Christy Fearn is a novelist. Her debut novel 'Framed' was published by Open Books in March 2013.
Christy lives and works in Nottingham. She is a self-confessed 'Byron nut' and has a tattoo of Lord Byron on her arm.
Joan Phillips was a Highway Woman in the 1680s. She and her partner Edward Bracey ran away together. The ended up as Highway Robbers on the Loughborough Road near Nottingham. She passed herself off as a man; apparently no one else in their gang knew she was a woman! She was caught, tried at the Shire Hall (now the Galleries of Justice) and hanged at the junction where the Loughborough Road leaves Nottingham in West Bridgford.
Christy Fearn as Joan Phillips at the Galleries of Justice Museum, Nottingham, UK.
Chamberlain beamed widely at the young man with the heavenly eyes. She couldn’t
believe it! This Ace Face, the singer from her favourite group was chatting her
up. He was just so smooth, from his mad blonde barnet down to his zoot suit.
‘But I do have a boyfriend, Roger –
he sings too: George…although I want to hold your hand!’
‘I don’t mind other guys dancing
with my girl.’
‘Really?’ she said.
continued, ‘that’s fine ‘cos I know them all pretty well.’
both stood and moved to the dancefloor, but in the crowd she lost him. Lily
knew she had to find him anyway, anyhow, anywhere he could be. Her friends were
all there dancing and the music was getting louder and unbelievably, she saw
that just ahead of her stood her Mum and Dad! But they were… young. Her Mum
looked like she did in the old photos and her Dad was in his smart RAF uniform.
Smiling at her he said:
‘Do you know this geezer, Lily?’
Face in the crowd: It was Roger with those eyes! But his hair? It was long and
curly like a girl’s or rather a cavalier in a painting. He wasn’t wearing a
shirt or jacket, just this… top thingy with tassles all over it, like a cowboy
or an Indian, showing his bare chest and torso.
smiled and he smiled back, winked at her and raised his hand and made the ‘V
for Victory’ sign, like Churchill had.
tried to walk over to him, but her feet were stuck in mud, she saw, glancing
down and then the music reached a crescendo that there was no set steps for.
Her eyes snapped open. It was a bus going past in the road. A dream. A bloody
strange dream! Wake up, girl, it’s Saturday! Busy day!
over an hour later Lily was at the bus stop a few doors down from her house.
Nice fried breakfast courtesy of Mum, big hug and ‘take care, princess’ from
her Dad. She tousled her younger brother’s hair on the way out and he jokingly
went to do the same to her – their childhood game. Her forefinger (with white
nailpaint) raised, her mock glare, shaking her head, eyes wide until they both
giggled and stuck their tongues out at each other.
if she was a princess she didn’t fit into any fairytale image of one. Her hair
was jet black and in a huge lacquered bouffant with a fringe, her make up bold
and her clothes… well, she said fitted, her Mum and Aunty Betty said tight. Her skirt was short although her
white leather mac was longer. Lily Chamberlain was nineteen and a Mod.
‘That’s what they call us,’ she
thought, ‘Mods, ‘cos we’re modern and sharp. We’re right now. We’ve got lovely clothes, great music and we’re enjoying all
that freedom our parents fought for – yeah! Not a princess; I work hard for my money in that office.
Typing, filing… dictation, telephones, sorting the mail. Dodging wandering
hands.’ Nonetheless here came her knight in shining armour on his trusty steed.
Not George, the dreamy scouse fella from The Beatles, although they didn’t look
dissimilar. Her George was more
cockney, in a dapper Italian suit and his large American army surplus parka
coat, pulling up to her astride a beautiful electric blue Lambretta Scooter; tastefully
adorned with front lamps and mirrors and a rear ariel flying a pennant of – the
cross of St George, what else? Smiling, he quipped:
‘Hop on ducky – room for one on
gave him a kiss, after-shave smell lingering and fixed her small travel bag on
a rack with elasticated grips. He was a nice fella this one, not all rough and
ready and stinking of fags and booze, although he liked a sup of a weekend and
was quite a charmer.
had it off a few times. (Lor! Don’t let Mum and Dad know, even if it is 1965!)
was… yeah… nice.
sped off through the early October suburban streets. It wasn’t great weather
being wintry and overcast, but it was dry and folks were about. They turned
heads, returned waves, smiling. They were heading south crossing the Thames to
meet up with the others and Jenny was bringing some grub. Probably Brenda would
have some cakes seeing as she worked in Lyons. That’s us, thought Lily: Mods!
Always zipping along – we have lunch on the go! Who needs pills? We’re riding on
the best uppers in town: youth and freedom.
a speedy blue scooter helps!
English Channel was an extremely busy waterway and seafarers navigated it with
care and precision at any time and showed extra concentration and caution when
there was low visibility, as there was at present; which was why Sid Newman
couldn’t quite believe that he was seeing the tanker looming out of the fog,
obviously off course and about to collide with Verity on whose bow he stood.
‘Hard to Port!’ he bellowed to the
lugger was small and responded fast, it cut a tight arc and he saw the larger
vessel glide by with only a few feet to spare, ploughing on totally out of
control. He climbed to the cramped bridge. The captain was ordering a crewman
to radio the English and French coastguard. He turned to Newman:
‘Did you get a look – see owt?’
‘Lights on, no crew, sir. Name of Dodo, and stern says she’s out of
captain decided to board as there was a hazard to shipping – the crew must be
incapacitated and need help. Dodo was
long, but low and Verity pulled
alongside; Sid found himself easily able to join his two crewmates leaping
disgusting, nausea-inducing stench hit them as they approached the first of
four storage tanks. A pool of foul, thick, red bubbling liquid had formed at
‘It’s leaking,’ observed a crewman,
‘faulty valve look.’
‘Must be toxic – some sort of
industrial waste residue they’re transporting…Fuck! Don’t go near it – maybe the
crew came into contact with it and are ill.’
‘What all of them? Including the engine room boys?’ queried the other.
found no one on the bridge and could get no response from the engine room to
halt the ship. So Sid and another crewman headed for the engine room. As they
neared the connecting door, a shape sprang at Sid – a man, but with horribly
greyish skin, bulging blank eyes and gnashing teeth, which bit into his mate’s
hand as he instinctively moved to block the lunge. He shreiked and swore as the
unbelievably powerful jaws tore two of his fingers off…
was momentarily frozen – the one thing they hadn’t expected was to be attacked!
His mate fell and the apparition swung its head in his direction, blood and
gristle dribbling from its maw.
Mods & Some Rockers.
the outskirts of London George pulled into a Shell garage to fill up. There was
a small café adjacent to it.
‘Grab us some tea, eh Lily?’
noticed two bikes amongst the cars and caravans that were parked. Not scooters,
motorcycles. Big black and red machines.
‘Velocet,’ she mouthed.
her uncle Len used to ride one of them…those…all wrapped up in Dad’s RAF flying
jacket, with goggles on, too, she just about remembered.
the café proprietor brewed up tow mugs of tea Lily saw in the mirrored tiles
that behind her, seated at a table, was a lad about her age: swept back
brownish hair, peering over his own raised mug straight at her bottom. Another
came out of the loo and she clocked his gear: Black riding leathers, a white
scarf, toothy grin. She heard them mumbling between themselves and saw a hand
come out to pinch her bum. Lily whirled round and the lad froze – caught in mid
reach. He blushed, staring at her. She raised her forefinger and glared,
shaking her head. Little boys. The new arrival raised his hands in mock
surrender and spoke:
‘Blame me, luv. Ricky ‘ere does
whatever I suggest.’
as a flash she replied,
‘Suggest to ‘Ricky ‘ere’ that he
keeps his bleedin’ hands to himself.’
the merest hint of a twitch of a smile, Lily poked her tongue out and walked
later she turned back to pick up her teas from the counter. The two lads
exploded with laughter and went back to their chatter.
sipped his tea and queried her slight smile.
‘Just an episode with some friendly
natives – all jaw jaw, no war war!’
put his arm around her, guessing.
‘You got to watch yourself, Lily. I
know you’re a brain box with all yer O Levels, but you’re a right looker, too.
You could be a model with that… er…them…I mean…’
‘Thank you Georgie. I haven’t
forgotten. I’ve got the money saved up and I’ll get my pictures done and sent
off next month.’
‘Get me a set eh?’
‘You’ve seen more than I’ll be
showing! It’s fashion I want to do – classy stuff.’
‘Next stop Paris or Milan? Actually,
next stop five miles down the road, meeting everyone else. Let’s move it.’
Newman kicked the attacker in the stomach and it staggered back into the engine
room. He swung the heavy metal door at it, thanking god it opened outwards from the engine room. It
connected with the thing’s head and it dropped. He had no time to think – he
could hear running feet from inside and a low growling. He stooped to help his
crewmate and half carried him up the deck.
‘Christ!’ said the other crewman.
‘Run! Get back over! They’re after
us! They’re coming!’
got to the rail then saw the concerned, then horrified faces of the Verity crewmen – as they saw first the
state of the injured man and then the pursuers emerging from below deck –
lurching and staggering, clawing ahead. Just as they were about to jump back
over, the injured crewman raised his slumped head and gave an unnatural growl
as he bit into Newman’s cheek – now he
screamed and punched the man full in the face and he toppled backwards over the
rail into the sea.
was a lot of laughter on the grass verge by the roundabout where Jack’s van was
parked. The big blue Bedford’s doors were all open and the tranny was blaring
out. First, She Loves You then Hard Day’s Night. The Mods danced to
U.S. Soul and R‘n’B but live groups were great too. They’d all been to see a
new one: The Who, last month in town.
Another favourite, Satisfaction, came
on and Jenny and Declan were dancing together whilst Vic and George were
clowning around pretending to be Jagger. Then: ‘Hey, hey, you, you, get offa my
cloud!’ then back to the Fab Four I Feel
Fine. And they did.
popped the last of the little cakes into her mouth, stood up, pulling her
shortish hound’s tooth skirt down, pointing.
