Ignorance Is Bliss
(© Lee Hartnup, 6-Jan-2006)
Derek Edwards gazed out of the window of his flat to the streets below. Rain was hammering against the glass as though to smash it’s way in. Derek mused on this and couldn’t blame it. Inside was good. Inside was safe. Inside was away from them! He could just make them out, far below, staggering through what was once a very busy street. Since the end of the world was announced Derek had made provisions for isolation such as food, water, batteries (Well you never knew when the television may start to work again!) and pills. Lots and lots of pills. Derek was not a stupid man. He knew that he could not last indefinitely in his little flat and he was most certainly not setting one foot outside his barricaded front door. No Sir! The pills were for when it all became too much. Looking down from his window he couldn’t help but wonder when that would be. Why had the dead returned to life? Why did they feed on human flesh? Why couldn’t the government stop them? It made his head spin. He reached for his whiskey and took a deep swallow, relishing the heat that was temporarily spread across his chest. At last justified reasons to start drinking again!
It wasn’t always like this, Derek thought, I used to be someone. This was true. Derek Edwards used to be a renowned psychic. His specialty was psychic writing, where he would place a hand on the head of the subject and automatically write his “prophecy”. It was a gift that Derek was uncomfortable with, as he had no considerations of deity and the supernatural was laughable to him. And yet he had what his Aunt Pauline would call ” The Gift”. She would call him to her when he was young and say, ” What you have is special Derek. You must be thankful for it and use it well. Your grandfather had it. Drove him to drink it did. I would hate to see that happen to you.” A misty look would come over her face whenever she mentioned Granddad. He took his life and the family never really got over it. ” Sometimes,” his Granddad used to say, normally when he was drunk ” you don’t wanna hear what they have to say boy. ” You use it well Derek sweetheart,” his Aunt used to say. ” don’t hide it, don’t try to understand it, and don’t try to stop it. Go with it and it will serve you well.” And serve him well it did. By the time he was twenty-five he was known across London. People would come to him and pay well for his insights and messages. Yes there were messages from the dead. They frightened Derek half to death when they first came through. He never really got used to it. ” I’d cope a bloody site better if I understood how it bloody worked!” he would moan, whiskey in hand, ” If you had any idea what its like to have the dead chatting away in your head you would want a drink too!” he would shout as another admonishment over his drinking fell to his inscrutable logic.
Derek made his money. There were job offers on local radio followed by television slots, a column in the national newspapers and so on. The problem with newspapers and radio was the fact that there was no human contact and that was the catalyst for his gift to work. Human contact. Precious little of that around Derek thought darkly, staring out of his window to the rain-washed dead below. He had not spoken to anyone living for three weeks now. Three weeks since the phone lines died. He had been speaking to a radio presenter friend of his, asking how bad the situation was. Get the hell out of dodge was the presenters’ reply. Derek was about to enquire how many horses that would take when the line went dead. For two hours Derek tried to call out. Nothing. Dead. Like them. They fascinated him. The dead. Walking. Cannibals. They scared him in equal measure. What a way to go. Eaten alive by those things! He glanced over at his pills. Already ground to a powder and placed in a small paper cup next to a glass of water. There was enough powdered sleeping draught there finish him in five minutes. Swift. Painless. That’s what Derek wanted. If the screams he had heard of other poor souls dying at the hands of those ghouls were anything to go by.
He remembered the newsflash vividly. The newsreader kept looking off camera as though even he did not believe it. The dead were returning to life and eating the living. Madness surely! Then more reports came in. Those who did not die after an attack became infected and died anyway. Then rose again. Within days England was virtually over run by these things, the military tried in vain but to no avail. England became in Derek’s mind a dance floor of the dead, and they were striking up the Last Waltz. He giggled at this absurd simile. Exposure to celebrity does tend to make one a pretentious arsehole he muttered to himself, his breath fogging up the glass. He sat down on the settee and decided to lay siege to the bottle of whisky. Hell why not? The only way to sleep he thought as he brought the bottle to his lips….
