Steve Blum scowled in pure hate as he heard the cackle of the old woman. How he hated her. He hated her more than he hated the roaming dead. They had an excuse for what they did. They were dead and, if the scientists were to be believed, simply acting on instinct. She, however, did it because she was senile. The hag was a drain on their resources, and Steve had made this very clear many times. Not only did she take up room in the already crowded refuge but also she wasted their supply of food and water. Not to mention the time it took to look after her. As long as she was awake then someone had to be with her at all times.
He said a small prayer of thanks to whoever may be listening that it wasn’t him today. She seemed to be acting up more than usual. Making stupid noises and, no doubt, causing trouble for whoever was unlucky enough to have to keep an eye on her.
Another shriek made him grip the rifle in his hands even tighter and grit his teeth as he walked a few feet down the walkway he stood watch on. He reached the end, opened the door and stuck his head inside the building.
“Who’s looking after the annoying witch of the east today?” he asked the man inside.
He got no response from the person sitting in the wooden chair with his back to him.
Noticing a bit of the wall to the concrete building was loose he pulled off a small chunk and threw it across it room. It missed the man but ricocheted off the table in front of him and hit the radio that was on it.
The man quickly sat upright and looked over to the door. Noticing Steve stood there Jason Price took his headphones off and put them down by the radio he had been listening to.
“What’s up mate?” he asked.
Steve repeated his original question.
“Vicki,” Jason replied, a smug grin on his bearded face.
“For fuck sake,” cursed Steve. “So I get the day off from her but I get to hear about it when the wife get homes. I hate that bitch so much.”
“Vicki?” teased Jason.
“No not Vicki you idiot, the mad hag. She’s half deaf, almost blind and senile so why not just put her out of her misery.”
“Because she’s still a human?” replied Jason.
Steve just snorted and went to leave the room. At the last minute he turned back to Jason.
“Anything on the radio today?”
“Nothing recently. I thought I heard something earlier though. A conversation between two guys about a safe house and flying a helicopter there, but I lost it. Lots of static you see. It may have just been an old recording on repeat. There are still plenty of abandoned military bases and police stations that are transmitting emergency broadcasts”
“Well good luck mate. I would rather listen to static for hours, than that bitch for a minute.”
“I’ll tell Vicki you said that about her.”
Steve walked out of the room giving Jason the middle finger as he did.
Jason smiled and put the headphones back on. He put his feet up on the desk and sat back listening to static as he stared out the window at the sea that stretched out to the horizon.
Jason and Steve were just two in a group of thirtyish survivors who had come to call the small dockyard on the English east coast their home. It was a perfect place to hold up for the time being. A 10-foot high concrete wall with steel supports and topped with barbed wire ran along three sides of the area, with the North Sea providing the fourth defensive wall. The edge of the port that ran along the sea was a good six-foot from the water at high tide so nothing could climb ashore unseen.
Other than using a boat there was only one-way in and out; a large, solid metal gate that took three men to open when it was unlocked. A walkway ran most of the length of the wall, connected to the only real building on the site, what used to be the office block. The two-story building had been converted into the command centre of the group. Weekly meetings and strategy planning were carried out in the ground floor offices whilst the upper floor was used as a lookout post and radio room.
The survivors had made their living areas out of the many large shipping containers that had been stored in the dockyard. Once a few holes had been cut out to allow in light and some furniture moved in they weren’t too bad. Some people had even moved into containers that had been stacked two high, cutting a hole in the floor of the upper create and the roof of the lower crate and using a ladder as a staircase.
It wasn’t perfect, and the slightest knock on the create would vibrate around the whole of the inside like ringing a bell, but they were warm, dry and allowed the occupants some privacy and could be locked from both the inside and outside for extra security.
