13 Roses – Part Forty Four


Part One is Here


Steph – Thursday: Plague Day

She pushed open the door and peered out into the corridor. There was no one there, just as she’d expected. She’d been listening at the door for a good half hour and she’d heard nothing, but it had still taken her that long to summon up the courage. She slipped out and rushed toward the lift at the end of the hallway.

She hammered the button and waited, skipping from foot to foot. The door opened and she stepped in, hitting the ground floor button repeatedly until the doors slid closed. She sighed and rested back against the lift. She had maybe ten seconds until she reached the ground. Her eyes felt scratchy from her sleep and she shook her head, trying to clear it. How had she slept for so long?

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The doors slid open and she froze. Mr Moore stood across the lobby by the front door. Was he one of them? He couldn’t be, he was way too nice a guy. But she’d seen Sandra out the window on the lawn and she’d been one, lurching about like some crazy person. What was happening? She wished David was here, he’d explain it all. He always knew what was going on.

‘Mr Moore?’

She said it quiet enough that he didn’t notice and she stepped closer. He growled and spun and she screamed at the change in his face. He looked ninety and his eyes were sunk deep in his skull. He reached for her with hands twisted and bent into claws. She shouted for help and took a step back but her heel caught on the rug and she tripped.

She landed hard on her tail bone and howled, tears filling her eyes. Mr Moore launched himself and landed on top of her. He was clumsy but his hands were sharp and strong and pinned her to the carpet. When he opened his mouth the smell that emerged made her cough. Bile filled her throat. What was happening?

His head went down, out of view of her eyes and the next thing she knew was a sharp, piercing sensation in her left breast. Then the pain kicked in and she screamed and screamed until everything went black.


The End… of book one. Books two to seven are written and will be released in Spring 2015.


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Thanks for reading and I hoped you have enjoyed 13 Roses so far. On Monday will be the first of a few short stories I intend posting before getting back into a longer story.

13 Roses – Part Forty Three


Part One is Here


Alex – Saturday: 5 Days to Plague Day

Alex’s wife, Lisa, was pretty. Ever so slightly lopsided and with a slightly larger nose than he’d like, but pretty nonetheless. Kali, on the other hand, was beautiful. She was the colour of chocolate and had a face that was perfectly symmetrical. Her smile seemed to promise things and despite the crisp Indian accent, they were things he thought he’d probably never even imagined. She had eyes the colour of night. He’d thought they were brown to start with, then the light had caught them and they’d glowed so dark blue they were almost black. And her body…

Luke grabbed her arm, snarling as he dragged her toward the church.

‘There’ll be clothes in there, find some and put them on.’

Kali’s eyes widened, searching Luke’s face as though she would find the answer there to why he was being such a dick. Alex almost reassured her that he was always this way, but he had the feeling the two of them had known one another far longer than he had.

They raced into the church, which was disappointingly ordinary inside and found something for Kali to wear in a duffel bag hanging on a set of hooks. She took the robe off and dropped it on the floor, entirely unselfconscious about being naked in front of the two men. She even turned to Luke with a look that made Alex shiver and said. ‘Sara sends her regards. She misses you.’

Luke turned away and Alex, blushing red, did the same, but not before catching her eye. She gave him that smile again and he stopped turning, unable to take his eyes off her. She kept smiling, taking a long while to pull the t-shirt over her head. Even with it on, her figure was on display and his face grew hotter. She finished getting dressed slowly, not taking her eyes off his.

Luke cleared his throat and grabbed Alex’s arm. He pulled him away across the church and smiled. It wasn’t his normal smile, nor the evil look he seemed to enjoy so much. This was a forced smile, dragged up from somewhere but reluctant and overworked.

‘What’s wrong?’

Luke stared, eyebrows rising and then he let go and closed his eyes, taking deep breaths. His face relaxed and when he opened them, his eyes bored into Alex. ‘Is that better?’

‘I don’t know. You look better, sure, but—’

‘I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong. Kali over there is a succubus. You’d do well to steer clear of her. She is very sexy and very beautiful and will happily ensnare you with the sole motivation of eating your soul. Your only consolation will be that the last few minutes of your life will be very pleasurable.’

Alex grinned and Luke shook his head. ‘That isn’t as nice as it sounds. Trust me, someone doing anything to your soul is bad enough. Eating it is on the outer limits of what you can handle before your brain goes pop.’

‘I wasn’t grinning about that, I haven’t heard the word succubus in years, not since I played Dungeons and Dragons.’

Maybe he should ask Kali whether Luke had a mental issue or something. He turned to walk over to her and Luke’s hand wrapped around his wrist. ‘When will you start believing? You saw what I did to those soldiers’

‘And believe you me, it was impressive. But the whole God thing and now succubus? I mean, really?’

