Authors: Lisa Richardson
Blog of the Dead - Sophie
Blog of the Dead – Sophie
Copyright © Lisa Richardson 2013
Cover design by Rick Jones
Cover Photography by Sarah Bray Photography
For Tom and Dexter
Special thanks to Keith Holland, Kay Mcloughlin, Flick Merauld, JoJo Moyes, Suzi Ashworth and Folkestone Zombie Walk for their support and advice. I wouldn’t have reached this stage without any of you.
Many thanks to Sarah Bray for the amazing cover photography, Rick Jones for the outstanding cover design and also to my wonderful models Sarah Williams, Claire Jones, Ella Laurence, Max Pulger-Frame and Terri Marsh … What brilliant fun we all had, it was a pleasure working with all of you!
I’m Sophie, a student at UCF. I initially set up this blog to post my poetry on, but something really fucked up happened today. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m really freaked out.
I overslept this morning. I meant to get up early to work on an essay. I didn’t even go out last night, so I don’t know why I didn’t hear the alarm. Anyway, I woke up at 10.30 am and reached for my phone. I always check Facebook before getting out of bed. But when I switched it on, I saw I had a missed call from my friend Laura, which was weird cos she would usually be in a Performing Arts class. She’d left a message so I listened to it. I could hardly hear anything through all the shouting in the background. Laura screamed, and it sounded like she was running. I could hear feet hitting the floor, doors opening and closing, and she sounded out of breath. She rambled about something happening at uni, but it didn’t make any sense. The only bit I heard clearly was ‘... took her face off …’ Then she screamed again. When the message cut out, I sat up and stared at the screen for a moment. I hit the button to call her back but my hand shook so much that it took a couple of goes before my thumb made contact with the correct bit of the touch screen. She didn’t answer. So, I called Tate and then Anna, cos I knew they should be in uni, but … nothing.
I threw on some clothes and opened my bedroom door. Hearing no signs of life, I guessed that everyone else was either asleep or out. I found Richard in the kitchen, though, eyelids heavy, which told me everything I needed to know. And seeing as he’s never aware of anything anyway, other than the next joint coming his way, I didn’t bother with him. I mean, Richard, he never even gets his books out at lectures. Just slumps in his chair with his ratty old bag on the table in front of him and looks like he’s either going to make a break for it or use the bag as a pillow. So I made straight for the front door.
When I got down to Tontine Street I found that it was closed off with police tape and police cars blocking the street from the Quarterhouse theatre up towards Grace Hill. Police officers stood by the blockades, keeping the rattled bystanders in check, so I couldn’t get to the back entrance of the UCF building at all. I pushed through the bystanders and got as close to the police tape as I could and saw what looked like plastic sheeting had been put up around the UCF building. A couple of people dressed in white suits – hazmat suits, I think you call them – slid through a gap in the plastic but other than that, the place looked sealed off.
I turned and ran down Tontine Street and headed up the Old High Street, to Payers Park via the hare and dog statue, but that way had been sealed off too. I headed round to Grace Hill, but hit police tape again. The front entrance to UCF had been sealed up with plastic too. It looked like the whole building had been placed in an evidence bag. Fucking freaky. I asked a police woman what was going on, but she just gave me a dirty look and told me to move back. I explained that I had friends in there, and one of the policemen told me there’d been an ‘incident’ in the building.
I tried calling Laura again but nothing. After that I came straight back here to post this blog. I can’t believe this is happening.
1.15pm Day 1
I’ve just had a call from my friend Peter. There’s some kind of riot in town so I’m going to go and check it out.
3.25pm Day 1
Fuck fuck fuck. I can’t believe what’s just happened. This is crazy. Fucking crazy. So, I headed into town with Richard, Polly and Sam, my housemates. As soon as we turned into Sandgate Road we could see things weren’t right. A police van, its blue light flashing, had been parked at an angle outside Boots, about halfway up the high street. A police car sat on the other side of the street. Four police officers with stern faces stood in the gap between the two vehicles and tried to block people from going any further up the hill.
A fight had broken out outside Waterstones and some of the bystanders pushed and shoved against the police, trying to escape the violence. They broke through, but were met by a group of what I thought must be rioters heading down. Some ran, but others moved slowly and awkwardly, blood on their faces, hands and clothes. The slow ones stopped and started fighting with the people heading up the hill. The rest carried on in our direction. I shoved Richard, Polly and Sam into the entrance of Wilkinsons to get out of the way.
Despite the chaos, we decided to carry on up the high street anyway, curiosity getting the better of us. Polly surprised me, I thought this would be too much for Princess Pollyanna, but she was as keen as the rest of us.
We managed to clear the fight outside Waterstones that had spread out into the crowd to our right and we dodged round the police and their van. We couldn’t see Peter anywhere, and had no chance of finding him in all that madness. But what we did see was a big fight going on outside Debenhams. It reminded me of one of those comic fights you get in cartoons where all you see are random arms and legs flying out of a dust cloud, only this wasn’t at all funny. I had been expecting to see rioters looting shops and running off with TV sets and designer jeans. Not this. Some people were … I can’t even believe I’m writing this … they were biting other people – throwing them on the ground and tearing them to pieces. Polly screamed in my ear. I think I actually heard Richard say, ‘Awesome, dude’. And then Sam laid into him, calling him a ‘freak of nature’ for finding any of this entertaining.
