Uzyskaj dostęp do tej i ponad 60000 książek od 6,99 zł miesięcznie
A sold-out stadium.A virus unleashed.For 17-year-old Alfie Button, today was always going to be a memorable day.The cheers of excited fans soon become desperate, bloodcurdling cries for help as a legion of the undead overwhelms the stadium. Panic erupts as 21,000 people rush for the exits, only to find them sealed.With nowhere to run, suffocating in a torrent of blood and chaos, all Alfie and his friends can do is fight for survival—and pray that help will come.But in every game, in every stadium…There has to be a loser.“I love the world the author has created—lots of action and real characterization.”JAMIE WHITE – Author of The Stains Trilogy
Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Liczba stron: 197
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:
I. Drinking With The Enemy
II. The Century Stadium
III. Glass Prison
IV. 21,000 Fans
Also Available - Eyes On You: A Ghost Story
Also Available - Thea: A Vampire Story
Also Available - Thea II: A Vampire Story
Also Available - Burn The Dead - Quarantine
Also Available - Burn The Dead: Purge
Also Available - Fourteen Days: A Ghost Story
Also Available - Spine: A Collection of Twisted Tales
Also Available - Rotten Bodies: A Zombie Short Story Collection
About the Author
For a limited time, you can download FREE copies of Spine, Burn The Dead: Book 1 & Book 2 - The No.1 bestsellers from Steven Jenkins.
Just click here: GET MY BOOKS
I used to love this time ofyear.
Lazy days sitting out with the boys, drinking beer, watching the girls go by. No rain, no shitty cold weather—just the summer sun roasting our Welsh skin. Paradise.
But not today, though.
Because today is the day that Idie.
I step out onto the thin ledge, my heart beating hard against my chest. I haven’t been this high up since I was a kid. It takes me back to when I was ten, scaling the multi-storey car park like an idiot. That was the first time I got arrested. Back then it was a badge of honour.
Those days aregone.
The wind is strong at this height. It shunts my body, but I manage to keep my balance. At least it’s not raining; at least I won’t slip. The last thing I want is to go off too early. I want to go on myterms.
I shouldn’t look down—only straight ahead at the night sky. But I can’t resist the temptation. From up here, the ground feels a million miles away. But it’s not; it’s just the haze, and the fear, twisting my insides like a corkscrew.
Jump, Alfie! Don’t be afraid!
You can doit.
You have to. You’re out of options. Time is almost up. You can’t stay here anymore. It’sover!
Wendy’s face pops into my head. I try not to let it, but it’s the only face I truly know. And she’s the only person that really knows me. If I had any parents—or a real family—I guess I’d see their faces instead. But I don’t, and Wendy is the closest thing I have to a mother. So I can’t shake off the image—my mind won’t allowit.
I creep forward, the ground now an abyss of darkness, a gateway toHell.
No, it’s not a gateway. I’m already there. And I’ve been there all my life. Today is just the last straw.
And now it’stime.
That great summer smell has gone, replaced by the stink of rotting bodies and disease.
And there’s nothing left to donow.
Where the hell are my trainers?
Wendy’s put them somewhere; I just know it. I drop to the floor and peek under the bed. All I see are Harry’s toys, scattered across the carpet like a playpen. Cars, Spider-Man figures; he hasn’t played with these in years.
“Wendy!” I call out as I stand, frowning as if it can’t possibly be my fault. “Where’ve you put my white trainers?”
She doesn’t answer. Typical.
I step out of my bedroom. “Wendy!” I shout out to the entire house.
“Shut the fuck up, Alfie!” Phil shouts from his bedroom, trying to sleep off another afternoon of cider, no doubt. Drunken bald prick! Not the greatest of foster dads, but at least he’s too wasted to hit me. He can try his luck—if he fancies another blackeye.
I hear Wendy walk up the stairs, her footsteps lighter than usual, clearly avoiding pissing off the old man. Why she hasn’t left him already is beyond me. It’s not like he’s flush with cash or anything. He’s just another worthless sponger, happy to collect his payment for being a foster parent. Thank God for Wendy. If it weren’t for her, I’d probably be sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs.
