Jolie du Pre is hosting (I wrote hosing, which might also be true) a Zombie Blog Hop here http://www.preciousmonsters.com/p/zombie-blog-hop-on-december-7-2012.html
I have only written one Zombie story even though there are reviews of books with Zombie themes in this blog of mine down – way down below. Just lately, while babysitting my grandkids and watching some kid’s TV a zombie story ate its way into my brain so I’ll share it here:
Don’t read if you are squeamish although it’s tame compared to some I’ve read. The BBC have copyright of The Night Garden and Iggle Piggle.
With concerned pride Scriabin looks across his apartment lounge at his infant children. Normally his oh-so-cream and Merlot contemporary apartment hosts his offspring every other weekend but this time he has them for a week. A delight and yet a constraint on his routine. Their faces glow in reflected blues and pinks, but unlike him, they are not perspiring from watching the news.
He stares back at the large, magnificently-manly wall-mounted Sony in disbelief – forcing himself to not shout out in case twins Andy and Isobel look up from their Game Boys. Scriabin’s shirt sticks with worry between his shoulder blades and sends a shiver up his neck. He flip-flops between news channels. Ah, now his children look up the news screen. He presses the off button to a disapproval chorus.
“Sorry, kids, don’t you have homework?”
Isobel shakes her black hair then picks up and talks into her red toy megaphone. “We’re only Year One, daddy. Done our reading already.”
Scriabin mock salutes her – she likes his playacting. He marches out of the lounge, taking the remote with him into his bedroom then staggers as his ex-wife’s residual scent of roses assaults his nostrils. He flops on the bed then accesses the news on his mobile.
Earlier that evening, BBC24 News reported from outside the Hospital San Pietro Fatebenefratelli in Rome. Reporter Alison Freya re-directed a wayward red hair and said, “The PR here denies attacks on doctors and nurses and everything is under control – she says.” She leans into the lens as if confiding personally to Scriabin.
“I saw them. Like demented animals, wandering around, some with blood on their chins. People running from them – hey!” She’s barged into by a man running sideways pointing to the left of shot. Back to studio.
The BBC played too safe after that, so Scriabin taps into a live webcam site, tries to find the hospital on Via Cassia, locates the Piazza di Spagna and freezes. It’s night but lit in amber the tourists on those Spanish Steps are running, stumbling and falling. He sets it to record. He had a feeling this was going to happen somewhere in the Mediterranean region. His Rutherford Appleton lab sent warnings but only a few science journalists took the solar flare alert seriously. Everyone had heard it all before. Editors knew about the Carrington Effect, and so many documentaries and Hollywood films have inured the public to the EMP possibilities.
Before Scriabin turned to astronomy, he’d worked as a researcher in spongiform encephalopathy, specialising in epilepsy. He knows how electrical impulses can change people’s brains. He shivers in fear – mainly for his children. Yes, and for his former wife, sunning her stunning self in Malta.
Oh no, they’ve put the TV back on.
He ran into the lounge and sees a close up of a man screaming, luckily the crowd cacophony drowned his voice. Scriabin’s skin crawled both for himself and his family, although they took more interest in squabbling over the remote control.
“Daddy, get The Night Garden on for me. I don’t like this.”
If only Scriabin could let real life horror pass him by so easily. He punches at the remote and the children’s BBC programme replaces the nightmare in Rome with a blue-skinned weirdo called Igglepiggle sailing peacefully into the ocean at night. No life-jacket, no radio, no flares. He never sleeps. Maybe he’s got it right.
“Nearly bedtime, kids.” Unnecessary, since they always go into bed-preparation-mode when this adult windup, children’s wind down programme ends.
Scriabin shivers knowing that behind the channel of the innocents there are others revealing a dark side. Newscasters will be reporting with practised incredulity in cosy studies or in panic if made to stand in front of those Spanish Steps.
He nearly forgot; the kids need their warm milk before bed. He walks into the kitchen, tip breadsticks in a bowl and sets a saucepan on the stove. The aroma of full fat milk always took him back to his own childhood. How calm, safe and uncomplicated were those halcyon days, especially with the more melancholy experiences filtered out.
Waiting for the milk to cool, he strolls to the window and looks through dark rain-splattered windows across the Thames. Blue lights light the capsules on the London Eye as they rotate, returning every half hour – safe, continuous, dependable. If only life, now, was like that.
If it was just for himself he wouldn’t be so concerned. Yes, a fraction – maybe thirty percent – of the acid burning in his stomach is for his own life, but the rest is for his two little ones. What future is there if those zombie wraiths spread beyond Rome? Dissipate like an oil spill across Europe and into Britain via ferries, planes and cars through the Channel Tunnel? What are the authorities doing to block them? Nothing because of inertia, disbelief and no one’s responsibility.
He taps his smartphone, hoping for denials. Damn, even CNN can’t get enough of live footage of staggering weirdoes. Look, close up of a wheelchair woman, who couldn’t get down the steps. Two have reached her and taking bites of her arms. The scene is cut. Less sensitive channels will be broadcasting it but the milk is cooling too much, so Scriabin carries a tray with supper for Isobel and Andy.
Tears well up as he takes in the view of his children enjoying the surreal yet calming show on the television. Their faces, with fluorescent reflective sheens, break into smiles at the antics of alien weirdness cavorting across garish landscapes ooing and squeaking. Maybe the tweaking of cerebral synapses both induces sleep and creativity. He thinks back to his own television upbringing and smiles at recollections of the Magic Roundabout.
A red splash of paint shoots across his mental re-vision. What? He blinks and sees his children again watching the little green hills and lollipop trees of the high definition, low attention-span programme. Where did the dagger come from in his head? Another flare spike, but affecting brains – or just his brain? Focussed on him via electronic devices, such as the damn television. Is that how it started in Rome? Is it already too late to save his kids?
