The Fear


By Charlie Higson

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 20, 2014. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The sickness struck everyone sixteen and over. Mothers and fathers, older brothers, sisters, and best friends. No one escaped its touch. And now children across London are being hunted by ferocious grown-ups who are hungry, bloodthirsty, and not giving up.

DogNut and the rest of his crew, in search of the friends they lost during the fire, set off on a deadly mission from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace and beyond, as the sickos lie in wait. But who are their friends and who is the enemy in this changed world?


Books by Charlie Higson



Blood Fever

Double or Die

Hurricane Gold

By Royal Command

SilverFin: The Graphic Novel


The Enemy

The Dead

The Fear

The Sacrifice

The Fallen

The Hunted

Stuff…more stuff…Get more stuff…good stuff…

It was dark outside, safe to leave now. He squeezed his great bulk down the hallway and out the front door, sniffing the air. A curtain of greasy hair flopped in front of his eyes and he pushed it back with an enormous fat hand, smearing a shiny yellow streak across his face from a burst pustule on his cheek.

He smiled. He was going out to find stuff.

More stuff.

All he had ever really been interested in was stuff. Things. Gadgets. Toys. Gizmos. His tiny basement apartment had always been full of it. Days and nights he had spent down there on his computer—TV on, music blaring, playing games: playing and playing and playing until he lost all track of time. He had been so happy down there, surrounded by his stuff, his shelves of DVDs, CDs, old vinyl, comics, Star Wars figures, manga figures, Star Trek collectibles, books and magazines, take-out food cartons, toy robots, keyboards and amps and screens.…Nothing ever chucked away. Old computers piled in corners, mobile phones, cameras, tangled piles of cords and plugs…

Stuff. A life of stuff.

Eventually he had made holes in the walls, burrowed out of his flat, taken over the basements on either side, and when they were full, he had moved upward, floor by floor, filling the building ever fuller with stuff.

And now he was off out to find more stuff. It was so easy. Everything was just lying around waiting for him to come and pick it up. He held a sturdy shopping bag in each meaty hand, though he didn’t think he’d need them tonight. Tonight he was looking for toys. His last toys were broken beyond repair. They’d stopped moving, stopped entertaining him with their jerky actions. Stopped making their funny noises. What use were toys if you couldn’t play games with them anymore?

When they no longer worked, he simply ate them.

Collecting stuff and eating, that was all he did now. When his toys broke, he would sit on his sofa and stare at the blank screens of his TVs, waiting for night to fall. Sometimes he would sit at the computer, tapping away at the keyboard, some deep memory stirring inside him. For hours on end. Tap, tap, tapping. Making a strange kind of music.

But now he had a purpose.

He waddled slowly down the road, taking great care with each step. There was enough light from the thin moon and distant stars to pick his way along. He didn’t mind the dark. In truth he had always been nocturnal, sitting with the curtains drawn, no interest in sunlight or fresh air or other people.

He was careful, though. If he fell down, it would be hard for him to get up again. His bare feet landed solidly and squarely on the filthy surface of the road he knew so well. Night after night he would come out here and move from shop to shop, house to house, looting them for more stuff. Like some huge clumsy bear ransacking people’s trash cans, his strong arms ripping and tearing to get at what he needed.

He was tempted by the massive building down the road. The department store. So many nights he’d spent in there removing stuff. But it was getting too dangerous now. Others had gotten in and made nests, and they sometimes tried to attack him as he trundled about, searching for anything he’d missed. They couldn’t do him any real harm—he was too big, too heavy, too solid—but he liked to hunt for his stuff in peace. So he had taken to breaking into houses instead. There was always stuff in them. This had been a rich neighborhood. He would tear out stereo systems, pull flat screen TVs from walls, dig through drawers for cameras and navigation systems and iPods and cell phones, cramming them into his bags to carry home and add to his collection.

Not tonight, though. He had to concentrate, not forget what he was looking for.


