Sequel to Part 4
“Which way I fly is Hell; myself, I am Hell;”
If you are reading this, one of two things has happened. Either Sachs has had me killed, or, I have been locked in the Shed. Either way things have got so bad you/we need to get out of here. I’ve set as much up as I can but Sachs has had me watched, and followed, since the first meeting we had with him. I challenged him then while appearing to be submissive. I had hoped he was too dumb to notice. I was wrong, and that makes him extremely dangerous. Therefore, there has been a limit to how far I can go. It’s up to you guys to put the rest of the plan in place and execute. It had to be this way so he couldn’t guess what I was doing. If I am Dead then I should say ‘I Love You’, just so you know. If I’m not dead there is no point in me waxing on about how much I love you because we’ll both just be embarrassed when we meet again. Lets be positive and assume I’m in the Shed while he gloats and decides how to kill me. Whatever happens he’s now made enough enemies that you should be able to trust most of the civilians. Having said that, keep this plan quiet. Only tell those that are essential and swear them to secrecy until everyone needs to know. If you have a choice, pick the ones with Kids, they have the most to lose. Never show anyone this letter, memorise it and once you’ve done that. Burn it.
This is how it’s going to go down.
If I am in the Shed, Sachs won’t let me live long once he lets me out. If he lets me out. Once all the steps below are in place you need to come and get me out. How you do that is up to you, but under no circumstances try to get a message to me. It’s too risky. When Jim was in here it was permanently guarded. Take the guard out quietly at 3am (After shift change), and let me out. Bring the bag that’s stuffed down in the bottom of my sleeping bag, there is a list in there of other things I need. I’ll do the rest.
Martin had been in the shed for three weeks and two days according to the marks on the floor. He had used that time wisely. He had honed his anger into a shiv, and his body into a weapon. His shoulder had healed, as had the wounds from his beating, and The Shed had enough room for press ups, sit ups, some yoga exercises. For two weeks he had exercised every moment he wasn’t sleeping until his body cried out in pain. Then, when he hit three weeks he had calmed it down, letting the lactic acid settle. The downside of this was he had time to think. In his weak moments he thought as the previous prisoner had. Maybe the Dead had overrun the base and were stood just outside. It certainly sounded like it. Then, every morning, he heard the rumble of engines in the background. The raids were still going on. That gave him comfort. Even so he looked at his watch and trained himself to wake up at two thirty AM. He would stretch, limber up, and wait. For all this time three AM had passed, and he had gone back to sleep before the nagging doubts came back. However, just after three, he heard a whispered voice, and the agitation of the nearby Dead. He stood, stretched and waited silently in front of the door.
After a moment the padlock on the either side rattled. He was reminded of Schrodinger’s cat, at this moment either Sachs had come to kill him or Kelly had come to rescue him. Either way this existence in two states fired adrenaline through his system at a rate that made him dizzy. After a few seconds the door flew open.
It was Kelly.
“Hi.”She said, smiling thinly. He stepped towards her and she half went to hug him, but he tensed so she retracted. It was then he saw her face, dark bruises were healing around one eye.
“What happened to you?”
“They got me a few days after you came in here. Its got a lot worse. Work parties for food, rationing, rapes and they won’t give Jez the antibiotics he needs. Sachs is out of control.” She said, voice trembling. It was the most vulnerable Martin had ever seen her and he knew she just wanted to hug him, but it wasn’t the time. His mind was distracted and in the wrong place. He saw her harden in front of him. It was for the best.
“Is it all in place?” He asked. She slid the bag off her shoulder and passed it to him, It was a grey holdall with the word ‘metronidazol’ written on it in white marker.
“Yes.” She replied. He knew he had to give her something, some crumb of comfort from his cold and dark place.
“I’ll make sure Sachs pays.” He said softly, expecting her to smile or react in some positive way. She didn’t she just nodded and look down. He didn’t know what to say, and felt embarrassed.
“I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there.”
“Just get us out of here like you promised.” She said, holding his gaze, her eyes full of something Martin didn’t recognise in her.
The guard on the ground next to them groaned, coming round from where Kelly had kneed and punched him. Martin looked down at the prone soldier, holding himself on the foetal position.
“Go and make sure everyone is ready.”
“You coming as well?”
“No. I’ve got number 2 on the list to do first….and to deal with him.” He said pointing to the groaning form in the darkness.
She turned and walked away as she heard Martin knock the soldier out. She didn’t hear him take the knife from the bag, slit the soldiers arms, but not too deep, and she didn’t hear him roll the unconscious body over to the fence behind the shed, out of sight. This would attract as many Dead to his ‘bird feeder’ as possible. As he turned and walked away he already began to hear the long, low moan that they knew would attract others to the scene.
