It was weird but as we ran for the trees I kept on thinking how this place looked in normal times – filled with office workers, civil servants, tourists, protesters, and the encampments of long term political complainants. All of that was now gone, in its place huge amounts of rubbish, torn down tents, discarded placards and of course diseased people with no obvious thoughts other than getting to us in search of sustenance – that and converting us into one of them I now knew, having seen Sneaky Bastard come back after being bitten.
At the beginning of our heroic dash my legs felt like jelly, my strength was being sapped by my fear. Running out into the open like that was a serious challenge to me – if I hadn’t had Becky by my side, well, honestly I don’t know how I would have fared. I’ll be frank, I’m not the bravest soul in the world, which may or may not explain why I’m still alive to tell this story so far into the Apocalypse. Anyway, back to the present, I listened out for the footsteps of our group behind me to make sure we didn’t get separated as we made our hurried way towards the trees.
In spite of our relative silence the zombies quickly picked up on our presence and began their shuffle dance in our direction. My heart beat faster as I realised that somehow they were moving not so much towards us as more to block our passage across the square. Up to now I had only attributed the most meagre of mental abilities to them but definitely not this. Seeing this group activity at the very least indicated some sort of basic innate hunting skills, if not some form of group communications. All the way across I wondered if we were doing the right thing, although by now there was no going back. I looked over my shoulder and caught sight of Pius dispatching a zombie that had been more enthusiastically chasing us than the others. He seemed very proficient with the rifle and bayonet – deep waters lay there I suspected.
Arriving at the trees and thankfully still alive I pushed on, Becky staying by my side. I could see Winston’s statue almost urging me to fight on, the square and riverside our twenty first century beaches. Looking beyond him I judged there would be just about enough space for us to get over the bridge and down to Westminster Pier but it would be one hell of a close call. It was a serious gamble so I just prayed there would be a boat waiting for us. Even if we couldn’t get the engine started I still maintained that we would be safer by simply casting it away from the shore, out of reach of those deadly hands.
We were running hell for leather now, our restraint and carefully planned moves thrown out the window in our rising collective panic. We were nearly at the far side of the square when the first of us met our end. The upside was that it was only Matt. Fair do’s to the fella he appeared fearless in his struggle against the one that caught him. Struggling to overpower each other they both went down and were almost immediately set upon by another four zombies who were already close behind out group, their lumbering gait relentless. His screams brought more zombies to the scene. Dinner was served.
I grabbed Becky’s hand and cried out to the others to keep moving. Indre just stood there and seemed nonplussed at Matt’s demise, their sparking relationship now evident for what it had been. Pius grabbed her roughly by the arm and pulled her along, she all the while looking over her shoulder at the food lust behind us. From what I saw I only remember bright red. It seems that Matt did indeed step up in the end, although I don’t imagine it was exactly a voluntary contribution on his part to give us a small hiatus in the chase so giving us precious seconds to get further away from death. What do they say: you existed as long as someone remembers you. Well, I remember all of them.
We were now alongside Portcullis House, that great modern edifice built to house our MPs and their minions as they struggled to keep our country afloat on a daily basis. As we passed by that monstrous folly I am absolutely certain I saw a couple of members of our cabinet, only now their own concern was in chasing us. I wasn’t about to stop and ask for an autograph. They joined the chase as the pier appeared, guarded by Boudicca as she had done since 1850, although this time she merely watched as we panted and struggled to stay ahead of the ever increasing horde of zombies collecting at our rear.
Vlad, our erstwhile impaler seemed not to be so much of a barbarian as I’d hoped, he was beginning to lag behind us, something that didn’t seem to go unnoticed by the zombies. Vlad was holding his left side and looked like he was suffering a debilitating bout of cramp. They seemed to smell blood in the water and from all around they began to converge on him. I felt for the guy, he seemed to be a pretty decent person.
I turned to face a couple of zombies that at that same moment thought it was a good idea to deliver a frontal attack. On the first thrust I delivered on the leading zombie I felt and heard the crushing skull as the blade penetrated into the brain. She fell motionless at my feet and I suddenly realised the blade was being held in by suction, her lolling head soaking up my efforts to get free. The second one sensed opportunity but instinctively I fired a shot and the woman’s head opened up releasing the bayonet. I read once that firing a shot was how troops in WW1 quickly released their long bayonets from a resistant body. The ancient wisdom seemed to work and so I managed to skewer the second one in the chest, not being in the right position to attack its head. Its arms flailed in an attempt to close the gap the rifle afforded me. This time I kicked at the torso, delivering it a heavy duty blow born out of the adrenaline rush I was experiencing right at that moment. It flew away backwards from me, giving me the precious moments needed to place the blade between its eyes. I twisted the rifle and the blade came out easily.
Looking back I saw no sign of Vlad other than a crowd of zombies gathering around something on the ground. Damn, I thought. I was beginning to feel rather freaked out by now, the adrenaline rush notwithstanding. The sensation of stabbing a person, the thought of being torn apart by teeth, it all felt overwhelming and almost too much to bear. I kept running and finally saw there was indeed a boat at the pier. Together we rushed down the steps and leapt aboard.
“Untie the ropes!” I shouted. “Pius and I will clear these bastards off.”
The two of us rushed at the three crew members which had clearly turned at some point in the night and were standing at their stations as if waiting for passengers. As they appeared to be in a trance-like state they put up little resistance. We gave them no time to wake up from it and quickly dispatched them with increasingly practiced bayonet thrusts. I was surprised how little blood came out of our victims. It wasn’t at all like the films; I guess no pulse equals no blood pressure equals no squirting blood. Pius and I threw them overboard as we began to drift out into the river, Becky, Indre and Joshua having taken the initiative to cast us away from the shore.
On the pier dozens of zombies crowded, inadvertently toppling some of their number into the water in their blinkered enthusiasm to get to us. I was right, or so I thought, the water would be a safe place to be for now. I sighed with relief.
“Let us get the motor started,” Pius suggested.
“Sure,” I agreed and went with him to the wheelhouse.
Copyright © 2016 David Kingsley Roberts