He’d heard them the night before. Smelled them. On his way back home with bulging shopping bags. He’d tried to get to them where they were hidden in a building, but the sky had started to brighten over the tops of the roofs and he had slunk back to his cellar to hide until the darkness returned.

He hated the sun. It burned his skin, blinded him, sent his thoughts spinning so that he couldn’t think straight. The darkness was warm and comforting, like an old blanket. He would sit slumped on his sofa through all the long day: waiting, dozing, dreaming. And now…now he had the whole night to break in and get at the toys.

He smiled as he pictured all the fun he was going to have when he got the toys back to his collection. Prodding them, and making them skitter about on the floor. Letting them get away, then pulling them back. He chuckled, the sound a wet gurgle in his throat.


He only wished they would last longer and not break so quickly, because it was hard work catching them. They ran about and made too much noise. Most broke before he could even get them home.

He followed the scent down the street, wiping away the snot that bubbled permanently from his nose. He was dribbling, too. Sticky saliva falling onto his stained T-shirt.


It took him ages to make his way down the street, around the corner, and onto the next road. Each footfall landing softly on the asphalt. He hoped no one had gotten there before him. The smell of the toys was very strong.

Here was the place. A shop he used to come to a lot. A gadget shop. Long since cleaned out, but the toys had slipped inside. He’d passed it last night and the good sweet smell had hit him like a hammer blow. He’d tried to get in, but there were wooden boards nailed across the front.

He had plenty of time tonight, though.

He smiled again.


Good stuff. Cool stuff. More stuff. Nice stuff. More stuff. Stuff stuff stuff.

There was nobody else around. The streets were quiet tonight. He walked over the road, his legs making a swishing sound as they rubbed together. He put his face to the gap between two of the wooden boards and breathed in.

He had to be sure. Sometimes their smell could linger for days, even if they’d moved away. No. They were still in there. His toys. He leaned his weight against the boards, heard them creak and groan, felt them bend. He moaned with delight. That was the way to do it. Last night he’d made the mistake of trying to pull the boards down with his hands. Better to push. He walked backward. Put down his bags. Then moved forward, not exactly running, but gaining speed. Until…


He hit the boards, heard a crack and then sounds on the other side. Scurrying. Whispered voices. The toys were awake.

He backed off, farther this time, then went forward again, the breath hissing through his nose.


And again. Again and again and again—slow, unthinking, patient—until at last the wood splintered and fell away from him and he was inside. In the dark.

Stuff…Come on…Where’s the cool stuff?

The smell of the toys was more intense now. Filling his head and making him feel drunk. He closed his eyes and smacked his lips together, then stuck out his tongue, tasting the air. They were nearby. If he could just catch two, maybe three, of the toys, he would have the whole night ahead of him to play with them before he went to sleep. After that? How long? A few days, maybe, before they broke.

But where were they? He stopped moving and stood very still so that he could listen. There was a scraping sound, a rattling and banging. More whispers. Ssss-sss-sss-sss-ssssssss…He moved toward the sound, groping his way through the darkened shop, past the empty shelves and on into the back.

There they were. Four of them. Trying to open a back door. They’d barricaded themselves in with no way out. He spread his arms wide and belched. The toys all turned around together, their faces white blurs. One of them ran at him, but he barely felt it. Like a moth, bumping at a window. They were shouting. Why did they always shout? Why not just come quietly?

Come on…stuff…make it easy for me.…

They were on the small side, easy to carry but easy to break, too. He picked one out, trying not to be distracted by the others. The smallest one. He backed it into a corner, while the rest of them battered at his back. Just moths.

There. He had it. He picked it up and tucked it in his armpit, the weight of his arm holding it still. The rest of them kept on hitting him, shouting, their thin voices irritating him. Maybe if they’d run they might have gotten away from him, because they were faster. He would have tracked them all night, slowly and steadily, following their scent, and he knew that the smaller ones couldn’t keep going for long—they always got tired before he did. But these ones had stayed to fight, so this way it would be easier.

