Human Filth By Ian Woodhead Chapter One Three of its desiccated fingers fell into the accumulated mix

of dead leaves and ancient litter. Ernest Belmont screamed in rage and terror before he smashed the steel bar down once more. This time, he succeeded in stopping the foul thing in its tracks as the weapon demolished the top of the creature’s skull and pulverised its brain. The corpse dropped to its knees and toppled forward. Ernest jumped over the abomination. ran over to the gates and tugged on the padlock, he breather a huge sigh of relief when he found it still locked. The deserted view showed no more of them anywhere near the building. He still had to get back inside, oh fuck, what the hell was he playing at? The wind would carry his scream for miles. Christ knows how many more of those bastard things were still in the area. “Come on, you daft old man. Calm the fuck down, it’s not like that they can get in here now, is it.” Ernest wiped the black gunk off the end of the bar and hurried back towards the plastic curtains that separated the delivery yard from the rest of the warehouse. “Oh yeah? So how’d you figure he got in? What, he squeezed through the gaps in the fence or maybe the fucker leaped over the wall.” He gazed around the yard, making sure no more of them were in here with him. Ernest shook his head, no, apart from behind the skip; there were no other hiding places. He sighed then turned back towards the curtains, he could see the blurred outline of Darren behind the thick, clear plastic flaps. That cocky little twat must have thought all this highly amusing, watching his dad rushing around like a manic sparrow. “Darren, I don’t have a clue how it got in here.” “Maybe it fell out of a passing plane?” “I swear, Darren, one more sarcastic comment and I’ll knock you out of that trolley.” Crimson clouds across the dusk sky, Ernest blinked, trying to remember the last time he saw clouds. He just couldn’t work it out. The metal shutters across the supermarket windows and main doors blocked most of the light out. It transformed Ernest’s world into a permanent state of dark twilight. “God, how I missed looking at the sky.” The offices above the shop would have windows, but there was no way he intended to go up there. They’d also have comfy chairs, carpeting and maybe even some bottled water. Ernest had emptied the shelf of bottled water a while back and he was getting sick of fizzy drinks. He wasn’t alone in his choice of hideaways. He shared the supermarket with one of those dead things. Thankfully, a locked door separated him from the dead thing he’d heard moving about above his head. “I thought you wanted to get back inside.” Ernest pushed through the plastic curtains and placed his iron bar on top of a pallet of toilet paper. He wrinkled his nose at the stale atmosphere; he’d forgotten just how good

fresh air smelled. There was so many things from his past life that he missed, fresh fruit, a hot meal, having a bath. Christ, the list was endless. “How about having sex? Don’t forget that one.” He glared at the shopping trolley. “Trust you to think of sex.” Ernest certainly hadn’t forgotten what it felt like to have a naked female body lying next to his, Christ, he so missed his beautiful wife. “It’s hard to believe that such a caring and sweet woman could spawn a hooligan like you.” He punched Darren’s left arm and sighed when it fell into the shopping trolley. Ernest tutted, retrieved the empty tube of kitchen foil and inspected the end. “I told you that blue-tack wouldn’t hold it, Darren. You wouldn’t believe me would you?” Ernest tenderly brushed the bright green hair away the football. He also noticed that his right eye was a little wonky. “You always think you know best, lad. You’re just like your old mum, god rest her soul.” He pushed the trolley away from the loading bay towards the entrance into the shop. That thing outside couldn’t stay there, he’d have to find a way to lift the body over the fence. The deadies were an annoyance but even if they had heard the scream, he didn’t think they hang around for more than a few days. He was more concerned with whether the kids or the hunters had heard his scream. If they came to investigate and found him, he may as well kiss his life goodbye. Living a fresh kill in the yard was one sure way of them knowing that this building had an occupant. Once they knew that, those fuckers would tear this place apart looking for poor Ernest and Darren. He guessed that after a full year of this bastard nightmare will have pretty much dried up their food source. There was a strong possibility that he was the last living human in this shitty city. He hadn’t seen another friendly face for months. “Darren, I may have to re-check all the traps. Now come on, lad, don’t start whining at me. You were safe in your trolley. I bet you’d have shit your pants if it had been you out there.” Christ on a bike, he almost had a bastard heart attack when that dried up corpse stumbled out from behind that stack of pallets. He still couldn’t work out just where it had come from. He had checked the yard only a few weeks ago, he’d even climbed into the skip. There were no deadies in the yard until today. This mystery was going to plague him for days to come. Ernest paused by the locked door and gazed through the wire reinforced rectangular window. As per usual, his upstairs neighbour was nowhere in sight. He turned away from his view of the stairs and padded back to the trolley. “Yes, Darren. I know what you’re saying. I’ve killed one deadie today, why not do the other one while you’re at it? You’re only saying that because you want to see if this place has a pool table.” Ernest laughed. “What? You think you’re old man is an idiot?” The hand drawn face on the old football didn’t reply. Come on, let’s get your arm fixed and this time we’re using gaffer tape.” Despite his son’s selfish needs, he did have a damn good point. There was nothing stopping him from retrieving his bar, going up those stairs and smashing that deadie’s rotten brains out. “But the door’s locked.”

