Ian Pattinson


Zombies vs Vampires, epilogue   Recently updated !

The body that used to be Glenn dragged itself across the pavement. Even if its spinal cord hadn’t been severed, its legs were shattered, bashed almost to a pulp.

Somewhere, deep inside, there was a faint understanding of the situation. The boost that eating vampire had given him had made him able to reason, a little, for a brief period, and given him a glimmer of consciousness. He understood that this was not a good place to be, and that he needed to find somewhere to rest and hide. But, more and more, he wanted to eat.

His hands, skin worn through and torn off, found a crack in the pavement and clutched to it. He dragged himself forwards. There would be food, or shelter, somewhere near here.

Black shoes, the shine taken off them by blood and battering, stepped into Glenn’s vision. Food, he thought. He should drag himself toward it, but instead, pushed his body up to look at the owner of the shoes.

The food was pointing something at him. He could only make out the end, square, with a round hole in it. If he weren’t so hungry, he might understand what that thing was. He lifted his right arm, reaching out to the food.

The hole in the object flared white.

The slide of the Glock locked back, the magazine empty. David Wilson stepped back from the zombie ha had just shot and looked around. None of the many bodies around him were moving. He found one of the many magazines he had stashed abut his body, ejected the empty one and slapped the new one in. The slide snapped back into place, and he was ready.

There was movement, over by the tower. Wilson raised the pistol, and just as quickly dropped it. The three figures picking their way through the bodies were definitely not undead, no matter how much blood covered them. Two women and a man, carrying swords with the assurance of experts, they were kicking over the bodies and examining them.

“Armed Police! What are you doing here?” Wilson’s voice was a croak. There had been moments during the night when he had howled obscenities, or just unintelligible noises, and this was the first time he had tried normal conversation in a long time.

All three of the people raised their empty hand, non-threatening, but still ready to fight. “We just got out of the tower.” the man said. “We’re…. Looking for someone.”

Turning over bodies, looking for someone they recognised. Wilson didn’t like to think of what they hoped to find. They were just the first of a lot of people who would be doing the same over the next few days. If they were allowed. Whatever had caused this might mean all the bodies would be quarantined and burnt.

“That one.” the shorter of the women said, pointing at the body Wilson had just shot. They walked toward him. As they drew closer, Wilson spotted the bandoleer of throwing stars across the taller woman’s shoulders. The familiarity of their shape made him study the body. The star embedded in the spine was the same as them.

“Did you do that?” Wilson asked, pointing at the star as the woman knelt beside the body.

“Not directly.” she replied. The man put a foot under the body’s shoulder, lifting and turning it enough to reveal the face. But for the hole in the forehead, it was still recognisable.

“That’s him.” the man said.

“You know him?” Wilson asked.

“Not personally. We saw him last night. And I knew him by reputation.”

The women were back-tracking along the trail of scuffs and stains the zombie had left behind as it crawled. “They landed there.” the shorter woman said. “Maybe that pile of bodies broke their fall. That one wasn’t so mashed up he couldn’t crawl a good few metres.”

“But Terry’s not in the pile.”

The shorter woman put a comforting hand on the taller one’s shoulder. “Maybe he got away. There’s not many places he could go. If he’s not in them, I think he got away.”

“Yeah, but….” The taller woman glanced back at Wilson. Why was she so worried about him?

“Do you live in the tower?” Wilson asked the man.

The man looked up at the tower, all the way up to a smashed window on the top floor, that Wilson had only just noticed. “Maybe.” he said. “We might be able to now.”

“Err, yeah. They all seemed to be going in there. Do you need some help clearing it out?”

The man held up his sword, looking at it as if it was talking to him. After a moment, he nodded. “No. We’ve got the place cleared out. Maybe we’ll need help clearing it out later, though.”

The women had come back from the pile of bodies. “I don’t think we’re going to find him.” the taller woman said, her sadness showing. “We should go back inside, and see if we can look for him from there.”

“Okay. And there’s something I think we should try as well.” the man said. “Thank you, officer. We can look after the tower for now.”

The three walked away, down the ramp into the underground garage of the tower. Wilson wasn’t sure what had just happened. But at the end of this night, he wasn’t sure about anything any more.

* * *

He had patience, and He had been waiting several hours for Mistress’s reply. He didn’t like calling her Mistress, but she hadn’t accepted being called Heidi for over a century. He was almost getting used to it.

The screens in front and beside Him clicked and hummed as they were activated. About time. He straightened, checking the fit of his suit. He must always look his best, no matter who he was talking to.

The screens became lighter, and the image on the video connection became clearer. He wasn’t so sure what He was looking at, though. Then, He realised what it was.

For the first time in centuries, He felt a coldness that might be fear.

The screens were large, and the face he was looking at was many times larger than life. It slipped in and out of focus as it gurned at him.

“Heidi.”

The skin had dried, pulling taut in some places and wrinkling up in others. Somehow, the dead, empty eyes were still full, their surface wet enough to reflect light.

Slowly, He looked to the left, keeping his eyes on Mistress until the last moment. She didn’t move. She was gone.

The face on the screen to the left was one of the vampires Mistress had sired. He couldn’t remember the boy’s name. There was a crossbow bolt through the boy’s head. He made a low sound, not quite a growl.

Two faces were crammed into the screen on the right. Another two that Mistress had sired. All the vampires in the tower dead, apart from the one Mistress had just sired. How had that happened?

“Your little girl is dead.” a woman’s voice said. “She deserved it. A lot of other people are dead because of whatever it was she did.”

“I will destroy you! I shall find you and destroy you!” He raged at the screen.

“We’re in the tower. It’s ours now.”

“So is most of your money.” another woman’s voice cut in. “Your security’s for shit. It’s all good having a walled off network, until someone gets at one of the computers inside it.”

He looked around, desperately searching for the other computer in the room. Could they do what they said they had?

“You get very rich when you’re immortal, don’t you?” the first woman said. “The money is going to the families of everyone your girl got killed tonight. This tower is going to house the homeless she used to pick on. The ones that are left. And then we are coming to get you.”

“We’ve seen the swag your Mistress had in her cupboards.” a male voice said. “So I’m sure you’ll have plenty of running away money. It’ll be a challenge. But.” The blade of a sword, bright, reflective silver where it wasn’t stained with blood, slammed down and embedded in the table in front of Mistress’s head. He jumped in shock, something that hadn’t happened for a very long time. “We’ve found that these weapons can sense the undead. It’s going to be a challenge, but we will find you.”

The screens went blank.

* * *

It had taken a very long time, and a great deal of pain. But Leech had made it.

He had dropped the bag ahead of himself, letting it fall several floors at a time. Then, very, very carefully, he had followed it down. He had grasped the rungs tight, holding his weight as he moved his good foot down a few. He tried to move two or three rungs at a time, to make it pass faster. But then he would miss a rung, or his foot would slip, and he would cling to the ladder, terrified, until he found his footing again.

Now, he was at the level of the fire escape. He didn’t know quite how, but he had to find his way off this floor and on to the roof. Then, maybe, he could find a paramedic who would splint up his leg and he could get out of the hospital, with the bag and bounty, before anybody started asking questions.

Leech pulled the bag to himself, and lifted himself up onto his good leg. Some of those expensive watches might not be worth more than scrap value by now. He didn’t want to know how many yet. He shifted the strap onto his shoulder, adjusting it until it sat comfortably, then opened the door.

As the door opened, a strong hand closed over Leech’s wrist. With a jerk that almost dislocated his elbow and shoulder, he was pulled from the alcove and thrown against the opposite wall.

Leech bounced off the wall and collapsed to the floor, his leg bent at an unnatural angle under him. It hurt so much he couldn’t even get any volume to his scream.

Terry stood over Leech, looking down at him, hungry and angry. He was far from the pretty boy Mistress had turned not so long ago. His clothes were torn, almost completely gone, and his body was marked all over by bite marks. He bent down and picked Leech up by the neck, slamming him against the wall.

“Look what they did to me! Look what you left me to!” Terry hissed.

“I had to get Mistress to safety!” Leech lied. He could tell Terry didn’t believe him. He tried a different tack. “This bag. This bag is full of money and jewellery. You’ll need it after tonight. You’ll have to run after all this.”

“That’s going to be very useful.” Terry twisted Leech’s head, exposing his neck, and took a big bite.

When Leech was drained, Terry let him drop to the floor. He unhitched the bag from the dead man’s shoulder. Then, with a disappointed sigh, he pulled off the dead man’s clothes and changed into them. The trousers were short, but it was better than carrying on in his rags.

There were signs for the fire exit. He could follow them, but dawn was breaking, and it would put him out into daylight. He had found his way up here from the sewers, so that was where he would head now.

Sooner or later, he would come back up again. But now, he needed to disappear, and lay low for a while. He was good at that.

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 43   Recently updated !

Danielle had the briefest of moments to comprehend the new development and react to it. She tugged backwards. It didn’t pull her arm free, but the zombie did let his arm extend, growing the gap from his teeth.

The blur of movement resolved as it hit the zombie. Terry tackled the zombie, his momentum sending the three of them tumbling. The zombie’s grip on Danielle loosened, and she managed to break free. She even kept hold of the sword in her left hand as it was yanked free of skull. It scraped painfully across the stone floor as she tried to use it as a brake.

“You!” the zombie croaked out. It twisted in Terry’s bear hug, struggling to break free or bite.

Terry and the zombie stopped sliding across the floor. They parted, and Terry twisted and sprang to his feet as the zombie pushed itself up. It lunged at Terry, showing more coordination than any of its companions.

“Bastard!” Terry roared as he caught the zombie, stopping it in its stride. He pushed back with far more force, lifting it off its feet and charging with it to crash against the window.

The zombie hit the throwing star embedded in the glass. The vicious spike sticking straight out severed its spine just above the waist. But that wasn’t the only damage done. The blow dug the star deeper into the large pane. Cracks spread out along temper lines, leaping to the frame. Then shorter fractures joined up, and the window disintegrated.

For a long, frozen moment, zombie and vampire looked like the might pull back from the fall they teetered over. Then the zombie grabbed Terry, and leant its weight back as far as it could without the use of its legs. Terry’s hands shifted to its throat, a meaningless gesture as they both tumbled out of the tower.

Danielle watched as her brother disappeared. He had saved her, and she couldn’t get to him in time to return the favour. The sword in her hand gave her a warning, and she looked around to see the two remaining zombies from the lift heading for her.

They were reverting to the shuffling creatures all the other zombies were, driven only by their hunger, unable to think beyond the next bite. Danielle dodged, low around the first one, swiping with her sword, she severed the Achilles tendon on its left leg. It stumbled and tumbled forwards, head slamming into the jagged glass left in the bottom of the window frame.

Danielle sidestepped the last of the zombies, and sprinted to the katana. This time, she pulled it from where it was wedged. Slapping her feet flat on the floor, she slid to a halt, reversed her direction, and took the zombie’s head off before it had fully turned.

She wanted to rush down to ground level, to see if Terry had survived the fall. But first, there was work to be done here.

Siobhan and Esmerelda had all but finished destroying the zombies on their side of the room. Tom was methodically cutting his way through the larger crowd nearer the stairs. Mistress had seen Terry disappear out of the window, and was staring at the empty space where he had been. She held one zombie at arm’s length, distractedly moving it around to ward the others off.

Danielle joined Tom, and they made quick work of the crowd of zombies. Mistress roused from her reverie when she heard the fight nearing her. She looked back at the zombie she held, then the ones behind it, working their way around after being pushed back. She punched her zombie in the forehead, snapping its neck, then threw it at its friends.

And then it was over. The last of the zombies on the penthouse floor was felled. The floor was a mass of bodies, many of them missing the heads that had formed gruesome piles in corners or behind the tipped over table. Gore and thick, unhealthy blood covered the floor and their arms and legs.

Danielle studied the dark red liquid along the length of her katana. With an expert movement, she flicked most of it off.

Tom wanted to sheath his sword, but he knew that, without whatever force it possessed, he would find himself collapsing under the shock and horror of the situation. It was too soon for that. They were still sharing a room with a pair of vampires, the creatures that had caused this whole horrific episode, and who would happily kill them.

There was silence in the room, but sirens, cries and gunshots drifted in through the smashed window from below.