Two of them had sticks. The biggest two. Their blows fell harmlessly on his flesh, no more than a tickle. He sighed and swept his free arm wide, flinging one against the wall. He knew that would break it, but he couldn’t take all of them home anyway. The smashed toy fell to the floor, and he managed to scoop up the other small one. Two was enough. He tucked it away neatly in the great folds of his flesh.

Maybe he should try for a third, hold it by the neck. Sometimes they broke, though, when he did that.

No. He’d leave the other one. Maybe it would stay close and he could come back for it tomorrow.

He sighed again and headed back toward the front.

The fourth toy followed him through the shop. It had found a bigger stick. It was sharp. The toy was screaming very loudly as it jabbed at him with the stick. It might follow him out onto the street, all the way home, and its noise would attract the others. Then they would fight him for his treasures.

He stopped, turned, and pushed his huge belly against the toy, forcing it against the wall. He pressed harder and harder, watching the soft blubber fold itself around the toy until it was invisible. He could feel it wriggling feebly.

It wriggled and wriggled and then, at last, was still.

The Collector moved away and the small body was pressed into his gut. He took it by the hair and trudged out into the street. It would be no good for playing with, but he could dump it on his food pile.

And so, with a toy under each arm, he dragged the third broken toy down the street toward home.

He would leave the shopping bags where they were. He had plenty more. He had stacks and stacks of them among his stuff. He felt a little pang, though. He hated to leave anything behind.

The toys under his arms kicked and struggled, but by the time he reached his front door they had stopped, exhausted. He was pleased with himself. This had been a good night’s work. He had more cool stuff. New toys. They would keep him happy for a few days. He dreamed of all the things he would do with them, all the games he would play. First, though, as soon as he got them inside, he would have to snap their little legs. He had learned the hard way that they could escape if you didn’t do it. Why did they always try to run away? Why wouldn’t they just stay and play nicely? Why did they always have to make things so difficult?

And why, in the end, did they always have to break?

All the kids had nightmares. It would have been crazy if they didn’t. They’d seen so many strange and terrible things, after all. Disease and death, fire and darkness and chaos. Their world turned upside down. They’d seen people they loved destroyed by the sickness—mothers and fathers, older brothers, sisters, best friends. None had escaped its touch. They’d all lost someone and some of them had lost everyone. How could you not have nightmares if you’d watched your parents slowly lose their minds? If you’d watched their bodies being taken over by the disease, watched it blistering the skin, eating away at the flesh, watched it kill them?

Or worse.

Because when they didn’t die, when they lived on as mindless, shambling creatures with decaying bodies and a taste for fresh meat, it was much, much worse.

The kids who’d taken shelter in the Tower of London tried to forget. They tried to delete the memories of all they’d lived through, but when they slept some deep part of their brains kept on reminding them, and suddenly they were back there, reliving as a loved one got taken by the disease, or as friends were attacked by the hungry things that had once been human. Suddenly they were hiding again from their own families, trying to get away as a mother or a father reached out for them with rotting fingers….

They would talk and struggle in their sleep. They would cry out. There would be screams in the night. Some would sleepwalk and be found in strange places spouting gibberish. More than once someone had woken to find a friend trying to strangle him.

DogNut was no different. On the night before he was due to leave the Tower, he had his old familiar nightmare once again. Why this one? This same dream, night after night? Why wouldn’t his brain leave this memory alone? He’d survived more dangerous attacks. Lost closer friends. So why, in the darkness, did the dream come creeping like some low shadow creature into his brain? So that even he, tough and wiry and street-smart and seemingly scared of nothing, would jerk awake, tangled in his bedclothes, crying like a little baby and calling out for his mom.

Every night the dream ran its course. He could never wake himself before that final terrible moment….

