A large black cloud moved across the skyline of Nottingham. As the darkness swept above the outskirts of the city it broke up, separating off into smaller flocks, the multitude continuing to fly south.
A single flock, numbering in the tens of thousands, swooped down towards the rooftops of a housing estate.
Built around a large grassed area with a fenced in playground in the middle, streets led out of the estate from all corners of the square.
The residents, drawn to the loud flapping of wings and the darkening skies, looked up in wonder at the sight of so many birds in one place. Small groups formed to watch the spectacle. People came out of their houses, some walked on to the green to join friends and neighbours, others watched from their front gardens. Soon the streets and grassed area were full of people milling around and marvelling at the sight.
A young woman holding on to a pram knelt down to her child. ‘Look at all the birdie’s Ashley,’ she crooned.
She stood up and spoke to a young woman with two young girls. ‘Have you ever seen anything like it Jean? There must be thousands of them. What are they?’
‘They don’t look like any birds I’ve ever seen,’ replied Jean. She turned to the girls. ‘Come on you two, we’re going to be late for Tracey’s party. You going up the club later Sue?’
‘Yeah, if I can get Andy’s mum to baby sit for me. I could really do with a night out.’
Jean took the girls hands and turned to leave. ‘See you later then.’
The girls protested at having to miss out on the spectacle. ‘But mum... we want to watch the birds.’
‘No. Come on or we’ll be late.’
She hurried across the grassed area pulling the reluctant children with her.
As they stopped on the road and looked back at the people gathered to watch, Jean saw that almost everyone who lived on the square must be out watching. She realised she had never met half of them, even though she had lived here for nearly seven years.
An elderly man came rushing out of a house with a pair of binoculars hanging from a strap around his neck. He stopped in the middle of the road and looked through them, scanning the rooftops of the houses opposite. When he saw the creatures in close-up he saw they were not birds as everyone thought, but ugly bat like things. He adjusted the zoom on the binoculars. Their bloated bodies, coated in thick black spiked fur and leathery wings came into focus. Zooming in closer to a single creature he saw a wide grinning mouth full of pointed razor teeth and thick scaly legs that ended in sharp curved talons.
He took the binoculars away from his eyes hardly able to believe what he’d seen. He quickly put them back up and took another look. Dropping them to his chest he turned to the large crowd that had gathered.
‘Get off the streets,’ he shouted. ‘Get off the streets. They’re not birds. Everyone. Get indoors.’
People turned to stare at him.
‘Stop it Sam, you’re frightening the children,’ admonished a woman standing close by with a small boy.
‘Haven’t you been watching the news?’ he shouted. ‘Mary, it’s the creatures that killed all those people.’
‘That’s all finished. The government said so.’
Sam took off the binoculars and handed them to her. ‘Look for yourself.’
Mary took the binoculars and looked through them at the rooftops. The binoculars were still set for close focus and the sight that met her eyes brought a strangled cry to her throat.
‘Oh my God,’ she shrieked. ‘He’s right, they’re not birds.’
She dropped the binoculars to the ground, grabbed the boy up and set off running along the road. Panic ripped through the crowd. People ran in every direction seeking the safety of their homes.
As if this was the cue for the creatures to attack, they rose as one from the rooftops and swooped down into the throng of scattering terrified people.
Sam retrieved his binoculars from the ground and bolted for the safety of his house, slamming the door behind him.
Jean ran after him, pulling the frightened girls with her. He peered out through a window at the side of the door. She banged her fists on the glass. ‘Let us in,’ she screamed. ‘Please. My kids.’
Sam unlocked the door as Jean frantically pushed and banged on it, sending him staggering backwards into the hallway. She bundled the children into the house as a large black bird landed on her back.
The creature bit into her neck, ripping out most of her throat and swallowed it. Blood gushed out spraying over the brickwork and into the hall. Sam rushed forward and pushed the door shut. The girls cowered in the hall, crying and shaking with terror.
He quickly ushered the children into a back room and dragged a large settee in front of the door, then rushed for the phone.
Outside, Jean was dead before her body hit the floor. Covered in creatures tearing in to her and stripping her flesh they devoured her.
Hell on earth broke out all across the square. People were writhing on the ground, easily overcome by the numbers of creatures savagely attacking them. Others were running around flinging their arms about in a futile attempt to fight the creatures off.