Esmerelda broke the silence. Grabbing Siobhan’s shoulders from behind, she said, “That was thirsty work.”
That urge to say something pithy was her undoing. It gave Siobhan just enough time to react. The sword twirled, impossibly fast, in her hand. Her grip reversed, she thrust it backwards into Esmerelda’s stomach.

The vampire made a sound somewhere between a hiss and a scream. She threw Siobhan away from her, launching her across the pile of corpses before them. Siobhan landed hard. She tried to roll, but mostly slid, smacking the wall with her right shoulder. With her back pressed against the wall, she appeared to be unconscious.

The sword was still stuck in Esmerelda’s body. There was a little wisp of smoke or steam rising from the wound, but she ignored it. “Little bitch. You’ve had this coming.” She ran up the body pile and pushed herself off the top, leaping for Siobhan.

Tom and Danielle had started toward the fight as soon as Esmerelda spoke. As soon as Esmerelda started moving, they knew they couldn’t get to her in time. Tom skidded to a halt and swirled around, sword raised. As he had suspected, Mistress had started moving after them. She halted well short of his sword tip.

Esmerelda flew across the gap to Siobhan, then came to a halt in mid air, just short of her. Siobhan’s left arm had shot up, punching Esmerelda in the forehead. The vampire’s own momentum drove the punch dagger through her skull. She dropped to the floor, arms out to catch herself in a crouch. “Oh.” was her last word.

Danielle finished the job with a swift stroke from her katana, severing Esmerelda’s neck.

Siobhan shook her hand, wobbling the vampire’s head around on the end of her fist until it worked loose from the punch dagger and fell to the floor. Danielle offered a hand and helped her up, then they rolled Esmerelda’s torso over so Siobhan could pull her sword from it.

Mistress watched, eyes wide and face empty. “My children.” she finally said as Siobhan and Danielle started walking toward her. “All my children, gone.”

Tom moved to the left, sword up to keep Mistress’s attention. Danielle and Siobhan came in from the right. “You want my head now.” Mistress said.

“Yes.” Danielle said.

“The easy way or the hard way?” Tom asked.

“Always the hard way with mortal scum.”

”Thought so.” Tom made a move toward Mistress. She rounded on him, ready to dive at him.

With a quick and easy move, Danielle decapitated Mistress.

Tom stepped back as Mistress’s body fell. Siobahn intercepted the rolling head, stopping it with a foot on the forehead. For her last moment, Mistress stared up at the young woman’s angry face. Maybe she even heard as Siobhan said to her, “Not that hard.”

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 42

The rage overtook Terry soon after he reached the last flight of stairs.

The pole he had been using to run zombies through had broken, but he had retained the weighted base to use as a club.

Seeing the door at the top of the stairs, he had felt he was on the home stretch, and pushed on into the crowd of zombies. It had been a misjudgement, and he had found himself surrounded as some of them staggered back down the stairs.

A female zombie managed to grasp his collar, and pulled herself in close to take a bite from his shoulder. He smacked the side of her head with the base, but it hadn’t been a good swing, and she still held on. Another crack, and she fell away. But the time taken over these blows gave other zombies the chance to move in on him.

For a horrible moment, he thought he was going to be overwhelmed. He stepped back, almost missing the edge of the next step down and tumbling, and they kept pushing at him. More of them were realising he was here, and turning toward him.

Terry realised the zombies were all in too close for him to get good swings at them with the base. He let it drop. Another zombie had moved in to get a bite at the top of his left arm. He wrapped his forearm around their head, holding it tight, and pushed back off the stairs. He only had two steps to fall, and this time, he was in control. He felt the zombie’s neck snap with the sudden movement. The teeth that had just broken his skin relaxed and released him.

He took a couple of steps backwards, and a bunch of zombies followed him. With a roar, he lashed out at the nearest one, hitting it so hard that its jaw broke off, the whole bottom half of its face flying away as its neck snapped. Somewhere along the line, he had learnt to punch, he thought. Or perhaps rage and vampire strength made up for any lack of skill.

Terry grabbed the next nearest zombie by the front of her dress, flinging her across the landing to crack her head open on the wall. Then he took another and threw him over the bannister. Another got its teeth into his injured forearm when he pause long enough, but he soon snapped its neck.

Kicking, punching and throwing, Terry cleared the way to the bottom of the stairs. Most of the crowd that had been before him not so long ago had now filed through the doors at the top. He could hear fighting. Bones were breaking on the top floor. Mistress would have something to do with it, he was sure, and perhaps the other vampires. Maybe even the humans. His sister might still be alive.

He reached the back of the queue of zombies. Reaching around the head of the nearest one, he got a grip, twisted to snap the neck, then pushed it back down the stairs.

Terry hadn’t had a chance to say more than a few words to his sister. He wanted to know where she had been his whole life, and why she had turned up on this, of all nights. If she survived it, he would ask her.

He reached over the head of a shorter zombie, getting a grip in its eye sockets. With his other hand on the back of its neck, he pulled sharply, nearly tearing the head off completely.

More zombies fell, and Terry was at the door. On the other side of the bottleneck, the dead had spread out. They were in four distinct groups. Mistress was tearing up bodies in the nearest group. The next batch were before the male human, who had just fired a crossbow, but was turning back to hacking and slashing at them, using a tipped over table as a barricade to restrict them. The younger woman was with one of the vampires, fighting off a large bunch of zombies.

Terry saw his sister in the middle of all this carnage. She was shrugging off a body that had been gnawed on so much it was practically a skeleton. Terry recognised him, one of the other vampires, but couldn’t remember if he had even been told his name. The crossbow bolt through his head filled in several blanks.

His sister jumped up and beheaded a large zombie with a sweeping move of her swords. Terry stared, impressed. Then a zombie came at him from the side. He caught the movement, and dodged back. Grabbing the zombie’s head, he swept its feet out from under it, slamming its skull into the stone floor.

He slapped his hands against the side of another zombie’s head, driving his thumbs into the eye sockets. Still it moved, so he jerked the head up, separating the vertebrae until he could yank it off. Turning quickly, he tossed the severed head hard at the next nearest zombie. It staggered, but didn’t fall, so he charged it and punched it hard, caving in the skull.

Terry had cleared enough space that he could take time out to survey the room again. Mistress had a crowd of zombies around her, but showed no sign of being overwhelmed by them. The male human was cutting his way through the quickly reducing crowd around him. The younger woman and second vampire were working well together. But his sister was in danger.

She had taken down two of the zombies facing her, but another had grabbed her right arm, and was moving to bite her. Recognition narrowed Terry’s vision as he realised that it was Glenn who had hold of her.

The man who had started this whole crazy, horrific experience. In the place where it had begun. Terry couldn’t let Glenn start the cycle all over again. It was hardly even a conscious decision to cry out and charge across the gap.

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 41   Recently updated !

Tom thrust the point of his sword through the eye socket of the nearest zombie. He twisted it, then moved it from side to side. As he yanked the blade back out again, the zombie crumpled.

He would never have expected it to be so easy to destroy the once-human shells Especially not with a sword. Years of video games had conditioned him to think he would be shooting them, if such a situation ever arose.

The zombie was pushed forward as it fell, draping limply over the table barricade. The one behind it strained wizened hands toward Tom. He dodged them, then used the body over the table to boost himself up and swing the sword down even harder. The zombie skull was cleaved in two, and it, too collapsed.

The barricade was holding the zombies back. But, as more and more of them were felled, they were backing up out of reach. And the ones at the back of the queue were flowing around the sides of the bottleneck, threatening to encircle them.

Tom needed more room to properly swing the sword as well. He backed away from the table, and turned to one of the pincers. A sweeping strike severed the arms of the nearest zombie at the elbows, then he found himself making a return strike to take off its head.

Danielle and Siobhan had recognised the same problem with space to strike. They moved away from the table into gaps where they could strike and slash more easily.

The vampires were on the edges of the fray, picking off zombies from the overflow. They had obviously learnt suitable moves as they fought their way up the stairs. They would deliver a punch to the side of the head or back of the neck, or grab hair and twist until something broke. Then they would throw the limp body away, sliding them into piles in the corners of the wide open room.

Siobhan ran her sword through the arm and chest of a zombie, pinning them together and opening up the side of its head for a punch from the dagger protruding from her fist. For a horrible moment, as the ghoul started to crumple, both her blades were jammed inside its body as other dead hands reached out for her.

Kicking hard into the collapsing zombies midriff, Siobhan yanked both blades from its body. Turning the resulting stagger into a spin, she brought the fist dagger up into the new zombie’s forearm, reversed her motion, and jammed the sword straight up under its jaw and into its head. The point jabbed out of the top of its head, but both blades came free more easily this time.

The dance of slicing, stabbing and punching took Siobhan close to Esmerelda. There was a moment when they realised they were fighting together and flashed scowls at each other, but they quickly returned to the task at hand.

Tom’s cutting and jabbing brought him around in a circle, so that he was back at the table barricade again. He eyed the crossbow, nearly within arm’s reach, and thought about grabbing it. The crowd of zombies was finally thinning out, but he might get another chance to take out two or three with one shot again. He moved until a foot was under the frame, ready to kick it up and grab it.

Danielle’s sword seemed to slip through everything in its way. It was guiding her swings, so that it found paths of least resistance through joints rather than bones, but was still unnaturally sharp. Combined with moves she hadn’t tried since a pre-teen obsession with rhythmic gymnastics, she moved with smooth violence through the undead. Her feet ran a short distance up the wall beside the elevator doors, and she did a twist and flip to land with style on the marble floor.

Unfortunately, this section was wet and slippery with zombie gore, and her graceful landing became a clumsy tumble as her feet slid out from under her. She rolled sideways, toward a pair of waiting zombies. Not only did she avoid impaling herself on her own sword, she managed to turn her fall into a sweeping cut that severed the nearest zombie’s right leg at the knee.

As the zombie tumbled, she dived through the gap between it and its companion, rolled onto her feet and swept the blade back around to remove the head of the second zombie. The first one had barely registered that it had fallen, and was struggling to push itself back up. With the area around her clear now, Danielle had the time to step onto the zombie’s back and jam the katana down through the back of its skull.

Danielle made a disappointed grunt as she discovered that the blade had gone on to wedge itself in the narrow gap between two of the marble tiles. It would come loose, just not immediately. She was about to grasp it with both hands and pull it up, when there was a ping and the elevator door, right behind her, opened.

“Beardsplitters! Cockscabs!” the bizarre, grotesque thing that stumbled from the lift bellowed. Large chunks of flesh had been torn and bitten from its arms, neck and cheeks, revealing the bone underneath. Blood seeped from all the wounds, and soaked into what was left of its clothes.

Marvin couldn’t die of the wounds they had inflicted, so the zombies had kept on eating him. Now, what was left of him had finally managed to pull away from them, and stagger out. The pain he felt had driven him quite mad.

Danielle gave a tug at her sword. When it didn’t break free, she stepped away from it, retreating from the walking skeleton. Marvin spotted her, and moved faster than should be possible, to grab her by the shoulders as she tried to reach for the shorter blades strapped across her back.

“Foood.”

Tom saw what was happening, and everything slowed down for him. There was a zombie on his left, closing on him. The crossbow was on top of his right foot, ready to kick up and grab. He tossed the sword up and across from his left hand, and brought his foot up quickly.

Blade and bow hung in the air for a magical moment. He caught the pistol-like grip of the crossbow in his right hand just as the transfer of the blade to his left was completed. Somehow- it could only be the magic in the weapon- the bow was perfectly aimed. He pulled the trigger.

The recoil as the bolt left the bow was strong, twisting the weapon out of his hands and bending his thumb back painfully. It didn’t register, though, he was too busy turning the sword and putting his weight behind it. The blade passed between the zombies grasping hands, and through its open, hungry lips. With a last minute twist, it passed between two vertebrae, and severed nerves. The zombie stopped moving. Its arms held in place for a brief moment, then dropped to its sides as it tumbled.

The crossbow bolt went all the way through Marvin’s head, so the metal tip poked out of his left ear, whilst the feathered base stuck out of his right. Danielle got an elbow against his throat and pushed him back. Somehow, he still stood. His eyes moved up, down, left and right, as he tried to see what the problem was. Slowly, he realised he was dying. “Oh, fuckfarts.” he croaked, before falling forwards.

