Preview: The Meat Wagon

They are a brutal, outlaw motorcycle gang.
She is a single parent working the night shift at a petrol station.
Together they battle through hordes of flesh eating ghouls to claim the ultimate prize.

When civilisation comes to an end, the Warhogs motorcycle gang are too busy partying to notice. But after their weekend of drink and drugs fuelled debauchery is over they find themselves in a world gone mad. Never having had anything but contempt for the law in their previous life, they embrace their new situation and are ready to take full advantage of it.

Holing up in a fenced off industrial estate near Shefferham, it’s not long before they turn their thoughts to the nearby Meadowside shopping centre and all the treasure it contains – enough food and consumer goods for them to live in complete luxury for the rest of their lives.

But with five men and only one woman between them, there are more pressing needs to sort out first…

Bonus second feature: Simon Goes Shopping … with a baseball bat!

—————————————

1

Lynn Fletcher hated her job in the tiny self-service petrol station on the outskirts of Shefferham. Hated it with a vengeance. Three years in university and a lifetime of debt, and this was all she had to show for her engineering degree. Sitting in a tiny cubicle twelve hours a day, eight pm to eight am, seven days a week. Sitting and waiting for someone to come and buy petrol.

Don’t worry about the student loans, they said, you only need to pay those back when you earn more than £20,000 a year. She should have guessed that was a lie, and that she would end up paying back nearly a quarter of her meager income from a dead-end minimum wage job less than five years after graduating.

The changes to low income benefits hadn’t helped either, especially when they took away help with childcare expenses. There was no way she could afford to pay anyone to look after her three-year-old son Tommy all night while she was at work. So she had to take him with her and make up a small bed for him in the corner of the small kiosk she worked in.

Lynn looked over at Tommy’s sleeping form. His thumb was firmly lodged in his mouth, a habit he still hadn’t grown out of. Lynn smiled. It was hard to believe now she had been planning to abort him when she first found out she was pregnant. Tommy’s father didn’t want to know, of course, and being one of the six million long term unemployed there was no chance of ever receiving any financial assistance from him.

Sure, it was hard bringing Tommy up on her own, but he would be starting nursery school next year and that would make things a lot easier. For one thing she would be able to get a few hours sleep during the day instead of having to keep herself going with caffeine-filled energy drinks. But then there would be all the extra expense of school dinners and uniforms, and Tommy would still need to sleep at the petrol station at night while she worked.

Lynn sighed, and glanced at her watch for the thirtieth time in the last hour. Not long to go now until Sharon got there to take over the day shift. She thought about waking Tommy up and getting him ready to go home, but he looked so peaceful she decided to let him sleep a little longer.

A solitary car drove past, its windscreen wipers darting back and forth rapidly to combat the sudden downpour of rain. Lynn watched its tail light disappear around a bend, and sighed again. This job was boring her to death. There had only been three customers the whole night, and the portable black and white TV that usually kept her company on those long nights was on the blink. If only she worked at one of those bigger petrol stations that sold books and magazines, then at least she would have something to do.

Lynn watched the rain spatter onto the forecourt, blown in by the wind. She hoped it would stop raining before Sharon got there to relieve her. No way was she taking Tommy out in that, but she couldn’t stand being at the petrol station a minute longer than she needed to be. Maybe Sharon would bring an umbrella she could borrow? Lynn could return it when she relieved Sharon the following night for her next shift.

Two figures staggered across the road toward the petrol station. Their arms flailed by their sides as if they were having trouble keeping their balance. Lynn squinted at them through the rain. As they approached her kiosk, Lynn recognised one of the figures from his long, scraggly brown hair, now even more unkempt than usual due to the pouring rain. His name was Alan, and he was always stoned out of his head every time he visited the petrol station, out on a munchie-run for his squat-mates before they crashed out for the day. He was usually alone, but this time he had a friend with him. Judging by his friend’s vacant expression and stumbling gait, he was just as stoned as Alan.

Lynn smiled through the glass window when Alan arrived at the counter.

“Hello, Alan. The usual?”  she asked.

She turned her back on him and scooped up four packets of cheese and onion crisps, then returned to the counter with them.

Alan pressed his face against the window and stared in at her with glazed eyes. His mouth hung open and smeared drool across the window. Alan’s friend joined him, jostling for position in the small window, and slapped a hand against it. His fingers grasped against the glass as if he were trying to reach inside.