Luke smiled more naturally this time. ‘I really will enjoy watching your face when it hits you. When you can no longer deny it, it’s going to be so much fun.’

Luke shoved his arm away and stalked across the church. Kali was clothed now, though managing to look even more alluring in a tight t-shirt and tight jeans and just tight everything. That she had no underwear on made it even worse. Alex gritted his teeth. He needed to focus on the cure, on the formulas. There were so many things he had to remember that weren’t on the board. Pages of stuff he hadn’t thought Luke needed to hear.

The crazy man grabbed Kali by the arm and dragged her across the church toward the altar. She struggled for a brief moment, but something he said stilled her. Alex rushed over. Why was he being so unpleasant? He couldn’t believe he was still wondering that, but Luke had just rescued her, so that had to count for something. Why rescue her and drag her about like she was worthless?

As he grew closer he heard what they were saying.

‘The Father didn’t send you, don’t lie to me. Who sent you?’

The smallest of worry lines marred Kali’s forehead, but made her no less stunning. If anything, the addition of humanity made her even more desirable.

‘It was him. He was worried about your behaviour here so far, he—’

‘So who’s watching me? If you’ve seen my behaviour, who else has?’

She cast her eyes to the ground and looked up at Luke through long dark lashes. ‘Everyone. There’s a screen in the Dome. It’s on all the time so you can just go and watch it.’

Luke burst out laughing. ‘So I’m the entertainment. Where has the Father gone?’

‘He’s still at the Do— oww!’

Luke slammed his hand across her cheek and let go of her wrist. She dropped to the floor, knees making a dull thump that chased her cry of pain around the church.

‘The Father wouldn’t put up a screen. He wouldn’t make this a spectator sport, not for you or anyone else. Who did this?’

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She looked down again, shaking her head. Luke knelt beside her and grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him. Alex stepped closer. ‘Look, Luke, surely we can do this nicely, you don’t need to hurt her.’

Luke waved his hand in dismissal and Alex hesitated.

‘Who did this?’

Kali’s mouth stayed shut. Luke stared at her for a moment and Alex caught a glimpse of his face. His eyes flared, golden light spilling from the edges and his mouth was so tight his lips all but vanished. Alex took a step back as Luke surged to his feet and turned. ‘You want proof? You want to be enlightened?’

He hauled Kali up by the arm and dragged her over the altar and past it to where a huge golden cross towered above them. Kali writhed and whined and the sound wasn’t entirely human.

‘I don’t want proof. Whatever you’re doing, stop it, I don’t want proof.’

Luke turned back, sneer on his face. ‘This isn’t about you. I just thought you might be interested.’

Without another word, he spun back, grabbed Kali by both arms and lifted her, slamming her against the cross. The moment she touched it a hissing sound filled the church and she screamed. Smoke rose from her back and she struggled and kicked. He gagged as a smell like burning hair filled his nostrils.

Luke held her there, every muscle tense. The hissing grew louder and Alex backed away as her face changed. The beauty was gone, just like that, replaced with red scales and a nose almost flat to her face. Her eyes shifted, melting from the front of her face out to the sides and her mouth grew wider and wider.

He put his hand over his mouth, gasping as she changed completely. She looked like a lizard, the colour of blood and five feet tall. Her jaws extended and she snapped at Luke. He wagged his finger in front of her. ‘Uh, uh, none of that. You are here now, corporeal and entirely present and either I get my answers or I break your neck, understood?’

The soft melody of her voice had become a deep croak. ‘Take me off this damned cross.’

‘I think you’re the damned one.’ He pulled her away from the cross and threw her to the floor. She came straight back up, mouth snapping as her nails scratched on the stone floor.

‘Who sent you? Who sent you to watch me and who framed me in the first place?’

‘That’s a lot of questions, which would you like answered first?’

‘It doesn’t matter, you’re going to answer all of them anyway.’

The laugh that emerged was thin and rough and scraped across Alex’s brain. He was already struggling to stay something resembling sane, and the voice didn’t make it any easier.

Kali, assuming she was still called Kali when she was a giant lizard thing, hisses again. ‘The Father sent me.’

Luke grabbed her around the throat and shoved her against the cross. The acrid smoke billowed up and she screamed. The sound faded and rattled in her throat as her struggles weakened. He held her there until her legs hung limp at her sides, then tossed her to the floor.

‘My patience is at an end. You will tell me what I wish to know now.’

She laughed weakly and ran a scaled forearm over her lips. ‘Trust me, Luke, the person who sent me here is far scarier than you.’