The crossbow clattered to the floor. Tom spun on his heel, letting his sword go with his left hand, but almost immediately grabbing it again with his right. He twisted it, separating the vertebrae, and pulled it sideways. The zombie’s head fell to the other side, attached to the body by a strip of flesh, and the body tumbled.

Tom was faced by another seven zombies. He would have to cut his way through them before he could turn again and join Danielle’s fight. He hoped he had given her enough space to go back on the offensive.

Marvin’s dead weight pushed Danielle backwards. She pushed his body aside, when she managed to get some leverage. But the move had her down on one knee, the only way to keep her balance. Finally, though, she could reach back and draw the short swords from the scabbards on her back. She held them crossed before her body, pointing forwards and upwards.

There were six zombies behind Marvin. They seemed strangely reticent about moving toward Danielle. It was like they were actually thinking about the situation, maybe planning.

Danielle took advantage of the group’s pause. She forced herself up, sweeping the blades so that they cut like scissors, easily decapitating the nearest zombie. As the body fell backwards and the head bounced across the floor, she skipped back into a defensive posture.

The five zombies formed a line, a wall blocking Danielle from her longer sword and the three skirmishes in the rest of the room. They stood outside the reach of her short swords.

The middle zombie cocked its head and studied Danielle. It raised its right hand, but not to grasp at her. Rather, it pointed, and said, “You Terry sister. I eat.”

The five closed on Danielle. The one who had spoken hung back as the others flanked her. Confusion at being recognised by a talking dead man was buried by anger at her situation. She could maybe take out two of them with the short swords, but that would take her in close to the other three. She might not be able to get away from them. If she could get the talking one, that would give her a little satisfaction. Not enough to make up for what the others would do to her, but some.

It was strange that this small bunch of zombies seemed capable of basic reasoning. Was it because they had eaten a vampire, Danielle wondered. She didn’t have time to think much more, as the swords were talking to her, telling her the best next move.

With the katana, there had been a feeling of being guided in her movements. She had found herself making moves that she would have thought impossible, as it fed the experience and skill of previous wielders into her. The short swords were different. If she were to describe the feeling, the word she’d use would be angry.

The swords desired blood. Or whatever passed for it in undead bodies. They wanted to leap at the five zombies, to slash and stab. Danielle took a short step forward, watching the reaction of the dead people. They flinched back, raising defensive hands. None had done that before. She stepped back again.

It was as if she was having a conversation with whatever spirit haunted the blades. They wanted to dive right in, but had to listen to her when she demanded better tactics. She saw a blur of possible moves, all playing out at once as she and her weapons worked out which would be most successful. Three possible paths were the best options. She picked one.

Danielle moved to her left, and all five zombies responded, moving toward where she seemed to be headed. But it was a feint. With her weight all over her left foot, she pushed back sharply, moving even faster to her right.

The blade in her left hand shot straight up, under the jaw of the zombie at the end of the line. It went straight up through his skull, punching out at the top. The woman to his right started turning to the attack, but too slowly. Danielle used the dead weight of the tumbling zombie as an anchor, soaking up her momentum, and helping another change of direction. The sword in her right hand came across horizontally, jamming into the side of the female zombie’s skull, punching through just above the ear.

Danielle tugged the blades, trying to work them loose from smashed skulls. They were jammed in more tightly than she had expected, and the three remaining zombies were reacting to her move. She had an open path to the katana now, she could let the short swords go and give it the strong tug it needed to be freed.

The thought came too late. The zombie that had spoken grabbed her right wrist before she released the swords and started moving. She put a foot against the zombie with her left hand blade in it, pushing, but it was pulling out too slowly.

“Eat now.” the zombie said, pulling Danielle toward it. The other two were closing in from either side as well. The anger of the blades surged through her, but she could see no way that this wasn’t the end.

“No!” a familiar voice cried out. There was fast movement behind the talking zombie, who reacted to the cry with a confused flick of the head.

Part 42

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 40

The zombies kept on coming. Esmerelda and Mistress put them down when they could reach. But they couldn’t get them all over the bannister, so the front rows were soon properly dead. Held up by the crush of ghouls behind them, they formed a barrier the vampires couldn’t reach past.

Mistress and Esmerelda retreated up the stairs a flight at a time. As the wash of zombies reached each landing, the space opened up for them, and some of the blocking bodies fell away, to be trampled over. Esmerelda and Mistress dashed in and saw off a few more each time.

Floor by floor, they thinned the crowd of ravenous things, until they could, just, see the back of the crowd. By now, though, they were only a flight below the penthouse level.

Esmerelda put a hand under the chin of a zombie, pushing it back so she could throw a jabbing punch at another one a couple of rows back. The bone of its forehead cracked, and the head snapped back, but it still moved. Esmerelda punched again. The front of the zombie’s skull caved in, and it went limp. Esmerelda bounced backwards, skipping up three stairs to stand by Mistress.

“This is tiring. The humans should do some of the work.” Esmerelda said.

“Yes. They do have blades, after all. Come on.” Mistress walked slowly up the stairs, leading the mass of bodies, to the final landing. She and Esmerelda opened the double doors and found a chair and low table to hold them open.

The zombies were nearly at the doors now. Shedding limp corpses, they moved faster. Mistress and Esmerelda opted for a trot now, as they led the horde to the main room of the floor.

Rounding the corner, they found the room turned over, with its minimalist furniture repurposed as barricades. The three humans, behind a heavy table, had heard them coming, and were waiting in defensive positions.

“We destroyed as many as we could. Now we need your help.” Mistress said. The breathless gasp she put on as she announced this obviously wasn’t as convincing as she had thought. The humans just stared at her and Esmerelda, lifting their eyes to the zombies as they rounded the corner.

“Bring it on, then.” the younger of the human women said.

The throwing stars zipped past Mistress’s head so close on either side that they snipped hairs short. Her face darkened and fists clenched. The woman, Danielle, had thrown them at her!

But the woman kept on picking stars from the row she had placed in the edge of the overturned table, and threw them with an easy flick of the wrist. They all shot past Mistress and Esmerelda. Her throws were too skilled for all of them to miss like that. Mistress turned around, in time to see half a dozen zombies drop to the floor, stars embedded in their foreheads.

The woman seemed surprised by the accuracy of her own throws, pausing for a moment to take in their effects. Then she unleashed the last four throwing stars. Out of projectiles, she raised her katana, ready to slice through necks and skulls.

The man had a crossbow. He didn’t loose a shaft as quickly as the woman took to throwing the stars, but waited, aiming and aligning. He squeezed the trigger, and the powerful bolt went through two zombie skulls, and wedged deep in a third. He strained to reload the bow, deciding to put it aside after all the work because the zombies were too close.

The younger woman stood between the other two humans, sword up and punch dagger in a restless left hand. The three of them were a formidable sight. Mistress would never have expected it when she first saw them.

The weapons were enchanted, of course. None of the vampires had been able to tap in to the magic, no matter how skilled they were with blades. It was unfair that only humans could benefit from whatever arcane blessings the weapons had been given.

No matter. For now, the magic in the weapons- wielded by three angry and determined humans- was going to help defend her tower. And then, because even with the aid the blades offered, the humans would tire, she and Esmerelda would drain them. Would their interaction with the weapons make them taste different? She couldn’t wait to find out.

Mistress and Esmerelda moved around to the sides of the table barricade. The zombies, after stumbling over their fallen companions, closed on. They were met by the human’s swords and daggers.

The vampires put down any zombies working their way around the barricade, but they let themselves relax as the humans took over the harder work.

Part 41

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Proud Saboteur

So, we’re going to have an election, because Theresa May expects things to get much worse as the Brexit debacle rolls on. She’s terrified that the incompetents she’s put in charge of negotiations will deliver a disaster, taking her down with them (and the rest of the country as well, of course, but she doesn’t really care about most of us).

I listened to her announcement of the election (twice, because I’m some sort of masochist). It was six minutes of blaming everyone else for her party’s failures. And then, on the front page of the Daily Mail this morning, the bile we’ve come to expect from the rag, labelling everyone who doesn’t do exactly what Chairman May demands a saboteur.

If that’s what she, and they, want to call sensible, decent people who have serious and well founded misgivings about this whole farce then I’m going to embrace it. I’m a proud saboteur.

The design’s available on clothes, mugs and stickers from Redbubble

Here’s a mocked up view of what it’ll look like on a T-shirt-

Update Now available in blue as well, ideal for white T-shirts etc.


Zipping around Ancoats and the Northern Quarter 1

I went out for a ride in the sun last Sunday, and recorded this trip through the back streets of the Northern Quarter and Ancoats. I’ve sped it up, to suit the bounce of the soundtrack I found for it.

Music- EDM Detection Mode by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1500026
Artist: http://incompetech.com/


Zombies vs Vampires, part 39

Marvin didn’t feel bad about running away. Some people fought, some survived. He was determined to survive.

As soon as he was back on his floor of the tower, he slammed the door closed and started dragging furniture up to it. He had a heavy chest of drawers close to it, that went across the doorway first. Then he dragged a cabinet from the nearest room. It was good and heavy as well, but he had a better plan for it.

As he suspected, when he tipped the cabinet over, it wedged almost perfectly between the door and the wall opposite. He sat on it to force it the last little way, and it jammed into place with an expensive cracking of antique wood.

Now the zombies wouldn’t be able to get in. He would be safe in here until the craziness was done. Now he needed a drink.

For the first two years of being a vampire, Marvin had been unable to eat or drink anything but blood. For all the pleasure of feeding on humans, he had always thought of himself as an epicurean of high order. So, when his body finally adapted again to human food, he had started seeking out fine liquor and rich food. He needed some of that now.

The kitchen in his apartment was stocked with food worth thousands of pounds. There were bottles of scotch and brandy that cost even more in a glass fronted cabinet in the lounge. He went straight to the cabinet and pulled out a very old bottle of Macallan. The liquid inside was beyond the normal amber. Decades in a cask had left it a deep, rich brown.

Normally, Marvin would go through an elaborate process- practically a ritual- before taking sips of the glorious liquid. This wasn’t a normal day. He opened the bottle and took a large gulp from it. It burnt on the inside of his mouth like spices, but his enhanced senses let him dig out hints of the flavour of the oak the cask had been kept in, and all the other elements that had gone into its creation.

The alcohol calmed him, and he held back from drinking more straight from the bottle. Without any of the usual fuss, he chose a glass and poured himself a large measure. Glass in hand, he wandered back into the corridor that circled the core of the tower.

There was no sound or hint of the zombies having reached this floor yet. One of those irrational sudden fears gripped him, and he stared down the hallway at the blockage he had engineered, briefly imagining it not there. A shake of his head, and a sip of whisky, cleared his vision, and he saw the cabinet and sideboard jammed perfectly in place.

Before he had any more visions, Marvin walked away from view of the doorway. He paused to take another sip. The alcohol was blurring everything nicely at the edges, so he didn’t sense the movement of the elevator car in the shaft he stood beside.

It was only when the car stopped, and the doors opened with a ping, that Marvin realised what had happened. The horrible, cold sensation of foreboding overtook him again as he turned to see who, or what, was in the elevator.

Hungry hands reached out of the car, catching his arms and spilling expensive alcohol on the floor. He couldn’t even struggle as the zombies pulled him into the car with them, so lost in terror was he. Only as the teeth started sinking into his shoulders and neck did he start struggling, far too late.

Part 40

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 38

Note I have now finished the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires. I’m going to keep feeding you the parts, right up to the end, whilst I put it aside for a week or so. Then, with a little distance, I shall begin the process of editing, cleaning up continuity and hammering the clumsy out of the language. This first draft may disappear when the finished version is published, I haven’t decided yet.

The world swirled. The silence was a reassuring pale blue, but when Terry opened his eyes, the light smelt of offal too many days in the sun. He forced a lead-heavy hand to move, and the surface tasted of marshmallow, then gritty salt.

Where was he? How was everything so twisted upside down inside out? He tried closing his eyes again and taking a long breath through his nose. If all his other senses were flipped, what did the room smell of?
Bland choral music, fading into light, tinkling pianos. Then antiseptic. An actual smell. With a queasiness as he felt like he had suddenly moved up to the ceiling, Terry felt his senses sliding back into their normal places.

