Spinneyhead Blog


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


1:35th scale Land Rover roof rack


I took a break from writing about zombies and vampires to do a bit of designing for 3D print. Having recently bought the Italeri 1:35th Land Rover Series 3 109″ hard top kit, I want to design some suitable accessories for it. The first is this roof rack. It looks simple enough, but it was painstaking work getting all those uprights and cross members aligned.

Of course, once I have my Landie kitted out with survival gear, I’ll probably be putting it in a post apocalypse survival diorama. So I didn’t really get away from zombies at all.


Dropping a bunch of book prices (if you’re not in the US or Europe)

The lowest I can price my books on Amazon is 99 cents. In the UK and Eurozone, because of VAT, they price match to 0.99 (pounds or Euros). In other shops- India, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada- it matches the local currency. But, in all those places, I could price them lower. So, I just went through my catalogue and lowered the prices of my cheapest books. The following are now available at bargain prices, if you’re in the right place-

Sounds of Soldiers

Tiger

GOD Hunt

So Much To Answer For

Chosen Ones/Source

Kettled

Britain Looks To The Future

Britain Turns To Crime

Alternative Facts


Zombies vs Vampires, part 30

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.

* * *

“Come with me.” The Mistress walked past Leech, expecting Tom, Danielle and Siobhan to follow her. When they didn’t move, she rounded on them. She was so used to being obeyed, that she didn’t know what to say to get their cooperation.

“Where are you going to take us?” Danielle asked. She wasn’t ready to trust the Mistress about anything.

“There is a room, downstairs, that we use for communication. The others will be there. And…. I have to talk with an important…. Person.” The Mistress was practically squirming, this was so unnatural for her. She caught sight of Leech, staring at her- surprised, but also, obviously, calculating how he could use it to his advantage. She could not let him see her like this any longer. Putting some steel back into her voice, she tried again. “I must talk with my sire. He is the most powerful of vampires, and the most ancient, in Europe. He shall know how to solve the…. problem that has started on the streets, if anyone does.”

“It’s not every day you get to hear the king of the vampires.” Tom said.

“You shall see him. We have video calling set up.”

“Of course you do. This is fucking crazy.” Siobhan said. “Why should we see him? If you people really are vampires, how do we know he doesn’t have some sort of hypnosis stare?”

Tom nodded agreement. He hadn’t thought of that possibility, despite being more inclined than Siobhan to believe the Mistress was a vampire. On the off chance that she really was what she said, they should be more wary about tricks.

“We’re trapped in here already.” Danielle said. “I want to find out as much as I can about whatever’s going on out there. If we watch out for each other, we should be okay. At least, we should be in less danger.”

Tom looked to Siobhan. She broke from glaring at the Mistress to give him, and then Danielle, a nod. They would follow, warily, and see what the mysterious Him had to say.

“Go on then. Let’s hear what He has to say.” Tom gestured in the direction the Mistress had been heading.

Scowling, the Mistress turned and strode off. Leech ushered for Tom, Danielle and Siobhan to follow, but they only walked as far as him. Tom put a hand on Leech’s shoulder, and pushed firmly. “After you. We insist.”

Perhaps Leech had not been planning anything untoward. But his expression said otherwise. Tom gave him the blandest of smiles, and pressed him forwards.

They followed Leech and the Mistress into a corridor. On their left were doors to the bedrooms, on the right, presumably, service rooms. They rounded a corner, then Leech raced ahead of the Mistress to open a door on the right. They entered a stairwell, decorated in the same black and gold as the penthouse.

As she walked down the stairs, the Mistress straightened her back, set her shoulders, and more or less regained her aloof composure. When Leech opened the door on the next landing for her, she glided through it, ready to face whatever was on the other side.

It was another large room, though smaller than the penthouse. Curtains blacked out the windows, and in front of them were several large screens, flanked by tall loudspeakers. A wide couch, running almost from one side of the room to the other, faced the screens, with yet more speakers behind them, facing the screens.

The entertainment set up took up the farthest half of the room. Closer to the elevator were bookshelves and display racks and cases. Almost all the spines were worked leather, looking very old, but there was a cluster of paperbacks on the bottom shelf. They didn’t need to look closely to guess this was a collection of pop culture vampire tales, full of sparkling or suave bloodsuckers. The racks had much more interesting contents, and Tom steered Danielle and Siobhan toward them.

