Chapter Twenty-Two


Skin was in charge now. Unrestrained and unstoppable, he made the decisions and he made the rules. Hiding away didn't suit him. Why should he keep out of sight when he was in control? He moved through the bodies with contempt and disinterest, only running when he absolutely had to. Already feeling vastly superior to the decomposing relics which surrounded him, the fact that he was now armed made him feel impervious and all-conquering. He carried weapons with him all of the time. He hadn't had to use them yet, but he was ready.

Food began to become a problem. He'd had some supplies with him but they'd quickly dwindled down to nothing. With a rucksack slung across his back and a rifle in his hand he walked to the local shopping precinct, which was around half a mile from school. He'd spent many long afternoons hanging out there with his friends when they should have been in lessons. Hadn't done him any harm missing school, had it, he thought to himself as he crept through the supermarket, collecting up all the food he could find which was still edible. Most of the shop's stock had gone rotten. The place stank of decay and he almost threw up. He needed to rest and catch his breath before he made the trip back to school. Not wanting to wait in the decaying supermarket he walked further into the building, eventually emerging out of a back entrance. A grey concrete staircase led up to a row of boarded up, graffiti-covered flats above the shop. Skin climbed the stairs and forced his way into one of the flats. He rested for a while in a cold and damp empty living room. He lay on the floor and passed the time with cigarettes and alcohol he'd taken from the shop below.

A narrow veranda ran across the front of the flats. After almost an hour had passed Skin stepped outside and stood there and looked out over the whole of the dead precinct below him. A large, roughly elliptical collection of run-down shops centred around a large oval patch of muddy grass, it didn't look very different now to how it always used to look, he thought. There were a few bodies still lying on the ground, but other than that the place looked as grey, lifeless and terminally dull as it always had done. Even those bodies which incessantly dragged themselves around looked strangely similar to how they'd been before they'd died. Slow, empty and pointless. Skin baulked at the idea of ever allowing himself to become like that.

Standing up there, in full view but knowing that he was completely safe and untouchable, he felt incredibly powerful and strong. He felt in full control, almost like some kind of ancient lord looking down over his rotting subjects. Maybe this was his opportunity to show them just how powerful he was? He ran back into the flat and grabbed the rifle he'd brought with him. He rummaged around in his rucksack for ammunition and then stepped back outside. He loaded the rifle and took aim.

Can I do this? Of course you can.

Should I do it? Why not, who's going to stop you? No-one tells you what to do anymore.

Does it matter? Don't be fucking stupid. Of course it doesn't matter. Damn things are dead anyway.

Skin lined up a single, bedraggled figure in his sights. Breathing heavily he squeezed the trigger slightly and took up the slack, loosening his grip momentarily with nerves. There's nothing to be scared of, he thought, clearing his throat and then holding his breath as he prepared to fire. Just fucking do it. The end of the rifle seemed to be waving about uncontrollably. He wedged the butt deeper into his shoulder, shuffled his feet and re-balanced himself and then located the figure in his sights again. Before he'd had chance to dissuade himself he pulled on the trigger and fired. The gunshot cracked in his ear, rendering him temporarily deaf on one side, and the force of the shot almost threw him over. He dropped the rifle and rubbed the sore patch on his shoulder where the recoil had dug in. He shook his head clear and then looked out over the precinct. There wasn't much to see at first, primarily because all of the bodies gathered there had turned and had suddenly begun to stagger towards the supermarket. After a few seconds he managed to locate the body he'd been aiming at. He'd hit it. Christ, he thought, he'd hit it bloody well. It was difficult to see exactly how much damage he'd caused, but it looked as if at least half of its head had been blown clean away. More importantly, the fucking thing had finally stopped moving.

Skin stood on the veranda and fired another thirty-two times, managing to down at least another twenty-four bodies. Each time he fired the rifle he became more accustomed to the noise and the kick it gave him. He learnt to ride the recoil and absorb it. He learnt how to load and reload quickly. Most importantly, he learnt how to get rid of those fucking things below him.

Unchecked and unrestricted, Skin's confidence soared. No-one was laughing at him now or trying to tell him what to do, were they? No-one was on his back to do this or do that or be home by a certain time or not to wear certain clothes or not to speak in a certain way or not to drink or not to smoke or... Christ, he could do anything.

