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Link Posted: 4/19/2009 3:20:25 PM EST
I have been working alot and I finally just read 2-11 and Im going to read 1 now. this is great If you make it into a book I would buy it. You should actually look at making it into a small movie especially that you live in WI it would work well up there even if it was a short film. Some independent movies are great. I look forward to the next ones. Thanks



Dan
Link Posted: 4/20/2009 8:48:09 PM EST
Chapter 12
Attrition by Murder



We rolled into the north side of town, the uncontrolled area, in a cold, heavy snowstorm. I really thought that before morning the roads would be impassable, it was coming down so hard. I was glad I wasn’t going to be out in this, in the open, undressed and with no shelter. I gave Berne directions to get to the entry gate near the power station. I had him put on the four-way flashers and approach slowly, giving the guards there plenty of warning that we were coming and not a threat.

Two kids guarding the gate flipped on a bank of powerful lights, turning night into day in the area before them. Using a speaker, one of them guided me to the intercom box on the fence. I really wasn’t relishing getting out, but I thought my face might be recognizable and speed up our acceptance. I told the kid to call Ray and get permission to let us pass. And I told him to hurry since the noise and light was already drawing an angry audience.

We got through in only a few minutes and were told to head directly to the command center. Parking in the back of the building, I told everyone to bring his or her personal weapons and field gear. I was smiling at the thought that these people were about to be re-introduced to a hot shower and meals. Dad caught my grin and asked what I was up to.

While I knew that Bernie’s place was as up to date and well provisioned as any, the luxuries of electricity and the offerings of the city were going to be a pleasant surprise. I was sure not one of them had enjoyed a long, hot, uninterrupted shower in a long time. And likewise, a warm meal cooked and served, restaurant style; while they sat comfortably to eat it, was going to be well received.

The building was a bustle of activity; couriers running back and forth and everyone in sight seemed to be busy with something. A sense of urgency told me the meals and showers were going to be delayed a little longer. I led the family to Ray’s office and found him and Simon pouring over a map of the city.

Ray looked up and smiled, “I knew you couldn’t stay away too long.” He looked past me and saw the others and moved around the desk to greet them. “You must be Annie,” he said and gave her a hug. “And…” he started to ask when Berne introduced himself. After all the introductions were made, Simon tried to get Ray back to business.

“I’m sorry, but we really are quite involved here, Mr. Ruddigg.” He said in his best attempt at bureaucratic importance.

“Oh, anything I should be concerned with?” I asked. Ray stepped back into the conversation and took charge.

“We’ve noticed an increase in activity in the last few hours. They may be licking their wounds and just going back to the shadows, but I think it’s more.” He offered.

I took a quick minute to bring my family up to speed on recent activities. Annie of course, gave me a stern look since I hadn’t told her yet about the large Z attack I’d just left before finding her. And now, we were all in the middle of it again, and I don’t think she was comfortable about the possibility of losing touch again. She knew I was a warrior type and gravitated to sticking my neck and nose into any mess.

“I, we, could use your help again, I’m afraid.” Ray said, drawing me another evil eyed glance from Annie. “Please, take these wonderful people and get them settled in and a bite to eat. I know you’ve all had a journey and need some rest. Unfortunately, if things are heating up it might be a short relaxation.

Leading my family over to the dorm behind the school, I waited for the opposition from Annie. It didn’t come; instead she just walked along side of me, holding my hand. We found a pair of offices, turned into living quarters on the second floor. Annie and I took one, the bachelors the other. When I told them all to grab a shower and throw on some clean clothes, they all looked at me like my hair was on fire, then smiled and drifted off to see if it was for real.

Half an hour later as I was getting dressed the claxons went off. Almost forgetting I was no longer alone, I grabbed my vest and rifle and started toward the door. “You wait right there! What’s going on?” Annie called to me as she came out of the bathroom, drying her hair.

“I’d say we are under attack. Get ready to go,” I urged and stopped to gear up myself and wait for her. Berne was at the door seconds later, and seeing that I was outfitted for war, turned without a word and raced back to his room.

I was impressed and relieved when the five of us, as a team and as a family, re-entered the command center during a flurry of activity. Ray was sending out teams to run interference for the bulldozers. Seeing me, he waved to a pair of shooters, Lassiter and Sommerfield and then to me. The two approached and asked if they could go with us in our trucks. Apparently we had been volunteered to security patrols. Both men looked at Annie’s slight figure and then to each other, as if to protest. No way I was getting involved in what was coming to them if they challenged her ability or enthusiasm. Jimmy looked at me and I raised an eyebrow and gently shook my head to tell him not to go there. Jimmy realized the better part of valor and just suggested to get going.

I wanted Annie to drive and Ollie to handle controls of Berne’s truck. Jimmy, Dad and I hopped in with Annie and Berne and Gavin jumped aboard with Ollie. Our job, according to jimmy was to fill the gaps between the big rigs as we went out to check for breaks in the fences. No breach had yet been identified so we were to act as scouts and forward controllers, directing security response teams where necessary.

Simon advised over the walkie-talkie that there were alarms at several points along the fence, more than we had vehicles to respond with. I hoped this was only a ruse, a probe to check our response. And I hoped the enemy was discouraged by our quick arrival. We patrolled the western borders without finding any breaches, good news since we were stretched so thin. Several times we were able to catch sight of some retreating Zs as they were slinking back into cover of the buildings. On the far side of the berm, on the barren, flat expanse I could see dozens of trails in the snow. They were looking for our reaction. I didn’t believe that they could tell time by conventional means, but they were calculating just the same.

And here and there along the wire we saw their scouts, or what remained of them, smoking, charred corpses stuck on the fence. I explained to Dad and Annie about their leadership and communication skills. Gavin was chomping at the bit to deploy and try to get rid of a few more of them. I knew it would be a waste of time and the opposition would be well hidden by now. But I knew at some point we, the living people, would have to deal with the threat head on. I truly believed we had to take the fight to them, to destroy them wherever and whenever we could. We could never relax; never let our guard down until they were annihilated.

Other patrols passed us and roved back and forth across the perimeter, keeping the enemy guessing about our true number and keeping them from coming forward. We returned to base to gas up and were happy to find that no penetrations in the fence had been found.

It went on like this several times a day for weeks and we fell into a boring routine and with it I watched complacency creep into the patrols. I spoke to Ray about it and he mentioned it at the daily briefings it was still happening. I could tell people were losing interest. Some place, at the most inopportune time, I guessed there would be a toll to pay.

Annie and I caught up on our lives, taking up residence on the third floor of an apartment building overlooking the river. Berne, Dad and Ollie occupied single bedroom apartments one floor down which was nice because we could meet several times a day. Dad and Ray Vogel were becoming good pals and spent days planning defenses and reliving old days. Ollie was in his glory, chasing after all the single ladies.

Berne and Ollie were always close and went on many patrols together. In the basement garage, they ran a vehicle repair shop, spending most of their free time customizing the security force trucks. They also built some very nice cars, taking advantage of all the free, disabled cars in the control zone.

Life was good, all things considered. Things were simpler and more efficient too. No one went hungry and everything was a group effort. From childcare, gardening, and laundry, to construction and security, there was no unemployment, except for the kids and the elderly. But even the able elders stayed involved, making contributions with education in the old ways of doing things.

Winter finally came on in full force and we noticed a dramatic change in Z/X-human activity. The cold had to be hard on them and we found many, frozen like statues in knee-deep snow along no man’s land. Whether from starvation or rage, they appeared to have continued to try and get to us.

We thought that they were frozen to a final death, but on warmer, sun-filled days, we could see that they had moved. Even if only a few feet closer, they used whatever power they could muster to come for us. We took to shooting them, just to be certain. Many times their frozen, rigid carcasses would remain standing, headless and grotesque.

––-

Since we had capable vehicles and Ray had personally signed off on our firearms certifications, we volunteered to requisition parties. Small convoys ventured into the control zone to bring back supplies, mostly food and medical equipment, to fill the stores at the school and hospital. Daily, we were given lists of the most important items but also requests for other goods. Candies for the children, diapers, car parts, electronics equipment and other such sundries filled our trucks.

Using phone books and maps, we broke down the city and outlying suburbs within the control zone (CZ) and methodically searched for the goods. We also scouted good locations for radio towers and buildings that could be used for fallback positions if need be. Being less than a year into the calamity, most of the canned and packaged goods were still plentiful and safe for consumption. After only a week, we decided we needed bigger trucks and trailers to haul the vast amounts of stuff we found. 6000 plus people go through quite a bit of food, clothing, fuel, medicine and ammunition quickly.

Occasionally we ran across zombies in some of the buildings, individuals and small groups that had been trapped or locked in places that they didn’t have enough strength or numbers to overcome. They were in terrible condition, mere skeletons really and offered no real threat to us except from diseases. We managed to keep a good track record of safely getting the job done without losses for over two months.

On a blustery, cloudy day in late February a member of the semi crew was jumped while answering the call of nature. Standing in a narrow corridor, with a concrete wall to either side, he was surprised by a hidden Z that popped up and bit a chunk out of his arm. Ferociously, he battled the raging creature with his bare hands, finally managing to overpower and kill it. But, the damage had been done, he was infected. Immediately, he was stripped of his weapons and segregated. To his credit, he knew we had to protect ourselves, and didn’t fight with us. In fact, he courageously offered to shoot himself rather than suffer the horrible fate he knew was coming. We couldn’t take the chance of arming him.

Jimmy stood guard over the man, waiting for him to turn, and admittedly surprised it was taking so long. I had seen people go from laughing, happy souls to flesh craving lunatics in mere minutes. But this guy just sat there, as we finished loading the semi-trailer. We worked for more than two hours and prepared to head back in. Another patrol vehicle was seen approaching and we all knew it was quitting time.

Bobby and a three man crew stopped to see what we were doing out so late. I explained we had a large load but were just finishing up. He didn’t bother to assist us, not that I expected him to, but acted as if we were trespassing on his territory. If there was one guy that I could do without, attitude and all, it was Bobby. And I wasn’t the only one that seemed to feel this way, Jimmy had absolutely no time for Bobby either, stemming from the convoy attack and earlier from what I had pieced together.

I told Bobby we had a casualty and that we were now ready to go. He offered to take the man to the hospital for us so we could head straight in to the school with our loads. We had all agreed that it was abnormal enough that the man had not changed, that we should have him looked at. I accepted Bobby’s offer, not thinking past it at the time. I offered my thanks to the driver for his services and everyone added best wishes for his continued good health. I told him I would check in on him later. He smiled and said he felt fine and had only a little pain at the site of the wound. I found it encouraging that perhaps the Z virus had died off.

Our six vehicles, 4 semi-trailers, lead and followed by our trucks, wormed our way through the streets back to the school. I couldn’t stop thinking about the injured driver and his fortune, not turning to a bloodthirsty, pale-eyed monster. Annie, Jimmy and I talked it over, realizing that this guy could be a key to all of our survival. Perhaps he was immune, or the bite wasn’t deep enough or the Z was too emaciated to have any saliva. Whatever the reason, that guy needed to see the medical staff if for no other reason than to give him a peaceful death.

“Let’s go back and get him, the others can make it the rest of the way.” Annie suggested. I nodded in agreement. Making contact with Jimmy’s eyes, he was all for it too. Time might be of essence for the doctors to see him. Calling Berne on the FRS radio, I told him what we were up to and advised him to go on to the school and to alert the hospital.

When we arrived back at the store, the other security team was nowhere in sight. I knew they would have to secure the injured driver but didn’t think they’d had enough time for that and to get him loaded so soon. Something didn’t feel right. Jimmy was already out of the truck, headed into the store. I sensed by his gait that he was bothered too. A moment later as I approached the door, I heard Jimmy curse. “That murderous coward, damn him!”

I stepped through the doorway and saw the driver, flat on his back on the floor, a gapping wound in the side of his head. The blood spatter on the wall told me that the man had been standing, and shot in the face at almost point-blank range. There was no sign, no indication of struggle, he had simply been executed, and his hands still bound in front on him. The blood all about the room was still red, no signs that it or the man had turned into one of the killing Zs.