2. Jez needs to remove the extractor and filter assembly in the bunker vent I’ve marked with black marker pen, so I can get into the bunker. I’ve loosened the fan and its starting to make a squeaking noise. Jez needs to make sure he is the one to repair it so he can remove the fan and motor assembly and I can get inside. If I am dead skip this bit. Once I’m inside the bunker I can get what we need and meet you at the Fort.
Sachs felt a groggy pain in his head and tried to roll over, but was restricted. His temper flashed and he tried to roll over again, this time he recognised his hands and arms were tied, and he had something in his mouth. He awoke in confusion. He was secured to his bed in his room. Frantically he looked round, in anger to see who had done this. The room was illuminated only from the faint bedside lamp on the table providing a small circle of soothing amber light. It was then Sachs saw the glowing cigarette end and the tall grey haired figure, dressed in a black polo neck and black jeans. Around his torso Sachs could see a holster containing two pistols. It was only then he heard Martins voice.
“What you feel now is anger. Anger that someone has done this to you. With that there is a hope that one of your men will discover us and you will be free to make me pay.” Said Martin, coolly. Sachs shouted into the gag wrapped round his head, and strained against the restraint tying him to the bed, until his hands turned purple. Martin dragged on the cigarette while Sachs struggled. He took the small bag from the floor and put it on the table next to his seat, so Sachs could see what he was doing.
“In a moment that will turn to fear. Then I will tell you a story. Then you will feel more terror than you have ever felt in your entire life.” Martin said as he watched the eyes turn from anger to fear, as if a light had been switched.
“First I want to show you what’s in the bag. Do you want to see what’s in the bag?” He asked, patronisingly. Sachs shook his head frantically, cheeks puffing out as he hyperventilated into the gag.
“You do? Good. Well what’s the first item?” He reached into the bag, and pulled out two small pill boxes. He placed them reverently on the table.
“Those are for my…. friend… Jez. The one who cut his hand, the one who is benefiting from your decision not to give out medicine to the civs. He doesn’t deserve to die to prove a point. These are so he gets better.” Said Martin. Sachs seemed to be calming down. Good. He didn’t want the bastard passing out. He rifled in the bag again, and pulled out a small bloody knife.
“Ahh this is a surprise for later.” He said placing it on the table, next to the antibiotics. He picked a marker pen out of the bag.
“This I am going to use in a minute. I am going to write, above your head, that you are the man who killed Mohammed’s mother. If he ever finds his way here. That’s right. You are never going to leave this room again. But first I am going to tell you about the last item.” He placed the marker on the table, and went in the bag for a last time. He held his hand in the bag with the item.
“You see. I said earlier that i was going to turn your anger to fear. This is how I do it.” He said, pulling the syringe out of the bag.
“I do it by telling you that I found your garage. The one with all the corpses in it. Some of them were dead and some of them, like the Brigadier, you had killed. Then I took a sample of blood from one of the corpses and……well…..I’ve already given it to you.” Said Martin, languidly. Sachs eyes widened.
“The only unknown being just how long it’ll take you to turn. I have heard up to one hundred and twenty eight hours. That’s a long time to be strapped to a bed. I wonder how painful it will be?” Martin inspected the syringe, and frowned.
“There really wasn’t much in the syringe either, so I would imagine it will take a while.” He said, wistfully. The figure on the bed stretched and wriggled at its bonds. Martin watched it dispassionately.
“And that, Colonel Sachs, is the fear I spoke of.” Martin said sitting back and taking a long drag from the cigarette, its faint light illuminating Martin’s cruel facade.
“But don’t forget that before I leave there will be more fear, and more pain as well, and that’s what I want you to think about, while I write my message to the son of the woman you killed in cold blood. Her name was Binita.” Martin stood and picked up the marker pen. Casually, he walked over to the wall behind the bed, briefly stopping only to extinguish the cigarette on the figures ankle, which made it wriggle and twist all the more. The marker squeaked as he scrawled his message on the wall. It was brief but would leave Mo no doubt what had happened, and who had been responsible. It was unlikely Mo would ever read the message, but even so, Martin wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t write it. He looked down to see the man arch his back trying to read the text above its head. Once again its eyes widened in terror.
“Oh you can read upside down? Good, then you’ll know that as well as infecting you, i’m going to take your eyes. Mmmm. That’s what the little knife is for. First, I want you to know something.” Martin sat back down in the seat, and took another Marlboro from the packet, and lit it with relish.
“You’ll have to forgive the chain smoking. You really have been holding out on us haven’t you Colonel?” For a few moments Martin savoured the head rush after having not smoked for so long. The room was silent except for the figure’s laboured breathing and the drag of the cigarette.
