The two friends stared at John for quite a few seconds.
"The Commonwealth" Jim said quietly, "I thought the Commonwealth was dead!"
"And so did many other people from around the world, but as you can see almost all of the commonwealth countries have sent troops. Our own armed forces probably add up to around sixty five thousand personnel, we now have up to two hundred thousand with more on the way too. How do you think we have so many troops on the ground?."
"So all of them soldiers we’ve seen throughout London are foreigners?" Dave asked.
"Not all of them. We’ve tried to attach our own troops, with bigger commonwealth units. And it’s working too."
At this point several people entered the tent. One was obviously a doctor, his army uniform was buried underneath a long white coat. The three others with him were just dressed as soldiers.
"I am sorry gentlemen, but you must leave now. We are going to repair the Colonel." the doctor spoke with the same melodic accent as the soldiers outside.
"The Colonel?" Jim asked whilst standing up.
"Guilty i’m afraid." laughed John.
"You kept that quiet!" said Jim, smiling broadly.
"Get something to eat guys, i’ll look for you in a little while. I may have a solution for your problem."
"Problem?" Jim hesitated, Dave had already left the tent.
"You still want to get to Manchester don’t you?"
Jim nodded his head in shock. The option of leaving here had been taken away by the Nigerian Major. He found it difficult to believe that John, or rather Colonel John had remembered. He smiled as he left the tent.
Dave was standing with a very tall black soldier. He looked almost tiny by comparison. As Jim walked over to them he could hear the tall soldier talking to Dave. He seemed quite agitated.
"My name is not Momo, it is Omo!". Dave was laughing at him.
"Stop winding up the very big soldier Dave." he said.
"So your name is Omo then?" He asked the frustrated soldier.
"Yes it is Omo, Omo to oun Esho. I am from Yarubaland in Nigeria."
"Very pleased to meet you Omo, can we call you Omo?"
"That is not my name, but it has to be better than Momo."
"Ok then. I am Jim......"
"And this one is Dave!" Omo interrupted. "We all know who you are. The two soldiers who brought the Colonel back!"
"Well we’re not soldiers, we were just passengers on the bus. We were lucky really."
"I do not believe you. The Colonel has told us how you killed the zombies. He told us how the other soldiers ran away, and you pulled him onto the bus. You will be famous now."
"I could live with that!" Dave laughed.
"Well, it’s true we helped out, but we didn’t have time to think about it, we’re not really heroes."
"The colonel told us you could have run away, like the others, but i saw you pull him into the helicopter. I was on the machine gun. I saw you both with my own eyes."
This came as a shock to the friends. Omo had been the man standing at the heavy machine gun. He had been firing into the zombies when they had dragged John up the ramp.
"Can we get something to eat Omo, i’m starving!" Dave was looking around as though searching for a fast food restaurant.
"Yes, yes, follow me. We have simple food, but you can eat as much as you want." Omo walked quickly away and both Jim and Dave had to almost jog to keep up with him.
The building was an old office block, or so it appeared. There seemed to be only one entrance, and every ground floor window had steel roller shutters fitted. As the trio walked through the guarded doorway, the background sing song voices diminished. They walked along a corridor lined with doors. All of them were dark blue, and they all looked reinforced. Each was constructed from some heavy metal and was designed to mimic a stable door, the top half could be opened independently of the bottom.
"Welcome to the Alamo" Omo said through a wide toothy grin.
"Alamo?" Questioned Jim.
"Yes, the Alamo. If we lose the ground outside of the building, we will fall back into here. The Alamo."
"Didn’t everyone die there?" asked Dave.
"Yes, but what a glorious way to go!" Omo laughed loudly at his own joke.
Jim and Dave exchanged worried glances, then followed Omo up a staircase.
The first floor held a huge surprise for the friends. A fully functional, and quite busy restaurant. Tables, chairs, customers, even waiters were present. The customers were a mixed collection of soldiers and civilians.
Families huddled together around large round tables, whilst individual people stood staring out of windows. The whole scene looked quite surreal.
"Have we entered the twilight zone?" Dave said shocked.
"This is where we keep the refugees." Omo said simply.
"Refugees?, you need to tell us what’s going on here mate!"
"I forgot you have not seen this yet. Come, let us get some coffee, then i will explain it to you." Omo strode purposefully towards a table.
Jim and Dave merely followed, like small children.
Omo waved towards a waiter. He ordered coffee and biscuits for all three of them. The waiter understood the melodic African accent perfectly.
"The menu will be out shortly. To understand what we are doing here, you must first understand what we do." Omo paused for a few seconds as the coffee arrived. "We are stationed here, to collect any refugees who manage to escape the undead. They turn up sometimes, and are usually followed. We get them inside and then deal with the undead. This is the last collection point in inner city London."
"The last one?, there were more?" Jim asked.
"Oh yes. There were twelve to begin with. But now we are the last one, and we will be closing in two or three days."