He landed back on a mattress, wedged against the wall of a small room lined with shelves and cupboards. He sat up, and immediately curled up and retched a dry heave.

On hands and knees, he moved away from the mattress, toward what he now recognised as a door. The more he moved, the better he felt. By the time he reached the door, he merely felt horrendously rough.

Grasping the door handle and a shelf, Terry pulled himself up. He couldn’t quite get to his feet on the first try, and rapped his knees against the floor as he dropped down again. A stabbing pain came and went, just above his brow. He closed his eyes and forced the sensation away.

On the second attempt, Terry got to his feet. He tried letting go of the his hand holds, and very nearly toppled backwards. Holding tight again, he closed his eyes, willing the dizziness away.

Bit by bit, Terry’s balance returned. His head had felt as if it was moving in uneven circles. But they were slowly becoming tighter, homing in on where his brain really was.

With a last, horrible shiver, the vile hangover was over. As his head cleared, memories slotted into place. He had taken a bite out of a man on a bed. There had been an odd taste to the blood, then everything had gone blank.

He remembered the rush of drunkenness from the man under the bridge, and the way it had cleared up so quickly. Had the man on the bed been drugged? That would explain most of what he had just experienced. His body had flushed the drugs in a rush of strangeness, and now the blood that had come with it was making him feel so much better.

There was a small window in the door. Now he could concentrate enough to understand what he was seeing, he studied the room beyond. There was a bed, empty, close to the door, and more, occupied, beyond, lined up along the wall. There was a gap in the row, where the bed by the door had originally been, he guessed.

None of the bodies on the beds was moving, but Terry could see they were still alive. Cables and tubes ran between them and the boxes beside their beds. Drugs, he supposed, whatever it had been that knocked him out. There were no vampires or, more importantly, zombies, in the room.

Terry tried the door handle. It turned down easily, and he heard the click of the bolt moving. He pulled it, but nothing happened, so he pushed, and almost fell through as it opened. Perhaps the drugs weren’t all out of his system.

His first few steps out of the door were careful, in case his balance wasn’t fully restored. Confidence grew with each step, until he was certain of his strides again. His senses were feeding him the right signals again, and back to their enhanced state.

He could smell the stale sweat on the bodies in the room. It wasn’t so strong, they had been washed within the last few days. He imagined that was one of Leech’s jobs. Appropriate for the horrid little man. Almost as strong was the tinge of chemicals, a mixture he couldn’t possibly name, but no doubt the sedatives were in there somewhere. And blood.

It hadn’t been obvious from the little room, but there was a body splayed out on the floor in the empty space of the row of beds. A small puddle of blood had formed under its neck. Terry guessed he had drunk the rest. He resisted the temptation to dip a finger in the pool and taste it. He’d only just recovered from the last time.

There were columns supporting the ceiling, and a white wall blocking off the windows around the outside of the large room. In the middle was a bare concrete block. The central tower, with the lifts and stairs in it, Terry guessed. He had seen enough towers going up, from the various places he had slept, to know that much about their construction.

So, if he wanted to go anywhere, the door would be somewhere in that block. The wall facing him right now was blank, so he wandered around it. There was a door in the next wall. Terry opened it, then quickly closed it again.

A little wash of air had come through the gap, assaulting his nose with the scent of recent death and partial decay. It brought back a flash of memory, seeing Glenn leaping at him and sinking teeth into his arm.

He had known the zombies could get into the building, and now it smelt as if they were coming up the stairs. Slowly, he cracked the door open, just wide enough to squint through with one eye and get his nose into the gap. Standing close, he breathed in again, seeing what he could discern from the air flowing up the stairwell.

The stench was strong. But it wasn’t like the ghouls were close. There was something about it that hinted at violence. Someone was spilling whatever passed for blood in the walking corpses’ bodies. Mistress? Those other vampires? Maybe even the humans he had seen with their swords. Was his sister fighting those creatures? He may only just have met her, but blood was blood. Moreso now than ever before.

Terry turned his ear to the gap. He could just discern thuds and cracks and grunts. And the occasional shout that hinted at excitement. Mistress had made similar sounds when they made love. It shouldn’t have been a revelation that she would enjoy a fight. She was a vampire, after all. She might not be getting any real blood from the creatures she was dispatching, but he could picture her enjoying the physicality of destroying them.

He should go down there and help them. But, even now the blood was doing its job and revitalising him, he still didn’t feel up to the fray. Zombies had already taken chunks out of him, and he didn’t want to give them the chance to eat more. He closed the door.

Maybe he could rush up the stairs to the penthouse. Somehow, that seemed safer than staying here. All those bodies on the beds were just going to invite the zombies in.

He walked to the next corner. On this wall was the door to the elevator. As he approached, he could hear the car moving up the shaft. Was it going to stop on this floor? Who, or what, was inside? He stepped back quickly, until he butted up against a bed. Maybe he should just have gone straight up the stairs after all.

A tall pole, on a cross shaped base, held up the tubes and cables that ran from the comatose woman on the bed to the box of equipment beside it. Terry grabbed the pole, untangled it, and held it the way he imagined a quarter staff should be wielded. He’d fend off any zombies, beat them back or guide them toward a tasty sleeper, then make a run for the stairs.

He could almost feel the air pushing out of the tight gaps in the elevator door as it approached. With a little click-clack, it was at his floor. Then it was moving past it. He hefted the pole, just in case. With a little ping, the elevator stopped a floor up.

Terry tossed the pole away. He was angry at himself for over reacting to the possible danger, but, much more, relieved that it had passed him by. Of course, there was now the possibility of zombies above him as well as below. It was time to climb the stairs.

The noises beyond the door to the stairwell were louder now, though. Terry stood, hand poised over the handle, as he tried to guess how close the fight was. Taking a risk, he opened it and glanced out.

Just in time to see a wave of zombies crest the stairs. They looked lost for a moment, then one of them turned toward the door.

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” Terry backed away quickly. Now what was he going to do?

There were thuds against the other side of the door as the zombies bashed against it. They were too dumb to know how to use the handle, but, sooner or later, one of them would turn it by accident, and they’d be in to eat Terry and all the sleeping people.

The idea came out of that desperate thought. He could let the zombies eat the people in the beds, use them as a distraction. Even better, if they had the same effect on the walking dead as on him, then he could topple a bunch of zombies. Maybe enough to get away.

Terry grabbed the nearest bed and tried pushing it toward the door. It wouldn’t move. He looked at the feet. They had wheels on them, why weren’t they turning? Then he saw the little winged catches on the wheels at the foot of the bed. Brakes, of some sort. It took a couple of experimental kicks to work out how to release them.

The bed moved easily once the brakes were released, and Terry soon had it up against the door. Just in time, as he spotted the handle turning. As he rushed over to the next bed, he heard the clang of the door hitting the obstacle he’d put in its way.

The door bashed against the bed, moving it a little further each time. The clanging sped up as Terry was unlocking the second bed. The zombies had the scent- or however they searched out victims- of the body on the bed. Arms reached through the gap in the door.

Terry pushed the bed hard against the one already by the door. The knock on effect slammed the door and pinched the arms in the gap. Not hard enough to break them or sever them, and their owners no longer recognised pain, so they barely flinched. It was still a satisfying little bit of violence, though. He ran for the next bed.

Grasping, dead arms found the ankle of the nearest sleeper. As he wheeled over the third bed, Terry saw the foot lifted up and pulled into the gap. The body moved dangerously close to the edge of the bed, but was just short of toppling off. A head and shoulders squeezed through the gap. The zombie’s teeth closed over the meat of the calf. The head shook from side to side as she worked at the flesh until it tore off in a big chunk. After taking a few chews, and almost looking satisfied, the zombie woman went limp and dropped the leg.

The unconscious zombie fell forward, pushing through the gap by the force of her weight. More hands reached over the still zombie, seeking the still fresh leg she had taken a bite from.

Terry piled the third bed up behind the others. This time, he paused long enough to put the brakes on again before heading for the fourth bed.

Another two zombies had taken bites from the body and passed out by the time Terry had the fourth bed wedged into the blockade. The only problem was, their weight squeezing through the door was pushing it further open. Another zombie was climbing over them to get at the body on the bed- still, barely alive and tempting.

Terry searched the room. He spotted another of the poles that he had brandished earlier. Gripping the base with one hand, he held it in front of himself like a lance. Dancing around the beds until he found the right spot, he aimed, then drove the end hard into the side of the zombie’s head.

That one was dead. The others would come round sooner or later, and there were still more pushing through from the landing. He would have to fight the standing ones and destroy the fallen ones, but Terry felt confident that he had a defensible position.

The next zombie through the gap ignored the nearest sleeper. Somehow, it knew he had finally died. Terry whacked the side of the zombie’s head, bending the pole rather than doing any real damage. Lesson learnt, he jabbed at the top of the zombie’s head, until he punched a hole through the skull and jammed the pole as deep inside as he could.

The bent pole was clumsy and not much use as a weapon any more. He would have to go and get another one. In the mean time, he wanted the zombies to be distracted, or sedated. He picked up the woman on the fourth bed- marvelling at how light she felt with his vampire strength- moved around, and threw her into the gap of the door.

There only seemed to be four or five zombies left on the other side of the door. They snatched and hungrily snapped at the body they’d been offered, pulling it through the door to take bites then keel over from the drugs. By the time Terry returned with another of the poles, there was no movement on either side of the door.

He listened, and tested the scent of the room and the air flowing through the gap. There were still noises of shuffling, hungry creatures, but they were all up stairs from him. He could smell the gore from the zombies he had incapacitated, and the blood from the bodies they’d eaten. Nothing else seemed to be waiting for him.

Carefully, Terry pulled the last of the beds away from the barricade. It unlocked the whole structure, and the weight of dead and unconscious zombies pushed the door open, knocking one bed over and sending another rolling away. He was proud of himself for not jumping at the movement.

The zombie at the bottom of the pile was beginning to move again. Terry jabbed the pole through its head, twisting it around to be sure. He pulled it out, took a step back, then rammed it into the next one up.

When he had seen off all the zombies he could reach in the pile, Terry stepped back and pushed the remaining beds out of the way. The door opened wider, and the pile collapsed some more, tumbling corpses across the floor.

Wielding the pole, ready to stab at any undamaged skull, Terry stepped over the zombies he’d destroyed. As he was on the threshold, a hand grabbed the back of his leg. He couldn’t understand where it came from. He had destroyed all the zombies inside the room, hadn’t he?

Teeth sank into his calf. Not again! He looked down, and recognised the first of the sleepers he had used in his barricade. Of course, he’d been so stupid.

He couldn’t turn the pole to stab at the newly minted zombie biting his leg. So he rotated it, and slammed the heavy base against the zombie’s head. On the third blow, there was a satisfying crack, and the teeth that had torn his skin relaxed.

Terry roared in anger and pain. So fucking stupid! He pulled his leg from the zombie’s grip, and stepped through the door. There were more drugged up zombies on the landing. He stabbed each of them in the head a couple of times. Finding the sleeper he had tossed to them, he jabbed through her skull four times, just to be sure.

Now he’d had chunks taken out of both legs, an arm and a hand. Maybe at some point, those wounds would add up, and he’d be more zombie than vampire. Not a prospect he relished.

There didn’t seem to be anything moving on the stairs downward. He could head down there and escape, maybe. But he didn’t know any way out of the building but through the garage. There was no promise that it was empty, or that there wouldn’t be more of the things waiting for him outside.

His best hope was to see the tower cleared of zombies and sealed so no more could get in. Then, perhaps, Mistress could cure his wounds.

The sounds of fighting from above briefly rose in intensity. They weren’t coming back down, but it sounded like the fight was getting harder. For Mistress to cure him, she had to still be around. He had to go up, and join the fight. He still wasn’t sure he was up to it, but the zombie massacre at the door had left him more confident.

Pole at the ready, he headed up the stairs.

Part 39

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 37

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

“Shouldn’t we have weapons?” Marvin’s voice quavered as he asked the question.

The Mistress turned quickly and took a step back up the stairs. “Yes, we should. Would you go and ask the humans to hand them over?” Marvin shrank back from her. “No? Well, we shall just have to tear these things limb from limb with our bare hands, will we not? I remember in the second war, Lucille and I used to….”

