Authors: Shaun Whittington
SNATCHERS: VOLUME ONE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The author uses UK English
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To my children, you are the sunshine of my life.
Snatchers is a work of fiction, and many of the events in the book occur in real places. However, in these areas I have taken the liberty of exaggerating certain things that suited the book. Other places that are mentioned may not be real at all, so if you are from the area that I have written about, try not to be too upset that I have twisted a few things.
This is a book about a zombie apocalypse, so it does contain tension, gore, and scenes that could upset individuals, especially scenes involving children. It needs to be as real as possible, and in reality nobody would be exempt from such an unforgiving world.
What you are about to read is the first three weeks of this saga, (Books 1 to 3) so sit back and enjoy the next 290,000 words.
Very kind regards,
SNATCHERS: VOLUME ONE
Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will shrivel in their sockets, and their tongues will decay in their mouths
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil,
but by those who watch them without doing anything.
Isaiah 26: 19-20
Go, my people, enter your rooms
and shut the doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until his wrath has passed by.
The darkness increased as the two men passed the last streetlight of this long, desolate road. The laughter amongst the two men escalated as they drunkenly began telling tales of their youth, and what they used to get up to. Lee James and his friend, Vince Kindl, staggered along the road and drunkenly decided to walk home rather than wait for a taxi.
They burst into song, and sang, rather badly, tunes from Oasis, U2 and The Beatles. After five songs had been murdered, the men began to settle down as they approached the beginning of the hill. It was a steep part of the road, but over the other side was where Vince stayed. Their pace began to slow down and both began to chat to one another again.
"Remember Carol McDonald?" Lee James asked his friend, Vince.
Vince screwed his face in thought and shook his head. It seemed like a random question, he thought. "Never heard of her."
"Aw, come on." Lee nudged Vince in his side. "She used to go out with a guy called David Pointer, before he got married."
"Oh yeah." Vince nodded, but was still unsure if he knew the woman. "What about her?"
"Passed away last week."
"Really? How old was she?"
"Thirty nine," sighed Lee James, scratching at his dark hair. "She was hit by a car. She was in a pub in Little Haywood. She went outside and crossed the road. Hit and run."
Vince ran his fingers over his badly-scarred face. "Thirty nine." He lowered his head sadly. "That's no age."
"Wouldn't surprise me if a member of the Murphy family had done it. Fucking scum."
Vince lowered his head at the mention of the family from Little Haywood, and said sadly, "Me neither."
"Shit." Lee placed his hand on Vince's shoulder and said, "Sorry, mate. I didn't mean to bring up their name. I wasn't thinking. It's the drink talking."
The two men had another hundred yards to go before they reached the caravan park, where Vince lived, and were now over the peak of the hill. They could have spent the evening in the nearby pubs of The Spode Cottage or The Plum Pudding, but both men decided to go to The Ash Tree for a change, and sink one-too-many jars of ale. Neither men had work in the morning, so decided to take the opportunity to start the weekend early. Vince felt drunk, but wasn't as bad as his good friend, Lee James.
"Look!" Lee pointed up ahead and began to giggle.
Vince screwed his eyes to improve his vision and stated, "I can't see fuck all."
Lee staggered a little and pointed again, while walking alongside his friend.
"Oh, I can see now," said Vince, as they both descended down the hill, getting nearer to the caravan park.
On the poorly lit road, Vince could see, what looked like, a man curled up at the side of the road. Both men began to sober up as their adrenaline kicked in, and they both jogged nearer to the figure when they realised that he could be injured. They stopped next to the body and looked at one another, wondering what to do next.
"I'll check his pulse." Lee James crouched down and felt the carotid artery.
"Anything?" asked Vince.
Vince pulled out his phone and began to ring for an ambulance. It took a while, but he eventually got through. Lee tried to talk to the man while Vince was talking to one of the operators. "He seems unconscious," said Vince down the phone to the operator. "I think he's breathing." The two-minute conversation ended with Vince saying to the operator, "Okay, thanks a lot."
Lee stood up and asked, "Well?"
"They said five minutes."
Both men glared at the curled-up man, his face didn't look familiar. Vince began dragging his nails over his short hair. "You can go, if you want," said Vince. "I'll stay and wait for the ambulance."
Vince was only yards away from the caravan park, where he stayed. Lee lived further on, another two miles away. "No, I'll wait."
"I wonder what happened?"
"Take your pick." Lee sniffed and gaped at the man with sympathy. "Attacked. Fell over while drunk...anything could have happened. Hit by a car. If he stops breathing we'll need to give him the kiss of life."
