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 Post subject: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:31 am 
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Hey guys, first time posting the prologue type thing to my PAW book, I have written more than this but it's a bit disjointed and out of sync so re-writing, any and all feedback would be great, thanks!

EDIT: The title (as well as the whole thing!) is a work in progress, so that's up for review as well :)

EDIT: General poor grammar edited, and also a fair few changes, trying to be more cogent with it all, please send more feedback guys, carrying on with some of the story so should be able to post a couple of thousand words soon :)

FURTHER EDIT: Big changes, more to follow!

Prologue

They always said that the world was going to end. Every couple of months there would be something new; then it would fade away to the next apocalyptic favourite. Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Al-Qaeda, the list goes on. More recently climate change became the favourite, which started as global warming, then, as soon as people said things like “it would be nice to have some warmer weather”, the scientists changed their minds, and now it was the next ice age for us, flooding for some and searing heat for the rest.

But they always came back to the old ones; nuclear winter seemed to be more and more likely with every passing day. Apparently the British Government had a plan in place which would enable us to immediately strike back at anyone who launched a nuclear attack on us, anywhere in the world, in submarines, we were told. Not that the notion did anything to calm anyone, who cares about vengeance once they’re dead?

Oil crises were always fun, they certainly caused more panic than climate change ever did. If there was word of fuel price rises people would be out in their millions “stockpiling” fuel, which basically meant filling the car up more than normal, and perhaps a jerry can or two, to be left in the garage and never be touched. Some ex-USSR militant leader finding the equivalent of two hundred million barrels of oil in his frozen tundra of a country nearly sparked war more than once.

These were all well and good, if you believed what was said. There were always the cynics, “oh climate change is just a tax scam”, “they don’t have that sort of nuclear material, the UN would stop them!” and “Well we've just found more oil, so the price will go down again”. They didn’t last long.

Then there were those that provoked genuine responses. A new strain of influenza, vaccine resistant, that always sounded so daunting, but of course it wasn't. It would only affect the old, the young and the already sick, but scientists always came through with a vaccine when we needed it.

Occasionally there would be something at the end of the news of an asteroid that would be passing close to the earth...if one hundred thousand miles could be considered close.
Of course, there were credible threats, but these seemed harder to define; like the collapse of the economy, what would that actually do to us? Economists on the news were always waxing about the fragility of the stock market and the “global ramifications” of any collapse.

But no one, or at least no one that had any credibility, could have guessed how it would really end. There was no conventional war, no nuclear strike, and certainly no asteroids.
It was hard to say how it started; it was as if, all of a sudden it was just there. It was some kind of disease, apparently. No one knew where it came from, or what it really did. At first they talked about it like they did influenza, calling in the young, the old and the sick to be immunized, well that certainly didn’t work.

Then someone made the link to rabies, a new strain carried by mosquitoes they said, which came from Central Africa, eggs buried in this new wood that everyone went crazy for. It would die out in the winter we were told, the famous “British Winter”, with the promise of snow that never came. This fitted in with the crazed behaviour. But they weren’t scared of water. Then we were back to influenza, but this time Bird Flu, a new strain of H1N1, which had mutated with rabies and affected the higher brain function of the patients, that made more sense than any of the rest, but the vaccines and the treatment had no effect. Then it was likened to Ebola. The fact that it could only be transferred by direct body fluid contact seemed to fit. But the manic way in which they behaved could not be explained by this. I'm no virologist, but I think this was probably something that we have never seen before. A combination? Weaponised? I don’t know, but it happened.

Everyone was just so wrong. But even if we had known from the outset, would we have been able to stop it?

It wasn't until a full 6 months after we heard about this that anything was really done. The mentality appeared to be “This isn't happening to me yet, so I'm going to ignore it”. Like the countless droughts and famines that we ignored, this was just another sad story from some part of the world that was just too far away to have an effect on us. That way of thinking soon stopped.

I remember seeing the news, that the entirety of Europe had closed all Sea and Airports, as well as strict land border control. Full militarised border controls and curfews were among standard news items, and then they were introduced in to the UK. “Measures for the prevention of the spread of potentially harmful disease”, we were told. However, these paltry procedures paled in to insignificance compared to what the American’s were doing. Full Martial Law was imposed, anyone out at night could be shot without any warning, and lots of them were.

But our methods were not enough, after a few short weeks, they got in, near Norfolk first, and then in to London, a trickle that quickly turned in to a torrential flood, an unstoppable tide of fear, blood and flesh. Full scale war was waged on the streets, neighbour against neighbour, Army against horde. In a desperate attempt to rid the country of the unorganised mass, we were told that London was going to be bombed, all military personnel evacuated, and civilians told to leave if they could. Then, nothing, they just stopped talking about it. And with next to no warning, they came south, probably following their prey, it didn’t matter why, but they were here.

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Last edited by AinsyC on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 6:10 am 
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Sounds good.


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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:10 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:22 am 
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Hey Guys, I've made a few updates, so please have another look, again feedback is very helpful, thanks to TacAir for some great advice!

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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:15 pm 
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Quite a big chunk here, basically posted most of what I have that I am happy with.

"It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet" - Tomita

Would absolutely love any and all feedback, PM me or just post it, any suggestions you have for the main character's name, and any ideas for naming the zombies in my story, in the similar vein that in The Walking Dead they're referred to as walkers. I'm not that concerned about it really, but I would like to have something nailed down for the sake of consistency.