He began by getting himself more comfortable. The school had two gymnasiums, housed in a single two-storey building. He moved from his previous classroom hideout and made his home in Gym 1 (as it was known) on the first floor. There he hoarded the supplies he'd collected and, under cover of night, he fetched more. Using a battery-powered machine he filled the vast room with music from when he first woke to when he finally fell asleep at night. Fully aware of the effect the noise had on the dead population but arrogantly indifferent to their attentions, he drank and smoked his way through each day. His height above the crowds seemed somehow to camouflage the direction and source of the sound. Although it continued to attract many more bodies to the school, they wandered aimlessly around the campus rather than gravitating towards the gym building.

Skin kicked a football around the gym. He threw empty beer bottles out of the window and watched them hit the bodies below. He spray-painted the bland grey-brick gym walls. Now and then he took out one of the guns and took pot-shots into the festering crowd. He slept. He ate. He began to get bored. The novelty of his situation was beginning to wear dangerously thin. A person of sound mind and average intelligence might well have been able to rise above the boredom, or put up with it in view of the potential danger outside the gym. Skin, however, although possessing sufficient intelligence, was also still driven by a hormone, alcohol and drug-induced anger. The remarkable power he suddenly seemed to have was incredible, and yet he still wanted more. The strength of his feelings was increasing by the hour and none of the distractions he could find seemed able to alleviate or reduce his frustrations. In spite of all he suddenly had, he still felt incomplete.

It was late one night - around midnight - when the way forward came to him and things suddenly became clear. Revenge. That was what was missing. It was the ultimate expression of his superiority. Hell, why hadn't he thought of it before? Here he was in this incredible position of power and authority, and he hadn't used it properly once. Sure, he'd fired a few shots and got rid of a pile of bodies and he'd defaced about ninety percent of the school, but he'd not yet taken out his anger on the people who deserved it most, had he? Christ, he had a list of names as long as his arm of people he wanted to get even with. His parents topped the list, then his ex-girlfriend, then the so-called friends who'd slept with her after she'd dumped him, then his teachers... Fucking hell, he thought, what an idiot. All that time he'd been sat there, letting those fuckers wander about free.

This was his time. He was in control. Time for retribution.

There would be little satisfaction in just finding these people and destroying what was left of them, he thought to himself next morning as he walked through the dawn shadows back towards his parents' house. What I need to do, he decided, is make them suffer. What I have to do is make things as difficult and painful for them as they did for me. I have to make them hurt.

His mother and father were still in the kitchen of the house where he'd left them on the first morning. His mother lay dead on the ground, slumped between the defrosted fridge-freezer and the dishwater. Her soggy body stank. She was going nowhere, but a whack to the back of her head with a rolling pin made it completely certain that she wasn't going to get up again. He hated his mother marginally less than he hated his father. It didn't matter unduly that he was going to leave her, as long as he got to take Dad with him. Skin's dead father followed him around the kitchen, occasionally lunging at him and lashing out with sharp, twisted hands. Skin brushed aside the body's pathetic attacks and slipped a dog collar and lead around its neck. He tied its hands together with the washing line from the overgrown garden and half-led, half-dragged it the quarter-mile or so back to school. He threw the body into the empty ground floor gym and watched it scramble around aimlessly for a while. He lit a cigarette and blew the smoke into the damn thing's face.

'Bet you wish you hadn't been such an uptight fucker now, don't you Dad?' he sneered as the corpse stumbled towards him again. 'Who's laughing now?'

Dawn was in her bedroom back at her mother's house. She was Skin's next victim that afternoon. He slipped the lead around her neck and then tied her to the bed in which he'd lost his virginity earlier in the year. Before leaving he spent some time going through her belongings. He wasn't sure whether that made him feel better or worse. In her underwear drawer he found the kind of things he'd always hoped she'd wear for him, but which she'd obviously saved for his friends. To humiliate the dead bitch he stripped her bare before dragging her back through the streets and dumping her in the gym with the remains of his dad.

He'd had a feeling that he'd seen the bodies of Mr McKenzie, Mr Miller and Miss Charles wandering around the school. It was getting harder and harder to distinguish between the bodies but he knew that he had to look. It was while he was searching for them that he came across what was left of an ex-friend (and one of Dawn's recent conquests) Glenn Tranter. Tranter's face was pretty badly decayed, but he could tell from the body's general build that it was him. Although his skin was a blotchy blue-grey, he could still see the tip of a tattoo he'd recently had done on his shoulder and neck, just below the collar of his blood-stained school shirt. The corpse's neck was scrawny and emaciated and the shirt hung unintentionally loose, revealing more of the tattoo than he'd ever been allowed to show at school. Another one for the gym.