He scoffed. As if a locked door had ever stopped him before, he was a retired burglar for crying out loud. Hell, he’d broken into this supermarket easily enough. “Tell you what, Darren. Once I’ve shifted that thing out of the yard and we’ve had our tea, I’ll toss a coin. If it’s heads then I’ll go fuck up that deadie upstairs. Now, I can’t say fairer than that, son.” He gave the wig a friendly tap then pushed the trolley through the double doors. If he was honest with himself, he rather enjoyed his five-minute slice of deadie bashing. The adrenalin surging through his system had been such a rush. It certainly beat his usual mundane activities. “I’m sixty-forty in favour already.” He muttered. The anticipation of feeling carpet under his feet and having the option of gazing through a window again put a spring into his step. Ernest pushed his trolley past the household section. “Now don’t you give me that look, Darren. I’ll sort out your arm in a minute. We’ll just take a trip down the wines and spirits aisle first. I think that killing that deadie gives me a perfect excuse to have a beer. If you can keep your smart mouth shut for more than a minute, I might even let you have a beer too.” Chapter Two That bastard had seen her take the packet. She just knew it. His dark brown eyes were just full of mischief, no doubt cooking up another thousand ways of landing her in trouble. Aliza Gray Brushed her long braided hair back with both her hands, she took great care in exaggerating her movements. She twisted her body round, looked the group subleader up and down, allowing her eyes to pause by his groin; then she winked. Aliza turned back and put on a bit of speed to catch up with the rest of the group. That ought to place Tim’s mind working on a double-shift. She didn’t think he’d say anything to the group leader about the beef jerky she lifted. Not now, she might accidentally pinch his arse when they got back to the tower block. If Aliza could keep that tosser’s dirty thoughts focussed on her, then he may look the other way the next time they took her the warehouse, not that he had a chance in getting into her bad, at least she hoped he didn’t have a chance. Her future regarding a potential mate had yet to be decided by the committee. There had been more many times when she’d wished she could have refused their proposal but would else could she have done? Aliza had a kid to look after and feed and they’d it clear that they would have turned her away if she hadn’t agreed, no matter how fucking inhuman. Andy Willis was waiting for her, doing his best to look cool and calm and failing miserably at both. “What was all that about then?” She gazed into his concerned eyes, forgetting that the lad had been next to her. Of all the people she’d met inside the bunker, Andy had to be the nicest. It was obvious that the young lad fancied her, that was as plain as day but even so, he still made time for her, helped out with her son, which is more than could be said for her fellow neighbours. If

