years or more since we’ve come across anything as previously ubiquitous as a tin of food. Beans. Or peas. We’ve seen plenty of empties all right, but the number of full ones is finite and falling. And we haven’t seen an animal of any kind in over two weeks. Not even a rat or a bird.

    I strongly believe that human eating human is becoming commonplace out of pure necessity. We’re coming across fewer and fewer survivors. And those we meet regard us in the same way as we regard them- we size each other up for the pot. Do you recall those bones we found in Kells? Femurs, tibias, spines? All cracked and the marrow gone? Ghouls’d do that, you say? Yes, they would. But they wouldn’t reassemble the bones into grotesque recognisable shapes. We’re not the only ones at it, boys. We’re now competing with the dead and humans. We’re becoming the ghouls. We’re going native.

    But enough cheery talk. We’ve had a good day. We have full bellies, a roof over our heads, and you two boys got your rocks off. Seamus, you take first watch. I’ll take the second. The illiterates can take third and fourth.

    And O’Keeffe, I saw you hanging those ears round your neck earlier. Don’t practise your primitive rituals in my company or you’ll wake up in the morning with your ears round mine. They’re to go into the pot with the little ones bones for soup. Waste not, want not!

    Sleep well then, my erudite companions! I so enjoyed our little dinner party. Next time do bring a decent wine and some nice Stilton. Nighty night.

    *****

    As I watch Seamus gingerly climb the wobbly ladder to the hillside above I wonder if this is the night he’ll finally decamp. Did I foolishly inspire him to leave? This soon-to-be post-human world is a wonderful playground for the callous likes of me but to be left alone with these two mongoloids .. Jesus Christ! It just doesn’t bear thinking about. I’d rather travel unaccompanied and lessen my chances to five percent.

    Just look at them in their rancid sleeping bags. Scratching and farting in their rags. But we all scratch nowadays. So the question begs to be asked: why didn’t I dispose of them all those years ago when I had my chance? Once Seamus had gotten stronger? I suppose it was because of the group dynamic that formed during his convalescence. Whelan and O’Keeffe were a constant amusement but I find them painfully tiresome nowadays. I have no other explanation. Perhaps the Academic in me was fascinated by their repugnant and pointless lives. Wait.. who am I kidding? I take all that back. It was simply the convenience of their brainless muscle.

    I gaze beyond them to the shape of the desecrated woman with her shattered skull. She survived all of these terrible years through who knows what horrors and degradations, successfully caring for herself and her child until today, when the New Vikings invaded and stole everything from her; nullifying her long fierce struggle for survival in less than ten awful minutes. She died the most undignified, indecent and vile death imaginable.

    There she lies; a cooling bundle of rags, skin and bone. Unburied and unmourned in the arse end of a forgotten hole in the ground. Over time her body will break down into its constituent parts and melt quietly away out of all memory, joining once more the cold bitter soil.

    I regret her death for its pointlessness and waste. If she’d lived we could have cut fresh meat from her. She could have shared, too. No, that’s just the “bad me” talking. And the boys could have lavished her with their own tender ways, too. I suppose we could still eat her but the thought of those two gibbons defiling her just ruins my appetite. They’ve tainted her. They can have her if they want.

    *****

    I doze upright against the ancient knobbled wall until an imperceptible rustle disturbs my nap and I find myself on high alert. My pulse is rasping in my straining ears as I listen..listen..and..there it is again, a slow scratch on the earthen floor on the other side of the sleeping underachievers, just beyond the sullen light of the embers.

    A rat wouldn’t have made it past us in this claustrophobic burrow so I suspect the worst. I waste no time in standing, my grimy blanket sliding unnoticed from my shoulders.

    I grab my small pack (I believed in travelling light) and take a single quiet step to the ladder, head bent to avoid smacking it against the low stone roof. As I carefully climb in a calm panic up the jittery, flimsy rungs I hear her emit her very first moan. She must be almost on her feet by now, taking her first little baby steps. Oh bless.

    Whelan and O’Keeffe slumber on as I feel the gorse thorns brush against my emerging face and neck. I rise quickly from the earth into the cool fading night, pulling myself and my backpack through the rough opening in the ground like a cork from a bottle.

