On the day of the 'attack' as it were, I was utterly unaware. Earlier that day, I had biffed off down to the Drones and had spent a relaxing afternoon tossing the bread around and talking of this and that with the others. It's funny how bally trivial that all seems now. Anyway, 'the story must continue' I hear you cry and so I will.
I was taking a sip from cocktail and thinking meditatively about the funny way life had about it when I was called over to take a message outside. I strolled out, blissfully unaware that I would not see the friends I had been dining with for many years to come.
Jeeves stood in the hallway. I almost gasped. The man looked rattled, positively rattled. For anyone else that might sound like a minor state of affairs but for Jeeves to look rattled meant that something was catastrophically wrong.
'Sir,' he walked forward and startled me with the tone of his voice, 'I must beg of you to leave with me this instance. We don't have much time,'
'What? Jeeves, what the devil are you-'
'Pardon my taking the liberty sir, but I have very little time to explain,' again I tried, 'What do you mean 'No time to explain'? Jeeves?' he looked unsure, an expression I had never seen on him. Quite suddenly he leaned forward and placed both of his hands on my shoulders. I could feel the warmth through my suit. 'Please sir,' he looked into my eyes, 'You must trust me when I say that we are in grave danger,' I looked at him, counting our breaths for a few seconds. I sighed. 'Alright Jeeves, what do we need to do?'. He nodded and seemed to relax a little. I was aware of his heavy hands on my shoulders and he must have realised too as drew them away quite as quickly as he'd put them there.
'Do you have some sort of weapon?' he glanced around quickly, taking in the room. My stomach spiking with adrenaline, I fumbled with my answer, 'Ehm...Well I'm not sure really it's not something one tends to have what?' I chanced a laugh, then drew away seeing his expression. 'Would my stick do?'
'I-' there was a crash outside and some sort of muffled cry in the distance. Jeeves drew closer. 'It may have to sir,'. Jeeves pulled my coat from the hanger and helped me into it. His movements were swift and precise but I could sense the tension caught up behind them. I tried one last time, catching his hand as it drew away from me, 'Jeeves...Please. Just give me some indication of what the bally hell is going on here!'
'Zombies,' he said.
I blinked, 'What?'
'Infection, sir. It has spread and has made the infected crave the meat of a different sort....Human,' I breathed heavily, unsure if he was pulling my leg or not. His face seemed serious. 'Oh...' I said. Jeeves handed me my stick and straightened his jacket. 'Now,' he said in level tones, 'Run as fast as you can and follow me if you will, sir. We need to make it back to the flat. Do not let anyone bite you as that spreads the infection. And if anything attacks you...'
'Kill it,' and he pulled open the door.
Almost at once we were streaking down the streets. Lamps, cars and houses blurred into one as ran down the darkening pavements. Something leapt out at Jeeves, a creature with twisted features and blood smeared down it's once respectable suit. Human, I realised. This thing had once been human but now it's facial features were rendered unrecognisable by the rotting flesh that gripped it's face. With a yell, Jeeves struck at the thing with a knife he had somehow produced from seemingly nowhere. I pulled to a stop. Waves of shock poured down me and I shuddered in revulsion as the thing's head was sliced off by Jeeves' deadly knife. Blood, tinged with green, flushed onto the grimy pavement as the thing twitched and jolted on the floor. I threw up. Still coughing and spluttering, I stumbled forward and Jeeves grabbed my arm. He rubbed his thumb gently over my forearm. A shriek sounded off in the distance, 'We must keep going,' he said. We started running again, his steady hand holding my trembling one in the fading light.
To this day, I'm not quite sure how we got back to the flat. The streets blurred and whipped past us. Tiredness was not an option. If I heard a noise I would lash out and so would Jeeves. He was a solid force in front of me, clearing the way.
We crashed through the front door and Jeeves immediately started dragging furniture and whatnot over to barricade the door. I breathed for a few seconds, then helped him heave the side table into place. When we were finished we collapsed on the floor, backs pressed against the sofa. Panting, sweating and immeasurably tired, I tried to find the bright lining of this posish. It was proving hard.