‘Here comes Belle!’
pure white Vespa scooter halted, the rider dismounted and bumped it onto the
verge alongside the others.
‘Ok, we can get a move on now that
Belle’s turned up,’ said Jack climbing into his van.
‘Give us a minute then!’ said the
Clarke pulled her peaked cream crash helmet off revealing her hennaed bob. She
opened a satchel she had attached to the scooter’s seat behind her and produced
a tartan Timothy White’s thermos flask. She drank some tea and smiled at her
‘Mum insisted I took this. Glad she
summer she’d ridden down to the coast on the Bank Holiday weekend and dazzled
one and all with her sharp white clobber and Ace Face dancing, so they’d
nicknamed her ‘Brighton Belle’.
‘Is that ‘cos you go like a train,
then?!’ a suitor had enquired, who ended up with his pint over his head.
they were all eager to go. George and Lily lead off, Belle fell in behind them,
Declan on his own pillarbox red Lambretta after her, then the van with Jack
driving, Brenda and Jenny beside him. Vic was in the back with the gear. In
more ways than one.
van held a drumkit, guitar cases, a public address system and black amplifiers.
The Expressos were
on the road!
sang, Jack was on bass, Declan on guitar, his Irish brogue coming out when he
sang back-up, and thicker when he announced songs he’d written. Vic was drummer
but no one knew he kept allsorts in his bass drum; and they weren’t liquorice…
also had travelling bags stowed in there and some crates of beer. Jack had
painted TARDIS on the driver’s door of the blue van, in white, for his own good
the front, Jenny linked arms with the slightly plump Brenda, saying
‘This is a right laugh, isn’t it? We
had to do something seeing as we didn’t go to Brighton this year.’
‘Well, where we’re off to might not
be Brighton in August, but it’s the seaside and we’re going to be playing –
thanks to me uncle Ernest letting us onto the pier,’ he chuckled.
said, ‘So he’s the caretaker and he’s got all the keys for you to pick up. We
can have a party, play for the locals. The kids are alright down there, too,
‘Yep,’ said Jack, ‘I mean,
Brighton’s so cool, but we don’t want to be around any trouble, do we? You saw
the papers: it’s motorcycle gangs going there too and the place is crawling
‘Well I’m not scared of any of them,’ said Brenda, opening a bag of
mint humbugs, ‘but me dad and mum took us all off on this family holiday to
Spain. Scorching it was – lovely. The Spanish are a bit like the Eyeties. Lots
of nice grub and booze.’
pointed ahead to George turning off to the coast road.
‘We should be there by, say, four
o’clock,’ said Jack.
started singing Oh I Do Like To Be Beside
The Seaside and the others joined in.
creature that had been Sid Newman was insanely scrabbling at the small door
trying to get onto the bridge of the Verity
which was moving at its top speed towards the southern coast of England. The
horror of it was that he’d known he
was becoming something else; felt it invading his body, creeping death coursing
through his veins. Now all it knew
was that it had to get at the meat in
the small room in front of it.
attackers from the Dodo had flung
themselves after the escaping Verity men;
some carouselling into the sea as the two ships parted, too slowly. A few
landed on the deck and tore into the confused crew. Only the captain and two
engineers had moved fast enough, he locking himself on the bridge, they in the
engine room. Now they were desperate to reach land and the authorities, their
original course abandoned. Unable to use the radio in a separate cubicle, the
captain was heading for the nearest place he could find.
Hall was doing his hair. Sitting astride his beloved BSA 750, combing back his
Brylcreemed quiff, which he wore longer at the back and neatly trimmed
sideburns: checking it in the motorcycle’s Iron Cross mirrors. His black
leather riding jacket was draped across the petrol tank, his booted feet rested
on chrome exhausts. He glanced up as Fiona sauntered over from the other bikes
further up the layby and the way she moved in her own snug leathers meant he
had to shift position slightly – Fiona was a doll – his squeeze. The girl was
twenty with long platinum blonde hair hanging freely down her back and wore
heavy make up and she carried two bottles of Double Diamond beer.
‘Here you go, Eddie, down the hatch,
then we can be off. Can’t wait for a paddle!’
‘Sure, Baby, sure. Watch out I don’t
carry you in and dunk you, even this time of year!’
knew he was strong enough to carry her and her pal Vera who was riding pillion
with Catherine on this run. Solid muscle under that close-fitting white
t-shirt, ‘cos he was on the building sites all day, so he got built up, too.
Cor! Her Eddie – the leader of the pack – strong and not too silent although he went all pensive on occasions. Like now;
glugging his ale and back to doing his hair. She wondered what he was thinking.
was thinking he’d actually done alright organising this run, making not going
down to the coast in August seem not so bad. They’d all been last year and got
chased here, there and everywhere by increasingly large herds of scooter
riders. Those buggers just… swarmed…so many of them now. It suited Eddie to be
in the minority, though. In a pack, yes, but a pack of loners. He knew they were carrying on the tradition of the original
Teddy Boys; leather and boots replacing drapes and creepers – Rock ‘n’ Roll
will never die. Mind you, Catherine
had gone! But she was wild anyway. She wore her dark hair in two plaits and had
her own Norton 500 and she could handle it as well. He didn’t think the Mods
knew what to make of her, nobody did… but that didn’t stop the coppers hassling
her endlessly. Yeah – Catherine ‘Wheels’ Williams – and there she was, pulling
on her black helmet with a skull and crossbones on the side, matching the one
on her leather jacket, ready to ride and ready to rock, like a suburban Apache
in blue jeans! She gave him the thumbs up as Vera got on behind her also in
denim and leather.
and Ricky were revving up, chucking their beer bottles away, although they each
had a couple of crates lashed to their saddles. Fiona mounted up behind Eddie,
he pointed to a small slip-road and shouted above the engines,
‘It’s ten minutes down to the
seaside – we’ll be there by three o’clock,’
thought, the light’s already dimming, darker still because it was so overcast,
better hurry it up. But then, they always
the four powerful machines roared off.
how it all works out ok, considered Eddie…
few months ago, late spring, he was lazing on a Sunday afternoon at home,
content after a good weekend pack run to Boxhill. There was some toff on the
telly news blathering on about trouble at Margate with ‘uncontrolable youths’
and ‘little Caesars’. He sneered as he always did at uncomprehending squares,
but his father got up from his armchair and stood over him in front of the
droning tv set.
‘Eddie, were you planning on any
seaside excursions for August Bank Holiday, then? You and your mates, Fiona?’
looked up, ‘We went last year, so-‘
father broke in, ‘You nearly got yerselves done over; Brenda at Lyons told me.
Those Mod boys was it? In fact, you caught a black eye off one, not from an
accident at work.’
‘Lucky punch! We ain’t running
scared from those poncey bugg-‘
‘Not in front of your mother,
Hall plonked a cup of tea and some biscuits down by her son and smoothed his
hair, which he secretly still loved her to do.
said, ‘You’re a good boy, Eddie – you work bloody hard. We know you love that
motorbike and have fun with your friends. We want you to. But we don’t
want you in trouble.’
father continued, ‘It doesn’t mean you’re running or scared if you try to avoid
trouble, son. Listen, instead of your big August Bank Holiday long weekend to
Brighton, why don’t you all go on a few inland runs like Boxhill? Then we could
fit in a long weekend at Billy Butlin’s, eh? Bit of snooker and darts for you
and me – some slap up dinners for the three of us. Let those mugs scrap on the
beaches if they want to, not my idea of fun – is it yours? What if Fiona got
grudgingly admitted his dad was thinking of what was for the best. He looked
‘Dad, if you’d been in the
Diplomatic Corps instead of the Infantry, the bleed – the war would never have
happened! But it is a laugh to ride to the beach…’
young man immediately regretted the casual remarks. How could he forget his
father had been twenty years of age; the same as him, when the tides of history
had swept him and his mates towards the D-Day Landings and
his mum had hidden, terrified, from Hitler’s bombs down the Underground before
that? No, perhaps scrapping on beaches wasn’t much fun and discretion was the better part of valour. Mr Hall had continued:
‘Listen, Eddie, I know of a quiet little seaside town you can do a
trip down to. Here, Vi, get our AA road atlas out, will you, love? I’ll show
yer, son. I was stationed there throughout most of 1943 – they stuck me and one
other bloke in this pill box on the front there, with rifles and bayonets and
five rounds each – all ready to stop Adolf’s boys trying to invade!! But there
was a good pub in the town as I remember, a pier, too, with a dancehall at the
end of it. Although you couldn’t get on it in those days. We never saw any
action there, thankfully, but we did
all get drunk with the Home Guard after they’d put some Jerry parachutists in
eyes were seeing days gone by and he smiled.
was brought back to 1965:
laughed, ‘I’m gonna double your score on the shooting range easily – if it’s open!’ mounting up
behind him. She could, too.
Verity had left the fog behind but
the light was dim now. Through the nightmarish forest of splayed arms and
twisted faces that surrounded his small haven the Captain saw the small town
hoving into view. It seemed to be set slightly back from the sea, a longish stretch
of coast in front of it, with a pier and just around the headland a smaller
cove which the vessel was heading for.
few minutes later Verity ran aground
in the cove its screw throwing up sand and stones. The figures on deck were
momentarily flung forward, some dropping into the sea or catapulting onto the
beach. The Captain threw the door open and tried to get ashore. He succeeded
but was brought down. What used to be Newman had shot over the railing on
impact – its legs had snapped, but as the man passed it powered across the
beach using its arms and grabbed, biting, soon joined by others. They feasted
and soon only bones and sinew remained. The things shambled aimlessly on the
sandy shore until the thrumming engine cut out. Presently, a couple of motor
cars climbed the modest incline into the town… heads turned at the sound and
the pallid, bloodstained creatures moved in that direction, following.
scooters and van pulled up in the glowering late afternoon at the gates to the
pier. They briefly paused at a small cottage back along the coast road to
collect the big bunch of keys left by Jack’s uncle Ernest as arranged between
them on the telephone two weeks ago. Jack had explained:
‘He’s left them in a plastic bag,
behind the gnomes on the rockery in the back garden.’