‘Do you know who I am?’ As he roared, golden light spat from his eyes and the shadow he cast from the flickering candles moved independently, creeping forward to crouch above her.

‘I know who you were. But that was a long time ago. You’ve been neutered by your time as a Guardian. Everyone knows it except you.’

Luke took a step back, head shaking back and forth. Kali clambered to her feet, mocking smile on her face. ‘I mean, come on, would you have let the Father send you here before he let you back in? You’re a shadow of who you were. Why do you think Sara let you in? She felt sorry for you, Luke, and she knew you were going. It was time for you to go.’

Alex cringed. Luke was going to hit her. He could see the tension in his shoulders as he wound up to it. Then the tension drained and his head dropped onto his chest. His voice was soft, defeated. ‘So you will tell me nothing?’

Kali sighed and rolled her shoulders. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t. Worse will happen to me if I do. Had it not been my master, it would have been someone else. There are a lot of people with a grudge against you.’

Luke nodded and turned to Alex. ‘We better get going. We need that cure.’

Alex let out a long breath and nodded. This was a better ending than he’d expected. Luke met his gaze and he saw another flash of gold and stiffened as Luke turned back to Kali.

‘Oh, something you might want to pass onto your master. I may be weaker than I was, but I’m far from defeated. Tell me, Kali, what are you most afraid of?’

The succubus stared at him in horror for a brief moment, before a figure appeared before her. It was huge, twelve feet tall and covered in thick red hair. It could have been a bear, only it was human shaped, long-legged and narrow-waisted.

Luke said only one word as he watched the thing grab Kali around the throat and lift her off the floor.


Next installment Thursday 30th October

13 Roses – Part Forty Two


Part One is here


David – Thursday: Plague Day

Peace and quiet was all he wanted. He could still be in his empty London, lulled to sleep by the lapping of the Thames while reciting the alphabet to ensure he didn’t forget it. Being brought back was bad enough, but being brought back to this was evil, pure and simple. What had he ever done? He’d done nothing. He was innocent.

The two receptionists were closing in, hands stretched out towards him. They would have been pretty not long ago. One had long black hair and her skin was darker than the rest, a sort of coffee colour with too much milk in. He shifted uncomfortably as he imagined them naked and not zombies.

He giggled and slapped himself around the face. That was going too far. They were dead and rotting and would never be pretty again. He could imagine all he wanted, but they were about to eat him. For some reason though, the fear that had driven him here from Regent’s Park had evaporated. It was all a bit funny now.

Their uniforms were funny, still so neat and prim, but collecting a dusting of dead and flaking skin on the upper half. They looked like they’d just walked through an ash cloud. He could have had both at the same time. He’d never had two women at the same time. He never would now, he reflected morosely, not now he was barmy. He giggled again.

One of the receptionist’s clawed hands closed around his wrist and the paralysis broke. He roared and yanked his hand free, then drove his fist straight into her face. The nose broke and warm, watery blood gushed over his fingers. He vomited into his mouth and swallowed it down, the bile burning as it returned to his stomach.

The zombie staggered away and he turned to the other, lashing out and catching her on the side of the head. She too took a few steps back, but came straight forward again. He raced off down the corridor and found the fire extinguisher. David hefted it in one hand, the grin back again.

He drew a mental picture of himself, half-Joker, half-Superman and turned to the zombies. In the seconds it took them to reach him, he realised how easy life was without fear. Then he caught a whiff of their stench and the fear crept up his spine like a midnight spider. The one with the broken nose came first and he almost ran.

The blood ran down her face and her yellow teeth showed through a dull pink. The blood soaked the front of her uniform and as she growled at him, it sprayed from her mouth. He jumped to one side and swung the extinguisher as hard as he could. The zombie hadn’t moved and it struck her head bang-on.

Her skull exploded. All he saw of it was her face, squashed together for a moment, then flying outward, one eye coming straight at him. It hit him on the chin and bounced to the floor and he followed it with sick. Her teeth were scattered among the blood and fragments of skull. Bits of brain matter dripped into it from the remains of her skull. Her body tottered and dropped.

He backed away, frantically scrubbing his chin with his sleeve. The smell was a hundred times worse, like standing directly above a blocked drain and he gagged. The other zombie was entirely unbothered and bent down beside the corpse. He’d been able to handle everything else, but when her long black hair dragged in the blood and she used one clawed hand to scoop what was left in the skull and cram it into her mouth, he whimpered and ran.

He raced down the corridor to a glass fire door. Through that and down the stairs inside, he arrived in the basement, which was either a great idea or the worst he’d ever had. Actually, coming to the hotel was probably the worst, but this might follow a close second.

