Overnight they heard about London going dark, and the attacks in the streets. There were reports of the undead as far apart as Edinburgh and Newquay. Within days whole parts of the country went silent.
In the local pub he had run for the last twenty years, Keith knew two things. There were two days left tops before the dead knocked on his door. And he would never see his son again.
He left the bar unattended, and clambered up the weathered metal stairs to the attic. Behind some battered sports memorabilia he found the fairy lights, the plastic Santas, the fake Christmas tree.
He dragged them out, and began.
It took the patrons huddled around the television watching the world burn less than half an hour to work out what was going on. Some called their families over. Some threw their phones in the bin. All of them drank, and ate pub snacks, and helped wrap lights around the brass on the walls. They sprayed fake snow on the windows, and even though it was the middle of summer, they soon captured the feel of a white Christmas.
The police were long gone. Keith poured nuts into a bowl, like he did before proper health and safety, and more than one person puffed away at cigarettes. The parents let their children have as many fizzy drinks as they wanted. No-one was checking.
Keith whacked a Christmas hits CD in his old boombox, and drew on the blackboard ‘first round free’ in chalk. He put felt reindeer antlers on his head, and joked every time someone asked for his drink that it was their first round.
The television channels showed zombies shambling up deserted motorways. The crowd of drunks cheered when Keith switched it off, and dug up a videotape of Christmas specials.
By the point the undead reached the village, those inside the pub were so out of it they were pretty sure it really was Christmas day. Rotten hands broke the windows, and hammered the door.
Keith turned up the music, and supped a glass of port. The tinsel rattled off the frames, and the plastic tree fell over. As the door broke open, he remembered his son opening his presents on his fourth Christmas. It always had been his favourite time of the year.