Tag Archives: Short Zombie Story

The Need To Know – A Short Story Set In A Post-apocalyptic World

31 Oct

It’s taken me almost ten years to reach this point, but soon I’ll have the answer to the question which has been eating away at me ever since the farm house was over-run. That was the last time I’d seen him, and I needed to know whether he, like me, was somehow still alive, even after all this time. I crave for certainty; I yearn for the knowledge of what happened to him; I need to know one way or the other. I know this is something few people ever get now the world has changed, but I know something they don’t. I know that if he’s still alive, he’ll be here on this beach today at sunset, just as he promised he would if we ever got split up. If I find him waiting for me there, we’ll finally be re-united, if only for a brief moment before it’s all over; and if I don’t, I’ll know for sure he’s dead. Then, at last, I can die knowing he too is gone. Well, I won’t actually die, but I’ll stop being me, and that will mean I’m as good as dead.


We met at university, where he was doing an engineering degree, and I was studying English literature. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. We were united by a common sense of humour, indie music, and a liking for original series Star Trek. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was close enough to make no difference, and for the next eight years we spent barely more than the occasional day apart. Even when the outbreak started, our first instinct wasn’t to flee, but rather to find each other.

I think this is what made it so difficult when we finally got separated. We were holed up in a remote farm house which overlooked Loch Ness, trying to work out what we should do next. We figured it was safe enough there for the time being, but we still had to be constantly on our guard because even there the occasional infected turned up. Then, one evening, we were over-run. It happened almost without warning, and there was no time for me to find John before I had to turn and flee into the night. All I could do was hope that he had made it out too, and that we’d find each other again.

Those first few days apart were gut-wrenchingly difficult, not knowing whether he was alive or dead, or perhaps worse, but there was little time to dwell on it. Instead, I spent my time running from the infected which seemed to dog my every step. The only thing which kept me going was the knowledge that I had a way to find out what had happened to him. Well, perhaps not exactly what had happened, but at least whether he was still alive or not. You see, we’d made plans for what we would do if we ever became separated. Rather than wandering around aimlessly searching for each other, we were both to head for a certain beach on the west coast. It was remote, but this meant there would be little chance of there being large numbers of infected there so it would be relatively safe. Yet, try as I might, I couldn’t get far enough ahead of the infected that were pursuing me to be able to start making my way west. Instead, I was forced further and further north, and with each passing day, I found myself wondering if John was already there, waiting for me, and the thought started to gnaw at me. I longed to go there, to find out once and for all, but the infected just wouldn’t let me.

Eventually, I found a place of safety where I could get time to think. It was right up at the northern tip of Scotland and was the last toe-hold of the remnants of the army units which had been sent in to try to contain the outbreak when it had first started. Even from the start, it had been obvious to these men and women that the disease wasn’t something they could hold back, but they fought it none-the-less. Now, as the infected started to mass around their defences, the last few hundred of them were preparing to evacuate in the hope of finding somewhere safer. They knew Britain was lost and they knew their only hope of survival was to get out. I, however, wanted to stay; I needed to stay; I needed to find out whether John was still alive and waiting for me on that remote beach, but again the infected gave me no choice and the only way I could keep myself alive was to leave with the soldiers in the last of the helicopters.

We made the short hop to Norway, but found things were little better there so we pressed on eastward into Russia. We went first to Murmansk, then Omsk, then just north into the Siberian wilderness until we ran out of fuel. Yet, still the infected found us, and we had to keep moving. All the time, I was wondering whether John was waiting for me or not. It wasn’t the fact that I might have lost him forever which was eating away at me, but rather the fact that I didn’t know for certain and yet there was a way for me to find out.

Eventually, I realised this uncertainty would drive me mad if I didn’t do something about it, and that was when I set off. I felt my body change almost immediately. Instead of running from the infected, I was running towards something; it gave me strength and my life purpose. I knew the chances of me making it all the way back were minimal, and that even if I did, I might not find him there, but I would know what that would mean, and I’d finally be able to move on.

That was when I realised our plan was both my saving grace and an albatross around my neck. You see, we’d arranged that if we didn’t make it there immediately after we’d become separated, then he’d be on that beach at sunset on the longest day of the year, every year, without fail, as long as he was still alive. This meant I was continually left wondering whether he might be there waiting for me on that day of each year which past. Yet, even though it tormented me almost constantly, it also gave me hope, and more importantly, it gave me something to live for. That kept me going, even on the darkest days, and there were so many of them in the world of the infected that I quickly lost count.


I can feel myself flagging as I drag my feet through the sand. It’s only a couple of hundred more yards, but it’s taking every ounce of what little strength I have left to keep going. Under the sleeve of my jacket, I can feel the bite I got this morning burning as if it’s on fire. It might just be my imagination, but I swear I can feel the virus rushing through my veins, infecting every part of my body, starting to take it over. Yet, my body’s fighting back, trying to halt the unstoppable tide or at least slow the inevitable down long enough for me to find out if he’s there or not, to get the closure I so desperately yearn for.

I curse myself again for being so stupid. After all these years and all the miles I’d travelled, I’d let my guard down. I hadn’t seen an infected in days and I figured that there probably wasn’t any around here, not somewhere so remote and not after all this time. There had been a small wooden shack just above the southern end of the beach which looked so decayed that the next gust of wind might send it crashing to the ground. Its door swung gently on hinges that were threatening to break free at any moment. Still, I wondered if it might give me some shelter while I waited for sunset. I should have been more cautious, but I was so tired and so near the end, and just I wasn’t thinking straight.

I’d barely touched the door before the infected shot out of the darkness within. It was so emaciated that I couldn’t tell if it had once been a man or a woman, and while the anger still burned in its eyes, its body was weak and wasted. That didn’t stop it from knocking me to the ground and biting the arm which I instinctively threw up to protect my face. If I’d still been wearing the old motorcycle jacket I’d picked up in somewhere during my travels, it wouldn’t have mattered because its teeth couldn’t have punctured the thick leather, but I’d taken it off a few hours before so I could feel the warmth of the mid-summer sun on my skin. I can’t believe I was so stupid.

I managed to struggle free and crush the side of its skull with the heavy club I used as a walking stick. Once it stopped moving, I stood there staring at it, trying to work out whether it could have once been John. Its features were sunken, and its skin sallow, making it hard to tell. Given the shape it was in I doubted it would have survived much longer even if I hadn’t killed it. I wondered how it had survived so long all the way out here with no one to feed on. Maybe the rumours were true and the infected would eat other animals if they really had to to stay alive, or maybe this one had only turned quite recently. That got me back to wondering whether it had once been John. Using the toe of my boot, I turned it onto its back and was relieved to see it lacked the distinctive Pictish Beast tattoo John had had done when he was drunk at music festival the summer before he started university. Yet, there was a hint of sadness too.

I understood why I felt relieved it wasn’t him, but the sadness was harder to explain. Maybe it was because part of me wanted it to be him so that I’d finally know what had happened to him; maybe it was because I knew I didn’t have much time left and I feared that I was never going to find out before I turned. I looked down at the bite on arm. It wasn’t deep, but it had broken the skin and there was a trickle of blood running towards my hand. Even though I knew it was pointless, I raced down to the sea and scrubbed the wound with the salty water. It stung like crazy, but it did little more than distract me from what would be happening inside me. I’d seen numerous people turn over the years and it was never the same twice. Some changed pretty much instantly, almost as if just the knowledge they’d been bitten was enough to make them start acting like the infected; others took hours, as if their bodies were somehow able to slow the infection down. Not knowing how long I would have, I pulled on my jacket and set off along the beach, yet almost immediately I could feel the virus starting to act.


The sun’s starting to go down, and I’m almost at the far end of the beach. I can barely keep moving, but I know I must go on. I must find out if he’s alive or not before I turn. I hear a shout and look up. For a moment, I can’t quite believe what I’m seeing, but then I realise it really is him. He’s thinner and weather-beaten, but it’s definitely him. I feel a smile spread across my face and I try to run to him, but I don’t have the energy left in my legs and I fall forward onto the sand. I lie there for a moment, scared to look up again in case it turns out that I’d only imagined seeing him there; then I feel a shadow fall across me, and I turn my head to see him standing over me, holding out his hand. My heart leaps. I take his outstretched hand and pull myself to my feet. For a moment, we just stare at each other, then he throws his arms around me and I do the same to him. We hug for what seems like forever. As we do, I feel his shoulders heaving up and down, and I realise he’s crying. This sets me off too and we just stand there holding each other, the tears streaming down our faces.