It was dimly lit and quiet and he rested against the wall. He couldn’t get the image out of his head, of her pale tongue licking the soft grey matter. He slid down and covered his head with his hands. Did he really deserve this? All he’d done was cheat on his wife and lie to the person he was cheating with. Millions of people did it every day. So where were they? Why was he the only one stuck in London surrounded by the grossest zombies known to man?

Perhaps there were others. He didn’t know for sure he was the only one still alive. If there were others, they’d be hiding the same as him, so of course they’d be difficult to find. Maybe some of them would be women. He thought about Steph. Maybe she was still alive.

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His heart leapt. How hadn’t he thought of this before? Maybe there were lots of people still alive, all hiding in their basements and ducked down below their windows. He could bang on doors until someone opened one. There was no way he was the only one deserving of this, no way at all.

He had to get out of the hotel. He had to find Steph. She was still alive, she had to be and she’d sort everything. And a blow job would put so much right.

He returned to the stairs and crept up them and out the fire door. He was walking with purpose now and had his breath back. His head thumped and his stomach rumbled but he could do this.

He entered the corridor in which he’d left the zombies and paused. The sound of eating, wet and crunchy reached him and his hunger fled. He tiptoed until he saw her, bent low over the body of her companion. He crept closer still and she sat up sharply. He gasped and almost dropped the fire extinguisher. She looked at him with dark, sunken eyes and he braced his feet. Then she bent and put her face back in the guts of the other receptionist.

He stared for a moment, waiting for his brain to catch up or do something other than scream. When he decided it was pretty much stuck on a loop, he set his feet apart, raised the extinguisher and brought it down as hard as he could on the back of her head.

Most of her skull mixed and mingled with the guts just beneath it and he ran before he could see any more. He kept running all the way to the exit before he stopped and looked at the extinguisher. It wasn’t a bad weapon, but it was pretty heavy and he didn’t like the idea of lugging it all the way down Regent’s Street.

He looked around the lobby and spotted the umbrella pot. The umbrellas looked too flimsy, but there were two walking sticks in there. One had the thick rubber end and was next to useless, but the other was more of a tapered stick, with a sharpish end and a comfortable handle. He could stab with that, through eyes and mouths and his mind just kept on screaming.

He grabbed it and set off, through the exit and down onto the street. Nothing had changed. The sun was dipping and he’d half expected the zombies to head home once work was over, but still they meandered this way and that.

Within moments of his arrival on the street, those closest to him turned and their growling rose in volume. He set off, running at a pace he thought he could maintain. He put one hand to his chest, reliving for a second the horrible feeling of being stuck in London with pneumonia, barely able to breath and having to rest every five seconds.

Now though, he had energy and he had a reason and it carried him rapidly down Regent’s Street. Oxford Circus was predictably busy and he slowed as he reached it. There had been arguments here and there were gatherings of feasting zombies, pulling apart their comrades. As far as continuation of the species went, these guys weren’t the smartest. Not that they needed to worry, there were hundreds just in this small space. And he had to get through them.

He banged his hand against his forehead as he finally looked at the cars and buses in various states of repair littering the street. Some were ploughed into shop fronts, others against lamp posts. A few were stopped in the street, with no visible signs of damage. With a silent shout of joy, he rushed across to a BMW slewed sideways across the road. The door was open and the keys hung in the ignition.

He jumped in and noted with relief that the engine was switched off. The driver had gotten long enough to get out and run before he or she was zombiefied. Unless they were still alive. Unless they were one of the lucky ones like him.

He turned the key and giggled as the engine roared to life. Every zombie in a twenty feet radius turned to stare at him and he hastily yanked the door shut and checked the windows. He slipped it into first and pulled away. And stalled. He cursed, thumped the wheel and turned the key. The car grumbled and he went cold, then it sparked up again.

He was more careful this time, pulling around the car in front and weaving slowly between the others. He’d gone maybe fifty feet when the first zombie threw itself on the bonnet. He stamped on the brakes and it slid off and landed on the floor in front of the car. With his lips pulled back from his teeth, he put his foot down. It sounded like driving over dead branches, only with damp ground beneath. His stomach turned over.

He accelerated, weaving as carefully as he could without going too slowly. Within a couple of minutes, Piccadilly Circus came into view and he allowed himself a moment of triumph. He was going to make it. The junction was rammed and he took to the pavement, scattering zombies this way and that. It was like being in a Bourne movie. He giggled and put his foot down, screeching back onto the road and stamping on the accelerator before hauling it round a bus.

A woman stood in the middle of the road. Blood streamed from her face and shoulders and without thinking he hauled on the wheel. The car shot sideways, mounted the curb and slammed straight into the base of the Statue of Eros. His head hit the wheel and the world span and began to go black.