Vince looked at the man and laughed, "Nah, fuck that. I'd rather shit in my hands and clap."
"You always say that," snickered Lee and pointed at Vince in a fake-threatening manner. "Get some new lines."
Staring at his friend's hand, Vince exclaimed, "What the fuck is that all over your hand?"
Lee glared at his limb and spoke with uncertainty in his voice. "Blood...I think."
"Is he bleeding then?"
Lee shrugged his shoulders. "Don't know. I only touched his neck. He must be."
Vince bent down and tried to inspect the man's features in the dark area. He put on the flashlight on his phone and pointed it at the man's neck.
"Is he okay?" asked Lee.
Vince never answered.
"Vince? Is he okay?"
Vincent Kindl look perplexed and finally answered his friend. "I think he's been bit."
The evening was dragging gloriously to the twenty-three-year-old woman's delight, as another shift at the hospital was something she wasn't looking forward to at all. Karen Bradley's eyes reluctantly glared at the clock on the kitchen wall once again, as she supped on a cup of tepid tea. She had four hours to go. Great!
What could she do in four hours?
She could sit and watch a film, then have a long hot soak in the new bath that was fitted in five weeks ago. Then sit back on the leather couch to count down the remainder of the minutes, before having to go through the same rigmarole of putting on her uniform, styling her hair, applying her light make-up, and mentally bracing herself for another arduous shift in the accident and emergency department.
The early evening was quiet, as her partner had gone on his usual night out on a Saturday. Despite that he had been working all week, she couldn't help but feel a little unhappy with his night of drinking. Most people were going out, and she was about to endure another long shift. She admitted that her disdain towards her boyfriend was due to plain old jealousy, as it had been a while since she had been out with the girls or with her boyfriend. She was looking forward to her next set of days off.
Karen poured more hot water into her cup to freshen it up, grabbed a chocolate bar from the cupboard and walked into the living room. She then threw her legs to her side and put the TV on.
The first channel to come on was the twenty-four hour BBC news. She was about to put her romantic comedy TV programme on, which came with the package of the cable deal she had received, but her fingers remained still. The remote remained untouched, as her tired eyes continued to look at the TV.
The anchorman was called Ben Foster, and the individual he was interviewing was a woman called Helen Reading, who was an author of a book about the breakdown of society. Karen Bradley brushed her short brown hair behind her ears and listened to the interview, but it all seemed very bizarre. Ben Foster was in his late forties and she had always despised him, as she thought he was a bit of a letch that leered at his big-breasted guests, as well as Alison Jones, the weather girl.
The author was a doctor—a doctor of what, Karen didn't know—and although sitting, she seemed tall, gangly and wore thick brown-rimmed spectacles that matched her hair colour that sat in an old-fashioned bob style.
Over the last week or so, Karen had noticed that the news, as well as the local news, had been reporting an alarming increase of missing persons, attacks, murders and cases of insanity, amongst people across the country. People had been attacked by their own family and violence in hospitals had increased, especially when it came to bites. She was more than aware of this, as she had three cases of bite victims in her hospital the night before.
The previous night she saw on SKY news that passengers on a plane from London to New York had been evacuated at JFK airport, after a series of bites had taken place while over the Atlantic. The six attackers had been restrained by other passengers and were arrested, but had to be rushed to hospital under police guard, due to the severity of their wounds. These kinds of incidents were becoming more frequent as the days went by, and it unnerved her.
Karen turned her attention back to the TV and saw the two individuals on the screen had began to discuss press blackout, and that it was extremely rare. On the TV, Helen Reading informed the smug Ben Foster that the occurrence of just one blackout should be regarded as an immediate red flag.
Foster argued that the violence was due to the world economy crash, but Reading seemed to already know what it was and disagreed wholeheartedly, as there were no other reports of violence in most other European countries. She was certain that any event causing the powers that be to clamp down, merited attention. Reading argued that the government knew what had been happening but didn't want a panic-stricken nation on their hands. She also claimed how unusual it was for a media-conscious government to cause a media blackout that had affected some channels, which she named, and said that the BBC would be next.
Still gazing at the TV, the off duty nurse took a sip from her tea and left her unopened chocolate bar sitting on the arm of her chair. Karen then closed her heavy brown eyes, sat back and rested her head, still listening to Ben and Helen from the TV, but a blanket of tiredness had already covered her.