We wrapped the body in a plastic sheet and put it in the trailer hitch basket. Jimmy was quiet and I could tell by tensing of his jaw muscles he was all rage inside. The fire in his eyes told me he was preparing himself for war, and Bobby was going to be the recipient. This wasn’t the time to try and calm him or talk him out of it; I’d let the ride home ease some of his anger.

––-

Bobby and his crew had found a liquor store and had a private party that lasted for hours. He knew how long his shift was and frequently wasted his time on these self-indulgent forays. When he was supposed to be out checking fences and being watchful for X-humans, he and his crew were often drunk. Hidden away in an underground parking garage or in parts of the city where no one could find them, they partied.

He had very few friends, he realized that, but didn’t care. The three men with him now were the closest allies and partners in crime he had known. The city officials had disciplined each, as Bobby had, and none of them gave it a second thought. Life was different, wild and wide open, at times dangerous. But things shouldn’t be like they were in the past. All the problems that had occurred to bring the world to its knees were done by those in charge and Bobby’s crew held them in contempt and showed little respect for the city elders they saw as a continuation of the old days.

If the leaders like Ray ever found out how much stuff Bobby and his renegades had stockpiled, they would be astonished, and the crew condemned to banishment or death. But there was little chance of that, hidden of in an unused part of the city. Given much more grief, the crew decided they would break away from the city anyway. As Bobby saw it, they didn’t need the city and all its boring rules, they could fend for themselves and live much more comfortably. He reached over and cranked the stereo volume up, smiling when his mates hooted and raised their glasses and bottles to him.

––-

We pulled into the emergency entrance to the hospital an hour later, having fought our way through a heavy, wet snowstorm. Berne and Ray met us, anxious to see for themselves the man’s condition. It had been all of our experiences that people died quickly for exposure to Z virus infections. Even when put down quickly, the bodies and blood had always turned black. As two attendants, outfitted in full Hazmat protective suits and facemasks, unloaded the body. It was clearly evident that his blood was still very red, very human. Bobby, or someone acting at his direction, had killed a human with no reason to believe the deceased man had turned.

I turned to get back in the truck to go clean up and saw that Jimmy was nowhere in sight. “Where did Jimmy go?” I asked Annie. She said she didn’t know exactly, but pointed to the security member bachelor’s quarters. I believed Jimmy was so mad that he was ready to kill Bobby on sight. But he was professional enough, that I didn’t think he would. His sense of honor and lawfulness would be more satisfied if Bobby stood trial. However, I was under no illusion that Jimmy would act quickly and deadly if Bobby decided to fight instead. I guessed he was off to find Ray and the command staff to swear out a warrant or whatever processes the city government used for such matters. Heaven help Bobby and his crew if they resisted.

For everyone else, the emergency was over, for the time being. My family met at dinner and discussed what had happened and it seemed the word had spread quickly and was the topic of conversation throughout the building. We also talked about staying on here in the city. No one seemed to be interested in leaving just yet. Like me, they saw the city as an important outpost in the dangerous world. We agreed, that while there was a risk, it was over-ridden by the good things going on here. Quick and logical means were used to decide the ongoing issues and use of resources. Those resources were far better than the option, foraging for a daily existence.

While we ate and talked, I looked for Jimmy, hoping he had calmed down. I understood his anger and was similarly incensed by what Bobby had done. I just didn’t want him doing something that could or would jeopardize his own standing. Having faith in the leadership, I was confident that justice would be dealt. Looking around further, I also noted that Gavin wasn’t here either. I wouldn’t want to be in Bobby’s shoes for anything.

––-

Bobby sat up, instantly regretting the sudden movement. It was still dark and everyone else was passed out drunk. The CD player had stopped playing, the batteries gone dead hours before. Bobby wasn’t even sure what had awakened him, he had a feeling he was being watched. He wasn’t concerned that he’d be found; there were still a couple hours before his tour of duty was over. And the building was secure, he’d personally told the others to lock up before they started drinking.

Looking toward the door, he was surprised and angered to see the door was ajar. A soft light glowed around the edge, dawn was coming soon. Inside the room he didn’t hear anything unusual. In fact, he didn’t hear anything at all. Now snoring, no farting, no ruffling of clothes or bedding as his friends moved in their slumber. A shiver went up his neck, snapping his senses into overdrive.
Link Posted: 4/20/2009 10:49:40 PM EST
And yet another great chapter! Thank's for the update, I have been waiting quite patiently for it....great work, and very entertaining!
Link Posted: 4/21/2009 1:33:39 AM EST
wow, I really wouldn't want to be Bobby either. Great chapter.
Link Posted: 4/21/2009 4:08:19 AM EST
good stuff...

K.
Link Posted: 4/21/2009 10:04:45 AM EST
So is it Zs or his own that are coming after him? Next chapter please!
Link Posted: 4/21/2009 1:00:24 PM EST
Still a wonderful read but you just HAD to end us on a cliffhanger!!!!


MOARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
Link Posted: 4/21/2009 2:55:33 PM EST
VERY NICE!!!


Cant wait for my next fix....err UPDATE!
Link Posted: 4/21/2009 8:42:27 PM EST
AWESOME. But then again, all of this story has been awesome.

Can't wait for the next chapter.
Link Posted: 4/22/2009 6:34:25 PM EST
Fantastic!
Link Posted: 4/22/2009 8:01:03 PM EST
OOOOOOOOOOHHH Bobby's gonna get it. Another great chapter.
Link Posted: 4/24/2009 7:20:57 PM EST
Chapter 13
Winter Campaigns


The being that was once John Stampley stood rigid in the corner of a third floor office. The unheated building had allowed the cold to slow his army and he also could barely move. Although he could not feel pain, the slow-motion struggle to get to the sun-filled window was frustrating. The sun would warm him enough to be able to look out over the terrain below.

The river was mostly covered with ice and snow now, but Stampley didn’t recognize the beauty of it. He couldn’t even tell why he was drawn to the waterway, but he checked on it everyday. The dark water spilled into the inlets, falling 70 feet to the constricting shafts before hitting the turbines. Stampley had caused hundreds of his fellow dead to walk headlong into the cold water, intent on plugging the shafts and in turn the turbines. Somehow he knew that the power to the fence would stop and his legions would feast.

Stiffly, he pushed a foot toward the light beaming through the large windowpanes. After more than an hour, he was close, even now filling his toes again. The rays of light quickly heated the thin black dress shoe, then the foot within. Slowly, his legs responded, giving him the ability to pull the rest of his body into the light and warmth.

The world below was a white canvas, punctuated by the outlines of building roofs. If he hadn’t already known the roads, he wouldn’t have been able to tell where they were. Only the rows of utility poles gave any indication of directions for travel. Here and there, bodies stood frozen in the waist deep snow. Hungry deserters had tried in vain to make their way to the populated area and had been slowed and then stopped by the cold. Some had become roosting places for ravens and smaller birds. Stampley felt no remorse for them, nor anger or pity. He only sensed that they had wasted their opportunities for success.

His hunger was unsatisfied as well and his own urges to travel south into the human sector had to be fought constantly. The living were just too strong right now to attack. As lethargic as he and the others with him were, they would have no chance to make it past the fences. But each minute in the sun, warming and thawing, he grew stronger and his mind more clear. Time was on his side.

He had moved as many of his kind to the north as he could control. Buildings were packed with nearly 30,000 of the living dead, now quiet and still, waiting for warmer weather.

––-

The security force commanders met in Ray’s office, while a swirling snowstorm raged outside. I went along with Berne, who had been selected as a reconnaissance patrol leader. We sat in the back and listened to the briefings. I got the feeling that everyone believed the Zs had died in the cold. I just couldn’t bring myself to join that idea just yet. These creatures had survived much more horrible injuries and problems, like starvation, the elements and devastating losses of limbs and internal organs. I found it impossible to think that some cold weather would stop them.

Berne and I had discussed it before and he spoke up when Ray asked for questions. “I think before we write these things off we need to be sure and not go off half cocked.” He started. The grumblings and grunts were expected but still raised my ire. We’d run into a few “city folk” that viewed us as cowboys and rash because we didn’t know the city as they did. They argued that we hadn’t been here as long as they had and thus weren’t as welcomed to comment, especially if came to putting men in harm’s way.

Berne remained calm, which I found interesting. “Look, I may not have lived in this city when this calamity started. But that certainly doesn’t mean I, or my family, haven’t experienced the same kinds of horrors and problems that any of you have. Perhaps it was even tougher for us or anyone that’s come here from outside. We didn’t have the unlimited food, tall buildings and the company of thousands of friends and family to help battle these flesh eating monsters.” He concluded.

“No one here is making light of what you have done or had to do to survive, that would be asinine. We’ve all lived the worst of times, but I think it’s past us now.” A man in the crowd offered.

The discussion was 50/50, split down the middle for action and inaction. I noted that most of the action side was shooters and security people, while the others were those subjects that rarely faced the problem anywhere near close up. That made some sense, stupid as it was. They had no idea what it was like, just how dangerous and horrible things were outside the safe haven where they lived. Luckily, rational heads were seeming to prevail in the council members and leadership people. They wanted to be sure, one way of the other.

Ray pulled the security team leaders aside after the larger meeting broke up. “I need to know, everyone needs to know if these things are finished. I will not order anyone to go outside the fence, but I’m open to volunteers.” He said and looked around as each man nodded in agreement. “Put the word out please.” He said and then retreated to his office.

I had already made up my mind, as had Berne. It was not going to be popular at home when Annie found out. But this was important and needed to be done. I think we had the upper hand because of the weather. However, that could be another ruse or only a few individuals caught in the open ground. There was no telling without actually going out to see, whether there were thousands of them waiting in ambush.

––-

On the opposite side of the world, Xiang laid sweating and shaking in a dark closet in his island strong hold. All the money he’d gathered, all the preparations he’d made were looking to be a waste now. His small private isle in the South China Sea had seemed ideal sanctuary when he purchased it. Isolated, with a rocky, formidable beach and only accessible by boat or small helicopter, he had not worried about the outside world. His staff was cut to a minimum after he left government employment. The stockpile of food, water, videos and other garnishment of wealthy modern life had all been brought in.

Even a few beautiful young virgins had occupied the palatial estate early on.
A couple of them he’d had to have killed when they didn’t fit in. A few others had escaped to parts unknown on the island and he had left them to their own devices. He could always go find them later. But one in particular had scared him enough that he wasn’t sure he wanted anything to do with any of them. A petite, Caucasian girl, with brown hair and big eyes had caught his eye one day on the mainland, and he had “arranged” for her to be escorted to the island.

The boat that delivered her chugged out through the choppy seas, and reached the island at dusk. Xiang went down to the dock to meet her and found the small watercraft had smashed against the rocks. The crew was nowhere around and Xiang assumed they had headed up the mountain. Xiang’s first encounter with an actual zombie came shortly after while he trudged back up the hill. He had no reason to be fearful of anything on his island up to that point. His reduced staff was hand picked and well paid, loyal to him for years. The only unknowns were the girls, but who paid much attention to teenage girls?

Xiang heard a rustle ahead on the trail and assumed it was the boat crew when he called out to them. Silence was the only reply. Stopping in his tracks, Xiang ordered the men to show themselves. Instead, his trophy girl came into view in the setting sun, wrapped in the shadow of the palms and plants. “Ah, my pet, how are you?” he said, as she came closer. When she was about six feet away, enough light cast upon her face to reveal her. In horror, Xiang froze, seeing a little monster coming at him. Calling to the boat crew, all that he heard were deep growls and the snapping of teeth.

That was all the answer he needed, and sprinted back toward the beach to the other trail. He used all his strength and speed to get up the hill to the house where he locked himself in. There was only one firearm on the island, a small pistol. No other weapons were even thought of because he felt so secure and secluded here. But now, in a panic, he tried to remember where the pistol was. He had to kill the girl before she infected the others. Frantically, he tore through drawers and cabinets until he heard a slamming of a door down on a lower level. He realized that the place was wide open, never having needed to lock up before. His suite, the upper penthouse was all he had locked. In effect, locking himself off from the supplies he had spent so much time acquiring.

