An outlaw biker story set during the aftermath of an alien invasion in 1970s England.
In 1973, 99% of Earth’s population are wiped out in an alien invasion.
Satan’s Bastards are among the 1% who survive. Holing up in a nature reserve at the arse end of nowhere, the men spend the next five years partying while their women scavenge for food and booze from the ruins of nearby towns and cities.
But when a supply run goes tits up, it sets in motion a chain of events that will change their lives forever.
It’s now 1978, and it’s time for the mamas and old ladies of Satan’s Bastards to fight back against the alien scum who wrecked their lives.
This is their story.
Mia always got nervous before a supply run. She’d be daft not to, given the risks involved, but she knew it had to be done. If it was left up to the men they’d eat nothing but swans and rabbits, and sit around smoking dope all day. That was no way for Satan’s Bastards to live. They should be out on the road, roaming the country like they used to. Not rotting away in some nature reserve at the arse end of nowhere. So while Mia felt the usual jitters of apprehension, she felt something else too. A tingle of excitement at the prospect of getting back in the saddle and riding away from there. Even if it was only for a few hours.
She picked up the sawn-off shotgun lying beside her sleeping bag and inserted a cartridge in each of the twin barrels. You can’t be too careful out there, Fat Brenda always drilled into her. That was true, but shotguns were only useful for scaring off packs of wild dogs or as a quick way of getting through locked doors. Against the Angels they were no use at all. Nothing was.
Mia stuffed the loaded shotgun into a backpack and looked around the jumble of possessions littering her tent to see if there was anything else she might need for the shopping trip. A six inch serrated knife with an ivory handle and a box of spare shotgun cartridges went into the breast pockets of her leather jacket. She picked up a torch, checked it still worked, and tossed it into the bag with the shotgun. After another quick look around, she slung the bag over one shoulder and stepped out of the tent into the gathering dusk.
Wicked Tina, Suzy and Margot were waiting for her. Mia looked beyond them to the lake at the far end of the campsite, expecting to see Fat Brenda among the group of men and women watching Bonehead try to light the fire for the night. They jeered as he threw match after match at the petrol-soaked damp branches piled up like a skeletal tepee by the side of the lake. He struck another match and threw it. It blew out before it landed on target.
“You need to get a bit closer,” Tanner said, “hold it next to the wood when you strike it, then it won’t go out before it takes hold.”
“Yeah right,” Bonehead said, “and lose me beard and eyebrows again. Nah, you’re all right, I’ll do it me own way.”
Bonehead struck a match and held it to the remaining matches in the box until they flared up, then tossed the flaming box at the base of the woodpile. The petrol ignited with a loud whump, and crackling flames shot up the vertical branches. Everyone cheered. Bonehead turned to Tanner and grinned smugly.
“Yeah, well done, Bonehead,” Tanner said. He shook his head, but he was smiling at the same time. “Good idea, waste a whole box of matches when one would have been enough.”
Bonehead shrugged. “Got the job done, didn’t it? Besides, it’s shopping day, innit? Just add more matches to the list of shit we need.”
Tanner leaned into the flames and lit a huge joint before sitting cross-legged near the fire to smoke it. Bonehead pressed play on his cassette player and a Hawkwind song he had recorded from John Peel’s radio show blared out.
“Where’s FB?” Mia asked, noticing Fat Brenda wasn’t part of the group by the fire.
Suzy pointed at the row of tents lining one side of the clearing. “I saw her going into her tent a while ago.”
Mia nodded. “Right. I’ll go tell her it’s time to go.”
“Rather you than me, honey,” Wicked Tina said, grinning.
“Why’s that?” Mia asked.
“You’ll see,” Suzy said.
Mia walked over to the tent Fat Brenda shared with Dirk. Like the other tents, the outside of the green canvas was daubed with white spray-painted slogans – Satan’s Bastards, Scum, ACAB, Born to Ride – as well as crooked swastikas and upside-down crosses. She opened up the flap and looked inside. Fat Brenda was on her hands and knees on the worn grass floor, leather trousers around her ankles, while Dirk thrust into her from behind. Rolls of fat rippled with every thrust, like a jelly being smacked with a jack-hammer.
“Christ, FB, you’ve had all day to do that. Hurry it up, yeah? We’re all waiting for you, it’s time to go.”
Dirk turned his head and grinned at Mia while he continued pounding into Fat Brenda. “Give us another few minutes or so, yeah? Then she’s all yours.” He slapped Fat Brenda on the arse. She cried out and called him a bastard.
Mia sighed and let the tent flap drop. Wicked Tina, Suzy and Margot burst out laughing. Mia shook her head as she walked back to join them.
