Monsters and Machines

NOMMED FOR MOVELLA OF THE YEAR 2017

Nabdale is the most boring town in England. It’s muddy, it’s rainy, it’s full of cabbages, and all its residents can talk about is the lights in the sky.

On Sunday night, the lights come down, and barely anyone notices. The few who take notice have three days before they’re silenced. First comes the headache. Then, the nightmares begin. And after that, there’s no waking up.

As a very crazy, very real conspiracy theory takes Nabdale by storm, the residents are forced to push the boundaries of what they believe, and what they’ll do to survive. They’ll have to watch their loved ones suffer; they’ll have to abandon their normal lives, and everything they thought they knew about humanity. They’ll have to die. They’ll have to kill. Sickness and hysteria spread like wildfire, and the plot only gets stupider. It’s the end of the world, and they’re either too early, or too late, to stop it. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try.

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20. The Survivors

“Where the hell is everyone?”

The car they’d driven back into the centre of town was really nice. It was pearlescent jade-green, with polished tortoiseshell panelling and white leather seats, and its alarm had screamed like an absolute bitch when Jamie had smashed the window and thrown himself in to hotwire it. He’d quietly closed the door before getting out of the driver’s seat and following Leah down the abandoned main road of Nabdale. Morning had broken whilst they’d been parked on the edge of the town, Jamie drifting in and out of sleep. The town was drenched in milky sunlight, but still, nothing was moving.

“It’s so… quiet.” Jamie murmured, checking his watch to confirm it was eight o’clock. “T-”

“If you say too quiet I’m going to fucking rip that bandage off and let you bleed to death,” Leah hissed.

He looked at her. He tried not to let his fingers wander over to the thick wad of the bandage over his stomach.

“Where is everyone?” Jamie repeated. “Are they d-”

Leah raised both eyebrows. “Stop spouting trailer lines and get the hell over here!”

“What’s over there?”

“Blood.”

Widening his eyes, Jamie ran over to where Leah was standing, and stared down at the enormous dark stain on the pavement. A single set of footsteps ran parallel to the kerb, disappearing into the distance. Dampened by the melting snow, the black puddle was running down the drain red.

Jamie and Leah looked at each other. Then, without a word, both took off running, following the footsteps along the path before they veered across the road, hit a melted patch of slush and disappeared.

“Shit.”

After that, they were forced to follow the trail of blood.

They found the monster in a side street, hanging its head to the ground and dripping strings of black vomit down the side of a dustbin. It was a girl. Not a woman; a girl, no older than fifteen. It hadn’t seen them yet; it was staring at a wall, swaying on its feet, the light from its eyes pooling on the wall. Its hair was long and honey-blonde and its mouth was hanging open.

It turned to face them, and that was when Jamie and Leah saw the hilt of the knife buried in the centre of its forehead, and the black crusts covering its face like burnt flesh.

They exchanged another glance.

“Christ.”

“God.”

Then, the monster whipped its head up and started running towards them. Jamie stepped in front of Leah and grabbed it by both shoulders, but the force of it slamming into him knocked him off his feet and down into the slush on the ground.

“Leah!” He shoved upwards, but the monster’s hands were around his throat and his vision exploded white with pain. This was it. He was going to be killed by a fucking teenage girl. He punched it hard in the face and it paused for a second, its head jerking sideways before cracking back into place. Then, suddenly, her eyes went out, the grip on his neck loosened and the body went limp on him. Jamie lay there for a second, panting, holding his neck, expecting Leah to pull the body off him and toss it aside to help him up.

Nothing happened.

Jamie looked up.

“L-Leah?”

He saw her standing at the end of the alleyway, her arms folded, looking down at him as he shoved the body off his and sat up.

“What?”

He sighed and got to his feet, realising his bandage was hanging loose and fresh blood was leaking from his wound.

“Nothing.”

One of Leah’s knives was embedded hilt-deep in the monster’s back, and Jamie wiped blood and drool from his face with his sleeve, not caring that in a few seconds, it’d start to burn. He kicked the body as he walked over to her, but Leah was staring past him. The alleyway was empty, with faded graffiti splashed all over the brick walls. There was a red door at the end of one wall, its paint chipped and scratched; it looked like the door to a maintenance room, or the entrance to some kind of run-down business.

“Whose knife was that?” Jamie muttered, staring down at the body which was now lying face-down in a pile of grey sludge.

Leah looked at him. “I had to leave it in-”

“No. In her head.”

