The alarm clock erupts into life with its customary shriek of glee. A hand slowly emerges from beneath the haven of a disjointed bundle of blankets fuck off the heartfelt exclamation of outrage only ends when the hand meets the tiny but precious snooze button. As soon as this is accomplished it retreats back to where it came.
The respite is only brief. Exactly five minutes later the game starts again and this time the rules are no snooze button. Another hand tentatively reaches out to join the first, the alarm clock is twisted so the clock is toward the head that slowly emerges. Pale blue eyes which seem magnified by an almost ghostly white face, lips polled back in either a snarl or a grimace all framed by a tangled mess of long black hair. Jacob moans as the clock seems to gleeful show the time to be 5.30am. He reaches next to him out of habit seeking K before consciousness reminds him she left three months ago. The pain stabs him in his heart as if it were yesterday.
A half blind scrabble locates clothes dumped next to the bed and slowly he manages to dress under the blankets seeking the security and warmth they provide for as long as possible. Finally ready Jacob slips out a glance at the clock reads 5.35am on schedule.
He switches on his kettle, and while he waits for the water to boil heads outside. His house like all of the houses that surrounds him stands on eight foot high stilts. All linked together with a series of winding disjointed gangways. Perhaps house is to generous a term for his abode. A tiny bedroom, kitchen/living area and a sink. Still he’s lucky in some ways, if head a family the house size would be the same, and of course his has the “fireman pole” leading down into his garage.
Jacob leans agains the wooden railing that surrounds the veranda and walkway and looks down. It’s pretty quiet today only one or two of the dead are shambling around. Ken is almost beneath him, one arm hanging by a thread of gristle a leg shattered and useless he’s unable to move around much. Jacob only knows that ken is ken by his faded name badge for a company long forgotten and guesses he is one of the oldest dead around.
“Morning Ken” he greats him, causing ken to point his long dead eyes upwards at the noise.
“The delivery man has a delivery for you!” and so saying Jacob has a much needed piss, his stream of urine steaming gently in the cold morning air. Most of it hits ken in the face washing away some of the ingrained dirt and dried blood. Ken softly growls, not in any offence but excited by the noise and live meat he can sense close by. Jacob finishes and gives a cheery wave good bye. He’s gonna miss Ken when the next culling appears in a few months. Fuck it he thinks to himself as he goes back inside to drink his first of many cups of coffee for the day and get ready for work.
He lights one of his precious cigarettes to smoke whilst drinking his coffee. Not perhaps the healthiest of breakfasts but about all he can face this time of the morning. All to quickly both are finished and it’s time to get into his work clothes. A collection of biker gear reinforced with thick duct tape, a crash helmet with the visor removed and skateboarding arm and knee pads. With his hand axe and revolver in their holsters strapped to his waist he likes to think he looks like some futuristic gladiator but in truth he resembles a giant insect.
A two second slide down the pole and Jacob hits the floor of the garage. The quad bike starts first go and with the trailer firmly attached he raises the garage door and slowly sets out heading for the warehouse.
As he slowly makes his way, others emerge from their homes. He waves a good morning to one or two, but most just ignore him. Like him they many piss over the sides of their house. Others throw buckets filled with their waste into holes dug in the ground for this purpose. Occasionally one of the dead will fall in and flounder amongst the waste. When the time comes for the holes to be filled and fresh ones dug they become trapped in a prison of filth forever.
Jacob can sense his progress being monitored by the army of CCTV cameras that cover the area. So it’s no surprise that as he gets close to his destination a shot breaks the morning silence and one of the dead collapses to the ground missing most of its head. With its second and hopefully permanent death it leaves the area around the seven foot high gate that protects the warehouse clear and it slowly opens. Jacob takes a mental deep breath before heading in, hoping that Baker won’t be there this morning. He hates Baker for several reasons and with good reason.
Today offers a brief glimpse of hope as initially he can only see Dexter and Lewis, both complete idiots as far as Jacobs concerned but still a minor annoyance in comparison. He pulls off his helmet, steam appearing briefly above his head as its released, giving him an almost supernatural appearance.
“About fucking time” sneers Lewis steeping forward. He doesn’t scare Jacob, well not that much. He showed his true colours at the last cull when one of the dead managed to almost take him out, leaving him a quivering tearful mess. Since then his hard man act had doubled in intensity resulting in an unpredictable fuck up off a human.
Dexter by comparison is almost normal, laid back most of the time and a lethal shot with a rifle, it was almost certainly him who had taken down the undead at the entrance.
Due to this Jacob address him pointedly ignoring Lewis.
“All right if I take a shit?” he asks, the warehouse being blessed with one of the few working toilets around.
“Make it quick, Baker wants a word” comes the foreboding reply.
With his mood rapidly sinking at this unwelcome news Jacob heads into the oasis of the small cubicle takes down his trousers and crashes onto the toilet seat head in hands.
Baker his nemesis a man who truly scares everyone he has met and many he has not by his reputation alone. He has only been in position for six months following the suspicious death of Adams the previous overseer. Since that time the lives of nearly all had become markedly worse, a reduction in their daily rations on top off longer working days and demands for extra productivity had produced a grumbling of discontent. But Bakers leadership style of violence, terror and subjugation had meant nothing had progressed further then the grumblings of discontentment.
Jacob had suffered perhaps more than most. As the delivery man he had previously been in a relatively good position. Baker had seemed to despise him from their very first meeting and would like nothing more than to replace him with one of his own men. Aside from this he had also taken the most precious thing in Jacobs life and the only reason he had found to keep living in a world filled with bleakness and grey.
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