There were weapons on the racks, swords, clubs, throwing stars, flails and more. They were in a variety of styles, from multiple periods. Not one of them would be a replica. The swords were unsheathed, scabbards mounted behind them where they had one. Guns would have been preferable, if any of them had known how to handle them, and any of the ones on display had been less than two centuries old.

Danielle was first to choose her sword. Picking a katana, she stepped back and tested its weight and balance until she had a feel for the perfect grip. Tom and Siobhan didn’t have Danielle’s confidence with swords. She picked a light, slim blade with a shine that told of razor sharpness and a hilt decorated with gold filigree and gems in the pommel. He found something longer and heavier, that was still light enough for him to handle one handed if need be. There was a commando dagger below it. He sheathed the sharp stiletto like knife, and clipped it to his belt before lifting the sword.

Leech had been about to scurry around the couch to work on something on a table between it and the screens. But he stopped when he spotted the movement by the weapons rack, and hurried over. Annoyed, the Mistress watched him go with a scowl and a low hiss. The sibilant sound became louder when she saw what had got his attention.

“Put those down! The Mistress’s weapons are ancient and priceless!”

Tom stepped forward and raised his sword. He was still learning its balance, but its nature was to float easily where its wielder desired. He wanted the tip at just the right height to bring Leech to a rapid halt, staring at it as it danced before his eyes.

“They’re sharp, too. We’ll take good care of them, don’t worry.” Taking a step forward, Tom had Leech scurrying backwards.

The creepy little man looked at the Mistress, hoping for some action or support from her. She looked from him to the three humans, who were becoming more troublesome by the minute, and were now armed. Her sigh managed to convey aggravation, resignation and disgust. “Fetch the others. When you are back, get the computers ready immediately.” she told him.

Leech retreated from the sword point, finding a panel in the wall that was actually a door. He hardly even needed to step through it before turning around and leading three figures into the room.

There were two women and a man, each of them beautiful in a bland way, and dressed in expensively cut, equally forgettable clothes. They strode toward the couch, not noticing the humans in the room at first. Then one of the women, blonde hair almost white and dark eyes in sharp contrast to bloodless skin, sniffed them out. She turned toward the food smell, and was about to leap when she saw the blades that would greet her.

“Humans? In the tower? And armed? What is going on?” the blonde vampire asked. She eyed them for a moment longer, then turned to the Mistress for answers.

“Have you seen what is happening outside? This is a strange night, and unprecedented things are happening.” The Mistress gave a dismissive wave with her reply.

The second new woman, equally pale skinned, twisted a strand of her glossy black around a finger. She turned her feet in to point at each other in a way she must have thought was coquettish, and spoke in a squeaky little girl lisp that immediately grated. “You must know that we never go out before midnight. Esmerelda and me were enjoying Marvin, and have only just looked out of the windows. Whatever is going on down there? Have the mortals found us out? Are these three tasty examples here to cut off our heads?” She finished with a giggle that left Tom tempted to try.

“Something is happening, Lucille, but I do not know just what. He is calling us. I believe He knows what has transpired. We should take our seats.” The Mistress walked around the end of the couch and dropped into the soft embrace of its lush cushioning. “Is it ready, Leech?”

“It is, Mistress, it is. Connection has been made, and the encryption is being done.” Leech was lining up three laptops that were on the table in front of the couch. The middle one faced the Mistress, the outer ones were angled slightly away, to take in the length of the seat. Each screen was dominated by a black window, with a circular buffer icon rotating in its centre.

The other three vampires climbed over the back of the couch to join the Mistress, Marvin on her left, Esmerelda and Lucille on her right. Siobhan used her sword to point to the far left end of the couch, and led Tom and Danielle to stand there, so they weren’t looking at any of the screens head on. Leech came over to join them, then took two careful steps sideways when he looked at all the blades.

One by one, the buffer symbols disappeared, and three slightly different angles on the same scene resolved onto them. A man, who looked to be in his late forties, was sat in a leather chair with a high back and large wings. He wore a sharply tailored suit that could have been cut any time from the 1950s on. His face was thin, but not gaunt, with disapproving, but not angry, air. There was something about his eyes that was unnerving, but the screens weren’t capable of displaying just what.

As they watched, the man looked around, staring out of each screen in turn. As his head moved, it faded in and out of view. Then he disappeared completely, returning blocky and pixilated, slowly rebuilding to his previous level of detail. All the while, the chair and the wood panelled wall behind it, were shown in the same, clear detail.