The sound of ” La Cucaracha” was not the way Derek expected to be dragged from his slumber. His mind took a while to focus. “La Cucaracha”? Through his fuddled brain came the words “mobile phone”. He leapt to his feet. Frantically he located the source of the tune and grabbed the phone. It had not had a signal for over a week now. Had they got the signal going again? Was it over? These thoughts rushed through Derek’s mind like lightning. He pressed the answer button and pressed the phone to his ear. There was a small pause then he heard a voice:
“Who is this?” the voice asked.
Derek was dumbstruck for a few seconds. His heart thumped in his chest. Is it over? Have they stopped it?
“Can you hear me? WHO IS THIS?”
“Er..this is Derek Edwards. Who is this..?”
“Mothers maiden name and paternal grandparents surname please.”
“What? What do you mean? Who is this?
“Mothers maiden name and paternal grandparents surname please.”
“Eh..Turner and..shit..”, he stumbled for the name, “.er..Blackwell.”
“Thank you Mr. Edwards, one moment please.”
The line hissed with static and for a heart-stopping moment Derek thought the connection was lost. Another voice came on the line.
“Mr. Edwards, this is Major Henry Walton. Are you in a secure location?”
Derek looked around, eight floors up, hallways barricaded, lifts out of order, he shrugged.
“As secure as it is going to get. What’s going on? What’s happening? Is it over?” Derek’s heart was beating faster now, he felt itchy all over as a sudden surge of adrenalin course through his veins. It’s over! They found a cure! They…
“No, Mr. Edwards it is not over.” There was a pause. Derek felt a swift wave of nausea and sat down heavily on the settee. This is stupid, Derek thought.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“We have orders to come and get you Mr. Edwards. We have your location now. Please pack only what is necessary. Expect us within the hour. ”
The line went dead. Derek sat in a daze. Coming to get him? How? There must be thousands of zombies down there? Suddenly Derek did not want to leave the safety of his flat. For over thee weeks it had been safe and now he had to leave. He shuddered. Expect us within the hour? Well, Derek thought, time to pack. Where the hell were they taking him? Derek grabbed his black sports bag from the airing cupboard. and began to pack furiously. Underwear. Socks. Jeans. T-shirts. Jumper. Whiskey. He smiled as he put the bottle in, wondering if there was contraband in effect wherever he was going. He went to the kitchen and pulled his toolbox from under the sink. He took the long screwdriver and the short handled claw hammer and placed them under his t-shirts. Insurance he thought. Walking back to the lounge he reached for his whisky, sat down on the settee and waited.
The first sound he heard was a low thumping hum. Derek stood up and walked to the window. The rain had softened to a light drizzle. Looking upwards Derek saw the empty grey sky, larger darker clouds were beginning to gather again in the north. The thumping sound grew louder now and Derek ran to the kitchen window and craned his neck upwards. There! A helicopter was approaching! This must be it, Derek thought. His heart had begun to race again, making Derek’s stomach roll over and his knees weak. He noticed his hands shaking. Shit what the fuck was he doing? This place is as safe as it gets! He must be insane to leave here! These thoughts raced through Derek’s mind. Suddenly he really didn’t want to leave.
The sound of the helicopter grew louder. Suddenly Derek’s blood ran cold. This is it! And he had almost forgotten! He grabbed the bag of powdered sleeping pills and shoved it into his pocket. The real insurance, he thought. The phone rang. Derek’s heart jack hammered in his chest.
“Step back from the windows.”
Derek looked up and saw a pair of heavily booted feet appear at the top of the window frame. A soldier was being lowered down on a winch outside. They must be on the roof, Derek thought. Suddenly the soldier kicked the large window. Glass shattered everywhere. Derek leapt back as the soldier positioned himself on the ledge then climbed into the flat. He looked around swiftly. It was only then that Derek saw the soldier had a large pistol in his hand. After a few moments the soldier looked at Derek. Derek guessed his age at about forty three. He was roughly six foot and heavily built. His eyes, however, looked as though they had seen a lifetime.
“Hello Derek,” the soldier said, ” you alone?”
Derek done a quick check despite himself and said ” Yes, yes I am..whats going on?”
“You are being rescued, Mr. Edwards. Do you have your gear packed?”
Derek nodded, grabbing his bag.