Steve walked along the wall, looking out over the industrial estate beyond the safety of the dock. Most of the warehouses had already been raided for anything useful. Generally it had been fishing supplies; nets, baskets, create to store fish, etc, but there had been a few good finds. A sporting goods warehouse had provided them with lots of hand held weapons, like cricket bats and golf clubs, but also stuff to keep them entertained. Steve had spent many hours just whacking golf balls into the North Sea.
Fishing provided the main source of food. Now that the North Sea was void of fishing vessels the fish had flourished. I was almost impossible to drop a line in the water without getting a bite. It took some of the fun out of it, but Steve still enjoyed a bit of fishing on his days off.
He wished he were doing that right now as the shriek of the old woman brought him back from his day dream.
What was her problem now? Normally she just made the odd noise then shut up for a while, but this time she was continuously shrieking. Suddenly there was another scream, a woman’s voice. Then a gun shot.
Steve ran down the walkway back towards the office building, removing the safety on his rifle as he did. He burst into the radio room and pulled the earphones of Jason.
Jason looked up at Steve, about to chastise him for his actions until he saw the look on his face and the curse died in his throat.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Shit,” said Jason, opening a draw in the desk before him and pulling out a handgun. As he stood he hit the warning siren button.
Originally it was just the tannoy system to alert workers they were needed in the office, but it had since been hooked up to an air horn. Once the main button was pressed it simultaneously turned on the tannoy and pressed the air horn. Once people heard the noise over the loud speakers situated around the dockyard they made their way to the largest container and locked themselves in. A few people would stay on guard duty until the all clear was given.
“Just how loud is that radio that you can’t hear a gunshot?” asked Steve as they cautiously made their way to the staircase.
Jason said nothing as they both slowly edged downstairs. As they reached the bottom they could hear talking coming from the front room that used to be the reception. Opening the door they stepped into the room. The first thing they noticed was the smell, a mix of dead flesh and sewage. A zombie lay on the floor, most of its head missing or splattered on the ground next to it. The old woman was cowered in the corner sobbing, being calmed by one of the other women.
Len Clark stood in the middle of the room trying to calm down the half dozen people who surrounded him. Steve noticed Vicki sat down, her usually bright face now pure white and she cradled her right arm in her lap, her left hand gripping the wrist tightly.
Steve ran over to her, ignoring everyone else.
“Baby, what happened?” he asked.
“Steve, it was an accident,” she replied, looking up with sad eyes.
“Please don’t get mad. I don’t want to remember you being mad.”
Steve stood up to face the group of people milling around the room.
“What…. the fuck…happened?” he growled.
Len walked over and put a hand on Steve’s shoulder. He shrugged it of as soon as he felt the touch.
“Would someone please tell me why there is a headless zombie on the floor and why my wife has a bite mark on her wrist?”
“From what we can tell,” started Len, “this one somehow made it into the compound. We have people looking for more now.”
“I don’t give a shit about more of them. How was my wife bitten?”
“He was banging on the door,” answered Vicki. “But at the time we didn’t know who it was outside.”
“We? You mean you and her?” said Steve pointing an accusing finger to the old woman in the corner. She shrieked and backed further into the corner as if Steve’s finger was a gun about to go off.
“She opened the door,” continued Vicki, “and it burst in. I tried to shut the door again which is when I got bit.”
“I was in the other room and came as soon as I heard the commotion. I managed to put it down but not before it got Vicki.” said Len. “So you see Steve it was an accident.”
“In which case so is this,” Steve lifted his rifle up and pointed it at the old woman who was now rocking back and forth, sobbing madly.
The woman comforting her moved so she was in the way of the shot.
“Don’t Steve, please,” she pleaded.
Steve was suddenly aware that several of the others had drawn their weapons as well, and had them pointed at him.
“Put the gun down Steve,” said Len calmly. “Don’t make us shoot you.”
“You would kill me to protect her?”
“No one has to die. Just put the gun down and lets talk.”
“She is a drain on our resources. She wastes man-hours looking after her. And now she gets my wife killed. She deserves to be put out of her, and our, misery.”
