Authors: RR Haywood
Blood on the Floor
An Undead Adventure
Copyright © R. R. Haywood 2016
R. R. Haywood asserts his moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
All Rights reserved.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. All characters and events, unless those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead (or undead), is purely coincidental.
The inclusion within this story of the characters “Pea and Sam” are used as a prize in a competition and although to a degree they are based on the real persons they remain fictitious characters within a work of fiction and the author asserts his full rights to amend, delete or change those characters.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Design, Cover and Illustration by Eddyart.
A typical English street. A typical English back garden. A postage stamp once owned and cared for by the rose growing house owners who now lie as dead as everyone else.
The body lies on the ground surrounded by blood, guts, gore and filth. Corpses everywhere. Some shot down, others hacked apart by axes and knives. More lie inert with necks snapped by the animalistic strength of those who gave battle here. Hundreds of them that stretch away through the smashed down fence of the garden and out into the street. Thick wakes of blood drying in the hot night air. Limbs shorn off, entrails exposed.
It’s deathly quiet with a heavy silence that hangs over this sordid place. The birds flew away when the first shots were fired and now cling to the treetops to avoid the stench in the air.
The infection spread through the world twelve days ago. A virus transmitted by bodily fluids that ravaged the populaces of every country. Two minutes from bite to death. The heart stopped by the infection only to be brought back to the true state of being. The heart was re-animated to flood the system with cellular change that made the once human form just another host body with a singular purpose, to take more host bodies. Each host gained was pumped with chemicals that denied sensations of pain, hunger, thirst or fatigue. They knew only one thing and that was to bite and claw. Mouths filled with saliva ready to pass the disease. Hands became clawed like talons. Primary function to move was given but cognitive function was reduced. Only enough mind was left to move, to walk, to run and to chase and bite. To feast and spread the infection to take more hosts.
Some survived and found each other in a drawing of souls that soon gained the strength to fight back. Misfits turned into warriors who gave battle and refused to yield. A few who stood firm and started, ever so gradually, to show not all will run and hide.
It was here, in this place, that one of those battles was fought. Those few, led by Howie, came here and destroyed the hordes that gathered. With guns at first, then with axes and knives until they were back to back in a tight circle fighting for their lives.
The survivors won. They held the field of battle in victory and looked upon the fallen with the weary eyes of those who see and give death each day. The battles will continue. The valiant fight of a species desperately trying to survive against a foe that gains a greater collective conscious and intelligence every day. But not here and not tonight.
Here the battle is done and the slain lie in the pools of blood that glisten under the glow of the moon and stars. Death everywhere.
He lies on his back. His throat ripped apart. Bite marks on his legs and arms. On his stomach, chest and shoulders. They swarmed him at the end of the fight. He fought hard but the press of the attackers was too great and he went down. The others tried to save him but it was done. Two minutes from bite to death. The pain of the infection blossomed in his stomach first but he withstood that pain with the bloodlust of battle still surging through his veins. He ignored the sensations but knew he was done and he died quickly. His heart stopped and he ceased to be in human form.
When he came back it was for mere seconds. His heart started again. His blood began pumping. The wounds on his body already beginning the process to congeal and prevent further blood loss. The pulses of electricity ramping through his body sent spasms into his limbs that locked out.
Then she was on him. The dog that could smell the infection within. The dog that detected the tainted filthy blood and to the dog it mattered not that he fought with them just seconds before. He was dead and what came back was not him. So she bit down deep and hard into his throat. She ragged the skin side to side to end the creature that was coming back.
He died again. The shock and blood loss too great to withstand despite the infection inside doing all it could to cling to life. His heart stopped once more but she watched him closely, almost daring him to try and come back again.
It was over, the battle was done. The survivors left and the silence became heavier as the stench of death grew stronger.
The flies, now so abundant, soon find the spot and start to feast. Laying eggs that will birth maggots which in turn will start the decomposition of the corpses that will forever more lie here.
He was strong. His physical frame honed almost to perfection from rigorous exercise and a diet of wholesome, healthy, clean foods. He never smoked. Rarely drank alcohol. Fatty foods never passed his lips. He died. Came back and died again. His heart stopped to the extent the dog was satisfied he was done and without the heart beating, the tainted filthy blood couldn’t be pumped. Not then at least. Not until the dog was far enough away and that one remaining tiny spark of infection began to try and bring it back. It replicated again and again. It took the little it had and made more. The body was still hot. The blood still running from gravity alone and that was enough to force one beat into the main muscle to force the blood to pump that little distance. It worked furiously. Expending vital energy to replicate while scavenging on the already dying cells. Those it touched it turned. It was a knife-edge balance of microscopic proportions. Using vital resources to build more while all the while working to make a beat. It did. It pumped the heart again forcing that blood to circulate that little bit further. Like a mammal in hibernation, existing with bare function to keep alive until the spring thaw. Time passed. A third beat was given. The cells replicated further, growing in strength while depleting what energy and resources it could find. A fourth beat, enough to prevent instant decay and keep the core temperature high enough to stave off complete death.