Suddenly, the entire alleyway shuddered with a massive BANG and the red door burst open. Jamie spun and watched as a woman with red hair came flying out, hitting the opposite wall, pushing herself off, and tearing down the alleyway towards them. Someone came running after her- someone drenched completely in black blood. Jamie yelled, reaching for his own knife and readying himself to kill the two monsters where they stood. Then, he realised that the woman was yelling as she ran, one long scream that stopped dead when she skidded to a halt in front of Jamie and Leah. Jamie widened his eyes.

Luckily, each realised the other was human at the same time.

Brandishing a massive knife next to her face, the woman gave Jamie a split-second look, then spun on her heel and neatly kicked her pursuer in the chest. The monster, a six-foot-tall man, stumbled back on the slick ground and she slammed it up against the wall with her forearm, driving her knife into its chest with another high-pitched scream. She didn’t let it fall. She stabbed it over and over again, covering her arms in blood, hitting the monster twice in the skull and nearly cutting its head clean off at the throat even after it’d gone limp. Jamie and Leah exchanged wide-eyed glances as they watched from the end of the alleyway.

The woman paused for a second, then jerked her head up to look at them both. She only held their gaze for a second before throwing the monster to the ground, nearly slipping as she charged back and kicked the red door shut with a BANG. She fumbled with the chain till she’d managed to loop it twice around the handle. Then, she turned back towards them, panting.

Jamie looked at Leah again.

“Uh…” He took a step forwards. “Who-”

“Who the fuck are you?” The woman interrupted him.

Jamie struggled, looking down at the body at his feet. “We’re, uh…”

“Alive.” Leah said.

“Oh.” The woman stood up and walked towards them, holding the knife loosely at her side. “That’s nice.”

She was wearing a pink cardigan, blue jeans and a foul expression, her hazel eyes narrowed. Her hair was long, curly and dark auburn, with strands sticking stiffly outwards like they’d escaped from a carefully constructed style involving a lot of hairspray. She was covered in black blood, all up her arms and down her front, and Jamie could see now that she had several more knives forced through the fabric of her pockets. One of them had obviously pierced her thigh, like she’d fallen on it, and one leg of her jeans was drenched with red. Jamie remembered the red patch of blood out in the snow.

“You’re…”

“You’re hurt.” Leah said, walking forwards.

“No shit.” The woman folded her arms, still clutching the knife. Jamie could see now that she was panting almost artificially, perhaps to attempt to cover up the tears falling down her cheeks. She was squeaking with every outward breath.

“You- you- you…” She whispered to him, her eyes fixed downwards on the body of the girl. “You can stop- stop staring- at me.”

“Sorry.” Jamie followed her gaze. When he looked back at the woman, she was crying again, hard.

“My… my…” She murmured. “My…”

She knelt down at the girl’s side, brushing the soiled blonde hair from her face. Her eyes were wide and glassy, and the woman used two fingers to close them, starting to shake so hard she dropped the knife on the ground.

“My little… Connie. Baby…” She muttered, stroking the girl’s hair and breaking down into a desperate round of sobbing. “I- I- I- I’m so… so sorry.”

Jamie and Leah looked at each other, their eyes wide. The woman pressed her head to the girl’s, not seeming to give a shit about the snow or the stench, and wrapped her arms around the body to squeeze it with all her might. Then, her gaze fell onto the knife embedded in Connie’s back.

“This… your knife?” She said without looking up. Her voice was gravelly.

Jamie, who was suddenly terrified, stuttered. He looked at Leah.

“Well-”

Leah started. “We just-”

“She-”

“It was-”

“It’s your knife, isn’t it?”

Jamie sighed. “Yeah.”

“I know. Shut up.” The woman covered her face with her hands as she got back to her feet. “It’s okay. It’s okay. All because I didn’t have the balls to do it myself.”

“She…” Leah wavered. “She’s your… your daughter?”

The woman nodded. “Mm-hm.”

There was a pause.

“I’m so sorry.”

The woman shook her head. “It- It doesn’t fucking matter. She’s gone now.”

“But you… You can’t just dismiss-”

“Yes. Yes, I can.” The woman winced as she put her hand on her shredded thigh to pull herself back up. She clutched her knife tighter. “Nobody’s got any time to give me.”

Jamie looked behind him, over the empty corner of the town, and listened to the complete and utter silence. He looked back at the woman, suddenly noting the desperate expression on her face.

“Why’s there no time?” He said.

She jerked her gaze back towards the red door at the end of the alleyway.