'Oh,' he pulled himself up rather elegantly under the circs, 'Allow me sir,'
'No, no,' I tutted, 'I won't hear of it,' and his tiredness showed as he compliantly sat down whilst I fixed two whisky and sodas (very much minus the soda). We drank in silence.
Now the Wooster brain is usually in top condition but that day had been a trying one so it only occurred to me then to check on my family. I scrambled towards the phone and rang Aunt Dahlia, heart thudding more than a little. The phone rang once, twice and again. My heart sped up with each ring. Finally, 'Hello?'
'Aunt Dahlia?' I yelped down the line, 'Yes, well who else could it be?' her irritated voice drawing a smile from me as it sounded down the line. 'Anyway I don't have time for this...Is Jeeves with you?'
'Yes,' I said looking across to him as he sat on the floor and was clearly trying to avoid falling asleep. 'Good. Now, I need you to make your way to Brinkley. It is safer out here in the country than in London- that's where the worst outbreak is,'
'Now don't be stupid Bertie. We all know you'll be much safer here. Take Jeeves with you and you'll be fine,'
'I-' I paused and glanced over at Jeeves again, 'Alright,' I said, knowing that she was probably right. 'Right,' she said briskly but was cut off by muffled noises and some sort of commotion, 'Aunt Dahlia?' Panic crept into my voice. 'What are you-, LOAD THE GUNS!' she screamed to someone off the phone. 'Bertie, I've got to go... Just know... The world is better with you so... Don't do anything stupid,' and the phone line cut out.
For a while, I stood with the phone pressed to my ear. Then I placed it down and pressed a smile onto the Wooster visage. 'Right,' I turned to Jeeves, 'Time for a new plan ay Jeeves?'
'Yes sir,' and something of some hope seemed to form there.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
As I started to enter, Jeeves drew back, unsure. I could not do this alone, nor was I leaving him out here so I grabbed his arm and practically hauled the man in after me. The sight we were met with was a grim one.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
'Bertie?' I had picked up the phone expecting Aunt Dahlia but an unfamiliar voice rang through the line instead. 'Yes?'
'It's Rosie,'. Oh I thought... What could Bingo's wife want? I would usually love to chew the fat with her about this and that but now seemed like an odd moment to do so. Unless... 'Oh my god,' I spoke into the receiver, 'It's Bingo isn't it,' somehow, I could feel her nod through the telephone. 'Where are you?' I said, my eyes already searching for my coat and some sort of weapon. 'A tea shop in Regent street. We've barricaded the doors... Come quickly,' her voice choked, 'I don't....I don't think he's got long,'.
I slammed the receiver down and looked towards Jeeves. The man was already standing and pulling on his coat. 'Jeeves,' I tried to level my voice but the old Wooster voice box was having none of it, 'You don't have to come with me...This will...Be dangerous. I don't want you getting hurt old thing,' Jeeves disappeared into the kitchen and returned holding a knife which he handed to me. 'I'm afraid, sir, that the situation is somewhat paradoxical- I won't let anything happen to you so I must come with you and you seem to want the same,' My mouth must have opened rather like a fish because he looked mildly amused as he handed me my coat, 'We will be better together I believe, sir,'. And just like that we prepared to re-enter the hell we'd left just a few short hours before.
We climbed into the two seater. He took the steering wheel and instructed me to fend off anything dangerous. Then, taking in a breath together, we shot off down the road and into the sharp dusk.
It was one of life's small miracles that we encountered no...creatures on the way. Jeeves pulled the car into an alley and set about covering it up with boxes. He told me people would try to steal it otherwise. These were desperate times. I helped him shift the boxes around and tried to ignore the stench of blood and faint screams in the distance. The thick night air pressed against my coat, bally freezing what with all this wind. I felt like one of those chappies in a novel who turn their collars up to the wind only I didn't have a collar. I remember Jeeves calling those sorts of coats 'ill-advised under any circumstances'. For some unknown reason, I smiled at the thought of it. Then the image of Bingo pressed back into the old lemon and my smile dissipated.
