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Authors: R. D. Ronald

The Zombie Room

BOOK: The Zombie Room
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THE ZOMBIE ROOM

THE ZOMBIE ROOM

R. D. Ronald

Book Guild Publishing

Sussex, England

First published in Great Britain in 2012 by
The Book Guild Ltd
Pavilion View
19 New Road
Brighton, BN1 1UF

Copyright © R. D. Ronald 2012

The right of R. D. Ronald to be identified as the author
of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means,
without permission in writing from the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any
form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without
a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance
to real people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.

Typeset in Baskerville by Ellipsis Digital Ltd, Glasgow

Printed in Great Britain by
CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY

A catalogue record for this book is available from The British Library.

ISBN 978 1 84624 719 4
ePub ISBN 978 1 90971 661 2
Mobi ISBN 978 1 90971 662 9

 

Contents

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Acknowledgments

My heartfelt gratitude for their patience, perseverance, advice and guidance (take whichever are relevant from the list) to the following: Amanda Turner, George Elliott, Nickola Gray, Shahid Rasul, Lynne Miller, Sara Jefferson, Rick Nuthman, Debbie Marsh and Carla Wood.

For the people who grouped together to make a trailer for
The Zombie Room
, the like of which has never been done before in the UK. You all gave tirelessly and have my ongoing respect and admiration: Adam Gerber, Amy Swan, Nickola Gray, Maria Ferrie, Luke Garnham, Josh Rafe Coles, Lucy Richards, Lewis Bonner, Nehir Glean, Neville Glean, Kate Jones, Daniel Middlewood, Kieron Hall, Frazan Hussain, Faye Megan Dixon, William Scott Johnson, Simon Flemming, James Watson, Alexandra Ferrie, Sara-Jayne White, Eve Kristina MacDonald, Kevin Longstaff, Kate Smith, Priyha Mohan, Robby Graham, Stuart Ferrol, Laura Jackets, Ellouise Hempstead, Anthony Lawson, Simon Manley, Shaun Robertson, Petr Stach, Jimmy Guy, Mark Leasley, Kim Brown, Danny Kay and Fran Purdy.

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

Tatiana hated her life. She hated working endless hours in the miserably cold factory with the incessant whir and drone of heavy machinery and the never-ending trundle of conveyor belts. She hated fighting off the advances of her lecherous supervisor in a way that did not offend, as she couldn’t afford to be out of work. She hated the stack of chores to do every day when she got back home, and she hated never having time for a social life. Time was passing her by, and her vision of the future was anything other than the simple, pitiable lifestyle of her mother. Yet it was her mother’s path that Tatiana continued to tread.

She screwed up her face and struggled to hide her revulsion as Murkov’s arm slithered around her waist. He was attempting to educate her on how to operate machinery that she was more adept at using than him. It was as pointless as every other time he had tried to engage with her socially. She’d only been making mistakes because the factory was freezing and she kept losing the feeling in her hands. He kept talking, but Tatiana wasn’t listening. She mentally willed him to give up and retreat back to his heated office where he could push papers around his desk and let her and the others get on with doing the real work. Murkov reached
for her hand to guide it towards one of the levers. Tatiana allowed this but purposely brushed against his sleeve, transferring a grease smear onto the pristine white cotton. He backed away from Tatiana as if she had a contagious disease, muttering about the cost of his imported shirt.

‘Get on with your work, Tatiana. Any more mistakes this week and you’ll find your pay packet lighter than you would like.’

Tatiana smiled as Murkov hurried back to his office, dabbing at his sleeve with a handkerchief.

Eventually the 7p.m. whistle sounded, announcing the end of the shift, and Tatiana walked briskly through the chattering procession of workers to find her mother. Murkov watched her through his office window but Tatiana deliberately avoided eye contact. She’d seen the naked hunger in his eyes before.

Through a cloud of steam that hissed up from wheezing pistons, Tatiana saw her mother across the crowded factory floor. Unwrapping a headscarf stained with grime and sweat, she laughed with a grey-haired woman from her section.

‘Did you manage to stay away from Murkov today?’ her mother asked as she linked arms with Tatiana and began their walk home.

‘For the most part, yes.’

Her mother’s eyes narrowed but she didn’t question her. ‘Your father is a good man, but you know how protective he is of you and your brother. Do what you can to put Murkov off and mention nothing of it at home. Now come on, if we don’t hurry your father will be home before us.’

‘Would it be so much to ask for him to start preparing the meal for once? He isn’t the only one who works long hours.’

Her mother’s traditional values frustrated Tatiana, but if she were to get permission to attend the party on Friday, Tatiana knew it was crucial she have her mother on side.

‘Tatty, you know my views on this,’ her mother said with a patient sigh. ‘Your generation may choose to go a different route, but I was brought up a certain way.’

Tatiana nodded, vowed to try and reel in her sarcasm and let
the matter drop. She’d heard it all before and knew her mother’s opinion on gender roles would never change.

‘I was thinking,’ she began after a few moments had passed, allowing the air between them to clear, ‘after the National Day celebrations on Friday, that I would go out with Aina? She and some friends are getting together to hang out and play music. I would really like to go along.’

Her mother’s dismissive shaking of her head had begun long before Tatiana had finished speaking. ‘Your father wants you home. It is a day to spend as a family, not each of us going our own way.’

