Front cover of What Went Wrong

Front cover of What Went Wrong

Chapter Ten : One good turn.

The human body is amazing. Even during the most stressful of situations it will find a way to rest. They slept like babies. The racket produce by the helicopter did nothing to disturb their slumber, and it was only when Dave was shaken roughly did he stir.

"Alright alright keep your hair on!" he exclaimed indignantly. A tall black camouflaged soldier was standing over him, a massive smile revealing a perfect set of pearly white teeth, this was whom had been shaking Dave.

"You must wake now!" his sing song accent sounded strange.

"Where the hell are we?" Dave questioned. He looked around, trying to understand, "Where the hell are you from?".

"I am from Nigeria, and you are in London."

"This week is getting stranger and stranger!, Jim, you awake mate?" upon receiving no answer, he looked around, "Jim?, Wheres Jim?."

"Your friend is with the Major, come now, i show you."

The tall soldier, he must have been 6ft 5" at least, walked down the helicopter ramp. Dave climbed to his feet, dusted himself off and followed.

They had landed in a city car park, or what was left of one. The white painted lines still visible on the ground. Three other helicopters shared the area, only these others were not transports, vicious looking machine guns and missiles hung from short stubby wings. He followed his guide through the car park, walking past piles of dark green boxes. Some were stacked higher than he could reach, others were spread out in low towers. Hundreds of crates stood on pallets, organised into separate sections, their brown wooden sides had writing stencilled all over them, but in a language he didn’t understand. Hundreds of soldier surrounded them. Some sitting in circles, others asleep on top of the boxes. Still more were standing quietly, in two’s and three’s, just watching the activity. Several men were slowly loading up a Land Rover with crates, they didn’t seem to be in a hurry.

The strangest thing though, was that everyone he could see was black. Dave had the only white face in sight. He could also hear a melodic language being spoken.

He had to speed up to catch his guide, the man had an incredible stride, and Dave had just woke up, this was not his idea of fun. They walked along a grey concrete building, and turned the corner. More crates and boxes were piled against the walls. He looked up and saw soldiers all along the low roof, heavy weapons pointing outwards. He followed their line of sight, looking towards a long tall metal fence. Solid panels which had been fastened together could be seen blocking off a road. Tall scaffolding had been erected inside the wall, allowing more soldiers to stand along the top edge of the wall. Everyone was looking towards the outside.

The area between the metal wall and the building, was filled with large dark green tents. This was where Dave’s guide was heading, and he had just disappeared inside one of them.

Dave followed him in, and it seemed like an argument was in full force.

The tent was full of soldiers, they were all standing around a large central table, maps were spread out across it, but he didn’t find it difficult to find Jim. He was doing most of the shouting.

"You cannot keep me here!" Jim screamed into the face of a shorter black soldier.

"Our orders are to hold this line sir, i cannot let civilians go wandering around London. I have told you the safe area’s are having to be swept again!, you cannot leave!" He shouted this back into Jim’s face all in one breath. He had the same accent as the guide.

"Did i miss something?" Dave asked. All eyes turned towards him, "Can someone explain to me what the fuck is going on?"

Jim left the table and stalked towards him, "Come on" he said simply, and left the tent. Dave now jogged to catch up to Jim, they continued walking for a few seconds, heading towards another tent, this time it had a large red cross on its sides.

"Whoa mate, what did i miss?" Dave was really feeling confused now.

"That idiot is saying we have to stay here, he’s saying we can’t leave the base."

"This base?, I thought London was safe?"

"Did London look safe to you?" Jim snapped at him, he quickly followed it though, "Dave i’m sorry, i shouldn’t snap at you."

"Don’t worry about it mate, you’ll be crying again soon!"

Both men burst out laughing. Jim stopped walking and sat down heavily on a large green box.

"Apparently, the area we were travelling through was declared safe, that’s why the bus was allowed through there. It turns out that zombies are popping up all over the place now. Even inside the safe zones. Civilians are now under a complete lock down. Come on, John’s inside here, he should have more answers."

"Ok" Dave replied simply, he stood up and followed Jim into the tent.

"Ooh look at you" he said to John. The soldier was lay in a cot with a nice pale blue blanket pulled up to his waist. Dave was surprised to see him without any type of cast on.

Jim was stood at the bottom of the folding bed, both hands gripping the bars along the bottom.