I

It was sheer utter carnage.

Everywhere.

Instantly.

One day we went to bed, the world as quiet as it could be on a Friday night in a busy town, and in the morning, it was like something from a film. People running screaming everywhere, looting, fighting, the police were powerless, the Army without command. Everything became so brutal. The government told everyone to lock and barricade their doors and windows. Fill everything we could with water. Eat the perishable food first.

Those infected became something that was unrecognisable. They weren’t human any more, they were less. It wasn't as if they had devolved, more as though they had been taken over by something with no imagination, and the only goal was difficult to describe, some kind of attack protocol had been issued in their brains, it was fight, not flight. They were slow, clumsy, stupid versions of their predecessors.

To say that this was the least likely thing to happen would probably be wrong, but it was definitely the worst. The enemy was faceless, they didn’t appear to want anything, and they just...destroyed. Suddenly the pretty mirror image we had been painting of ourselves cracked, and we realise what our true reflection was. And it was ugly. It was bloodthirsty. And I'm not talking about the people with the disease; I mean the ones “fortunate” enough to not become infected. I saw a man stab a lady for less than a litre of water. Right there, with my own eyes. And, waiting in the car, her children. That made me regret going outside.
Everyone was desperate, everyone was clueless. To leave the flat was an incredibly bad idea. To let anyone in was worse, no matter how well you knew them.

There was one spark in the gloom; the virus appeared not to be air or water borne. We were supposed to believe that anyway. But when it came from the people who had not had any idea of what had been happening the entire time, it seemed dubious at best. But it did seem to hold true.

It didn't take long for the TV to go off, we never knew why; my guess is that people left to be with their families, which is nicer than the potential alternative. Radio lasted a little longer, because it was easier to make your own broadcast from home, with little know how and a few electronics. Internet access was sporadic to say the least, as servers crashed all around the world, less and less of the World Wide Web was accessible, but it was impossible to track once the power went off.

No matter what had happened up until that point, it really kicked in when the power went off. Everything is controlled by electricity. Everything in your home basically needed some form of electricity to function. Unless you had one of those really old cookers or boilers, you were without hot food and water.

For me, the strangest thing was the street lighting. I remember being up one night, a few weeks after it had happened, reading by a small torch, the faint orange glow just peeping through the boarded up windows. It had always annoyed me before, but it was useful. It meant I could turn off my torch and still be able to see just enough inside the flat. This was good, because I was running out of batteries. I had turned the torch off and was sitting there, bathing in the orange glow, imagining I was somewhere else, fantasising about the way things had been, and the lights just went off. There was no noise, no warning, just darkness, true pitch black darkness.

It didn’t take long for my situation to become critical. After being stuck in side for just over four weeks, it happened. The water ran out. And the worst thing is that it was my fault. I was shaving my candlelight, my weekly shave, keeping my hair out of reach of any grabby little hands. I cut my self by accident with the old razor, and flinched, knocking the candle in the basin, in my panic; I reached out to grab it, and pulled out the plug. The water was gone before I knew what had happened. I probably shouldn't have been shaving in there, it was wasteful anyway.

I just stood, still in the dark. Bleeding. For... well, I don’t know how long. My head was, once again, all over the place. I started to cry, how had everything gone so wrong? Tears rolled freely down my half shaved cheeks. I found the last half a bottle of Johnny Walker and finished it, in three long gulps. Well that made me feel better, but not for long. I locked the bathroom door, and curled up in the bath, and spent the night in there wishing that I wouldn't wake up. But I did. And I immediately knew that I couldn't stay here. Practically no water, food basically all gone, I knew that I would have to leave. I hadn't seen outside properly in two weeks. I reckoned I had half a day’s worth of water at best, and that was if I could bottle it. I had a road map somewhere, which I quickly found and looked at the surrounding geography.

The outlook was bleak. Plymouth is apparently huge. The university alone had thirty thousand students. The surrounding population I didn’t even know. At first I thought of trying to steal a boat and just go somewhere, but quickly abandoned the idea. I’d been sailing a couple of times, but in rivers, and under instruction of a qualified captain, with other crew members, nothing like the English Channel. I didn’t even know how long that would take in a boat, or even if there would be one. But the real reason that I didn’t want to go, was because I had no idea where to go. The mainland was out; the population of Europe and Asia were infected and overrun. God only knows how many people there had been before this started, and what they had now become.

That didn’t leave me with too many options, Cornwall didn’t seem immediately to be a bad idea, but when I thought about it, I didn’t like the idea of being trapped. So I carried on, looking at the map, and I realised that I had been looking the wrong way for a while. For the first time in a while, I almost smiled. The depressed look on my face lifted a little, and I felt as though I had eaten a warm meal, almost satisfied.

Dartmoor; England’s largest and most bio-diverse National Park. It would be perfect! There were freshwater springs that couldn't have been contaminated, animals and plants that I could eat, and plenty of places to hide.

I looked at the map, this time with a little more scrutiny. Main roads and population centres were something I definitely wanted to avoid. I couldn't avoid the roads at first, but as soon as I could, I would get on to open ground. It makes sense right? Well, you try lugging 15KG of “kit” over a mile of wet muddy field, all the while looking around, trying to be quiet and not attract attention, and then tell me that again.