they’d met each other outside the bunker then all this choosing a mate bollocks wouldn’t have come up. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “You know what Tim’s like.” “Tim’s a creepy fucker who needs a good kicking, just say the word, Aliza .” He meant it too. The man is question joined them, he nodded at Andy who glared back at him. Aliza had heard all the rumours flying about their mutual hatred. Once she’d gotten the next few days out of the way, Aliza intended to find out exactly what had gone on between them. She followed Andy along the designated path through the underground carpark, Aliza took great care in not deviating from the parallel chalked lines. The group kept in single file and stayed silent. In all the time she’s been with these people she hadn’t heard of a single report of any predator breaking through the defences. Andy had explained that the route from the tower-block to the warehouse was perfectly safe. Even so, just like the rest of the survivors, she didn’t question the administrator’s use of extreme precaution. Aliza swung her head from left to right, keeping her eyes peeled for any sign of movement in and around the abandoned vehicles. “I hate this section,” whispered Andy. “they ought to get these cars shifted.” Aliza knew exactly what he meant. Six months of living in the secure tower block had helped her forget just how perilous the rest of the county looked. “It’s perfectly safe,” she muttered. Of course it was safe down here, they wouldn’t allow the groups’ only mother to put her life in danger. “Okay, folks. We need to stop for a moment.” Tim hurried past Aliza and Andy ands topped beside an old man leading the group. She couldn’t remember his name, Harold or Harry or something like that. There were less than fifty in the group but Aliza still couldn’t remember all their names. Mystery man who’s name probably began with H was one of their roamers. It wasn’t often she saw him. She tapped Andy on the shoulder. “What’s going on?” “Dickhead is giving the master key to Henry.” She grinned, so that’s his name. “He’s going to check on the farm.” “The what?” “Oh right. I keep forgetting that this is your first time as a forager..” He pointed over to a long grey caravan stood behind an over turned green Rangerover. Lights burned in two of the windows. So much for her vigilance, she hadn’t even noticed them. “The dickheads called it the research module.” Andy coughed, “You know what those arseholes are like with their titles. There’s two scientists and a couple of assistants living and working in there. I’ve put my name in the hat for a stint as an assistant, no luck yet. Apparently, it’s a well cushy job. They eat better than we do, I can tell you.” Her hand automatically went to the top of her jacket, right where the jerky packet was. Aliza wished she hadn’t taken it now. “The only drawback is having to experiment on their subjects.” He grinned, “I’ve heard they have a cage full of the Risen. He giggled at the sight of her shocked face.

“Only the roamers and us forager know about the farm.” Aliza took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Don’t worry, they’ve chained and de-fanged the fuckers, those things are no danger.” She could see why they’ve kept it secret. Aliza watched Tim shake the roamer’s hand, he passed him a huge black key then padded over to the caravan. “What do you think of our supplies, Then, Aliza ? Did it impress you?” Of course it had. She couldn’t believe how much gear they’d managed to hoard. It also made her so angry. She ‘d spent months hiding and running for her and little Diane’s lives. Surviving on what scraps of food they could find in the abandoned homes. It stuck her as ironic that the society that they lived in before the outbreak turned most of the population into carnivorous cadavers had existed on restaurant food or takeaways. Cupboards stocked with tinned food were rare. “Walking into your warehouse felt like going back in time to before this fucking nightmare happened.” He nodded, “Yeah, I know what you mean. The only difference was the lack of lights, power and fresh food. The first time I was roped into a forage was three months ago. I was so looking forward to tucking into a fresh banana.” Aliza giggled. “I didn’t know how long they were supposed to last. Hell, the only time I had salad was when me and my mates piled into the kebab shop after downing a few pints, and most of that got chucked onto the pavement.” They were coming up to the entrance that led into the tower block. She watched the old guy insert the key into the lock. As far as Aliza could work out, there was no other way of getting into their sanctum. Christ knows what they’d have to do if that key was lost. “Andy, I’ve got a question for you.” He nodded, “Fire away.” Aliza paused, wondering if she ought to carry on. “Andy, have you ever considering slipping anything from the warehouse into your pocket?” It was his turn to looked shocked. “Oh, fuck! Please tell me you haven’t lifted anything.” She shook her head. “When that Oliver said that he’d chuck anyone found grabbing gear, he meant it. He’s chucked two out already.” Andy looked down at his feet. “Including the girl who’d been chosen for me.” When he looked up, there were tears in his eyes. “They didn’t last long out there. The sound of her screams gave me nightmares for weeks.” Aliza wanted to be sick. She also wanted to punch that Oliver right between the eyes then throw him outside. Andy’s revelation had shocked her rigid. She’d always considered Oliver to be a bit of a toffee nosed tosser who enjoyed hearing his own voice and lived for rule-making but on the whole, a good man who had a difficult job. He’d set himself up as a modern day Caesar and anyone who didn’t obey his rules were thrown to the lions. For the first time since she’d arrived at the bunker, Aliza feared for the life of her and her daughter. The old man held the door open as the others filed through. His lifeless eyes found hers, she froze, feeling like a deer caught in a car’s headlights. Aliza felt the colour