She shoved her knife back into her pocket as she turned to face them. “Because I’ve got about twenty more zombies stuffed down there.”

Jamie and Leah spluttered. “Wh… what?” Jamie said.

“They chased me all the way from the other fucking side of town.”

Jamie couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“How the hell did you get them all in one place?” Leah asked her. She sounded sceptical.

The woman stared at her. “They were all out in the street. Walking to work, school… all that shit. They all dropped at the same time.” She shrugged. “More or less.”

“Who the hell…” Jamie paused, counting back the days. “Who the hell infected all those people?”

“Hang on.” Leah said, stepping forwards and pointing at the woman. “Hang on- I know who you are.”

“My husband infected them.” The woman said to Jamie, tucking her hair behind her ears. “Eric.”

“Oh my god!” Leah said. “You’re- You’re Billie, right?”

“How do you know my name?”

“I was…” Leah sighed, covering her face with her hands and looking back down at the girl’s body. “I was one of the medics who tried to help your husband. I- I’m so sorry.”

Billie just hefted her knife. “Are you infected?”

“No.”

“What happened to all the other medics?”

Leah sighed again. “I killed them.”

Billie pulled two knives out of her pockets and into her hands, turning back as the red door shook and the chain rattled. Something was slamming repeatedly into it, but then, there was a faint pattering sound- like whatever it was had started falling down a flight of stairs.

“It appears,” Billie said with an angry sigh, “That they’ve learnt how to climb stairs.”

Billie looked at Jamie, raising one eyebrow.

“I know you,” she said to him. “You’re Jamie whatsisface cool-last-name, aren’t you? The bloke- the doctor- who went apeshit at the hospital.”

Jamie bit his lip. “I object to your wording. I didn’t go apeshit. I murdered everyone in sight in a careful, constructive way.”

“And then got instantly caught by the police.”

Jamie sighed. “Uh-huh.” A spot on his shoulder still ached from that tackle.

“How’d you get out of jail?”

Jamie looked at her, then shot a glance sideways at Leah.

“I, uh… staged a daring escape.”

Leah snorted.

“Right.” Billie replied. “Okay. And now… what? You’re trying to save the world? One doctor, one medic, against the apocalypse?”

When she put it like that, Jamie realised how completely and utterly stupid it sounded.

“Well, yeah.” Leah said.

“Kind of.” Jamie added.

“We’re trying to save as many lives as we can.”

“And kill as many bitch-ass alien robots as we can.”

“Right.” Billie said, smirking slightly. “So what you’re saying… Jamie, and, uh…”

“Leah.”

“Leah. What you’re saying’s that you’ve got no plan whatsoever.”

Jamie blinked. “Actually, we do have a plan.”

“Which is?”

“We’re following Robert Walker. That way, we’ll be able to deal with his trail of destruction as it comes at us.”

“And have you dealt with it?”

Jamie looked at Leah. “What do you mean?”

“Why else would you be back here? Robert Walker went off east.”

Leah cocked her head. “How do you know that?”

“Because…” Billie sighed. “There was a blog about it. Some guy who worked at the hospital- he’s been telling everyone all the details.”

“Oh.”

Jamie smiled to himself.

“I reckon that guy’s dead now,” Billie said. “Wanted to thank him first. That blog’s the only reason I got my other daughter- my little Poppy- out of town fast enough.”

Jamie suddenly felt warm. Was he blushing? He’d better not be fucking blushing.

“Anyway.” Billie rubbed her eyes. “Look- what are you two doing back in town?”

“Oh. We, uh…” Jamie trailed off. “We lost Robert’s trail out in the hills. We figure he’s somewhere out there, nowhere near anybody.”

“And what if you’re wrong?”

“What do you mean?”

“What if there are people out there?” Billie spat.

“Well, then, we’re fucked, aren’t we?” Jamie growled. “We just thought we’d come back here and try to track, uh… Eric.”

“He’s dead.”

Jamie blinked at Billie. “Uh… what?”

Billie planted her hands on his hips. “He’s dead. I tracked him to the edge of the river. Those fuckers who took him from me don’t know how to swim. He was an easy-” She trailed off and bit her lip. “An easy target.”

Sniffing hard, Billie dissolved into tears. She looked down at the body on the floor- the body of her daughter- and then shook her head, hard. She’d been through more pain than either of them, but she was still fighting. Jamie liked her.

Billie wiped away more tears and smiled tiredly as she looked at him. “Mind if I join you?”

