Monsters and Machines


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.


16. Heroics

It wasn’t until after he’d driven both his knives up to the handles in Nora’s chest that he realised he was going to die in three days. He yanked them free and watched her crumple back against the wall, black seeping from her chest, and wiped the remnants that’d found their way onto his hand onto his jeans. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to die. In fact, he was rather taken with the idea of becoming a martyr. Gonna die some day, may as well go down in a blaze of glory, right? But on the other hand, he’d just given himself a time limit.

Jamie jerked his head up and listened to the stupid idiots who hadn’t run when he’d told them to, screaming. Gasping. Shouting. Yeah, they were taking him seriously now, weren’t they?

“Get the fuck OUT!” Jamie yelled again, grabbing Nora’s arm and dragging her out of the way of the door. Then, he twisted and pointed one black-crusted knife in the direction of the crowd, who froze. “For fuck’s sake, RUN!”

They listened to him. Of course they did; he was a threat. “Get out. Go. Now. Go! No- no.” He jerked a finger at another trainee, who was wringing his hands. “Patrick, fucking leave her. She’s dead.”

“But Rachel-”

“Save your fucking BREATH, Patrick! She’s DEAD! Fuck off, or I’ll kill you right after her.” Jamie was panting. He hadn’t meant that last part. Had he? He didn’t know. “I mean it.” He was growling. Fucking lunatic. He’d just killed someone and the stress and adrenaline had already burned him raw. “I MEAN it! I mean it.”

Patrick held his hands up. “Okay…” He stuttered. Jamie jabbed the knife towards him. “Okay. I’ll… I… Oh. Oh, god.”

Patrick backed towards the door, and Jamie curled his lip as he watched Rachel getting to her feet. Her blonde hair was tangled across her face, sticking in chunks to her blackened lips and cutting the glow from her eyes into stripes. She stood there, motionless, for a fraction of a second.

“Out of the way, you fucking moron!” Jamie shoved Patrick, hard, to get him out of the way. He ran forwards, skidding on a puddle of blood. Grabbing Rachel by her throat squeezed more trickles of curdled black out of her mouth, and Jamie pushed her head back against the wall before ramming his knife into her chest. He’d never imagined stabbing someone before. It was a lot easier than he’d thought it’d be. Patrick pulled himself back to his feet, slipping on a puddle. Squelch. Jamie let go of Rachel and let her fall. Thud. Then, there was silence.

Jamie opened his mouth, but Patrick didn’t even need to be threatened again. He gave a whimper, watching the rest of the monsters starting to struggle to their feet, and then ran across the room and clattered the door back against the wall. Outside, in the corridor, Jamie could hear a lot of shouting. Inside, in this fucking room, there was only silence and shuffling and the dizzying throb of his heartbeat.

“Alright.” He said to himself. “Time to fuck some shit up and be a hero.”

He turned towards the crowd of shambling dead idiots, licked his lips, and then took a sideways glance at Rachel. Damn, he’d liked her. Oh well. Feelings could wait. He drove his knife into the chest of some monster with straggling brown hair, yanked it out again with a wet squelch, and pushed the body to the ground. It was strange how whatever was holding these things upright just shattered once they’d been stabbed; they were like houses of cards, only needing a tiny flick to send them tumbling down. Now, at least, they were still and silent and… booting up? Is that what they were doing? He’d noticed there were a few seconds of nothing right after someone got back up again. He didn’t stop to wonder why. Who fucking cared about science anyway?

Jamie heard the door opening, the muffled sounds in the corridor jumping forwards to scream in his ears. Someone shouted his name, and he turned, but not before the person at the door had shrieked in terror and movement had surged all around him. Two or three monsters shattered at once, and Jamie swore, turned back, turned one knife over in his hand and sliced messily down into the closest one’s heart. He remembered that woman. She always wore blue eyeliner and odd socks. Well, not anymore, because she was dead. He let her fall, and the screams at the door tangled together into an obnoxious, intrusive mess, and someone ran forwards to grab him. Jamie stepped smartly backwards, nearly slipping on a puddle, and felt two strong hands grabbing his shoulders. His blood ran cold with adrenaline and he twisted sideways, wrenching one arm free, then shoved both his knives up under the monster’s ribcage. Squelch. Thud. There was blood all over his hands, thick and lumpy and slimy, and he wiped it on his trousers, wondering if it’d burn holes through the fabric. The doctor who was trying to reach him from the doorway was grabbed by another monster, a bloke with a long beard that’d used to be blond, and Jamie waded through the mess, grabbed the monster by the scruff of his neck, and stabbed him between the shoulder-blades. Squelch. Thud. Jamie was panting, and the doctor was staring at him in horror.