Darkness crossed the Mistress’s face as she remembered what Marvin had told her about Lucille. She turned on her heel and stamped down the stairs again.

“I will happily go upstairs and deal with the humans.” Esmerelda said.

The Mistress stopped on the landing and stared up at them. Anger etched the dark lines of her vampire features on her face. “We will deal with the humans later. I should deal with them myself. I brought them into the tower. But it seems I created those things down there as well, so I have to deal with them also. Now, come with me, and let’s get this over with.” She didn’t look back as she set off down the next flight.

Esmerelda gave a little shrug, but followed. Marvin was less sure. He hovered on the landing for long moments, only following when Esmerelda was a flight ahead of him.

The Mistress slowed her descent, letting Esmerelda, and then Marvin, catch up with her. A few landings further down, they stopped.

“I hear them.” Marvin announced, as if the other two couldn’t.

Esmerelda leant over the bannister and stared down. “I see them. Two floors down. They’re moving, but not so fast. I think that one has seen me. Yes. They’re moving faster now.”

“I suppose we have their attention now. Rip their heads off and throw them and the bodies back down the stairs.” the Mistress said.

Marvin joined Esmerelda, staring down the gap between the flights of stairs. “Will they fit down there?”

“We will make them.”

It was a dramatic flourish, the bravado used to rouse troops before a fight. It was wasted on Marvin and Esmerelda, but the Mistress was at a point where she needed to hear it.

They stood at the top of the flight of stairs and waited for the stumbling horde to make it to them. When the first of the zombies milled around one flight down, temporarily losing the hunger that had driven them this far, the Mistress lost patience, and took the battle to them.

When the Mistress was halfway down the flight, the nearest zombie turned toward her, head flicking round like he suddenly remembered his mission. She hooked her fingers into a claw and, closing the distance, rammed them up under his jaw. Two of her nails broke skin, and her palm struck the bottom of his jaw so hard it cracked teeth.

The Mistress took hold, and lifted the vampire of its feet. She jerked her hand to left and right until, with a satisfying crack and gruesome tearing, the head separated from the body. She dropped the head over the bannister and let the body crumple and tumble down the stairs.

She had concentrated too much on this one kill, and the other zombies had become aware of her, and were advancing on her. She had to make faster kills from now on.

A woman zombie tripped over the headless body and cracked its skull against the stairs beside the Mistress. It twitched a couple of times, and showed no signs of getting up. To be sure, though, the Mistress cracked her heel down on the back of its neck.

The Mistress lashed out with a backhand slap that almost completely knocked the jaw off the face of the zombie to her left. She drove a flat-palmed punch into the jaw of a zombie right in front of her, driving it back so hard that it dislodged, tore through dead skin, then severed the neck. The dead woman dropped, whatever had been driving the reanimated muscles no longer there.

The zombie with its jaw flapping uselessly, connected by skin and the last sinews of a couple of muscles. Turned to the Mistress. His hands had started to come up, but she moved far faster. She rammed her forefinger straight through his right eye, punching a hole in the socket and reaching the grey squish of the brain. She hooked her finger around, getting a grip on bone, and pulled hard. If the yank didn’t separate vertebrae, the tumble over the bannister, and connecting with the stairs all the way to the ground, would finish the job.

“I would appreciate some help.” the Mistress said, not looking around as she found a head to grasp and twisted it until there was a satisfying snap.

Marvin and Esmerelda were beside the Mistress in a moment. Esmerelda landed a series of punches on a small group of zombies, cracking skulls and sending limp bodies sailing across the landing. Marvin kept making ineffectual little jabs at the same female zombie. His extra strength put power behind the rabbit punches, but she refused to fall.

Esmerelda let out an exasperated sigh when she saw how useless Marvin was being. She took the zombie’s head in both hands, and twisted until she heard the crack and pop of the spine separating. Lifting the limp body, she tossed it toward the bannister. The left leg snagged on the railings, and it hung gruesomely over the edge.

“Put some force into it. Or just lift them up and throw them down the stairs. But, please, stop doing this.” Esmerelda mimicked Marvin’s flailing punching style. There was only one zombie left standing on the landing, though the next, larger, wave would be along soon. Esmerelda pointed at the bloodied man stumbling toward them. “Try it on that one. Go on.”

Marvin stepped forward nervously, closing on the zombie at an angle. The ghoul twitched toward him, and he squeaked and took a step back. He turned at the tutting sound from behind him. He couldn’t tell who it was that made it, but Esmerelda was the one who waved him toward the zombie.

The zombie had its arms up, reaching for Marvin. He batted the hands away, so hard that the dead man span all the way around. Marvin saw the opportunity, and moved to grab the zombie’s shirt at the collar and trousers at belt level. He took quick steps with the zombie, lifting it off its feet, then propelled it over the bannister. It didn’t even react as it flew out and across the gap and smashed its head on the wall opposite.

Marvin watched as the now limp body landed atop the crowd of zombies one floor down. Beyond an initial stumble at the blow, they didn’t react to it. Yet, somehow, the body rolled across the densely packed heads until it tipped over the edged and fell down the gap between flights. It cracked against something at almost every floor, all the way to the ground.

“That was remarkably easy.” Marvin remarked, turning back to Esmerelda and the Mistress. He had expected smiles and congratulations, but they were still regarding him with the same exasperated expressions. Esmerelda pointed past him.

A hand grasped Marvin’s shoulder, and he jumped with a squeal. He jerked forwards, but the hand’s grip remained tight. It brought the zombie with it, the dead man slamming into Marvin’s back. He panicked some more, spinning round and trying to grab the arm and pull it off.

The zombie tumbled, legs twisting around and between Marvin’s. Marvin landed on his back, the zombie on top of him, hungry mouth biting the air just past the end of his nose. Zombies from either side fell on top of them, eager for a bit of flesh.

Esmerelda and the Mistress strode in, each grabbing one of the zombies and tossing them over the bannister. Marvin was still under the one that had tripped him up, holding it off with an arm pinned under his body. He struggled to release it, while Esmerelda and the Mistress moved on to the ones behind.

Marvin finally managed to get his other arm free. He grabbed the zombie and managed to throw it aside. Free, he scrambled back until his head cracked against stairs, then found the bannister to haul himself up.

The Mistress and Esmerelda were punching zombies, kicking them, throwing them over the bannister. As Marvin watched, they each grabbed one by the hair and slammed their heads together with a loud crack. They could handle themselves. They didn’t need him. He could fight humans, when he had enchanted them enough to make them passive, but this was too much for him. He turned and ran up the stairs.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 36

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

“Which way? Up or down?” Siobhan asked.

They were all looking over the edge and down the stairwell. Danielle cocked her head, listening to the faint sounds echoing up to them. “Up. I think. We can wait there and only have to deal with what’s left after the vampires take on the zombies.”

“That seems fair. It was what they were planning to do with us. Up it is.” Tom said as he led the way.

They clinked as they moved, laden with as many weapons as they could carry. Tom had a small crossbow, and a quiver full of bolts, on his back, as well as a short mace with a heavy, viciously studded head, and several more daggers. Danielle had a bandoleer of throwing stars across her chest, and shorter Japanese blades in crossed scabbards on her back. Only Siobhan had shown restraint, supplementing her sword with a small and nasty punch dagger that could sit perfectly in her left hand.

Back on the top floor, they found a heavy, dark wood table in the corner of the main room. Their excess weapons went on it, for easy access, and they dragged it out to use as a barricade.

“And now we just wait here?” Siobhan asked.

“We could drag this around to the top of the stairs and try to block the door. It’s heavy enough.” Tom said. But he was mostly just thinking aloud. It wasn’t a great plan, and if they got it wrong, they could be trapped by anything coming up in the lift.

Danielle was thinking about something else entirely. She held one of the throwing stars daintily between thumb and forefinger, studying it. “I’ve never held one of these before, but I know just how to throw it.” To demonstrate, she gave a flick of her wrist, and the lethal little piece of metal flew straight across the room to embed in the window. “That’s…. weird, isn’t it?”

“Just like how I felt when I held the blade for the first time.” Tom raised his sword and studied it. “Considering how fucked up tonight already is, would it be a surprise if these weapons are, I don’t know…. Enchanted?”

“We’ll probably need the help, if they are.” Siobhan was making practice thrusts and swings with her own sword, caught up in the mood. “I mean, how many of those zombie things were there out there?”

Danielle had walked over to the window, to try to prise the star from the glass. She looked down, studying the streets. “There are a lot of Police cars down there now. Most of the people I can see don’t seem to be, well, shuffling. Maybe they’ve got the zombies under control.”

“Or maybe all the zombies are in the tower.” Siobhan said.

They were quiet for a while. Tom studied the crossbow. Holding it up, he asked, “Any idea how to load this thing?”
Part 37


Zombies vs Vampires, part 35

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

**I know this is a ridiculously short one. But it does involve zombies in a lift. the way zombie films have been going the last few years, there are people out there who would have tried to make a whole film just from that.**

Glenn kept on poking at the wall, the one tiny bit of memory telling him it would achieve something. Soon, the others started mimicking him, pressing the side of the elevator nearest them, but not knowing why.

Eventually, Rav found a button and the ring around it lit up as he tapped at it. A few moments later, the box they were in started moving upwards.

Somehow, they all knew to look upwards in anticipation.

Part 36


I promise I’m only housing vampires in one of these towers

I’m not a big fan of all these plans to build higher and shinier and more expensive towers in the city centre. I can’t shake the feeling that more down to Earth developments, aimed at people on an average wage or below, and not backed by the super wealthy, would have a harder time getting planning permission. But I am a natural cynic.

Zombies vs Vampires got a big bit of inspiration from Gary Neville’s plans (even if I put my versions somewhere else by accident), and it feels like I may be tapping into something of relevance with my ‘1% lording it over the 99%’ narrative.

Take a look at some of the towers and skyscrapers which could sprout up around the city centre over the next few years

Source: 18 skyscrapers and towers that could transform Manchester’s skyline – Manchester Evening News


Zombies vs Vampires, part 34

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

Leech reached into his right trouser pocket. Then, he tried the other pocket, and, with increasing desperation, the pockets of his jacket.

“Fuck!” He cursed quietly. Any noise too loud echoed up and down the tall, thin space he was hidden in.

He had run from Terry, and been lucky enough to escape to a bolt hole the boy couldn’t possibly know about. The ducts for the air conditioning, cables for power and communication and pipes for the water were all directed through this shaft. And there were ladders he could use to climb between the gratings on each floor. He could use it in his escape.

Leech knew the layout of the building well. It had helped, when he was serving the Mistress, to be able to move from place to place discreetly. Now, that knowledge could help him sneak past the vampires that wanted to tear out his throat. Or the zombies, if they got in, that would want to eat him. He should avoid the humans as well, he couldn’t be sure they didn’t wish him harm as well.

But the smart phone would have made the exercise so much easier. It was connected to the networks running through the building, relaying message from the many sensors placed around it, and controlling locks and various systems. It would have told him which doors had been opened, where there was movement, and which rooms he could expect to be empty. Without it, he might stumble into hungry jaws at any time.

Leech squeezed himself into the corner, then sank down to sit on the cold, uncomfortable metal. Perhaps he could just hide here until morning, then try to escape. The criss-cross of metal digging into his buttocks wouldn’t let him get comfortable enough to sleep, he could stay awake until dawn.

Or he could find one of the floors that was still empty. The Mistress and her three little vampires occupied the top four floors of the building. The next one down from their apartments was where they kept the cattle, so the blood could be fresh when they needed it. The floors below, apart from the offices on the first few levels, were set aside for visitors.

Protocols and traditions required that any wandering vampire be given rooms in the home of any other blood sucker. It wasn’t a common occurrence- as yet, none of the guest suites in the tower had been used. Most vampires found a home and made it their castle for years on end. Travelling too far from the eyrie carried the risk of being caught outside as the sun rose. Longer journeys required planning, so that shelter was never too far away. It had become easier throughout the twentieth century, but the reticence of older sires had imprinted on newer vampires and held them back.

