A gentleman’s club becomes a refuge for the well-to-do when the dead rise, through one member has a dark secret hanging over his head which threatens all who discover it. One by one the group’s number dwindles, until there is nothing left to do but the unthinkable. This alternate history zombie tale recounts the final days in the life of one of the survivors, as his time – and the 1930s – draws to a dark close.
Please note because the characters are dealing with a zombie outbreak, this excerpt may have some strong language.
Never Say Die
by Gary James
The choir invisible isn’t as invisible as it used to be; now streets chime with the tones of their number, and it seems their number grows every day. It is almost as if they have been drawn out into the streets from where they have fallen to join their fellow geaches in some macabre pack instinct unknowable to those of us whose eyes are still bright. Their irrepressible desire for the dark meat disturbs me in ways I have not the words to describe, though Asher seemed able to stand witness to their atrocities with no ill.
For the longest time I feared I would be ensconced within the walls of the Athenaeum forevermore, a living ghost who bore witness to the darkest of times. As there is little in the way of outstanding duties to perform, I have decided to use what time I have left to put to paper that which I know, and which I have done. Having had time to consider the alternatives, leaving this note – this memorial to events – is most likely the only way my story will be told. I can only hope some souls exist elsewhere in the city; that this is not in vain.
As days pass by unmourned and unmarked it becomes ever more evident to me my salvation is not to be. I have made peace with my eventual demise, and leave this testimony that some part of it may illuminate that which transpired here, as unbelievable as much of it must seem. You may scoff at my telling of events, for they are indeed incredible, but I am not a man of grand delusion nor fantasies. That you are reading this, that you have survived, is enough for me.
My name, if such things matter any more, is Lord Henry Abercrombie, though that was not my birth name. I was born in undistinguished circumstances, and by a mix of good fortune and cunning enterprise managed to make good of my existence. Public works may have sealed my reputation, but it was private financing where I truly made my mark, not least of which was scientific funding of up and coming men, visionaries the likes of which rarely achieve their fullest. It was not without some modicum of self-interest in which I bankrolled their endeavors, but I dealt fairly in both contract and company.
We were to be the architects of a bright new future. We were to be kings.
One of my protégés was a remarkable American named Weston, who had arrived in London after some scandal or other had disgraced him in the face of his Miskatonic peers. He had the most unique notions of chemical understanding, such that I had ever encountered, and was engaged in research in cataloging something or other which was beyond me. I was assured, from men of good standing, if he were to succeed there would be a pretty penny to be made in the use of such information.
But that was then.
Good fortune and cunning, as I have said, were my hallmarks. Both factors played in my favor on the morn of the twenty-first, as my ritual decreed I savored brandy and a Montecristo in the library on the second floor rather than in the reception rooms with the others. Asher was telling one of his stories about, I believe, some far-flung adventure. The disruption came at the ringing of the ten o’clock bell, with Fairfax staggering in claiming to have been assaulted by a most unkempt fellow. His arm was bloodied, and Caruthers – a fine practitioner of the medical arts – set to attendance.
The commotion outside soon became apparent, and the grand doors were closed almost immediately. I ventured down to see what assistance I could provide, but it was clear matters were well in hand. Beyond the confinement of the great club, however, the populace was busying themselves tearing at the walls of civilization. Never in my days had I thought to see Englishmen behave in such a fashion, for it was clear to all it wasn’t the expected troublemakers, but good and honest people who were acting in such an undignified manner on the streets.
To read more and find out the depths to which Lord Henry Abercrombie falls, check out Undead Is Not An Option.