Maybe it was the weirdness of what had happened, the fact that he’d seen nothing quite like it before or since. The slow, disgusting, unreal nature of it. It had even felt like a dream at the time.

It had happened soon after he’d arrived at the Tower, when they were all still learning about their surroundings, before they’d turned the business district to the north and west into a forbidden zone. All the big office blocks and skyscrapers were here, even though it was the most ancient part of the city, founded by the Romans some two thousand years ago. It was an area where far-out modern high-tech buildings of glass and steel rubbed up against medieval churches and solid, stone-clad eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings decorated with pillars and columns and statues.

This part of London seemed to contain a special sickness all its own.

But all those months ago they hadn’t realized….

In his dream DogNut is back there, out on patrol with his friends Ed and Kyle and a boy called Leo. Leo is a chatty kid who’s pretty tough, but also more than a little clumsy. So, although he loves fighting and is always the first to volunteer to go out hunting for food and supplies, he is as much of a danger to his own side in a fight as to any attacking sickos. DogNut is always nervous going out on patrol with him—he doesn’t pay attention and is noisy and too sure of himself—but today a lot of the other kids are laid up with the flu and he’s the best available.

They walk along a wide street. In his dream it’s black and white, like an old film. Bank notes are blowing in the breeze like confetti. The four of them laugh and try to catch as many of them as they can, even though the bills are completely worthless now. They follow the trail of money to a fancy-looking Victorian building with an imposing front that reminds DogNut of a Greek temple. There’s smoke rising from the building, but the boys are curious to look inside. To find the source of the money.

The revolving doors at the entrance are locked. The window next to them, however, has been smashed, and, carefully avoiding the broken glass, they climb inside.

They are in what appears to be a fancy bank of some sort. The wide marble floor has a circular pattern of tiles set into it that looks something like a compass. There are pillars and carved wood, and paintings on the walls, a couple of big dead trees in pots. At the back is a staircase leading up from the lobby, to the left an empty reception desk. There are no signs of any human activity.

Leo is keen to explore further.

He says something about looking for gold.

Notes aren’t much use, but gold will always be valuable….

They walk toward the stairs. And as they get to the middle of the tiled pattern on the floor, there is a crack, and the floor begins to crumble beneath their feet. DogNut instinctively grabs Leo, and they hold each other as the floor collapses. In the dream it happens slowly—they almost float down—but at the time they must have fallen hard and fast.

Right down to the basement.

Miraculously, they are unhurt. They’ve landed on something soft. The air is filled with dust, so for a few moments DogNut can’t see anything, despite the sunlight filtering down from the floor above.

Ed and Kyle had been walking a little ways behind them and haven’t fallen through. DogNut hears Ed calling down to him, asking if he’s all right.

DogNut shouts back that he’s fine.

We landed on something….He tries to figure out what exactly the two of them are standing on…or rather, in. He’s sunk up to his waist in something warm and slimy. And it’s moving, like some giant animal.

“What is it?” says Leo.

“It’s bad, is what it is,” says DogNut. “We got to get out of here.”

“But what is it?”

“I don’t want to know. I just want to get out.”

As the air clears, DogNut notices that there’s a sort of luminous glow down here. It helps him gradually make out his surroundings.

Faces. Too many to count. Looking up at him. He’s sinking in a sea of faces. He realizes that the sticky mess he’s fallen into is people. They’re all squashed together, and it’s as if they’ve melted into one single, shapeless blob. They are stacked on top of one another. He can see more faces underneath. Bodies crushed and trampled and squashed beneath the feet of those people at the top.

They’re smartly dressed in business suits, although the suits are filthy and ragged, and some of the men and women wearing them are obviously dead. Not all, though. Hands wriggle up from the gloopy mass, fingers worm toward him, heads crane over to try to get closer, but the bodies are so tightly packed that none of them can really move.