    That useless pair of braindeads! Both of them bashed her brains in and they couldn’t even get that right, could they? I stand above the trapdoor and dither indecisively for all of two seconds before pulling the ladder up out of the ground and tossing it into the gorse in disgust. Then I console myself with warm thoughts of the boys being reunited with their new girlfriend. I have no doubt she’ll be delighted too, and they’ll all live happily ever after in their little underground kingdom.

    Seamus loomed out of the darkness, puzzled at my noisy presence above the ground. His expression cleared when a low, undead moan drifted up from below. She was well and truly on the scent now, the lucky girl. I gently closed the camouflaged trapdoor, giving the young lovers a bit of privacy and locking down the souterrain for another thousand years.

    “Two less mouths to feed,” I remarked as we tiptoed away. We had only gone ten metres through the damp tussocks when we heard the first muffled, subterranean shout of surprise. The lengthy and confused cafuffle of alarmed underground voices faded as Seamus and I strolled out of earshot.

    We soon reached the spot where we had hidden our bicycles. Before we mounted up I rummaged round in my backpack until I found what I wanted. It was time for a little celebration. Or should we be drowning our sorrows? Yes? No? Who knows? I unscrewed the cap from a small bottle of the rarest, most wonderful liquid ever devised and took a swig. Not too much though. You don’t waste this stuff because once it’s gone; it’s gone!

    I hummed softly with delight as the liquid necter ran smoothly into my belly. I passed the bottle to Seamus. “Not too much, now,” I instructed. “Take it easy.”

    His bushy beard lifted as he tilted back his head to drink. I ripped my serrated knife hard across his bared throat from left to right. His Adams Apple was no obstruction to my keen blade. I didn’t see the arc of blood fan out in the dark but I heard it patter like rainfall across the gorse. Seamus coughed and I instinctively grabbed the brandy bottle in midair as it slipped from his shocked fingers.

    “What a catch!” I laughed in pleased surprise, momentarily forgetting the circumstances. “Oh, my dear friend,” I exclaimed quickly, genuinely appalled by my insensitivity. “I am so sorry for laughing. I truly am.”

    He was making guttural noises as he choked on his blood. I hoped he could hear me as I wanted to explain why it was I had killed him. He deserved that much.

    “Listen Seamus,” I began, “I think our race is run. The forces of law and order may finally be poised to reclaim the earth from the undead. And all those unfortunate people we encountered..” I paused to gather my thoughts; to prevent myself from slipping into my habitual longwinded ways – I didn’t have much time.

    “You were always going to be my last witness, Seamus. My last buried body, and now is as good a time as any to say a heartfelt and truly sad goodbye to you, and to thank you. You’ve been the best companion a man like me could have had through years like these.”

    He threw up suddenly in the predawn gloom, gagging noisily and blowing blood from his ruptured windpipe. Bile leaked from the gash in his throat and his shaking hands clasped his neck tightly, pushing strands of his beard into his opened neck. He stared at me through bugged out eyes.

    “I’ve been dreading the arrival of this distressing moment for a long time.” I confessed. “Had you left in the night I’d probably never find you and I was so afraid you’d leave. What if I couldn’t find you? How could I protect myself? How would I prevent you from telling others the story of our crimes?”

    I believe he accepted my reason for this desperate act and was forgiving me even as I spoke. We looked at each other for what seemed like an age; he couldn’t speak for choking and I had nothing more to say. He remained standing and I began to wonder if I had sliced him correctly. I was positive that I had. I’m forced to admit that if O’Keeffe or Whelan had done the job I’d already be berating them for imbeciles.

    After a long moment spent considering my cutting skills I shrugged off my doubts and busied myself re-capping the bottle (automatically giving it a little shake) and putting it back in my pack. Then I wiped my blade in the long grass and tucked it away as well.

    Just as I was becoming embarrassed by his failure to expire Seamus had the good grace to slump to his knees with a wet grunt. I took this as my cue to saddle up and I gladly pushed off down the slope, the wheels of my bike whirring melodically as I progressed.