“Which trainers?” she asks, her voice a little quieter.
“The white ones,” I reply as she follows me into my bedroom.
She opens the wardrobe doors. “All your trainers are white, Alfie. You’ll have to be more specific. New? Old? Dirtyones?”
“I’ve already looked in there,” I tell her, quickly closing the doors after her. That’s the last place I want her snooping through. She’s quicker than a sniffer dog at finding my hidden shit. “I’ve looked everywhere. Please tell me that jackass hasn’t sold them oneBay.”
Wendy turns to me, rolling her eyes. “Don’t be silly. Phil wouldn’t do something like that.” I love the way she knows exactly who the jackass is. “They’re here somewhere.”
“Well, I need them. They’re my luckyones.”
“Why?” she asks, kneeling down to look under the bed. “Thinking about buying a lottery ticket?”
“No. It’s because Swansea have won every game when I’ve had them on—and I ain’t risking it today.”
“That’s ridiculous, boy,” she snorts, scanning the rest of the room. “You’re being superstitious.”
I slip on my Swansea jersey, and then check out my new haircut in the mirror. It’s a little shorter than I like it, but an Afro just doesn’t go down well in Swansea. “It’s important, Wendy. It’s the League Cup Semi-Final. I can’t afford to fuck itup.”
Wendy turns to me, a sharp scowl on her brow. “Watch your language, Alfie. This is your home—not some house party with your friends.”
“Sorry. It just slipped out. I’m just panicking. It won’t happen again.”
I hate swearing in front of her, but when you live under the same roof as two loudmouth foster sisters, a bratty nine-year-old, and an alcoholic asshole, the words just pop out as easily as breathing.
Before she can tear into me again, she spots something in the corner of the room, by Harry’s bed. “Are those your trainers?”
I see something white poking out, wedged between the wooden headboard and creamwall.
My bloody trainers!
The little shit, I almost say when I yank them out. “He’s hidden them fromme.”
“Don’t be so paranoid. He probably just borrowedthem.”
“He’s a child. They’d never fit him in a million years.”
“Look, he’s downstairs watching a film with Rosy. Don’t go arguing with him now. I’ve already had to separate them once this morning. I’ll have a quiet word with him after you’ve left for the game. Okay?”
I sigh loudly, sitting on the bed, slipping on my squashed trainers. “Fine. But make sure you do. He gets away with murder, thatkid.”
“Okay—boss,” Wendy says, rubbing the top of my head, screwing up my hair. “I’ll do it later.”
“Watch the hair,” I say with a smile, moving my head away from her hand. “I worked hard onthat.”
Walking towards the door, she laughs. “What hair? They barely left any to messup.”
Wendy disappears out onto the landing, leaving me to do one more check before Ginge gets here. I stand up and look down at myfeet.
Red board shorts? Check
Swansea jersey? Check
I pat my back pocket. Phone? Check.
I push the loose coins from the desk into my hand and pour them into the left pocket. There’s about ten, twelve quid. It’ll have todo.
Pulling the drawer open, I take out the ticket. Crazed butterflies fill my stomach when I see the words Swansea vs. Cardiff written across the grey and red card. Last year was a complete washout. But 2009 is our year! I know I say that every year, but this time is different. This time, I can feel it in my bones. “You’re going down, you Cardiff fuckers!” I say, kissing the tickethard.
“I heard that,” Wendy says from the landing.
I go to the doorway and watch her walk down the stairs, carrying a basket of washing. “Sorry,” I say, as she disappears out of sight. I give the landing a quick scan and then close thedoor.
Opening the wardrobe doors, I reach up onto the top shelf and pull down the shoebox. I lift the lid off and stare at its contents for a minute.
Just leave it there, Alfie. You don’t needit.
Another thirty seconds pass before I take out the small flick-knife, and quickly slip it into my pocket.
I know it’s Ginge at the door before I’ve even opened it. I know his knock. Not quite a secret knock, just loud enough to wake the neighbours—but mainly to piss off Phil. I think Ginge does it on purpose. He likes to be the centre of attention. But he’s not the one who has to live with the wanker.