He glanced over his shoulder at the woman and saw the tell-tale skin and eyes. She was a zombie. It was just a zombie. The next moment she was swamped by her greedy compatriots.

Davis tried to get his seatbelt off, but his hands were thick and clumsy and the world was still spinning. His arms refused to do what he told them. He stared at the door for what felt like hours until he finally found the locking mechanism. He pushed it and heard the satisfying thunk of the car locking. Then the world went black.


Next Installment Monday 27th October


13 Roses – Part Forty One


Part One is here


Krystal – Thursday: Plague Day

She hammered the button. The doors began to slide closed again. Then the arm came through and with it, the rest of his body. She couldn’t help calling it a he. Behind her, Ed’s voice was soft as he breathed a name.



‘He’s Rob. He’s having troubles with his wife.’

‘Yeah, not any more.’

She lashed out, her heavy boot catching ‘Rob’ in the kneecap. It shattered and he dropped onto one knee. From the broken one came the smell of rotting meat and she covered her mouth and took a step backwards. He tried to rise but managed only a sort of stumbling fall further into the lift. She sidestepped and he tumbled past her. She heard Ed shout but was far too busy slamming her finger into the button.

The doors began to slide closed and she span around, hand going for her back pocket. The zombie called Rob lay atop Ed and was wriggling like it meant to do something disgusting to him. But the growl was in no way flirtatious and in every way terrifying and Ed screamed. He had one hand beneath Rob’s chin and pushed the zombie’s head up so its teeth clicked shut on air again and again.

Krystal stared, frozen for a second. She didn’t think she could bear to touch it. But in the end, she did. She wrapped her arms around its throat and hauled it up and off Ed. The moment it was clear she let go. For a brief time it stood, wobbling back and forth, its lazy eyes tracking between the two of them. They stared back, panting and sweating. The doors pinged behind them and began to reopen and Krystal reached for the button.

At the same moment, Rob made his decision and dived at Ed. Krystal threw herself at it and crashed into its waist. Its knee collapsed and she drove it to the floor. Now she found herself astride the zombie, one of its arms trapped between her legs. Caught between freaking out and feeling somewhat in control, she yanked the knife from her pocket.

She glanced at Ed as she fiddled with the blade and saw his eyes widen as he looked past her. She resisted the urge to turn and put all her attention on getting the blade free of the knife. The zombie struggled but its knee hampered it and it kicked feebly. How strong was it? She couldn’t weigh more than eight stone.

The blade popped out and she drove it straight down into Rob’s ear. It caught against something and half closed, cutting into her finger. ‘Shit, dammit.’ The zombie’s struggles grew suddenly more intense and she grabbed hold, barely keeping the knife. She rode it, hands dug into its shoulders to stay on as it wriggled like a fish on a ship’s deck.

It slowed a little and she reopened the knife. She lined up this time, which was a little like she imagined catching fish with a spear would be. She slammed the knife down again. It went in cleanly this time, straight through his ear and into his brain. Rob who was having troubles with his wife stiffened and froze and she let out a long breath. And noticed the silence.

Ed was still staring, wide-eyed and shaking. This time she turned and looked the other way. The lift doors were open and there they were, staring in. She scrambled off Rob and fetched up beside Ed against the back of the lift. Then she remembered her knife. Not that it mattered now, they were dead.

She grabbed Ed’s hand and squeezed it. ‘It’s been nice, you know, just for a little while.’

He opened his mouth to reply then the first zombie moved. It lurched into the lift, bent down and sunk its teeth into Rob’s dead face. Krystal shrieked. She couldn’t help it. Steaming blood gushed out onto the lift floor and the tiny space filled with the smell of a dog carcass left out in the sun. She’d seen a few in her time, hidden away in one of the alleyways of Soho.

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She clapped her hand over her mouth and watched in horror as the zombie lifted its head, a flap of Rob’s skin hanging from its mouth. The other zombies were pushing to get to the body and one grabbed its foot and began to pull. Zombie number one, the face eater, turned and snarled at the puller and they glared at one another, teeth bared.

‘Ed, we need to get the body out of the lift.’

‘How the hell do we do that?’

They were speaking through gritted teeth as though to open their mouths fully would somehow expose them to the zombies. Krystal slipped further down the wall, put her boot against Rob’s shoulder and pushed. The body slid the tiniest distance, but it encouraged the puller to try again and this time he succeeded in getting the lower leg out of the lift.

‘Yes, that’s it.’

She pushed herself away from the wall until her foot touched it again. Another nudge and the puller got the legs completely out. Zombie number one, who up to this point had been happy to be dragged along with it, face buried up to its nose in face flesh, rose up and growled at her, then took a swipe.