After a while, we stop hugging quite so tightly and slip down onto the sand. We still hold each other as I tell him all that has happened to me since the farm house was over-run all those years before. I tell him about how I knew that if he were alive, he’d be here waiting for me, and how this had kept me going all these years. He, in his turn, tells me about the island where he’s been living, about the cottage he’s built, about how he never gave up hope that one day we might find each other again. He sounds so happy and I want that happiness to last forever, but I know it can’t. I know I need to tell him about the bite, about the infection which I can feel taking over my body. I start crying again, this time not from joy but from sadness and pain. He stops speaking and he stares down at me with a confused look on his face, and I know I need to explain.

I wipe my face, ‘I can’t go with you …’ I can’t bring myself to say the next words I need to say and my voice simply fades out.

‘Don’t be stupid.’ He strokes my hair like he always used to. ‘Of course you can. You’ve made it all this way. Finally, we’re back together again. It’s completely safe, I promise you. I haven’t seen an infected on the island in the whole time I’ve been there. It’s got to be one of the safest places in the world …’

I caress the side of his face and I notice my hand is shaking. He must have noticed it too because he stops speaking again.

‘No. I can’t.’ My voice sounds odd, almost distant and he pulls away from me.


‘Because of this.‘ I pull back the sleeve of my jacket, revealing the ragged red wound. The teeth marks clearly visible against my pale skin. I can seen from the look of horror on his face that he knows what it means. For a moment I think he might run away, but instead he holds me tight, ‘When did that happen?’

‘This morning. I was surprised by one of them. I got it, but not before it got me.’

He says nothing, but I can see the heartbreak in his eyes. I know it will only hurt him further, but I need to ask him something. ‘John, I want you to do something for me …’

Again, I can’t seem to get the words out, but he seems to know what it is even before I ask. He kisses me and whispers in my ear, ‘Yes. When it’s time, I’ll do it. I promise. But it’s not time yet, is it?’

‘No, but it will be soon. I can feel the virus burning through my body. I’ve been fighting it all day just so I could get here. Just so I’d know for sure if you were still alive or not before I went.’ I pause for a moment, leaning my head on his shoulder and staring out to where the last of the sun is just dipping below the horizon. I know I don’t have long left, maybe just seconds, yet for the first time in years I’m free of that gnawing thought which kept driving me onwards: I know what happened to the only man I ever truly loved. I’m just happy that he’s alive, and that he seems to have found a way of not just surviving, but living in the world of the infected. His island home sounds idyllic and I wish I could live there with him, but I can’t. A wave of sadness washes over me and I start to cry again. I fight back the tears, ‘I’m glad I finally found you again, that I’ll get to say goodbye to you this time, that I got to hold you one last time, that …’

I feel my head slip from his shoulder, and even though I know I’m falling, I can’t seem to do anything about it. I lie there, feeling the warm sand against my face, my eyes taking in the yellows and reds of the sunset. It starts to fade as the virus finally wins, yet the last thought which runs through my head is that I can die happy because I finally got to find out what happened to him. I just wish it didn’t have to end this way. I just wish it wasn’t John who was going to have to kill me before I turned into one of them.


Author’s Note: This is the second version of the story titled Rendezvous which I posted last week. Rendezvous tells the story of a couple who become separated during a zombie apocalypse. It focusses on John’s hope that he would find his girlfriend, Sam, again. In contrast, The Need To Know tells the same story from Sam’s point of view and focusses not on hope, but on another primeval human desire – the need for closure, to know what happened to those you love after the world falls apart. Between them, these two stories explore how events like natural disasters and war not only kill people, but tear them apart, and this can cause psychological scars which are as deep and painful as any physical ones.

A PDF of this story can be downloaded from here.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Rendezvous – A Short Story Set In A Post-apocalyptic World

30 Oct

This is the tenth time I’ve sat on this beach and waited for her. The first time was only a month after we got split up, the last was exactly three hundred and sixty five days ago. The small wooden boat I used to get here is pulled up onto the sand, its motor tilted up and sticking out behind. While I haven’t seen any infected this time round, the boat’s presence is the only thing that makes me feel safe on the mainland. The beach here is almost a mile long and its about seventy feet between the water line and the dunes at the back; and if any infected appear I know I can get the boat back into the water and away from the shore before even the fastest of them can reach me. The chances of any of them turning up somewhere quite so remote is small, but it’s not zero, and I know from experience that I need to keep my wits about me whenever I’m here.


We’d been on opposite sides of the city when the outbreak started, but somehow we’d still managed to find each other and get out before the military started dropping their bombs in a vain attempt to stop the infection spreading to the rest of the country. Needless to say, it didn’t work; if anything it made things worse. We spent the first couple of weeks almost constantly running from one hiding place to another before we found ourselves at a remote farm house set into the hills above Loch Ness. We weren’t the only ones to find our way there and gradually we grew into a loose community, each taking turns to do whatever needed to be done, including standing guard and taking out any infected which turned up.

At first they only did so in their ones and twos, and we could handle them, but gradually their numbers increased until one night we were over-run. Sam wasn’t in the same room as me when it happened, and in the scramble to get out alive I couldn’t find her before I finally had to flee into the night, hoping against hope that I didn’t run into any of the infected. As the darkness enveloped me, I heard screams echoing through the building, knowing it meant not everyone had got as lucky as I had. By then, it was too late to do anything other than keep on running and I just had to hope she’d also gotten out alive.

In the first few days after I lost her, the only thing that kept me going was the fact we’d made plans in case just such a thing were ever to happen. It was the first night after we’d reached the farm house, and we were discussing whether we would be safe there or not. I figured that while it would do for the time being, it was too near heavily populated areas, like Inverness, to be safe in the long term. That led us to start working out escape routes and plan what we’d do if it happened. This was when we realised we needed a rendezvous point in case we ever got split up.

Wracking my brains for somewhere suitable, I eventually settled on a beach on the west coast I’d known in my childhood. It could be reached by both land and sea, and was large enough and open enough that anyone waiting there couldn’t get ambushed by the infected, or, indeed, other survivors. It was also remote enough that it was likely there’d be few infected there, making it relatively safe. I told her that if we ever got separated, I’d do my best to find her, but if I didn’t, we’d meet on that beach. If she didn’t make it there in the first few months, and I had to move on, I’d be there every year at sunset on the summer solstice, waiting for her and never giving up hope.

When the sun rose the morning after the farmhouse was over-run, I tried to circle back, but there were infected everywhere and there was no way I could get close enough to see if she might be trapped inside. For the next few days, I traipsed back and forth across the hills, trying to find anyone else who might have made it out, but I found no one. After a week, I figured that even if she had gotten out alive, she’d be long gone and would probably be heading for the rendezvous point so I headed that way myself. I finally arrived after a week of dodging groups of infected, half expecting her to be there waiting for me, but I was disappointed to find she wasn’t. I set up a small camp nestled into the dunes, and waited, but she never came.

By autumn, I realised I couldn’t remain there forever, fighting off the infected which turned up every now and then, and I’d have to move on. That’s when I came up with my plan: out in the bay was an island which I knew was uninhabited and so would be free of infected. I also knew it could easily fulfil all the needs of one man as it had once been home to a small, but thriving community. The people had been cleared off during the Second World War so it could be used for testing biological weapons, giving it the local nickname of Anthrax Island, but now, some sixty years later, the island was almost completely uncontaminated and as long as I didn’t stray into the wrong areas it would be much safer there than being on the mainland where the infected now roamed. Setting up a base there would also allow me to stay close to the rendezvous point in case she ever turned up.

I scavenged around and eventually found a small wooden boat with an outboard engine anchored off a cluster of low stone houses. The community seemed deserted, and there was no one to object when I swam out to it and started the motor. I brought it back to shore and rummaged through the houses, finding a pistol and some bullets, as well as food and various tools which might come in handy. I loaded them into the boat and took off towards the island. I took a couple of days to carefully check it out, and once I’d decided it really was infected-free and would make a good home, I headed back to the beach. I set up a sign telling her where I’d gone and also telling her if she started a signal fire on the beach, I’d be able to see the smoke and would come and get her, but no matter how often I checked, I never saw anything to suggest she had arrived and was waiting for me.

The next year, on the longest day, I returned to the beach for the first time and waited, my heart filled with hope and trepidation. To keep myself occupied, I repainted the sign, but I should’ve known better. On hearing a noise, I looked up and saw an infected running towards me at full speed. I only just had enough time to pull out my pistol and shoot it before it reach me. Even then, it took three shots to bring it down and it was only a foot away from me when it finally stopped moving. Glancing round, I saw more infected off in the distance, racing towards me, and I figured they’d been attracted by the sound of the shots. I quickly scrambled into the boat and pushed it away from the shore before they got close enough to cause me problems. I waited until long after the sun went down before finally heading back to the safety of the island, weighed down by the sense of loneliness and loss – I felt as if I’d lost her all over again.