“Now if I ask you a question. I want you to nod or shake your head. Yes or no. If I believe you, I may not take your eyes. Hell, I may not even have infected you. Who knows. Do you understand?” The man nodded slowly. Martin sat back, dragging on the cigarette, one leg crossed over the other, smoking hand sagged over his knee. Long moments passed before he spoke again.
“I’ve worked in some real shit hole countries you know. Places that aren’t even on a map because they come and go like the leaves in the wind, and do you know what I learned?” The figure shook its head.
“I learnt two things. First. There is no point in becoming friends with people. Ultimately they die, or lose interest, or hurt you. So to combat that you build this…….this barrier to keep yourself in. Its stops you getting hurt. I did it when my Father left and my Mum died, and I carried on doing it until….. Well, until just recently. I never got married, my best friend died in Somalia. Have you done a tour in Somalia?” The figure shook its head.
“Of course you haven’t.” He said taking the final drag of the cigarette. Casually, he leaned forward and stubbed it out on the figure’s ankle, close to the first mark. The creature squirmed and grunted, breathing heavily. Martin resumed his pose in the chair and waited for the him to relax.
“Turns out though, that’s cowardice. I spent my whole life being a fucking coward and never realised it. I was scared. Pretty pathetic really I suppose, but the point is I spoke more to those people I arrived with, in twenty four hours, than I had spoken to anyone in maybe two years. Now that really is pathetic isn’t it?” The figure remained static. Martin smiled.
“Consequently, they are very important to me, and you killed one in a fit of spite. Shot her through the head like a dog. Really its a good job you did, because I wouldn’t have been able to put the rest of the plan in motion without you finding out, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Thing is. It really fucking hurt me. She was a good woman. A good woman who had been through some shit herself, and she didn’t deserve to die like that, not to prove how big a man you are.”
“Then there’s the lad, Jez. There’s no reason not to give him the antibiotics he needed, other than you are just trying to control everyone here. He’s just a normal lad, bit of a scrote but weren’t we all at that age?”
“Then there is Kelly. Now I want to believe that you didn’t have her raped. I really want to believe that, but I just can’t. That was just to get one over on me, and that is pretty bloody pathetic too. Point is that you’ve done nothing but control the whole situation here since day one. I just don’t understand why that is?” Martin paused and leaned forward.
“If I was feeling generous I could say it’s because your scared. The whole world’s gone to shit and this is something you can control. That’s not right though is it. Truth is you did it because you could. You did it because it gave you power and wealth. I’ve seen all the stuff you’ve looted, I’ve seen the signs you took down if any other military came looking for you, seen how you’ve set yourself up in this bunker. Emperor of you’re own little land, like the King of England or some CEO of a multinational, tucked away in your little fortress, granting the serfs some occasional boon to stop them challenging you. Thing is, everywhere I’ve been, I’ve seen little dictators like you do the same thing. Promise a glorious shining Republic, or safety, or riches or anything to get you to the top. Then, when you get there, you are so terrified of the whole thing coming crashing down you use fear, propaganda, money and intimidation, or any tool you have available, against any threat that could appear. Problem is you are focusing on the wrong thing, because every time a little tosspot like you gets too big for his boots it’s not the revolutionaries at the door that are the problem, no matter what you hear on the News. Its the people in the street, going about their business, trying to scrape by, feeding their kids and keep a roof over their head. They’re the real problem for people like you. Do you want to know why?” The figure lay unmoving, eyes transfixed on Martin.
“It’s because, when the day comes that some unseen fucking force, some Dark Avenger or Black Ops team, with the right skills and tools arrives to take them down, none of the normal people, living their normal lives, will give one…..fucking….toss. They’ll all step aside and carry on, carrying on” Martin said, glancing at his watch.
“I could have told every civilian on this base what I was going to do to you tonight, and not one of them would stop me. Not when they are in fear for their kids lives and their bellies are empty, and that, you fucking stupid piece of shit, is why having friends and family are important. Just because they give a shit about you. That’s it. Its so simple I can’t believe I never saw it before. No matter how much pain they cause when they leave or die or whatever, it’s all worth it when you have someone who cares about you. Just who is top dog doesn’t matter one iota” The figure just stared at Martin with hatred in his eyes. Martin checked his watch again.
“Anyway. It’s been remarkably….cathartic, having this conversation, but I do believe your five minutes is up. So I would start being terrified just about now.” Martin gathered the items from the table one by one and put them all, bar one, back in the bag. Then, he stood up, rubbed his shoulders with his finger tips for a minute and stared at the bastard in front of him. He reached down and picked up the small knife.