* * * * * * * * * *

RIGHT!” Jamie yelled, looking down at the cluster of dark bodies standing below them. “HOW THE FUCK ARE WE GOING TO KILL THEM?”

THERE AREN’T THAT MANY!

BILLIE, I COUNTED FIFTY-SEVEN!

WHAT?

Jamie screamed louder. “FIFTY-SEVEN!

Billie hung her head over the edge and ran her finger sideways, counting again. Then she paused, and Jamie just about heard her saying to herself, “No way.”

To Jamie and Leah’s surprise, Billie hadn’t led them through the red door, which she’d said was only a back entrance. As it turned out, she’d managed to lead the ridiculously massive horde of monsters into a nightclub, running through the double doors and down the stairs, and she’d hid in the back cupboard for several hours before they’d found her and she’d had to run out of the back door. It was a ridiculous story, and Jamie was positive some part of it must’ve been exaggerated for dramatic effect, even though the evidence was right in front of him. The three of them had broken through the double doors and climbed up into the lighting rack, only pausing to let Jamie deal with a couple of stragglers who’d managed to struggle up the stairs. Now, they were lying, holding all their weapons, in the scaffold, staring down at the dance floor. The music in the club was thumping like crazy and the lights were off, giving them only a vague view of the fifty-odd zombies they had to figure out how to kill.

Jamie turned just in time to see Leah moving her mouth.

“WHAT?” He shouted in her face.

She rolled her eyes angrily. “HOW CAN WE BE SURE-”

Jamie cut her off. He knew what she was going to say, because he’d been wondering it himself. Ignoring Leah, he turned away from her.

Billie looked at him. There was something in her eyes that came and went as the neon lights pulsed- some vicious anger. She had a personal vendetta. And she didn’t care what she had to do to satisfy it. Still, her lip was trembling.

HOW DO WE KILL THEM?” He asked her. Billie shrugged, looking back down at the ground. That was when Jamie saw for sure what he’d thought he’d seen the last time the lights had been yellow- something wet shining on the floor twenty, thirty feet below them. That was when he realised, too, that not all the bodies in the room were standing up.

He looked up at Billie, who looked back at him.

Jamie bit his lip. Conveniently, at that moment, the song stopped and he could talk at a normal volume. “Billie. Did you- when you led them in… were there any…”

“Does it matter?” She cut him off.

He swallowed. He knew the answer- or, at least, his answer. “No.”

“Good. Now…” Billie said, just as Leah gave a yelp behind Jamie. “You got any ideas?”

Jamie sighed, then grinned. “Yeah. I got one.”

“Jamie!” Leah said, frantically tapping him on the shoulder. “L-look!”

Leah was pointing down as the lights turned white for a second. Jamie had been right- only about thirty or so of the people in the room were monsters, still standing. The other twenty were on the ground, in tiny pieces. Amongst the stock-still upright bodies, Jamie saw a head here, a leg there. He swallowed. The ground was soaked with red blood.

“She- she…” Leah said, biting her lip. “Billie led them into- into… Into a place filled with… people!”

“I know.”

 “But-”

“She didn’t have a choice.”

“They- they killed-”

“I know, Leah. Stop spelling it out.” Jamie jumped as the music started again. “What does it matter?  Really? You’re a MEDIC! GET USED TO IT!

BUT-”

SHUT UP!” Jamie burst out, clenching his fist around his knife. Leah and Billie stared at him for a couple of seconds.

“Sorry.” Jamie muttered.

Billie swallowed.

“So, uh… Jamie.” She said next to his ear after waiting a few seconds for a lull in the music. “Did you say you had a plan?”

Jamie thought for a second or two. He had had an idea, but only now did it occur to him that he’d been thinking as though those things down there were people, not these robotic things. Medical training and potential serial-killer training were basically synonymous, because at the end of the day, it was all about the different parts of the body and how they could be broken. He knew exactly how to kill a large group of people, standing in a small cluster, but he wasn’t sure it’d work on monsters too. If it could stop a heart, it might work. Right? At the very least, it’d disable them long enough to be easy targets.

JAMIE?

Jamie looked up at her, and licked his lips nervously. “Uh…” He said. “Yeah. Yeah, I-“

WHAT?”

I THINK I’VE GOT SOMETHING!” Jamie shouted. “BUT WE’RE GOING TO NEED A FUCKLOAD OF WATER!

* * * * * * * * * *

Ten minutes later, the trap was set and everyone was safely back up in the gallery.

Nah, not really.

