A Zombie Chronicle

A tale of the end of the world as we know it

Human Politics And The Female Condition

I normally write blogs on the world of zombies. Perhaps this one won’t be far off-track.

I like to find interesting photos to illustrate my blogs; the other day I was searching for some grisly photos of disease when I came across the most extraordinary photos of posters from the 1940s. I was horrified at the sentiment contained within these government sponsored messages.

Syphilis 1Before I start I want to assure you that I don’t read about incidents in history and judge them with modern ideas, I understand these things were done by people of their time and accordingly do not judge. I prefer to recognise the progress we have made since then through the development of our civilisation. I know as well as you that this sort of progress is painfully slow at times and is variable around the world.

 

????????????????????????????????????Don’t preen just yet thinking we in the west can show everyone else how it’s done, take a look at these three posters. Now you can lift your chin off the floor and close your mouth. The oldest of these is 70 years, a mere one lifetime old. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to find a poster of a male sailor looking up for it and a woman looking askance with pretty much the same wording in the poster? Even Austin Powers knew about sailors, travelling from port to port!

I understand the relevance of the posters: better to have a soldier, sailor or airman die on the battlefield than in a clap hospital. Interesting isn’t it that the woman in the red coat is most men’s fantasy? Doesn’t she look a lot like Roger Rabbit’s wife, Jessica? For all her curves, moves and overt sexiness Jessica was a moral, one-man (well, rabbit) woman.

Syphilis 3So, one hundred million service men saw these posters and because it was a government poster it had to be fact, right? They were told that all women, even the supposedly ‘clean’ ones are dirty and untrustworthy, and what do you get? The misogynistic fifties. A serious over-simplification, obviously, but have our attitudes really changed so much?

Since then we’ve had the female revolution for equality in the sixties, where I still suspect men made out best, in more ways than one. Attempts to ‘burn the bra’ certainly made a point but was mostly urban legend. Did it help women’s rights? Probably not, but then the story was promulgated by a newspaper that covered the 1968 protest and they were definitely run by men at the time. I dare you to type ‘burn the bra’ into your favourite search engine and see what you get. Most of it won’t exactly be equitable (not easy to find the right word).

I am not trying to be a male feminist and am pretty sure I’m not metrosexual (I almost never use skin moisturiser) but it seems to me that over time we make excellent progress with some aspects of our lives while in others we make almost no headway at all. I’m not even sure if the advent of social media has done anything to change this, it may even be providing negative impetus. There are a lot of opinions out there on this subject but one of the strongest indicators as far as I can tell is that there has been several quantum leaps upwards in the availability of pornography and worst of all, selfies by women. And no, I’ve not become short-sighted from my research on this blog, I’ve been wearing glasses since I was twelve years old (don’t go there, just don’t).

Finally, it seems that religion reflects the same message. The Pope is now, after a mere 54 years since the pill was released for contraceptive use, only just reviewing the use of contraception; something that probably 80% of the Catholic faith is already using – someone has to give a damn about the problems of having too many kids, medically for women and financially for the household. In the UK recently there seems to be a surge in the numbers of women who desire to cover themselves completely wearing the hijab, etcetera. I wonder what this says about our culture that even young girls are opting to do this. Is it because they feel pressured into taking this path by parents, religion or self-protection? They say not. Maybe it’s it a similar reaction to that in the USA where, for both sexes, the wearing of a chastity/abstinence/purity ring has become prevalent in some areas? Is it a cry for help, or to give the wearer some space to develop personally without peer pressure for sex, alcohol and other teenage experimentation?

The real question is: as a species can we make true progress on sexual equality without having to depend on draconian laws telling us how to think and behave? After all, following many years of the existence of equal pay legislation in this country, still we only talk about actually achieving it.

PS. Although The Walking Dead has some kick-ass women, it still has men as the primary lead characters. Why is that? Try reading my zombie books and see some better options. (see the blog came back on track in the end)

Zombie books by David K Roberts:

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor

UK           USA         Canada    Australia

What REALLY Is The Biggest Threat In A Zombie Apocalypse?

