Ian Pattinson


Zombies vs Vampires, part 28

The Police Range Rover was slewed across the junction, its occupants staring at the wall of dead people marching toward them. They had been called to an incident further down Deansgate, closer to the Town Hall. But, the carnage at this end of the street had brought them up short.

As they watched, the shambling corpses started climbing over a car that had tried to reverse away, hit another vehicle, and stalled. The driver, terrified, had opened the door, then splayed out of it because she had forgotten to release her seat belt. As she tried to pull herself back in and break free, the mass of bodies swelled around and over the car, and the leading zombies fell on her.

Seeing a human being killed by having lumps of flesh torn off them had frozen the two officers. They were on the firearms squad, had been subject to a barrage of psychological tests to ensure they could be trusted with weapons. They thought they were tough. But this was beyond their expectations and limits.

“We should turn around. We can get away.” David Wilson had only been in the Armed Response Vehicle for a month. A surprisingly calm month, too, for Manchester, with only one shout where they had even thought of getting the carbines from the safe in the boot. He had yet to fire a single round outside the range. He didn’t want this to be his first time.

“We can’t do that. They’re killing people.” Stephanie Anderson had the rank and experience in the vehicle. She’d been in an ARV for most of the last four years. She had never fired at anyone either, but had twice talked armed suspects down. Locker room myth had it that her locked steady stance and unwavering stare had made her first armed criminal wet himself before he dropped his gun. Whatever this was that they faced, she would see it off. Or mow it down, if she had to.

“And then those people are getting up and killing more people. It’s fucking zombies! Just like in a film. Have you never seen a zombie film? Running away and hiding until the army comes in is the only way out.” Wilson pointed at a body that was doing just what he had described.

“We have guns. If we have to shoot all those…. people in the head to keep them from killing more, then that’s what we have to do.” Anderson had the key to the carbine safe out. She was reaching for the button that released the boot.

“Ah fuck. You always wanted to be a hero, didn’t you.”

“No chance. I’ve just played Left 4 Dead too many times. There’s guys out there without guns getting people to safety. We just keep whatever those…. things…. are away from them for as long as possible.”

“They’re getting closer. You get the big guns, I’ll see if any of them understand a threat.” Wilson opened his door and slid from his seat. He unclipped the holster, high on the front of his bullet proof vest, and pulled out his Glock 17. Stepping away from the vehicle, he raised the gun, clasping his left hand under his right to brace it. His finger rested outside the trigger guard as he pointed the gun at the nearest member of the gory crowd. “Armed Police! Stop right there! Hands where I can see them!”

The woman kept on coming toward him. Not a single one of the shuffling figures faltered. None of them even acknowledged hearing his voice. His finger slipped inside the guard, pressing the trigger and putting pressure on it. The woman took another step.

Wilson pulled the trigger. He knew just how much pressure was needed, and, as it got closer, had to keep himself from wincing in anticipation.

The hammer clicked on an empty chamber.

“Shit! Shit, shit, shit!” Wilson took quick steps backwards, until he bumped into the side of the Range Rover, then reached down to pull the slide.

It was agreed policy in their Armed Response Vehicle that they never drove around with a round in the chamber. They had to actively take their handguns from ‘safe’ to ‘live’. It would give them pause, when they rolled up on a scene, make them take time to think about what they might have to do. Wilson had forgotten to chamber a round before getting out of the vehicle.

The slide clicked back into place, and the gun was live. Wilson raised it quickly, braced with his left hand, and fired a shot at the gory woman closing on him. It was perfectly placed in her central mass, a stopping shot.

The ghoulish woman rocked back as the bullet hit her chest, her upper body swaying as the projectile deformed and punched a larger hole out the back of her ribcage. But she didn’t register the wound, beyond swaying back and forth for a moment. She took another step, and Wilson fired again.

Outstretched hands were level with Wilson’s gun hand now. In a moment, they would close over his arm, or around his throat, and that would be the end. He pulled the trigger again, twice in quick succession. The woman jerked backwards a little, but didn’t fall. He could see right through her chest, but she wasn’t dead. Fingers closed on his sleeve.

There was a bang, off to Wilson’s right. Actually three bangs, so close together they registered as a single sound. The woman’s head split, the right hand side bursting open and shooting red and grey matter over the road and the man beside her. Here eyes, somehow, were still intact. The pale hint of thought that had been in them faded away, and she crumpled to the ground.

“Zombies, remember! Shoot them in the head!” Anderson shouted. She fired two more three round bursts from the carbine, and another two bodies dropped.

Wilson walked back along the side of the Range Rover toward Anderson, sliding along the body panels, he was pressed so far back. His training had failed him. He could place multiple rounds in the central body mass, and not just from the close range he’d engaged the woman at, but had been taught to avoid head shots as risky. Now he had to turn all that training over.

There was another small group of zombies angling toward them. The mass seemed to be veering off to the left, toward the foyer of Beetham Tower. Anderson was watching Wilson, making sure he had digested the instruction she had fed him. He raised the pistol, braced against the side of the Range Rover, and fired at the approaching group.

The bearded, hunched man at the front of the group stopped shambling forward. There was a red hole where his right eye had been, and his brains now covered the face of the man behind him. The bearded man tumbled forward, and the bloodied man stepped over him.

Anderson joined in with Wilson’s next few shots. She had gone to single shots, rather than the three shot bursts she had previously used. There were a lot of these creatures, they were going to need to conserve their ammunition to keep up with them.

The mass of shuffling bodies had almost passed them by now. Anderson swung around and ran to the other side of the vehicle, to make sure they weren’t being flanked.

“Where are they going?” Wilson asked. His gun was pointed at the crowd, but he hadn’t picked out an individual to target. As soon as one turned toward them, he’d take them out.

“Into the tower? They’re crowding the entrance, looks like.”

Taking the risk of holstering his gun, Wilson opened the driver’s door of the Range Rover and stepped up onto the sill so he could get a better view. “Yeah, they’re pressed right up to the glass. Looks like it’s locked, though, and there’s a few guys inside finding stuff for barricades. Hold on, another group has set off down the street.”

“How many?”

“Nine, ten. Not as many as are at the doors, anyway.”

“Okay.” Anderson came back round to Wilson’s side. She had the second carbine from the safe, and the satchel they carried extra clips in. “Here. I’ve got every round in there. They didn’t give us enough for this sort of shit, though. Make every shot count. We’ll clear the group by the doors, then we can worry about the others.”

Wilson checked the MP5 that Anderson had given him, making sure there was around chambered and it was ready to fire. He never wanted to make that mistake again. The stock was adjusted to his preferred length, after several sessions at the range, and, when he butted it up against his shoulder, everything was in comfortable and easy reach.

He swung the gun around. The ring sights were set up for close quarters, so were ideal for what they were going into. “I’m good.” he told Anderson.

“Okay. You’re right, I’m left. We can almost cover one eighty then. Whatever you do, don’t let them flank us. On three. One.”

“Two.”

“Three.”

Side by side, they walked around the Range Rover and headed toward the tower. They went slowly, slightly faster than the crowd they were following. Every few steps, they swung their guns out to their designated side, scanning for late arriving zombies.

When they reached the pavement, the crowd of undead were all on the forecourt before the tower’s entrance, The ones at the glass were pressed against it, held there by the mass of bodies behind them. Those at the back of the scrum kept trying to climb over it, but invariably lost their footing and tumbled backwards.

Separating the pavement from the forecourt was a low wall, just three bricks high. Anderson and Wilson stopped by it. “What do you think?” Anderson asked.

“It’ll slow them if we have to retreat.” Wilson said.

“Yeah. The red jacket. I’ll take them and work left. You go right. When you’re ready.”

Wilson fired first. His shot took off the right ear of his target, but the mass of bodies meant it then went through the head of the ghoul in front. His second shot took down his target.

They worked outward to the edges of the grisly crowd, then back in, targeting the next row. Then they had a problem. Only a few of the zombies were dropping away when shot. Most of them were held in place, arms, and even legs, locked between the bodies in front.

Wilson stopped to check how many rounds he had left. Anderson spotted a head pushed up out of the crowd. Her shot was perfect, going through the skull and bursting it messily. But the round carried on, with more than enough power to smash through the glass of the tower entrance.

The glass was flexing under the pressure of so many bodies, and found a release in the bullet hole. Jagged lines leapt from it to the edges of the pane. Then the lines started joining up, and the glass soon gave way.

The crowd surged forward, tumbling over each other as they washed into the foyer. Anybody putting up barricades would have been knocked over and fallen upon.

Anderson couldn’t see passed the pile of bodies, so she couldn’t guess how many deaths she had accidentally caused. “Shit!” she cried, before leaping the low wall and running toward the mess.

Wilson couldn’t believe the rash move, and watched as Anderson clambered over the fallen bodies. A hand reached out of the gore and grabbed Anderson’s ankle. Now, Wilson was able to react. He ran toward the bodies, knowing he couldn’t get there in time.

Anderson tumbled forward, right into the open embrace and greedy teeth of an animated corpse. It bit into her cheek as she tried to push away. Struggling her gun around, she found the eye socket of another zombie that was struggling toward her. She pulled the trigger, and shot a hole through the skull. The body fell forward, the wound catching the barrel of the gun and trapping it inside the skull.

Anderson fired again and again, trying to do enough damage to free the gun. There was a click, she was out of bullets. She struggled to get her pistol out, but the zombie that had bitten her cheek had found her throat, and blackness was already closing in.

Wilson stepped more carefully over the body pile. When he saw movement, he stepped back, found a head, and fired at it. He destroyed three zombies this way, then ran out of bullets. Anderson had all the clips in the satchel. He had to reach her to reload. Hooking the MP5’s sling over his shoulder, he drew his Glock.

Anderson had stopped struggling. Wilson knew she was dead. He grabbed her shoulder, and lifted her enough that he could shoot the corpse under her, which had torn her throat out by now.

The carpet of bodies and gore around Wilson was moving, as the corpses that were still animated struggled out from under the ones he and Anderson had shot. He grasped the shoulder of her uniform, fighting the urge to shake it and demand she got up.

A thin man, who had looked cadaverous even before being killed, pulled the top half of his body from the carnage. Looking around, he saw Wilson, warm and tasty, not so far away. He reached out an arm, red with blood, trying to grasp at the food. Unable to reach, he did manage to get hold of another corpse, this one dead for good, and pulled himself further out of the hole. Oblivious in his shock and grief, Wilson just waited to be eaten.

Anderson’s body shook, and started to writhe. Wilson’s grip on her shoulder was strong enough that he held on to it, and the whole of his body jerked violently.

He looked down at her, shocked. Surely she was dead. He had seen the wound, albeit briefly, before looking away, horrified. Anderson twisted around, struggling to face him, and he saw it again. The torn skin of her cheek and, more importantly, the gaping hole in her throat. She made a wet hissing sound, the ragged skin around the throat hole flapping, and her mouth opened wide to bare bloodstained teeth. Her eyes were open, and staring at Wilson, but there was only hunger animating them.

Wilson’s pistol came up, the barrel butting violently between Anderson’s eyes. He pulled the trigger with a reflexive jerk. The gases from the explosion did even more damage than the bullet they followed, almost obliterating her head.

The action had broken Wilson out of his shock. He felt the movement all about him. Looking round, he saw the skinny man reaching out of the corpses. Wilson shot him just above the eyeline, and he slumped forward.

Another head had appeared on the opposite side of Anderson’s corpse. Wilson reached across, and fired down into the skull from close range. The slide locked back, he was out of bullets.