Lynn frowned. She wished Alan and his friend could have waited another half an hour for their munchies, then they would have been Sharon’s problem and not hers.

“Three pounds eighty,” Lynn said, and slid open the payment slot.

Alan and his friend ignored her. Alan started to moan. His mouth opened and closed like a fish suffocating in oxygen as he stared in at her with blood-shot eyes. His friend joined in, his higher pitched moan adding a discordant harmony to that of Alan. He banged on the glass with his fists.  Lynn backed away. Her eyes darted to Tommy when he murmured in his sleep.

“Alan, stop it. You’re going to wake Tommy up.”

She thought about calling the police. Alan and his friend were obviously out of their heads tripping on something, and she was worried they would frighten Tommy if they woke him up. But at the same time she didn’t want to get Alan into trouble. She knew what the police did to drug users these days, and she didn’t want that on her conscience. In fact she would miss Alan’s regular early morning visits to the petrol station. He never spent much, but the attention he showed Lynn while he was there always cheered her up. But this time Alan was even more stoned than usual, and Lynn feared what he might do next.

Over the heads of Alan and his friend, Lynn saw another figure walking along the road past the petrol station. He was dressed in a blue three-piece suit, probably a local businessman on his way to work.

Lynn switched on the outside tannoy system and spoke into a microphone, called the man over. When he veered onto the petrol station forecourt she smiled and turned her attention back to Alan and his friend.

“You’d better stop it now, there’s someone coming.”

The newcomer walked up to the two men huddled around the kiosk window. He reached out and grabbed their long hair, yanked them apart and squeezed himself between them. He stared in at Lynn, open-mouthed, and gave out a low, feral moan. He had the same vacant expression as Alan and his friend. Close up, she could see his wet clothes were spattered with blood.

Lynn screamed. Tommy woke up with a start and looked first at his mother, then at the kiosk window. He started to cry.

* * *

The annual Smoky Bears Picnic and Music Festival in Derbyshire was drawing to a close for the year. Organised by, and for, England’s biker community, it took place in an old disused aircraft hangar in the middle of nowhere, far away from civilisation. Surrounded on all sides by farmland, it was the perfect place for a weekend of drink and drugs-fuelled debauchery away from the prying eyes of law enforcement.

The music that year had been the best Vinnie could remember since the festival first began, with several well-known biker bands attending. The Anti-Nowhere League performed on the first evening, and sent the crowd into a frenzy when they played So What for the second time that night as an encore. Their singer, Animal, stayed behind for the rest of the weekend and hung out with the other bikers. He even brought his own tent and pitched it in the same muddy field as the other festival-goers, foregoing the event organisers’ offer of free bed and breakfast in a nearby hotel.

But the surprise highlight of the weekend had been Sunday night, when a decrepit-looking Lemmy had been wheeled out to blast out all the old Motorhead classics for one last time. He had forgotten some of the words, and had to take regular breaks to breathe into his oxygen mask, but that didn’t really matter to the audience.

Neither did the sudden downpour of rain soon after the concert ended, because the festival organisers let them all sleep inside the aircraft hangar for the night. Not that anyone was in a mood for sleeping. They were all far too wired for sleep, and even a steady diet of pills, booze and dope throughout the night did little to counteract that. An mp3 player was hooked up to the PA system, and they partied all night long.

The following Monday morning the crowds drifted away, back into normal society. Vinnie was asleep, curled up on the floor of the aircraft hangar. He felt something prodding his back and mumbled “Fuck off,” but the prodding continued. He felt a kick up his arse and opened his eyes. He rolled over and looked up. Mad Dan stood over him, grinning down.

“Time to wake up,” Mad Dan said.

Vinnie rolled away from him and closed his eyes. “Fuck off, Dan. It’s too fucking early.”

“Mate, it’s nearly half ten,” Mad Dan said. “I’m opening up my shop today, I’ve got some Ebay shit to parcel up for the post. And you’ve got work as well. Them meat pies won’t make themselves.”

“Tell them I’m sick.”

“Yeah, like they’d believe that. They know where you’ve been this weekend and they’ll have a good idea what you’ve been up to.”

“Yeah well, they can fuck off. I don’t feel right.”

Mad Dan sighed. Vinnie felt another kick up the arse.

“For fuck’s sake Dan,” Vinnie shouted. “Pack it in or I’ll fucking deck you.”

“Vinnie, get up, quick. Someone’s nicking your bike!”

Vinnie bolted upright and looked to the hangar doorway. “You fucking what?”