Leech had learnt the lay of all of these rooms as well as those of the top floors. It helped that they had a generic layout, unchanged as they hadn’t been used. He dared to think longer term, beyond the break of day. There were luxuries in those rooms, gold, diamonds, even wads of money for the visitor who wanted to slum it amongst the humans as part of their hunting. He could steal enough to fund an escape from the country, and a new life somewhere safe from fangs.

Brief panic pushed down again, Leech found he could stand without twitches of nervousness and fear running up and down his legs. He still had a terrible urge to urinate, though. If he held that in any longer, it would become uncomfortable to move and get distracting.

He wasn’t ready to pop out of the service tunnel and find a toilet. But he didn’t need to. Leech liked to think he was a notch above the sort of uncouth lout who would whip his todger out in public and piss against a wall, but these were special circumstances. And, given that he was breaking out of the unequal relationship he had maintained with his vampire mistress, why not sully her building as an act of defiance.

Leech stepped up to the edge of the platform, opened his trousers and pulled himself out. For a moment, his snobbery about this sort of thing reared up again and he couldn’t urinate for embarrassment. He urged himself to push, and get the liquid flowing.

One, two, three, push. One, two, three, push. One, two…. The urine flowed. It arced out into the gap, catching a beam of light from somewhere up above and glowing gold. He angled himself, so that it fell straight down the shaft, his own tiny waterfall. There was something surprisingly satisfying about doing this.

Feeling more refreshed than simply peeing should have made him, Leech began plotting his escape route. As much as he would like to take one of the many expensive vehicles from the garage, that wasn’t an option. They had left a van jammed in the gates. He doubted he could move that easily. And, if that boy could find his way in past it, then so could the zombies.

There were other entrances and exits, though. The ground level access to the elevators was right beside the ramp down to the garage. That was the area where they had dodged so many zombies, so he didn’t want to be going out there. The best bet, he decided was to go through the offices. They had a fire escape route that went across an adjacent flat roof, and might, hopefully, deposit him somewhere where there weren’t so many flesh eating ghouls.

That was the plan, then. But first, he would put together a stash to keep him going as he ran away. Leech checked his trousers were properly closed, and the belt done up. He straightened the cuffs of his shirt and jacket, and buttoned it up. The fastidiousness was ludicrous, even if he went carefully, he was going to get covered with grease and grime as he climbed down the shaft. But it made him feel better. Not in the same way that pissing on the tower had, but every little helped.

He had already come down two floors before stopping to assess his situation. He needed to go at least another two to get below the blood room and into the guest floors. To be sure, though, he was going four floors down.

The metal ladder was narrow, and some of the rungs slippery. Leech wasn’t used to getting about in this manner, so he slowly and clumsily moved each hand and foot one at a time, making sure they were firmly planted before letting go or lifting with the next one. It got his adrenaline going almost as much as seeing Terry, battered and bloody, on the stairs.

He gave up on the four floor plan, and stopped on the third platform down, breathing heavily and shaking after his right foot had slipped right off a rung on the last section of ladder. His hands were grimy, so he found a clean looking section of wall and tried to wipe them clean. The simple action helped him calm down again.

Doors into the service shaft were disguised, on the other side, to look like a section of the wall. A close look would make them obvious, but few people bothered. They weren’t full height, either, to help line up with a seam in the wall covering. Leech knelt down to release the simple latch on the door, and pushed it open.

It cracked against something on the other side, only opening a fraction. Leech recoiled from the door, fearful of what he had hit.

There was silence, but for Leech’s breathing, so he crawled up to the door again, and looked through the narrow gap. He could see the back of a table of some sort. Lightweight and thin, in finely carved, spindly legs, it was laden with glassware. Had he put it there? Probably. Every so often, in his efforts to learn the layout of the building, he had made the excuse that he was changing the décor on the guest floors. He hadn’t been expecting to use the service shaft as an escape route when he had blocked the door with the table, obviously.

The table wasn’t large, and didn’t look heavy. Leech was sure he could move it easily. First, though, he turned an ear to the gap, listening for movement on this floor. He held his breath, so it wouldn’t drown anything out, and strained to hear anything.

Silence. He breathed out, the sound full of relief, then turned his shoulder to the door. He pushed, and door and table moved. The small feet scraped across the floor. This felt promising.

Then, the table caught on something, and stopped moving. Leech put more pressure on the door. He built it up, until the table hopped over the obstruction, then toppled forward. As Leech sprawled out of the door, there was a cacophony of crashing and smashing glass for a soundtrack.

Leech scrambled to his feet, and planted his back against the wall. He looked at the door again, ready to slither back through it if he needed. But there was no other sound, once the expensive tinkle of shattered glass ended. He was still alone on the floor.

Something was bothering the palm of his right hand. With a queasy certainty of what he would find, he turned it over, and looked at it. A chunk of cut crystal was dug into it, blood seeping around the edges of the cut. He felt dizzy. All the time he had dealt with blood and bodies for the Mistress, he had never seen his own. He grasped the glass between fingers and thumb of his left hand, and tried to pull it out. All he managed to do was slice open a finger and thumb.

The glass would have to come out, and then the wound would need dressing. There was nothing specifically for that purpose in the apartments, but he could find some way to improvise. There were two apartments on this floor. He headed left along the corridor, to where he knew the nearest door would be.

The apartment was unlocked. There was no need, when it was so hard to get into the tower. Going through the door sparked a thought in Leech’s head. He stopped and checked his pockets again, clumsily, as he couldn’t use his left hand. He was happy with the result of the search, finding that he still had the master keys for the building. At least he hadn’t dropped them.

There were towels of various sizes in the large bathroom. Leech had taken to vacuum sealing them, so they retained their just-laundered freshness longer and he didn’t have to work his way through them every few days. He pulled a smaller bag, full of hand and face towels, from a cupboard, and tugged at the plastic fastener with his teeth. The seal broke, and the bag inflated with a hiss.

The towels were so soft and fluffy that Leech expected the glass to shred them instantly, sending him searching for some other device. But he folded them over the shard impaled in his right palm and tested them anyway. There was no slicing, and the lump of glass began to pull out.

Some more pressure, and the glass came free. Leech tossed it away, grabbing another towel to press into his palm and soak up the blood. He improvised a bandage from the expensive cotton, because he knew there were no first aid supplies in the apartment. What need did creatures that could heal any wound have for plasters?

The wound throbbed, a little blast of pain every time his heart beat. He really needed painkillers, but there wouldn’t be any of those here either. There was a better option, though.

The whisky and brandy was only the best. Leech cracked open a thousand pound scotch and poured himself a large glass full. He even considered desecrating it by putting some ice in there as well, but settled for gulping down half the glass full in one go. It burned on his throat, warming him as it flowed. It would take a while to have an effect, but he was sure he felt better already.

After finishing the whisky, Leech got his sense of urgency back. He had to pack some bounty and get down to the fire escape and away.

Everything was laid on for the travelling vampire in the apartment. The bedroom had a huge bed, a home entertainment system and a whole wall of built in cupboard. There were clothes inside, shirts, blouses, trousers, skirts and more, in sundry sizes. Leech didn’t want any of them. He opened more doors, until he came to the section filled with luggage.

The suitcases were too large for an escape, but there were also a number of backpacks and other bags. Leech chose a large courier bag with wide, comfortable shoulder strap. Opening the next door, he found the treasures he would be putting in the bag.

There were trays of jewellery, primarily ear studs and cufflinks, of gold with diamonds studding them. He poured them into the bag and tossed them aside. He picked a multi thousand pound mariner’s watch from the next row down, and put it on his wrist, before dropping equally expensive timepieces into his collection.

The last drawer contained currency. Pounds, Euros, Dollars and others, in big bundles wrapped with plain paper bands. Tens of thousand, at least, in each. Leech kept on stuffing them into the bag, until it could hold no more.

It was almost too heavy for him to carry. He hung the strap across his shoulders and adjusted its length, until the bag rested on his hip and didn’t hurt so much. Even with all its padding and soft material, it still dug into his neck and tried to bend his spine unnaturally sideways. That discomfort, he reminded himself, was all wealth, so he would put up with it.

Back at the door into the service shaft, Leech had to struggle with the bag, pushing it ahead of himself, then going through sideways. He shifted its weight again as he stepped onto the ladder, moving it more onto his back.

As he descended, he felt he was getting used to the load, as it didn’t nag at him so much. In reality, a seam had caught on the edge of the opening as he descended through it, holding the bag up and relieving the strain on his shoulders. He was several rungs down before the bag slipped off the edge.

The falling satchel tugged hard at Leech. His hands slipped from the ladder, and he toppled backwards, cracking his shoulders on the edge of the grating. This jarring blow led to his feet sliding from their rungs, and he fell forwards, to smack his forehead against the ladder.

He couldn’t be sure how much later he came round, or how many floors he had fallen. The bag had caught on something and, luckily, caught him under the arm rather than around the neck. He hung through the hole in the grating, dangling over a potential fall down dozens of floors. As he started panicking, one flailing foot found purchase on the grating, lifted him up and propelled him to safety.

Leech slipped out of the cradle of the bag’s strap and sprawled on the grating. The bag shifted, slipped from the grating above and landed heavily on his right foot where it stuck out over the opening.

The bone broke cleanly. Leech felt it snap, then tear at his muscle and skin before jutting out and poking through the fine wool of his trousers. He cried out in pain, but somehow had the presence to grab the bag before it tumbled away down the shaft. Clutching his treasures tight, he passed out again.
Part 35


An email to Jo Johnson

I’m a little late to this one, but here’s the email I just sent to Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

Dear Jo Johnson MP,

I am concerned that the Digital Economy Bill will help copyright trolls threaten ordinary Internet users. The offences in the Bill should be made narrower so they do not include so many new people. Minor copyright infringement should not be punishable by 10 years in prison.

As a writer, I want to be fairly paid for the works I create. I do not want to punish anyone who is inspired by my work, whether they’re telling others about it- and potentially growing my fanbase- or creating fanfic or having fun with my ideas. As it stands, it appears the Bill could punish fans, one of the greatest resources a creator can have, excessively, up to potentially putting them in prison.

I urge you to change the Bill so that it will explicitly exclude low value copyright infringements and only be aimed at persistent and malicious offenders. Don’t punish the fans, go after the genuine pirates.

Sincerely

Ian Pattinson

Go to this page to send your own.


Zombies vs Vampires, part 33

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

Four floors down from the penthouse, the décor wasn’t as decadent. It was purely functional, painted a laboratory grey, with the concrete of the floors barely covered with a plastic sealant that washed clean easily. The soles of the Mistress’s heels were thin enough that she could feel the cold through them.

Usually, she would not venture down here, to the area they called the cattle pens. This was a place for Leech, where he performed tasks too dull or repetitive for immortals. He would spend a couple of hours down here, and return with a flask of fresh blood, if she didn’t feel like going out.

She didn’t even know, from day to day, how many humans they were keeping down here. There had to be at least two for each of the vampires that lived on the top floors. Drained alternately, and kept pumped full of nutrients and sedatives, they could keep up with demand.

The blood floor was even more open plan than the penthouse. There were no partitions, but walls blocked off the windows- their outsides decorated in trompe l’oeil to fool any passing helicopter crew who looked in. Four beds, spaced far apart, were along each wall. Fourteen were occupied, the bodies in them hooked up to machines that regulated their drugs and drained blood on demand. Secure rooms at each corner stored the drugs and other consumables needed to keep the floor operational.

The Mistress didn’t know how to make the machines work. She would just have to try to figure it out. If she couldn’t, well, she could afford to lose a body or two.

She sat Terry on the nearest bed. He was awake enough to put his hands out and prop himself up. He shook his head, trying to force some sense into it. “I…. Did I pass out? I still don’t feel so good. Where are we?”

”We are down with the cattle. I think you are in need of blood. This is the quickest way to get you some.” The Mistress eyed the machine beside the bed. It was old, by human standards, anyway, dating back to nearly the middle of the previous century. The technology was proven, so there had never been a need to update it.

The sedative and nutrients was in tubes on the left and back of the machine, all feeding into a box which must contain pumps. Clear tubes reached across the narrow gap to the bed, then spread out to find veins in arms and legs. Going the other way, a single tube was filled with blood. This fed into the apparatus on the right side of the machine. On the other side of the bed, another set up collected the waste products from the body. Much simpler, it appeared to operate simply through gravity.