Instead of reloading immediately, Wilson struggled to find the plastic catch on the satchel full of magazines around Anderson’s shoulder. He released it, and pulled the blood soaked bag out of the body pile.

Wilson took a couple of steps back, and checked there weren’t any moving bodies too close by. Now he reloaded the Glock, checking to be sure there was a round in the chamber this time, and holstered it. Then, the satchel went around his shoulder, and he pulled a fresh magazine from it. With the MP5 loaded, he was ready to get back to destroying zombies.

Few of the bloodied corpses that were pulling themselves from the body pile were turning toward Wilson. They were heading into the building, where there were more people to feed on. Wilson braced the gun against his shoulder, and cleared his way with a couple of quick shots. He was going to take down every last fucking zombie in the building and save the occupants.

It was what Anderson would have wanted.

Two streets away, Glenn led a small band of zombies toward the two black towers. He was back to following his hunger, far beyond understanding why.

They were walking down the canyon between the tall brick walls of the exhibition centre and Great Northern complexes. This street was only really used for access to the car parks under the two big buildings, and, beyond the entrances, was almost blocked by tables overflowing from in front of restaurants.

There were still diners at some of those tables. They had been carrying on with their meals, despite the sounds of chaos from Deansgate and Albert Square. But now there were gunshots coming from the other direction, they were all starting to move. They didn’t know which direction would be safest, perhaps that earlier chaos in the other direction was tied to the sound of shooting. A few made decisive moves, and would make it to safety, but many more milled about in confusion.

Glenn and his followers fell about these dawdlers eagerly. Food, and more members for his gang.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 27   Recently updated !

The Mistress considered the three humans she had brought into her castle. It may have been the penthouse of a city centre tower, but she still thought of it as her fortress. No mortal, unless they were servants such as Leech or destined to be food, should ever be allowed to enter this place. These three had entered as neither of those. She had invited them in, which could be an amusing inversion if it weren’t for the circumstances.

She normally had an easy power over mortal humans and animals, but it depended upon them falling for her glamour before they could think to defend themselves. These three had already shifted to a fight response before they met her, and they showed no sign of backing down from it any time soon. Nonetheless, they would each have weaknesses. The Mistress studied them. Under her power or not, she could still read mortals, with skills honed over centuries.

The older of the women was the easiest to assess. She was Terry’s sister, so would be worried for his safety. If he was not lost, and they could meet, she would, no doubt, want to win back his humanity. She would be at her weakest when she realised the futility of that mission, so it was best not to reveal the permanence of his change yet. Which would be easy enough, she had yet to fully accept that the Mistress was a vampire, so might not even realise Terry had been lifted up.

The man was decent, but far from perfect. The problem for the Mistress was that she was sure he understood his failings. He had no grandiose self image, didn’t think himself a knight. But he would do what he could to protect the women, likely up to the point where he put himself in danger. The urge to heroism had destroyed many men before, bringing several into her family. Their imagined heroism had given them further to fall, though. She would have to bring this man down hard if she was to break him.

The youngest woman was the hardest to read. She seemed to be running on pure emotion, an anger that would be beautiful to the Mistress, if she weren’t one of its subjects. Under the rage, though, was the terror that had brought it on. She had experienced extreme fear, but, somehow, been able to subvert it and channel it into another, more immediately useful emotion.

It was unforeseeable that these three be allowed to survive the night. But she couldn’t bring herself to kill them yet. They could be useful in defending against those creatures outside, but that wasn’t the only reason she held back.

Terry might be lost to her now, torn apart where those ghouls had attacked them. But his sister had a similar glow to her aura. The Mistress would hate to lose that glow a second time, it had enlivened her bed chamber. Perhaps she could turn the sister.

Maybe she could lift the younger woman up as well. That anger, coupled to immortal strength, would be awe inspiring. As long as she could ensure it was directed away from her.

Even the man would make an interesting vampire. He would deny it, but there was a nobility about him. That humility made him better than all the self appointed saints the Mistress had met across the years. They had all convinced themselves they were acting for the glory of their god or ideology, when they were truly driven by pride. He knew his flaws, and still tried to do good despite them. Most likely, he didn’t adhere to any of the religions or politics that had preyed upon the vanity of others. It would be most entertaining to see him torture himself over the mortality of his hungers.

Their fates remained to be determined, but the Mistress wanted to start now on pushing them to breaking point. She had become adept at playing the long game when winning over or destroying mortals. She didn’t have years to work these three- maybe not even many hours- but she still had to start the process slowly.

Leech existed to upend her plans this night. She was considering her may ways to start her work on the guests, when he rushed into the room. He had barely even left. “The others are ready for you Mistress. But He is on the video connection, and He demands that you talk with Him.”

Her sire. The man she owed her immortality, and all the vices and lovers it had allowed her to experience. She had been chief of His lovers for nearly two decades, a long time ago, and it was He who had set her up as queen of her own nest. She was nobility within the vampire community, because of their connection, but still bowed before Him with the rest of Europe’s immortals.

“What does He want?” She felt fear.

“The others say that He knows what is happening. He wants you to explain.”

The Mistress had thought she was scared by the night’s developments, but this was worse. For the first time in decades, she felt terror.

Part 28


Zombies vs Vampire, part 26   Recently updated !

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.

Part 27


Zombies vs Vampires, part 25   Recently updated !

Note I may change Leech’s name in future drafts, as there is a Leech on Manchester council. Before being a councillor, the real Leech was a Lib Dem MP in the coalition, so the characterisation of my version willingly serving an ancient evil that feeds on the poor and weak isn’t so far off.

Tom wanted to know if they were travelling up to safety or more danger.

There was an uncomfortable silence in the lift as it rose up the floors of the tower. Siobhan’s blood was up, and now she was over her initial shock and fear, she radiated an anger and danger far in excess of her size. Diagonally across the small box from her, the tall, slender woman held herself with a grace that somehow hinted at strength and threat. The pair balanced each other out, silencing the other occupants.

Tom looked from the mysterious woman to the weedy, creepy looking little man she had been throttling earlier. He appeared to be pushing himself into a crack in his corner of the lift.

Tom’s gaze shifted from the little man to Danielle. She was his client, and he felt obliged to stay with her and do what he could to keep her safe. Though, going by her fighting skills earlier, it could end up the other way around. Siobhan looked increasingly like she could fend for herself, whatever madness was going on around them.

The mystery woman was the key to Terry’s disappearance, Tom was sure. He tallied up what little he knew about her. A very short list. He had detected an accent from the few words they had exchanged. German, he thought, but it could have been from there or anywhere eastwards. She was strong. The creepy guy wasn’t big, but it would still take some effort to lift him off the floor one handed. And, despite what she had been doing to him, he was still here. When he looked at her, there was devotion mingling with the subservience, fear and anger in his expression.

If she lived in the tower, then she had to be wealthy. Was she heiress to some Russian oligarch’s fortune, the little man some sort of servant or sex toy? Then there was the way she had recognised that Danielle was Terry’s sister. She had admitted to being Terry’s lover, but claimed the creepy man had left him behind somewhere. How and why had that happened? Did she say they had met the zombie creatures somewhere? Not on the Square, obviously, so where could it have been? He would have to ask a lot of questions to get to the bottom of these mysteries, he felt.

Then he noticed the truly bizarre thing about the woman. The inside of the lift had sections of polished brass inset in the walls. Tom could see his own, fuzzy, reflection in two of them. He could also see Danielle’s reflection, and Siobhan’s, and the little man’s. Nowhere at all could he find the woman’s reflection. It couldn’t possibly be where she was standing, because she was right beside one of the panels, and should have shown up in it.

What the hell did that mean?

The lift stopped, coming to a smooth halt, and the doors opened. Nobody moved. Siobhan glared at the woman, who eventually had to look away and take the first step from the box. The creepy man followed her, but stopped just outside the doors and held an arm out to keep them open.

Siobhan looked to Danielle and Tom. Not sure what he read in her expression that made him do it, he put a supportive hand on her shoulder. He could feel her body trembling. It was strong, but not so violent as to be visible. His previous assessment had been off. She was angry, but she was also terrified. The anger, and having the pale woman to focus it on, was holding her together. She recognised that he understood how she felt, and recognised that he was ready to support her. He gave her a nod, and she led them out of the lift.

Most of Manchester wondered what the inside of the towers looked like. There had been fluff piece in the papers, showing expensively bland minimalism. Most agreed that they had been staged. The reality was very different.

Striving to find the appropriate word, Tom kept coming back to ‘tacky’. The marble floor was ostentatious, but not too much by itself. It was pushed over the edge by the way that any ornamentation was done in gold, with filigreed decoration to an unnecessary extent added to it. Even the dado rail, from which hung several paintings- from old masters to surrealist pieces, had gold accents. Mostly, it was hidden from view, but someone had decreed it must be gilded.

There was one, circular bench in the middle of the large room they were in, and what looked like a bar to one side. Doors led off to a bedroom which was decorated in more black and gold, but with added splashes of red.

The slim woman had paused by the round bench. “Leech will get you drinks.” she said, staring at the creepy man, daring him to disobey.

“Of course. What is your desire?” Leech said. He seemed to bow to them, the perfect obsequious servant.

“We don’t need drinks. We need explanations.” Danielle replied.

“I know you.” Tom said, the name knocking loose a memory. “Graeme Leech. You’re on the council. The planning committee. You vetoed plans for homeless accommodation.”

Leech straightened up, considering defiance, then shrank back down again. “He also helped get my towers built as well. He is a useful servant. Sometimes.” the woman said.

“I should have known you were corrupt.” Tom turned to the woman. “Why stop the homeless shelter? Did you need the land for something?”

“No, I had no use for the land. But it is better for me that the homeless stay on the streets. It makes them easier to eat.”

“Eat? Are you one of those creatures?” Siobhan went into her fighting stance again.

“Oh, hardly, my dear. Do I look like one of those mindless…. ghouls? I am not one of them. I am so much better than them. And you.”

“Just because you’re some rich bitch, it won’t save you from a kicking if we don’t get some answers soon.” Siobhan took a step forward. Tom spotted a flicker of doubt in the woman’s smug expression.

“The Mistress is better than all of you. All of us. The Mistress is vampire royalty.”

The revelation silenced Tom and Siobhan, so it was Danielle who sighed and said, “Vampire? Yeah, what the hell, why not. Tonight’s not fucked up enough yet.”

Part 26


Alternative Facts: Totally True Tales Of Trump

Garth Owen has taken a break from writing about zombies and vampire to start an ongoing side project.

Alternative Facts is an ebook (also available from Smashwords and other stores) and a mailing list of flash fiction, satire and silliness. As long as Donald Trump and co. keep providing inspiration, the mailing list will update weekly, and the new material will be added to the ebook every month. Volume one of the ebook will update until December, then volume two will be published in January 2018. Half the royalties will go to appropriate charities.

You have to buy the book. Donald Trump has signed an executive order saying so.

(You don’t have to buy the book, but it would be lovely, and would help the project along, if you did.)

Trumpy Executive Order courtesy of http://hepwori.github.io/execorder/


Zombies vs Vampires, part 24   Recently updated !

The shambling body that had been Glenn was having a strange experience. He had developed a higher level of awareness. Not enough to reason the way he had before dying, but more than the primal urge to eat that had driven him so far.

He still wanted to feed on the glittering woman, and as many others as possible. But now, rather than heading where some unknown new sense told him she was, he was forming a rudimentary plan. He knew where he could find more warm bodies, and could somehow comprehend that they would change to join his group.