"You’re just jealous!" the soldier replied with a laugh.

"Too right mate, we slept on a helicopter floor!"

"Well you did make it look quite comfortable!", more laughs followed.

"John, what the hell is going on here?", Dave’s question ended the revelry.

"Well i’m lay in a bed, you’re standing there looking pretty stupid, and......"

Before he could finish, Dave interrupted. "Not in here you tit, outside?, this base?, where the hell are we?."

"Right." He said quietly, "sit down, this will take a while."

Dave sat down on the next bed, Jim stayed where he was standing.

"Okay, this is what’s happened up to now."

John started to talk through the sequence of events. He explained about the first sightings of the infection. How people standing in a football stadium in Liverpool suddenly developed stage one symptoms. The local hospitals were inundated with people who instinctively knew something was wrong.

People had flocked to their doctors at the earliest signs, and the government had thought they had controlled the outbreak. How the teenagers enjoying a local festival had been forced to defend themselves from the sudden appearance of fifty or so dead women. When more zombies had appeared near a shopping centre in Birmingham, how the armed police had taken them down rapidly. He explained that although these events, and around a thousand more all happened on the same day, they had been dealt with, in a quiet, no news coverage kind of way. The hot spots had been contained, the zombies killed properly and the stage one’s had been rounded up and treated. He made it sound as though everything was under control. Then the satellites stopped working." He paused for a fews seconds, Dave lit up a cigarette and Jim found an empty chair.

"We don’t know why the Sats stopped talking. There was no explosions, no direct attacks on them, nothing. They all just turned off. That was when things got more difficult. We hadn’t used standard radio comms for twenty five years, but now we were being forced to use old busted up Ptarmigan systems."

This was the standard British Army radio system used in the 1970’s.

"It had limited range, and was picking up all kinds of crap. Mobile phones stayed on though, but the networks soon crashed, as millions of people rang for help."

"Why would they ring?, you said the situation was under control?" Jim asked.

"Well we thought everything was under control, but that’s only how it looked. More and more people were dropping with stage one, and groups of fifties were popping up all over."

"Fifties?" Jim said.

"That’s what we were calling the groups of zombies. They appeared in groups of fifty or so, all dressed the same, always the same sex. It looked like fifty people had been infected, died, then come back as the undead. the strange thing was though, they had no injuries!, no bites or breaks nothing. They would just pop on a street somewhere and start eating people. With our multi million pound comms system down, we found it harder to respond. Areas were being lost, and we had to contain the outbreaks within certain cities. Liverpool was the hardest hit at first. We ended the containment and destroyed the city three days after the initial reports. Fuel air bombs were detonated all over the city itself. Up to now, reports have been quite positive."

"Quite fucking positive!" Dave shouted, "You kill a million people and you think that’s positive!"

"More like a quarter of a million, and when the country is at stake, yes i do. Only the centre was hit, the outlying boroughs had been lucky. Not many attacks had been reported, and the local forces were doing well at protecting them. The decision was made to destroy the centre, as it had been identified as the primary target for the attacks on Merseyside." John’s tone had stayed low throughout his explanation.

"We knew the docklands area was the red zone. We knew the zombies were coming from that area, in their thousands too. We also knew that we couldn’t hold them. Their was just too many. The only way to stop them, was to destroy the area, and clean up any that survived the blast."

"What about civilians though John?" Jim asked.

"Any civilians who could leave had already done so. We spent a full two days trying to force people to leave their homes, it ended with us looking like we were evicting people." He rubbed his hand across his face. "How are you supposed to make people leave, when they hadn’t seen or heard of any attacks in their own area?, We knew they were coming, hell we’d stopped enough of them, but the civilians wouldn’t leave. We estimated around half of the inner city population was lost, either to the infection, or to our actions. Two hundred and fifty thousand people lost, but the infection was contained, or so we thought." He reached over to his bedside cabinet. The water there was warm, but it was clean. "The attacks continued. More and more fifties were appearing. The reports i last heard, told of more sightings and attacks throughout the UK."

"Why does everyone keep calling them attacks?, if it’s an infection why not call it an outbreak?" Jim was trying to make sense of this new information.

"Because these are attacks," John replied quietly, "Think about it, the zombies appear in groups of fifty or so, they are usually the same sex, dressed with similar clothing, and usually without any kind of injuries."

