This zombie apocalypse novel starts with lone parent Lynn Fletcher trapped behind the counter at her place of work, a small petrol service station, near Shefferham, with young son Tommy bunked up behind her. Despite her engineering degree, Lynn can’t get a better job and can’t afford childcare for Tommy, which is why her young boy is with her when the apocalypse hits. Her shift is disturbed by one of her regulars, stonehead Alan, slavering outside the kiosk and banging on the glass. Lynn thinks she is safe from the strange behaviour of the rioters when another regular, a business man, approaches her kiosk, but her nightmare is only just beginning.
Lynn is eventually ‘saved’, if you can cal it that, by a gang of hungover bikers returning from a festival, and low on gas. In exchange for free gas and becoming their ‘Mama’, the bikers agree to bring Lynn and Tommy with them. Vinnie, Mad Dan, Stan, and the rest of the bikers have an advantage in the apocalypse when it comes to their leathers and helmets, to protect them from infection, and their twisted morals. These are rough and ready bikers with their own code of honour; When Vinnie takes on Lynn as his ‘Old Lady’ to prevent her from being gang raped, she becomes off the menu for the rest of the bikers.
As they drive through the country heading back to their property, Lynn is shocked to see the rioters eating their victims. Finally, this rag tag group of survivors land at an Industrial Estate, and the bikers get to revel in a new, crumbling society, where there are no police, the world has gone to hell and they can do what they want.
Of the characters, Lynn a first seems weak as she accepts the role of Vinnie’s Old Lady, despite her distaste of him, but she is really taking on the lesser of two evils; be with one man, no matter how despicable, or be raped by many. These are not your run of the mill survivors. Firstly, they are more equipped to deal with the situation, being used to violence as they are, and secondly, they are distinctly amoral. However, Vinnie does show redeeming qualities, and even seems to develop feelings for Lynn and Tommy despite his hard exterior. This gives the whole zombie apocalypse an extra dimension as these bikers will do anything it takes to survive, and so, it seems, will Lynn. As for Stan, he is such an imbecile, you feel sure this is the author’s intention, to make a character so flawed and corrupt.
Whilst the bikers are a little clichéd, their reactions feel real. And for zombie lovers, this is a bonus, because there is gore and violence aplenty to entertain the staunchest of horror fans. And speaking of bonus, this book comes with a bonus story ‘Simon Goes Shopping’ which shows in contrast a very weak character, yet also flawed, who heads out into the apocalypse with a baseball bat and a shopping list. The contrast works as we see how this man, a man on the sex offenders list, has managed to survive and the extent to which he will go to continue living. It works particularly well as the conclusion of this story merges with the end of ‘The Meat Wagon’ in unexpected ways. A little short for my taste, but overall a welcome addition to the genre.
Available at Amazon.