“Good. Not too bulky. Now I want you to put this harness on. ” The soldier reached behind him and unclipped a large leather harness. Derek slipped it on over his shoulders and clipped it together. He looked expectantly at the soldier, although he knew what was coming next.
“Right. Now face me and clip the hooks onto the eyehooks on the front of my harness..yeah..that’s right. Now, step up onto the ledge as I do, ready?” He looked at Derek. ” Listen, you are safe. These things are tougher than tough. Now. On my count we step off the ledge ok? One..two..three!”
With that Derek stepped off the ledge and into thin air. He noticed that the soldier was signaling upwards and Derek saw another soldier leaning out of the door of the large helicopter that was hovering seventy feet above them. Slowly they began to rise. The wind and drizzle hit Derek hard. He seemed suddenly frozen to the bone and started to shake all over. Another factor of the shaking was the enormous amount of fear he felt. He was outside. Where they were. The last place he wanted to be. Slowly they reached the helicopter, where they were dragged inside by rough hands. Derek heard the soldier say something to the pilot and with a tilt the helicopter flew onwards into the coming night.
“Cheese and pickle or ham and mustard?”
Derek looked up at the soldier. He had just removed the harness and was just sitting down. “What?”
“Sandwich, Mr. Edwards. Cheese and pickle or…”
“Cheese will be fine, thank you.” Derek eagerly took the offered sandwich and started to devour it hungrily. Fresh bread! He had not realized how long it was since he had eaten. ” Steady on there” the soldier said, ” You’ll choke yourself.” He grinned.
Derek laughed, embarrassed. ” Thanks. Er..you don’t have to call me Mr. Edwards. My name’s Derek.”
The soldier held out his hand and said “Well, Derek, I am Captain Barlow. But you can call me Ed.” Derek shook Eds hand. Looking out of the doorway Derek felt very exposed. He never wanted the helicopter to land.
“What happened? Out there…what happened?”
Ed let out a long sigh. Running his hands through his hair he looked at Derek. ” We don’t know mate.”
Derek’s heart sank. Of all the people who would know, the military were the ones Derek would have put his money on. Shaking his head Derek said ” Where are we going then?”
Ed looked at Derek for a second then looked out of the helicopter door. ” Somewhere safe.”
Somewhere safe was an ancient Napoleonic fort on the River Medway. Overlooking the river and Rochester this brooding labyrinth had stood guard like a sentinel born of the Earth. Set into a hillside the fort seemed to grow from the grass and trees, little concrete walls and doorways gave way to huge banks of earth and foliage. It was not hard to cover these from prying eyes. Part of Captain Edward Barlow’s job had been to disguise all entrances to the fort and to erect barricades on all perimeters. From one of the nearby army barracks at Chattenden bulldozers and other industrial vehicles had been utilized in the fortification of the perimeter . Captain Barlow had read up on the history of the place. If this was to become a haven from the undead, better to know all the secrets. Fort Amherst was constructed in 1756 to defend the south eastern approaches to Chatham Dockyard and the River Medway against a French invasion. The fort was enlarged and strengthened during the first few years of the 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars as the Chatham Defenses were considerably enlarged. There is a maze of tunnels dug into the chalk cliffs which were used to move ammunition around the fort. The fort was still in use during the Second World War and restoration was still in progress. Doors had been fitted in those first hectic days. Every entrance had been secured. Then camouflaged. This haven, Barlow had mused bitterly, was by invitation only. Barlow was not privy to the guest list but had been sent out on missions to pick up chosen survivors three times. Mr. Edwards, it seems, was a last hope, judging by the briefing he received…
Major Henry Walton sat in his office smoking a cigarette and watching a television screen. There was a knock at the door. He sighed. ” Come.”
The door opened and Captain Barlow marched up to the desk and snapped of a swift salute. Major Walton returned the courtesy and gestured for Barlow to take a seat. ” Have you seen this?” he said, nodding towards the television. He watched Barlow closely. This could become a very delicate issue for morale. The television was playing a video tape of a documentary. On it a man was being interviewed about clairvoyance and profit. The man being questioned seemed to be taking it in good spirit.
“Do you recognize him, Captain?”
