Dexy kicked the cell door for most of the night whilst shouting about the unfairness of the situation, and that the Police wouldn'’t get away with it. The noise riled up the infected that they had locked in the other cells, causing them to growl and throw themselves at their cell doors. At around 3 A.M., he stopped his fruitless assault on the door and slumped down onto the floor. Nobody came.
Had they left us here to rot?
I tried to sleep, but only managed to fall in and out of fitful naps, the kind that make you feel worse when you wake than you felt before sleeping.
Morning arrived and daylight tried to stream in but the grime smeared across the tiny cell window diffused it, although the minuscule amount of hard-working light defeated some of the shadows, the cell remained gloomy and uninviting.
I suppose that'’s the point of a cell.
There was a toilet made of metal set into a small alcove in the corner of the cell, and next to that, a sink made from the same material.
“How long do you think they'’ll keep us here?” I asked.
We were both sitting on the stone slab that passed for a bench or a bed depending on the time of day.
“I dunno, Bruv,” Dexy buried his head in his hands and let out a long exasperated sigh.
“The Detective,” I said. “Mason. How does he know you?”
“You get to know some of them in my line of work,” Dexy stared at the cell door. “He'’s a bastard. Don'’t really know the rest of them, though.”
The rattle of keys and the sound of the main cellblock gate swinging open interrupted our conversation. Two sets of footsteps echoed past our door.
“Why is it always us doing this, Sarge?” A voice asked.
Dexy looked through the spyhole on our door but a metal fob on the opposite side was closed over it. I knelt and peered through the keyhole. I saw P.C. Berry and the officer that had been aiming a sniper rifle at us. They were dressed in Police uniforms and wore yellow rubber gloves. Both men carried a heavy looking metal bucket. Thin rivulets of blood traced their way down the bucket that Berry held.
“Perks of the job, son,” Sniper said.
Dexy angled his head to get a view past the fob.
“What they got in the buckets?” He asked.
“Not sure,” I shrugged my shoulders.
When the officers were out of sight, there was a rattle of keys followed by a loud clanging.
“What was that?”
Dexy pointed to the closed hatch in the middle of our door. “They just opened one of these up.”
We resumed our attempts to see what was going on.
“Morning, Mister Price,” Sniper said. “Looks like your first again, must be nice being the boss’s husband'.”
There was a wheezing growl, as if someone had phlegm caught in their throat. Then, a flurry of thumps clanged against that cell door.
“Oi, oi!” Sniper saidlaughed. “No need for that. It'’s me, Harry King. I work with your missus.”
“I don'’t think he cares, Sarge,” Berry said.
“No, I don'’t think he does. Ungrateful bastard.”
A squelching noise quickly followed with the sound of something wet and heavy hitting the floor echoed through the cellblock.
“He'’s a hungry bugger though, aren’t you, sunshine?” King slammed and bolted the hatch.
The infected occupant of that cell slurped and smacked like a starving dog placed in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The officers came into view and opened the hatch of the cell opposite ours. An arm lunged out at them, clawing at the air.
“Easy, Helen,” King stepped back to avoid the flailing arm. “We don'’t want to hurt you.”
Helen'’s arm vanished back into the shadows of the cell and King pulled some raw meat from his bucket. Blood spattered onto the floor and he quickly tossed the meat through the hatch.
“Messy business, this,” he told his younger colleague.
“Here,” Berry reached into his bucket and took out a human arm cut off just below the elbow. “Give her this.”
Harry King stepped aside and flourished his free hand towards the open hatch. “Be my guest.”
Berry stepped forward and shoved the arm through the hatch. Helen grunted her approval when her meal had hit the floor.
“Are we going out again today, Sarge?” Berry closed and locked the hatch of Helen'’s cell. “We'’ve gone through all the people with gun licenses and these roadblocks are a waste of time.”
“Quiet,” King glanced at our cell. “Don'’t forget we'’ve got new guests.”
Dexy and I quickly backed away from the door, hoping that they hadn’’t seen our shadows. Hoping that they wouldn'’t know we were listening.
King treated the next cell with a lot more dignity than the previous ones. “There you go, babe,” he’ said. Then came the now familiar slop of meat on the floor. “A bit extra for the kids.”
More than one infected scurried around that cell, hissing as they claimed their gruesome prize. King and Constable Berry left after that, locking the main gate behind them.
Dexy sat on the stone bench, his back against the cold wall, and looked up at the ceiling.
“Bruv,” he spoke so quietly that I could barely hear him.
I sat down beside him.
“They'’re feeding people to them,” he continued, “actual people.”