“Vampires do not have reflections, so they cannot be seen by some cameras. The webcam cameras in laptops are mirror-less, but they and the software can sometimes get confused.” Leech said, quietly, for the benefit of the other humans present. None of them would admit it, but they were each glad to have had it explained to them.

There was a sigh. It was surprisingly loud, coming not from the tiny speakers in the laptops, but being fed through the powerful home cinema system.

“What have you done, Heidi?” Lucille giggled to hear Him use the Mistress’s birth name, covering her mouth and feigning an attempt to muffle the sound. Whether He heard her or not, He carried on, “And why are there humans watching this.”

Danielle, Tom and Siobhan reacted to His ice filled words by tensing up. Their stances became more defensive, and their swords lifted. His head whipped around, to stare, as best He could, out of the screen nearest them. The machines got confused, and he disappeared for a moment. “And armed?” He said, before He was back on screen. “Those are dangerous blades. They should not….” He stopped himself, just as his image resolved enough to show anger and concern that he forced from his face.

“I apologise, Sire. This is not a normal day. I….”

“No, it is not. You have created half raised, bastard undead. Zombies, the mortals would call them. We prefer not to talk of them at all.”

“Sire? I didn’t….”

“That is the problem, though, is it not? I didn’t tell even you. The last time was so terrible, those who were there wanted to just forget it.”

“Sire. I didn’t cause this.” The Mistress’s voice lacked conviction. Even before it was explained to her, she had some understanding of what must have happened.

“You caused it. Or one of those young cretins with you did. No, I can see it on your face. Your blood has power. It raises the dead, siring your simpering brood. But you have to give them enough.”

“Glenn. He cut me.” The Mistress’s hand went halfway to her brow, to the barest memory of a wound, then dropped, guiltily, back to her lap.

“And the barest fleck- a drop, or a fraction of a drop- mixed with his blood. Enough to animate a corpse, and give it the barest of drives with no higher function. Hunger, of course. Perhaps something you could call a drive for revenge, though he won’t truly understand what it is, of course.”

“This has happened before?” the Mistress said. “When? How was it stopped?”

“The Black Death was a plague, but not the one the mortals believe it was. It took much effort, but we managed to write their history so that they do not know what it truly was. The memories linger, deep in the collective subconscious, I suppose, so that they keep returning to tales of the living dead. Today’s mortals may be able to contain the contagion before it spreads too far. They have much more powerful weapons.”

“The…. zombies are at the base of our tower. They may get in. How do we destroy them?”

“They are similar to us in many ways. Destroy the head or….” He looked toward Siobhan, Danielle and Tom again. Realising He had already given away too much, He decided to carry on. “Destroy the head, or remove it from the body, and both will be done. But any other wound will heal up and regrow, given enough time and some food. It will not grow back as clean and healthy as for us. Over time, they become ever more putrid, though they never truly decompose. They do not like direct sunlight, but they are not as…. averse as we are. But the most dangerous difference between them and us is how they make more like themselves. They are much simpler than we are. They do not need to pass on blood. Zombism, if that is what you wish to call it, is passed on like an infection. Their saliva mixing with a victim’s blood is enough to force a change.”

Leech had started twitching and fidgeting. He gave in to what was disturbing him, and pulled a phone from his trouser pocket. His scowl dropped into an expression of worry, perhaps even fear. “Mistress….”

“Not now!”

“Mistress, this is important. Someone is taking the lift up to the penthouse.”

All four vampires turned to look at Leech now. Even the face on the screen shifted its attention to him.

“It could be….” The Mistress glanced toward Danielle, and chose not to finish the sentence.

“Or it might not.”

“Go and see. I want a report from you when this night is done. I expect to be told everything, promptly it is over.” The Mistress and her minions stood. “Do not let them feed on you. They draw extra strength from our blood. And what would happen to you is…. unspeakable.”

The Mistress had turned away from the screen when she heard this. Only Tom saw the look on her face. It told him more than he wanted to know about Terry’s fate.

“No you don’t, Lucy. We’ll carry the swords.” Siobhan had stepped forward and raised her blade across the brunette vampire’s path, halting her progress toward the weapon rack.

“Lucille.” the vampire said, all but stamping her foot. As if using the wrong name was the worst thing Siobhan was doing.