And so it was as each year passed. I’d return to the beach to wait for her on the longest day of the year, with hope in my heart that this would be the year she’d finally turn up, and each time I’d return alone, the scar left by her loss opened up once again and feeling as painful and raw as the night we’d first become separated.


Off in the distance, a movement catches my eye. I can’t work out what it is at first, even with the binoculars, but something’s coming this way through the gathering darkness. After a few minutes, I work out it’s definitely a figure, but I can’t yet tell whether it’s her or not. I can, however, tell by the way they’re walking that they’re not infected. The infected either race towards you or just shuffle around slowly. They certainly don’t trudge, and this figure is definitely trudging. A sense of joy starts to grow in my heart, but I do my best not to let it get too out of hand in case it’s not her. I think about running towards her, but I don’t want to get too far from the boat, just in case we need to make a sharp exit. I catch myself, already thinking of us as we again when I didn’t yet know if it was her or not. A minute after that and the figure’s close enough for me to see that it’s definitely a woman. She’s the right height; a bit thinner than she was when I last saw her, but then again so am I. I wave and shout. She looks up, as if seeing me for the first time, and I recognise her face. It’s aged a lifetime, but it’s definitely her. I can see she recognises me too, and a smile spreads across her face. She tries to run towards me but she stumbles and falls onto the sand. I go to her and help her up. We hug each other like we’re never going to let each other go. Suddenly, I realise I’m crying as the waves of loneliness which I’ve kept bottled up for so long finally crash over me, but now I’ll be alone no more.

We sit on the sand, holding each other, while she tells me what happened to her. She’d gotten out of the farm house, but the infected had forced her to keep on the move for the next few days. Eventually, she ended up at the northeast tip of Scotland where the last remnants of the troops which had tried to contain the outbreak had been making a final stand, but they were preparing to evacuate. She hadn’t intended to go with them but the infected finally over-ran the compound and she’d been forced into the last of the helicopters. Before she knew it, she was in Norway, and, shortly after, Murmansk, Omsk and finally somewhere so deep into the Siberian wilderness she didn’t even know its name. Even then there were infected there, and they’d had to be on the move almost constantly. All the time, the knowledge that I might be on a distant beach waiting for her had gnawed away at her, eating at her very soul, and finally she decided she needed to know one way or the other. Travelling through a land now ruled by infected was never quick, and without the help of modern transport options, it had taken her eight years just to get back to Britain, and a further two to travel north to the beach, driven on by the need to know whether I was somehow still alive.

I, in my turn, tell her about the island and how it’s safe there. I tell her about the cottage I’ve built out of the ruins of old buildings, about how we’d never have to set foot on the mainland again. I tell her that I’d never lost hope that we’d find each other again, and that each year I’d been here, just in case that was she year she finally turned up. I know I’m babbling, but I can’t help it; it’s been so long since I had someone else to speak to. I look down at her and realise she’s crying, but it’s not tears of joy; instead, they’re of pain and sadness.

She wipes her face, ‘I can’t go with you …’ Her voice fades out.

‘Don’t be stupid,’ I stroke her hair like I always used to, ‘Of course you can. You’ve made it all this way. Finally, we’re back together again. It’s completely safe, I promise you. I haven’t seen an infected on the island in the whole time I’ve been there. It’s got to be one of the safest places in the world …’ She caresses the side of my face and I notice her hand is shaking, and it stops me in my tracks.

‘No. I can’t.’ There’s a steely certainty in her voice and I pull away from her.


‘Because of this.‘ She pulls back the sleeve of her jacket, revealing a ragged red wound. The teeth marks clearly visible against her pale skin. I recognise it immediately and it’s as if my whole world has suddenly exploded. I hold her tight, ‘When did that happen?’

‘This morning. I was surprised by one of them. I got it, but not before it got me.’

I can’t believe it: after all this time I’d finally found her, only to lose her once more. I’m crying again, but this time with sorrow and not joy.

She looks up at me. ‘John, I want you to do something for me…’

I know what it is even before she asks. It was the only thing I could do for her now. I kiss her and whisper in her ear, ‘Yes. When it’s time, I’ll do it. I promise. But it’s not time yet, is it?’

‘No, but it will be soon. I can feel the virus burning through my body. I’ve been fighting it all day just so I could get here. Just so I’d know for sure if you were still alive or not before I went.’ She pauses for a moment, leaning her head on my shoulder and staring out to where the last of the sun is just dipping below the horizon. ‘I’m glad I finally found you again, that I’ll get to say goodbye to you this time, that I got to hold you one last time, that …’

I feel her head slip off my shoulder and she slumps onto the sand. The time has come for me to do what I promised only seconds before. I pull out my pistol and check the bullets. There’re two rounds left and I know what I need to do. She twitches as I put the pistol to her head and turn away, the tears streaming down my face; I realise that it’s the hope of finding her again, of being reunited with her, of holding her once more that’s been keeping me going all these years, but now it’s been taken away from me in the cruellest possible way. I realise I have nothing left to live for and that I no longer want to be part of a world where such things can happen. She stirs again, this time more vigorously, and I know she’s coming back as one of them. I pull the trigger, knowing once I’ve fulfilled my final promise to her, I’ll only have one bullet left, but that’s all I’ll need.


Author’s Note: This is one of a series of short stories I’ve written which are set in the same world as For Those In Peril On The Sea. Even amongst my usually rather dark writing in this world, this is probably one of the bleakest short stories I’ve written, but I think it explores an interesting point about life in a post-apocalyptic world: if there is no hope, would people be able to carry on? At some point, I’ll write another version of this story which tells it from Sam’s point of view, rather than John’s, which will focus not on hope, but on another primeval human desire – the need for closure, to know what happened to those you love after the world falls apart.

A PDF of this story can be downloaded from here.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Day A Zombie Came Into The Playground – A Dark Tale For Young Readers

29 Oct

‘Mrs MacKay, there’s a zombie in the playground!’

The teacher sitting at the front of the classroom didn’t even look up, let alone turn so she could see out of the windows behind her desk; she just kept scribbling away with her red pen.

Donald tried again, ‘Mrs MacKay …’

She cleared her throat. ‘I heard you the first time, Donald.’ She spoke with a dismissive and condescending tone. ‘You’re already being kept in for telling tall tales; don’t make it any worse for yourself!’

Beyond the teacher, Donald could see into the sunny school yard where a rotting figure was shambling around, chasing the children who, only moments earlier, had been enjoying the lunch break he’d lost as a punishment. He didn’t know where the zombie had come from, but he knew this was no figment of his imagination, it was definitely there now. ‘But Mrs MacKay, there really is a zombie in the playground. It’s chasing people; it’s trying to catch them and eat their brains.’

Still the teacher didn’t look up from her marking. ‘On Monday, you said you saw a werewolf, and that wasn’t true, was it?’ Her hair was tied up in a tight bun which wobbled ever so slightly as she spoke.

Remembering his mistake, Donald felt his cheeks turn a deep crimson. ‘But Miss, I wasn’t lying; when I shouted out, I really did think it was a werewolf.’

The teacher drew a large red cross at the bottom of the page she’d been reading and turned it over. ‘And what did it turn out to be?’

Donald shifted uncomfortably in his seat and mumbled, ‘It was just Mr Smith, the sports teacher.’

She turned another page. ‘And why did you think he was a werewolf?’

Donald let out a resigned sigh, ‘he’d grown a beard over the summer holidays.’ As he spoke, he watched what was happening in the playground. He knew he wasn’t wrong this time: this really was a zombie. As it continued to stagger around, Donald could see it was too slow to catch any of the kids. In fact, it was moving so slowly that the only way it was going to catch anyone was if they didn’t see it coming until it was too late.

The teacher closed the jotter she’d been marking and leant backwards. ‘And on Tuesday, you saw a pterodactyl swooping down into the playground, trying to snatch one of the kindergarteners from the sand pit.’

Donald kept his eyes fixed on the zombie. ‘I was sure it was a pterodactyl, I thought they were in danger; I had to say something.’

‘And what was it really?’

Donald started to answer, but the teacher interrupted him, ‘Look at me when you’re talking to me.’

Donald shifted his gaze towards the teacher’s narrow, pointy face which always looked like she’d just sucked on a lemon. ‘A black plastic bag the wind had blown into the air.’ As soon as he’d answered, his eyes shot back towards zombie as it stumbled around the now empty school yard, all the children having fled to safety.