‘Don’t we get to meet him then?’
‘He’s off on holiday in Majorca,’
said Jack, pronouncing the ‘J’ like in ‘jelly’.
here they were. The small concrete promenade on the seafront had a few beach
huts, a café and a little pavilion where the deckchairs and windbreaks were
stored- all locked up now, but with the keys they could all sleep in the beach
huts later. Belle looked around and nudged Brenda,
‘Not much going on is there? We
haven’t seen a living soul!’
replied, ‘but we haven’t been through the main town, so Jack’s going to take
the van up along the High Street. He’s got some copied hand bills that Lily did
in her office- look.’
took a piece of A5 paper from her handbag and passed it to Belle, it
TONITE! LIVE! 8pm
the Pier Grande Ballroom
all the hits and their own
Belle thought that the chances of finding any life in the town were slimmer
than Twiggy, but she tried to be ever the optimist.
‘Well done Lily! Good luck Jack!’
turned to the gates and the pier beyond. It was long pier, several hundred
yards but there wasn’t much to it. An elaborate Victorian structure which must be the Grande Ballroom, thought
Declan. There were a few tarpaulin-covered shapes visible between the ballroom
and the end of the pier. He said, ‘That’s fairground type things, sure enough.’
‘What the butler saw!’ laughed
Vic was quiet – his hands shoved into his Parka pockets, frowning. Jack climbed
into his van waving.
‘You lot start the party, I’ll be back
later followed by the slavering horde!’
‘Eh?’ said George.
‘Our adoring fans, mate! Byee!’
‘He’s keen, isn’t he?’ said Brenda, popping
a mint humbug into her mouth.
‘He’s off to see The Doctor,’ smiled
‘Which doctor?’ frowned Brenda,
‘what’s up with him then, Lily?’
‘No, Doctor Who. On Telly.’
‘The kids’ programme? He’s blinkin’
eighteen years old!’
took George’s arm, laughing, ‘He loves it! Been watching it since he was
sixteen. He told me when I took those handbills round to him last week. Said he
had to find a the Radio Rentals shop with a goggle box on in the window by
5.15, ‘cos Doctor Who’s on and it’s
the Daleks again and they’ve not been on since June. That’s what TARDIS means
on his van – it’s the Doctor’s space ship. Or time machine, or something…’
was shaking his head, Brenda giggling around the humbug. Lily continued:
‘Look, he’s not nutty, he’s happy! Happy Jack – that’s him, with space
robots, not pills!’
jangled the bunch of keys, ‘That’d make a good song title – look!!’ George
iron gates to the pier were already slightly open; there was no padlock or
chain. The little paying kiosk was shuttered. Belle shivered.
‘This place was supposed to be
deserted for the winter. What if someone’s in there…tramps or… or…’
girl shrieked as strong hands clasped her around the waist, pulling at her. She
felt hot breath on her ear and teeth brushed her neck –
‘Or Count Dracula to be sure, me
darlin’, ready to feast on your blood!’
laughter. She slapped Declan across the head as he howled like a wolf,
searching for the moon through now scudding clouds.
‘You bloody… git! An Irish
Dracula?!! Piss off! Right, come on, this pier’s long enough for a burn, let’s
zip up there and arrive in style.’
and Lily threw the gates wide and he revved the Lambretta as she climbed on.
Belle took Jenny and Declan took Brenda.
‘I’ll walk,’ shrugged Vic.
Lambretta’s and Vespa tore up the pier and went round and round in a tight
circle, red, white and blue in the space just in front of the entrance to the
Grande Ballroom as the boys whooped loudly. Once they’d stopped, the returning
silence seemed deafening, strange…
strode to the door with the keys then stopped.
‘It’s open too,’ he half-whispered.
‘It’s been forced, with a crowbar,
probably’ offered Declan, crouching to see that the lock was broken, the surrounding
wood shattered, ‘are we goin’ in, George?’ he peered up in the gloom at his
friend, his voice low.
‘Unless you’re afraid of
leprechauns, yes. Lily, can you chuck us the torch out of my bag?’
Reed was living up to his nickname. He was happy. He’d found the small Radio
Rentals shop just before it closed at 5pm. Parking the van, he’d asked the
bloke inside if he could watch a programme – just the one – only on for about
twenty, twenty-five minutes! ‘Please!’
‘Course you can, son,’ said the
shopkeeper, who was very chatty and affable, ‘fancy a cup of tea and a
digestive? What do you want to see? One lump or two?’
Who – my favourite – it’s on the BBC.’
‘Thought you’d be more into dances
and parties. What’s it called nowadays, Beatlemania? Look at you – all dressed
to kill. Meeting a girl are you?’
smiled, ‘this is Dalekmania! Look that’s the right channel, it’s coming on!
Thanks very much!’
man had turned on and tuned in a Bush television set and popped to a room
behind the counter. As he pottered about and the kettle went on the strange
theme music filled the shop. Jack leaned on the counter like he was propping up
the bar in some swish, trendy Mod spot, and saw:
Get in there!
and … who…or what else?!
found no switches as they entered the building and George and Declan crept in
follwed by Lily, Belle, Brenda and Jenny who all held hands. It was pitch black
except forthe small circle of light
from the torch picking out the way in. It smelt slightly musty. They got to the
small box office – George froze! Faces! Looking out at them! Pressed up to the
glass! Staring eyes wide!!
‘Who are you…who goes there?!’ he
croaked, remembering war films.
‘It’s our reflections, you twit!’
growled Declan, ‘unless vampires have their hair done at Luigi’s and coloured
and set at Madame Shirley’s!’
swallowed hard and moved on.
‘Bloody hell - this door’s been
forced too!’ he said, coming to the entrance to the ballroom itself. Jenny
‘We could go back… but what if
they’re behind us? Then I’m first!’
‘What if who are behind us?’ hissed Brenda, crunching another humbug.
‘Vampires,’ said Declan.
called to George:
‘Look, if you lot are actually going
to play a concert I here tonight, we have
to go in! If there are tramps in there we can shove ‘em out!’
nodded and he noticed come beer bottles on the floor by the box office, left
here from summer, he mused. He hefted one and passed another to Declan.
‘It’s empty,’ he complained.
‘It’s for a cudgel,’ grunted George
and pushed one of the doors to enter the ballroom.
crept into darkness, feeling the larger size of the space around them. George
fumbled to his left for switches… nothing? He had an ominous feeling his hand
would touch someone stood there. The light from the torch was lost except on
the floor directly ahead. They all moved inside a few paces, slowly. Lily
grabbed Declan’s hand, breathing-
‘I can hear something creaking!’
‘Yeah – the floorboards - it’s us!’
‘I can still hear it!’ she said.
was true: there was a steady creaking sound ahead of them – something slithered
– was that heavy breathing?! A low mumbling reached them – if it was words,
they couldn’t be made out… then a metallic clinking noise from slightly ahead
and above them.
‘Someone’s in here with us!’ groaned
‘Or something!’ cried Brenda, then ‘For Christ’sake find the
torchbeam swept up across the floorboards towards the source of the noises –
suddenly, horribly, it picked out the legs of a tall dark figure only yards
away then illuminated a stark skull-like face, glaring!!
‘Shit!’ shouted George.
started shouting then the six of them cannoned into each other as they stumbled
back to the door and everything exploded into white light. George at first saw
Brighton Belle with her hand on the lightswitches on the opposite side to where he’d felt for them. She was breathing
quickly, her eyes squinting in the sudden glare. Then he realised that the
others were looking past him at
something behind him. He slowly turned.
the raised stage at the other end of the longish dance floor, stood a broad
shouldered, tough looking lad in black leathers. A heavy chain dangled from his
right hand. Coming towards George from behind the stage and along the bar to
his left were two more, similarly dressed. The one on the stage stepped down
and swaggered towards George who now noticed that coming forward from behind
the bar was a tallish girl with panda make-up and another strange looking girl
with plaits, who wore a leather riding jacket covered with metal badges. Yet
another girl was hovering still behind the bar. His eyes clicked back to the
one with the chain as he spoke:
‘Who the fuck are you then? What are
you doing here? We were here first. You can sling yer hook right now.’
stopped right in front of George, but he didn’t step back – he started to speak
but one of the others interrupted. He could smell beer on their breath.
‘Eddie – they ain’t the coppers. Look
‘I reckon you’re right Johnny.
Poncey Mods is what this lot are, an’ crowding in on us as usual!’ he sneered.
gathered himself and felt Declan come to stand by his side, bristling. So he
‘You’re trespassing. My mate’s
uncle’s the caretaker, and we’ve got the keys, so why don’t you sling yer own
blonde girl had come to stand with the three lads, as had the one with the
plaits. The blonde said quietly,
‘Eddie, we could ride into the town
and go to the pub. I’ve got some money. How about I thrash you at pinball, eh?’
smiled at him, but he was staring at George and Declan, reddening, tensing.
‘Look! They’ve come in here waving
bottles about – ready to start something, just like in Brighton last year.’
raised his voice, ‘Us start somethin’
fella? What’s that chain you have there for then?’
‘Crikey, a Mick as well – a Mick Mod
huh? Listen, Paddy – this is not for starting something, it’s for finishing it!
