Authors: David Moody
Tags: #Horror, #Zombies, #Virus
'Leave it, Harry,' I warn him. 'This isn't the time…'
'When is the time then?' he snaps. 'When do you want to start talking about it? When the trouble reaches your front door?'
'There's a body in the street about ten meters away. I'd say it's reached the front door already,' I snap back angrily.
'So what are we going to do about it?' he demands. There's an uncomfortable hint of panic and desperation in his raised voice. 'Are we just going to sit here? Are we just going to…?'
'What can we do?' I interrupt, holding Lizzie's hand a little tighter. 'What are the options, Harry? Should we sit here and keep ourselves and the children safe, or do you want us to go out there and join in the fighting?'
'That's what caused the problems in the first place,' he argues.
'Exactly, so what else are we supposed to do?'
Harry is pointing his finger at me now and his voice is getting louder. He's not making any sense and I'm biting my lip, trying not to panic. Once again I find myself wondering if he's about to turn.
'This is just what people have been waiting for,' he continues at an uncomfortable volume, 'an excuse to fight. Not that they've needed much of an excuse before, but now it doesn't matter. People can do what the bloody hell they like without fear of any repercussions. It's a chance for the scum around here to show their true colours and…'
'Shut up,' Lizzie yells angrily. 'Just shut up, Dad. You're not helping.'
'These people need a firm hand,' he rants, oblivious. He points accusingly at the TV. 'And if the idiots running the television stations hadn't sensationalised things by showing more and more violence then maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. If there had just been some respect for authority maybe we'd all be…'
'There is no authority any more,' I shout back. 'I saw a policeman shooting people in cold blood yesterday and then I watched other officers turn their weapons on him and gun him down. The authorities are as screwed as the rest of us.'
'But if people would just stop...'
'For Christ's sake, shut up!' Liz screams again. She snatches her hand from mine and storms out of the room. I watch her disappear down the hallway and almost immediately the paranoia begins. Harry is quiet now - is it Liz who's turning? Is she heading for the kids' rooms? Is she going to hurt them? I get up and run after her. I'm relieved when I find that she's shut herself in the bathroom and I feel stupid and guilty for thinking she could have been doing anything else. I slowly trudge back to the living room where Harry finally seems to be calming down.
'She all right?' he grunts.
I nod but I can't bring myself to speak to him. He turns his back on me again and continues to watch the smoke rising from the building burning on Colville way.
Not sure what time I finally went to sleep. I lay on the bed for hours trying (and failing) to make sense of everything that's happening. I must have looked at the alarm clock a hundred times or more in the night. I watched every hour tick by…
I'm still half-asleep but Ed wakes me up. I sit up quickly. What's wrong? What's happened? I rub my eyes and try to focus on my son's face. The room's dark but I think he's okay. I look down and see that Lizzie's still sleeping next to me in bed. She seems okay too.
'Dad,' he says again, annoyed that I haven't answered.
'What's the matter?' I mumble. 'Are the others all right?'
He nods. What he wants to tell me has obviously got nothing to do with Ellis or Josh.
'The telly's bust,' he grunts.
I slump back on my pillow, relieved. Is that all? Thank God for that.
'What's the matter with it?' I ask, struggling to sound interested.
'Can't get a picture.'
'Is it plugged in?'
'Yes,' he groans, 'I'm not stupid.'
I'm too tired to pick him up for being rude.
'Have you checked the cables at the back?'
'I haven't touched them. It was working yesterday, wasn't it?'
'What about the telly in your bedroom?'
'Can't get the channel I want on my telly. Come on Dad, get up.'
'I'll come and have a look in a couple of minutes,' I yawn. 'Let me stay here for a bit longer…'
'But my programme's on now,' he protests. 'Please, Dad.'
I close my eyes for a few seconds longer but it's obvious that I'm not going to get any peace until Ed's got the TV fixed. Cursing under my breath I get up and stumble across the cold bedroom floor and down the hallway, side-stepping Harry as I meet him by the kitchen door. Ed follows then pushes past me as we reach the living room. He picks up the remote control and switches on the TV.
'See…' he says, flicking through the channels.
I sit and stare at the screen.
'What's the matter?' Harry asks, as he wearily drags himself into the room after us.
'Telly's broke,' Ed tells him.
'It's not broken,' I say as I flick through the channels.
'Have you checked the aerial?' Harry suggests.
'There's nothing wrong with it,' I tell them both, 'look.'
Harry moves around so that he can see the screen. And now he can see why I've been staring. It's the same thing on every channel. A black screen with stark white text.
DO NOT PANIC
WAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS
THE SITUATION IS UNDER CONTROL
It's eleven o'clock and Lizzie, Harry and the kids are sitting in the living room. There's something happening outside. The others haven't noticed yet. I don't want the children and Liz getting upset again so I haven't said anything to anyone. It started about half an hour ago. I've heard heavy vehicles moving in the distance and the occasional scream or shout. I've also heard gunfire.