The Mistress knew that the blood was processed through a filtration device, similar to a dialysis machine, but designed to scrub residue of the drugs from the blood. After so many years of drinking the processed blood, she accepted the way it didn’t have the edge of a free range drink. It still invigorated her, but it would never properly replace the pleasures of taking straight from the vein.

She looked at the machine. There was no simple on switch, everything was controlled by analogue speed dials. To get it to work, she would have to set up the filtration system and get the pumps running at the correct pressure. No, she had been right before. It didn’t matter if she lost one of the cattle.

The man on the bed was pale and thin, with the weakest of auras. There was little muscle on his arms, the result of no exercise for a long time. His eyelids were cracked slightly open, but the eyes behind them were empty and unfocussed. He had been as good as dead for well over a year, and looked more corpse-like than some of the creatures trying to break in downstairs.

Terry studied the man. The Mistress couldn’t be sure, but she worried that she could see pity in his expression. He certainly didn’t seem hungry enough to bend down and sink fangs into the body’s neck. She put a hand behind the blood donor’s neck, and lifted him into a sitting position.

Now, Terry showed some interest. He focussed on the weak pulse in the man’s neck, and felt the warmth from his body. His left hand came up to grasp the hair on the back of the man’s head, holding it still, so the Mistress could let it go as he dipped forward for a bite.

Fangs tore through the man’s skin, opening the vein so that blood pumped down Terry’s throat. When he got a taste of it, he woke up some more, pressing his mouth tighter against the wound and starting to suck. Even bent over the body as he was, it was possible to determine the change in Terry’s body as the energy came back and his coordination returned.

When there was nothing left to drink from the man, Terry let him drop back to the bed. He wiped the blood from around his mouth with the last clean bit of shirt sleeve he had. “I feel so much better for that. I…. Hold on. There’s something in the blood. It’s making me.”

Terry slumped forwards, then slid off the bed to splay out on the floor. The Mistress cursed, and threw the table backwards, flipping it over and pulling all the tubing from the body. She was annoyed that she hadn’t realised this would happen, though not worried for Terry’s health. He would wake up, in time. But she had just given him a drink heavily laced with sedatives. It was no surprise he was asleep now.

The drugs that kept the cattle unconscious and easy to handle were filtered out of the blood when it was drained. It was done primarily for taste, there would b little danger to the blood suckers if it stayed in. Vampires processed alcohol and drugs in their food far faster than a human did. They could be drunk one minute, and perfectly sober again the next. But the more toxin there was in a victim’s bloodstream, the longer it took to clear out.

This man was meant to stay under for days- maybe longer- even if the drugs should stop flowing into him. And they had been bleeding him for over a year, during which time his tolerance for the drugs, and thus the doses required, had built up. There would be so much sedative in him that it would knock down even a vampire.

Terry was going to sleep for a while. Perhaps that was for the best. He had been through a lot, fighting his way back here, when he didn’t even know what his strengths were or how best to use them. This way, perhaps he could properly recuperate, and those horrible wounds from the zombie bites might start to heal more healthily.

One handed, the Mistress rolled the body on the bed over the far edge, so that it sprawled over the waste bags, impaled upon their stand. Then, she put hands under Terry’s arms, and lifted him onto the bed. She stretched him out so that his head was resting on the pillow, arms crossed over his chest, and he looked peaceful. She would deal with the humans, and the zombies, in whichever order was appropriate, then she would come back and tell him all about it when he had revived.

It would have been nice if she could have put Terry onto clean sheets, rather than these ones, mucky from the previous occupant. But changing linen, and knowing where it was stored, was another thing for the Leech’s of the world to deal with. This would do, for now. She was sure he would understand.

She stroked his cheek, the skin was lovely and smooth. Elsewhere, however, his body was marred by horrible wounds. The zombies had taken chunks out of him. But his knuckles were bloodied and bruised where he had punched his way through them. She was sure he had given far worse than he had received.

Tomorrow, and for as long after as possible, he would be back in her bed, and they would enjoy each other’s bodies. She loved this man so much. She had fallen for him as soon as she saw his face, and knew she wanted him with her.

Of course, in the past, her sire had felt that way about her, and she had reciprocated His passion. Then she turned Esmerelda because she was infatuated with the gold haired traveller. That passion had lasted for decades, until she had met Marvin. A fey and foppish American visiting Paris, his New World naivety had enchanted her. She had put up with him for a mere fifteen years because, in truth, he was incredibly dull and unadventurous. Esmerelda and Lucille seemed to enjoy him, surprisingly. The Mistress did not ask what they did together in the bedroom that was so much fun.

Lucille had been her last amour fou, a Russian factory girl with aspirations to sleep her way to influence. A few years earlier, and she would have coveted the role of courtesan, but her country had just expelled or shot its nobility. The Mistress had offered something better instead. There had been such passion between them, hot and dangerous. It had kept them together through the war, when they sneaked out to seduce and drink from soldiers of both sides, the sterile fifties, crazy sixties and chaotic seventies. Almost all the way to the Eighties, but they had slowly drifted apart.

She had turned others over the years, before, after and during the times she had spent with her three main lovers. Not all of them had ended up in her bed. Some, she had made immortal as a form of punishment, sealing one in a bunker to starve and go crazy, but never die. Esmerelda, Marvin and Lucille had each drifted away from her and come back several times over their relationship. They had sired their own dens and lived as lord or lady of them. But, when she had offered them places in the tower, all three had come back to her.

She had made herself a few lovers since the Eighties, she hadn’t been celibate for forty years, but none of them had excited like her three main loves. Until Terry had walked into her home. Maybe she should have thanked Glenn, and paid him off, rather than draining him. It was as if he had returned to punish her for being so ungrateful.

The sound of footsteps running down stairs broke the Mistress from her reverie. If they were coming down, that wasn’t such a bad sign, she decided. The largest problem, if only numerically, would come from below. She stood and composed herself, managing to appear aloof and in control by the time Esmerelda came through the door.

“There is a problem?” the Mistress asked, taking charge by cutting in as Esmerelda raised the phone in her hand, ready to speak.

Esmerelda’s nose wrinkled as she fought down the expression of annoyance. “They are in. The security warning came on Leech’s phone.”

“The zombies? Is that what we’re calling them? Zombies? I wish there was a better name.”

“The zombies. The warning says that they are on the stairs. It….” Esmerelda checked the screen. “Oh, look, it tells us which floor they are on. They’ve reached the third.”

“And the humans? Are they ready to help us defend, do you think?”

“I truly do not know. They are still defiant, and I doubt their guards will drop. And the little one, she keeps calling Lucille Lucy. I think she is ready to do something crazy and dangerous.”

“The little one?”

“Lucille.”

The Mistress sighed. “Well, we have to persuade them to help us. Or destroy them. Soon, whichever we choose. It is a shame, but I do not think we will have sufficient time to turn them and have them ready to fight alongside us against these zombies. It would be…. Interesting, if Terry could get to meet his sister properly.”

Esmerelda had drifted over to the foot of the bed, and now studied Terry. “What happened to him? Is he alright? Sleeping?”

“The cattle are full of drugs, very strong ones. Terry drank straight from one of them.”

“Well, that was dumb.”

The Mistress directed her scowl at the wall, rather than Esmerelda.

“When will he wake again? He has experience already of fighting these things. It could be useful.” Esmerelda asked.

“I do not know. We can’t just carry him around until he recovers, though. Let’s put him somewhere he’ll be safe from those things, then he can come and help when he wakes.”

“Where?”

The Mistress scanned the room, settling on the only obvious place after far too long. “In there.” She pointed at the nearest of the drugs stores. “Help me roll this over there.”

It took them several attempts to work out how to unlock the brakes on the bed’s wheels. The Mistress walked alongside the front, tugging and guiding the bed, whilst Esmerelda did most of the pushing. As they drew closer, it was obvious the bed wouldn’t fit through the door. If they could even work out how to open the door. There was no obvious keyhole for the large lock under the handle. The Mistress was beginning to wish she had paid more attention to what Leech did down here.

When they were within a bed’s length of the room, they heard the clunk of heavy bolts moving back in the door. They stopped, waiting to see what happened next.

“The phone.” Esmerelda said. “It’s got a new icon on it. I think it unlocked the door for us.”

That was clever. Had Leech installed it without telling her, or had she not been listening when he tried to explain? And how did they lock it again, once Terry was safely inside? The Mistress opened the door, studied it for a moment, then closed it again. “I think it unlocks when the telephone is close enough. Take a few steps backwards.”

Esmerelda walked backwards. After four paces, they heard the sound of the locks engaging. The Mistress tested the door, to be sure it was locked. “Well, he will be safely locked in as soon as we walk away. But can he get out again?”

“Why not go inside and check? I’ll walk away until it locks, and then you can try the handle.” Esmerelda had walked back to the Mistress, and the door was unlocked again.

The Mistress eyed Esmerelda, wondering whether she could be trusted. She weighed the years they had known each other, trying to assess how their relationship stood on this night. She held out a hand. Esmerelda didn’t show any emotion at this sign that she wasn’t trusted, handing over the phone and walking into the room.

“There are two handles, if you look closely. I believe the bottom one will lock the door from the inside.” Esmerelda said, her voice muffled as the door closed. “Try it now.” she said, after a click as she turned the second handle.

The door was locked, even though the Mistress stood right in front of it with the phone. Esmerelda unlocked and opened it.

“I shall walk away now.” the Mistress said, turning to pace toward the middle of the space. She took an extra two steps after hearing the lock click into place, and looked back.

Esmerelda was pushing at the door, proving it was locked. Then she tried the handle, and stepped through easily. “That proves it works. Let’s put him inside and get on with business.” She was about to lift Terry, but the Mistress shooed her away. She pulled the mattress and pillow from the bed instead, wedging it between the room’s close shelves to give him a soft nest.

The Mistress gently laid Terry on the folded mattress, placing a pillow under his head. She wanted to fuss more, but there was fighting to be done. He was so battered and damaged, but still beautiful to her. She closed the door, and took a last look at him through the small window of toughened glass set in it.

“I am sure he will understand how to get out, whenever he wakes.” Esmerelda said.

“Yes, of course he will. There will be so much to clean up after tonight. Come, we have a building to defend.”

As they approached the door to the stairs, there was, again, the sound of feet on the steps. They stood a safe distance away taking up defensive stances, and waited for the door to open. “I believe they are coming down the stairs.” Esmerelda said.

“It could still be the humans. Remember what weapons they have.”

The door swung open violently, and Marvin tumbled through. He only stayed upright by grabbing the handle and jerking himself to a halt. “Mistress! The humans!”

“They killed Lucille! They…. They…. The little one! She chopped off Lucille’s head!”

Part 34


Forensics lab ‘manipulation’ could mean ‘hundreds were wrongly convicted’ – police chief

This has been sitting in an open tab for a while. It could make for a good plot point in a future Ran & Bullets storyline. I must investigate further.

People could have been wrongly convicted following allegations of “data manipulation” at a forensics lab in Manchester, a police chief constable has warned.The head of the Dorset force, Debbie Simpson, said 484 cases were being reviewed after a criminal probe was launched into the matter.Two men have been arrested by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) over allegations that hundreds of cases handled by Randox Testing Services were affected by what the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) called “data manipulation”.

Source: Forensics lab ‘manipulation’ could mean ‘hundreds were wrongly convicted’ – police chief | Granada – ITV News


Zombies vs Vampires, part 32

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

It wasn’t as if Glenn recognised Rav and Henry. Not in any conscious way that could be understood. But he did find them, gravitating toward them through the chaos and carnage.

Bodies milled around them, bouncing of abandoned vehicles and stumbling over kerbs and occasional unanimated corpses. Steadily, as Glenn stared up at the nearest of the towers looming over them, the movement took on a rough form, and the crowd headed toward the building.

Previously, Glenn had led the shambling crowd, but now he held back. It was because he was transfixed by movement inside the tower that he could sense rather than see. The hunger from earlier, and a need for revenge that he couldn’t possibly understand, had returned. He would find a way into the tower, and he would feed.

He walked into the mass of bodies, which was trying to funnel into a narrow gap down a ramp. Rav and Henry followed. There were shouts from behind them, as more Police arrived, blocking the road and struggling to come up with a containment plan.

