Cats and their humans have always lived peacefully together – Ancient Egyptians worshiped them, musicals have been written about them, the internet goes Gaga for them - Zomcats! Dumps all that into the litter tray of life.
This ain't no cute, cuddly kitten zombie story.
ZOMCATS! by Jack Strange does for cuddly felines what James Herbert’s horror classic The Rats did for rodents.
It's violent, horror laced mayhem with savage satire and devilish dark humour.
The action starts on the first page and doesn’t stop till the shocking cliff hanger climax on the last.
Zomcats! When their 9 lives are up they come back from the dead!
"Strange writes Zomcats! as though he's on a mixture of speed and catnip!"
- Kensington Gore
A stone whistled past Bob Slawit’s ear, missing it my millimetres and almost knocking him off balance.
“Ha, ha ha! Nice one, Nipper!” Said Bigfucka Briggs.
Bigfucka was the leader of the Savages, a teenage gang that had been terrorising the villagers of Nobblethwaite for months.
Encouraged by the words of his leader, Nipper Davies pranced up behind Slawit and gave him an energetic kick up the backside. Slawit turned on his attacker, waving his white stick angrily. Unfortunately he was unable to see much more than a dark shadow which danced nimbly out of range as he swung his stick at it.
“I’ll ‘ave yer, yer little fucking bastard,” he fumed impotently, as more stones came his way. “I’ll make yer bloody well pay.”
As the word ‘pay’ left his lips, a particularly large stone hit him on the forehead. He staggered backward from the force of it, blood spurting onto the cobbles from the wound it had made. He dropped his stick and covered the wound with his veined old hands.
“Yer little fucking bastards,” he repeated, as another kick up the backside sent him sprawling onto the cobbles.
“I’ll fucking have yer, I’ll fucking well have the lot of yer,” he said, waving his fists in the air, as boot after teenage boot landed sickeningly in his ribs.
Slawit had spent most of the afternoon sinking pints of real ale in the Ne’er do well, the only pub in the village.
After that, he’d gone to the Nobblethwaite McDonald’s and enjoyed a Mega-Bucket of Extra-Thick Blackcurrant Milk shake which had bits of something gritty alleged to be real pieces of blackcurrant floating about in it. As the boots struck home, Slawit felt the milk shake and the eight pints of real ale he’d drunk sloshing about his insides in a sinister way.
A boot caught him in the pit of his stomach.
He rolled onto his back and opened his mouth to say “Oh fuck,” but no words came out.
Instead, a dark purple fountain spurted from his mouth at high pressure. In size and ferocity it resembled a volcanic eruption. It shot into the air, forcefully covering his attackers in vomit. It coated them all liberally, and they fled in disgust, covered in foul-smelling goo.
Once they’d gone, Marjory, the kindly old lady who ran the village bakery, came out of her shop and helped Bob to his feet.
“They’re right little terrors, that lot Bob,” she said.
“That’s not the word I’d use to describe them,” he replied. “I’d describe them as right little fucking bastard twats.”
“Well, I don’t blame you. I just hope they ‘aven’t hurt you.”
“You what? You hope they haven’t hurt me? Did you see what they did? Course they fucking well hurt me, the little fucking bastard twats.”
“I’m sorry. I would have helped but I’m scared to death of ‘em. I didn’t want to risk getting beat up me self, and nor did anyone else round here. We’re all scared to death of ‘em.”
“What about that copper we have that’s meant to be on the village beat? Constable Bryson. Why didn’t he come to help me?”
“There’s been a lot of coppers made redundant from up at the Nab police station, Bob. So Constable Bryson has to cover ten villages now. He only comes to Nobblethwaite every second Monday and on Bank Holidays.”
“I’ll go and ask that gang of young twats to wait till a week on Monday or the next May Day Bank Holiday to beat me up next time then, eh? That way Copper Bryson might have some chance of seeing ‘em at it and arresting someone.”
Marjory picked up Slawit’s stick and handed it to him.
“I’m very sorry Bob, truly I am.”
Slawit took a deep breath.
“No need to apologise, Marjory. Sorry if I was a bit short with yer. I was angry that’s all. Tell you what, it’s a good job I were shit-faced cos if I hadn’t been that would have been very painful. I would have felt every one of those kicks they landed on me. As it is, I probably won’t feel any of ‘em till tomorrow after I’ve slept off the beer. I’ll see thee Marjory.”
“Bye bye Bob. Take care, now.”