So without much of a plan, I got ready to leave. I had everything I thought I would need. Of course I had the wrong stuff. I had a pillow! Instead I could have had more socks, or another jumper...the winters certainly seemed a lot colder now. I did possibly do one thing right, which was to take a smaller pack with limited food, the last of the Vodka, about 150 ml, a lighter and the last pack of Marlboro’s. If I was down to that bag I’d be dead soon enough anyway.

How I wish I even had the slightest idea of wilderness survival. What plants to eat, and what plants not to eat. How to catch a fish without a fishing rod, how to tell if water was clean.

The last four weeks shut up in my dank flat had left lasting imprints on my mind. The sounds of the occupants of the building succumbing, nights were rife with screams for about 10 or so days, then, well, nothing, apart from a thump every now and the, a thump I distinctly did not want to think about.

The next morning, I would leave.


II

Before I left, I grabbed a kitchen knife, and the hammer that I had used to board everything up, and held them as tightly as I could as I broke out of the flat. The next problem, I was 6 floors up. I thought about breaking my window, throwing out the mattress and then trying to jump on to it, but that seemed like a bad idea. I think in this new world, a broken leg would almost definitely be a death sentence. So I did the only thing I could. I walked down the stairs, expecting bloody hand prints on the walls, infected and dead people everywhere, signs of scuffles, but there was nothing, the stairwell was eerily clear. I was gripping the knife and hammer so tightly that it felt like my knuckles were going to burst through my skin.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs I pressed the button to release the door. Nothing happened. It was a second before I realised, no power means no automatic door. So I pushed it. It didn’t budge. It was frosted glass, double or possibly triple glazed. I stood there. What was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to smash it? It wasn't something that I particularly wanted to do, the noise would attract more of the infected. But that was the only thing I could do, and now that I had come down the stairs, I really did not want to come back up again. So I wrapped my hand in a spare t-shirt, and hit it with the hammer. Not hard enough at all, it just bounced off. So I decided to put more in to it. However, I still had not put enough in to it, and the glass remained as unbroken as the first time.

Now I was angry. I was the one with the hammer! Putting all of my weight in to it, and with a bit of a run up, I went for it, hell for leather! Smashing straight through the first and second panes with the hammer, I had less luck with the third. As I ran I half tripped, and I flew head first through the final pane of glass. I went down hard, landing awkwardly on my arm and face, lucky not break anything. I got up gingerly, standing in a lot of broken glass. Now my shaving cut was put quite in to context, as the right side of my face was well and truly chewed up. I wrapped my face in the spare t-shirt, to try and stem the bleeding and resist infection.

I was out of the building, my sanctuary for the last four weeks, and I suddenly felt very naked, and alone.

I didn’t know what to expect, bodies on the street? Blood everywhere? Glass and burnt out cars mosaicing the street? But there were none of those things, like the stairwell. It was just, empty. So, so empty. You could have forgiven something for thinking that it was Christmas. Even the smell, wasn't different, I expected the stench of rotting corpses, the copper of blood, spilt petrol, but no, the smell was the same. But something was so unlike it had been before; it took a moment to notice. I suppose that you don’t always notice things when they're not there. There was absolutely no noise. There wasn't even any wind. No birds, no cars going up and down, no music or chatter from the bars. The general sounds of the city had gone. That was what scared me the most. That kind of silence just seems so unnatural in this day and age, when we all walk around plugged in to our iPods, on our phones, never a moment of silence. Though silence, the absence of noise cannot be measured, it is overwhelming, and all encompassing.

Trying to prepare myself for anything that might be coming, I left, sticking to those roads as I knew that I would have to. And I nearly paid the price for it.

My map told me I was looking at about a 12 mile walk to the southernmost tip of Dartmoor, which unfortunately was as the crow flies, and I didn’t know how to work it out going along the roads. I hoped for a fleeting second that it would all be as quiet as outside of the front of my flat. How wrong I was. The things I would see and do would change me forever.

Almost half of my journey was through heavily built up roads, which led in to a new kind of sub-urban nightmare. If was able to get through that, it would leave me about three or four miles cross country, what look like agricultural land, which I was hoping would be the much better part of my journey.

Less than ten minutes outside and I saw one. Far away, nearly three hundred metres, but in my direct path. I stopped dead, just staring at it. It looked like it had been a man once, but I don’t know what it was anymore. Disjointed shambling, head lolling back and forth like some kind of sick puppet. Managing to pull my gaze away, my only option (or so I thought) would be to take a short diversion towards the town centre before swinging back out. It looked like this would add another mile or so to my journey.

Going through the smaller streets and back alleys to get in to the city I walked cautiously, worried that I would see one of the contaminated disease ridden people. Worried that I would see some kind of militant gang, worried about everything. I turned out of the alley that would bring me down on to Union Street, and halted, shocked at what I could see.

This was the devastation I had imagined when leaving my flat. There were burnt out shells of cars littered around, like a child's discarded toys. On the pavement at one side there was a caravan completely upside down, and there were scorch marks all over the concrete. This is where all the birds had gone. They were picking at the rotting corpses, perhaps these were the fortunate ones? Had they just died in car crashes? I wonder if it was quick, painless. Or had they suffered? Seen their loved ones die beside them, unable to do anything, paralysed? How did the world get like this? Somehow, to die in a car crash was lucky. If I learnt one thing that day, it was that the new world was fucked up.

