When the government was making plans for a possible outbreak, only one man had considered anything along this scale. His opinions were considered to be too much, scaremongering amongst other things. Now the infection was indeed countrywide, his long forgotten plan was rapidly being utilised.
Once accepted, his theory included the use of the existing rail network. By holding onto the larger stations, the cities of the UK could be kept supplied and in contact with each other. Safe zone creation and refugee evacuation points. Restocking food collection areas, the list went on and on, and it did seem to be working.
No one had allowed for the loss of the satellite capability, and the country was having to use WW2 radio networks and telephones, this itself was causing huge logistical delays and problems with communication. Air traffic control, ship borne traffic, refugee status even the accurate plotting of the larger zombie outbreaks all relied on radio communication, visual spotting and then subsequent reports.
The country was coping, but the loss of sat comms was making life very hard.
Kings Cross was one of the most important stations in the country. It was directly connected with almost every other city further north. The whole station had been designed to be defended, from an attack by soldiers not zombies of course. The station itself was surrounded by a large amount of buildings, making it quite easy to seal off most of the entrances. In this case, zombies couldn’t get through buildings, so only the door ways had to be bricked up. This allowed the garrisoned soldiers to maintain a rooftop presence, whilst being removed from any attack possibility. This was why a constant cacophony of gunfire could be heard. The rooftop guards would open fire on each and every zombie they could see. Inside the station, although heavily policed, remained quite safe. Civilians could come and go as they saw fit, and in some cases, had been recruited into the station defences.
After the infection had taken hold of the forward base, the Kings Cross officer in command had ordered all civilians to be kept in a designated area. The basic information regarding the infection had been widely available, but spontaneous transformations had not been encountered before.
It had taken some considerable efforts on John's part, to keep Jim, Dave and Clara from being confined with the others.
“The trains are scheduled to leave in the morning. You three will go on board T2 tonight with the cargo. I'm sorry but you will have to be hidden, they're no civilians on board and if the guards find you......” John left the rest unsaid.
“Are you going to Manchester? Jim asked. The two men had returned to Clara's bedside, they had found time to eat something and have showers, now all refreshed and clean again, they had brought some food to Clara, who was still in the hospital. John and Momo had just popped in to speak to them.
“Yes, but I’m on T1, and Momo will be with me. There are no cargo carriages on my train, therefore nowhere to hide you. Momo will get somewhere ready for you, he'll make it nice and comfy, “he laughed at this point, “But it will be a bit cramped.”
“So where will we be hiding then?” Dave asked.
“Inside a Bulldog.” John said simply.
“Sorry?” Dave replied, “What the hell is a Bulldog?”
“Don't worry” John laughed, “Momo will show you.”
He was interrupted by a knock at the door. Momo turned to answer it, then went out into the hall.
“Why were the soldiers saluting Momo John?” Jim asked.
“Do you miss anything!” again John was laughing. “They salute him because he is a Major. A high rank around here.”
“Oh right”. Now Jim was laughing. “So why is he helping us, and not running things, like you?”
“He was Jim, the forward base was under his command.”
The laughter stopped abruptly. The base they had just left, had been under Momo's command, now it was gone.
“Shit John” Dave said, “You could have told us mate!”
“What’s' to tell?, he chose to come out for us on the bus, then he went with you guys to secure the van. I know he blames himself for the loss of the base, but he's much too professional to complain about it. He's a true soldier you know. He wouldn’t leave you behind.”
They all sat in silence for a few minutes.
“So Momo could have stayed at the base, and sent someone else?” Jim asked.
“Yes, as the commander, he could have done that, but sometimes you just feel like you have to do things yourself.”
“Like you did Colonel?” Clara said unexpectedly.
“Sorry?” John said , blushing a little.
“Momo did the same thing as you did right?, At the naval base.”
Jim and Dave looked at each other in confusion. Had the bump to the head done some real damage?
“I heard the nurses talking about you, I have been here all day you know!”
“What were they saying then?” Dave asked, a smirk creeping across his face.
“They said you rescued some little kid in erm.... Portsmouth. You ran through a load of zombies with her.” Clara could tell by John's face that he was feeling uncomfortable.
“No way!” Exclaimed Dave, Jim had a surprised expression on his face too,
“That was you?”.
“Oh, none of that matters now does it.” John tried to play it down. Momo came back into the room at this point.
“I think it matters John!” Jim said.
“What does?” Momo asked.
“When we arrived at Portsmouth, some soldiers were sent in to have a look around, well it all turned to crap. They got jumped by every zombie in the place, and we saw this one guy running through them all. He was carrying a little kid, and he was sprinting like crazy. We never knew who he was, or whether he even survived, he could have been bitten or anything. Well it seems after all of this time, we did know who the guy was. Our very own Colonel John was that man!” Dave barely stopped to breath.
“Did you not know this?” asked Momo, he obviously knew.
“How would we know, you guys don't go bragging about these things, how the hell you pulled that off mate, beats the crap out of me!”
John's cheeks had flushed bright red by now. He was looking for the hole in the floor, to jump in.
“It just seemed the right thing to do.”
“What actually happened John?” Jim asked.