Slawit made his uncertain way to the side of the road and tapped around with his white stick to get his bearings, and then he tapped his way up Nodger Hill, the steep incline which led to Slawit Hall, his home, which was perched alone on the top of the hill, a mile outside Nobblethwaite.
When he got there, he heard a meowing noise as he opened his front door.
“Who are you, little pussycat?” He asked. He bent down and let the cat rub its face against his hand; then he stroked the cat under its chin and felt a collar and name tag. He ran his fingers over the name tag and felt the engraved lettering with his fingertips.
“Henderson,” he said. “So that’s your name. Where have you come from? You better come in.”
He pushed open the door and felt the cat rub against his legs.
“Now then,” he said. “I expect you’ll want something to eat.”
“Meeow. Meeow. Meeeeooow.”
“I’m not hungry me self, but I’ll get you something.”
He opened a kitchen cupboard. It was full of tins. He felt around with his hand.
“I think you’ll like this, lad,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it’s got some meat in it.”
He opened the tin and scraped the contents onto a side plate, and put the plate on the floor.
The cat sniffed it and walked away.
“Meeow,” he said again.
“What?” Slawit asked. “You couldn’t have eaten it that quickly. That’s not possible.”
He reached to the floor and felt around and soon enough his fingers encountered a pile of stewed steak in gravy.
“You fussy little bugger,” he said. “Well, if you’re not ‘aving that, I am. I’ll save it for me self to eat later.”
He put the plate in his fridge and felt around for the leftover bacon he had on the top shelf.
“You can have this instead.”
He threw the bacon onto the floor and Henderson let out a snarl and pounced on it.
He held the meat down with his abnormally large paws, and tore bits from it with his sharp teeth.
“I’ve never heard a cat sound like you do. Yer sound more like a lion than any cat I’ve ever met,” said Slawit, when he heard the sound of Henderson’s voracious eating.
“Meeow, meeow, meeeeooow.”
“You can’t still be hungry. There must ‘ave been at least three quarters of a pound of bacon there. Hang on, I’ll see what else I can get yer.”
Slawit groped around the inside of his fridge, and found four beef sausages. He lobbed them onto the kitchen floor. Then he heard a snarling, chewing sound followed by a purring sound.
Then: “Meeow, meeow, meeeeooow.”
“For fuck’s sake, I can’t keep up with yer. I haven’t got any more food left in the house. You’ll have to wait till tomorrow to be fed, when I next go to the shops.”
Slawit went to his front room and tried to read one of his brail books, but it was impossible because of the noise.
“Meeow, meeow, meeeeooow.”
“Fucking hell,” he said after a while. “I’ve had enough.”
He went to the front door and opened it.
“Go on,” he said. “Out yer go.”
“Meeow, meeow, meeeeooow.”
As Henderson was showing no inclination to leave, Slawit went over to where he thought the cat’s meowing was coming from, and prodded around with his white stick. He didn’t mean to hurt Henderson; merely to shift him out of the house.
Henderson began playing with the end of the stick, and grabbed it in his mouth. When Slawit found he couldn’t move the stick any more, he tried to push Henderson away with his boot. Henderson let go of the stick and playfully sank his teeth into Slawit’s boot then pulled them out again.
“Fucking ‘ell fire,” said Slawit, quickly retracting his foot.
Blood was spraying from the holes the zomcat’s teeth had made. He hobbled around in a panic, while Henderson eagerly licked up the blood that dribbled all over the kitchen floor.
“Got to get outa here,” Slawit muttered.
He tapped his way upstairs to his bedroom and shut the door.
Then he heard a noise on the landing:
He hopped around in a panic until he’d located his chest of drawers and shifted it as best he could against the door, then he hopped to his bed and collapsed on it, breathing heavily.
Meanwhile, Henderson padded back downstairs. He knew that kindly humans who fed him at night would generally feed him in the morning too, so he returned to the kitchen and found a cardboard box to curl up in. Then he waited patiently for Slawit’s return. After a while he nodded off and dreamed of a terrible accident he’d had some months previously.
He’d been run over by a car which had squashed his midsection flat and killed him.
The next thing he knew, he was waking up in the cellar of his next-door neighbour, Professor Ted Forsyth, who lived at 41 Acacia Avenue in the London borough of Sutton, near Croydon..
