Authors: RR Haywood
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.
“The Undead” ™ and “The Living Army” ™ are Trademarks.
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.
Also by RR Haywood
Blood at the Premiere
One glamour model versus the apocalypse
A heart-pounding standalone zombie-horror from bestseller RR Haywood, set in the world of the The Undead Day One Adventures
Also by RR Haywood
Blood on the Floor
An Undead Adventure.
Best read between Day Nineteen and Day Twenty
Bring death and bring it fast because he does not fear it now
To go back is a blessing not a curse
To go there is a victory not a loss.
Bring all of them
Bring them here
I’m not putting my cock on Dave’s cup.
Gnarled hands knead the flour to make bread to feed the many that will wake in the morning. His craggy face remains impassive as he listens to the sounds of the night around him, absorbing the ambience. He pauses when a child whimpers but carries on when he hears the soft motherly tones giving comfort.
The fires in the middle of the fort burn bright, ready to bake and cook. It’s hot but he works on with a steady energy while others sit on the shore at the back, their feet dangling in the cool waters as they cast rods into the black sea to catch fish to feed the many that will wake in the morning.
The patients in the medical bay sleep drug induced and quiet. Others in the fort wake gasping in the grip of nightmares. Some can’t sleep at all for fear of the nightmares coming back so they walk the walls with drawn expressions.
Sentries at the gates talk quietly, sip coffee and turn at the screams of the children that sound out from those nightmares.
The sea surrounding the fort is a mirrored surface with barely a ripple of motion. The very air seems to hang low from the heat. A flash of silver scales breaks the surface then it’s gone to dive down and feast on the corpses that are quickly being stripped of their flesh.
Those same waters lap softly at the sand on the horseshoe bay where mounds of goods left stacked on the beach wait to be taken over.
Nothing stirs. Nothing moves. The air is heavy and humid. The windows of the last house on the bay are all open. The doors too. They sleep without covers. Waking frequently from the uncomfortable warmth.
Howie and Marcy finish their watch. Marcy goes inside to make tea for Clarence. Reginald sits in the kitchen. Impervious to the heat despite the sweat forming on his head. By candlelight he reads. By candlelight he reads again and again to be sure, to understand, to seek knowledge to be one-step ahead of the other player to win the game.
Marcy offers tea. Reginald lifts his head, startled at being distracted. Marcy smiles warmly, resting a hand on his shoulder as he goes back to reading.
‘What’s that word?’ She asks, resting a finger on the notepad.
‘What’s it mean?’
‘Never mind, do you want tea?’
‘Tea? Yes. Yes. Peppermint tea.’
Tea is made. Peppermint for Reginald. Builders tea for Clarence in the biggest mug she can find. A plate is loaded with biscuits from the packets she carefully secured the previous day. Custard creams, digestives, pink wafers, shortbread fingers, bourbons and nice. She smiles as she works. It’s the small things that make the difference in this world now.
‘Tea,’ she places Reginald’s cup down. He doesn’t reply. He is too absorbed. She treads softly upstairs and wakes Clarence before taking his tea and biscuits outside.
The big man creaks through the house in the manner of a bear creaking through a house. The floor in his room creaks, the door creaks, the floorboards on the landing creak, the stairs creak, the landing at the bottom creaks. He’s a big man, what can he do?
‘You eating my biscuits?’ He rumbles, smiling at Howie eating a custard cream.
‘Yep, this one is mine…and this one…’
‘Nope. All quiet. I’m going in. You okay?’
The Second Watch commences. Meredith is there. It is ordained that she will take Second Watch with the big man and eat biscuits. She whines softly as he eases his bulk down on the back step of the Saxon after several minutes of standing silently to absorb the sound of the night.
‘Where is she?’ Clarence asks, smiling at the dog. ‘We’re not all here…’
Jess snorts in the garden. It is ordained that she will take Second Watch with the big man and the dog and eat biscuits. She pushes the fence, testing the resistance. She turns and looks round, eyeing the back door and the glow of the candles within.
‘I’ve got tea,’ an absorbed Reginald tells the horse as she walks through the kitchen, clip clopping on the wooden floor dragging a stool with her.
