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    All The Dead Are Here - Pete Bevan's zombie tales collection


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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.

    FULL CIRCLE by Nick Lloyd
    April 28, 2011  Longer stories   Tags: , ,   

    Sequel to CONSEQUENCES

    John slowly awoke. It took him several seconds to remember where he was. He was used to waking up in a strange house or in the back seat of a car but this was the first time he’d woken up in a helicopter.

    Rubbing his tired eyes, and stretching as much as he was able in the cramped confines, he looked out the window at the countryside passing by. Every now and then he caught sight of a zombie stumbling across an empty field. For some reason they never seemed to look up and notice the helicopter.

    It hadn’t taken long for John to fall asleep in the helicopter. The soothing hum of the rotor blades and the warmth of the inside acting as an instant relaxant on his already weary muscles.

    He looked down at Amy sleeping, her head resting on his lap. Every so often she would twitch, or a quiet groan would escape her lips. He couldn’t remember the last time he had watched her sleep peacefully. Did he do the same things? He rarely remembered his dreams any more, and the ones he did he would rather forget.

    He gently leaned forward, careful not to disturb his sleeping wife, and spoke as loud as he dare to the pilot.

    “How much longer until we arrive?” he asked.

    “Shouldn’t be much more than twenty minutes,” replied Oliver

    John nodded and carefully sat back. He had been asleep just over an hour and he felt all the better for it. Maybe his subconscious mind knew there was no chance of a zombie attacking him in the helicopter and so had allowed him a proper rest.

    John looked out the window again. It all seemed too good to be true.

    He was starting to wonder if he was a lucky charm. For the time being he was happy to be lucky, and now here he was flying to a safe location. Yeah, he was lucky he figured, but he had to wonder at what point his luck would run out.

    He had survived the initial outbreak, and what was more his wife, the person he loved more than anything in the world, had survived with him. Then he had meet Oliver, Kurt and Matt, three men who had become his close friends.

    Finally, they had heard the transmission and found the helicopter. Until they’d lost Kurt, everything had been going well for John and his little group. He hoped it wasn’t the start of a run of bad luck.

    ~~~

    Marcus finished his preparations for the pending arrival of his guests. He would have to play it safe as there was no way he would be able to do away with all five at once.

    A finger brushed his shoulder and he took a small step backwards.

    “Now, now dear,” he said to his wife. “There’s food on the way. No need to get angry.”

    The zombie strained in an effort to reach him, however the thick choker around its neck was firmly attached by a length of metal chain to a ring, which itself encircled a pole that ran from floor to ceiling of the basement. This didn’t stop the zombie getting as much distance out of it as possible, like a dog chained outside a store trying to reach its master. It made several grunting noises.

    “Won’t be long now, I promise,” Marcus said to the zombie as he made his way to the stairs and climbed out of the basement.

    He left the metal gate at the bottom of the stairs open. With his wife securely fastened there would be no need to lock it.

    It wasn’t going to be easy to separate his guests. He would send one of them into the basement under the excuse he needed them to get something for him. Once in, he would lock the door and make his way to his bedroom. There, the top of the pole his wife was chained to stuck up slightly through the floor. He would just need to remove a pin and lift the pole so that the ring that was attached to the choker’s chain could fall down the length of the pole and his wife would be free to dine.

    He wouldn’t have to worry about the screams either. He had soundproofed the room months ago. Although he loved his wife, her constant complaining made it hard for him to sleep at night. The only thing that wasn’t sound proof was the door, but then you would need to be very close to hear anyone shouting through it, and he didn’t plan on anyone being near enough to be able to hear anything.

    The other four wouldn’t be easy. He would try to send them to different parts of the house and trap them there. As long as he could get alone with each one he should be able to knock them out without too much trouble.

    Yes separating them would be the key to success. Then making sure they were tied up so he could keep them for his wife. One a week should do her for the time being.

    Don’t do this. You don’t have to kill anyone else.

    “Shut up,” replied Marcus.

    Your wife is dead now, just like the hundreds of others who are surrounding your house.

    “I said shut up.”

    You’re a smart man. Think of all the good you could do, and now you have a way out of here. You’re no longer trapped in this house. This prison!

    “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” roared Marcus.

    He stood in the silent corridor for several seconds, shoulders rising and lowering with each deep breath he took.

    Finally he composed himself enough to move on. It would do no good if he was worked up when his guests arrived.

    He walked into the kitchen and checked on the bubbling contents of the pans on the cooker. The potatoes would soon be ready. Once they were done he would put some peas and carrots on.

    Grabbing a fork he jabbed it into the other pan and pulled out a stringy bit of brown meat, dripping with what could loosely be called gravy. He stuck it in his mouth and chewed it a few times before swallowing.

    Not bad, he thought. He would have preferred fresh meat and veg, but in these times you had to make do with what you’ve got, and he had tins of food, and lots of them.

    Turning down the heat so as not to overcook the potatoes he made his way out of the kitchen and put his head in the dining room. The table was set up for six people, nothing else to do in there.

    Finally he made his way to the roof. His watch said ten past three. It was just over two hours now since he had spoken with… James? John? Jeff? In all the excitement of preparing for the groups arrival he had forgotten the name of the guy he had spoken to, although he was sure it was a ‘J’ name.

    Marcus stepped out onto the flat roof and scanned the horizon for signs of the helicopter. Walking around the edge of the building so that his vision wasn’t blocked by the small radio shack, the solar panels or the water container, he tried to look for anything in the sky that looked out of place. Nothing. Not even a bird. When had he last actually seen a bird? They stayed away now. Something was obviously scaring them away.

    The… fucking… zombies!

    Maybe there was a large group of cats in the woods that surrounded his property.

    One last walk around the perimeter of the roof and he would have to go back and check on the food. If they didn’t turn up soon he would have to throw it all out and start again.

    Why bother feeding them when you just plan on killing them anyway? Why waste food that could be eaten later?

    For some reason Marcus’s thoughts turned to the old fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. The two children who sought shelter in a house of candy only to find themselves trapped by an evil witch and fattened up to be eaten later.

    As he finished his final tour of the roof and started to head back to the door leading down stairs, an unfamiliar sound made him pause. He stood still and waited to see if he could heat it again.

    He tried to block out the ever present drone of the hungry people trying to break through the fences and get into his grounds. For several seconds there was nothing, but as a gentle breeze ruffled his long hair he heard it again, a strange almost clapping sound, like someone was hitting a sheet of plastic repeatedly. He looked in the direction the breeze had come from, understanding the wind had carried the sound from its source.

    Marcus could make out the sound as a constant drone now. Although it seemed to come from all around him he continued to stare in the same direction.

    After a few more seconds he noticed something in the sky. Just visible above the tree line, a few miles out, was a single black spot.

    The helicopter! It had to be the helicopter. Finally they were here. Jim (Jim?) and his four friends had arrived. The smile that appeared on his face threatened to split his head in two. He clapped his hands together and, not realising it, skipped the few steps to the roofs door.

    He had to compose himself now. This is where it would all go right.

    Or completely wrong.

    ~~~

    Amy gradually opened her eyes and looked up at her husband.

    “Well good afternoon honey,” he said.

    “How long was I out?” she asked.

    “A couple of hours.”

    “How much longer until we arrive?”

    “Not long. Oliver said it would be about twenty minutes, and that was about twenty minutes ago,” replied John smiling.

    “And you managed to wait all that time without complaining? I must say you’re getting better,” teased Amy.

    John replied by poking his wife in the side, just under her ribs. She let out a squeal that was part pleasure, part pain, and sat up.

    “Any idea where we are?” she asked, looking out the window.

    “Best guess is eastern coast. Maybe somewhere in Lincolnshire,” said Matt from the front seat. “The landscape is fairly flat and I haven’t seen any major cities since we took off. Lots of small villages and fields, but no large population centres.”

    “Any idea what we’re actually looking for?” asked Amy. “I mean I know we have co-ordinates, but are we looking for a house or military base or settlement?”

    “This far out I’m guessing something small,” replied Matt.

    “Wouldn’t think a military base as the signal was sent from one guy,” continued John. “And he kept saying ‘my’ or ‘I’ as opposed to ‘we’ or ‘our’ so I can only guess it’s not a settlement.”

    “Do any of you guys think it’s odd that one man could survive for so long out here alone, with all that’s going on?”

    “Don’t say you’re changing your mind, Amy,” said Oliver. “I’m not exactly short on gas for this bird, but I don’t know when I’ll next get the chance to fill her up. I would hate to think we wasted fuel coming this far for no reason.”

    “Oh no, I’m not saying we turn around. I just think we should be careful when we get there. For all we know the guy ran out of food several months ago and has turned to cannibalism in order to survive.”

    “It’ll be fine honey,” said John. “You’ve got three strong men to protect you.”

    “I feel safer already,” replied Amy, with mock sarcasm.

    This got her another poke in the ribs from John.

    “Hey, I think I see something,” said Matt, pointing forward towards the horizon.

    The others leaned forward, trying to see what Matt was pointing at.

    “I don’t see anything,” said Oliver.

    “There. There,” replied Matt thrusting his finger in the direction of what he was looking at.

    “Wait I think I see it too,” said John. “I could only see a black cube at first and assumed it was a barn, but I think I can see a chain-link fence surrounding it and… my God!”

    “What? What is it John?” asked Amy

    “Outside the fence. There must be hundreds of them.”

    As they flew closer to their destination they realised why Marcus was alone. Three metal chain-link fences ringed the building, like ripples spreading out from a stone dropped in a pond.

    From a distance it looked like a moat of black liquid surrounded the last fence but as they got closer it became clear that the moat was in fact a river of the undead.

    The helicopter flew over the building and hovered over the empty grounds between it and the innermost fence. John looked out at the building, taking in the details. The building itself was basically just a black cube. There were no windows that he could make out and no visible door on the ground, at least not on the side he could see. The roof was the only surface not an empty flat surface. Almost directly in the middle the roof was a hole with steps leading down to a closed door; presumably the entrance to the building. A few feet from that was a wooden hut, which looked completely out of place. The antenna coming out of its roof indicating it probably housed a radio. Finally there were several solar panels situated next to a large metal container which was almost full of water. Wires trailed out of the solar panels and snaked to a corner of the roof, where they disappeared down a small circular hole

    The ground themselves were just a large empty plot of grass. There was the odd patch of mud where the grass had either died, or been torn up by the wheels of vehicles. Two sets of old tire tracks led away to a large gate in the fence. Behind that gate was a second and third fence, each closed, with chains and a large padlock making sure they stayed that way.

    “I can see an entrance on the roof,” John mentioned to Oliver.