“It was an accident Steve. Please put the gun down.”
“You wouldn’t be saying that if it was your wife who had been bitten Len.”
“Maybe, maybe not. But that isn’t the point right now. Put the gun down or I will put you down.”
“Fuck you Len”
Len sighed, shaking his head.
“Damn you for making me do this Steve.”
Len lifted his gun pointed it right at Steve’s head and flicked off the safety. Steve turned his head slightly to look at Len, which is when Jason hit him round the back of the head with the butt of his gun. Steve dropped to the ground. He heard Jason say sorry before he fell into unconsciousness.
Steve slowly came round. He reached up to his head and remembered too late to stop himself from prodding the back of his skull. The pain caused him to almost black out again. He would be having words with Jason at some point.
He felt the warmth of sunlight on his bare arms and slowly opened his eyes so as to let them grow accustomed to the brightness. Once he was able to see, he looked around at his surroundings. He’d been laid out on a pile of blankets in the corner of one of the shipping containers. The only hole that served as a window was high on the back wall, clear plastic sheeting covering it to keep out as much of the wind as possible, and far too small to fit through.
Half way along the container metal bars had been welded to the top and bottom to create a cage that he now found himself in. On the other side of bars Len sat on a white plastic patio chair.
“Morning.” he said.
“Got any aspirin?” replied Steve. “I’ve got a killer headache.”
“Some on the table.” Len said, gesturing to the corner of the cell with a nod of his head.
Steve cautiously got to his feet, the pounding of his skull a constant reminder of his situation. In the corner of the cell was a simple wooden table. On it sat a plastic cup of water, half a bottle of pills, a candle in a holder and some matches.
He removed the top of the pill bottle, tipped three into his hand and threw them down his throat. Without touching the water he swallowed and went back to the pile of blankets. He sat down, his back leaning against the back wall and looked at Len.
“Not thirsty?” asked Len.
“No telling what’s in the cup.” replied Steve.
“Damn it Steve, no one wants to poison you.”
“Maybe not, but maybe you just want to keep me sedated.”
“In which case why take the pills?”
“I’ve got a headache,” said Steve, smiling for the first time.
“What am I to do with you?” asked Len, smiling himself.
He stood up from the chair and paced back and forth along the bars. After a few minutes he stopped and turned back to look at Steve, who hadn’t moved the whole time.
“If I let you out of here, what will you do?”
“Kill her,” replied Steve, without a seconds pause.
The smile left Len’s face.
“Fuck sake Steve, leave it. It was a disaster what happened, but it was accidental. You must know that.”
“She was allowed to wander around. She should have been confined to a container, like this one. Nice job by the way. How long did it take to get this ready?”
“Couple of hours,” replied Len. “Once me made sure you were going to be ok we put you in here and welded these bars in place. Only way out is for us to cut you out”
To prove his point Len grabbed the bars and tried to shake them. They didn’t move an inch
“But that’s not what we are here to discuss. Look Steve, we’ve taken your views on board. You have a right to say how she is dealt with. She has now been confined to a container. We’ll let her out for a few hours every day to get some air and stretch her legs but other than that she’ll be a prisoner. It’s the best I can do, because I am not willing to end her life.”
“Then let me. It’s my damn right Len and you know it!” shouted Steve.
“You’re getting upset and that’ll get us nowhere,” replied Len. “Look I’m going to give you some time to cool off again.
He walked over the end of the container and pushed the door open. As the light came in Steve saw the roofs of the warehouses outside their compound and knew they must be high up.
“Three containers high Steve,” said Len, as if reading his thoughts. “Even if you do get through the bars you’ll not be able to get down with out a ladder, which by the way I will be taking with me once I get down.”
“So I’m just expected to live out the rest of days in here?”
“Just until you calm down and see reason. She’s no longer a threat or a burden to anyone. Instead of someone watching her 24 hours it’ll just be a couple whilst we let her out for a bit each day. I’ll be back later with some food and something to read. We’ll talk again then.”