    Behind me I heard the thump and rustle of his body falling into the soft undergrowth. At almost that same moment I spotted Venus shining brightly in the east. And look, there’s Mercury too; a tiny pinpoint of light almost lost in the glow of the approaching dawn. NASA still has a probe orbiting up there my old friend, yes they do, but it’s probably dead now. I think Seamus would’ve enjoyed me pointing out this rare sight to him. This gave me pause for thought and I sighed resignedly.

    Despite this being an unsentimental era I knew that I shouldn’t just leave him lying on the grassy hillside in such a callous manner. It wasn’t fitting and it wasn’t fair, and his remains would soon fall prey to some rotting predator.

    I applied the brakes and walked the bike back up to where he had fallen. His body was half hidden by a clump of gorse so I pulled him gently out until he lay beneath the big wide sky he had loved so much. I gazed at him thoughtfully. He had been such an interesting fellow, but in all the years I had enjoyed his company I had never heard him utter a single word. Not once. I didn’t even know for sure if Seamus was his real name or not. Funny that really, when you think about it. But the important thing to remember is that we had gotten on famously, so I knew he’d understand just why it was that my little pack was full to the dripping brim with freshly cut meat as I cycled away down the hill once more.

    33 Comments

    1. Okay, this is about as dark as it gets. The dark side of the celtic soul showing through. Writing with all the doors blown off. I don’t think I could take a steady menu of this, but as an exception, a story of how bad things can really get, very well done.

      Comment by TJ McFadden on December 4, 2009 @ 10:05 am

    2. Holy crap! This story is so completely disturbing and interesting at the same time I had to read it twice. It is a rare treat to enjoy and hate a character at the same time. I believe you captured well the “modern day Viking”. This was a fun read, and would enjoy reading more of this character.

      Comment by Chris on December 4, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    3. Extremely disturbing, but I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. As I have found in a lot of zombie tales, the survivors are the true monsters. Still a good read though.

      Comment by Doc on December 4, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

    4. I was so surprised when he killed Seamus. I knew the character was a vile man who fancied himself an intellectual, but even for him that seemed harsh. Funny, I know men just like him…smart, cunning characters who could just as easily write a computer program as shoot you in the face. Terribly grim, but terribly accurate on who most ot the real survivors would be in such an unimaginable horror.

      Comment by Cherry Darling on December 4, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

    5. Amazing! You take the harsh reality of life after the plague, as seen by a psychopathic Oscar Wilde. VERY GOOD JOB!

      …Although I’d like to think Ireland wouldn’t be entirely overrun.

      Comment by M. Marie Proust on December 4, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

    6. Wow, what a disturbing piece. Yet it held me until the end, although in disgust throughout. I really don’t know what to think, except that it was well-written, but too dark for my taste.

      Comment by kineo on December 4, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

    7. Dr. Lecter in the post apocalypse.

      Comment by MadMac on December 4, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

    8. Amazing!! Truly realistic portrayal of humanities worst urges let loose upon a lawless world.

      Comment by lemonrecoil on December 4, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    9. I like it. I think this is more true to human nature than we would like to think. We tend to believe everyone would band together and save each other…………

      Comment by RedneckZombieHunter on December 5, 2009 @ 9:58 am

    10. Great stuff, A clockwork orange with a sprinkle of zombie. I was sickened by every second of it but could’nt pull away.

      Keep it up.

      Comment by RollsRules on December 5, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

    11. Dark as pitch, and an |Irish serial killer. It doesn’t get more original than that.

      Comment by Pete Bevan on December 6, 2009 @ 7:34 am

    12. Good story but I hate it when the evil protagonist doesn’t get his in the end. There was no other way to write this one for the effect it achieves.

      Comment by D.Mc on December 6, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

    13. This has to be the most dark and disturbing story I have ever read on this site…and believe it or not I couldn’t stop reading it!! It is a horrible glimpse into the darkness of man. How sad. The worst part was them killing and eating the child!! I almost stopped reading but I’m glad I finished! Well DONE!

      Comment by Jen on December 6, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

    14. As I read this story I stopped paused and thought about what I just read, then re-read it again! How disturbing but probably as close to a post zombie world as one could be created on paper. Removing the stigma of punishment from crimes leaves only True Vikings. Well done!

      Comment by Tasha on December 8, 2009 @ 11:49 am

    15. disturbing. i can say nothing else about this story. disturbing.

