Chapter One Part Two - A Bloody, Misty Morning...

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It wasn't long before Ken and Annalise rounded a tight bend in the road and saw their convoy, waiting exactly where they'd left it. The scent of cooked meat filled the air and drifted towards them through the rapidly approaching dusk, and Ken was unable to prevent the saliva pooling at the corner of his mouth.

“Craig managed to snare a few rabbits,” said Di, smiling as she glanced up from one of the many disposable barbecues that the group had used more times than any of them cared to remember. “Saved you guys a couple. Figured you'd be pretty hungry by the time you got back.”

“Who watched us in?” Annalise asked, her own taste buds positively tingling at the thought of the hot, tender meat.

“The Jackies,” she replied with a smile. “They've got watch over the road to the south.” She reached awkwardly around her heavily pregnant belly to the ground and retrieved a large box of a radio, its antenna protruding a good eight inches from the top. “It was a Godsend finding those three overturned police cars. Damn good thing no one had thought to check the boot. I really don't know what we'd have done without these radios.”

“They do come in handy.” Ken nodded as Di gestured to the delicious smelling meat, indicating that as best she could tell, it was ready to eat.

Silence fell as the two returnees devoured the fresh meat hungrily, stopping only on those occasions when a bone managed to find its way into their mouths along with the edible bits.

“Craig and Dennis checked out the houses you walked past pretty much as soon as you left,” said Di, conversationally as they finished their meal. “No Zeds and pretty much clear of everything else, too. Definitely raided though.”

“Looks like we're not the first group to pass through then,” said Ken, sucking his fingers in an eager effort to get the last of the taste.

“I wager we won't be the last, either. We heard that long wave broadcast and a lot of other people will have, too.”

“Yeah,” said Annalise, gently placing what was left of her meal to the floor. “And they're all going to come down here expecting to find a military camp with soldiers and guns and the like. What will actually happen though is that they'll end up driving or walking around this damn forest for weeks and weeks.”

“That sounds familiar,” said Ken with a chuckle, checking his wrist watch. “I'll go take over from Craig, let him get some sleep whilst I take first watch.”

“Grab Dennis and take him with you,” said Annalise. “I'm gonna' grab a couple of hours then Jason and I will come and relieve you.”


Annalise knew something was wrong the second she awoke. Sunlight filtered through the murky rear window of the Vauxhall Astra she'd been living out of for the past three months. It was morning and that meant she'd missed her watch. As understandable as that was considering she was running on half an hour of sleep whenever she could get it, the fact that she'd left Ken and Dennis out there all night was inexcusable.

Something else worried her, too. She found it slightly odd that neither man had come to find her. They might have, of course, and having seen her sleeping soundly for the first time in weeks it's possible they opted to leave her be. She doubted it, however. Sleep was precious and there's no way that anyone would choose to forgo the opportunity to get some.

She stretched her young, supple body as much as the rear of the Astra permitted before exiting the vehicle via the rear door.

It was definitely early morning. Birdsong sounded throughout the surrounding trees and about thirty feet distant, a thin mist weaved its way through the leaves.

Annalise put one foot in front of the other and set off in search of Ken and Dennis. She had not walked more than ten paces, however, when she stopped dead in her tracks.

Slowly she turned her head to her right and her mouth opened wide in shock. No sound escaped, however. Instead she simply stared, for a few seconds at a loss as what to do. She was now looking directly at the rear window of an old Ford Cortina; Di's vehicle. She could not see through the glass though, for the inside was completely coated in blood.

She breathed – for the first time in almost twenty seconds, she realised – and felt her entire body tense involuntarily. Instinctively she reached for her sword then silently cursed herself for the fact that it was still resting upon the parcel shelf of her Astra.

Annalise turned and ran, covering the ground quickly. She threw open the door and reached inside, grabbing the sword and was back at Di's Cortina within thirty seconds.

Gripping the hilt of her sword, her fingers sensing the familiar folds in the fabric wrapped tightly around it, she tentatively reached forwards with her free hand until her digits grasped the door handle.

Agonisingly slowly she pulled the handle towards her, opening the door as quietly as she could...

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