Having read Jack Flacco’s interesting blog on parasites that might cause a form of zombie-ism, it reminded me of a part of my biology degree where we studied parasites. Thanks Jack, I’d nearly forgotten that!

Having said that, if we look around us there are a million ways in which the human race could be driven to extinction. But how to be one of the survivors? One of the reasons I like to take my survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse to the USA is that there is so much more land there in which to disappear and hopefully survive. But let’s look at that for a moment. What do we really need to worry about more than rotten old bodies coming at you with unbrushed gnashers and halitosis?

  1. Nuclear Power StationNuclear power stations – without proper management these will ultimately go all China Syndrome on us and you don’t want to be near one when that happens. There are eight active stations in the UK, twenty one in France, up to seven in Spain and a further one hundred and forty eight across the rest of Europe, not counting the further seventeen under construction. You may not even have to be near one to succumb, a lot of it will go airborne – Chernobyl is an excellent example of that problem.
  2. HIV-virusLaboratories with deadly diseases – of course this is an undisclosed number for obvious reasons. The risk there of course is that you are walking past what appears to be a harmless enough looking, rather dilapidated building only to come down with smallpox or some other nasty disease.  There are probably hundreds of these sites across the UK, not including the less-than-legal ones. And what about those missing thousands of phials containing some of the worst diseases known to man and about which I’ve written before, they could be in any of the ‘semi-detached suburban’ houses you walk past or settle near.
  3. Ground water infection – I did a lookup of the population of the Earth the other day and discovered there are over seven billion – yes I said billion – of us lovely people (check out http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/) on this blue orb. Now imagine an apocalypse with say, 60% mortality rate. Eighty percent of the deaths will be in cities and larger conurbations so you’ll have to steer clear of these as we ‘ooze’ people, when we’re dead we ooze. It’s that simple. Then the rain washes us away and into the water table because sewers will soon clog up and cease to function. You want to get above these levels in order to have the best chance of finding drinkable water – which you will still have to boil before drinking because of the dying animal population which will release parasites and infection into the water. Sheep and cattle will die out quickly because the way we have bred them requires constant management. So you ‘go higher for cleaner’ – remember those words.
  4. tarballsPollutants – In each country there are huge vats full of stored oils, gases and chemicals for use in industry – quite literally billions of gallons of lethal chemicals just waiting to kill us off. They can also become more lethal once mixed producing gas such as chlorine, so one day everything is hunky dory, the next you’re gasping for breath wondering what the hell is going on. Of course, those not airborne get into the water table and endanger you via this route as well. It will lay waste to vast tracts of land, poisoned for all time.

I think you probably get the point that life after the apocalypse will be no picnic. The key to survival, once you have evaded the zombies, the escaped criminals, the recently insane, the packs of ever more feral dogs, and anything else the world can throw at you, your biggest challenge is to move somewhere that won’t kill you simply by being there.

Now then, the big question: Am I right to send my heroes to the USA to have a stronger chance of survival? Is there really such large tracts of open and untouched land in America that could afford them not to be poisoned either slowly or quickly? In the USA there are sixty five nuclear reactors, the majority of which are on the east coast and a few across as far as Kansas, although there are a few down in Arizona and a couple in California. Interestingly there have been eight accidents/incidents at these plants since 1979, the latest due to corroded pipes leaking coolant into the ware table. See what I’m talking about, folks? Imagine one, two or three years of no maintenance. At least my decision to take the story in “The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle” to Denver appears to have been a potentially reasonable one. Plus I love that area – got my worst blisters walking in them there hills!

Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration

Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration

In this diagram (from this article) you can see the concentration of industry (supplier and assembly plant density is a good indicator of industrial activity, I’d say) so you can see where the greatest chance of water table pollutants is likely to be a serious issue. What it doesn’t say is that local knowledge is critical to your survival – what about those lone industrial plants that have already polluted the area’s water in the past? They are almost guaranteed to leak again.