Barlow rubbed the back of his neck. ” He does look vaguely familiar sir. I know I have seen his face but I couldn’t say where from.” Major Walton lit another cigarette, offering one to Barlow, who declined. (“When the shit his the fan I’ll need all the puff I can get” he would say to his subordinates.) Major Walton took a deep drag, slowly letting the smoke out through his nose onto his moustache. He seemed to Barlow to be making a decision of some kind, and not an easy one at that. Finally he said ” Are you a superstitious man, Captain?” Barlow was a little taken back at this question.
“Not particularly sir, no.”
“This chap on the telly, you say you recognize him.”
“Well, I have seen his face sir, but like I said, I cannot remember where from.”
“Captain, the man on the television is Mr. Derek Edwards. Ring a bell?”
Barlow thought for a minute. Yes! The medium! The ones the scientists hated because they couldn’t disprove him or something. ” The medium,sir.”
“Yes, captain. The medium.” Walton paused, looking down at his cigarette. ” It would seem, captain, that our Mr. Edwards has been granted an invite.”
Barlow’s mouth dropped open. Slowly he started to shake his head. ” You have GOT to be kidding!”
“Captain, you most of all should realize that we have to take everything into account. Every avenue must be explored in this case. With the situation outside these walls growing at a geometric rate we can afford to overlook NOTHING!”
“But a medium? Has it come to THIS? ” Barlow stood up and paced the room, shaking his head all the time ” Surely it hasn’t come to this? The medical bods? The scientists? They must be making progress! Bloody hell we get them enough..”
“Enough is the correct word captain! Now sit down.”
Barlow sat down, head bowed. He reached over and took a cigarette from the packet . Walton lit it for him. ” Ed,” he said, ” God knows this isn’t easy. You must see it from the higher ground. Every possible explanation, however bloody ludicrous has to be explored. That’s why tomorrow you go and bring him home.”
“So what do you know about them?” Derek asked as the helicopter jogged and jarred. The main part of Derek really did not want to know. He had managed to distance himself from them since the onslaught. He figured that to think too much about them would invariably drive him insane. He looked at Ed.
“Well, they are dead, they eat the living and you can kill them by shooting them in the head or destroying the brain. Oh, and they are thick as shit! But bastards in numbers. Look, Derek, I know you need to know much more than that, but I’m not the bloke to ask. Trust me, you’ll be briefed as soon as we get there.”
“Where?” Derek said, getting anxious about his destination. He put his hand over his pocket and felt the package against his thigh.. At least at the flat he was never anxious. There was only one way out for him there. A nice peaceful way . Now he realized that he was open to nastier ways out. Shit, if he had acted sooner he could have made a run for it in the early days. Hell he was rich enough. Should have chartered a plane to some nice tropical island, Derek, you soft sod! He mused to himself.
“There.” Ed said and pointed to a small light in the distance. For the first time Derek realized how dark it was outside. Not night time dark. Pitch black. The small light he was watching was nearly the only light out there. His head darted across the sky and the ground below.
“Powers been out for two days now”, Ed said ” So we only use one light to land by. That and night vision goggles. Doesn’t do to advertise anymore than we really have to.”
The helicopter slowly lowered to the ground. Derek looked around. He stepped out of the helicopter and onto tarmac. Peering into the night he could make out trees and large bulky shapes. The wind howled at him as he looked out across a river. He was high up, he figured, looking out over a series of towns far below. The moon was coming out now. Briefly darkened by clouds scudding across the night sky, silver in the lunar glow. It seemed to Derek that even the moon was afraid to show its face or draw attention to itself. It was so quiet. Derek jumped when Ed put a hand on his shoulder.
“Whoa easy there! Don’t worry about it. I would be jittery too, how long were you in the flat?”