    “There’s no way I can land on the roof mate, not enough room. It’s down on the ground or nothing.”

    “What about them?” asked Amy, pointing the hoards of undead.

    “They don’t seem to be bothered about us at the moment,” replied Oliver.

    Amy looked over at the undead, it was hard to miss them, and noticed for the first time they weren’t actually doing anything. They mostly just stood in place, with the odd one or two shuffling around. Occasionally one of them would grip the fence, shake it a couple of times then turn and wander off.

    “You can bet they’ll take notice as soon as we land,” said John.

    “Well I can’t just hover around here forever. Someone make a decision.”

    “How about we ask him,” Matt said, pointing towards the base of the building.

    The other three looked out at the man on the ground waving his arms at the helicopter. As soon as he saw he had their attention he pointed to the ground a few feet away and gave the thumbs up sign.

    “I think he wants us to land,” said Oliver.

    “Guess that must be Marcus,” said John.

    “Urgh, I bet he stinks!” said Amy, wrinkling her nose as she thought about it.

    There was silence in the helicopter as the three men looked quizzically at her.

    “What?” she asked, innocently. “Look at him. He has long hair and a beard. I bet he hasn’t washed or brushed his teeth in ages.”

    “Not that I want to contradict your amazing powers of observation dear, but we don’t exactly get chance to clean ourselves on a daily basis,” said John.

    “I know that, but we do when we can. It may only be in rivers and lakes, but at least we do wash occasionally. He, on the other hand, has been trapped in here for God knows how long.”

    “With a large tank of water on the roof,” commented John.

    “Sorry to break up this great conversation, but I’m landing,” said Oliver. “Please feel free to carry on once we’re down.”

    With a gentle bump the helicopter set down. Oliver flicked several switches and the blades started to slow down. As the hum of the rotors slowly quietened down, the sound of moaning filled the air.

    “Looks like they took notice,” said Matt.

    The undead, who before had been relatively passive, were now in a frenzy of activity. The ones closest to the outer fence trying to squeeze through the tiny gaps whilst the ones behind them thrust hands and faces through whatever gap in the hoard they could find, in a vain attempt to get closer to the meal they could now see and smell.

    John was the first to get out of the helicopter. The blades were still in motion, albeit slowly, and he kept his head low as he ran towards the man he could only assume was Marcus.

    The man stood where he was, just smiling a strange smile through his beard.

    “Are you Marcus?” shouted John, making himself heard over the dying sound of the helicopter blades and raising sound of the undead.

    “Yes, yes. Dr Marcus Pointer. And you must be Jim.”

    “John. John Harris. Please to meet you.”

    By now the others had joined the two men.

    “Let me introduce you to my wife Amy.”

    “Hello Marcus.”

    “And my new oldest best friends Oliver, our fearless pilot, and Matt.”

    “And the other person?” asked Marcus, coming back to the present. “You did say there were five of you.”

    Matt and Oliver looked sadly at the ground and Amy forced back a tear, the memory of Kurt’s death still raw in her mind.

    “He didn’t make it,” said John. “We were attacked at the airport and he was killed.”

    “Dear, oh dear,” muttered Marcus, turning away from the group. “What to do about making the food go far enough.”

    “Excuse me?” asked John.

    “Hmm? Oh sorry, I was just, um… wondering what I was going to do with all the extra food I cooked.”

    “Well that shouldn’t be a problem. We haven’t eaten properly in a while and could eat loads,” said Amy.

    “Yes, yes. Well follow me,” replied Marcus, still seeming slightly vacant as he started walking towards the house.

    Amy shrugged as her and John followed Marcus. Matt tapped Oliver on the shoulder. He made a circular motion around his ear with his finger whilst crossing his eyes and sticking his tongue out the side of his mouth. Oliver smiled and looked over at Marcus, who now seemed to be muttering to himself. He pointed to Matt then himself before tapping just under his eye and then pointing to Marcus.

    Matt nodded his understanding and the two men hurried after the others.

    ~~~

    Marcus led the four guests towards his home. They weren’t much to look at in his opinion. The men wore jeans, in various states of disrepair and a mix of t-shirts or shirts under warm looking jackets whilst the woman opted for a pair of knee length shorts and a white knitted cardigan.

    John was the eldest by looks, maybe mid forties. He still had a full head of light brown hair, with just the odd bit of silver showing through. There was a look of caution in his brown eyes, and he walked with the discipline that made Marcus sure he had once been in the armed forces.

    His wife, Amy, was an attractive enough lady, but not what he would consider beautiful. She looked a year or two younger than John. Her light blonde hair resting on her shoulders suited her blue eyes.

    Matt was a wiry young man, probably the youngest of the group, yet easily still in his thirties. A mop of messy black hair sat on his head, and it was clear it had been cut, and badly, not too long ago. He had a look in his eyes, that unsettled Marcus. It was a look that made the animal instinct inside him suddenly wary that maybe he wasn’t the hunter, but in fact the prey.

    Finally was Oliver. To Marcus he was the friendliest of the group, although he had a great sadness in his face. He was a fairly big guy, but not fat and his bald head suited him, without making him look like a thug. It was a tossup between him and John as to who was the eldest of the group.

    So these are my four house guests.

    Well, what will Mrs Pointer do without the five meals you promised her?

    In some ways it made it easier, he could at least separate them without as much difficulty. He would just have to try and ration the meat out. His wife had gone a long time without a proper meal so she should be able to go a week between these offerings. That would mean almost two months before he would have to start looking for the next take-out.

    He chuckled at the joke he had made.

    “What’s so funny?” asked John.

    Damn, thought Marcus. I must try to control myself better.

    “Nothing really, I’m just happy that I have guests. It’s been such a long time. I was beginning to think we were the last people in the country.”

    “We?” questioned Amy.

    DAMN!

    “Err… me and the people outside the fences,” said Marcus quickly.

    “People? You mean the zombies?”

    “Yes them. I guess I still see them as people.”

    “They’re nothing but filth,” spat Oliver. “They stopped being people long ago. They deserve nothing more than a final death.”

    Marcus just grunted his reply.

    After a few feet they reached the edge of the building. Marcus walked up to the wall in front of him and pushed one of the black bricks that looked, to the others, exactly like the rest of the bricks in the wall. He then took hold of a handle, which was all but invisible if you didn’t know it was there and pulled open a door revealing a well lit but narrow corridor.

    “Impressive,” said John.

    “I designed and built this house myself,” said Marcus. “It was made to be impenetrable to all but the most determined invader. Now, after you.”

    The corridor only allowed for them to go in single file. Once the entire group were in the corridor Marcus walked in and the door slammed shut behind him. He removed a key from his pocket, inserted it in the key hole and turned it until the sound of bolts sliding into place was clearly audible.

    “The door can only be locked and unlocked from the inside,” he said to whoever may have been interested. “But once it is unlocked it can opened from the other side, if you know how.”

    He squeezed past the group to the front and walked down the corridor, not bothering to check if the others were following him.

    At the end of the corridor there was a left turn and another corridor followed by another left turn.  At the end of that corridor was a dead end.

    As the guests looked around for a doorway, Marcus reached up and touched a brick in the ceiling. There was a click and a section of the ceiling dropped down with a ladder attached. The ladder un-folded once the ceiling section came to a rest.

    “Welcome to my home,” Marcus said with a bow, his arm gesturing towards the ladder.

    John shrugged, squeezed past Marcus and climbed the ladder, followed by Amy and Matt with Oliver bringing up the rear.

    Once they were all up Marcus climbed up. At the top he grabbed the ladder and pulled. It folded back in on itself and the ceiling section clicked back into place.

    “Impressive,” said John again. “And you say you built this place yourself?”

    “Designed and built,” corrected Marcus. “Before this whole thing kicked off I had a completely different life. I’ve been an architect, an engineer, a husband and a builder. I guess I’m only a few of those things now.”

    Lunatic! Killer! Madman!

    “I’m confused as to the small corridors though,” said John. “From the outside I have seen this is a big building, but there are only three small corridors on the ground floor.”

    “There’s also a basement room down there. The corridors circle around it. The whole point is to try and confuse any would be intruders. The tight confines also make it difficult to perform any type of actions other than walking.”

    “And the lack of windows?” asked Amy.

    “If the people outside can’t see anyone moving about inside they get less riled up. I know it may seem depressing without natural light, but would it cheer you up any to see what was actually outside? But anyway I would be pleased to give you all a tour of my home, but we should eat dinner first.”

    “Sounds like a plan to me,” said Amy smiling.

    “This way then, honoured guests. Your banquet awaits.”

    ~~~

    John dropped his fork onto his plate, leaned back in his chair and groaned. His hands dropped to his sides and his head lolled backwards as he let out another groan.

    “You’ve killed my husband,” Amy said to Marcus.

    “Not quite, but nearly,” said John, sitting up again and patting his stomach. “I haven’t felt so full in ages.”

    “I just wish I had some bread to mop up the gravy,” replied Marcus with a smile.

    “I haven’t had bread since this whole thing started,” said Oliver, a distant look in his eye as he thought back to his past. “But it doesn’t last long and without the right tools and ingredients there’s no way to make more”

    “I may not have any bread but I do have some wine in the basement,” mentioned Marcus.

    “I would love a glass of wine,” said Amy enthusiastically, clapping her hands together.

    “What about everyone else? What would you gentlemen like to do?”

    “I would love a shower,” replied Oliver.

    “I’d like to see more of your facility,” said John.

    “Not a problem. And you Matt?”

    “I’d just be happy to relax here, maybe have another plate of food, if there’s any left.”

    “Of course, help yourself. Now John, I’ll show you the roof first, where you can get a good look at the grounds as well. If you wait by that door there I’ll be back in a few seconds. Oliver and Amy if you would like to follow me I’ll show you to the bathroom and then the basement.

    Marcus stood up and gestured to Amy and Oliver to follow him as he left the room.

    John walked behind Amy and put his hands around her waist. She tilted her head back to look at him. A big smile spread across his face and, for the first time in months, his eyes showed the same joy his face did.

    “What’s up with you?” asked Amy.

    “Nothing,” he replied. “It’s just I think we may have actually hit the jackpot here.”

    “Certainly looks that way.”

    “But hurry now. You don’t want to miss out on that bottle of wine.”

    Amy spun round to face John. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the lips.

    “Love you sweetheart.”

    “Love you too darling.”

    With that Amy hurried off after Oliver and Marcus.

    ~~~

    Marcus showed Oliver how to work the simple shower. Stand under the shower head that was fixed to a metal pipe, pull the cord to start, pull the cord to stop.

