I looked up at the sky and saw the sun trying to squeeze through the grey clouds. Fantastic. The weather stays like this Emily won’t want to go to the park and I can have a wank in the shower. Should really do something with this shitty garden as well. Look like a fucking tink – that old fridge really has to go. I was just about to open the door when Emily ran out with her skipping rope.
“Hiya Daddy!” she said as she ran past and began to skip.
“Hey Ems, what have you been up to recently?” ‘What have you been up to recently?’ she’s not a second-cousin and you only saw her this morning, she’s not going to have written a fucking thesis or anything of any significance – oh shit, now I missed what she said. “That’s great honey. I’m just gonna go inside and see what Charley’s been up to, recently.” Might as well be consistently moronic.
“Charley went out. He said he had to get some gear from his friend who was at the shops. I told him that we need milk too.”
Fuck. He better not be buying E. The social workers will not let that slide a second time. Maybe he means camping gear though, that's probably possible. Going to surprise us with camping... Maybe I’d prefer the Es....? “Oh-K. I’m just gonna go for a shower, shout me if you need anything.” But try not to need anything. I'll only ignore you.
Chapter 1: The Zombie. In the Garden.
I’d spent a while building up a very specific fantasy revolving around Russell T Davis (because even in fantasyland I try not set my sights too high) and was just about to reach my climax when Emily started shouting.
“Daddy!” her voice literally tore through my mind replacing the images of Russell in a fat cyberman costume with the labour room and screaming bloody vaginas.
“Yes?” I called as I stepped out of the shower.
“Daddy!” She called again.
“What is it!?” I shouted as I turned the shower off.
“DADDY! There’s a zombie in the garden!”
Oh great, another one of her mind-fuck games. Fine. I pulled on my jeans and t-shirt, as I drifted back to the fantasy (the bit where the Slitheen came home early by an accident) and trudged downstairs to see what this “zombie” was all about. Probably just another drunk.
“Come on, it’s out in the garden, it’s out in the garden!” She chanted as she tugged at my shirt and dragged me outside.
In the garden there was a zombie. All dead but alive and bloody. He looked up at me and stumbled forward a bit before falling over. My wank, interrupted. For this? Fucking marvellous. This isn’t even one of the better apocalypses... The zombie tried to get back up but was too poorly coordinated and just ended up hitting its head of the paving again. And again.
“Emily, go inside and play now, ok. It’s not safe out here.” Oh shit! Shit! You delayed it for thirty-nine and a half years but with that sentence you just turned into your mother. Well done, Doug, well done. “Actually Ems, wait here. You can look after yourself.”
“But the zombie!”
“I know, I’m just gonna go inside and get the motor-carver that Granddad bought me.”
“But!” She protested.
“Ah, no buts. Just do as I say.” Oh fuck, there she is again the Nazi. What next? "It's for your own good"?
I spent a while looking for the confounded thing – I was certain that I hadn’t sold it! Almost certain. Maybe. Eventually I found it under the sink, somehow it had worked its way behind presents thirty eight (the fifth drill in the series) and thirty seven (hammer number eight). I unwrapped the cellophane and rooted around in the box, and wouldn’t you just know: the batteries were not included. Honest to god, dad, if you’re gonna buy me a shit present you might at least make sure it works.
As I passed the front door, making my way to the living room, I stuck me head out to make sure Emily hadn’t been eaten. The zombie was still trying and failing to get up and Emily was looking at it with what I took to be steadfast bravery.
“Daddy, I’m scared!” she cried.
“It’s OK, honey I’m just gonna get some batteries for this, then we can deal with it ok?" She nodded. "You don’t mind if I borrow some from your Wii remote do you?” She shook her head. “Good girl.”
I prised the batteries out of the remotes and then opened the carver. “Oh fucking hell!” I cursed, realising that it wasn’t four double-As I needed but two of the bigger ones that you get in torches. I don’t even own any torches!
Chapter 2: The Quest. For Batteries.
I walked out the front door. Holding the carver in one hand and the back-cover in the other.