“It's a long story Jim.”
“And I have to take him away for a little while.” Momo said, “We have to report to the CO”.
“CO?” Jim questioned.
“Commanding Officer guys, we can't keep him waiting. We'll be back later.”
With this John and Momo promptly left the room. You could see John had wanted nothing else.
“Well I’ll be buggered then!” Dave said to no-one in particular.
“Colourful, to say the least!” Clara exclaimed.
“Oh his language gets much worse than that!” Jim laughed.
“What is this, pick on the little guy?” Dave complained although he knew Jim was joking.
The room was suddenly filled with the sound of the National Anthem. They all looked at each other blankly for a few seconds, then Dave exclaimed, “It's me!, It's my mobile phone!”. The laughter exploded again, none being louder than Dave himself. The once common sound of a mobile phone had surprised them all, but with the military using the networks, all non essential use was forbidden.
“Are you going to answer it then?” Clara asked.
“OH, yes!” Dave could hardly breathe through laughing. “Hello?” He listened for a few seconds, his face becoming serious instantly. “Right. OK. I'll be available on this line, OK.”
“What's wrong Dave?” Jim asked, he knew Dave well enough to know something had happened.
“That was an officer on board the Ark royal. Ella's had an accident mate, she fell down some stairs.” He sat down heavily.
“Is she OK?” gentle concern filled Jim’s voice.
“Not really mate, she's in intensive care now.” he ran his fingers through his hair, “She has to go into surgery later on, something about a broken rib and a punctured lung.”
“She's in the best place Dave. The ship has a fully operational hospital, those guys are experts.”
“I should be there Jim. I should be with her.”
This was the first time Jim had know him to show much emotion, Dave was such a funny guy, always laughing around, not even taking the zombies too seriously. Any one could see his anguish. Clara just stayed silent in the bed, she didn't know Ella, or anything about her.
“Come on Dave, lets go and find John, he might be able to get you back there.” Jim placed his hand on Dave's shoulder. Dave slowly stood up, and Jim opened the door.
“Hang on a minute guys!, I’m coming with you!” Clara swung her legs off the bed. Within seconds she had put on her shoes, and grabbed her coat. “I told you guys, you're my lucky mascot.”
The three friends set off into the station, intent on finding John and Momo.
As they were still wearing the military uniforms, and both carried their shotguns, Jim and Dave looked like they were escorting Clara somewhere.
Several soldiers nodded to them on the way past, but no one seemed interested in where they were going. This worked out quite well because they didn't, know where they were going.
The hospital was connected to the station by a long windowless corridor. The floor was made from some kind of rubberised material, and squeaked as they
walked. With no other idea in mind, when they had left the room, they had gone to the right, and now approached a set of double doors. Heavy thick steel doors which were locked. A dark black curtain type screen had blocked any view of the doors, but they had moved it from view easily. Dave and Jim tried to see through the small rectangular inset windows, but nothing interesting could be seen. They turned to face Clara, and her expression made them turn back, a zombie was looking through the windows, right at them!
“Shit!” Dave shouted. Jim pulled Clara away from the door, he only stopped when they bumped into the wall. Dave had raised his shotgun, he pointed it straight at the rotting face of the zombie and pulled the trigger.
Nothing happened. The zombie looked like he was smearing his face along the window pane, slimy skin flakes were scraping off and sticking to the glass.
Dave twisted the gun up, to look at the side of the barrel, just as Jim shouted “Safety Dave!”. He pushed in the small black button, and brought the gun up again.
“Stop!” came a loud shout from further along the corridor. “Don’t shoot!”
They all turned and looked towards the now running figure. A soldier was approaching them at a full sprint. Jim moved Clara behind him, and Dave merely stood waiting, the shotgun still pointing at the zombie.
The new soldier slowed as he reached them. He was out of breath, and it took a few seconds for him to recover.
“If you shoot that window out, you'll compromise the security of this corridor.” he bent over and put both hands on his knees.
“I thought we kill them when we see them?” Jim said, still eyeing the zombie.
“You don't understand, we fight them at the main approaches, not at the exposed windows and door. You shouldn't even be here!”
“What difference will it make mate?, another dead zombie is a good thing right?”, Dave never took his eyes from the window.
“If you shoot in here, the glass will break, his head will come off, and every other zombie out there will know we are in here.” the trooper had caught his breath by now. “They don't know we can be reached from this way, so there isn't a crowd of them, that’s why the windows are screened off. You kill him, and all of his friends will come and have a look.”
“What do you think Jim?” Dave asked.
“It makes sense Dave. Maybe we should come away from the doors eh?”
Dave lowered his shotgun. He didn't like the idea of leaving the zombie alive, but he followed Jim’s advice.
“If he comes through that door mate, how are you going to stop him?, there’s no one here?”.
The soldier pointed back along the corridor, “Camera's, that's how I knew you were here.”
They looked to where he was pointing, and sure enough a small black camera was pointing towards them.
“The colonel wanted me to take you to him, he's waiting for you now.”
“So lets not keep him waiting then.” Jim started back down the corridor. Clara followed immediately, but Dave waited for the soldier to replace the black screen, and then came last.