We tailed through back alleys until we came to the backdoor of the tea shop. The green door with peeling paint seemed out of place in the oddly quiet streets. I hadn't noticed the quiet before but it was then that I realised just how unusual it was for busting Regent street to be like this- quiet and solitary.
Seeing my hesitation, Jeeves leaned over and tapped at the door, his arm brushing mine as he drew it back. There was a muffled noise (perhaps chairs being dragged back) before the door opened a crack and Rosie's face appeared. 'You made it,' she said, her voice uncharacteristically small.
As I started to enter, Jeeves drew back, unsure. I could not do this alone, nor was I leaving him out here so I grabbed his arm and practically hauled the man in after me. The sight we were met with was a grim one.
Bingo lay stretched out on the floor. His face was clammy and pale as his eyelashes fluttered upon his cheeks with each breath. There was nothing that seemed to be externally wrong with him but when I moved closer- 'Are they internal wounds, Miss Little?' Jeeves said softly as he made his way over to Bingo in a buisnesslike manner. For a second, I felt sure he was going to fix him. Then he pushed aside Bingo's shirt with a quiet 'Excuse me for taking the liberty, sir,' and I saw the blossoming dark shades of bruises all the way up his corpus.
I gulped. My tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks, even the most heartless of Wooster's would not have been ashamed to cry in a time like this. Rosie knelt by him and took his hand. Carefully, Jeeves closed up his shirt. He came over to me and took my hand. He guided me to Bingo and I knelt. For a few seconds, his hand rested firmly on my shoulder, imparting all the strength he could onto me. Then he picked up his knife and returned to the door. A silent vigil keeping us safe as the last of Bingo's soul flickered in the air.
All through the night we sat, me holding Bingo's hand and Rosie curled up next to him, her head nestled next to his.
I'm not sure what quote it is about death (Jeeves would know I'm sure) but some philosopher said that 'If I am, death is not.' or some such thing and so it seemed with Bingo. He seemed to depart. Not so much leave us but continue onwards.
As the morning dawned, I helped Rosie up. She made it to a chair, then sat down and wept. Jeeves put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams and I sat by her, our grief at least together. All three of us huddled together to keep warm and Jeeves' arm somehow wrapped round my shoulders. I wept for the loss of one of my closest friends.
We watched the tea shop burn. Somehow, it seemed oddly fitting that as we exited, some gas leak occurred and set an oven on fire. Very soon flames were streaking up into the sky. 'It's as if he has flown away,' Rosie said.
I asked her if she wanted to come with us but she refused, saying she had relatives to go to. We said our goodbyes and suddenly she was gone- a mere figure in the distance.
I swear it was the acrid smoke that made eyes fill with tears. Jeeves placed his hand tentatively on my shoulder, 'If I may be so bold, sir. I think we should make headway in our journey. The light could perhaps draw the... infected towards us,'
'Hm?' I said, rubbing the old lemon as it started to throb rather painfully, 'Oh yes, quite. Off we go again then,' and I marched towards the car in a way which I hope concealed the itch of sadness I felt inside. I don't think Jeeves was fooled.
for the record guys, I love Bingo to pieces but I felt this had to happen to add an edge of realness perhaps? Anyway, hope you enjoyed. Next part coming soon, just going through final edit.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
Rather exciting things happen- as they tend to do in a post apocalyptic world.
Sorry this has been a long time coming but here it is :) not sure how many more chapters I'm going to write but really appreciate all comments and feedback. Hope you enjoy!
I thought perhaps that rather than filling you in on all the details of our journey to Brinkley, I could instead just outline some of the more exciting and interesting moments of our trek. Jeeves tells me this will alleviate boredom and I'm inclined to agree with him, as I often do. It's similar to one of those spy novels, we're all here for the chappies running after criminals and escaping locked rooms rather than shopping trips and mundane life. In other words, between these incidents we survived- grabbing food, fuel and sleep whenever we could. Anyway, 'Onwards!' I hear you cry and so we shall.