“FB might be a while yet, let’s go and wait by the fire.”
They joined the other bikers by the side of the lake. A few more joints were doing the rounds, and Wicked Tina took a toke on one before she asked what everyone wanted them to look out for. Most wanted booze and smokes, predictably enough. Tanner wanted some new books, said he’d read all the ones they’d got him last time. Basher wanted chicken soup. Skinny Brenda caused a groan from the men and a torrent of insults when she asked for sanitary pads. Even some of the other women joined in with the taunts.
Bonehead held up his joint and offered it to Mia. She raised both hands and shook her head. “Nah, I want to keep a clear head for the ride. Save me some for later though, yeah?”
“I’ve got a big stash in me tent, we’ll share it when you get back,” Bonehead said, nodding vigorously. “Can you get me some more batteries while you’re out?”
Mia smiled. “Yeah, no worries man.” Bonehead was always the easiest to please. As long as he had juice for his cassette player and an endless supply of dope to smoke he was as happy as a pig making its first arrest.
“And don’t forget the pizza,” Basher said with a grin. Everyone laughed.
“Yeah, right,” Suzy said, shaking her head. “And I suppose you want ice cream for afters, do you?”
“Hell, yeah! And some donuts to dip into it!”
“I want bananas and custard,” Johnny called out.
“Don’t,” Wicked Tina said, shaking her head. “Those are one of the few things I still miss. Why the hell didn’t anyone ever think to invent tinned bananas?”
“Wouldn’t do you any good if they did,” Basher said, grinning. “They’d be too mushy to shove up your fanny.”
“Piss off, Basher. That was just part of my stage act, and you know it. Besides, the way I remember it, you were the one who ate it after I threw it into the audience.”
The cannabis-induced giggles came fast and loud. Mia doubted any of them would still be conscious by the time they got back later in the night.
“A rocket launcher would be awesome,” someone said.
“Yeah, and a movie projector with something to watch on it.”
“That dinosaur one with Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. Gets me hard every time.”
“I’ll have Raquel Welch, you can shag the dinosaurs.”
“You guys get what you get,” Fat Brenda said, walking toward the fire with Dirk. Her face was flushed, her cheeks rosy. “If you want anything special you can go out there and get it for yourself, you hear?”
“Hell no,” Dirk said. “That’s what you bitches is for. We got much more important shit to do right here.” He pulled out a bag of dried magic mushrooms and waved it in the air. Fat Brenda thumped him in the chest and he darted away from her, grinning.
Mia smiled. Nobody else would have dared do that to Dirk, and Dirk certainly wouldn’t have taken it from anyone but Fat Brenda. Being his old lady obviously came with some privileges, but Mia couldn’t help wondering if part of it was down to the sheer intimidating size of the woman. With her tree-trunk arms covered in tattoos, huge calloused fists and considerable bodyweight, she could’ve done some serious damage if she’d wanted to.
Dirk sat by the fire and opened the bag of mushrooms. He reached in for a handful and stuffed them into his mouth, then passed the bag on to Tanner in exchange for a toke on his joint. He took a long drag and held his breath, then closed his eyes and exhaled slowly with a sigh. He looked up at Fat Brenda.
“Take care, yeah?” he said, softly. “I’ll see you when you get back. And make sure you wear your helmet, just in case.”
Fat Brenda nodded, then turned away and strode off past the tents and through the bushes on the opposite side of the clearing. Margot bent down and kissed Deano passionately, then followed Fat Brenda. Mia raised a hand to Bonehead. Bonehead, and three other men sitting near him, waved back.
“You ready?” Suzy asked.
Mia nodded. Of course she was ready, she’d been ready all day. While everyone else slept off their hangovers from the previous night’s party, Mia had woken with the dawn chorus. She’d watered Tanner’s cannabis crop and gathered wood for the night’s fire in a daze, her mind filled with thoughts of the ride to come.
She followed Suzy and Wicked Tina through the bushes and onto a gravel path where the motorcycles were parked. Twenty-eight of them in total, one for each surviving member of Satan’s Bastards, all with leather saddle-bags draped over the rear seat.
Margot and Fat Brenda were sat on their bikes, revving the engines as she approached. Mia walked up to her Norton Commando and mounted it. She lifted a leather helmet and goggles from the front brake lever and put them on, then twisted the key in the ignition. The engine roared into life first time when she stamped down on the kick-start, adding to the noise of the other bikes around her.