Xiang ran to the windows, most of the walls were mostly windows, so he could enjoy the view of the jungle and seas around his land. But it was dark and he saw nothing. He couldn’t even turn on the outside security lights since the controls were all downstairs. Screams, many young girlish screams reverberated throughout the house and he realized the creature girl or the boat crew, who must have infected her, were at the dormitory area, killing the other slave girls. There were only two other men that stayed on the island, but both were on the mainland. Xiang was alone, in a world he had created.

He ran around the suite, packing furniture and objects against all the doorways, trying to build a durable barricade. He could hear them down there, scuffling about, moaning, growling and banging into things. Could they make it up here, he wondered. He spent an hour building his defense of jumbled furniture and boxes. In the end he was exhausted and found himself with only one place to go should the ghouls break through. Only a large closet in his bedroom would give him a place to go, a final battlefield if it came to that. The walk in closet held his safe and so it had been reinforced. He backed in and locked the heavy door then slumped to the floor in the darkness. He dared not show a light, for they might find him. He knew it was night, but didn’t have a watch on, so there would be no way to tell when daylight came. In the morning, he figured he could chance going out of the closet to try and signal for help.

––-

Stampley looked down on the frozen army. A few had moved slightly since he first checked on them, the sun re-animating them more slowly outdoors. Packed together as they were, the snow had formed them into a large, irregular clump, only the tops of the tallest poking through and visible. More than 3,000 or his fellow flesh eaters waited for warm weather and a chance to feast again.

On the warehouse floor with him were seven others. Seven out of more than 20,000. Seven who had managed to climb the stairs and show their superiority. These were the leaders, the most mobile and vocal of the surviving dead. Even as advanced as they were by zombie standards, they couldn’t think about the danger of all seven being so closely assembled. If the warm-blooded humans found them or happened upon them, all would be lost. Each one sunned itself at a south or east facing window, trying to function.

Each day as the sun brought movement and a brief feeling or progress, they moved about the third floor, checking on their troops. And each afternoon as the sun dropped and the temperatures dropped further, they became frozen fast again. The frustration was causing dissention, as a few could no longer control the pangs of hunger. They all wanted to move, to attack and eat. They all wanted to crush the living and once again gather strength through the consumption of warm blood and tissue.

At the far end of the third floor a sickening bellow erupted, filling the empty space with echoes. Tormented by the day-to-day monotony, Lauren Tuggs screamed aloud. Stampley and the others snapped their ugly heads around to her and hissed collectively. They knew she could bring the killers of their kind to them by her noise. Below in streets, more than a thousand faces struggled to look up to her. Like her, they too were tired of waiting. Stampley had used many of their number for his useless games. They wanted to go, now. A low rumble began to roll around the building.

Stampley started at her, murder in his eyes.

––-

Bobby stopped crawling long enough to listen. Cocking his head back and forth a few seconds at a time, he held his breath and waited for any noise to come to his ears. All he could hear was his own breaths and the sound of his heart beat in his eardrums. A faint clink of metal caught his attention and he tried to determine where it came from. It could be anything, an open vent flapping in the breeze, or a loose piece of siding.

The nerve snapping sound of a man screaming made Bobby drop to the floor. He recognized the voice, the deep tones of one of his confederates, Jamal. Jamal was a fighter and one of the men Bobby had always thought would challenge him for power and control of the group. For Jamal to be screaming, and from the sounds of it, in pain, was the worst thing that could happen right now. Bobby was alone and he still couldn’t figure out how the others had deserted him in the dark, or why.

With a wicked, self-appreciating smile, Bobby felt Jamal was getting what he deserved for his treachery. The moment was short-lived when Jamal screamed again, this time more agonized. Bobby used the noise of his former friend to cover his own movements and rushed for the door. Instinctively, he reached for his pistol, and found it was missing. In fact, his entire belt of equipment was gone. Uselessly he looked back in the dark to where he had been sleeping as if he would see it lying there on the floor. Pressing his face to the door, he could feel the cold air rushing through the slightly open doorframe. The light in the hall outside was barely more than where he stood now. To go out there was dangerous, but so was staying, alone and unarmed.

If he could get upstairs, and then to the trucks all would be well. He could get back to the compound before his shift was over and all that would be in question was where his team was. Explaining away their cowardice would be easy enough, given their records. Slowly, Bobby pulled open the heavy door, trying to keep it from making any creaking noises.

––-

Berne and some of the others had finally convinced Ray to take a proactive approach to the Z question. Ray had authorized a four-vehicle patrol to sneak into the uncontrolled area and check on the condition of the Zs. Also, they were to try and determine how many Zs would be coming at them when the weather changed. I volunteered to go with Berne, much to Annie’s displeasure. She was scheduled to work at the day care where she had offered her time and thus couldn’t try to go with us. She was mad.

We rolled through the gate closest to the river, at the most easterly edge of the city. Our plan was to circle to the north and come in from that direction, hopefully without letting our quarry know we were coming. The going was a bit slower than we had hoped, since the roads had not been plowed or cleared of disabled vehicles since the outbreak began. The trucks could handle the move, but it would use more fuel than we planned on and if we got bogged down, we could have some problems.

There was no moving traffic, but the number of cars, trucks, buses and semi-trailers everywhere really made going difficult. In the summer, there would be no way to make enough speed through this area to outrun even the slowest sauntering Z. Thankfully the cold weather had kept them home today. But we were looking for their home for a little unannounced visit. With luck, we could find their lair and put an end to some of them. The occasional loner could be seen, rigid like statues. We used machetes, sledgehammers and iron bars to put them down.

Making our way west, we found that the snow was heaviest on the north/south roads. We still needed to keep our eyes open for escape routes, no matter which direction the roads ran and no matter what the weather conditions. This was no place to get lost or stuck. The trucks were pushing along okay, but I could tell that snow and ice was packing up underneath the undercarriage. Short term that wouldn’t present much of a problem. But if we had to stop for any time and things got frozen solid, we might be looking at a long walk or run home.

Ray had checked in at the top of the hour as arranged. We didn’t have much to report and he wanted to scrub the mission, but got four team leaders putting up too much opposition so soon into the foray. He allowed us to continue and I could tell that we were going to lose the radio communication soon. Either from the cold, or the buildings blocking the signal or because there weren’t as many satellites in the sky anymore, our comms were already scratchy.

We kept pressing west, trading off the lead vehicles so each one got a chance to break ground and rest alternatively.




Link Posted: 4/24/2009 7:22:06 PM EST
There ya go guys two chapters in a couple days. Enjoy, Fast45
Link Posted: 4/24/2009 10:05:53 PM EST
Originally Posted By fast45:
There ya go guys two chapters in a couple days. Enjoy, Fast45


We are.
Link Posted: 4/24/2009 11:44:37 PM EST
Another good one, one of these next few chapters is going to be crazy with that zombie army.
Link Posted: 4/27/2009 1:28:32 PM EST
Another great couple chapters!

Thanks for the fix!
Link Posted: 4/27/2009 2:27:12 PM EST
Awesome story! I rushed through part 1 and 2 in a couple days, and I'm very impressed with the storyline and writing. THANK YOU!
Link Posted: 4/28/2009 8:03:36 PM EST
Nice work as usual.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 8:32:29 AM EST
Wow! MOAR!!!!!!

Still loving it and can't wait for the next installment.
Link Posted: 4/29/2009 12:49:33 PM EST
eagerly awaiting more; this is easily the best zombie movie i've ever read
Link Posted: 5/5/2009 2:28:02 AM EST
Thank you fast45! Great stuff. I just want MOAR!
Link Posted: 5/5/2009 7:51:11 PM EST

Chapter 14
Retribution


Bobby ran headlong down the hallway. He had been this way before and was confident the way was clear. When he tripped on something it was a complete surprise. The growl that filled the hallway was even more so. Quickly scrambling to his feet, he bounded further along, hoping to get to the stairwell door. A metallic clang at the door made him slide to a stop. Throwing his back up against the wall, he tried to hear, but his panicked breathing made it hard to pick up any noise. How had they found him?

“Who’s there?” he called out, hoping one of his friends had waited or come back for him. No answer came. The only sound now was the low grumble of an approaching Z. The sliding shush of the Zs foot came closer.

Bobby dropped to the cold concrete floor and searched for something, anything he could use for a weapon. He would take the killer out with his hands if he had to, but that was always risky. A bite or scratch or saliva mixed in a cut could be fatal. There was nothing he could use. Only scraps of paper and plastic garbage were strewn about the floor. His own people had left this mess over the last few months since they’d discovered this place. Now, even cautiously stepping, the papers crackled underfoot. Each noise drew another responding hiss or growl. His foe was there, in the dark of the long hallway. Bobby hoped it was only one of them, and that no others waited silently farther along.

Bringing his hands up to cover his face, Bobby picked up his pace and moved down the hall. If there were zombies waiting for him he would take his chances. The door was just ahead and as he reached for the knob, he felt something brush his hand. Jumping back, he swung out a wild punch hoping it would give him time. There was nothing there. He kicked forward and still made no contact. Groping in the dark he found a jacket or shirt hanging on a coat hook on the wall. He didn’t remember it being there and patted the pockets. Inside one, he found a Zippo lighter. A brief moment of fear raced through his mind. He only knew one guy with a Zippo and it was Jamal. He thought instantly that Jamal must be dead. But how the jacket got here was the strange thing.

The shushing noise down the hall came again and Bobby jumped. He used the lighter to find the door and grabbed the knob as a growl erupted in the cold hallway. The creature now knew where Bobby was and had seen him. Bobby twisted the knob and pulled, but the door held fast. Someone had locked it. The sound of the sliding foot came closer.

––-

We rolled into the downtown area after a long hour of pushing snow. The going was rough but we were finding pockets of the undead, mostly huddled under carports, large overhanging eaves and gas station canopies. We gave them a final death and moved along. There had to be a central hiding place, because we had all seen thousands more than we were seeing now. Most of us weren’t from the city so we didn’t know where the sports stadiums or other large gathering places were located. And our radios had finally given up. Our pre-arranged mission plan with Ray was that we would return with in a couple of hours if we lost contact, to avoid him having to send out a rescue party.

I knew we had to turn back soon given how long it had taken us to get this far. We could continue west and check in at one of the western guard posts and that would allow us a little more loiter time. One of the men suggested we try to go up into one of the taller buildings and perhaps get back in radio contact. No one wanted to accompany the guy up a cold, dark stairway while outnumbered in Z country. We rolled on.

Berne had just taken the lead when we rounded a corner and ran into a roadblock. A huge mound of snow, 6 feet deep, created a complete barricade across the road. We’d hit a few drifts this high but none as widespread. There was no punching our way through this one. In the swirling snow it was hard to see much except white. It was hard to tell just how far this drift stretched but one of the young guys from another truck ran past us into it. I didn’t know if he thought he was going to try and find a way or just relieve himself. He stopped right at the wall of snow, we all sat back and waited for him.

The young man, I think his name was Dennis, leaned his rifle against the snow bank and went about his business. We really weren’t paying attention until I saw Dennis jumping back, fumbling with his fly, his gloves and wrestling to gain control of his rifle. I think we all jumped a bit at the sight. A nearly white hand had reached out of the snow and grabbed hold of the Dennis’s rifle. To his credit, Dennis recovered quickly and easily pulled the firearm back from the weak, cold grip of the snow-covered Z. Yanking the rifle had pulled the stiffened Z out of the drift and it fell forward, slowly trying to seize Dennis. Dennis slammed the butt of the rifle down to the base of the Zs skull, killing it.

We were all piling out of the trucks by now and moving up to check Dennis’s kill. One of the other men peered into the cavity where the Z had fallen and yelled that there was another one in there. We all moved a little closer to see for ourselves, like it was something unusual. The guy poked his rifle barrel at the snow-crusted figure and sure enough, it reached ever so slowly for the weapon. Some of the rest began to brush away some of the snow and to our surprise, we had found the mother lode.

After more than an hour we had only cracked the surface. And it was harder work than any of us had planned on. The men scooped away snow, revealed a Z and then poked or prodded them out to finish them off. It wasn’t nearly as bloody or grisly as I would have imagined, the cold had thickened their bloody ooze. Even so, the area was a black and gray mess on the otherwise pristine white snow.