She began to think about the man who was brought into casualty the night before, minutes before she left for home. Apparently, he had been attacked in a gang fight, and received bite wounds to his neck. She wondered how he was doing, as his wounds were so severe that he was airlifted to another hospital. She closed her eyes and continued to listen to the TV.
Maybe just a ten-minute dose, she thought.
On the TV, the debate continued.
Anchorman, Ben Foster argued:
"So if this sudden unrest that is occurring in the UK, and in some reports across Europe, is not from welfare cuts, job losses and spending cuts, what is actually causing it?"
"We're not sure exactly—"
"You're not sure? People are getting attacked now, this is no laughing matter."
"It never has been."
"So is there anything relevant you can tell the UK before we're...shut down, as you say?"
There was huge sarcasm in Ben Foster's voice.
"We don't want to panic people, but my colleagues and I have heard that there has been a Rabies-like infection that has occurred in recent weeks."
Reading sighed and reluctantly continued.
"It's not actually rabies per se, but it’s similar in the way it can be passed on by bites. We recently had reports of a low-level outbreak in the city of Derby, in the West Midlands. We don't know why it's happened or where it came from. We had forty-seven reported cases, which ranged over a two-week period. The infested area was small over a twenty-mile radius but had spread into rural villages and towns, and we fear it is now a wide epidemic, soon to be pandemic."
Foster shifted in his seat uncomfortably. This was news he wasn't expecting. Was she joking? But why would she?
"Yes. We believe the incident that had happened in Paris, the pockets of incidents in Murcia, and the biting epidemic that happened on the New York flight is related to what is happening here. As far as the UK is concerned, we're at a class two stage now."
"Class two? What's—"
"Class two is when urban or rural areas are infected, and we could have at least a couple of hundred of infected people, soon to be thousands. Class two outbreaks would most definitely attract media attention, hence the reason why we may be minutes—hours away from getting the plug pulled, but maybe they won't. The class one situation has been happening over the last two weeks without our knowing."
"Why didn't they inform the public straight away? And why didn't they do something sooner?"
"Because they didn't want mass hysteria. And to answer your other question, the incidents that have occurred over the last few weeks were blamed on people letting off steam, due to poverty and social deprivation. Really, it was pockets of infected people, but not all stories were reported, some had been blocked. For example, in the first week in June there were eleven people bitten in Hexham in a Pizza Hut restaurant. The following day, four were taken to hospital with bites after a fight occurred in a pub in Hartlepool. These incidents were never reported."
"Is there such thing as a class three situation?"
"Yes. Class three is when the infected are in their thousands. The mop-up process could take months. The government have already issued the military in the cities across the UK. Our army is pretty low in numbers, as we all know, with the cuts over the years. Expect riots, looters and widespread panic in the city of London."
"Typical. There are other places in the UK, aside from London! You do know that? And what about the people who live in cities in the north or rural towns and villages, miles away from the south?"
"There may be pockets of armed police, but they're just humans who would want to be with their families. They will only have themselves to depend on. Governments of any type are nothing more than a collection of human beings that are fearful, arrogant and incompetent as the rest of us. Even in perfect conditions, containing anything larger than a class two outbreak is extremely difficult. Imagine trying to quarantine a city like London or Birmingham."
"A lot of people watching this will be very sceptical. We have two other experts on after you, concerning this, all with different theories."
"There will be a lot of scepticism, and many other people coming on TV, if the channels are still on, will be putting across their own theories. But whatever the real reason, this—whatever it is—whether you believe it's a science made virus or an act of God, it's happening right now."
"Is there a class four situation?"
"Yes. But you don't wanna know."
Although it was unplanned, Karen had fallen asleep. The last minute of the conversation that had occurred from the television hadn't been taken in, and she was oblivious that the world, as she knew it, was about to change for the worse.
Then suddenly her eyes opened and she could see a passionate preacher on the TV. She caught some of his words, but not all of it.
"My fellow Christians, we shall suffer in life, but Heaven will be our eternal life, so fear not! For everyone else, all you sinners, you asked for this! Instead of leading a long life reeked with sin, Hell is coming to you now! It's coming to Earth. You have been ignoring the word of the Lord for too long, and now it's time to pay the price."
Karen turned down the volume of the TV and closed her eyes once more. Her body rested for a full hour and when she woke, she opened her eyes to see a blank screen in front of her. She never fretted why this was so and switched the TV off to go upstairs, read her book, then get ready for work. She had a tough night ahead of her, but what Karen Bradley didn't know, was that life from now on was going to be one constant struggle.