Len started climbing down the ladder.
“What about Vicki?” shouted Steve.
Len stopped, the top of his head just visible above the edge of the container.
“About four hours ago,” replied Len, sadly. “She came to say goodbye, but you were still out. Again, I’m sorry Steve.”
“So am I Len,” Said Steve as the container door closed. “So am I”
Steve spent the next couple of weeks contemplating his situation. He rarely spoke to anyone, declining any visitors and just mumbling a few words of thanks to those who brought him food and items to pass the time.
He spent hours thinking back to the times he and Vicki had spent together. The fun they had together with his children and his parents before the outbreak, then trying to survive on the run with his family. The pure devastating feeling of failure when he’d lost his children and praying he’d never have to feel that way again. The joy at finding safety with other people, and the security it offered with new friends.
He cried for days at the loss of Vicki, but came to terms with it quicker than he would have liked.
But what made it worse was every time he tried to find it in his power to forgive the old woman the rage built in him. Len had given him a pair of boxing gloves after finding him pounding his blooded fists into the side of the container. He wanted him to work the anger out in any from he could, but didn’t want him to hurt himself in the process.
It was the start of the third week when he finally started talking again
It was Doug’s turn to bring food to Steve. Everyone was surprised Doug had survived this long. He was a skinny kid, only 24 and completely bald. He had a slight limp and was a bit on the slow side when it came to thinking. From a distance he looked like one of the walking dead. The group often joked he should paint his head a different colour so they would recognise him and not accidental shoot him.
He awkwardly passed the tray of food through a gap bars to Steve who walked over and picked it up.
“No worries Steve. See you later.”
“Wait a minute. You got some time?”
“Err, sure. What’s up?” Doug sat down on the patio chair removing the rifle he had slung over shoulder and resting it across his across his lap.
“Nothing really. How is everyone?” asked Steve.
“Good, I think. They don’t talk much to me really, but everyone seems fine.”
Steve carried the tray over to table and placed it on the top. He picked up the fork and then froze. Tilting his head he walked over to the makeshift window and looked out.
“Not hungry?” asked Doug.
“Thought I heard something,” he replied.
“I hear things as well,” said Doug, a simple smile across his face, glad to be in a conversation.
“Shhh!” hiss Steve.
As he listened he heard it again. It could have been a gull, but Steve was sure it was a human scream, and this time it was louder. A couple of seconds went by with nothing happening, then Steve saw a girl come running out from behind a container. She stumbled and fell, looking back over her shoulder whilst crawling hurriedly across the floor. Seconds later a zombie lurched out from behind the same container, arms reaching for the girl, mouth moving silently.
“Shit!” said Steve. “That’s Valerie’s daughter.”
He turned to Doug who was still sat on the chair, a smile on his face.
“Doug, quick give me your rifle and go tell Len with have a Z in the compound.”
Doug’s face screwed up in concentration.
“I shouldn’t give you my gun. Len would be unhappy with me.”
“Do you think he would be happy if Samantha is killed by a zombie?” asked Steve.
Doug bit his bottom lip as he thought over the question. Steve turned back to look out the window. The young girl now had her back to a container, the zombie advancing slowly. Her shoulders bobbed up and down quickly and Steve knew she was out of breath and probably unable to move anymore.
“I shouldn’t leave you alone with the gun either,” said Doug.
Steve turned back to him. Trying to hold his anger back. Getting frustrated wouldn’t so any good now.
“Ok. Stay and keep an eye on me, but give me your gun or else someone is going to die.”
“Do you promise to give it back after, and not hurt anyone?”
“Yes I do. Now give it to me.”
“Cross your heart?”
“DOUG!” shouted Steve, regretting it straight away. If he upset Doug now he could have just sentenced Valerie’s daughter to death. He thought his fears would come true as Doug stood up and started to turn away. Instead he moved back towards the bars and passed the end of his rifle to Steve.