‘And remind me what you thought you saw on Wednesday?’ There was a scraping noise as the teacher pushed her chair away from the desk and stood up. She paced back and forth, never taking her eyes off Donald as she waited for him to answer. The sudden movement caught the zombie’s attention and he started to lumber towards the windows, his arms reaching out in front of him.

Donald could barely tear his eyes away from the approaching monster. ‘I saw a mummy.’

‘No, you saw Miss Walker, the maths teacher; she’d had a car accident and had a bandage round her head. I’m telling you, Donald, you’ve got to stop letting your imagination run away with itself. It’ll only get you into trouble.’

Mrs Mackay rested her bony bottom on the window sill, keeping her back to the yard. Behind her, the zombie moved ever nearer. Donald could now make out its dull lifeless eyes, its sallow, sunken cheeks, the way its skin was peeling away from its left forearms. ‘But Mrs MacKay, I’m not making it up and I’m not mistaken this time; there really is a zombie in the playground!’

She folded her arms, a stern look on her face. ‘Just like you were sure there were aliens trying to land on the playing fields yesterday?’

The zombie was getting closer and closer with each faltering step, and Donald was becoming more and more agitated at his teacher’s refusal to believe him. ‘That’s different, I just got confused. I really thought it was aliens.’

‘Yes, I’m sure you did, yet it was only a helicopter flying over the school to take some pictures for the local newspaper. And what about the vampire you saw this morning? The one you were shouting about and disrupting everyone else in the class in the middle of a very important test; remember? The reason you’re in this room right now rather than getting to play outside with your friends. What did that turn out to be?’

‘The headmaster.’ Donald knew he’d been wrong, but he tried to defend his actions. ‘But the way his gown was blowing in the wind, he looked like a vampire.’

The zombie was now only a few feet from Mrs Mackay, its rotting fingers almost touching the thin pane of glass that was all that separated the classroom from the school yard. Its head loomed over the teacher’s shoulder, its jaws open, revealing blackened and blood-stained teeth.

‘And now, you’re saying there’s a zombie in the playground?’ The teacher leaned back against the window, shaking her head and tutting loudly. ‘Tell me, why should I believe you, this time?’

‘Because you have to, Miss, it’ll get you if you don’t. I know I was wrong about the werewolf, and the pterodactyl, and the mummy, and about the aliens landing on the playing fields, and the vampire, but I’m right about the zombie. Just turn round and you’ll see for yourself!’

Mrs MacKay narrowed her beady little eyes and stared at Donald over the top of her half-moon glasses. ‘Have you ever heard of the story about the boy who cried wolf?’

‘Yes, Miss, but that’s different. I wasn’t doing it for fun, I really did think the monsters were there.’ Donald sprang to his feet, unable to see why his teacher couldn’t understand the difference. ‘I really did think we were in danger. All I was trying to do was to warn everyone, to keep them safe.’

‘You know, I almost believe you, but when are you going to grow up and realise that monsters don’t exist? The dinosaurs died out millions of years ago, didn’t they? So there can’t be pterodactyls flying around now, can there?’ She’d uncrossed her arms and was now leaning forward, waggling a finger tipped with a claw-like nail at Donald. ‘You need not get it into your head, there’s no such thing as werewolves, or vampires, or aliens.’ Misses MacKay drew her skinny frame up to its full five foot eleven inches, trying to appear as intimidating as possible. ‘And there’s certainly no such thing as zombies!’

No sooner were the words out of her mouth than the zombie smashed through the glass and dragged her, kicking and screaming, from the classroom. Donald had done all he could to warn her, and he couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t his fault that she was now zombie food. All she needed to do was give him the benefit of the doubt this time rather than assuming he must be lying because he’d got things wrong before. Teachers were always doing that, judging children from their past mistakes, not realising that they could change. After this morning, Donald had sworn to himself that he wouldn’t shout out again, not unless he was sure he was right. It just so happened that a real monster had turned up a few hours later and she had assumed that, yet again, he was seeing things that weren’t really there. Well, she was the one who’d ended up dead because of it and Donald felt she only had herself to blame.

At that moment, the classroom door flew open. There stood the headmaster, his black gown billowing out behind him, again bearing a striking resemblance to the vampire in the film Donald had watched the night before when he should have been tucked up in bed.

‘What’s all this racket?’ The headmaster spotted the broken glass littering the floor and turned towards where Donald was still standing in the middle of the room. ‘Did you break that window, boy?’

‘It wasn’t me, Sir, I didn’t do it.’ Donald saw the headmaster roll his eyes in response as he strode over to shattered window. Glass crunched under his size twelve shoes as he turned to face Donald, and his voice boomed out accusingly. ‘But there’s no one else here, boy, it must have been you!’

Behind the headmaster, Donald saw the zombie rise up, his teacher’s blood dripping from its face. He smiled at the headmaster, knowing what was going to happen next if the headmaster didn’t believe what he was about to say and thinking that it would serve him right.

‘No, Sir, it was the zombie in the playground …’


This is my first attempt at writing something in the zombie genre specifically aimed at children (late primary school age perhaps? or maybe early secondary school? I’m not really too sure). It’s a long time since I was a child, so I’m not too sure how well it would actually go down with younger readers these days, but it’s certainly the type of story I would have liked to read as a kid.

If you happen to be able to get your hands on a young reader or two who might be interested in this dark little tale, I’d be keen to get some feedback on what they think of it (after all, children are the best judges of what writing for children should be like). If you want a copy you can easily print out (or indeed put on an eReader), you can download a PDF of the story from here. I’m aware that this story probably has a particularly British slant (do school kids in other countries write in jotters?), but hopefully most of it is fairly cross-cultural.

In case there is anyone out there wondering about the title, it seems that one of the strongest memories almost every British kid has of being in primary school is the day a dog wandered into the playground, and the fuss it caused (this might just be a British thing, but then again, maybe it’s not). My own memories of an event like this was, indeed, the starting point for this story, and what might happen if it had been a zombie rather than just a stray dog.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Awakening – A Short Story About One Man’s Fight Against A Zombie Disease

28 Oct

‘John, can you hear me? John?’

I feel someone rub a knuckle against my sternum. My eyes are heavy, but somehow I pull them open. I try to turn my head, but I can’t; instead I move my eyes, even though it hurts to do so. A shadow leans over me and I feel liquid dropping first onto one eyeball then the other. I blink to clear my eyes and find I can now move them without the pain; as things come into focus, I’m surprised to find I’m lying on a bed. No, not just lying on it, I’m strapped to it and there’s something covering my mouth. Standing over me is a man in a white coat holding an empty syringe; next to him is a young woman in blue hospital scrubs holding an eye dropper and a small bottle of clear liquid. Seeing them, I pull at my restraints, not knowing what’s happening and desperately trying to get away.

The man in the white coat smiles reassuringly, ‘John, it’s okay, your safe. You’re in hospital; I’m a doctor. Do you remember why you’re here?’

I think back, but there’s nothing. Well, not nothing, there are memories of my childhood, of going to university, of getting married, of having children, but then things just seem to peter out. I remember something about getting ill, or was it having an accident? I fight to bring the memory to the front of my mind, feeling like I’m trying to drag my brain through molasses just to recall this single event. No, it wasn’t an accident, I’d been attacked by something; or was it someone?

The man in the white coat steps to the side, revealing a tall, scared-looking woman, ‘John, do you recognise who this is?’

I nod, or at least I try to, but I can only move my head few millimetres because of the way it’s strapped down.

‘Good, that means it’s worked, we’ve got you back; at least for the time being.’ The man gives a signal and unseen people remove the restraints and the gag that had been strapped across my mouth. I sit up but as I do so, my wrists grazing against the side of the bed sending a searing pain shooting through my body. I glance down and see my forearms are raw and bleeding. The man waves to someone and the young woman in hospital scrubs scurries forward to dress on my wounds.

I turn my attention back to the woman beside the man in white. I smile at her, ‘Gabrielle?’

She steps forward, a tear running down her cheek and I notice there’s something different about her. Her once beautiful hair hangs limply and is flecked with grey; her face is drawn and gaunt, with worry lines etched across her forehead. I can’t understand how she’s changed so much in so little time. Only yesterday, her eyes sparkled with happiness but now there’s only pain and despair in them. can’t help but be struck at how much older she suddenly looks than her thirty-five years. I know that’s how old she is because it was her birthday yesterday, wasn’t it? We’d gone out for a meal, but something happened, didn’t it? But what? My mind’s starting to connect the random thoughts more freely, but still I’m confused. ‘Gabrielle? What happened to you?’

‘Life happened, just like it happened to you.’

‘What d’you mean?’

