SEQUEL TO PART 1
“Turning our tortures into horrid arms”
Martin cycled through the air, dropping easily over the gap between the two buildings. He started to twist as he fell, desperately trying to right himself, and after falling for long, breathless seconds, he hit the roof of the building fully side on. Pain exploded up his body as he skidded along the gravel. Finally, as he ground to a stop, blackness took him and he could taste the iron saltiness of blood in his mouth.
After a period of darkness he found himself, lying in a sodden drain, soaked in faeces and God knows what. All around there were sounds of small arms fire and puffs of dust exploding above his head. In his arms lay the broken body of Sparky, his oldest friend in the Army. They had met in basic training and joined the SAS together, supporting each other all the way and yet playing tricks and taking the piss the way all good soldiers did to their friends. Tears ran down Martins face making irregular tracks in the dust. He could taste them on his lips as he spoke gently.
“Sparky. Sparky! I’m going to get a medic. You just stay here mate. Just wait here a minute. It’ll be OK mate. It’ll be OK.”
Martin knew it wouldn’t be OK. Bubbles had long since stopped forming from the massive wound in Sparky’s chest. The pool of blood that spilled from exit hole had stopped increasing in size and Martin sat, gently cradling his friend in his arms, rocking slightly, weeping openly.
It was in that moment that Martin realised his time in the Army was done. He left as soon as he honourably could, and went to the shit holes of the world, earning lots of dirty money. Never forming real friendships again, and moved on like a drifter from one squad of mercenaries to the next. He had been alone as a child, and as an adult it was his preferred state of mind.
The blackness came again.
Slowly, he opened his eyes as the sounds of warfare carried through his dream into reality. He stared at the row of figures that stood silently on the opposite rooftop. In confusion he tried to say something but had to spit the blood out of his mouth. He realised he had fell maybe two stories, the difference in height between the two buildings.
The pain on his right side indicated the twist as he fell meant he had landed solidly on that side of his body. The distribution of weight along his whole length had probably saved his life or, at least, stopped him shattering both legs as he landed.
His vision cleared and he sat up onto his elbows, he realised he still had both pistols in his hands. He could smell acrid, burning, oily smoke. He stared at the line of Zombies as they stared at him, shuffling gently on their feet. Suddenly one over balanced and tipped head first over the edge, tumbling down to the ground like a stunt doll.
Martins eyes opened in surprise. Then his face wrinkled. Then he started to giggle. Soon he was howling with laughter, noting with a certain detachment that he had grazed the side of his face even more. He laughed until tears ran down his face, stinging the graze as they went.
“You….You…..You stupid……You stupid twats!” He howled. Then as the blood rushed back into his head he collapsed back onto the roof and slipped back into unconsciousness.
After the darkness Sparky was stood over him, shouting silently in his face. His camouflaged helmet rocked comically from side to side as he ranted. He was pulling Martin up by the arm and shoulder, desperately trying to get Martin up onto his feet. The tinnitus whine in his head, which he hadn’t noticed before, started to fade until he could hear what was being said.
“Get up! Get up! We have to get out of here! For Chrissakes man. MOVE SOLDIER!” Sparky spat at him.
Martin used his last ounce of strength to put his arm around Sparky’s shoulders and steady himself on his feet as best he could.
“Whas going on?” Martin said weakly.
“Grenade mate. We need to get you out of here.”
“Have I still got all my bits?” Martin said in a daze. Sparky smiled warmly at him.
“Yes mate, you’ve still got all your bits.”
“Thank fuck for that. Good job I got you innit Sparky.”
“Yes mate. Good job you got me. Come on lets go.”
Sparky started to walk out of the ruined Mogadishu bar, wrecked by the explosion, but on the first step Martins body exploded in pain and he faded into blackness once more.
All he could think about was Sparky stood over him shouting “Move soldier!” over and over again. It coalesced his thinking until his eyes sprang open and in a second he was on his feet. He saw the line of dark figures ahead, raised the guns and clicked them ineffectually at them in confusion. He dropped his arms and the guns on the ground, his balance wavering. Finally he rubbed his hands over his face as his vision cleared.
After a moment he came too, and after a few minutes his mind cleared. He stuck two fingers up at his line of witnesses.
“Fuck you.” He said to them quietly.
He found his guns and reloaded them, putting the empty clips back into the holsters. His moleskin overcoat had a series of rips on one side and he tutted to himself. He really liked that jacket.