I knew that I would have to walk close to the cars, but I didn’t want to. I forced my self to do it, knowing that it would be bad. The smell was overwhelming. Like a mixture of warm sick and shit. I vomited more than once, which worried me because it meant that I was losing fluids.

Suddenly, breaking the low level of birds crowing there was a shout. It sounded like a man's voice. And then another. I couldn't make out what was being said, but it was definitely people! I tried to shout out, but all I could manage was a harsh cough. That was the unfortunate effect of not talking to anyone for four weeks, and being sick. I tried to listen for the shouting and see where it was coming from, but the noise was bouncing around the surrounding houses, and off the cars. I spun around in vain, trying again and again to shout. I didn't have to be alone in this! I could band up with some other people, live as nomads! The thought of companionship was running away with me, I started to run towards the place from where the sound had come.

But then there was a noise, a huge bang, quickly followed by two more. Having only ever heard guns on TV and in films before I expected it to be a lot quieter. But this was loud. Very loud. All of the birds flew away in fear, and I went straight down on to the floor, holding my hands over my head.

A couple of minutes had passed before I even thought about moving my head, let alone getting up. Now there was silence again. I listened hard but there was nothing. I tried to see as much as I could from my place on the floor. But my view was blocked by the cars around me. I tilted my head up slowly, and saw a little more. Nothing appeared to have changed. I was pretty sure that the sound had come from behind the large office blocks, and that was the direction in which I was looking.

Slowly, very slowly, I got to my feet. I looked around in a full circle now, but it still appeared as if nothing had changed. I turned back towards where the shouting had come from.

Was it worth going over there? What if they just shot me? I wondered if they were even alive any more, I couldn't hear anything. Frowning, which hurt my face; I thought long and hard about whether or not I should go over there. I weighed it up in my head. If I went over there, I risked death or serious injury, although I could no longer hear anything. It was possible I could pick up some food or water, and possibly even the gun that I had heard.

Now that was enticing.

But I had never even seen a real gun before, let alone used one. I have no idea how they would even work, I mean pulling the trigger is probably simple enough, but reloading?

And how necessary was it? It would probably help to catch food, assuming there was any ammo left.

Every part of me did not want to go over there. As I thought about it I realised there were possibly at least two freshly dead people over there. And the sound would have echoed for a long way. Someone or something may have heard it, and might be on their way, which could spell bad news for me. Or maybe they had been overrun, not arguing with each other but shouting against a previously unseen shambling force. I had heard three shots. Three undead horrors? Or three suicides?

I could take it no more, I turned around and continued to walk the way I was going, towards my new potential home, Dartmoor. As I walked, my wet crotch started to chafe, and I quietly wept.

The bleakness of the situation was soul shattering. In the early days, the news and radio told about the survivor camps, quick checks for those uninfected, and then sanctuary. However, I was a cynic; they drew in the infected even more. Quickly overrun, with no effective method or response. Perhaps it would be possible to salvage some food, or maybe a better weapon from there. I didn’t entertain the thought for long.

I knew I had to press on, the quicker I could out of the built up areas the better, hopefully there would be less people, and less of the horrors there. The buildings that surrounded me felt like a cage, limiting my options. Only having one direction to travel in was incredibly depressing, especially in a time like this. I decided that I would try to make a shortcut through some gardens, although I doubted that it would save me any time, it felt good to have another option. A fence to my left was wood panelled, about the same height as me; I guessed I could easily scale it. I tossed my bag over, and with an extended effort tried to jump/climb over it. This did not end well. The rotting panelling broke under my weight and I fell to the ground with a crash. Wooden splinters shot into my hands and wrists and I cracked my head on the concrete, and then darkness.

I came around later on in a daze, not sure how much time had passed. Opening my eyes, I found my already cut face perilously close to a rusty nail. I rolled over in a slight daze, and sat up, far too quickly. Lights in my eyes and everything started to go black, but this time I fought it, not wanting to pass out again, the effort made me vomit. Fantastic, now I was concussed. I would not be able to make it much further today, the light was waning, and darkness would follow, which meant I had to stop for the night. I looked around the place I had crashed into. A modest garden, which had at some point probably been quite well kept surrounded me on one side, and the street on the other. A small shed stood in one corner of the garden, and I decided that would be the best place to sleep.

Slowly I stood, and pulled my bag out of the small pile of wood that it had become slightly buried in. As I got up, I realised how lucky I had been to not land on my knife. I cautiously walked over to the shed and peered inside, it looked dusty and cobweb ridden, great, spiders. Standing to the side, I tried the door. It opened with no resistance, I allowed it to swing open and looked inside. A small armchair and an array of extremely worn garden tools greeted my tired gaze.

I pulled out my torch from my pocket, which was miraculously not broken from my fall, and light up the shed. A few scuttling insects were all that moved and in the torch light I could make out a small fridge. Excitedly I rushed to check it, but the mouldy remains of a couple of bananas where all that I saw. Disappointed, I closed the door and backed the arm chair up against it, in case something or someone came around in the night. I pulled my pillow out and sitting on the armchair got out the map, to check my days progress. My small detour, plus the fact that I had knocked myself out, had dented my progress more than I thought, I had made a grand total of half a mile of my approximate twelve mile journey.