rushing to her face. He knew she’d stolen something, oh fuck! As soon as she reached him, he’d pull out a gun and order her to strip. Aliza turned away and stared at the back on Andy’s head, telling herself to get a fucking grip. The lad turned around and offered her a reassuring smile. “We’re nearly home. You’re daughter will be wondering where you are.” She nodded and cast a swift glance at the old man, relieved to find him staring somewhere else. “She’ll be fine, Dianne’s a tough kid; she probably hasn’t even noticed that I’ve gone.” “Andy, can you hold the door for me? I’d better see what’s taking Tim so long.” The lad nodded and stood against the door as Henry ran over to the caravan. Aliza watched the others troop up the stairs, Their attitudes had altered dramatically now that they were out of the danger zone. She looked at Andy, wondering if she ought to leave him here. “Thanks for staying.” He said. Aliza nodded, well that was one decision taken out of her hands. “Henry’s eyes scare me,” she murmured. “They seem as dead as those vile creatures roaming outside. When he looks at you, it’s feels like he’s staring right into your soul.” “Jesus, that’s exactly it!” He shrugged, That’s how you looked, Aliza when you were first brought in here.” “I can’t imagine anybody insane enough who’d actually want to go back out into that nightmarish place.” She paused, “Still, I’m glad he does. What was he before the event? I guess he must have been in the armed forces or maybe a policeman.” Andy gazed towards the caravan, “I heard he used to drive a bus.” “Whatever he was, if it hadn’t been for him and his friend, me and my daughter would be still out there, probably dead by now.” She never forget the terror that chilled her bones when Aliza heard though slumbering footsteps above her head as she and her daughter cowered in the dark cellar. She been in the kitchen, looking through the cupboards for anything worth eating when she just sensed the presence of another body. She’d spun around but hadn’t seen anybody there, even so, after six months of running from the predators, Aliza had developed a feeling of knowing when something was close. It had to be malevolent; she hadn’t seen another living person for months. Aliza had rushed into the cellar and just hoped that whatever was up there hadn’t had time to catch her scent. Aliza began to moan when she heard the sound of boot steps descending, it had to be a sprinter. Oh Christ1 Aliza had closed her eyes and prayed that it would be quick. Andy sighed, pulling the girl out of her thoughts. “Henry is the only roamer we have left now. The one who brought you in, Jack, died on their last trip outside.” She hadn’t been expecting that, “Oh, Jesus. How did it happen?” Andy shook his head, “I don’t know. All I know is that he and Henry were ambushed, Henry was lucky to survive and he still was able to bring in two more survivors.” Somewhere in the darkness a door slammed. “Looks like they’re coming back, keep what I’ve just said under your hat.” Aliza then gasped when an inhuman scream blasted out from the darkness.

