— You’re in. Remember our walk-through. We’ve built in some anomalies so stay on those toes, buddy.
The dead weight of a gun muzzle shoves his face up into the beam of a flashlight. “Nice time of night to be creeping into empty buildings. You got a death wish?”
— Okay, we’re loading your chat-up lines. Let’s give her hell.
“I’d have waited for dawn,” he says, “but I’m not much of a morning person.”
“What’s it like out there?”
“Pretty dead from what I saw.”
“You’re a riot.” She steps back, lowering the old school MPK5. He sees her eyes through the shadows, pewter bullets trained on his face. “Strip,” she says.
— Whoa. Swiftest hit we’ve seen all week. Nice work!
“You will be if I have to shoot you to be on the safe side. No-one comes in here without an exam. We find bitemarks, scratch-marks, anything–we throw you back out as a light snack.” She shrugs. “Nothing personal.”
— Sounds like this is your basic Infection Apocalypse. Keep it together.
He sheds his jeans and shirt, shielding his eyes as she sweeps his body. “Turn round. One eighty degrees.” He turns. The flashlight settles on his left shoulder. “I’ve got bitemarks here.”
“I have some kinky friends,” he admits. “But last time I looked they weren’t zombies.”
— Zombies! Cool. We’ve got a support programme just for these suckers. Hang on while we upload.
She stirs the kit bag on the floor. “What’s in here?”
“Take a look,” he invites.
“Couple of machetes. Big sword,” she lifts it out, “but no gun.”
— Yeah, dude. She totally digs your weapon!
“Sabre,” he corrects taking it from her. “It doesn’t need ammunition and it doesn’t jam.”
“Let’s see you in action then.” She throws the window wide, rattles her MPK5 on the ledge. “Hey, hungry guys! Fresh meat!”
— That’s the trouble with these new-age bitches. Always making the first move.
A trio of zombies tries to gate-crash the window. She stands with arms folded, gun tucked in her armpit, watching their exertions. “Oh for Pete’s sake…” She reaches for the decaying neck of the nearest zombie and drags it through, the other two stumbling after.
— We uploaded the sword programme, right?
He warms his wrist to appease her curiosity, but the dead meat doesn’t present much of a challenge. Once he’s figured out the best angle for entry to the brain via the eye socket or nostril there’s not much more to it.
Things get interesting when she fails to anticipate a second wave of attack; four or five zombies this time. He says, “You might like to move,” and kicks one of the machetes from the floor into his hand, taking the heads off the new arrivals while she’s still reaching for her gun.
— Cool. That programme rocks.
She watches him wipe clean the sabre and machete. “So you’re not just a pretty face.”
— And… you’re in.
“What happened to everyone else?” he asks.
“I shot them. A tough job but someone had to do it.”
— No time for chat, dude. Oh, wait. Tell her a joke! We’ve got a brilliant one in this programme.
“What’s red, green and silver?” she asks.
— She stole our joke?
“Give up? A zombie with forks in its eyes.”
— She totally stole our joke!
“So what’s the plan?” he asks. “We just lie down and die?”
“Technically, the lying-down part wouldn’t last long. We’d soon be back up again and then…” She looks him over like she’s deciding which part to eat first.
“What happened, do you know?”
— Er, dude. Enough talk. Give her the Line.
“I can guess. The monkeys broke out of their cages and bit a lot of geneticist arse. Now we get to clean up the mess.”
— Hold up! This programme’s in beta. How’d she get hold of it?
“If things turn out the way they’re heading,” she says, “you and I’ll be the only two left standing and then–We’ll have to mate, for the sake of the human race.”
— You see that? That’s the Line. She beat you to it, buddy.
She groans. “I can’t believe I just said that. I’m losing it.”
“It’s your latent humanity coming out under stress.”
— You’re writing your lines now? Only this programme cost one point five million. One point five!
“Well, this was fun.” She’s walking away. “See you in Post-Apoc II.”
— Rogue user. We’ve got a rogue user!
Over her shoulder like a grenade she throws, “This bullshit always gets a franchise.”
Chip, the programmer, logs off and pulls the plug from his ear. “She’s right,” he tells his co-worker. “Franchise is where it’s at.”
Knuth agrees but then he would, being a figment of Chip’s imagination invented to appease the lonely work of writing computer games for lonely people to play.
“We’re making that machete bigger,” Chip says.
“Totally,” Knuth agrees.
Sarah Hilary doesn’t believe zombies should run; too many bits might fall off.