Authors Note :: This is a short story based on the following writers digest story prompt, You come across a pack of matches that sets off a series of uncanny events. Start your story with "My mother always told me not to play with fire." End it with "And that's how I ended up in the middle of nowhere—naked." This prompt inspired me to write this short zombie fic set in inner city England.
My mother always told me not to play with fire, so even though I knew I had to immediately burn the dead, I hesitated.
When I found the box of matches I remembered back to when we'd all been warned by our local MP, appearing on the news looking like death himself, as he advised us not to bury our dearly departed. "All burials are as of now, outlawed," he said, "the dead must be cremated quickly and by any means necessary."
At first everyone brought the dead to the local crematorium but they were overrun within a couple of days. Especially when the 'Spooks', as the newspapers coined them, refused to roll quietly on a metal bed into eternal flames. Not to mention, some people couldn't find it in themselves to put down their own loved ones, even as said loved one tried to eat them. Instead, they simply tied them up and dragged the Spook straight to the crematorium, leaving the undertaker to deal with it.
Our neighbour Leroy, brought his wife Sandy, down to the crematorium like that. She'd been bit, a couple of days earlier, whilst panic shopping at Tesco's. She was fine at first, but as her fever increased, so did her disorientation. She kept wandering off, trying to get into our house. In the end, when she turned 'Spook', my mum helped Leroy trap Sandy into the boot of his car.
I still remember the Spook, repeatedly kicking against the lid of the car boot as Leroy got into the drivers seat of his Ford Focus. He'd told us to pack a small bag of the essentials and get ready to leave, promising to give us a lift off of the council estate I'd called home my whole life. Leroy never did make it back.
My mum didn't have a car and dad hadn't been round to see us, to see me, in years. Local transport barely ran on a good day, let alone during the apocalypse. And going on foot, running the gauntlet through the increasing chaos of the city, was suicide. Our neighbours along our terraced street were evenly split. Those who could afford a car, found that space was at a premium, so charged likewise if you were looking for a lift out. Others who didn't have transport, felt it best to follow the advice we'd been given from the government and chose to stay locked up at home, ignoring all house callers. My mum agreed with the latter, placing her faith in the authorities to save us. "They will get this all sorted soon enough love," she told me, "then you can go back to college and finish up those A-levels."
As we hunkered down for a fourth night in a row, hidden in the darkness of our living room so as not to attract attention to our house, Mum recalled when our local council was in the national news years ago. They'd replied to someone who'd asked if they were prepared for a zombie outbreak. At the time the council had detailed their whole plan for defence and even boasted that they were the 'most prepared city in Britain against a zombie plague'. "It was utter bollocks though", my mum had said as she thought back, her voice vacant as she spoke "you don't prepare for this Katie, you just try to survive it as best you can. The only plan you need is to have faith and a bit of belief ."
For those first few days as we camped out in the house, we both had faith that someone would come and save us. Even when mum made me rush to pack a back-pack, so that we could make a run for it out of the city and away from the Spooks that were threatening to crash in through our front window, I still had faith. And even now, so soon after having to just bludgeon mum into stillness, I still believe.
When I dragged mums motionless body out into the open field, behind the empty country cottage I'd broken into, my clothes were splattered with dark congealed blood splatter. I knew I had to burn my clothes along with her. The risk of infection spreading wasn't what I was worried about. I just didn't want any part of my Mum left in this world as a Spook. Mum wouldn't have wanted that.
Searching through the vacant rooms of the strange cottage, I'd found a few warm clothes, food and a box of matches. So I decided to burn everything I'd brought with me, anything that connected me to my old life. My back-pack, my t-shirt, jeans and in a fit of madness, even my underwear. I didn't want anything left to remind me what I'd just done. And that's how I ended up in the middle of nowhere—naked.
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