Tag Archives: Short Zombie Story

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.



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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?’

‘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.



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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.’


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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.

Silence – A Zombie Flash Fiction Story

28 Aug

I listen intently, but hear nothing. I glance round, wondering what caught my attention enough to wake me but not enough to have me grabbing my axe and leaping to my feet. Once sounds in the night would have been the sirens of fire engines or the rattle of the last train pulling into the station behind my house; now they’re more likely to be the low guttural moans of the dead as they hunt the living. I hear the sound again, and realise what it was that woke me in the first place – just the cry of a fox out seeking a mate. I fall back onto my mattress, trying to get some rest but knowing I’m now too much on edge to get back to sleep before dawn.

I lie in the dark, thinking about how the world sounds different now: no more jumbo jets roaring overhead as they start their descent into the airport across the river; no more taxi engines idling below my bedroom window while they disgorge their laughing passengers; no more car doors slamming in the night, or car alarms going off in the small hours of the morning; no more kids kicking an empty tin can down the street or drunks screaming at each other outside the pub across the road. I’d hated all those noises before everything changed, but now I’d give anything to hear them again. Now all I hear is the silence of the deserted city, weighing me down, stifling me, only broken by the occasional cry of an animal or, more frequently, by the sound of the dead as they stagger through the streets in search of flesh. I don’t know why, but every now and then they let out a groan or a snarl, each one setting off the next in some ungodly chain reaction. If I didn’t know they were dead, I’d have sworn they were communicating, letting each other know where they are and whether they’ve found anyone to feast on or not. If they could communicate, it would explain how so many turn up so suddenly the moment one of them works out where you are, but surely being dead they couldn’t be doing anything as purposeful as that, could they?

The fallen city surrounds me, fencing me in on all sides and this means I must keep quiet too: never speaking, being careful where I tread so I don’t send the creak of a loose floorboard out into the night and towards those long dead but ever-listening ears, making sure I make no noise at all. All I can do it cower silently in my attic, where I’ve been since it all started, working my way through my ever-dwindling supplies, hoping against hope that the dead will somehow disappear before the last of my food is consumed and I’m forced out into their world by the need to find more. If I have to do that, I know my silence will no longer be enough to keep me safe, as it has done all these months, because even though their eyes are dead, somehow they can still see, and it’ll be only a matter of time before I’m spotted. Then, as they descend on me, heads thrown back, roaring to let others of their kind know food is near; the chase will begin, and it’s one I know I’ll never win.



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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.

Letting Off Steam – A Short Story About Life In A Zombie-filled World

14 Aug

I lean over the balcony and line up my shot before letting the glass ball slip through my fingers. I watch as the snow globe falls, rotating slowly until it makes contact and shatters, sending glitter-flecked water spraying across the ground.

‘Shit! Missed.’ I reach backwards without taking my eyes off the old man who’d been my intended target and who had unexpectedly shuffled to the left while the glass sphere was in free fall. ‘Get me another one.’
I feel the weight in my hand as I’m passed the next one from the bag. My target is now looking down at the shards of glass scattered around his feet, seemingly wondering where they’d come from. A few others look round too, attracted by the noise of the breaking glass, but they all soon lose interest and go back to staring off into the distance. I line up the shot again and this time I get a direct hit. As before the snow globe shatters but so does the skull it just collided with and the spray of glitter and water is mixed with the red of blood, the cream of bone and the grey of brains.

Beside me Jan leans over the parapet, ‘That was way cool!’

We look at each other and laugh; I offer her the next snow globe from the backpack we’ve lugged all the way up here, ‘You want a go?’

‘Nah. I don’t mind watching, but this is your thing, not mine.’

I shrug and line up another shot, this time a young woman. I let the globe fall and again score a direct hit and I’m rewarded with another spray of glitter, blood, skull and brains. This will carry on until we run out of snow globes and I feel all the tension leave my body; only then will we sneak back to our safe house.