Another hour later we had located and killed perhaps a hundred of the enemy. The farther into the snow bank we worked the closer together the Zs were packed. I noticed also that those more shielded from the snow and wind were livelier and care had to be taken to avoid injury. It would have been easier to shoot them but less accurate. At least the ones we pulled out were really dead when we were done with them. Shooting wildly into the snow would have gotten a few but we couldn’t be sure that they were fatally struck or just wounded, ready to come back at us in the spring.

––-

Stampley reached the other end of the floor and found that several other Zs had followed after him. Even with her brain rotted by the Z virus, Lauren Tuggs sensed what was coming and hissed loudly at Stampley as his arms lunged for her. She moved a little quicker than Stampley and avoided his initial attack, slashing out with her bony fingers at his arm as it passed. The impact tore into Stampley’s left arm, shredding the gray flesh of his forearm.

With a sneer and a grunt he turned on her again. Two other Z leaders came up behind Tuggs as her attention was focused on Stampley. One man grabbed onto her neck while the other seized her right arm. Tuggs couldn’t move enough to avoid Stampley’s grip, his thumbs sinking easily into her eyes. With a howl, Stampley ripped back, pulling the skin off Tugg’s face and blinding her in the same instant. The others were already pulling her apart as Stampley strode back to his end of the floor.


The screams and struggle went unheard by the men below on the street.
Stampley walked back to his window and instantly went into a raging howl. His followers were being decimated in the close-knit pack below on the street. His angry bellows would not carry through the concrete and glass of the building and to the street from three stories down. Alerting the vengeful humans would not be wise anyway, leading them to his subordinate leaders.

––-


He could do nothing but watch the humans carry out the destruction of his army. But he knew that there were many thousands more of his kind waiting in the surrounding buildings and protected from the weather as he was. Come warm weather, he would seek his revenge and crush the humans for their trespasses and killings. He would feast with glee on their warm brains and drink their blood.

He looked back to the others and saw that they had finished with Lauren Tuggs. Her dismantled body was strewn across the entire end of the warehouse. They had completely broken down her petite frame, spreading her bones and blackened organs from wall to wall. Her tar colored blood even dripped from the ceiling. Stampley didn’t smile even though the sight pleased him. If he could only harness that rage and energy against the air breathing, warm-blooded enemy that was busy destroying his people on the street under his window. He looked back to see their progress and was surprised to see they were leaving. Perhaps they had suffered casualties or had tired from their toil. In either case he saw them as weak and planned to exploit that weakness soon.

––-

We had lost track of time and were late on reporting in or getting back to the fence by our scheduled timeline. Ray would be upset and rightly so, but I think our news of finding the Z army would buy us some reprieve. We had spent three hours tearing into the cluster of Zs in the street. We had to have destroyed more than 300, and had barely dented the pile. Judging from the size of the snow mound blocking the road, there had to be several thousand more packed together like iced fish. We all knew we had to go back and finish the job before warm weather came.

As expected, Ray was not a happy man. He had assembled a dozen vehicles and 40 shooters to come and rescue us. I apologized, as did every other man on the recon patrol, but our discovery was too important to have just overlooked. Ray wasn’t as forgiving. He asked if we had killed them all and of course we hadn’t. His argument was then that we could have checked in and put together a larger force to go back out and save everyone from worrying like they had. I saw his point and accepted his rationale. He was right and Annie was going to be just as angry and worried. I headed home, a little less enthusiastic as I had been earlier. I hoped the doghouse was heated.

Annie is a strong willed woman but she knew what would happen if the Zs were allowed to group and assault the city like they had at Berne’s house. Still, a few cold meals and cold-shouldered nights let me know to be more careful and considerate about keeping in touch. She was not about to lose me again, she said. Her other stipulation was that she was going with me from now on. I argued it was too dangerous, which of course was the wrong tact. If it was so dangerous then she didn’t want me going either, it could be left to younger men. Ouch. In the end, I had no way to stop her and consented.

Ray and the security force commanders and team leaders planned a new raiding party for the following day. This time, we would go out in force and try to mop up the snow bank zombies and any others we could find. If there were too many, we would mark the locations and make future ventures. This time we were also taking heavy equipment. Two large Oshkosh 5-ton plow trucks would lead and try to clear the road. That would give the convoy more time on target and make a quicker escape route if needed.

Six assault trucks with 4 shooters each would follow, with the rear brought up by two empty straight trucks. If we located supplies that were needed, we would be able to grab that as well. Dad had worked with Simon’s guys on getting the radios and batteries ready. Dad would run the communication shop for the duration of the raid. Ollie and Annie would ride with Berne and I in Berne’s truck.

The next morning we were all up early, anxious I guess to get at the work to be done. We dressed for the weather and double-checked our gear. When we arrived at the control center, I was surprised to see three other trucks, loaded with shooters, already waiting at the door. Apparently some of the others were ready to get going too. Annie joked that I was getting old and slow. I didn’t laugh that hard, knowing she was probably right.

We set out at 8:00AM, with the sun bright in the sky. Since we knew this time right where we were going, it was a much shorter trip. The plows easily opened the road for us, saving all of us fuel. We were on target by quarter after nine and shocked to find that many of the enemy had somehow moved off in the night. There were still plenty of Zs, either frozen solid or held fast in the packed snow. But there were less than half of what we expected.

Many were mad, not that we had been denied the kill, because none of us really enjoyed this. We all knew that these creatures meant us death and now they had moved, we couldn’t guarantee safety of those back at the base. No matter, we used the plows to break down the blockade and followed behind, putting the broken bodies of the uncovered Zs to final rest. By noon, we had finished with the project. We reported in to Ray and told him of the latest development. Berne told him we were here now and had plenty of light left and that we all wanted to go after more. Ray was reluctant but gave us the okay as long as we kept in contact.

We broke the convoy down into two smaller patrols. One plow would lead each, followed by half the assault vehicles and straight trucks. Our plan was to run parallel, one block apart and try to follow the largest amount of tracks left by the retreating Zs. That way we could maintain visual and radio contact and search more area. The trail was easy to follow, the otherwise unbroken snow disturbed only where the Zs had gone. Many of them had made their way into any building they could find open. Along the way we found many of the slowest that were still caught in the open. They were easy to dispatch even without disembarking from the trucks. Whether from our previous days attack on them or commands from their leadership, the bulk of the former pack had managed to scurry off.

Where the tracks showed the greatest concentration we dismounted and followed them into the buildings. Most of the time they were just standing there, almost as if they were waiting for us. When we did, we worked quickly to put them down and move on. We didn’t want to get trapped in a building by a larger force. We know now that they weren’t dead from the cold, but instead, hibernating. On the plus side, they were slower and easier to find in the snow. Once they got into buildings and the darkness within them, it was much more dangerous. It was also slowing us down greatly and we all feared that Ray would call us off.

Adjusting our tactics, we left the big plows to wait while we went for he easy ones, those on the streets or just into the doorways of buildings until we reached the end of the tracks in the snow. The Zs had managed to move hundreds of yards overnight through knee-deep snow, speaking much about their endurance. We reached the end of the tracks at lunchtime and decided to backtrack and double-check our efforts. The idea was to get rid of as many of these things as possible before warm weather set them on us again.

About half way back to the original gathering place a thought hit me. How had the leaders known we were attacking the semi-frozen bunch? There had been no tracks leading up to the snow covered gathering when we’d happened upon them yesterday. Unless they were mixed in amongst the pile, they had to have a visual on the dead, frigid army. We had been so intent on following the tracks that I don’t think any of us had bothered to look right under our noses. It was worth a look when we got back to the plow trucks.

––-

Stampley watched intently as the humans slaughtered part of his army. He could have simply yelled down the stairs to unleash several thousand more of his kind that occupied the lower floors. He could have crushed he air-breathers but had decided to wait. Something told him that this was not the time to force a victory. His people were too slow right now, too stiff from the cold, and too hindered in their clumsy movement to negotiate the snow quick enough to make it to the power station. As long as they moved off as they were doing now, the humans would find only small pockets of the cold, dead warriors, not enough to disturb his plans.

He could barely see the front of one of the huge Oshkosh plows below him. At least four humans stayed with the trucks. Those trucks had destroyed many of his flesh eating family. With a series of grunts and growls, Stampley ordered one of his subordinates to go down and kill the humans. It would only take a hundred hungry members of his horde to do so.
Clumsily, the former high school football star descended the stairs to the ground floor. The lobby of the office building was packed with the undead followers. Many lifted their heads to his approach and a low rumble started through the crowd. The football player didn’t need to return their glances. Only a guttural series of tones was needed to get them excited. Food was available and they were anxious to get to it.

The revolving glass doors at the front of the building clogged quickly as the throng of stumbling dead crushed to the entrance. Dozens were clear and already headed to the plow trucks before the entire doorframe was smashed under the weight of the hungry creatures.

The loud snap of the metal frame and the crash of the heavy, plated glass shook the calm street. Two of the drivers were in their trucks, napping and waiting for the security patrol to return. The two men outside the trucks responded to the noise and looked on in horror as dozens of ashen-faced undead dead people moved toward them. One man scrambled to get to the cab to retrieve his rifle, while the other fought to get his gloves off to draw his pistol. Concentrating on the buttons to his military surplus, Korean War era parka, he took his eyes off the advancing horde for only a few seconds.

His scream was muffled when several hands seized his face and throat. Try as he might, he could not get a word or warning out, even if the sounds would have only been his terrified screams for help. He was ripped apart in minutes, turning the white snow red. But even the blood soaked snow was scooped away and devoured by the mob.

The second man had managed to climb up onto the running board of the large truck and found the door locked. A few seconds of frantic pounding roused the driver. His pleas to open the door drew a curious smile and the driver thought the man was playing tricks on him. When the frantic man’s face disappeared from view, the driver sat up and leaned across the seat to unlock the door, then reached to open his own door. He was going to get out and chew the kid out for screwing around and wasting his nap, when the door was wrenched open. His hand still grasped the inner handle and he was pulled off balance. Still seat-belted in his seat, he fought to sit back up until he saw the blood splashed faces of the dead outside his door.

Seizing his outstretched arm, one of the savages pulled the man down. He could only bend at the waist and felt the first painful bite as a Z sank its yellowed teeth into his arm. The flow of fresh blood started another frenzy and the driver was ripped from his seat, torn in half. His legs and lower torso followed the rest of him out the door.

Only one man remained alive, but he was deep in slumber, snug in the warm surroundings of his truck. The motor idled, the quiet melodic tones from the CD player creating the perfect conditions for a midday siesta.

The zombie army was recalled and reluctantly withdrew back into the office building. They didn’t stay long. Stampley had already worked his way down and commanded the others to move out of the building. Even as the snow began to come down, they trudged out and pushed their way through the deep snow. Staying in this building any longer would only invite annihilation. He could feel the anger the humans would have when they returned and found the drivers dead. If the weather were warmer, he would have planned a surprise for his opponent, but now it was only prudent to find another building to survive the winter in.

––-

The mid-winter sun started to fade early in the afternoon. It was cloudy and appeared that we were in for more snow. Our mission had been successful but incomplete. We’d found the enemy and some of his lairs, but not enough to account for the number from the original bunch in the snow bank. We had though, uncovered one of their tactics, using buildings to negate the cold as much as possible. We could exploit that.

The entire security patrol gathered in the parking lot of a large builder’s supply business. Everyone wanted to go in and shop but Berne, who was in contact with Ray, told everybody it would have to wait. We were ordered to return and debrief. We spent a few minutes comparing notes and jotting down addresses as we drank some water and reloaded mags, checked equipment and did a final headcount. The snow started to fall in huge, feathery flakes, and within minutes was a near white out.

We formed up and headed back to pick up the plow trucks.

In a driving, white out we arrived and looked on in disgust and anger at the carnage. The lone driver sat straight up in his seat, eyes staring out blankly, unsure if he was in the middle of a nightmare. We questioned him and learned of his folly, falling asleep without setting a guard. I felt sorry for him even though I also knew how wrong he had been. The city elders would certainly feel less pity for him than I and the other security members. We knew he could likely face banishment, or death since others had died as a result of his actions. We were out here in the cold and knew the exhaustion and fear that sapped a man’s strength and energy, even more so in the cold. We were out here with him and knew he had seen death and destruction up close and personal, much more so than the councilmen and elders that never ventured out of the safe zone. Regardless of how we felt, the report would have to be made and the matter dealt with.