After a few hours driving, we had to stop for petrol. Jeeves dipped into a promising looking house whilst I kept guard at the door. We had left the car in the middle of the street, perhaps unwisely but we were only stopping for a minute. This section of homes had been particularly badly hit, Jeeves told me, and I shivered, not daring to think of why all the houses were empty and silent.
A slow hush of wind brushed through the street. I blinked. A muffled crash made me jump and I glanced quickly around the street. 'Silly old Wooster,' I muttered, 'Calm down old thing,' and I laughed nervously. It was all going to be fine.
Suddenly, as if they'd climbed out from beneath the dusty pavement, a dozen or so infecteds (as we'd chosen to call them) appeared. A spike of revulsion tensed up my spine. Their foul stench of blood and decay rolled across the road towards me. They came across the two-seater and seemed fascinated by it. Rubbing their dead limbs against it and sniffing around vacantly. I stayed still. They were sensitive to noise and movement but were otherwise dead to the world (if you'll pardon the pun).
Jeeves came out of the house. I watched his eyes settle on the creatures and he tensed, his jaw tightening. He placed a hand on my shoulder and tugged me into the hallway of the house. Gulping for breath, I closed my eyes for a second. We couldn't stay here for long, they would inevitably sniff us out. 'We'll have to abandon the car, sir,' he said, voice immeasurably calm. I nodded but the Wooster lemon was already scrounging for other options. That car was our life line. We needed it as much as food. Images of us ttrawling through the infectious heat and those...things hunting us down as we walked on, defenceless, filled my mind. We needed that car. He sensed my thoughts, 'I could perhaps try and use the gun. With the element of surprise I might be able to-'
'No. Out of the question. We don't have enough bullets even if you hit them all at point blank range. Not that I'm saying you couldn't, Jeeves, I mean you probably could. I mean dash it all-' he held up his hands in front of me in a calming gesture as rubbed my hand on my throbbing head. 'Its ok, sir. I won't do that,'. I sighed, 'Thank you Jeeves,'. He then laid out a new plan. We would skirt round the infecteds and then continue on our way. Jeeves made it sound bally simple.
I asked him for the gun so I could 'cover' for him when he skirted round them first. We had picked the thing up a few days ago and I dared not ask how Jeeves came to be was so accurate with it. Just another of his miracles I suppose. Little did he know my real plans for it when he handed the weapon over.
We stepped outside.
I watched Jeeves begin to edge round the creatures, sticking to the pavement with that quiet, liquid-like movement I would forever associate with him. I waited until he was safely out of range. My heart hammered in a most uncomfortable way. I hadn't said goodbye to him. What if this all went wrong? No, I thought, there's no time for this, strike whilst the iron is hot and all that. I fixed my eyes on him. Jeeves. BANG- I fired the gun straight up in the air.
Immediately, the infecteds turned and started making headway towards me. I saw Jeeves' eyes widen in what I can only assume was pure terror. Possibly my last glimpse of him, I thought abstractly as I screamed 'Get the car!' and legged it in the opposite direction.
'No time for that,' I screamed, already starting to run, 'Come on you crawlers, LUNCH TIME' I yelled and shot off.
I ran as no Wooster has ever run before. I wasn't sure of the speed of the infecteds but I was not going to take any chances. I planned on coming out of this de... debar- dash it I've forgotten the word. Anyway, I was not going to die (at any rate not today at least). My breath started to give, ragged noises issuing from my throat. My feet began to feel like lead was strapped onto them.
At the end of the street, I doubled back, only this time going around the houses. I had read about a chappie doing this in a novel- running through gardens -and I thought it was rather a good idea. Of course it's one thing to read about and quite another to experience yourself. Dashed trees, fences and hedges kept hopping up which I had to leap over with some vigour. A blur of green, noise and pain seemed to surround me. I kept running. Having had quite enough of the gardens, and hoping I thrown off the infecteds, I pulled back out onto the road. There he was- sitting in the car, arms outstretched and wide-eyed in what I suppose he saw behind me. I barrelled into the car. Head-first into the seat with limbs sticking out all over the place as the motor started and we sped off.