We’ve all got our favoured ways of working out whatever demons are haunting us at any given time, and sometimes I think it’s the only thing which is keeping us sane. I mean, if we didn’t let loose every once in a while, all we’d have is the daily struggle to survive and if that’s all there is to live for we might as well give up like so many others have before us. For most of us, this involves killing zombies which now infest the world around us in a particularly gratuitous manner. When you’re fighting for your very survival, you need to be quick and efficient, but when you’re hunting them for fun, you have the upper hand and you can afford to be more inventive.

Jan likes mowing them down with whatever vehicle she can get hold of. Usually, this is a four by four of some kind or other, but on one memorable occasion she somehow managed to get her hands on a combine harvester. That day she came back so glowing with excitement she didn’t need to do it again for almost six months. Max prefers a more explosive approach, specifically lobbing sticks of dynamite at them; Jamie likes to fry them to a crisp with her homemade flame-thrower; Mike jousts – running them through with long metal poles as he speeds towards them on a motorbike. It doesn’t kill them, but they can’t exactly move around with ten feet of steel sticking through their chests.

Me, I like dropping things on them from a great height. I’d started off with bricks and cinder blocks but then I moved onto bowling balls; it was only recently I’d got into snow globes, but I’d found the effect strangely addictive from the moment I’d seen the first one smash into a zombie’s head – all that blood and glitter: it’s just so incongruous. I know I’ll run out of them soon, but for now it’s the way I like to unwind when things are getting too much. After all, even in a zombie apocalypse you’ve got to find a way of letting off steam every now and then.


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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.

Apocalypse Apartments Incorporated – A Short Zombie Story

10 Jul

You can download a PDF of this story from here.

Who’d have thought my biggest problem in coping with the zombie apocalypse would be boredom? I know it’s different for others, I can see them struggling and fighting and dying through the telescope mounted in the observatory in the top tower, but there’s nothing I can do for them. I’m stuck here in the castle, set high above the nearby town, all safely locked away. Yes, there’s zombies all around me, well I suppose they’re not really zombies since they’re not dead, but because of the disease they act just like the zombies you see in movies, so that’s what I call them. Either way, when they first appeared all I had to do to keep them out was pull up the drawbridge and I was safe. The 30 foot wide moat is more than enough to stop them getting close enough to know I’m here, and even if they could cross it, they’d never get through walls which are six feet thick and made of solid stone.

Unlike those in the settlement below, I don’t need to go outside to look for food, or, indeed, any other supplies. There’s a well in the main courtyard and I’ve got enough stores stashed in what were once the dungeons to last a lifetime. I’ve got solar panels and a couple of wind turbines, and for those days which are dark and still, I’ve got a diesel generator and enough fuel to run it day and night for fifty years. When I was bringing all this stuff together, I wasn’t worried about zombies or infected or whatever you want to call them, I simply did it to make enough money to stop the buildings around me crumbling to dust. You see, this had been my family’s home for six hundred years, and as an only child it fell to me to look after it when first my father, then my mother died in quick succession.

At first I’d hated the fact that the dilapidated and ancient edifice was now my responsibility. At thirty-two I wanted to be out exploring the world and having fun, not worrying about leaking roofs, rotting timbers and rising damp. Then, one day, as I drove away after yet another disaster which would cost more money than I had to fix, an idea suddenly came to me and I realised how I could fund not just the repairs but the complete renovation it had need for at least a century. It would mean some rather drastic changes, but it would also mean I’d never have to worry about being able to afford it’s upkeep again. My business plan was simple: I had a building which had some pretty serious fortifications and there were lots of very rich but very paranoid people out there who feared civilisation was about to be brought to its knees by some disaster or other that was looming just over the horizon. If you look at it one way, you could say I was selling them insurance against their worst fears, in another you could say I was ripping them off because I never believed any of it would actually happen. All I did was build up the supplies and guarantee each of my subscribers a safe, secure and, most importantly, luxurious environment where they could ride out whatever catastrophe they feared was about to turn the world upside down. I converted otherwise unoccupied and unused rooms into up-market apartments, complete with self-contained plumbing and water filters and even air-scrubbers. That was just the standard stuff, depending on each subscribers own personal paranoia, I also offered customisations. Stuff like heavy-duty fire power, six-inch thick steel doors and built-in radiation shields. The only limitation I placed on the subscribers was that, in the event of any crisis, they had to find their own way to the castle; it would be once they arrived that my duties would begin.

