Click the link to catch up with A SURVIVORS APOCALYPSE STORY: Chapter 1 – New Black Plague if you haven’t read it already!
Ryan stared blankly at the white plaster wall some fifteen feet before him. He sat with his broad shoulders resting against the adjacent wall taking the occasional bite of a protein bar and sip from a bottle of water; the very things that nearly cost him his life around an hour ago.
Several weeks had passed since the day he first heard about the New Black Plague. He’d laughed about it in conversations with friends and it was all taken with a pinch of salt. He wasn’t the only culprit. Millions of people across Britain thought the rumour to be exactly the same as Ryan had; utter bullshit! Doctor Thorgen Schaffer was a national sensation overnight for all the wrong reasons. He was vilified in the media and slandered constantly on social media.
Then everything changed one day. Even quicker than Schaffer had become a public laughingstock did he become the man everybody suddenly demanded answers from. The New Black Plague spread quickly and fiercely. All over the news were reports of people falling ill and dying shortly after only to rise from death and begin feeding on any living being in the vicinity. It spread quicker than anybody knew how to deal with and Britain came to a complete standstill just a few days after the first reported incident.
Dr Schaffer’s interview on morning TV was screened everywhere as people sought to find out more about this killer virus, but the simple fact was that nobody knew whether they had it or not until it was too late to do anything about it. There was no word of a cure either. The streets, houses and businesses of Britain were quickly becoming festooned with these gruesome undead; the flesh melting away from their bodies literally down to the bone and muscle beneath. To say the sight was ghastly would’ve been a massive understatement.
The undead were slow and cumbersome; emitting nothing more than moans that became more exasperated the closer they were to the next living thing they wished to feast upon. They weren’t terribly difficult to deal with on their own, but were nigh on unstoppable in hordes and had a tendency to find groups to latch onto; perhaps primordially knowing their strength came in numbers.
Ryan could hear knocking sounds from below and he knew it was the lurchers. He wasn’t worried by the noises. He’d checked this particular floor of the office block and knew it was lurcher free. He also knew they couldn’t get onto the floor either. He was safe for the short-term.
He looked over at a window to his right. It was bright outside. The sun had been shining with annoying persistence over the weeks. It was almost as though the weather was mocking him as Britain was known for sporadic good weather at the very best of times, but this particular spell had been going on for as long as the epidemic had been. Looking at the blue sky through the window, Ryan started to reminisce.
Several weeks ago
The screening facility was getting ever closer and Ryan could feel the nerves jangling. What if I have the New Black Plague, he thought to himself. His friends Niall and Marcus stood with him, but neither had spoken for a good number of minutes now. Each of them was consumed with their own thoughts and fears.
Ryan had thought to contact his mum to find out if she was alright, but they hadn’t spoken in over a year and he sure as hell wasn’t going to lay his pride on the line. He hadn’t bothered with his dad or three sisters either. He’d moved up north to get away from them all and a sudden zombie epidemic wasn’t going to change the way he felt. Besides, network coverage for mobile phones had gone down days ago. Everything was beginning to grind to a halt. The internet was barely still alive and TV stations were all playing exactly the same thing; a drawn out video of Dr Schaffer explaining things. Even the few radio stations still active were playing the sound recording of the same video.
“Oi, you,” a man dressed in disruptive pattern material garb said brusquely.
Ryan was only half paying attention and it took him several seconds to look up. He pointed at himself.
“Who? You…you mean me?”
“No; I mean the one sat on your fuckin’ shoulders! Yes; you!”
Ryan was affronted and pulled a face to make sure the soldier knew. He hated the military. The chip on their shoulder grated on him in a massive way. He moved forwards towards the screening compound and was sure to discreetly nudge the soldier as he went by; part of him hoping for a reaction that didn’t come.