Although this was depressing, it was not the worst thing to have faced me in recent weeks, so I passed it off with relative ease. I now examined my hands and arms. Pulling out the splinters was boring and tedious work, but I knew I had to be thorough; an infection now could be fatal. Satisfied that I had removed the most of them, I took a swig of water, and opened up a chocolate bar. The relief was instantaneous, and the desire to eat the other six I had with me was overwhelming, but with a lot of willpower, and the knowledge that I would certainly need them later, pulled me through to resisting.

Curling up into a on the armchair I tried to sleep. The echoes of the earlier gunshots haunted my nightmares and I awoke several times in the night covered in a cold sweat.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:25 pm 
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Really great start... I like it a lot.

Almost an anti-hero...will be very interesting to see him (and the story!) develop.

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Hi all, another big chunk, would love to know what you think.

When I woke up in the morning, I wasn’t sure where I was. It took a few seconds of complete confusion after which I remembered, the fence and my wooden haven, the shed. Checking my watch told me the time was 6am, it was daylight that had woken me. At first I was annoyed, for I had wanted to sleep for longer, but then I realised this was good; I could make it a long way today. I ate another chocolate bar saving a couple of bites for a snack.

I peered out of the dusty cobwebbed shed window, and it looked like there was nothing out there. I pulled the armchair away from the door and shouldered my bag. Without a look back, I left my home for the night and carried on going in the right direction.

The morning was gloomy to say the least. Not a piece of blue sky in sight, deep dark clouds in the direction I was heading made me expect rain. Still, I was up and out, and determined to get as far as possible today. I checked the map, had a sip of water, and started walking.

After about half a mile I spotted something that I hadn’t accounted for. A tunnel, underneath a railway. My map told me it was half a mile long with a slight curve. Everything about it was wholly foreboding. Anything could have been lurking in the shadowy depths. I stopped up about twenty metres short. Examining the surrounding area, I could see that high railings, topped with barbed wire (National Rail’s finest) ran for as far as I could see either side of the tunnel.

Given my experience with the fence from yesterday, I did not fancy these, and the barbed wire was the brutal icing on the cake. The map told me that the nearest way around was a couple of miles at least in either direction. I had no choice. I would have to go through the tunnel. In it, I could see the husks of cars, some which looked to be the right way up, others the wrong way. Some of the grills reflected the light in such a way that it looked as if they were grinning at me. Why were they smiling? Were they mocking me? Or encouraging me? Soon enough I would find out.

I knelt down and pulled off my bag, I needed to get rid of the unnecessary shit I had brought with me. First to go was the pillow, what an idiot I had been packing that. Next was the iPod and headphones, it might have taken me some time, but I knew that I needed all of my senses functioning to the best of their abilities in this new world. Finally the plate, the bowl and the mugs went, how could I have been so stupid? Finally, I pulled out the torch, and taped it to the top of one of the bag straps, so I could use it hands free, I didn’t know how much battery I had left, so I decided to try and use it sparingly.

Even though I knew what I had to do, I remained fixed to the spot. I did not particularly want to go in to the tunnel. Nor did I want to go around it. I wanted a helicopter to come along and pick me up, and drop me off on the other side. Actually, I thought, fuck that, just recue me properly. I looked to the sky, not daring to hope to see my hovering salvation. Of course, it was not there. But at that moment, as is the universe was punishing me for having such a childish hope, the clouds darkened, and grew thicker. Then, without a warning, they let loose. Hail the size of golf balls started hammering down around me.

Yet I still did not move. I only turned my head back to the tunnel ahead of me. What little light was actually getting through to me was not illuminating the tunnel. The longer I stood outside it the more I wanted to run in the other direction. The more time I wasted here meant that I would have less time to get to the moors today. I had to just psyche myself up, and go through. The hail was getting heavier. I was now vaguely aware of it actually hurting my head and shoulders.

Still I stayed where I was. The task ahead of me was so unknowable and terrifying in idea that I could not move. I wanted to move. I needed to move. I have to move. But I could not.

The silence from outside was almost immediately replaced by the echoes of my footsteps, and the crunch of the glass under my size ten walking boots. Two steps in and every fibre of my being was already tearing with desire to turn around and walk out. My heart was hitting my ribcage so hard I felt like I could hear it echoing off of the wall.

With almost every step the tunnel got darker and darker, and I knew that I would soon have to turn on my torch, but I wasn’t far in yet, and didn’t want to waste it. I was starting to get pins and needles in my hands from holding on my weapons so tightly, this was troubling me. If I lost feeling in my hands, and had to use my knife, how would I know that I would be accurate? I stopped for a minute to compose myself. I had only one emotion at this time, fear, it was gripping my, flooding my body with adrenaline, my flight reflex ready to kick in and save me. My blood was flooding out of my brain and in to my body. My breathing was ragged and heavy, and my heart was thundering in my chest. The walls of the tunnel were closing in around me, moving in and crushing me, getting tighter and tighter. There was less and less air in the tunnel. Darkness was closing in around me. I felt myself succumbing to the fear, feel the scream rising in my throat, every pent up emotion ready to explode out of me, and leave me exposed. I flicked on the torch to check my immediate surroundings. It illuminated about three or four metres around me, and there was nothing but broken glass, and a car door. Turning the torch off, I forced myself to calm down.

I closed my eyes, and focussed on my breathing, in through the nose, long and deep, count to three, out through the mouth, calm and controlled. Within a couple of breaths, I could feel my heart rate decreasing slightly, and my grip loosened, the feeling returned in my fingers.