Fat Brenda pulled forward first on her Triumph Bonneville, closely followed by Margot on her Kawasaki Avenger. Mia watched Suzy and Wicked Tina follow them down the dirt track, their rear wheels throwing up dust as they went. Mia pulled in the clutch and kicked her bike into gear. She switched on the headlight and rolled forward slowly, both feet scraping along the dirt as she went. She had once dropped her bike on the bend where the dirt track met the main road cutting through the nature reserve after her rear wheel slipped in some mud. That led to months of taunting about needing stabiliser wheels from the other bikers, and she was determined never to let that happen again.
The others had already sped off into the distance by the time Mia reached the end of the dirt track. She slipped the clutch and dabbed her way onto the tarmac road, then opened up the throttle and accelerated up to thirty. It was a straight road, lined both sides with the silhouettes of tall trees blocking out the stars, and Mia had ridden it so many times she felt she could do it blindfold. She twisted the throttle another inch and whooped in joy at the acceleration tugging at her wrists.
This was what Mia missed the most from the old days. The wind in her face, her long black hair whipping out behind her. The roar of the engine, its heady scent of oil and petrol in her nostrils. The thrill of the ride. It reminded her of those carefree days long ago, when Satan’s Bastards were the kings of the road. Riding wherever their bikes took them, doing whatever they wanted, not a care in the world. Travelling from town to town, terrorising the locals, then moving on before law enforcement caught up with them. Another day, another town. Another night, another wild party. But all that was gone now, and was never coming back. The Angels had seen to that.
The exit gate came up fast and Mia eased off on the throttle, letting the bike slow itself naturally as she drifted over to the right hand side of the road in preparation. She took the T-junction at twenty, and used the whole width of the main road to accelerate out of the sharp corner. This was another road Mia knew like the back of her hand. She knew every twist and turn, every burnt-out wreck and abandoned vehicle on it. So while the other women rode more cautiously in the cloying darkness, Mia kicked up through the gears and accelerated to sixty.
It didn’t take long to catch up with the other bikes. Suzy and Wicked Tina rode two abreast, either side of the dotted white line, trundling along together at a steady fifty, Margot close behind them. Fat Brenda took up the rear, and Mia eased off on the throttle as she rode alongside her. They cut through woodland, then crossed a river into open farmland. Overgrown fields, long since grown wild, flashed past on both sides, dimly illuminated by the light of the full moon. Wicked Tina and Suzy slowed on the approach to a wrecked Ford Cortina straddling the road, and manoeuvred into single file to navigate around it.
Mia looked up at the sky once she’d passed the car, checking in all directions now her view wasn’t obscured by hedgerows. She knew the Angels rarely ventured out at night, but it wasn’t unheard of so it always paid to be vigilant. Finding the sky clear, she twisted the throttle and edged ahead of Fat Brenda, then overtook Margot and looked for an opening between Suzy and Wicked Tina. They must have seen her coming because they parted, drifting over to the far left and right sides of the road to make room for her. She waved her thanks as she passed between them, then opened up the throttle wide. This was what Mia had been waiting for. An open road, and nothing to hold her back, nothing to slow her down. She accelerated up to seventy, a wide grin on her face as the rushing wind took her breath away.
The throaty roar of an accelerating motorcycle came from behind. Mia glanced in her wing mirror and saw Fat Brenda coming up fast. She eased off on the throttle to let the other woman pull alongside in case it was something important. Fat Brenda looked at Mia and shouted something, but the words were lost to the roaring wind.
“What?” Mia shouted back, frowning.
Fat Brenda pulled ahead, waving as she sped away into the distance. Mia grinned and twisted the throttle another inch, determined not to let Fat Brenda take the lead. If she wanted a race, then she was going to get one, and Mia wasn’t going to make it easy for her. Norton versus Triumph, Mia versus Fat Brenda, with the winner getting gloating rights for the rest of the night.
Faster and faster they went down the empty, twisting road. Mia’s speedometer nudged eighty. Another twist of the throttle sent it to ninety. Fat Brenda went for the ton and opened up the gap between them. A sharp left-hander came up fast. Mia dabbed her rear brake and drifted over to the centre of the road to get an early view around it. Fat Brenda moved over to the left to take a racing line around the bend, and disappeared from view.
Fat Brenda screamed.
Mia instinctively grabbed the front brake and stamped down hard on the rear. She came to a halt at the apex of the bend, just in time to see Fat Brenda fling herself off her bike and roll into the hedgerow with her head tucked under her arms. Fat Brenda’s motorcycle continued on two wheels, then toppled and spun end over end in a shower of sparks before it thudded into the underside of a tipped-over lorry with a loud metallic clang.
“FB!” Mia shouted.
