Note The geography is a little off, I realised over the weekend. The planned towers that I’ve based the vampires’ lair on are intended to be built a street or two away from where I’ve depicted them. Probably for the best, I don’t want to get sued by footballers for suggesting they’re in partnership with blood suckers.
Terry felt so much better now. He knew he could maintain the energised feeling, so long as he resisted checking the wound on his arm. If he could convince himself it was healing, he could stay strong and maintain his cool.
He would return to the tower and deal with Leech. The pathetic little man’s blood would taste horrible, he was sure. Or it would have no flavour at all, as empty as the vessel carrying it around. But draining the little man without turning him was the most appropriate punishment that Terry could think of.
When Leech was just an ugly husk, then Terry would bathe. When he felt he was cleaned of the blood and mess of his encounter with Glenn, he might feel ready to make love with the Mistress.
Then they would go out and destroy Glenn and the horrible things he walked around with. And drink from humans until they could drink no more. They would need the strength from the cattle’s blood, and the loss of some as tithe for saving the rest would be acceptable.
Terry had never used the word tithe before in his life. He had learnt it in a history lesson, years before, and filed it away. Now, he was thinking about his rightful place in the world, it was an appropriate phrase to sum up what he would be due after he had put down this zombie outbreak.
Something wasn’t right about Deansgate, he decided as soon as he reached it. There was little activity, and almost no traffic. But that wasn’t what Terry sensed. He could smell something unpleasant. At first, he blanked out the memories that the smell dragged up. When they fought their way to the front of his brain, he halted, and had to stagger over to the nearest wall for support. He clenched his fists, fighting back the urge to retch.
There was the tang of blood, which should have had him drooling, but an overlay of decay and taint made it disgusting. It brought back flashes of Glenn’s dead face, the teeth tearing a chunk from Terry’s arm. The smell of the zombie things, but in so many different flavours, one for each infected body. Dozens of the dead things awaited Terry if he carried on toward the tower.
He was ready to turn back, to run away and find somewhere to hide. Then another memory flashed up. He remembered the smell of the gore an ichor as he had torn the big zombies head off and smashed it against a wall. That memory gave him a rush, almost as strong as a hit of blood. It reminded him that he was stronger, faster and smarter than these things. If he had to fight his way through them to get back to the Mistress, then he would.
Sirens were sounding, Police, ambulances and fire engines arriving from every direction. Terry didn’t want to fight his way through them as well as whatever zombies lay ahead of him. He had best get to the tower before they arrived.
Resolute again, Terry set off, his arrogant stride back again.
He still wasn’t ready for the chaos and carnage that greeted him when he turned onto the street up to the towers. Cars had crashed into each other and been abandoned. Bodies lay draped across them, or on the road, some of them twitching as they reanimated. As Terry surveyed the scene, working out what he should do, a double decker bus reversed down the street, crushing zombies and victims as it went, and shovelling cars out of the way.
There were half a dozen shambling ghouls between Terry and the side street with the tower’s entrance on it. He didn’t know any fancy fighting moves, but had confidence in his strength and speed. A blow landed with his usual poor technique could still stop one of those creatures.
Still, a weapon would give him an extra edge. He stood beside a metal post, taller than him, with a sign about parking regulations on top of it. It was tilted over, and when Terry looked at the base, he could see that the plug of concrete that held it in the ground was loose. Grasping the pole, he tugged it up and pulled it free.
The concrete plug on the bottom would make a good hammer head, and the sign had an edge on it that might cut, or at least gash, at the right angle. Terry shifted his grasp until the pole balanced, then he started trotting toward the zombies.
They had spotted him, and what little intelligence they had recognised him as food. Danger wasn’t something they comprehended, so they didn’t dodge as he broke into a sprint and brought the pole up ready to strike. He swung the concrete end out, and it connected with the nearest zombie’s head.
The skull snapped back and cracked open under the blow. Terry was passed the zombie even before its body started to fall. The momentum of the swinging pole, however, carried him around. He had to turn the spin into a pirouette, feet bouncing and skipping to keep his balance. The concrete cracked another zombie in the face.
The second zombie staggered back, its face caved in horribly. Its empty head couldn’t decide whether it was properly dead or not.