"Why are you the last one?" Jim asked whilst sipping his coffee. As always he had questions.
"The other collection points have been lost to the undead."
Jim nearly choked on his coffee, and Dave stopped munching on the biscuits.
"How the hell do you lose a base to the undead?, there must be thousands of guns out there." Dave spat out.
"Because when they find you they just keep coming. The undead do not get tired or need to eat. They do not stop at the sight of their fallen and they do not need ammunition. When they find you they come in their thousands."
"But the walls mate, surely they can’t get through them?"
"The walls are made of steel. They have concrete support posts and lots of firing points. But when they come, they just push against the wall. When enough of them push the wall will fall down. The other thing they do is to stack up."
"What does that mean Omo?" Jim had managed to recover from the shock.
"When the bottom of the wall is full of the undead, those pushing from the back start to climb up, like a sand dune. Either the wall will fall down, or the undead will push themselves over it. One way or another, if a large group find you, they cannot be stopped."
"Shit!" Exclaimed Dave.
"And this has happened to the other refugee points Omo?"
"Yes Jim, to all of them. We have been told to pack up everything, and we will be leaving in two or three days time. This area has been pretty quiet up to now, but more of the undead are coming this way."
"Now?, they’re coming here now?" Dave said, looking around as if a zombie was int the hall.
"They are always coming Dave. We have probably killed some while we are drinking coffee."
"What!" This brought Dave to his feet. "We haven’t heard any gunfire!"
"You would not hear it Dave, we use silenced rifles. The louder the noise, the more undead it will bring. Any that find us here are dealt with before they notice our wall. We kill them from a distance."
"Could we see this?" Jim asked.
"Of course, When we have eaten i will show you both."
The menus arrived, and the three men ate in silence.
The office block hadn’t seemed this big from the ground. Eight floors above the car park gave the three men an excellent view of the area. They stood in shocked silence for several minutes. Burnt out cars and buildings were everywhere. Rubbish was strewn across the roads and smoke could still be seen rising in the distance. The small area held by the soldiers held the only visible sign of life. The troops below could be seen going about their various duties amid the stacks of boxes and crates. The metal walkway along the top of the wall could be seen clearly now, soldiers stood at spaced intervals, huge heavy machine guns mounted on the wall, pointing out away from the camp. The base was built inside an avenue, only one way in was visible, and that came through the wall. They stood there, taking in the view for many minutes. Only when another soldier appeared, as if my magic, did they realise the rooftop was full of them too. All along the edge prone soldiers were positioned. Long evil looking rifles stood on tripods, all pointing out towards the city. There was easily twenty pairs of soldiers up here, one holding the rifle, the other holding huge binoculars, he was the spotter.
The soldier who had appeared said something in Nigerian to Omo. neither men could understand what he said, but Omo indicated for them both to follow him. He led them to a far corner, and as they approached he crouched down next to the rifleman.
"This man has seen the undead. He has counted maybe two hundred of them."
"Could we see?" Jim asked.
Omo said something to the spotter, and the man gave Jim his binoculars.
Omo told Jim where to look, and within seconds he could see the group in question. They were all walking together, like a group of animals in a herd. The undead shuffled and staggered, but they seemed to have a common goal. The back doors of a large red transit van had caught their attention. Jim moved the glasses slightly and looked towards the windscreen. he thought he could see a frightened pale face for a few seconds. The zombies were walking into the side of the van, crashing into it. They had it completely surrounded now, and it was rocking from side to side.
"I think someone’s inside the van Omo!"
"Of course there is Jim, that is why the undead want to get in."
"But you can’t just leave them there!"
"We cannot help those people Jim."
"Why the fuck not!" snarled Dave, " You have all of these guns!, why not just go and get them?"
"We cannot get to them as the bridge is down."
"But you have helicopters man!" Dave looked as though he might hit Omo by this point.
"Yes we have helicopters Dave, but nowhere to land them. there are too many wires above the road, and even of they were not there, we could not get them out of the van. There is nothing we can do."
"Shoot them from here then" Jim said simply. "You have all of these snipers, all of this ammunition, give them a chance."
"Even if we kill all of them, there are many more. What chance would we be giving them people. They will not get out of there alive, why should we prolong their suffering."
"Because the British Army doesn’t leave anyone behind!" John’s voice cut out loud and clear. He had approached during the argument unseen or heard.
"But sir...." Omo began, quickly standing to attention.
"But sir nothing Omo. Who is the idiot who gave that order?" The colonel leant heavily on a walking stick.
"Major General Smith sir. he told us to save only those on this side of the bridge. He knows of the family inside the van, but he said it is pointless."
"Well Major General Smith was killed during the evacuation of the last base. He was an ass anyway, he waited too long before he allowed his men to open fire. I am in charge of this area now, and i agree with Dave, shoot those bastards now!"