There was no sign of Mr Miller. Damn, if there was one fucker who deserved a little dismemberment and torture, it was him. It was of some consolation when he found what remained of Mr McKenzie, his dictatorial modern languages teacher, dragging itself along the corridor outside the main assembly hall. Stupid fucking thing was still wearing the same damn tweed jacket it had worn to school every bloody day. He took great pleasure in wrapping the dog collar around the dead teacher's neck and dragging the body twice round the school before throwing it into the gym.

Miss Charles, his twisted, sadistic, sour-faced ex-head of year, had been trapped in the stock cupboard next to her office when she'd died. Skin found her still crashing around the room, half-buried beneath text books and papers. He'd hated this bitch more than any of the others, and she'd hated him too. He tried to drag her to the gym by her wiry grey hair but it wasn't strong enough and it kept coming away from her rotting scalp in sickly clumps. Instead he resorted to the dog lead and another drag through the increasingly crowded school grounds.

Over the course of the next day and a half he gathered together another fifteen bodies. Some of the rapidly putrefying, reanimated corpses had belonged to people who had, in one way or another (according to Skin), wronged him. Others were just unfortunate cadavers which just happened to have been picked out of the faceless masses and flung into the gym.

So what do I do with them now, he thought to himself as he lay on his makeshift bed at the far end of Gym 1. Music blared out of the CD player that he'd now hung from a basketball hoop with skipping ropes. He thought it sounded better like that, although the volume was so loud that getting the right acoustics didn't really matter. The room was filled with a haze of smoke from cigarettes and improvised spliffs. The smoke helped disguise the increasingly obnoxious stench of death, decay and putrefaction that filled the gym building and the world beyond its walls.

It was hard to believe whom he'd managed to shut into the gym downstairs. The incredible fact that they were all trapped in there and that their fates were completely in his control was almost harder to believe than what had happened to the rest of the world. This was an opportunity for revenge on a massive scale that he wasn't about to pass up. He was determined to make the most of every last second and make these fuckers suffer in the same way they'd tortured him for years. They had no idea what they'd done to him. None of them had given a damn.

I'll start tomorrow, Skin decided as he drifted into a nauseous, drink-fuelled sleep. One by one I'll take each of those fuckers to pieces.

He didn't wake up until early afternoon. He woke with a hangover of immense proportions which, he decided, could only be eased by more alcohol. Damn, he was getting low on booze. He'd need to go out and get more soon, but not today. He had more important things to do today.

After he'd taken a piss out of a first floor window onto the heads of the crowd below (and thrown up too - he was feeling particularly bad today) he ambled down to the ground floor gym and opened the door. The twenty bodies he'd shut in there immediately began to move towards him. He pushed his way through them with an ignorance which bordered on contempt. With complete disinterest he pushed them away whenever they made to lunge towards him. He was preoccupied with his plans for the day and, ultimately, for each of them. He wanted to spend a reasonable amount of time with each body and not be rushed into destroying any one of them too quickly because of unwanted attention from one of the others. These fuckers were all due some uninterrupted personal service from him.

Still coughing (and occasionally retching and vomiting) he began to build a barrier around one corner of the gym with various pieces of apparatus he found lying around. The bodies, although still very animated, were also clumsy and their coordination was desperately poor. It didn't take very much to keep them restrained. Using benches, vaulting horses, trampolines, crash mats, weight training equipment and anything else he could find he built a division around the far left corner of the room, leaving the rest of the gym clear.

Who first?

He'd had a late start and getting the gym ready had taken longer than expected. The sun was already beginning to set as he stood breathless and looked across the room at his motley collection of corpses. Which one of these fuckers has caused me most pain? Which one hurt me most? Which one showed the most complete disregard for me and for everything I ever stood for or believed in or wanted? It was a close call between two of them. It was either Dad or Dawn. Just because he preferred the idea of messing with Dawn's body (it made him feel slightly excited in an uneasy, perverted kind of way) he chose her. He reached out over the barrier he'd built, grabbed hold of his ex-girlfriend's corpse and threw it back onto the other side.

