Chapter Eight Part Two - Cigarettes and Alcohol

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The Trusty Servant Inn reeked of stale ale, line cleaner and gone off food. Having banged his fists upon the wooden door and heard no Zed-type response from the interior, Simon was loathe to leave the doors open to perhaps aid in the dissipation of the various stenches but as far as he was concerned he had little choice. It was either that or spend the entirety of his time leaving a rather sickly trail around the place.

Glancing outside occasionally he could clearly see Joan, sheltering as best she could from the wind beneath a tree in the centre of the village green, her crossbow poised.

That storm’s definitely on its way in quickly, he thought. Given the appearance of the sky with its clouds that looked positively evil, Simon was not entirely sure he wanted to risk the drive back to the hotel. They were only half an hour or so away but even so, the way that the wind was building he was expecting things to get pretty rough indeed.

He had his rucksack half-filled with bottles of various spirits – it could get cold at night, after all – when Annalise and Joan entered the inn. The former carried her own rucksack, full to bursting with whatever goodies she had managed to acquire.

“Anything good?” he asked, knowing the answer already as the smile on Annalise’s face was plain to see.

“Crisps, canned food including some fruit, some bourbon creams,” she replied, beaming. “Oh, and a few hundred cigarettes.”

“Good score,” said Simon, nodding his approval. “We’re not going to be short of warming alcohol for a while, either.”

“Any beer?” Joan asked. With a tilt of his head, Simon reached inside the useless beer fridge beneath the bar and pulled out three bottles of Heineken.

“Warm,” he said, popping the caps one after the other, “but still within its ‘use by,’ date.”

“I don’t entirely understand why this village hasn’t been raided before,” said Annalise, striking a match upon the bar and touching it to the tip of a cigarette. “I mean as you say, Simon, I know it’s well off the beaten track and all, and I suppose that unless you already knew where it was they only way you’d find it was if you stumbled upon it, but even so.”

“The only reason I know of Minstead is because of one of the boys I served with on my second tour. He got blown to all Hell by a car bomb and I came here for the funeral. His Mum lived down there,” he paused, nodding to the left and even though there was no way either girl would see what he was nodding towards due to the fact there was a wall in the way, both looked, “down Football Green.”
Silently, the three raised their bottles and each took a deep, hearty swig.

“Anyway,” said Simon, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Enough of that depressing shit. I dunno’ about you ladies but I’m inclined to suggest we bed down here for the night. That wind is really howling now. It won’t be long before it’s pissing hard with rain and the last thing we want to do is run off the road and end up being fed upon by a herd of hungry Zeds whilst we sit there unconscious.”

“No arguments here,” replied Annalise with a chuckle as she took a deep, satisfying draw upon the cigarette. “There’s sleeping gear in the back of the car. Why don’t you two see if you can do something about that awful stench whilst I grab the sleeping bags?”
She took a final drag upon the cigarette before stubbing it out upon the bar, then Annalise turned and headed out through the open door. Having left her heavy rucksack in the inn she only carried her sword but that did not make the going any easier in the high winds. The boughs of the tree in the centre of the green, perhaps even the trunk of the tree itself, protested mightily as it was buffeted mercilessly by Mother Nature.

Annalise made it to the vehicle within a few moments and she immediately popped the boot as even the four-wheel drive rocked slightly in the wind. Reaching inside she grabbed three sleeping bags and slammed the boot shut. As she did so she felt a hand grabbing at her shoulder. Assuming it was either Simon or Joan, she whipped around quickly with a smile upon her face, ready to mock-berate whomever it was who’d had the audacity to sneak up on her.

It was neither of her companions though. It was a Zed.

“Shit!” She cursed whilst simultaneously she lashed out with her right leg, drawing her sword as she did so. The Zed stumbled backwards as she planted her left foot firmly to the ground and took a gentle, powerful swing.

The dead Zed’s head fell to the floor with a thud.

“You bastard’s don’t travel alone, so where’s the rest of you?”

She soon had her answer but she wished that was not the case, for making their way towards the green, the wind behind them as the half-shuffled, half-stumbled, were at a rough count forty Zeds. That was too many for Annalise to take on her own. Hell, it was too many for her to take on with Corporal Simon Daniel and Joan standing beside her. The only option she had was to run back to the inn and whilst Zeds could cover ground quickly, they were no match for the pace of a sprinting person.

She sheathed her sword and tucked the sleeping bags tightly under her arm as she turned away from the advancing herd and broke into a sprint, just as it started to rain. It wasn’t light rain, either. The drops were big, heavy and stung her exposed skin. Thunder rolled and lightning cracked the sky.

The perfect night to be running for my life from a herd of zombies! She almost chuckled at the thought but then realised that she probably ought to warn Simon and Joan.

Shut the door!” she yelled, but the wind ensured her words did not reach the ears for which they were destined. “Shut the bloody door!”

It was no use. The wind was too strong and the rain was too loud and heavy.

Annalise chanced a look over her shoulder. The Zeds had altered their direction to follow her but the closest was a good forty or fifty yards away.

She pushed herself even harder and as soon as she was within range she flung the sleeping bags through the door, almost skidding to a halt with the door grasped in her fingers acting as an anchor. Once she had gained her balance she slammed the door closed, shooting the vertical latch before turning her attention to the left hand side of the two-door entrance. That one was slammed closed in a similar fashion as the first, and she quickly shot all three locks across and engaged the deadbolt.

She was well aware that the Zeds had watched her enter and soon she expected them to be banging, pawing and scratching at the heavy metal door as they sought entry to the inn.

“Too many to fight,” she said as she turned to see Joan and Simon staring at her, questioning looks upon their faces. “Maybe come morning when visibility is better but they’re not getting in here for now.”

“Close call?”

“Too close,” she replied with a nod. “I’ll take first watch. You two try and get some shut eye.”

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