Siobhan moved around to stand in front of Lucille, her blade raised so the tip almost touched the end of the vampire’s pretty little nose. “Whatever. You just stay away from the weapons. Lucy.”

“Let the mortals play with their weapons. They are so very good at heroics.” He said. His right hand lifted, disappearing as it made a signal to someone off camera, and the three screens went black.

The stand off drew out for a while longer, until Lucille sighed and pivoted on her heel. “Very well, play with the shiny things, if you must.” She joined the other vampires, and the Mistress led them toward the door.

Siobhan had her sword ready, tracking the vampires as they moved past her. When Tom and Danielle joined her, she whispered, “Did he say the swords are magic? It’s like, the more I hold it, the more I know the right moves to make with it.”

“I feel it too.” Danielle said. “I’ve practised with a bokken for my martial arts, but when I picked this up, it was like I knew moves levels above where I’ve got.”

“Me too.” Tom lifted his sword, and pointed it at the vampires by the door. “Let’s see if we have to use it.”

“If you keep us from weapons, you may get us all killed.” the Mistress said as she pushed the door open.
“We’ll see about that.” Siobhan said, sword lowered but ever ready.

They had stepped into the stairwell before any of them saw the figure on the landing. As the others turned toward it, Tom sensed a very different motion from Marvin. Before the weedy dandy went any further toward an attack, Tom shifted his weight, and raised his sword enough to be ready and threatening. He didn’t even look around as Danielle reacted to finally meeting her brother.

Part 31


Zombies vs Vampires, part 29

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.

* * *

Terry hadn’t expected to find the gate to the garage blocked by a crashed van. If he were completely honest with himself, he hadn’t fully thought through how he would get into the tower once he reached it. So the narrow gap afforded by the van was more than he should have expected.

The problem was, the space down the side of the van was filled with writhing zombies. None of them had the sense to come back out, and every so often a new one joined them.

Leaping up onto the wall that ran along the side of the ramp, Terry had time to assess the situation, safe from grabbing hands.

He had smashed and punched his way through the depleted zombie wall to get here, putting down a few of the walking corpses, and sending others tumbling. His suit and shirt were ruined now, torn at the seams or totally ripped away. Where talon like nails had got past the material, they had left gouges and scars which looked unhealthy in the same way his bite wounds did.

The mini horde below him sensed his presence, and started reaching up toward him. None of them were tall enough, but the press might squeeze one up to him eventually. He thought about leading them away from the entrance, then doubling back.

That wouldn’t work. The crowd he had feinted away after the Police was on the hunt again, and heading his way. He had to find a way into the garage, and soon.

The crush was pressed up against the open driver’s door of the van. This had jammed into place against the concrete wall, and wasn’t going to move easily in either direction. Even if he could get rid of the zombies, Terry didn’t think he could shift the door. The gap between the top of the van door and the bottom of the roller gate was too narrow to squeeze through.

Perhaps he could smash the glass in the door and pull himself through that. But he would have to be down amongst the ghouls then, and he didn’t want to risk that. The window wasn’t that large, either. He would fit through it, but it would be a struggle, with contortions that wouldn’t be easy, even without ghouls trying to bite off chunks of his flesh.

On the other hand, the van’s windscreen was damaged from the collision. If he could just get into the cab, he might be able to kick out the screen before the zombies worked out how to climb in after him. The larger crowd was close now, blocking any escape route he could have taken minutes earlier. Through the cab was his only option.

Terry pulled off his jacket. It was little use as clothing any more, but it could be a distraction. He hung it off the end of the baton, then held it out over the zombies. Some of them stared at it, but none of them reached for it. That made the next move easier. With a flick of the baton, Terry laid the jacket across the top of the zombies nearest the van door.

While they were covered by the jacket and temporarily blinded, Terry jumped down onto them. He landed almost as if he planned to crowd surf, letting their outstretched hands support him through the material. He twisted, and reached into the van’s cab. He had to let go of the baton to reach the grab handle above the door. Clasping it, almost pulling it loose with the force of his tug, he used the handle to pull himself inside. Then he got hold of the steering wheel, then the handbrake as he struggled through the door.

He was sprawled across the seats, but his lower legs were still outside the van. He felt fingers close around his left ankle, then teeth sank into the calf. A desperate kick connected with something, and there was a cracking under it. He kicked again and again, pulling himself away with the door handle.