‘But at this rate I’ll never leave home. Aina has a boyfriend and already they have talked of marriage. I want my own family one day, a husband, and children, and a nice house, and … and … flowerbeds,’ Tatiana said, gesticulating with her hands. ‘I never have time for myself, to go out and have any fun. If you keep me locked away like this I’ll end up with a man like Murkov and waste my life at some hole-in-the-ground factory.’

Tatiana could see her words had wounded her mother. ‘And you think if you had your own family things would be so different?’ her mother deflected with a cynical smile.

‘I
would
do things differently,’ Tatiana said defiantly. ‘I will pick a man who will value me as a person, not treat me like a possession.’

‘You are only nineteen, Tatty,’ her mother said more softly now, sliding her hand into Tatiana’s. ‘You have so much to learn about the way things are in the world. Your father and I wish only to keep you safe for as long as we can.’

Tatiana could see her mother’s mind was made up, and any further talk would do nothing to change it. Sometimes she wished she could run away, break free from the chains she felt her family bound her by, preventing her from becoming the person she wanted to be.

 

He checked his watch. At 2.34 a.m. Aura nightclub was full to capacity. Nicholas Garrett, or Mangle as he was affectionately
known, looked around unsteadily, trying to remember and then locate whoever it was he’d come out with on that particular night.

His nickname came about from the copious amounts of alcohol and narcotics that he consumed during his nights out clubbing, and his insistence that he’d be fine to drive home afterwards. ‘Mangle’ being the predictable state his car had been left in on no fewer than three separate occasions.

He had so far managed to avoid being arrested, which given his strict middle-class upbringing was a huge relief. He, and whichever friends dared to accompany him on these drink- and drug-fuelled journeys home, had miraculously managed to stumble away from the scenes of vehicular devastation without injury. The only casualties other than the car they’d been in on each occasion were: a set of traffic lights, a garden wall and cherub ordained water feature, and perhaps most bizarrely an empty ice-cream van on an otherwise deserted stretch of country road.

He checked his watch again, having already forgotten the time: 2.35 a.m. No sign of Ross and Danny. Mangle nodded to himself. Yes, that sounded about right, he was fairly sure that was who he was out with. He made his way to the bar for another drink. Most of his night had been spent sweating and gyrating on the dance floor, but now his pill was wearing off, time was wearing on, and the possibility of finding female companionship for after club hours was diminishing.

Mangle knew he was no Adonis, but at 27 and just under 6 feet tall, with short fashionably cut brown hair and a physique kept in decent shape by hours on the dance floor, sweating off any extra pounds gained from midweek lethargy, he knew he wasn’t such a bad catch. Besides, his crooked smile and cocky demeanour were most often what endeared him to the opposite sex.

Slowly edging his way through the waiting crowd at the bar, he surveyed the scene. An attractive blonde to his right, but the looming shaven-headed gentleman who scowled when Mangle and the girl made eye contact made him decide to look elsewhere.
A petite oriental girl pushed back out from the bar, carrying pink cocktails. He flashed his best introductory grin, but she looked away, refusing to acknowledge him. Keep looking, he thought. Most other girls appeared to be obviously partnered up, or at least had hangers-on who were attempting to seal the deal.

‘Excuse me.’ A woman’s voice behind him struggled to be heard over the music.

Mangle half turned and felt the intriguing sensation of smooth skin glide over his forearm as she moved past him. A tingling like bubbles in champagne rose up through him and popped on the top of his head.

She was a slim brunette and had now snaked her way almost to the front of the queue. Mangle stepped up his game and followed, easing through as casually as he could so as not to cause confrontation with any Alpha Male-type boyfriends looking to impress. He could only see her from behind but very much liked what he saw. She was around 5 feet 4, in her early twenties, and dressed in figure-hugging black pants and top. The girl caught the attention of the first barman to pass and ordered a bottle of Becks.

‘Make that two,’ Mangle said squeezing in beside her and ignoring the grumbles from behind. ‘I’ll get them.’

‘Thanks,’ she said, turning to look at him, ‘but I’m happy to buy my own.’

‘Beautiful and independent,’ he said, again employing the grin, this time to greater effect.

She laughed warmly. Her eyes were the pale blue of a cloudless desert sky; they watched him curiously for a moment before she spoke again. ‘I’m Vicky,’ she said, extending her hand.

Mangle wiped his palm on a leg of his pants then took her hand. ‘I’m Mangle,’ he said without thinking, ‘pleased to meet you.’

Her hand felt warm and soft and curiously magnetic. He didn’t want to let it go. His own hand, in contrast, was embarrassingly hot and sweaty, but either she hadn’t noticed or she didn’t care.

The stern-faced barman placed the bottles down in front of them and held out a hand for payment. Mangle released the girl, plucked a twenty from his depleted wallet and handed it over. ‘You get the next ones?’ he suggested.

She inclined her head in agreement and after he’d collected his change, led them away from the bar.

‘Are you here on your own?’ Vicky asked, leaning in towards him to be heard over the thunderous roar from the dance floor.

‘No, I’m with a couple of friends. Don’t know where they are right now though,’ he said, and smiled. ‘Your eyes are very blue.’

‘Um, OK,’ she said, laughing again.

‘That’s because of a low melanin concentration,’ he babbled. ‘It’s a protein. Having pale blue eyes like that with such dark hair is quite rare.’

‘Well Doctor Mangle, I’ll take that as a compliment – I think.’

‘Ha, by all means, but I’m not a doctor, although my parents no doubt wish I was. I had a private school education where you pick up loads of useless stuff like that.’

‘So what do you do with this private school education if you aren’t saving lives or diagnosing eye colour?’

BOOK: The Zombie Room
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