    “The water may not actually get you very clean, as it’s just collected rainwater from the roof tank, but it will be warm thanks to the solar panels,” explained Marcus.

    “I’m sure it’ll be just great,” replied Oliver. He shut the bathroom door and started to undress, looking forward to his first real shower in many months.

    “Now my dear,” said Marcus turning to face Amy. “Let’s do what needs to be done with you.”

    He walked off quickly, not wanting Amy to see the grin that had started to spread over his face.

    Last chance to change your mind. Help them, don’t kill them.”

    As he approached the basement door, he removed the key from his pocket.

    “Why keep this door locked?” asked Amy.

    “Well…erm…force of habit, I guess,” said Marcus quickly. “I never really thought about it until now.”

    He unlocked the door and pushed it open whilst making a flamboyant bowing gesture to indicate Amy should enter the room. “Ladies first,” he said in an over-the-top posh voice.

    Amy nervously entered the darkness. After she’d taken her third tentative step her left foot found the stairs simple because suddenly there was nothing under the end of it any more.

    “I can’t see a thing,” she complained. “Where’s the damn light switch?”

    “You won’t need it,” muttered Marcus, right in her ear.

    Amy’s heart leaped inside her chest. She hadn’t heard him get so close. Suddenly it wasn’t his proximity to her that was the problem anymore.

    Marcus took a single step back and before Amy had chance to turn around he leapt forward, both arms outstretched, the palms of his hands flat and his fingers splayed. His hands connected with Amy and she pitched forward. As she started to fall, Amy somehow managed to pivot on her left heel before it lost grip on the stair. Marcus saw the look of pure horror, mixed with confusion and betrayal on her face.

    Her left arm, caught in the momentum of her turn, reached out to Marcus, her hand upturned in a gesture of begging.

    “Grab it!”

    Marcus’s right arm twitched, just a fraction, but he kept it by his side. It seemed to take an age for gravity to finally grip Amy as she tumbled backwards down the stairs. He had expected a quiet scream from her as she fell, but got little more than a grunt as her body hit the first of many stairs during her descent.

    He quickly moved out of the room and shut the door, locking it behind him. If the fall hadn’t killed Amy, it was sure to have at least knocked her out, maybe even caused a broken bone or two. It didn’t matter anyway, as soon as he lifted the pole in his room and freed his wife there was nowhere Amy would be able to escape to.

    Briskly he made his way towards his room.

    “Marcus.”

    He froze, slowly turning. Had one of the men seen him? Would he turn to see a gun pointed at his head?

    “I’m surprised you weren’t gone longer,” said John. He was stood in the doorway to the kitchen, a satisfied smile on his face. He produced a small piece of kitchen roll from his pocket and wiped his mouth.

    “Sorry, helped myself to seconds. Like I said, thought you would be gone longer.”

    “Erm…I’m not sure I understand,” confessed Marcus.

    “I just thought Amy would just have spent ages talking to you about what wine to choose. You see she is, well was, a bit of a wine snob.”

    “What do you mean ‘was’?” asked Marcus nervously.

    “Well, when you live as we do there isn’t much chance of getting wine anymore, and when we do get some we can’t really be picky, if you see what I mean.”

    “Ahh yes, I understand,” said Marcus, relieved to see that, for the moment at least, he was in the clear.

    “So do you want to show us this fascinating complex now?” asked John.

    “Us?”

    “Yeah, me and Matt.”

    “I thought meat, err… I mean Matt, was going to stay here and have some more food.”

    “Well I was,” said Matt, joining to the two men from the dining room, “but I decided I better walk off some of this first,” he patted his stomach with a chuckle. “Don’t want to start getting fat and lazy.”

    “Sure,” said Marcus. “Let me just sort out something in my room first then we can go.”

    “Well it was starting to get dark as we arrived,” commented John. “If you have things to do it may be best to wait until tomorrow. I can go help Amy choose the wine.”

    “NO!” shouted Marcus before he could stop himself. “I mean you should let her enjoy this moment herself. You said she was a wine connoisseur; well she must be having the time of her life with my collection. Even I’ve forgotten what I keep down there. Plus it would be best to familiarise yourselves with your surroundings if you are going to stay here, just in case anything happens tonight.”

    “That does make sense,” said Matt. “But we don’t want to bother you if you’ve things to do.”

    “It’s nothing that can’t wait a while,” replied Marcus reluctantly. “Let’s go.”

    Marcus led the two men to a door at the end of the corridor. He taped a code into the locking mechanism and pulled the door open. The faint sounds of moaning could be heard as soon as they started the assent up the flight of stairs.

    “Why the fancy lock on the door?” asked John.

    “Up here is where I keep the transmitter and radio. A few months ago a guest tried to use it for, shall we say, inappropriate reasons, so I thought it best to keep it locked when I’m not around.”

    “He tried to call for help.”

    “But this here is my roof set up. Over there is the radio hut where I search for survivors. I built the hut myself. To your left are the solar panels that provide all the electricity to the building and next to that is the water tank where all the rain water is collected.”

    “Very impressive,” said Matt.

    The trio walked over towards the edge of the building. There was nothing to stop them going right over so they stayed a few steps back from the very edge.

    “As you can see, three sturdy metal chain-link fences topped with barbwire surround the compound. The panels are each six foot long and the poles between them go three foot down into the ground.”

    “Why use chain-link?” asked John. “Surely solid panels would be more secure.”

    “Not really,” replied Marcus. “Solid panels would be more likely to fall with enough force behind them. Those people out there don’t focus their attacks in the same place so there isn’t enough strength pushing against the chain-link fence to be able to break through. Plus this way I get to see exactly what’s out there. If a fence goes down I can see where the people are getting in. If there were three solid walls I may not know the outer two had fallen until the third went as well.”

    “People!” snorted Matt.

    “Makes sense when you think about it,” said John, trying to stop any conflict from arising.

    “What’s this?” asked Matt. He had walked over to the water tank and was looking at a large metal pole with a hook on the end, which was fastened to the front.

    “That is my D.B.R.D.”

    “D.B.R.D?”

    “Occasionally a bird will fall into the water tank. In order to avoid any diseases from spreading I use this device to retrieve the body. It’s my Dead Bird Retrieval Device.”

    It started slowly, but within seconds all three men were in fits of laughter, Matt sat on the ground, whilst Marcus and John leant against the water tank. The absurdity of the device and the need to give it such an important name causing months of built up emotion to come to the surface.

    It lasted several minutes then as quickly as it started it was over, at least for John and Matt. Marcus carried on for a few more minutes. Matt looked over awkwardly at John.

    “It wasn’t that funny,” he said.

    “I haven’t laughed that hard in months,” said Marcus, wiping a tear from his eye. “I guess when you are on your own for so long you forget what’s really funny.”

    “You no longer have to be alone”

    Matt walked back over towards the edge and gazed out at the sea of zombies behind the fences. They had settled down a little since the helicopter had first landed. They were aware there was a meal inside, and the ones closest to the fence still tried to get in, but the ones further out had lost interest, for now.

    John joined Matt, followed shortly after by Marcus, still chuckling to himself every so often.

    “Shit,” said John, looking towards the helicopter. “I forgot the bags. I better go get them before Amy gets back or I’ll never hear the end of it.”

    John started back towards the stairs when Marcus shouted over to him.

    “You’ll need this,” he said, fishing a key out of his pocket and throwing it towards John. “For the front door,” he clarified.

    “Thanks. Be back shortly.”

    Marcus turned back to Matt, who had sat down, legs dangling over the edge of the building.

    “So tell me about how you came to be here,” he said, joining Matt on the edge.

    “Where to start?” said Matt, looking off into the distance.

    ~~~

    John hurriedly walked towards the hatch that led to the entrance tunnel.

    “Amy?” he called out. There was no response. Man, he must have a good wine collection, he thought to himself.

    As he approached the hatch he could hear singing coming from behind a closed door. He leant in a little and heard rushing water as well. He smiled to himself, amused that Oliver was still in the shower after all this time.

    A thought popped in his head and he was glad it did. He quietly opened the door to the bathroom and took a quick look around. He was more than relieved to see a large shower curtain separating him and a naked Oliver.

    He spotted what he was looking for in a pile in the corner of the room. He snuck over, not wanting to disturb Oliver and went through the pockets of Oliver’s trousers until he found the helicopter key, then snuck back out of the bathroom.

    Can’t wait for my turn in there with Amy, he thought, his smile not the only thing getting bigger.   He shook his head as he opened the hatch and lowered the ladder into the corridor. If he didn’t get the bags from the helicopter he would be showering, and possible sleeping alone, for tonight at the very least.

    He jogged along the narrow corridor until he reached the outer door. He unlocked it and was surprised when he had to put extra weight behind his body in order to force the door open fully.

    As soon as he stepped out the door slammed shut behind him, melting invisibly into the wall of the building.

    Damn it, he thought, I should’ve known that would happen.

    He looked up towards the roof and saw two pairs of legs dangling over the edge. At least someone would be able to let him back in.

    He quickly made his way towards the helicopter. The undead surrounding the compound had started to get riled up again, pushing and shoving against each other in an attempt to get closer.

    John reached the helicopter, unlocked the doors, and started grabbing the group’s small collection of bags from the back seat. It was amazing to see how little they actually carried with them. Most of the important things they needed to survive were found on the road. All they carried with them nowadays was a single change of clothes and basic tools, like a can opener or screwdriver, to make living that little bit easier.

    As John closed and locked the helicopter doors he glanced back at the house, ready to ask for someone to come and let him in, but noticed there was no longer anyone sitting on the edge of the roof.

    “Shit! Well I’m sure they’ll come looking for me when they notice I’m not back.”

    He was about to get back in the helicopter to wait when he noticed a small, round object fly off the roof and head towards him. His jaw dropped as he realised what it was and started running.

    ~~~

    “No guns at all?” asked Matt, honestly surprised.

    “No weapons of any kind. I have never seen the need for them. Well I do own some tools which could be used as a weapon I guess,” replied Marcus.

    “Like a hammer round the back of the head.”

    “When you are on the road like us you need protection.”

    “So what kind of things do you have?” inquired Marcus.

    Matt stood up and moved away from the buildings edge. He lifted his green t-shirt a little to show Marcus the Glock tucked into his waistband.

    “May I?” asked Marcus, reaching out to take the gun.

    Matt hesitated for a second, but then pulled out the gun and removed the magazine. He checked the chamber was empty before handing it to Marcus.

    “Don’t want it going off by accident,” he said, as Marcus held the gun. “I also have one of these.”

    Matt reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a grenade, a smile on his lips.

