“Nitelink of the Living Dead”
Updated: Jun 18, 2022
It’s July, 2007. A Monday night in town, during that odd stretch of time when Westmoreland and D’Olier streets were the places to be for any teenager. €2 deals meant teens flocked to them, and left in a state - causing carnage in town. One of the teens not partaking in this debauchery is Robbie, he’s been working as a barman all summer. Unwilling to splash out on a taxi each night to get home, he must brave the 31N Nitelink. He has witnessed the escalating havoc of the after work crowd on a Friday, the thirst of the Saturday night sesh heads, and the relentlessness of the weekend warriors on a Sunday night. But, nothing compares to Monday Night on the Nitelink. A big chunk of the Friday crowd live within walking distance of town, while the Saturdayers pay 15 bills a cocktail, so will splash out on a taxi without thinking twice. Monday night is a scarier prospect altogether. Drunken, emotional 17 year old herds with no money left, trying to get back to their parents' gaf; willing to punch, steal or devour anything in their path.
And now, due to a change in shift, Robbie is about to witness a Monday Night for the first time. Well, the first time sober.
What awaits him on Westmoreland Street where the bus stop is is worse than he imagined. The clock has just struck 2:30am, so all at once, teenagers have flooded out from various nightclubs - boozed up, messy, and aggressive. He wades through. He’s no angel, but he can’t quite get over how bad they look. He recognizes the mission they’re on, red-eyed, slurring words, struggling to walk, and hell-bent to feed - going straight to Burger King or Maccy Ds. But they’re worse than he’d remembered. He sees a lad he knows from school
“Mick! Hey dude! You in Redz?”
Robbie shouts enthusiastically. But nothing. Mick brushes past him, looking mindless, yet determined to get somewhere at the same time. Robbie thinks nothing of it. He’s been there before, completely sauced on autopilot, just needing to get home. Before Robbie reaches the Nitelink he walks by two girls passed out on a set of steps. Any other time and a decent person would help them. But this is just another regular occurrence on a Monday night in town - as a group of lads walk by cheering “yeow” and “someone over did it”. One of the girls slowly raises her head, letting out what can only be described as a moan - bringing on more jeering and cheering from the lads.
“Well, at least she’s alive,” Robbie thinks to himself.
Finally, he finds his way onto his Nitelink. There're a few people on the top deck, but not many - the swarms are still on the hunt for food, or on the prowl for someone to eat the face off of. They’ll probably catch the next one. On Robbie’s Nitelink there are two girls his own age laughing about the night, sitting at the front of the bus. They seem relatively sober for teenage standards. There are two what Robbie would describe as “Hippy Lads” sitting in the middle. The kind of guys who wear hoodies, juggle, and would have hung out at Central Bank at some stage. Just behind them, sits a large older guy (maybe 25 - that’s old for Monday Night) he’s completely passed out, and looks like he’s had a rough night. Actually, he looks like he’s had a rough 25 years to be honest. And finally, there's three what Robbie would call “Mad Lads” down the back. The kind of lads that trouble seems to find. They’ve already got a warning from the bus driver for smoking, and the bus hasn’t even moved yet. He stays well away from them, as he takes a seat across from the Hippy Lads.
Robbie continues to look out the window, engrossed by the dead-eyed crowds. It made him reconsider ever drinking again. Just as the bus pulls off, he notices some commotion, there seems to be a fight breaking out. Classic drunken behaviour, but this one seems intense. Literally everybody around it has been sucked into it. A fight outside a nightclub is fairly common practice, but this one seems to be spreading. Girls, lads, bouncers, that woman who sells roses outside the club - everybody has been dragged in. At this point, Robbie is very glad he’s on his way out of what is a very rowdy night in town.
He overhears the Mad Lads down the back talking about a fight. He turns his iPod off, and continues to eavesdrop the best he can. Yes, back in 2007 everybody carried a phone, an MP3 player device, and sometimes even a camera. More on that later.
Anyway, eavesdropping on the lads down the back isn’t hard, as they’re pretty much shouting. One lad, who seems to be the leader, begins to regale the story.
“It was f*cking insane, man! Yi’d wanna see it, this big posh lad bumped into this little lad, and he went f*cking mad. He was f*cking gargled, man, couldn’t even talk. He just started making this mad whaling sound”.
“Sounded like your aul wan did it, Git”.
the second-in-command lad jumps in with a jibe, which is met with a “shup you” and a smack from “Git”.
“So this lad must have been monged out of it on something, and he just lunged for your man. The posh lad didn’t know what to be doin’, so he just started swinging digs! But none of da digs did anythin’ and he was a big fecker as well.”
“He on Ket or something?”
The biggest, but quietest of them speaks up to question Git.
“Nah Burkey, I’ve done everything there is like, and I’ve never seen anythin’ like this!