As Jamie lugged the seven-or-eight-hundredth bucket of water down the steep, steel-capped steps of the nightclub, he cursed himself for having been so quick to jump to volunteer. He’d wanted to be a badass. This morning, he’d been nothing more than an underpaid trainee doctor with three cats and a mild to medium Jeremy Kyle addiction, and now he was a mass-murderer, all because he’d wanted to be a hero. He was good at one-liners and curling his lip upwards and walking around in the wilderness covered in blood. He’d thought that was all it took. This… this was just undignified. Sprigs of water kept jumping up to hit him in the face, his shirt was plastered to his skin with sweat, and he’d been out of breath for the last half-hour with no time to catch it. The blood on his hands and face was burning; he could feel the sickening sensation of his skin eating itself away, and the headache was digging lumps out of his brain. The strain was bludgeoning the stab wound in his stomach. He was grunting and snorting with exertion There was sweat running down his face. He was a mess.

Jamie reached the edge of the dance floor, then froze, realising he’d walked too far forwards. With one eye trained on the cluster of stock-still monsters, he managed to heft the bucket higher into his arms and take a step backwards. Then, another. A spurt of water slapped him across the cheek. Jamie tried his best not to move, even though every molecule in his body was begging him to wipe it off. Don’t move suddenly. If you move, they’ll see you.

And if they see you, they’ll rip you apart.

He turned sideways once he was back in the shadows, managing to walk all the way around the dance floor, past the bar, and towards the empty stage with little to no noise. As he got nearer, he looked for the millionth time at the irregular splatter of blood on the stage; shaped like a spider with a missing leg. And the human head lying on its side, bright blue hair sprayed sideways, scarlet blood dripping down the slope and onto the dance floor. The dance floor was shaped like it’d been scooped out of the ground, with steep slopes curving downwards and yet more stairs carved into it. It was a cool place- Jamie’d loved coming here after they’d converted it from a skate park, before Billie’d converted it into a flesh-ripping monster rehab centre. Jamie needed to reach a particular spot at the edge of that slope- a gap between the bar and the stage, painted black by the shadow of the lighting rig. He slotted himself and the bucket in, taking care to stay in the dark, and snuck a glance up at the scaffold. Billie and Leah weren’t watching him. They were too busy talking, or, rather, shouting, their voices completely smothered by the music.

Jamie crouched, swearing as a vertebra popped and ditching the bucket onto the ground with a little too much noise. He swore again, jumping to his feet and readying himself to run for his life, but none of the monsters had seen him. They were all just standing there, bewildered in the thumping music and acrid lights, completely motionless like a group of lost dogs. Their eyes didn’t even look that bright down here. Jamie remembered a time when his blood had frozen, his heart had plummeted, just from the sight of those eyes. That had been in a foggy street, a sombre hospital corridor, a grimy bus. Settings made all the fucking difference, didn’t they? Now, those undead idiots just looked kind of stupid.

Jamie crouched back down, gripping the lip of the bucket and carefully upending it. The water gushed out with such force it nearly dragged him down, and Jamie regained his composure just in time to see it spreading across the floor, diluting red blood pink and black blood grey, matting dead hair and lapping at the soles of shoes. He was pretty sure he was done with everyone now. Everyone was standing in it, dead or alive.

He picked up the empty bucket, shocking himself with the sudden lightness and nearly stumbling backwards. Frustrated, he straightened his shirt, just in time to see Billie and Leah watching him again. Leah had covered her mouth with her hands and Billie was pressing her lips together, amused. He shrugged, throwing the bucket to one side, and then froze as their expressions widened.

The music stopped.

The bucket struck a wall with a heart-stopping hollow clatter.

And thirty- no, thirty-one- white glowing pairs of eyes snapped around to stare at him.

“Fuck.”

Jamie broke into a run. He tore back the way he’d come, around the curved edge of the dance floor, and back towards the ladder that led to the lighting rig, yelling as he panted like a maniac. That stitch came back. His feet were killing him and the taste of blood bubbled into his throat. He could hear the quiet shuffle-shuffle-thumping of three dozen flesh-ripping monsters scrambling to reach him, and their eyes were making bubbles of white light dance across the walls. Shit shit shit shit shit SHIT! Jamie reached the ladder, but something reached him just as he got his foot on the first rung; something that slammed into him and knocked him sideways, pressing him back against the wall. A surge of adrenaline throbbed through his head and he gripped the sides of the ladder with both hands, kicking both his legs up to send the monster sprawling. It stumbled back down into the pit. He turned back and tried again to climb the ladder, but a hand grabbed his shirt and pulled him back. He turned… and saw a man. Not a monster; a man. With dark eyes, covered in blood and soaked in sweat, wearing a silver button-up shirt. Jamie realised he was looking at a survivor of the invasion, and that made him feel… irritated. This was a complication he didn’t fucking need. The man grabbed Jamie’s wrist, screaming something hysterically. Maybe it was “You killed my friends.” Yeah. Maybe.