“Oh and I lied about not taking your eyes and not infecting you. You are fucked..” He said, as the man started to thrash and hyperventilate before him. Martin leaned in and grabbed the figure by his chin, bring his face close as the knife shone in the dull light.
“Now…..Which one first.”
3. Look at the map I’ve drawn on the back of this letter. That point marked with an X is where we are going to get all the vehicles through. I’ve marked the same X on the fence posts where I’ve chopped through every third link, just to weaken it a bit. The map also shows how the vehicles need to be arranged on the parade ground. Jez can make out he’s doing maintenance and move them into position over a period of days. Get everyone ready in the fort and make sure all the vehicles are ready to go, and wait for me. If I’m dead you are going to need to get them out yourself when you hear the signal. I’ll come onto that in a bit. This is very important. Look at the location of the seven and a half tonner, HN52 UBB. That HAS to be in place before anything else happens.
Martin emerged from the vent and sat behind it for a moment before placing the automatics on the floor either side of him, pulling the two homemade silencers out of the bag. Weeks earlier he had welded a pipe fitting to each tube and stuffed the tubes with dense foam from an old car seat. They wouldn’t silence more than a couple of shots each but there were never more than a few guards patrolling at night. The full moon was high in the sky, obscured by wispy clouds, illuminating the base with a thin bright moonlight. He had just fitted one silencer when the Dark Eyed Soldier came round from one side of the vent and nearly stood on him. They stared at each other in surprise. The soldiers SA80 pointed at him.
“Sachs told me you would try something like this old man. I wondered why your little boy was dicking around here.”
“So are you going to kill me?”
“There’s nothing I would like more. Toss the gun over here.” The soldier scowled. Martin tossed the silenced pistol to the soldiers feet.
“Tell you what. Why don’t we put the guns aside and see who’s tougher? You can boast you kicked the shit out of someone who’s ex-SAS.” Said Martin. The soldier stood thinking for a moment. He relaxed and lowered the gun slightly. He grimaced at Martin.
“Yeah go on then. You know, that girl of yours was feisty. Well, she was until the guys and I roughed her up a bit.” The soldier lifted the strap of the rifle over his head, and tossed it away.
“Yeah she’s a tight little bitch..” Martin picked up the other automatic from the grass by his side and levelled it at the soldier just long enough to register, then pulled the trigger and shot the soldier in the crotch. The unsilenced shot rang out in the cool, quiet night. The soldier collapsed on the ground, clutching the wound, and Martin stood slowly, before walking over and collecting the silenced pistol. He quickly wound the silencer off again, it was pointless now. He looked down at the large prone figuring writhing in pain before him.
“I could shoot you now but I think I’ll let those things eat you.” The soldier didn’t seem to register the comment.
Suddenly a brace of shots peppered the grass around him, echoing round the base. Martin ducked and scanned the area. Behind one of the buildings he could see a crouched figure. From somewhere else he heard the electronic beep of a walkie talkie, followed by the Klaxon alarm ringing out. The sound of it haunted the base like a bomb, ringing in his ears.
“Shit!” He exclaimed. This wasn’t going as planned, but he had contingencies in place. He sprinted behind a building towards the Fort, grabbing the discarded rifle as he went. Safely in cover he looked back up the small hill towards the Shed. His tasty treat had worked and the fence bulged in as hundreds of Zombies pressed against it, the moonlight illuminating many more figures emerging from the distant trees. Behind him he could hear shouts, so he pressed on towards the Fort using the buildings as cover until he reached the parade ground.
He could see one of the soldiers on guard moving towards him but looking up at the bunker, so he shot one of them quickly, the soldier dropped like a puppet with its strings cut. Over at the Fort he could see the main door slightly ajar, and a head peeking through the gap. His heart leapt when he saw it was Kelly. He sprinted over the small patch of bare earth before the parade ground and dropped over the wall onto the tarmac as he heard gunfire behind. He spun and steadied the gun on the grassy ledge, using the wall as cover. He could see two soldiers edging around the buildings. He waited for a few seconds until they moved into view then shot one, changed the angle and shot the other before they could react. He looked quickly back at the buildings and couldn’t see anyone else.
“NOW KELLY!” He screamed at the Fort.
4. Make sure that anything anyone wants to take is loaded onto the vehicles without the soldiers seeing. They can’t take everything in case Sachs inspects the Fort. Make sure that everyone is ready to get in the vehicles and go. If Sachs has the keys to any, Jez will have to make sure that they are hot wired. The exit will be on the opposite side from where the Zombies come in, up the path over the stream. It’ll be tight on the little bridge but I’ve measured it and the widest one can get through. The vehicles must leave in the order on the diagram or everyone will get snared up. You’re in charge. Everyone needs to stay cool. Its down to you and Binita to make sure that happens. If I’m dead just go with the civilians as quickly and as quietly as you can. If I’m not, I’ll take it from there.
