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Synopsis

There is nothing more satisfying than reading about dragons and zombies and vampires and werewolves in settings that you know. Child of Woe, Dark Hunter is based in the real world, a world that is on the brink of being merged with a thousand other Realms, bringing them together amid blood gore and sex and melding them together with sarcastic intent


Chapter One

'Where were You?'

Where Were You?’

09:35 May 15th, M25 Motorway just North of London. Day One

It was one of those ‘Where were you’ moments. You know the ones;
‘Where were you when JFK got shot?’ I wasn’t even born
”Where were you when Man first walked on the Moon?’ I was about 6 months old so I guess I was filling my nappy or getting some milk.
And now, ‘Where were you when you saw your first Zombie?’
And in answer to that, I was stuck on the M25 about three or four miles from London and getting more pissed off by the minute. The weather was being declared as an unseasonal heatwave, the radio was stuck on some ’80’s retro station and insisted on playing the Stock Aitken and Waterman Greatest Hits, which in my opinion was a contradiction in terms, and my travelling companion, a large Dobermann/Rottweiler/Husky cross (don’t ask because I don’t know) called Gus had a bad case of wind. Of course this last was partly my fault because I had given him half of my Chicken Curry the night before, but I wasn’t about to admit that to him anytime soon. Luckily, because of the unseasonal weather it meant I could have all the windows down in my Navara SUV and so some poor sap behind was probably getting the full dose of Doggy does Curry.
My name is Brent Harvin, and I am a self-employed photographer who was just trying to get home via a quick visit to London to get some quick snaps for an online calendar. All I wanted to do was get the photographs done and then get home to my little cottage near Brighton. It wasn’t that I disliked London, I did in fact like it, I liked the vivacity of the city, but I had just spent a week in Liverpool and I had had my fill of people for a time. Gus felt much the same, he wasn’t that impressed with people as a whole, he preferred only my company and a comfy bed (usually mine). So anyway, there I was sitting on the crash barrier of the hard shoulder having a cigarette whilst Gus was leaving a few letters for any canine callers. I had turned the radio off, and walked up the embankment aside the motorway to simply enjoy the view across towards Shenley. From what I could see there was smoke rising from ahead so I assumed there had been an accident or two further down the carriageway so I settled down and started to take a few snaps of the countryside. I noticed that there was also smoke rising from the direction of Harperbury, and even though the noise of the motorway basically drowned most other noises out I could just make out a not too distant popping sound that could have been gunfire (I had been a media photographer in both Iraq and Afghanistan so I was no stranger to the noise of war). I frowned and focused my camera (with a super zoom lense no less) on Harperbury. There were people milling about near the edge of the town and the smoke seemed to be coming from a nearby house (I would later discover that it was the hospital where the outbreak originated). I took in all this in a minute or two before noticing a group of ramblers (well I thought they were ramblers, they had that dazed gait of that breed anyway). They were heading haphazardly across the fields towards the motorway and there was definitely something about their shambling walk that unnerved me. The sound of sirens behind me caused me to momentarily glance that way and I could see several blue flashing lights near to where the accidents were. When I looked back again I could see that the ramblers had stepped up their pace and were now loping awkwardly across the fields towards us. I aimed my camera that way again and as the lense focused so I felt icicles form on my spine. The lead rambler was missing an arm and what upper parts he had left were bloodied and dripping more. I felt myself shudder as I refocused on his face.
‘What the fuck?’ I hissed, and my tone must have been harsh because Gus nuzzled against me and grumbled his concern. I looked down at him and reached to stroke his head, but before I could even follow that action through, I heard screams ahead. Gus’ head snapped aside and I followed his gaze to where the blue lights had gone. There was a lot of people there now and I heard raised voices. I glanced back at the ramblers, noting with some concern that they had now vanished from view, and then started back to my car. I reached it and a bloke from another car further ahead appeared with his briefcase cuddled close to his chest. He was sweating profusely and almost bowled me over. Gus growled as the man staggered around him before stumbling back onto his arse. He waved his arms at Gus who cocked his head and gave the man his patented look.
‘Calm down mate,’ I told the fat bloke, ‘he won’t hurt you.’
The fat bloke struggled to get to his feet, glowering at me the whole way up. ‘Ain’t bothered about yer fuckin’ dog ya pillock.’ He spat (literally, luckily I was out of range), and then pointed a podgy finger behind me. ‘It’s them that I’m scared of.’
I half turned to see about half a dozen people weaving their way through the traffic. By the look of them they were on their way to some Zombie convention, or maybe they were part of a zombie inspired Flash Mob(you know the sort, it’s arranged on social networking sites and usually involves meeting in public places and doing stupid things…..which is basically the qualifications for being a politician). I was about to make some derogatory comment about George R. Romero when they suddenly attacked a family that stood watching them with curious frowns. For attacked in this instance I mean biting and scratching. The screams grew in intensity as this mob advanced and their victim numbers increased.
‘What the fuck?’ I repeated, bringing my camera up instinctively to snap a few shots, a few shots of idiots dressed as zombies. At least I hoped they were dressed up as them anyway. I recalled reading something in the Sun about an increase in Zombie style attacks across the civilised world, I remembered reading it and thinking ‘bullshit’, after all it was the Sun and they didn’t print serious shit. Or did they?. It was the slapping of the fat man’s feet on concrete that drew me back to him, but by then the mob had noticed us and were ambling our way. Gus stood by my side and growled, but I quickly quietened him and ushered him towards the car. The fat man had gone now, vanishing amid the growing crowd of onlookers. I jumped into the car, Gus a split second behind me, buzzed the windows up and locked the doors. And then I reversed. It was chaos behind as others did the same and there was much crunching and screeching. In front the chaos was of another form, blood gushing from a body sprawled across a car bonnet and several of the mob were…well okay they were fighting over body parts. I slammed the car into reverse hard now, and managed to bump enough room to turn it around, but then someone rammed their own vehicle forward and my front end was rammed against a Volkswagen Beetle. I was trapped and the noise had drawn the mob’s attention to me. Gus whined from his own seat and I almost joined him. I tried to move but that set the airbag off and I had to duck back to save being smothered. I climbed into the back seat as the first of the mob hit the windscreen, again literally. I glanced, saw the spiderweb spread across the glass and then clambered over into the rear compartment. Therein I had my camera bag, a rather large baseball bat and a crowbar (the first was obvious, the latter two were for my own protection- my profession called for me to go to some dangerous places). I slung the bag over my shoulder, slipping my camera in, and then grabbed the bar and bat. With a swift kick the boot snapped open and Gus beat me out, almost sending me sprawling back. I climbed out and called Gus back. He glared at me from by the barrier as if I had just grown another head and was asking him to let me eat him alive (which coincidentally was what some of the mob were now doing to a screaming woman- and they had been joined by the ramblers- oh joy!) Gus jumped over the barrier and glanced back again. I ran to join him, stopping only when we were atop the incline where bramble bushes barred our way. The Rambling Mob had lost interest in me and had moved on, although even as I tried to breathe a sigh of relief, one of the stragglers glanced in my direction and moaned, dribbling out a mouthful of finger as it did. I stared at it even as it staggered my way.
‘Bastards!’ I yelled, and then me and Gus did what any sane person (and dog) would do in such a situation, we ran like hell in the opposite direction.

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Simon Goodwin

Tamworth, united_kingdom

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