Chorley Chronicles - part five

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Danny meets up with other survivors of the gas cloud, and makes a shocking discovery.

Submitted: March 10, 2013

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Submitted: March 10, 2013

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Chapter Five

The Tower is Rivington Tower, an eighteenth century folly on the top of Rivington Pike.  Legend has it that a local landowner had married a younger woman who had a fancy for the piano.  Unfortunately, fancy didn’t equate to talent.  He’d built this folly to house her piano, landscaping the grounds around the Tower into a terraced garden, and keeping her far enough away from the main house so he wouldn’t hear the racket she made bashing away at the ivories.  As far as I was aware, the place was bricked up.  The Pike itself is part of Winter Hill, a sprawling expanse of high ground, great for panoramic views over the county and beyond, but miles from anywhere.There was a drive of sorts from the National Trust car park about a mile’s walk from the Pike- the gate was open when we got there and Chris’s Clio bounced its way up a track better suited to Land Rovers.

“You been staying here?”

Jase turned in his seat, his head banging on the roof as Chris took a diversion down a particularly deep pothole.  “Ouch.  Yep, we’ve been here about a week.  We managed to open one of the side windows and we’ve been sleeping on the roof.  It’s cool. “

“Who’s ‘we’?”

“Me, Tommo, Carter, Looby Lou and Vanessa, oh, and that Scotch guy- Hamish.  Chris stayed last night, she gave me a lift up from town and stayed to watch the green moon.”

Despite the fact that Chris didn’t think of me that way, I hated the fact she’d stayed.  I kind of thought of her that way.  But then it dawned on me…

“…so you were out when that gas cloud went over?”

“The gas cloud was what coloured the moon?  That would make sense…”

“And you lot, you’re all ok?” I wanted to know.

Chris turned to me, taking her eyes off the road. Thankfully the surface of the road meant she had to keep the speed down.

“Not exactly” she said.

We pulled up on the grass area beside the tower, the air cooler up high.  I opened the door and stepped out.  Looking behind me I got the whole panoramic view of Chorley, with Bolton on my right.  In the distance I could make out Blackpool, a shimmering haze covering the stretches of greenery in every direction.  Chris and Jase got out of the car, and we took the bags of snacks, my rucksack and our weapons to the rear of the Tower.

Behind the Tower there was a flagpole.  Tethered to the flagpole, by ropes around their necks, were three figures.  Looby Lou was nearest to me.  She raised her arms at the sound of our approach and stumbled forward, for all the world looking like she was greeting a long lost friend.  Only, from the look on her face, the expressionless eyes, the open mouth, the pale, cracked skin, I knew she’d turned.  Her summer dress looked incongruous, but then, how were zombies supposed to dress? 

The rope snagged around her neck and she came to an abrupt halt.  She almost looked comical.  She seemed to strain against the rope, a small anguished noise coming from her mouth.  The other two figures turned- Carter and Hamish, from the look of them, and shuffled forward as one.  Again, the rope limited their journey.  I stood, about six feet away from them, not quite believing what I was seeing. 

I turned to Jase.  He stood there, looking at what remained of his friends, his eyes saying everything.  I put my hand on his shoulder.  “There’s nothing we can do for them, not now”.

Vanessa appeared from the side of the tower, she looked like she’d spent the last night crying, her face all blotchy, her eyes red.  She came forward and hugged me.

“Danny!”

She clung to me, and sobbed.  I put my arms around her, trying to comfort her, but letting her get it out of her system.  She kept saying “Looby… I can’t believe it.. it’s not her, it’s not… “Louise was her best friend, they’d grown up in Chorley, and, yes, I could see her house from where we stood.  Thick and thin, they’d been a team, both blondes and both on the wrong side of the IQ chart, but they’d watch each other’s backs.  Slowly, her sobs receded.  I was kind of glad, because she was making the front of my shirt wet, and I couldn’t work out if it was tears or snot.  I decided it was tears, but made a mental note to change when I got a chance.

Tommo made an appearance, I nodded to him.  I’d usually get a high five from him, but he looked like all his high five energy was gone.  Jase opened one of the bags he’d got, Tommo selecting a breakfast bar, Vanessa shaking her head.  Chris stood next to me, “Come on”, she said.

The windows to the tower had been covered with iron cladding which had been padlocked, one of the padlocks was gone and the cladding swung back on hinges.  The inside of the Tower looked dark and uninviting.  A small wooden ladder had been placed in front of the window.  Chris climbed up, then held her hand out.  I smiled at the gesture, and went to take it.

“Gimme your rucksack, twat”

She hauled it inside, and I followed.  Inside was dark, and my eyes took a second or two to get used to it.  The door was bricked in, and the other two windows still barred.  It smelt earthy, the floor was crunchy.  Chris noticed my downward glance. “Pigeon shit”, she said, by way of explanation.  There were bits of gear all over the place, piles of rope, the paraglider, bags and a stacked case of bottled water. In the corner there was a wooden ladder.  She walked across and climbed.

The top of the tower had a slate pitched roof, and a walkway all around the edge.  The wall stood about four feet high.  I took a walk around it, looking out over the towns spread out below. There was the odd plume of smoke, and I could make out people in the streets- presumably the undead.  I could see no traffic, even on the nearby M6.  The whole place looked eerily abandoned.

Sleeping bags lay along the floor, against the wall. 

“This where you stayed last night?” I asked.

She nodded, pointing to a padded sleeping bag in the corner.

“You and Jase…” I left the question hanging.

She looked at me. “Told you, it’s not what you think.  Fuck’s sake, do you see what’s going on here?”

I reddened.  She was right.

“So, why are you, Jase, Tommo and Nessa ok?  What happened?”  Chris shrugged. “Dunno”

Jase appeared, climbing the ladder. 

“We need to find somewhere in town, somewhere near food, and supplies.  This place is ok for now.  We’ve got some timber, we’ll light a beacon fire. Maybe there’s others out there, we need to find them or they need to find us”

Tommo shouted something, we didn’t hear what.  All three of us climbed back down the ladder, and out into the sunshine.  Tommo held out a radio.  “The bastards, they’re letting us fend for ourselves!”

He’d tuned into a news channel.  We gathered around to listen.

“…. In areas overwhelmed by the walking dead, the army are struggling to contain the numbers.  An MOD spokesman puts the number of troops currently despatched to infected zones at five thousand.  A spokesman for the newly formed Disaster Response Unit has said that they don’t have the capacity or resources to travel deep into the infection zone.  Any survivors in those areas need to make their way south…. Emergency protocols are being put into action, and all civilian mobile phone networks are being shut down.  Power to affected areas will also be turned off in the next six hours…” 


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