Mad Dan grinned down at him. “Now you’re up,” he said, “let’s get going. I’m fucking starving and I need some coffee.”

“You fucking bastard.”

Vinnie unzipped his leather jacket and took out his phone. He unlocked it and looked at the screen. Seventeen missed calls, all from his mother. He sighed, and wondered what the old witch had wanted that was so important. He’ll give her a ring later, he decided, and opened the Facebook app. He typed a status update with his thumbs on the onscreen keyboard to let everyone know he was on his way back home, and promised to upload the photos he had taken during the weekend later. His phone beeped and displayed a low battery warning. Vinnie frowned and switched it off, put it back in the inside pocket of his leather jacket.

“Come on then Dan,” Vinnie said, and struggled to his feet.

When they left the aircraft hangar, Vinnie looked down, away from the glaring early morning sun. His head throbbed, and his ears were still whistling from the loud music of the previous night. He certainly wasn’t looking forward to the ride home. It hadn’t been a lie when he told Mad Dan he was ill. Hangovers like this were only ever cured by a bottle of beer and a few hours in bed. Neither of which seemed very likely in the near future.

Ratboy, Steve Downing, and Stan Mollett were already up and about in the rain-sodden field, packing away their tents and other belongings. A youth on a Kawasaki 500 was showing off to his girlfriend, making donuts in the mud with his back wheel. The front wheel slipped sideways and he toppled over. The bike landed on top of him and he cried out. His girlfriend ran up and tried to lift the bike from him but it was too heavy for her.

Stan laughed and gestured at his crotch. “Here darling, if you ever fancy a real man for a change, let me know.”

The girl’s feet slipped in the mud and she toppled over, landed face first with a wet squelch.

Stan laughed even harder.

When they had their belongings tied securely to the back of their bikes, with overflow luggage stashed in the rear-end of Mad Dan’s custom-built VW trike, Vinnie, Mad Dan, Ratboy, Steve Downing and Stan  Mollett made their way slowly out of the field. Vinnie lowered his feet and dabbed them along the ground when he felt his back wheel slide in the mud. He wasn’t taking any chances with his prized vintage Triumph Trident. When they reached the twisty B-road leading out of the disused airbase he opened up the throttle and roared away into the distance.

* * *

Vinnie pulled into a small self-service petrol station on the main road of a small village on the outskirts of Shefferham. His low petrol warning light had been blinking on and off for the past four miles, and now glowed a steady amber. Like Mad Dan, he was also in desperate need of some coffee, and he hoped there would be a drinks machine inside to fulfil his body’s craving for caffeine.

He rode up to the solitary petrol pump and dismounted his bike. He waved to Ratboy as he tore past on his jet black Honda Fury. Ratboy waved back, slammed on his brakes, and came to a halt a few hundred yards past the petrol station. He looked over his shoulder and did a quick U-turn, then joined Vinnie on the petrol station forecourt just as Stan Molett arrived on his BMW.

Steve Downing arrived a few seconds later, and pulled up outside the petrol station next to Stan. They both revved their bikes impatiently while Vinnie unlocked his petrol tank and picked up the pump nozzle. Mad Dan arrived on his trike and drove onto the forecourt. Vinnie squeezed the trigger on the petrol nozzle, but no petrol came out. He looked at the pay kiosk. A small group of people were standing there, all staring at Mad Dan.

“What are you cunts looking at?” Mad Dan growled. He pulled down his flying goggles and stepped off the trike.

One of the group, a middle-aged man in a dark blue suit, broke away from the others and staggered toward Mad Dan. The others, a pair of hippies and an overweight woman in a red dress, turned back to the kiosk window and pressed their faces against it. They pounded on the glass and moaned loudly.

“Are they open?” Vinnie asked.

Mad Dan glanced in his direction, then turned his attention back to the suited man approaching him. “I don’t know, but this cunt’s gonna get a fucking smack if he doesn’t back the fuck off right now.”

Vinnie looked at the suited man walking toward Mad Dan. He smiled and put the petrol nozzle back on its holder. The petrol could wait, this looked like it was going to be fun.

Ratboy kicked his bike into gear and circled around the petrol pump. He came to a halt behind the suited man and winked at Mad Dan. The man glanced in Ratboy’s direction when he dismounted his bike, but otherwise ignored him and continued lumbering toward Mad Dan.