"I don’t understand john"

"The zombies are being collected as Humans, being infected, then delivered to wherever has been decided. The lack of injuries and the sudden appearance of large groups is the key. How else could fifty or so intact zombies suddenly show up in an area already cleared and deemed safe. Somehow the’re being stored and released at timed intervals."

"Bollocks mate!" Dave exclaimed. "That means that we’re at war surely!"

"Can you think of a better solution?" John sipped some more of his water.

"So what does the military intend to do about it?" Jim asked.

"Everything we can. We’re trying to maintain enough soldiers to keep designated areas clear, we have rapid reaction teams everywhere, whilst starting to sweep the countryside for any random zombies who have gone walkabout."

"Is this just us? Jim asked, meaning just the UK.

"No it’s not. Germany, France, Spain, Greece the USA. All of the so called western nations have been affected. Nothing in Africa, The Middle East, China or the far east, Australia or Canada. We think that these are coordinated attacks, designed to cripple our civilisation. The Sats going down made our lives a whole lot harder too."

"How the hell do you know all of this?" Dave asked, "and why doesn’t anyone else?"

"Everyone knows!, well every other government anyway. The only people who don’t know are the civilians. There was no point causing a panic."

"Panic!, you could have cleared Liverpool!" Dave was on his feet now.

"Cleared them to where?, Where could we house a quarter of a million people?, We couldn’t tell who was infected and who wasn’t. And when all of this was planned, no one considered a timed coordinated attack. It was assumed it would be spontaneous." John was regretting talking as openly now, but he knew he had to finish the story.

"Planned?" Jim simply said.

"This virus was discovered in Hitlers bunker, at the end of WWII. The Nazi’s had developed it somehow, and already tested it in the Warsaw Ghetto’s. They would infect a certain number of people and them release them back into the area. Within six weeks everyone was dead, and either being eaten by someone else, or waiting at the gates to be fed. They had no problems feeding the zombies, not everyone went to the death camps you know. This is how we know so much. The Nazi doctors had recorded everything. How long the infection took to manifest, how long it took to change from stage 1 to stage 2, how long a zombie would wait between meals. All of it, every single detail was recorded and stored in the bunker, protected by fifty one stage 2 soldiers. England, the USA and Russia all took home copies of the information, and specimens of the zombies for testing. Ever since then we have planned for an outbreak. What caught us out is the way the outbreaks have happened."

"Holy shit!" Dave almost whispered, "And you guys knew about this all of this time?, why was the public never informed?"

"What possible good would that do Dave?, where could they go?. We thought our plans were strong enough to contain and destroy an outbreak, whenever and wherever it might occur, we just got caught out."

"How do you know all of this?" Jim asked again.

"My grandfather helped to liberate Poland, he saw the ghettos, and my father was a Colonel. His unit was one of the rapid reaction teams. He knew all about the virus and simply taught me. I learned more from them two, than the Army has ever released."

"So does the Army believe we are at war?." Jim asked, he looked over to Dave who was lighting another cigarette.

"No funnily enough. They still think it’s all spontaneous. This is why we’re getting attacked from so called safe zones."

"So why have’nt you explained it to them?, Why don’t they start looking for these fifties, before they’re released?"

"I managed to get my commander to give me some men, and we were looking for some kind of storage device. I was hoping to actually see the zombies being released."

"And did you see it happen?"

"No Jim, we just saw more and more zombies. Every time we would clear an area more would appear."

"Why was you on the bus then?" Dave asked this time.

"I was on the bus because i was heading to Manchester. I figured we would be more likely to see the delivery there. The bus was scheduled to stop at some motorway services, and join up with a larger military convoy. We would all head up the M1 together. We got the message that the convoy wasn’t leaving, as the motorway had been lost again. We were stuck there like sitting ducks when the zombies appeared. If i’d of had my own guys with us, or even those lads out there we wouldn’t have been hit so hard."

"I thought we did ok mate." Dave said.

"Ok?, we lost all of the other passengers, the driver and the other British soldier on board. We don’t know what happened to the two guys who ran off. Apart from them, only us three survived."

"Why did you make a distinction between a British soldier, and them guys?"

"Christ Jim, you don’t miss anything do you?" John laughed. "They were from South Africa. Of the four of us on board, two were British, and two were South African."

"Why would there be African troops on a bus in London John?"

"Well Jim, England called for help, and her Commonwealth responded!"

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