Almost from the moment word started leaking out about what I was offering, I was inundated with requests from the rich and famous, and within the first week I’d filled every available apartment; that was before I’d even started any of the renovations. By the time I had all the conversion work finished, the apartments were changing hands for almost ten times what I’d originally charged. You’d have thought this would have annoyed me, but it didn’t. You see they weren’t buying the apartments, only leasing them, and every time a lease was sold, I got ten percent of the price. I also had the right to veto any sale if I thought anyone would be too high maintenance. After all, you’ve got to be selective if there’s a chance you’ll end up cooped up with people for months on end during some disaster or other. Each time an apartment changed hands, the new owner would want to change the decor, and the security options, and that had to come through me too – and as you might imagine, my prices weren’t cheap.

It was funny, within a matter of six months, owning one of my apocalypse apartments, as they were being called by then, had become a status symbol for those who could afford them; that drove demand, and prices, up even further. I started to branch out, buying up other castles and lighthouses and old military bunkers wherever I could find them, and setting up apartments there too. I even adopted the name everyone was using for them for the company I created to run my little venture and officially I became Apocalypse Apartments Incorporated. That was ten years before everything fell apart, and in that time, while everyone else with ancient family piles was fighting just to keep them from falling down, I was making enough money to keep eight castles afloat as well as all the other buildings I’d picked up over the years. I’d become an expert in the ultimate home defence and I was the person everyone turned to when they wanted to do something crazy just in case their wildest nightmares ever came true.

Then came the zombies, or rather the infected. That was one eventuality I’d never counted on, but luckily it seems my defences are perfect for keeping them out. The moment the first hints something odd was going on started appearing on the news, I expected the subscribers to start turning up, but weirdly they didn’t. No one ever even came near the place. That’s one of those little mysteries of the apocalypse I’ll probably never find an answer to. I mean, I’d specifically installed a helipad to allow people to get here even when the roads were over-run but, despite the millions they’d paid to have a safe place to hole up in the event of something quite so world-changing actually happening, not one of them ever made it.

This meant I was all alone; totally secure, but all alone. And oh so bored. In the two years since everything kicked off, I’ve read every book in the place and I know all the films I have on DVD backwards and forwards. I can repeat the entire script, word for word without making a mistake, for each and every one of them. I’d tried alcoholism but I wasn’t really built for it; I found being drunk on my own very dull, and hangovers without anyone to commiserate even duller.

When the world first fell apart, I spent a lot of time in the observatory, keeping an eye out for the subscribers I was sure would be on their way, but once it was clear they weren’t going to appear I stopped hanging out there. It was just too depressing watching all that death and destruction and people struggling for survival. But after a while, I started going back. I can’t remember why but one day I found myself walking passed the door and I thought I’d take a look to see what was out there. I was surprised to find there were still people living amongst the zombies. Well, maybe living is stretching it a little. More like eaking out a meagre existence, struggling every day to find food while avoiding being torn apart by the hordes of zombies which haunted the streets around them.

By then, I’d been without human company for so long I found myself drawn into their struggles. I made up names for the survivors, and even some of the more memorable zombies, and I started making up back stories. It was like my own little soap opera and I couldn’t resist it. It was the first time in months I’d felt alive: I knew I was living vicariously through their struggles and part of me felt uncomfortable with this, but the rest of me revelled in it. The telescope was so powerful, and the town so far away, I felt detached from them and it was like I was watching some fictional drama unfolding on a television rather than real people living and dying.