Forsyth had built a machine he called the ‘Lazarus Engine’, and he had used it to raise Henderson from the dead. Unfortunately, the process hadn’t quite worked as planned, for it hadn’t truly brought Henderson back to life; instead, it had turned him into a zombie cat, or zomcat. Moreover, it hadn’t done anything to fix his midsection, which remained flat as a pancake and resembled the blade of a circular saw, owing to his vertebrae protruding up from it.
While Henderson lay in the kitchen dreaming, Slawit got his breath back. As soon as he felt he could move again, he reached to his bedside cabinet where he kept his telephone, picked up the receiver, and dialled 999.
A young male voice answered his call.
“This is the Emergency Services. Which service do you require?”
“The bloody ambulance service, and be quick about it, and the police, and probably the fire engines too.”
“I’m sorry, sir, what is the emergency? Is it a fire?”
“No, it’s a cat. At least that’s what I thought it was, and I let it into me house. But I think I’ve got the Beast of Bodmin Moor in me kitchen or something just like it, and it’s tried to take me bloody foot off. I need help fast. I daren’t leave me bedroom. I swear to God it’ll ‘ave me if I do.”
There was a long pause followed by:
“All right, putting you through now, sir.”
A deeper and more mature male voice took over.
“West Yorkshire Police here. Have you been drinking, sir?”
“What’s that got to do with anything? I’m in fear of me life. Send some help round right away.”
“What appears to be the problem, sir?”
“A wild animal I let in me house. I thought it was a cat but it’s not. It’s a bloody panther or something like that.”
“When you let it in, couldn’t you see what exactly it was, sir?”
“No I bloody well couldn’t. I’m blind.”
“All right, I’ll send a car round. What’s your address?”
“Slawit Hall, Nodger Hill, Nobblethwaite. And I need an ambulance as well.”
“Very good. What’s your name, please?”
“Slawit. Bob Slawit.”
“On its way for you, Mr. Slawit.”
Slawit collapsed on his bed.
After what seemed an interminable wait, there was a knock on his front door. He recognised it immediately as a policeman’s knock. He’d heard one before, many years ago, when, as a child, he’d broken a neighbour’s window and the police had been called to investigate. After the police had been and gone, his father had given him a leathering of the sort that the little fucking bastard twats could have done with on a daily basis.
He heard his front door opening, then he heard the voices of the policemen.
“Christ almighty, what a smell. Doesn’t he ever clean this place?”
“Maybe he does, but it must be hard for him, Ben. He’s blind.”
“Oh God, that pong. It’s enough to make yer eyes water. Hey, Charlie, hang on a minute. What was that?”
“What was what?”
“I just saw something move in the kitchen.”
“Didn’t that bloke Slawit say something about a cat?”
“What I just saw was no bloody cat. Get your truncheon out, Charlie. That’s it. Oh my God, have you bloody well seen it?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it. If it gets anywhere near either of us, give it a good whack. Where’s my pepper spray?”
Slawit heard a sound like an angry cat hissing, and another sound like a policeman’s truncheon hitting something fleshy but very solid. Then he heard
He listened for the reassuring sound of coppers’ feet coming up the stairs to his bedroom, but none came, not even after ten more minutes. There was just an eerie silence, so he called the emergency services again.
“It’s Bob Slawit here, of Slawit Hall,” he said, when he was finally put through to the police. “You’ve just sent a couple of coppers round to me house to see off this animal that’s been terrorising me. Yer need to send reinforcements fast.”
“Why?” The young man who’d taken his call asked.
“I think the two you’ve just sent me are dead”
“What makes you think that, Mr. Slawit?”
“They came into me house twenty minutes since. I didn’t see them, because I’m stuck up here in me bedroom. Anyway, after they came in, they both screamed. Blood-curdling screams they were, and since then I’ve heard nothing from them. Not a dicky bird. So I reckon they must’ve happened some’at. Some’at that didn’t do them a right lot of good, if yer get me meaning.”
“All right, Mr. Slawit, I’ll try to contact the officers now, and see what they’re doing.”
“Yer might as well contact the bloody undertakers while yer at it, for all the good that’ll do.”
“I’m sure there’s no cause for alarm, Mr. Slawit. Please be patient. I’ll have to end this call now, so that I can deal with your problem. Your number has come up on my system. I’ll call you back if we need to talk further. Good bye.”
“Get yer best team of SWAT men up he-”
The line went dead.
“Fucking arse-holes, honestly!” Said Slawit.
He lay down on his bed, and waited in the darkness, listening for cat noises, but all that he could hear was the rapid beating of his own heart.