Read The Z Infection Online

Authors: Russell Burgess

Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse

The Z Infection

 

 

The

‘Z’

Infection

 

 

By

 

Russell Burgess

 

Text copyright
© 2014 Russell Burgess

All
Rights Reserved

 

For my
children, who think they are bad ass enough to survive the zombie apocalypse

Prologue

 

Aim for the head.  Nothing else will
stop them.

If there was one thing I always told
people, in those days, it was that.  I lost count of the times I said it.  But
it was the truth and it saved my life on many occasions.  Some believed that
fire did the job too.  It did, but it took much longer.  By the time the fire
had consumed what passed for a Zombie’s brain, the chances were he had run you
down and taken a bite.  So always aim for the head.

Others swore that decapitation worked
just as well.  It did kill them, but again it wasn’t a given.  The head could
carry on for several hours, sometimes days, depending on the individual.  I saw
so many people caught out by that one.  A seemingly harmless head, which
suddenly became an ankle biter.  It didn’t take much, just a scratch and you were
finished.  So I repeat myself.  Always aim for the head.  Nothing else will
stop them.

It’s taken years for me to get to
this point.  Years to be able to speak about what happened to me during that
time.  The others here with me, who have also chosen to speak today, are the
same.  The broken bones, the scars, bruises and abrasions, all the physical
things, are healed.  The mental scars have taken much longer.

The memories of the horror that
engulfed the world in those terrible times are beginning to fade.  For new
generations they are stories.  Some don’t believe it happened.  But it did.  No
matter how outlandish it seems, never mind the arguments about the physics, it
happened.  Plain and simple.

It still scares me to think how close
we came.  How close the human race was to being extinguished.  Every now and
again we suffer another outbreak.  They are smaller now, more manageable.  We
have found the best ways to deal with them, and we do so with a ruthless
efficiency.

We continue to theorise as to the
origins of it.  A mutated virus, alien attack, an ancient curse or the wrath of
God himself.  All have been suggested.  It has never been properly studied. 
Partly because we never had time – people were too busy trying to survive – and
partly because a lot of the clever people, the ones who might have worked it
out, were killed in the early days.

My own theory?  I think it was
something primeval, buried deep in the Earth.  Mother Nature is a clever
bastard.  She was never going to let the human race destroy her beautiful
planet, something she had worked hard to create and perfect.  The human race
was out of control, careering along a path to self-destruction.  The brakes
were off and we were hurtling down the hill.  So I think she had an ace up her
sleeve and she played it before she lost the hand.

It happened in the blink of an eye. 
Everyone thought that something like that would take weeks, months or even
years to establish itself, spread and take control.  But it happened in a
matter of hours.  One minute the world was going along, as it always had, the
next we were plunged into a chaos that it looked like we would never emerge
from.  If anyone had told me, that I would have gone to work that morning and
straight into an apocalyptic nightmare, I would have laughed in their faces. 
But, as the months and years wore on, it became routine.  Living like a hunted
animal, hiding, scavenging and fighting.  Every day was the same.  It never let
up.  I stopped crying for my lost family and friends after the first week.  I
stopped puking after a month.  I never grieved for anyone after a year had
passed.  That was how it was.  I met so many survivors who told me the same
thing.  It was the way we coped.  The way we survived.

And what did we call it?  Well, it
was given many names.  In China and other parts of the Far East it was called
the European Plague, because they misguidedly thought it originated here.  In
Russia they called it, somewhat grandly and out of context, the Second Great
Patriotic War.  In most of Europe it was known as the Zombie Plague.  A lot of
teenagers and geeks called it the Zombie Apocalypse and in parts of Africa it
was called the Walking Death.

And in the United Kingdom, the day when
it all kicked off came to be known as The ‘Z’ Infection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

Sophie Westerly

08:02 hours.  Friday 15
th
May, Covent
Garden, London

       I was twenty-two years old that day.  I’ll
always remember it because it was my actual birthday.  Of course everyone else
remembers the date too.  I’m not unique.  But it always held a significance for
me, in a way that would be difficult for others to understand.  It was my
birthday.  It should have been a nice day. 

I was in Covent Garden when it
happened.  I used to love it there, with all the nice shops, the old market
building and cafes.  It was where I often met friends, because it was centrally
situated to where most of us lived.  We would sometimes meet during the day,
for coffee, or at night for a few drinks and a laugh.

That day was going to be nice.  The
weather forecast told me that before I had left my flat, just half an hour
before.  It was already busy.  The streets were packed with the usual mix of
early bird shoppers, commuters and tourists, ready for what the city had to
offer.

I was having a coffee and a naughty
slice of carrot cake for breakfast, sitting outside my favourite coffee shop
and watching the world pass by.  The Italian owner’s son, Antonio, fancied me
and was hovering around as I sipped at my cappuccino.   Why wouldn’t he?  I was
young and slim and had a great figure.  All the hours spent in the gym had been
paying off.  I knew that if I told him it was my birthday that he would give me
my breakfast for free.  And he did.  I liked Antonio.  He always did his best
to chat me up, but he was too young and always so obvious about what he
wanted. 