Grabbing the rifle he spun it round as he hurried back to the window. The angle wasn’t great, and he hadn’t fired a weapon in a while, but he knew he was good enough to make the shot.
Breathing slowly he aimed down the barrel and fired a shot. The bullet missed the zombie by a couple of feet and bounced off the ground, causing Samantha to let out a yelp of panic.
Wind must be blowing more than I know, he thought, as he compensated for it. His second shot hit the zombie in the shoulder. It staggered slightly but continued to make its way towards the promise of an easy meal.
“Shit,” muttered Steve. If he missed this shot then he knew it would be all over for Samantha.
Once again he aimed down the barrel, and adjusted for the wind. He took a deep breath and slowly let it out before squeezing the trigger. The zombies head exploded, seconds later its body dropped to the ground, like a puppet with the strings cut.
Samantha let out a scream as the zombie’s hand landed on her foot and shook her leg until it was no longer touching the lifeless limb. She slowly turned her head to look up at Steve, a smile of relief and joy on her young face. Steve smiled back. He heard the sound of people running and calling out to Samantha as he walked back across his cell and handed the rifle though the bars to Doug, who had been waiting patiently.
“Told you you’d get it back and I’d not hurt anyone,” he said.
Doug took the rifle and looped the strap over his shoulder.
“I better go now. Bye Steve.”
“Do me a favour Doug. Tell Len I’m ready to talk.”
Steve sipped his coffee, pulling a face at how strong it was. It had been a while since he had drunk coffee and knew it would take a few more cups before he was used to the taste again.
He looked up from the black liquid in his mug and focused on Len, who was sat on the other side of the table to him.
“So you will not go anywhere near her accommodation unless in a dire emergency, is that agreed?”
“Even in dire emergencies I may decide to stay away,” replied Steve, smiling.
“Damn it Steve, will you take this seriously. Unless you want to spend another week in that cage I have to make sure you’re not a threat to anyone on site.”
“Look Len, I will stay away from her as long as you can promise me I won’t see or hear her around me.”
“That’s fine. You won’t even know she’s here.”
“Then we’re good,” said Steve.
Seeing another zombie attack in the apparently secure area had forced Steve to make the decision that there were more lives at stake here than he was willing to risk. With his incarceration it meant there were less people out there protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. So he had agreed to follow Lens rules if he were to be released. He would stay away from the old hag at all times, and promise to do her no harm. In return he would be given areas of patrol that were no where near her, and she would be confined to her living quarters 23 hours of the day, only allowed out an hour for a walk, and whatever toilet breaks she may need. During those times Steve would be informed before hand and be moved as far away as possible. It wasn’t the ideal situation, but it was the best they could do at the moment.
Steve was glad to be out of his cell and free to move around. He was desperate to find out how two undead had been able to get inside the compound.
They hadn’t come through the main gate that was for sure. He had been guarding it on the first attack and he knew that someone else would have been there during the second. Plus the zombie had come from the port side. There was no way it could have made it that far across the compound without being seen if it had come in the front way.
“So what are you thoughts so far?” asked Len, noticing Steve had been sat in silence for the past few minutes.
Steve explained about his theory of the zombies coming in by the port side.
“Well that makes the most sense but I’ve had guys on patrol around the waters edge since the first attack. The tide hasn’t been high enough for something to climb up, and there haven’t been any waves strong enough to wash a floating corpse over the edge.”
“They’re getting in somehow Len, and we need to find out soon or else we could be over run before we know it. I’m going to patrol the grounds tomorrow and see what I can look up, but now I really need to get some proper sleep. That cage just wasn’t comfy.”
Steve got up and finished the last of his coffee. The now cold liquid made him pull a face again. He nodded to Len as he made his way out of the meeting room into the night air and across the yard towards the container that he called home. The home he used to share with Vicki. The memory brought with it pain and his eyes started to water. Maybe it was time to move. There were plenty of families who could use a bigger container, as he only needed a single now.