The Civilians poured out of the main door to the Fort running towards their respective vans, cars, and lorries. Martin moved towards the special seven and a half tonner, looking back out at the base as he went. The timing had been beautiful. He presumed most of the night guards had been disposed of, but the alarm had not been ringing long enough for the soldiers in the bunkers to get equipped and get out.
He kept scanning the distant buildings, but no more soldiers emerged. Then he heard a shout from behind.
“Alright there old man!” It was Jez, who looked thin and pale as he and Kelly approached. His skin had a waxy sheen and he looked more emaciated than the others.
“Good God mate you look rough.” Said Martin, reaching into the holdall for the two bottles of antibiotics.
“Thanks, I’ve been better.” Jez said, smiling thinly. Martin passed him the two pill bottles.
“These should help.”
“It’s probably a bit late for that.”
“Has Emma been looking after you?”
“Has she hell. She’s not come out the bunker since you got locked up.”
There was an enormous roar as all the vehicles around started up in unison. The lead vehicle, another seven and a half tonner moved forward slowly onto the small bridge that lead to the road and the weakened section of fence.
“Right, get in here you two.”
“Are we not going with them?” Said Kelly.
“Nope. We are going to make sure that no-one follows us or them.”
They all climbed up into the cab, Martin in the driving seat. He started the truck with a roar, while reaching under the seat. There was the sound of tape ripping, and he pulled out a metal bracket that resembled two H’s welded together, top to bottom.
“What’s that?” Said Kelly climbing into the middle seat beside him, as he handed her the bracket.
“You’ll see.” Jez joined them in the cab and shut the door.
Martin maneuvered the truck around to come up the road that lead to the front of the base.
“Sachs is gonna be well pissed off with you.” Said Jez.
“I think he’s got more on his mind at the moment.” Said Martin, cryptically.
“Look out!” Shouted Kelly as a soldier emerged around a small building on the right. He raised the gun and peppered the side of the truck with bullets as Martin swung it round slamming the side of it into the building, crushing the soldier with its massive weight. Martin got it back on the road as it swung left to right, threatening to topple over. The occupants bounced around in the cab. He floored it, trying to coax as much speed as possible out of it as it cleared the brow of the hill above the Fort. Ahead they could see the Shed and the bulging fence beyond. The fence was starting to buckle under the weight of the Zombies behind, their arms and fingers poking through at the the red stain that was all that remained of the soldier who had guarded the shed.
“Get ready to Jump!” He shouted. Jez opened the door next to him. Martin stood up and leaned on the pedals with a grunt. The ratchet he had fashioned on the accelerator clicked into position, locking the pedal to the floor. The truck was only in second but it lurched forward. Quickly he snatched the bracket from Kelly, and, checking the truck was aimed straight at the target, he jammed the bracket through the steering wheel. It locked in position against the steering column, preventing the wheel from turning.
“Right! Go!” He shouted opening his own door. Jez, then Kelly jumped out, followed by Martin. As they picked themselves up the truck rumbled inexorably up the hill towards the shed. They watched as it crashed through the corrugated metal structure and the fence beyond, snagging slightly as the fence broke. On it rumbled, engine screaming in a low gear until it hit a tree with a crash, engine running away with itself until it exploded with a crunch and a cloud of thick grey smoke.
The zombies, in various states of injury, and undress, stared at the hole in the fence as if contemplating its meaning. The were paper dry and luminous in the bright moonlight. One, which was a builder in its former life, opened and closed its mouth like it was struggling to find the words to describe a truck racing past it through a fence, and into a tree.
“What are they waiting for?” Said Kelly, picking herself up and brushing herself down. Martin shrugged his shoulders. Jez stepped forward and threw his arms out, and spread his legs.
“CAHM AHN!!” He shouted and the top of his lungs. The Zombies turned towards him as one, stumbling on through the fence.
“That’s done it.” Said Jez.
“Come on lets go before we get eaten.” Said Martin. In the distance they could hear the various trucks and cars moving away.
“How are we getting out of here? They’ll be gone by the time we get back to the Fort?” Asked Jez.
“Don’t worry about that. We need to get across the base, hopefully our dead friends will be enough of a distraction for any soldiers. Take this.” Martin handed Jez one of the automatics and the other to Kelly.
“You fired one of these before Kell?”
“I grew up in Brixton, what do you think?”
“Right lets go, stay low and move when I say. We can’t afford to get into firefight.”
