It was approaching Christmas and a period of the year that Jack always
detested; even as a child he had hated the event, even receiving the
presents his parents bought him. At school all the other kids would
laugh at what he had got as they paraded about in all the latest
fashionable labels. Having worked in retail for the last five years
had not helped him get over his hatred; if anything it heightened his
disgust at the whole charade for a festival. He occasionally thought
that maybe it was the shop in which he worked; a supermarket of the
convenience kind but even their worst customers had to shop in other
places as well therefore all places had potential for contamination.
Jack’s morning shift at the check-out had passed with little of
interest happening and it felt like just any other day. That was at
least until he got home and turned on his TV to one of the rolling
news channels. The news was odd; on the screen were the streets of
Brighton, the town where Jack lived, and news that a weird spectacle
was unfolding in shops across the whole town.
A reporter, stood next to a bemused looking security guard, told of it
all beginning in a low-price fashion retailer. Apparently, she
announced, it all began when two people went for the same dress and
there was only one left. Fighting started and then suddenly blood…
It was then the frenzy began. People became swept up in their
consumerist binges and all hell broke loose. Security guards tried to
contain the situation the reporter announced before turning the
microphone to the guard next to her.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I’ve worked in some places before now
where things have got out of control but never like this…”
“So what exactly happened?”
“Well, I was just about to pull these two women apart who were arguing
about a dress when suddenly one of them, well… her eyes changed and
then all hell broke loose. I can’t explain it, it was like something
had possessed her, almost like a horror movie, but… well, real…”
“Well, at that point I just decided to get out of the situation. It
seemed my safety was in immediate danger.”
“Well, thanks for that,” the reporter finished before handing back to
The news anchor announced that these scenes were happening all over
the country but no one yet knew what was happening with these people.
Jack sat back in his sofa and rolled a joint. The news continued and
every so often a new reporter would bring horrific footage from
The hours passed and the pictures were becoming more and more graphic
and horrific. In Newcastle there were pictures of topless men
storming off-licences to get supplies of local ale. The proprietor, a
diminutive Asian man in his late fifties, could not believe what had
happened and his tears were repeated by a succession of shop-owners
across the country. The mobs would maraud around their towns,
attacking shops in a consumerist binge of nightmare proportions.
Jack knew that Monday morning meant his weekend was over and he would
have to return to work but now it was with a new fear.
‘What if my shop gets targeted?’ Jack had thought to himself almost
constantly since that first news broadcast, probably echoing the
thoughts of millions of retail workers all over the country. As he
had an hour before he had to head out in to the battlefield Jack
turned on his TV for any latest news.
“Here, in Brighton,” the reporter was saying, “the situation is
perhaps at its most dire. Over the weekend we have seen hundreds of
shops in the town centre over-run by these consumerist zombies. So,
how has this affected your shop?”
“Well, we got hit Saturday afternoon. All of our booze went in about
an hour. Some people even threw money at me as they ran out my shop
carrying stock. I saw some odd things; a large skinhead grabbing all
my bottles of Martini and running… I’ve essentially lost everything.
I have no stock left and my distributor refuses to come and deliver
due to the situation. I heard about a delivery van being attacked
last night; one of the big shops never got their stock as it was
stolen before it even got through the front door.”
“There you are, here in Brighton, it is complete chaos. There are
creatures running around attacking shops everywhere.” Jack’s picture
began to shake and suddenly all you could hear were voices.
“Buy… buy… get… consume… possess…”
It was clear that the camera had become the latest item stolen and
that the mantra for the zombies had been established. Jack looked out
his living room window on to the seafront and all seemed calm. He
decided he should go out, even if he didn’t make it to work, in order
to see what was actually happening. He decided to smoke another joint
before heading out. If his memory of those Romero movies was correct
zombies were usually pretty lackadaisical and he would have more
chance of not looking completely out of place if he was stoned.
Finishing the joint he stepped outside his flat and began the descent
to street level. Outside all seemed well so Jack decided to walk in
to the centre of town along the seafront knowing this would only take
his past a couple of gay bars and a cafe. There wasn’t much for the
consumerists to get in a frenzy around here but who knew what was
happening on the next street up, St James’s Street, the main
thoroughfare through the Kemp Town area and the place that was full of
shops. Jack thought of a couple of people he knew who ran shops there
and decided to go investigate. Turning right on to the side-street
connecting the two main roads Jack could see immediately, at the top
of the street, a couple of creatures fighting over a barbeque kit. It
was clear that they had got in the warehouse of another branch of
Jack’s shop; no other place would have summer stock in at this time of
year. The shop itself was empty of stock yet despite this people were
still walking around as if things were normal desperate for new things
to buy, anything would do…
St James’s Street was awash with these creatures, out of their mind
with delirium and desperate to find new stuff to get any which way
they could. The law had lost, it was all-out consumerism now and
anything was up for grabs. Jack began walking down the street towards
the centre of town and no doubt the most chaotic area. Even before
the outbreak Western Road and the shopping centre occasionally reached
levels of delirium akin to the zombie apocalypse that was now
unfolding all over the country. Shops in every part of the country
were being stripped clean and the government simply didn’t know what
to do whilst the police remained confused as to what to do with those
who tried to buy their goods. It was a very weird situation and it
became immediately apparent that no government department had a plan
for what to do and were a long way from coming to any conclusions.