He was busting for a pee and so removed his gloves and relieved himself in full view of his voyeurs in defiance. He checked his pee for blood and was relieved to find it normal which meant no internal bleeding. Then he looked around to see where he had landed. The roof was much the same as the other one with several air conditioning units dotted around. He noted that they were all still running. He crunched around the gravel roof and found the stairwell into the building.
He paused a moment before going in. The city still sounded like a war zone and he had no idea how long he had been out, but the sun was maybe two hours from setting. He decided to get out of this building and see if he could get some transport out of the city before nightfall.
Readying himself, he opened the door and slipped into the stairwell beyond. Inside, it took his eyes a moment to adjust, and he was in short stairwells that lead to the main offices, unlike the older building where the stairs went straight down to the ground floor.
He moved up to the door and peered through the glass. The office was empty beyond so he opened the door a touch and listened. He couldn’t hear anything inside the area. He slipped quietly in, checking corners as he went, and came across a small kitchen. He shut the door gently behind him and his stomach growled immediately reminding him he hadn’t eaten for maybe more than twenty four hours. He holstered his weapons and checked the fridge. Inside were two lunchboxes and a note. The note complained about a missing salad asking the culprit to own up or face the consequences. He opened the lunchboxes and sniffed. They were both fresh and cool. He opened the a packet to reveal a tuna mayonnaise sandwich in one and cheese and pickle in the other. He quickly ate them leaning against the counter, staring into the distance as he chewed. His mind was both blank and yet playing through the events of the last few hours in a way that reminded him of sleeping after mission. To a trained soldier this was a kind of meditation, a way of processing horror and compartmentalising it.
He polished off the crisps and distractedly made himself a cup of tea. He was halfway through drinking it before he realised hat he was doing, it was a bloody lovely cup of tea though. The small kitchen providing a familiar space. He almost shook himself out of it as he drained the mug. The food and the moments respite had made him feel a lot sharper.
If things ran true to form then the city would be teeming with those things by tomorrow morning, and the amount of targets would be reducing, making him more attractive. Speed would be of the essence.
He left the kitchen and moved through the office space. It looked as if the workers had packed and left quickly. There weren’t any jackets but a file was knocked onto the floor, papers spilled from it and were then indented with trampled foot prints. All the computers were left on, spinning patterns on the screen, waiting for users that would never return.
He decided to risk the lift, his knee still ached, as did his shoulder. He stepped in, pressed the button for the ground floor, and immediately regretted his decision. As the lift descended to the innocuous music he watched the numbers tick down his imagination saw a wall of dead burst through the inexorably opening door. It was the kind of sloppy mistake that nearly got him killed two nights ago.
He pointed the pistols at the door and breathed in as the countdown reached 3, 2, 1, G. There was an electronic ping and the door slid open to reveal an empty foyer.
Martin breathed an audible sigh of relief and lowered his guns.
The room marbled floored with a cream desk to one side, and a series of corporate awards on frames . Slumped over the desk was a security guard ringed with a pool of blood. Moving up to the front door he looked out onto the street. He had expected copses littering it and yet, barring a few suspect stains on the road it was empty.
The door was locked, explaining the lack of Zombies in the building, so he slipped the manual catch and moved out. The first thing he noticed was that the sounds of chaos had moved away. He could still hear gunfire and explosions but they were more distant now, and he judged them to be a couple of miles away. Martin imagined them moving through the city in a battlefront, like the chaotic, shifting battles of Ancient Rome or Gaul. The only explanation would be that the dead moved towards sounds in search of prey, and as the sound moved they followed it leaving only silence behind them.
He walked quickly down the street, Italian leather shoes tapping echoes, as he went. It was like an early Sunday morning after stepping out from a late club.
As he walked he passed a series of empty restaurants and shops, some normal, as if waiting for the day’s customers to arrive, some with shattered glass and the blood spattered doors that only Jackson Pollock could match. The whole city stank with the throat catching, oily thickness, of burning plastic. A pall of dust and smoke eddied round the corners followed by papers and shreds of carrier bags.
He checked behind him and could see one of the high rise office buildings on fire, flames licked up its sides, and he could hear the faint tinking sound of melting steel. Without any emergency services to stop it, it resembled a log, burning in a hearth, with gases being forced out and igniting with coloured flames as myriad substances burned within.
