Part One is Here
Bayleigh – Thursday: Plague Day
She didn’t stop to think. She did have time to scream though. She howled as she barrelled into her friend, taking all three of them to the floor. The shears went straight through the zombie’s face. They were open slightly and one took it in the eye while the other sliced its nose in half.
The blood gushed out and splashed all over Layla’s neck. She wriggled and squealed and Bayleigh rolled off, leaving the shears where they were. Layla threw herself across the floor and grabbed a pair of gardening gloves off the nearby rack, which she used to wipe her neck and the side of her face.
She heaved and reminded Bayleigh of a cat just about to puke. She stifled a weak smile and got up to pat her on the back. Once Layla’s breathing had returned to something close to normal and she’d removed most of the zombie’s pale lumpy blood off her, they turned together to the corpse on the floor.
The shears stuck upright from the thing’s face and that could have been funny too, only Bayleigh was one gross-out short of vomiting again so she looked instead for a new weapon. She liked the shears but there was no way she was taking them back. She hefted a long-handled trimming thing, with a wicked little pair of blades on the bottom. Long distance was good.
‘Hey, that’s one all then, yeah?’
Bayleigh groaned and nodded. ‘Think so. Are you happy if we decide not to keep score? I’d be happy to never kill one of them again.’
Layla shrugged and looked mock sad. ‘Wimp. And sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t think we have much choice.’
The flower-patterns zombie had left behind its classy matching towel display and was heading their way. Bayleigh gripped the hand of her trimmer tightly and nudged Layla in the side.
‘What do we do?’
‘I mean, what’s the plan?’
‘Hit it in the head as hard as you can.’
‘No, I mean, like—’
‘You want more than that? Okay, you head left and flank it and I’ll provide covering fire then when it thinks you’re the main strike I’ll do a snea—’
‘Layla, You’ve been playing far too much Call of Duty, you know that right?’
‘Hey, you asked for more.’
‘Fine, we hit it in the head.’
It shambled closer, speeding up as it caught their scent. It was almost close enough to hit when it veered and went round them. They watched open-mouthed as it fell on the body of the one they’d killed. Bayleigh covered her mouth as she heard the thick squelch of the shears being drawn from the corpse. She didn’t think it could get much grosser until the next sound, the steady lapping of the zombie as blood gushed from the wounds.
Bayleigh swallowed and only partially succeeded on keeping what was left of her lunch down. Spitting out sick she dragged Layla away from the feasting zombie.
‘Hey, what you doing? It’s a sitting target.’
‘Layla, I’m gonna lose it if I have to listen to that any more.’
‘C’mon, man up. I’m gonna take the lead.’
She said it like you might say something to try and get a toddler to play ball. Bayleigh couldn’t help laughing and crept back as Layla stalked toward the feasting zombie. It showed no signs of hearing her and was still oblivious all the way up to when she shoved her fork through the back of its head.
It stiffened, arms jerking out to the sides, then dropped like a stone onto its half-eaten companion. Layla punched the air, then put her foot on its back and hauled her fork free. The noise was only vaguely less unsettling that the shears, but at least it wasn’t followed by the drinking sound.
The floor was empty now and Bayleigh headed for the staircase. It was wide, but at least it was in the corner with a wall to one side. She shoved the first bed across the floor and Layla joined her until it sat neatly across the top of the stairs. With about a foot gap at either end.
‘Sod it. How do we sort that?’
Layla pushed the bed until it covered one end and pointed at a cupboard. It was tall, in gorgeous dark wood and would look great in her bedroom. She had a wave of nostalgia that made her heart grow heavy. She didn’t think it was possible to be nostalgic about something only gone for a day, but she didn’t imagine she’d ever have to consider things like clothes storage again. That thought opened a huge pit in her mind that she thought she could very easily tumble into. Instead, she stomped to the wardrobe, chewing on her lip.
The two of them manhandled the wardrobe over and plugged the gap. It was a pretty random barricade but it was a start. They spent the next hour piling things atop the bed and arranging them so there were no holes. Finally content, they sat down on the huge sofa that formed the centre piece of the main display.
