Well, here I am at my second Eastercon, and it’s a much larger and more intimidating affair than last year’s Contemplation. Fortunately I’ve bumped into fellow F3ers and friends Paul Raven, Gareth Powell, Martin McGrath, Neil Beynon, one Dev Agarwal (another thoroughly nice bloke), the one-man hive of industry that is Ian Whates, plus enjoyed a traditional Friday Curry with the Third Row contingent, so the feeling of being lost at sea is somewhat mitigated. However, as a result of this general ambience – of being simultaneous somewhere familiar, and entirely strange – I bring you this week’s Friday Flash Fiction: Deadblogging.
Oh, and don’t forget: buy our book! We have copies with us…
It should have been obvious from the hurried manner of the girls behind the checking-in desk, the fear in the eyes of the volunteers staffing the registration desk. Something was wrong here from the outset: a discovery I had rudely confirmed when I ventured into my first panel of the day. Now these debates can get vicious, I give you that, but this was a charnel house; the function room was daubed in torn flesh and blood, liberally scattered with dismembered limbs, and populated by the unblinking stares of the living dead. Here and there some members of the audience attempted to raise a point, but for every upraised hand, politely waiting its turn, there were a dozen or more zombies ready to feast on the flesh of the living.
I got out quickly, fled through ichor-stained halls to the sanctity of my tiny hotel room. Here, protected by thick wood-panelled doors and a keycard lock that surely surpasses the mental capacity of the recently deceased, I feel some measure of safety.I can hear them moving outside, blindly trying each door in turn, seeking entry. Every so often some poor fool opens up to see what the commotion is all about. Their shrieks and cries for help send shivers up my spine. Yes, this place is overburdened with cliche. All I can do is turn the aircon up, boost the volume of my music, and keep blogging.
There are others like me, lost and alone in this carnival house of horrors. We’re communicating over the hotel’s unsecured wireless networks. There have been efforts to formulate some sort of plan. Some of the more gung-ho milSF types are aiming for the whole destroy-the-brain-or-remove-the-head approach; others want to hole up in the hope of rescue. Most of us know how these stories usually end, but I suppose people have to hope.
Me, I’ll be hooking up with a band of drunken Scandinavians and middle-aged book critics: we’re banking on the success of a surgical strike to collect fresh fruit and any other foodstuffs we can find. I brought a few noodles-inna-pot instasnacks but these alone hardly constitute a survivalist stash. Besides, we might be able to round up a few more alive-insides en route. There have to be more of us, those without laptops or the latest mobile phones.
I’m not too hopeful about our chances of success. Call me a cynic if you want. You’ll probably choke on your own blood whilst uttering the words, so what do I care? At the end of the day we’re all just playing our parts in a zombie apocalypse movie, clinging to the belief that our bit parts are the ones that will leave us without the red shirts.
If you’re arriving late, over the weekend proper, my advice is: travel armed.