DogNut looks around; the whole basement is crammed full of these people. How they live down here, what they eat, he has no idea. Maybe they eat whatever drops in on them. But then he sees to his horror that they are eating each other. Where they are able to, they’ve clamped their mouths onto their neighbors. Over there a head has three or four other heads clustered around it, sucking and chewing. And there—two heads eating each other. He watches in appalled fascination as a mouth peels the cheek off a woman, exposing her gums. She had long since lost her teeth. The only sound is a squelching, slurping noise. There’s something cold and dead-eyed about these people, as if they didn’t care. They look like lizards.

And now DogNut realizes that they are trying to eat him, too. There are three mouths sucking at his legs. He pulls one leg away and it comes free with a plopping noise. He frantically kicks and wriggles, but as one person is knocked away another fills the gap.

“This is disgusting,” he shouts.

“Go up,” says Leo. “We have to go up!”

The ceiling is closer than DogNut had expected. God knows how deep this human pool is. He forces his way up, standing on shoulders, heads, jerking away from gaping mouths. Ed is leaning over the edge, his hand extended downward. DogNut reaches up and his fingertips touch Ed’s. But then the panicking Leo pulls him back.

“Let me go first!” he screams, and climbs up DogNut’s body, using him as a ladder. DogNut swears but tries to help him, pushing him from below. In his panic, though, Leo slips and tumbles sideways, falling into a field of upturned baby birds’ mouths. He thrashes around and only succeeds in sinking deeper into the human bog.

DogNut tries to get hold of him and manages to grip his shirt. With his other hand he reaches out for Ed, who is dangling down over the hole, supported by Kyle. DogNut tries not to lose his grip on Leo. It’s impossible, though. Leo now has at least seven grown-ups hanging off him like leeches.

DogNut knows that if he lets go of Leo, Leo will die. It’s up to DogNut to save him, but he’s in danger of being pulled back down himself. So in the end he lets go of Leo and watches helplessly as he sinks for the last time beneath the sea of faces, which curl in on him, enveloping him.

Every night the scene is repeated, and every night the same thing happens. Leo falls and sinks out of sight into that horror.

And that night, like every other, DogNut woke gasping for air, still watching poor Leo disappear. He sat there, soaked in sweat, shaking, his head bobbing on his long neck, telling himself that it was all right. All right. Just a dream. Just a stupid dream. He wasn’t back there. It wasn’t real.

It was real, though. It was his fault Leo had died….

DogNut had yelled so loud his throat had bled. Ed had hauled him up and he’d flopped down onto the tiles. They’d checked his body. He was covered with saliva, but none of the sucking mouths had broken his skin. Ed had tried to reassure him, told him it wasn’t his fault.

It was, though. He had let go of Leo.

And his guilty brain wouldn’t let go of the memory.


He had to put it out of his mind. Push it away like all the other bad memories. Tonight, of all nights, he needed his sleep, because in the morning he was leaving.

He’d been at the Tower of London for a year. Building a new life with Jordan Hordern and Ed and Kyle and all the others who had made it here after the battle at Lambeth Bridge. Why did he never dream of that night? When half of London had gone up in flames.

Because it wasn’t his fault.


Come on, DogNut. Don’t be a wuss. Don’t think about it. Suck it up. Be a man. Move on. Think of Brooke. Beautiful, stroppy Brooke. Yeah. He smiled. Always look on the bright side of life, as the old song went. The nightmare wasn’t the only regular dream he had, was it?

Some nights he dreamt of Brooke, the mouthy blond girl he’d gotten separated from at Lambeth Bridge. It had been mad. Sickos, driven on by the fire, had attacked them. Half of the kids had gotten away over the bridge; the rest of them, DogNut included, had ended up on a tourist boat floating down the Thames….

A year since he’d last seen Brooke. And in all that time he’d never been able to forget her. In his dreams she was impossibly good-looking, her hair clean and golden, her clothes immaculate, but she was just as rude and unwelcoming. Somehow that only made him want her more. So now he was doing something about it. He and a gang of kids from the Tower were going to go upriver and search for lost friends.