All in all, I do think that getting to the USA is a reasonable thing to do, as long as you head west, young man, albeit with local advice for additional guidance.

Well, this has been an exhausting blog to write, and one thing is for certain, wherever you are, the Apocalypse and surviving it is one hell of a lot more complex than surviving snapping teeth!

OUT SOON: “The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – California Dreamin’ ”. This is the third in the series.

Zombie books by David K Roberts:

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor

UK           USA         Canada    Australia

A Sad Day For Aussies And Brits Alike

I don’t know about you, but Rolf Harris has been a big part of my life since I was a little ’un. To hear him finally convicted and sentenced today sounded a death-knell to yet another part of my childhood, and to a certain degree some of my adult years. The fact that he cried at the demise of animals on ‘Animal Hospital’ and yet he showed no remorse at being found guilty, or even at being found out, is just something I cannot reconcile in my mind. I guess he probably thinks he’s done nothing wrong. Pretty typical of child abusers.

This whole situation raises an awful lot of questions, most of which will probably never be answered. Sometimes I wish I had been trained as a psychologist – it would enable me to understand why a child would go on holiday repeatedly with a family knowing the father of her friend is going to ‘kiddie-fiddle’ as soon as opportunity allows. That must have been like being trapped in a cage in hell.

The bigger social questions extend much further than this. For instance, under Operation Yewtree, not only has that perv, Jimmy Savile, been found at least guilty in the realm of police evidence (unfortunately the dead bastard cannot be brought to trial) but it has brought to light systematic abuse that has been allowed to continue for decades due to the complicity of various institutions such as the BBC, the Police and certain areas of the NHS. The cult of ‘celebrity’ is still alive and well, but back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s it meant that certain people were even being protected by the police. Has that actually changed, or are we destined to suffer déjà vu repeatedly?

For the last couple of years, every time an accusation of abuse dating back thirty years came out in the papers against yet another celebrity, the first thing most of us think is why the victim didn’t complain at the time. The sad truth usually emerged a while later that complaints WERE made at the time but the culture of the world at that time enabled it to be swept under the carpet. Until today, of course, when it appears these same people can feel a little more confident that they will be, at last, listened to. Being part of that same society, it makes me feel a little powerless to do better for victims. Supposedly our modern culture is supposed to be more open, equality a byword, and yet I’m still not convinced.

For those of us not directly involved, thankfully, it has done something quite profound although to describe it I sound positively trivial. We cannot listen to Gary Glitter, see Jimmy Savile, or remember the fun of Stuart Hall’s belly-laugh on ‘It’s a Knockout’ without the memory being sullied by the convictions of recent years. As an Aussie, it is a tragedy that to hear ‘Two Little Boys’, or ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’, instead of remembering the sunshine of our childhoods it brings us modern memories instead. My father once got Rolf Harris’ autograph for my sister when we were about ten or eleven years old; I am now forever grateful that she wasn’t present for that.

Your thoughts?

 

Books by the Author:

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle

Available Worldwide

Click Here for the USA

Click Here for the UK

 

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)

Available Worldwide

Click Here For The USA

Click Here For The UK

 

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle

Available Worldwide

Click Here for the USA

Click Here for the UK

 

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor

Available Worldwide

Click Here for the USA

Click Here for the UK

 

The Animus Portal

Available Worldwide

Click here for the UK

Click here for the USA

 

Fierce Alchemy

Available Worldwide

Click Here for the USA

Click Here for the UK

Coming Soon:

The second sequel – “The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – California Dreamin’ ”

Of Mice And Men, Or ‘Of Super-Rats And Politicians’

This has been an interesting week for news, and while terrible things are going on elsewhere in the world, here in the UK we have had some rather interesting accusations coming from Parliament as well as, coincidentally, a rise in the population of Super-Rats.

