‘It’s In Your Head’*

[This is the first of two stories written for the Lancaster and Cumbria Nanowrimo groups first creative writing challenge]

‘The Zombies are coming out of the sea, no need to breathe, won’t tire, don’t stop. They’re walking remorselessly up the beach as ther waves crash around them. There are thousands of them, the whole beach is swarming with them, maybe there are millions, some are crawling with limbs torn, twisted or missing, some merely the few remnants of flesh held together by a will to feed.’ Ed paused and looked into Lily’s eyes.

‘Don’t worry. Thankfully holding the Tower is key to the strategy devised to turn the tide of battle. The perfect place to hold from. We can defend the lower levels and if we need to we collapse stairwells and retreat to the top, if, and I mean really when, they breach our defences.’

Ed saw her look, ‘don’t worry, we don’t need to hold out for long, the answer will soon be discovered, the cure that will turn the tide of battle.’

‘Ed,’ she said softly, ‘I came here to talk about us.’

‘Us, this is bigger than us right now.’ he held her hand, ‘but it will soon be just us. This is so big, this changes everything, the whole world, after this no one will ever be able to see Blackpool the same way again.’

Lucy closed her eyes and looked down from the cafe on the fifth floor of the tower, out across the promenade towards the sea. The skies were grey with small white clouds skipping beneath, playful in the blustery winds.

‘We haven’t known each other long,’ she paused.

Ed smiled and filled the silence, ‘I know,’ he laughed, ‘it was great, I mean amazing, it’s why I had to bring you here, to see this.’

‘To see what?’

 ‘The setting for end of the film,’ he laughed and stood, ‘the first one. Its going to be awesome.’ Ed looked at her, ‘I still cannot believe it, yesterday I was just a struggling writer, then I get told I am going to be a movie writer and I celebrate and then, you. You are the most beautiful girl, this is perfect.’

‘Ed,’ Lucy looked at him, ‘sit down.’

‘What’s wrong,’ he smiled at her, ‘last night was perfect, don’t worry I won’t let fame split us up.’

‘Ed, stop,’ she looked around to see if anyone had heard her raised voice. An old couple and young parents with small children waiting for the soft play to open. They did not seem to care.

‘Ed,’ Lucy looked at him, ‘I was just,’ she looked out at the sea. ‘it was just that I was always interested by you, I like dreamers, I like people with ideas and so when I heard your news, and the music, the food, the drink. I was just swept up by it, on a tide I guess.’

‘It’s a tide that will build, baby,’ he laughed.

‘Tide’s go out.’ She sighed. ‘This isn’t Dawn of the Dead, the bloody tower is a bad defence, trap yourself in a single location with nowhere to go but up and limited supplies.’ Lucy let a breath escape in frustration, ‘and what about food, power, water, the bad place to be in the event of a bloody fire. Stupid. There is also no bloody point to the rest of your story.’ She shook her head, ‘I mean, zombies! Gods. No understanding in the bloody zombie apocalypse crap of either the word zombie or apocalypse.’

‘The only zombie story that came close to being worthwhile on film was the original, though I liked Shawn for the laughs and Dylan Morgan, who you look a bit like. In books, World War Z and I know that’s your favourite movie, you told me twenty times already, and I hated it.’

‘You see that’s where you fail. That’s why we are not meant to be and this was always just one night. Grasping for the fantastic instead of looking at the world with all its in-built complex wonder and seeing the true beauty in the mundane. Ed, what’s wrong with a simple story why does it have to be fantastic.’

‘Here is something for you to consider, you know my love of words so I looked things up. God bless Google and Wikipedia. Zombie isn’t undead, it is a sleeping draught used as a punishment, a toxin from a fish. It is a form of religious paraphenalia and nothing to do with animated corpses or fast moving infected people.’

‘On that note, how do you get a cure for being dead, surely the whole point is there is no cure, just to further pick at your story, not that I don’t think people will watch it, there’s about a million Resident Evils and they are beyond dumb.’

‘As for the other part of that couplet, apocalypse never meant end of the world, Ed. Not until the fourteenth century when a bunch of zealots used it to apply to Revelations. It wasn’t part of the Bible until we rewrote that book in English.’ She let a small smile pattern her features, ‘the beauty is in the word, apocalypse isn’t destruction it is knowledge. It is the lifting of the veil, a revelation, an understanding, not an ending. That’s why this, the whole story, this phantasmagoria is just facile. You are simply riding a zeitgeist with no real understanding of what things mean.’

She stood and looked at him, ‘it was why we were never really meant to be, you look only skin deep, beauty to you is astonishment, the amazing, exciting, brilliant,’ she looked out at the beach, ‘not the shifting twists of sand that flit on a windy morning. Not the ever changing skies that have more wonder than anything constructed in a Hollywood basement.’ She buttoned her coat and smiled at him once more, ‘it is why our brief affair is over, consider it an apocalypse where the only zombie was relationship.’

* Zombie, The Cranberries

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