Sentience ebbed and flowed, but Glenn had a plan that stuck in his head. Despite the itch that told him to head for the black towers off to his left, he had led his companions in the opposite direction. Through back streets, past the old Granada television studios and the Museum of Science and Industry, he was taking them to tent town.

This new awareness had appeared after Glenn had bitten the glittering boy. In the moment’s when it let him reason, he realised there might be a connection. Something good seemed to have happened as a result. It made his hunger for the woman stronger, even when he forgot everything else.

They were confronted by a tall wall of dirty old red brickwork. Glenn stared up at it for a while, the idea that had driven him to this point lost in the fog of death again. There was something about this wall, something that involved food. But every thought, now that he had regressed, was about food. He was forgetting that this particular one had even been special.

His companions were even less aware of the world beyond their hunger. They followed Glenn, because where he went, there was often food. So, right now, they stood and stared at the wall with him.

Off to the left, there were sounds of activity. Traffic and people passed by, cars crawling along as the lights changed to let them move. Someone got frustrated, and a pressed hard on the horn.

That drew Glenn’s attention. Over there, where the noise was, was food. And something more, the idea that it might be important just evading him in his current state. He turned, clumsily, and headed toward the traffic.

The congestion at this end of Deansgate had cleared significantly from earlier in the evening. But the junction under the railway was still a bottleneck, full of cars with frustrated drivers. There were pubs either side of the bridge, and warm bodies in various states of inebriation wandered between them. Sometimes, they would dance across the road, between the standing traffic, rather than walk the few extra metres to the crossing.

It was one of these dancers that Glenn caught. She had wiggled between the stationary cars on the other side of the road, then sprinted across the closer lanes before they filled with moving vehicles. She didn’t slow when she was across, and carried on down the side street a short way before thinking of braking. Not looking where she was going, she ran straight into Glenn, who grasped her arms tight.

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t…. What are you doing? Hey, get off!” Her scream was swallowed by Glenn, as his jaws clamped shut around her windpipe. Her body jerked as he tore her throat open. Blood joined the skin and gristle he was chewing on, a little sauce to help it go down, and he dropped the now limp body and walked on toward the street. The man and woman with him fell on the corpse, gnawing off their own mouthfuls, before realising they should follow him.

Glenn stopped at the side of the road, staring blankly. No-one in any of the cars had seen what had just happened, or they were pretending they hadn’t. The pedestrians on the other side of the road hadn’t been paying attention, either, and there were none near enough on this side. So there was no panic or anger to deal with. Glenn had a quiet moment with the emptiness inside his head.

Something, that inkling of pesky consciousness, was in there with him, trying to get his attention. It wanted him to turn right, and walk under the structure he stood beside. He had to ignore the tempting morsels in their cans or across the road, because there would be more if he went where it told him to.

Glenn turned right, and headed under the arch of the railway bridge. The man and woman with him followed.
Three figures were coming toward them from the other side of the bridge. Another two men and a woman. They stopped and stared at the grisly sight before them, blocking the pavement.

“Woah. That’s fuckin’ awesome makeup, mate. Is it the zombie walk tonight?” one of the men asked. “Lookat that wound on his neck. It almost looks real.”

Glenn grabbed the pointing hand, and yanked it toward himself. When it was close enough, he bit into the muscle of the forearm. The man screamed and tried to bash Glenn away with his free arm. This arm was caught, after several mistimed grabs, by the female zombie.

The second man grabbed his friend and tried to drag him away from the ghouls taking bites out of him. The male zombie got a grip on his hair and arm, and sunk teeth into his shoulder.

The woman had stepped back in shock, then horror. As she started to turn to flee, her foot slipped off the edge of the kerb. She tumbled into the street, landing on hands and knees. Right in front of a van. The driver had hardly had time to move his foot to the brake when he hit her. She was thrown a short way forward, then he ran over her sprawled body. By the time the van came to a halt, the rear wheels had crushed her again, and traced a red line across the tarmac behind them. In some ways, she was one of the lucky ones.

A fourth shambling, bloodstained figure was wandering up to join the fight under the bridge. Muscle memory had her tugging down the hem of her short dress as she wobbled on high, narrow heels. Glenn and the other female zombie had wrestled one of the men to the ground. His friend was trying to throw off the other male zombie. They stumbled and fell at her feet, and all instincts about her dress were lost as she dived on top of them.

By the time shocked drivers started getting out of their cars, or pulled out phones to call for an ambulance, the two men were dead. Glenn, as usual, was the first to leave the feeding, impatient for the next kill. He stood and walked on, and soon, the target he had been aiming for was revealed.

To the right of the pavement, running alongside the railway viaduct and dropping away to the canal that ran alongside it, was a patch of land full of tents. Each of those tents had at least one warm body in it. Some were sleeping, others stoned or inebriated. Even the ones that were awake wouldn’t offer much resistance. But, once they had been feasted on and had changed, they would be a small army.

The tactical reasoning had never really registered with Glenn’s reanimated brain. At best, he had been aware that there were a lot of bodies he could feed upon, close by and poorly defended. Now, even that idea wasn’t occupying space in his head. He simply saw food, and lots of it.

Behind Glenn, newly minted zombies were attacking the shocked samaritans who had come to their aid. Before him, three figures were coming from amongst the tents to challenge him. One of them flicked the baton in their hand, extending it to fighting length. All three of them faltered, however, as they drew close enough to make out details of the gory scene they were approaching.

Glenn was joined by the man and woman he had brought through the back streets, and the girl in the short dress. Most of them were looking beyond the three people approaching them. Even as the woman with the baton pointed it at them. “Hold it right there. What’s going on here?”

The mini-dressed woman stepped toward the Police officer, who just stared at the gash where a throat had been. The officer raised her baton, unsure how she was going to use it. Mini-dress carried on walking. The officer brought the baton in to crack against her ribs, then whipped it up to her armpit, the first move toward locking an arm behind her back.

Before the officer could start levering the woman’s arm around and behind her back, there were fingers around her throat. They squeezed, throttling her and threatening to break her skin. As the men behind her moved to free her, they were set upon Glenn’s other two followers.

Glenn walked around this melee, toward the nearest tent. Someone was struggling out of it, trying to stand up. She found her feet just before Glenn reached her. Short and wiry, face prematurely lined thanks to various addictions, she was currently lucid enough to take in his horrific visage and recognise him.

“Glenn? You fucking shit. What have you done?”

Glenn’s answer was to grab her thin face with one hand, her baggy top with the other, and pull her toward him.

Part 25


Trumpy Bear and the Fire Signs

Coming soon- Alternative Facts: Totally True Tales Of Trump, a constantly updating ebook of flash fiction, commentary and satire inspired by Donald Trump.

Trumpy Bear and his little pal Boo-Bannon had a plan to get themselves all of the pic-a-nic baskets. This time, they would outsmart Ranger Smith, indubitably.

“We will have the best pic-a-nic baskets, the biggest pic-a-nic baskets. I always get the biggest and best pic-a-nic baskets. Everyone says so.” Trumpy told Boo-Bannon.

“Of course you do Trumpy. I’m one of the people who always tells you so. I think your plans gonna be swell. Specially if it lets me hurt some folks that don’t look like me. So, how are we gonna get the picnic baskets?”

“Well, that’s where I used my big brain. After all, I am smarter than the average bear. I’m smarter than all the bears. Lots of people say so. I have the biggest brain, and I know lots of words. Like…. words…. and pic-a-nic.”

“The plan Trumpy. What is the plan?”

Trumpy made little pinching movements with his tiny paws, as if he were snatching tiny flies from the air. “The plan. Yes, I have the best plan.”

“What is it?” Boo-Bannon tried to keep his voice down. He had explained the plan to Trumpy in great detail, now he had to wait for it to be repeated as if it was the other bear’s idea.

“The plan. It’s a wonderful plan, the best plan. Now that I have been elected to the Park Rangers’ guidance committee, I have passed a rule that says that all the fire warning signs in the park are ugly. They don’t look good, and believe me, I know looking good. Because they look so bad, and they send such negative messages- I mean, who ever heard of a lit match starting a fire? I certainly haven’t. And lots of people have said that it’s ridiculous, and there’s no evidence for it. So Ranger Smith has to go around taking down all those ugly signs warning good, honest, hard working folks about dangers that don’t really exist. Forest fires are a myth. I think a myth made up by…. made up by….. Chinese restaurant owners! Yes them. Made up by them. To keep good, honest, hard working folks in their homes, phoning out for lasagne.”

Trumpy had forgotten what the plan was supposed to achieve. He would start speaking again soon, but would it be more meandering nonsense, or would he get to the point. “And that’s my plan. It’s a great plan, I came up. And then, and this is the best part of the great plan. Then, while Ranger Smith is collecting all the signs from the far side of the Park, that’s when we shall steal all of the pic-a-nic baskets on this side.”

“You’re a genius Trumpy. Lots of people tell me so.”

So Trumpy and Boo-Bannon walked down the path toward the picnic site. Along the way, they were proud to not the empty poles where all the ‘No Littering’ and fire safety signs had been. Without those pesky regulations around, people would be free to do what they wanted and have better picnic food and enjoy themselves more. Particularly if those people were bears like Trumpy, Boo-Bannon and their friends.

“This is so great, isn’t it Boo. When we’re full of pic-a-nic, we should call on our friend Puty-Tat and help him catch that annoying yellow bird that he’s after. That would be great, so great.”

“That bird is definitely Muslim, or Jewish. But we shouldn’t help Puty too publicly. I’m sure that’s a different brand, and we’re barely getting away with this pop culture reference.”

“That’s what I thought Boo-Bannon. It’s the best idea to let Puty-Tat catch the yellow bird all by himself, that’s a great idea I had. People told me so.”

When the two bears arrived at the picnic site, all the campers screamed and ran away, even the one lighting a barbecue under the sheltering branches of a big pine. Though it meant he had the pick of the picnics, Trumpy wasn’t happy about this. “Where are those losers going? Don’t they know that everyone loves me. They must have been listening to the failed park ranger losers. Sad.”

“I bet they’re all foreigners and Muslims and Jews. We should ban them from entering the park. Even if they’ve got America The Beautiful passes.”

“That’s a great idea. The best idea. I’m so proud of myself for thinking of that idea. If we keep the foreign campers out, we’ll be able to turn our failing National Parks around and make them so successful. We’ll make them succeed bigly. And then all the foreign tourists will want to come and visit our beautiful National Parks and light their fires where they want.” Trumpy said, between shovelling up small portions of food from the nearest hamper with his little paws.

“Do you smell smoke?” Boo-Bannon asked, as they hunted out their second hamper.

“That’s just the smell of the failing National Park. We shall rid this great park of that smell, wash it away, until it smells of lovely antiseptic Chlorine and gasoline. We will knock down the mountains as well, I have decided. Then I won’t have to face stairs any more. Stairs and slopes are a conspiracy by the losers in the park rangers service. Why haven’t they put in lifts and escalators? I would have added lifts and escalators. The best lifts and escalators, with gold plating, and my name on them all.”

“That pine tree is on fire. It must have been started by a Muslim.” Boo-Bannon pointed.

“That is terrible. Terrible. They started it to hurt the good American camper who had set up his barbecue right under that tree. The fire would never have started if he had just been left to get on with cooking his food the way he wanted to.”

“I wonder if the fire will move to other trees, and burn the forest down.”

“Oh there’s no evidence that that has ever happened, and it’s not happening now. But look at all the other trees the foreigners have set fire to. This is why they should be banned from the park. Let’s go back to our cave and plan how to keep those trouble makers out.”