You might think of me as callous, but it’s not like I didn’t try to help. Once I knew they were there, grimly hanging on under the worst imaginable circumstances, I spent weeks and months trying to work out how I could help them but there was nothing I can do. There’s no way I can let them know I’m here, and there’s no way I can do anything to help them without risking being over-run, which would pretty much defeat the purpose of the exercise. So, here I am, living in total security with enough food to keep all the little groups of survivors I watch each day fed for as long as we all live, yet there’s no way to get the people and the food in the same place. All I can do is sit here as the zombie apocalypse engulfs the world but passes me by, leaving me with nothing to do but stare through my telescope, bored and lonely, unable to do anything to ease their suffering, and my own.

***

This short story was inspired by the idea that boredom could be a major obstacle to survival in a zombie apocalypse. You can find out more about this here.



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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.

I’m With The Band – A Short Zombie Story

3 Jul

A PDF of this story can be downloaded from here.

‘You know I was in a band before all this happened. God, it seems like such a long time ago, almost a different life time. We weren’t exactly world famous but we had our fans, and we did pretty well in our home town. We were playing the night it all kicked off, we were actually on stage. It was the largest gig we’d ever done, in an old cinema which had been converted into a club. It had this massive glitter ball in the middle of the roof, and I mean massive. It must have been like three feet across, maybe four; supposed to be the biggest one in Europe or the country or something like that. Anyway, we were up there on stage just finishing off our set. We were doing our signature song, a real anthem which always brought the house down. I was knocking out this crazy rhythm on the bass while Baz was doing his thing on the drums. Mickey was noodling away on his guitar while Leon had both hands on the microphone; he was leaning on it, nodding along. Leon wasn’t his real name, that was Donald, but he didn’t think it was the right name for a rock star so he changed it. He chose Leon, after Trotsky, because he thought it was all left wing and right on; he didn’t really know anything about politics though, he was just doing what he thought was cool.

‘Anyway, everyone seemed to be really digging the music, jumping up and down, moshing along, but then something changed. At first it was hard to put a finger on it, just a slight shift in the energy in the room. I looked across at Mickey and saw he’d noticed it too. He shrugged and tipped his head towards Leon. He was still nodding along at the mike trying to look cool but I could see by the tightness in his shoulders he’d noticed the change in the atmosphere too. Baz, as usual, hadn’t noticed a thing. When he got really into it, I swear you’ve could set a bomb off right in front of him and he wouldn’t have missed a beat.

‘Then I noticed people weren’t really paying attention to us any more, instead they were looking round, showing each other their phones. I’d got used to people having phones at gigs over the last few years, holding them up in the same way people used to hold up cigarette lighters, or filming us as we played but I’d never seen this before. I felt my own phone go off in my pocket, but I just ignored it, letting it go straight to voice mail. It rang off just as we came to the climactic ending of the song. It was this great crescendo, with Baz and Mickey and me all giving it laldy* while Leon faced us, arms held out, mike in hand, head thrown back. We ended, expecting the usual rapturous applause, but instead all we could hear was people talking. I could tell from the look on his voice Leon was really pissed off at this reaction. He always was a bit of a diva, but then what lead singer isn’t, and I’d seen him lose it with audiences before. I glanced across at Mickey, wondering if we should do something to intervene but he wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he had his phone out and was staring at it with a confused look on his face.