“Since it began really.” He smiled. ” Not much human contact, shall we say.” What a blessing that was too thought Derek. Human contact. That was the thing wasn’t it. His gift. Touches the living hears the dead, wasn’t that how one reporter had put it? Of course they had gotten it all wrong. As usual. His gift was the ability to channel the dead through the living by means of a phenomenon called automatic-writing. He would place his hand on the head of the subject and then, what? A click? A link? Derek didn’t know what the hell it was that happened but the fact of the matter was that he would begin to write. Messages from the other side? Shit he didn’t know where it came from. Which, as Derek knew very well, was a lie. He knew he could channel the dead. He just didn’t like it very much. He did not like the fact that, when the link was made, he was lost. He never knew what he was writing because he, Derek Edwards, was not there. He seemed to slip into a trance. He remembered very little of these trance like states. But what he did remember scared him. One moment there would be a slight tremor in his arm then BANG! He was reading what had been written to an incredulous, and of course, well paying client. But he would then have to go have a very strong drink because while writing , during that trance, Derek thought he could see the writer. He found that term less unnerving than ghost. He never told a soul about this facet of his gift, because some of them did not die well.
“Come on then,” Ed said, ” Lets go.”
“Where?” asked Derek, ” I can’ see a bloody thing.”
“Third bush on the right and straight on till morning” Ed laughed and led Derek through a door hidden behind a large bush. They stepped into a large tunnel. Ed turned and closed the iron door, sliding bolts across the top, middle and bottom by pulling a lever on the wall. They turned and stepped forward. Suddenly they were bathed in light. ” Sensors, don’t worry” Ed said as the walked along the tunnel. It seemed to Derek that the tunnel had been dug into chalk, the white lumpy walls soon gave way to red brickwork which looked just as ancient. He looked around at the curving ceiling. It was not very high really, it seemed like they were in a warren. ” What is this place Ed?” he asked.
“A Napoleonic fort. It runs right under the Great Lines, oh, sorry, the hillside we landed on. The tunnels go on for miles. Every entrance is fortified. We have our own power supplies as well as food and water. It is old though, in fact, this year it is exactly two hundred and fifty years old. They were going to have a huge celebration here before, well, before the world went to shit! But that’s all in the past now. No good dwelling on it. I have seen too many good men swallow their barrels through dwelling on things they cannot change. I will not let those things get me that way! ” Ed had set his jaw and stepped up the pace. Derek felt guiltily at the package in his pocket. ” Anyway,” Ed said, ” I think it’s time for you to meet the boss. He’ll give you your brief. His name is Major Henry Walton. Ah, here we are now..”
Derek saw two guards at the end of the corridor. They were stood either side of a large iron door. Derek noticed they were carrying some rather large rifles and side arms. They saluted Ed. ” Security code please Captain.”
Ed rolled his eyes. Protocol be damned they knew who he was and who he was with. He began to notice his own insubordinate tendencies more and more as of late. He was a soldier for Christ’s sake. Time to get a grip. The guard handed him a small flat device with numbers on one side. Ed entered his security code and handed it back to the guard, who slid it into a slot beside the door. It opened with a low hum. He gestured Derek to follow him. The fort on the other side of the door was a place of steel and bright lights. The walls were flat and smooth and stretched on into the distance. Doors and corridors appeared on either side as they walked on in silence. Suddenly Ed stopped and knocked on one of the doors. They heard the muffled voice inside say ” Come.” And opened the door. They walked into the office. After an exchange of salutes Ed turned to Derek and shook his hand. ” I’ll catch up with you later Derek. Don’t worry. ” and with that he left the room.
Derek looked over at the man standing behind the desk. He was about sixty but looked good for it. His hair was iron grey and he had a small neat mustache. He reminded Derek of the actor David Niven.
“Mr. Edwards, please, do take a seat. I am Major Henry Walton. I trust Captain Barlow gave you a brief run down of the situation?” My God! Thought Derek, he sounds like him too.
“Er..well..in a way Major. He said you would brief me. ” Derek slumped into the chair. ” So, Major, what the fuck is going on?”
Major Walton sat down in his chair and sighed. ” How much do you know of what has been happening Derek?” he asked.
“All I know is the dead are rising and eating people and you can only kill them by blowing their brains out.”