Layla bounced up and down on it. ‘This is nice, how much is it?’
They looked at the price tag together, shared a low whistle and burst out laughing.
‘I think they’d give it to you at a discount now.’
‘Yeah, but who’s gonna deliver it?’
Bayleigh nodded sadly. ‘Perhaps you could come live here. This is way posher than my place.’
‘’Cept that kitchen. Your kitchen’s lush.’
‘Yeah, it’s pretty nice.’
They meandered into silence and got lost there. What else was there to say? They could talk about the weather or the shop or anything else but it was all irrelevant now. The only relevant thing was the two bodies and she’d deliberately sat so she couldn’t see them. And what the hell were they going to say about them?
They knew how it had happened. They didn’t know why they survived, although she had a faint inkling, which was too silly for words. Too silly to mention until she had some other evidence to support it. But beyond the basic how, they had nothing. So what could they say?
‘Who were those guys?’
‘The men in the trucks, with the uniforms?’
Layla looked at her and shrugged. ‘Not a clue. Bad people’s my best guess, but they weren’t army or anything.’
‘No insignias. There uniforms were completely blank. If they’d been army or something they’d have had a badge somewhere.’
‘Not if they were like, CIA or something.’
‘CIA? Bay, this is England, we don’t have the CIA—’
‘You know what I mean, MI5. Or is it MI6, I can never remember which is which?’
‘Yeah, could be I suppose. But why would they kill everyone?’
It was an excellent question and led to more silence. This time it was broken by Layla’s stomach doing a fairly good impression of a whale. They both laughed and Layla pushed herself out of the sofa. ‘I need food. There’s no food here, we need to go out.’
Bayleigh gave her the look she reserved for wolf-whistlers and people who came in the shop asking for change but she seemed oblivious and strode confidently over to the barricade.
‘Layla, stop, you’re kidding right?’
Her friend shook her head. ‘Absolutely not. We’ve got a couple hours of daylight left, right? We can’t be here all night without food, but this place seems like a good place to hide. So let’s go out and get food now and then we come back and get some sleep.’
‘But Layla, umm, zombies?’
Layla brandished her fork and smiled in an entirely un-Layla like way. ‘I’m ready.’
She scrambled onto the bed and was on the stairs before Bayleigh could complain. She climbed after her in a less athletic fashion and headed down the stairs. The bottom floor was quiet and the two zombies she spotted barely noticed them as they dashed through.
Layla pulled the front door open and peered out. Bayleigh shivered as she heard a low moaning sound. It wasn’t a million miles away from the sound of cows, lowing in the field. But these cows sounded hungry.
‘You ready to run?’
Bayleigh jumped. ‘Where are we running?’
‘There’s a Tesco just down the block. We’ll get in there and get some food. ‘Kay?’
Bayleigh shook her head and was ignored as Layla slipped out the door. Heart thumping, she followed her and stood for a moment, taking in the view. The street was busy, zombies wandering aimlessly here and there. Did they have an agenda? She stared at one as he approached a wall. He reached it and stopped, his hand brushing it gently, as if he was stroking something. Then he turned away and wandered off. Apparently, they didn’t.
‘Bayleigh, come on!’
She jumped again as Layla grabbed her arm and tugged. They raced across the street, weaving between zombies like they were on some horrible assault course. The moans got louder as more of the creatures saw them and started to move. Now she felt like she had food in her pockets that the cows wanted. Then she saw one before her, facing them with hands outstretched and open mouth dripping bilious-green saliva to the floor and the cow analogy went out the window.
She hissed and gripped her weapon tighter, hands shaking. Layla hefted her fork like a club and without slowing, swung it in a wide arc. The steel tines caught the zombie in the side of the head and drove deep into its skull. It dropped and took the fork with it. Layla swore and yanked at it but it was stuck.
Bayleigh caught her as she put her foot on its face to get leverage.
‘Leave it, just leave it, come on.’
She grabbed Layla’s arm and hauled her along and they set off again. She glanced back and wished she hadn’t, the sea of morose pale faces almost stopping her in her tracks.
