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Robert Woolgrave

Until it actu­al­ly hap­pened, most peo­ple joked about the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. Peo­ple assumed that when the shit hit the fan, they’d act like the char­ac­ters in the movies — gath­er­ing sup­plies and find­ing a safe house, then sit­ting tight and wait­ing for the trou­bles to blow over.

Robert Wool­grave thought that too. And when the world fell apart around him, that was what he did. But the real­i­ty of sur­vival has proved to be far more serious.

I’m start­ing to think I might have got this all wrong. Real­ly fuck­ing wrong. I’ve gone about it all the wrong way. I thought I was so bloody clever to start with, thought I knew what I was doing. I was too quick off the mark. Think I might have fucked every­thing up.

Fuck the lot of them. That was the atti­tude I had from the start. Didn’t see any point doing any­thing else. I had to be self­ish, didn’t I? When I’m the only one left, how could it be any­thing oth­er than every man for himself?

But hind­sight is a fuck­ing won­der­ful thing. If I’m hon­est, though, I wouldn’t do any­thing dif­fer­ent if I had the time over again. I did what I think pret­ty much every­one else would have done in the same sit­u­a­tion. After it hap­pened I spent some time look­ing for oth­er sur­vivors, but it was pret­ty bloody obvi­ous pret­ty bloody quick­ly that I was the only one left. I took one of the cars from work and drove around town. I stopped in loads of dif­fer­ent places and shout­ed out, but no one came. I drove right into the mid­dle of the pedes­tri­an area, stopped the car right out­side the shop­ping cen­tre among the corpses and yelled my bloody lungs out, but still no one came. There didn’t seem any point try­ing after that. If there were oth­er peo­ple left alive, sure­ly I’d have found them there.

When the bod­ies rose again I decid­ed enough was enough. Scari­est fuck­ing thing I’d ever seen that was, watch­ing them pick them­selves up and start mov­ing around. Worse than watch­ing every­one dying around me last week. Worse than any­thing I remem­ber from the movies. Com­plete­ly fuck­ing terrifying.

I didn’t know where to start. I made the office my base. It was a choice between the office and my flat. The oth­er flats in the block were filled with corpses, so it was a no-brain­er. I got some of my stuff togeth­er, then col­lect­ed as much food as I could car­ry in the back of the car. I dumped it all in the office and set about try­ing to for­ti­fy the place, to make it bet­ter pro­tect­ed. I work at Car­Land, which is a bloody stu­pid name for what is — what was — one of the biggest and busiest sec­ond-hand car lots in the coun­try. Now it’s just a bloody big and bloody qui­et car park.

The office was built a cou­ple of years back to replace the wood­en shack which used to be here. It’s a two-storey con­crete and glass build­ing right in the mid­dle of the lot; a show­room on the ground floor, offices up to. I spent time clear­ing out all the desks and com­put­ers and oth­er crap from the first floor and start­ed try­ing to make myself com­fort­able. And that was where I made my first mis­take. It was too easy to con­cen­trate on com­fort at the expense of every­thing else. I should have stopped to think.

I took a van and fetched myself some stuff from the fur­ni­ture store on the oth­er side of the busi­ness park: a sofa bed, a cou­ple of easy chairs, a table and some oth­er odds and ends. Near­ly crip­pled myself get­ting that bloody lot up the stairs. Then I start­ed to get greedy. By the fourth day it was look­ing more and more like­ly I was going to be here for the long haul so I made anoth­er trip out for food and drink. I stopped at the elec­tri­cal super­store on the way back and took as much as I could car­ry, plan­ning to keep myself occu­pied with phones, movies, music and games. I didn’t feel bad tak­ing the stuff. Any­one would have done the same.

For a cou­ple of days I was com­fort­able and I felt safe. Thought I was liv­ing a life of bloody lux­u­ry, I did. Space, qui­et, com­fort and noth­ing to do except eat, drink, lis­ten, watch and play. After a while I stopped watch­ing films. It didn’t feel right. They left me feel­ing emp­ty and they remind­ed me of how every­thing used to be. I found myself some porn (noth­ing too strong) but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I couldn’t get turned on watch­ing women who I knew were dead. And music … I stopped lis­ten­ing to music too. I didn’t like wear­ing head­phones, didn’t like not being able to hear what was going on around me even though there was noth­ing. Play­ing games, on the oth­er hand, seemed to help. I couldn’t con­cen­trate on any­thing too tax­ing, but I got a big­ger kick than ever out of fight­ing games. Tak­ing out my frus­tra­tions on the screen real­ly seemed to help.

Things start­ed to go wrong last Sat­ur­day morn­ing. I didn’t think I’d been mak­ing much noise, but I obvi­ous­ly had and it was hav­ing an effect on the bod­ies out­side the office. The bloody things wouldn’t leave me alone. They hadn’t seemed inter­est­ed in me at first, but that changed. Christ, they only had to see me mov­ing in the win­dow and they’d turn and start walk­ing towards the build­ing. Bloody things. They were slow mov­ing and weak and it didn’t take much effort to get rid of them, but there were more and more of them com­ing all the time. It didn’t mat­ter what I did or didn’t do, once they knew I was there, they just kept on com­ing. I had to do some­thing about them. I couldn’t stand them being so close.