As he lay in the darkness now, though, in the bleak early hours of the morning, he wondered for the thousandth time if he wasn’t crazy. Why leave the safety of the Tower? Why leave his friends? He had it made here.

Ha. Good one.

He’d never be a general like Jordan Hordern. He’d never be respected like clever Ed, who everyone loved. He was just daft deputy DogNut. Cooped up inside this gloomy castle. This couldn’t be it. For the rest of his life. There had to be something more. He was going to go out there. He was going to make something of himself. He was going to find Brooke, the prettiest girl in London, and return a hero.

Hold onto that, DogNut—that’s your future.

You’re going to show everyone.

You’re gonna show Jordan Hordern, and Ed…and Leo.

You’re gonna be a hero.

It was morning and DogNut’s crew was down by the river, packing a big rowboat with food and water, weapons, sleeping bags, and clothing. DogNut was wearing his leather American flying jacket from World War II. Like a couple of the others, he was bringing along a steel breastplate, but that was stashed in the bottom of the boat along with everything else. It was too heavy and awkward to row in.

The day was bright and clear. Sunlight sparkled on the dirty water of the Thames, turning it from muddy gray into a shifting carpet of silver and gold. DogNut knew it was probably just tiredness and a trick of the dancing light, but he kept seeing shapes out of the corners of his eyes, and try as he might, he couldn’t quite chase away the last shadows of his dream and concentrate on what he was supposed to be doing. He needed to be careful. Sure, it was a lovely day and all that, and the river might have looked like something out of a Disney film right now, but he knew it could be very dangerous. It was wide and deep and powerful and crisscrossed with unpredictable currents. He’d seen its dangers firsthand. On the night they’d arrived here last year, the boat they’d been on had hit a bridge and sunk. Several kids had drowned, including Brooke’s friend Aleisha.

And only last month a boy had been playing near Traitors’ Gate, right next to the river, showing off to his mates, and had slipped off the wall. The Thames had looked as if it was hardly moving, but the poor guy had been snatched away in an instant and never seen again.

You had to respect the river. The kids had spent their time at the Tower organizing themselves, learning about their surroundings. Lately they’d been studying the river. Learning its ways and learning not to fear it.

DogNut had carefully chosen this time for their departure. Although the sea was miles away, the Thames was still affected by the tides. When the tide rose in the North Sea, it forced a huge volume of water up the estuary, where it funneled into the Thames and reversed its flow. The level of the river at the Tower could rise as much as twenty feet. Then, as the tide went out, the waters would begin to drop and be sucked out to sea.



    "The Enemy grabs you by the throat . . . and bites off your ear. It's kids versus zombies and no one is playing nice. The action--and boy, is there action--takes us through a London transformed by the unexplained illness that has turned every adult into a shuffling, drooling, kid-crunching machine. Bonus: zombie royals. Sheer fun."
    Michael Grant, author of the Gone series

    "...the action is of the first order-Higson writes with a firestorm velocity that inspires to the sweeping reach of Stephen King's The Stand."
    ALA Booklist

    ". . . Higson delivers an action-packed summer read."

    "The third book in Higson's terrifying zombie series will continue to enthrall horror fans."

On Sale
May 20, 2014
Page Count
496 pages

Charlie Higson

About the Author

Charlie Higson is an acclaimed comedy writer, producer, actor, and genuine James Bond aficionado. He is the author of the adult thrillers Full Whack and King of the Ants the internationally best-selling Young Bond series: SilverFin, Blood Fever, Double or Die, Hurricane Gold, and By Royal Command and seven books in the Enemy series.Charlie is a fan of zombie movies and believes that we shouldn’t try to prevent young people from experiencing fear, because it helps prepare them for later life. He lives in London. Follow him on Twitter at:

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