It occurred to him that if his theory about sound was correct he was going to need a melee weapon, and to move quietly.
He realised ahead he could hear sobbing. He walked slowly, scanning around to find its source. On the other side of an advertising hoarding he found a smartly dressed woman, holding a young man with short blonde hair and a rugby top, cradling him in her arms and crying. She heard Martin approach.
“Please. Please help me. Can you call an ambulance?” She calmed asked.
“I think they’re all busy.” Was all he could think to say.
“My husband needs an ambulance.”
“Ma’am. I think its too late.”
“No, no, he just needs an ambulance. Can you call one for me please? My mobiles not working.” She held it up to him.
Just then a series of spasms ripped through the man and he shook violently.
“John! John! its OK. This nice mans going to get an ambulance for you. Everything is going to be alright!” She tried to hold him close as he shook, spit dribbling out of his mouth like a rabid dog.
“Ma’am I think you should step away.” Martin pointed a pistol at the both. She held him closer as he shook.
“What are you doing? Don’t point that thing at him.” She said as she stared in horror at Martin. She hadn’t noticed the spasms had stopped, and for a moment he lay still in her arms.
“Ma’am please step away from him.” He looked into her pleading eyes, just as the mans bloodshot eyes flicked open and he pulled her exposed neck towards him with bestial snarl.
Then Martin saw it, the look of betrayal in her eyes as her dead husband ripped her arteries from her throat, with a wet slapping sound. For the rest of his nights Martin would never know if the look was aimed at him or her husband. The dead man continued to feast on his now dead wife as Martin looked on. He shook his head, aimed the weapon and shot them both. To Hell with the consequences. Martin left them and moved on.
He walked in a daze, and the buildings changed from offices to shops as he went. He passed abandoned cars slewed into the sides of buildings, some with dead occupants, some with evidence of a struggle showing bloodstained doors and windows.
Suddenly, it was if the ground dropped away from him. The road shook and he heard an enormous explosion from behind. He turned and saw the burning office block lurch towards him, the bottom floors bulging and exploding as it came. Martin’s eyes widened in horror, and then the glass and steel monolith seemed to stop. Martin started to run from it, as it then lurched again with a grinding tear, shaking the road as the immense weight of the floors above began to topple it over. Martin ran as a wall of noise ripped through him, he could hear glass and the thin whine of twisting steel. Martin pounded down the street, the shaking road buckling as he ran. He scanned the sides looking for an exit. Turning, he saw the immense building tower over him, blocking out the afternoon sun, as it continued its slow but relentless collapse. Inside its furniture and computers fell against the glass above, and to his right a desk and chairs fell from a broken window smashing against the road.
Finally, he spotted an entrance to the underground and sprinted towards it as the sound increased around him. He could feel his ears pop as the air pressure under the immense structure increased. He ran for the entrance, the air around him turning to escaping dust. He could smell the crushing concrete as he jumped onto the gap between the stairs and slid down the metal ramp that separated each side of the escalator. A howling wind rushed after him pushing him down as he slid faster and faster down the metal slide. The pressure as the building fell fired shards of concrete and glass past him. Then he slid off the bottom of the stairs tumbling to a stop as the whole world seemed to explode around him, forcing the air from his lungs he covered his head with his hands.
For long minutes it roared around him, and he lay there expecting to be crushed until finally, the noise calmed, and the rolling pieces of concrete stopped. He lay there in the flickering artificial light, coughing in the thick cloud of acrid dust as it settled around him.
Eventually he rolled over. He reached into his pocket, took out a Marlboro and lit it with his silver Ronson. It seemed like the right thing to do considering he had just had a skyscraper fall on him.
He finished the cigarette and flicked it away. He got up, dusting himself down. His knee and face throbbed with a dull ache. He needed to rest soon, but didn’t want to do it in a darkened underground tunnel. He checked the tube map on the wall, unfortunately although it was a fantastically informative piece of art, scale meant nothing on it. He could try and go through the underground tunnel to the next station but that seemed like a really bad idea.
So he looked around for another exit. He moved down onto the platform itself and peered down the tunnel either way. He couldn’t see anything in the darkness beyond a few feet, so he moved along the platform of the deserted station. The station itself was clean with no signs of struggle. He guessed the Zombies had hit this area early in the morning, before the rush hour.
