Authors: Ian Woodhead
Welcome to the
Four complete zombie novels for your enjoyment
The Unwashed Dead
Embrace of the Dead
Mouthful of Carrion
Kingdoms of the Dead
The Unwashed Dead
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright March 2011 by Ian Woodhead
Copyright March 2015 by Ian Woodhead
Revised edition edited by Linda Tooch
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, scanning or otherwise, without prior permission of the author.
I’d like to thank all those wonderful people who, over the years, have supported and encouraged me to continue writing. You all rock!
The dark had returned. That all-encompassing terror that once froze every nerve ending slid her soft fingers in the gaps in Ashton Naylor’s psyche. He thought—hoped, that he’d put that bitch to bed years ago.
His terror of the dark, stemming from a childhood incident, had only crept over him in the last couple of hours. Right now, only the strip lighting above his head kept that fear from suffocating him.
“Go get fucked,” he snarled through clenched teeth. This wasn’t happening to him. It couldn’t be happening. No, he’d got rid of this bastard years ago. He wasn’t going to allow it back into his life; who in their right mind was scared of the pissing dark at nineteen?
“Only pussies and the weak.” Ashton dropped his eyelids. He dug his nails into the edge of the kitchen table and growled. Her claws found those gaps as soon as the darkness blotted out the harsh white light. Ashton found himself back in the old coal cellar, aged six, slamming his hands against that door, pleading for his best mate to let him out.
He tightened his grip on the kitchen top and rocked back and forth whilst ordering those ancient memories to go back in that locked box. This was his mind, and shit like that had no place in there.
Ashton opened his eyes and blinked rabidly; he took a deep shuddering breath and smiled, watching a spider crawl out from underneath the strip light’s rusty white casing. Darren Belmont had only agreed to let him out of that place until Ashton had told his best mate that he’d pissed his pants.
“What in frig is up with me?” he muttered. It wasn’t just the childhood fear scratching at his bones, he’d picked up the worst headache he’d ever had the displeasure of owning. Ashton looked away from the white light, following the spider’s progress down the greasy dark blue tiles. “Mind you don’t slip there, fella.”
He leaned forward and inspected the cupboard doors beneath his feet. The cheap pretend wood had seen better days. Hell, he’d found better pieces when he’d helped his dad repair the old man’s pigeon coop, and they’d been found hidden with the rest of the shit thrown in the waste ground behind their house. He slammed both his heals of his size ten army boots against the doors, grinding his teeth in pain when the vibration shot through his bones.
“You’re having a laugh.” The scratches left from his effort just blended in with the rest of the damage. Now, if he’d worn his new Doc Marten boots, Ashton reckoned he’d have smashed through that wood easily. They were his kicking boots. He’d screwed metal studs in both the heals and toes.
Ashton filled his lungs with tobacco tainted air and leaned back against the tiles. He felt absolutely no guilt over trying to smash in those doors. Why should he care? After all, it’s not like Darren’s mum and dad gave a shit about their house. Shame really, considering he knew a guy who’d be able to make this shitty kitchen look well smart, with top of the range units, a decent hob and oven, even fancy tiles. He’d be able to get them some proper lino as well. Just like the rest of this shitty kitchen, their lino was way past its sell by date. Come to think of it, Ashton couldn’t remember this kitchen looking any different.
Why was he even bothering to wander down that particular road? His mate’s parents obviously couldn’t have given two shits about the state of their house. It not like they couldn’t afford it. They just didn’t care. Neither of them were in the house long enough to notice that the place resembled a run-down squat.
Ashton put aside yet another pointless idea to make a few extra notes and got down to the serious business of building up his joint. He so needed to smooth away the edges, and having a few tokes seemed like the only logical idea. The headache was fixable, and he believed this weird re-emergence of his childhood fear would probably fuck off once the sun came up.
In all fairness, Ashton should probably get himself off home and curl up in bed. Now that really was the most logical idea. Like that could ever happen. Ashton had to be here, he had responsibilities as well as an image to uphold. How would it look if he did leave this party early? He’d look like a pussy, simple as.