He stepped through a doorway and it was as though he was entering another world. Non-civilians were dressed from head to toe in biohazard gear aside from the doctors who were performing the screenings and the odd nurse. One of the biohazard suit wearing people showed him to a room where a smiling doctor greeted him.
“Welcome. I’m Dr Munroe. Please take a seat a moment while I prepare you for your scan and to take a sample of your blood”.
“I’d rather stand thanks. Why do you need my blood if you’re screening me anyway?”
“It’s better to be safe than sorry as I’m sure you’ll understand. The screen is generally a very accurate process, but it can occasionally be thrown by an anomaly”.
“An anomaly like what?”
“HIV for example”.
“Ah; right,” Ryan answered; sounding bored and looking around the room.
“Bear with me. I won’t be a tick”.
Ryan wondered momentarily whether the doctor was insinuating he looked the type who might be HIV positive. He thought about pushing to see if the man was racist; something he liked to do frequently, but thought better of it. Now wasn’t the time to start fights. He looked around the room, but there was decidedly little to see aside from the screening machine and a few medical bits and pieces. Dr Munroe finished messing around with whatever was on his desk and stood to face Ryan.
“You do have ID with you I presume?”
“Yeah,” Ryan said simply; handing Munroe his passport from out of his pocket.
“Very good. Okay, please remove your clothes down to your underwear”.
“Are you fucking kidding me,” Ryan asked with affront.
“It’s necessary for the screening process. I assure you I shan’t touch you”.
“You’re damned right about that, bro!”
Dr Munroe smiled sans humour before turning to face back to his desk. Ryan removed his tight black t-shirt first followed by his sneakers, socks and tracksuit bottoms. He caught his reflection in the window of the door and admired his pectoral muscles momentarily before Dr Munroe spoke again.
“Thank you, Mr Lloyd. Please step within the screening machine. The process will take less than a minute and then you can get dressed. After that, I’ll take a sample of your blood”.
“How long before you get the results?”
“The screen results are almost immediate. The bloods get taken to the lab and the results come through in no more than a couple of hours. It would be less, but there are a lot of samples to test as I’m sure you can imagine”.
“I thought blood test results took weeks,” Ryan said quizzically.
“There’s likely a lot of bullshit you took as read where the NHS is concerned,” Dr Munroe responded with a wink.
Ryan pulled a wry smile. He appreciated the barefaced honesty of the doctor. Munroe gestured towards the machine and Ryan stepped in. At Munroe’s request, Ryan stood with his arms by his side as a beam of blue light swept across his body from the top of his head to his toes three times. The beam of light went dark as soon as it’d done its third pass; the process taking less than a minute as promised; before Ryan stepped out of the scanning machine and dressed himself. After doing so, he sat on a chair across from Munroe who quickly took a sample of blood. Ryan didn’t even wince as the needle penetrated his arm.
Once that was done, Munroe told Ryan to head for the apparently clearly marked Intermediary Room. He hadn’t lied and Ryan found the room with ease. There was no direction as to what he should do from there so he simply took a seat in amongst a group of around fifty or so other people. A name was called out every couple of minutes and the person led into yet another room. Those called weren’t seen again from that point.
Ryan sat and contemplated what his immediate future might hold. He assumed if he was found to be infected he’d likely be sent back out into world to die an eventual death either by succumbing to the New Black Plague or being eaten alive by the monsters; an eventuality that admittedly scared him. He had no idea what the alternative would be. He’d heard rumours of ‘safe zones’ being hastily set up, but no other details.
The wait seemed a lot longer than what it was, but Ryan sat patiently; looking and speaking to nobody. It occurred to him after so long that neither of his friends had come through into the room; something he found strange given that they’d both been stood with him. He wondered if there were separate areas to this. It made sense as there were thousands of people outside waiting to be seen.
Eventually, Ryan’s name was called and an attractive nurse urged him to follow her to another area. He was only too happy to oblige; walking behind her closely and looking at her shapely backside with the rhythm of her gait.