You wanna try something? Weve ridden a long way to have ourselves a rave-up –
all pleasant like – away from flash buggers like you,’ he sneered at George and
Declan’s smart suits under their Parka coats, ‘now you turn up – we heard your
racket when you drove up, then you’re creeping about in here like the Law!’
voice was strained but clear, ‘We found the gates and doors forced, we thought
you were tramps or … or …’
‘Or vampires!’ said Brenda.
blonde, Fiona, looked downwards quickly, grinning, but Lily saw her do so and
stifled a nervous giggle. Her pulse was racing, she was rooted to the spot but
she felt like when she’d been at Auntie Doris’s funeral last year: everyone so
solemn and then the old vicar had accidentally let out a fart and the whole
church burst out laughing as the tension broke. But now Eddie was speaking
‘So what? Yeah, I jemmied the gates
open and Johnny booted the doors in. So you ain’t coppers and you don’t own
this place – ‘
cut him off, ‘We’re in a group. We’re playing a concert here tonight; we’ve got
more people on the way – loads more so you’d better clear off now!’
turned to him, ‘A group? What group?’
‘We’re The Expressos.’
burst out laughing, ‘You can’t call a group after a bloody cup of coffee!
Listen, me and Ricky ‘ere are in a group – a proper rock ‘n’ roll band. We’re The Thunderbolts.’
‘You can’t be calling a group after
the bloody weather!’
‘Yeah! And we’re playing here and you’re
not! And you’re not welcome – we
don’t want any greasy Rockers in here!’
words hung in the air like the echo of a gunshot in a Western.
jabbed a finger onto George’s chest:
‘So who’s gonna sling us out? Huh?!’
fingers tightened around the neck of the beer bottle, his nostrils flared.
‘I am,’ said the Face.
‘You and whose army, Flash ‘Arry?
There’s me, Johnny and Ricky and only you and Val Doonican here. More of us for
voice rang out behind Eddie from the stage:
‘I reckon I even the odds a bit,
don’t I toerag?’
was Vic. He’d taken his Parka off at some point and stood there in Fred Perry
and Levi’s. He gripped a broken wooden chair leg in his right hand, he was
red-faced and sweating. He stepped down and stood by Fiona. Vera, the girl
still behind the bar let out a gasp – the girl with the plaits spoke:
‘Oh Christ,’ said Catherine, ‘look,
why don’t we all just cool it, eh? Enough’s enough.’
Vic raised the chair leg swaying slightly.
‘Enough? I’m ready to get started
right now. Are you with me?’ He glared at George and Declan, ‘Come on, we’re
gonna beat these greaseballs right up. Right now.’
stared at him.
murmured, ‘he has shoved you, George – they can’t just push Ace Faces like you
about, we haveta protect the girls too.’
took a step towards Eddie…
Chamberlain’s heart was pounding; her mouth was dry. She stared at the tableau:
Jenny and Brenda were still clutching each other’s hands, Belle was frozen by
the door, frowning, her mouth open. The girl behind the bar had backed right
up, the one with the plaits stood her ground but looked miserable and scared at
the same time. The three leather-jacketed tearaways were crowded together and
now she recognised two of them as the jokers from the café earlier on, but no
one was laughing now and that seemed years ago. Their leader, this Eddie, was
pumping himself up for a rumble, swinging the chain. They were surrounded by
the enraged Mods – Vic on the stage and George and Declan with their bottles.
eyes drifted to the other Rocker girl. She also wore leathers but they looked
somehow feminine on her – like a slinky second skin. Even in that moment Lily
realised that she looked strangely stylish for all that her gear was practical.
She’d not seemed rough, although confident; but Lily could not read the expression
on her face now at all. Then she realised that the Rocker girl was looking
straight at her and their eyes met
Chamberlain suddenly walked past Declan and George, through the three bikers
they faced and slipped between Vic and the blonde Rocker girl and said, in a
continuous stream verging on babbling:
‘’Scuse me I hope you don’t mind me
saying but I really like your make up it’s just like Cathy McGowan’s from Ready, Steady, Go! On the telly.
was a heartbeat’s silence and everyone
was looking at Lily. The other girl said:
‘Cathy McGowan? The Queen of the
Mods? Yeah, thanks! She’s cool isn’t she? A real doll.’
stepped closer to Fiona.
‘What do you know about all that
bloody poncey -’
cut in, ‘I watch anything me Dad and Mum don’t like, Eddie – you know that.
glanced at Lily.
‘D’you want me to show you how I do
‘Yes! Yeah! Yes please, I would –
it’s cool, hep…happening … really nice. I’m Lily Chamberlain is your hair naturally
‘Course it is,’ fibbed Fiona.
‘Ooh, you lucky cow! I dye mine –
I’m a brunette usually, what’s your name?’
‘Fiona Barton. Come on then, Lily.’
linked arms and Lily followed her off, white leather Mac and black leather
‘Where the f - where are you going,
Fiona?’ called Eddie, and George took a step after him:
‘Yeah, what are you doing Lily?!’
answered turning her head, eyes wide:
‘Just to do this make-up George!
Back in two ticks, ok? Will you wait for me?’
‘Popping to the Ladies, George –
girls’ talk. It’s a free country you know, isn’t that right, Eddie?! Tell you
what, how about cracking me open another Double Diamond – see you in a mo’!’
disappeared and all the others just stared after them in utter silence.
Suddenly Brighton Belle declared:
‘Bloody hell, if there’s any more of
those Double Diamond’s going I could murder one. How’s about it mate?’ she said
to a dumbstruck Eddie, ‘please?’
the Ladies toilet, in front of a dusty and cracked mirror, Fiona produced her
make up from an inside jacket pocket and set to work on Lily; who was glad to
be away from the crowd outside even if it was freezing in here and she spied
spiders in the corners.
‘That bloke Eddie’s your fella
then?’ she said, ‘Things were getting well… he was… is…wanting a scrap,’ she
added hastily, ‘they all are. Lads can be like that.’
said: ‘But they won’t fight while we’re in here together, will they? You’re
dead clever Lily Chamberlain. Now keep still…’
a minute Fiona added, ‘Eddie’s the Leader of the Pack, but he’s not usually
like that, nor are Johnny and Ricky – it’s when they all get together isn’t it?
Is that why you started chattering away to me? Anyway, your George and that
Irish bloke were waving – well, had bottles ready and that bloke who came in
the back way is Jacob’s.’
‘George is usually really sweet –
he’s lovely to me – it’s just him and Declan have always been close like brothers,
now they’re in their group. And the other lad: Victor, he spent a year in
Reform School but he came out more of
a tearaway – he’s got no parents – he went nicking. George works hard on the
railways, he goes all over. He spends loads on his clothes and his scooter – he
does look nice, doesn’t he?’
‘Well, smart, yeah, if you like
that. But yeah, he is good looking
‘Not just smart, like a businessman
– he’s sharp – he’s a Face! Up to date! Always.’
paused, then finished her cosmetic task with a flourish.
‘That’s where us Rockers are
different, though, we don’t change every five minutes like the weather, it’s so
important to keep Rock ‘n’ Roll alive – it’ll never die. Some sounds just come and go. Not being nasty.’
blinked at herself in the mirror thinking with her huge black bouffant hair and
now her big round shaded eyes and eyebrows she looked like someone off of Happy
Jack’s favourite: Doctor Who. A real
‘Thanks Fiona, I really like that! Hey listen: Now, I
like all the new fab groups but The
Beatles used to play Rock ‘n’ Roll up in Liverpool and abroad, I read.
Also, guess what?! Sometimes The
Expressos warm up at rehearsals with Rock ‘n’ Roll songs! The drummer, Jack
had been played some of his uncle Ernest’s Rock ‘n’ Roll 45s on family visits.
He got them to ‘cos he said ‘it’s rhythmically solid’ – gets the group to play
together better, to begin with. They do all the fab tunes too, even The Who’s new one – we love them – now what you said just then;
I think with The Who, they are so good they’ll be around for…ooh
another five years!!’
‘Listen Lily, I may be a Rocker but
I like The Who – that singer is so…’
grabbed her hand and did an excited little dance.
‘I know! Roger! I had a dream about
both giggled then stopped.
‘What’s going to happen, they won’t
wait too long – we’ve just delayed the trouble,’ said Fiona, her angular face
set in a frown. Lily frowned too, then looked Fiona right in the eye.
‘I know what we’ll do…’
the main part of the Grande Ballroom the Mods and Rockers were still staring at
each other. Eddie Hall had silently walked over to one of the crates of ale
they’d brought in, picked a bottle out, walked over and handed it to Brighton
Belle. She might be one of these snooty Mods (and she looked a sight with all
her white get-up and red dyed hair – like a bleedin’ Swan Vestas match!), but
she was still a girl and had asked politely. And thanked him. ‘Sides, Fiona was
off with another of them – the black-haired bird with the big… mouth. Nobody
had said anything more although Ricky had then sat down on the edge of the
stage. The bruiser Mod standing on it glared at him, trembling and ruddy faced
although Eddie saw the one called George look up at him and almost
imperceptibly shake his head.
been gone ten minutes.
‘When Jack gets here… with the
others… we can start setting our equipment up.’
the wiry Johnny countered with:
‘Look, spud, we’ve told you. We were
here first. I don’t wanna hear no poncey bunch of posers wailin’, so why don’t
you just -’
Brighton Belle shouted above him in a shrill voice:
‘Here’s Lily and her friend back!’
and Fiona walked back to the middle of the dancefloor arm in arm.
‘Hi Georgie! Do you like the make-up
Fiona’s done on me?!’
stared at them. She had on the Rocker bird’s leather biker jacket. The blonde
now had on Lily’s chic white leather Mac, dazzling over her tight leather black
leather jeans. He stammered to Lily:
‘What… are you… wearing?’
‘A jacket! Pretty much fits me!’
‘But why… that?’
‘It’s something different isn’t it?
Makes a change! I like it!’
voice piped up, the Rocker girl with the Red Indian hair-do (Catherine, Fiona
had said) was walking over.
‘I think you look great in it.’
stood up and pointed at Fiona who was smiling and preening like a model on a
catwalk in the Mac.