The feeling of the hammers rubber handle, with its grooves calmed me. I could feel the tang of the knife running along the grip, and the contours on the other side were comforting, and fit my fingers perfectly. U continued to breathe steadily, and started to wriggle my toes, and clench them. I gently rolled my shoulders and could feel the bag moving very slightly against my back. I took a final deep breath, and my pulse had returned to about normal. A wave of calm fell over me, and I used the fear and the adrenalin to focus myself.

Reopening my eyes, I stood in the same spot. They had adjusted slightly to the gloom, and I could now make out more than before. There were shapes ahead of me. Shuffling horrors coming towards me. I could make out three within about twenty metres, and one closer, dragging itself along the floor. Flicking on the torch revealed scenes of complete terror. The horror on the floor had one leg trailing a couple of metres behind it, and the other one missing entirely. It made a sound, a kind of moaning growl, a guttural noise, like a dog.

Before this would have sent me running away crying, but not anymore. The adrenalin focussed my mind, and I knew I had to do it. I walked forward slowly towards the crawler. Kneeling down about half a metre before it, I put the knife down, and took the hammer in my right hand. Calmly, I raised it above my head, and the crawler pulled itself within my reach, I took one final look at it, straight in the eyes, the torch bringing light to them. They were clouded and blood shot. It snapped its mouth at me, and as it started to growl for one last time, I brought down the hammer as hard as I could, and smashed straight through its cranium, splintering the skull and mashing its brain. It stopped moving, dead, for real this time, and its head dropped. I pulled the hammer free, with a little resistance, picked up the knife and stood up.


I was now completely focussed, the three I had seen before were closer now, and the closest was about seven metres away. It was tall and thin, with a narrow face. The person it had been was wearing skinny jeans, and a Domo t-shirt. It staggered towards me, and I could see its knee was broken, and the leg below the knee was sticking out at an angle that it shouldn’t have been.

Stepping forward to bring it within reach, I swung the hammer with my left hand, and slipped on something wet and sticky on the floor. I landed clumsily on my arse, and the horror fell on me, arms outstretched, and teeth clamping for me.

On the floor, I acted quickly. Letting the hammer go from my left hand, I steadied myself, and as the horror fell on me, I thrust up with my right hand, my knife hand, and felt the blade slide smoothly through the underside of its jaw, through the roof of its mouth, and in to the general area of it’s brain.

The horror immediately stopped snapping its teeth together and fell on to me, deadweight. I easily shoved it off my body, pulled my knife, and got up. Looking at my left hand, I could tell that I had slipped on, and landed in, a puddle of blood, thankfully not my own, this alarmed me a little, but I had more pressing issues.

Standing once more, I turned to face the remaining horrors. The next was already in front of me, and didn’t react at all to my torch now shining in its face. Without give any thought, I swung the hammer with my bloody left hand at its head, and missed completely, the hammer flew out of my hand, and with the wall with a piercing crack.

Without missing a beat I plunged the knife deep in to the chest of the horror, expecting the moaning and the chomping to stop. But nothing happened. No blood came from the wound, no growl of pain or surprised look in its face. I lost my composure and stopped, my hand strong on the handle of the knife, hold the horror back. I didn’t know what to do, I was lost. It pushed forward and overwhelmed me, and we fell down. As I landed my bag rode up my back. My shoulder mounted torch twisted and began to shine pointlessly on the roof.

The horror grabbed my arm with cold strong hands, and tried to pull it towards its mouth. I wrenched my arm free, and it followed, grabbing on to my hair now. Its face was now directly above mine, opening and closing its mouth, growling all the while. It was crushing me, at one point; he must have been a very big guy. I seized its throat with both my hands, clenching with all of my might, wanting to strangle it, and get it off me. But it had no effect! It just carried on with its mouth, the moan sounding slightly choked, but otherwise no different. Did these things not need to breathe?

Adrenalin surged through me again, and I knew that I needed to act, and fast. Holding its throat with my right hand, just keeping it at bay, I used my left hand to feel for the knife, I scrambled at its chest, clawing for the handle with my fingers, but all I could feel was the end of the handle, the whole thing had gone in to its chest.

My brain was spinning at this point, and I couldn’t work out what to do. I swung my left arm above my head, groping for anything I could use. I felt something hard, something dry and cold. Picking it up, it felt heavy in my hand, and it seemed long, from the way it weighed in my hand. I drew my knees up to my chest, and used my feet to lever the horror away from my face, now about a metre away from my body.

I swung through with my left arm and hit the horror with the thing in my hand. It came in to contact with the horror at the temple, and cracked its head open like a coconut. Blood spewed out and its brain landed on my chest. I heaved him off me and with no time to act rolled over, jumped up and took my new weapon in both hands and brought it scything upwards through the air, striking straight through the jaw, and the rest of the head of the final horror, almost completely separating it from the rest of the body.

I just stood there for a couple of minutes after that. Looking straight ahead, looking for more horrors. My chest was heaving, but I was controlling it, adrenalin was coursing through my body, and I was completely focussed, I was ready for anything that could come, ready to take out anything, I could have destroyed a hundred horrors in that moment, my new tool an extension of my own body, more a part of me than anything else in this world.