She moved, but not fast enough and the claws caught her across the leg. She howled as her trousers were ripped open and curled nails opened three long tears in her leg. She yanked it back and wrapped her jeans around the wounds, staring at the zombie. It hesitated, as though deciding what the best smelling meal was. Then the puller yanked again and zombie number one turned away, growling at the body thief.

It turned serious this time, her attacked lunging over the body to clout his comrade in the face. His claws opened up more wounds and some of the others fell on puller, dragging him away from the lift. He was still living and she saw teeth dig into his shoulder and more into his neck and the sound he made reminded her of the baby pigeons she watched, high-pitched squawking that went on and on before abruptly cutting off.

Someone else had taken the place of the puller and Rob was almost out of the lift. She watched and shook her head as Ed scrambled up and shoved the body the rest of the way. Zombie number one was engrossed in opening Rob’s stomach with its teeth and barely reacted.

Then Ed stepped back and hit the down button and finally the doors closed all the way. He dropped onto his butt and let out a long breath. He raised his hand. ‘What just happened?’

She patted him on the shoulder. ‘They’ve all become zombies.’


‘Yeah. Weird huh?’

‘Why us? Why are we still alive?’

‘I have no idea. Not sure I will be much longer though, not with this.’

She edged her torn jeans away from the cuts and inspected them. They were shallower than she’d thought and the bleeding was minimal. Ed knelt over them and prodded with one outstretched finger. Then he shook his head. ‘Nah, you’ll be alright with them. It’s only bites that infect.’

‘How the hell d’you know?’

‘I’ve read everything there is to know about zombies. Vampires too, but they don’t exist.’

‘Not unless you’re some hot, skinny American school girl.’

Ed grinned. ‘Nah, they’re the most non-existent ones there are. You have to get bitten by a zombie if you wanna be infected.’

‘So just like vampires then?’

‘Sort of. Only vampires drink blood and zombies either want to eat brains or all of you.’

‘Don’t think those ones were all that bothered.’

He shook his head, frowning.


‘Why us? Why aren’t we zombies?’

‘Why’s it so important?’

He shook his head again, blinking as he looked at her. ‘It might not be, but normally if you’re left alive, there’s a reason. I suppose we might have a natural immunity to whatever was in the fog, but what’s the chances of you and I having it and none of the others?’

The doors pinged and slid open and they both froze, staring at the widening gap. The lobby looked like it was night time. She realised it was the fog surrounding the building and keeping most of the sunlight out. There were no zombies in sight and she let out the breath she’d been holding.

‘Look, any chance we could solve the mystery of our survival after we find somewhere safe?’

‘That’s fine by me, but where’s going to be safe?’

Krystal shrugged and got to her feet. ‘Somewhere they can’t get in I guess. A house or a flat or something?’

They made it across the lobby and to the door. The fog was thick outside, so they couldn’t see further than ten feet in any direction. It was high as well, going far above their heads. When they stepped out into it, their world would shrink. And the zombies could come from anywhere.

Ed grabbed her arm. ‘I don’t want to go out there.’

‘You think? What else are we gonna do?’

He stared at her, those dark eyes mirroring what she felt but was determined not to show.

‘C’mon, it’ll be fine. We move fast as we can and head back toward the city.’

‘Why the city?’

‘We know places there. There’ll be places we can get in and be safe. I don’t know what’s around here. And hey, who’s to say the zombies can see any better in the fog than we can? Maybe it’ll help us.’

Ed looked about as convinced as she felt when a politician appeared on a newspaper saying he was going to stamp out homelessness. It didn’t happen very often and when it did she couldn’t help hearing ‘stamp out homeless people,’ which seemed a bit pointless, because she couldn’t have been more stamped out of the world already.

She gripped Ed’s hand, took a deep breath and pulled the door open. The fog billowed around them, carrying with it the scent of mould, like a building left too long with damp and she coughed. Taking a far shallower breath this time, she dragged him with her into the fog.

Next Installment Thursday 23rd October

13 Roses – Part Forty


Part One is Here


Luke – Friday: 6 Days to Plague Day

‘Who is she?’

Alex’s voice, even in that stupid hissing whisper, was still too loud and Luke wondered again at decision to bring him along. What had made him think he could be useful? Any moment now God’s soldiers would look up and spot them and the entire thing would be a bust. He turned back to his companion, finger on his lips and glared long enough for Alex to look sheepish and nod.

He paused on the top step. There was so much power in here. Last time he’d been here, he’d been in no position to enjoy it. Now though, it was entirely different. His fingers tingled and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He knew he was grinning but couldn’t stop himself and didn’t want to.