I was waiting for my boyfriend,
Ricky, to meet me in any case.  We had decided to go to the zoo for the day. 
It was something we did from time to time - take a day off work and just do
stuff together.  He was really into that sort of thing.  Today, being my
birthday, it was the ideal excuse.

       I had been there for about twenty minutes I
suppose, when suddenly there was this enormous crash, followed by grinding
metal, screams and then an enormous explosion.  I nearly dropped my cup with
the shock of it.  I stood up and tried to locate where the sound had come
from.  Antonio came out from the café and we looked to the northwest, where a
huge pillar of smoke was already rising into the sky, maybe about two blocks
from where I was sitting. 

Almost immediately, people around me
began to gravitate towards it, intrigued by what had happened.  I sat back down
and took and another sip from my coffee, hoping that Ricky would get here soon
and telling myself there would be nothing I could do anyway.

       I checked my phone for about the tenth time. 
Nothing from him.  That man.  He was a total technophobe.  He didn’t own a car
or a computer, or a tablet or a smart phone.  He wouldn’t have bothered with a
phone at all if I hadn’t insisted on getting him a cheap one, just so I could
keep in contact with him.  But try getting him to use it.

       I sent him a text message.

       Where r u?  Something
happening here.  Text or call me.

       The first sirens began wailing just a few
moments later.  A paramedic car weaved its way among the milling crowds and the
stationary cars.  It was followed, a minute or so later, by a police car, then
another and another.  A fire engine was the next to go past and it was followed
by ever increasing crowds of people, all morbidly eager to see what was going
on.  If they had known then, what was happening at the scene, they would have
run the other way.  Every single one of them.

 

Kareef Hadad

08:04 hours, Friday 15
th
May, Long Acre, Covent
Garden, London

I had moved to London from Jordan
just three years before, to make a new life for myself and my family.  I’m only
half Jordanian.  My mother was born in the country, but my father was English
and we spent a lot of time in the UK when I was young. 

I owned a small shop on Long Acre and
was in the process of buying into my friend’s restaurant.  Life was very good. 
I worked hard to provide for my wife and my young son, but that’s what you do
for family, isn’t it?  You work to support them.  I was still only thirty and
my dream was to be retired by the time I was fifty.

The incident I saw was horrific.  I
was about a hundred metres away, opening up my shop for the morning, when I
heard this incredible crashing sound.  I poked my head out into the street and
could see smoke billowing from the shops further up.  A bus was half in and
half out of the building and as I watched there was a mighty explosion.  I
don’t know what caused it.  Maybe some of the fuel leaked out or maybe there
was something in the shop which was flammable.  Whatever it was, it caught so
quickly.  The shock wave travelled up the street, shattering windows and
knocking people to the ground, including me.  Then everything seemed to go
quiet for a long time.  I was still clutching the keys for the front door to
the shop as I slowly got to my feet.  A police officer, hatless and with
incredible calmness, was making his way down the street towards the bus, using
his radio to call for assistance and checking people as he went.

Then I heard sirens.  A paramedic
arrived first, followed by a couple of police cars.  The smoke was thick but I
could already feel heat.  That must have been the flames taking hold of the
building.  I’m ashamed to say that my first thought was for my business.  What
if the flames carried on up the street and engulfed my place?

A few people began to approach the
bus.  The policeman tried to stop them from getting too close but they insisted
on going to help the injured.  People covered their heads in blankets as they
tried to get near it.  A few minutes later the first fire engine approached
from the other side of the street, followed by a second and then a third.  I’m
not fanatically religious, I do believe in God but I also have an understanding
that he doesn’t fix everything for you, but I certainly prayed to Allah to
protect my business that morning.  Next to me I was aware of a girl standing
filming the whole thing on her mobile phone.  It all seemed so bizarre.

Then I saw the first one.  He was a
middle aged man, dressed in a suit.  He staggered from the wreckage of the shop
frontage and towards the first rescuer.  A thick swirl of black smoke suddenly
enveloped the two.  When it subsided a few moments later I thought I could see
the guy in the suit kneeling.  It was difficult to see what was going on, but
the rescuer seemed to be on the ground, thrashing about.  Had he been hit by
falling debris?  It was the most likely thing, I thought.

Another appeared from the smoke, a
young woman this time, with a rucksack on her back.  She looked badly injured
but she was walking with a slow and stilted purpose, as if she was desperate to
be far away from the flames.  She was followed by another, older woman, and she
in turn was followed by several more figures.

‘Someone help those people,’ a voice
shouted. 

More people started to run towards
them, waving their arms and calling the survivors to them.  The smoke still
made it hard to see and, as the would-be rescuers disappeared into it, I could
have sworn I heard a scream, followed by another.  Then, as the fire crews
began to douse the flames with their hoses I could see some of the walking
wounded stagger towards them.

