by Nerys Wheatley
Chapter one teaser
The scream jarred Alex awake.
He swiped his dark hair from his eyes and stared up at the swirling artex pattern on the ceiling of his gloomy bedroom, uncertain if he’d dreamed the blood curdling shriek. The second scream convinced him he hadn’t.
A glance at the glowing figures on the clock next to his bed prompted a grimace.
Reluctantly pushing back his warm duvet, he climbed out of bed, grimacing again as his bare feet touched the cold, vinyl floor tiles. He grabbed the pair of jeans hanging over the back of the wooden chair by the window, pulling them on over his boxers as he peered between the edges of the curtains.
The road outside was pitch dark in the moonless night, as usual. Streetlights were never switched on in East Town, even though the residents paid their taxes the same as everyone else. It was fine for most of the people who lived there, but for normal people the darkness could be a problem. Not for Alex though. He could see every detail of the street two floors below.
Lines of cars edged the wide street. Every fifty feet or so a majestic plane tree reached for the sky from within its raised concrete plinth. The pavements were devoid of movement. In his half asleep state, Alex began to wonder if he could have imagined the screams.
Along the street a figure rounded the corner and sprinted in his direction. He or she was fast, dodging obstacles that normal eyes wouldn’t have seen in the thick darkness. After passing beneath Alex’s window without slowing, they finally disappeared into a building further down the road.
Ten seconds later, the runner was followed into the street by the leading edge of the mob.
The people in the crowd weren’t moving fast, but they didn’t have to. There were enough of them to look threatening, whatever they were doing. What they were doing was carrying flaming torches. Alex half expected to see a few pitchforks as well.
He judged there must have been more than a hundred people in the rowdy horde, mostly male from what he could see. The double glazing of the window wasn’t enough to block out the sounds of chants, raucous laughter and shouted insults. He heard “white-eye” more than once. One man broke away from the pack and threw his torch into the canopy of one of the trees at the side of the street. It immediately caught fire, lighting up the surrounding squat blocks of flats. Alex frowned and puffed out a breath, squinting as his eyes adjusted.
No doubt the people in the mob thought this would be fun.
They thought there were enough of them.
They thought they were invincible.
They always did.
“Damn it,” he said again, louder this time. All he wanted to do was sleep.
He pulled on the black t-shirt he’d left keeping his jeans company, pushed his bare feet into his trainers and jogged into the living room. Grabbing a battered aluminium baseball bat from where it was leaning against the wall next to the TV, he opened the front door and ran out into the hallway.
In his haste, he almost collided with the six foot four black man exiting the door next to his.
“Sorry, man,” Leon said, pulling the door to his flat shut and hefting a cricket bat over his shoulder. “I’m like the walking dead here.”
Alex heard bolts being thrown on the other side. “Tell me about it.”
“Second time this month,” Leon said as they made their way to the stairs. “You’d think it would be getting better, not worse.”
“Yeah, and why does it always have to be in the middle of the night?” Alex replied. “Why can’t they come at a more civilised hour? I have work in the morning.”
Leon’s booming laugh echoed up and down the stairwell. “A violent mob without manners, who would’ve thunk?”
More of their neighbours joined them, both men and women, as they walked out onto the street. Others filtered from the doors of nearby buildings. All of them had some sort of blunt weapon. No-one had knives. Of course, a big stick could just as easily be fatal with enough force behind it, but they would be careful. The death of a normal in the East Town area of Sarcester, how the campaigners would love that.
The mob came to a halt thirty feet away. The smoky scent of the torches combined with the smell of burning foliage pricked at Alex’s over sensitive nose and he fought the urge to cough. He also detected the faint unpleasant aroma of body odour. They could at least have showered first.
Despite their bravado, most of the men facing them now looked on edge, ranging from nervous to downright terrified, glancing around them as if they expected a wave of ravenous monsters to flood from the surrounding buildings at any second. It was one thing to shout and goad an empty street, but quite another to come face to face with their nightmares.
Alex glanced at the people standing around him. The light from the flames danced on their faces and reflected in their almost colourless eyes, the black dots of their pupils virtually the only feature breaking up the whites of their eyeballs. It was kind of disconcerting, if you weren’t used to seeing it. It was the only time he was ever grateful for the disfigurement.
“We want you out, white-eyes,” a man standing front and centre in the mob shouted.
Mutation (Twenty-Five Percent Book 1), available now at http://myBook.to/Mutation
Also available – Downfall (Twenty-Five Percent Book 2) http://myBook.to/Downfall
Nerys Wheatley was born in the UK and grew up in the decade of shoulder pads and big hair. She writes fast moving, action packed horror and science fiction with strong characters and a sense of humour. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read, go for walks, read, watch TV shows about spaceships and/or zombies, play the piano, and sometimes she does a little reading.
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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
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