A fifth. Time ticks. A sixth. The air is silent save for the insects that buzz and lay eggs. A seventh. The night is dark but hot and that heat aids the work to keep the body alive enough for the cells to keep replicating and keep beating that muscle.
Minutes tick by and every now and then the heart offers a flicker of a pump. Hovering somewhere between life and death. Weak and paltry, and blood flow is one thing but a body needs oxygen. Those infected cells take what they have and risk it all on one roll of the dice. Either it will work or the body will die. This expenditure of energy is the final chance. It goes for it. It surges silently to beat the heart with a small flurry of irregular fast beats that pump that blood enough to reach the lungs to contract the muscles to force the bellows to work.
The beats end. The heart becomes suddenly still. Life poised on this tipping point. It’s no good. This host is done.
The breath is snatched suddenly with a tiny explosion of force. A suction created by the muscles of the lungs contracting. Fresh oxygen flows in that enriches the cells so depleted. Those cells buzz with life, surging and whizzing through the system back into the heart that beats once again. Another flurry of beats, fast and not of any rhythm that can sustain life but sustaining is not the immediate goal. It doesn’t matter what the rhythm is. Just get it pumping and get more blood to the muscles of the lungs. A two-step process. A heart that fires like the cylinders of an old car to work the muscles that contract and relax with spasm-like effort. In out. In out. Air snatched. Weak and shallow. Keep it going. Just sustain the process. Heart. Lungs. Pump. Breathe. Get more oxygen. Enrich the blood flow and cells. Pump. Breathe.
The minutes become long. The lungs work. The heart beats. Oxygenated blood pumps through the body. The cellular change continues to grow and become stronger. Still the rhythm is out of whack and the breathing is spasmodic but it’s enough to get blood and air into the organs, brain and muscles.
Hours pass. The infection works through every vein, every cell and every injury. Assessing and diverting vital resources to the most severe wounds. The throat is the main one. The flesh bitten open by big canine teeth. Holes and lacerations that go from the outer layer of epidermis through to the soft tissue underneath. The cellular change is the greatest here and begins to knit and reform. To replicate and grow. The main arteries in the neck were not damaged. The windpipe is still intact. The voice box has suffered damage but that is not essential.
Food in the hosts gut is digested and used at a staggering metabolic rate. Broken down and processed to feed the work needed to be done as the body lies still, snatching breaths that slowly, as the night passes, become steadier and deeper. The heart settles, pumping stronger and with more confidence to sustain this host form. When the food is gone it starts attacking the fat cells, taking what it needs. This host does not have much fat but what little it can find is used. Nothing is wasted. Everything is used.
The night starts to lift with the first tendrils of the new dawn giving light to the sky. Insects feast on the corpses and the air is now thick with the stench of old death. The blood on the grass and road is congealed and sticky but still the birds don’t give song, not here, this place doesn’t deserve it.
Night shifts to day. The sun rushing forward forever chasing the moon. Light comes on. Slow at first but growing brighter and stronger with every passing minute. Shadows sink away until the first golden rays strike the ground and his eyes open. The red bloodshot eyes of the infected. The red bloodshot eyes of another host body that slowly sits up with the ever pressing urge pulsing through his mind to bite and claw and find more hosts.
She reaches in gingerly, tongue poking from her mouth, eyes narrowed in concentration to avoid the nasty barbed thorns so intent on scratching her skin. A big one. Juicy and ripe. She plucks it from the stem, quickly checks for bugs and mouths the blackberry to savour the mini explosion of taste and goodness served by nature. Blackberries. Hundreds of them growing fat on the vine-like thorny stems of the bushes. The bird shit is already purple from the birds gorging on the fruits. She takes another and holds it for a few seconds before biting down.
‘So good,’ Heather mumbles, lost in the moment. Eyes closed with the heat from the sun bathing her face and arms. Another glorious summer day and the sense of freedom after being cooped up in the church for so long amplifies the feeling. She takes another, plucking it from the stem. She takes more, picking them one by one until her left hand is full at which point she pauses to assess the situation. Her hand holds several but not enough. She wants to take more but that would mean holding them in her right hand but that hand is needed for the picking. A solution is required. She takes the baseball cap from her head, turns it over and lets the picked fruit tumble into the bowl.
She carries on. Her fingers dancing along the vines to select the biggest, fattest and juiciest of the fruit that get plucked and placed into the hat.
‘Five a day,’ she mumbles to herself wondering how many blackberries it will take to make up one portion of the five a day. She eats another one. Three go into the hat. One more into her mouth. Three for the hat.
Leaving the church has given mixed feelings. She couldn’t stand another day there. She felt isolated, confined and trapped at the same time as feeling safe and secure. She was amazed no one else tried to use it. The building was perfect. A thousand years old and made with thick walls, high windows and a solid wooden door. The grounds round the outside were open giving her an ample view of all sides. There was fresh running water and enough candles to last a lifetime but she knew she had to leave when she got so bored she started reading the bible. Yep, it was time to move on and find somewhere else to hide. That was her survival strategy. Hide. Find somewhere safe and hide. It had worked so far too. Twelve days today since it happened and she is still alive and unscathed. She’s lost a few pounds in body weight and been bored senseless by the long hours of self-imposed isolation but she is alive.