Jess walks down the hallway. Her sides touching both walls, her ears brushing the lampshade hanging from the light fitting on the ceiling. She stops to look in the designated barrack room of the lounge and snorts air through her nose at the smells. She backs out and stops to stare at the small man on the stairs before deciding he doesn’t have the sugar she can smell. Dave sheaths his knife and goes back up the stairs. His face as devoid of expression as ever.
Clarence grins. Meredith turns and whines with an urgent look at the plate of biscuits. All members are now present.
The Second Watch Biscuit Club commences. Three huge beasts munching at the back of an army truck.
Inside the house Howie and Marcy clamber into the double bed of the room set aside for them. They cuddle at first but it’s too hot so they separate and lie apart to sink down into deep sleeps.
Paula and Roy mimic the actions. Lying apart without covers. Nick and Lilly, younger, hardier and more enraptured with true love withstand the heat to lie entwined and spooned. They wake frequently to feel the other’s presence and drift back off to sleep with smiles touching the corners of mouths.
The night passes. The Second Watch Biscuit Club comes to an end. Jess remains out the front, cleansing her palate with the lush grass on the verges. Meredith dozes, her ears pricked and listening.
Mo stirs. He has been waiting for this all day and all night. It couldn’t come soon enough. When he went to sleep, he positioned his bedroll carefully, leaving Dave only one route to him and that being from the lounge door. As he detects movement so he grins and points to where he knows the lounge door is.
‘Wrong,’ Dave says from behind him. Mo opens his eyes to look round. ‘Good attempt,’ Dave adds, his voice as flat as ever.
‘How long you been there?’ Mo asks, not bothered in the slightest at the thought of Dave creeping about in the night. This is the game.
‘Three minutes. Training. Outside.’
Mo moves fast. His kit already laid out ready for dressing. Socks on. Trousers on. Boots on. Top on. Pistol checked. Rifle checked. Bag grabbed.
‘Adequate,’ Dave says in acknowledgement of the time keeping. ‘Fruit. Water. Eat. Hydrate.
They eat and hydrate as Clarence creaks his way back through the house. Blowers stirs and rolls, tutting at the heat. Charlie wakes and blows air through her cheeks. Blinky farts. Cookey murmurs. Charlie looks over at the sound of his voice, staring intently in case of a nightmare and ready to give comfort. Cookey chuckles and mumbles
it’s my chocolate cake.
The first blow comes as Mo stands from putting his bowl on the floor. This is the game. The rules have been set. Mo reacts, dancing back to block with a grin on his face.
‘We ain’t warmed up yet.’
‘Yes. I am sorry,’ Dave says, stopping the attack. ‘Wrists.’
Mo narrows his eyes as Dave starts circling his wrists. Dave watches Mo narrowing his eyes but portrays no reaction. Mo stiffens ever so slightly and starts circling his wrists while watching Dave like a hawk. Dave whips a hand out with a blur of speed as Mo leans back and away from the strike.
Mo smiles again. An energy between them. A bond of understanding. Mo thought about this all day yesterday. The motions, the feints, the dodges, the grips, locks, moves and counter moves. The toe taps, leg hooks, the pressure of the body and the suppleness of motion. He thought about every single movement and the speed it will take to land one on Dave. He dissected it. He absorbed it. He pondered, imagined, ran scenarios through his mind and cursed himself for every mistake he made.
Dave senses the energy between them. Dave has trained many people before, for single objective missions and for greater overall combat training. He trained Jamie and Jamie was good. Jamie was fast. Jamie was not boastful and looked at the training for what it should be, which is an enhanced set of skills that are continually improved upon.
Mohammed is not Jamie. Mohammed is entirely and uniquely different to anyone Dave has ever trained before. Mohammed is faster than all of them, quicker witted and with a cunning ruthlessness. He has fear but that fear is for the perception of failure and not the fear of injury or harm.
‘Knees,’ Dave says, standing on one leg to swinging his lower leg forward and back from the knee joint. ‘Jess is over there.’
‘Yes not yep.’
‘Hips,’ Dave says, placing his hands on his own hips as he starts circling.
