The scenery whipping by changed from industrial units and office blocks to open countryside as Jason headed south out of Bristol. The air was still and misty, and a fine drizzle kept everything damp. Leaves had begun to carpet the ground, a sure sign that winter was only a month or two away.
Jason had left the motorway and taken a minor country road, he wanted to see the towns and villages, not just whizz by them on the motorway. Visibility was poor as the mist seemed to cling to the trees bordering the road. Passing through several small villages he found them to be completely empty, but he hadn’t expected anything else. After leaving the last village, the terrain became hilly and the road began to twist and turn and rise and fall. After a sharp left bend, the road descended into a valley. The trees were thick and blocked out what little light there was, and then suddenly, they gave way to a few small buildings on each side of the road. Slowing the pickup down, Jason quickly scanned the buildings for any sign of life, the same as he had done a hundred times already today, and found nothing.
There was a sign up ahead.
“Welcome to West Allerton”
The village centre loomed just up the road so Jason slowed down to a crawl. He was used to driving through empty villages but this one didn’t feel right. Something was different. Something was off. It was dark. And it didn’t just look dark, it felt dark. He got the feeling he was being watched, like every move he made was being spied upon. Entering the village, the buildings closed in around him, the only way in and out was the road he was on. Cautiously he drove on, keeping his eyes locked on the road ahead. His attention got drawn over to an old village store that had been looted and smashed to pieces. That split second of looking away would cost him dearly. As he turned his eyes back to the road, a dead Screamer hanging down from a rope swung out in front of him and smashed into his windscreen. At the same time, a truck slammed into the side of his, ramming him sideways into the front of a building. Dazed, he reached for the gun but it was trapped between the seat and the dented bodywork. He tried the door but it was jammed shut by the truck. Moving his feet up onto the seat, he kicked at the shattered windscreen until it dropped out and then he quickly scrambled out of the truck. A fist skimmed the side of his face, quickly followed by another. Jason ducked out of the way and swung in the direction of the attacker. He made contact with the man’s face and went to swing again but someone grabbed his fist and twisted it. Pulling free, he regained his balance and briefly glanced around. He was surrounded by three reasonably bulky men, a little fat, but strong looking. He didn’t like the odds but there was nothing else he could do. He lowered his shoulders and charged in the direction of the tallest one, knocking him to the ground and then he followed with a hard punch to head before springing back to his feet. The other two were on him within seconds, Jason raised his fists in an attempt to intimidate them, but they still came. Taking a swing at him, the first attacker missed and fell onto the truck as Jason dodged his fist. The second attacker had more luck and caught Jason on the side of the face. Pain seared through his head as the blow almost shattered his jaw. Swinging wildly, Jason caught him with a combination of punches to the abdomen and he bent over in agony. Then there was a thud and Jason fell to the ground. He had just enough time to see the boots of the first attacker before everything went dark and he blacked out.
When Jason awoke, his body ached, from his outstretched arms to his feet, and the back of his head throbbed from where he had been hit with a length of wood. It would have to have been wood he thought as he tried to ease his eyes open, metal would have probably killed him. Slowly, he opened his eyes, they were heavy but he forced himself to consciousness. Looking up, he could see that his wrists were bound with rope and a metal chain had been hooked through it. This was why his body ached so much, he was hanging just off the ground. It felt as though all the blood in his body had flowed out of his arms and into his legs. Glancing around the room, he could see he was in some sort of garage or workshop. There were tools strewn about the place everywhere. Power tools, hand tools, lots of tools, and the room was dirty with oil. He could see dirty oily rags covering the floor and he could smell the old oil and grease.
And then he saw her.
A woman was hanging from a chain five or six feet in front of him. She was half naked, her clothes were ripped and whatever had happened to her, it looked as though she had put up a fight. Her eyes were closed and her skin was pale, and at first Jason thought that she was dead until he noticed that she was breathing.
‘Hey.’ He whispered. ‘You awake?’
Her eyes twitched under her eyelids and then she slowly opened them. When she raised her head and saw the man in front of her, they opened even wider.
‘Who… Who are you? Where did you come from?’ She mumbled through the pain.
‘My name is Lambert, Jason Lambert.’ He said. ‘I was in a fight with three of them. The next thing I know, I wake up here.’
‘You know they’re going to kill us?’ She said.
‘Well, they can try,’ He said with a smile, ‘but I’ve lasted this long, I’m not about to die anytime soon, and neither are you, my good lady.’
She smiled, ‘I’m Amanda, Amanda Silverton.’
‘Well Amanda, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’d shake your hand but I’m a little tied up at the moment.’
Amanda laughed and Jason had to shush her. Whoever had captured them would be close by and probably coming to check on them very soon. Jason had to come up with a plan, and quick.
Keys rattled in the door and Jason and Amanda quickly closed their eyes and pretended they were still unconscious. The door opened and a tall, bulky man walked in followed by a shorter, fat man wearing a face mask covering his mouth and nose.
‘Wake him up.’ Said the fat man.