Then he felt the breeze from the tunnel, followed by the sound of a train. He stepped away from the edge of the platform, the stale breeze increasing as it came. It didn’t slow as it entered the station rushing past in a blur of broken windows and bloody handprints, its clicking clacking rhythm never wavering as it moved at full speed.. Then it was gone into the darkness beyond. That made the decision for him. If the trains were still running he didn’t want to move into the tunnels. He would have to find another way.
He moved to the end of the platform and back into the station towards the stairs where he came from. He found a small innocuous door marked “Maintenance – Authorised Personnel Only”. Guns at the ready, he moved inside. After a sweep, he surveyed the small room. It was a grubby, dirty little space with racking on one side containing tools and equipment. He found a heavy rubber torch, and a packet of spare batteries, so he pocketed that. One wall was plastered in Page three poster girls who stared back at him with their jaunty, fun poses.
“Ladies.” He nodded to them. He then moved through the door at the back which revealed a long corridor curving away from him. The flickering orange lights gave the thin grey corridor an unearthly look, and Martin wasn’t surprised to find the odd rat keeping him company. Every few hundred metres the tunnel broke out to the right onto the track itself, this was obviously some sort of maintenance or safety conduit to move passengers down in the event of a fire. Just when he considered this may be an enormous mistake, and was considering turning back he found a set of steps that lead up and off to the left. He decided to check them out and moved up them cautiously, even though he had seen no evidence of anything suspicious.
After a few flights the stairs ended in a wooden door, with an old style brass Yale lock on it. Around the edge, worn and rotted as if it had never been replaced in the history of the Underground, he could feel a breeze, so he bent down and looked through the gap. He couldn’t see much as it was night. He opened the lock and stepped out into the cool breeze.
Looking right he could see the empty street lit by that wan orange streetlight. There was a gated park to one side with tall townhouses behind it. On the nearside, past an up-ended white van, there was a small row of shops with a fish and chip shop.
Martin heard a noise to his left, and turned slowly to see a group of about fifty Zombies dotted down the street to end at a ‘T’ Junction. None of them had seen him emerge from the door, not until the old door behind him swung shut, snapping the Yale lock with a loud click. With that noise the closest one snapped round to look at him dead on. For a second it just stared those long bloodshot stares, then others turned and followed the direction it was looking. Then, in absolute silence, they started to run at him.
Martin turned and ran along the street, looking for a way out or a mode of transport. He spotted a bike lying in the road in front of the shops, and sprinted for it, knee once again announcing its painful presence. Then, as he reached the bike, he saw another group emerge from the opposite end of the street. They were closing in on both sides. Martin grabbed the bike and pulled it up but the front wheel turned independently of the handle bars. He threw it down in disgust and readied his pistols. Arms wide, one aiming at either group.
They were evenly spread out and so closed in on him in groups of one or two. He blasted away at each group in turn, taking out the front runners on either side. Then one or two reached him, so using his pistols as clubs he alternated clubbing them and shooting the ones behind. Using a mixture of combat forms he swept their legs from under them before shooting them in the head, or used Judo to use their own weight to carry them over before dispatching them again. He grunted at the effort, with a shot every few seconds to complete the job. As he fired the street lit up with a flash of gunfire, but he knew he was fighting his last battle as the density of runners increased. With increasing fury he threw his attackers at the ones behind slowing them down as much as he could. Then, just when he thought he was about to be overrun he heard a metallic sliding noise.
“Mate! In here quick. Over here!” Said a thick Indian accent.
Martin scanned desperately around and then saw a hand waving underneath the metal shutter of the Newsagents. The shutter had been raised about a foot from the ground and a dark face peered out.
Martin emptied the clips into his attackers to create some breathing room and dove for the gap, rolling under it.
“Quick get it closed!” the voice said.
The metal shutter slammed closed behind him, as the first of his attackers reached it banging and clawing against the steel, howling its frustration to an empty street. It was soon joined by more.
Looking up Martin saw a balding Indian in his forties with a long red beard. Beside him was a small skinny teenage boy with expensive trainers and a tracksuit, and a woman in her thirties with tight jeans and a blue hooded top. They were all dirty and dishevelled.