As we listened to his story, the man could provide few details as to where the Zs had come from. It was plainly evident to all of us though, from the bloody trail, just now being covered by the fresh falling snow. We wanted to go after them, but couldn’t, already behind schedule to return to the control zone. We did however, have enough time to let the savage bastards know we were on to them.

We stood in a line, twenty-four of us, and let loose a crushing barrage of rifle fire to every window and door way on the building in front of us. I half expected an ashen army to spill out of the openings in response to our attack. I almost wanted them to fight back this time so that all of us could vent a year’s worth of frustration, anger and revenge on them. But as the glass fell away and the walls opened in ragged holes from our bullets, I could see it was in vain. They were gone. “Cease fire! Cease fire!” several of us called out as we realized that we were wasting our hate and our ammunition.

Someone suggested we torch the building, set it on fire in case these monsters were only hiding, or on the other side of hallways and rooms we couldn’t see past. We couldn’t take the chance of the fire turning into an inferno that could spread back to the control zone. We also didn’t need to lose whatever precious commodities might be housed in this building and the others around it if the fire blazed out of control. All we could do was marked the location and come back another day to settle the score.
Link Posted: 5/5/2009 9:10:47 PM EST
Another AWESOME chapter!! Well worth the wait. Hope you're talking to someone about movie rights! Haha...
Link Posted: 5/5/2009 11:00:23 PM EST
good chapter. I dont like a lot of the people on these crews though. They are just too complacent. Maybe its just me, but if I spent the last year fighting Z's I would pay a lot more attention to my surroundings lol.
Link Posted: 5/6/2009 12:34:51 AM EST
Originally Posted By Runs-N-Guns_66:
good chapter. I dont like a lot of the people on these crews though. They are just too complacent. Maybe its just me, but if I spent the last year fighting Z's I would pay a lot more attention to my surroundings lol.


You saved me from having to say it.

A nearly white hand had reached out of the snow and grabbed hold of the Dennis’s rifle.


Z's using guns?

Now that would be very troubling.
Link Posted: 5/6/2009 4:44:03 AM EST
AWESOME fast45, thank you sir! By all means, keep it comin'! Please!
Link Posted: 5/6/2009 9:09:23 AM EST
Great addition as usual!!

Keep it up!
Link Posted: 5/8/2009 11:38:35 AM EST
very good read!!! Thanks for sharing with us
Link Posted: 5/14/2009 12:25:57 PM EST
Chapter 15
Restitution



Bobby slid silently along the wall, listening for any sound of the killer lurking in the dark. There was a single window, halfway along the walkway, and the soft glow of cloud-covered moonlight cast a distorted rectangle of faint light on the wall opposite. As useless as it was, the light held his attention, and he stared at it for several moments. It was somehow comforting, a glimmer of hope.

The slithering sound of the Z broke the spooky silence and Bobby pressed harder against the cold cinderblock wall. He was close to the beast, so close that he could smell the thing now as it sucked air in and out of its ugly face. A metallic click at the other end of the hall caused the creature to spin about and growl. Bobby realized the thing was within reach of an outstretched arm. But he wasn’t about to tap the flesh hungry thug on the shoulder. The killer slid away toward the noise, and Bobby quietly breathed in relief. He realized he had been holding his breath in fear, something before this day he would not have admitted. He had always met the enemy head on and with as much aggression as possible, more than the shivering old men of the city council were comfortable with.

Now, without back up, without weapons or lights or any idea what waited for him in the dark, Bobby came to know what fear was. Jamal’s coat and the locked door were mysteries, odd enough that he doubted they were coincidental. Someone had set him up and he figured Jamal was to blame, finally making his move to take over the rough crew. He found it hard to imagine Lucian or Andy, his only other friends, would turn on him so easily. Killing the truck driver, that had been a bad decision, Bobby knew that now. Perhaps the others saw it as the straw that would break the council’s back and bring too much heat on the group. Yeah, that had to be it; they had to see that getting rid of him quietly would calm everyone. Going quietly wasn’t Bobby’s way of doing things.

The Z was at the other door now, banging away, unable to think to turn the knob. Bobby used the noise to cover his own movements and worked his way up behind the rotting, foul-smelling foe. He stood behind the howling dead man and judged its movements in the dark, setting its position in his mind. Without warning Bobby burst forth and slammed the creature into the metal door, hearing ribs crack and feeling the thing go limp. A moment later it stirred, thrashing its arms, trying to reach back for Bobby. Bobby kept the Z pinned against the door, and began to rain a series of vicious knees into the would-be killer. It hissed and twisted its head around, snapping its teeth at Bobby’s hand. Bobby responded with a sharp elbow blow to the base of the creature’s neck and was gratified with the loud snap. Even before he could let go of the Z, he heard the door at the other end of the hall unlock and open.

Bobby let the twice-dead man drop in a clump on the floor and started walking to the other end, only to hear a commotion and the heavy, metal, door slam shut and lock. “What the hell is going on? Open the door.” He yelled. No one answered except the throaty, deep growl of an enraged zombie. Bobby froze and then backpedaled. No doubt now, someone was out to get him. He advanced and stayed close to the wall, narrowing the distance between him and his new foe.

It took only an instant to locate the creature and Bobby moved until he was parallel to it and jumped forward, catching the being in a chokehold. He had to be careful and not misjudge the thing’s height or he would risk wrapping an arm right around the stench-filled, saliva-dripping mouth. He heard the thing grunting against the pressure he was applying but it seemed not to have any affect. He also heard the door at the opposite end open again as another zombie was pushed into the hallway.

The monster he fought with struggled and reached back for him. Bobby felt the dirt encrusted nails and bony fingers drag across his forearm, separated from his skin by only a thin cotton shirt. Now another creature approached his fight, hungry for his flesh and blood. Bobby dragged his opponent, still keeping a tight grip on its neck, toward the moonlit window. He wanted the pale light, no matter how sparse, to illuminate the enemy and increase his chances. With a savage twist he broke the Zs neck and tossed its emaciated carcasses toward the sound of the approaching monster. At least the crumpled body might be of some use to trip up or slow down the next.

When he was in the middle of the hall, halfway between both doors, he heard them both unlock. To his right another blood thirsty mongrel was tossed in with him. To his left a brief scuffle broke out and then the sound of a body hit the floor, followed quickly with a hiss and a growl. Bobby knew better than to call out now. He was outnumbered, three to one, and letting them know his exact whereabouts was foolish.

Bobby went with the odds and moved toward the single attacker first. A shrill hiss let him know it was female. That itself was of no comfort, they could be just as hard to kill. But the smaller stature would make it difficult to judge her body and a miscalculation could allow her to sink her yellowed teeth into him. Carefully he crept forward, trying to make out her outline in the dark. The door unlocked again, and Bobby feared yet another killer was being dumped in the hall. He looked up, knowing the Z would turn to the noise as well and forget him for an instant.

He looked where he thought the door would be and suddenly a brilliant and painfully bright light shone in his face. Instinctively, he let out a curse and tried to cover his eyes. A second later the light was gone and so was his vision, even if only temporarily. Bright pink spots danced around in front of him when he tried to focus in the dark. Blinking didn’t help and only watered his eyes. And the zombies resumed their search for him.

*********************************************­********

Our plow driver survived the hearing but was reprimanded. His argument was solid and believable, that he had taken a nap, as had the other driver, while two men were on watch. The fact that he had not heard the deaths of the other men was understandable since no shots had been fired. He would live with the tragedy but at least he wasn’t set out into the inhospitable world alone.

We all met for a debriefing and showed Ray and Simon what we had found and accomplished. We all considered the patrol a success, despite the loss of the three men. We had killed hundreds and located their lairs. We also knew how they were managing the weather, biding their time for the spring thaw.

Everyone agreed we had to continue the hunt, and find as many of these killers as possible before they regained their strength and resumed attacks against us. Likewise, we had identified numerous places where supplies and equipment could be collected. It was all worth the risk, and provided the snow didn’t accumulate to an impassable level, we’d be free to roam the remainder of the city so long as the cold temperatures held.

Our plow driver even volunteered to break trail with his truck, wanting I’m sure to atone for his failures the first time out. Every security member present threw a hat in the ring, some almost begging to go back out. Simon couldn’t say no. He knew we were right and that taking the fight to the enemy made more sense than waiting for them to gather and attack. Even through the snow, the forces of the enemy could be growing, while our number was fairly fixed.

I looked around for Gavin and Jimmy, but they were still missing from the crowd. Something was definitely up.

Back at the apartment, I told Annie and the others of our successes. She was relieved that Berne and I were unharmed but mortified that three men had been killed and eaten. It did little to calm her that I wasn’t anywhere around them when it happened. She told me I wouldn’t be going out again without her. There was no sense in arguing with her right now.

We had a family dinner that night, actually our first such meal with no outsiders. Annie had made a stew with canned meat, vegetables and soup. Stew and soup and goulash had become the most popular and efficient meal given the resources. Some fresh meat would be a great treat. Dad suggested we go hunting, thinking that deer had to be moving into the city with the lack of activity. We hadn’t had a family hunt in a couple years and the idea sounded like a wonderful distraction. Bagging a couple white tails would go a long way to changing the diet we were all growing weary of.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see that we would get a chance to get away any time soon with the upcoming mission schedule.

––––-


Bobby was scared now; he’d never felt so helpless and vulnerable. He had to get back to the window and hope the clouds would pass to light his world even a little. But there were still three X-humans moaning and searching for him. He knew they could hunt by smell and sound and didn’t need the light as much as he did. He reached the area near the window and felt around the frame. Perhaps he could find a way to open it. It was no use; he could barely reach the base of the windowsill and remembered that the windows were only a foot high and possibly twice that much wide. There was no way he could fit through one even if he could reach it.

Frustrated, angry and scared, the sweat poured from his body even though there was no heat in the cement and cinder block confines of the long hallway. The sound of the doors unlocking at both ends of the hall at nearly the same time only increased his level of fear. But when the doors weren’t relocked, Bobby thought that his tormenters had prematurely presumed his demise. He still had three Zs to get past, two to his left and one somewhere to the right in the dark. Going for the single Z was his first thought until he heard more noises at the door. A grating sound, like a hollow pipe being dragged down the outer hall filled the darkness. Then the brief silence as the pipe flew through the air and landed near Bobby’s feet with a series of clangs. It was a weapon and a chance for survival. But it was also like a dinner bell, drawing every creature to the noise.

The doors still didn’t shut and Bobby dropped to his knees, scrambling to find the improvised weapon. Seizing the pipe, he was surprised how cold it was. In moments his hands ached maintaining a grip on the tubular shaft. But it was a weapon and Bobby swung it wildly, smacking the wall to his left, sending a painful shockwave through the pipe and his fingers. He had no choice but to defend himself. He swung again, still not finding a target. They were there, he could hear them hissing as they closed on him. Pulling the pipe close to his side, Bobby began making sharp thrusts in front of him as he moved one step at a time toward the door.

On his third thrust he made contact and nearly loss his grip on the pipe as it stuck into the female Z howling just a foot and a half from him. Not expecting the sudden impact, his chilled hands slid down the pipe, bringing Bobby that much closer to the thing that wanted to eat him. She screamed and Bobby could feel the force of her breath and smell the vile reek from her mouth. Her hands clawed out for him, brushing against his arm as he pulled back. Unnerved, Bobby released his grip and the pipe slid trough his hands as the Zs fell backward. He knew she wasn’t dead, but she had his only weapon and he knew he had to retrieve it. That meant going down to the ground, using up precious time while other two killers got closer.

The thrashing female Z was kicking wildly, frantic to get the cumbersome pipe from her chest so he could tear into the human she knew was so close. One of her feet caught Bobby under the chin, lifting him off his knees. He was flung back, slamming into the cold cement wall. As his head smacked the wall, he slumped to the floor. The pain was such that on any other day he would have laid there and rested. But today, he couldn’t enjoy such luxury, for even a second would give the enemy a chance to have him.