Mad Dan puffed out his chest and flexed his muscles, but the much slimmer-built man didn’t back down like Vinnie expected. He moaned, and his hands grasped at Mad Dan’s face. Mad Dan side-stepped him, and in a movement surprisingly fast for his stocky build, grabbed one of the man’s arms and twisted it behind his back.

“Don’t fuck with me, you cunt,” he yelled in the man’s ear, and sent him reeling toward Ratboy.

Ratboy swung a fist at the suited man, and the plastic knuckle-protectors of his gloves slammed into his face. The man hissed like a cat that had had its tail trodden on. Ratboy laughed.

“What the fuck are you supposed to be?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief.

The man reached out to Ratboy and clawed at his helmet visor. A low gurgle came from the man’s throat, and saliva dribbled down his chin. Ratboy grabbed the man’s hand, twisted his arm ninety degrees, and brought his fist crashing down on his elbow. The arm snapped with a loud crack.

Ratboy turned and walked back to his motorcycle. The man followed him, the broken arm swinging by his side. With another angry hiss he reached out and grabbed Ratboy’s leather jacket.

Ratboy spun around and swung a punch at the man’s forehead, sent him reeling back. Mad Dan, standing close behind, stuck out his foot and tripped him over, sent him sprawling to the ground. Ratboy was on the man instantly. He knelt on the man’s chest and pummeled his face, turned it into a bloody pulp.

“Time to get fucked off,” Ratboy said through panting breath after he finished venting his rage on the man.

“Fucking hell,” Vinnie said. He shook his head. “You could have waited until I’d got some petrol first.”

Mad Dan slipped his goggles back into place and climbed on his trike. “Yeah well, it was him that started it, not us. I gave him a chance to back off, he should have fucking taken it. The cunt’s got nobody to blame but himself. But Ratboy’s right, we need to get fucked off before the filth arrive.”

Vinnie frowned. He still needed petrol, and there was no telling how far they would need to go before they found another petrol station. He looked at the man lying on the forecourt. Blood pooled around his head and he wasn’t moving. Vinnie had a sudden shock of fear the man might be dead. They had to get out of there, right now. He put on his helmet, mounted his bike, and pressed the ignition switch. He revved the engine when it burst into life, pulled in the clutch and kicked the bike into gear.

“Wait,” an amplified female voice said over a tannoy. “Are you normal?”

Vinnie turned toward the pay kiosk and saw a young woman inside. Her face was pressed up against the glass, and she stared out at him. On the outside of the kiosk, one of the hippies pawed ineffectually at the glass, as if not understanding why he couldn’t get to her.

Vinnie put the bike back into neutral and let out the clutch. He lifted up his visor to get a better look at the woman in the kiosk. She was young, probably not much older than Ratboy, and what he saw of her looked pretty good from where he was standing. He smiled at her.

“It depends on what you mean by normal, darling,” he said.

The woman’s voice faltered as she spoke. “Wh—What’s going on? Everyone’s gone mad, I’ve got a little kid in here, what’s happening?”

Vinnie kicked down the side-stand and stepped off his bike. He took a few steps toward the kiosk.

“Leave it Vinnie,” Mad Dan said. “It’s just a trick to keep us here until the filth arrive. Just ignore the bitch and let’s get fucked off before it’s too late.”

Vinnie shook his head. “I don’t know, man. There’s something not right here. You wait there, I’ll go and have a quick look. If you hear any sirens, get going and I’ll catch you up later.”

Vinnie walked up to the kiosk and stopped a few feet away from the three people surrounding it. He could see the young woman’s anxious face staring back at him through the glass. She had been crying, black mascara ran down her cheeks in solemn vertical lines.

“What the fuck are you all doing?” Vinnie asked the people huddled around the kiosk window.  No reply. He took a step closer and grabbed one of the hippies by the arm, spun him around.  “I said, what the fuck are you all doing?” he said, louder.

The hippy glared at Vinnie through vacant, bloodshot eyes. His eyes widened, as if registering Vinnie’s existence for the first time, and he roared as he clawed at Vinnie’s helmet.

Vinnie pulled the man’s head down by his long, scraggly brown hair, and brought his reinforced knee up into the hippy’s face. The hippy stumbled back, collided into the other hippy and the overweight woman, and knocked them to one side. They both turned around slowly, and when they saw Vinnie they all lunged at him with a roar.

Vinnie lost his balance and went down when they slammed into him.  He landed heavily on his back. His body armour absorbed most of the impact, but before he could struggle to his feet the overweight woman flung herself on top of him and clamped her mouth down on his arm.