‘Look.’ She holds out a mirror and I stare at the grizzled face which stares back. Not believing what I’m seeing, I touch the side of my face, feeling the rough stubble that’s more white than it’s usual auburn. I struggle to understand what’s going on. ‘How long have I been here?’

The doctor examines his chart but it’s Gabrielle that answers. ‘Ten years. Ten years today. That was when you got attacked; when you got infected.’

I scowl, trying to remember, but failing. ‘And I’ve been in a coma all this time?

‘No, John, not a coma. You’ve been … You’re a …’ She struggles to find the words.

The doctor steps forward, ‘Maybe I can explain better. I’m Dr Walker, but you can call me Ben if you want.’

I shake the hand he’s holding out, feeling the weakness in my arms as I do so. He doesn’t seem to notice and carries on. ‘You won’t remember it, but there was an outbreak, a disease; no one really knows what it was or where it came from, just that it flared up briefly and then disappeared. This disease, it took over people’s brains and made them attack anyone who was nearby. That’s how the disease spread, through infected people biting others. At first people thought it was rabies, but there was no trace of the rabies virus and rabies doesn’t spread quite as fast as this disease did. The government managed to get it under control, but most of the people who were infected had to be shot because they were too dangerous to get close enough to restrain, but you were lucky, your wife,’ the doctor smiles at Gabrielle, ‘managed to get you here before you started showing too many symptoms and we were able to restrain you.’

I’m still confused. ‘But I don’t remember anything.’

The doctor cleared his throat. ‘That’s because the disease shut down the conscious part of your brain, but left the basal areas unaffected. You could move and sense the world, but you weren’t consciously aware any more; you weren’t in control of what you were doing. It made you incredibly dangerous, you’d attack anyone who came near, trying to bite and infect them.’

‘Are you saying I was like … like a …’ I try to think of what I’m meaning, and then the world comes to me. ‘A zombie?’

Gabrielle looks away and the doctor shifts uncomfortably. ‘Yes. In fact, that’s exactly what we call people like you.’

‘But I’m still alive, I’m not really a zombie.’ Then something the doctor had just said wormed its way into my consciousness, ‘People like me? There are other people who have this disease too?’

‘Yes. There are thirty-eight of you in all, spread throughout the hospitals in the city. All kept in isolation, in rooms just like this, so you can’t infect anyone else.’

I struggle to comprehend what’s happened to me. ‘But I’m cured now?’

Again the doctor shifts uncomfortably. ‘No, not cured; just temporarily relieved from the worst effects of the disease, allowing you to regain control of you body and become conscious again.’

A wave of fear washes over me. ‘For how long?’

The doctor glances at his watch. ‘Thirty minutes; maybe forty at the most. I don’t know how long the drugs will last this time. It’s a new one you see, never been tried before.’

‘This time?’

‘Yes. We’ve brought you back before.’

I wrack my brain for memories. ‘But I don’t remember.’

‘I’m not surprised. It takes time to lay down memories and we’ve never managed to bring you back long enough for that to happen.’

‘Why do the drugs stop working?’

‘We don’t know, it seems to be that the disease fights back and block off the receptors which the drugs stimulate. That’s why each drug only works once in each person.’

I try to take this all in, but I’m struggling. There is one question which springs to mind though. ‘What will happen when the drug you used this time wears off? Will I go back to being a zombie again?’

The doctor stares down at his feet. ‘Yes.’

I’m angry now. ‘So why did you bring me back if it’s not going to last?’

Gabrielle sits down beside me and hugs me. I remember her scent and the feel of her skin against mine. ‘Because I asked him to, because I wanted to see you, the real you, one last time.’ I feel her shake and realise she’s crying. ‘Because I wanted to say good-bye.’

I try to pull away, but she’s holding me too tightly. ‘I can’t go on like this, seeing you strapped down, struggling against the restraints. I need to move on with my life.’

I finally break free. ‘But Gabrielle, you can’t leave me, not now, not when I’m like this!’

This is the only woman I’ve ever loved and I thought she loved me too. I can’t believe she’s abandoning me, not when I need her most.

She holds my hand. ‘I’m not leaving you, John, you left me the moment you got infected. It wasn’t your fault, but I can’t keep doing this. In ten years, I’ve only been able to spend thirty minutes with you here; quarter of an hour there: maybe half a day in all. I can’t go on like this, with just brief snatches of the real you now and then; the rest of the time you’re as good as dead.’

Before I can say anything I notice my hand is shaking. At first I think it’s because I’m upset, but then I realise it seems to be doing it on its own.

The doctor sees me staring at it, and checks his watch. ‘Only ten minutes. Damn, I thought we’d get more time with this one.’

Gabrielle kisses me on the cheek and stands up.

‘Gabrielle? Where are you going?’

She bows her head and turns away from me. ‘I’m leaving. I don’t want to watch as I lose you all over again.’

‘But Gabrielle …’

‘No, John, not this time. This will be the last time. I’ve told them not to give you any more drugs. I won’t bring you back again.’

Anger rises inside of me; not normal anger, but something more consuming. ‘But why?’

At the door she stops and turns round to face me. ‘Because it’s unfair to you, John. I keep bringing you back so I can see you, spend time with you, hold you once more, whenever a new drug becomes available no matter how much it costs, but I realise now I’m being selfish; I’ve only been thinking about what I want, not what’s best for you. You don’t remember the times I’ve brought you back before; the anger you feel, the pain as the disease takes over again, the fear in your eyes as you know once more that you’re disappearing again. I can’t keep doing that to you just so I get to spend a few more minutes with you. I love you too much to put you through all that again just because I’d give anything to have you back the way you were, even if it’s only for the briefest of moments.‘

I feel my arm jolt and an urge rushes over me. Suddenly I want nothing more than to tear her throat out. I feel a hunger build inside me. I try to speak, but words don’t come out; instead there’s just a low guttural groan, sounding more animal than human. My eye sight starts to blur around the edges and the world starts to close in around me. I fight as hands from unseen orderlies grab me and roughly push me back onto the bed. I feel the restraints being attached again, but I don’t feel pain as they chaff against my wounds, turning the fresh dressings red as blood oozes from them. I shake my head violently, trying to stop them putting the gag over my mouth, not because I want to speak, but because I know that once it’s on I won’t be able to bite them, and all I want to do right now is sink my teeth into someone’s flesh; anyone’s.

The last thing I hear is Gabrielle saying goodbye, her voice cracking and filled with sorrow; then a door closes and everything’s slowly fading to black. In my mind, I’m frozen with fear, screaming as loud as I can into the darkness that’s engulfing me, but my body’s still moving, fighting as hard as it can against the restraints, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.


You can download a PDF of this story from here.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Creatures In The Fog – A Short Horror Story

26 Oct

The greyness swirls around me, so thick, it feels like I could reach out and grab it. It had been bright sunlight when we’d entered the forest, or maybe that should be when we were forced to flee into it, but within minutes the fog started to descend. At first, it was just the slightest tendrils of mist, snaking between the trees as we ran for our lives, but as time passed, the tendrils started to merge, forming ghostly islands that brought the visibility down to a few hundred feet. That was okay, it was still far enough to see the creatures that were pursuing us, allowing us to stay ahead of them, to stay beyond their reach, but then the misty islands began to drift together and coalesce into a fog that grew denser and denser until I could barely see my hand in front of my face.

In fog like this, running’s no longer an option: the forest floor’s littered with fallen branches, rotting trunks and gnarled roots, just waiting to trip the unsighted, twisting ankles and snapping legs; yet stopping’s out of the question, too. We can hear the creatures pounding feet as they close in on us, but we can’t make out each other, let alone tell whether the shifting shapes we can see moving amongst the fog are friend or foe. All we can do is blunder forward, hoping we’re heading away from our pursuers, and not towards them, as we grope our way, lost and disoriented, through the oppressive grey blanket which encircles and ensnares us. Voices echo through the woodland, muted by the fog, making it impossible to tell how near, or how far away, they are. You can tell the people speaking are scared, though; even the fog can’t swallow the fear with which their words are spat. Then comes the first scream: it sounds close and I can see shadows moving just beyond my limited field of view. Suddenly, it stops: the scream, I mean; it doesn’t fade out, it just ends, and that’s when I know the creatures are among us.

I search around for something I can use to defend myself, cursing the fact that the creatures had surprised as we slept. There’d been no time to prepare, not even time to grab the axe I kept under my pillow for just such an eventuality. They’d swarmed out of nowhere and over our camp in seconds, leaving us no choice, but to run or die. Now, it seemed this apparent choice had been an illusion: the real choice had been die there and then, or run and die later, enveloped by a fog so thick it seems almost unnatural; and for all I know, it is. I’d been a man of science once, but since the creatures had first appeared in my life, in all our lives, I’d been questioning everything I’d ever believed to be true.