      Comment by Rick on December 10, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

    16. Nice, skillfull writing and story, however not my cup of tea.

      Comment by jimmy on December 15, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

    17. Whoops. Brain-fart.

      Anywho, excellent story, man- a very dark little tale, through and through. I actually had an idea for a zombie story, where it was about a group of survivors known as the Knights Hippocratus, whose sole goal in the apocalypse is to save mankind with their medical knowledge and battle prowess, and to bring monsters like that to justice.

      Comment by Liam Perry on December 15, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

    18. What a great start to my finding this site… superb dark unpleasant story….I feel slightly Jippy…well done!

      Comment by Sudonim on December 16, 2009 @ 6:03 am

    19. Thought provoking. Well done!

      Comment by Dan on January 7, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

    20. very dark and unique in its content I found it to be an exciting tale nice style would love to hear more

      Comment by Brad Poe on April 23, 2010 @ 8:03 am

    21. That story is f#$ked up! Wonderful read, bravo!

      Comment by Mark on April 29, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

    22. that story was so bad-assed. A well-deserved win! Brilliant, chilling, creepy, loved the language, the years-after post Z world… Just brilliant!

      Comment by brycepunk on May 4, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    23. Superbly written and incredibly vile. There is truth in this story when you think about human nature at its core though. The Zombies aren’t the monsters, they never were. Its always been us.

      Comment by Evil Genius Prime on May 4, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

    24. Totally a deserving win in my humble opinion, this is the kind of thing you get when you mix a 1/2 cup of Burgess, a tablespoon of Poe, and a dash of gruesome.

      Kevin, this is a bitching story. You made my skin crawl. It was almost on the level of some of Poppy Z. Brite’s most hardcore and brilliant stuff, like Exquisite Corpse. Bravo maestro!

      Comment by Kellye on May 6, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    25. […] I just came across this website a few days ago and was immediately endeared to it. I’ve always had a soft spot for a good tale of the undead (dystopias of any sort really float my boat, actually) and the stories found on this sight are both horrible and massively entertaining. Yesterday I read Kevin Fortune’s “The New Vikings” and would recommend it to any fan of dark horror – it’s a little bit Clockwork Orange, a little bit Exquisite Corpse, and a whole lotta gruesome with some real literary style through in for good measure. A link to the full short story here: http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/2009/12/04/the-new-vikings-by-kevin-fortune/ […]

      Pingback by I am haunted by zombies. « Salt Over Shoulder on May 7, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

    26. Gross and repugnant. But that’s because we, as humans, are just that. Civility is a veil, that we’re not too good at maintaining. We try, though. Human existence is like a long, bloody trail through time and we are good at that.

      Comment by Chain on May 8, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    27. Dude is whacked. There are probably more people who would be killers out there than you think they just aren’t for fear of punishment. nice creepy story.

      Comment by Christian on May 13, 2010 @ 10:38 am

    28. Very nice. I don’t know why the character had to kill Seamus though.

      Comment by Larry Reyna on May 21, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

    29. who is Seamus, I understand why the dude had to kill him, but really who is he and how is it he is different from the others?

      Comment by gabryl on May 23, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

    30. “And there you were; poor silent Seamus the prison guard, barely visible behind them in the wreckage. So, luckily for those ugly tree dwellers I was forced to implement plan “B”.”

      Seamus was the silent prison guard rescued from the prison van…. presumably he would have testified against the other vikings….providing a witness to the atrocity of their actions in the lawless world… if society ever was re-established and they had to be tried for their crimes…

      Comment by Sudonim on May 24, 2010 @ 4:46 am

    31. Sorry, I couldn’t read the whole way through. I found it boring. It was too slow.

      Comment by Ashley on August 1, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

    32. really messed up but i liked how the character didn’t sugar coat anything in the narritive. he was a heartless, clever, arrogant generally nasty person. i really didn’t like him but that is the type of person that would survive in a zombie apacolypse

      Comment by B0B M@r13y on August 19, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

    33. Damn good story. Very well written. I was hoping Seamus would gut the fucker at the end, but oh well….

      Comment by Hank Mardukis on September 6, 2010 @ 11:27 am

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