“We need to get out of here. I am not going to be dinner for Mister-fucking-Price!”
“Why would they feed them?” I hadn'’t tried to feed Holly, hadn'’t even considered it as an option.
“Does it matter, Bruv?” Dexy jumped off the bench and headed for the door. “Maybe they'’re hungry, or maybe these filthy feds have gone mental.”
“It hasn'’t even been a week.”
Dexy stopped and looked back at me, “what?”
“It hasn'’t even been a week since this all started, and they'’re cutting people up to feed those monsters?”
“I'’m telling you, Bruv,” Dexy tapped the side of his head with an outstretched index finger. “Mental,” he crossed his eyes and opened his mouth wide.
I started to laugh. I have no idea why, could have been the bizarre situation, the look on Dexy'’s face when he said, “Mental.”, or, more likely, I was finally losing my grip on reality. I laughed so hard that it was hurting my stomach. Dexy gave me an odd look at first, but it wasn'’t long before he joined in the laughter.
We were the prisoners of psychopathic Police, with no hope of escape, no idea if the rest of our group were safe, dead or worse, and it looked as if we were destined to be breakfast for our fellow prisoners.
That awful world slipped away for this one moment and we laughed until our stomachs begged for mercy and tears rolled down our faces.
“Enjoying yourselves?” Kate Palmer asked.
We looked at the door in unison. We hadn’t heard the gate or the hatch of our door open. Yet there it was, wide open with D.C. Kate Palmer staring in at us. I wiped the tears away from my eyes and tried to compose myself.
“Brought you some drinks,” she handed two polystyrene cups with plastic lids through the hatch. “Tea.”
I rushed up, snatched the offered drinks from her hands and passed one to Dexy.
“Thank-you.” I said.
She vanished from view shortly and returned holding two blue plastic plates. On each plate was a slice of toast with a small helping of baked beans and a rather sad looking fried egg on top. Dexy grabbed one of the plates and started eating from it as fervently as the infected eat flesh.
“He'’s hungry,” I offered a smile and took my plate of food from her. I put the plate and cup on the floor.
“So I see. Well, enjoy.”
She was about to raise the door of the hatch but I put my hand through to stop her.
“Please, wait,” I said. “I... We need to talk to you.”
I looked back at Dexy; he had already finished his food and was now slurping noisily from his cup.
“I put lots of sugar in the tea,” Kate took her hands away from the hatch, signalling a willingness to talk. “No point counting calories in an apocalypse, is there?”
“Is that what they'’re calling it?” I asked. “The apocalypse?”
“No. It was just a... bad joke.”
“Can you tell us what'’s happening?” Hundreds of questions raced through my mind, but I knew that asking them all would just get the hatch closed. “How it started?”
“Nobody'’s really sure,” she told us.
Dexy stood beside me and listened intently to our Jailer.
“We got called into the city and an Army captain told us that there'’d been an attack on the London underground.”
“What, like terrorists?” Dexy asked. “Which station?”
“All of them,” Kate brushed an errant strand of hair behind her ear. “Some kind of gas. The Army called them dirty bombs, chemical warfare.”
“So, is this just happening in London?” I asked.
“I don’’t know. We were told to help the Army control the situation in the city,” she looked at me with torture burning behind her eyes. “It was awful. We didn’’t stand a chance, there was so many of them. Everyone from this station, except for us, died,” she swallowed and looked away.
“So the Chief Inspector ordered us to leave the fight and come home,” a tear rolled down her cheek. “She thought it was wrong to kill them, anyway,” she quickly wiped the tear away with her sleeve. “Said they were sick and needed help.”
“What do you think?”
“I don'’t know,.” she shrugged her shoulders. “I think it'’s kill or be killed.”
“Oh it'’s definitely that,” Dexy agreed. “Most def.”
“I should go,” she tried to raise the hatch but my hand held fast.
“I'’m William,” I motioned across to Dexy. “And this is Dexy. We really need your help, Kate.”
“You know this is wrong,” I wasn'’t about to take '‘no'’ for an answer, and it felt like I was getting through to her. “The other cells are full of infected and they'’re being fed.”
“I know,” she said. “We picked up everyone'’s family after we got back from the City. The ones we found were already infected so we brought them back here.”
“Are your family here?”
“No, they...” Another tear made its way down her face. She narrowed her eyes and wiped it away. “No.”
“Why are they feeding them?”
“Feeding people to them, Bruv,” Dexy said. “Don'’t forget that part.”
He pushed his face through the hatch opening “are they going to feed us to them? Are they?”
I pulled him away from the hatch and as I did so, Kate closed and locked it.
