Authors: Luke Ashton
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Post-Apocalyptic
To my fiancée.
My zombie apocalypse survival partner.
The hum of the air-con unit struggling to maintain any comfortable temperature and the clicking of the keys on Jim’s keyboard were the only audible sounds. It was quiet, just how he liked it. The phone had rang twice that day and all upgrades were implemented for the day on the school systems. He ran his hand through his damp mousey brown hair and wiped it on his pants. It left a slight smudge and he sighed. He liked the quiet but the heat was killing him. Jim had always been a warm person, preferring the cold to the heat. He was slowly reading through several apocalypse conspiracy theories online and was particularly interested in one he found about a zombie apocalypse started by a mutated flu vaccine. He loved zombies and everything to do with them.
He had worked in several IT departments for different companies and found himself on several occasions having in depth discussions with colleagues about different apocalypses. Always focusing on zombies but there were, in his eyes, all sorts of apocalypses to consider. Giant spiders, biblical plagues, lethal viruses, atomic warfare or a meteorite strike. The list was endless. He had his plan worked out in his head for each eventuality and hoped that his military training would give him an edge on the apocalyptic world that was inevitable in one form or another.
Jim had been a proud serving member of the Territorial Army for going on 5 years now and although he hadn’t made it to a warzone yet he still lived and breathed it when he could. He had still been to several countries with them on annual camps and done numerous weekends’ that had all bode him well as far as training had gone. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do a tour with the Yorkshire Regiment it was just that there had always been something stopping him. He first tried it shortly after he started out in IT but his employers at the time found a nice handy loop hole in the law to get rid of his job if he went away. The law stated that employers could not simply get rid of a serving TA member if he was deployed on a tour of duty but this particular law had more holes than some of Jim’s old boxers.
“Zombie apocalypse theories ey?”
It was Jim’s boss. He had been that caught up in the theory he was reading he hadn’t heard him come in.
yeah ” Jim stuttered as he broke out of his daydream. “Kind of a personal hobby of mine.”
“Nothing wrong with
that, helps to be prepared when the brain eating wanderers come about.”
“An old school zombie lover” Mused Jim Silently.
“I know what you mean but...” At that moment the bell rang to signal the end of the school day and the rest of Jim’s sentence was drowned in it. A quick glance at the clock on his desktop and Jim tapped the keys to lock his machine and began packing up.
“Same again tomorrow then?”
He asked as he slid his grey suit jacket on and buttoned up the front.
“Yeah mate, I’ve got a few bits to do tomorrow morning when you get in but nothing too taxing to drag you away from your research” He said with a wink. “I’m popping into the PC world by your place in the morning if you want a lift in tomorrow?”
“Sounds good to me Dan.” Dan had only been Jim’s boss for about a week now but he liked him as a boss. He was fair and laid back. The school system was his baby and as long as Jim respected that he was left to do his own thing. “Anyway, I’d best get off or I’ll be up to my neck in screaming kids.”
“No worries see you bud.” Jim left and as the door clicked shut behind him he already heard the rustle of bags and coats as kids packed up their stuff and got ready to charge. He walked briskly down a corridor and took the first left towards the fire escape. He sometimes caught a lift with Dan
home as Dan lived the other side of Leeds to him so would be passing his place anyway but Dan was staying back today to run some updates once all lessons were done so there was minimal interruption to normal teaching. He pushed on the handle that warned that it was alarmed and let both doors swing open. The alarm had been deactivated shortly after it was installed after kids messing about caused too many fire drills to count. The care taker usually opened all the fire doors about 1430, half an hour before the last class finished, but he and several other staff members had been off ill with this seasons flu bug. Jim had been ok, he rarely got ill, but Dan was looking terrible with it. He had been sneezing and blowing his nose all day, despite the heat.
He wandered over the bit of grass in front of the school and past the sixth form block down to the bus stop just as an ancient bus came trundling down the long road past the school. He sighed inwardly. If he got this bus he wouldn’t be able to have a cig for another 25 minutes but if he waited for the next one he’d have to get it with the school rush and probably end up stuffing a kid into some old ladies trolley. He smiled at the thought as he decided that even though he was dying for a cig he didn’t want to have to deal with any more kids today. His dog was enough work for him.
As the bus rolled to a stop in front of him he pulled out his Nintendo wallet, made to look like an old controller, and flashed his pass at a bored looking driver who gave an enthused grunt and waved him through. The bus was about a quarter full of old people heading into Huddersfield to go to bingo or just walk slowly in front of people to annoy them. He spotted one old lady sat at the front with a Burberry pattern trolley rested on the front of her legs and the image of a school kids feet flailing out of the top of it came back to him. Jim plonked himself down, fished out has headphones and untangled the mass of wire sprouting from them. They were a set of fold up ones that he’d picked up from a gadget store a few weeks ago. The sound quality in them was good and they folded up into his pants pocket. As he plugged them into his phone and hit play his headphones jumped into life with a very quiet rendition of Queen’s “
We Are The Champions”
. He held the volume button until the outside world no longer existed and he was lost in his own daydream.
He snapped back to life as the bus gave a judder knocking his headphones off one ear and letting in the real world once more. There was the sound of horns honking as
an old, battered Micra took a wrong turn and unintentionally came nose to nose with the bus. A small, plump balding Asian man waved his apologies as he caused a small traffic jam both ways by manoeuvring backwards into the traffic to get out of our way. After some more horns to cheer him on and several shouts of insults that would make Gordon Ramsay proud, he managed to get the car in the right direction and normal life resumed. He pushed his earphone back on in time to catch the end of an old Eminem track and stood up. Catching this bus, he realised, meant he could get the early train and make it home with time to eat before he had to iron his kit, polish his boots and get down to his TA centre back in Huddersfield for his drill night.