‘I hardly ever seen you in anything
but black Fiona! I mean, you could wear anything even a dress – I’ve seen you in one. But you’d freeze in that on the
Beesa, haring along like Eddie does!’
‘But I’m not on a bike, Johnny – I’m
on a dancefloor, it’s Saturday night and I wanna dance. I wanna see George
and Declan and Vic and Jack’s group do their concert!’ she skipped over like a
child to an open-mouthed George and said, ‘a little bird told me you know some
great Rock ‘n’ Roll songs – will you play them if I shout for them? Please?!’
looked like a beached fish, his mouth opening and closing, blinking.
‘I… well… we don’t… those are just…’
leaned into him, ‘You did say we have
to play to the audience we’ve got, Georgie me lad…’
Belle had wandered over to the small bar and was cheekily asking the
shy-looking Rocker girl, Vera, still standing nervously behind it, to grab them
a double Gilbey’s each. Catherine ‘Wheels’ Williams had slipped out of her
bulky leather jacket and lent it to Brenda to try on, whilst accepting a mint
‘Ooh, ta, I love ‘em. They give you
deathbreath!’ she said.
was now showing Jenny how good he was at doing TheTwist …‘for when them
Mods started their wailing…’
considered. Then he walked a couple of paces back over to George and Declan:
‘Looks like we ain’t having a punch-up
and Declan put the Double Diamond bottles down, George declaring:
‘I’d rather have a full one. We’ve
got some more booze in the van when Jack gets back, too. There’s Guiness,
Watney’s Red Barrel.
‘Cheers then!’ said Declan, ‘I’ll
raise the wrist to an armistice an’ if there’s one of the many things the Irish
are good at it’s drinking the English under the table, fellas!’
flashed his toothy grin:
‘Well, isn’t this just bleedin’
democracy in action, eh?!’
was smiling, still thinking about the Doctor
Who epsiode; no Doctor, but loads
of Daleks! Exterminate! What would happen next?! And he could play the bassline
from the theme tune… Right – to business. He set off along the High Street in
the dark. He wanted to pop into the pub, the church hall and the youth club to
distribute the promotional handbills that Lily had copied for the concert later
could hear a juke box in the pub – it was loud. He thought he might stop for a
half. He sang along: ‘…please don’t
bother trying to find her, she’s not there…’
unbelievably, the world went mad. A crowd of people came rushing out of the pub
shouting and screaming. Pursuing them were others
– they were attacking them, clawing, biting. People fell; those that did
attracted several attackers. They were…eating them! Now there were similar
sounds of terror from out of houses – a policeman ran up to Jack who started to
ask him what was going on, but saw he had a wound on his throat – a bite! The
copper began to convulse and fell to his knees: his helmet falling off. Then he
rose; his eyes bulging and reddened, his mouth in a snarl. He looked straight
at Jack and hissed. At that very moment across the street, a scream came from
the brightly lit Fine Fare supermarket and the window shattered outwards; two
female shop assistants were grasping the manager and tearing at him with their
teeth: Even as all three hit the pavementin a shower of glass and blood. The copper ran to the scene and joined
in the feast.
ran for his van, the handbills tossed aside. No! There were more attackers
coming from the houses that end of the High Street – he was cut off! He ran
past the Radio Rentals shop and shouted at the shopkeeper to lock up and lie
low. Something grabbed him: a man in some sort of fisherman’s get-up… thick
jersey and seaboots, but sopping wet. He pulled at Jack’s arm trying to bite
him and Jack shrugged off his jacket, spun round and walloped him in the face,
hard: one, two, three. The pallid, greyish faced man staggered back, nose
broken, then lunged again. A gun shot cracked out and a large hole appeared in
the side of the head and he fell. A middle-aged man in tweeds with a shotgun
ran across the street.
‘Only thing that stops them lad! Got
to put one here!’ he said, tapping his forehead.
‘Thanks Mister! For a mo’ there I
thought I was gonna die before I got old!’
‘Major Thomas Smythe. Retired.’
shook hands. Jack’s mind was racing, he looked around at the carnage and
confusion, and knew he had to do something. And he knew what. He turned to the
‘Anyone called the … police?’
‘No time lad – anyway, can’t rely on
anyone these days,’ he said, indicating the manic form of the blood-soaked
constable gnawing on an arm, ‘my duty is to even the score as I can.’
‘Ok, good luck. Er… could you… cover
sprinted for the telephone box on the corner, by the pub, dodging grabbing
claws and snapping jaws… twice he was tumbled over, shoving and kicking until
he jumped inside and pushed the door shut. Immediately faces and talons jammed
on all three windowed sides trying to get at him. He patted at his lapelled
waistcoat pockets and smiled thankfully; his wallet and keys were in here not in his vanished jacket! A
success for style!
was a directory; also a Yellow Pages. He eyed it and laughed aloud thinking
what the fuck does this come under then?! But the number
for the Grande Ballroom on the pier was in the directory. He had the coins
ready and as the pips went he pushed them in and spoke to an incredulous
George, issuing his warning and oulining his plan. Jack pushed the door open a
crack and called to the Major, who was reloading:
Smythe took down the creatures crowded around the telephone box and Jack dashed
headlong to his van.
Mods and Rockers… versus Zombies!!
In the Grande Ballroom on the pier
a telephone rang somewhere behind the bar in a small back room. George swigged
Double Diamond and said, ‘Must be Jack – he’s dead late. He should have been
here by now.’ George removed his Parka and disappeared to answer the telephone.
He reappeared shortly and Brenda
said to him, ‘Was it Jack?’
nodded and looked at Eddie Hall.
‘Right – it looks like we are having a punch-up after all.’
eyed the heavy chain he’d put over the back of a chair and George exclaimed:
‘No – I mean we – all of us. Us! Jack Reed, our bass player with the
van – he’s on his way and he said there’s … trouble… in the town… murder!
People, people bloody dead and… bloody eating
other people. Dead people up and chasing people and eating them! They’re
chasing him here!!’
was a huge chaotic noise as everyone shouted ridicule, disbelief, screamed,
shouted questions. Then suddenly, Vic shouted in a querulous voice:
‘All of you, shut up! Listen! It’s …
it’s not a piss-take; Jack’s not winding us up,’
coughed and swayed slightly, ‘when… when I decided to come in here the back way
– after seeing the gates busted – just in case… I was hunting round for
something to force a window. I saw their bikes,’ he pointed at the Rockers.
Everyone saw blood drip from his arm! ‘Well, this bloke come up to me out of
the darkness and just… went for me, rushed at me snarling,’ he stopped.
‘Well, what happened?’ said Ricky.
‘I fuckin’ done ‘im over, didn’t I?
Thought he was one of you lot. But he wasn’t swinging at me, he was trying to
fucking bite me! Didn’t say a word either – just sort of moaning and growling.
Stupid twat. Even Rockers don’t bite ya…and he felt all wet – his clothes were
soaking – crazy! He bit my arm, here, as I clobbered him, so I nutted him and
he fucking went over the rail! Splash! Into the oggin!’
was a livid bite-mark on his arm…
‘Christ!’ said Declan, ‘then he
could be… dead.’
all stared. Vic coughed. The Brenda said in a low voice:
‘He was already dead. A zombie. The
walking dead that crave the flesh of the living.’
was a heavy silence.
‘You’re a cheery little ray of
sunshine aren’t you?’ snapped Ricky.
she retorted, ‘It’s true. I read about zombies in me lunchbreak in the library.
They’ve got them in Haiti. Now they’re here in England.’
‘Not vampires then?’ asked Jenny
‘No, they’re in Transylvania. These must be zombies.’
‘Not bloody Frankenstein or The
Mummy then?’ said Ricky, a note of hysteria in his voice.
She frowned, ‘Actually, dimwit,
Frankenstein’s not real; it’s a story by Mary Shelley in 1816. I don’t know
about The Mummy.’
ballroom doors crashed open and Brenda, Jenny and Brighton Belle screamed and
ran! Ricky ducked and the others spun round!
was Jack. Usually dapper in his tailored three-piece suit, he was dishevelled
and it was missing the jacket, he was panting hard staring about wildly at his
friends. He registered the Rockers, swallowed and shot out a shaking hand to
Catherine Wheels who was nearest.
‘Hello, I’m Jack Reed.’
‘H… Happy Jack?’ she replied, ‘those
bruises look nasty – I can put some Witchhazel on them – I’ve got a First Aid
kit in me bike’s pannier. I’m in the Saint John’s Ambulance you know.’
pointed at metal badge on her leather lapel.
‘No time! Listen, those things – ’
‘Zombies,’ said Brenda.
‘They follow sounds and chase people,
especially people screaming… I drove my van round the town with the tranny up
full and singing along – they seemed to really
latch onto Ticket to Ride!
Distracted‘em! Lots of folks got away: ran away, out of town, took the chance!
But I also know how to kill them!’
hugged Jack and gave him a big kiss.
‘Ooh you are so lovely Jack – always thinking of others! Isn’t he though?!’
Wheels agreed, nodding solemnly.
‘That was really brave of you. Where are the zombies now?’
turned to her.
‘I drove through the pier gates,
pushed them closed and backed the van up to hold them, with the tranny still on
blaring out!’ Ever the fanboy pedant he added, ‘they were intent on She Loves You – trying to get through
the railings. Actually looked like a Beatles
concert… but listen – trust me – do ‘em in the head and they go down and
‘Then we’ve got them!’ said
trembling himself now, declared, ‘You mean they’ve got us if we’re stuck in here!’
‘But they can’t get in. Can they?’
piped up Vera on her third Gilbey’s.