In all fairness? Shite. If he was going to be fair, then why the fuck wasn’t he in the living room, dancing and flirting with the rest of them. Ashton groaned, he had more chance of sneaking off home. If he did go back in there his head was likely to detonate. As far as he could make out, the kitchen was the quietest room in the house. Even so, that infuriating music still leaked through the thin walls and kitchen door, aggravating his pounding headache. At least in here, Ashton could hear himself think.
Was it even right to call this annoying trance shite music? He’d rather listen to his dad’s music than this. At least the Rolling Stones had a beat to it. Oh sure, this was Darren’s house, but the clown should at least take his condition and feelings into consideration.
“You’re such a miserable bastard, Ashton,” he muttered. Just because he felt like death warmed up, it didn’t mean everybody else should feel the same way. Judging by the amount of kids in this house, none of them shared his pain. None of them shared his opinion that this noise sucked monkey’s balls either. Christ, he really had packed them in this time. Darren had turned his house into a frigging sardine can.
He tempted fate and shut his eyes again, then pressed his cheek against the cold tiles. Right now he didn’t care about the dark getting him or that ten years of accumulated chip pan grease was touching his skin, all he wanted was for this grinding headache to go get fucked. A few minutes ago, he believed that pain seriously couldn’t get any worse. It looked like he was so wrong on that score. It felt as though the back of his skull was about to rupture. Ashton had even contemplated grinding up his last two painkillers into his joint.
The kitchen door burst open, spilling the foul racket into his private sanctuary. His eyes snapped open, and he slammed his teeth together to stop the cry of pain from blasting out of his mouth. The gummed up paper and tobacco mixed with weed tumbled through his fingers. The mess drifted into a pool of spilled lager.
Ashton lifted his head, feeling deep rage expand through his stocky body. The noise wasn’t all that had spilled through that open door. His hard gaze settle upon a young scruffy girl with short-cropped blonde hair and wearing some god-awful lime green dress so tight it looked like the bitch had poured herself into it.
She kept her thin fingers wrapped tight around the silver handle and stared at him as if he was some stupid puppy in a pet shop window. He’d not seen this docile looking girl before. Not that it shocked him. Unlike Darren, he wasn’t exactly the social type. His mate probably knew every teen in the Breakspear Housing Estate. He wasn’t sure what annoyed him the most, whether it was her orange painted nails tapping on the side of the door or those non blinking moo-cow eyes.
“For crying out fucking loud!” he roared. “What the hell are you staring at me like that for? What is it, have I got shit on my nose or something?” Finally, she blinked. “Shut that bastard door, and make sure you’re on the other side of it!”
Ashton released a satisfied sigh when the girl yelped as if he’d just backhanded her. She ran back into the room and slammed the door. For one brief moment the guilt for acting like a total cock filled him up. Ashton only had to look at the state of his joint to know that he’d acted correctly. Fuck her, what right did she have to making him jump? Besides, she’d also given him the stare.
He held his arms out in front of his body, noticing the shakes. “Was I a little rash there?” From the brief look that he got, the lass did have a decent looking body, shoehorned into that very tight dress. If the tart was swanning about at one of Darren’s parties, she was bound to be a bit on the loose side. Ashton doubted that’s she’d be edging towards the wizard’s sleeve category just yet, she only looked about fifteen; still, she could have been a decent lay though.
Ashton thrust his hand deep into his jeans pocket, fumbling through the collected sweet wrappers searching for the last packet of paper. He decided to place the idea of shagging some tasty bird on the back burners for the moment. If the opportunity arose, then he’d have a go, but right now he really did need to get some weed smoke into his lungs.
The door handle moved ever so slightly. He turned to watch it, this time trying to stem that rage from boiling over. If those big brown eyes drank in Ashton’s body, he’d at least try to be civil this time, as long as she shut that bloody door and didn’t talk. If anyone else entered, nothing would stop him from jumping off this kitchen counter and punching the fucker into the middle of next week.
His anger dropped down a few notches at the sight of Darren Belmont framed in the doorway. His mate wandered further into the kitchen, pausing to kick the door shut behind him.