The inquisitive big lad jumps in again,
“How’d it end, he kill your man did he?”
Git leans forward.
“This is the best part, Burkey. The bouncer - this big baldy fella - ran in and grabbed him, the little f*cker just lunged for his neck! Took a bleedin’ chunk out of him, he was brutal this lad - I wouldn’t even fancy your chances against him. Took three bouncers to kick him out. And you’d wanna see the baldy bouncer fella, he got into a fucking rage, and the other bouncer had to drag him out. Nearly foaming at the mouth like!”.
This fella Git seems shocked by the carry-on in town tonight, and that’s saying something. As he continues to tell his mates about all the different bouncers he’s attacked, Robbie begins to presume Git’s just a bit of a spoofer - and loses interest. But, just before he presses play again and lets the new Timbaland and Justin Timberlake tune bring him home, his attention is caught again. This time, by the girls at the front of the bus. By what he’s heard so far, their names are Niamh & Hannah. Or potentially Anna, Niamh was slurring slightly. Hannah (or Anna) is going through the small digital camera she brought on the night out. To any younger readers, this was a common occurrence before iPhones, much like the iPod mentioned earlier. Robbie can’t quite see what they’re looking at, but can get the jist of it from their conversation and cackles.
“Oh My God the actual state of me in this one, do not put that one up”
says Niamh, knowing well and good that Hanna (or Anna) will just stick them all up on Bebo tomorrow afternoon. She continues,
“Ah that’s a gorgeous one”
no doubt she’s talking about one of all the girls in the kitchen before they head out, Robbie thinks to himself. The girls laugh more and more as the photos go on.
“Oh My God! Lauren was an absolute state tonight!”
Screams Hannah (or maybe Anna) as she scrolls through the pics.
“I actually can’t believe her like, she was full on passed out in the corner, then just suddenly jolted up, like she’d been woken from the dead! Her eyes were gone, look at the pic like!”.
Niamh jumps in,
“I know, I came back from talking with Jake from Belvo - absolute drama - but anyway, she just stumbles straight up to this random, and basically jumps him. Starts giving him a full on hickey like, basically biting his neck. Gross. Jess was beside them, and she said she was like moaning really loudly, so embarrassing. She’s going to be morto when everyone sees the pics on Bebo.”
“I’m not putting these up, no way, poor Lauren”
Responds Hannah (or Anna). But her mate’s having none of it.
“Ah come on, Hannah, she’d so do it to you, like”.
“Poor Lauren” Robbie thinks to himself, feeling weirdly satisfied he finally knows Hannah’s name.
The bus still hasn’t moved, it’s taking an unusually long time. There seems to be something happening downstairs. Some kind of argument between the bus driver and somebody trying to get on. Robbie peers out his window, and watches it unfold. It’s a couple, the boyfriend is in a state. He’s just about standing, eyes rolling around his head. He’d tip over if his girlfriend wasn’t holding him up. She’s full on having it out with the bus driver, and she’s mad.
“Who the f*ck do you think you are, what gives you the right to refuse my boyfriend?”
she shouts, as she points her finger, snarls her mouth, and motions her head back and forth aggressively. She continues.
“We’re just trying to get home. You’ve no right to deny us that ya fat prick!”.
The bus driver’s having none of it though. He’s also not that fat, so that last bit was harsh.
“I have every right to refuse who I want from my bus! He can hardly stand.”
But this just seems to make the girlfriend more angry.
“What’s your badge number, I’ll report you. I swear I will”.
This goes on for a while, before the bus driver stamps down his authority.
“Right, step back! Step back please, the bus is leaving”.
He closes the doors in their faces, as the boyfriend suddenly jumps into life. He pushes the girlfriend away, and starts pounding on the door of the bus. Everybody on the bus is stunned, as the bus pulls out, he keeps smacking each window as it passes it, as he screams. The girlfriend has now even backed off. Robbie, and pretty much everyone - even Git and the lads - are glad this guy didn’t get on.
The Nitelink has finally left the stop, and made its way out of town. It took a lot longer than usual, as it seemed like every two minutes the bus driver was beeping and shouting at somebody walking out in front of the bus. As it finally reaches the outskirts of town, and starts to hit the suburbs, Robbie begins to notice more stragglers than usual. He’s walked home before, deciding to spend his taxi fare on kebabs, or just needing to pound the pavements to sober up. But, it’s more than just a few drunken young lads. It’s older folks too. He sees a barman, probably in his mid 30s, stumbling along. He knows all too well about having a pint after your shift, but how’d he get so shitfaced? It’s less than an hour after closing-time. Another girl stands out to him. She’s dressed in a Londis uniform, like she’s been working the late shift. She looks very rough, it looks like she’s got some kind of sauce dripping down her face. I mean, maybe she just went out on the town dressed like this, but it’s unlikely. Suddenly, the whole top-deck’s attention is taken by a loud crash. It’s a taxi, it seems to have just swerved off the road and straight into a closed shop front. As the bus continues on, the crash is harder to see. But, Robbie just about gets a glimpse of the backseat passenger stumbling out, covered in blood - there’s no sign of the driver.