“That is the most succinct description I have heard yet. But,” he sighed, rubbing his hands across his face, “..I feel bound to tell you the full story, not that it in any way invalidates your own summery.” Major Walton stared into middle distance, as if he were reciting a London underground timetable, he began:
“Reports of violent attacks in Middlesex, were reported on the 24th of September. Attacks of a mob nature. Similar attacks reported in thirty seven towns. Don’t look so surprised, Derek, the military have more surveillance than the CIA. Its’ all down to correlation of available data. Boring. Except this time it added up far to quick. On the 26th riot police were called to eleven towns. Reports were coming in of people who refused to lie down when shot. We laughed at first. Bloody bad show, not playing the game and suchlike. Video footage of these things is an eye opener to say the least. We saw them being shot, being hacked at and still they attacked. On the 28th we realized that those who were attacked in turn became infected. They died and then reanimated. On the 31st it was everywhere. There were incidents all
across the British Isles. News coverage saturated the media. Everyone and their uncle had an opinion. On the 3rd a state of emergency was announced. Curfews were put in place. Safety zones were erected and manned. Radio messages were broadcast. Unfortunately they never knew what they were up against. You see, from what we can ascertain it was too horrible for the men to contemplate. Shooting women and children. The fact that they were dead seemed to do nothing to strengthen their resolve. We lost before we started. The Safety zones were overrun or abandoned by the 8th. They didn’t even last a bloody week.!” The Major lit a cigarette, breathed the smoke deeply into his lungs and held it there for the longest time before slowly exhaling through his nose. He slowly shook his head and looked at Derek .
“By the 14th there wasn’t much left of anything. This you undoubtedly know. It is true that the only way to stop them is to destroy the brain. It is also true that they devour their victims. Why we do not know. They gain no sustenance from it. They do not even eat all of the body. We have no idea why.”
Derek shifted in his seat. ” But what has this got to do with me?” he asked.
“If you would be so kind as to follow me, maybe we can find out.” He rose and gestured Derek to follow him. They left the office and walked along the corridor. Major Walton marched ahead, speaking to Derek over his shoulder. ” Derek, all I ask of you for the time being is to trust me.” They passed two armed guards stationed outside a heavy iron door. Inside was a large room. It looked to Derek like a medical ward. It was brightly lit and smelled of antiseptic. Men and women in white gowns looked busy about their business, some laying out instruments others filling out forms and paperwork. They paid Derek no heed. At the far end of the room Derek could see a curtained partition. His heart started to pump harder. He looked at the Major. ” Derek,” he said, ” you were rescued because of your gift. I believe we can use that gift.” Derek felt that it was inevitable that it should come to this. Why else would he be rescued. Sure he was moderately famous, but so was Bruce Forsythe and he didn’t see him around. The gift. His eyes widened at the implication. He spun around to face the Major.
“Oh fuck you have got to be kidding! Who’s the subject? I…I don’t think I can..”
“Derek you are safe. I told you that. Every precaution that can be taken has been taken. Look!”
Major Walton pulled the curtains back. Derek screamed. The workers in gowns looked up sharply at him but Major Walton raised his hand in a ” don’t worry go back to work” kind of way. He put a hand on Derek’s shoulder. ” Safe, Derek. Look, you are safe.” Derek stared at the bed in front of him.
Laying on the bed was a zombie. It was held down by large leather straps, around its forehead, neck, chest, waist, thighs, knees, arms, everywhere that could be restrained had been. Derek felt his gorge start to rise. The thing on the bed was a man aged about thirty nine. His skin was a whitish green colour. The hands seemed too large, the fingernails were a dark yellow colour, deep red around the cuticles. The knuckles were also swollen. There was dried blood all over the hands and forearms. The stomach was swollen dramatically. Broken veins seemed to network the body, a dark red network of dried blood. Derek could see the things back was black. The blood must have settled there. Its face was sickeningly mobile as it saw the two men for the first time. Straining against the straps it opened and closed its mouth. Derek saw its withered black tongue lolling about. It gnashed its jaws so hard that one of its teeth wrenched loose and fell to the back of its mouth, leaving a dark red hole in its gums. There was a movement there and to Derek’s horror a reddish maggot slowly crawled out of the hole. The zombies’ eyes rolled in their sockets. They seemed blind, as there was no colour in the iris; milky white cataracts seemed to watch him, the eyes moved in a jerky fashion, Derek guessed this was probably due to lack of moisture.. The bottom lip was gone; it looked like it had been bitten through. Derek stepped backwards.
“No no no no no! No fucking way! No!”