‘Day twelve in the big brother house,’ she mutters, moving slowly down the hedgerow adopting a quiet Geordie accent. ‘And Heather has found a blackberry bush…’ she snorts to herself. ‘Bush,’ she snorts again, chuckling at the sound of the word. ‘Nice bush,’ she tells the hedgerow. ‘Very bushy and bushlike.’
She strolls on. Cap in hand and eating blackberries. Her tongue turns purple which spreads the stain to her lips and teeth. Juice dribbles out that she wipes with the back of her hand, smearing it across a cheek. She doesn’t care. The fruit is divine. Beautifully wondrous in a way the bible in the church would surely approve of. ‘God’s food,’ she mutters. ‘And doth the Lord doth say to the woman with doth cap that she shall eat of the bushy bush and get a squity bum from the fruit.’
She walks on, tightening the straps on her backpack while her walking boots crunch a solid tread. Dark jeans and a dark top that she hates. She loves wearing bright colours but bright colours aren’t any good when you’re running and hiding. Nope. No good at all. She shrugs at the thought and eats another blackberry.
The world has ended. It’s over. The apocalypse has begun. Law and order vanished as the infection struck village to town to cities. All fell. Nothing could withstand the tide of violence.
Heather was in the gym on the Friday night it happened. A twenty-four hour gym that was monitored remotely by a centralised security company and accessed by a swipe card. She liked the gym late evening as she mostly had the place to herself. The young men did their training early evening to get pumped ready for their night out. The young ladies were even earlier than that. All honed and toned for the breeding selection of the local nightclub dancefloor. Heather liked to train hard. Really hard. She did circuits, combining resistance machines, the treadmill and cycles with free weights. One to the other with the least time as possible between, just enough to snatch air and regain some composure.
The huge flat screen television in front of the treadmills was on as usual. She switched from the music video to a twenty-four hour news site to read the scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen. That’s how she knew it was happening. The early reports from Europe of widespread rioting in places she had never heard of. Then it hit places she had heard of. Paris being one of them. Then it came north to the coast and finally the first reports of violence in the British Isles. By this time she was standing on the unmoving treadmill staring with mouth open at the news anchors clearly panicking on the screen. Top buttons had been loosened ages ago, ties pulled down and the way they spoke to each showed they had absolutely no clue as to what was happening.
She found her phone and tried calling people she knew. Friends first who she assumed would still be up at this hour but the signal on her mobile was gone. She switched it off and back on but the signal wouldn’t come back. She found the landline on the wall but it was pre-set to dial only the emergency services or the monitoring company. She tried the monitoring company but it was engaged. She hesitated with the emergency services because she wasn’t actually in danger.
Instead she kept trying her mobile. Switching it on and off and so absorbed was she in that task that she didn’t see the news anchors on the television running off set. By the time she looked back up the desk was empty and the scrolling feed at the bottom was gone. She switched channels, going first down then back up only to find emergency broadcast signals, error messages and apologies for service disruption.
Then the man ran into the window. Head on at full speed and with such impact his nose bust open spraying blood across the glass. She didn’t scream or panic but jolted on the spot, blinking at the sight of the man sliding down the plate glass. Others came. Men and women who dived onto the now unconscious man and bit into his flesh. Still she didn’t panic but slowly reached out to the panel of light switches on the wall. She clicked them one by one, plunging the room into a darkness only broken by the gleaming lights on the machines and the glow of the television.
That act of changing the light within the gym drew attention. Those outside came quickly to their feet to stare in through the glass. Heather remained stock still. Not daring to move. More came. Drawn by the actions of the first few and the stench of fresh blood. They too stared inside and moved on stiff legs round the gold fish bowl windows as though trying to find a way in. Still she didn’t move with a voice inside her head telling her motion leads to detection.
It took hours. Hours of unmoving and legs cramping from hard exertion to complete stillness without warming down. Hours of the sweat on her body drying in the air conditioned room. Hours of needing to urinate with a bladder sending more urgent signals to her already worried mind.
In the depths of the night something happened somewhere else. Something she couldn’t see or hear but it was enough to make the people gathered outside all turn and run stiffly away. It was during those hours she learned several things. They all had red bloodshot eyes. They all moved as though they couldn’t bend their knees or control their arms. Their heads lolled side to side and back and forth. They drooled constantly. They groaned, growled, hissed and moaned. They had injuries too. Horrific injuries to necks, faces and bodies and by right several of them should have been dead. One even had a knife stuck in her chest. A large bladed kitchen knife sunk down to the hilt but she moved the same as the others.
Lessons learned that kept her alive and by the time she got out, after pissing with relief in the bathroom, she knew to find somewhere and hide. Just that. Hide. Nothing more. Just hide.