Sneaky Bastard was right behind me. In spite of his drugged up state he’d managed stealth in spite of my precautions. The squaddie’s gun was pointing unerringly between my eyes – it was one of my worst moments in the early apocalypse. My fear for Becky was intense; I didn’t want these bastards to harm her, or the other women for that matter.
I glanced behind him and mentally sighed with relief; the staircase was empty, his buddies had clearly declined to accompany him on his little adventure. Or maybe they were too high to care.
“What do you want?” I demanded, trying not to show my fear of his gun.
“Dumb question, you poncy bastard,” he replied. “Move out the way, I wanna meet your girl. Is she the security guard?” he continued sarcastically.
Jerking the bayonetted rifle he commanded me to move aside. At first I hesitated, desperately thinking about what I could do without getting myself killed. Dying wouldn’t protect Becky. I had to be smart, play for time. He prodded me painfully in the middle of my chest, his face full of anger and a burning hatred. My face drained with fear – I forgot to tell you, I have an intense fear of being stabbed which started in childhood, but I won’t go into that now.
“Move it, fucking civvie bastard,” he hissed, his bloodshot eyes glaring venomously into mine.
I stepped slowly backwards and sideways to my right. Somehow, and I’ll never be able to explain it, I could feel Pius above me in the darkness of the attic, waiting to pounce. I kept moving backwards and closer to the open trapdoor, my now hidden right hand plucking at Becky’s sleeve drawing her slowly around me, sideways and away from the open loft aperture. Sneaky Bastard was being drawn along with my movement, his drug-addled brain dulling his instincts for a trap.
The squaddie was licking his lips now in anticipation, the look in his eyes telling me he was mentally stripping Becky – and liking what he saw.
“You’re a pretty one, ain’t ya?” he whispered hoarsely. Becky cringed in horror at the sound of his voice and gripped my arm tightly.
“I told you to get out of the fucking way!” he blared at me, pulling his rifle back in anticipation of using his bayonet.
He never got the chance. Pius fell through the aperture and landed on him feet first, his enormous bulk inexorable. Together they went down and on hitting the ground there was a loud cracking sound as Pius’ foot crushed Sneaky Bastard’s chest, bones splintering and creating their own internal bayonet-like havoc. The soldier gasped in agony, blood spilling from his mouth mixed with pink foam. A couple more gasps and he stopped moving, dead as a door nail. I checked for a pulse in his throat. Nothing, it was the first time I’d touched a dead man.
“I do not like men who abuse women,” Pius stated, spitting on the dead man. “I left Nigeria with my family to get away from that sort of thing.” Pius was glaring at the man as he said his piece. I liked Pius man more and more, a man after my own heart.
“Thanks, Pius,” I said, tearing my gaze away from the crushed dead soldier on the floor.
“It was nothing,” he replied – somehow I really believed his words. I think he might have a story or two to tell about his previous life but his lips would always be sealed.
I hugged Becky, relief flooding me. Her eyes were not filled with relief but a hard flinty look as she stared at the corpse. She broke free of me and hugged Pius.
“Thank you, Pius,” she whispered. “You are a good man.”
The big man suddenly looked sheepish. He could crush a man easily but a woman’s thanks floored him.
“It is nothing, truly,” he replied to her, then looked over at me. “Are there any more of them?”
“Yes. There are two on the ground floor.”
“Are they like him?”
“I think they are high on something but I don’t think they followed him up here so maybe he’s the rogue one.”
“Uh, guys,” Becky interrupted.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Look,” she replied pointing at Sneaky Bastard.
We both looked down and saw him move.
“But…” I began.
The crushed squaddie moved his head and opened his eyes.
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed. Pius felt for the cross hanging around his neck.
Sneaky Bastard’s eyes were like those of the people we had seen earlier. All of a sudden it made sense as to why we hadn’t seen loads of corpses everywhere. They were reviving to turn into zombies. This implied whatever it was affecting London’s population was more than a simple infection; would we all turn into one of these things when we die?
I didn’t get any more time to think on this. The zombie clumsily got to his feet and we backed away from it. It stumbled backwards a little, off-balance like a new-born foal on fresh, unused legs and I saw my chance. As it lined up with the entrance to the stairwell I rushed it and pushed with all my might. It rode with my force, its legs flailing to keep it upright. At the top of the stairs I skidded to a halt and its momentum propelled it through the air before finally hitting the staircase a dozen steps or so down. It bounced bloodily off the walls and went down another two flights before it came to a halt.
I could hear the remaining two squaddies running up the stairs to investigate what was happening. Roaring gunfire erupted next to me as Pius fired Sneaky Bastard’s gun down the stairwell. I jumped back in surprise, shielding my face instinctively from the flashes and noise. I heard a scream from below followed by running feet as the soldiers beat a hasty retreat. Next minute we heard the front door opening and slamming shut. I peered out the window in the stairwell and caught a glimpse of them running for it along Broadway behind the New Scotland Yard building. In their panic they bowled over a few zombies who tried in vain to capture the two before they disappeared from view.
“Bastards,” I muttered before turning back to Pius. He was holding the rifle which in his hands looked like a plastic toy.