“Derek we have no choice..we are at a loss here! We have exhausted all of our resources.” For the first time the Major sounded desperate. ” Do you really think that calling in a bloody psychic was first on our list? Dammit man can’t you see how desperate we are? We are clutching at straws now. Anything that might help us is being sought out and utilised. Nothing is considered unimportant now. ” He stared at Derek. ” I am asking you to help. ” He lowered his voice, ” Please don’t force our hand.”
Derek realised the implied threat in his voice. Shit, he thought, this is it. ” You want me to do a reading on..on that thing?”
“Yes. Is there anything you need?”
“A paper and pen. Do you know how I do it?”
“I understand that you write the messages you receive via a psychic link?”
“Well that’s pretty much it. I write a question and, well, it gets an answer. I do not know what I write though. I go into a trance.” He eyed the Major bitterly, ” It isn’t a nice feeling!” Derek prayed to himself please don’t let me see the writer please don’t let me see, please…
Major Walton called for two armed guards. These, he explained to Derek, would point their guns at the things head at all times. Derek would be in no danger whatsoever. A seat was placed next to the bed. They handed Derek some paper and a pen. They watched him. The thing on the bed was making groaning noises from inside its rotted throat. Derek was loath to even look at it. With his heart in his mouth Derek sat on the chair beside the bed. Well, Derek old son, this is it he thought to himself. The room was swimming in his vision. He needed to concentrate. He took several deep breaths. Slowly he reached out his hand. The zombie seemed agitated by his proximity. It tried to turn its head to bite at Derek. Straining it opened and closed its mouth, biting off the tip of its tongue in the process. Its head suddenly turned sharply towards Derek as the skin on its forehead began to tear under the pressure.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” screamed Derek, snatching his hand away.
“Don’t worry.” Said the Major. He motioned to white gowned men to the bed. They swiftly attached two braces to the sides of the bed, fixing them over the zombies’ skull. They covered the its mouth like some awful external gum shield. They then used a ratchet to tighten the brace. The Major looked at Derek, ” Please continue, Derek.” He looked at the Major. ” What do you want to know?” Major Walton sighed; he looked around the room and said, ” Why is this happening?” He watched as Derek wrote the question on the paper.
He took a deep breath and reached out his hand again.
The skull of the zombie felt cold to Derek’s hand. The hair was greasy and the whole scalp felt as though it was a size too big for the head. Derek concentrated. Here it comes, he thought as a slow tingle made its way up his arm, here it comes now, shit here we go, all aboard the skylark, here we fucking go. The sudden force was like nothing Derek had ever felt before. Never had the connection been so strong as this one. His arm was a tangled knot of muscle, how on earth would he be able to write with this much power, it was impossible. It was…and then Derek blanked out.
Derek felt someone calling his name. He wanted to answer but he couldn’t move. He felt hands shake him; his name was being called louder this time.
“Derek? Derek! For Christ’s sake get the medics over here now Goddamit! How the hell should I know if this is normal or not? Derek? Can you hear me Derek?” Derek slowly opened his eyes. His whole body ached. His arm was thrumming as if he had done a hundred pull ups with it. Major Walton was kneeling over him, ” Derek are you ok? Did it work? Derek?”
“Gimme a fucking minute” Derek mumbled. He looked around and suddenly scrambled away from the table. With his back against the wall he started to control his breathing. That was the worst reading ever, he thought. Major Walton walked over to him. Softly he said, ” Well, Derek, did it work?”
Derek felt the piece of paper scrunched up in the palm of his hand. He slowly opened it and with a sense of falling, he read it. After what seemed like an eternity to the Major, Derek slowly stood up. ” Do you have any alcohol in your office Major?” he asked. The Major nodded. ” Yes of course. Would you like some? I could send one of the men..”
Derek shook his head. ” Do you mind if I go alone? These things.. Well they take it out of me.” He held out the piece of paper. Major Walton looked at it, and then looked at Derek and said, ” By all means, you know the way back I trust? Whiskey, gin and vodka, all on the decanter by the desk.” Deal done he took the piece of paper and unwrapped it. He watched Derek leave the room, noticing that he was gripping something very tight in his pocket. Shaking his head he started to read. His eyes widened in horror as he read the words, written in an elegant hand: WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA.
– THE END –