Leaning forward, Bobby swept his arms back and forth in the dark to find the pipe. It was there, impaling the snarling female Z. With a quick jerk, Bobby pulled the pipe out and rammed it back down, guessing where her head would be. She had already moving, curling to her side, preparing to get back to her feet. Switching his grip, Bobby used the pipe like a bat and began a flurry of clubbing strokes at the growling mass of skin and bone at his feet.

It all took only a few seconds but the others had closed the distance and Bobby felt the first filthy hand brush his shoulder. He jumped, tripping on the now really dead female. Stumbling along the hall trying to catch himself, he crashed to the floor losing the pipe. The metallic sounds of it rolling away gave him the direction. Scrambling on hands and knees, Bobby searched frantically for the weapon, finding only garbage and broken booze bottles. During all this, more and more Zs filed in the open doors, and at the sound of the pipe hitting the floor, they all groaned in unison.

The chorus of haunting sounds froze Bobby in his tracks. Afraid to make any noise at all, he felt the tears of fear and frustration welling in his eyes. He wanted to scream to relieve the tension but knew it would bring them on him. His best bet was to remain quiet and find the weapon and then bull his way out. There was no way to know how many of these ravenous beings were there in the darkness, but it was better to go out fighting.

Patting the cold floor ahead of him, Bobby felt for the pipe. The Zs had gone quiet as well, trying to pick up even his slightest sigh or scrape. When one of the Zs stepped on his outstretched hand he couldn’t react, couldn’t pull back or yell. One of the Zs kicked the pipe and the flurry of motion reverberated through the hallway as the horde crashed to the floor at the sound, thinking they had their prey.

Bobby used the time and commotion to get to his feet. Taking two powerful strides, Bobby leapt over the pile of Zs as they fought over the pipe, landing six feet closer to the door and at the feet of another hungry Z that was just coming through the door frame. The thing reached down and seized Bobby’s left arm in a powerful grip and let out a growl. Fighting to free himself, Bobby flailed a few punches at the creature. He was too close to the door to give up now.

––––-

It took nearly a week to get the council to agree to let out another raiding party. Their fear was that we would begin losing people and the battle of attrition benefited the wandering dead more than the city. We continually pressed our case and finally convinced them that the time was ripe for us to strike and that we could do more to counter the number of X-humans, Zs or whatever you wanted to call them, while they could barely move.

The method was to be much the same, except this time we tripled the size of the raid force. Six plows would break a trail for 15 trucks loaded with shooters. A pair of straight box trucks followed in case we found something significant to carry back.

Since this time we knew where the quarry was likely to be, we left from the west side to shorten the trip. New, heavy snow had fallen and filled in our previous tracks but the plows were able to push through, if only at a slower pace. After an hour of driving, we split into two columns, each following a trio of plows, so we could come into the target area in a pincer movement. We weren’t expecting the Zs to move at us, but we could better see the surroundings and hoped not to miss any large groups of them. A short time later we received a call from the convoy to our right that they had located a substantial number of Zs hidden away in a department store. The team leader said they could handle it themselves, and so we moved ahead, hoping to find a cache ourselves.

––––-

Jamal Bramble sat huddled in the corner of the large room. Cold, hungry and frightened, Jamal held tightly to the wound on his leg trying to staunch the flow of blood. Somewhere in the dark, as he scrambled to avoid being eaten, he had cut his leg on something. Fighting off the first trio of Zs had been almost easy compared to the second set that had nearly brought him to the floor. Thrashing about he felt the searing pain from a sharp object slicing through his calf muscle. Managing to get away from the hungry Zs, he blocked the door with several large crates he’d felt in the blackness.

Now, he could hear them at the door, one of them on its hands and knees lapping at Jamal’s spilled blood. He could hear every sloppy stroke of the creatures tongue as it fed on the unseen droplets. The door opened in and Jamal knew it wouldn’t be long before they could push the door in and the fight would be on again. He needed a weapon and search frantically across the floor, finding only garbage and broken glass. Even though he and the others had used this building for months, he didn’t recognize the room. Being totally dark didn’t help, but nothing about the surroundings seemed familiar.

Worst of all, he had no idea how he had come to be in this place, alone, and hunted by the savage Zs. He last remembered talking to Bobby and drinking as they usually did. He remembered going to sleep, but not much else. Bobby! It had to be that psychopathic prick; ever worried someone was out to get him. Paranoid that someone would take over his fledgling operation. The nut had reason to worry, but Jamal felt confident he hadn’t tipped his hand yet. But then here he was, and none of the others were anywhere around.

Something heavy slammed against the door, shaking the entire thin wall. Jamal jumped to his feet, forgetting about the pain for the few seconds it took to limp to the opposite corner. Again he searched for something he could use to battle the flesh eating beings should they break through. His hands seized upon a slender wooden shaft of a broken broom handle, and the faintest smile creased his lips. The wire-mesh reinforced security glass on the door cracked and the shards landed on the floor in a crash. Howls and growls filled the room as half a dozen ghouls pressed their disfigured faces into the opening. Jamal could hear them sniffing the air, searching for his scent.

Remaining as silent as he could, he waited, holding the sharp end of the stick out in front of him. A rattling noise at the other side of the room caught his attention. For a moment he thought one of his crew, one of the cowards he once called friend, was hidden in the corner. But the sound of a door opening immediately grabs his attention. Finally, a way out, one of his friends had found him. The ghouls crashed through the door, stumbling over themselves to get at him. Jamal was already moving to the door, carefully sliding his steps so he wouldn’t trip on some unseen piece of furniture. The door creaked and he looked up, instinctively thinking he would see light. And he did, but it was so bright he nearly dropped to his knees. The light stayed on him a few seconds, long enough that he began to orient to it, and then it was gone.

Jamal was blinded, cursing whoever had shone the light on him. “Turn it back on so I can get out!” he ordered. No one answered, only the sound of the door shutting and locking filled the room, until the Zs began to hiss and growl. For they had seen Jamal in the light, and even without it now, they knew for certain he was in the room. They advanced, stumbling over furnishings and trashcans and file cabinets, hands clawing in the darkness for his warm flesh.

Jamal swung the sharpened broomstick wildly as he backed away. His confidence faded as fear rushed into him, tightening his muscles, quickening his breathing. He swung the makeshift weapon.

––––-

Lucian Reyes had faired no better than the others. Separated, cold and chased by the unseen zombies that had somehow flooded into the crew’s hideout, he cowered in fear in the damp basement level of the building. Twice he had heard the screams of one of the others. Sickening, horrible screams, like someone being torn apart. Lucian was sure it was Andy. Andy was the weakest of the group, the butt of many jokes and the gopher that kept things comfortable.

Lucian felt his way along the chilled cement wall, moving as quietly as he could to avoid being located. Each step slowly placed in the ankle deep water as he moved down the service corridor. Melted snow or sewer water had filled in the lower floor, with no electricity to run pumps to keep the area dry. The smell was awful, stagnant water and raw sewage and the decayed bodies of the dead filled the air. His feet were going numb from the wet and cold, never before had he worried about staying warm and dry when he was out with Bobby and the crew. He thought again about the others and wondered why they had abandoned him, why they had carried him off in a drunken stupor and left him alone.

Splashing up ahead got his mind back to reality. He thought about calling out, thinking the others had played out their prank far enough. But the low grunts and groans told him these were not his friends coming to find him. He heard noises behind him as well. Trapped between two groups, Lucian panicked, bolting back the way he had come, thinking that the door must be that way. His feet splashed loudly, echoing down the maintenance tunnel. The groans turned to growls and the enemy gave chase. They couldn’t run, but he could tell by the splashing that they were moving as quickly as they could. Lucian moved along the wall, feeling with his outstretched arm along the cold, damp concrete. The rough texture abraded his flesh, but he didn’t feel it in his terror, didn’t slow his pace. He knew soon enough he would bump into whatever waited in the dark ahead. He steeled himself, knowing the collision was imminent and dangerous.

Up ahead he heard a door of some kind open and the faintest of light spilled down. “Here, I’m here!” he yelled, excited and nervous. A bright green light dropped from the ceiling and the door slammed shut. Lucian raced ahead and found a fluorescent green chem.-light floating in the cold, sewage filled water. For the briefest of moments he was elated and picked up the light, illuminating the area around him with soft green luminescent glow. Holding the light stick overhead, he looked for the opening and saw a heavy metal sheet had been pulled back over the opening. Even jumping he would not be able to reach it without a ladder. “Hey, I’m here, get me out.” He screamed.

His voice attracted the others in the tunnel with him. Lucian had held the light too long, allowing the persistent, hungry, walking dead to fix his position. They closed on him from both sides. Even to throw the light stick now would do no good. The amount of light it provided would permeate the dark cavern enough that they could still see him. Lucian tensed for battle, stepping into a boxer’s stance and prepared for the fight of his life. But in this case, it would be the fight of his death. Lucian swung wildly, trying to break skulls with each punch. They lunged at him and he reeled back to avoid the teeth and their clutches. Tripping in the water, Lucian fell backwards into the cold liquid. Immediately, they were on him, pinning his legs. The first bite sank into his left thigh. “NNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Lucian bellowed, trying to kick his legs free. Another of the ghouls stumbled forward, falling with all its weight onto Lucian’s face and shoulder, pushing his face into the water. Bite after bite tore chunks out of Lucian Reyes, opening gaping holes for bony fingers to dig into. Lucian couldn’t breathe under the water and weight of the assault. He couldn’t even scream again before he died.

––––-

Jamal connected with one of the swings and snapped the flimsy broom handle. He held onto the broken shaft, he could still use it to stab them with if they got closer. An office cubicle divider crashed against him, sending him backwards into the wall where he struck his head. Stunned, Jamal fought to regain his footing when he felt something seize his ankle. He was about to stab at the creature when he was pulled off balance, slapping back to the floor. Other hands grabbed at him and he managed to push them off. Kicking viciously, he was able to knock one of the beings across the room, hearing it crash into a desk. He kicked and kicked and swung the sharp end of the broomstick.

The hand on his ankle let go and then immediately grasped his leg farther up. Jamal tried to kick, but it was blocked and then a weight fell upon him. Knocking the wind out of him, Jamal grabbed for the zombie on his chest and felt the crushing pain of a bite on his hand. The creature pulled back and took part of Jamal’s hand and pinkie finger away in its bite. Cursing, Jamal wrestled for the neck of the killer and squeezed, trying to snuff the life out of this monster once and for all. The zombies better spent that time as they piled forward, adding their weight to the pressure on Jamal’s body. He was pinned under them and felt the claws and teeth sink into him. He cried out in terror, a last plea for help, knowing he was going to die.

––––-

Bobby jerked and twisted, trying to get free of the skeletal grasp of the large male zombie that held his arm. Still on his backside, Bobby spun around kicking his legs out to knock the ghoul off its feet. It worked and the former man dropped to the floor and lost hold of Bobby’s arm. Bobby pushed back and jumped to his feet, reeling back and slamming against the door. He could feel the creature near his feet, reaching out for him and working to regain it’s footing. Bobby kicked out and caught the thing under the arm, smashing the ribs and sending the beast rolling away.

He turned and grabbed for the doorknob, twisting to open the door. Surprisingly it opened, but he knew from the sounds that there were more, hungry creatures waiting to get in. Reaching up, he grabbed Jamal’s shirt from the hook and pulled the lighter from his pocket. Using the flame would alert the zombies in the hallway of his presence but he needed a distraction.

The synthetic fabric caught fire quicker than he expected and Bobby tossed the burning rag down the hall as it flared, lighting up the entire space. To his amazement there were seven or eight of the flesh eaters in the space with him and more coming through the other door. He pulled the door hard and pressed himself against the wall behind it. Several zombies that had been pushing on the door fell forward and then crawled toward the fire. The pipe was there, within his grasp and Bobby lunged for it and rolled out the door, bowling over two more monsters on his way.

He was out, armed and ready for a fight. There were only a few more zombies in sight, but they were across the dimly lit room. There was the faintest glow of light filtering down the corridors to either side of the lobby he stood in. He knew the basic layout of the building and also that there was at least two other people in the structure, besides him, Jamal and Lucian. The last two he figured were already dead, judging from the screams he had heard earlier. But, other than the X-humans, someone else was out to make his life hell.

