Chapter 1 – The News
By Matt Padmore
Garry looked up from the TV with a resigned sigh.
It had finally happened then. He couldn’t say that he was wholly surprised. Surprised by the exact details of the probable extinction-level event but not by the fact that one existed. Once something really bad had happened to you, it was gratifyingly simple, even a little comforting, to accept that other really bad things could happen as well.
Garry had long since lost the feeling that things would probably be alright in the end without him actually having to do anything. It seemed to Garry that most people seemed to have an unshakeable faith that things would be okay in the end somehow or other.
Garry no longer had the luxury of this kind of thinking. His basement was stocked with canned foods and bottled water.
He was pleased with the canonical nature of the impending apocalypse. No airborne toxins or melting icecaps. No meteors from outer space colliding with the planet or computer-malfunction-induced nuclear war. No. ZOMBIES! Of course no one on the channels Garry flipped through was calling them zombies. It was “a fast-acting hitherto unidentified virus” or some such baloney. Whatever they were trying to euphemise it as, it was pretty obvious from the helicopter-shot footage beginning to be shown.
Sickly grey flesh, shambling gait, outstretched arms – all your classic zombie signifiers. The footage was shot from a helicopter quite a long way away but Garry thought he saw an arm blasted away from one of the ambulant corpses by zealous soldiers. The corpse seemed to glance down in incomprehension at the absence then simply carried on its hunt for fresh meat.
“Can zombies run?” That was always the big question that divided aficionados of the undead. Your classic 70’s Romero zombies never ran. They just shambled along and got their targets by weight of numbers and an unrelenting sense of purpose.
Zombies never seemed to feel the need to take a break. More modern zombies on the other hand would run and jump, attacking seemingly careful human survivors from unexpected angles.
Soon we’d see which version was correct, thought Garry. Not that it really made much difference to him. As a crip in a wheelchair, it didn’t have much bearing on his survival chances. “Can zombies manage anything more than a gentle slope?” was a more relevant question for him.
Whether they walked or ran he imagined they wouldn’t be too troubled by an incline. In which case he was a goner.