Sue tried to run under the weight of the creatures covering her. Her hands slipped off the pram handle as the creatures tore into her as she ran. Her body dropped silently to the ground as more creatures landed on her to join in the feast. The pram rolled slowly away. A bloated creature sat on the handle staring greedily at the crying baby strapped inside.
The grass was soon covered with severed limbs and bodies being torn to pieces by the fighting creatures. Pools of blood soaked into the ground, turning large areas from green to dark red. Terrified residents that had managed to get to the safety of their homes stared out from behind their closed windows at the slaughter taking place outside.
Police cars screeched to a halt at the entrances to the square. They saw the creatures feeding and fighting each other over scraps of human flesh.
Terry Wickes, a policeman for fifteen years, thought he’d seen it all. Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw through the windscreen of the police car, it was like a horror film being played out before his eyes. He opened the door to get out.
Andy Foreman pulled him back.
‘Shut the bloody door Tel. We can’t help them.’ He picked up the mike and radioed in.
The police officers in the other cars also stayed put. The terrible scenes they witnessed made their bile rise up and their blood run cold.
The creatures had finished off the people in the streets and on the grassed area. A few limbs and scraps were still being fought over but the rest looked around for fresh prey.
A creature sat on the grass next to a pram and a pile of small bones. Its body bloated from feeding on human flesh leaned forward and hawked up a tiny human skull. It looked up and saw a woman looking at it through a window. It stared back at her through black pupil less eyes, its gaping mouth drooling with long threads of red sticky saliva.
The woman wore a horrified expression on her face, but even through the shock, horror, or sheer bewilderment of what had taken place, she was unable to tear herself away from the spectacle.
The creature sitting by the pram suddenly took off at speed, aiming straight for the window. The woman backed away into the darkness of the room, her arms rising up instinctively to protect her face.
Other creatures followed suite. Creatures smashed into the double glazed windows, the glass shattering into a myriad of tiny pieces, then flowed through the openings.
Residents moved away from the windows into the safety of their rooms, but the creatures had already seen them. Windows all around the square came under attack as they realised they harboured fresh meat.
The air was filled with flapping wings as the bloated flock flew back up to the rooftops, where they began to swell and mutate into even larger winged creatures. Screams coming from inside the houses soon dissipated and the square became silent.
The police officers sat in their cars, watching, powerless to do anything.
Hundreds of creatures flew out through the broken windows having exhausted the food supply inside and joined the flock on the rooftops.
Behind the police cars army vehicles came to a halt. Soldiers jumped down from the trucks and began firing their weapons at the creatures perched on the roofs. The flock took off into the sky; a huge black cloud that blocked out the sun, plunging the square into twilight. The flock moved swiftly off towards the south.
The police officers got out of their cars and stood in a group looking around at the carnage, their faces betraying the shock and horror they felt.
Major Barnes walked over to them. ‘I need you to get back in your cars and seal off all the streets leading into this area.’
Terry Wickes looked at the Major. ‘There wasn’t anything we could do. There were thousands of them. Those poor...’
‘I know. But right now I need you to seal off these streets. Contact your control and get more men out here, and stay inside the cars. No one is to enter this area unless authorised.’
Wickes walked around the square whilst trying to avoid the piles of human remains. He conveyed the Majors orders to the other cars. The police officers backed out of the square to take up their positions.
Barnes called over to a group of soldiers awaiting orders. ‘Sergeant Miller.’
Miller came running at the double. ‘Sir.’
’There’s not much we can do here until the units arrive. Kit the men out in their suits and start clearing the remains away. There’s no way we can identify individuals. Just bag everything and then load it into the unit vehicles when they arrive. We’ll leave it to the pathologists to sort out.
‘Sir. We could start checking the houses, see if there are any survivors.’
‘Yes, of course Sergeant. I want all the men properly suited up. Tell them to be vigilant. Any of the creatures found are to be bagged and sealed properly.’
A soldier carrying radio equipment walked up to them. ‘Major Barnes. Sir. It’s HQ. Colonel Phillips.’
Barnes put the headset to his ear. ‘Barnes here sir. Yes sir. I’ll make my way back now.’
‘I’ll leave you in charge Sergeant. I have to go.’
Major Barnes climbed into a Jeep. ‘Back to HQ driver.’
As they drove out of the square a convoy of police cars arrived followed by big black trucks.