But the fire had spread to encircle the whole picnic site. Trumpy stared at the fire, and declared that it was sad and started by losers, and that he would have made a bigger, much more beautiful fire. Boo-Bannon looked at the flames. He had wanted the forest to burn, but he hadn’t planned on being caught up in the conflagration.

Water plummeted from the sky, drenching Trumpy and Boo-Bannon and quenching the fire. A great wind, and powerful buzzing, was over them now. They looked up, to see Ranger Smith leaning out of the fire-fighting helicopter with a bullhorn. “Look what you nearly did there Trumpy! You could have burnt down the forest, and destroyed your own home. From now on, we shall be keeping all the warning signs up, no matter what you tell us to do.”

“How dare he get us all wet like that. I only let people drench me in Russian hotel rooms. Though that’s a lie, put about by losers and the fake news notice board at the park gate.”

A metal pole, topped with a no littering sign, landed like a javelin right beside Trumpy. Ranger Smith already had another, and was leaning out the side of the helicopter, ready to throw it. “Yoiks! Let’s get out of here Boo-Bannon. We’ll be back, Ranger Smith. You can’t keep us away from the pic-a-nic baskets forever.” Trumpy clasped his hat to his head. His feet ran on air for a moment, then he set off down the path away from the picnic site.

“We’ll be waiting for you, Trumpy. We’ll be waiting.” Ranger Smith said grimly, as he aimed his second sign at the ground just behind Trumpy’s receding furry butt.


A letter to my MP

I should have sent a letter (well, email, using writetothem.com/) to my MP about Brexit sooner. It was going to be much longer, going on about why we should be running away from any deals or association with Trump, but I felt that might get incoherent, given how appalling his first week and a bit has been.

Dear Rebecca Long-Bailey,

I urge you to vote against the Bill to trigger article 50. Leaving the EU would be disastrous for the country.

A slim majority of voters wanted to leave the EU. I doubt they wanted to destroy the country’s economy to do so, or put us at risk of rushing to do deals with the vile Trump administration. If our relationship with our neighbours must be renegotiated, it must be done by more competent and braver people than our current Government.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Pattinson

There will likely be more letters, and on many diverse subjects, to follow.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 23   Recently updated !

Terry flexed his right hand. It was working as it should be, he decided, clenching it into a fist. Some of the muscles in his forearm had tensed up as well, as they should. But, when he pulled his jacket sleeve back, he wasn’t happy with what he saw.

The large chunk of his arm that Glenn had bitten out was growing back. But it was still a sickly colour, pallid and- he couldn’t be certain under the street lights- possibly tinged with green. More worrying was the way that the skin beyond the edges of the wound was taking on a similar tone, and it seemed to be expanding. It made him sick to look at it. He flicked the sleeve back down, tugging at the cuff to pull it as far as possible.

Up ahead was the bridge they had driven over to get into Salford. Iron arches, held together with fat rivets, held it up. Once, when he was drunk, he had thought about scrambling up one of the arches, to stand at the top, looking down on the river and the drivers. He hadn’t, of course, too scared of slipping and breaking himself in the fall. With his new found dexterity and damage resistance, he could happily have sprinted up the metalwork less than an hour ago. But the wound to his arm, and the craziness of how he sustained it, made him uncertain and nervous again.

When he was cured, and his arm was smooth and firm again, he would run wild about this town. The Mistress would tell him to take care, not to do anything that might draw attention, but he would just remind her that she had abandoned him with the zombies.

First, though, he had to find a way to get better. The damaged flesh was growing back, part of his power as a newly fledged vampire. Drinking blood boosted the powers, so he was going to find someone to drain.

Over the bridge, and into Manchester, there were dozens, hundreds of warm bodies. But they were too close together, it would be too easy to be spotted. He had not yet learnt all the vampire stealth tricks he would need for that. He wasn’t even sure there were such tricks, or if they had just been invented for the movies.

He had to split someone off from a crowd, or find a straggler. He watched a couple of cars go past, then spotted a likely figure. Someone was coming over the bridge, his steps uncertain as he wobbled his drunken way forwards. He was glancing over the parapet of the bridge, looking for something. His body language, and his aura, hinted at the agitation of a full bladder.

Terry stepped into the shadows, and tried to appear interested in something else. There was a hotel on this side of the street, so he stared in the window, concentrating on a darker corner. He might not have a shadow any more, but his intended victim did.

The drunk reached the end of the bridge. Here, there was a small open space with a bench and tree. He was considering pissing against the tree, but soon decided it was too visible for that. Beyond the micro park, there were steps that headed down to the riverside. Terry knew it as one of the places other homeless people occasionally set up their tents. If there were none down there now, it would be the perfect place to feed.

Terry crossed the road quickly, then practised his stealthy creep through the garden. His target was at the bottom of the steps now, looking left and right along the path above the river. He went right, heading under the bridge. Terry waited for him to disappear under the structure, then followed.

The riverside pathway was laid with orange-red bricks, with a barrier to keep walkers from falling into the water. Years of water, and a lack of recent work, had led to some of the bricks sinking or jutting up. Terry handled the uneven surface better than the drunk, who stumbled and swore, his shout echoing unenthusiastically once under the bridge.

There was the rattle of a belt buckle being released, and the sound of a zip opening, and the man was fumbling around in his boxers trying to find himself. He didn’t even see Terry approach, and only knew he had company when a hand closed over his mouth.

Terry clasped his palm tight over the man’s mouth and nose, and grabbed a handful of hair with his other hand. The drunk’s eyes went wide, and he began to struggle, reaching up to push at Terry’s arms. His trousers fell down to his ankles. Ignoring the resistance, Terry pushed the man’s head over, exposing his neck, and the vein carrying the all important blood. His teeth sank into flesh, and tore it open.

Blood pumped out fast and hard, as panic pushed the drunk’s heart rate up. He gave up on trying to fend off Terry’s hands, and reached up to try and push his head away. His efforts to stop the bleeding grew weaker and weaker, until he was only upright because Terry was holding him up.

The exultation from this kill was far stronger than the previous one. Terry had achieved it all by himself. He had found the prey, stalked it, even sneaked up on it. The blood gave him a surge of energy. He almost felt so good he could believe the last hour had not happened.

With little care, Terry draped the dead drunk over the metal railings. He felt light headed, the alcohol in the blood he had just drunk hitting him faster than any shot of vodka ever could. Hooking fingers into a leg of the dead man’s boxers, he rolled the body over the barrier. Hearing the splash, he couldn’t help but giggle.

The intoxication cleared up quickly, as his body processed the blood and drew all the goodness it could from the meal. He walked out from under the bridge, up the steps and back onto the street. Standing by a lamp post, he pulled up his jacket sleeve again.

The bite mark was still obvious. The new skin that filled it still looked unhealthy. If anything, it looked closer to decomposition than it had before. He grimaced. If feeding was working, it wasn’t working fast enough. Perhaps he would need to kill more humans, and drink an excess of blood, before he would properly begin to heal.

He had no problem with that. The only question was, should he return to the tower before, or after he began his feeding spree?

Part 24


Zombies vs Vampires, part 22   Recently updated !

They ran until they came to Deansgate again, then stopped to catch their breath.

Here, there was no hint of the carnage going on up the street. Traffic was thinner here, down from the mass of congestion earlier. No-one in any of those cars could possibly know what was happening, or they would be turning around, peeling out and speeding off.

Tom looked back up the boulevard they had rushed down. There were no other figures on it. He could see almost all the way back to the square, the last few feet obscured by trees. Nothing could be hiding behind those trees, he reasoned. But he bent down to have a look from a lower angle, just in case.

The girl who had joined them was looking up and down the street, along with Danielle. She was still wearing just her bra and a pair of jeans over big boots that had spots and blobs of blood on them. Tom shrugged out of his jacket and tapped her on the shoulder with it.

The girl looked at the jacket, not sure what she was supposed to do with it. Realisation dawned on her after a moment, and she took it with a little nod. “Thanks. My name’s Siobhan. Who are you?”

“I’m Tom, this is Danielle.”

“Where are we going?”

“I don’t know yet. Where do you live?”

“There!” Danielle shouted. Tom and Siobhan turned to see her pointing. She was indicating a car coming down Deansgate at over the speed limit.

The big black Bentley raced past, the rapid explosions in its twelve cylinders merging into an angry roar. There was no doubting it was the car they had been chasing earlier and, as they had hoped, it was returning to the city centre.

“We’ve got to see where they go!” Danielle shouted. “Warn Terry about the things on the loose.” She set off after the car at a run.

Siobhan looked at Tom. “Really?”

“Best we stick together.” he said, setting off after Danielle.

There was no way they had a realistic chance of catching the vehicle up, but they ran after it anyway. Their prospects looked better when it slowed and pulled up behind another pair of cars at the lights for the junction.

Danielle pushed herself harder, until a squeal of tyres on tarmac from the junction up ahead made her stop. A car had just pirouetted across the junction, trying to change direction as it accelerated away from the carnage on the square. It had hit something, and was reversing to get around the obstruction. Just after it sped off, another car raced across the junction.

Tom and Siobhan had cough Danielle up and stood with her to watch the cars. Before they could set off toward the Bentley again, it accelerated hard. The rear wheels spun for a moment, trying to transfer more power than the grip of the tyres could handle, and it left short parallel lines of rubber on the street. It jigged out past the queue in front of it, then turned hard up the street the two cars had been fleeing.

“Shit! We’ll lose him.” Danielle sprinted off again.

“Lose who?” Siobhan asked as she and Tom tried to keep up.

“Her brother.”

They rounded the corner, and saw the effect of the bus crash and carnage from a different angle. Cars were backed up behind the accident, some trying to reverse, others abandoned as their drivers and passengers had got out to help. A van, part way through turning round, blocked the street. The Bentley had tried to pass it, and there had been a collision.

As they drew closer, the big black car squeezed past the van, scraping on its bodywork and the tall kerb, and headed down a side street. The van reversed a short way, then headed after it.

There was a crash of metal on metal. Then another, louder this time. They kept arriving at the scenes of accidents just after they had happened.

The Bentley was nowhere to be seen, but the van had driven down a ramp heading off the street. When they were close enough, they could see that it had hit shutter doors that hadn’t lifted completely. Beyond the doors, there was a delivery bay or garage. There was nowhere else the Bentley could have gone.

Its collision had left the van skewed across the concrete of the ramp. At the front, the passenger side was jammed up against the wall, whilst the rear had swung out and hit the wall on the driver’s side. Using the van body and the wall for leverage, it was possible to scramble up to where the gap was wide enough to get through. Danielle was already on the other side by the time Tom and Siobhan caught up with her.

“I don’t know about this.” Siobhan eyed the gap, and the view through the part opened gate. The sound of screams from behind them changed her mind, and she used the rear bumper to boost herself through the gap.

Tom lifted himself up using the railings at the edge of the wall. When he was in the gap, he turned to look back to the street. There was no sign of the crazed creatures he now thought of as zombies. Then, a black cab reversed down the street, two of the once human creatures hanging off its bonnet. He jumped down into the gap between the van and the wall.

Danielle and Siobhan had opened the driver’s door, and were trying to get him out. Siobhan was reaching across him, trying to get to the seat belt release, as he came round.

“Get off me! Get the fuck off me!” He tried to hit her, but the first blow was swallowed up by the half inflated airbag drooping from the steering wheel. Danielle grabbed his hand as it raised for a second blow, and they struggled. “We’re just trying to help.”

“Get off!” the driver pushed Danielle back. She would have stumbled and fallen, if the wall hadn’t caught her. Then he landed a weak blow on Siobhan’s shoulder as she wriggled out of the cab and landed on her backside on the ground.