Social networking sites were full of activity; stores telling their
customers that everything was going to be OK whilst colleagues in
retail messaged each other. The general consensus amongst Jack’s
colleagues was that they were not going in; some had even been whipped
up in to the consumerist delirium.
Jack knew that something needed to be done but he had no idea how to
stop these people behaving the way they were and he was only one man.
It would need an army to stop this wave of delirium taking everyone
under its control.
St James’s Street saw a few business-owners holding off the creatures
with barricades in front of their premises. The owners generally had
back-up in the shape of any friends who cared to help out but it was
going to be a struggle to keep them at their door for long.
Eventually the shops would be lost but for now humanity clung on
knowing its time was running short. Jack soon noticed that all the
supermarkets were empty of stock and staff and knew his place would be
exactly the same. North Street, the main road that lead on from St
James’s, was full of big chains mainly and looked like it had been
decimated, a victim of war. Despite this people still walked the
streets, in and out of the deserted shops, desperate for something to
consume. There was nothing left and all delivery firms had cancelled
all work for the foreseeable future, very soon there would be nothing
When the government minister without portfolio realised this panic
gripped him; it would be the ultimate disaster and he had no idea of
how to deal with it. It was his job to come up with a plan though and
in desperate times he came up with a desperate plan. That night, on
TV and online, he asked for assistance.
“We need your help. Any ideas about how we can deal with these
creatures would be greatly appreciated,” he droned trying to make it
not sound like the end of the world was just around the corner.
Jack returned to his flat after walking through the Lanes and seeing
the utter devastation the town had experienced in the short few days
since the epidemic began. He brewed some tea, rolled a joint and
decided to watch a classic zombie film, Dawn of the Dead. It was
half-way through the picture when it suddenly occurred to Jack that
maybe the creatures outside could be dealt with in the same way as
Romero had dealt with his on film. Immediately Jack pulled his phone
from his pocket and connected to the web and went to a micro-blogging
site where he asked a short question.
‘If it works for Romero it could work for us. Shot the bastards in the head.’
Why no one had suggested this plan of action before Jack was unsure
but if it worked that was all that he cared. With the film ending
Jack turned over to a news channel where an important update was due
to be announced.
“We have a plan and it works, now what we need from you all is to go
home and remain there whilst we deal with this situation,” the
minister without portfolio said.
Questions came pouring in from the floor of the media centre but it
was suggested they all go home, it wasn’t going to safe on the streets
for the next couple of days, and take shelter. Jack had always hated
being told what to do and his general untrusting approach to
politicians meant he had to go out and see what was happening.
This time though he would head straight in to the centre of town,
straight to the failing heart of the consumerist society. Western
Road was awash with police in riot-gear, preparing for the influx of
troops who it was believed would cleanse the streets of these
creatures. They were barricading the creatures in to the shops they
were in the process of trashing without the supervision of staff or
security guards. Jack noticed the police were concentrating their
efforts on the big stores, the chains. Many of the small outlets were
being over-run whilst staff tried to save their merchandise as owners,
out on the street, were pleading to un-hearing police for help.
Jack continued his walk around the epicentre of the delirium by
walking up to the train station. The shops here had been trashed and
robbed a couple of days earlier and there was nothing left, nothing
but broken lives and broken glass. From here Jack entered the North
Laine, a labyrinth of interesting shops and pubs, and was disturbed to
see it was similar. Whilst some shops had so far survived it was only
due to even more vigorous securing of their defences than on St
James’s Street. Some shops though had been trashed by their own staff
that was swept up in the consumerist delirium. Bizarrely three of
Jack’s favourite shops had remained untouched by the horror and for
that he was grateful. Continuing his walk through the tight little
alleys and streets Jack came again to North Street. He had still to
walk past his work, he had so far just assumed it had gone in the
original battle, but felt this was as good a time as any. After this
he planned on walking back to his flat and barricading himself in; he
hoped it wouldn’t be for long. Turning left at the 99p store he knew
what was coming; about six doors down was where he worked. The
security gate had been broken down and the shop appeared empty of both
stock and staff. Strewn over the floor were boxes of broken
merchandise, clearly the last of a line that two people simply must
have had at that moment when the delirium kicked in. Jack was unsure
of how to feel; his job may be over as his shop had been destroyed but
at least this year no one would be talking about Christmas.
Moments later Jack looked up the street and saw the army moving in,
seconds later he was hit. A bullet straight to his gut, it stung and
hurt like mad, and Jack knew he should have stayed in. Drifting out
of consciousness all he could hear were the wheels of the tanks
rolling in and the firing of gun-shots.
It was approaching Christmas and a period of the year that Jack always