“You took your time, Alf,” Ginge says, leaning against the doorframe as if posing for a modelling shoot. He’s wearing his white flip-flops, red and blue board shorts, and a Swansea jersey—which is way too tight for that bulging belly. “Thought you’d bailed onme.”
I snort. “What, and miss the most important game of the year? As if. I think that ginger mop is cutting the circulation to your tiny brain, mate.”
“I would say the same to you, but you’ve chopped off the Afro. Why the fuck would you do that? That was the only reason you had any girls in school. It was the only cool thing about you.” He steps into the house. “Now you’re just some black teenager. How boring isthat!”
I smile. If I didn’t love the guy, then I might just be a little insulted. But it’s hard to stay mad at him. He just has that cheeky way about him. “I know. What can youdo?”
Ginge pulls a scary face at Harry as he passes him in the hallway. He can never resist winding the spoilt little bratup.
“Fuck off, you fat ginger cunt,” Harry barks as he walks up the stairs.
“Oi!” I shout. “Don’t speak to him like that! I’ll be telling Wendy aboutyou.”
The little prick gives me the middle finger and runs up the stairs, laughing.
“Sorry about him,” I say, as if it’s the first time he’s done it. God knows why I have to apologise for him. He’s not my kid. “He’s just a little shit. Can’t blame him, though, living in this place.”
Wendy steps out of the kitchen carrying two bacon rolls on a plate, wearing her favourite apron; the one with the picture of a pink cupcake on the front, a gift from Rosy last Christmas. It still makes me smile. “Thought I heard you, Ginge,” she says, handing us a roll each. “Here, eat these. I know what you boys are like; you’ll end up drinking beer on an empty stomach.”
“Thanks, Wendy,” Ginge says, instantly taking a huge bite. You can swear he’s never seen one in his life. “You’re astar.”
“Don’t worry,” I reassure her, “we won’t be drinking much. I’m skint. Plus, the booze is always too expensive in the stadium, anyway. We’ll just have a couple in the pub before we get there.”
“Who are you meeting in the pub?” sheasks.
“Just the guys,” I reply, waiting for her to give me the lecture on how awful my friendsare.
“It’s not that Jonny and his brother, is it?” she asks—right oncue!
“Yeah. And Hoppy’ll be there.”
She shakes her head, pursing her lips. “Watch yourself with those boys, now, Alfie. They’re terrible, especially that Jonny.”
“I’ll look after him, Wendy,” Ginge says with his usual cheeky grin. “Your boy’s in safe hands.”
Wendy ignores his comment and pulls me in for a kiss. I put up a small fight but then give in to it. It’s pointless resisting; she always gets me in theend.
“Right, we’re going,” I tell her. “You’ve driven usaway.”
“Bye, Wendy,” Ginge says as we step out onto the front path. “I’ll get him home in one piece. I promise.”
“Just be careful,” she says, “you’re only seventeen. You’re not as grown up as you think. And you’re at the petrol station tomorrow. You can’t be late for work again. Jobs don’t grow on trees, youknow.”
I wave her off as we head along the pavement. She’s sweet, but she doesn’t half goon.
As soon as she’s gone inside, we each light up a cigarette. I haven’t had a smoke since last night. No point even risking it in the garden; Wendy can smell it from a mileoff.
Glancing around the cul-de-sac, I see at least five houses with Swansea banners and towels hanging from the windows. Feels like the whole city will be watching this afternoon. Most probably will be. Maybe not at the stadium. Although, it is a sell-out. Twenty-one thousand tickets gone—in a matter of hours. Some guy at work offered me two hundred for mine. I told him to piss off. Wendy said I should have taken him up on his offer; put the money towards driving lessons.
No bloody chance!
“How’s Burger-Land treating you?” I ask. “Still eating half the profits?”
“Oh, yeah. I never go hungry in that place. There’s fuck all else to do there but eat. It’s dead most evenings.”
“I know. It was like a ghost town last time I popped in. Where are all the fat bastards when you needthem?”
“I know. They’re thinking about closing itdown.”