Belle downed her own glass and smiled sadly at her NBFRDB (New Best Friend
Rocker Drinking Buddy…)
‘Something tells me they will. They
always get in…’
Wheels rounded on her,
just what we want! ‘Cos we’ll be ready for those undead fucking sacks of shit
and we’ll fucking well do ‘em in!’
clutched Jenny’s hand and said tightly, ‘Oh Lor’ this is serious…’
the bar, Vera, glugging Gilbey’s from the bottle said:
‘Too right it is luv, Catherine
‘Look, Jack here says the townsfolk
weren’t ready for what happened – got caught with their drawers down by the
zombie onslaught. We will be ready –
we lure ‘em up here, into the ballroom and pick ‘em off! Has anyone got any
military experience? For example, I can fire a 2.2 rifle – my dad taught me. I
have a proficiency badge from the Territorial Army range,’ she pointed at her
ventured, ‘I’m pretty good with target shooting and Eddie’s not bad either.’
‘I can use a catapault,’ said Ricky.
rasped from the stage, his eyes downcast:
‘I…I…built airfix models of two
Spitfires and a Lancaster… and a Junkers Ju 77… Stuka…’
hand shot up:
‘My little brother’s got an Action
rolled his eyes:
‘Well we’re hardly the bleedin’
Desert Rats, are we?! But well done Napoleon with yer van,’ he nodded to Jack.
raised her voice, ‘We’ll make do! We’re British!’
girl’s enthusiasm caught on. George clapped Declan on the shoulder:
‘She’s right! And we’ve got just the
‘What?’ asked his friend.
‘Jack’s tale has got me thinking –
come with me!’
he passed Eddie, George grabbed his elbow and pulled him over to the doors,
beckoning to Johnny and Ricky.
‘We’ll be back, but we’ll have
company…we’ll need… look, get the gory details from Happy Jack about what he
saw in the town. And I don’t mean Doctor
Minutes later George and Declan stared
in horror at the horde of zombies straining to get at them through the pier
gates. Some two hundred, with their blood-soaked torn clothes and matted, lank
hair – their dead but staring eyes, their grey and greenish-tinged skin, with
open, suppurating wounds; their drooling, snapping jaws and their outstretched
arms thrust through the bars – hands twisted into graspin claws. A low moaning,
guttural and harsh, came towards them, along with the sound of the radio still
blaring… ‘She loves you, yeah yeah yeah!’…
‘Time, is on my side…’
‘Crikey that lot make Rockers look
sharp!’ quipped Declan as he clambered aboard the van. George climbed into the
driving seat of the faithful blue Bedford. He couldn’t actually – technically –
‘How difficult can this really be?’
he murmured and turned the ignition, hit the accelerator. The TARDIS shot backwards fast, into the gates!!
‘Bloody hell! Jack left it in
gates flew outwards into the zombies, mashing faces and snapping limbs. Declan
cheered as George now threw the van forwards towards the end of the pier.
There, he swung round in a tight arc; just missing the parked red, white and
blue scooters until the back doors faced the entrance to the ballroom and they
jumped out and began to haul the entire contents inside with help from all the
minutes later the stumbling, shambolic but relentless crowd of zombies swarmed
over the scooters, around the empty van and through the open ballroom doors. A
single sound was drawing them on in their quest for living flesh to feast on. A
metronomic, thudding bass drum: two beats, two beats, from within the darkened
poured onto the dancefloor and suddenly the stage lights came on;
multi-couloured, illuminating four figures onstage in front of them…
‘Alright you scabby excuse for an
audience, we’re The Expressos from
London town! One, two, one, two, three, four!’ shouted George and they launched
into a snappy, deafeningly loud version of You
Really Got Me with George belting out ‘Ya
got me so I dunno what I’m doin’ – oh yeeeaaahhhh!’ Happy Jack pummelled
his bass guitar, sounding like a Vulcan bomber coming in to attack; Declan was
grinding out the chords on guitar and Vic was a whirlwind of twirling
drumsticks – flailing his arms enough to make Keith Moon proud!
sound and light totally disorientated the zombies who turned this way and that,
reaching out and clawing the air and each other. At the precise moment they
began their second number: Love Me Do
the attack began too! First from stage left…
Hall laid into a line of zombies wielding his heavy chain like a knight in
leather armour; each swing crushing a skull from on top or caving in a face in
a spurt of blood and brains. Following him ran Johnny and Ricky with broken
Double Diamond bottles, the jagged spikes of glass spearing into eye sockets
squelching and piercing brains, bodies falling. Johnny kicked out his heavy
motorcycle boot smashing a knee-cap; the cadaver fell and he crunched its head
with his other boot. Repeat! Ricky shouted in alarm, razor sharp teeth closed
around his forearm but his leather jacket wasn’t punctured and he shoved a
gore-covered broken bottle into the dead face.
‘This enough of a rumble for yer?!’
set of jaws closed around his elbow, tightly and he shrugged out of the jacket
rounding on the attacker, pulping its head from the side.
the other side of the stage, sat on the end of the bar, was Fiona Barton still
in the white leather Mac, legs crossed cool as a cucumber. She lifted one of
the air rifles they’d detached from the small array of amusements just beyond
the rear of the Grande Ballroom. As Victor bashed out the introduction to Please Please Me she fired: the pellet
boring through the eye and into the brain of a lurching corpse. It dropped
fast! Just as fast, Catherine Wheels passed her up another loaded rifle which
cracked again. Repeat! Through the eyeballs!
and his Rockers twisted and shouted tearing into the zombies! Fiona’s air
rifles cycled between her and Catherine, loading, each shot felling a zombie.
As The Expressos culminated one of
their own songs Scootie Cutie, George
raised his arms and gushed:
‘Thank you ladies and gents!’
realising the absurdity of the theatricality.
shouted from behind his drums, ‘George! I… this is gonna be my… last song…’
‘Don’t be daft! We’re knockin’ ‘em
dead out there, mate!’
eyes were red, his skin was now mottled and grey – he spoke again but his voice
‘One… last … number…been popping these…’ he crammed a dozen Purple Hearts
into his slackening mouth, ‘it’s all over now…’
began, ‘No, we don’t do that one until the end of the set, Vic.’
‘George, Declan, Jack… finish the
show for me…ok? Look after my drums… but…’
pointed to the ravenous throng on the dancefloor, still being steadily depleted
by Fiona’s sniping, ‘I don’t wanna be walking around… like that…’
was nothing more to say. Declan launched into All Day and All of the Night. George got through the first verse
and whilst he sang ‘girl, I want to be
with you all of the time’ he clocked Vic.
had a zombie on drums: A zombie on amphetamines with bloodlust. But he kept on
playing at a frantic tempo until the song finished. Eddie saw, raised his fist
towards the stage and said:
‘Now that’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.’
no music blasting out, the zombies began to focus and move faster. Johnny
shouted to Eddie:
‘Hold ‘em!’ and he shoved Ricky
towards the stage, the two of them dodging zombie talons, and all the while
Fiona chalking up more kills. Vic was starting to demolish the drumkit, no
longer his, as he was no longer human - even more like Moon the Loon! He was
consumed by a lust for flesh and was trying to bite the band. Johnny leapt on
stage and shouted to George:
‘You gotta keep playing! Otherwise
we’re Pedigree Chum, chum! Get ‘im off and Ricky can sit in – he’s the drummer
in The Thunderbolts – he’s crackin’!’
only nods and glances Declan and Jack gripped their guitars by the necks,
raised them up high and took turns to bring them down on Vic’s head, his brains
and pieces of skull splattering the snare and toms.
‘Blimey – Townsend would love
this!!’ opined George, shoving a set list into Ricky’s hand who said:
‘I gotta get into the groove
daddyo,’ his eyes staring and manic, grabbing Vic’s sticks.
‘Let’s do Something Else,’ said George.
‘We better had, and fast,’ replied
‘I mean the song you twit!’ snapped
the singer and Ricky nodded, plonking himself onto the vacated drumstool and
spinning, then clicking the sticks to count them into…
look at that – across the street!’
they tore through the classic and then ripped into Rock Around the Clock, Fiona and Eddie tore through and ripped into
the newly befuddled zombies again with rifle, chain and bottle. George shouted
‘So what do you do in your group, then?’
‘I’m the singer.’
thrust the microphone at him and grinned, ‘well, Johnny, be good!’ and he was.
went through the Chuck Berry boogie and Johnny screamed, ‘Yeah! We’re The Expressbolts – you wanna rock an’
roll some more?!’
they crashed through adopted Beatles
anthems Twist and Shout and I Saw Her Standing There, he spied
George who had joined Eddie on the dancefloor using the broken chairleg to
shatter skulls and pierce eyeballs, to rip brains apart, smiling grimly.
eyes stared at the stage straining to see in the glare of the lights – undead
ears picked up the high volume and undead legs ran or stumbled towards the
noise as dead arms reached out to clutch and gaping mouths snapped, ready to
rip flesh and feast. But the undead were dispatched mercilessly and constantly
to the sound of the Stones groover It’s All Over Now. And then the concert
was. The band darted off stage and
was followed by George and Eddie, retreating. Fiona nimbly jumped to the floor
from the bar. The lights were out but she knew where to head for.
a blur a hideous talon grabbed her arm and whirled her round – chomping jaws
looming at her face! She reacted in terror and felt along the bar… she smashed
the bottle of Gilbey’s gin on the bar, the last few drops spraying everywhere,
and slashed the zombie’s throat open so that blackened blood splashed across
her vividly showing up on the white Mac.
screamed at the grasping corpse and screwed
the jagged bottle end into its face, puncturing the left eye deeply and it fell
back. She fled, others already groping for her.
the doors leading out of the back of the Grande Ballroom were now open and the
twenty or so zombies left standing moved through them – attracted by another
sound now. They emerged, moaning, into more dazzling lights. The small area at
the end of the pier held a few fairground type attractions as Vic had said. But
now the tarpaulins were off and the juice was on! A roundabout whirled – golden
and painted horses bobbing up and down as they circled, gay organ music, brassy
the wooden steeds sat three Mod girls: Lily, Brighton Belle and Brenda and
their shortish skirts exposed white flesh that drew the leering, crazed
cadavers towards them quickly and eagerly. Meat!
deafening roar came from the side of the end of the pier as Eddie’s 750 cc BSA
and Catherine Wheels’ 500 cc black Norton (her pride and joy!) were kickstarted
into thrumming life and their headlamps came on and picked out individual
zombie faces – once townsfolk, now lurching, careening re-animated dead bodies.
