How the zombie apocalypse started -12

Birmingham, UK

When Helga died, she was alone. So in death, she mimicked much of how she had existed in life. Lying in her sleeping bag in the alley behind the restaurant where the owners sometimes came out and gave her food, the last thought to hit her was that she should never have left the Ukraine. Coming to this cold and damp rock had been the worst mistake of her miserable twenty-five years on this pointless planet.

She had come here for a better life, but it hadn’t worked like that. The people smugglers she had paid everything she had to escape the crippling poverty of her home country had revealed their true nature only when she was across the English Channel. Then the abuse, the violence and the threats had started. The shouting, the hitting, the punishment rapes. Driven in a darkened van with seven other women, Helga found herself a victim of her own naivety. If only she had listened to her mother, who had warned her exactly what was likely to happen.

They had promised her a job, a wage and a home, and in a sense, they hadn’t lied. What they had neglected to tell her was that her home would be a brothel, where her job would be servicing the scum of society seven days a week. As for a wage, that came in the form of heroin, forcibly injected the first few times, until she became to crave it. It made her pliant and allowed her new owners an easy way to control her.

Helga, so desperate to chase the dragon, became a willing accomplice to her own defilement.

That had been a year ago. Then had come the raid, the Immigration officials and the police storming through the property like possessed banshees. Somehow, she had run and escaped with a body riddled with addiction and venereal disease. The day after the raid, she had woken up with a pocket full of cash, having no recollection of how she had acquired it. She had managed to survive, if one could call this living. The addiction had spurred her on, and she struggled on the streets the best way she knew how.

Until the virus known by its creator as Lazarus visited her.

Begging on the street, a stranger had handed her a five-pound note, enough to feed her for a whole day. Unfortunately, the note was coated with virus, and within a day she was showing symptoms due to her malnourished and weakened immune system.

Perhaps she should have gone to the hospital, but fear and her trauma-induced psychological issues prevented that. Hospitals might mean police. Police might mean arrest. And arrest might mean forced deportation. Instead, she lay shivering in her dirty and ripped sleeping bag until the life evaporated out of her body. Of all the victims of the Lazarus virus, she was one of the many who were actually spared the further hardships of surviving another day.

Sometimes, death was a blessing.

The first real problem zombie Helga faced on her birth was getting out of the fabric that encased her. It took Helga(Z) a good thirty minutes to free herself and get to her feet, urine and faeces coating the already desecrated jeans she wore. The stench that rose from her was almost physical. Unable to determine time, all it cared about was the sound of food about fifteen metres away.

It nearly fell when it took its first steps, what was left of the brain learning what had been lost in death. Like all the zombies who rose, it soon mastered the functions that should have been impossible for it to perform.

Pheromones drew her on, the odour of humans intoxicating. Acting on the most basic of instincts, the zombie marched to where the virus commanded it. The street that the alley connected to was busy as people started to enjoy their night out, all oblivious to the reality that was about to juggernaut towards them. Singularly or in groups, food wandered freely before it.

The zombie didn’t understand that these were rioters, that they were intent on mayhem and destruction. It just knew that these moving sacks of flesh were its to devour.

Most of the people didn’t see the pathetic figure that stepped out into their ranks, many already too drunk to realise the threat posed. A window crashed across the road as someone tried to break into a mobile phone shop, seemingly undeterred by the defensive grills. Those that did notice Helga(Z), either mocked it or gave the zombie a wide berth. Shuffling her feet, the zombie found itself in paradise without the cognitive ability to understand the concept.

“Look at this,” a young man said with derision. There are some people who like to take the torment and the misfortune of others for their own enjoyment. They like to wrap it up in a pretty bow and display such human frailty to the world to heighten their own sense of importance. The bullies of the world, often broken and confused inside, were just children who were unable to grow up and develop as valuable members of society. Such actions were often linked with a general lack of intelligence, which was now displayed by the three men who had decided that they would try to humiliate and bully a zombie.

“Fuck, she’s rank,” another scumbag said.

Helga(Z) had no vision with which to describe him, but the smell of him sent her wild. It staggered towards him, intent on ripping his heart out.

“Oh, she likes you,” the third voice said. It had a nasal texture, not that Helga(Z) had any understanding of what the word nasal meant. All it knew was its desire to feed and to attack anyone it came across. That desire was everything, its sole reason for being. If there was any kind of self-awareness left, it was centred on the gnawing ache in its stomach. The hunger drew it on, made it do the things it now did.

“Fuck you Keith. I wouldn’t touch her with yours.” Of the three voices, the second was the closest, and with a sudden burst of speed, Helga(Z) was upon him like a freight train. The zombie grabbed his arm, bringing him to the floor with a strength that surprised everyone who witnessed it. There was laughter in the air at that from the other two. The laughter died when the zombie jumped upon the struggling figure and punched its hand right into the man’s guts.

“Christ, get this bitch off me.” Something struck the zombie in the face. There was no pain, just the sensation of impact, its hand still rummaging around inside the man’s intestine. It clenched down and pulled, dragging entrails out into the neon light for all to see.

Its food was fighting back, but Helga(Z) ignored it, forcing the teeth down towards the small intestine that pulsed with delicious fluid. Hands grabbed it, pulling with a strength that was no match for the zombified flesh. Helga(Z) bit down into the guts and ripped them apart with a shake of its head.

Somebody kicked Helga(Z) in the head. The toe cap was steel, a formidable blow, cracking the zombie’s skull at the temple. It went sprawling, guts still in hand, but the blow wasn’t enough to kill it. More blows rained down, fists and feet, infecting everyone who attacked the zombie, blood flying from its smashed lips and busted nose. From pure impulse, it grabbed a leg mid-impact and brought the attacker down to the ground, where it straddled the wriggling man. Faecal matter dripped from its full mouth, the human caught by it screaming. All the screams did was urge it on, enticing it to feed.

Another kick landed, breaking a bone in the zombie’s arm, but it didn’t care. And with its remaining good arm, it dug its hands into the flesh of the man it was about to kill.

Sometimes, those who died from the bites and the virus were worthy of that fate.

 

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