    “We found three of them on some dead soldiers a few days ago,” he explained. “Never used one before but how hard can it be? Pull pin, throw at enemy, run in opposite direction.”

    Marcus went to hand the gun back to Matt, but it fell from his hand just as Matt reached for it.

    “Sorry. Clumsy me,” apologised Marcus.

    “No problem. Lucky it wasn’t loaded,” said Matt as he bent down to pick up the gun.

    In a flash Marcus brought his knee up into Matt’s face. His nose burst in a red spray and he stumbled backwards as Marcus followed up with a punch to the chest. He fell back into the water tank and let out a small yelp. Marcus moved in and grabbed the grenade Matt still held, before quickly getting out of range of any comeback strikes; however Matt just stood still, his face in shock.

    It took Marcus a second to realise what had happened. As Matt had hit the water tank, the D.B.R.D had snagged him, digging into his flesh and trapping him there like a fish on a hook. It probably wasn’t that deep, but after being attacked he was still in shock.

    Without wasting any time Marcus ran towards the edge of the building. He pulled the pin on the grenade and, aiming in the rough direction of the helicopter, threw it as hard as he dared. Instantly he fell to the ground and covered his head with his arms. If the helicopter did go up in an explosion he didn’t want any stray shrapnel hitting him.

    It wasn’t shrapnel that hit him, but he did feel the pain in his side as Matt kicked him in the ribs. Marcus rolled over, howling like a kicked mutt and looked up into the face of a madman. Matt’s face was a mess of red blood, with two clear lines below his eyes where tears had run down his cheeks. His lips were pulled back in a scowl, showing his blood covered teeth gritted together. But worst of all were his eyes. Marcus looked into Matt’s eyes and realised what he had done. No longer did he see confusion, shock or fear. What he saw now was pure hate. The eyes of someone who wanted him dead.

    “You…will pay…for what you… just…did!”

    ~~~

    Amy opened her eyes and then wondered if she actually had. She was in pitch blackness. She moved her head around a little to see if she could locate even the smallest hint of illumination and instantly wished she hadn’t.

    She gingerly reached behind her head and winced as her hand came away slick with, what she could only assume in the darkness, was blood.

    She tried to stand and immediately sat back down with a shocked cry of pain. Her right ankle had given away as soon as she had put even the smallest amount of weight upon it. It wasn’t broken, she was almost certain of that, but she must have given it a nasty twist at least, possible torn muscle or ligament damage at most.

    In her head Amy did a quick check list of her body. Nothing broken = good. Lots of small aches, pains and scratches = moderate. Bleeding head and damaged ankle = bad.

    She tried to focus on what had happened, and how to get out of the dark hole she was currently in.

    Marcus had promised her wine, so they had gone to the basement. She had gone in first then fallen down the stairs. No, not fallen, pushed. Marcus had pushed her down the stairs.

    The realisation suddenly hit her. This man had tried to kill her, and now was doing who knows what to her husband and friends.

    Her fear of what could be happening outside the basement quickly became a fear of what might happen inside the basement as she heard a familiar sound; a low ominous groan.

    Try as she might, Amy was unable to pinpoint the exact source of the noise. She knew it was roughly in front of her, but the groan seemed to echo off the walls, meaning one time it was to her right, the next to her left.

    Finally convinced that the groaning was coming from directly in front of her she started to slowly back away on all fours, careful of her sore ankle. After only a couple of small movements her back hit up against a wall. She jumped at the unexpected feeling and managed to hit her head on against the wall, causing fresh agony to flood her body, and numerous curses to escape her lips.

    All the while she had been withdrawing from the groans they hadn’t gotten any closer. Maybe the theories were wrong. Maybe a zombie did need to see you to attack you.

    Amy started to feel around her on both sides. At first there was nothing, then, as she leant to the left, her hand brushed up against something wooded and raised. She edged slightly closer to it, fearful of what else may be lurking in the dark, and relief washed over her as she felt another bit of wood above and behind the first; the staircase.

    As she moved closer to the stairs, the groaning seemed to follow her, and then there was the clink sound of metal on metal. Her mind tried to remember where she had heard the noise before, and it suddenly came to her. Her uncle had owned a large dog and kept it chained up in the back garden. Whenever anyone went near the garden it would charge at them, until its chain pulled tight against the metal pole it was secured to.

    My God, thought Amy. He’s got one of those things chained up in here.

    Slowly, carefully, she climbed to her feet, all her weight on her left foot. Using the wall to her left as support, she hopped onto the first step, trying to ignore the pain in her head every time the jump jolted her.

    Reaching out with her right hand she found the opposite wall of the stairwell and also a metal bar. Running her hand down the bar she soon came to what she hoped was a hinge. Probing around in the dark she finally found something that cheered her up for the first time since she had opened her eyes; a door. She could close the door and keep whatever was in the basement, in the basement.

    After a few more seconds of fumbling around, and hopping on one leg, she found the door was in fact made up of more metal bars running vertically.

    A cage door, she thought. After realising she had been pushed into a basement with a chained up zombie, the fact there was a cage door at the bottom of the stairs came as no real surprise to her.

    She pulled the door towards herself and flinched as it slammed shut, the noise sounding exceptionally loud in the previously quiet darkness.

    She ran her hand down the outside of the door until it came to a large solid piece of metal. Tracing her fingers around it she found what she had hoped wouldn’t be there, a keyhole. Amy had hoped for a bolt or catch of some kind.  If there was a keyhole, it meant there would need to be a key to lock it, and it was highly unlikely that it would be anywhere near here.

    Thinking positively, she ran her hands over the walls on either side, hoping to find a hook or shelf that may contain the key, but found nothing.

    Never mind, she thought, at least the door offers a few more seconds of protection if the creature down here gets loose.

    She warily made her way up the stairs, wincing occasionally when she didn’t lift her right leg high enough and her ankle caught on a step. At one point she was sure the ground had shaken and had nearly fell back down the stairs. Must just be getting tired, she had reasoned.

    Finally she got the top, and hope filled her heart as she saw a keyhole shaped spot of light in front of her; the door out the basement. She prayed to whoever may be listening that she wasn’t too late to help her husband and friends.

    Amy hopped the last few feet and as soon as she reached the door she started pounding on it with both fists.

    “HELP!”

    After a couple of minutes there was still nothing. She was just about to give up and have a rest until something in the basement caught her attention.

    Just audible over the now almost constant groaning was the sound of metal scraping against metal. This sound went on for several seconds until there was the sound of metal chains falling on concrete then a few moments later the scraping metal sound again, only this time faster. It went deathly silent for what seemed like an eternity, even the groaning ceased, then suddenly there were the sound of footsteps followed by a chain being dragged over stone, which grew closer with ever second.

    Amy turned back to the door in pure panic.

    “Dear God, someone please help me!” she screamed.

    ~~~

    John ran towards the falling grenade, his eyes never once leaving its descent. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do if he was able to catch the grenade, all he knew was he couldn’t let the helicopter be destroyed; it was their only means of escape if they needed to leave the compound.

    Many thoughts ran through his head; how long is the fuse on a grenade? What if it explodes as I catch it? What if I fail to catch it? What do I do if I am able to catch it? Where did it come from?

    His mind suddenly snapped back to the present as he realised he had overran the arc of the falling explosive. He skidded to a halt and with a quick turn ran back towards the helicopter, looking up at the grenade as it closed in on him.

    Before he knew it the grenade was in front of him. John made a desperate swipe of his hands but failed to catch it. Time seemed to slow down and he watched in horror as it fell through his fingers towards the ground.

    Almost without thinking his right leg shot out catching the grenade in mid air. The shot would have made a star footballer proud. The grenade flew away from him and past the helicopter. His mood suddenly went from joy back to horror as the grenade sailed over the inner two fences and landed, as if by design, at the base of a support pole for one of the outer fence panels.

    Nothing happened for what seemed like hours, and then, suddenly, the grenade exploded. A cloud of mud, grass and body parts was rocketed in all directions. John, semi-protected by the helicopter ducked back to avoided being peppered.

    As the smoke cleared he peered out from behind the helicopter and his heart sank. There was a large who in the ground where the grenade had exploded, and the surrounding fences had large holes than normal in them. But worse than that, the support pole between the fence panels, now with nothing to keep it upright, had fallen inwards under the pressing weight of the remaining zombies and taken either side of the fence with it. It rested diagonally against the middle fence, producing a ramp that the hoards of the undead were now shakily ascending.

    As they reached the top they ungracefully fell in a heap at the base of the inner, and last, fence. A few got snagged on the barbwire running along the top of the fence and hung comically like old trainers on a telephone wires.

    John could see what was going to happen straight away. Either the pile of undead would get so high that soon the zombies would be able to just walk across the final fence and enter the compound, or the sheer weight of zombies all focused on one single section of the fence would be enough to bring it down.

    Either way, John knew the zombies would be in soon and there was no way to stop them.

    ~~~

    Oliver finally pulled the cord and the shower stopped, but for a few drops. He’d lost track of how long he’d been in there, but he felt so much better.

    The water had been hotter than he had expected, but then after washing in cold water for several months now any water with a bit of heat would have been a pleasure.

    He really hadn’t planned to spend so long relaxing. Originally he had decided to stay under the shower until the colour of the water that ran off his body was the same colour as the water that was coming from the shower head, but he had become so comfortable that even long after the dirty brown water going down the plughole had turned clear he was still happy to stay where he was.

    However he knew he had things to do and others would want a shower too. He dare not think how he would explain to Amy if he used up all the water.

    He finished drying himself on the thin towel that had been left out by Marcus. It was too much to hope for a large fluffy white one.

    As he dried the last of his body off, he looked over at his clothes piled in the corner and grimaced. The idea of putting his dirty clothes back on after spending so much time getting clean didn’t appeal to him at all. At least he had a clean change of clothing in the helicopter. He would just wear these until he could change into something else.

    As he dressed he realised the helicopter keys were no longer in his pocket. He wasn’t that concerned as he guessed it would have been one of the others, gone to get their stuff, and that saved him a job.

    He made his way out into the corridor and back towards the dining room. There was no one there. He did a quick walk around to try and find the others. He noticed the hatch leading down to the corridor they had entered by was open, as was a door that obviously led to the roof.

    He was about to try the roof when he heard what sounded like an explosion in the distance. Just as he was trying to work out what it could have been Marcus came running down the stairs. He slammed the door shut and hurriedly walked towards another shut door, muttering under his breath the whole time. Oliver noticed there was blood on several parts of his body

    “Hey Marcus, what’s going on?” asked Oliver.

    Marcus looked over at Oliver, nothing but anger visible in his eyes. He carried on walking towards the door, a feral snarl escaping his lips.