The tall man immediately slammed a fist into Jason’s abdomen and Jason winced in pain and opened his eyes before another blow came to him. He could see the man who had just punched him was the same man who he had knocked down earlier, but he didn’t recognise the fat man, he was a new face.
‘You are a survivor, which means you are immune. What we want to know is, how?’ The fat man said.
‘How the hell do I know.’ Jason said.
‘You don’t have to know, we will experiment with you until we find out, and if you die, we will turn our attention to the fine specimen beside you.’
‘Let me guess, you’re not immune and you’ve been trying to find a vaccine before you turn into one of them? I’ve heard that story before.’ Jason studied him for a second and then added, ‘You may be able to fool your men with the posh accent and pretending to be Mr High and Mighty, but you don’t fool me.’ Jason said.
‘You’re lucky I don’t kill you right now Mr Lambert, Park Ranger.’ He spat as he nodded to the tall man, ‘Make sure the next time he speaks he’s begging for mercy.’
How does he know my name? Jason thought. He must have searched the truck and found some sort of ID, which meant he might have also found the gun. His thoughts were interrupted as the tall man unleashed another blow to his abdomen with enough force to make him swing on the chain. As the pain seared through Jason’s body, an idea formed in his head and he smiled.
‘You find this amusing do you, Mr Lambert?’ Said the fat man. ‘Maybe you have a fetish for pain?’ He nodded again and the tall man pulled his arm back ready to slam another fist into Jason’s stomach.
‘No, No, No,’ Jason said, stopping the tall man before he hit. ‘I was just thinking who I’m going to kill first when I escape. Mr Muscle here, or your fat ass.’
‘Sticks and stones, Mr Lambert.’ Said the fat man. ‘Hit him again, and make it harder this time.’
Hitting him with a right fist followed by a left fist, the tall man slammed away like punching a punch bag. Coughing up some blood, Jason smiled at the tall man who was now panting for breath.
‘Looks like Mr Muscle has ran out of steam.’ Jason said as the tall man swung again.
‘Leave him,’ Said the fat man. ‘I’m having a hard time working this one out. Maybe he wants to die.’
Jason continued to smile. He could see it was getting to the fat man and that’s exactly what he wanted.
‘Stay here,’ the fat man said, ‘I’ll get the others and we’ll work on them both. Maybe let them have their wicked way with Miss Silverton.’
‘Have fun.’ Jason said jovially as the fat man stormed out of the room.
Turning his attention to the woman hanging there defencelessly, the tall man admired her body and reached out a hand for a quick grope. The quick grope turned into a long grope as he caressed her breasts with both hands. Amanda winced as his hands moved down her body onto her buttocks. He looked at her with a sense of power in his eyes as he continued, gripping her hard. While his attention was focused on Amanda, Jason was building up momentum as he swung back and forth on the chain. Amanda’s eyes showed relief as she saw what he had in mind. Within a few seconds, he had enough momentum to reach out and hook his legs around the tall man’s head. The tall man tried to turn but it was too late, he was being dragged down to the floor as Jason put every ounce of strength into keeping his grip tight. The tall man hung there, locked in Jason’s legs, swinging his arms wildly while he gasped for breath. Jason wrists were on fire, the added weight of the tall man was causing the rope to cut into them and blood began to trickle down his arms. Just a few more seconds, he thought, then he could let go. He was right, the tall man went limp and Jason released him from the leg hold. Collapsing on the floor in a heap, the tall man was either dead or unconscious. Jason didn’t plan on sticking around to find out, he stood on the body and gained just enough height to unhook the chain from between his wrists. His legs were like jelly as he bared his full weight onto them and for a second felt as though they would collapse beneath him but he fought to stay standing. When he had his strength back, he quickly lifted Amanda off the hook and they both ran for the door.
‘Hold on.’ Jason said as he had a quick look around the room. He saw what he was looking for and quickly snatched up his rucksack. Before leaving the room, he pulled a jacket off a coat hanger and handed it to Amanda.
‘Here, put this on.’ He said and then he flung the door open.
They left the room and followed a short corridor to a steel door and Jason eased it open just a crack. Light poured in and it took a moment his eyes to adjust before he could see out. Glancing around, he could see a yard with a couple of trucks parked in it, behind the trucks were the two men who Jason had fought with before he was captured. It looked as though they were standing guard, they had their backs to him so he eased the door open a little bit more. Motioning for Amanda to move quietly, they stepped out into the open and quickly scrambled for cover behind one of the trucks. Peeking around the back of the truck, he could see the two men talking to someone. He moved further out and saw that they were in a heated discussion with the fat man. Moving back to the cover of the truck, he turned and whispered to Amanda as he gently opened the truck door.
‘Climb in.’ He said. ‘We’re leaving.’
She quickly obeyed and climbed into the passenger seat, Jason followed and smiled as he noticed the key was in the ignition. Reaching for it, he turned the key slowly and the dials on the dashboard lit up. He felt like his day was getting better and better as he saw that the fuel tank was three quarters full. He turned the key some more and the engine growled to life.
‘Get ready.’ He said. ‘Things are about to get crazy.’