“What… what… Jamie…”

“Shut the fuck up.” Jamie turned both his knives back over, then dropped one on the floor. Swearing, he bent to pick it up, but a rising chorus of screams from the doorway made him throw himself back up just in time for another monster to barrel into him and pound him into the ground. Fuck’s sake. He landed face-first in a puddle of black blood, but he wiped it with his sleeve as he rolled onto his back, bent both his legs and kicked upwards to send the monster flying off him. Thud. He rolled over, forced himself back up onto his knees, and turned his knife back over before stabbing the fucking thing so hard his blade clanked against the tiles on the other side. He yanked it out. Blood pricked the monster’s white coat, and he realised it was Pavel. He’d died with his eyes open and they were glassy and glazed, the pupils sunken and blurry grey. There was black blood everywhere, and Jamie was fucking covered in it. Ugh. Gross. And deadly. But mostly gross.

“Fuck’s… sake…” Jamie panted, but he jumped back to his feet and grabbed a monster with tufty brown hair as it tried to run past him, slamming it up against the wall with his forearm and jamming his knife down. Squelch. Thud. The killing was getting easier. He dropped to the ground and fumbled in the oily black mess to find his second knife, jumping to his feet and taking one dizzy moment to look up at his colleagues and give them a withering look. They all looked petrified. Good. “Try to fucking… stop… me…” He panted. “Or get the fuck… out… of… my… way.”

Nobody moved.

“I hate you all equally,” he moaned, turning back and running over to the one remaining monster. This guy’s name had been Russell, and on Jamie’s first day, he’d sneered at him and warned him that lazy people never lasted long in medicine careers. Well, five years had passed, and here he still fucking was. Breaking the Hippocratic Oath and ruining his career, but still employed. Jamie raised both his knives, but didn’t have time to finish the job before Russell shot both his hands out and grabbed Jamie’s throat. Jamie closed his eyes, wondering what getting your head ripped off your shoulders felt like, but then, he thought to raise both his legs off the ground and ram them into Russell’s stomach as hard as he could. The monster didn’t exactly crumple, but it folded in half at the waist, sending them both to the ground. Jamie jarred his spine. He could still feel those hands on his throat. Someone behind him was screaming his name, but only from the doorway. Whoever it was, fuck ‘em. Jamie rammed one blade into Russell’s chest with every shred of energy he had left. The sudden release of pressure on his throat made him collapse into a soggy panting heap on the ground. He was tired. So, so fucking tired. His throat was burning and his mouth tasted of blood and his heart was beating so fast it felt like one unbroken scream in his chest.

“Jamie!” Someone screamed. He recognised the man’s voice; it was Joseph, one of the receptionists, built like a fucking tank. He could hear heavy, squelching footsteps running towards him, but instead of pulling him to his feet, he felt Joseph gripping both his wrists and wrenching his shoulders backwards.

“Ah! Fuck!” Jamie moaned, his face pressed into the ground. In the doorway, the several doctors and nurses who’d run to fetch help were whimpering and muttering.

“Can I just…” Jamie sighed and tried to shift Joseph’s weight from his back. That fucker was full-on straddling him “This is sort of awkward... don’t you think? For both of us. If-”

“Drop the knives, Cloverfield!”

Joseph’s grip tightened on his wrists, twisting his hands behind his back, and one of the knives clattered onto the tiles next to him. Jamie used all his remaining strength to hold onto the other as those rough fingers fought to pry it away.

 “Cloverfield, drop the knife!”

Jamie panted, barely able to breathe; he couldn’t speak, either, since his face was still mashed into the floor. The stink of that blood all over his cheek- God, it was like a fucking sewage cesspit had hooked up with a vat of hot bleach.

“Oh my god!” one of the nurses squeaked, covering her face with her hands. “What the… what- what… all those… people-”

“They’re not… people...” Jamie managed, turning his head to the side. The grip on his arms was quivering and loosening as Joseph took in the scene, and Jamie took the opportunity to clench his hand tighter around his remaining weapon.

“Shut up!”

“They’re… fucking zombies,” he panted. “And so was Robert, and so was… ah! George. I’m trying to… save… you....”

“Drop the fucking knife, sociopath!”

Jamie growled and struggled; Joseph dug his fingertips harder into his wrists, making him wince. He wriggled his wrists against the grip, but it held fast.

“I’m not a sociopath,” he groaned. “Technically, I’m a psychopath.”

“I don’t give a fuck, you just stabbed nine people! Clarice, call the police.”

“I already have.” A high-pitched woman’s voice, shaking, came from the doorway.