Let’s talk about rats first – the non-parliamentary kind. Several articles have come out recently describing everything from traffic being brought to a halt as huge rats run across the road, to attacks on ducks. Apparently they are also capable of detecting baited food. They nibble a little, determine whether the taste is right and eat the rest once they’ve decided it isn’t poisoned. Clever little bastards.

Living in London you hear all sorts of rumours about being never more than six feet away from a rat at any one time, but I believe that to be an exaggeration, it’s more like sixty feet. In the last week or so I have begun to see rats running across our garden. The dog does his best but, bless him, he’s a greyhound, not a ratter and generally tends to run the wrong direction when trying to locate them. He can smell them though and is becoming quite grumpy when I force him to come inside in the evenings; he really wants to catch one but I’ll be old and grey before that happens!

Coincidentally, the phone tapping trials are over, and most of the ‘guilty’ have been found not-guilty at huge cost to the tax payer. Cameron, our beloved leader, apparently made a mistake when he hired Coulson as the Tory Party Communications Director.  The courts decide that he is a liar and a crook. Later, and showing a distinct lack of appropriate timing – the jury had not finished deliberating, Cameron apologised.

I am a little confused by that; I would have thought lying and being a crook were the perfect attributes for a politician. Bringing the two strains of my diatribe together I would like to present this little table. It summarises the differences between Super-Rats and Politicians:

Attribute Politician Super-Rat
Not liked by the Public – regarded as vermin True True
Untrustworthy True True
Clever Occasionally True
Thieves True True
Immune to poison True True
Really hard to get rid of Very True True
Genetic mutations Maybe True
Getting bigger in each generation True (wealthier) True
Becoming a time-bomb of resistance to removal True True
Population explosion Feels like it True
Problem confined to the UK? No No
Could they bite children? Is their kiss worse than bite? Yes
Do they eat ducks? Yes, with Orange sauce and an expensive wine paid for by the public Yes, raw
A danger to health? Yes, through cutbacks Yes
Do they take Public Transport? No Yes, frequently
Do they show signs of regret? Yes, when caught Yes
Do they show signs of learning from mistakes? No Yes

 

Now I’m really confused. It appears there is little to differentiate between them other than MPs don’t take public transport. The public hate them (MPs), but time and time again they are voted into power. I wonder if Super-Rats would do a better job, at least they do appear to learn from mistakes.

Don’t be fooled by the tone of this blog, I love politicians. After all, without them we would have many fewer headlines covering skulduggery (love that word), theft, and expenses fraud among other things. And on top of that we do love to hate them.

Some articles that might be of interest:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/27/david-cameron-tory-party-aparent-unity

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2669542/Rise-genetically-mutated-SUPER-RATS-Giant-rodents-immune-poison-spreading-rapid-speeds.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2670736/Rats-big-attacking-DUCKS-town-park-theyre-not-taking-poisoned-bait-steal-bread-meant-birds.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2652150/Not-dirty-rat-Study-shows-rodents-capable-regret.html

Warm Bodies, Anyone?

Today’s mental wandering is only partly zombie related.

Is there anything more upsetting than watching Hollywood and fashion killing off the human race – starting with the female half? Perhaps they have created a desire in women to become the skeletons or the love interest in Warm Bodies. Is this film to blame for this latest trend?

The latest disfiguring trend to come from the catwalks and Hollywood is the ‘triple zero’ body. Yes, folks, you heard it here (almost first). Some of our women folk seem to have it in their lollipop (you’ll see what I mean shortly) heads that it’s good to not just be thin, but to be cadaverous thin. Seeing photos of their alleged ‘beauty’ I am put in mind of footage of the desperately unfortunate people saved from the final rounds of the Nazi concentration camps. Only this time it is voluntary, and they wear expensive rags and call it fashion.

Let’s face it folks, if someone dragged you off the streets, locked you in a dungeon and starved you to achieve the same results, it would be called assault! Okay, there would be associated kidnapping charges, but I think you get my point.