A dozen dead people were advancing on four Police. None of the officers had a gun. One Armed Response Vehicle had already been lost, and the other was still on the way. So they laid into the zombies with batons, taking some down, but quickly learning the necessity of a heavy blow to the head.

The fight was a messy stalemate, until one officer fell. The six remaining zombies turned on the easy food, only to have their heads cracked open by vengeful clubbing. The Police pulled the corpses off their comrade, looking away when they saw the gory mess he had become. As they stepped back, he started moving. Arms and legs pinned by the shifted bodies, he writhed under them, trying to work loose.

A harsh blow in the middle of his forehead caved his skull in, and the struggling stopped. “I’m really sorry, Dave. Really.” the officer who had delivered the blow said, the nearest he was going to come to a prayer over the fallen body.

“Now what? We can’t take down all of them.” he said as he straightened up.

“What about them?” said the woman to his left, pointing to yet another band of zombies more interested in them than the scrum at the base of the tower.

“Let’s get out of here. There’s no-one left to save. No-one who isn’t already one of…. Them.” the third officer said. Fear put a warble in his voice.

“No. We stand, until help arrives. Not here, though. Let’s get a wall behind us, so we only have to worry about them coming from the front and sides.

Meanwhile, the struggling mass at the base of the tower was forcing more and more bodies onto the ramp down to the garage. They pressed against the back of the van, and, every so often, it scraped a little further past the gate.

With a screech and a crash, the roller gate gave way. The van rolled into the garage space, and dozens of zombies tumbled after it.

Some of them didn’t get up again, their skulls crushed or necks broken in the gruesome scrum. The rest picked themselves up, and wandered off to the far corners of the space, bumping off cars and working their ways along walls. They had only a trace of the taste for vampire flesh that Glenn had acquired, but it was enough for some to seek out a door and find their way to the stairs.

The door was barely wide enough to allow two through at a time, and flanked either side by cars. Somehow, with no consciousness between them, the crowd of zombies formed a queue to get through it. The semblance of order continued as they filed up the first flight of stairs, then broke down as some pushed through another door, and others continued the climb.

Glenn had stopped by a section of wall that reflected his image, albeit poorly, back at him. Driven by the hidden something that made some of his actions appear intelligent, he poked at the plate. The third push found the elevator call button, which lit up. He kept on pushing. Rav and Henry stood behind him, flanked by the young couple who had been with him since Salford Crescent. Their faces were blank, though Henry had a little drool dripping from the corners of his mouth.

The queue was almost completely through the door into the stairwell, and the front runners were nearing the fifth floor, by the time the elevator arrived. The five zombies entered, the door closed behind them, and they just stood there.

After a while, Glenn brought his hand up again, and started the stabbing motions all over again. But he was facing the rear wall of the car, and just pushing its polished surface over and over. A little section of the wall was getting grubby, but nothing else was happening.

Part 33


Zombies vs Vampires, part 31

This is the first draft of Zombies vs Vampires, each chapter posted within a few days of being written. As a first draft, there will be continuity errors, and sections that will need to be deleted, moved, re-written or expanded for the final version. Please bear this in mind as you read it. If you spot something you think needs changing in any way, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. I’ll give you a shout out in the published version.

If you enjoy Zombies vs Vampires, you may also like other books in the Lost Picture Show series- Slashed (Amazon, Smashwords), Chosen Ones/Source (Amazon, Smashwords), or Pickers (Amazon).

Jumped in part way? Here’s a handy link to Part 1.

* * *

Note Just an extra reminder that this is a first draft, because I feel the next few are particularly first-drafty. There are ideas coming up that should have been at least foreshadowed in earlier chapters, and some of the location descriptions aren’t consistent. All problems that will be fixed in the final draft. The stories still moving along at a pace, though, so there’s plenty to enjoy.

Terry slumped against the wall, then pushed himself upright again. He stared down at the group at the bottom of the stairs, taking in all the new faces. The one he concentrated on, though, he already knew.

Leech was already moving backwards to the door. Terry paid no attention to the Mistress, and the other woman trying to get his attention, as he took slow steps down the stairs.

“You left me there. With those things. I am going to tear you apart.”

Crossing the threshold of the door, Leech bolted. Terry tried to sprint down the stairs, only to stumble as he neared the bottom. His injured leg nearly gave way, and he roared with anger and pain. A hand reached out to keep him from falling. A quick glance around showed that it belonged to the woman who must be his sister. The many questions he had for her could wait. He shrugged the hand off and pushed through the small crowd.

Through the door, Terry found himself in a large, unfamiliar room. There were large televisions at the far end, and bookshelves and display racks closer to him. But no Leech. There must be a door, or doors leading to the rest of the floor, but Terry couldn’t see it. By the time he found the disguised exit, Leech would be long gone, hidden in some alcove only he knew about.

“I will find you! And I will destroy you!” Terry howled, hoping Leech wasn’t so far away he wouldn’t hear the threat.

Terry turned to stare back at the seven faces at the door. “Where is the door? I can follow him. I’ll catch him, and….” He was dizzy. He focussed on the human with the familiar aura. “You. Are you my sister? The Mistress said you were my sister.”

“I am your sister. Half sister.”

“What’s your name?”

“Danielle.”

“Where have you been?”

“I….”

The Mistress recognised Danielle’s faltering drive. It was what she had been waiting for, she had planned to take advantage of it. But, like so much else this night, it came at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. The humans either side of Danielle had spotted it as well, and moved closer to offer their support. She didn’t know how to make the most of the situation. Especially when she saw the state of Terry, and was overcome herself.

Terry had a finger up, wanting to emphasise the point of something he wanted to say to his long-lost sister. But he swayed, and seemed to lose focus on the room and then the digit. “I’m not doing so good.” he said, before stumbling sideways, only just managing to get his feet back under himself.

Danielle started toward her brother, but the Mistress was faster. She rushed to him in a gust of movement, caught him and held him up. Spotting the wound on his forearm, she turned so her body blocked everyone else’s view, and studied the diseased looking skin marking the bite.

Terry went over her shoulder in a fireman’s lift. “He needs….” Best not to tell his sister what he needed, she decided. “Treatment. I shall take him downstairs.” The other three vampires knew what she meant. She could tell they were planning an attack on the humans. That would likely solve a lot of problems. But, “Keep them in here. Do not harm them yet.”

Danielle was about to intercept the Mistress, when her way was blocked by Esmerelda. The katana came up, and the vampire shrank back, but in that moment, the Mistress was out of the room. Marvin closed the door behind her and stood before it.

Tom had expected something like this, which was why he had gone straight for the weapons as soon as he spotted them. Somehow, Danielle and Siobhan knew to flank him as he stepped back to block access to the rest of the rack’s contents. Their swords rested, tips not quite reaching the floor, ready but relaxed.

Esmerelda leant against the opposite wall, feigning disinterest. Lucille paced a short path back and forth, occasionally giggling. “How quickly things change. You have the blades, but we have you. Maybe the Mistress wants to taste you herself. Perhaps she wants Terry to turn his sister. We shall find out soon, I am sure.”

“Hey, Lucy, you’re wearing a groove in the marble. Why don’t you stand still a mo and let me take your head off.” Siobhan said, moving the tip of her sword in a figure of eight that surprised even her.

“Lucille! You will call me Lucille!” The woman’s little girl mask slipped, and her face was now all darkness and venom. Her whole face seemed thinner and colder. The cheekbones were more pronounced, as was her brow, and for the first time, they saw those fangs. If they hadn’t been braced for a shock, it could have been terrifying. Tom’s heart rate went up, and he gripped the sword more tightly, but hardly moved.

Lucille had taken threatening steps toward Siobhan, then abruptly stopped. She looked down at the sword, tip just below her crotch, ready to eviscerate her. “Whatever you say, Lucy. Whatever.” Siobhan moved her upper body forward, shifting and raising the blade, until it pressed against the front of the baby doll dress the vampire wore. The pin sharp tip pushed through the material, poking the smallest of holes. A little further, and it would do the same to skin.

Lucille stared at Siobhan, anger in danger of being overshadowed by fear. Somehow, Siobhan smiled back, the very essence of calm. Lucille stepped back, twisting on her heel when she was a safe distance away, and tossing her head in what was supposed to be a dismissive gesture.

These two were going to dance closer and closer to violence, Tom thought. He’d have to be ready to provide assistance when it happened.

The raised tension meant they initially missed the buzzing rattle coming from the television end of the room. Tom and Danielle glanced in the direction of the sound. It wasn’t obvious at first, but they spotted the phone bouncing across the marble, close to the hidden door the vampires had entered through.

Esmerelda and Lucille had seen it as well. They exchanged glances, until Esmerelda pushed herself away from the wall and walked over to pick it up.

“Leech’s phone.” She swiped a sigil across the screen to activate it, and looked at the message it had received.

“A telephone call?” Lucille said.

“No. It is the security system. It says that someone has broken into the stairs from the garage level.”

“Those…. things. They’re inside the building.” Marvin spoke for the first time. He looked at the door he had been guarding. If they were in, he would be the first to be attacked.

“We should tell the Mistress.” Esmerelda said.

“Yes, we should.” Marvin said, taking a step back from the door, rather than one through it.

“Very well, I shall do it.” Esmerelda said, adding an exasperated huff. She strode quickly to the door and rushed through it.

The door slammed behind her. Marvin stared at it. Lucille forced a bemused expression onto her face and watched the door as well.

Siobhan decided this was her moment. “Hey Lucy.” she said, as her blade whisked through a long arc for the vampire’s neck.

Lucille was fast. Her right hand came up, and the blade took the tips off three of her fingers before slicing easily through her neck. Arteries were severed, and dark, deep red blood flowed out around the blade and from the gash it had made.

With a gurgling voice, Lucille said, “Stupid little bitch. It takes more than….” She didn’t finish, because Siobhan yanked the blade free, and did a dancing spin to bring it all the way around and hit the back of her neck. Slotting between vertebrae, it severed her spine, finishing the job of completely removing the woman’s head.

“Fuck.” Lucille somehow managed to say, forcing the word out of her mouth with a last sound of bloody disappointment. The ends of her hair fluttered down her back, whilst her head toppled forward to crack against the floor.

That had been a surprise, but Tom and Danielle reacted faster than Marvin, twisting toward him and lifting their swords. He was staring at Lucille’s body as it toppled backwards, barely aware of the danger he might be in.

Siobhan was mesmerised in her own way, holding the blade up and watching the way blood flowed down it. Before any of it reached the hilt, she snapped out of her reverie. With a quick, practised move, she flicked it off. She turned her gaze to Marvin.

“Hold still, Marvin.” Danielle said, taking a step.

The vampire fled, moving far too fast for Tom or Danielle to get to him before he was through the door. They followed him, getting to the door before it closed, just in time to see him disappear down the stairs.

“Should we follow him?” Danielle asked.

“Let’s not leave Siobhan behind. If we charge down there, we might just rush into the other two as well.”

“And Terry. He’s one of them. We don’t really know which way he’d go.” There was resignation, rather than sadness, in Danielle’s voice.

Siobhan had picked up Lucille’s head. She turned it toward Tom and Danielle when they re-entered the room. “Look at that. I donno, I sort of expected her to turn to dust.”

The skin on the severed head had pulled back, so the dead face looked more like the vampire visage they had caught a glimpse of. It was fragile, torn near the cheekbones, and splitting around the mouth and eyes. Under the lights in the room it was hard to tell for certain, but it seemed to have gone grey, almost like a monochrome picture.

Dropping the head onto the couch, Siobhan waved her sword around as she shrugged. “It seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, once she had revealed her face like that and shown us she really was a vampire, not just some crazy. And she was beginning to piss me off. Are we going to go after the other ones now?”

Tom looked at Danielle, and she at him. He shrugged first, so she put her ideas out first. “I want to know what’s happened to Terry. But let’s face it, just staying alive is the most important thing. If there weren’t something just as horrible downstairs, I’d say we make a run for it. We could find somewhere easy to defend, I suppose.”

“Maybe the vampires and the zombies will destroy each other in the fight, and we can just sneak our way out.” Tom offered. “But, just in case, let’s see how many more of these weapons we can carry.”

Part 32