I've tried looking through every window in the flat but I can't see what's going on out there. I have to know. I make sure the others are all distracted then creep out of the apartment. I stop halfway across the lobby. Everything looks just as it did when I was out here yesterday but today the building feels different because of what's upstairs. I stop at the bottom of the staircase and, just for a second, I think about turning round and going back into the flat again. I'll get a better view from the flats on the other floors but I'm worried about going upstairs. I don't think there's anyone else up there - the car belonging to the people on the top floor is still missing and I can't hear anything. But what about the body? I know the man on the landing is dead but have I got the balls to pass his corpse? My head is suddenly filled with stupid nightmare images of his lifeless hands reaching out to grab me. The sound of another gun shot in the distance spurs me into action. I take a deep breath and run up the stairs, not stopping until I've reached the flat on the top floor. I peer in through the half-open door to make sure it's still empty then step inside.
There are only two floors between our flat and this one but the view from up here is completely different. Those extra few feet of height make all the difference and from here I can see for miles around. I can see almost all of our estate and I can see the city centre in the distance. This morning the world looks like the TV footage that gets sent home by war correspondents. The skyline is dark and grey. Dirty, thick smoke is climbing from the blackened shells of burnt-out buildings. There's nothing much left of the medical centre on Colville Way. The streets are deserted.
How am I supposed to protect my family from this? I can sense the danger increasing almost by the second and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I think of the kids downstairs and I feel terrified and helpless. They're depending on me and I don't know what I can do to keep them safe.
I can see movement in the distance now. Can't see exactly what it is from here. I turn around and grab the video camera I saw when I was up here yesterday. Christ knows what the men who lived here used it for. I've got no interest in finding out. I take the camera over to the window and switch it on. There's hardly any battery power left. I find the zoom lens control and set it so that it's focussed as far as possible into the distance. It takes me a few seconds to aim the camera in the right direction and to relocate the movement I've just seen.
I think I'm looking at the area around Marsh Way but I'm not sure. Whatever the name of the road I'm watching is, there are two large green-grey trucks driving along it. On either side of the trucks are lines of uniformed figures. Bloody hell, they're armed soldiers wearing what looks like full battle gear. They have masks or visors obscuring their faces. The trucks stop mid-way along the street and the guards which surround them split into smaller groups. Some remain close to the back of the vehicles while others move towards the houses on either side of the road. From here I can only see one group of figures clearly but I guess they're all doing the same thing. It looks like a house-to-house inspection.
The trooper at the front of the group hammers his fist on the door. Christ, they're not waiting to be invited inside. Four of the soldiers in the group of five force their way into the house as soon as the door is opened. The fifth uniformed figure follows them inside carrying something. It's difficult to keep the camera focussed from this distance and I can't tell whether it's a clipboard or one of those tablet computer things he's holding. They all disappear into the building and I wait for them to re-emerge. And I wait. And I wait.
Elsewhere along the street the same thing is happening. Groups of soldiers are splintering away from the trucks and are checking each house in turn. I look up from the video camera viewfinder screen for a second and catch sight of more movement in another road nearby. Same thing's happening again. I squint as the sun breaks through the heavy cloud for the first time today and I can see at least two more clusters of trucks and soldiers working their way along other streets, all within a few hundred meters radius of each other. I focus back on the house I was originally watching in Marsh Way as the five soldiers march back out and immediately turn their attention to the building next door, leaving a dazed and bewildered middle-aged couple to timidly close their front door behind them.
There are helicopters flying over the town. Strange. Maybe they're coordinating the movements of the troops on the ground?
The soldiers I've been watching have forced their way into another house now. They reappear in less than a minute, this time dragging someone behind them. I can't make out whether it's a man or a woman but they're kicking and punching and doing all they can to get away. I can see that it's a woman now. She's only half-dressed. They've turned her around and they're marching her towards the nearest truck. She's still fighting. As they push her towards the back of the vehicle she somehow manages to free herself from the soldiers' hold. She starts to run down the road and… and now I can't believe what I'm seeing. One of the soldiers steps forward and raises his rifle. Instead of chasing after her he simply shoots her in the back. Two of them pick up the fallen body and throw it unceremoniously into the back of one of the trucks.
They must finally be flushing out the Haters. Thank God for that.
It's about time. I hope the bastards get everything they deserve.
It's a relief knowing that someone finally appears to be taking control of the situation. The soldiers on the streets is the first indication we've had that the authorities are at last doing something to help us. I'm glad, but I'll be happier when they've been and gone from here. I don't say anything to the others. I don't want the kids and Lizzie getting upset again.
My head is spinning. I'm finding it harder and harder to cope with being trapped inside the safe room with the rest of the family. This intense claustrophobia is killing me. We've been sat together for hours and hardly anyone has spoken apart from the children who fight and bicker constantly. I know they can't help it but they're really beginning to piss me off. Lizzie and Harry don't seem bothered by them. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's the thought of the soldiers outside. I'm getting increasingly anxious sitting here waiting for the inevitable knock at the door.