He didn’t notice someone walking up behind him until it was almost too late. If it weren’t for the awful smell he would have been dead before he knew it. As it was the smell brought him back to reality.
“Good lord, what the hell is that?” he wondered aloud.
As if answering the question the zombie that had moving up behind him let out a groan. Steve spun around and narrowly avoided its grasping hands by a hairs breadth. He backed away, cursing the fact that he didn’t have a weapon on him. He should have asked Len for one as soon as he had been released. Too late for that now though, he had to work out what to do. One on one with a zombie shouldn’t be too much bother, but he was weapon-less. He could out manoeuvre the thing easily, but that would only do him so good. He needed to find a weapon or someone with one.
It seemed luck was on his side. As he backed away he saw a torchlight sweeping back and forth. Just at the edge of his night vision he could make out a black shape of a man walking behind the zombie, completely oblivious to what was going on just meters away.
“A little help here.” he shouted.
The figure looked around and his torch illuminated Steve and the zombie. For the first time Steve got a good look at his attacker. It was a regular zombie in most aspects with the typical sunken eyes, greying skin and rotten teeth. The few distinguishing features he did notice were the sailors clothing it wore, the fact that it was dripping wet and stank of shit.
“Bloody hell!” exclaimed the figure with the torch. He charged at the zombie and shoulder barged it out of the way of Steve, who also fell over backwards in his attempt to get out of the way. The creature stumbled sideways, hit the side of a container and fell to the floor.
Steve heard muttered curses coming from inside the container; the zombie’s collision had obviously woken up whoever lived there. Steve watched as his rescuer, who he now recognised as Paul, pull out his gun and put a single shot through the zombie’s head. The zombie twitched for a second before laying still. Paul waited a few seconds, the gun still aimed at the zombie’s head. He holstered his weapon once he was sure that he had delivered a killing shot.
“You alright mate?” asked Paul, offering his hand to Steve and pulling him to his feet. “I just came back from the toilet so you’re lucky I was patrolling this area, otherwise I would have been on the other side of the compound.”
“Actually I’m fine.” replied Steve. “I think I may have just solved the zombie mystery thanks to sailor Jim here.”
“If you think it comes from the sea just because of its clothing you’ll have a hard time proving it. We’ve had guys on sea watch since the first attack.”
“But I think I may have discovered another clue, something to check out in the morning. Night Paul.”
Paul walked off as he carried on his nighttime patrol. Steve smiled to himself. If he was right he may have just saved the community further zombie attacks, and also have a way to settle accounts with the person he hated the most.
“What do you see?” Steve asked Len.
They were stood on the deck of the small fishing vessel that was used for gathering fish, patrolling the waters and, if ever needed, escape from the compound.
Len looked out towards the compound, taking in everything as the small boat bobbed up and down and the gentle sea.
“Our compound, which consists of several containers and an office building, the dock side where this ship is normally moored up and an impenetrable wall surrounding the whole thing.” said Len eventually.
“A bit too literal, but a goods start.” replied Steve.
“Well just tell me then.”
“Look below the compound.” said Steve, ignoring Len.
“I see a solid wall which is around eight foot from sea level to the top.”
“And?” pressed Steve.
Len looked again; he was slowly getting frustrated with the game of eye spy.
“I don’t know what you want me to see Steve, but I’m obviously missing it so just tell me.”
“The large hole about seven feet down from the top and a foot from sea level.”
“You mean our sewage outlet pipe? What about it?”
“That, my friend, is how the undead are getting in to our compound.”
“Impossible. We’ve been using that old sewer pipe since this thing began and we decided to hold up in the docks. We just built the toilet over an existing water pipe that ran out to sea. That pipe also goes all the way inland as well, and to make sure nothing did walk down the pipe we barred it up just before it reached our entrance.”
“That’s what I think is causing the problem.” replied Steve.