'Okay, Dawn?' he asked, surprising himself with the sound of his own voice. Dawn's dead body lumbered towards him, twisted arms outstretched. For a moment he was close to panicking and he almost lost his nerve. What did he do? Did he hit it or push it over or...? He took a deep breath and instead of looking at the unsteady bulk of rotting flesh which staggered towards him, he instead remembered her as she used to be. More specifically, he remembered what it was she'd done to him. Even more specifically, he remembered what it was she hadn't let him do to her. Bitch.

Christ, just look at the state of her, he thought as his dead ex-girlfriend slipped in a puddle of blood or vomit or something equally unpleasant. Over the course of the last twenty-four hours the floor of the gym had become covered with various noxious spillages, both from the corpses and from Skin himself. The corpse dropped heavily to its knees in front of him and then managed to pick itself up again and continue moving towards him. She was an appalling sight but, knowing her strange tastes, she might have approved of the look. Her eyes were hollow and sunken, her skin green-hued and ruptured and pockmarked in places. She had a deep cut on her bare right shoulder and, in the low light, Skin was sure he could see squirming movement in and around the lesion. Was it just blood or decay glistening, or was it something more foul? Maggots, flies or larvae feeding off her dead flesh perhaps? Whatever it was, the thought of it was disgusting, too much even for the twisted mind of Skin to handle. The sight of her standing there, naked and practically falling to pieces as he watched her, was too intense. He pushed her back over the barrier and grabbed another body from the other side of the divide.

Mr Read! Bloody hell, it was Mr Read, the head of the music department at the school. He'd forgotten that he'd managed to get Read's body. He hadn't set out to find this particular teacher but he was glad that he'd got him. He'd been one of the last corpses he'd collected yesterday. He'd found three bodies at the end of the corridor and this was the one he'd taken. The others were just kids. Now this bastard deserved to suffer. He was the one who made kids sing on their own in front of the class and play endless bloody glockenspiel solos in his lessons.

Skin hadn't liked Read, but there was no real emotional attachment to this teacher. He felt sure he could damage this body without giving it a moment's thought. Maybe the strength of his hate for Dawn, his dad and certain other ex-teachers somehow made it difficult for him to do justice to their bodies. He needed to practice. He needed to start with someone who had been fairly neutral and then build himself up to the bastards who really deserved to incur his wrath. The body of Mr Read seemed ideal.

What could he do to him? He glanced around the gloomy gym and his eyes settled on a pile of weight-training equipment in the corner of the room. As the body dragged itself after him pathetically he took hold of a short bar (the kind he'd seen used before for single arm exercises) and stripped the weights off it. He was left with a bloody heavy, fourteen inch, chrome plated metal bar. He turned back around to face the body of the dead teacher and swung the bar at its head. He'd expected to feel the impact but he hardly felt anything. The bar seemed to cut through the flesh like a hot knife through butter, such was the level of the creature's decay. And fucking hell, look what he'd done! The damn thing's jaw had been ripped right off its bloody face!

Suddenly feeling more confident and in control again, Skin circled the helpless corpse. He was moving at several times its lethargic speed, and it had no idea where he was. Standing right behind it he chopped down viciously at its legs. He hit the right knee cap, shattering it and sending the body crumbling to the ground. Too bloody easy! He smashed down with the bar again, this time coming down directly on its pelvis. He could feel the bone smashing and crunching under the force of the metal.

Whatever tensions, frustrations and fears had been building inside Skin were quickly released by the therapeutic destruction of the school teacher's dead body. If the truth be known (and Skin wasn't the slightest bit interested in why it made him feel better) it was the sudden physical exertion of the attack that revived the feelings and power he'd felt since the rest of the world had fallen. Whatever the reason, in his confused, immature and na - ve mind, he knew it felt good, and he knew he wanted more. By the time he'd finished with the first body it had all but disappeared. Mr Read had been dismembered and spread around virtually the entire gym.

Dad was next.

Starving, tired and cold, Jackson approached the school.

More bodies.

Something must be happening around here.

What's the attraction? Why this place? I need to stop for a while and I need to take on some food. Think I'll take a look around.

Skin dragged his father's body through the greasy, creamy remains of the music teacher. Using more skipping ropes which he'd found by the weight training equipment he lashed the body's flailing arms and legs to a wooden climbing frame which had been stored against the gym wall. His knots weren't particularly good but his father's corpse didn't have the strength to be able to escape from them. Just look at you, he thought as he stared at what was left of his father squirming on the wooden frame like it had been crucified. You used to tell me you were somebody I should look up to, and now look at you. You used to tell me that I should aspire to be like you, to do the things you did and to believe in the things that you believed in. Now look at you. A pathetic lump of rotting meat that's about to be destroyed. Now you look at me. I took so much shit from you because of how I looked, what I did and who I did it with. And why? What was so good about doing things your way? What made your ideas and your values any better than mine? If you were so fucking clever, why aren't you the one who's stood here now? If I was so stupid and so wrong, how come I'm in control?