Terry found himself dancing to stay upright. When he had his feet back under himself, he tried a swing in the opposite direction.
The flat of the parking sign slapped against the side of the zombie’s face, reshaping it yet again. It still couldn’t decide whether it was properly dead, but started walking in a tight circle.
Terry gave up on the pole, it was too clumsy. There were another two zombies approaching from his right, so he threw it at them. The concrete plug hit one at shoulder height. The other end pivoted around, and caught the other edge on. Now it did its job, and took the zombie’s head clean off. Terry stared at the toppling body, almost letting himself get caught by the battered zombie as it came round to the end of one of its circles.
He lashed out with his left hand. A completely reflexive blow, it was the best punch he had ever landed. The deformed head snapped back, and he heard the crack of its spine breaking. Finally, it gave up pretending to be alive, and dropped to its knees, then toppled sideways.
Perhaps he could fight his way through the rest of the shambling corpses. The pole had been a bad idea, even with his new-found vampire strength, he had still been at the mercy of inertia as he swung it. His punches weren’t so well coordinated, but there was a lot more power behind them than back when he had been fending off bullies in the playground.
On the other hand, the wall of walking dead between him and the entrance to the tower was getting deeper as more corpses reanimated and started moving toward him. He would need all his strength to fight them and hope of pushing through. A blood boost might be his best bet. And a distraction, to cut the opposition.
The sirens were closer now. He looked around when he heard the squeal of a car braking to a hard stop. The Police had arrived. Two of them, anyway, staring at the scene with confusion that was quickly tipping over into horror. Here was the distraction he needed.
There was blood down the front of his shirt, but his jacket was buttoned closed and hid it. So he didn’t look as gory as the zombies closing on him. He tried an expression of terror, then another, before he made himself laugh, turned around, and started running for the Police car.
The passenger was out of the car. The driver simply stared at the carnage. He jumped when Terry let himself crash into the side of the vehicle.
“You’ve got to help! Help, please! My boyfriend, he’s trapped in there!” Terry pointed up the street, finger waving around so he wasn’t indicating a specific car.
“I don’t know if we can….” the standing Police officer’s voice trailed off as she looked at the wall of dead approaching them.
“Please. He locked himself in and blew on the horn to get their attention, so I could get away. You’ve got to save him.”
Even Terry was surprised at how convincing he could be. The officer unclipped her baton, and extended it with a practised flick of her wrist. “I’ll see what I can do.” She didn’t head directly for the crowd of corpses, but cut across to the pavement on the other side of the street. Alternately sneaking and making short sprints, she worked her way around the flank of the zombies. Terry could see the movement amongst the dead as they sensed her, and started turning toward her.
Hammering on the driver’s door, Terry said, “Look, they’ve spotted her. You have to go and help.” He didn’t shout it though, he only wanted the river to hear.
The officer opened the door, and stepped out. “Armed response will be here soon sir. They’ll sort this out.”
“They won’t get here soon enough. They won’t save her. Or my boyfriend.”
This one wasn’t going to put up much of a fight against the zombies, Terry decided. He was going to be more use as an energy boost. As the officer started uncertain steps forward, Terry grabbed his arms and pinned him. His teeth sank into the officer’s neck before his victim even realised he was caught.
The crowd of walking dead had shifted, the mass of them turning toward the first officer, who was only now truly aware of the danger she was in. She was an expert with her baton, but it was only slowing them own, not driving them off. Did she wonder where her partner was, Terry wondered as he let the drained body drop. It was far too late for her to be worrying about that now.
A baton might not be much use against an overpowering wave of bodies, but could help in the charge through a smaller group. Terry bent down to his most recent meal, and took the officer’s baton. He flicked his hand, and, even though it was a bad impersonation of what he had seen, got the baton out to its full length.
Now was the time to move. The back of the crowd around the fighting officer was giving up on her, turning back toward him. The advantage he had gained from distraction would disappear soon enough.
Terry swung the baton in front of him. Yes, this was a far easier weapon to use, he could crack skulls with this, maybe even end some of the ghouls. Aiming for the thinnest patch of zombies, he raised the baton, and charged.