‘As I stepped towards Leon, he turned and faced the audience, his face like thunder and just started yelling at them. Saying how disrespectful they were being; that we deserved better. That was when my phone when off again, this time telling me I had a text message. I looked around. Baz was sitting there behind his drums, arms crossed, watching Leon with this amused look on his face while Mickey, unbelievably, was now speaking to someone on his phone. That’s when I realised there must be something big going on so I pulled out my phone and opened the message I’d just got. It was from my Mum and all it said was that my Dad was at the front door, trying to get in and that I should come home as soon as possible. This really confused me because we’d buried my Dad the week before. I was just as I was about to call home to find out what was going on when I noticed a movement at the back of the room. Two bouncers rushed through the double doors, and were trying desperately to pull them shut – yet they couldn’t because of all these people trying to get in. All around the room, I could see other security guys speaking frantically into their radios and running towards the doors but before they could get there, they flew open and all these people started pouring in. Except they didn’t really look like normal, they were all, like, beaten up and disfigured.

‘I glanced round at my band mates but none of them seemed to have noticed these new arrivals. Mickey was still talking urgently into his phone, while Baz pissing himself laughing as he watch Leon. Leon was getting more and more angry as the crowd continued to ignore him and was now in full rant mode just screaming and swearing at them, threatening to jump off the stage and take them on, all of them all at once. Meanwhile, the odd-looking newcomers were surging through the audience. At first I thought they were just pushing them out of the way, then with horror, I realised they attacking them, biting them, tearing at their clothes and their flesh. People were trying to fight back, but they were out-numbered as more and more of these dishevelled, dirty people streamed into the room.

‘All I could do was stand there and watch in disbelief as this carnage unfolded in front of me. There was blood and guts spilling everywhere as people fought for their lives, all surreally lit by the spotlights glancing off the giant glitter ball that hung above them.

‘Then the first of them, a woman, made it to the stage and started to drag herself onto it. Still it seemed I was the only one in the band who’d noticed what was going on in the audience. I stared at the woman: her hair was lank and streaked with dirt, her skin grey and sallow, and it was clear she wasn’t alive. There was no life in her eyes, instead they were just these dark holes which seemed incapable of seeing anything, yet she knew we were there, or at least she knew Leon was. Reaching forward, she grabbed his left ankle and started pulling him towards the end of the stage. Leon finally stopped ranting and looked down. One glance at the woman holding his leg, and Leon recoiled in disgust and fear, only her grip was firm and he’d managed to get the microphone lead wrapped around his body while he’d been yelling abuse at the audience. As he fell, another of the newcomers, this time a man, grabbed him and together the two of them pulled Leon, struggling and screaming, off the stage and into the audience. This was when Baz finally noticed something was wrong. There were more and more of these dead people pulling themselves onto the stage and before I could even shout a warning they’d surrounded Mickey and were biting and tearing at him.

As the first one approached me, I pulled off my bass and, grabbing the neck, I swung it as hard as I could. I felt it make contact, crushing the skull of this old man who was staggering towards me, half his face already missing. Behind me, I could hear Baz trying to make a run for it, but he must have tripped over his high hat because I heard it crashing to the floor. This seemed to attract the dead people away from me and towards him. For a moment I thought about trying to help him, but looking around, I realised that if I was going to get out alive, I’d need to leave there and then. I heard the sounds of the dead people crashing through the drum kit and Baz shouting as he tried to fight them off, but there was nothing I could do for him. Still clutching my bass, I fled off stage and towards the back door. Behind me, I could hear the sound of the dead chasing after me.

‘I know I should have done more to help the others but the way I see it, if I’d done anything differently, I’d have ended up dead too. I still think about them sometimes, but most of the time I try not to. I think it’s the only way I can cope, trying not to think about how the world used to be, trying not to dwell on the past. Instead, I try to focus on keeping myself alive and fighting the dead as we try to take back the land that once was ours. There’s no music in the world any more, no one has time for it, instead there’s just the sound of battle, of destruction, and of death. That’s why I’m in here drinking when I should be trying to get some rest before I head back to the front line. So here’s to how the world used to be and may it be like that again someday.’

***

*Laldy is a great Scottish word which, if you’re not familiar with it, meaning to do something with great gusto.



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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.