"So what's the plan?" Ben repeated.
I took another long swig from the bottle, wiped my mouth and placed it on the side. "I don't fucking know Ben do I?" I snapped at him. "I'm not fucking Arnold Schwarzeneger or Chuck fucking Norris! I'm a supply teacher who lives in Birmingham! I'm not even a proper teacher! I just temp and fill gaps!" I threw the glass on the side at the wall in anger to illustrate my frustration. Ben shrank into his chair.
"There's no need to talk to me like that mate is there? I'm sorry you can't get to your kids, I'm sorry everything is fucked up, but we need to sort something out! And getting pissed isn't the answer Rob!" He snatched the bottle of whisky off me and passed it to Erica. "It was you who just grabbed me and took me on a little adventure which almost fucking killed us! I figured you'd have something going on in that mind of yours, such as a plan for when we all got back here, such as, I don’t know, getting the fuck out of dodge!" Ben pushed his face right into mine.
"Back off Ben." I growled at him.
"Guys, come on! Posturing and pushing each other around isn't going to solve anything now is it?" Chris said to us, putting his hands on our shoulders.
"Fuck off Chris!" Ben snapped at him, pushing his arm away. "I know you had a traumatic morning, but fuck mate! Couldn't you have shut the fucking door when you got in?"
"Boys please knock this SHIT OFF!" Erica shouted. We all looked at her stunned. "What chance do we have of fighting those things when all you seem to want to do is fight one another! We have to stick together here otherwise we are all dinner for those things. It's going to start getting dark soon. We have to figure things out, like where we are going to sleep, what weapons we've got in the house, food, water, light discipline, guard duty. More importantly, we have to figure a way of getting to the people we love." She grabbed my hand. "We have to get prepared Rob." She leant into me and kissed me. "Come on, let’s go and..." A banging on the front door broke her off. Ben and Chris jumped.
"Ben get your club. Chris, grab whatever you can. Erica, stay behind me."
"Rob, I can take care of myself"
"still, stay behind me."
We crept up the hallway and opened the inner door. The banging got louder. Then there was a shout from the other side of the door.
"Let us in, for Christ's sake please let us in." It was Pete from across the road.
I unlocked the door and opened it. Pete, Alex and Kev came bounding in.
"Jesus Christ, it's fucking insane out there!" Pete said as he turned to us. "Tony's dead. He got bitten by one of those things. We were all in town and got herded back this way when the Bull Ring exploded.
As we were all fighting our way back up this way, we got attacked. One of them jumped us, and grabbed Tony. We tried to fight it off, but we didn't get it in time. It bit Tony on the neck. We carried him as far as we could but he died before we could get him anywhere we could treat him." I looked down at Pete's hands. They were covered in blood, Alex's and Kev's too.
"Ok. Where did you put his body?" Erica asked them.
"We had to leave it in the street. We had to get somewhere safe." Pete was shaking, he was visibly in shock.
"Guys, come and sit down. You need to calm down." Chris pointed towards the kitchen.
"We just left him." Alex said, his expression blank and dazed.
"Al, come on mate, let’s get you sat down" Kev said to him. Kev took him into the kitchen, and sat him at the table.
"Have a coffee guys, or would you prefer something stronger?" Erica asked them, passing over the bottle of whisky.
"Thanks." Kev took the bottle and passed it to Alex. Alex drank greedily from it. He was drinking to forget.
"Thinking about it, where's Si? Chris said.
"Haven't you seen him?" Ben asked.
"No mate. Nobody was in when I got back."
The kitchen door opened and in walked Simon, still in his t shirt and boxer shorts. The sleepy expression and bed head told us all he'd just woken up.
"Alright guys, what’s the occasion?" He pointed to the whisky. "Any for me?" He took the bottle and had a sip. "Ahh." He licked his lips. "Hair of the dog." He drank from it again. "Who wants some?" He looked around at us all. He must have seen the blood all over Pete, Alex and Kev, and the splatter on Erica's face. "Shit guys, what the fucks been going on?"
" You honestly mean you don't know?" Ben said in disbelief.
"Know what mate? I just got up. Had a heavy night."
Every stared at him hard. I took him aside into the hallway.
"Si, the shit's hit the fan. Remember that boat crash in Grimsby?"
"Yeah man, it was fucking tragic. What about it?"
"Well since then, strange shit's been going on. People are dying, then coming back to life, and then trying to kill the living and either eat them, or turn them."
Simon looked at me and gave me a wry smile. He ruffled his hair, looked down at the floor and then back at me. "Fuck off mate, I’ve heard some stories in my time, but this is a bit farfetched!"
"Simon, I’m not kidding mate. Things are bad. Tony, from across the road, he's dead. The Bull Ring's exploded. No one can get anywhere. Hagley Road and Wolverhampton Road are a bloodbath. The M6 is gridlocked. We're stuck here."
He looked at me. He was starting to wake up.
"Shit man, I need to ring my brother. What the fuck! Why did nobody wake me up?" He went to grab his phone from upstairs.
"The lines are jammed Simon. We've not been able to get through to anyone. And we didn't come get you because we've all had to make our way back from work. Not all of us work from home mate."
"That’s not my fault Rob, I didn't ask for my diabetes to fucking up its ante did I?"
"Simon, I’m not getting at you mate, I’m just explaining what’s been going on."
He scratched his head. "I'm going to get dressed, don't do anything without me. Plus I need to sort out my injection mate. Promise you won't decide on anything until I’m back downstairs?"
Si ran off up the stairs to get himself sorted.
I walked back from the hallway into the kitchen. Kev was staring into space, Pete and Alex were huddled together in the corner. Ben and Chris were hunched over the laptop, and Erica was fiddling with my lighter.
"Want one?" I asked, offering her my packet of cigarettes.
She looked at me, the lighter still twiddling in her fingers. She then reached out and took one of the cigarettes. She slowly put it to her lips and flicked the lighter into the life. She stared at the flame for a second, then lit the cigarette. She inhaled, coughed a little bit, then blew out the blue smoke. She placed my lighter on the worktop.
"I haven't smoked since college Rob. But at this moment in time, I shall make an exception. Things are bad aren't they?"
I looked from my feet to her face. "Yes, yes things are bad, but look, there's eight of us. We can arm ourselves, go get food, weapons etc, and then maybe look into getting evacuated. I'm sure the armies got to have a plan to get things sorted. Or the Government or somebody. There must be plans to combat situations like this?"
"Situations like this?" She inhaled from the cigarette again, held it in her lungs for a moment, then exhaled. "I don't think anyone ever imagined a situation like this! I sure as hell haven't ever imagined something like this happening!"
I took out a cigarette myself, grabbed the lighter off of the side and lit it. The smoke hung in the air, giving Erica's face a hazy look to it. "Ok, well look, we still have each other, and it's like you said, we need to start planning. We need to do something!"
"Rob, Erica, you guys need to take a look at this." Chris shouted to us from behind the screen of his laptop. "The Prime Minister has posted something on YouTube, since I’m assuming the TV stations have been evacuated. I haven't checked the radio."
Simon came back in at this point, he'd thrown on some clothes, and was rubbing his stomach, obviously from his Insulin injection. He might have had to do it every day, but he never got used it. He was always complaining about it hurting. "What's the news?" He said to Chris, then again picked up the whisky bottle, and started drinking from it. Alex, Pete, Kev, Ben, Erica, Chris and Myself all crammed around the laptop, eager to see what Chris had found. Chris clicked the link, and the screen filled up with the image of the Prime Minister. He then started to speak.