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By Sarah Hapgood

“Ladies please, one at a time. If you both try to talk at once, I won’t be able to make out what you’re saying”, said Ransey.

There was a hurried conference on the other end of the wireless line, and then Jane’s voice came through on its own.

“Sorry Ransey”, she said “It’s just that we’re so desperate to tell you before the line vanishes again. We’ve been trying to get hold of you for several days now”.

“OK, well tell me now”, said Ransey, aware of a gentle swishing sound as Bardin stole into the room and leaned over his shoulder to listen in at the headset.

“It’s this dreadful sickness which seems to have affected people”, Jane continued “It’s not just any old virus or epidemic. The best way I can put it is it seems to be turning people psychotic. Whenever we’ve seen any recently, they seem to have come at us like rabid dogs. It’s horrifying. It’s got so that we have to be very careful when we go ashore. We have to make sure that we have very good visibility for miles, in case any of them creep up on us”.

“Sounds like a zombie apocalypse”, said Bardin.

“Yes, that’s it!” said Jane “It’s dreadful. We have seen them, on the land, eating rotting animal carcasses. I can’t tell you, it’s so awful”.

“Have they made any attempt to get at you on the boat?” said Ransey.

“No, we were concerned about that”, said Jane “We have heard of zombies who can walk through water, but so far, they haven’t made any attempt to get into the river. If they do that, then we’re stuffed quite frankly”.

“Not necessarily”, said Ransey “As long as you stay extra vigilant, you should be fine. Remember the old instruction about shooting them in the head”.

“Would you like us to turn back and come for you?” said Bardin, grabbing the microphone from Ransey.

“That won’t be necessary, Bardin”, Cloris interjected, crisply “We don’t need rescuing. We just wanted some advice from Ransey”.

“My advice is to plough as stubbornly and bull-headedly onwards as you can”, said Ransey, rescuing the microphone from Bardin “And keep doing what you have been doing, remain extremely vigilant when you have to go ashore. Keep pressing ahead until you come to the end of the river”.

“OK”, said Jane “I just hope they aren’t able to march through the ocean towards you guys”.

“The sea-life will eat away at them before they can get to us”, said Ransey “They would be in a pretty pathetic state by the time they got to us here”.

The women signed off with a volley of kissing noises. Ransey didn’t feel he could rise to the challenge of this, and passed the microphone to Bardin.

“Why did I have to do the kissy-wissy stuff?” said Bardin, when the line went dead.

“You’re the showbiz one aren’t you?” said Ransey, slapping Bardin’s leg “I thought it would be right up your street”.

“Not him it’s not!” said Bengo, who was drying a coffee-mug in the doorway.

“Well perhaps we should’ve got you to do it!” said Bardin.

Bengo swiped him on the behind with the tea-towel as Bardin went past.

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