“Well normally any debris which was swept up into the pipe would be flushed all the way through. Since you put up the bars in the tunnel you created a net of sorts. Anything washed in gets caught on them and stays there. Now we know the pipe goes underwater at high tide, so I’m guessing a zombie floating in the sea gets washed into the tunnel where it stays until the tide goes down. When someone goes to the toilet the zombie tries to get at the food and eventually manages to climb out and goes on a wander.”
“That’s a lot of big coincidences to consider.”
“True, but that’s why we have only had three attacks in almost as many weeks not more. The one that attacked me last night was wearing a Royal Navy sailor’s uniform. I can only guess he fell overboard from a ship or maybe he was at the coast on leave. Plus it smelt of shit, and Paul had just been to the toilet before I was attacked. I bet if you check with Samantha she will say she had either been or was just heading that way as well.”
“So what do you suggest?” asked Len
“Put up another grill at the entrance to the tunnel. In the mean time I’ll keep guard of it. It’ll keep me well away from you know who.”
“Well ok. But I’m still not convinced. I’m not going to go to the trouble of sending men to put up a grill that may not be needed. It’ll be a waste of manpower and resources. You can stay on guard and if you can prove your theory then we’ll see about the grill.”
Steve smiled to himself as he walked back to the controls of the boat and started to steer them back to dry land. Len had reacted just as he hoped he would. His plan was slowly coming to it conclusion.
It took several weeks until Steve could complete his plan. He had been on guard every night for almost two weeks outside the toilet with no sign of any zombies. He was beginning to think that maybe his theory was just that, and the zombies were in fact finding another way in. Then one night he heard the almost unperceivable sound of moaning. He entered the toilet, opened the lid of the bowl and looked down the hole. Staring back at him was a pair of dead eyes.
The zombie began frantically clawing at the air above him, despite being a few inches short of actually grasping anything that it could use to pull itself up. The zombie’s feet were covered in seawater, but the walls around the sides were not yet wet. So the tide was obviously still on its way in. It wouldn’t be long until the zombie would be floating enough to grasp the ledge and pull itself up.
Steve hurried out of the toilet, leaving the lid up. If anyone tried to go before he had managed to complete his plan they would be able to see the zombie and avoid any disasters. His main job was to silence the alarm but he needed to hit the tool shed first.
Jason removed his headset as soon as Steve walked in radio room. Normally he would be watching the sea for signs of ships, or just daydreaming, but as it was still dark outside he was content to drift off in his own imagination whilst watching the door.
“Don’t you ever sleep?” asked Steve.
“Only when there’s something boring on the radio.” replied Jason.
Steve smiled and walked closer to Jason.
“So aren’t you supposed to be on toilet guarding duty? Looking for the zombie from the black latrine.”
I found something.” replied Steve. “I need to speak to Len, is he around?”
“Still in bed I would guess. Like most people. I think it’s just me you and two other guys on guard duty tonight.”
“That makes things much easier.” said Steve, still smiling.
He suddenly pulled his gun on Jason, the barrel resting no more than a few centimetres from his forehead.
“What’s up buddy?” asked Jason, going crossed eyed whilst trying to stare at the end of the gun.
“I don’t want to hurt you mate, just get of the chair and slowly move away from the radio.”
Jason did as he was told. A part of him was thinking it was all a joke, and any minute the other guys would all jump out and yell surprise.
Steve stayed in the same spot, just turning his body to keep the gun pointed at Jason. When Jason was by the far wall Steve told him to stop. He fished in his pockets and pulled out a pair of handcuffs and tossed them over to Jason.
“Put these on and handcuff yourself to the radiator please.”
“What? Are you serious?”
“Yes, I’m afraid I am.”
Jason did as he told, fastening one of the cuffs over his left wrist and the other around the old metal radiator that was secured to the wall. He tugged his wrist a few times to prove he wasn’t going to be able to move anywhere.