Chapter Three Ernest couldn’t decide which had upset him the most. The fact that he must have miscounted or that smug grin plastered across Darren’s face. “What? So you think this is funny do you?” he snapped. His lad didn’t have an ounce of sympathy in his bones. Even since he was young, the misbegotten son of theirs found humour in other folk’s hardship and misfortune. Christ knows where he’d got that from, he’d never been like that and his mother definitely hadn’t. There had been many times when he wondered if Darren was actually his. There had been a couple of rumours that his darling wife hadn’t been altogether chaste when Ernest had been in prison. His wife had been a pretty young girl and there were more than one man on the estate who had held a candle for her before she was married. “Give over, Ernest. Of course he’s your son. He’s the spit of you.” He glared at Darren, “More like an evil twin.” There was no point in counting the tins again. They were there in front of him, sitting on the shelf. Tins of chocolate pudding, his favourite dish in the world and now he only had six left. Somebody was messing with his head, there should have been a full shelf of the bastards. Christ! Ernest had only checked them a couple of days ago. Could anybody else have got in here? He felt his heart begin to speed up at the thought of having to share this store with somebody else. He ran to the edge of the aisle and climbed onto one of the checkouts. The view of the store spread out in front of him, the dim light made it difficult to seen much of anything but he was sure that if anyone else was in here, he’d see them move about. After a couple of minutes of staring into the darkness, he climbed back down. No, of course there wasn’t anyone else here. He and Darren were the only folk in here. Ernest padded back over to the aisle. He picked up a single tin and dropped in into the trolley. “I bet this is another one of your little jokes, that’s why you’re giggling.” He glared at the football. Ernest did notice that the arm that he’d fixed had yet to fall off. Darren had kept quiet about that, he hated knowing that his old man was smarter than him. “So, come on, fess up, where’ve you hidden my chocolate puddings?” The collection of taped together objects stayed silent. “So, it’s like that is it?” Ernest pushed the trolley towards the back of the store. “I just don’t understand you, I mean, I offered you a beer. Is it my fault that you refused it?” He stopped next to one of the freezer doors. “It is you that’s moved them somewhere, nobody else is here.” Ernest laughed. “You really are a bit thick, lad. I mean, you never were the sharpest tool in the box but this is just beyond idiocy. There’s nobody else in the supermarket, it had to be you.” He stood back put one hand across his nose and mouth, then he opened the door. Even with nose protected, the blast of foul air that escape almost knocked him on his feet. He picked Darren up and threw him into the freezer before closing the door. “Ah! How do you like those apples? You can stay in there while I sort out our guest outside. That should keep you out of mischief.” He hurried away from the frozen section, before Ernest could change his mind. It was a cruel thing to do, but it was about time that the lad learnt a bit of respect.

“And I ain’t fixing your other arm, Darren when that falls off, because we both know that it will.” Ernest turned onto the entertainment aisle, feeling more than a little stupid for shouting that out. There was no way Darren would have heard that. After a couple of hours, the lad will be screaming to be let out of there, Darren would be sure to tell Ernest where he’d put his chocolate puddings. He grabbed a fresh pair of washing up gloves on his way past, after a moment’s hesitation, he also picked up another shovel then he giggled. “You dumb bastard, how the hell can Darren help? You’ve put the lad into the freezer.” Ernest put the shovel back and padded through the doors into the warehouse. He wasn’t looking forward to the clean up job. Going anywhere near those filthy things brought back way too many bad memories. The brain freezing mayhem that he’d witnessed escaping from the Breakspear estate repeated countless times as the infection seemed to follow him as he darted from one town to another. The nightmare for Ernest only stopped when he found a town already gripped in the infection’s putrid embrace. He’d passed by the shuttered store on his way into the town, Ernest had made a mental note to check the place out if he came back this way. Just over an hour later, Ernest was back here, fleeing from the town’s dead population. It took him ten seconds to realise that he could live inside that store almost indefinitely. As per habit, Ernest glanced through the window set into the locked door. He tried the handle and found that it was still locked. He sighed. “Of course it’s still locked, “You silly old sod. What did you expect?” He turned away and padded towards the entrance to the delivery yard. He’d expected it to be open. Ernest saw a mental picture of himself looking through that window but on the other side of the door. Now, he knew that he’d lost it; he’d never been through that bloody door. Before he pushed through the plastic curtains, Ernest unwrapped the gloves and placed one on each hand. He had no intention of touching any of that dead thing, but there was no harm in taking every precaution. He put his hands out in front of him and grinned. If only Darren could see him with these on, he’d laugh his head off, they were pink. No doubt the lad would reel off a dozen derisory statements regarding his old man’s current confusion regarding his gender. He turned his head, almost expecting the lad’s trolley to be there behind him. “Backs to the wall, lads!” That used to be one of his favourite sayings. Ernest once remembered the boy’s form teacher calling the police because Darren had hospitalised another pupil who, in Darren’s words, had deserved a good kicking as he looked a bit like a queerboy. His only son had never been one for subtlety. He wiped his rubber encased hand across his face, surprised to find the material wet with his tears. “What are you crying for, Ernest?” He muttered. “You’ve only put him in the freezer.” He picked up the shovel; he also grabbed his metal bar and stepped through the curtains and into the starlit night. “Second outing in one day, Ernest? Ain’t you the brave soldier?” He spun around and glared at those plastic curtains, had Darren followed him? That sounded just the type of spiteful remark that he’d mutter. “Come on, old man. He’s still in the freezer. Your mind

