Tramp the Dirt Down

Every serial killer should have a good, reliable, durable shovel. Even accidental serial killers. My shovel, Betty, was under my nose the entire time festering at the back of the cupboard behind all those other household essentials and fetish gear.

You’ve probably deduced I wasn’t much of a gardener, or shovel enthusiast before the invasion. I guess you could say Betty was just another impulse purchase by a drunk man with no self-control and a rare, cause for celebration tax rebate. In hindsight, I was a frivolous, contemptible moron, but at the time, this was free money. I’d bested Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. At least that’s the lie I told myself. Why not waste someone else’s money, eh? It wasn’t like I’d earned it through working two shit jobs just to survive in a rigidly stratified society. What was I going to do with this modest rebate? Invest it? Save? Please. Deep down we all knew some sort of catastrophic event was just a shot away. Our elected officials, sacred texts and general behaviour more than hinted at that.

I should mention I didn’t even have a garden when I bought Betty. I lived in a second-floor tenement flat. My now ex-girlfriend pointed out the stupidity of the shovel, but our entire flat was a monument to idiocy. I mean, who really needs a monkey lamp shade, Nicolas Cage pillowcase, or the Star Wars prequels on Blu-ray? No one. Not one single person. But this is what happens when you get twisted drunk and enter the black hole of questionable decisions that is the internet. If anything I blame my girlfriend. She was the yin to my yin. There was no yang. And sometimes you need a prudent, sensible yang to pry you from eBay, while you’re putting a joint to your beer-soaked lips.

‘How many hiv we killed noo?’ Betty asks in her gruff Glaswegian accent.

Wait a minute, Betty. Am trying tae fill them in about whit happened.

‘Why? Naebody cares aboot that shite. They want tae see me and you taking these bastards oot.’

Just gies a minute, eh?

‘Hurry up then, Dick..taphone boy!’

Sorry about that. So, like I was saying…General moronic human behaviour and our modest incomes explained why we were usually skint and counting down to pay day every month.

‘Aye, that wis before they invaded us and his girlfriend became wan ae them…’

Shut it, Betty! This is ma story!

‘But it disnae work withoot me!’

Paula, my girlfriend, got captured, infected…

‘Aye, and noo you sleep beside me oan a lonely, spacious king size mattress!’

Shut up, eh? Just shut the fuck up.

‘Tell them aboot oor new hoose! Our fortress of solitude: the Tennent’s lager brewery!’

I should’ve prefaced this by saying that I know it’s weird to anthropomorphise a shovel. I’m not completely deranged. But these things happen when you’ve barely seen another human in months.

‘You can tell you’re choking for a shag, Andy. You’re coming aff desperate. And stoap tryin tae speak in the Queen’s English just so people can understand ye.’

When you’re a victim of crippling isolation, it’s only natural to seek the company of your weapon. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like there’s anything sexual between us.

‘Aye, no yet!’

Quiet, you! Where wis ah? Aye…There may be strange, misanthropic aliens covered in grass and mud taking over the planet, but I’m not ready to start violating inanimate objects. Especially a shovel. Far too phallic. I’m thirty-two and humanity is dying… it’s a bit late in the day for latency.

‘You should’ve let me tell the story. Ah would’ve goat straight tae us decapitating and burying they garden jockeys! You’re just cock teasin!’

Shut it!

‘Nae wonder. Naebody’s interested in being repeatedly cock slapped by exposition.’

The invaders first move was to enslave, infect and literally turn humans green.

‘It’s no easy being green.’

The second move was to save Earth’s environment and return it to an Eden like Paradise…

‘Would make you sick so it would. Gie me the concrete jungle any day.’

They claimed they were sent by God from a planet we were too ignorant to know existed.

‘Smug bastards.’

Then they claimed to have created a wormhole in the future to enter the past with the sole purpose of ensuring there would be an ecosystem they could thrive in without humans, who were destroying every species and Earth’s scenic beauty.

‘Cry babies.’

Luckily for us survivors, resisters, carriers of pollution, breweries are safe zones.

‘Which is convenient for this borderline alcoholic.’

And booze and shovels are two of their prime weaknesses. Their kryptonite. The other is pacifism. They don’t actually kill us, or obliterate buildings like we would. These authoritarian loonies try to accelerate evolution by turning us into them in every single way. And now you know why I always stink of booze and carry ethanol, lighters and Betty.