But there was nothing, and I started to calm down once more again. My breathing got shallower, and came back to normal, my heart started to calm down, and so did I. the adrenalin left my body, and I started to ache.

I wanted to break down, to stop, to lie and down and let it all be over, leave this world. I had just killed three people, they were dead and gone forever; nothing could change that. I had seen what they could do to people from the news reports, but I did not think that I would have to kill them to stop them.

I knew though, that I could not stop, I knew I had to go one, knew that I had to get out of this fucking tunnel, I was barely fifty metres in and already it was making me feel sick. My bad was sitting awkwardly on my back after I had swung through the final horror, so I adjusted it, and the torched flared light back on to where I was looking. I held up my new tool to see what it was, and dropped it in shock. It was a human bone, about half a metre long. From the shape, I guessed that it was a femur, with the ball at the end protruding, like the head of a hammer.

I reasoned with myself for a moment, and decided that as grisly as my new tool might be, it could be very useful. Longer than my hammer, and almost as hard at the end, it might make the difference in a fight, and it already had, and would serve me well as a macabre reminder of what this new world was about.

I stooped to pick it up and decided to find out where it had come from. Turning around revealed a disgusting scene of destruction, one that had so nearly spelled my early demise. What was left was the better part of four horrors, the last two were very close to me, both with heads in various states of disarray.

Remembering my knife I moved towards the horror that I had tried to choke. He was on his back, the right side of his face has been completely caved in, his brain within arms reach. To be safe, I kicked him hard in the ribs to make sure he was dead, and felt heard a couple of ribs crack. I knelt down on one knee, and my torch brought light to his chest. It was covered by a fine, well fitting blue suit, with a bloodstained crisp white shirt, and a striking blue and pink striped tie.

I found the thin hole my knife had made in it, ripped it open, and saw that my knife had been fully pushed in to his chest. Grimacing, I put my fingers in his chest, and pried the knife free. It came out sticky, and covered in blood. Wiping the best part of the blood off on my trousers, I looked past his head, to see where my bone had come from.

An unnerving sight greeted me, as a full skeleton, picked clean of all flesh, a few bones slightly further away from the main group, all inside of a large pool of blood. On the outside of its left hand, where the little finger joined up, but a bite size gap. The bone that came down the outside of the hand was cracked, and there was little remaining, and the top bone of the little finger was missing. I looked further away, and saw that the bones were there, as well as a few teeth…had they actually been bitten off?

I stood back up, and thought hard. The horrors had been chomping at me as they came near, and whilst I gave it no real thought at the time, I now realised why…they were trying to eat me. This confirmed for me what had been rumoured on the news reports, they eat people.

My thoughts went back to the horror whose chest I had just pulled my knife from, why had it had no effect? My mind was wheeling now, and I remembered what had stopped the horrors from attacking me. The similarities between the four, their heads. The first I had crushed with a hammer, the second, I had put a knife in to its brain, the third, I had cracked open with the femur, and the fourth, well, I had almost taken its head off, and a quick look confirmed to me that its brain was basically no longer existent.

I could see in my mind now what I had to do, I knew I would have to destroy the heads, or at least the brains of the horrors, to stop them, to give peace to the moans that came from within. It was a realisation that would have shaken me to my core before, but now it brought me a new sense of calm. I knew how I could stop them. I had more than one way to defend myself, and they only had one way to attack me.

With my newfound knowledge I decided to name my new weapon. The long, heavy bone was to be called skull splitter.

I went to try to find the hammer that had slipped from my hand when I had tried to destroy the third horror, which should have been somewhere to my left by the wall. My custom made torch holder gave light to the area, and I saw my hammer, broken in two, lying useless on the floor. Fucking cheap piece of shit. Pissed off, but thinking clearly, I picked up both pieces of the hammer, and put them in my bag.

I turned back to the task ahead of me now. I had to get through the rest of the tunnel. The daunting task seemed easier now; I was less intimidated by the prospect, strengthened by my experiences. I kept the knife in my left hand, and took a firm grip on the femur with my right hand.

I flicked off the torch to conserve the battery, had a drink of water, and carried on. The sounds of my walking that had scared me before no longer did, the echoing was comforting to me, and I got used to them, they fell slowly in time with my heartbeat, and my breathing was strong and steady. My legs felt strong beneath me and my entire body felt lithe and strong.

I was a walking power generator, I was pure muscle and authority, the tunnel was mine. I could have stayed here and made a kingdom out of everything I could see. Then I realised what I could see. Nothing. All the light had gone. The tunnel had curved and I was now in what would be the darkest part my journey.

The realisation that my eyes were useless seemed to flick some kind of switch in my senses. I shifted to auxiliary mode. My ears became my primary sense, equalled by touch, and followed by smell. I continued to walk forward, observing the particular sounds that my rubber soled boots made on the road. The differences between the crunch of glass, and the crunch of loose stone. The minute distinctions of the smell of petrol and the smell of diesel became a guiding aroma, moving sweetly from one to the next.

A shuffle to my left jolted me from the petro-chemical fuelled daydream. I stopped, putting my chin down to my chest, and closed my eyes. Listening hard, a picture began to form in my head. A low gargle cemented the picture in my mind. I slowly spread my feet in to a commanding stance with my left foot pointing toward the sound. I cocked my head slightly to the left and took a deep breath. The stench of rot that filled my nasal passages confirmed my mental image.