There’s another scream, and the sound of someone struggling, fighting for their life. Unexpectedly, the fog lifts, and for a moment I can see them: a man I don’t recognise wrestling with one of the creatures, doing his best to hold it off, then another pounces on him and together they drag him to the ground. Just as the blood starts spurting from the man’s neck, the fog descends again and swallows the creatures that are now feasting on his still-writhing body.

I bend down, feeling around on the ground for something, anything I can use to defend myself. At first, I find nothing, them my hand fastens onto a stout branch, no doubt brought down in a winter storm. I don’t know how strong it is or how long it has been lying there, but it has to be better than nothing. As I straighten up, a shadowy figure races towards me through the gloom and I ready myself to swing. I strain my eyes, trying to work out if it’s one of my companions, or one of the creatures, but there’s no way I can tell: all I know is that it’s coming straight at me, fast. I watch it close: twenty feet, ten feet, eight, five, but still I can’t see what it is. In desperation, I swing, catching the figure across the side of the head. It yells as it goes down, and that’s when I know the figure is human: the creatures never make a noise, no matter what they’re doing.

I crouch down to help the man up, but as soon as I am close enough to see his face, I know there’s no point: the side of his head is shattered beyond recognition, and I can see grey, greasy flecks of brain mixing with the blood that’s seeping down his face. I’m revulsed and I feel my stomach heave, but I can see more figures moving through the fog all around me, so there’s no time to reflect on it, and I force the burgeoning feeling of self-loathing, sparked by what I’ve just done, to the back of my mind. I peer through the greyness, praying for another break in the fog, but it remains as thick as ever and still I can’t make out what the figures are. I raise my makeshift weapon again, but now I’m hesitant. I don’t want to make another mistake, to accidentally kill another person when there are so few of us left. My mind races: is it better to strike out before I’m sure, and risk killing someone else? Or, the next time one comes close, should I wait until I’m certain, and risk being attacked before I can react? Neither option’s palatable, but they’re the only two which are available to me.

Another figure starts to close, but what should I do? As I adjust my grip on the branch I’m holding, I feel it slip in my sweat-soaked palms. I call out, but there’s no reply. Does that mean it’s a creature? Or is it just someone running so hard that they’ve no spare breath to reply? The silence tells me nothing. I need to make a decision, but my brain just keeps going round in circles: to risk killing, or to risk being killed? Which should I chose? The fog swirls and flows around me, around the trees, around the approaching figure, but still I can’t make out what it is: human or creature? Creature or human? It’s now only twenty feet away, what should I do? Ten feet, I shout again – Still nothing. I need to make a decision one way or the other, and I need to do it now, but I don’t want to make another mistake. Eight feet. Do something. Anything. My mind’s yelling at me, but I’m paralysed with indecision. Five feet. It’s now or never. Three feet. Aaagghhhh!

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

New Moon – A Flash Fiction Zombie Story

9 Oct

I stare out into the night, but it’s pitch black. While the sky is clear, it’s a new moon, so there’s no light to be had apart from the distance star-shine, and that’s so faint it’s of no help what-so-ever. When the moon is full, or even just a narrow crescent, you can see them as they creep towards you under cover of darkness, the light glinting off their sallow, sagging flesh, making it seem like they’re glowing from within. I know it’s just a trick of the light, but it still sends a shiver down my spine every time I see it. Even though they’re dead, it seems they still have some intelligence. They know we can see them in the daylight and they lie low, hiding in dark, damp places waiting for nightfall before they emerge. When the sun drops below the western horizon, the main sense that keeps us safe, our eyesight, fails us, and we are rendered blind as they are. This levels the playing field and makes it easier for them to catch us by surprise. The darker the night, the more actively they roam, moving amongst the trees and across the open ground, hunting us no matter how hard we try to hide, and nights when the moon is new are the worst. Those are the nights when they swarm through the inky blackness in unimaginable numbers, wearing the night like an invisibility cloak; they attack our defences, trying to overwhelm us, pushing forward, searching for a weak spot where they can break through. They attack in small groups, swiftly and silently. If the defences hold, they disappear back into the darkness to regroup before we have a chance to kill them; if the defences don’t, they make it inside. When they do, they howl with delight as they surge through, drawing more from far and wide. We know we have mere seconds to neutralise them and restore the barricades before we’re overrun, and yet we have to do it without being able to see our hands in front of our faces, let alone each other or those who are attacking us. These are the nights we dread, and yet they come, regular as clockwork, once every twenty-eight and a bit days. We don’t need to mark them off on a calendar, we can just watch the moon expand and contract as the inevitable night of pure darkness approaches yet again, knowing what is coming, knowing that each month we’ll be lucky to make it through that moonless night unharmed. Every time the new moon comes, our numbers shrink. Sometimes we lose only one or two, at other times it’s too many to count. We’re being whittled down, new moon by new moon and it seems there’s nothing we can do to stop it. How many more we will survive, I don’t know, but one thing is certain. Eventually, a new moon will come which sees the last of us wiped out, and when the sun rises the following morning, it will shine on a world where were we are gone, and all that will be left of humanity is them.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Stairwell – A Flash Fiction Zombie Story

25 Sep

There’s a noise above me, or is there? I know they’re coming up behind me, chasing me, but fear strikes deep inside me as I realise they might be ahead of me too. I look up, craning my neck, but I can’t see anything. The stairs twist and turn, and just as I can’t see those coming up from below, I can’t see if there are any in front of me. Am I running towards more danger, even as I try to escape from the danger which is following me already? I’d pause and listen, but if I do that I’m dead because those who are pursuing me will catch me and rip me limb from limb. I know this because I’ve seen then do it to others. That was when I started running, somehow ending up in the stairwell where I’d started to climb. I began on five and now I’m twenty floors up with maybe another fifteen to go. I’ve given up trying to get out. The doors which provide access at every floor only open from the other side, designed to let people out in an emergency and not let them in. This means I’m trapped on the stairs with only two options: up or down. I can hear the howls and roars of my pursuers echoing up from below, bouncing off the bare concrete walls, disorienting me, robbing me of the ability to tell which direction they’re coming from. Why on earth did I choose up? Was it some sort of innate instinct that told me up was best? Maybe it was a lingering primal urge from when we used to live in the trees that made me want to climb in order to escape. Whatever the reason, I know now that it was the wrong decision. I should have gone down. Why the hell didn’t I go down? I could have been out on the street by now. But then again, would the street be any safer? Surely they’d be out there, too? I reach yet another landing. The number on the wall says twenty-one. My lungs are screaming from the exertion, my legs aching, but I know I need to keep going. Now I’m here, I have no choice. I glance upwards. Was that a movement I saw? A flickering shadow indicating that they’re up there, too, waiting for me? Or was it just my imagination? I’m running on fear and little else. My mind’s racing, but I can’t think straight. I look backwards. From the sound coming up from below, I can tell they’re closing in on me, but I can’t tell how close they are. They don’t seem to tire, they don’t pause, even for a moment. As I slow with every step, they seem to speed up. I can’t see them, but I know they’re there; I can hear their feet pounding on the stairs. I start climbing again, no longer even knowing where I’m going or what I’m going to do once I get there. All I can concentrate on is trying to escape, on keeping them out of sight, hoping against hope they’ll finally give up, even though I know in my heart that they won’t. I hear the noise again. I can tell that it’s closer, but I still can’t tell where it’s coming from. What can I do, but keep climbing, hoping that somehow I’ll manage to escape, even if I know that I won’t? It’s either that or I give up, and there’s something embedded in my very soul that just won’t let me do that. So onwards I go, knowing I’ll keep running, keep climbing until I can go no further. With no way out of the stairwell, what else can I do?

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

ZeeTech Incorporated – A Dystopian Short Story About The Dark Side Of Corporate Power

10 Apr

‘So this is what it’s all about.’ I picked up the thin black tile which had been placed in front of me and flexed it back and forth, watching the numbers on the meter it was connected to change as I did so.

The man smiled at me. ‘It sure is.’

I watched the numbers again. It was impressive, electricity being generated with no moving parts, nothing to wear out, nothing to break. Yet there was an obvious problem. ‘But that’s hardly anything. You couldn’t even electrocute an ant with that.’

‘Ahhh yes.’ I saw a glint in the man’s eyes. ‘But it’s all about scale. That’s just a few square centimetres. Imagine how much you’d get if you had a square kilometre of the stuff.’