Fat Brenda sat up and waved. She struggled to her feet and limped toward her wrecked bike, shaking her head and mumbling obscenities to herself. After a few paces she stopped and turned, then ran back toward Mia. Before she got far a deafening explosion knocked her off her feet and sent her sprawling in the centre of the road. A huge fireball blossomed out. Mia ducked down over her petrol tank and covered her face with her hands as the searing shockwave hit her. When she looked up again black clouds of billowing smoke filled her vision.
“FB!” she yelled, kicking down the Norton’s side-stand. She jumped off the bike just as the others pulled up alongside her. Suzy stared open-mouthed at the burning wreckage from astride her Honda 400. Margot jumped off her Kawasaki and ran with Mia, calling out Fat Brenda’s name.
“I’m over here,” Fat Brenda shouted.
They found her sitting in the road, hands on hips, staring forlornly into the flames. She looked up at Mia and frowned.
“My poor bike.”
Mia laughed, relief coursing through her to see Fat Brenda still in one piece. She held out a hand to help her up onto her feet. “You mad cow, you could’ve killed yourself then, and you’re more worried about your stupid bike?”
Fat Brenda shrugged. “I loved that bike.”
Mia smiled. “Yeah well, bikes are replaceable, you’re not. We’ll get you a new one as soon as we can. Same model, same colour, you won’t know the difference.”
“Or maybe one that’s a bit faster?”
Mia laughed and shook her head. “You think that’s wise, given what you’ve just done?”
“Nice firework display,” Wicked Tina said, grinning from the seat of her motorcycle when Mia, Fat Brenda and Margot walked out of the smoke together. “I reckoned you was done for, thought I might be in with a chance to take your place in old Dirk’s tent.”
“Hell no, you skinny bitch,” Fat Brenda said, grinning back. “Dirk likes a bit of meat on his woman, he don’t go for titless scrag-ends like you. Besides, it takes more than a little spill like that to put me down for the count.” She patted the scuffed leather covering her enormous stomach. “Extra padding comes in useful sometimes.”
“Yeah well,” Mia said, climbing on her bike. “Looks like we’ll need to find another route.” She wheeled the bike around. “And I suppose you want a lift?”
Then she saw Wicked Tina staring up at the sky. Two pulsating blue lights hovered just above the north horizon, growing larger by the second.
“Angels!” Mia yelled.
Mia kicked the Norton into gear and shot forward a split second after Fat Brenda climbed on the back and clutched her around the waist. The extra weight on the back of the bike bottomed out its rear suspension, and Mia felt every bump and pothole she rode over as she sped down the road ahead of Wicked Tina, Suzy and Margot. The lorry behind them still burned bright, illuminating the landscape for miles around. The two flying saucers sped toward it at phenomenal speed.
Mia’s heart sank as she watched them grow larger in her mirror. She had hoped they would have more time to get away, maybe find somewhere to hole up until it was safe to venture out again. But here they were surrounded by wide open countryside, with the two Angel ships only a few miles away and closing fast. It was only a matter of time before they were spotted, if they hadn’t been already. Mia switched off her headlight and accelerated up to fifty, the fastest she dared in the cloying darkness ahead. The other women followed her lead and fell into formation behind her. Mia hoped she wasn’t leading them to their deaths.
Another mile down the road, Mia saw the outline of two trees. Just a small oasis of cover, but it was their only chance. As she got closer she saw the trees marked a junction with a B road cutting through the farmland. Mia turned into the junction and came to a halt under the overhang of the trees. The others pulled up alongside her and switched off their engines. Fat Brenda jumped off the back of Mia’s bike and pointed to an overgrown wheat field on their left.
“In there, quick!”
Nobody needed telling twice. Mia climbed off her bike and followed the others into the field. She waded through waist-high yellow stalks, then flattened herself against the ground and looked up. The two flying saucers hovered above the burning lorry in close formation. Even from a distance, Mia could hear the gentle hum of whatever it was that powered their engines. As she watched, one of the ships broke away and sped off into the distance. Mia wondered briefly what had caught its attention, and hoped the other would follow it. Instead, the remaining saucer hovered closer to the ground. A cone of harsh blue light shone down from the centre of its underside and illuminated the fields below. Then the ship began sweeping the countryside in slow, zig-zagging straight lines.
“Shit,” Fat Brenda said, sitting up. “We can’t stay here, they’ll find us straight away. We need to get going.”
“And go where?” Margot asked. “We sure as hell can’t outrun them.”
Mia thought fast. There had to be somewhere nearby they could reach while the Angels were still busy searching the fields on the far side of the lorry. She knew there was nothing for miles back on the main road, so the narrow, twisting B road had to lead somewhere. She just had to hope it led there sooner rather than later.
“Maybe there’s a village or something down there,” she said, pointing.