“Fuck you then!” Siobhan found the edge of the door, and slammed it shut hard. She scrambled backwards, pulling herself to her feet as she went.

Danielle shook off the daze of hitting the wall, and glanced through the gate. She saw the rear of the Bentley, and beckoned the other two to follow her.

The van door was opening again. Siobhan slapped the window, and it pulled closed quickly. She and Tom followed Danielle into the underground space.

The garage was well lit. Once they were inside, they found it brighter than the street lights outside. The Bentley was directly across from the gate, nose up where it had collided with a row of motorcycles and one had lodged under it. The driver’s door, and the rear passenger side door, were open. The interior lights let them see, even through the darkened glass, that the inside was empty.

There were two others in the garage. A tall, slim, pale skinned woman, and a short, pinch faced man were beside the brushed steel frame and door of a lift. They were both dressed as if for a fancy formal event, though the man’s single breasted suit had a hint of chauffeur about it. What they were doing didn’t register for a moment. The woman had the man by the neck, and appeared to be throttling him after lifting him off the ground and pressing him against the concrete wall.

Terry wasn’t with them.

Danielle took half a step forward, then faltered. Siobhan voiced what they were all thinking about the new strangeness they had walked in on. “What the fuck is this?”

Part 23


Zombies vs Vampires, part 21   Recently updated !

“YOU LEFT HIM THERE WITH THOSE THINGS!” The mistress punched the partition to emphasise her anger. Leech flinched, though he knew it could withstand blows even of vampire strength. Her anger had been made worse by her discovery that he had installed overrides on the partition and the rear door locks. His head would have been sitting on the passenger seat if he hadn’t thought ahead.

It had been easy to push the Mistress into the back of the Bentley. She had been frozen in shock at seeing one of her victims, who she definitely had not given her own blood to, returned from the dead. Leech had managed to think faster, and manhandled her into the car.

It was only as he ran one of them over that he realised he recognised two of the men with Glenn. They were the strange, identical but not related pair that disposed of the bodies. As the Mistress battered the partition, Leech constructed the barest of timelines. Whatever had revived Glenn had also affected Carl and Karl, and, no doubt, the others with them. A company that would render down corpses, no questions asked, would probably take on other less than legal disposal jobs. Could they have come into contact with some chemical that reanimated Glenn and dragged the others down to his subhuman level.

Or, more likely, had their change been caused, somehow, by contact with a vampire? Few humans knew as much about the children of the night as Leech did, but he couldn’t explain whatever had happened to one of the Mistress’s victims and two of the men who worked for her. He had already started thinking of the strange creatures they had just encountered as zombies. The Mistress had never hinted that such things could exist, but why should she even know? It wasn’t as if many humans knew about the vampires that sometimes walked amongst them.

There were other vampires in the tower, but they were all subordinate to the Mistress, sired by her or one of her peers. Older vampires were scattered around the world, but modern communication made it easy to contact them. Even the ancient Lord- and the Mistress’s sire- known simply as Him. Leech would have to persuade the Mistress to reach out.

The Mistress had heard things snapping in her fist as she punched the partition, but hadn’t stopped her assault until all her anger was out. Sitting back, she straightened her broken fingers, and cradled her injured hand as the bones knitted back together. She was calmer now she had vented through violence. The ice when she spoke indicated that calmer didn’t mean less angry. “I should tear your spine out. But I shall leave your punishment up to Terry. He will think of something suitable. Now turn this car around so we can return for him.”

“We need to get back to the tower, Mistress. The others must be told about this. You need to work out how it happened, and what to do about it.”

“We shall destroy them. We shall rend them limb from limb and scatter the gore.”

“You did recognise them, didn’t you?”

“One was the man who brought me Terry. I drank from him, but didn’t raise him. The others….”

“Two of them work for us. They run the disposal company.”

“How did they get that way?”

“If you don’t know, there’s no way I possibly could. That is why we must bring in the others. Perhaps they will know. If not them, we may have to contact Him.”

“He…. Will not be happy.”

“Perhaps not.”

They were back across the river and in Manchester now. Leech saw empty street ahead of them, and accelerated towards Deansgate. The power of the Bentley’s engine reverberated back at them from the buildings close in on either side.

The earlier traffic had thinned, and when they turned onto Deansgate, it seemed they weren’t going to be crawling back to the towers. Traffic was so much lighter, they might only be stopped by the changing of the lights on the pedestrian crossing halfway to where they would turn off again.

As they drew closer to the junction, however, it became obvious that there was a disturbance of some form in the direction they would be heading. The sound of horns became clearer, even inside the insulated and padded luxury of the Bentley. An Audi reversed at speed into the yellow hatching of the junction. It started turning, the front swinging around. Then the driver must have stamped on the brakes, because the turn became a spin, and the car stuck a bollard. The car reversed, and the bollard tore the bumper from the body. The driver didn’t get out to inspect the damage, and the car accelerated away.

Curiosity overpowered the Mistress’s anger. She sat forwards, right on the front edge of the seat, to stare through the partition and front window. Another car, pointing in the right direction, and on the correct side of the road, sped across the junction.

“Should we go on?” Leech asked.

“Of course we go on.” the Mistress slapped the partition. “You are the one who wishes to return to the tower.”

The traffic lights at the junction changed to green. However, the two cars ahead of the Bentley didn’t move. Nor did the ones on the other side of the junction. They could have been staring at the plastic and glass the Audi had left behind, or maybe they were nervous about more vehicles rushing across the junction.

Leech spun the steering wheel and stepped on the accelerator, and the Bentley laid some rubber as it peeled out and raced past the standing vehicles. He had barely straightened out before turning even more sharply to the right, onto the street up toward Albert Square.

A van, doing a panicky, multi point turn, blocked the street just before the side road to the tower garage. It was reversing, opening the gap Leech had to fit through. He steered for it, aiming at the very front of the van and hoping it would have moved by the time he reached it.

The van driver spotted the big black car heading for his vehicle, and stepped on the brake. The Bentley clipped the front of the van, bullying it out of the way. It only got a short way before hitting the high kerb and coming to a halt. The suspension was almost at its lowest setting, and the lower lip of the airdam, along with the oil pan, had grounded and scraped along the concrete edge.

The Mistress was at the side window now, staring up the street. “There are more of them! Up there, and heading this way! Go! Go!” She slapped the partition.

Leech stabbed at the controls for the air suspension, and the big car eased itself up. He twisted the steering wheel and pressed the accelerator. When the Bentley started moving away, bent metal scraped parallel lines through its black paint. Leech pressed the button to open the gates, stabbing it again and again as they drew closer.

The van driver had decided to follow the Bentley. If the driver of this big car was so desperate to head this way, perhaps they knew a way out.

The roller gate was opening, slats clicking upward one by one. It was going too slowly, though, Leech knew. It might not be opened high enough for the car to fit through. He didn’t slow down.

As the ramp dropped away, the Bentley’s front wheels left the ground. For a long, frozen moment, it seemed that the car would fly straight into the gate and come to a horrible halt. Then the nose dropped, falling quickly. The suspension swallowed the drop, and the nose of the big car was under the gate.

With a crash and a very expensive scrape, the bottom of the gate hit the top of the windscreen and scraped along the roof of the car. It forced its way through, shooting out the other side into the garage. Leech couldn’t control the car, and it weaved left and right until it hit a row of Ducatis. The motorbikes wedged under the car, and brought it to a halt.

Behind the Bentley, the taller van hit the gate, and didn’t make it through. The gate bent inwards, until the ends were pulled from the guide rails and it jammed. The driver’s airbag inflated explosively, catching him before he hit the steering wheel.

The sounds of collision echoed around the concrete cave. They faded away to silence, which was eventually broken by the clang of the Bentley’s driver’s door hitting the wall as Leech pushed it open. The car’s airbags hadn’t deployed. For some reason, hitting a motorbike didn’t register as a violent enough collision.

Pulling himself up, Leech used the car as support as he walked around it. He’d found his feet by the time he had top let go, and his strides became more confident as he headed for the elevator. Halfway there, he stopped and back tracked. He had forgotten that the rear doors were still child-locked, and the Mistress was stuck in the vehicle until he released her. There was a momentary falter in his steps as he wondered whether that would be the better for him. He reached down and pulled on the door handle anyway.

The Mistress unfurled from her seat and was standing in on blurred motion. Her healed right hand was at Leech’s throat,and he was lifted off the floor and carried toward the elevator. She cracked him against the concrete beside the doors and held him up, an angry hiss the nearest she came to speaking.

Leech’s feet tapped against the wall. His body was telling him to struggle free, but his knowledge of the Mistress reminded him that the attempt would be useless. Her fingers squeezed his neck, but it was to maintain a grip, rather than to throttle him. If he fought, or she felt the urge, she could snap his neck with a flick of her wrist.

“Perhaps I have changed my mind. Perhaps I should kill you now.” she said. Sharp fingernails scratched over his skin as they sought out the arteries feeding blood to his brain. The ends pricked at the veins. It would take little for her to stab through to them and sever the lifelines. “You never deserved to be raised up, little man. You’re a pathetic little worm. I used you to get what I needed, and kept you around to watch you snivel. I was going to let you grow old and waste away, slowly realising you had been used.”

“I always knew that Mistress. But I wanted to serve you anyway, to be in the presence of your beauty.” Leech hadn’t meant to sound so weak, and realised his attempt at defiance had turned into some sort of plea even as he spoke it. He also knew that, plea or insult, it had made her more determined to kill him, not less. He felt the nails digging into his flesh.

“What the fuck is this?”

The voice came from the other side of the garage, beside the wrecked gate, and belonged to a young woman wearing a borrowed jacket and with gore on her boots. A man and another woman, taller and a few years older, stood just behind her. The Mistress vaguely recognised the man, but the aura of the second woman made her gasp in recognition.

Forgotten, for now, Leech slid down the wall into a heap on the floor. He reached a shaking hand to his throat, and tested the tender spots where he had so nearly been killed. The Mistress took a step towards the three humans.

“Don’t you come any fucking closer!” the younger woman ordered. The Mistress faltered, shocked. She wasn’t used to hearing such defiance, and outright hostility, from mere humans. The girl was unarmed, as far as the Mistress could tell, but her stance and attitude made even a seasoned vampire fearful of approaching.

The Mistress pulled her gaze away from the younger woman, to look at the other. “You. I saw you earlier. You are Terry’s sister.”

“How do you know that?” The woman was about to step around the girl, but the man held out a warning, restraining hand.

“Who are you? And how do you know Terry?” he asked.

“He was my lover. This vile fool,” she indicated Leech, “left him out there with those…. things.”

“Where? We need to go and get him.” the woman said. Now she was turning away, toward the exit. Again, the man’s hand on her arm suggested otherwise.

Any plans the woman had of leaving were ended by a scream just on the other side of the gate. She and the man turned to look for the source, whilst the girl stood her ground, eyeing the Mistress with hostility.

The van was jammed into the gate, passenger side wedged against one wall, and driver’s door jammed open against the other. The ghouls that were packing up against the van door would find their way over or under it soon enough. The Mistress wanted to be out of the garage before that happened.

On cue, there was a ping behind the Mistress. She didn’t care whether Leech had pressed the call button for the elevator for self-preservation or out of some remaining loyalty. It was here now, and she could go up to her floor and buy some time to consider her next move. Eyes still on the three humans, she took steps backwards toward the doors.