They ducked quickly in between the buildings. Martin checked the direction of the gate as they moved. They could hear gunfire as soldiers left the bunker looking for the source of the commotion. They made it to the road that ran from the Fort to the front gate. Behind they could hear the staccato gunfire from the soldiers, and see the flashes reflect in the windows around them.
“Right go!” Martin said. They sprinted across the road, Jez wheezing heavily as he went. The infection slowing him down even though their systems were fired with adrenaline. They had made it half way across when they heard gunfire and the glass door of the stone clad building in front shatter. The group sprinted and dived behind the building, before moving to the other end. Martin poked his head out to check the way was clear and bullets peppered the wall by his head. Jez yelped in surprise but Martin ducked back in unflinchingly. He turned to the others.
“Fuck. If they pin us down, they’ll flank us, or we’ll get eaten. I need you two to move over there past the vent to that building there, and don’t stop. Got it?”
“Are you serious?” Said Kelly.
“You need to trust me.” Martin said. Kelly looked him in the eye and made her decision.
“Come on numpty let’s move.” She barked at Jez, grabbing him by the collar. They sprinted for the building and Martin ducked round to see the soldier aim from the far corner. Martin dropped him before he had time to fire and sprinted after the other two. Martin and Kelly reached the building as Martin felt the whistle of bullets pass him. He vaulted over the vent and sat behind it as the shooter hit the vent behind with the tanging sound of steel on steel. He waited for the pause of the shooter reloading. Ahead Kelly stuck her head round and he frantically waved her back.
Martin got himself in position and aimed the gun towards his assailants behind. He sprinted to Kelly and Jez’ position, blind firing a few shots as he went. He slid round the corner to join them, just as bullets riddled the ground by his feet. Kelly started to speak but he held his finger to his lips while he listened. Some of the soldiers had chosen not to fight, but were moving back towards the Fort in order to steal a vehicle of some sort. By now most of those that had left the bunker area were moving through the buildings to their position. There was no way Kelly and Jez could survive a firefight against trained soldiers which left him only one option.
“You two move up to the other end of the building. Every few seconds just blind fire a couple of shots around the corner. Don’t stick your head round whatever you do.” He whispered. They moved up and took turns doing as told. He tossed them a couple more magazines.
Martin stuck his head round the corner and could see figures crouched around corners looking for them. He managed to drop one that was at the wrong angle, and watched until he saw another soldier break cover, and try to flank them. Martin forced him back to where he started and waited. The other two were firing too fast. He indicated to them to slow it down. It was his intention not to take out his attackers, just to pin them down. After a couple of minutes he noticed they had stopped firing and were trying to break from their positions. Martin shot another as he ran. Then, he started to see the dead flow round the buildings like oil. He heard screams as the soldiers that were pinned in their positions were attacked from behind. Unfortunately this had also kept them pinned down too long. Once he was sure that the soldiers were preoccupied with their attackers from behind, he indicated for Jez and Kelly to move with him. They skirted round buildings until they saw the playing fields, and the squat helicopter ahead. Thin clouds obscured the full moon making the outline of the machine a silhouette. It was a hundred metres away, but looked tantalisingly close. They sprinted on towards salvation over the field.
“You three! Stop or I’ll shoot!” Said a voice. They all stopped and turned to see Emma standing beside the last two buildings before the playing field, holding a pistol at them. She was visibly shaking. Martin aimed the SA80 at her.
“I..I thought you would come for the helicopter. I knew you weren’t stupid. I didn’t think you would kill everyone to do it though.”
“Not everyone. I got the civilians out first.” Said Martin, coldly.
“But the soldiers?…….And what you did to Sachs.”
“They picked their sides, they deserved it. Sachs was a psycho.”
“And you’re not?”
“Its all a question of where you stand.” Martin said. His mouth the only part of his face that smiled.
“So you chose these two pieces of crap.”
“Oi.” Said Jez, affronted.
“Don’t complain, what have they ever done for society? I went to Uni for seven years to be a Doctor, I deserve to be saved, I’ve saved thousands of lives. What have they ever done except leech off society? What are you anyway, a filthy murderer, for money.”
“I am what I am, but these two have been true to their friends for a start. What did you do after Binita was killed?”
“Yes. By leaving Jez here without the antibiotics he needed, when you could have snuck them out to him. You survived by going and holing up with Sachs.”
“They would have done the same.”
“But they didn’t did they? They knew right from wrong, and picked sides. They trusted me and put this whole plan in place. It was my idea but their execution. We’ve saved three hundred lives today. You only went with who had the most power. I would even trust this little scrote in a fight. You? I wouldn’t turn my back on you for an instant.”
“OI. Don’t you start as well.” Said Jez, indignantly. Emma lowered the pistol slightly.