Photo C Alexa Chung-Instagram

Photo C Alexa Chung-Instagram

So, why are our children’s role models advocating these extreme looks? Is it to make us aware of the plight of people in the Horn of Africa? No, it’s because it looks good. Apparently. I’ll be damned if I see it as good looking so, let’s examine this a little more dispassionately. I have inserted a photo to set the example:

  1. The description of this photo says that this woman’s waist measures 23” – this size in fact corresponds to the size of a six to eight year old girl – this person is in her twenties
  2. The legs are straight up and down, there is no tone, no musculature at all. Not that they exercise properly, they eat almost nothing and use treadmills to exercise those last unsightly pounds off.
  3. A lot of these women have long hair to hide the fact that they would have the lollipop effect – that’s to say the appearance of an extra-large head. Of course this is an illusion, the head is the right size, it’s the body that is too small.
  4. I understand that an obsession is spreading in our young women that there needs to be light showing between closed legs at the top of the thighs – none of that unsightly flesh getting in the way of daylight.

So who is to blame for this? I used to think it was the misogynistic heads of fashion companies and magazines – and I say misogenistic because who in their right minds could allow this form of abuse/self-abuse to go on in plain sight? It may well have started with them but perhaps this attitude has finally invaded women’s minds so that they no longer need the previous coercion to move in this fleshless direction. If memory serves me correctly, it was reported that the cast of Desperate Housewives (the women) used to compete for the most loss of weight while on set. You can certainly see the results as the seasons fly by; what were once normal, attractive faces and bodies become drawn and skeletal. I have also noticed this same trend in most other American TV series where there is a strong lead female character.

One positive point to all of this: this approach to gaunt would be a distinct benefit for the cast of TWD, after all continual weight loss would be a feature of the apocalypse, especially while fighting for survival. Talk about reality TV and dying for your art!

If women are doing it to themselves these days, the big question is, why? As a man I see it as a great benefit to us all if there is variety in sizes, after all it is the same with men. Big, small, tall, short; variety is the spice of life. Every man I’ve ever spoken to about this subject agrees that the fuller figure is preferable to hugging a xylophone. I don’t know any women that approve of this trend at all, and yet I see it constantly in the papers how another young girl takes her life because she feels fat, or is hospital-bound because she has become dangerously anorexic (is there a non-dangerous version?). It seems to be a growing obsession in the readily-influenced young.

There was a move a few years back where magazines began talking about how they would ban this stick-thin culture but it seems to be returning with a vengeance, if it ever left. As far as I’m aware, the only magazine to drink this cool-aid of change was an Israeli one, enforcing a certain larger size of individual in order to qualify as a model.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this upsetting and spreading culture. Is this acceptable? Can it be stopped? Am I barking up the wrong tree entirely?

Like this blog if you agree with my meanderings.

The article that sparked this blog can be found at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2666827/TRIPLE-ZERO-number-one-goal-Hollywood-The-disturbing-rise-ultra-skinny-dress-size-demands-tiny-23-inch-waist.html

Reviews – And Where To Find The Most Valuable Ones

Sometimes I find reviews of my work positively frustrating. I don’t expect constant high ratings, I accept that some people just don’t like my material – you know the old adage about pleasing some of the people some of the time. What I have problems with is those that either appear to have a hidden agenda for marking people’s efforts down, or it is clear as a bell that they simply haven’t read the work in question properly. To wit, one recent one likened my second book of the series ‘Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle’ to WWZ, only not in a good way. From the throw-away comment it was clear she hadn’t really read it or the first in the series and secondly the only thing in common with WWZ was zombies and an aeroplane ride. So sue me!!

I’m sure that all of you who have put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards, and after months/years of sweat and grind uploaded your hard-won efforts to Amazon, Smashwords or other platforms have been subjected to such banal and often deliberately hurtful reviews. There is an element out there that prefers to destroy rather than build. These days I pull no punches when responding to such rubbish. After all, for most of us, our writing doesn’t put food on the table, it is done for fun and these worms simply don’t get that.