“Really?” I ask as we cross Kilroy Street, heading towards the Farmers Arms pub. “What are you supposed to do then? You’ll never afford season tickets in the VIP suite without ajob.”
Ginge laughs. “I wish. We wouldn’t even be able to afford to use the toilet in there. They’d take one look at us and kick us to thecurb.”
“Speak for yourself. Petrol-attendants already get the VIP treatment in those places.”
“Would be nice, though, an aerial view of the pitch, a private bar and waiter service. Oh well, I’m sure some rich slut will show up at work, turning me into her sex slave forcash.”
“Yeah, lose the belly first,” I say, flicking the cigarette stub on the pavement, and then pushing the pub door open. “And the hair. No one likes a ginger-nut.”
The Farmers Arms pub: your classic old man boozer.
The smell of stale beer and mould hit my nostrils as soon as I walk in. The place is almost empty—but that’s the way Jonny likes it. He never bothers with the real Swansea football pubs. They’re always too busy and too loud. But more importantly, Cardiff fans would never set foot in one. The Farmers Arms is notoriously a pub for rival teams to drink in before a game. The last five times we’ve drunk here we’ve ended up fighting. That’s probably why it’s not as busy as it used to be. Not that fussed on the agro myself; I’d rather just sit here, get wasted, and then stroll over to the stadium.
But Jonny Ross always gets hisway.
As soon as I make my way to the bar I spot Hoppy, slumped up against the fruit machine. The big bastard’s probably been there for hours, blown most of his dole money already. And then when he’s drunk and skint, he’ll be swinging punches at one of us. He’s not the best of friends, but he’s a hard fucker. And someone like that is always handy to have in your corner, especially on a matchday.
The watered-down beer is cheap here, so I offer to go on rounds with Ginge. Hopefully, if I can time it right, Ginge will have to buy me a drink in the stadium. And in that place, they’re twice the price. It’s not exactly the greatest of scams, but it usually works a treat on him. In school, I learned fuck all. But beer-maths? I’m a bloody genius.
I take the two pints of beer over to the table. Ginge is sitting next to Nathan. He’s probably my least favourite person to hang out with. He’s lippy, tight, always ends up fighting, and he’s a total racist. Which doesn’t really bother me, because even I get a little racist when I see his scrawny, white arms, his thin little legs, seeming even smaller with those black skinny-jeans on. Stupid prick. And that blond shaved head makes him look like a newborn baby. But what can you do? He’s Jonny’s younger brother. He’s protected, and has been all his life. And no one fucks with the Ross family.
“What’s up, my nigger?” Nathan says in a lousy American accent. Just because the little twat listens to Jay-Z, he thinks he can throw out the Nword.
“Shut the fuck up, Nath,” Ginge says, nudging him in the ribs. “You can’t go shouting out things likethat.”
Nathan lets out a chuckle. “Calm down, you prick, I was only joking. He knows that, don’t youAlf?”
I’m above his shit, so I throw him a sarcastic grin as I sit down at the table. I take a huge swig of beer, imagining how great it would be to smash his head in. “Where’s your brother?” I askhim.
He motions with his head behind me. “He’s in the bog having a line. He’s got us some great coke. Nothing like that stuff we had last time. This shit will blow your headoff.”
“None for me today,” I say, shaking my head. “I’m skint. I’ve only got enough for a couple of pints.”
“What? On match day? Don’t be a pussy.”
Ignoring his dig, I take a sip of my beer, and glance over at Hoppy. He’s shaking the fruit machine, clearly just lost a shit-load of coin. God knows why he even bothers. All he goes on about is how much he loses. Mr Unlucky.
He gives it a quick kick and starts to walk towards us, his face pink with aggression. I wonder how much he’s lost thistime.
“All right, Hoppy?” I ask, praying that he doesn’t take his loss out on one of us. I mean, the guy’s twice my size, and that Swansea top is ready to pop off at the seams. Not sure if it’s shrunk in the wash, or he’s trying to show off his chunky arms. “No luck today then, mate?”