    “Help!”

    Oliver paused. It sounded like Amy, but he couldn’t determine where it had come from. He slowly walked back down towards the shower room, being as quiet as possible.

    He thought back to before he went for the shower. Marcus had promised Amy a bottle of wine from the basement.

    His heart froze as he put two and two together. Amy in the basement, Marcus covered in blood and a cry for help.

    Where the hell is the basement door? he thought to himself.

    He didn’t have to worry about it for long as a few seconds later he heard another cry.

    “Dear God, someone please help me!”

    The plea for help was just off to his left. He ran to the door and twisted the handle.

    Locked, he though. Of course it is.

    “Amy!” he shouted. “Are you ok?”

    “Oliver? You need to get me out of here. Marcus has a zombie in here and it’s coming after me.”

    “Ok, the door is locked, as you probably know, so I’m going to have to break it down. Can you move clear?”

    “Yes. Yes there should be enough room if I stand on the top step. But please hurry, I think it’s near to the bottom of the staircase.”

    Oliver took a step back and lowered his shoulder. He took a deep breath and charged into the door. The impact sent him tumbling back on his ass and a bolt of pain shot up his arm. He stood back up and once again charged the door; this was no time to be gentle. He braced himself better this time and, although he bounced back off the door again, he was able to stay on his feet. The third time hitting the door he felt it starting to give a little. He was so caught up in breaking the door down he didn’t notice Marcus walking down the corridor towards him.

    ~~~

    Matt brought his fist down hard into Marcus’s face again. Marcus was able to move his face at the last minute so the blow connected with his cheek. It would cause a nasty bruise but if it had hit his nose he knew it would’ve broken it.

    So far he had endured five or six powerful hits, ranging from his ribs to his head. He was pinned to the floor by Matt’s body weight as he knelt over him and knew if he didn’t do something soon he would be pummelled to death.

    As Matt drew back his arm in preparation of another blow, the grenade exploded. Matt looked up, taking his eyes of Marcus for a second. This was the opening Marcus had been looking for and swung his fist at Matt leg.

    Matt gasped in pain and looked down at his leg. A small circle of metal was sticking out of his leg, blood seeping out past it. Marcus had still been holding the grenade’s pin and used it as a make shift weapon.

    As Matt bent down to pull out the offending article, Marcus struck again. He couldn’t get much force behind his upwards punch due to laying on his back, however as Matt’s head moved down a little Marcus’s fist went up. It contacted perfectly on his Matt’s jay and he grunted. He was already slightly off balance, due to shifting the weight off his injured leg, and when his head snapped back the momentum caused him to topple backwards.

    Marcus was on his feet in seconds and proceeded to rain down kicks all over the fallen Man. He tried to protect himself by curling up into a foetal position, his head wrapped up in his arms, however Marcus just kicked out at his arms.

    After a few more kicks Marcus turned and ran for the entrance leading back to the house.

    “You’re in trouble now”

    “I can handle this situation,” muttered Marcus as he reached the bottom of the stairs.

    “You should give up now. Maybe they’ll understand if you explain the whole situation.”

    “They come into my house, eat my food, abuse my hospitality,” he carried on muttering to himself as he slammed to door to the roof shut and started to make his way to his bedroom.

    “Hey Marcus, what’s going on?”

    Marcus turned to look at the speaker. It was another one of them. This one had used his water.

    He will pay as well, thought Marcus, a snarl escaping his lips as he carried on walking to his bedroom.

    He entered the room and quickly walked over to a simple wooden table in the centre of the room. Grabbing it, he unceremoniously threw it out of the way. Underneath was a metal tube with a small metal pin sticking through it. He pulled the pin out and began to lift up the metal tube. He lifted it around four foot high, guessing that would be enough for his wife to free herself, waited a few seconds then dropped the tube back down.

    Now time to deal with that water thief, he thought to himself, leaving the bedroom.

    He started to make his way back towards the kitchen when he heard a loud thump. The noise came from the direction of the basement. As he came around the corner of the corridor he saw Oliver charge the basement door. The impact shook him, but he charged again.

    If you’re so desperate to meet my wife I can arrange that, he though as he closed upon Oliver.

    ~~~

    Amy edged as far back as she dared. She knew that she was on the edge of the top step, her heels hanging over the edge. Although she couldn’t see the door physically shaking she could see the light coming through the keyhole waver each time the door was hit. It had been three times now.

    Her breath caught in her throat as she heard the sound of the cage door below being opened and the sound of footsteps on the stairs was accompanied by the ever approaching moaning.

    “Hurry Oliver,” she shouted. “It’s almost on me.”

    Amy thought about kicking out into the darkness with the hope of hitting the ghoul. What worried her most was she couldn’t see when or where to kick. If she missed it would off-balance her and she could fall down the stairs, or the zombie could grab her leg and start its meal.

    With each slow footstep on the stairs, followed by the sound of the metal chain banging off wood, Amy wondered if this was her last moment on earth. Her biggest regret was not being able to say goodbye to her husband.

    The moaning was now almost directly in front of her, the smell of decay overpowering her senses. Something told her if she reached out she would touch dead flesh.

    She closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable.

    Suddenly there was a load crash and then arms grabbed her. Amy opened her eyes in shock as she realised the arms had come from behind her, not in front.

    Light flooded from behind her and she saw what had been coming after her. The zombie was, or at least had once been, a woman. Its milky white eyes stared hungrily at Amy, whilst its mouth, covered in dried blood, open and closed as if it was already eating the flesh it was after.

    It wore a sunshine yellow dress with a flower print over it and flat-soled slip on shoes covered its feet. What surprised Amy more than anything was the dress was almost brand new. With the amount of blood covering the things face there was no way it wouldn’t have got even a splatter on the dress. That freak must be changing its clothing, Amy summarized.

    The zombie lurched forward, and Amy screamed in pain and fear as she was pulled backwards towards the light. The zombie, who wasn’t fully at the top of the stairs, swiped a hand at Amy and missed by mere centimetres, however the movement caused the zombie to over-balance and it fell forwards, its face smacking wetly off the floor. It looked up and its eyes locked back on Amy, who was now lying on top of Oliver in the corridor, and started to crawl forwards.

    Amy was on her feet in seconds. She made a grab for the door handle in the hope she could close the door in time, however as she reached for it another hand grabbed her wrist. She followed the arm up until she was looking into the face of Marcus.

    “Come come, you were so desperate to open the door, why close it now?” he asked in a hushed voice.

    “Let me go you freak!” demanded Amy.

    Marcus backhanded Amy across the face, whilst still holding her wrist in his left hand. As she started to fall back he pulled her towards him and grabbed her cheeks between the thumb and fingers of his right hand, squeezing them tightly and causing her lips to pucker up like a fish.

    “You had to cause all this trouble didn’t you?” he spat, pulling her face close to his.

    Amy swung her left fist and hit Marcus with a blow to the face. He barely flinched, but the anger was clear in his eyes.

    “Bitch!” he hissed and thrust Amy backwards, letting go with both hands. She stumbled and fell over Oliver who was just getting to his feet.

    “Any bastard can pick on a woman,” Oliver said getting back to his feet. “Let’s see how you do against someone who can fight back.”

    Oliver pounced on Marcus and they started to grapple, fingers interlocked with each other, trying to force the other man’s hands into an uncomfortable position that would give them the advantage.

    All this time the undead woman, who had once been Marcus’s wife, had crawled closed to the extra meat it now sensed. Amy, who had been dazed by both the slap and the fall, was sat on the floor watching the two men wrestle, suddenly turned as she felt a hand grab her ankle. She let out a panicked yelp and started shaking her leg in an attempt to keep the hand away.

    Oliver turned briefly at the sound and gave Marcus the edge. He quickly pushed forward and kicked out at Oliver’s leg. Oliver stumbled backwards trying to keep his balance. It would have worked except he backed straight into Amy and toppled backwards whilst still holding Marcus’s hands tightly. The two of them landed full on Amy and the three of them ended up in a tangled heap of bodies.

    In the split second the three of them lay there, before the first one could act, there was a scream and an arc of blood shot into the air.

    ~~~

    John pounded furiously on the wall. He knew that somewhere was the trigger switch that would open the door, he just couldn’t find it. If he had more time he would have methodically been able to search the whole area, but a quick glance over his shoulder told him he didn’t have the luxury of time.

    The undead were still pouring up the outer fence and pilling up against the inner one. As John looked on a single zombie stumbled up the pile of squirming bodies and fell over the inner fence. Luckily for John, the corpse’s clothing caught on the barbed wire running across the top of the fence and it hung there, arms outstretched, vainly reaching out to him.

    From what John could see he had three options; firstly stay where he was and hope he could find the switch to open the door before the undead got him. Secondly head for the helicopter and lock himself in, and hope that his friends would be able to rescue him. Thirdly try to hide round the back of the building and again hope his friends noticed him missing and went to help him.

    He dismissed the second option almost as soon as he thought it. There would be no way the helicopter could survive an assault by so many undead, and if the helicopter was damaged there would be no way anyone could leave the compound.

    John looked over his shoulder again just in time to see two more zombies fall over the inner fence. This time neither got caught on the barbed wire. They hit the ground hard and started to crawl towards John.

    Well that gets rid of option one then, he thought to himself, as he hit the wall one last time.

    The two crawling zombie were now followed by a several more who had made it over the pile pressed up against the fence. In fact the sheer weight of undead bodies against the inner fence was causing it to buckle. It wouldn’t be long until it gave in and fell forward at which point John would really be in trouble. If he could be rescued whilst there were only ones and twos getting in he stood a chance of getting out of this alive. It may even be possible to draw the pile of undead along the fence and so thin out the number that was pushing at the same point.

    John checked his gun, making sure the safety was off and the magazine loaded, and ran to the corner of the building. He fired off a two shoots at the two closest zombies, hitting both in the head and dropping them instantly. He knew the zombies would follow him round the back of the building, so if he could get them to follow him in one large group instead of smaller numbers he would have a better chance of avoiding them.

    There were now around twenty zombies inside the compound, all heading his way. He shoot at the lead one, putting it down for good, then once the others were no more than six feet from him, he ran down the side of the building to the next corner.

    After a couple of seconds the first of the group rounded the corner and started walking down towards him. Behind John, outside of the outer fence, the few zombies who had yet to make their way round to the hole in the fence moaned at him and doubled their efforts to get in. John hoped that their moans would bring some of the zombies that were currently piled up against the inner fence this way, thus taking some pressure off the section of fence they were pressed up against.