The sacrifice was perfectly timed. It would distract everyone. But would it be long enough for them to get down and across to the trucks? And was the formula still in there? One thing at a time.

He scrambled down the stairs a short way before he had to turn around and face the wall, climbing down using hands and feet. His worries over his impending and potential mortality came back hard as he wobbled and grabbed at the steps. One slip and he had a hundred feet or so straight down to hard, unforgiving stone. Alex was taking his time but was at least moving and not talking.

The chanting grew louder and he had to look down. They were walking slow circles around a large post. Good. It was a burning. That would take longer and the smoke would be more cover. He pushed on, his mind locked on taking each step carefully and slowly.

The next time he looked down, the angle was considerably less steep and the girl was strapped to the post. They’d ripped the rest of her clothes away and he felt something stir. There was something utterly dismissive and damning about being naked in front of strangers. He remembered it happening to him and it still sent shivers down his spine. Her skin was dusky, Indian or Pakistani, so probably a Hindu or Islamist. Which would suit the soldiers of God down to the ground.

He growled and shook his head. The sacrifice meant nothing, not if he was going to save the world. He sniggered. That sentence still sounded like a joke. Why had the Father chosen him? If this was all someone’s plan to get him killed permanently, why was the Father involved? Maybe the right question was, how was the Father involved? What had they done or said to convince him?

A number of the soldiers were walking back and forth from a huge metal cabinet set against the rough stone. Each journey brought more wood which they flung on the pile surrounding the wooden post.

Luke’s foot touched the floor and he sank gratefully down, shaking hands cradled in his lap. His breaths came in shorts bursts and he stared up to watch Alex descend. He was taking it slower and easier and had only just reached the halfway point. Maybe Alex was supposed to be the diversion. He could shout a warning to the soldiers and disappear and they’d run up and sort him out while Luke sneaked around the outside.

He shook his head. It wouldn’t last long enough. Something else stopped him as well, the same something that made him wince every time he looked at the naked woman strapped to the pole. Whatever it was made him want to puke, but it was insistent and enough to stay his hand.

He waited until his useless companion joined him on the cavern floor, gave him about five seconds to catch his breath, then hauled him off in a wide circle around the outskirts. They’d gone two steps when Alex stopped short and yanked his arm free.

‘What are you doing, she’s that way?’

‘And that’s where she’ll stay. She’s the perfect diversion.’

‘She’s going to die.’

‘Everyone’s going to die. Thanks to you everyone’s going to die. Saving her will only ensure that happens.’

Alex snarled and set off towards the sacrifice. Luke grabbed at him and succeeded in catching his shirt. He jerked him back and put one, very powerful hand around his throat.

‘Listen to me. Save her and we condemn every human being to death. Do you want that?’

‘I want to save her.’

‘Well isn’t that lovely. Your girlfriend and your unborn child will die. Your parents will die, though a heartless bastard like you probably doesn’t care too much about t—’

‘Heartless bastard? You’re the one leaving an innocent woman to die.’

‘I never claimed to be anything else. But I see the bigger picture. She’s one person and we don’t even know if she’s innocent.’

‘Can’t you tell? Don’t angels have some way of checking?’

Luke grunted and his eyes flicked to the sacrifice. Then he shook his head and tightened his grip. ‘We’re going to the trucks. You come with me or lose your hands again, your choice.’

Alex stared, his upper lip curling. Luke thought he was actually going to argue before his shoulders went limp and he looked at the floor. He muttered something too low for Luke to catch but he was already turning away from the stake and the sacrifice.

There were plenty of rough islands of rock to hide behind and they made good progress. They were within a stone’s throw of the trucks when the sacrifice started screaming again. Alex grabbed his arm and hauled him round, getting up close.

‘You can take my damned hands.’ He set off, racing straight across the floor of the cavern. A plume of smoke rose up to the ceiling and Luke had to question the wisdom of starting a second fire in a closed cave. He froze, eyes flicking from the trucks back to where Alex drew rapidly closer to the circle.

She screamed again and it carried real pain. That quiet voice inside him grew louder and he drove his clenched fist into the rock. Shaking his head and biting down the urge to curse himself in every language he knew, Luke charged after Alex. As he ran, he sent his mind out, finding as many of the minds before him as he could.

He didn’t have to do all of them, just enough to cause chaos. He waited another second, until Alex reached them then he unleashed. The power in the cave surged through him and he gasped. The man nearest him was terrified of spiders and Luke stared in amazement as a creature the size of a dog appeared and dropped onto the man’s shoulders.

13 Roses 1-Before without lucifer

It was physical! He could always see them, but no one else could. The power in the cave had multiplied his powers an extraordinary amount.