Whereas Ashton had a bit of weight about him, Darren looked like a walking corpse; it had been remarked that he resembled a sweeping brush with an eating disorder, not that anybody would dare say that to Darren’ face—not if they wished to keep their teeth. Although the lad did eat like a pig, he just never piled on the weight. This didn’t stop Darren from being one of the hardest lads that Ashton knew. They had both been in a few battles with other kids from the neighbouring estates, and he considered it an honour to watch the master at work. Darren just went fucking psycho in a scrap. Ashton had the utmost respect for his best mate.
“I hear that you’ve been a bit shouty, mate. Was there any need to upset my guest like that?” Darren strolled over to him and snatched the papers out of Ashton’s trembling fingers. “Just what the fuck is wrong with you today, buddy? You’ve been acting like a puff with a sore arse all bastard day.”
“Do you have a frigging ear disease, or something? I told you earlier that my head is killing me. It feels like there’s a brass band in there,” he snapped.
“What are they playing?”
“Oh fuck off. I’m serious here. I should be in bed, not at your fucking party.”
Darren handed him back the paper, all gummed up and ready to fill. “
Oh that. Yeah, I remember you whining on about your head earlier. Maybe I shouldn’t take the piss, cos it’s not like you to act like a big wuss. You ain’t the only one either, must be a bug going around.”
Ashton muttered a soft thanks. That was the only apology he’d get out of Darren. He pushed his hands into his denim pocket and pulled out his battered baccy tin. Would his mate’s mum have any aspirins kicking around the house? This headache was getting well scary now. It felt like some joker was pushing a long shard of glass into the side of his head.
“Where are they now?”
“I’m buggered if I know, mate,” Darren said, shrugging. “I think Mum fucked off to the shops after turning the house upside down looking for some tablets.”
Ashton sighed inside; that answered his question.
“I haven’t a fucking clue where my dad went. Knowing him, he’ll have fucked off to the pub with his stupid mates. They’ll all be sat in their usual spots and getting pissed. Good riddance to both of them, that’s what I say. I can do without those old bastards coming back, they’d have a right fit if they saw the state of the place.
If Ashton’s head wasn’t so fucked with this pain, he’d have probably fallen off the counter laughing. A dozen bombs detonating in each room would have improved the state of Darren’s shitty house. He moaned again. He felt as though a dozen bombs had detonated inside his skull. He gritted his teeth and concentrated on trying to open his tin. After the third attempt, Ashton managed to pry off the lid.
Ashton slowly shook his head. Apart from this pain and not being too keen on closing his eyes, he wasn’t sure if anything was wrong with him. For the first time in months, his old man had kept his distance—apart from a sly crack around the back of the head a couple of weeks ago when he’d caught Ashton nicking his fags. He’d not properly punched Ashton for ages now.
He figured that his dad was getting his end away. The bastard always mellowed out if he got regular sex. The obvious candidate had to be that old trout with the big tits who worked in the Horse and Jockey. Ashton knew that his dad had been inside her a few times in the past.
“I dunno, Daz, I think it’s just lots of little things this time.”
His mate took out two Bensons and offered one to Ashton. He declined and started to sprinkle his own baccy into the paper groove. “It definitely isn’t my dad, Darren, not this time. He’s been pretty chilled out with me all week.”
“Yeah, well, if he does get fresh again, just said the word, buddy. That big fat shithead doesn’t scare me, I’ll drop him for you.”
His promise meant a lot to Ashton. He would, too, and knowing him, he’d probably succeed in putting his old man on the floor. Daz looked after his mates.
“There is one thing that’s been bugging me, Daz. Do you know Kevin Riley?”
Darren shook his head. He then stopped and grinned. “Oh yeah, I do know him. That’s Adrian’s little brother, a spindly little bastard with a huge nose.”
“That’s the one,” Ashton replied. “Well, that indignant little fucker gave me a right funny look this morning.”
A bark of laughter burst from Darren. Ashton felt his rage return. Mate or no mate, no twat laughed at him.
Darren placed both his hands on Ashton’s arms. “Will you calm it down, buddy? I ain’t laughing at you. Just the situation. I know what it’s like, all these little things just build up and make you want to explode like a big fucking volcano.”