“Come on. We better get back upstairs out of sight.” The balding Indian said, offering Martin a hand. Martin got up and followed the group through the narrow aisles selling bread and tins of beans, with the Indian shop owner following him from behind. They went through the back of the shop and up the narrow, grimy, stairs. They emerged into a living room above the shop, it appeared to have not been decorated since the early seventies. The only indication that this was the twenty first century was the large flatscreen TV mounted on one wall. In the room there was a girl in her early twenties, frantically fiddling with her phone. She had scraped back hair and large gold hoop earrings. Sat next to her on the sofa was another woman in her thirties dressed in a white blouse and pencil skirt, she had her knees pulled up to her chin and was muttering to herself wild eyed, in obvious shock. Martin sat in a chair next to a small dining table in one corner, pulling his jacket over the bulges in his coat. The young man in the tracksuit sat in a recliner opposite Martin. In his hand he held a revolver. Martin studied it as the young man gesticulated it around.
“Mate. That was some well good fightin’. You must’ve taken a shitload out.” When the boy spoke it was with that thick mock gangster accent so beloved of teenagers.
“Mind you I was the same this morning, wasn’t I babe?” He turned to the girl.
“We got out da club and I was all blat, blat, wasn’t I Kell?” He said spinning the pistol round. She muttered her acknowledgement, fingers flying furiously on her phone. He sat back, disgruntled at being ignored.
The blonde woman in the tight jeans came into the room carrying a small white First Aid box. She sat at the table with him.
“Have you been bitten?” She said to Martin flatly, in a slight northern accent, it was so slight he couldn’t tell exactly where from.
“No.” Martin said.
“Where are you hurt?” He pointed to his face, shoulder and knee.
She took out a small bottle of TCP and a ball of cotton wool. The pungent smell of the antiseptic fluid battled for dominance with the lingering curry smell in the small flat. Ultimately it was a draw.
“This is going to sting” She said. She tended to his cheek graze, firmly as she cleaned the dirt from it. It did sting and make his eye water, but he ignored it.
Just then the Newsagent came in from the kitchen, followed by a tiny indian woman dressed in traditional Sari.
“More tea?” She asked. Everyone nodded, except the smartly dressed woman on the sofa who just nodded to herself. She disappeared back into the kitchen.
“Well, I suppose I better do the introductions. I’m Mohammed. Mo, and that’s my Mum.” He said pointing into the kitchen. “Binita.”
Mo reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, he took one out and lit it.
“This is Kelly.” The girl with the hoop earrings raised one hand, still staring at her phone.
“Jez.” The boy waved his pistol at Martin again.
“Don’t know what her name is” He said, pointing to the rocking woman.
“Emma.” He pointed to the woman tending Martins face. She smiled at him.
“What about you?”
“That was some pretty good shooting man. You Police?”
There was no point in lying, beside a lie was best held between two truths.
“That explains the guns then.”
“Can you take your shirt off so I can see your shoulder” Emma said, depositing the cotton wool ball on the table. Martin stood and took his jacket off revealing the holster and pistols. He unstrapped the harness and laid it on the table.
“Nice Gats mate. Can I have a look?” Said Jez, the tracksuited teenager.
“No.” Said Martin, unbuttoning his shirt and removing his tie.
“Please yourself” Said Jez, muttering “Wankah.”
Martin revealed the shoulder dressing and sat back down. Emma peeled the old dressing back to reveal the flesh wound. Her eyes narrowed and she looked at him. It was obvious she was aware that not only was this a gunshot wound, as there were powder burns around it, but it was older than the current troubles. For a moment he thought she may say something, but the look in his eyes convinced her not to, and she treated and redressed it in silence. Martin turned to Mo.
“Do you mind if I smoke?”
“Go ahead mate.” Mo said. Martin took out a Marlboro and lit it. Emma frowned at him as she tended his shoulder. He ignored her.
Binita emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray with tea and digestives, which she put on the table. She served the tea in a remarkably nimble way for a woman of her age. It was nice to see that for all his bravado Jez said please and thank you to the old woman. Then Jez reached into his pocket and pull out a long conical spliff. He put it in his mouth. It was then Mo spotted him.
“Hey! Not that shit! Don’t bloody smoke that stuff in here. What would your parents say, you little sod.” Mo shouted.
“But I haven’t got any fags mate.”
“I don’t care, you aren’t smoking that crap in here.”
Martin took pity and threw Jez a Marlboro.
Roused from her reverie Kelly looked up and snatched it from his hand,
“Thanks babe.” She said in a thick London accent. Jez looked crestfallen and made a praying motion to Martin. Martin shook his head smiling, and tossed him another one.
