One Thousand Worlds couldn't let Halloween go by, without doing something a little creepier than the regular fantasy and sci-fi features. So today I am delighted to invite you to enter, if you dare, the world of Lament for the Living by David Nicol.
Lament for the Living-
Lament for the Living-
Lament for the Living is a book featuring zombies, but isn't a story about zombies. It's set three years after the Outbreak that caused society to consume itself leaving sporadic groups of survivors to rebuild their lives. Lament for the Living is the first of three books that charts the journey of the survivors as their existence is threatened for a second time, but this time it's not the dead they need to fear. Forget the dead; lament for the living. The first one thousand words gives a taste of the initial Outbreak, following the effect it has on one Anthony Redfern. If you were to read further, you'll be transported to three years later when Anthony encounters Sacks, one of the survivors who lives in a secluded settlement called the Sanctuary. The people of the Sanctuary, under the direction of their leader Tobias, attempt to remain isolated and undiscovered. However, another group of survivors is about to smash their goal.About the author-David Nicol is a horror and science fiction author living in Wales. Lament for the Living is his his first full-length novel.
Anthony Redfern R.I.P.
Anthony Redfern had a good life. It wasn't a great life; he still bought a lottery ticket each week, but it was good enough for him to be mostly content. After kissing his wife and daughter goodbye, he left for work. The daily commute. The ritual observed by millions all around the world. Two buses, one train, shoulder to shoulder jostling with numerous strangers, standing room only, avoiding eye contact. Through the narrow tunnels, up the narrow escalator. Once out of the claustrophobic train station came the long walk. Flowing in the river of people. Human flotsam carried on the current of human commerce. Each day, a carbon copy of the one before. Weekends interspersed the routine, but came and went before they could be fully appreciated.
Each morning he'd stop at 'Happy News' to buy a newspaper. Over time his preferred broadsheet had succumbed to the changing tastes in the world where everything was being miniaturised except for prices and coffee portions. He handed over the cost of the newspaper, folded it and tucked it under his arm. He thanked Pablo the newsagent, and left the narrow shop to continue his journey to work.
Movement in the periphery of his vision caught his attention. It was out of place. Someone running. Not jogging, or running for a bus. Running like their life depended on it. It was a woman. Screaming. Her jacket torn. Another woman was bounding after her. Her clothes were ripped and blood stained. People deliberately looked elsewhere, turned their attention to the floor, to their watches or phones, carrying on about their business. Right in front of Anthony the pursuer caught her prey, driving her to the floor as she leapt on her back and began clawing at her.
“Hey!” Anthony yelled. He swatted the attacker with his newspaper as if she were a disobedient dog, but there was no response. The woman on the floor was screaming and crying out for help.
“Someone call the police.” Anthony called to those walking past. “You,” he pointed at a passing businessman who looked back at him, startled “call the police. Do it now.” The businessman shook his head and quickened his step. Cursing to himself Anthony stepped forward hesitantly, unsure of what to do. He pushed the attacker with his foot. “Stop it.” She snapped her head around, growling through a blood soaked mouth, her teeth broken and ragged. Anthony froze as their eyes met; she glared at him, but seemed to be looking through him. Her eyes bloodshot, the irises unnaturally pale, with a yellow ring around them. Before Anthony could react, she lunged and sank her teeth into his calf. He screamed in pain and fell heavily backwards, kicking out with his other foot. The heel of his shoe connected with enough force to break and spread her nose across her face, tearing the flesh from the bone and cartilage revealing the gaping nasal cavity.
Grabbed from behind, Anthony was dragged away from the bloody mess on the floor. He looked up to see two police officers taking control. One, on his radio updating the control room, the other was barking orders to the badly injured attacker to back away. Two more police officers approached from the other direction. They drove the woman into the ground and began to restrain her. One of the officers didn't move quickly enough and was bitten on the hand, a ragged crescent of ripped flesh oozed blood. Anthony noticed that the victim of the original attack was no longer moving. Blood was pooling below her and running towards the gutter at the side of the road. Vehicles had begun to stack up on either side of the road. Impatient drivers, oblivious to what was causing the holdup angrily sounded their horns.
The attacker continued to struggle and snap at anyone who came close despite being handcuffed with two officers holding her legs. One of them held up his injured hand, examining the ugly bite in disbelief.
“I can't believe she bit me, the mad bitch.” He complained.
Anthony stared in wide eyed confusion at the scene before him. He heard someone speaking.
“Are you okay?” The officer that had pulled him back asked. Anthony turned to look at him.
“Uh, yeah, I think so.” Anthony replied absently. “A bit shaken up.”
“Do you need an ambulance?”
“No, no, don't be silly. I have to get to work.”
“Right. I'm going to take your details. We'll be in touch to take a statement later today. You've had a bit of a shock, if I were you I'd head home. But obviously that's up to you.”
Anthony nodded. He gave the officer his contact information and took a card with the incident details on it for reference. His calf felt stiff and he limped a bit as he walked away, his dark clothing masking the blood that seeped from his leg. He ignored the noises behind him as he headed back to the train station. In the background he missed the scene as one of the officers bent down to check on the condition of the victim of the attack, only for her to grab him and begin biting and clawing at him before the others could react.
Anthony walked down the steps of the railway station just in time to catch the home bound train. He rang his office to let them know that he wouldn't be in and briefly explained what had happened. He let them know that he'd catch up with emails at home then turned off his phone. By the time he got on the second bus in his journey he began to feel hot, his calf felt swollen and itchy. He'd have to soak it and then put plenty of Savlon on when he got home, he thought.
The house was empty. His wife at work, his daughter at school. A cup of tea and a nice warm bath would sort him out. He was sweating. His head hurt. Anthony turned the bath taps on and then made himself a cup of tea. Feeling tired from his chaotic morning he sat down on his favourite chair. Just for a minute, with his cup of tea. He closed his eyes.
Anthony Redfern died in his chair. The bath continued to fill. It overflowed, flooding the bathroom and the rooms below it. When his wife came home she found him. He killed her before she could be upset about the water damage, or realise he was dead. Their daughter came home later. She had been out with friends to an after school club. Together they killed her. Then the three of them made their way out of the house and visited their neighbours.
That was three years ago.