“They… weren’t… people,” Jamie said. “God damn, Joe, are you fucking thick? I mean, I mean...” He glanced around and jerked one finger of his restrained hand towards the nine white-eyed, grey-skinned, black-smeared bodies. “Look at them!”


Stop TOUCHING me!” he growled, rolling over and twisting both hands in opposite directions to break the hold. He dropped his last knife in the process, but Joseph still whimpered and cowered in fear as Jamie got to his feet.

“There,” he said, holding up both hands and stepping smartly backwards as Joseph jumped up and tried to grab him again. “I dropped the fucking knives.”

Suddenly, a flurry of screams materialised in the corridor and barrelled towards them. The crowd at the doorway parted like the Red Sea and Jamie swore, running outside just in time to see a flash of black and white and grey. The monster had been a woman, black-haired, with vomit dripping all the way down into the cleavage of her ridiculously low-cut top. The bloke whose severed, bloodied head she’d just dropped to the ground had probably once been blond. Jamie whispered the foulest word he knew, ran back into the room to snatch both his knives, and ignored Joseph’s pathetic caterwauling as he legged it back out of the door and down the corridor. People kept screaming anyway- why? He was here to fucking save them. He sprinted towards the monster, she turned to face him, and he tackled her to the ground, falling with a thump that jarred both his knees. He yelled with exertion as he brought both his knives up, then down, into her chest, stabbing her over and over again as people shrieked like canaries and blood spat all over his face. Fuck this shit. Fuck it. Fuck her, fuck everyone else, fuck Joseph, fuck the monsters, and fuck the humans too. When the blood came out, it was water. When it touched his skin, it was oil. Then, Jamie watched as it curdled into mud on the ground. It wasn’t blood.

“Fuck you too.” He panted as he got to his feet. Then, he turned. “Oh, for motherfucking bollocks’ sake!”

There was another monster running full-pelt down the corridor, but it stopped short of Jamie to grab hold of Joseph from the doorway of the break room. It grabbed his arm, and for a second, Jamie was frozen.

Joseph looked at him.

“Thank me now!” Jamie forced himself out of his smug stupor and ran to grab hold of the monster’s hand, which was clamped tight over Joseph’s shoulder. In a moment of stunned panic, Jamie turned his knife over, pushed Joseph forwards to straighten the monster’s arm, and hacked that shit off below the elbow with one downward stroke. The flesh was softer than flabby butter, and there was so much blood falling on him now it just felt like cotton wool. Joseph fell forwards, panting, the monster’s arm falling with him. Jamie watched with satisfaction as he squeaked and swatted at the severed limb like it was a fly, finally managing to shake it off him.

One of the women screamed behind him.

“What the fuck are you gonna do now?” Jamie heaved as the monster’s flailing sprayed a stripe of black over his shirt. “You’re an ugly motherfucker now, aren’t you?”

Then, he clenched the knife tighter, his fingers seizing up, and slashed a haphazard hole through the monster’s heart before letting the body fall to the ground.

When he’d been seven years old, Jamie had been to the hospital to get his appendix out, and his mum had told him that the doctors would always keep him safe. He could trust them.

Well, I guess I can add that to the list of things my parents lied to me about.

Jamie dropped his last sodden weapon, along with a chunk of skin that had attached itself to the blade, with a metallic clatter and took a step away from the body, looking Joseph dead in the eyes. His stomach was heaving and his heart was pounding, but his head felt weirdly level.

“Okay, now I’ve dropped them.” He whispered.

Joseph’s face had drained, leaving him even less colourful than the dead undead lying in heaps all around him. Jamie panted and wiped a soiled hand across his forehead, smearing black and grey gunk all over his face to mingle with the sweat. With the other hand, he grabbed a fistful of his lab coat and shrugged it onto the ground, peeling his sweat-plastered t-shirt away from his stomach. He looked around, noticing that half of the staff had legged it and the other half were transfixed, standing in a semicircle around him. He leaned against the wall, holding up a hand half-heartedly as Joseph took a step towards him.

“Don’t- don’t go for the knife…” Joseph stuttered, letting his eyes flick downwards towards the last dead body. “I’ll-”

“Mate, please stop looking at me as if I’m about to stab you,” Jamie gasped, raising one eyebrow and holding both hands up. He slipped further down the wall in his exhaustion.

“Well, are… aren’t you? You just fucking killed all those- all those people, you heartless b- bastard-”

“I’m not a bastard,” said Jamie, “not heartless, either-”

His gaze jerked down towards the deep black rip in the handless monster’s chest.

Don’t make a joke. Don’t make a goddamn joke, Jamie Cloverfield.