Mo smiles, holding eye contact for the briefest of seconds before nonchalantly looking away. ‘Yeah…’ the word hangs in the air. Dave doesn’t show outward reaction but Mo has to suppress the urge to giggle. The tension builds. Mo knows it is coming. He pauses his hip swing, lowering his head a fraction of an inch to widen his peripheral vision. Dave watches him, knowing the expectation is there, knowing the bait has been laid. He knows he should not strike Mohammed as that is what Mohammed wants and they should never do what is expected. However, the lure is too great, the sense of play is too strong and the glint in Mohammed’s eye is too much to deny.
A smile is a rare thing for Dave. He doesn’t smile now but the corners of his lips do give a certain twitch as he lashes out with a half speed barrage of straight punches that Mo reacts to with excellent precision.
There it begins but Dave doesn’t do anything without reason and the warm up is completed within the combat training. Not that Dave expects Mo to notice or know the warm up is still being given.
Mo does notice though. He notices that Dave’s punches are designed to make him swing left to right to finish the movement of his hips. He knows the greater distance Dave then leaves is to invite Mo to give low sweeping kicks to warm up his legs. He notices that Dave builds the pace gradually until their bodies are starting to thrum and their muscles are buzzing with energy.
Meredith watches them, her tail swishing as she senses the play being given. This is the way of training as training should be. Pups learn through play. They learn the pressure of the bite. They learn motion, speed and power. She knows what they are doing and dozes contentedly with soft brown eyes flicking open every few minutes.
‘You are warmed up now,’ a statement not a question but the invite is there and Dave lays his own bait, watching Mo with expressionless interest to see what the response will be.
Mo nods, serious and solemn. ‘Yeah.’
They go again. Dave attacking and Mo defending. Simple punches and kicks that Dave knows are no threat to Mo.
‘Yes not yeah,’ Dave says, giving a flurry of blows into Mo’s lower back as the lad spins round to fend off.
‘Yeah,’ Mo says, unable to suppress the giggle this time.
Dave gives a flash of true speed and power. A wrist grab, pulling Mo in. A leg hook unbalancing the lad. A gentle shoulder barge to take Mo down. A second wrist grab to grab the arm that he knew Mo would send at his head. He moves deftly, drawing Mo’s arms across his body while holding him just below the point of balance.
‘Yes not yeah,’ Dave says, staring down at Mo who is frantically thinking how to counter move. He tries to kick but finds Dave foot blocking him. He tries to roll but the position prevents it.
‘How do I get out?’ Mo asks, examining the holds and position.
‘Yes not yeah.’
‘Break the lock?’ Mo asks, grunting to try and counter turn Dave’s grip on his wrists.
‘Yes not yeah.’
‘Okay okay,’ Mo says, nodding quickly as though in preparation of submission but Dave has seen the glint and knows Mo will try to lift both his legs to make Dave either hold his weight or drop him, either way it will break the lock. Mo does try that move. He flexes from the core to flick his legs up towards Dave’s neck for a scissor grip but Dave simply lets go and steps back as Mo flops down with a dull thud.
‘Good,’ Dave says, nodding once.
‘I ain’t disrespecting you when I say yeah.’
‘I know,’ Dave says simply. ‘Get up,’ he reaches out to offer a hand to Mo who takes it while knowing the rules of the game and surges up using Dave as leverage. Dave knew it would happen and allows the attack to come. He gauges Mohammed’s speed, dexterity and fluidity of motion to match his own body just above the level Mo is capable of achieving.
The close quarters fight is a blur of arms and legs moving at stunning speeds but each movement is only that which it should be. Dave leads Mo down the street simply blocking each move and feeling Mo’s speed increasing. Mo goes for a wrist grab that is turned away, he tries again and is countered but keeps trying with a flurry of hands trying to grip and hold. Dave goes for his own lock but slowly enough to let Mo deflect and counter. Back and forth and for those few minutes it is just wrist and arm locks being attempted until Mo is sent spinning away and now takes his turn to parry the incoming attack. A withering speed from Dave. Hard hits given that land on Mo’s cheeks with ringing slaps. He cuffs the back of Mo’s head to fuel the anger he knows is bubbling under the surface. This is play but Mo has to be able to fight through his emotions. Mo senses the taunt and it stings. It stings his pride that he is being toyed with so easily.