    John anxiously waited by the corner of the building until, once again, the group that had followed him was no more than six feet away, then sprinted down the back of the building until he reached the next corner.

    He glanced round the last corner and breathed a sigh of relief. The way was still clear and he could also see the tail of the helicopter, which meant that most of the mob must be following him. If he could make it to the next corner without being discovered he could buy himself some more time, and hopefully be found by those inside.

    The group of undead were only a few paces behind him now so he ran for the final corner. He reached it and stuck his head round, straight in the undead face of an old man. Only his automatic reflexes saved him from having his nose bitten off as the zombie lunged at him.

    Shit, he thought as put a bullet in the zombies head and backed away from the edge. From what he had seen in his quick glance, there were only a half dozen of them round the corner, but they were all heading his way. Along with the twentyish strong mob behind him and more coming into the compound every few minutes, he would find himself overrun pretty damn quickly.

    From what he could see there were only two options left now, either head out towards the helicopter and get trapped at the front of the building, or head back behind the building and try to deal with the mob whilst praying nothing else came for him.

    He probably still had a dozen shots left for his weapon and a full magazine of fifteen rounds left in his pocket.

    There must be some sort of tool in the helicopter I could use as a weapon, he thought. There were few enough zombies currently at the front that he could avoid them, make his way to the helicopter and search around for something to use as a weapon. Then if he could get back behind the building and avoid the attention of the large group trying to get over the fence he could hold out for a while.

    Having made up his mind that this was the way he could survive for longest, he took one last deep breath and ran towards the helicopter, ready to shoot anything that came to close to him.

    ~~~

    Amy winced as she tried to stand. The pain in her twisted ankle had increased tenfold. First she had banged it again when Marcus had thrown her to the floor, then she had twisted it further when Marcus and Oliver had fallen on her, then… then…

    “I’ve been bitten,” she whispered, the words barely escaping her dry lips.

    She looked up and saw the undead creature, chewing its mouthful of flesh mere centimetres away. As if noticing its meal was aware of what was happening the zombie reached out for another bite.

    Amy pulled her foot out of the way, hot pain shooting up her leg causing her to gasp in discomfort.

    She kicked out with her good leg and her heel landed hard in the centre of the zombies face. Its head jerked back but that didn’t stop it trying for seconds.

    Scrabbling back on all fours, fighting through the pain the whole way, Amy was able to put a few feet of distance between her and the creature. It was only when she had a few seconds of breathing room she noticed that Marcus and Oliver were struggling with each other again; locked in a bad example of a wrestling match.

    In the few seconds she had been distracted the zombie had closed the gap and was once again almost on her. Reaching out, it went to grab her leg again, and would have if Amy hadn’t started waving her legs out of reach.

    Like a cat after a piece of string, the zombie waved its arms every time Amy moved her legs until one lucky swipe caught Amy’s bitten leg, causing her to howl in pain.

    Oliver, who up until this point hadn’t had anything other than to hurt Marcus on his mind, glanced over his shoulder at the sound. The realisation of what was happening hit him about the same time as Marcus did.

    The blow wasn’t hard, but connected well enough to drive Oliver back a few steps, giving Marcus room to escape. He wasted no time in heading towards the roof access. The lock on the door was key-coded so he would be safe up there to catch his breath. Plus he know there was a weapon up there he could use to end this fight once and for all. It didn’t bother him that there was another one of them on the roof either. He had bested him once, and would do so again.

    Oliver ran after Marcus but reached the roof door just as it closed. He heard the lock snapping into place and instantly knew there was no way he would be getting through the door any time soon, at the moment though he had more important things to worry about. He headed back to Amy who was still trying desperately to keep her legs away from the grasping hands of the zombie.

    Getting behind the creature, Oliver grabbed the back of its dress in both hands and pulled. The thing was surprisingly light and Oliver ended up throwing it much further than he had expected. It landed on its back just outside the door to the basement. Weakly, it climbed to its feet and Oliver charged.

    He lowered his shoulder and hit the zombie right in the centre of its rotten chest. Balance lost, it tumbled backwards and disappeared into the darkness of the stairwell.

    “Stay here and keep an eye on the doorway,” Oliver ordered Amy. “I’m going to find something that will put it down for good. Shout out if you see it coming back up.”

    With that Oliver headed into the kitchen. Pulling out draws and opening cupboards, he searched for something to use as a weapon. He rejected several items, such as pots and frying pans until settling on a large carving knife. He tested the sharpness of the knife against his finger and was surprised at how sharp it actually was. Sucking at the cut on his finger, he made his way back to Amy, who hadn’t moved since he left.

    The sound of slow footsteps could be heard coming from the dark basement, accompanied by the rattle of the chain that hung from around the zombie’s neck.

    “I hate to do this to you Amy, but I need to stay there a little longer,” Oliver said. “I’m going to wait just round the corner. When it comes for you I’ll jump out and finish it once and for all.”

    Amy nodded dumbly, her eyes momentarily looking up from her bitten ankle. The realisation of the situation had finally fully hit her. There was nothing to be done now. In a matter of hours, maybe a day, she would be one of those things. It would be her that Oliver would be finishing once and for all.

    She paid no attention to the zombie as it reached the final step and started shambling towards her, nor did she bother to take any notice as Oliver sprang out and buried the carving knife deep into its left ear.

    The ghoul collapsed to the floor, its remaining light extinguished. Oliver removed the knife and wiped the blade clean on the zombie’s flower patterned dress. It was a good weapon and not something just to be discarded after one use.

    “Come on Amy, time to go.”

    “Not this time Oliver,” replied Amy sadly and pointed to her leg. “This isn’t just a scratch, it’s a bite.

    “Damn,” replied Oliver.

    His attention was drawn away from Amy as he heard someone walking down the steps from the roof. Oliver brought the knife up, ready to fight to the death if necessary, as the door slowly opened.

    ~~~

    Marcus ran up the stairs and out in to the slowly fading daylight. The horizon to the east was already beginning to darken in the late autumn evening, an orange sunset out to the west.

    But Marcus wasn’t here to enjoy the view. He knew there was a gun up here somewhere. All he needed to do was find it and then he would be in control.

    He paused after a few steps. Something was wrong. Something was out of place but he just couldn’t work out what.

    There’s no body.

    The body of the other man was missing. Marcus spun quickly, expecting to see Matt coming up behind him, but the roof was still empty. Where could he be?

    I know.

    Marcus walked over to the edge of the building, looked out over his estate and cursed. There were around a fifty zombies milling around in the grounds, mostly hanging around where they had fallen over the crowded fence, although it seemed most were heading to the back of the building. Curious as to why, Marcus walked that way.

    You’ve forgotten why you’re up here, haven’t you?

    As Marcus walked towards the other edge something at the back of his mind made him pause for a second. This was all the time Matt needed to act. He burst out of the radio hut and charged Marcus, arms outstretched. Marcus turned just as Matt’s hands closed around his throat. The momentum he had built up, and Marcus failing to react in time, carried the two men towards the edge of the building.

    Finally Matt came to a halt, no more than a few centimetres away from the edge, his arms at full stretch in front of him, still tightly clamped around Marcus’s throat. Marcus was held out over nothing, his feet barely making contact with the lip of the buildings edge, his body diagonal to the ground. His hands gripped Matt’s wrist tightly, knowing they were all that was keeping him from falling to his almost certain death.

    “I’ve been a lot of things in my time,” growled Matt, his voice sending chills up Marcus’s spine. “A husband, a father, a son, a worker, a drinker and once, even a killer. Some of those things I’ll never be again and others, maybe in time. But there is one thing I am going to be right now, can you guess which?

    “I’m sorry,” gasped Marcus painfully through his almost closed throat.

    “I… don’t… care!” replied Matt.

    Do it.

    “But… but…” stammered Marcus.

    Do it. Kill me. I deserve it.

    “Nothing you can say will stop this. Just accept your death with humility you bastard.”

    As Matt opened his hands and let Marcus fall he saw an almost unperceivable flicker in Marcus’s eyes. And as he fell, he wasn’t sure but he thought he heard a voice similar to, but not exactly like Marcus’s.

    “Thank you.”

    ~~~

    The roof door opened and Oliver almost lunged forward, but stopped himself just in time.

    “Whoa there!” said Matt, holding up both hands in a surrender motion. “It’s only me.”

    “Sorry mate, the last person I saw go up there was Marcus. Is he still up there?” asked Oliver.

    “No,” replied Matt, turning away so as not to look at Oliver. “He was crazy. Tried to kill me and blow up the helicopter. There was a struggle on the roof. He tripped and fell over the edge. Even if he survived the fall the undead will get him.”

    “Undead? How will they get him?”

    “Have you not looked outside?” asked Matt, until he remembered. “Right, no windows. Well it seems when Marcus tried to destroy the helicopter he threw the grenade a little too far and it managed to create a point of entry in the fences for the zombies.”

    “Shit! So what do we do now? The helicopter is our only way out of here and that’ll be surrounded by flesh eating bastards. There were thousands outside the fences”

    “From what I saw from the roof there’s no more than a hundred out there. Most are spread out thinly with the exception of a large group that seem to be located at the back of this building for some reason. The good news is we could get to the helicopter without too much trouble. If it starts up quickly enough we’ll be away before they even know we are leaving.”

    “Why should we leave?” asked Oliver. “The building is still secure and there is food enough to last us months.”

    “Then what?” replied Matt. “Sure we can hold out here a while but in two weeks the hundred zombies out there will become thousands. We have a way out now, sure it means leaving behind some great stuff but we won’t be trapped. As soon as that helicopter is cut off, we have no way out of this prison.”

    “Ok, point taken. Let’s get a move on then.”

    “What about John?” asked Amy, who was still sitting on the floor.

    “He came down about twenty minutes ago,” replied Matt, looking confused. “He said he was going to get our bags from the helicopter. It was right before… oh no.”

    “What?” asked Oliver and Amy at the same time.

    “It was right before Marcus threw the grenade. If he’s not in here he must be out there. That’s why there were so many of them things round the back.”

    “Maybe he took shelter in the helicopter. Maybe he’s waiting for us right now,” said Oliver.

    “Or maybe he brought us the time we need to escape. Look I know it’s harsh to say but this is going to be our only chance of escape. Now, whilst the main group is round the back. If we wait too long they’ll eventually come back round to the front and more are coming over the fences all the time. If we don’t leave now we never get another chance.”

    “You’re right, I know,” said Oliver. “It’s just… well… it’s John, you know?”

    “I know, but like with Kurt, we’ll have time to grieve later. Come on Amy, let me help you up.”

    “I’m not coming,” replied Amy, pointing to her ankle. “There’s nothing you guys can do for me now.”