“Damn thing doesn’t take normal batteries.” I explained. “Going to have to go up to Mr Patel’s and get some ok, you wait here.”
“Can’t I come with you!?”
“No, honey, you’ll be fine.”
“But the zombie!” she pointed to the zombie who failed to get up again, causing his head to hit the ground, with a noise like a fracturing eye-socket.
“Look here, you should count yourself lucky; Grandma didn’t let me out of the house until I was fourteen.” With that I walked off. The good parenting guide said you just have to lay down the law; tell them what’s what and refuse to negotiate - and who am I to argue with a published guide?
Mr Patel’s shop wasn’t far, but with the current “situation” it took a bit longer to get there than normal. Cars sped up and down the road meaning it took ages to get across without being killed and the people were just as bad; after the fourth crashed into me, in a frightened panic - I snapped. I grabbed the woman’s sleeve:
“Look, lady, what are you running for?”
“Th-there’s a horrible, horrible zombie dwarf chasing me!” she sobbed pointing further down the road. I looked at where she was pointing and sighed.
“No – look, that’s not small it’s far away. Ok? Now go home and make yourself a cup of tea and relax.” She nodded and then walked off, looking over her shoulder.
The bell rang as I walked into Mr Patel’s shop.
“Good evening, Mr Volouvaunt!” he beamed.
“Hi there, it’s a bit shit outside isn’t it?”
“It has been cloudy, yes.”
“That and the zombies.”
“Ah yes the zombies! One of them tried coming in here but I sent him straight back out again! Can’t have them scaring away my loyal customers!”
“Yeah I know, I was just having the same conversation with someone outside – you gotta stick up to them. Fight back.”
“Absolutely. What can I do for you today?”
“Ah yeah, yeah, I was wondering, do you stock those big batteries? You know the ones that look like fat double-As?” He seemed to consider this for a moment. “They need to fit this.” I showed him the carver.
“I should do yes, please wait a moment.” He ducked down behind the counter. I tapped out a small beat on the desk as I looked around. There was some shiny new chewing gum on display that I considered buying. Ninety-nine pence though, bit extortionate isn’t it? Fuck it, the world’s ending, might as well splash out.
Mr Patel popped up again with two different brands. “Yes, we have the Duracell or we have these ones which are a bit cheaper, which would you prefer?” He said thrusting the Duracells ever so slightly forward.
“Eh, I’ll go for the cheap ones. I’m not one to be swayed by stupid marketing schemes. My daughter does love that bunny though.”
“Very well.” He said scanning them through.
“Can I have this as well please?” I said handing him the shiny chewing gum.
On my way out of the shop I bumped into somebody, who staggered backwards and fell over. Well not someone, it was just another zombie.
“Look you fuckers, stay out of Patel’s shop, he’s worked hard to get this place going and you shouldn’t be fucking it up for him.” He tried to get up but failed and hit his head off the pavement.
“Thank you for your support Mr Volouvaunt, but I have this under control, really.” Mr Patel walked up to the zombie and put the barrel of the shotgun to its temple.
I chewed a bit of the shiny gum as I walked back to my house. It was pretty damned disgusting. Horrible burny mint flavour and it was a little too easy to swallow. I really should have bought a Twix. Is it too late to go back and get a twix?
I got back to my house only to find that Emily had gone inside and the zombie had actually hit his head so many times his brains were decorating my path. I tested the motor-carver and sighed. I’d been looking forward to killing it.
Chapter 3: The "Gear". Was Indeed Drugs.
The toilet flushed as I stepped through the front door. Emily walked past making her way to the living room.
“Hey, I told you to wait outside for me!”
“Charley came back. He forgot the milk and then he told me I could come in.”
“Yeah well, he’s not your dad. What kind of step-daughter are you? You’re meant to hate him.”
“He’s better than Frank or Graeme. And he’s funnier.”
“Well actually no, Frank would have been much more stable in the long term and Graeme had a far better sense of humour and I am not going to discuss my relationships with you young lady! Go to your room, I need to talk to Graeme.”
“Charley, you mean.”
“Go. To. Your. Room!”