Something gave way, and Terry was inside the van, back pressed up against the passenger door. There were still fingers around his ankle. He looked down, and saw the hand, and half a forearm, clasping his leg. The bone had broken where he had kicked it, then the muscle had severed as he pulled on it. The mashed up head of the zombie that had bitten his leg stared at him, but the eyes were fully dead now. It acted as a barrier, keeping the others away from him.

Terry prised the hand from his ankle, and threw it out of the cab. Then he twisted around and braced himself so that he could kick at the windscreen with both feet. It flexed, and went silvery as it shattered along stress lines. When he kicked it a second time, he put a hole in it, and separated the rubber around its edges. A third kick, and there was enough space for him to get through.

Feet first, Terry pushed himself through the hole. Shards of glass scraped flesh off his back before he slid down the short bonnet. Pain flared in his left leg as he hit the ground, and he remembered that a chunk had been bitten out of it. At this rate, there might not be anything of him left come dawn.

He let himself slide down the front of the vehicle to the floor. It would be nice to just sit there for a while, and wait for someone else to come along and deal with the problem. But, there was a safer space, and the chance for revenge, upstairs. He would force himself up, and take the elevator. In a little while, after he had rested.

The van brought him back to his senses, when the bumper pushed forwards and nudged against his back. At first, he thought he was imagining it, but then the plastic pressed against him again. There was a metallic click and scrape from above him, as the vehicle shifted against the jammed roller gate.

Terry struggled up the front of the van, then limped a couple of steps away from it. He could feel that the damaged section of his calf was already healing, his hobbling would become less and less pronounced, but he might not be able to sprint for a day or two. And there was a danger that it would always look horrendous, even after the muscle had grown back.

He hadn’t even noticed the Bentley, expensively crashed against the wall opposite the gate, until now. Once he was inside the garage, he had mistakenly believed he was safe, and let a wave of exhaustion and shock wash over him. Just being angry at himself for it made it disappear, and he was reinvigorated. Could he think himself back to full strength? Was that part of his vampire powers, that he had yet to be told about?

More questions that he would demand answers to later. For now, he needed to assess the situation with the makeshift barricade separating him from a small army of zombies.

It was hard to tell, but there did appear to be even more bodies crammed into the narrow space behind the jammed driver’s door. One dead man’s face was pressed, almost comically, against the window in the door, and hands pressed against it. It was flexing, and would soon give way.

Terry wasn’t worried about any of the zombies getting through the narrow window. He could barely have managed it with all his agility, it was unlikely they could think it through. He had opened one way in for them, though, when he kicked the windscreen out. It had been a necessary risk, and none of them seemed set to get past the armless man and into the cab any time soon.

The real worry was the way the van had started moving. To emphasise the point, there was another creak as it pushed a little further forward under the shutters. There must be a huge press of determined bodies behind it. Were they all after him? Could the van grind its way under the shutters, or break them? These were not questions he wanted to wait round and have answered.

Walking to the elevator, Terry tested his damaged calf, seeing how much the muscle could take as it rebuilt itself. He was still limping, but it was already significantly less pronounced. He pressed the call button and leant against the wall, watching the van carefully.

It was as the elevator announced its arrival with a ping that Terry thought about setting fire to the van. He’d never torched a car before, but had talked to plenty in the old tent town who claimed they had. None of them had ever explained the most effective method to him, but he imagined throwing some burning rags through the windscreen would set it off.

He would need petrol, as well. But he was in a garage, so that wouldn’t be a problem. There would be a cigarette lighter in the Bentley, all he had to do was find some suitable rags and soak them.

Terry was about to put his plan in motion when the van moved again. This time, it jumped forward enough for him to see the motion as well as hear the sounds of bending metal. Terry took back his confident stride forward. Reaching behind himself, he put his arm into the open elevator door and stopped it closing. He carried on stepping backwards, until he was inside and pressing the button for the penthouse.

The van didn’t move again before the doors closed, but Terry spent the long seconds waiting for the horrible sounds to repeat.

The elevator started rising. As he felt the acceleration against the soles of his shoes, Terry relaxed again. But then he felt the lethargy creeping through him again. He couldn’t let it take full hold. He had to summon up his anger. Which was easy enough. He just thought of Leech.

That snivelling, vile little man had abandoned him when Glenn and the other zombies had attacked. He had bundled the Mistress into the car and made an escape. Perhaps he would claim to have been protecting her, but Terry knew there was more to it than that.

