Sunday, 14 June 2009 - 6:07 pm


The shamblers came again, and this time, the rainfall was too far off to offer the hope of a solution to the attack.

The first thing we saw were people fleeing, live people, running as if their lives depended on it, which they did. One of them was bleeding badly – one dark side of her shirt glistened wetly. They were bare-headed and coatless, chased out of wherever they had been holed up before they could dress properly against the cold.

They didn’t notice us, not even when we started shouting and banging on the glass. A couple of the others ran outside, but the runners had passed by before we could get out there to call after them. The Wolverines asked if we were crazy, encouraging them to lead the shamblers right to us.

“What, you mean like you did?” Masterson said. I had to hide my smile; for once, I agreed with him.


Straggling along like they always do, the dogged pursuers came into sight. They were quite focussed on heading down the street, following the blood trail of their quarry like blind dogs.

Then they smelled us. A few peeled off the tortoise-paced chase and started across the yard. The ground was still slick with the melting ice and some of them slipped and fell down. Most of us laughed, Wolverines and Seekers alike.

There was something hilarious about it. So dangerous, and so ridiculous at the same time. They were a horror movie spoof, Zombies On Ice, Bambi in bad makeup. I think if I had laughed, it would have turned into hysteria.

“The doors, block up the doors,” I said instead. As amusing as they might look out there, they’d be much less funny inside.

To their credit, everyone helped without complaining: wedging furniture up against the doors; weighing it all down with every heavy thing we could find; sending the kids out of the way, just in case. No-one could forget that this was why we put up with each other in the first place.

Thorpe raised an eyebrow at me and I shook my head; we both agreed that the gun wouldn’t help us here, not with this enemy. Blunt objects applied directly to the head seemed to work best and we didn’t know (or trust) anyone who could shoot.

Then all there was to do was watch them come and be ready to put our shoulders to the barricades in case they slipped. I think my heart was trying to break my ribs in its efforts to get out of there.


It all went well at first. The barricades held, even as more of the shamblers pulled off the road and wandered over to help lean against them. From inside, there wasn’t much we could do but watch.

Then they started to find holes. They started to batter and worm their way in, and everything went to hell. I don’t know what happened – one minute the barricades were barely letting them squeak in and we could pick them off one at a time, and then they were everywhere.

I turned around and there was one baring its stained teeth, leaning towards me. I shouted for help and tried to hold it off. I think it was Thorpe that hit it first – I remember a flurry of movement and the spatter of cool blood, and then it dropped to the floor. There were too many to notice details, and a lot of panicking voices.

It took me a while to realise that I couldn’t see any of the Wolverines. My stomach fell out of me as I realised that they’d left us alone in here with these things, abandoned our truce when we needed them most. It was down to us.


They hadn’t fled. I spotted them lurking near a side door, pushing something into the room. It was a tall stack of old, heavy wheel rims, and they were pushing it towards a clump of incoming shamblers. They were getting it ready to tip over, to crush the attackers, but I shouted at them to stop. They were too close to the windows and one of the barricades.

They didn’t stop. I know they heard me – a couple of them looked over – but they didn’t stop. They shoved their stack over, toppling it onto the unwary dead, crushing skulls and limbs indiscriminately.

There was an almighty crash as the window gave way, showering shards down onto those pressing outside. The forerunners fell over, and those behind didn’t hesitate in clambering over the top of them to get inside. To get to us.

The falling stack hit the side of one of the barricade, making the already-unstable conglomeration of shelves and tyres shift. With more shamblers adding their weight to that side of it, the barricade groaned and a part of it gave way, spilling itself onto the floor. A couple of our attackers were caught in it – the Wolverines, watching, cheered at the sight of it – but Dillon was over there. I heard him scream as he went down.

I ran for him, scrambling over the spilt rims and pieces of ruined barricade, and had to lay into one of the fallen shamblers on the way. It was down but not out, and latched onto my ankle as I tried to get past it. I don’t like how used to smacking skulls I have become, but I didn’t even think about it. I hit it until it let go and then pushed on to where I saw Dillon last.

I had to pull a tyre off him. He was ashen under there but glad to see me. He couldn’t get up – one of the metal shelving units had fallen onto his legs – and from the look of him, he was in a lot of pain. Stay there, I told him. Don’t move. I couldn’t get him out right then; there were too many shamblers coming in through the broken window.

The Wolverines were whooping and bouncing around – I could see them out of the corner of my eye as I tried to keep the attackers away from Dillon. I called for help and saw a couple of Seekers already making their way towards us. I caught sight of Kirk looking over at me and he smiled to himself when an undead hand grabbed hold of my arm.

This was no accident, I thought. This is him getting back at me for fighting him off. This mess, all of it, he did it on purpose. He could have killed us all.

I went cold inside as I tried to twist out of the shambler’s grip. The hand tightened, trying to draw me close enough to devour, and fingertips dug into my upper arm. When I tried to pull free, it tore deep scores down my arm. I beat it off as best I could with only one hand, but it didn’t let go until the others arrived. Matt first, then Thorpe, Masterson and Sally.

Dillon screamed again as a shambler climbed onto the shelves pinning him down, the extra weight pressing on him. We got rid of the damned thing, then Thorpe lifted the shelves up to give me space to pull Dillon free. He was so pale and his legs didn’t look right.


I hear him now. I have to go.