He sits down heavily next to Nathan, gulps down half his pint in one go, and then burps loudly; the sharp burbling sound echoes around the pub. I tighten up a little when I see the old couple frowning from the next table. “Fuck all luck, Alf,” he says, wiping the froth from his lips. “I’m sure that thing’s rigged.”
“It’s not worth it, Hop,” Ginge says. “Those machines only pay off after someone’s been on it for hours.”
Hoppy turns to him and scowls. “You don’t think I know that, Ginge? I’ve been popping coins for an hour before you lot got here.” He finishes what’s left of his drink, belches again, and then gets up. “Right then, whose round isit?”
“I’m on rounds with Ginge,” I say. “Can’t afford to go on with everyone; I’m totally skint this month.”
“He’s a pussy,” says Nathan, nudging him. “He reckons he’s not having any of Jonny’scoke.”
“What?” Hoppy blurts out, sitting back down, eyes bursting from their sockets, as if I’ve just come out of the closet. “You’ve got to, Alf. It’s fucking awesome sniff! Best I’ve ever had. Practically uncut.”
Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Straight from the fields of Colombia, I bet. “I’d love to, mate, but I’ve only got enough for a few pints today.”
“Then I’ll lend you the sixty,” Hoppy offers. “Come on, Alf. Manup.”
I shake my head. “I can’t. I’ll never get to pay you back. I’ll be eighteen in four months; I’ve got to find somewhere to live. Wendy and Phil are never gonna keep meon.”
“Fuck ‘em, then,” Ginge says. “And fuck your foster dad. You can crash with me until you’re back on your feet. Mum won’t care, and my sister has moved in with her boyfriend, so the place is practically empty.”
“See!” Hoppy says with his face lit up, knowing full-well that I’m a sucker for peer pressure.
And great cocaine.
“I’ll think about it,” I say, taking a slow drink of beer, trying my best to ration it. “So what’s the score gonna be today, guys? I bet you’ve been down to the bookies this week, Hop.”
“Damn right,” Hoppy replies, nodding his head excitedly as he walks over to the bar. “I put a ton on Swansea beating Cardiff 2-1. Easy money.”
“I reckon 3-2,” I say. “Cardiff are looking pretty good. Reese and Turner are injured, so we’ve only got one decent striker: Davies.”
“What about Thomas?” Nathan asks. “He’s had a good season.”
“Thomas is fucking shit,” I hear Jonny say from behindme.
I turn and smile. “There he is—the man of the hour. Where’ve you been hiding?”
Jonny sniffs loudly and dabs his nostrils with a piece of toilet paper. “What happened to the mini-Afro, Alfie? It suited you, mate.”
“It had to go,” I reply. “It was a pain in the ass to keep clean.”
He nods, and then looks over at Ginge. “You’ve got your own Afro coming yourself.” He picks up his brother’s pint and takes a huge swig. “But it’s fucking ginger.”
“Nothing wrong with this colour,” Ginge replies, his tone playful, even though it’s obviously forced. “It’s all the rage these days, Jon. Ginger’s the new blond.”
“How the fuck is it all the rage, you dick?” Jonny asks. “No one wants to be a ginger.”
“Prince Harry’s a ginger,” Ginge replies. “And the girls lovehim.”
Jonny laughs out loud. “Yeah, but he’s a Prince. You work at fucking Burger-Land. It’s not quite thesame.”
Ginge starts to drink his pint quickly, clearly desperate not to show his discomfort. No one wants an argument with Jonny Ross. Why the hell would they? Shaved head, cracked front tooth, dog bite scar on his left cheek. I mean, he’s a scary bastard, even to me—and I’ve known him for six years. Fuck, not even Hoppy would get into a fight with the guy—and he’s twice thesize.
“So what do you think the score will be, Jonny?” I ask, trying to keep the conversation light before Ginge ends up saying something stupid. “Close game orwhat?”
Tysiące ebooków i audiobooków
Ich liczba ciągle rośnie, a Ty masz gwarancję niezmiennej ceny.
Napisali o nas:
Nowy sposób na e-księgarnię
Czytelnicy nie wierzą
Legimi idzie na całość
Projekt Legimi wielkim wydarzeniem
Spotify for ebooks