They soon came to a room that was similar to the one he’d been in earlier only without the screening machine. A stern looking moustachioed military officer stood waiting and perused Ryan with angry eyes. Ryan looked anywhere but at the man as he stood before him.
“Ryan Wynton Lloyd?”
“Yeah,” Ryan replied in a bored tone.
“You have tested negative for the New Black Plague”.
Ryan tried not to show any physical relief; acting as though he’d known all along. However, a wave of it coursed through him with such force it threatened to bowl him over. He finally looked at the officer.
“You are cleared to join those heading for Safe Zone F2”.
“What does that mean?”
“It means you will be heading for Safe Zone F2. It is a safe zone where you will be under no threat from the lurchers. What more assurance do you need than that?”
He’d never heard of the undead referred to as lurchers before. He didn’t care for the officer’s attitude and stared the man down as he spoke.
“First of all, I couldn’t give a fuck about your uniform. Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid. Second of all, I have a right to know where I’m going. You aren’t my superior so don’t act like it”.
“First of all, Mr Lloyd, I will talk to you however I so choose. Second of all, you have no right to anything; least of all sanctuary in one of our military safe zones. Unless you want to wind up out there making your own way, I suggest you shut your mouth. Do I make myself clear?”
There was a silence for a few brief moments as Ryan once again struggled to bring his eyes to bear on the officer, but he eventually shrank and nodded.
“Good! There is a coach waiting in the garage area. I am sure even you won’t struggle to work out that yours is F2. Ensure that you board only that coach. If you are found trying to board any other then you will be refused sanctuary altogether and sent out to fend for yourself. You will be fed, clothed and looked after in the safe zone. There is electricity, light, hot water; everything you need to live a comfortable life until a solution to this problem is found. The where’s and the why’s are not important at this stage. You simply have to trust us. It is the only way you will survive”.
Ryan answered with a silent nod again. The officer smiled for the first time. It was genuine enough, but far from alluring; the top lip completely obscured by the thick mousy brown moustache.
“The way to the garage is self-explanatory. Follow the signs. Think yourself fortunate that you are one of the lucky ones”.
The attractive nurse held the door open for Ryan to walk through and they shot each other suggestive glances before Ryan walked one way and she walked the other. Even in an apocalypse situation the women seemed to be up for it, Ryan thought to himself.
The journey lasted a couple of hours and the coach had been desperately uncomfortable. Ryan had done as he was told and headed straight for his coach. There had been countless others lined up as well as his that were full of blank faces awaiting the next step of their ordeal. Ryan pondered that he somehow should’ve felt relieved or grateful for what was happening, but instead all he felt was trepidation and wariness. He’d wondered about Niall and Marcus and whether or not they’d got the all-clear too. He hadn’t seen them since he’d been called in for screening, but hoped they were okay.
The passengers on the coach were told nothing on the way and Ryan could hardly contain the growing frustration. There seemed no reason for their lack of candidness. Ryan was suspicious as to whether they were intentionally trying to create tension.
It wasn’t hard to spot the safe zone compound when they approached. A part of a town or city was surrounded by interlaced beige coloured twenty foot high barriers topped with barbed wire. It was impossible to judge the circumference of the barriers from their vantage point, but it looked as though it was likely to be a large area.
They pulled up at the heavily fortified gate and the driver showed his ID to the armed guard standing sentry. There were at least fifteen men stationed all around it; each carrying some form of ranged weapon. Most had MG’s of some description, but a few were in possession of sniper rifles with hi-tech scopes attached to the top. No chances were being taken here.
The coach rolled through the gate and came into what was obviously a town centre. Ryan couldn’t recognise where they were, nor could he see any signs to give him an indication either which seemed strange to him. It was a few minutes before they came to a stop outside a generic looking building. The door opened and on stepped yet another military man who took a few seconds to cast his eyes over everybody.