“Please take me with you.” She said in a thin, weak voice. The others watched as the crowd of Zombies rounded the building behind her.
“No. I don’t trust you.” Said Martin.
“Me neither.” Said Kelly.
“Nor me.” Said Jez.
Their sentence given, the Dead closed around her before she noticed, and they dragged her to the ground with a series of wet crunching noises. A blood curdling scream left her, turning to a gurgle as she fell.
“Run!” Said Martin. They sprinted across the fields to the helicopter. Martin dived in and started flicking switches. Kelly jumped in beside Martin and Jez slid in the back looking pale from the exertion.
The engine started slowly with a whine, blades moving agonisingly slowly.
“Come on, come on. COME ON!” He screamed banging the console. A relentless tide of the dead consumed the buildings and spilled onto the field towards them. He had flown this type of helicopter before, he knew how long it would take to get up to speed, and he realised the delay with Emma and the soldiers had probably doomed them all.
“Fuck! I’m gonna have to distract them away from the helicopter. They will be here long before its up to speed.” Martin said, they stared at him in disbelief. They were so close.
“I don’t suppose you learnt how to fly a helicopter on your xbox did you?” He said to Jez, who looked at the bewildering array of dials switches and lights that were twinkling away in front of Martin.
“No chance mate.” Said Jez.
“Right Kell its up to you. This is the…..” Said Martin, checking the SA80 for ammo. She stared at him.
“Are you kidding me? You can’t teach me to fly a helicopter before they reach us.” She exclaimed.
“Well what else are we going to do!” He shouted back
“Oh for Christ sake. Gimme that.” Said Jez grabbing the pistol out of Kelly’s hand.
“What are you doing?” Said Martin.
“Well I can’t stand listening to you two fucking lovebirds having a tiff so I’ll bloody do it. You got any more ammo?” Said Jez.
“Are you sure?” Said Kelly.
“Well we can’t fly a helicopter, so I may as well go and save your asses. Anyway its obvious she loves you, and you love her, so I may as well do this before I have to watch you two snogging. Gimme that holster thingy.” Martin stripped the holster off his back and passed it to Jez who put it on quickly.
“Are you sure about this?” Said Martin.
“No. I’m gonna bloody get turned into a walking corpse but I don’t see another way. How many clips is there on this?”
“Five full ones. Take this as well.” Martin said, passing the SA80 to Jez who slung it over his shoulder.
“Safety is on and it’s there.” He continued pointing at the small switch on the side of the gun.
“Cool.” Said Jez.
“Stay low out of the helicopter.” Martin said, unsure of quite what else to say.
“Get yourself a high score out there.” He ventured, smiling. Jez looked at Kelly quizzically, nodding in Martin’s direction.
“A high score. He hasn’t got a fucking clue has he?”
“No he really hasn’t.” She said beaming back. Jez sat there for a second and let out a deep draw of breath, readying himself.
“Right.” He opened the door, wind rushed around the cabin from the accelerating blades. He looked at them both for a second.
“Look after yourselves.” He said affectionately, trying a fake smile out for size.
“Good luck.” They said in unison.
Jez jumped out and slammed the door behind him. He ducked low and ran straight towards the Zombies. Getting clear from the blades he stood up to his full height and, shouted something they couldn’t hear over the roar of the, still accelerating, blades. Then he shot a couple of the closer ones, now barely twenty feet from his position. The shots were good and the two Zombies crumpled to the floor. He started to run round, just out of range of the Zombies. The front ranks turned to track him. He took a wide arc around them, heading back towards the buildings, taking his time to shoot any that started to get too close to him.
“He actually looks pretty cool.” She said, surprised.
“He’d have made a good soldier. He’s a good shot.” Martin replied.
“Really?” Martin nodded and it occurred to him just how much Jez and Kelly had changed, since they had first met in Mo and Binita’s kitchen. They had grown up, and without the indoctrination that comes with the inner city culture they had even changed how they spoke and related to others. When Martin had met Jez he was a child. It was a man that left the helicopter. Martin wondered if he could change as well, and for the first time in his life, he wanted this more than anything.
Martin checked the gauges. The blades were still only spinning at half the speed required for take off. He looked back to see Jez disappear back behind the buildings, drawing a large crowd with him. However, they were still flowing round the base like water, and the ones behind still saw the helicopter as the object of their desire.
“I’m not sure its going to be enough Kell!” He shouted over the engine noise.
“Then kiss me! If they get us I want one kiss first!” She screamed back. Martin stared at her face in the console lights. The black bruise under one eye did its best but couldn’t hide her beauty. Not to him anyway. They leaned in and she held his face with her hand. They kissed passionately. Martins heart raced like a train and he took in her smell and taste like a drowning man gasping for air.