He had seen the way Leech looked at the Mistress. She had, too, of course, and must have been playing with the little man’s lust for years. It was obvious that Leech had never wanted Terry in the tower, let alone the Mistress’s bed. The first chance to rid himself of the interloper, who he no doubt felt had been lifted to immortality without merit, he had acted.

Well, Terry had survived. Almost intact. He was glad that he no longer had a reflection, because he wouldn’t have wanted to see how he looked now. He’d let Leech see the mess and damage caused by his actions, just before he tore the man’s throat out.

The elevator was fast, and he was soon at the penthouse. Another ping, and the doors opened again.
The first time he had entered this space, Terry had been a mere mortal, a stupid, angry boy, pimped out by a supposed friend against his knowledge.

That felt so long ago now. He had changed so much, but some things felt the same. It did seem that the world was, as always, conspiring against him, trying to take away his new-found strength and status. He couldn’t even become immortal without someone or something trying to drag him down again.

It was an old anger, the self pity of the surly teenager he had been, amplified just like his strength and abilities had been. A silly thing, but it could drive him as well as the spite he felt for Leech.

He wondered if he could see the horror on the streets from up here, so he limped over to the window.

The first time he had looked down on this view had been during his final moments as a mortal. Glenn had been there, smugly waiting for payment, unaware of the horrible fate that awaited him. The Mistress had sneaked up on the two of them, no reflection in the window.

A sudden, strange fear overtook Terry. He spun around, grimacing at the pain in his calf, and dropped into a defensive stance.

There was no-one there.

He really wasn’t thinking straight, was he? Leech was the only one he really had to be wary of in the tower, and that creep had a reflection. More importantly, there didn’t appear to be anyone else in the penthouse. If the Bentley was downstairs, where was the Mistress?

There were other floors, of course. She must be on one of them. She had hinted that others lived here. She would be with them, planning the mission out to rescue him, of course. He had to find the way down to the floors below.

The elevators were the obvious way to go, but he had an urge to find the stairs. They might reveal new ways around the tower. He could bet that Leech would know his way around them. If he got away, that was where Terry would have to chase him.

Around the corner from the lift was the corridor with the bedrooms on it.

Terry had seen plenty of these towers being built, and he knew that a central column went up first. The lift shaft would run up this, as well as the power cabling, air conditioning and, of course, the stairs. He’d ignore the doors into the bedrooms, and check every entrance into the core.

The first room smelt of disinfectant and rigorous cleaning. But no amount of scrubbing could disguise the smell of years of blood from Terry’s enhanced and attuned sense of smell. The scent was strongest against the wall opposite the door. There was a handle, that would pull down a panel. This was where all the bodies were dumped. Somewhere below, they were collected, then taken away for disposal. Otherwise, how had Glenn got out of the tower.

Even stale and heavily masked, the smell of blood was making Terry hungry. He left the room, and walked round the next corner. His limp was significantly less pronounced by now. Soon, he’d be able to walk almost normally. He’d have to work on developing a swagger.

There was another door around the corner. Through this one, Terry found the stairs.

Even these were pumped up and over decorated, with the usual black marble and gilding on display. There was nothing ornate about the layout of the stairwell, it was an ordinary rectangular section, with two flights per floor and a handrail that looped round and round as it descended. But it had been finished in the same excessive style as the penthouse. Did it carry on like that all the way down? Terry wondered.

The door on the floor below opened as Terry reached the landing halfway down. He froze, ready for fight or flight, if necessary.

The Mistress came through the door, looking uneasy. She was easily more perturbed than he had seen her at any time in the short period he had known her. At first, she was looking back, at whoever was right behind her. She was at the foot of the stairs before she looked up and spied Terry.

As relief and shock washed across the Mistress’s face, the group behind her came through the door. There were six of them, three vampires and three humans. Split on lines of mortality, the two groups were eyeing each other uneasily.

The humans all had swords, and stances and expressions of wariness and anger, rather than the fear or enchantment Terry would have expected. There was one man and two women in each group. Terry recognised the aura of one of the human women.

“You?” Terry croaked.

The humans turned at his voice, but the man quickly went back to watching the vampires, sword raised enough to be a warning. The woman Terry had seen earlier stared up at him. “Terry? What the fuck have they done to you?”

Part 30


Zombies vs Vampires, part 28

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.