I did a quick mental calculation. ‘That would be enough to power an entire city.’

‘Now scale it up again to 100 square k.’ His eyes gleamed with anticipation.

I thought about it for a moment. ‘That could power the whole country!’

‘Exactly. And with no moving parts, there’d be almost no running costs once it’s all set up. We could under cut almost everyone else: solar, gas, coal, wind, nuclear; they’d all be way more expensive. We’d have a complete monopoly on power. We’d make a fortune.’

I could understand his enthusiasm, yet I could see a problem. ‘In theory, yes, but you seem to be forgetting something. To generate the electricity, you need to have something bending the tiles.’

‘I know, but we’ve got the perfect solution to that, too. We use people.’

I shifted uneasily. ‘Then you’d have to pay them. No one’s going to work for free.’

He grinned. ‘Now, that’s where you’re wrong.’ The man turned and headed for the door. ‘Come, I’ll show you.’

I followed him out into the narrow corridor and down a flight of stairs to where there was a security door with a yellow biohazard warning sticker on it. The man pulled out an ID card and swiped it through the reader. The door buzzed and he pushed it open. Seeing my hesitation he laughed. ‘Don’t worry, there’s nothing dangerous in here, not for you at any rate.’

Nervously I stepped inside and followed him as he set off once more until we came to a glass window set into the wall. He stopped in front of it and pointed inside. ‘There. That’s where we get the power. We created the technology ourselves and we own the patent. No one else can do it; just us.’

Curious, I peered into through the re-enforced glass and saw to my horror that there was an elderly man shuffling around inside. He was naked and hairless, and there was a strange green tinge to his skin. The floor was covered in the same black material I’d been shown upstairs. A digital display on the wall showed how much electricity was being generated by his movements.

I stared, aghast. ‘You can’t use old people like that!’

The man smiled at me. ‘That’s the beauty of it. He’s not just old: he’s dead!’

I recoiled. ‘But if he’s dead, how’s he still moving?’

‘A simple little microchip placed on the back of the neck, sending signals into his spinal column. Get it in the right place, and program it correctly, and you can get a body to do most simple tasks. There’s a tiny solar panel on it which gives it all the power it needs. You need to get them fresh, of course, before rigour mortis kicks in, but after that it’s pretty easy. You irradiate them to kill off all the bacteria in their body, then fill them with a special fluid which stops them rotting and which can carry oxygen to the muscles. Next, you inject this strain of algae we came up with just under their skin. It makes them look a little odd, but it lives there quite happily, generating enough oxygen and sugar from light to keep the muscles going. Humans don’t really need much when all they’re going to be doing is shuffling around.’

I was horrified, not just by what I was being shown, but also by the excited tone being used to describe it. ‘But surely it’s illegal to do that with a corpse …’

‘It used to be, then last year we got the law changed. Cost us a lot of money and favours, and it was hard to keep it quiet, but it was worth it.’ He pointed through the glass. ‘This is now an officially acceptable way to dispose of human remains. It’s called a living burial. Sounds nice doesn’t it? That’s why we chose the name. It’s just two words slipped in as an amendment, but it means we can do this to any body we want as long as we have the next of kin’s permission.’

I frowned. ‘How on earth did you get that?’

‘Well, in his case, his body was donated for research, but we’ve got others; come I’ll show you.’ With that he turned and moved further down the corridor. As he walked, he carried on talking. ‘Remember that other law which was changed last year? You know, the one that caused all those protests and riots, but that was passed anyway?’

I nodded. The Body Ownership Law was a simple enough piece of legislation, but it’s implications were mind-bending. It’s supporters claimed its intension was to provide more organs for medical transplants and research, a righteous enough aim, but it seemed overly heavy-handed. under this law, the moment you died, your body passed into state ownership. If your family had enough money, they could buy it back, but if they didn’t, then the state could do anything it wanted with it. In effect, it meant that after death, only the rich now had the right to their own bodies; for the poor it was the final degradation after a lifetime of poverty.

‘You see, we were behind that, too. We’ve got the contract for disposing of the bodies the government doesn’t, and that’s most of them. At the moment, we’re still cremating them and sending the ashes back to the families, but as we get the facilities built, ones like this one, we’re shifting over to living burials.’

He paused to swipe his card through another security door before opening it and stepping through. ‘Here, you can see for yourself.’

I followed him and gasped. I was standing on a metal gantry that lined the walls of a room which was about half the size of a football pitch. Bright lights shone down onto a sea of naked humans, each with the same strange green hue as the old man I’d seen minutes before. I could only see the small chips sticking from the necks of the nearest ones, but I presumed they’d all been fitted with them because there was a constant milling as they shuffled around, bumping into each other and off the walls.

I ran my eyes over them: Men and women, young and old, black, white, Asian. All naked, their hair removed, their skin green by the algae they’d been injected with. Each had a bar code stamped across its back. The man explained its purpose. ‘Just in case we ever needed to identify a specific individual. You know, sometimes a rich person’s body ends up here by accident, sometimes it takes a family a while to get enough money together to buy a loved one’s body back. We need to be able to return them if that happens. After all, you wouldn’t want a relative to end up here if they didn’t have to, would you?.’

I looked back at the milling people. Some were so fresh, they looked like they could be sleep-walking, but others had clearly been in the room for a long time. These were the ones with missing fingers, or even arms, snapped off when they collided with the walls or each other. Some had other wounds, too, and these oozed the thick blue liquid which had been used to replace their blood. A few had ragged and roughly sewn up incisions where organs had been removed before the bodies had been sent here for disposal, but all had the same dead, lifeless eyes and slowly nodding head, set in motion as their bodies lurched around aimlessly.

They were so densely packed that I could only catch the occasional glimpse of the black tiles, just like the one I’d held in my hands, which lined the floor and the lowest five feet of the walls. High above them, a large display showed exactly how much electricity was being generated by these re-animated corpses and it was phenomenal. My companion saw me looking at the meter. ‘It’s enough to power this entire neighbourhood!’ There was excitement in his voice. ‘This is our new vision for cemeteries for the 21st Century. Up above, we have a nice green area, with a few trees and plaques and things like that for the relatives to visit, but they won’t know that below, we have rooms like this, hundreds of them, all generating electricity which we can then sell cheaper than anyone else and still have massive profit margins. And there’s no carbon dioxide produced, that means we can say it’s green so our customers get a happy feeling from thinking their doing something good for the world.

‘Once we get a room like this up and running, there’s almost no on-going costs since we generate vastly more electricity than is needed to power the lights. We need to change the occasional bulb and of course they,’ he waved his arm in the general direction of the mass of people shuffling below us, ‘wear out eventually, but it’s easy enough to throw in some more to replace them. We don’t even need to remove the old ones because … well look.’ He pointed to where the badly-damaged corpse a teenage boy shuffled unsteadily as it was jostled by those surrounding it. After one collision too many, he fell, but none of those around him noticed; they just kept on shuffling, buffeting his body within their feet. Within minutes, the teenager’s head had become detached from the body and was being kicked around the room by the others as if they were playing a grotesque game of football. I looked back at the body: it was quickly being broken apart by the constant movement all around it. ‘That’s the beauty of the system, no matter what, they just keep on going until they fall apart, and that can take years. The whole floors on a slight slope and we can flush it out whenever it looks like things down there are getting a bit choked up with broken parts. Each time we do that, we strain out the chips so we can re-use them and all the rest is ground up and used as fertiliser in the gardens up on the surface.

‘Now we’ve proved the technology, and we’ve got all the laws we need in place and all the government contracts to supply the bodies, we’re ready to go nationwide.’ He turned to me. ‘That’s where you come in. We’re offering a small number of hand-picked investors the chance to get in on the ground floor, and that’s why we invited you here for this exclusive behind the scenes tour. We want to offer you the opportunity to invest.’

I stared out at the horrific vision for the future which ZeeTech Incorporated were trying to sell. A vision where only the rich were allowed to rest in peace after they died. The rest would be forced to work on, continuing to line the pockets of people who already had too much money while getting nothing in return. It was a modern form of slavery. but yet it wasn’t illegal because the dead have no rights. It was all being carried out behind the scenes: all the public would ever see would be the well-maintained and landscaped grounds above, they’d never be allowed in here; they’d never get to see how the bodies of their loved ones were being exploited for corporate gain. I could see the company was going to make a fortune, as long as they could keep what they were actually doing with the bodies they were contracted to dispose of hidden from the public.

I smiled and shook the man’s hand, knowing what my role in the company’s future would be as I heard a voice in my well-hidden ear piece. They’d received my transmission and they had already posted the video on the web. I knew exactly what the camera hidden in my left contact lens had captured during my tour of the facility, and now, so would everyone else.