Then they were standing in front of the Tesco express and the doors hissed open and they dived in and waited for them to close. They hissed again and both of them let out huge breaths. A shuffling alerted them to the fact that they weren’t alone in the store and they spun to face a zombie wearing a Tesco’s uniform.
It was coming around the side of the counter, squeezing through the gap and Bayleigh moved without thinking. On her first swing, the blades caught the toilet roll display and sent bundles of it all over the shop. She stepped clear, face reddening and swung again.
This time she struck the zombie in the side of the face. The blades tore through, one eyeball bursting and spraying the floor with black and green slime. The blade broke through the cheek and more of the foul blood splashed across the chocolate display. The creature kept coming, barely registering the ten inches of steel buried in its face.
‘Shit shit shit, dammit.’ She hauled on the weapon and pulled it clear. She had to take a step back as the zombie came closer and swung again. The blow felt more solid as it struck bone and burst through it. The creature stiffened, just as Ali had done when the fog caught him, and dropped just as suddenly. The weapon wrenched from her grasp and she dropped to her knees.
Layla whooped and applauded and despite the slick red and green gank that was soaking into her jeans, she felt a flush of pleasure. She could do that again. She grabbed the long handles, heaved them from the corpse and rose. Layla came past her, reached over the counter, grabbed a bag for life and approached the chocolate stand.
‘Always wanted to do this.’
She swept her arm along the counter, sending endless Mars and Twix into the bag.
‘Hang on, we need proper food, bread and stuff.’
‘Sandwiches, huh? It always comes down to sandwiches with you.’
She said it with a smile and Bayleigh laughed. She was interrupted by the sound of the front door hissing open. Outside a zombie stared in wonder at the moving door and the two of them looked at one another. Layla emptied out the bag and headed for the bread. Bayleigh grabbed one and did the same at the fridge, piling cheese and ham and milk into it.
They had full bags by the time the zombie got over its amazement and made his way through the door. If she’d thought it was possible, he was moving suspiciously, as though he expected the doors to close at any moment. It wasn’t possible though, not for those things. She was convinced they were as stupid as they looked.
They waited until he spotted them and came ambling forward, then raced down one aisle and up the next. He was looking into the shop when they dashed past him and out the door. The zombies in the street reacted quicker this time. They must have remembered something because they came at them like a wall and for a second Bayleigh almost lost her nerve.
Then Layla set off in the opposite direction from their shop and Bayleigh went with her. They quickly outdistanced the pack and ran in a wide circle, racing down an alley into the next street, along and back down another street. They emerged a few doors from the shop and ran back inside. Layla headed for the stairs but Bayleigh stopped and examined the lock.
It needed a key. Was the door heavy enough on its own? She pushed on it experimentally and decided it would have to be a very determined zombie to push it open. She chased after her friend. Layla was at the base of the barricade and lobbed her bag over the bed. Then she hauled herself up and disappeared over the top. Bayleigh followed her and was half-kneeling on the bed, face buried in the duvet when she heard Layla scream.
She pushed herself upright, wobbling on the edge of the bed. Her heart stopped and she gasped as though she’d been stabbed. Layla was staggering away from the barricade. A zombie had its teeth in her shoulder, shaking its head back and forth like a terrier. Layla stopped screaming to take a breath and in the moment of silence Bayleigh heard the tearing of flesh.
She howled and scrambled across the bed, grabbing her weapon as she went. She was about to swing but forced herself to wait.
‘Layla, throw it off.’
Her friend either didn’t hear or was in too much pain because she dropped to her knees. It turned out to be the best thing she could have done. The zombie’s teeth were torn free of the wound and for a split second, Layla was kneeling and the zombie was standing above her. Bayleigh swung and the twin blades sunk deep into its skull.
It froze and was about to fall when she yanked on the handles and pulled the body away from Layla. Then she dropped them and ran to her friend. Through the blood, she saw naked bone and her stomach heaved. Layla looked at her, shook her head then her eyes rolled up as she hit the floor and lay still.
Next Installment Thursday 16th October