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hammer clicked on an empty chamber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How many?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Two.”

“Three.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was what Anderson would have wanted.

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

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

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

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

Part 29


Zombies vs Vampires, part 27

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.

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What does He want?” She felt fear.

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

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

Part 28


Zombies vs Vampire, part 26

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 The geography is a little off, I realised over the weekend. The planned towers that I’ve based the vampires’ lair on are intended to be built a street or two away from where I’ve depicted them. Probably for the best, I don’t want to get sued by footballers for suggesting they’re in partnership with blood suckers.

Terry felt so much better now. He knew he could maintain the energised feeling, so long as he resisted checking the wound on his arm. If he could convince himself it was healing, he could stay strong and maintain his cool.

He would return to the tower and deal with Leech. The pathetic little man’s blood would taste horrible, he was sure. Or it would have no flavour at all, as empty as the vessel carrying it around. But draining the little man without turning him was the most appropriate punishment that Terry could think of.

When Leech was just an ugly husk, then Terry would bathe. When he felt he was cleaned of the blood and mess of his encounter with Glenn, he might feel ready to make love with the Mistress.

Then they would go out and destroy Glenn and the horrible things he walked around with. And drink from humans until they could drink no more. They would need the strength from the cattle’s blood, and the loss of some as tithe for saving the rest would be acceptable.

Terry had never used the word tithe before in his life. He had learnt it in a history lesson, years before, and filed it away. Now, he was thinking about his rightful place in the world, it was an appropriate phrase to sum up what he would be due after he had put down this zombie outbreak.

Something wasn’t right about Deansgate, he decided as soon as he reached it. There was little activity, and almost no traffic. But that wasn’t what Terry sensed. He could smell something unpleasant. At first, he blanked out the memories that the smell dragged up. When they fought their way to the front of his brain, he halted, and had to stagger over to the nearest wall for support. He clenched his fists, fighting back the urge to retch.

There was the tang of blood, which should have had him drooling, but an overlay of decay and taint made it disgusting. It brought back flashes of Glenn’s dead face, the teeth tearing a chunk from Terry’s arm. The smell of the zombie things, but in so many different flavours, one for each infected body. Dozens of the dead things awaited Terry if he carried on toward the tower.

He was ready to turn back, to run away and find somewhere to hide. Then another memory flashed up. He remembered the smell of the gore an ichor as he had torn the big zombies head off and smashed it against a wall. That memory gave him a rush, almost as strong as a hit of blood. It reminded him that he was stronger, faster and smarter than these things. If he had to fight his way through them to get back to the Mistress, then he would.

Sirens were sounding, Police, ambulances and fire engines arriving from every direction. Terry didn’t want to fight his way through them as well as whatever zombies lay ahead of him. He had best get to the tower before they arrived.

Resolute again, Terry set off, his arrogant stride back again.

He still wasn’t ready for the chaos and carnage that greeted him when he turned onto the street up to the towers. Cars had crashed into each other and been abandoned. Bodies lay draped across them, or on the road, some of them twitching as they reanimated. As Terry surveyed the scene, working out what he should do, a double decker bus reversed down the street, crushing zombies and victims as it went, and shovelling cars out of the way.

There were half a dozen shambling ghouls between Terry and the side street with the tower’s entrance on it. He didn’t know any fancy fighting moves, but had confidence in his strength and speed. A blow landed with his usual poor technique could still stop one of those creatures.

Still, a weapon would give him an extra edge. He stood beside a metal post, taller than him, with a sign about parking regulations on top of it. It was tilted over, and when Terry looked at the base, he could see that the plug of concrete that held it in the ground was loose. Grasping the pole, he tugged it up and pulled it free.

The concrete plug on the bottom would make a good hammer head, and the sign had an edge on it that might cut, or at least gash, at the right angle. Terry shifted his grasp until the pole balanced, then he started trotting toward the zombies.

They had spotted him, and what little intelligence they had recognised him as food. Danger wasn’t something they comprehended, so they didn’t dodge as he broke into a sprint and brought the pole up ready to strike. He swung the concrete end out, and it connected with the nearest zombie’s head.

The skull snapped back and cracked open under the blow. Terry was passed the zombie even before its body started to fall. The momentum of the swinging pole, however, carried him around. He had to turn the spin into a pirouette, feet bouncing and skipping to keep his balance. The concrete cracked another zombie in the face.