Vinnie could feel the woman trying to bite him through his leather jacket. He cried out, more in surprise than pain. He swung a gloved fist at the side of the woman’s head. The woman’s jaws clamped tight on Vinnie’s arm and squeezed his flesh through the leather.

Another mouth clamped over Vinnie’s leg and he kicked out wildly. He flailed his arms at the woman on top of him, and tried to twist his body to tip her off so he could deal with the one on his leg. He saw Mad Dan and Ratboy rushing toward him. Mad Dan picked up a fire extinguisher and brought it crashing down on the back of the woman’s head. The woman’s head split open and splattered blood onto Vinnie’s leather jacket. She slumped down on top of him.

Stan and Ratboy took out the two hippies holding onto Vinnie’s legs, sending them both reeling backwards with a perfectly choreographed simultaneous punch to their faces. They helped Vinnie back to his feet, and turned around to finish off the hippies.  The hippies were already advancing, arms outstretched, and Stan and Ratboy glanced at each other quizzically.

Ratboy grinned and took off his helmet. He held it by the strap and swung it at the nearest hippy’s head. The hippy staggered forward a few more steps, and Ratboy swung his helmet down in a crushing blow to the top of the man’s skull. The hippy fell to his knees. Ratboy kicked him in the face, knocked him onto his back.  Ratboy turned to face the remaining hippy, but Stan Mollett already had him down and was busy stamping on the man’s outstretched legs with his size ten motorcycle boots.

Vinnie turned to the pay kiosk. The young woman was joined by a small boy. They both stared at Ratboy and Stan, open-mouthed. Vinnie pointed a shaking finger at the two hippies lying on the ground. One thrashed around, trying to sit up, but his legs were broken. The other lay still, blood pooling around his head.

“They started it, right?” Vinnie said. “You saw them, yeah? It was self defence.”

The woman nodded, her eyes wide. The boy hid his face in her chest and sobbed.

Vinnie looked down at the overweight woman lying on the ground. Her brains had spilled out from a crushed skull where Mad Dan had struck her with a fire extinguisher. Vinnie’s hands shook uncontrollably, and his eyes widened in fear. “Oh fuck, you’ve killed her. What the fuck are we going to do now?”

Mad Dan threw the fire extinguisher down. The sudden loud clatter made Vinnie cry out in alarm.

“Vinnie, you need to get a fucking grip,” Mad Dan said. “We need to go, right now, so get your fucking shit together.”

Vinnie stared at the dead woman. “We should get an ambulance,” he said, his voice little more than a whisper.

Mad Dan grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. “Mate, it’s too late for that. We can’t stay here, the filth will be on the way by now.”

“No they won’t,” the woman in the kiosk said, her voice amplified by the tannoy speaker. “I phoned them a few hours ago, they said all their officers were busy with some riot that was going on in Shefferham.”

Mad Dan wheeled to face her. “Yeah well, we’re going anyway. And if you say anything to the filth about us I’ll come back and kill your fucking kid. You got that, lady?”

The woman nodded. “I won’t say anything,” she said.

Mad Dan grunted and turned back to Vinnie. He draped an arm around Vinnie’s back and led him back to his motorcycle. Vinnie shook his head. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. They would get thirty years for this, he would be an old man before he got out.

“Wait,” the woman called out. “Take us with you.”

Mad Dan turned and looked at her in surprise. “You what?”

“You can’t leave us here on our own.”

Stan Mollett grinned at the woman and licked his lips. “Lady, do you know what you’re asking? The only way you’re coming with us is if you agree to be our Mama.”

“My son is here.”

Stan shook his head. “Not that kind of Mama.”

“I don’t know what you mean. I’ll do anything you want, but just don’t leave me here. Please.”

“Okay bitch, your choice. But pack up your brat quick, because we’re leaving, right now.”

“One other thing,” Ratboy added. “We all need petrol for the bikes. So how about you switch on that pump over there so we can fill up before we go? On the house, of course.”

————————————–

Paperback £5.99 Amazon UK

Paperback $9.99 Amazon USA

Ebook £1.99 Amazon UK

Ebook $2.99 Amazon USA

Ebook (non-Kindle) $2.99 Smashwords

About Marcus Blakeston

Ex-shouting poet, ex-fanzine writer, ex-angry young man (now growing old disgracefully). Living in sunny Yorkshire with his wife, children and motorcycle, Marcus still has a healthy distrust of all forms of authority.
This entry was posted in Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s