The humans should have been unimportant to her. They could stay here, to distract the creatures who were about to break in. But there was the aura that radiated from the older of the women. She was related to Terry, the Mistress just knew it. She could provide some sort of connection to him. Perhaps a replacement, if it came to it.

“Come, upstairs we have weapons. Perhaps you can tell me what is going on, and we can make a plan.”
The three humans looked to and from each other. Strangely, it was the younger woman who shrugged and headed toward the elevator. The other two only paused long enough to look back at a particularly nasty howl, before following.

Part 22


Zombies vs Vampires, part 20   Recently updated !

The girl was calming down, but there was still something wild in her eyes as she stared past Tom and Danielle. The clown was looking in the direction of the three of them, but didn’t appear to be focussing on them. Nonetheless, it took a couple of steps in their direction.

The clown stopped, and looked around. There was pandemonium at the front of the bus, as the doors had been opened, and the released passengers had fallen on the samaritans. For a moment, the clown seemed ready to head for that, much louder, chaos. It turned back toward Tom, Danielle and the girl.

Danielle took a step forward herself, striking a fighting pose guarding Tom and the girl. Tom was impressed. He was all for running away. He offered the girl a hand, and pulled her up when she took it.

Immediately she was on her feet, the girl backed away from Tom. “Don’t. If they bit me, I’ll be one of them soon.”

Tom wanted to calm the girl enough that she’d join him and Danielle in running away. If Danielle could be dragged out of the fight she was about to start. “Did they bite you? Do you know that they bit you?”

The girl stared at him like he was an idiot. She held out her arms. “Look at all the blood.”

“Is any of it yours? Can you see anywhere you’re wounded?”

The girl looked up and down her arms. There was a hint of hope in her expression when she realise there were no tears in her top that might mark a bite. Needing to know for sure, she pulled the top off and threw it away. She gave her arms a careful study, and found no bite marks. Turning around, she asked, “What about me back? Is there anything on that?”

“Nothing.”

When she turned back to Tom, she was unbuttoning her jeans. “What about me legs?”

Tom held out a hand, stopping her. “There’s no blood on your jeans. No need to get naked.”

“So I’m okay? I’m not going to turn into one of them?”

“Doesn’t look like it.”

“Thank fuck for that.” She was far too relieved to care that she was standing there in her bra.

“Is everything okay now? Should we run away from whatever this is?” Danielle asked. She didn’t look around, which meant she saw the sudden lunge the clown made.

Dodging to the left, Danielle caught the clown’s right arm at wrist and elbow. Using its momentum, she kicked at its feet and levered it down to the ground. Its left shoulder cracked against the bench as it fell.

“Don’t let it bite you! Don’t….” the girl shouted out. The warning had tarted with the lunge, and trailed off after the clown hit the ground. As it grasped the bench, ready to pull itself up, she offered more advice, “They’re zombies. You’ve got to smash their heads or break their necks.” To demonstrate, she stepped forward and kicked it in the top of the skull. The blow was so sharp, they heard a cracking as it connected.

“I don’t think that’s….” Tom started, but the girl wasn’t listening. She landed another skull cracking kick on the clown. He grabbed her by the upper arms and pulled her away from her victim. “Shit! I think you’ve killed him!”

“He’s a fucking zombie! You didn’t see what they did!”

There were screams from the direction of the bus. All three of them looked across, to see the carnage as the former passengers attacked and ate the crowd that had gathered to help them. The body that had slipped from the emergency door was beginning to move, trying to stand up.

The clown made a hissing cackle, and its arms jerked out, grasping for legs to pull in. Tom and the girl skipped backwards, whilst Danielle came in to swing a hard kick at the side of its head. The blow bent the head at an unnatural angle. Another one was greeted by a crack as the neck separated, severing nerves.

With a last, rattling sigh, the clown’s arms dropped, and it stopped moving. This wasn’t enough for the girl and, as Tom relaxed his grip, she pulled away from him to land another hard kick. Then she stamped on the side of the clown’s face a couple of times. Tom grabbed her and pulled her away again. “Now we can leave, I think.”

The body that had tumbled from the back of the bus had stood now. The girl, rather than moving when Tom tried to direct her, stared at this new zombie. “That’s Barry. He was nice. He protected me from them, and they made him one of them. I should kill him.” Now Tom had to hold her still as she made to head for the bus.

Danielle stepped in front of the girl, putting a hand on her chest. “Later. There are too many of them right now. Let’s get somewhere safe. Maybe find weapons.”

The girl stared at Danielle. For a brief moment, she seemed set to defy the suggestion, then she nodded.
“Which way?” Danielle asked.

Tom released the girl and did a full turn as he took in the situation. The only vehicle in the taxi rank was empty. Its driver had, no doubt, gone to help at the crash. There were no other vehicles, save one that was just disappearing down a side street, escaping the chaos.

Rather than heading directly away from the carnage around the accident, something compelled him to go toward the black towers. “That way.”

Part 21


Zombies vs Vampires, part 19   Recently updated !

Note Just a reminder that this is a first draft, and this and the other bus section are amongst the most first-drafty so far. The final draft will give the driver a name, and suitably eighties-pulp style brief backstory, and try to explain how the earlier mentioned traffic jam has cleared up enough for the bus’s wild ride.

A double decker bus shouldn’t be able to take a right angle bend at speed. The driver had swung over to the left as he approached the cross junction, so that the swing to the right could be as wide as possible. Then he had pulled the big wheel around by the armful, holding tight and leaning as if his body weight would make a difference to the centre of gravity.

The tall vehicle pitched over to an almost impossible angle as time seemed to slow and it threaded between an oncoming van and the traffic lights. The inside wheels were light, getting no traction or grip. The bus connected with the barrier protecting the pavement from traffic, and the jolt brought the wheels back down again. It scraped along the barrier, bending it and, briefly, riding up it, then swung back out onto the road.

There had been horrible crashes and thuds from both floors of the bus, accompanied by screams, as the passengers and their attackers were thrown around by the violent turn. The driver could look in the mirror that gave him a view of the whole bottom floor of the bus to check on the noises, but he really didn’t want to know.

He had been unable to get a call through to the depot. So he was just driving, faster than he ever had, until he found somewhere he could get out and away from the horror he had taken on. Habit was making him run along his usual route in his search for escape.

The bus was under the railway now, where it pulled into Salford Central station. Across the road a pair of buses, one of them running the return journey of his route, were taken on passengers outside the station entrance. He could see the surprise, then shock, of the other drivers as his bus, still on the arc of the turn, headed across the road toward them.

Pulling the big steering wheel back around, the driver got the bus straightened out, then turning away again. Not soon enough, though. The speeding double decker struck its fleetmate at a shallow angle, scratching along its side then curving away. Both buses lost mirrors and a couple of windows.

The bus still had momentum, and the driver wasn’t ready to stop. Foot still down on the accelerator, he pointed his vehicle up the hill and into the centre of Manchester. The road ahead wasn’t empty, but traffic was light enough that he could thread through gaps. Bashing the horn constantly, he scared other drivers out of the way. Pedestrians at a crossing scattered as he bore down on them, the klaxon sound like a howl of anger.

Somehow, the bus lumbered up the road with only a few glancing blows off other vehicles. There were cracks forming from the edges of the windscreen, and sections of bodywork were dented or beginning to peel away where welds and rivets had separated.

The junction crossing Deansgate was clear and, even running a red light, the double decker crossed it without hitting anything. The street on the other side of the junction narrowed, but was clearing as the next lights turned green and a short queue of traffic moved on.

He still didn’t know where he was going, just on. Trying to run away from the monsters in the box with him. He glanced quickly across at the damaged window by the doors. What if it shattered and they got out? Could they climb around his guard and into his safe cage? He’d have to get out before they could do that.

The window to his right had turned a silvery grey as the safety glass cracked. He hadn’t noticed before. It must have happened when he hit the other bus. Was it weak enough that he could punch it out? Making a fist of his right hand, he hit it. Certain he felt some give, he hit it again.

The glass bowed away from his blows. Another punch, and there was a small hole in the window. He cried out in victory. All he had to do now was push out a big enough opening, then he could find somewhere safe to stop and clamber out.

He hadn’t been paying attention to the road ahead. The lights were red again. That didn’t matter so much, he would have run them, just like several others. It was the vehicle entering the junction from the right that was the problem. He had enough time to register the black cab in front of him before the bus hit it.

The bus didn’t come to an immediate stop. The taxi collapsed under the impact, folding under the heavier vehicle, then dragging it to a halt. The driver was thrown forward, folding double around the big steering wheel, breaking his jaw and losing most of his teeth against the top of it.

He blacked out, so he missed the way the front window on the top floor exploded outwards as a passenger flew through it to land several metres ahead of the accident. Passengers and attackers tumbled down the aisle or crashed across seats, forming a gory pile near the doors.

When the driver came around, he retched at the sharp taste in his mouth, and the feeling of lumps catching in his throat. It took him several heaving coughs to realise he was bringing up his own blood and teeth. Dizzy, but coming back to his senses, he looked around.

There was a crowd at the doors, on both sides. Those on the outside were trying to operate the emergency release to get in and help the obviously injured people on the bus. Those on the inside wanted out so they could eat their would-be saviours. There were more bloodstained, vacantly hungry bodies trying to get off than he had let on. How had that happened?

He didn’t have time to ponder that question. A large figure stepped in to block his vision of the doors. The one with the knife in him who had tried to batter his way through the safety screen. Except now, the safety screen was gone. As the bus had flexed during the collision, the latch on the safety screen had popped open. The frame was so bent now, that it would never sit in place again. It had swung open, and the driver’s attacker now had access to him.

He tried to move as the horrendous, blood splattered face leered at him. But his body didn’t want to respond. Had the crash done permanent damage? Did that matter, with this man-thing reaching in to grasp him. He batted away the hand. One, twice, then a big fist wrapped around his wrist.

The ghoul, or zombie, or whatever it was, pulled the driver closer, and leant in to bite his face. His nose cracked and crunched as the skin around it tore. The beast shook its head, rending the feature from the driver’s face and chewing at it. He tried to scream, but it came out as a gurgle. Between the injuries from the crash, and the wound where a large part of his face had been, he was drowning on his own blood.

It was almost a blessing as the darkness came in again, and he was no longer aware of what was happening to, and around, him.

Part 20


Zombies vs Vampires, part 18   Recently updated !

Terry had never been a fighter. He got angry often enough, but it had only ever turned him into a flail of arms and legs which rarely landed effective blows. It was more effective than his early childhood defence, of curling up into as small a ball as possible, if only because it was such a surprise to any attacker.

When the bloodstained ghoul that couldn’t possibly be Glenn came at him in an accelerated stagger, Terry couldn’t even use either of his old tactics. He stared in open-mouthed shock at the oncoming figure. A strangled cry was all he could manage as he forced a step back. The grey aura around his would-have-been pimp wasn’t the only horrific detail, now he was closer.

The wound on Glenn’s neck, where the Mistress had torn it open to drink his blood, glistened a dark, sinewy red. But the edges were paler, the colour of bloodless flesh growing across the gap. The lower half of Glenn’s face was coated in blood. What had flowed off his chin stained the front of his clothes all the way down to his knees.

Glenn’s expression was one of hunger. Beyond that, it was hard to read any of the other emotions or motivations you’d expect on a sentient human’s face. That changed when he drew closer, as his gaze flicked away from Terry, as if looking for the reaction of Leech and the Mistress. It was the merest flicker, though, before the hunger returned.

At the very last moment, Terry remembered his fighting technique. His arms came up, batting at Glenn’s extended hands and then his face. He fended off the attack, but didn’t use the advantage to get away. Glenn’s hands came back, grabbing Terry’s right arm at wrist and elbow.