The second zombie staggered back, its face caved in horribly. Its empty head couldn’t decide whether it was properly dead or not.

Terry found himself dancing to stay upright. When he had his feet back under himself, he tried a swing in the opposite direction.

The flat of the parking sign slapped against the side of the zombie’s face, reshaping it yet again. It still couldn’t decide whether it was properly dead, but started walking in a tight circle.

Terry gave up on the pole, it was too clumsy. There were another two zombies approaching from his right, so he threw it at them. The concrete plug hit one at shoulder height. The other end pivoted around, and caught the other edge on. Now it did its job, and took the zombie’s head clean off. Terry stared at the toppling body, almost letting himself get caught by the battered zombie as it came round to the end of one of its circles.

He lashed out with his left hand. A completely reflexive blow, it was the best punch he had ever landed. The deformed head snapped back, and he heard the crack of its spine breaking. Finally, it gave up pretending to be alive, and dropped to its knees, then toppled sideways.

Perhaps he could fight his way through the rest of the shambling corpses. The pole had been a bad idea, even with his new-found vampire strength, he had still been at the mercy of inertia as he swung it. His punches weren’t so well coordinated, but there was a lot more power behind them than back when he had been fending off bullies in the playground.

On the other hand, the wall of walking dead between him and the entrance to the tower was getting deeper as more corpses reanimated and started moving toward him. He would need all his strength to fight them and hope of pushing through. A blood boost might be his best bet. And a distraction, to cut the opposition.

The sirens were closer now. He looked around when he heard the squeal of a car braking to a hard stop. The Police had arrived. Two of them, anyway, staring at the scene with confusion that was quickly tipping over into horror. Here was the distraction he needed.

There was blood down the front of his shirt, but his jacket was buttoned closed and hid it. So he didn’t look as gory as the zombies closing on him. He tried an expression of terror, then another, before he made himself laugh, turned around, and started running for the Police car.

The passenger was out of the car. The driver simply stared at the carnage. He jumped when Terry let himself crash into the side of the vehicle.

“You’ve got to help! Help, please! My boyfriend, he’s trapped in there!” Terry pointed up the street, finger waving around so he wasn’t indicating a specific car.

“I don’t know if we can….” the standing Police officer’s voice trailed off as she looked at the wall of dead approaching them.

“Please. He locked himself in and blew on the horn to get their attention, so I could get away. You’ve got to save him.”

Even Terry was surprised at how convincing he could be. The officer unclipped her baton, and extended it with a practised flick of her wrist. “I’ll see what I can do.” She didn’t head directly for the crowd of corpses, but cut across to the pavement on the other side of the street. Alternately sneaking and making short sprints, she worked her way around the flank of the zombies. Terry could see the movement amongst the dead as they sensed her, and started turning toward her.

Hammering on the driver’s door, Terry said, “Look, they’ve spotted her. You have to go and help.” He didn’t shout it though, he only wanted the river to hear.

The officer opened the door, and stepped out. “Armed response will be here soon sir. They’ll sort this out.”

“They won’t get here soon enough. They won’t save her. Or my boyfriend.”

This one wasn’t going to put up much of a fight against the zombies, Terry decided. He was going to be more use as an energy boost. As the officer started uncertain steps forward, Terry grabbed his arms and pinned him. His teeth sank into the officer’s neck before his victim even realised he was caught.

The crowd of walking dead had shifted, the mass of them turning toward the first officer, who was only now truly aware of the danger she was in. She was an expert with her baton, but it was only slowing them own, not driving them off. Did she wonder where her partner was, Terry wondered as he let the drained body drop. It was far too late for her to be worrying about that now.

A baton might not be much use against an overpowering wave of bodies, but could help in the charge through a smaller group. Terry bent down to his most recent meal, and took the officer’s baton. He flicked his hand, and, even though it was a bad impersonation of what he had seen, got the baton out to its full length.

Now was the time to move. The back of the crowd around the fighting officer was giving up on her, turning back toward him. The advantage he had gained from distraction would disappear soon enough.

Terry swung the baton in front of him. Yes, this was a far easier weapon to use, he could crack skulls with this, maybe even end some of the ghouls. Aiming for the thinnest patch of zombies, he raised the baton, and charged.

Part 27


Zombies vs Vampires, part 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the hell did that mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 26


Alternative Facts: Totally True Tales Of Trump

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

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

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

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

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