Steve nodded to confirm he was satisfied. He walked to the door and stopped just before he left the room.
“Tell Len I’m sorry I betrayed his trust and let him know he won’t ever see me again.”
Steve walked out the room, but came back in a few seconds later carrying a small bag. He slid it across the room so it was in easy reach of Jason.
“There’s a hacksaw and a pistol in there.” he told him. “If you start on the cuffs now you should be free in about 20 minutes, and the gun can be used in case something goes wrong. But don’t try to shoot the cuffs off like in the movies, you’ll only hurt yourself.”
Steve left again and Jason reached for the bag. True to his word Steve had put the hacksaw and gun in the bag, along with two spare hacksaw blades and an extra magazine for the pistol. There was also a chocolate bar and bottle of water.
“Damn it Steve.” Jason said to himself as he pulled out the hacksaw and started on the handcuffs. “Just what are you planning?”
Steve moved as quickly as he could from container to container. He checked each one had someone inside before locking them, making sure the handles to the containers were in the closed position and inserting a metal peg into the hole that would normally accommodate a padlock. He found the two men on guard duty one at a time and, at gun point, escorted them into a container before locking it as well.
Finally when he was sure that everyone in the compound was locked up safely he went back to the toilet. The moaning was still audible as he carefully opened the door. He couldn’t have timed it better, as soon as he opened the toilet door he saw the soaking wet zombie dragging itself out of the hole to the sewer pipe.
Its dead eyes locked onto Steve and it started making more of an effort to pull itself free, moaning louder now it saw a potential meal.
Steve slowly backed away, keeping the door open the whole time to make sure the zombie didn’t loose interest in him. With one final pull the zombie freed itself from the hole and fell forward towards Steve, landing a few feet from him in the doorway. Steve slowly started walking away, checking behind him to make sure the zombie was following him.
The creature at first started to crawl after Steve until it managed to pick itself up and slowly stumbled after Steve, arms raised in typical zombie fashion.
Steve walked off leading the zombie to his final destination, the only container he hadn’t locked. As soon as he saw the container ahead of him he checked behind him one last time to make sure he was still being followed and quicken his pace.
When he reached the container the zombie was still about 30 feet away from him. He pulled open the containers door hiding behind it as he did so. This was now the biggest gamble of his plan. Hopefully the zombie would walk into the container instead of following him.
Not wanting to wait around in case the it case it decided he was the tastier option, Steve made his way past the container and started walking towards the docks.
As he reached the end of the container he heard a voice shouting to him.
“Help me. Rotting thing. Rotting thing.”
Steve glanced to his side and saw the old woman at one a window that had been cut into the back wall of the container. Bars had been welded into the gap to prevent anyone getting out. She held the bars tightly, knuckles white, her face pushed out as far out as she was able to.
“You, help.” she called to Steve.
He just carried on walking.
“You deserve this you hag.” he muttered to himself as he made his way towards the waters edge, pulling the boat keys out of his pocket.
“Please Steve, don’t do this. I love you.”
In a rare moment of clarity the old woman had suddenly regained her senses. Maybe it was the knowledge of imminent death that had allowed her to fully understand what was about to happen.
As Steve walked away he tried to block out the shouts. They slowly turned from coherent words to just random noises. Either her sanity had retreated back into her brain in order to block out what was going on, or she had given up trying to appeal to him and was now attempting to rouse help from another source.
Eventually the noises turned into screams.
Steve climbed into the boat and took one last look at the place he had called home for the better part of a year. He had lost so much here it no longer held anything for him.
“Goodbye Len, Jason and everyone else.” he said to the air.
Turning the key the boat sputtered into life.
“Goodbye Vicki. I’ll always love you.”
He manoeuvred the boat away from the dock and turned it to face the open sea.
Just before he throttled the engine he thought he heard one last high pitch scream coming from the compound. He gritted his jaw, and put the boat in to gear as he headed off, saying one last goodbye.