‘It’s aw aboot the shovel tae the head and bashing their brains tae a pulp. Don’t deny it, Andy…’

It’s time. I drench my body in booze and have a few cheeky gulps from a can.

‘Feel like am watchin a wet T-shirt competition here! You’re sexy as sin, Andy!’

You gonnae make that joke every time?

Betty snorts. ‘Whit’s up your arse?’

Nuthin. You know ah always get a wee bit uptight before we hiv tae venture ootside.

‘Why? We’ve goat this! You’re The Terminator, man!’

Betty’s confidence always borders on insufferable arrogance. Quite a trait for someone who’s essentially useless unless I’m controlling them.

‘So whit? Am ah meant tae be aw modest and demure? That’s some Victorian patriarchal shite right there.’

I look out of a grimy, bolted shut window. I am a hermit in a brewery surrounded by lush, beautiful greenery. The concrete buildings are entirely covered in grass. Glasgow is one sprawling idyllic garden. And they want to do the same to me. Make me at one with nature. Rob me of my humanity. Turn me into another zombie.

‘He’s no kiddin! Wance you transform, you can no longer screw, drink, smoke, masturbate, or withstand a shovel tae the head! That’s no a world ah want tae live, exist or die in.’

Before I go out I always get the jitters, but I need sustenance. I need another lungful of the freshest air I’ve ever known. It’s intoxicating. A distant challenger to my favourite intoxicants, but still thoroughly pleasant.

‘Nae motors. Nae mass farming. Nae freedom for humans. That’s whit it’s come tae. That’s why ye can actually breathe clean air. It’s oot ae order!’

The air is…

‘Stoap waxing lyrical aboot the air, eh? You’re too much ae a left-wing hippie, Andy! You’ll end up like they grass covered bastards withoot them hiving tae reprogram ye and turn ye intae a walking plant pot!’

It’s ma story…

‘Don’t forget am essential tae your survival oan this hellish paradise!’

I can usually fool most of them with my camouflage grass suit. Their eyesight seems to be pretty deplorable...

‘Aye, they barely see me comin maist ae the time til the last second when ah belt them ere the heid.’

There’s an abundance of fruit and veg blossoming everywhere. I jump down from the brewery walls with Betty to forage and pillage.

‘There’s three ae them ere there planting flowers and vegetables again. The gullible arseholes. How did they manage tae take ere?’

I apologise. Every time we go out Betty can’t contain herself.

‘So whit? A shovel needs something tae dig intae.’

Stealing is a sweaty job when you’re half-drunk and covered in armour. It always was to be fair. Even before the invasion.

‘Ah love blagging shit fae these wankers.’

A couple of grass people enter my peripheral vision. They’re pointing over in my general direction.

‘Kill them, Andy!’

I grab my bag of stolen fruit and head towards the sanctuary of the brewery, but before I get to the wall, another two materialise before me, squinting at my grass mask.

‘Dae these dickheads in! Don’t fuckin hesitate!’

‘Identify yourself,’ one of them says. They backtrack when they get a whiff of the booze.

I sprint over and swing Betty at one of their heads. It comes clean off and rolls towards my feet.

‘Yass! That’s a case ae beer fir that hit, Andy! Superb!’

The other reaches for one of those net guns they used to trap billions of unsuspecting, unarmed humans. Not today, arsehole. I’m human until I die. Smack! Betty takes another head.Sixty-eight confirmed kills. Has it been that many already? Still, I’d be lying if I said I’m proud of being a serial killer.

‘Serial killer? You’re a renegade against enslavement! A righteous defender ae justice! The Gorbals Spartacus!’

There is a plus side to all this murder: digging graves is good for my core.

‘Dig dirty doggy! Dig! Betty wants some work tae dae!’

Keep your voice down, eh? And stoap referring tae yourself in the third person. You sound like a twat.

‘You’re the wan narrating stories fir fuck sake. Who’s even gonnae read this?’

Betty sinks her head into the dirt. That shuts her up and makes her happy. We make a great team when we’re focused on burying aliens. I suppose digging is usually when a shovel makes the most sense. And Betty works like a dream when she’s tearing into soil. An absolute stalwart. Without her, I would probably be dead by now.

‘Probably? Am the best thing you ever bought oan eBay and don’t you fuckin forget it.’

About the Author

John Tinney is the author of Tramp the Dirt Down. Want to read more from him? Visit his Medium!