I read an interesting article recently about the value of keeping bad reviews in place. On the one hand it does lower your star average, but on the other, if you have a predominance of 4 and 5 star reviews, then these bozos are shown for the mealy-mouthed and sad little individuals that they are. There is even an argument that says the occasional poor review actually increases sales. Well, I don’t know about that, but a bit of a spread in star ratings probably sends the signal that not all the praise for your work comes from your great aunt Bessie. We can but hope!

Now for the ray of sunshine. I recently came across a site, http://www.gadgetgirlreviews.com/ that looked pretty interesting.

On it, the owner of the site, GadgetGirl (I think that really is her name), reviews some great gadgets. I love sites like this, they always have something interesting to read. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this same site had reviewed the first two books of The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle (see TCC 1, and TCC 2). I coyly admit they were good reviews.

It dawned on me that praise – or otherwise, comes from quarters you wouldn’t normally consider. Needless to say I immediately asked her if she would review Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle and she did. Check them out. And all this started through the simple discovery of a truly interesting website. You really have to check out the Gerp! Where have you been all my party life?

The message to take away from this article is that proper reviews of, well, anything are often to be found in less obvious places. Reviews written by your not-so-average-reader such as GadgetGirl are often well-considered and designed to truly guide their viewers towards things they believe are of value and not just issue throw-away comments. Reviews are their bread and butter so misleading is not an option. These same reviewers will also be honest and uncover positive and negative aspects of the target object, be it a book or a Gerp. Gotta get me one of those!

Zombie books by David K Roberts:

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor

UK           USA         Canada    Australia

Babe: PITA Chapters 3 & 4 on YouTube!

I’ve just uploaded the next two chapters read by my good self. Check it out on

http://youtu.be/SLhxtGYV_Ig

Fleeing their zombified owners, our feathered and fuzzy friends contend with hunger (they did miss lunch), short tempers and the cat. Babe struggles with his sexuality (not struggle exactly) when he meets Simone Pig (get it?).

Happy listening!

Babe: Pig In The Apocalypse – Now on YouTube

Today I have just published a spoken video of the first two chapters of this story. Check it out on

http://youtu.be/VZ9umlWSXv4

Enjoy

David

The Answer To The Eternal Question

After centuries of this question being unanswerable, here is the definitive solution to the problem.

Chicken-egg

Babe: Pig In The Apocalypse – Chapter 6 – Humbug and Preppers

Charging into the woods at the bottom of the sloping field, the friends finally halted their panicked flight from the horrors they had just witnessed and hovering around in an untidy group gathered their frightened wits together. Babe noticed his big friend Goliath had a gash along the length of his flank. A little blood was seeping from it but otherwise the horse looked fit as a fiddle, although his eyes did have that just startled look.

The rest of the animals looked absolutely knackered, very few of them were fit enough to continue such headlong flight; Shep and Babe excepted. Babe was pretty good at running because his desire to be a sheep-pig, albeit ambitious for someone with such stubby legs, had made him rather buff, his haunches quite unlike any other pig on the farm. In combination with the fact that his hair was kept short and neat, and his toe nails manicured, his overall well-groomed appearance may have influenced his relationship with Shep. Frankly, all the pig needed was a leather cap worn at a rakish angle and, well, full membership to The Village People was assured. On the other hand, perhaps his youthful, polished looks contributed to the attraction for Simone. Horses for courses, as they say.

“I’m still hungry,” Shep bleated, an irritable frown crossing his face. “If we don’t get something soon, I’m going to have to take matters into my own paws.”