The rest of the journey home was just as uneventful as he pulled out a loose brick on the side of his house and pulled a re-sealable plastic bag out of the hole. The bag had his keys in as he rarely took them anywhere with him. He was prone to losing things like keys so it paid to leave them behind. He slid the key into the lock and jiggled it until it clicked open and was greeted by an overly excited mutt on the other side. After about 20 seconds of Jim struggling to keep the dog from getting hair all over his suit he stepped aside to let him go and do his business in the garden. Well it was known as a garden but it was a small 10 foot by 12 foot flagged area in front of his house. He watched for a minute as Rubeus sniffed around before deciding on a deserving spot to drop his arse on. He had gotten Rube as a birthday present several years ago when he still lived at home and had been forced to leave him with his parents when he first moved out as the apartment he moved to would not allow pets. When he moved into the house in Leeds it was decided that, as his parents now also had 2 Great Dane’s to look after it was best for him to come live with Jim.
In the year that Jim had had Rube he had come along in leaps and bounds. Whoever coined the phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ obviously hadn’t met Rube. When he first got Rube he was a right little shit. As he was rescued in the first place, after his owner had tied him up in a backyard and left him when he moved out, he used to have abandonment issues and when left on his own for more than 30 seconds would howl the place down and try to find the most expensive piece of furniture to demolish. He also had habits of stealing little things such as packs of tissues and then trying to make it look like it was one of the other dogs. Since moving in with him Rube had stopped destroying things over time and was now able to be left for a full day without any issues and even went out sometimes without a lead. This was only sometimes as the area Jim lived in was right next to the police station and, although they didn’t seem to mind drug dealing, vandalism and domestic abuse, they were still quick to jump on dogs without leads and littering. At least they have their priorities straight.
Jim called Rube in and picked up the post sat on the mat. He plonked himself down on the couch and flicked on the TV to catch the start of one of the shows he’d seen a million times as he ripped open the letters one at a time. The house phone started to ring and he jumped up to grab it from the table that doubled as his TV stand for his 42” TV.
“Lance Corporal Parry?” An important sounding voice demanded on the other end of the phone.
“Speaking” He replied in his best phone voice.
“It’s Sergeant Ruskow. You down tonight?” Sergeant Ruskow was his platoon sergeant for the last year or so after his old one had retired from the TA, after 22 years of doing very little, to spend more time with his little girl. Ruski, as he was affectionately called by the lads, was originally from Russia but moved to Yorkshire when he was 12 and only has a twang of his old countries accent left.
“Always Sergeant I’m supposed to be doing a lesson on webbing with the recruits.” Jim had been teaching the recruits before they went off to do basic training and had been given pretty much free reign over the lessons so had tried to plan the lessons on what they would need to know most that basic training didn’t teach them as it was assumed they either wouldn’t need it or they should already know it.
Another one of the army’s great ideas.
“That’s cancelled twitch.” Twitch was Jim’s nickname with the lads after he had proven himself to have eyes like a hawk on training exercises. “CO’s coming down to chat to us about the future of the army or something. He needs maximum attendance.” Jim moaned. The commanding officer was a legend among the men after he charged a machine gun nest with a platoon in Iraq and won himself a military cross but his motivational speeches were that rehearsed he might as well have a teleprompter for them.
“Anything I need to bring Ruski?” Jim asked as he checked his old Casio watch for time.
“Just yourself will do, I’ll take that webbing back off you some other time.” Jim had taken his webbing out of stores around 6 months ago to train up for his PNCO (Potential Non-Commissioned officer) course and never given it back. The PNCO course is the course you have to go on before the board of old bastards that make decisions would give you a promotion. He was reluctant to take it back. Each TA member had his own breadbasket within the platoon stores that Ruski ran but everyone took from each other’s breadbaskets when they needed to borrow things and usually forget to put them back. For that reason Jim had found a decent set of webbing and kept it away from stores as much as possible.
“No worries Ruski, see you tonight.” He ended the call and slipped the phone back in its holster as he tapped out a cig and lit it. He realised Rube had been sat next to him looking at him. Waiting for permission to get on the couch with him.
“Come on then you.” He switched his smoking hand and patted the couch as the dog leapt up and settled next to him, his head in his lap. He finished flicking through the mail and after finding it was nothing but companies wanting more money off him he tossed the letters on the table and ripped the envelopes in half to chuck in the bin. He sat for a minute, smoking, watching TV and stroking Rube as he pondered what kit to take. Ruski had said not to bring anything but he always liked to be prepared. He decided on his flick knife and his notebook. The flick knife he had got from a little shop down the road and it was a godsend. It was like a multi-tool with a serrated edge on one side and a blade, sharper than
Dr. House on crack, on the other. It had a rib separator on the end to stick it into someone’s chest that made it look distinctly like a bayonet. The notebook was a small camo pouch he’d bought off one of the lads a while back that had a Velcro pouch on the front for a few pens and a bit of paper and it opened into 2 large pouches that would fit an a5 notebook in each side. Jim had markers and pens in the top with a decent Chinese take-out menu in the pouch and all manner of instructional booklets and memos inside with an a5 notebook and a decent pen.
Jim stubbed out his fag end in the ashtray on the coffee table and started to get his kit ready. He checked on the
dogs food and water levels and gave him a treat, Checked his kit over one last time, locked the door and sealed it back in the bag before stepping off back to Huddersfield.