I spent all day Mon­day try­ing to make the office even more secure. I went out­side with as many sets of keys as I could find and I start­ed mov­ing cars clos­er to the build­ing. I took my time and planned it prop­er­ly. I parked as many cars as I could right around the out­side of the build­ing, then moved anoth­er lay­er up and parked them close to the first, then anoth­er lay­er after that. It took me from ten in the morn­ing until late after­noon to get the job done but it felt worth it to make the place secure. I left myself a way to get in and out if I have to and I also left a cou­ple of cars ready just in case I have to get away quick. Bot­tom line is, though, none of those fuck­ers are going to get me while I’m in here.

Some­thing hap­pened when I was mov­ing the cars on Mon­day that real­ly both­ered me. I had to start get­ting aggres­sive with some of the bod­ies. It worked both ways, because those fuck­ing things start­ed get­ting aggres­sive with me first. I couldn’t believe it — one of the fuck­ers just went for me. No provo­ca­tion or any­thing. If it had been any stronger then I’d have been in real trou­ble, but as it was I just threw it to the ground and car­ried on. When I was inside the cars they were less of a prob­lem. When I was on foot, though, things got a lit­tle nas­ti­er. By the end of the day I had to start get­ting vio­lent to keep them under con­trol and I didn’t enjoy that at all. I had to do things I real­ly wasn’t com­fort­able with. I mean, I had kids and old ladies com­ing at me for Christ’s sake. Fuck­ing hell, at one point I was bat­ter­ing a lit­tle kid around the head with a jack from the boot of one of the cars and I thought, what the fuck am I doing? I had to do it, though. I had no choice. It was get them before they get me — kill them or be killed by them. After a while I gave up try­ing to man­han­dle them and I start­ed wip­ing them out with the cars. I feel bad about it now, but there was a part of me that actu­al­ly enjoyed it at the time. Fuck­ing hell, by the end of the day I was chas­ing the fuck­ing things round the car park, run­ning them down and giv­ing myself points for killing them with style or at speed, bet­ter than any game. Crazy real­ly. It was only when I got up next morn­ing and saw what I’d done that I realised how dumb I’d been. I must have killed more than fifty of the damn things. There was blood, guts and bits of bod­ies everywhere.

But there were still more coming.

#

I don’t feel so good today. I’m scared. It’s late on Wednes­day night and there are hun­dreds of them out­side again. You’d think they’d have seen what hap­pened here and giv­en up. There’s no way they can get to me, but they’re just relent­less. They stand out­side, edg­ing ever clos­er, watch­ing and wait­ing for me to come out. I’ve tried block­ing up the win­dows, but it doesn’t make any dif­fer­ence because I know they’re still there, and they know I’m here. I’ve start­ed think­ing some bloody crazy thoughts too. Are they here for revenge?

Christ I feel sick.

Don’t know whether it’s some­thing I’ve eat­en or just nerves, but my guts are bad. I’ve lived on crap since this start­ed — most­ly choco­late, crisps, bis­cuits and oth­er snacks because that’s eas­i­est. I haven’t had bread or any­thing fresh for days. It’s prob­a­bly noth­ing, just adren­a­lin, but it’s made me think. I stuck my head out of the door for a sec­ond this after­noon and all I could hear was thou­sands of flies buzzing and I start­ed think­ing about the germs and dis­eases that are out there. I’ve prob­a­bly been breath­ing them in for days now. For Christ’s sake, the whole fuck­ing car lot is packed with human remains.

This build­ing is start­ing to smell. It’s start­ing to smell worse than out­side. I can’t stand it any longer. I’ve had diar­rhoea since yes­ter­day morn­ing and I can’t flush any of the toi­lets now. They’re all backed-up with shit and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t have any spare water or bleach. I should have been bet­ter prepared.

It’s dark now, and there’s noth­ing to do but sit here and wait for morn­ing. I’m scared. I don’t want to play games any­more. I don’t want to be dis­tract­ed. I want to know what’s hap­pen­ing around me so that I’m ready for any­thing, but at the same time I don’t want to look. I don’t want to see the dead out­side. I can’t sleep. I can’t even bring myself to shut my eyes now, and even if I could, the pain in my guts would keep me awake.

Those fuck­ing things just won’t go. They’re wait­ing for me. They try to climb over the cars to get clos­er to me but they can’t do it. They don’t have the coor­di­na­tion or the strength today, but tomor­row they might.

I’ll stay here for as long as I can but I know I’ll have to try and find some med­i­cine and prop­er food soon. Maybe I’ll try and get away in the morn­ing. Maybe I’ll wait anoth­er cou­ple of days. Maybe I’ll nev­er get out.

I’ve gone and built myself a fuck­ing prison.

THE AUTUMN SERIES