Terry pulled away, trying to twist his arm from Glenn’s grasp. His new strength meant that he pulled the larger man along with ease, but wasn’t enough to get himself free. He made a fist with his left hand, and pounded Glenn’s right arm with it. Perhaps he could break bone now, and that would do the job.

The sleeve of Terry’s suit jacket had ridden up, and the silk of his shirt, from wrist halfway to elbow, was exposed. Glenn’s head ducked in, and his mouth closed on Terry’s arm.

He didn’t feel pain the way he had as a human. As Glenn’s teeth tightened on his arm, and the flesh began to tear, there was the same searing message of damage flashing along his nerves. But it didn’t fire off the same responses of terror and shock. Mostly, Terry felt anger.

He channelled the anger along his left arm as he finally swung an effective punch. His fist connected with Glenn’s cheek and nose, cracking them and delivering enough force to throw him back.

Glenn staggered away from Terry, but he took a large chunk of skin and muscle- and some expensive silk- with him. Terry knew better than to look at the wound. He took steps back, and tried to assess the situation.

Only know did he notice the squeal of spinning tyres and the angry growl of a powerful engine being pushed hard. As he turned to the noise, he saw the Bentley swinging around, leaving a trail of grey smoke and two black C’s on the tarmac. The rear of the big car hit the grey aura’d woman and one of the men, knocking them over.

Another of the ghouls landed on the Bentley’s bonnet as the car’s back wheels hit the kerb and it came to a temporary halt. He was pushed up the metal and splayed across the windscreen as the car accelerated away. Terry cried out after the disappearing vehicle, desperate for it to stop.

The Bentley braked, the nose dipping sharply as it slowed. The man on the bonnet slid off fast, bouncing then rolling along the street. Terry set off for the car, holding his mangled right arm to his chest as he started running.

But Leech hadn’t stopped to let Terry in. He had only been interested in clearing the obstruction from his view. The matt black car accelerated again. It twitched away from the kerb, but still couldn’t avoid its former rider. His shoulders took the brunt of the force, and the car pushed him along a short distance. Then his lower body caught on something, and he twisted to land face down.

The Bentley rode up onto the body, and big tyres squashed the head against the tarmac. There was a sickening crack, then a thud as the car’s body dropped down to add to the damage. The sequence was repeated, mutedly, as the rear wheel drove over him.

What had been a walking corpse was now a real one. Terry ran after the car until he was level with the splayed figure, and it was about to disappear around a corner. He swore, calling Leech the worst names he could drag up, adding several he invented on the spot. It had to have been Leech’ doing, abandoning him, it couldn’t be the sort of thing the Mistress would do.

When he got back to the tower, Terry would deal with Leech. He didn’t know how, but the slimy little man would suffer.

If he got back. Terry remembered Glenn, and that there were three others with him. He turned to face them, to at least see which way would be best to run.

He jumped when he spotted Glenn was already almost level with him. But, as he moved sideways, he saw that the other man was ignoring him, shambling off after the Bentley. The man and woman who had been knocked over had picked themselves up and were close behind Glenn.

But there was a fourth walking corpse, and it was heading toward Terry. He looked familiar. Terry glanced down at the body he was skirting. The head was a mangled mess of grey, red and white, but he vaguely remembered what it had looked like. The work clothes it wore were the same as those on the man coming over.

Had these two been brothers? Did it matter what their relationship had been, when the remaining one was closing in to attack?

Terry walked backwards, checking that Glenn and the others were still walking away, and not flanking him. Confident he wasn’t about to be caught in a pincer, he held his right arm away from his body, and pulled the jacket sleeve up, to investigate his wound.

Already, the chunk that had been bitten from his forearm was filling in. An advantage of being a vampire, he thought, rapid healing. However, as he looked closer, he could see the new flesh and muscle wasn’t the same colour as that it was growing from. It was unhealthy, almost grey. Like the skin around Glenn’s throat wound.

Was he turning into one of them, whatever they were?

The man stepped over his fallen brother, still heading toward Terry. He was walking slowly, stumbling and shuffling. Terry could easily run away. But he was filled with anger. Not just at Leech’s betrayal, but also about the wound Glenn had inflicted. He wanted to vent that fury, and, he was sure, he could handle just one of these…. things.

Zombies, he told himself. He didn’t know why the name hadn’t come to him earlier. These shuffling once-humans had to be zombies. If vampires existed, why couldn’t there be other forms of undead?

If zombies were real, how did you kill them? For a horrible moment, Terry was sure he had forgotten the plot of every horror film he had ever seen. The big man lunged for him, though it turned out more of a stumble.

Terry stepped back, lightly dancing away with a grace he had never possessed before. He didn’t want to spend too long dodging the ghoul’s swinging arms, though. He needed to get back to the tower, to wring Leech’s neck.

That was how you killed a zombie! Destroy the brain, or sever the spinal cord at the neck. Easy enough in a film, where they always got hold of a gun or baseball bat easily. How was he going to do it?

The zombie made another grab for Terry. He wasn’t ready this time, and the pallid fist caught his shirt collar. The silk tore away as ragged nails dragged scars down Terry’s chest.

He batted the hand away with his weak right hand, not moving fast enough. The zombie had a loose grip around his elbow, and pulled his hand close enough to bite.

Teeth tore into the softer flesh on the chopping edge of his hand. It began to rip away.

Terry kicked hard with his left foot, sweeping the zombie’s right foot from under it. It began to fall, dragging Terry with it. Terry twisted and pulled away, managing to avoid being trapped under the heavy body.

The body sprawled in front of Terry. As it struggled to get up, he struck the back of its head with his injured hand. The zombie’s forehead smacked against the tarmac. The blow wasn’t powerful enough to stop it, though, and soon it was trying to get up again.

Now that film tropes and clichés were coming back to Terry, he remembered all the scenes where a tough guy twisted their victim’s neck until it snapped. He would try that. He dropped onto the big man’s back, letting all his weight land on his knees as they dug into the spine and ribcage. Air was forced from dead lungs, and the zombie made a surprising grunt.

Terry’s left hand clasped hair, whilst his right searched the man’s face for purchase. In the films, they always grabbed the jaw to do the twist, but he was avoiding the teeth as much as possible. With a horrible, and very satisfying, squelch, his middle finger pushed deep into and eye socket.

The big man was moving again, trying to push up. He wasn’t making a conscious effort to throw Terry off, but that would be the result, sooner or later. Terry hooked his finger inside the eye socket and began drawing it sideways. His left hand pushed the other way, and the head began to turn.

Half blind, and sensing, somehow, the danger it was in, the zombie’s movements became more violent. Terry rode it. Like a grotesque rodeo, as it rose onto all fours and struggled to stand up. There were splintering sounds from its neck, as dead tendons began to tear. Then there was a sharp crack as the neck turned to an unnatural angle.

The zombie slumped down to the tarmac, arms and legs splaying out. They twitched for a moment, then stopped. The battered face, with a pulpy red hole where its left eye had been, gurned horribly up at Terry.

Terry felt a victorious ecstasy at defeating this foe. It was better, purer, in many ways, than the pleasure he had taken at feeding on the homeless man. This had been cathartic violence, not the sensual pleasure of slaking his thirst.

The urge to violence was still strong. The ugly, beaten face still offended him. That mouth, now hanging open in a stupid O, had torn up his hand. Taking hold of the head again, he twisted it some more. The spine had separated, and the muscles under the skin were torn. Soon, a split in the skin made its way raggedly all the way around the neck, and the head separated from the shoulders.

Terry tugged at the head, pulling apart the final few sinews as he stood. He looked the dead face in its remaining eye. Unable to think of a good one-liner, he made a low hiss. Then he spun on the spot, to throw the head with so much force that it split with a satisfying squashing and cracking noise when it hit the viaduct.

He laughed at the gore, but it was an angry sound. He had just ascended, and his long future had been threatened by shambling, mindless beasts and a treacherous snivelling little human. But he had survived. He would have his revenge on Leech, and Glenn, and all the shuffling husks with him.

It wasn’t far to the tower. Returning to it was his first priority. As he took the first steps, and the elation of the kill began to wear off, he felt dizzy. The pain in his arm, and, now, his hand, was a dull throb. But it seemed to be sapping his energy.

Pulling up the arm of his jacket, Terry studied the wound in his forearm. The bite was closing up, he was sure. The ring of pale, unhealthy flesh filling the wound was thicker. The gash would be gone soon, but it would be replaced by this unhealthy, dead looking skin. Like Glenn’s skin, or that of the zombie he had just decapitated.

It was hard to understand what this might mean. He had hardly learnt anything of what it meant to be a vampire yet, so he couldn’t know whether this was what he should expect. He had been certain he could heal most wounds, he had seen the cut on the Mistress’s forehead disappear almost instantly. He had expected to regenerate in the same way- the soft pristine skin that covered the rest of his body coming back, leaving no scars.

Could he be infected with whatever it was that had turned Glenn into a zombie? Was his healing ability just growing diseased flesh in the place of what had been there before? The Mistress would know. She would have the answers he needed. He straightened up, and concentrated on putting one foot before the other. It became easier, and his confidence in getting home grew.

Healing must take a lot of energy, Terry reasoned. All the good his first live drink had done him would be squandered filling the holes those animals had left in him. It would be risky, but he would find someone to feed on, to restore his energy.

A second kill, and all by himself. Terry couldn’t help but grin at the prospect.

Part 19


Zombies vs Vampires, part 17   Recently updated !

“Sorry mate, love, hope you find them soon.” the cabbie said as Tom and Danielle stepped out of his taxi.

“Me too.” Tom said. He stopped a couple of steps away, and turned back. Pulling the last note from his wallet- a twenty- he handed it, and one of his business cards, through the window. “If you think you’ve seen the Bentley again, can you give me a call?”

“Yeah. Of course I can.” The taxi in front had started to move, as another left the rank with new passengers, so Tom stepped away and let their driver move forwards.

They were back on Albert Square, after detours around town that had failed to find the Bentley. They had said they would continue the search on foot, but they both needed some time to get their enthusiasm back.

It was dark, and the evening crowd was starting to appear. The Town Hall was lit to highlight all its Gothic pretence, but no-one paid it much attention. Danielle had walked over to the memorial to Prince Albert, and climbed the tall steps to survey the square. “What should we do now?” she asked Tom when he joined her.

“I don’t know. Hang around for a while, to see if they come back? We could find somewhere on Deansgate and watch the traffic go by.”

“It feels so hopeless, we were so close. You know, that was the first time I’ve ever seen him. The weird thing is, it looked like he recognised me. How did that happen?”

“We’ll find him, and you can ask him then.”

Danielle’s smile was thin and brittle. “I do hope so.”

Tom was searching for some more comforting words when there was a violent sound behind them. They swung round toward the noise of bending metal and smashing glass. There had been a collision at the junction, right by the tram tracks. A double decker bus rocked violently after hitting a black cab side on. The tangled vehicles slowed rapidly, coming to a stop as Tom and Danielle watched.

It was one of those moments when they took in dozens of details all at once. The bus had run through a red light to ram the cab, and stopped in a ridiculously short distance. The taxi was jammed under the front of the bus, folded in ways such a sturdy vehicle never should. A body lay on the road ahead of the bus, splayed in a way that could be comical under other circumstances. The front window on the top deck was smashed, suggesting where the body had come from.

They started walking toward the accident, slowly, as they were still in shock. Others were closer, or moving faster. A group was already crowded around the doors, trying to operate the emergency release.