“I'’ll come back later.”
“I know this bothers you,” I hissed through the hatch. “I saw you leave the knife for them.”
She didn’t answer so I sat to eat my breakfast and drink my tea. Once finished, I paced up and down the length of the cell with a worried look on my face.
“You think she'’ll help us get out of here, Bruv?”
“I hope so.”
“Never trust a fedcopper.” He said.
Even though I was hopeful that Kate would help us, I tried to think of a plan B. Or, at the very least, some way to contact the others. Then it hit me as all simple solutions do, in that slap on the forehead '‘duh'’ kind of way.
“I still have my mobile,” I pulled the phone out of my pocket and held it aloft.
I felt stupid. We had been here all night and I hadn'’t even checked my pockets. More importantly, neither had the Police.
Dexy jumped to his feet with a broad grin on his face. “Nice one!” he yelled, the noise getting a few grunts and groans from our neighbours.
I motioned for him to be quieter.
“Sorry, Bruv, got a bit excited.”
“Should I text Gemma?” I asked. “Or call?”
“Text her, Bruv,” Dexy nodded. “Find out if Dodge… if everyone’’s okay.”
So I typed out a text, wondering if Gemma would reply even if she could. If I were lucky, getting split up would have made her a little less angry with me.
William: Hi. Are you okay?
“Let me see,” Dexy looked over my shoulder. “She'’s still pissed, Bruv.”
“At least she answered, it'’s better than nothing.”
“Ask her if my brother is okay,” he pointed at the phone, “and Jim.”
William: Dexy wants to know if Dodge is safe.
Gemma: Evry1 fine.
“Everyone'’s fine!” Dexy punched the air above him. “Everyone'’s fine, Bruv!”
I smiled and typed out another text.
William: What about Jim?
Gemma: Got hedake lol
Her spelling was terrible, but I could translate teenager text. Unsurprisingly, Jim had a headache.
William: Where are you?
The screen went black.
“No!” I screamed at the phone. “Damn you!”
“What, Bruv? What'’d she say?”
“Nothing,” I felt defeated and thrust the phone back in my pocket. “The battery died.”
“Shit,” Dexy'’s shoulders sank and he sat on the bench.
I sat next to him and sighed.
We sat in silence for almost half an hour, staring at the wall opposite us. I was deep in thought about Gemma, hoping that I'’d see her again, I needed to explain and apologise for what I did to Holly.
Were the Police right to lock their loved ones up? Should I have kept Holly alive? They knew a lot more about what was happening than I did. Was there hope for these monsters?
If there was, then I really had murdered my wife.
“You did good, Bruv,” Dexy interrupted my thoughts.
I grunted, my mind still not fully released from waves of guilt and what-ifs.
“With that C.I.D woman. You did good,” he looked across at me. “You'’re a good talker. I just get angry but you kept it cool, Bruv.”
Dexy’ pulled his hood up tight over his head and it reminded me of the ambush, the Hoodie monster, Mason’’s denial.
“He didn'’t want to believe that those things ambushed us, yesterday,” I said. I didn'’t take praise very well. I always appreciated it, but didn’’t know how to respond to it. Usually, I change the subject.
“Well,” Dexy tugged at the peak of his hood. “It could have just been a coincidence.”
“Really? You saw the hooded one, right?”
“Yeah. I saw it.”
“The way he got the rest of them to wait? The way he pointed at us, like a threat?”
“I dunno. Bruv, I saw it, but it might not mean anything.”
I played the events through my mind, trying to remember each tiny detail, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Then it hit me and I wagged my index finger in Dexy'’s direction.
“Wait a minute,” I said, “it was you!”
“What you going on about, Bruv? What was me?”
“I thought he was pointing at all of us. But it was you. He was pointing at you.”
“What you trying to say, Bruv?” Dexy glared at me. “You think I'’m all buddy, buddy, with those things?”
“No,” I responded quickly, not wanting to make an enemy out of the only other person in the cell. “No, not that.”
“That'’s what I can'’t work out,” it didn'’t make sense. “Maybe he wanted you for something?”
“Yeah, he must have needed a new best friend,” he put his hand on my shoulder. “You'’re chatting shit, Bruv. They just wanted to eat us. Simple.”
“Maybe,” I wasn’’t convinced.
He wasn'’t right, I knew that much, at least. I just didn'’t know exactly how wrong he was. A key rattled in the main gate and we rushed up to the cell door. I hoped that it was Kate, come to free us. When our cell door was unlocked, I grew even more excited, unable to resist smiling. The door made a loud metallic squeal as it opened.