This short story grew out of a previous post on new technologies that could help you survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Here, I first introduced the subject of ‘kinetic pavements’ and how they could be used to build a zombie power station.

It was meant to be a fun little throw away idea, but for some reason it stayed with me, and gradually developed into a much darker critique of western civilisation and how much control the rich and the corporations have over the rest of us. What, I wondered, would happen if they started seeing our bodies not as something we own, but as a commodity which they could exploit for commercial gain?

At some point, I’m going to develop this into a full length novel – something along the lines of Coma meets All The President’s Men, mixed with elements of Spares. When this will happen, I’m not too sure, but it’s an idea I keep coming back to again and again.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Waiting Up For Santa Claus: A Cautionary Tale

23 Dec

This is the first of two festive zombie stories which I’ll be posting here over the next couple of days. If you’ve been with this blog from its very early days, you may have read this one when I originally posted it here last year. However, many of you will not have been following my work for that long, so I figured it might be worth re-posting it for those who haven’t come across it before. This is also one of the 23 stories which features in my recently released anthology titled Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales Of The Undead, so if you want to read it offline, you can purchase the Kindle ebook edition, which is only $0.99, and read it from there.

Tomorrow’s story will be a brand new festive tale which tells of an office Christmas party that takes a sudden, and unexpected, turn for the worse …

Waiting Up For Santa Claus: A Cautionary Tale

‘Look!’ The girl pointed excitedly, ‘It’s him, it has to be.’

The boy glanced at the clock on the wall, slightly confused, ‘But it’s not midnight yet.’


‘So it’s not Christmas Day, is it?’

‘But it looks just like him. And besides,’ the girl said knowingly, ‘It’s already Christmas somewhere. Maybe he’s just early.’

The two children were peeking through their curtains, trying not to be seen. Despite their mother’s frequent warnings that he wouldn’t come unless they were asleep, they’d been determined to catch a glimpse Santa Claus. They tried every year but they never quite managed it. This year it seemed they might have finally succeeded. At five minutes to twelve, they’d heard a noise and had scampered from their beds to investigate.

Outside, their front yard was covered with snow, the snowman they’d built earlier in the day still staring off into the distance. Beside him was a new figure, his red coat stretched across his portly belly. They couldn’t see his face, but curly white hair hung down below a hat edged with fur. Beside the man lay a large sack from which spilled brightly wrapped packages. He stood slouching, one arm around the neck of the snowman. The man wasn’t really moving, just swaying slightly from side to side.

The boy looked up at his sister. ‘What should we do?’

The older child scratched her head as she surveyed the room they’d shared for as long as either of them could remember. A Christmas tree stood decorated in one corner while home-made streamers were strung across the ceiling. Finally, her eyes landed on the stockings that hung expectantly from the ends of their beds and an idea popped into her head. She grinned at her brother, ‘Let’s go out and see if he’ll give us our presents now, before we go to sleep.’

‘Yeah, that would be really cool.’

‘We’ll need to be quiet though. We don’t want Mom waking up.’

The younger kid rubbed his backside, remembering how it had felt when he’d been spanked for getting into a fight at school. If she’d been mad because of that, she’d be madder if she caught them out of bed on Christmas Eve. She’d already shouted at them earlier in the evening when they were still bouncing round their room long after they should have been tucked up in bed. Twice. But this was an opportunity not to be missed. After all, how many other kids would be able to say they’d got their presents from Santa Claus himself rather than just waking up on Christmas morning and finding he’d visited them in the night?

They grabbed their stockings and crept to the door. The elder child inched it open, making sure it didn’t squeak. Once there was enough room, they slipped through and snuck down the stairs, remembering to jump over the loose one at the bottom, the one that always creaked loudly when anyone stood on it. At the front door, the girl turned to her younger brother, ‘You sure about this?’

He nodded enthusiastically.

She reached up and took the key from its hook before sliding it into the keyhole. It first turned smoothly and silently, then there was resistance followed by a quiet click that told her the door was now unlocked. The girl pressed down the handle and pulled it open, letting in a blast of frigid air. The two children shivered in their thin night-clothes. Outside the street was silent, the snow muffling the usual noises of the night. The man had moved away from the snowman and now stood on the far side of their front yard with his back to them. The snow round his feet was messed up as if he’d been shuffling through it rather than walking across it. His sack still lay open on the ground by the snowman, seemingly forgotten.

Leaving the door open, the girl stepped forward, feeling the snow crunch under her weight, the cold shooting up through the soles of her feet. For a moment she thought about going back for her shoes but that would take time and he might be gone before she got back. She’d just need to be quick. Running forward, she called out quietly, ‘Santa, don’t go, we’re here. Can we have our presents now?’

Just as the girl reached the snowman, the figure in the red suit turned and she saw his face for the first time. She skidded to a halt, causing her brother to crash into her from behind, and stared at the face beneath the fur-trimmed hat. The man’s pale, sallow skin was splattered with red and his white beard was stained by a thick dark fluid that dripped slowly onto the snow. His deeply sunken eyes were a dull black with no spark of life in them.

‘That’s not Santa Claus. Is it?’ There was a frightened tone in the young boy’s voice. He clung to his sister’s arm. He didn’t know why but the man scared him. Maybe it was something to do with the eyes and the way they seemed to stare right through him.

‘No.’ The girl was frightened too. She tried to think of what to do next, but it seemed her brain had stopped working. She wanted to run, but couldn’t; she was rooted to the spot.

Then the man started towards them, slowly at first but becoming faster with each faltering step. Suddenly, the girl was no longer frozen with fear. She turned and fled, pulling her younger brother with her, but it was difficult to run across the snow in bare feet. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that the man in the Santa outfit was gaining on them. As he moved, he let out a moan that sank deep into her soul.

The kids were almost back at the house when the girl’s foot slipped on a patch of ice. She tumbled to the ground, pulling her little brother with her and landing heavily on her back. She pushed the boy onwards, towards the safety of the front door. As he disappeared inside, the girl rolled onto her front. The snow crumbled beneath her as she desperately struggled to get back onto her feet.

The girl yelled when she felt the man’s hand close around her leg and start dragging her backwards through the snow. But it didn’t feel like a real hand. While it gripped her so tightly it hurt, there was no warmth in it. Instead, it felt as cold as ice. She turned and saw the man’s face again, this time much closer. His red hat had fallen from his head, but he didn’t seem to have noticed or even to care. While his eyes looked lifeless, maybe even soulless, his jaw moved back and forth, causing his teeth to gnash against each other.

The girl kicked out, trying to break his grip, but even though she hit him as hard as she could he didn’t seem to notice. She heard someone screaming. It seemed distant at first, but quickly grew closer and closer. For a moment, the girl wondered who it was, then it dawned on her that it was coming from her own mouth. She struggled frantically but it was no use, she couldn’t get away. As the figure in the red suit loomed over her, blocking out the stars, the girl felt his fetid breath on the side of her face and realised she was going to die.

The man sank his teeth deep into her neck, ripping at her flesh. Although the girl could see her own blood spraying across the snow-covered yard, turning it a deep crimson red, she felt no pain. As the life drained from her body, the girl wished she’d listened to her mother. She wished she’d gone to sleep instead of trying to stay awake until Santa arrived.

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

First Time – A Flash Fiction Zombie Story

9 Oct

‘They say you never forget your first time and, I can tell you, I won’t be forgetting mine any time soon. I guess she was eighteen, maybe nineteen at the most, and I didn’t even know her name. If I close my eyes, I can still see her: long, blonde hair framing a pale face as she walked slowly across the room towards me. Since I’d never done it before, I didn’t really know what to expect. I mean I’d heard stories from other guys, and seen a couple of movies, but it’s not the same as actually doing it, it is? As she drew close, she moaned softly, letting me know she wanted me as much as I wanted this to happen. My heart racing, I wiped the sweat from my hands and stepped tentatively towards her. She moaned again, louder and more urgently, her mouth slightly open, arms reaching out towards me, ready to embrace me. That was when I knew the time was right. I stepped forward again, this time with more confidence, closing the gap between us as I swung the baseball bat I was carrying. There was a dull thunk as it connected, sending her tumbling to the concrete floor but within a flash she was back on her feet, snarling angrily through clenched teeth. As I swung the bat again, I smelled the distinctive scent of her rotting flesh. She went down for a second time, and this time I made sure she’d never get up again. When I close my eyes, I can see her lifeless body lying there in the deserted warehouse, blonde hair streaked with blood, the left side of her face unrecognisable. I swear as long as I live, I’ll never forget the night I killed my first zombie.’

From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.