The emergency escape door at the back of the bus crashed open, and a young woman tumbled out. She struggled up from a clumsy roll, and began staggering away. Her expression was pure terror, and her pale top was stained with blood. Another body had followed her out of the door, but only made it halfway. This one hung limp, red trails running down the side of the bus from multiple wounds.

“Something’s wrong here….” Tom stopped. Danielle went on a few steps before noticing and halting herself.

There was movement on the inside of the bus now, and as they tried to make sense of it, they realised that the insides of the windows were spattered with blood as well. Some of the passengers, on the top deck, were cowering at the back. Others were fighting. One group appeared to be defending the back seats, whilst the other was trying to get to it. On the ground floor, bodies were pressed close together, clamouring to get off as soon as the door was opened.

Danielle pressed Tom’s arm, and pointed at the girl who had tumbled from the bus. She had tripped by one of the square’s benches, and was trying to use it to lever herself back up again. They turned in her direction, sprinting now.

As they drew closer, the girl raised a hand to ward them off. “Stay back! Don’t touch me! I might be one of them!”

Tom ignored her instructions, and reached out to find a hand hold under her arms. She struggled away from him, dropping onto her butt and shuffling backwards. “Don’t. Please. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Danielle urged Tom to take a step back. She crouched down, trying to make herself less threatening, and, keeping her voice level and calm, asked, “Why would you hurt us?”

“Those things. They bite you and attack you, and when you’re dead, you come back and you start biting and attacking. They’re like zombies. They’re just like zombies!”

Not knowing what to say, Danielle turned her gaze to Tom. He, in turn, was looking at the bus. The second body had dropped from the emergency exit now. It lay in a confusion of limbs that could only indicate death. But then the arms and legs started twitching, as if their very confused owner was trying to remember how they worked.

Another of the passengers dropped out of the emergency door. They landed on the struggling corpse and toppled off it. Somehow, the prat fall didn’t become a full collapse. The man ran several steps flat footed, somehow getting his feet to catch up with his upper body, then came to a halt.

He stood still, swaying slightly, expression somehow vacant and loaded with malice at the same time. The horrible visage wasn’t helped by the fact that his face was white, but for blue circles around his eyes, a red nose and an evil painted on smile. He wore white, baggy, shimmering clothes marred by splashes of blood in different shades from glistening crimson to dull, drying rust. The worst of the blood was around his crotch, where the outfit, and bits of the body beneath, had been violently torn away.

“Like that! You go like that!” the girl cried out.

Danielle straightened to stand beside Tom. With all the questions the situation was throwing up, the only one she could think to ask was, “Is…. Is that an emasculated clown?”

Part 18


Zombies vs Vampires, part 16   Recently updated !

They had caught the couple a short distance from the road, falling on them when their shock made them stumble and trip. As the young lovers died, traffic past metres away, none of the drivers or passengers noticing the horror going on so close by.

Sated, Glenn stood over Carl and Karl as they ate. They were out of sight of the towers again, but there was another instinct drawing him now. Something in his body, an ache in his neck, told him which direction he should go in now.

Carl and Karl looked to Glenn when they were done, waiting for him to move. They stayed, like statues, until the man and woman started twitching again, pulling themselves up to join the gang. Now, the feeling guiding Glenn had settled down, and he knew which way to head.

They couldn’t quite stride- none of them had that much coordination any more- but their movements were more determined than their hungry shuffle had been. Heading away from the main road, the group found a smaller street that ran parallel. Turning down this, they headed toward Manchester again.

The street took them behind houses and blocks of flats. There were some signs of life in the buildings, but Glenn ignored them. He was leading his gang toward the beacon that pulsed in the wound at his throat.

Between a tower block and the railway, they came upon their target. Only one of the three bodies had the enticing warmth of fresh food, but the other two held a fascination of their own. They almost sparkled.

For a moment, Glenn paused. They had been seen. The warm figure started moving, but the other two stayed where they were. Glenn didn’t register emotions any more, but something inside him knew he should hurt the sparkling woman. An instinct, taking the place of thought, told him to start by attacking the boy beside her.

Glenn stepped forward, walking toward the boy. His target made a noise that he would have recognised were he still alive, and stepped back.

Part 17


Zombies vs Vampires, part 15   Recently updated !

“We seem to have left them behind.” Leech said, the smugness back in his voice.

“Ah, very good. Now, where shall we go for Terry’s first kill?” The question was rhetorical, of course. The Mistress didn’t care for Leech’s opinion on the matter. He kept quiet, and she considered the answer to her own question.

“Loop back around. We should avoid the place with all the tents, but there are always stragglers and strays. We should cross the river. There is a place under the railway which is often good for food.”

So, they took a sweeping turn- right, then right, then right down streets Terry had never learnt the names of.

They passed student halls of residence that were bright with the warm young bodies inside. Very tempting, but far too full. And the youths inside would be missed, unlike the vagrant they would, no doubt, end up choosing.

Leech handled the car well, threading down narrow back streets that hardly seemed wide enough. These were lined with a mix of the final hold-outs of light industry, and the expensive, dull and square blocks of apartments that were replacing them. Then they crossed Deansgate again- the road still packed with slow moving traffic, and were going down the hill, past the Opera House, and across the river.

There was a change almost immediately. They were in Salford now, Manchester’s poorer older sibling. There were some new developments along the river bank, mirroring the glass and steel of Spinningfields, but behind them the dark red brick of the railway viaduct stood, as if blocking the flow of money and development deeper into town.

The road curved right, and went under the viaduct through wide, deep arches. Just after they came out the other side, Leech turned the car to the left, down another side street. This one followed the line of the railway. The first couple of arches held more light industry, but soon, they were passing ones that were walled off, reminders of former workshops.

An open arch urged them to go back under the railway. The street, if they carried on on this side, became pitted with pot holes and littered with fly tipping. They carried on.

The bricks blocking up the third arch past the junction had been knocked in. The big car pulled up beside the makeshift doorway, and Terry stared into it. “What do you see?” The Mistress asked.

“I don’t see anything. No. No, I see some warmth. There’s somebody in there. A man, I think, older, not very well. I think he’s on something.”

The disappointment must have been obvious in his tone, because the Mistress moved closer to him and spoke quietly at his ear. “Not every meal can be young and pretty and healthy. We need to eat, and we sometimes take our meals where we can get them. You must learn to kill for your food. There will be many years in which to learn all the ways you can enjoy it.”

Terry had been looking forward to killing and draining a human. But the Mistress was correct that he wished his first victim could have been somehow more glamorous. He vowed that he would not let her down, and would see his victim off with as much enthusiasm as if they had the looks of a movie star.

“I am ready.” Terry opened the door and stepped out. The Mistress followed him, but only went as far as the hole in the brickwork. Leech stayed in the car, obviously wanting to watch, but forcing himself to stare straight ahead.

“I shall be watching.” the Mistress said. She kissed Terry lightly on the lips, and gestured through the hole.

Barely any light from the outside penetrated the arch. The nearest street light was down by the last junction, and nearby buildings provided little illumination. Terry didn’t need it anyway, he was navigating from the glow of a live human in his blood sight. He stepped carefully around bricks and rubbish, but progressed steadily across the vaulted space.

The arch smelt damp, but not as wet as Terry had expected. The weather got in through the hole in the wall, and there were tiny stalactites forming from water that had leeched through the brickwork from above. But the space was rarely, if ever, inundated. Puddles rarely formed of the concrete floor. No wonder people sought it out to sleep.

Terry was surprised at how much he had been able to determine just from listening to his senses as he walked toward his target. He had built up an image of the arch, what could he see about the man before him?

The vagrant was unwashed. Terry had thought he had become grimy, but this man was far worse. He hadn’t changed his clothes in weeks, and the sweat was ingrained. As were other bodily fluids, including blood. The man’s own blood, Terry decided. He had been in fights, or fallen badly.

As he drew closer, Terry could hear something in the man’s breathing. There was just a hint of raggedness. Something pressed on one of his lungs, restricting its capacity. A broken rib, Terry decided, the result of the same fight or fall that had caused the blood.

This man was much further gone than any of the homeless Terry had met in tent town. He was one of those truly lost souls who had fallen so far they might never be saved. Terry would be putting him out of his misery.

The man’s breathing changed again. He was awake, aware enough to register the pain of his rib, and that there was someone there with him. “Whosat? What you doing here? Got my space, get your own.”

He struggled to sit, then tried to push himself up to his feet. Surprised, he stopped and stared at the hand Terry offered him. He pushed and kicked his sleeping bag aside, then took the hand.

Terry couldn’t explain how he was doing it, but he had mesmerised the man, calming him so that he forgot the intrusion into his home. He studied the shorter man’s straggly beard, lined and dirtied face, and eyes that showed it had been too long since his last drink.

“Your chest hurts, doesn’t it.”

“Fuckers tried to take my stuff. I showed them.”

“Let me help you with the pain.”

“You got vodka? That helps.”

“No vodka. Only this.” Terry nodded, as if indicating something behind and to his left. The man saw enough of the movement to glance over at whatever it might be. He exposed the skin on the left of his neck, and Terry dived in to bite it.

His canines were so much longer than they had been before, with needle sharp points. They slid through the skin, rather than simply puncturing it, and found a vein. When the Mistress had taken Glenn, she had torn a section of his neck open, and drank from what spurted out, but Terry found the simple holes he had created were enough. He drank eagerly. There was a bitterness of failing liver and the other decays of an adulthood of alcoholism, but it wasn’t strong enough to mask the power of the blood.

The man flailed about, trying to hit Terry, or push him away. The blows and the struggle became weaker the more blood Terry consumed. Finally, the ecstasy overtook the man, and his final moments were filled with a pleasure he had spent so long fruitlessly seeking from alcohol. He made a last, happy sigh as the life was sucked from him.

Terry held the dead weight of the man after he had drunk his fill. He didn’t know quite what to do with the body. It seemed wrong to just drop it and walk away.

“We must take him with us.” the Mistress said. She had sneaked up behind Terry as he had been feasting. “To cover our tracks. The days when we could just abandon our food without a care are sadly behind us. Bring him with you. We shall put him in the back of the car.”

The body was light, and Terry could carry it under his arm. It was clumsy, with the arms and legs flailing about, but once he found a balance point and a good grip, he handled it easily.

Leech stood at the back of the car, with the boot open. The large space was lined with some glossy material, carefully fitted to catch any left over blood and other mess. No doubt it wiped clean easily as well. Terry sat the body on the edge of the boot, let it drop backwards into it, then levered the legs in after it. When he stepped back, he saw Leech hold up the key fob and pressed a button. The lid started closing itself.

“Very impressive. That’s….”

Something was wrong. Terry sensed the Mistress’s response before he could tell what she was reacting to. He cast a glance in her direction, then followed her gaze.

Five figures stood on the other side of the road, a short distance ahead of the car, four men and a woman. They were staring at the vehicle and the group around it, but didn’t seem to be focussed on it. In the low light, shadows made them menacing, and hid their expressions. Their stances suggested they were about to rush across the road and attack.

But that wasn’t the strangest and scariest thing for Terry and the Mistress. Not a one of the group had the glow of a warm, functional human body. Two of them were warmer than the others, but cooling quickly. As well as their bodies being cold, their auras were empty, a sort of grey that hinted at voids. They were dead.

The middle figure stepped off the pavement, and, as one, the others followed. The leader straightened, standing taller, and fixed his gaze on Terry. Now, there was just enough light to illuminate his features. Terry stared back.

“Glenn?”

Part 16