Skin had edged closer and closer so that he was now just inches away from his dead father's face. He stared deep into the corpse's cold, black eyes hoping, bizarrely, to see a flicker of recognition or memory or emotion. Strange as it seemed, he wanted his father to know what was happening. He wanted him to see and feel everything that was happening and that was about to happen. He wanted him to understand and to be able to admit that Skin was right and he'd been wrong.

Nothing.

Stupid fucking thing.

In a fit of temper Skin picked up a metal-framed chair and swung it at his father's remains. Two of the chair's metal legs dug into the rotting flesh which covered the creature's abdomen and ripped it open, practically disembowelling it. Partially decomposed organs began to slip, slide and ooze from the body and dripped onto the floor below it.

Skin dropped to his knees and watched the bloody thing begin to slowly fall apart.

It must be around here. This is where the bodies are heading. Was this a school or a college or something?

Jackson crept around the outskirts of the school campus. Something had definitely happened around here. There were far too many bodies for them just to be here by coincidence. It couldn't have been looters because this wasn't the kind of place where there'd be anything to take. Most likely survivors had been here. Interesting. He'd only come across a handful of survivors in all the time he'd been travelling. He'd found evidence of them having been around and he'd come across their remains when the bodies had got to them before he had, but he'd seen very few actually managing to survive. He'd done his best to keep out of their way. The more of you there are, he'd decided, the more noise you'll make, the more you'll move around and the more chance you'll have of being caught and killed. Stay alone and stay alive was rapidly becoming his motto.

The nearest door into the school was open. Jackson pushed his way inside and listened carefully to the sounds inside the vast, stinking building. The odd distant shuffle and crash of bodies but nothing too ominous. He decided he could risk stopping and looking around.

Whenever Jackson found a staircase he instinctively climbed it. Stairs give me an advantage over the dead, he'd long since decided. The bodies had trouble climbing (although they'd manage it if you gave them long enough and if they had enough of an incentive) and the higher you climb, the better view you have of whatever's going on around you.

At the top of this particular staircase Jackson was confused. Below him was a grassy courtyard in the middle of the campus which was filled with bodies. In the grim darkness, however, he couldn't immediately see what it was that was drawing them there. He'd come across huge gatherings before which had been caused by the most ridiculous of things - an open door continually banging in the wind or a broken gutter dripping with rainwater. He stood and watched the crowd for a little while longer, trying to analyse their movements.

Then he saw it. There were bodies trapped in a gym on the diagonally opposite side of the grassy quadrant. Was that really it? Perhaps the noise of them moving around in there was creating enough of a disturbance to keep the hundreds of surrounding corpses close. It was possible, but unlikely. Whatever the reason, he decided that was where he was going to make his attack. Just a very quick run in and out. Enough to cause a little damage and get a decent fire going. And once the building was properly alight he could concentrate on getting himself sorted out. He was starving. He hadn't eaten for more than a day and he desperately needed to get his hands on some food. There'd be shops nearby. There were usually always shops built close to schools. The fire would distract the bodies and he'd go scavenging through the shadows.

How to get close? The buildings which surrounded the courtyard appeared to be connected. He'd work his way around until he got as close as he could to the gym, then he'd cause a minor distraction and make a run for it through the crowd. It wasn't going to be easy but he'd done it before. He took his rucksack off his back and scrambled around inside for the various items he'd need. A small plastic bottle of paraffin and a cigarette lighter. Simple.

The best thing he'd found to use as a distraction was a well dried-out but still mobile body. If he could find one that had been trapped indoors for a decent length of time, that would be ideal. The bodies were always attracted to fire, and if he set one of them alight its random, barely-coordinated movements would add to the confusion and increase the effect dramatically. Although the infection had originally struck before the school had officially opened for the day, he had no trouble in finding the suitably emaciated cadaver of a young boy scrambling around pathetically in the shadows of a second floor classroom. He grabbed the body by the scruff of its neck and carried it back down to ground level.