Apparently, holding his sludge-covered hands up wasn’t doing anything to reassure the guy that Jamie had no intention of murdering him, so he swung his foot and kicked the knife as hard as he could. It skittered across the polished white floor before coming to rest in a puddle of black.

The other one was still behind his other ankle.

“What- what happened?” Joseph turned back to Jamie. “Why’d this happen? Why’d you do this?”

“I didn’t do it,” Jamie said. “Robert Walker did.”


Jamie shrugged, playing the remaining knife with the toe of his shoe.

“The- he- look,” Jamie began before sighing. Even he was sick of the story by now; it was interesting, but it was just too ridiculous. Too many unlikeable characters, too much pointless gore, too many nameless, vague antagonists. It was a shoddy horror story, really.

Monsters. Let’s just call them monsters.

Jamie decided he may as well just tell the truth. He had a way out, after all, and it was lying right at his feet.

“He’s infected all these people with alien-zombie-robot cancer, and they die after getting a headache and come back to life and infect other people. Their blood goes black, their eyes go white, and there’s bright green fucking UFOs in the sky.” He paused, relishing the exasperation on his colleagues faces, before adding, “Oh, and there’s also ghosts and demons and superpowers and shape-shifting interdimensional lizard people and it was all the government’s fault and Bush did 9/11. Can I go home now?”

“No, Cloverfield, you can’t.”

“It’s the end of my shift.”

His heart was thudding even harder in his ears now the corridor was silent; he was stressed, but he was calm, and confusion was flipping the panic into cockiness.

Joseph whipped his head down, and Jamie stopped moving his foot in circles around the knife. “The police will be here at any minute-” He paused as a group of about six or seven of his staff ran around the corner. “And you’re going to jail for the rest of your life.”

“No I’m not,” Jamie muttered. He’d been slowly letting himself slip down the wall, almost into a sitting position, and it was partly because he was so exhausted. Then again, it was no coincidence that his fingers were now brushing the handle of the knife. One of the nurses screamed a warning, pointing down at the floor underneath them, but it was too late. Jamie dropped another inch, snatched up the knife, and swung his arm rigidly upwards to point it right at his captor’s throat. His elbow was clenched so hard with fear and panic that his entire body was trembling.

“No I’m not.” he repeated, walking sideways in an arc until he was standing between the crowd and the front door. “Okay, how many of you are infected?”

Nobody replied.

“Well,” he whispered as the last of his voice dissolved into a metallic rasp. “I can tell you.”

He could taste blood on his breath as he took a step backwards.

“You,” he said, pointing at Joseph. Taking a catnap with that severed arm had covered Joseph’s neck with black. “And you.” One of the nurses was scrubbing at a sliver of black on her cheek. “And you.” He spotted another nurse wringing his hands together. “In fact, anyone who touched the blood.” He licked his lips. That was a mistake, because his face was covered in the blood. He looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. “And me. Weirdly enough.”

“So… what?” someone shakily spoke up. “You gonna… wh- what? You gonna kill us all, too? You fucking dickhead?”

Jamie smirked sarcastically. The speaker’s friend elbowed him and he shut up.

“Eventually…” Jamie panted. Wait a second He didn’t want to kill anyone else, did he?

That power rush was fizzing in his veins, making him feel drunker than he’d ever been before

Maybe he did want it, at least a little.

“I’m not… going… to kill you, you bunch of twerps,” Jamie said, exhaling one last breath that left his throat raw. “I just… I just… Not yet. I can’t not yet. Not anymore.” He sighed again, his voice quailing as the reality of what he’d done started to soak into his blood.

“I just… I… uh…” His knees were going weak. Was this what he was? After all that, was he weak? Was he going to wimp out? No. He was strong. And anyway, strong or not, he had a job to do, didn’t he?

He swallowed. “Just don’t get in my way.” He spat. “I want out, and I don’t want to stab any other fuckers. Can you do that? Please?”

Jamie paused and glanced towards the door as, in the distance, the wail of sirens became audible.

“I know you’re gonna give me up, and that’s cool. I just want out, and you guys all need to know I didn’t-” his voice cracked and his grip on his knife slackened with a sudden wave of fear. “I didn’t want to do this, all right?”

Jamie heard the automatic doors opening behind him as he took another step back.

“Where the hell are you going?” asked the man who’d just called him a dickhead.

Jamie panted again, throwing his knife down and watching it impale itself in the doormat as he stepped onto the pavement outside. He didn’t answer the question until the glass doors had closed, muffling his words from the group.

“I’m going to save the world.”

Then, like the guilty man he was, Jamie ran. 

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