Image courtesy of WPClipart

Image courtesy of WPClipart

Above Shep’s complaints and the worried mutterings of the others, Babe could hear a noise he’d not heard before. Walking warily towards the sound he was amazed to see what turned out to be a small river flowing past, the sound he had caught had been the burbling of water over the smooth rocks at the edge. His skin crawled and he jumped in fright as the bushes off to his left rustled and shook. Warily he backed up as a figure began to emerge from the thicket. Whatever it was was large, a lot bigger than Babe, its beady little eyes staring emotionlessly at him from a face that looked like a black and white humbug. The vision wore gold-rimmed, half-moon reading glasses that spanned the white stripe down his muzzle and carried a dog-eared book under one arm.

“What’s all this ruckus? Who are you,” he demanded authoritatively in a deep voice.

“Who are you?” Babe echoed, stunned by the creature’s appearance.

“My name is Brick the Badger.”

“Brick? That’s a strange name,” Shep muttered, awed by the creature that wore his own colouring so well, albeit with prickly looking fur that looked like it could do with a good conditioning treatment.

“My father couldn’t spell for shit,” he replied grumpily. “Once it’s on your birth certificate, it’s there for life, you know.”

“Don’t be so whiney,” Goliath barked. “We have important matters to consider.”

The badger turned to the horse and sneered. “Back off, you one ton halfwit. I knew your father, and so I’m afraid your genetic inheritance does not bode well for your future.”

“That’s no way to speak to our friend,” Trude the cow interjected.

“And don’t you go crapping around here, either” Brick snapped. “It’s taken me a long time to get my garden just right; I don’t need any assistance from your arse fertilizer.”

He glared at this motley collection; his second afternoon nap of the day had been interrupted, and just when he had gotten to a good place in his book. His Mastermind skill was reading through his eyelids. Seeing their terror and exhaustion he softened a little.

“Anyone got any nuts?” he looked around. Monkey nuts were his secret pleasure. “No? Alright,” he continued, shrugging a little. “You’d better come into my humble abode and tell me about it.” He tapped his pipe out on the tree stump outside the door and walked in. The animals obediently filed in one by one, until it came to Goliath and Trude. They just stood at the entrance in weary frustration; the burrow wasn’t designed with them in mind. Finally they satisfied themselves with peering in through the window holes. Badger at least made the effort to pull back the curtains, giving them a complete view of the proceedings inside.

The interior of the sett was reminiscent of a posh gentlemen’s club; tallow candles, skewered onto brass candlesticks, dripped onto the floor and offered up a subtle warm glow to the room, while a bookshelf against one wall bowed under the weight of leather-bound books. An old, polished-wood gramophone with a built in radio stood majestically to one side of it. Brick owned a single dark, red leather armchair and an antique Persian rug that lay in front of a gently crackling fire, the smoke wafting gently upwards through a flue dug specifically for the purpose. Off to one side, a tunnel opened out onto what looked distinctly like a bedroom with a huge bed strewn with comforters and pillows. That’s weird, Babe thought absent-mindedly.

Donning his comfortable old smoking jacket, Brick sat down and picked up his tobacco pouch. Smoothing his moustache deliberately slowly he sat back before filling his pipe once again. Looking at his visitors he noticed they were dumbfounded by his little dwelling.

“I like my creature comforts,” he explained unapologetically. “So, is anyone going to enlighten me?”

They all started speaking at once causing Brick to wince with the assault on his ears.

“One at a time, please!” he ordered.

Silence fell at last, until with a clearing of his throat Babe began to speak on behalf of the animals.

“My name is Babe. I’m a sheep-pig.”

“Of course you are,” Brick replied, sarcasm oozing from every follicle.

“Something terrible happened on our farm. Mr Farmer attacked Mrs Farmer and now we are being chased by humans, lots of them. They have gone really strange and instead of feeding US, they have started feeding on us, they have even been attacking and eating pigs! My darling Simone’s family to be precise.”

“Way to rub it in, Romeo,” Shep whispered out of the corner of his mouth.

Babe flushed and nuzzled Simone’s flank by way of an apology before continuing. “They have gone barking mad and now we need somewhere to hide out, at least for a while.”