For a moment he didn’t care if the Zombies got them. He had had girlfriends and women before but none that he had truly loved, none that understood him the way Kelly had. He wished they had met before the apocalypse but knew if they had, they would have passed each other without thinking. Different worlds thrown together in adversity. He could feel the cold cloak of his assassin persona slip away after the tension of the night. Instinctively he knew that this was something more permanent, more solid than he had ever felt in his life. Through the kiss he hoped Kelly felt the same after her experiences of the last few weeks. In this embrace the horror slipped away, leaving only the two of them behind. He wondered if he could change, if he could learn, even at his age, to be something other than the lonely wraith he had slipped into through all these years. Then, he felt tugging from the helicopter joystick. It was trying to lift.
His heart nearly broke as he tore himself away from the kiss. The helicopter started to bounce slowly as the blades struggled to give them lift.
“Shit. They’re here.” Screamed Kelly. Martin looked out of the side window as Zombies raised their arms to bang on the glass, thumping as they tried to get at them. Their damaged, paper-dry faces full of hatred and longing. Then they slid out of view as the helicopter rose. Martin took it up over the tree tops and passed Kelly a set of headphones, indicating they should put them on. He heard her voice crackle through his own set as he wrestled them into place.
“Try and find Jez!”
“Ok!” He said, lifting up over the base.
The base was in chaos, the Zombies were still coalescing out of the trees, and the town of Dover beyond the front gate. The two breaches in either side of the base choked with the Dead as they tumbled after any survivors. They saw flashes of gunfire between buildings, and saw huddles of Zombies feasting on the people left behind. Martin flicked on a spotlight and maneuvered the helicopter around, looking for Jez, but they couldn’t find him. For long seconds they searched, in stunned silence, as the scene unfolded below.
Suddenly, Martin felt bullets hit the side of the helicopter as two soldiers, who were trapped on the roof of one of the far garages, took potshots at them.
“We are gonna have to go!” He shouted.
“OK.” Kelly said, quietly.
Martin took the helicopter up and away, over the Fort and the gap in the fence beyond. None of the civilians’ vehicles were left in the Parade Ground and Martin followed the road beyond for a minute. Ahead, they saw the lights of the convoy, and flew low over it as it moved on. The heavy seven and a half tonner in the lead knocking over the few Zombies in its path, just as Martin had laid out. He took the helicopter low so they could see the occupants. Mark, the grey haired hippy they met when they had first arrived, waved to them and a chorus of horns followed them as they rose and headed North.
They flew for a while in comfortable silence, surveying the ruins of Great Britain below. Everywhere they looked the dark forms of the dead wandered with impunity, dark silhouettes formed from the early morning slate grey sky, like iron filings standing with magnetism on a board. Occasionally, they saw signs on the tops of buildings and factories, from survivors asking for help but in every case they saw swarms of the dead, like ants over the landscape’s corpse, picking over the ruins. Motorways became graveyards, houses became tombs, where the restless dead had changed the landscape to a uniformity of decay and destruction at the worlds end. It was a static scene of unending stillness, lent change only through the great fires that burned through the heart of a moribund civilisation.
Eventually Kelly looked over at Martin.
“I don’t want you to tell me what you did to Sachs.” She said.
“OK.” He replied, without looking back.
“Never.” She emphasised.
“It was the big dark eyed bastard that did this to me. Did you kill him?” She asked, touching the bruise on her face tenderly.
“No I didn’t, but he’s dead by now.” Martin replied, coldly.
She seemed satisfied with the answer and stared towards the lightening sky.
“Where are we gonna go?” She asked.
“North. Ever been to Scotland?”
“No. Never. I’ve never been out of London.”
“Its beautiful this time of year. Lots of small Islands off the West Coast. I thought we’d try that.”
“Lets not go to any Army bases. Yeah?”
“Do you think there will be anyone left?”
Martin thought about it for a moment, before he realised that it was true. No man was an island, no matter how much you tried to cut yourself off from humanity. The way he had lived his life so far relied on society around him to punctuate his solitude, without that, there was nothing to live for, and ultimately the way humanity had thrived and become the dominant species on the planet was by striving together for food, or warmth, or safety. Now there was Kelly, and he realised that he was a social animal, just the same as everyone else.
“I hope so Kelly, I hope so.” He replied, mournfully. He looked around at her with a smile. She smiled back warmly, and they pressed on as the sky ran through shades of slate grey and deep blue above them in the pre-dawn light. Great columns of smoke still rose from the ruins of London to their left as the helicopter took its lonely path North along the coastline.
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.