The adrenaline was killing him, and Jamie wasn’t going to let this guy delay his plan. He wasn’t in danger, but he was pissed off, and he wanted to get out of here because it was too bloody dark and the music was too bloody loud and his head was hurting. So he yanked a kitchen knife out of his pocket. And he speared that guy like a silver fucking fish.

The song ended. Jamie looked at the man on the end of his knife. The man at the end of his knife looked at him.

“Oh.”

That was all the man said.

Jamie watched in stunned silence at the red blood spitting from every orifice as the man staggered backwards and dropped to his knees. He looked down to feel his heart pounding, and see his hands full of red. The puddle of blood that started to spread as the man slipped sideways to the ground, eyes closed, mouth open, looked black.

Jamie looked over him and saw the rest of the monsters floundering to climb the steep incline. Fucking stupid idiots. He turned to climb the ladder, wondering as he did so why the fuck those fucking aliens had started their world domination plan in the hilly part of England if their war machines didn’t know how to fucking climb. Idiots.

Jamie walked back along the scaffold to reach Billie and Leah, trying not to wobble as he looked down to make sure the man he’d killed was out of their sight. He was. Just. Thank God.

“Everything okay?” Billie asked him.

Jamie blinked, biting his lip. “Yeah. Yeah, sure. Everything’s fine.”

“Sure looks fine.”

Jamie looked down, seeing that the pool of water he’d thrown at the monsters’ feet was flashing with a fluorescent rainbow as the lights pulsed. He got to his knees, then lay down on his stomach, wincing at the pain. He looked down, counting the monsters. Thirty-two.

Without really caring, he wondered if any of them were people he’d known.

“Hey.” Billie shuffled over the scaffold to get closer to him. Whilst he’d been pouring water, she’d been using one of her knives to pick at the clips fixing a spotlight in place, holding it by its wires. “Do you.. Do you fancy doing it?”

Jamie took hold of the spotlight and grinned. “Heck yes.”

Then, suddenly, Leah gasped and pointed down at the dance floor. When Jamie and Billie followed her finger, they saw a smudge of movement on the ground. One girl, who’d been lying at the bottom of one of the staircases, had started to move. She slowly sat up, and Jamie realised as she did so that she wasn’t even injured. She’d just been playing dead.

“Oh my god!” Leah said, looking at Jamie. She struggled to her feet. “Don’t drop it; don’t drop it! I’m going down.”

Shit; these inconveniences were just piling up, weren’t they?

“Leah, you’ll be killed.” Jamie said.

“Bullshit. Someone needs my help. For god’s sake, Jamie, she’s sitting right in the water!”

Jamie and Billie didn’t move. For a fraction of a second, he caught Billie’s eye. That was when he remembered the man in the silver shirt, whom he’d left lying right at the bottom of the ladder behind them. If they let Leah go down, she’d find him.

“Don’t. Leah. Stay here.”

“Fuck you. I’m going round.” Leah said, and she turned and ran off down the scaffold in the opposite direction. Jamie and Billie exchanged glances. Jamie looked down, waiting for the monsters to notice the girl moving, but they still hadn’t. Maybe it was only a matter of time.

He wondered if they should stop Leah.

But for a second, he did nothing.

“You reckon that’s all of them?” He said quietly.

Billie looked at him. “You what?”

“Every last one of those bitches who got infected.” Jamie said. “D’you reckon that’s all of them in the entire town?”

Then, he remembered the people he’d left at the hospital. And Robert, out in the hills somewhere. He sighed.

Billie sighed too. “There’ll be more. A whole lot more. More we don’t even know are infected yet. But, for now… Yeah.”

Jamie smirked tiredly. “For now’s good enough.”

They just had time to spot someone else struggling up from the ground in the middle of the floor. Unlike the girl at the other end, this guy was spotted by the monsters instantly. Thirty bodies surged towards him, and blood began to spray upwards. Jamie was holding the severed spotlight right above their heads.

There was a pause.

Then, Jamie dropped the spotlight into the pool of water, and the floor- along with everyone on it- lit up with white-hot bolts of electricity.

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