    Matt crouched down next to her and had a quick look at the bite mark. It had already started to turn a dark purple colour, the surrounding veins a mix of black and brown and a clear jelly like liquid was seeping out of the broken skin.

    “I’m so sorry Amy,” breathed Matt. He lifted his shirt a little to reveal the handle of his retrieved gun. “Do you want me too…?”

    “No,” replied Amy. “There’s a chance John is still alive somewhere. He may come back and I could get to spend my final moments with him. Or maybe in death we will find each other again and wander this building together forever.”

    “If you’re sure?” said Oliver.

    “Yeah, I am. Although it would have been nice if you had tried to talk me out of it, just a little,” Amy said, smiling weakly.

    Matt nodded, smiling back and patted her slowly on the shoulder before standing up and walking off. Oliver leant over, gentility kissed her forehead and whispered goodbye, before walking off to join Matt.

    He chastised himself for not feeling worse. How he reacted to Kurt’s death and how he was reacting now were polar opposites. He tried to convince himself that it was the situation he was in and the limited time frame he had to get out of this place with his own life, but deep down he knew, loathed as he was to admit it, that he no longer cared about life. That scared him, but what was worse was looking into Matt’s eyes and seeing the same thing.

    But this wasn’t the time to reflect on where he was in life; right now they needed to get out.

    “Ok,” said Oliver. “The door to this building isn’t that far from the helicopter but I have no idea if the helicopter is still locked. I’m hoping John managed to make it there and unlock it. If not we’ll have a hell of time trying to find him and get the keys back.”

    “There’s no way to break in?” asked Matt.

    “I guess we could put the window in, but I’ll be honest, I have no idea how that’ll affect my ability to fly it.”

    “Then that’ll be a last resort option. Now let’s go see what we need to do to get out of here.”

    ~~~

    John had reached the helicopter with little trouble. The key was already in his hand a few feet before he reached it. The undead were spaced out enough for him to easily manoeuvre round most of them and push away any that got too close.

    He knew it would be harder on the way back. The main group that had been following him had now come round from the back of the building and had started after him, picking up stragglers along the way.

    John got the door open and did a quick search of both the cab and the back seat but there was nothing of any use in killing the undead.

    He had all but given up hope until he noticed a small hatch at the back of the helicopter.

    “The helicopters own car boot,” he said to himself, whilst praying the door key also opened the hatch.

    Luck was on his side and the door sprung open. There wasn’t much inside, just a few odd looking screwdrivers, a flair gun with a couple of spare flairs and four high-visibility vests. However John’s smile got a lot wider as he moved the jackets to find a very large, very heavy spanner.

    He picked it up and weighed it thoughtfully in his hands. It had to be at least five kilograms in weight and no more than two foot in length, the handle big enough for both his hands to comfortably fit around and swing it like a bat.

    To test this theory he walked up to the nearest zombie and swung the spanner at its head. The spanner head connected perfectly with the zombie’s temple, whipping its head violently to the side. There was a loud crack as the zombie’s neck snapped and its skull caved in. It dropped to the floor, black liquid seeping out of the massive split along its head. It didn’t move or get up again.

    Three more swings and another two zombies lay unmoving on the ground. Sweat was starting to drip down his neck and back. Although the spanner was easy enough to wield, it soon started to get heavier the more he swung it. It was by no means a permanent solution to his problem, but it might just help him delay the almost inevitable for long enough.

    He made his way back behind to the building, following the same route he had done the first time. The large group of zombies that had been following him towards the helicopter turned and started to head back behind the building too.

    He dropped a few more undead on his way before coming to a halt at the back of the building. There were a few stragglers from the main group still lingering about, but a few more heavy swings and they too joined the ranks of the actual dead.

    Unfortunately, as soon as they had seen him, the groaning had started, attracting the rest of the mob. As John finished off the last of the few, the first of the many started coming round the far corner. One or two at first, but then larger groups of ten and fifteen. They would reach him in seconds if he stayed where he was. He quickly glanced behind him seeing around twenty between him the helicopter, all heading in his direction. Twenty he could probably deal with, they were spread out thinly enough so easy to avoid, however it wouldn’t stay just twenty for long. Others would join the group and soon enough it would be impossible to avoid them all.

    Checking his gun he counted the shots left. His gun would be used only when he could no longer swing the spanner, and he would count each shot making sure he knew when he only had one left.

    “Come on them you fucks!” he yelled, “Don’t make me wait. Get over here so we can finish this.”

    With the sound of a giant hand slapping the ground the body fell right in front of him. John, in a state of confusion and slight shock, wiped his cheek and looked at his hand; blood, red human blood.

    A pained groan, barely distinguishable over the noise of the undead came from the body. John moved to it quickly.

    “Marcus?”

    John knelt down next to him, and Marcus slowly, painfully, moved his head to look at John, the agony clearly visible in his eyes.

    “Marcus, what happened?”

    Marcus’s lips trembled, but no sound emerged. John looked up to the roof but saw nothing.

    “Please Marcus, I know you must be in incredible pain, but I need to know what happened. My wife and the others, are they ok?”

    There was the faintest sound coming from Marcus, and John moved his ear as close to his mouth as possible.

    “Sorry… I’m… so… sorry.”

    “For what Marcus? Tell me what you’re sorry about,” pleaded John.

    Suddenly, with seemly impossible resolve, Marcus grabbed Johns head in both hands and pulled it so his ear was pressed right up against his mouth, his lips brushing John’s skin as he spoke.

    “They’re not dead,” he hissed. “He tried to kill them but he failed. Marcus failed.”

    With that he let go of John’s head and let go of life. John checked his pulse to confirm and stood up. The undead were mere feet away now, and John backed up to put some more room between them, although now they were heading for Marcus’s body. That would buy him some more time.

    Just as John was trying to understand the cryptic last words of Marcus, he heard a sound that made his heart stop for a second.

    “Oh no! Fuck no,” he cursed. He turned to run, but bumped straight into a zombie that had been approaching from behind. There was several more closing in behind it.

    “I really don’t need this, not right now,” he said as he swung the spanner.

    ~~~

    Matt and Oliver ran down the thin corridor until they reached the outer door.

    “I’ve no idea how many are going to be between us and the helicopter, so as soon as I open this door we need to make a decision,” said Matt. “Remember we need time to get there and get into the helicopter, which, without the keys, could be several minutes. If it looks too dangerous we stay here and come up with another plan. Agreed?”

    “Agreed,” confirmed Oliver.

    Matt gripped the door handle in his left hand whilst with his right he held up three fingers. Me mouthed “three, two, one” whilst lowering a finger each time. After “one”, he pushed the door open and both men looked out.

    They were shocked to see only around twenty zombies in total between them and the helicopter. There were plenty more over by the fence, although most of them were heading to the far side of the building.

    Matt pulled the door closed and looked at Oliver, who had a massive smile on his face.

    “Ok, so we know we can make it to the helicopter without too much trouble, but we don’t know what we will need to do then,” said Matt.

    “It’s open,” replied Oliver happily.

    “How can you tell?”

    “The rear hatch is open. The only way to remove the keys is to close and lock the hatch. As it’s open the keys must still be in the lock.”

    “So let’s go then. No point in waiting.”

    The two men burst out of the door and ran straight for the helicopter. The zombies between the men and their destination were spread out enough that they were easy to avoid. Matt kept his gun pointed at any he considered too close, but refused to fire a shot, saving his ammunition and also well aware the noise would bring the others to him like ants to sugar. Oliver still had his carving knife and slashed it at anything within arm’s length.

    The two mean reached the helicopter at almost the same time. Matt ran round to the passenger side and tried the door: locked. He waited impatiently, keeping his weapon trained on the shambling undead who had decided to take an interest in him after all.

    Oliver ran to the back of the helicopter and slammed the rear hatch shut. Just as he’d said the keys were still in the lock. He locked the hatch and pulled them free. Jogging quickly to the driver’s door he gave it an experimental tug, and to his pleasant surprise it opened.

    He clambered in and rammed the keys into the ignition, before leaning over and opening Matt’s door. With both men in, and the doors closed, Oliver started the machine. The blades started slowly at first but quickly gained momentum, until they reached their maximum speed.

    Oliver slowly raised the helicopter into the darkened sky.

    “Where to mate?” he asked Matt.

    “No idea. Maybe north? It’s getting colder and I reckon them things will move slower the colder it gets. Plus there are many small islands off the Scottish coast. One of them is bound to be free of the undead.”

    “North it is then. We have to put down soon though; I’ve never been good at flying at night.”

    ~~~

    Covered in black blood, bits of skull and rotten flesh, John staggered out from behind the building. His hair was slick with sweat, and clung to his face. He looked up just in time to see the blinking lights of the helicopter disappear into the night sky, becoming lost amongst the many stars. He had fought like a madman to reach them before they’d taken off, but there had just been too many of the undead.

    He could barely lift his arms, his lungs hurt each time he took a breath and his legs didn’t want to move another step, but he already knew the zombies he hadn’t killed were grouping up behind him, ready to finish him off.

    With one hand still holding the spanner and the other on the wall for support he staggered down the side of the building. He really needed to find the entrance, and fast, although he wasn’t so hopeful given that he couldn’t find the switch when he was fit and nowhere near under as much pressure as he was right now.

    The darkness made it all that much harder. He was now looking for a hidden black brick, on a black wall, at night.

    A smile appeared on his face and he started to giggle.

    “All I need now is for it to start raining,” he thought to himself.

    As if realising he had suffered enough, fate intervened. As John placed his hand against the wall for support again, it shifted slightly.

    Instantly John seemed to regain his strength. He moved his hand slowly until he located the thinnest of gaps along the otherwise smooth surface of the building. He quickly, but carefully followed the line until it returned to where it started. He held his breath and pressed the rectangle shape he had just traced out.

    There was an almost imperceivable click, and, after dropping the spanner, John’s free hand reached to the side searching for the handle to the concealed door. Again his luck held and after no more than a few seconds he found it.

    He pulled on the door and was bathed in light from the tunnel. He quickly ducked inside, picking up the spanner before letting the door slam shut. John pulled the key out of his pocket and swiftly locked the door behind him.

    Now, finally safe, he allowed himself a moment to rest. His back hit the wall and he slumped down, ending up in a heap on the floor. He felt tired, but knew he couldn’t sleep just yet.

    He needed to take stock of the situation. His wife and friends and left him. He could forgive them for that. The must have known he was outside, and with the amount of undead now inside the compound even he found it hard to believe he was still alive.

    Next up, he was trapped in a house, surrounded by undead, with no means of escape. He would need to search the house and make an inventory of food supplies.