There was no time to worry about that right at the moment. Firstly, he needed to get out of the building and to the trucks. There, he could arm himself and get out of the area. He didn’t plan on waiting for the others, believing they had deserted him or set him up to be killed in the hallway. It was every man for himself.

Jogging across the lobby, he made for the stairwell to the right, thinking it was closest to the parking garage. When he got to the door, it was locked. A heavy chain ran through the handles and was secured with a massive padlock. Beating on it, even with the pipe would do no good and only attract more unwelcome company, giving away his new position. Even as he strode over to the other side, he had a feeling that it too would be locked.
And it was, but not chained, only a large janitors cart was wedged against the doors from the outside. Again, kicking at the door or shouldering on it would be noisy and likely futile. Whoever wanted him to stay here had planned it well.

There was one other hallway that led out to the back of the building, but he feared that he would be trapped like before. It was either try that or get up into the ceiling and hope, like in the movies, that he could crawl along some ductwork and escape. The door burst open in his former battleground in the hallway and nearly a dozen Zs spilled forth. The decision was made and Bobby ran for the hallway, no time left to erect a ladder or pile of furniture to get into the ceiling. When he got to the door he took a few seconds to smash at the lock work, making sure no one could lock the door this time.

Next, he grabbed some curtains off one of the fake windows that adorned the room and wrapped them around the pipe, then lit them using the lighter he’d taken from Jamal’s shirt. The makeshift torch burned brightly and for the first time, Bobby saw the enemy and their number. Unsure where they had come from, he gasped inwardly and realized the odds were stacked against him. Nearly two-dozen of the ravenous, flesh-craving monsters were struggling after him. Before shutting the door, Bobby knocked the burning rags off outside the door, hoping the fire would keep the creatures at bay long enough that he could get to the other end of the hallway.

This corridor was identical but opposite of the previous one he’d almost died in. Midway down the hall, light poured through the solitary window. It was morning outside the temporary prison and the sunlight gave him confidence the ordeal was nearly over. Running full stride, he reached the other door and found it locked. This door was unlike the others, in that it had not reinforced glass. This door was all metal and securely bolted. Barely visible this far from the window, he looked at the red and white sign: NO EXIT CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION.

With a sickening feeling welling up in his gut, Bobby raced back to the other door before the Zs could push it open. He silently cursed himself for breaking the lock now. That minor mistake could have held them off for some time, and since the door opened in, he was trapped if they got there before he did. His only chance was to try to bar the door shut somehow using the pipe. He ran on, seeing the wisps of black and gray smoke squeezing through the doorjamb.

The door was just starting to open when he got there and jumped at it, kicking with all his weight to slam it back shut. Several grayed and dirty fingers and part of an arm fell to the floor, pinched off by the closing metal.
Bobby could see out the glass, and the smoke and flames were dying down. Four of the former humans pressed their gnarled and incomplete faces to the glass. Frantically, he fought to wedge the pipe between the door and wall but it was too short.

More and more of the creatures joined the assault and added their weight to the attack, pressing in to the door. For them it was all about the feast now, and they seemed to sense that their prey could not hold out much longer. Growls and moans filled the hallway and the outer room, echoing through the building in ventilation shafts and empty corridors.

The door pushed open again and Bobby pressed his weight against it to close it. All his strength and weight and power could barely budge against the thrust from the other side. Their combined number moved the door in; inch-by-inch they gained ground. Hands and arms struggled to reach him and Bobby pushed back again. Even as the door crushed on their limbs and digits, they would not relent. Pressing once more the first creature stuck its horrible, scarred face in and turned to hiss at Bobby. Another arm and a leg and more hands intruded into the hallway. Bobby had no choice but to move or they would seize him.

Grabbing the pipe, he jumped a couple of yards down the hall and turned to face the onslaught. Swinging the weapon, he tried to aim at first, to make his efforts count. One, two, three Zs dropped, but six took their place. Bobby was exhausted but swung again and again, hoping he could reduce their number enough to make another escape attempt. They pushed through the entry and against each other, fighting to be the first to feast on his warm flesh.

Four had fallen to his punishing swings. The fifth, staggered by a heavy blow, did not go down immediately. The beastly thing clawed at Bobby, raking his disgusting, filthy nails across his arm. Bobby cursed at the creature and kicked it away as another reached for the pipe. A scrawny hand grabbed the weapon and held fast. Bobby had tried to pull back the pipe but others pushed the pile of undead dead at him. Bending his wrist back to a painful angle, he had to relinquish the weapon.

Backpedaling, Bobby lashed out with punches and kicks, only slowing the attackers for fractions of moments. The hall was filled with hungry beastlike creatures now and the sunlight was directly overhead. Bobby had given up half his battle space and still the things came at him.

More than a dozen occupied the cold hallway with him and more could be seen at the entry and beyond. Fear and frustration gripped him and in a panic Bobby ran at them. He had no plans any longer, thinking only of reaching the door way and barreling past the killers. Throwing elbow strikes and knee strikes he waded into the pile. Several went down, easier than he had imagined and he felt relief thinking his bold action was working.

The noise of the battle had excited the Zs and they grouped together, tightening the pile, all wanting to reach the human. Bobby slowed, not by choice, but through exhaustion. He swung and struck, but not fast enough to overcome the flailing arms swinging back at him. A solid blow to his head caused him to recoil and the Zs pressed the attack.

Bobby had to back up to regain his thoughts and clear his head. Even as he shook the pain free, the Zs were back on him. The light from the high-mounted window was almost useless now and the hall was murky with the remnants of smoke from the smoldering carpeting far down at the other end of the corridor. Another blow hit Bobby on the forearm, tearing open a jagged hole in his shirt and flesh. The crowd seemed to react as one to the smell or sight of his blood and Bobby was pushed off balance.

Dropping to one knee, the window light was all but blocked out by the advancing horde. He tried to stand but was clubbed back down. Instinctively he put his hands up to protect his face and felt hands groping for him, grabbing at his fingers. He tried to swing, to knock them back, but they were all around him now, clawing and tearing at his clothes, trying to get to his skin. Summoning all his energy, Bobby pushed up, trying to stand, but was grabbed by a dozen hands, each with talon like fingers digging into his flesh.

The pain was intense as chunks of his skin were ripped away, and Bobby screamed. His arms were pulled down and useless as the mob pressed inward, crushing him tightly. For a time, they were too close, grabbing at each other, and then the first bite sank deeply into Bobby’s shoulder. He was wrapped up in arms so tightly that he couldn’t even pull away from the pain. Then another bite on his left bicep, another to his hand, as fingers dug at the fresh holes. He watched in horror and disgust as the hands were pulled back and licked clean of his red blood.

He struggled to break free but the entire pile tipped and fell to the floor. The weight of them pushed him down and squeezed him so tightly he could barely breathe. More bites on his legs and back and the left side of his face. Bobby screamed again, the pain now not as bad as the fear, the knowledge of how he was going to die. The more he fought, the more they clamped their teeth into him, yet he could not tell himself to relax, he could not go out without fighting.

Through the pile, he snaked his arm free, reaching for the light even as more of the crazed beings descended on him. Grasping for the light, for the freedom of open air, he used his remaining strength to defy them. A strong hand seized his throat and Bobby had no way to deflect it, to pry it off, to do anything to stop them. Outside it was bright sunlight, but inside this building it was the darkest part of Bobby’s day. He felt the pressure tighten on his throat, and then the light faded.
Link Posted: 5/14/2009 12:26:59 PM EST
I'm putting this up on my lunch break. Don't have time to spell check it, so bear with.
Link Posted: 5/14/2009 1:57:09 PM EST
Good chapter but im glad we dont have to hear about bobby and his crew anymore
Link Posted: 5/14/2009 8:15:59 PM EST
I like the counter strategies of the humans and the zombies. Makes for a creepy change of pace. Good story
Link Posted: 5/15/2009 8:34:26 AM EST
I take it Gavin and Jimmy were busy arranging the ends for Bobby's crew...


That's pretty damn cold, not that I disagree tho.

Keep up the good work!
Link Posted: 5/15/2009 12:04:16 PM EST
AWESOME Update!!!!

Keep up the great work!

AKASL

LIVE ZOMBIE FREE OR DIE
Link Posted: 5/15/2009 1:49:24 PM EST
Awesome as usual. Thanks!
Link Posted: 5/15/2009 7:19:27 PM EST
Awesome installment! Thank you!
Link Posted: 5/16/2009 9:10:28 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/24/2009 11:50:50 AM EST
Chapter 16
The Break in the Weather Party



For those that kept track of such things, it was February 23. The snows had not fallen for more than two weeks and every day the temperatures were slowly going up. The mood around the community center was euphoric, and many of the adult women had set about with some early spring-cleaning.

For the security forces, life was much the same routine, if only busier. The creeping threat of warm weather had increased our contacts with the enemy, finding lethargic, single Zs wandering around the downtown streets on our daily incursions into the uncontrolled areas. Our mission had not changed, we still killed them on sight, but mainly we focused on gathering supplies and expanding our area of operations. Gavin and Jimmy were regulars now, although they seemed intent on staying clear of me, joining patrols going in opposite directions.

One particularly warm day, I finally cornered the pair and made some inquiries. Since Bobby and his crew of misfits hadn’t been seen in a month, I naturally assumed these two guys had found them and taken them out. But when I asked, they boldly and cheerfully offered, “We never laid a hand on any of them.” I pressed harder and they never budged. “Swear to God, Verne, neither of us touched them or shot them or stabbed them.” Jimmy declared. I could see it in his eyes; he wasn’t trying to conceal it.

“Then where are they?” I questioned.

“I imagine they held up some where, got drunk or complacent and some Xs or Zs got to them. Gavin added, just as confidently and just as cheerful as his partner. There was no need to press the issue further, and only serve to drive a wedge into our friendship.

“Someday, the truth will be known. I just hope no one’s liberty or standing here is jeopardized.” I cautioned. And that was the end of it.

––––

Stampley and the others had gone to the ground and assembled legions of dead followers. Disgruntled, the gathered armies were held in check in the larger buildings at the edge of town. In little more than a week, Stampley had traveled throughout the city, spreading the orders and keeping the restless minions ready but anxious.

He had lost thousands of the blood-hungry creatures that he had managed to maintain control over during the winter. He knew that as the weather warmed and the sun stayed longer in the days, his control would be challenged often. Without direct thought, he somehow knew that the armies of the dead were hungry and had to feed. While the cold had slowed their metabolism and quelled the pangs of hungry, it was temporary. Before long, the need and ravenous need to feed would cause breakouts and desertions.

The bodies of those that had succumbed to the cold were trampled within the buildings as the masses stirred and moved back and forth to the windows each day, trying to warm themselves. There were no forensic teams to analyze the causes, and no one that would know which combination of circumstances acted to destroy the walking dead. It could be the exposure to the elements in such degrees that caused permanent injuries to the brain. In the end, Stampley knew that he was at half strength to what he had gone into the winter with. More, new recruits would filter in during the coming weeks. It would have to be enough.

First would be the power station. Even now, hundreds of the shambling dead were making their way toward the river. The new campaign to disrupt the power would begin soon. Neither Stampley nor his subordinates could tell time or guess the day or the week or month. They had no way to know if it was winter or spring, other than the feeling of warm sunshine on their faces and the lack of frigid snow falling on their backs. To many, it was time to move, to stretch out and to find something to eat. To feast would reinvigorate them and with no other goal or purpose in the remainder of their counterfeit lives they were anxious to get at the only task they understood anymore.

Each morning, as the warming sun regenerated the masses of gray skinned followers, Stampley found it increasingly difficult to restrain them. Without some action soon, they would walk off in search of a warm meal and he would be powerless to stop them. On a day of bright sunlight the mobs of the undead surged forward and Stampley had to let them go. Feeling weak himself, from the long cold winter and lack of food, he too felt the urge, the need to attack. He encouraged them from the second floor balcony of an unfinished apartment construction site.

The army moved, slowly at first, like children on unsteady legs, they stumbled and limped along. For many, these were the first tentative steps in several months and the sensation seemed unnatural. Others, those closer to the control area, those that had been moved often to conceal their location and save themselves for this day, they strode purposefully forward. Almost too fast, they neared the boundary of the killing fields of no-man’s land. With the fence and lighted buildings in sight, they trampled through the slush and icy mud and dirty snow toward the enemy and food.