“Cheers fella.” He said cheerily.
Emma finished dressing the shoulder. He noticed her looking at the other scars on his torso.
“Knee?” She said. Martin rolled up his trouser leg to reveal the black bruise surrounding his kneecap.
“We need to strap that up. Is it painful to walk on?”
“Not too bad. Aches after today though.”
“I’ll bet.” She said, and finally smiled at him. She took a bandage and strapped it up before pinning it in position. She looked at him again in that strange way. Martin guessed she knew the injury was a few days old, before all this started.
“Good. Not too tight. You a nurse?”
“No. I’m a Doctor.”
“That’s OK. You weren’t to know. All done.” She stood and went over to the woman staring on the sofa. She lifted her cup of tea and tried to give it to the woman, talking softly, and trying to get her to respond.
“Hey Emma if you’re a doctor can you have a look at my dick? There’s something wrong with it?” Said Jez.
“Oh yeah?” Said Emma
“Yeah I got a rash innit. There’s only one cure.”
“What…Give it a wash? I can smell it from here.” She said. Mo and Martin chuckled.
“Oh yeah. Real smart entcha.” Jez said waving the gun around again.
Martin had had enough. He reached over and took one of his own automatics out of the holster and levelled it coolly at Jez.
“Listen Son. You wave that cheap Chinese copy round in my direction again. Especially with the safety off, and I’ll blow your fucking brains out over that wall.” Martin said it so charmingly and coolly that for a moment Jez mistook the meaning. Then his eyes grew wide and he stared at Martin.
“Keep the gun pointed down and put the safety on yeah?” Marting continued. Jez did as he was told. The tension in the room at fever pitch. Mo’s cigarette dropped out of his open mouth.
“Right. Now why don’t you come and sit here and let me have a look at it.” Jez got up and walked slowly over to the dining table and sat in the chair opposite. Martin put the automatic on the table, and Jez passed him the pistol. Mo reached down and retrieved his cigarette. Binita called him from the kitchen.
“Your problem is that this is a copy of a .38. Its not a bad copy, but its still a copy.” Jez stared at him.
“Your issue is going to be stopping it exploding and blowing your hand off.” Jez was interested now and watched Martin as he quickly stripped the gun down to its component parts. Martin took a small leather box, that was built into his holster, and took out the cleaning kit. Martin took Jez through the regime of cleaning the pistol and reassembling it.
“Now we need to get you a cleaning kit and you are going to have to do it every night.” Jez looked at Martin in awe.
“Leave it unloaded until the morning. How many bullets you got?” Jez reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of shells. Martin frowned. He himself was down to seven full clips.
Just then Binita walked in.
“Would you like some dinner. I can make something” She asked.
“What! They’re not having our food. They can buy something from the shop!”
“Mohammed! Don’t be so mean.” She called back. Mo walked in, clearly angry.
“They’re not bloody guests woman. They’re customers. It was your idea to let them all in. What is this, a bloody Hotel?”
Kelly and Jez looked at each other. It was clear that they didn’t have any money between them.
For a moment Mo and Binita argued in Urdu. Martin couldn’t understand what they were saying but Allah was mentioned several times. Martin couldn’t be bothered with all this so he decided to diffuse the situation.
“Mo…..MO!” Mohammed and his mother stopped arguing.
“Mo, Binita. Thanks for saving my life earlier. I appreciate it, but I think we could all do with a hot meal. Why don’t you cook something and I’ll pay for it. He reached for his wallet and opened it, taking out two crisp fifty pound notes.
“Does that cover it?” Mo nodded. Binita looked at Mo in disgust and disappeared back into the kitchen, after a moment they could hear pots and pans being sorted.
“Right.” Said Kelly looking up from her mobile.
“Jez, you know Gary, yeah?”
“The one who goes out with that slag Stacey?”
“You know. The one who plays footy for the Legion.”
“Yes you do. He got busted for pissing on that Police car on mushrooms.”
“You know. He goes out wiv Stacey. That tart who was doing porn on the Internet.”
“Oh yeah I know.”
“Well he came back to me on Facebook. It seems to be working ok now. He’s back home with some soldiers holed up in his flats.”
“Well he reckons the soldiers are gonna head out to that Army base. The one in Dovah.” She looked at her phone.
“Connaught Barracks” She said slowly.