“And something to eat wouldn’t hurt, either,” Shep added, just in case anyone had forgotten his empty belly.

“I can vouch for Babe’s story,” Goliath added sagely.

Babe just smiled at his old friend.

“It must be true then,” Brick said at last. “If dunderhead, sorry, Goliath says it’s true then it probably is. He hasn’t the imagination to concoct such a tall tale.”

“So can we stay here with you?” Shep asked expectantly.

“Of course you may,” Brick replied. “I’m not sure what I can do for your larger friends, but you smaller ones are welcome inside.”

“I’m happy just here,” Goliath said, gratefully. “It’s not often I get to keep my head dry.”

Trude nodded in agreement, knocking over a delicate crystal vase that had until that moment held a small posy of meadow flowers that had been tickling her snout. Brick rolled his eyes; this lot would be the death of him, especially that bloody cow, he thought. Ignorant villagers, crazed or not, would probably want to kill him simply because she was keeping company with a badger. He knew the prejudices out there.

“Right, then,” Brick began, looking sternly at his fellow creatures. “Here are some house rules. Number one, absolutely no crapping indoors. Subsection one of rule one, no pissing indoors either. Go out to the river if you feel the urge.” Brick addressed Qwackers and Salma in particular. “Just because you mix the streams, so to speak, it does not mean you are exceptions to this rule. Next, rule two, no fornicating. I’ve seen the way you look at your girlfriend, Babe.”

“Busted!” Qwackers shouted gleefully, nudging his buff, porky friend. Babe smiled coyly, looking across at Simone.

“Strangely, I’ve also seen the way you’ve been looking at this little one,” Brick said, eyeing Shep quizzically.

“Twice in a row. Shazzam!” Qwackers quacked, punching the air jubilantly with a clenched wing. This situation was going to get old very quickly, Brick thought.

“Never mind about that, I don’t really want to know,” Brick said tersely, glaring at the duck. “The biggest problem is going to be sourcing enough food for our different needs. I don’t know what you’re going to do, Shep. I don’t have any meat here.”

“Don’t worry, I have some ideas,” Shep replied with a sly, enigmatic grin that suggested he had a plan. “I guess Sid and I will have a little chat later on; after all, he’s in the same boat as me.”

“Fair enough,” Brick agreed, seeming to understand the implication of the dog’s words. “As for the rest of you, I can tell you that I already know what is happening outside.”

“You do?” Babe asked in awe.

“Yes, young man. I read books, I know of these momentous events. The Apocalypse has begun. End of Days, the Lifting Of The Veil, the Revelation from the Book of Daniel, the twenty first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I have to say I wasn’t expecting it this week.”

The friends just stood in silence and disbelief. Here was someone who was fully conversant with their current problems and probably knew how to deal with them – of course he probably used Wikipedia a lot.

“Never the less,” Brick continued. “I’m ready for whatever danger comes our way.”

Standing up, he shooed the ducks aside and lifted a chain that had been coiled neatly in a corner on the floor. Bracing himself he pulled at it. It was attached to a board that had been up to now hidden by the Persian carpet. Sliding sideways, it revealed a hole in the dirt floor. Peering into the blackness, Babe’s eyes adjusted to the gloom and then he gasped in surprise. The basement was full of equipment, strange wires that looked like traps, snares and spikey things. Babe understood why all this old tat had been hidden, this stuff was dangerous and could hurt someone; but why show it to them? And then realisation dawned on him. Shep stepped closer and looked over the young pig’s shoulders. He gasped in amazement as he suddenly remembered something he had been told a long time ago.

“I’ve heard of you,” he said looking at the badger, his respect for the creature growing. “Brick the Prepper. And to think I always thought that was an instruction. Well, I’ll be damned!”

“Probably,” Brick agreed.

Copyright © 2014 David Kingsley Roberts

Zombie books by David K Roberts:

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor (Sequel)

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

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