    Finally he would see if he could work the transmitter on the roof. Maybe he could get someone to come rescue him, maybe even get in contact with Amy, Matt and Oliver, let them know he was still alive.

    Fighting against his bodies desire to just stop moving for several hours, he pushed himself to his feet, and on weary legs started down the winding corridor. He reached the hatch leading into the house and climbed up. As he reached the top the unmistakable stench of decayed flesh reached him. Almost immediately his fatigue was replaced with awareness. He tightly gripped the spanner handle and edged slowly forwards. As soon as he saw the scene in front of him he dropped the spanner and collapsed on the floor with a whimper, the last reserves of stubborn resistance gone.

    The body of a zombie lay sprawled on the floor, the split in its head proof it would no longer prove to be a threat, however what had caused John his pain was the sight of his wife, propped up against the wall, unmoving.

    Tears streamed from his eyes as John clawed his way along the floor, unable to even stand, until he reached Amy. He saw the bite mark on her leg almost instantly, and let out a frustrated scream. Checking her over, he saw it was the only wound she had. Seeing as it was a long way from the heart, and the brain he guessed she would have a while yet until she turned completely, although she was non-responsive to anything John could do to try to wake her

    She was breathing, albeit very shallow, short breaths. Her skin was cold to the touch yet she was sweating as if she was basking in the midday sun.

    John propped himself up against the wall next to his wife and slipped his arm around her. Her head fell onto his shoulder and she muttered something unintelligible.

    “I love you too,” he said in return.

    He shifted uncomfortably as something was pressing into his back. Reaching behind him he pulled the gun out of the back of his trousers. He removed the magazine and checked how many bullets were left. It came as no surprise to him that two remained in the magazine.

    He wouldn’t waste one on himself just yet. Amy would want him to go as long as he could, and in this house, although he was trapped, he was secure.

    He knew what he had to do, but wanted his wife to have dignity in her death. He considered the options. There was no way to bury her outside. Not only did he not have the time to dig a grave before his wife turned, he would be swamped by the undead the second he set foot out the door. He could just shoot her here and then throw her body off the roof, but there was no dignity in that. Eventually his eyes fixed on the open door in front of him, and the stairs leading down.

    The basement! He may not be able to bury his wife, but he could put her in the basement and seal the door. It would be a burial of sorts. He slowly got to his feet, again ignoring the protests of his drained body, and picked his wife up. Again she mumbled something in her fever like state.

    “We’re just going for a walk dear,” John replied, as he carried her to the basement door, gun held tightly in his hand.

    ~~~

    Winter rolled in and the days got shorter. The temperature rapidly decreased and snow started falling as early as November. Every day John awoke and carried out a daily ritual. Climbing to the roof he would make his way round the back of the house and attract the attention of the zombie mob that was now inside the compound, which at one point he guessed was around a thousand. Once there was a large enough group around the back he quickly made his way through the house, down the entrance corridor and out the front door, which he made sure to prop open each time. He spent as long as possible killing as many of the undead as he could, until he was in danger of being swamped, at which point he would retreat back inside, go to roof and start again. He did the same thing three or four times a day, depending on how much light he had, and how tired he was after each cleansing.

    He had to rely on hand weapons in order to fight; luckily on an extensive search of the house he found three very important rooms. The first was the pantry. There was enough tinned and dried food in there to last him at least a year even if he wanted three meals a day every day.

    Secondly and as important, if not more so, was what could only be described as a tool room. It contained everything from garden tools, such as rakes, spades and forks, to hand tools, like hammers, saws and pliers. It was obvious that Marcus hadn’t been lying when he said he had been builder and an engineer in his past.

    Finally he had discovered a small but well stocked room of books. There was everything from fiction and fantasy to cook books and DIY books. It filled his time when he wasn’t able to clean up the grounds.

    It had been two weeks after first arriving when John started clearing out the undead, at which point there had been at least a thousand zombies inside the perimeter fence. He was only able to take out a few at a time before becoming swamped and having to retreat. As the weather got colder though, the zombies started become less active. Their already slow movements were reduced to a snail’s pace. Several mornings John woke to the sight of several hundred frozen undead outside the building. It made his job all that easier and within a few weeks of the first ground frost, John had all but cleared out the inner grounds, and soon after that he had pulled a knife out the last one’s head.

    He next set to work on clearing the space between the fences. On his many searches of Marcus’s home he had come across the keys to the gates in the fences.

    As soon as the inner gate had been opened the several hundred zombies that had been originally trapped made their escape; John had to start his hit and run routine all over again. It took a few more weeks, but John had become familiar with the ways that allowed for the most damage done in the least amount of time. Also the days were slowly getting longer allowing him a bit longer to complete his grisly work.

    It was less than a month later before he had cleared the remaining zombies. Now came the hard part.

    The fallen fence panel had to be put upright again and fixed in place in order to shore up the weak point of his defences. John had removed several doors from the interior of the house, and smashed a few chairs in order to get enough wood together to use as supports to push and hold the fence panel upright. Using the garden tools he had found, he dug a hole in the inner grounds and used the dirt to fill in the hole created by the exploded grenade, once again providing support to the support posts. Finally he had cut bits of wire from other fence panels, being careful not to compromise the integrity, and used them to shore up the larger holes in the panels nearest the explosion.

    His work was occasionally hampered by an infrequent zombie, or group of zombies, who stumbled across his little hideaway, but they were quickly and easily dealt with.

    By the time John had finished his work spring had started to set in. The days stayed lighter until six or seven in the evenings and there was less need to wear his large coat when venturing outside. The grounds outside the building and between the fences were zombie free. The fallen fence panel was back in place and although it wouldn’t hold up to any large scale attempt at entry, it would do its job at keeping out the majority of the undead.

    There were still undead outside the fences, but they were nowhere near the numbers that John had seen when he’d first landed with his wife and friends what seemed like a lifetime ago. It was currently no more than a few dozen that had stumbled upon the building. Something told them there was a meal inside the black cube beyond the fences and they wanted to get to it, but at the moment they were nothing to worry about.

    For now, and probably for the first time in a long time, John was happy to stay put and wait it out.

    Epilogue

    John awoke lazily, and stretched his weary limbs. He looked at his watch; it was a little after midday. With a sigh he begrudgingly climbed out of bed and walked naked to the bathroom. He showered quickly and walked back to his room drying himself on the journey.

    He casually dressed, before making his way to the roof door. The locking mechanism had been removed without any finesse by use of a hammer, so the door swung open easily.

    John made his way to the wooden shack on the roof, sat on the chair in front of the radio, flicked the necessary switches and picked up the mouthpiece. It had been trial and error on working the radio as Marcus had neglected to leave a user’s manual, but eventually John had worked out what he needed to do. At least he hoped he did. He could hear static coming from the speakers and knew it stopped when he pressed the ‘speak’ button on the handset, but he had no way of actually knowing if his messages were being sent through the airwaves.

    He pushed the negative thoughts to the back of his mind and took a deep breath.

    “My name is John Harris, calling any and all listeners. It is just before twelve thirty and I am doing my daily transmission to confirm I am real and this is not a recording. My position is safe enough and I have heat, food and warm showers. There is enough room within the grounds to land a helicopter if by some miracle you have one, or if you have a vehicle you should be able to drive right in, if you don’t mind running over a few zombies. I’ll be by my radio for the four hours or so in case anyone can get in touch. Ending my personal transmission.”

    John sat back in the chair and pulled a hefty book out of the cupboard to his right. He flipped through the first pages until he came to his bookmark and started to read. The book was entitled ‘Patience, how you can get it’.

    After four hours John put the bookmark between the pages he had been reading, closed the book and put it back in the cupboard.

    He picked up the radio’s mouthpiece and once again addressed the wide world.

    “This is John again, signing off for the day. Be back roughly same time as always tomorrow.”

    He sighed as he dropped the mouthpiece on the desk and flicked the switches to silence the static of the machine.

    He walked out of the shack and stood on the roof. The moaning from outside the compound was faint but still audible. The numbers were growing again. Maybe he should try another cull in the next few days.

    He walked down the stairs, headed back inside and along to the gap that led down to the basement. He had removed the door as it was broken anyway, and wouldn’t close properly. He walked down the stairs past the metal gate which hug open at the bottom and stood staring into the darkness.

    There was a groan followed by the rattle of chains. A finger brushed millimetres’ past John’s cheek.

    “Don’t worry my dear,” he said to Amy, “Someone will rescue us one day. I promise.”

    14 Comments

    1. Another great chapter and wonderful wrap up to this story. I have loved reading this since the beginning and love your writing style. Great twist!

      Comment by Scott on April 28, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

    2. CREEPY!!!! But awesome non the less. Nicely done.

      Comment by Terry Schultz on April 28, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    3. I don’t like sad endings… 🙁

      Comment by Mercy on April 28, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    4. Nick Lloyd Sir! A great story to read after watching the amazing but slightly boring Royal wedding!
      Thankyou 😀 you rock

      Comment by Hope1719 on April 29, 2011 @ 5:36 am

    5. Loved it! I kind of saw the ending coming, but still loved the suspense and cut scenes. But, this was the sequel to Transmission, not Consequences, right?

      Comment by RandyB on April 29, 2011 @ 9:30 am

    6. Good point Randy, this is indeed the sequel to Transmission and waiting. I’m sure the admin guys will update this.

      Comment by nick lloyd on April 29, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    7. Great twist! I predict that you will be publiched in the nexr few years. Keep writing but remember not to give up; it’s wise to remember that poverty can be a harsh mistress.

      Comment by John the Piper's Son on May 1, 2011 @ 3:14 am

    8. Leapu

      Published dad nabbit!

      Comment by John the Piper's Son on May 1, 2011 @ 3:15 am

    9. you sir, are a marvel. Absolutely one of the best on this site. Like most, kind of saw the ending coming, but loved it none the less….. Cannot wait to read some more of your stuff, keep them coming…

      Comment by marine1371 on May 6, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    10. Blew my mind. A fantastic story! I just wish I could find if they made it north and prospered. Would love a sequel to continue the story! Sad it had to end :/

      Comment by The gouch on May 9, 2011 @ 2:50 am

    11. in the end. its like he BECOMEs the crazy man marcus 😀

      Comment by jon on July 19, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

    12. I wanted Marcus to end up killing all of them…

      :C

      Comment by Dan on July 26, 2011 @ 2:55 am

    13. The ending left me sad and at the same time creeped me out! Amazing end to a 2 part short

      Comment by Jiggy on August 9, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    14. this was a great story! i was hooked from the beginning!

      Comment by katrinalyn on January 8, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

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