There's no room for sentimentality any longer, he thought as he soaked the body with the paraffin. Whatever this thing used to be, its character, personality and every other attribute which once made it an individual and unique human being died with it on that Tuesday morning, more than four weeks ago. This thing isn't someone's son, brother or friend anymore, it's a collection of dead flesh and bone. I'll be doing it a favour by destroying it.

Without allowing himself any more time to think about it, Jackson checked that the door to the grass courtyard was open and then lit the body. He gave it a few seconds for the flames to really take hold before he pushed it out into the night. Hundreds of bodies immediately turned and moved towards him, attracted first by the sound of the opening door, then by the brilliant, dancing flames which consumed the figure in front of him. He grabbed hold of one of its arms and dragged it over to the diagonally opposite corner of the courtyard to the entrance to the gym building, and roughly planted the body back onto its feet again. Bizarrely ignorant to the fact that it was ablaze, it staggered towards the mass of bodies which silently converged on it.

Jackson took a deep breath and moved. He ran back to the door he'd just emerged from and waited, wanting to be sure that the decoy had worked before he risked running further from safety and deeper into the bodies. Perfect. It was working like a dream. The entire mass of diseased, decaying flesh was ignoring him and moving towards the bright flames about fifty meters away. Several bodies were burning now. Stupid bloody things, he thought. Relaxing slightly, he crept along the nearest wall towards the entrance to the gym. He tried the door but it wouldn't open. Strange. He looked down at the handle and shook it. Bloody hell, he thought, it had been barred from the inside. There wasn't much left of Dad.

Skin had punched and kicked and slashed and ripped and pulled and spat at the remains of his father until very little still hung from the wooden climbing frame. There was almost as much rotten flesh on him and on the floor and surrounding walls as there was left on the corpse.

If the destruction of the teacher's body had been strangely therapeutic, then this was bliss. Using climbing ropes Skin had flogged his father's corpse. He felt no remorse and no pain. Half-drunk and half-stoned, he ripped and tore at the body mercilessly. For a while nothing else mattered. Years of pent up anger and frustration were let loose in the space of a few perfect minutes of revenge. He forgot about the other bodies in the gym. He was so transfixed by the destruction and disintegration of his dead father that he didn't see the fires outside. Suddenly feeling able to do anything again, he turned his attention to Dawn. Once again he dragged her body over the barrier and out into the gym. He grabbed her from behind (it felt good to do this in front of his father) and ran his hands over her flesh. Her skin felt alternately wet and then curiously dry and brittle, but that didn't matter. He gently caressed her still feminine shape as he decided how he would dismember her. In a state of semi-arousal and drink and drug induced euphoria, he didn't hear the glass smash and the gym entrance being forced open.

'What the hell are you doing, you sick bastard?' Jackson asked as he burst into the blood-soaked gym. He shone a torch at Skin who immediately let go of Dawn's body and pushed it away. Christ, Jackson thought, he'd seen some pretty unpleasant things over the last few weeks, but never anything like this. A stupid little fired-up teenager torturing and molesting the dead. He knew that he'd just done something pretty unpleasant to a dead school boy outside, but that had been different. There had been a reason and a necessity to his actions. What this kid was doing was just sick. Twisted, evil and sick.

Suddenly ashamed, Skin stood in front of his crucified father, dumbstruck. Behind him the body still moved and twitched continually. Its head lolled heavily from side to side.

'I...' he began, 'I just...'

Jackson shook his head in disbelief as he shone his torch around the blood-soaked room. He glanced back over his shoulder as the bodies from outside began to drag themselves into the building through the door he'd left hanging open. He'd only intended being inside for a matter of seconds.

'What the hell have you been doing in here?' Jackson asked again, still not quite able to believe what he was seeing. 'Is there something wrong with you? I know what these things are and what they do, but this is wrong. Have some respect...'

Skin wasn't listening. How dare this man come into his world and start questioning his actions and decisions. Did he know who he was? Did he know how strong he was? Did he know that upstairs he'd got guns and knives and that he'd destroyed huge numbers of corpses over the last few weeks? In Jackson Skin could suddenly see everything that he'd despised about the world before the apocalypse. He saw the authority he'd rebelled against and he saw the common-sense and rule-following that he detested. He couldn't let it go on. This man was a threat to his new found strength, independence and freedom. He had to make a stand or it would all have been for nothing. He grabbed the metal bar he'd used to bludgeon the music teacher and ran at Jackson .

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