Authors: Richard Murray,Richard Murray
A small window was set into the wall above the bed, curtains closed. I played out what must have happened in my head. The owner asleep here in his room, his partner or staff member had opened the shop and managed to get herself somehow infected before heading back upstairs to clean the wound. She no doubt turned into one of the undead
and attacked the man as he lay in his bed, perhaps knocking closed the door and trapping herself in the room.
Fortunate for me at least as it left the shop door unlocked just when I needed it. I opened the curtains letting in the morning sunlight to bathe the grisly scene. The window had a locking mechanism that only allowed it to open a little. It was enough to see that it was set above the front of the shop. Directly below I could see the street I had run down so short a time ago and a dozen zombies who had not yet managed to clamber through into the shop. In short there was no way out. I had trapped myself.
I left the bedroom and closed the door behind me as I leaned back against the wall. The exertions of this morning had taken their toll. I slowly let myself slide down until I was sat against the wall facing the front entrance. Two dead zombies behind me with an unknown number of hungry undead
beyond the door and I was covered liberally in blood with no way out. I was trapped. I lowered my head and waited for the zombies to break through the front door.
If Lily had done as she was supposed to, she would be waiting for me with Brian and whoever she had managed to rescue just a few streets away. I couldn’t help but wonder how long she would wait for me to arrive before giving me up for dead. If the roles were reversed and if I were the one waiting, it wouldn’t be long.
The noise the zombies made as they tried to enter this small apartment had begun to grate. From where I sat against the wall I could see the door shake as the mindless things tried to batter their way through.
It hadn’t taken long for despair at my situation to turn into boredom. I could always remove the barricade and try and fight my way out. That at least would provide a little excitement. It would be better than waiting anyway.
A fight to the death was much more deserving of a more formidable weapon than a clothes rack. I made my way around the living space searching for something to use. In the bedroom I found a cell phone, though having no numbers to call it would be little use. I did try the emergency services but whenever I dialled the number it was busy. I put the phone into my pocket anyway. It may come in useful later and my own phone had been forgotten when I left my home yesterday.
Beneath the sink I found a rusted toolbox containing no less than three screwdrivers, a pair of pliers and a claw headed hammer. I left the pliers and managed to place the three screwdrivers into my jacket pocket. I did have to pierce the material to make them fit but my gore covered clothing was ruined anyway. The hammer I kept to hand, it would be a handy weapon to help bludgeon my way to freedom.
I was taking one final look around the kitchen before I left when I noticed it. A ceiling hatch. It was set high in one corner above some cabinets. It was small and I may struggle to get through but it was something. It was perhaps more of a chance at survival than trying to fight my way free.
With a chance of escape my mood lightened and I went back into the bedroom. I searched through the cabinet and drawers. I put some socks, a couple of plain t-shirts and some shorts that looked like they might fit me into a black backpack that I found at the bottom of the cupboard. Then back to the kitchen where I added as much food as I could without over filling it.
To reach the hatch I had to climb onto the countertop and try to hold myself steady with one hand on the top cupboard as I reached across and pushed open the hatch. With the hatch open I could swing the backpack through, before grabbing onto the rough wooden ledge risking splinters. I stepped off of the countertop and swung free for a moment before heaving myself up and through the hole into the attic with trembling arms.
Within the attic all was darkness, the weak light coming through the ceiling hatch giving scant illumination. I pulled the dead man’s phone from my pocket and switched it on. The light from the screen would serve as torch, it provided just enough to allow me to move around the attic space and see that it was empty.
As attics go it was fairly standard. A brick wall stood firm on either side of me, preventing access into the roof compartments of the neighbouring shops. Thick wooden beams ran from one wall to the next with thick insulation material filling the gaps between. The roof rose to a peak allowing me to stand fully upright only in the centre of the room.
Between the wooden joists that rose to the peak I could see the roof felt and timber laths that the slate tiles of the roof sat upon. The claw hammer proved invaluable as it ripped aside felt and thin lath with ease. The slate tiles were nailed in place and required some work with the hammer before I had broken enough to make a sizeable hole in the roof.
Dust filled the air and coated my clothes, sticking to the blood and various other fluids that hadn’t yet dried fully. I looked a mess and would have dearly loved a shower. The light rain falling through the new made hole in the roof wouldn’t do much. I cautiously poked my head through the hole. The roof was thankfully zombie free. I grabbed my backpack and pulled myself through.
The tiles were slick with fresh fallen rain and I could see that the edge of the roof ended abruptly. No stone lip to prevent my falling on the zombies milling below. I very carefully pulled myself up the roof until I could sit on the ridge tile that capped the peak. The view was impressive.
Smoke wreathed the town. From my vantage point I could see much of the town centre. Peaked slate tile roofs atop two story buildings of stone, would give way abruptly to newer more imposing buildings of concrete and brick. It was easy to see how the town had changed as newer and more modern buildings were built.
Few cars were moving along the streets I could see, though each seemed to have a number of shambling figures. Around a few store fronts zombies would gather peering within. They seemed able to tell which buildings had people hiding within. Perhaps they could smell the scared people or hear them. They could even have another sense for all I knew. One thing was obvious, they were hungry and they wouldn’t stop until they got their prey.
The silence that had settled over the town was broken occasionally by the pop pop pop of gunshots in the distance. The police or the military were in town and fighting back. As loathe as I were to put myself into the hands of the forces of law and order, it had become clear that my initial thoughts that I would need to be a part of a group to be able to survive this were on the mark.
The park where I was supposed to have met Lily and the others was not visible from my current vantage point, but I could at least tell the general direction in which the street lay. Travelling across the rooftop would get me as far as the end of this block of buildings but I would still need some way down. Preferably a way that would allow me to slip quietly past the undead.
