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Pop Culture in Bristol

"Come on, George," Mitchell says, smiling his Trust me, I'm practically a doctor-smile, "what's the worst that could happen?"

And if that isn't one of the stupidest things ever to come out of his mouth, then it can't be far off. George's hands are shaking. He clenches them into fists, knocking a nervous beat on the table. Knock on wood, he thinks.

"We could be eaten," is what he says, and his voice cracks a little on the last word, of course, "by - by things!"

Annie pokes her head out from the kitchen. "You mean the zombies?"

"Shuttup," George hisses.

"What?"

"The ... zed-word," he says, "don't say it."

Mitchell snorts. "Why not?" he asks. "Because it's ridiculous?"

"Yes."

"Ooh," Annie says, and then, because no-one but George seems to be getting the gravity of the situation, "want anything from the shop?"

This is quickly shaping up to be one of the worst days of George's life. It's sunny outside, which should probably have been his first clue, because this is Bristol. Out of all the things Bristol isn't, sunny is pretty much on the top of the list, right up there with "on the cutting edge of architecture" and "the mouth of Hell". (To be fair, George is starting to have his doubts about that last one.) Still, it wasn't until the kindly old lady down the road tried to bite his ear off this morning that he realised something was wrong.

The undead are walking the Earth - well, Bristol - and George hasn't seen a lot of horror films, but he's pretty sure that sooner or later, that's going to be a problem. (And, if the sounds coming from outside are an indication, it's going to be sooner rather than later.)

"I wonder what would happen if a werewolf got bitten, though," Annie says. George shoots her his ugliest glare, and she spends the next five minutes apologising profusely.

"George," Mitchell says, and even though there's a disbelieving little laugh in his voice, his eyes are dead serious and old, "we won't let them eat you."

"You can't just promise something like that," George says, going for harsh and ending up with something desperate. Mitchell sits down next to him, and that, right there, is his brooding look. Mitchell might have a smile that can charm the pants off the orderlies, but his brooding look is the stuff of legends. Epic poems have been composed in its honour. It's the kind of look that would make Anne Rice cry.

"I'll just make some tea, then," Annie says, and disappears back into the kitchen.

"They have a top speed of two miles per hour," Mitchell says after a while. "If they got you, I'd have to stake myself in shame."

George barks out an incredulous laugh, and wishes that someone would call off the zombie apocalypse - can you call it an apocalypse if it's just in Bristol? - so that he could leave this conversation. Mitchell looks like he knows what he's thinking, and then he leans over to put a hand on George's shoulder.

"Hey," he says, and, "hey."

And then no-one says anything for a very long time.