She sulked off up the stairs as I made my way through to the living room. Charley was sitting in the couch facing the window staring intently at the zombie that was listlessly thumping its head against the glass. Hannah Montana started wailing upstairs.
“Heya Doug!” Charley shouted in my direction.
I belched. “Charley, I’m leaving you. I mean – well rather, you’re leaving me, because this is my house and I have Emily to think about...” Good old Emily, unquestioned motivation for all of the things I do.
“But, but why?”
“Because you’re annoying. You treat this place like a drug den and you’ve just pissed yourself. I’m going to need a new couch.”
“Ah, no buts. Now go up to your room and pack your things - you disgust me.”
I stood in the doorway making sure that Charley packed his stuff properly.
“Emily.” I called over the achingly inoffensive Disney music. “Emily! Come and say goodbye to Uncle Charley.” She trudged across the hall like it was the green mile. “Hey come on, he can still visit.”
“Can I!?” He asked grinning.
“No, Charley.” I said shaking my head. Emily began to cry. “Hey there, come on, chin-up.”
“But I don’t want Charley to leave!”
“Yes but I do, and I’m older. So there.” I stuck out my tongue, which may have been construed as immature and insensitive but at the time I felt it was justified.
Chapter 4: We’re Going To. Your Mother’s House.
As they hugged and said goodbye there was the sound of shattering glass from downstairs. I revved up the motor-carver and ran down. The living room window had been smashed in and a zombie was trying to unimpale himself from the glass, but was failing. He lifted his neck off the shard and then fell back down again which decapitated him. Again I had been robbed of the chance to do any carving.
Emily and Charley appeared behind me.
“Go back upstairs Emily, pack your bag, we’re gonna go to your mother’s house, ok?”
“Can I come?” Charley asked.
“Nobody wants you there.”
“I want Charley to come!” Emily protested.
“You’re seven; British law says you don’t get to vote.” I said gently informing the facts. “Now come on, it’s not safe here.” Well probably could just put some plywood up but Noreen only lives a hour away and she’s in a high-rise so there’s really no contest.
When Emily was packing her bags I saw to it that Charley left.
“Look I’m sorry, it’s just I’ve grown as a person and you haven’t.” I reassured, using the old “it’s not you it’s me” tactic.
“But we’ve only been going out five days.”
“Just go, yeah?” I said putting my hand on the door handle.
“Please don’t kick me out – I love you!”
“No you don’t. Now get your hand off my crotch.” I opened the door and three zombies tried to push their way in in. I shoved Charley into them and all four fell over. “Don’t forget your bag.” I said tossing it to him. I closed the door.
I’ll probably never forget his girly screams.
Emily came down the stairs a few moments later, laden with several overnight bags.
“You’re gonna have to get rid of some of those, you know.”
“Why!?” She shouted.
“Because we have to cycle there.”
“But Charley can drive us!” I looked at the window in the door and pulled the curtain across.
“I doubt it.”
“But I don’t want to cycle! People’ll laugh at my stabilisers.” She sobbed.
Chapter 5: The Journey. To The Ex’s.
After about an hour we managed to lighten the load down to one rucksack and an overnight bag. I fought the bikes out from the garage and I was just about to deal with the four zombies outside when a car crashed into the front of the house, exploded and annihilated them. I was beginning to think I was never gonna get a chance to use this carver. Fucking useless birthday presents.
And so we were on our way. I was carrying the overly heavy over-night bag on my back which on several occasions threatened to topple me. And then I got a phone call. I fished the phone out of my back pocket and put it to my ear. It continued ringing because I’d forgotten to press the green button.
“God damn these fucking complicated phones!”
“Did you press the red button again, Daddy?”
“Yes, Emily, I— Fuck!” I said half loosing control of the bike for the nineteenth time.
If it’s important they’ll call back.
After another ten minutes of shaky cycling and dodging buses and zombies I’d given up on getting a call back and so put my phone back in my back pocket. As sod’s law dictates, that was when I got called back. As I tried to get the phone out of my pocket for a second time The bike debalanced completely and I knocked my elbow off the road. Hard. Right on the funny bone too.