I made my way across the rain dampened rooftop. Backpack of supplies firmly strapped to my back and hammer in my hand. I was better supplied than I had been at the start of the day, so all was not a total loss. I reached the last building in the row and looked down from the edge.
The rain heavy clouds had by now completely covered the sky. Large droplets of water had begun to fall with an increased ferocity as though the very sky above wished to wash away the horrors that were taking place in the town below with this alley as a focal point for the weather gods’ ferocity.
The alley between my perch and the building opposite was awash with blood. Pieces of meat that had once been human were scattered along the length. A horde of undead feasted on the remains. Whoever had been caught in this alley had encountered an unpleasant end. I cursed my misfortune. No safe way down would be found here.
A sheer drop was all I could see at either the front or back of the shops in this row. The main street at the other end held no way down and an alleyway full of zombies below me ensured I was running out of options. The roof of the building across the alley was flat and seemed to be my only choice. I just had to jump a six foot gap in the rain with zombies beneath me.
The rain wasn’t letting up. Waiting would just make things harder. I pulled off the backpack and threw it along with the hammer across to the roof opposite. I backed across my roof half a dozen paces. The ridge tile that I had been walking upon was rounded and provided precarious footing at best.
Taking a deep breath I ran, arms pumping straight towards the edge of the roof. As my foot landed on the last ridge tile it slipped. Off balance I pushed down and threw myself forward across the gap, arms stretched out before me. I slammed into the side of the building, barely managing to grasp tight to the ledge that ran along the roof. Pain shot outwards from my chest along with all the air in my lungs.
My hands were locked tight to the ledge as I hung above the alley desperately sucking in air. I managed to haul myself up and over the ledge and onto the roof with arms that trembled from the exertion. I collapsed onto my back on the roof as the rain fell around me. That had been entirely too close.
The pain above my ribs wasn’t receding. I placed a hand under my jacket and found that one of the screwdrivers I had placed in the inside pocket of my jacket had cut deeply into my flesh when I hit the side of the building. Blood was flowing freely.
My jacket and t-shirt were removed carefully as I made sure to hold the material away from the open wound. With the amount of zombie blood they were covered with, I dare not risk any chance of infection. I retrieved the back pack and removed one of the clean t-shirts I had looted from the flat. With a little effort I was able to rip the cloth and fashion some rudimentary bandages. Hardly ideal but it was certainly better than walking around with an open wound.
I pulled the second t-shirt on and slipped my arms into the straps of the backpack wincing as the movement pulled the edges of my wound. I picked up the hammer and considered the options I had for getting back down to the ground. The side facing the alleyway held no way out. The front of the building held just a straight drop down onto the zombie infested street all along its length. The building I stood upon ended against a four story office block. I was left with only the rear of the structure. Damp, aching and feeling dejected I headed across the roof.
A fire escape led down to the floor from a door set just below the roof, thankfully far from the zombie filled alleyway I had just tried to jump. The metal stairs of the fire escape led into a courtyard that trucks would use to unload deliveries for the stores that surrounded it. I lowered myself from the roof and dropped the remaining few feet onto the sturdy metal landing.
The door was closed with no way of opening it from the outside so I quietly made my way down the stairs and crossed the courtyard to the gap between the buildings that the trucks would drive through. Checking for the dead, moving or otherwise I made my way around the buildings and headed towards the meeting place.
Rain seemed to confuse the zombies. While the slow walk towards where I hoped to meet Lily was in no way safe, it seemed easier to remain undetected. If I kept out of their direct line of sight and didn’t move too close,
I could pass them by. I hid behind parked or abandoned cars and in recessed doorways, keeping low and creeping slowly as I did my best to watch all around me.
At one point I encountered a large group moving down the street towards me. Their numbers spread from one side of the street to the other. With no way of fighting such a group I was forced to drop to the ground and crawl beneath a van. I had a tense wait as I lay on the tarmac of the road and counted the seconds as the group moved past. My head turning first one way and then another trying to see every direction at once, mouth dry and my heart beat rising. My stomach lurched with every stumbling pair of feet that passed too close to where I was hidden.
When I finally crawled from beneath the van the street was empty. The zombies all gathered along in the wake of the large group that had passed, swelling its ranks. It freed me to move swiftly to the end of the street and into the next.
I was cold and wet by the time I reached the meeting place, a small park that sat in the centre of the town. It was a place for office workers to eat their lunches away from their desks, for families to take a break from shopping where the children could run around on the grass chasing pigeons. It was a place full of life and noise. Now it was empty, Lily and the rest of the little group I had risked my life to save were nowhere to be seen.
The park had always been a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by. I had first noticed no less than three of my victims whilst sat watching the people as they sat and talked or quietly ate. The green grass had always been well tended, whilst the trees and bushes that bordered the park were kept neat and orderly.
Slumped on a bench in the park cold, wet and very much alone as I stared into space; I couldn’t feel any of that previous pleasure. The heavy rain that fell from the dark grey sky above suited my mood. Lily had abandoned me. I felt more than a little betrayed and used.
In the end it was the ache from the deep gash in my side that forced me to get up off the bench. I wanted some pain killers and an actual bandage. If I was forced to do this alone then so be it. I worked best alone I told myself and tried to sound convincing. My first task would be to get out of the town centre and find somewhere safe to get some rest. I just had no idea where.
Lily had said the football stadium was going to be used to gather refugees so I could always go there, though that was likely her destination and I was in no mood to encounter her. I recalled that on the edge of the town were some blocks of flats. I could get somewhere off the ground floor and barricade myself in one of them and at least have a proper shower and some decent rest before deciding what to do. Mind made up I set off. Distracted by the ache in my side and dwelling on my feelings of betrayal, I didn’t see the zombie until I was almost on top of him.