I kept my face pressed into the chair leather for some time, breathing in the unrealistic scent of safety. Slowly, I rearranged my corpus and sat up. Jeeves pulled over and suddenly I was surrounded by him as he pulled me into a rather tight hug. I wrapped my arms around him and tried to catch my shattered breath back. I changed my mind, this was the scent of safety. 'Sir-'
'Bertie,' I said, 'Honestly, I think it's dashed time you called me Bertie what?' I felt his smile. 'Bertie... Please... Don't do that again,'. I chuckled, 'Ok old fruit. I'll ask you first next time,'.
Another thing I remember is the night after that incident. We had decided to take it in turns to be on 'watch' whilst the other slept. Supposedly we switched over every four hours but I'm fairly sure Jeeves gave me more time. Well, having said that I know I definitely gave him more time so maybe it evened out what?
Anyway, we had found an abandoned little cottage in the countryside somewhere. We probably could've made it to Brinkley in that evening but we were tired and, somehow, it felt strangely like we didn't want the trip to end. There was a pile of hay in the corner of the room with some blankets thrown over it. It was probably a hut for a farm worker or something. Jeeves tactfully dragged a basket over to cover up a dark red smudge on the floor. We didn't talk about why it was empty. I started up a fire and we tossed the bread about a bit- quite literally as there was nothing else to eat. Then Jeeves set about getting to sleep on the hay whilst I pulled up a chair to barricade the door and sat on the floor by the hasty fire we'd made. All was calm so to speak.
I looked around the room. Curled bits of paper spilling over the chest of drawers; a cracked mug left in the similarly chipped sink; a hat hook with no hat- it was all there. Components of a life but no life to be seen, apart from us I suppose. Hazily, I wondered whether the occupant had known they wouldn't return. I hadn't known that about my flat but that was different, I had Jeeves. Still, my mind tugged at me. The dark red stain hidden beneath the basket branded into my thoughts. Jeeves stirred, bringing me back to earth.
'Can't sleep?' Jeeves looked over at me and sat up a little, his shirt loosened at the collar. 'It seems not,' (sir)- I still heard it in his voice, a blank space where the familiar phrase should be. I wondered if it would ever not be there. A comfort word.
'Bring any books?' I said absent-mindedly, the warmth of the fire and the illusion of safety making me drowsy. I knew he must have grabbed some. In the mad dash to leave the flat, we'd both thrown together bags and I wasn't sure what he had packed.
'A collection of Shakespeare works,' he said, softly, 'Not all of them but three plays and some poems,'
'Oh,' I said, shuffling closer to the hay to somehow absorb the warmth, 'Do you have a favorite?'
'I find all of his works to be impeccable but I would say that my particular 'favorite' is 'Twelfth Night''
'Is it that surprising?' he said, in a rather bemused tone. It was quite amusing seeing him like this, sleepy and without the usual straight-tie attitude he adopted as his uniform. 'No.... I suppose I just imagined you more as a 'Macbeth' kind of chappie'. He sat up a little more. A strand of hair fell across his face and he tucked it behind his ear. 'Although I do have a fondness for the Scottish play, Twelfth Night was the first play I ever saw performed,'.
'Oh, how old were you?'
'I believe I was 10 at the time. I remember afterwards I told my father that I thought the actor playing Puck was rather a fraud- he'd forgotten many lines during the play,'. I chuckled. 'Of course a little 10 year-old Jeeves would know the whole bally play word for word,'. We shuffled into silence, smiling still however.
Strange, I thought, quite possibly at the same time as a 10 year-old Jeeves was watching his first play, an 8 year-old Bertie was bundled up in a strictly-straight suit and sent off to Boarding School...Gosh, I hated that school. My smile sunk away. I rubbed my shoulders and tried to land my mind back in the present.
'Yes,' said Jeeves (apparently I had accidentally voiced that aloud instead of a private thought- oops) 'That is strange,'.