I took skull splitter in my left hand and holding the ball joint end, stretched it out ahead of me, level with my arm, extending my reach by 20 or so inches. I pointed the other end towards the sound. In my right hand I took the knife, my surgical weapon. I raised my arm and bending at the elbow, held the knife behind my head, like some kind of macabre salute. My nails were buried in my hair, and the point of the knife faced toward the roof of the tunnel.

I could see him clearly. He was shorter than me by several inches. Perhaps he was younger when he was alive. I could tell that he was wearing hard sole shoes and that one of his ankles was broken, just from the sound. It had a rhythm to it. Click, draaaag, click, draaaag, click, draaaag.

The beast let loose a vile gurgle and something wet hit the floor. It sounded relatively solid, like a tongue. Perhaps it had rotted off, perhaps the fiend had nearly bitten it off in a previous carnivorous encounter and this instance of chomping had become too much for him. Or for his tongue. I didn’t know, and I didn’t particularly care. The clamping together of what teeth the ghoul had left formed a sadistic beat when combined with the footsteps. And the pathetic growly gargle was like an obscene attempt to sing.

It was all too much for me. He was dragging me back to a time that no longer existed. A happiness, a genuine feeling, the depth of emotion, it had to stop. But I had to be cool. I had to remain calm. Skull splitter would work for me. The demon would approach me head on, with no thought to his own safety.

Arms outstretched, he would aim for me. I figured from his height, his full arm length was likely to be just under two feet. Given skull splitter’s extraordinary length, he was likely to get his fingers on my hand and wrist before it hit his chest. It would take every iota of my mental capacity to not act the instant the cold hands touched me.

Suddenly skull splitter shuddered in my hand. Something was touching it. Batting it. Not quite swatting, but there was almost an intention behind the clasping hands. I forced myself to stand still and wait. I wanted to recoil from the touch. Instead, I poised myself like a death adder. Without changing my height, I sunk slightly in to my right knee, and shifted my weight on to the ball of my right foot. My feet and my hands were almost mirror images of one another. Next came the most horrifying moment of my life. Worse than the crash that killed my parents. Worse than waking up in a cell. Worse than waking up buried.

Time slowed down. The gap between my heartbeats lengthened. Seconds. Then a minute. Then time seemed to stop altogether. The image in my mind expanded. It was as if a camera was recording from above my head. I could see the young demon, fingers about to clasp my hand. Teeth bared in some awful grimace.

I snapped back to real time. Cold, sticky fingers started to run up my own. They crept further, snatching at my skin, gaining no purchase. They shuddered up my arm, with what I knew to be a shuffle on the broken ankle. Every part of me, at an atomic level, wanted to scream. Wanted to lash out with skull splitter, with my knife, my fists, my knees, my feet, and my elbows, but I couldn’t. I had to wait. I had to wait to feel the beastie’s chest hit skull splitter’s very un-business like other end. Then, and only then could I launch my precision attack upon his head.

In that moment I was calm on the outside. I had a steel exoskeleton. I was like him. I was a machine. I had one function. And I would execute that function until I was ended. Inside, my heart was colliding so hard with my rib cage I thought I might crack a rib.

The unfocussed parts of my mind ran to the exceptions of the rule that was currently occurring. What if there was another one behind me. What if I had dropped my knife? I was holding it so tightly I had lost the feeling in my right hand. With my arm raised, I began to get pins and needles in my right hand. They spread down my arm with the same nerve deadening grip of the ghoul. My arms were simultaneously being assaulted by an undead scourge, and by gravity pulling my blood away.

THUD

Although I had never heard it before, this was the somehow unmistakeable sound of skull splitter making contact with the breast plate of, well, him. His undead life now was no more than a second from ending. Truly, as soon as I entered the tunnel his number was up, but I was now ready to actively kick the bucket out from under him.

Over the last thirty seconds (the time it had taken since I first heard to ghoul, to this point), what was about to happen had gone through my mind so many times it was practical a matter of the past. A fact that had already happened. It was something that my mind had already experienced.

Touch pulled me back to real time. Fingernails scraped against my skin, and I was aware of the situation again. I acted without pause, and in a single fluid motion.

I began to twist my right foot inwards forcing the motion through my tense leg muscles in to my hips, where the smooth movement transformed itself in to absolute strength, and through pure power based poetry my right elbow came to be adjacent to my left. It was but for less than half a second that one could consider this remarkable, as it was nothing less than the fluidity of the action that brought my knife wielding right hand down two inches further forward than my left hand at this exact moment, upon the crown of his head. My natural arm was met with resistance at first, but the honed tungsten point had little difficulty penetrating the skull’s calcium and collagen based framework.

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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:36 pm 
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I like it, keep it up!


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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:16 pm 
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Welcome back!

A bit overdue, but happy to have it nonetheless... Really enjoyed the flow and vivid details; nice work.

I swear I've read the tunnel scene before though...was this originally penned under a different title?

Regardless, really good to have you back, and looking forward to Moar! Maybe a bit quicker than 2 and 1/2 years on the next update though! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:33 am 
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Oh hey thanks! Yeah I have posted that bit before, but I couldn't work out how to remove it, I wanted to repost it with some more content in a more put together and tidy format. Will try and get some more up asap, thanks buddy!

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 Post subject: Re: The Lone Breakdown
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:03 pm 
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Can't wait for more. It's really good.

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