Robbie’s attention is turned to an unfamiliar sound from this strange evening - laughter. The two “Hippy Lads” seem to have bonded with the “Mad Lads” by placing their chips on the shoulder of the sleeping “Older Lad”. Like a game of drunken older lad buckaroo. With each chip, and each bounce of the bus, he grumbles and growls - as all the lads piss themselves laughing.
“Stick a nugget on his head there ya mad yoke”
shouts Git enthusiastically.
The lads continue, leaving the poor older guy with a chip in each nostril, a gherkin on one eye, several chips on his shoulder, and a tomato ketchup moustache. The incessant laughing draws the attention of Niamh and Hannah from the front of the bus.
“Oh My God like, leave the poor old man alone! He’s obviously had a rough night, he’s like bleeding”
Niamh points out the guy’s hand, which seems to have a chunk out of it.
“Go back to da front of da bus, would ya, ya saps”
Git is in no mood for humanitarianism it seems.
One of the Hippy Lads steps in, breaking his new found truce with Git.
“Listen, we’ve had our fun, just leave it, yeah”. Git doesn’t appreciate this either, “Shup you, ya little hippy, I’ll knock ya back to Rampcity”.
Trying his absolute best not to be pulled into this altercation, Robbie looks longingly out the window, pretending he’s entirely unaware of the potential clash of hippies and mad lads. But, his attention is drawn to a bus stop, where it looks like even more butchery is about to unfold. A group of girls look to be ganging up on a lad. He’s backed into a corner, looking terrified. These girls look like they’re just about standing, surely this dude can outrun them? It’s been a weird night, but nothing could prepare Robbie for what he’s about to see. One of the girls literally jumps the guy, wrapping her legs around him, and chomping into his neck. Not in a kinky way, in a blood-thirsty, actual maneater kind of way. She rips off a chunk of his neck, as he lets out a loud cry. A second girl digs her hand straight into his stomach, ripping out his insides, and pushing them straight into her mouth. Robbie nearly throws up his after-work Heineken shandy. He’s looking around at the mismatched group around him, but nobody else has seen it. They’re all too involved with their own little altercation. Hannah is now shouting at Git. saying something like,
“the actual state of your Columbia jacket”.
Robbie thinks about telling them all to shut up and look at what’s happening outside. But, he’s totally speechless. He hears another scream, which draws his attention to looking back out the window. The three girls haven’t let up. He checks back in just in time to witness the guy have his arm ripped out of his socket.
It dawns on Robbie - everything he’s seen and heard tonight. The herds, the aggression, the nightclub biting, the dead eyes. It’s not just a night of “absolute carnage” like a D4 lad might describe a night out in Dicey’s - it’s something more serious…
The poor bus stop dude’s final cry of terror finally stops everybody in their tracks. Git even stops a dig midflow, as everyone stares in terror at the events happening outside. The realisation begins to hit them all. And, just when they think things can’t get any worse, the bus pulls in at the bus stop. The driver must have seriously misread the scenario unfolding.
“Yis getting on or what?” he shouts.
The feeding frenzy is stopped in its tracks, as the girls’ heads jolt towards the bus, intensely staring towards the driver, eyeing up their next meal. He is a meaty fella, so probably looks delicious to them. With a loud screech of terror, one of them drops the guts and innards of the bus stop dude, and leaps towards the bus. With some quick thinking from the bus driver, he closes the automatic door, which straight up chops her head off, as he shouts,
“Not on my bus ya little wench!”
The other two begin pounding the door, screeching and screaming, but the bus pulls off and escapes, for now.
These heroics from the bus driver are met with applause from the upper deck. But, just as Git’s stating how he “wasn’t even scared”, the bus turns a corner, and is met with a sea of figures. Each one more terrifying and bloodthirsty then the next. Even Git’s shitting himself now. This new realisation is met with silence, as the bus stops, unable to move through the crowds. Just then, the silence is broken by a loud groan. As Robbie finally says his first words to his upper deck compatriots.
“the, the, old guy…”
The older guy is now awake, standing up. He sort of looks like a comic figure with chips on his shoulder and a ketchup moustache. Yet, he’s terrifying at the same time. As the gherkins peel off, they see his eyes. Now blood red and full of rage, as dark black veins protrude from his neck, as he begins to hiss and growl - just like the herds outside. Robbie and the others huddle together as he edges closer and closer. They hear smashes from downstairs, as the windows finally give way.
Robbie doesn’t know if it’s a virus, a curse, or a full moon that’s done this. But he does know that nobody on that upper deck is going to make it home that night.