Most people tried to get away from the violence. They fled, screaming, in all directions. Others stood, riveted to the fight, looking totally glazed, like thousand yard stares all round. Some very badly wounded bystanders started attacking others. I had my camera, filming it all, so I got as close as I dared. Viewing it through the camera lens made it a little easier, like I could distance myself from it, but, Christ … A couple of people, covered in blood and in a bad way – one with this fucked up injury on his face, a huge chunk of flesh missing from his cheek – pinned some girl down on one of those marble benches outside Debenhams and … shit … bit chunks out of her.
So many people ran this way and that by this point that I found it hard to focus on any one thing for long. More and more people went crazy and attacked others. And I know this sounds totally mad, but I saw someone who I thought must be dead because she was so messed up, laying on the ground covered in blood, an arm missing from the shoulder. But she got up. She and a group of others saw us and started heading in our direction. I lowered my camera and steadied myself as a wave of nausea hit me.
The group heading our way limped and staggered quite slowly but, man, they looked freaky. I mean, I might just have seen one too many horror movies, but they looked like zombies – real zombies, not just the kind that stagger around shopping centres every Saturday because they haven’t got anything better to do, but the real back from the dead, brain munching kind.
One, a guy with a gaping hole in his stomach, got hold of Richard’s arm. Polly freaked out and started screaming. Sam grabbed her arm and the pair of them ran for it down the hill, abandoning me and Richard. Richard punched the guy but was wrong handed and the guy managed to sink his teeth into Richard’s hand. Richard cried out and tried to pull away but a whole chunk of flesh ripped off. Blood sprayed everywhere.
The guy still had hold of Richard and the rest of the group were almost on us, so I whacked the guy in the face with my camera. He let go but immediately dived on someone else in the crowd, tearing at their throat with his teeth.
A wide eyed, flailing armed stampede bolted down the high street, right into me and Richard and we almost got separated. We managed to hold on to each other and pushed our way down Sandgate Road, through the melee. When the way ahead thinned out, we ran. My six mile runs would have paid off in this situation if it hadn’t of been for Richard. I wasn’t going to desert the skinny stoner, but he really slowed us down. He threw up the minute we got in the front door.
I’ve put the film I took on YouTube.
6.25pm Day 1
We’ve locked the doors and windows. The news is reporting riots across the South East, but the information is sketchy. Still haven’t been able to get in touch with anyone at UCF. I would have thought they’d have let everyone go by now, whatever had happened in there. But I’m thinking more and more that there’s some connection with what happened in town.
Me, Polly and Sam are in the living room with the news on while I’m writing this and we’re trying not to listen to the noises outside – feet pounding, screams and shouts. Someone started banging on the door a little while ago. I said we should answer it, it could be someone needing help. But Polly was like, ‘No fucking way!’ and Sam agreed with her, so I put my hands over my ears and tried to ignore it. It’s stopped now. Richard’s shut himself in his room and is playing his dodgy trance music really loud. But seeing as he’s pretty much useless at the best of times, he’s not being missed. I imagine he’s totally stoned by now. I said earlier he should clean up that bite on his hand, but he just shrugged. You can’t help some people.
We’ve all tried to call our families. I sat with my finger on the redail button for hours, trying to reach my mum, until the phone went dead.
9.07am Day 2
I woke up about two hours ago. Last night, Sam tried to convince me to let him sleep in with me, for my protection, but I told him to fuck off. There was a lot of banging coming from Richard’s room this morning. But that wasn’t what woke me up. What woke me up was Polly yelling up the stairs for him to shut up. Then I heard her thudding past my room and up the stairs, so I followed after her.
Sam stood outside his room by the time we got there – he’s got the room next to Richard’s on the second floor, while precious Polly is next to me on the first floor – and he looked all sleepy, standing there in his boxers rubbing his eyes, his dark hair standing up on one side. Polly reached out for the handle of Richard’s room, but I got this really horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and yelled at her to stop. She didn’t.
The first thing that hit me was the smell – like every dead thing in Hell had just farted in my face – the next thing that hit me was Richard. He came lumbering out of the room and lunged for me. It didn’t happen that fast but we were all sleepy and totally unprepared for this eventuality, so it caught us by surprise and I fell backwards down the stairs with Richard in my arms. I landed on my back on the little landing halfway down the staircase, whacking my head on the radiator. Richard on top of me. Only it wasn’t Richard any more. He looked liked he had started to decompose over night. His face was all pale and sickly, and his skin was clammy and bloated like a dead frog in a pond. I have never seen eyes so buggy and bloodshot, and he had blood round his mouth. I wondered what he could’ve been eating. Then I noticed his hand where he’d been bitten yesterday. It was rotten and smelt really bad, but the wound was bigger, like he’d … I think he’d been having a nibble of his own hand.
I held him off, avoiding the gnashing teeth, but he was pretty strong. I managed to get my knee up between us and, with my foot on his chest, I kicked out as hard as I could. Richard fell back, down the rest of the stairs. But as soon as he got to his feet, he started up the stairs towards me again. Winded, I couldn’t move. I’d always get really annoyed with people in horror films when they fall down somewhere and then don’t move as the monster comes at them. You think,
just move – how hard is it to move
? Well, when you’re severely winded, I can tell you now that it is really hard to move.
I was just thinking how the fuck I could defend myself from a zombie with nothing but my bare hands, when Sam came charging down the stairs and shoved Richard backwards, right into my bedroom. He pulled the door shut and held onto the handle while Richard started banging on it from the other side.