is just fooling with you.” He put his tools down on the floor and padded across towards the skip. He’d put the body and the stuff that’s leaked out of it, in there; it seemed like the safest choice. There was a wheelbarrow propped up against the wall, behind the skip. That would be just perfect to get the thing inside. Ernest pushed it across to the sprawled body then picked up the shovel. “I still don’t know how you got in here, chum, but it’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made. Well, after getting infected that is.” Ernest lifted the shovel above his head, turned the blade on its edge and slammed the metal into the thing’s torso. He grunted then repeated the action, effectively cutting the corpse in two. He staggered when the stench from its insides made his eyes water. “Did you not think of having a bath before you left the house?” Ernest shovelled up both pieces and dropped the parts into the wheelbarrow, despite this job so being so fucking gross, he was actually enjoying the exertion. It made a change from spending his days pushing Darren’s trolley up and down the aisles and arguing with the obnoxious boy. After that, it was just a simple matter of pushing the wheelbarrow up to the skip’s opening and dumping the pieces in. After propping the wheelbarrow back up, he glanced down at the black stains where he’s chopped the corpse in half. A few days of rain ought to sort that out. That reminded him, what was he going to do without pure water? He didn’t know how long he’d be able to carry on drinking the canned beverages. “God, what I’d do for a nice hot cup of tea.” He gave the stars one final glance before going back into the store. This time, he bypassed the locked door, just thinking about what was beyond that door made his flesh creep. Darren’s laughter seemed to echo around the store. Ernest ran over to the freezer section wandering how the hell he could have gotten out of there. He stopped in front of the glass door and shook his head in confusion, “I heard you, lad. I know I did.” He pulled the door open, making sure he held his breath as he did so. Ernest placed him back into his trolley and wheeled him away. “Are you going to tell me what you’re laughing at now?” Ernest then noticed that his other arm had dropped off.” Ha! Look at that, Darren. You must have dropped it in that freezer cabinet.” He stopped the trolley before they reached the baking section and leaned closer to the football, Ernest adjusted the wig and checked to ensure that the string securing the football to Darren’s family-sized cereal box torso still hadn’t unravelled. His time in the freezer had given the lad a faint odour of old cabbage. “Okay, you irritating pain in the arse, you’ve got me, just what are you finding so fucking hilarious?” Ernest then looked into the bottom of the shopping trolley and saw the tin of chocolate pudding that he’d dropped in there earlier. “Oh, you horrible, nasty bastard!” he screamed. He now knew exactly what the fucker had done. Ernest gazed at the ceiling. “You’ve put them up there. You’ve put all my chocolate puddings in the offices.”

Ernest slammed his hands against the shopping trolley’s handle, the trolley careered down the aisle. “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!” He stormed away, towards the security office where he slept. Darren can go fuck himself, there was no way he’d go up there to collect his puddings, he’d rather do without, Ernest could learn to like treacle pudding instead, there were plenty of those on the shelf. He was not going to let that fucker get the better of him. “No way,” he muttered. Ernest pulled open the door to the security office with the faint sound of Darren’s howls of laughter running into both ears.

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