They turned to the sound…
from the other side Johnny and Ricky
gunned their Velocets and as Eddie raised a fist the two sets of motorcycles
roared forward and criss-crossed through
the crowd of zombies and as they did so their riders brandished their makeshift
weapons…Eddie had his chain, the others large, heavy spanners (from a toolbox
bolted to the deck, to which Jack had produced the key, grinning with
anticipation). They swung them with vicious and deadly accuracy, connecting
with and splitting heads - gore splattering over the riders.
reduced clump of slavering zombies remained standing and still clawed towards
the roundabout which now stopped. Eddie Hall steered his BSA 750 straight at
one of the stragglers – the town butcher when he was alive, actually and it
ploughed into the body; the momentum felling it and pushing it forwards so the
front tyre jammed the face against the metal railings of the pier. Eddie revved
and the head burst upwards in a shower of blood, brains and skull fragments,
white bone catching the coloured lights. Pretty! He didn’t pause but leaped off
his throbbing machine, laid it down and grabbed the hammer from the ‘Try Your
Strength’ stand, bringing it down towards another head.
‘Try this you slimy fucker!’ he yelled and with a crunch the skull
the roundabout Brighton Belle held a Ronson lighter and Brenda narrowed her
‘Where did you get that from? You
don’t smoke do you?’
smiled, ‘No, but I keep it in me bedroom so me mum will think I do! She
actually tidies the place looking for
cigarettes that aren’t there!’
flame shot up – a signal – and Jenny quickly dodged between the horses from
behind the roundabout, her arms full of Double Diamond bottles. She gave one to
each girl and Belle lit the pieces of material potruding from them.
the concert, Johnny syphoned some petrol out of the bikes’ tanks and filled the
bottles. Jenny smiled apologetically at him and unwound the white cotton scarf
from around his neck and attacked it with her nail-scissors; stuffing makeshift
fuses into the bottlenecks. For some reason (probably the notion of impending
death at the jaws of a mobile corpse, preying on their teenage minds) as their
eyes met, they leaned forward over their small arsenal of Molotov Cocktails and
had a lovely long snog, like they were in the back row of the Odeon. Well, it
was Saturday night, zombies or not! Isn’t that sweet?
wind forward again!
girl flung her bottle straight at the group of zombies. Three hit the deck at
their feet and broke, igniting, flames catching at their clothing, engulfing
them. Brighton Belle’s bottle impacted with the leading zombie’s head,
shattering with the force of her throw and there was a ‘whump!’ as it exploded,
flames dancing round it like a lit Christmas pudding – the hair burning, the
eyeballs sizzling until the brain roasted and it pitched forward. Lily
Chamberlain hugged Brighton Belle tightly and said:
‘Oh Belinda! That was just so… so…
you really are such an Ace Face!’
four Mod girls stared at the flames as the undead died, like it was some
nightmarish Guy Fawkes Night party. They could see other figures through the
acrid smoke in a semicircle… other Mods… and Rockers, but all standing
together. There were George and Declan – their arms around each other, with
Happy Jack still smiling – good old Expressos! Good show! Lily raised her hand
to wave at George but he was staring down at his feet, lost in thought. Next to
them was Ricky and that cheeky Johnny… starting to look themselves again after
the horror and violence; grinning daftly at each other. The toughie Rocker
chick Catherine Wheels was still on her big, black bike gripping the throttle,
the engine still purring as if she was ready to roll somewhere: Anywhere.
she saw her friend Fiona Barton – they both waved at each other, smiling. She
saw her point at the gore-streaked white Mac then make a palms-up shrugging
‘sorry!’ gesture and giggle. Lily giggled too and pointed at the biker jacket
she still wore and smugly turned the collar up, raised her chin and stuck her
tongue out. Fiona turned to nudge Eddie to clock her daft friend, but Lily saw
he was turned away, his head cocked, listening. She then heard a weird wailing
sound approaching over the crackling of the blaze.
‘Oh bloody hell! What on Earth now?’
she said to Jenny.
‘Vampires,’ Brenda said, ‘must be.’
all of a sudden the decking in front of them finally burned through and
collapsed splashing into the sea below; along with the pile of roasted corpses,
the ‘Try Your Strength’ stall and the ‘What the Butler saw’ machine.
they all realised it was the sirens of Police cars. They could picture the coppers
drawing up at the pier gates seeing the bodies strewn there: Running up the
pier past the overturned scooters and the Bedford van. Then advancing into the
now deserted Grande Ballroom and seeing the heaps of destroyed zombies – the Expressos’ equipment still set up –
amplifiers and guitars now silent, stage lights blank. Like the undead before
them they’d see the lights form the end of the pier attractions and
looked up and saw a crowd of Policemen – maybe fifteen or so, all with
truncheons drawn. They were led by a tall, slightly greying man in his early
forties, in a peaked uniform cap with a silver badge. He addressed them:
‘I’m Chief Inspector Pike.’
‘Evenin’ all!’ shouted Johnny.
Policeman frowned at him.
‘You. What’s your name?’
chuckled, ‘I ain’t tellin’ you, Pike!’
‘Now look here - ’
moved forward and looked up at him:
‘May I explain please, officer?
We’re so glad you’re here – there’s been a spot of bother you see.’
looked at the gaping hole in the decking and the whisps of smoke curling up
from its edge. He saw the huddled forms of corpses littered around and
registered that this rather attractive young lady smiling at him was in fact
covered in blood and seemed to have a small piece of someone’s brain stuck in
her hair. He spluttered:
‘This town has had its fair share of
bother in the past, Miss – but it’s
been quiet for a good twenty years or so. Now…this!’
eyed them all; the other girls having come over from the roundabout.
‘Blinkin’ tearaways aren’t you? Rockers-’ he sniffed, ‘aren’t you?’
‘We are,’ said Declan, ‘they’re
Mods,’ nodding sideways.
‘Right enough,’ said Ricky, ‘we are
black leather-clad girl with pigtails protruding from a black crash helmet with
a skull and crossbones on it approached out of the shadow of the ballroom
building, pushing a motorcycle:
walked up to Lily and put her finger on her nose.
sort of half and half since he bit
her,’ she pointed at Ricky, who piped up:
‘Yeah – now she’s a Mocker. Very,
very anti-social they are!’
as Lily thought she wouldn’t be able to contain her laughter any longer and
might actually wee herself, Fiona spoke again.
‘Sorry about my friends, but it’s
been one of those days. Could… could we tell you exactly what’s been going on?’
Brighton Belle said, ‘Blimey – how about inside where we can have a drink
Policeman eyed her sternly, ‘I don’t think that’d be right and proper Miss,
given your age.’
they were escorted inside by the blue-uniformed Policemen, still glancing
warily around them at the carnage.
‘Let’s start at the very beginning
then,’ he said to Johnny, who put his arm around the copper’s waist and told
him in a conspiratorial whisper:
‘Ok – but it was vampires…’
Inspector Pike turned to him and said with disdain, ‘You stupid boy!’
have a breather and relax, because the danger to our young heroes is over and
they can now – OR IS IT?!
at the bar Brighton Belle smugly and drunkenly raised a bottle of Guinness to
the policeman to whom she’d just given her details and account. They’d all done
the same: Told the truth. Even about poor Vic. He’d had no one. No parents;
family disowned him and now he was … gone. She felt quite tearful but happy and
tipsy simultaneously. Then she became aware of a low moaning – she stiffened
and saw that Brenda was gripping the arm of the policeman who was interviewing
her and pointing past her.
‘Belinda! Look out!’
hand came down on Belle’s elbow – tightening – a terrible sound…
copper raised his truncheon to smash down on the head of the figure that was
emerging, dragging its wretched way up, tugging at her arm, foul breath reeking…
of … gin?!!?! She whirled and saw:
‘Ohhh… Christ…my head!’ said the
suffering Rocker chick – her make up smeared, dribbling slightly, eyes
reddened. She suddenly, in a moment of clarity saw and took in the scene that
confronted her. The bodies, the police…
‘Did I miss something… oh Gawd – giz
grabbed Belle’s Guinness, finished the bottle and gently put it back on the
bar. Then she gently collapsed once more.
Lunchtime of the Dead
were all sat in the back garden of the town pub. All except Vic of course. It
was a bright day – better than yesterday. Of course.
all ridden into the town in police Black Marias that had been summoned, and
drunk copious amounts of hot, sweet tea and eaten a Ploughman’s lunch each – at
2 am. Then they’d all tumbled into the beds in the upstairs rooms upstairs.
Lily fell into a deep sleep in George’s arms – Fiona was with Eddie. Everyone
else shared, boys with girls, Mods with Rockers. Tonight, no one cared.
Lily had woken alone to the smell of frying eggs and bacon.
She’d padded downstairs in someone’s dressing gown and a pair of fluffy
slippers that were far too big for her, to find Fiona in the kitchen, smiling.
‘Wakey wakey, rise and shine.’
‘Show a leg the morning’s fine,’
they’d ferried fry-ups out to the others, in the garden, who were now slowly
coming back from the dead. George passed Eddie a bottle of Heinz tomato
sauceand watched him cover his plate with it.
‘Thanks. Hey, you look pretty sharp
this morning – that a brand new fashion then – vest and dressing gown?’ said
replied, ‘You know me – always neat, like a Face has go to be. Brenda got up
early and has been washing all our … er … dirty clobber out. Says it’s going to
be dry in a couple of hours. Don’t think we’ll be wearing any of it after
getting back to London, though, what with the stains… Your leather jackets and
the leather trousers just needed sponging down, she reckons.’
sauntered out of the pub and picked up a plate and said, munching on a sausage:
‘The coppers have just rung up.