His knees give way and he collapses into an old armchair sending a cloud of motes into the air. Isobel looks away from the little people on the screen – Scriabin could never decide whether they were little actors in costume or CGI – and opens her big brown eyes at him.
“You okay, Daddy?”
At her question, Andy looks across too. “He’s in one of his funny moods again. Daddy, I want Shark 3 on. Night Garden’s for babies.”
“Don’t listen to Andy, Daddy. Mummy said I can watch it at bedtimes forever.”
“Quite right, Isobel. Andy, you can watch Shark 3 – hang on, that’s a horror film! You can’t watch that but you can choose a kid’s film at the weekend.”
Scriabin watches his kids sip their milk. He shocks himself with the realization that Andy’s desire to watch unreal, manufactured horror is far less than the reality behind, beyond the television. What are his options? Barricade this apartment after buying in a year’s worth of provisions – get it delivered from an online supermarket. Perhaps persuade Yolanda, their mother, to return from her holiday and take her kids back to their Chingford home.
That won’t work. She’s not going to break her sun, sea and sex break. She never watches the news, and by the time the news breaks over her head it’ll be too late. He should take the two far away, perhaps America. No, Iceland would be better: a small island, more likely to be isolated from travellers from Italy. Then he might be underestimating world visitors everywhere. It’s that Vladimar Ashkenazy’s fault, making Iceland his home and so encouraging piano-loving tourism. Ah, and Bjork, widening the island’s off-beat musical appreciation worldwide. Damn them both. Perhaps America would be better so they can rush onwards to Canada or Mexico and beyond.
It would mean a hasty packing, and driving to North London to grab the kid’s passports, assuming he could find them. He shouldn’t take more time off work, but butbut it gorbly muskab dig.
Scriabin knuckles his forehead. It helps.
“I’ll go run your bath. You’re on a five mobbely warning. Right?”
He levers himself up out of the sunken armchair, using shaky legs and arms and walks slowly as fast as he can to the bathroom. Bees are playing hide and seek in his head. He turns the taps and he gloops in a royal blue drop of Kiddy Safe Bubble smelling of Spearmint. Yuk, but they like it. A duck in next; its beak turns red when it’s too hot, blue when frigid. Purple when he now wrings its neck.
Scriabin swishes the water sending foam into the air. Too much – oh well. His sleeves are wet because he forgot to roll them up.
He walks to the doorway. “Bath’s ready. Dive in while I get your pijs blood groks.”
Isobel appears at the door and turns so he can undo buttons. “It’s not finished yet, but it doesn’t matter. I want my pink fairy princess ones.”
The first two buttons comes undone easily but he fumbles, fails with the others. He looks at Andy, who’s undressed, and points at the dress, but the boy laughs and climbs into the bath taking a pirate ship in with him. The third button falls off and with impatience Isobel pulls the dress off her shoulders.
Scriabin turns towards their bedroom. “Gribstuck…”
“Daddy,” Isobel says, “are you trying to learn French?”
Scriabin stumbles as the bees perform a dance and begins filling his right brain hemisphere with a honeycomb. Hot, his neck, chest – spreading down his legs. Eyes blur. Must get their pyjamas. He trips over a squeaked toy: must be Andy’s inflatable shark. Head hits the floor, black peripheral vision closes in.
On his back with eyes shut, or vision gone, his prone body sways and the tang of seaweed tells him he’s in a boat. Not possible but greshen it’s happening. A loud hiss stabs fear into his chest forcing him to crank his eyelids open.
A giant blue cylindrical – no, banana shape – looms over him; a nightmare creature with giant eyes and sharp fabrigangles. Krakink… He tries to stop thinking. He knows he’s looking at a monstrous Igglepiggle so this must be a waywispgarble dreammare. Isn’t it? The monster shuffles closer, making the boat tilt and Scriabin scream. It bends down opening its mouth. Fetid breath and saliva-dripping fangs close in on Scriabin’s face, who ducks and closes his teeth on a furry leg as a pre-emptive strike. He expected blood – any colour, taste and smell, and screaming, but his teeth can’t get through the fur. It tasted more of a nylon carpet drobbleget than… of course.
The nonsense part of his brain fights to gain complete access and control but he struggles to keep his human-ness alive. Has the solar flare fed through electronic EMP in humans and television? Is Iggle a symbol of the zombification even if just for him? He can’t think straykillt while trying to eat, fight this kid’s favourite. The sweat on his forehead stinging his eyes feels real enough though it could be seawater, but that would be surreal too. He must be on his lounge floorescence. Kids still in their bath or buggeringell, watching him writhing, grotching, in despair.
The ogre closes its teeth on Scriabin’s arm and tears into it, shocking pain, blood spurting into the starry night air. It lets go and aims for Scriabin’s throat. Too wreckingone weak to stop it. Going going.
Then it is gone. His vision gone again too, but the rocking ends, pain dissipates. A weight presses on him.
“Daddy, get up. It’s story time.”
Eyes open, he sees Isobel now dressed in pyjamas. Andy is by the turned-off television. Maybe that turned the signal to his brain off.
He looks for a peaceful happyclappy story to read but they all have their own ogres. Hello Kitty and Spot the Dog came to his rescue.
They fall asleep and Scriabin, smiling, creeps back into the lounge. Pours himself a large whisky. Maybe the event is over in Rome too. A temporary flare inducing a short-lived effect on susceptible people. The drink and realization warms his stomach and mind.
He should send a text to Yolanda, let her know the kids had a good day and are safe in bed.
“Hi Y. Gribbaf vioudle brundisze.”