“You reckon, honey?” Wicked Tina asked.
Mia shrugged. “I’m just guessing, but this road must go somewhere, otherwise it wouldn’t be here would it?”
“Yeah well,” Fat Brenda said, standing up. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
They hurried back to their bikes, then set off down the road in single file with their lights switched off. Fat Brenda’s immense weight on the back of Mia’s bike was even more noticeable at slow speed on the bumpy road, and she wished one of the others had volunteered her a ride instead as she thumped over yet another pothole.
They rode into open countryside, then round a sharp left hand bend and came to a junction with a road sign pointing to a village three quarters of a mile away. They took the turn and soon rumbled into a small farming town, little more than a single row of houses with a small petrol station at its outskirts. They parked the bikes under the petrol station’s overhang and Mia just had enough time to plant both feet on the ground before Fat Brenda stood up on the foot-pegs and jumped off.
The petrol station had been hastily boarded up with planks of wood, its owner no doubt worried about looters when they abandoned it. Mia smiled at that thought. As if material goods had mattered at that stage. Maybe the owner thought they would be able to return one day and just carry on as normal? But at least the boards would have kept the wild animals out, and for that Mia was grateful. It meant there might be something inside worth having.
Wicked Tina reached into her left boot and pulled out a dagger. She jammed it under the edge of one of the boards and used it like a crowbar to pry the board loose enough to get her fingers under it. Rusted nails groaned and creaked as she pulled the board off, sounding impossibly loud in the silence of the empty village. Mia watched the Angel ship fly over a nearby field, and subconsciously stepped back into the shadows of the building.
Margot and Suzy helped Wicked Tina pull the remaining boards from the door and lie them down in a pile under the boarded up window. Fat Brenda kicked out at the door. It slammed back on its hinges and they all crowded around the entrance to peer inside through a cloud of swirling dust. Wicked Tina took out a torch and switched it on.
“Jackpot,” Fat Brenda said, smiling.
Mia slipped the backpack off her shoulders and took out her own torch. She stepped inside and looked around in awe. The petrol station stocked a wide variety of convenience food, all seemingly untouched for the last five years. Cartons of fruit juice, cans of food, even boxes of breakfast cereal. Four rows of shelves filled with goods, all coated in a thin layer of dust. It had been a long time since she had seen that much food in one place. There was so much of it they would need to make several trips to get it all back to their camp in the nature reserve. But it would certainly be worth it when they returned with a haul like that. They could feast off it for weeks.
A faded photograph pinned to a notice board behind the shop’s counter caught her eye. It showed a young boy, seven or eight years old, playing with a plastic Angel action figure some enterprising toy company had released soon after their arrival, when they were still seen as a force for good. Mia couldn’t help wondering what had happened to the boy when the killing started. The boards nailed over the door and window indicated his family had been forewarned in some way, but if they had somehow managed to escape then surely they would have returned at some point for the food they left behind?
“Hell yeah,” Wicked Tina said excitedly, breaking Mia’s train of thought.
She turned to see what had caught her attention. Wicked Tina stood beside a glass-fronted display cabinet filled with bottles. Mia smiled and walked over to inspect them for herself. Wicked Tina pulled open the cabinet’s door and took out a bottle of whisky. She twisted off the cap and took a long drink, then sighed and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
“Now that’s what I call a good find,” she said, and passed the bottle to Mia. She smiled. “Looks like it’s party time, honey.”
Mia gulped down a mouthful of whisky, savouring the taste as it burned down her throat and into her stomach, giving her a warm glow inside. She took another long drink before handing the bottle back. Fat Brenda and Suzy headed over for their turn with the bottle, closely followed by Margot.
The remaining bottles in the cabinet began to clink against each other as the Angel ship hovered directly overhead. Thin shafts of blue light surged through gaps between the boards covering the window. Mia held her breath. Everyone else froze, their torches pointed down. They stood in silence for what seemed like forever before the ship moved on, further into the village.
“So what do we do now?” Suzy whispered.
“We’ll have to wait until tomorrow night,” Fat Brenda said. “It’s not as if we can do anything else, is it? Those bastards will be prowling around out there for hours, and we can’t risk going out in daylight, can we?”
Wicked Tina took another hit of whisky and shrugged. “Well I don’t know about any of you lot, but I intend to get absolutely wasted,” she said. “With all this food and booze and shit I don’t care if we have to stay here a month.”
Mia frowned. Fat Brenda was right, there was no way they could travel tonight, and venturing out during the day was just asking for trouble. But the idea they might be stuck there for any extended length of time was too depressing to contemplate.
“Pass me one of them bottles,” she said with a sigh.