They’ve got all the folks who escaped safe and sound in a couple of big hotels
along the coast there. They’re interviewing them. That Pike fella just told me
the searched the village for stray zombies and they found a few, so he took
their heads off with a Tommy gun! Said he had it lying around for years. Just
like a gangster, he said. Imagine that! We’re free to go wherever we like.
They’re gonna contact Vic’s relatives.’
was a brief silence. Happy Jack stood up:
‘Listen, why don’t we all go back to
London together, eh? In a convoy – triumphant, like?’
answered him, ‘I’ll ride with you and that spaceship van of yours. We can stop
off at a great transport café we know for some tea on the way – all the gangs
stop there on runs.’
laughed, ‘You trying to get us lynched – we pull up on scooters there…?’
said, ‘No one’s gonna touch you. You’re with us. We’re a gang now.’
put his feet up on the central table. Force of habit even though he was wearing
only socks. He said:
‘Not only that, but I’m your drummer
for as long as you need me. I bloody loved that show! You should come and see
The Thunderbolts play – we should play together!’
Belle slurped her mug of tea, ‘I’ll go in your Rocker café, but I don’t want my
arse pinched by any tearaway. Not unless he’s cute, that is! But, listen, we go
to this place near us at weekends – it’s a coffee bar upstairs and they have
music on downstairs – it’s dead easy to take booze in, too. Next Saturday – why
don’t we all go? We can have a proper
said, ‘You’d be with us. Our guests.’
all agreed. Lily and Fiona winked at each other.
that afternoon, they all walked together down to the pier. It was just dark.
There were no bodies at the gates. There were two policemen there and two
soldiers. One of the soldiers nodded to them – not much older than them, it
seemed, and pointed. Parked along the front were three stylish scooters: Red,
white and blue. George’s pennant was still fluttering in the slight breeze on
the blue one. There was a trusty blue Bedford van, full of things to make a
loud noise with and four sturdy, big motorcycles, all ready to go for the ton
up. They pulled away together, although as she mounted her iron horse,
Catherine Williams (with Vera as pillion) gave the thumbs up to Belinda Clarke
‘We’ll know where we are next
she roared off.
The Expressos / The Expressbolts Set
You Really Got Me
Love Me Do
Please Please Me
All Day & All Of The Night
Rock Around The Clock
Johnnie B Goode
Twist And Shout
I Saw Her Standing There
It’s All Over Now
Catskills. New York State. USA.
17th August 1969
women from England stood, in a state, in a State, in the ‘States. They’d had a Happening. They were blown away.
Drained. Full. Happy!
Chamberlain spoke first, linking arms with Fiona Barton:
‘I almost can’t believe that just happened! We
saw them… here!’
‘We did, Lily, we did!’ replied her
hugged. They hugged their friends. So many hugs now, but these were extra
special. Catherine Williams was reliving the show they’d just seen – going over
the songs, the clothes, the crowd still all around them, swarming.
‘That was my best gig ever! Everyone’s
been brilliant but that was … brillianter!’
Clarke thought her face would split in two, she was smiling so much:
‘See me! Feel me! Touch me! Heal me!
Oh wow! Listening to you la la la la la! Ladies and Gentlemen… The Who!!! Lily, remember when we saw
them first at that small club… and now here at the biggest thing ever in the
whole wide world?!!’ Lily beamed at the ecstatic Belinda:
‘It feels so right being here - ’ said Lily, ‘almost like I knew I’d be here. Do you remember when we were on the… pier?’
simply nodded. Both of their faces were momentarily solemn. No need to
‘ – my dream I
told you about – with Roger in it! I was here, then, like he was guiding me
through everything to here, to see them play!’
were all arm in arm, vaguely making their way to try to find somewhere giving
away or selling food and drink. Lily thought of Belinda’s camper van, totally
covered in painted psychedelic designs and slogans, parked… somewhere. Might as
well be on the moon! The moon…
thoughts raced! Only a few weeks ago they’d seen three men leave for the moon!
Necks craned in the sunshine with thousands of others, they’d stood and laughed
and cried as a giant white rocket shot skywards on a pillar of flame with such
a deafening roar! What a gig! Going to the bloody moon – God, was there
anything people couldn’t do if they put their minds to it?! Her thoughts
wandered further back through their journey. They’d all kept in touch and it
had come down to the four of them vowing to stick together and do something
amazing in an amazing decade. Ideas and plans flew around, so they worked and
saved and saved and saved and saved some more. Lily’s modelling hadn’t taken
her around the world, but she’d put the modest but regular cheques away; and
pictures of Lily appeared in magazines.
was changing, mixing things up, blurring divisions and they’d wanted to surf on
that huge wave of possibilities. They’d sailed across the ocean over Christmas
last year and got work, found digs, made friends and started travelling across
this changing nation that was a continent wide. They’d done so much together,
stayed so close while they were yet so young.
remembered family life back in the UK, too, and missed her family very much. She
smiled and thought of George. He’d never really got over her and she’d never
quite forgotten him. He had his own family now and she’d see hers again one
day. But not just yet!
now here they were, the same but different: Mods? Rockers? Hippies? Whatever
next? Belinda was looking really psychedelic with her now long hair still
bright red and her cream and gold flared trouser suit.
Bottoms! Ha ha!
looked much the same – hair in Red Indian plaits and she painted her face with
their tribal designs. Freaky! Fun! Her skull and crossbones leather jacket was
even more lived-in.
was all tassles and beads and bangles in a flowing skirt. All the Heads here
just loved her. ‘Lady Fiona from
England.’ She played along.
herself was a brunette again, with her hair as long as Fiona’s, but with her
fringe and dressed in clothes that she designed and customised herself.
Patchwork and random, but the style and the lines were still sharp and angular
– individual. Down the length of each jacket arm and trouser leg were sewn red,
white and blue roundels. Once a Mod…?!
walked and skipped and jigged through the teeming mass of humanity, not really
caring too much where they ended up, as the sun rose. Fiona said:
‘Wherever you go, there you are.’
added, ‘Sometimes a rainbow is better than a pot of gold. I think that’s saying
of the Cherokee peoples.’
smiled and said, ‘Fiona, how much are you going to just totally freak out when Hendrix comes on?!’
she stopped abruptly.
had changed, shifted – the crowd up ahead was now pushing largely in one
direction – theirs. People were moving towards them, actually shoving: those
nearest simply confused and pushed from behind. But beyond them…
heard distant shouts and screams, a rising tumult of noise mixed with something
more guttural and sharp.
man cannoned into Fiona - his eyes wide!
‘Pardon me, but you’d better run, ladies, less you wanna get eaten up!’
pulled at Fiona’s wrist but Catherine put the flat of her hand on his bare
chest. He was tall and black with a large afro hairdo. He wore black high
heeled boots and tight, then flared leather trousers, a black shirt with the
arms cut off. He had on black necklaces and large silver earrings shaped like
the spades in a deck of cards. Catherine said to him:
‘What do you mean?’
‘Please,’ he looked back quickly
then, ‘bad trouble. We thought it was
a freakshow first, like theatre… but it ain’t! They’re biting everyone –
chowin’ down on… flesh! There ain’t no cops to stop ‘em here! We gotta go,
women looked at each other; truth dawning as sure as dawn had broken along with
Pete Townsend’s guitar.
‘Shit!’ said Lily.
‘Bollocks!’ said Fiona.
‘Not again!’ said Belle.
‘Just like on the pier,’ Lily declared,
‘which means that there’s going to be more and more of them! The Woodstock
Nation… of the Dead!’
young man was staring at each of them in turn, bewildered.
‘What you talkin’ about, lady?!’ he
demanded of Lily.
said, ‘I can’t explain.’
‘Try very hard, please,’ he shot
‘Ok. They’re zombies. They eat human
flesh and whoever they bite, but don’t devour turns into another one. Rather
quickly usually. I’m talkin’ ‘bout re-animation!’
nodded, ‘Remember the rumours of bad acid going around? Whatever it is, it’s turned them!’
man retorted, ‘Bad acid, man – that’s it – it’s gotta be. The government have pushed it in here! Some new weapon to
use in ‘Nam and they’re tryin’ it out on us!’
shrugged, ‘We can theorise, but we have
man nodded and said, ‘Hoodoo Voodoo people! They gonna make a cheeseburger meal of this place, man.’
nodded in turn, ‘Half a million loved-up peaceniks and none of ‘em has ever
been anywhere near a proper rumble!
That’ll be the U.S. screwed: Then the whole world. And no Hendrix gig! This has
to end. Now,’ her face was set grimly.
put her hand on Fiona’s shoulder and said:
‘But we have been near a proper rumble: the pier,’ hauling her old
satchel round and delving into it. The man drew close to them and introduced
himself as ‘Dr Funkenstein’. He squinted at the satchel, which had a large red,
white and blue roundel on it and said, in a low voice near to Belle’s ear,
‘What you got in there, baby?’
produced four bottles of Blue Nun wine, ‘I was saving these for after Hendrix,
but needs must, girls and boy! Neck ‘em!’
quickly slurped the booze down with people streaming and screaming past them
and each friend broke a bottle against the hubcap of an abandoned farm trailer
and turned to face an approaching group of thirty or so mindless, slavering
quickly took Dr Funkenstein aside as her three friends charged at the throng –
brains were speared through eye-sockets as she asked,
‘Any chance of you getting some
assistance organised or are you going to let us Brits save the day and show you
Yanks how it’s done all on our own?!’
‘Reckon I can round up some brothers
dam’ quick!’ he grinned and ran.
called after him, ‘Lovely, bring your auntie, too!’ and joined the others,
ramming her jagged weapon up through a grasping ghoul’s throat as she overheard
Lily Chamberlain saying,