“Ladies and gentlemen; welcome to Safe Zone F2. Some of you may recognise your surroundings and some of you won’t. Until the problem our country faces is finally solved, names of towns and cities are really of no consequence. However, if you must know where you are then I can tell you this is Sheffield in South Yorkshire. The city underwent a fierce clean-up operation around a week ago and people have been arriving for sanctuary ever since. This here is what you’ll call home for the foreseeable future. It used to be a bingo hall. There are beds enough for everybody; we’ve seen to that, so no squabbling over space. Please exit the coach calmly and in single file so your name can be checked at the door. The rules of your stay here will be explained in due course”.
Ryan watched as everybody diligently stood; picking up any bags or belongings they might have. He remained seated and decided he’d allow everybody else to get off the coach before he did. Once they’d left, he stood and made his way slowly to the door; exiting with a look in either direction. The military officer stood at the door and perused him.
“Take your time why don’t you,” he said facetiously.
“I was doing,” Ryan replied with boredom.
“Ryan Wynton Lloyd I assume,” the officer asked; checking his list.
“Head on through and find yourself a bunk. I’ll be through shortly to outline the rules”.
“Can’t wait,” Ryan responded with sarcasm.
The officer gave him a disapproving look, but said no more before stepping aside and allowing Ryan passage. Ryan stepped inside and passed through a reception area before heading out into a sizeable hall. There was chatter all around the room and he rolled his eyes with annoyance. He really wasn’t happy about what his living situation was suddenly about to become.
He wandered through the uncomfortable looking camp beds; most all with either somebody sat on them or with belongings around them. He eventually came to an empty one that was positioned right at the back wall near the caller’s stage. He had no belongings aside from what he already wore and a few personal items in his pockets so just lay down fully clothed on the bed. It felt more comfortable than he’d imagined it would be, but still not very. Plus it was a single. He’d spent his entire adult life sleeping in a super king-sized bed so this would take some getting used to.
The officer appeared ten or so minutes later to lay down the law. In a nutshell, he told them all the rules of the house; things like no smoking indoors, no looting and other general things. There were groans when he announced that no alcohol would be available, but three hot meals a day would be as long as supplies remained at a healthy level. While walking around the city was allowed, he impressed upon them not to go near the barriers and to ensure they returned to the hall within half an hour of the curfew horn. Anybody found wandering the streets after curfew would be punished. He failed to say how they’d be punished.
“It’s my obligation to give you all some statistics. Of the 64 million people residing within the UK, around 40 million have been screened at this stage and 4 million tested positive for the New Black Plague. That figure will rise. That has left us with the quandary of finding a safe haven for a potential 60 million UK residents. These safe zones have been set up in great number across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in as many major cities and towns as possible. All non-nationals are to be sent away. This may sound a little harsh, but we have a duty to keep Britain and her people safe. European nations have set up their own lines of preservation and North America is in the process of doing so also. The only way we can survive this situation is by preserving life and that means avoiding any and all contact with the lurchers. We still don’t know how this virus is contracted and as yet there is no known cure. Until there is, this is how we survive. You will be fed, you will be clothed and you will be looked after. All you have to do is follow the rules and life will go on. Hopefully everything will be sorted out soon. If not, then we’ll look at more long-term solutions. That is really all I have to say. I’m unable to take questions at present, but there will be opportunities over the next few days to speak with people in the know. Thank you for your time and I sincerely hope that you’re all comfortable here”.
The officer said no more before he walked away towards the exit of the hall. The voices of many struck up as they ignored his admission that he wouldn’t be taking questions. Ryan remained silent. There was nothing to ask that would change anything. He lay back down upon his camp bed and looked blankly at the ceiling. He wasn’t happy about the situation, but it was what it was. At least he was alive and able to fight another day.
TO BE CONTINUED
Don’t forget to keep up to date with the sister story that kick-started this whole ordeal; Just Another Apocalypse Diary by Kira Scribbled. Catch up with Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 by clicking the appropriate link.