“Well he’s gonna go wiv them.”
“So it might be a good idea.”
“Nah I ain’t going anywhere without my xbox.”
“Are you fucking mad. You saw how many of those things were on the estate. What use is your xbox anyway? You’re a fucking idiot Jez. I don’t know what my sister sees in ya.”
“She’s got a point. This city has gone to hell and by this time tomorrow there are going to be a lot of those things about. There are some serious fires raging out of control as well. I nearly had a skyscraper fall on me.” Martin said it, but it didn’t sound real even to him.
“Is that what that noise was?” Said Emma.
Jez sucked his teeth.
“Well It’ll be your fault I’ll lose all my saves.” Said Jez. Kelly rolled her eyes.
“Whatevs.” She said, shoving him in the shoulder.
Emma looked at Martin.
“What are you going to do?” She asked Martin
“Get out of the city. On my own.” He said, turning away.
“I need to get home. home. i need to get home. Brian’ll be there with the kids. It’ll be OK. He’ll be there. It’ll be normal back home. Normal” The smartly dressed woman muttered to herself. Emma tried to console her.
“How did all this start anyway?” Martin asked Jez.
“dunno mate. Something at the airport in the city. Kell saw it on the news last night. Didn’t ya.”
“Yeah some terrorists or something. I dunno. Then when we woke up this morning they were everywhere.” Kelly said.
“I don’t know either.” Said Emma.
“I was on shift until yesterday afternoon, and when I got home I fell asleep until this morning. What about you?” She said to Martin, suspiciously.
“I was asleep too.” Was all he would say.
They sat in silence for a while, each lost in their own recollections. They only noises were Kelly’s frantic tapping on her phone, and the woman in shock muttering to himself. Martin cleaned his own weapons and put them, and the cleaning kit, back in the holster.
After a while the smell of Indian cooking began to waft in from the kitchen. Mo came in and they all set up the dining room table. It was laid out with a selection of different meals and they all ate hungrily, all except the woman in shock. They all complimented a blushing Binita on the quality of the food, and small talk dominated the evening. After they had exhausted all conjecture on the cause and the effect of the days events, Martin and Emma offered to do the washing up. Binita agreed and passed the hundred pounds back to Martin, much to Mo’s chagrin.
Emma and Martin washed up in silence, until as the last of the plates were dried, Emma spoke.
“I saw your injuries.” Martin said nothing.
“They are a couple of days old aren’t they. You still in the military?”
“No. I’m Ex Army. I said that earlier.”
“So why have you got three day old gunshot wounds?” She asked.
Quickly, he grabbed her arm.
“None of your fucking business woman. I’ll be gone tomorrow so I suggest you just let it lie yeah?”
“OK. OK. But we could do with your help. I don’t fancy being protected by a chav with an exploding pistol.”
“Well maybe you should take it from him.”
“That your style is it? Or is it just hurting women?” She looked down at where he was holding her. He threw her arm away in disgust, and stormed out of the kitchen, throwing the tea towel on the floor.
“Martin!” She called. He turned towards her, scowling.
“If you don’t help us tomorrow we’ll all be dead……You know it as well.”
He stared at her. The worst thing was he did know it, but who were these people to him? Who was anybody to him? Targets, Marks or security. Everyone else was below his radar.
Still fuming he asked Mo were he could sleep. Mo looked at him confused and lead him to a small spare room with a single bed that smelled slightly of damp. Boxes of crisps were piled up either side of the bed. Martin lay there for a moment, angry at Emma for being so observant, for being so….vulnerable. He let out a big sigh and tried to forget it, intending to go for a pee before he went to sleep, but by the time the sigh had left his body his eyes had closed and he was out.
He woke once in the night to use the toilet. Perturbed by dreams of the mechanic, the young man in the crowd, the woman he had pulled out of the way by her hair, and the mother holding the toy bear. He killed three people today, three civilians. They weren’t security or marks, they were just three innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yet, would they still be alive if they hadn’t met him? He was too tired to contemplate it, and after all it was just survival and so, after relieving himself, he fell fast asleep again as soon as his head hit the pillow and didn’t stir until morning.
Thanks to Pete Griffiths for editing this series.
My collection of short Zombie stories “All the Dead are here” is available on Lulu.com and Amazon as a paperback. It is also available on Amazon for the Kindle reader or app. The link is on the right hand side of this page.