I strained to see what was going on
through the smoke and suddenly one of the hoses was dropped as one of the
figures grabbed at the fireman.  The two wrestled with one another in a frantic
struggle as they fell to the ground together.  The poor soul, I thought, must
have been so traumatised by the accident that he didn’t know what he was doing.

Suddenly, one of the rescuers who had
run into the smoke just moments earlier, came staggering back towards me.  She
was about thirty years old and was slim, casually dressed in jeans and a tee
shirt.  The tee shirt had ‘Stop the War on Gaza’s Children’ and the picture of
a crying child on it.  I will remember her face for all time.

She had a gash down one cheek and
blood was pouring from the wound.  Her breath was rasping and her eyes were filled
with fear and pain.

‘He bit me,’ she said, through the obvious
agony.  ‘He bit me.’

She staggered away, into the
gathering crowd, presumably looking for someone to help her.  I didn’t know
what to do.  The spectators were increasing by the second as more and more
people assembled to see what had happened.

Then, suddenly, one of the police
officers came running through the smoke.  She was hatless, like the others I
had seen, and she had her baton in her hand, extended.

‘Everyone back,’ she yelled.  ‘Clear
the area.’

I looked at her.  She was terrified. 
I wondered if there was going to be another explosion.

‘My shop,’ I said.  ‘Will it be
okay?’

She had cuts and bruises, like she
had been fighting, but she was still doing her job, on her radio, requesting
armed units.  Did I hear right?  Armed units?  Then she stared right into me.

‘Run,’ she said.

I couldn’t comprehend what was
happening, but her next words filled me with absolute terror.

‘Run for your life.’

 

Clive Westlake

08:08 hours, Friday 15
th
May, Central
London

     
I saw the first ambulance while I was cycling in to work that day.  It
was just after eight in the morning and it passed me, with its lights and
sirens clearing a path for it through the morning rush hour.  I didn’t think
anything of it.  Just another day in the city.  Another day where I was going
to have to fix the problems of the people in society, who couldn’t fix them for
themselves.  I put the thoughts to the back of my head.  If there was one thing
I had learned, in twenty years of policing, it was never to deal with an
incident in your head before you arrived at the scene.

       By the time I had made it to the station,
another two ambulances, together with several police cars and fire engines had
passed me.  Whatever was happening, it was serious.

 

Sophie Westerly

08:15 hours, Friday 15
th
May, Covent
Garden, London

I was becoming increasingly nervous
as more and more police cars, ambulances and fire engines raced down the roads
towards the accident.  The memories of the London Bombings of 2005 came
flooding back.  I could hear murmurs among people, discussing the possibility
of another terrorist outrage.

I still hadn’t heard anything from
Ricky and he hadn’t picked up the last four calls I had made to him.  Shop
workers, café owners and their customers were all out in the street, trying to
make some sense of what was going on.  It reminded me a bit of the footage I
had seen of 9/11, when most of the population of lower Manhattan had stopped to
look up at the twin towers, as they burned and finally fell.  It was eerily
similar.

Then something else happened. 
Instead of running towards the scene, many people were running in the opposite
direction.  A few to begin with, then more, then dozens, scores, maybe even hundreds. 
They were pushing and shoving, desperately fighting past one another, like a
herd of animals being stalked by a hungry pride of lions.  Only it turned out
to be far worse. 

Amongst the crowds I could see the
occasional staggering person.  I thought they might have been injured in the
accident or knocked down and dazed as the crowd surged along the street.  But,
as I watched, I could see that they were lashing out at some of those who were
fleeing, grabbing at them.  I saw one man grab hold of a youthful looking boy –
he was maybe about seventeen or eighteen – and then bite him on the shoulder. 
I stood up. 

The boy wriggled free and, as he
staggered off with the rest of the throng, the man grabbed a woman by the
ankles, tripping her up.  She fell hard onto the ground and he crawled after
her, biting her on the leg even as she stood up to run.  Another man tried to
stop him and launched a savage kick to the guy’s head.  It should have knocked
him senseless, but it seemed to have little effect and he rolled back onto his
knees and grabbed at the assailant, who promptly ran off.

Antonio was suddenly at my side.

‘I think this looks very bad,’ he
said in his stilted English.

He disappeared inside the shop.  How
I wished, many times, that I could hear his voice again.  But I never have.

People were screaming and yelling at
others to run.  They were clambering over cars, which had been brought to a
standstill, without any thought for the curses and threats it brought from
those within.  Some were knocked over in the rush to escape and were dived on
by those who were pursuing them.  Many sought refuge in some of the shops and
pubs, hundreds ran down into the Covent Garden Underground station.  I saw some
of the staggering people follow them down the stairs.  I could hear blood
curdling screams that made the hairs on my arms stand up.  I saw some
horrifying sights that day, things that have stayed with me ever since.

Then, all of a sudden, this man was
right next to me, taking me by the arm, urging me to go with him, telling me to
run for my life.  It was the first time I had met Kareef.  We have rarely been
apart since.  I never saw Ricky again.  He never called or sent a text.  It was
no surprise.  After what happened on that first day, I guessed he might be
dead.  After what I saw on the second, I was convinced of it.

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