The soldier to his left lived in fear of being shot and the next moment his body sprung holes and blood sprayed across the cave floor. He had little sympathy for anyone who chose to follow the pathetic men on Earth who claimed they did God’s work. No one did God’s work, least of all people who spent their days telling others how to run their lives.

He switched on a few more and the cave filled with the howling of monkeys as they tore and pulled at one of his hapless subjects. One of the soldiers was driven to the floor by water streaming from above him. It appeared and ran into his face and down his body then vanished. His hands flailed ineffectually around as though he could deflect it from running down his throat and into his lungs.

Luke broke through the circle and heading for the pile of wood that burned fiercely. The flames were catching bursts of gold and blue and reflecting the power that hummed around the cave. They would be difficult to put out. Alex stood before them, hand over his eyes as he tried to get closer. Luke sneered and shoved him to one side.

The woman was shiny with sweat and her legs were an unhealthy pink colour. The post was tall, possibly tall enough and Luke took a deep breath. Before being made mortal he wouldn’t have thought twice about this. Now though, it was a different story. But the fires were getting hotter.

The soldiers of God were in disarray, the gown-wearing priests running from their fears or staring, stunned at the strange and miraculous additions to the cave. The soldiers themselves were in much the same state, though a few had turned and run the moment the first trouble started. Luke had an inkling of where they were headed, but he couldn’t stop now.

He backed up, put his head down and ran. The flames were horribly hot and seared him long before he leaped. He sailed over the wood, his enhanced strength carrying him all the way to the pole. He struck it feet first and as he hoped, the flames had already burned though the base. It snapped and carried him and woman over the wood on the other side.

He landed first and grabbed the pole, taking the weight before the sacrifice struck the stone. He hauled it away from the flames. Alex appeared, mouth open and nodding.

‘That was amazing, that was just, amazing.’

Luke grabbed the woman’s bonds and ripped them off, wincing as his skin was abraded by the rough rope. He bundled her into Alex’s arms and searched for the nearest priest. He was writhing on the ground, patting frantically at his body. Smoke rose from within his robes and Luke smiled grimly.

He tore his robes off him, leaving him rolling on the ground as his skin went first pink and then blackened. He flung the robe over the sacrifice and the three of them set off across the cavern floor. The moment they got free of the circle and the chaos within, Luke stopped.

The trucks were gone. He caught sight of the back of the last heading into the tunnel, way over the other side past the church. He focused, trying to find the minds of the men on board but they were too far.

He swore, turning back to the maelstrom. He switched off the fears and the surviving soldiers and priests collapsed to the ground. He yanked the nearest up by his collar. ‘Where are they going?’

The man pulled a smile from somewhere, showing teeth black with mould. Luke flicked one with his finger and it broke and fell into the man’s mouth. He choked and Luke tossed him onto the floor. He reached for the next and the priest struggled, throwing him off and racing across the cavern floor.

Luke watched him go, grinding his teeth together before moved onto the next. He pulled one of the soldiers up and slapped him round the face. The unseeing eyes snapped into focus and the soldier cringed.

‘Where are they going?’


‘The trucks. Where are they going?’

‘Dunno. They didn’t tell us. Not for the emergency. Only the trained ones.’

‘Are any of the trained ones here?’

He bustled the man around so he could see his companions in their various states of damage and madness. He shook his head slowly.

‘Don’t think so.’

‘Don’t think so? Are you sure?’

‘Yeah, I’m sure. That was the training, always protect the package.’

With a wordless shout Luke threw him onto the floor. He turned on Alex, teeth bared. ‘See what you’ve done? This is your fault. We’ve lost them and it’s your fault.’

He shoved the sacrifice out the way as his hands settled around Alex’s neck.

‘Wait, please. Hold on.’

Luke was beyond waiting, but Alex’s next words gave him pause. ‘I can still manufacture the antidote. I can’t guarantee how long it’ll take, but it’s better to have it at some point, isn’t it?’

Luke loosened his hands just enough for Alex to breathe. ‘Are you sure you can do it?’

‘I just need my white board. It’s got the stuff I didn’t know on it. If we can get back to the lab, I can get started.’

Luke let go completely. He wasn’t convinced, not in the least. But it was the only thing they had going right now. Alex was already ignoring him, turning to help the sacrifice back to her feet. As she stood, Luke saw her face and gasped.


She shook her head, a smile spreading over full, pale lips. ‘Kali, at your service. The Father will be most pleased to see you haven’t given up your humanity all together.’

Next Installment Monday 20th October

13 Roses – Part Thirty Nine


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.’

‘How come?’

‘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.’

13 Roses 1-Before without lucifer

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