I got a job in Tesco (already you’re thinking, wow Claire, I’m gripped! Tell me more!) It was a giant store with two floors filled with absolutely everything, with a work force of over a hundred. It was such a big and awe-inspiring Tesco that even on my days off I’d turn up and just chat to the team, sitting on the railings behind the tills and munching on cola bottles. That was the life.
For several days I followed this routine, sitting in my spot and people-watching. One particular day I noticed a few shifty looking guys with full matching tracksuits and caps, scouting around the supermarket. For some reason the security staff didn’t seem to notice them. Lots of people in the area had gone missing lately – maybe they were in some way related?
After several days of these men coming in, looking around and buying nothing, I followed them outside (not an easy job when in uniform). One of them had a vicious looking pitbull on a metal chain, foaming at the mouth and barking at anyone close to it. I watched as they followed a woman through the trees across the park; heard the snapping of bones as the dog’s teeth went through her arm; her pitiful, hopeless scream…
Nobody so much as blinked.
The next day I went back to work on autopilot, still in shock. The men and the pitbull were nowhere to be seen, despite me watching vigilantly all day. There was a full bin bag where the dog was usually chained up and I dared not look inside.
At about 5pm the manager’s voice echoed over the intercom:
“This is an emergency announcement. Can all customers and all staff please vacate the premises immediately. A mass fumigation is underway.”
The entire building and surrounding streets evacuated, heading for the train station ten minutes away. I was one of the last to leave with two colleagues; Mark, who I had confided everything in earlier that day, and Dan, who laughed and joked, blissfully unaware of the danger unfolding around him.
A mist descended over everything. We could barely make out the road in front of us and the crowds we were following had long since vanished.
“Proper zombie weather, this,” Dan said. We remained silent. This was no fumigation. At least not of any pests. And this mist wasn’t natural.
The further along we walked, the more lost we became. There was nothing to see but the mist and several full bin bags littering the pavement. These rapidly increased in quantity until there were more bin bags than floor space. Hundreds of them lining the walls and up against trees. Around lampposts shining dimly in the foggy winter sky, they were piled in vile pyramids.
“Jesus, where did all these come from?” Dan kicked the nearest bag.
“Don’t!” I hissed. He looked at me as if I’d gone mad. “There are bodies in them.” I felt sick. He laughed, waiting for me to reveal a big prank. When I didn’t he looked at Mark, whose pale and trembling face held no comfort. Dan swallowed.
“If they really are bodies,” he said slowly, “Who’s killing them?”
“A group of men.” I started walking again, encouraging them onwards. “Although I’ve only seen three, and there must be more of them to kill this many so quickly. But I’ll know them if I see them.”
As if on cue, a silhouette in the mist appeared from the treeline. I could just about make out the shape of a chained animal.
“Run,” I whispered, but they’d already seen us, undoubtedly had been hunting us the entire time. “RUN!” I yelled. Mark and I made good time, but Dan wasn’t as prepared as we were. The dog caught him easily and ripped him to pieces.
There was no time to stop, no time to cry or throw up or even think. We had to keep going with no direction or idea of any safe place. Everywhere we ran we heard the snapping of jaws and gleeful laughter. It felt like we were getting nowhere.
But the further we ran, the clearer the air became. Soon we could make out roads again and a glimmer of hope reached my heart. We’d come to a motorway where cars were running as normal, as if a massacre wasn’t happening only streets away. There we met a woman who we didn’t bother explaining to, we just told her to run, and to her credit she did.
Until her shoe fell off and the idiot went back to get it.
I turned just before the dog’s jaws clamped down over her head. It stood there, chewing, blood dribbling down its flews and insanity in its eyes.