“What!?” I demanded, slamming the green button. “Yes it’s Doug, who the fuck were you expecting? …I’m not pissed off you’re just asking stupid questions. …Yeah I know, we’re on our way to yours now, ok?”
“Is that Mummy?” Emily asked.
“Well that’s where we’re going isn’t it?” I told her.
“There’s no need to be angry.”
“No I wasn’t talking to you. …Of course Emily’s with me, I wouldn’t be coming to see you if she wasn’t… No, Charley left me—”
“You kicked him out!” Emily shouted.
“You shut up; I’m trying to have a conversation.” Then to the phone. “No, I’ll tell her to shut up if I want! …Yeah Charley left me, we had to take our bikes. ...No it’s perfectly safe, they’re slow ones. …Yes She's got her helmet. ...What, no there’s a zombie apocalypse – turn your on your TV for fucks sake there’s probably something on about it! …No look it’s not a movie, try another channel. No, Gordon Brown has always looked like that. We’re on our way ok? —Don’t do a roast – it’s a Thursday you can’t do roast on a Thursday, ya freak!”
“Don’t call Mummy a freak!”
“Call a spade a spade dear.” I said to Emily and then. “...No come on just do some sausages or something, we’ll be there soon.”
I hung up. Then I pressed the red button to do it properly.
Shortly afterwards me and Emily pulled up to the high rise and dismounted our bikes. To the left there was a group of boys, drinking cider.
“Oi, look at that little girl.” One said in an offensively lower class accent. “She can’t even ride a bike properly!” they began to laugh. Emily looked up at me with that “I told you so” frown.
“Yeah well, it’s all a form of encouragement.” I said patting her shoulder.
We walked inside the dark high rise. The walls were covered in graffiti and there was that stink of piss, decay and cheap air freshener that was just as disgusting.
“Do you want to take the stairs, no?” I said.
“Yeah me too.” I said calling the lift.
Over the loud rattling and clanking of the ancient mechanics we heard loud laughter from outside:
“Oi look at that man he’s covered in blood and smells like poo. Hahahaha – eek!”
“See Emily, that’s called karma.” I told her as we watched them get mauled by the homeless man.
“But you said they were encouraging me!”
“Can you never just be happy?”
Eventually the elevator arrived. We waited in front of the doors as they slid open. Emily screamed and I jumped back when the zombie ran out of it making that zombie sound. Slightly exited I revved up the motor carver and thrust it into the zombie who screamed in agony.
“Fuck’s sake man! I was just having a joke, seriously – lighten up.” he said in a broad Welsh accent.
“Oh well come on, there’s a time and a place for joking! Now get yourself to a hospital you crazy fuck.”
“Just go, if you die I don’t want to see it happening.”
Before he could use the last of his energy to kill me I dragged Emily into the lift and pressed the big 2. Probably should have taken the stairs after all... Healthier for everyone involved.
“And not a word of this to your mother, you hear?”
Chapter 6: Safe Now. The End.
We walked into Noreen’s flat and there was the instant smell of roasting pork.
“I thought I said no roast. It’s called “Sunday roast” for a reason, just because it’s colloquially shortened to “roast” doesn’t mean you can change the rules.”
Noreen ran through from the kitchen. “Oh Doug I’ve missed you! I’m so glad you’re safe! Come through to the bedroom.”
“No. I’m not falling for that one again. Look what happened last time!” I gently nudged Emily.
“Worth a try I suppose.”
“No. Not really.”
“I see you're wearing the shirt I gave you!”
“Charley couldn't work the washer. Everything else was dirty.”
And so an hour later we sat down to dinner. Noreen was particularly pleased with the carver once it was cleaned and she noted that I’d finally get a chance too use it properly. Emily was looking out the window.
“Come on, honey, come sit down with us.” Noreen said as I tried to get the carver to work. Jesus I haven’t even used it. Shitty batteries, fucking Mr Patel, con artist bastard.
“But Mummy, there’s a zombie outside!”
Noreen looked at me as if I had to do something about it.
“Hey, it’s your house, you go deal with it.”