––––

The long winter had been tough on everyone, me included. Twice, I’d gone down for days with a nasty influenza. With limited medical intervention, quite a few of the children and elderly passed away in coughing fits and clogged lungs. Nearly everyone was sick at one time or another, we all lived in such close proximity and shared mealtimes that it was inevitable. Eventually, the doctors and nurses recognized the symptoms and quickly segregated the sick and that drastically cut down the number of re-infections and prolonged cases. By mid-February, we had lost 112 people to disease and complication.

Our foraging patrols and the pre-emptive raids on the sluggish Zs had gone well, but there too we had lost people, good people. Mostly, being surprised by a hidden zombie was the cause. But over-exuberant actions by some of the younger shooters had been responsible. Chasing a lumbering Z into a dark building was an open invitation to a fatal mishap. I counted myself lucky not to have had to personally put down anyone that was bitten. I’d come to know and care for these brave souls, these lucky survivors that went out to stop the invasion of the undead. I know I could have done it, but it would have haunted me the rest of my days.

An early spring party had been planned for this evening and we all finished our work and chores so we could clean up and get ready. I couldn’t imagine what would be different than any other gathering for us. We dined together, watched movies together, hunted and foraged together and did nearly every other activity in groups large and small. Still, the stir was in the air, and people were excited.

The school had been transformed into a dance hall and the women had done a fantastic job with the decorations. Several different themes were developed so the age groups could enjoy their own styles of music and dance. The smells of food cooking throughout the day had everyone’s stomachs growling in hunger.

Relaxation was the buzzword of the day. The security forces met for briefing and slapped together an ad hoc work schedule that rotated guard posts so that every person got an opportunity to participate in the festive activities. Vehicle maintenance and weapons cleaning was toward the top of the list so that all the equipment was ready to go. By noon, most of us had finished our required jobs and went home to clean up. Tonight was to be casual but I had overheard enough talk that I knew most of the men wanted to dress nicer than our usual garb of sweat-stained military and hunting outfits. Mustaches and scruffy beards were trimmed or cleaned off entirely. I sensed that many of the younger, bachelors were going to try making some in roads with the ladies. That was harder than it sounded since our community was pretty tight-knit and there were many girls and ladies that hadn’t already been scoped out.

The elders had lifted the near prohibition era-like ban on alcoholic drinks. Drinking was a private affair and confined to a person’s home. Even though I had never been a heavy drinker, I thought the rules were a little harsh. But now, I had to admit that things had run pretty well to this point. While you were allowed to drink when you weren’t scheduled for duties, the binges and serious incidents involving alcohol had nearly dropped off completely. Men, and women some times, weren’t fighting, weren’t failing to show up for duty and weren’t falling asleep on duty.

My last assignment was to check on the dam and power plant with a vehicle patrol. We raced along the slop-covered road down to the water’s edge and waited to be let in the fenced enclosure. I checked in with the supervisor on station and he reported all was well. The truck had gone down to the water level and checked the inlet ports and came back to pick me up. “All’s well” I announced. The three younger men all smiled and jumped back in the truck. The water, they said, was flowing well and most of the river ice was now confined to the shores.

We rolled back into town in early afternoon, as the sun was bright overhead. It was an unusually warm day for February, and I wondered if the season had changed for the year, spring coming earlier than usual. It was a pleasant distraction after months of monotonous gray and dreary days and constant snowstorms. It was easy to see why everyone was so excited. We pulled into the control center compound and parked the truck for the day. No one was scheduled to use it until later this afternoon, to head out and replace the crews at the dam and power plant.

Dad was in Ray’s office when I checked in with our patrol report. “I hear the weather has warmed.” He said. I asked if he had been outside at all today and Dad confessed that he and Ray had been working all morning.

“Take a break you two, it’s gorgeous out there. You are planning on going down to the dance aren’t you? I asked them both. They looked at each other and smirked, so I knew that they were going and had probably picked out a couple of the ladies to chat with. I smiled back and excused myself, I had to check in with Annie before she left for the school.

When I got home I was a little disappointed that Annie was still in her work clothes and not gussied up in a fancy dress she’d insisted on finding on our numerous re-supply runs. “Don’t worry, I have the dress with me, but I’ve got a lot to do before dinner” she explained. She had coordinated with some of the other gals to set up some activities for the younger children so they wouldn’t be left out of the festivities. She spent a lot of time working with the kids in the school and out of it. I knew she missed the large family gatherings we used to have and was trying to replace he memories by keeping busy. We all had our coping strategies.

“I’m going to get cleaned up and take a nap.” I told her.

“I have to leave soon, don’t sleep all night, handsome.” She responded and gave me a kiss as she walked by. It had been a long week and I was looking forward to the evening. I took a shower and placed out my clean clothes and then laid down for a nap.

––––

The word of the movement spread quicker than the zombies could actually walk. The series of growls and screeches passed from building to building like a wildfire, awakening the legions of the un-living. Stampley watched, looking out from his balcony as groups of hundreds or more trampled by below him. He waited until a particularly large group came by and grunted his orders to them. Grudgingly, they shifted their course, moving further east, toward the river. As they flowed out of sight, he moved a second large group to the southwest. They too were not happy to be out of the larger parade, heading they were certain, to humans and a first meal in months. But, they altered the course and rambled in ragged columns to the west side of the control zone.

The snow that was left was now transformed to a gray slush, slopping back and forth between the footsteps of the angry army. Mud mixed in as the columns spread from the streets to the terraces and empty lots. Stampley waited for the shooting to start as the humans caught sight of the advance troops of his terrible hordes neared the empty, barren killing grounds of the area on his side of the berms and fence. When there were no sounds of the alarm to alert the humans, he halted the advance. If the air breathers did not know yet that the attack was coming he had timed things perfectly. He could wait for the forces from deeper in the city to catch up and add that much more punch to his attack.

Sneering and wrinkling his face was the closest thing to a smile Stampley could achieve. He bellowed to another group to head to the river to reinforce the hundreds already assembling at the banks. He didn’t stop them and like lemmings, they plunged headlong into the freezing water, quickly swept downstream, pulled by the current to the dam and the inlet shafts for the turbines. Scores of the mindless bodies stepped from the solid banks into the cold water and bobbed and roiled in the currents.

Hundreds more lined up behind them, unwittingly preparing to join those in the water. The prospect of food had driven them forward and they had no knowledge they were about to sacrifice themselves for he great benefit of the hordes coming through the city.

From football stadiums and warehouses and large office buildings they spilled forth, packing the streets and moving south. Many were still thawing and were carried along on the pushes and thrusts of the thousands that packed the streets from sidewalk to sidewalk, from building to building. 5,000, 7,000, 10,000, and more, their numbers bulged and surged forward.

It would take them hours, perhaps even days for some of the weaker and farthest away to reach the center of the city and beyond. But nothing was stopping them now, and nothing would. Their leaders had lost control in the frenzied slow-motion rush to feed. The tide of former human beings pushed cars and other objects out of the way or pushed them along in front of the advancing hordes.

––––

The afternoon sun was still bright on the western horizon as we walked down to the school. Ollie had already rushed ahead, anxious to meet up with his latest female friend. He had settled down with a dark haired girl from Georgia. Her family had been driving north to visit relatives in Canada when the calamity and Chinese attacks happened, trapping them in Braselton. Ollie had matured greatly since we had arrived and I think the trauma of nearly dying had sobered him into a responsible young man. The girl was lucky to have him interested in her and they seemed happy together.

Berne was still back at the apartment, having just come in from his last patrol of the day. He promised to meet us for dinner, but I knew he was tired and if he happened to take a nap, the night and the party would be over before he woke. I knew that he wrestled with the loss of his wife early on as the infections spread. He was social enough when he had to be, but kept to himself most of the time.

Annie and I walked to the school, only 2 blocks from the apartment building. We were armed only with handguns and knives, like many others we met along the way. Things seemed almost normal. A fair breeze blew in from the north and so we needed a light jacket, but not much more. Up ahead, we saw groups of teenagers running and frolicking along on their way to the dance. There was excitement in the air and everyone we saw appeared happy.

Stepping through the doorway, we were ushered over to a table manned by several elderly females. They asked our names and wrote them down on a pair of adhesive stickers, identifying us to everyone. It was a nice idea to get over the uncomfortable seconds trying to remember people’s names. Even though we’d been here a few months, there were now many people flowing in that I’d never seen or met before. We made our way over to the beverage table, grabbed a drink and then found a place to sit. I could see that food was already available, broken down into different ethnic varieties in each corner and at different spots along the walls.

Music blared from the next court over. The large gymnasium had been divided into four sections. Most of the noise seemed to be coming from the room set up for the younger crowd. The boom of the bass was loud, but a pleasant distraction from the previous couple of months of dreary whistling of cold winds.

––––

Dean Hardin sat at his desk, doodling on the desktop calendar. Looking at the dates, he realized that it had been nearly a year since he’d seen his family. Almost a year ago, sitting at this very desk, he had listened to radio broadcasts of the first large-scale breakouts of the Z virus. He’d drawn the short stick and got stuck with the first watch at the dam power plant. With no one special waiting for him at the dance, he’d even offered to take a double shift so that the other technicians could enjoy the evening. Looking at the clock on the wall again, he saw that only 14 minutes had elapsed since his last check. This was going to be one long, boring night. Dean reached across the desk and turned up the volume on the radio, letting the music fill the cavernous surrounds. He flipped a switch, letting the music pipe into the rest of the plant, so he could still hear the sounds when he made his rounds.

But first, he had to log in all the meter readings in the control center. Dean picked up the clipboard, like he did several times a day and with total numbness went about the monotonous chore. Each turbine had a panel board filled with gauges and rows of warning indicator lights. Everything was green across the first two boards. On the third panel, a yellow light told him that there was a minor anomaly. Tapping the gauge, he saw that the inlet tube flow was down 12%. That wasn’t enough to take action yet, probably just ice build up slowing the flow. It happened enough, but usually corrected itself. He marked the chart and tossed the clipboard on the desk.

Picking up a well-worn magazine, Dean headed to the bathroom. As the door closed behind him, Dean belted out his best karaoke rendition of the Doors, Riders On The Storm. The light on the panel flipped from yellow to red. The pressure gauge showed a drop of 40%. The turbine slowed, flickering the lights ever so briefly as the other two picked up the slack.

––––

Throughout the day, more than a thousand walking skeletons dropped into the water. At first, their efforts were wasted as their frail, weakened bodies were swept along the banks, dumping over the dam, to be broken amongst the rocky riverbed below. When they began to clump together, grabbing onto each other in the current, they were more able to direct their movements. The first few to seize onto the edges of the inlet tubes were able to briefly build a blockage before being sucked into the tube and shot out the bottom. Hours into the night, a large group had managed to lock themselves into a flotilla of bones and gray flesh and tattered clothing and dropped as one into one of the tubes. The water pressure immediately began to tear apart the bodies, but as more and more piled atop them, the clot held.

In frenzy, hundreds thrashed in the water, trying to swim to the water block. Most were at the mercy of the current, but soon like snow flakes, they stuck together. The blockage slowed the intake of water and then the bodies piled into the tube, still moving and moaning, their bodies broken but not finished, in a thick humanistic stew.

––––

Stampley stood amongst a thousand zombies, waiting at the fence. In the distance, his army could hear the thumping of the human music. No patrols had been by for more than an hour, even though he couldn’t tell time, he knew it was unusual that the humans hadn’t passed before now. Looking up slowly, he noticed the moon burning brightly overhead. Nature would provide enough light to navigate with, something the warm blooded seemed to have forgotten. In a bit of irony, Stampley, one of the brilliant engineers that had helped get the dam project done, now planned to use the lack of power to his benefit.

Even with only a partial collapse of the power station, he could still succeed. The draw that another attack on the fence would cause could finish off the power grid. He had no method of communication, other than the painstakingly slow process of sending a “runner” to find out the progress at the dam. Even with one turbine working, power would flow. He sensed that he would know when and if the power was reduced enough to begin the second phase.

Looking back to the occupied city, Stampley could see the warm glow of lights and the sound of music. Although the sights and sounds brought on a hunger in his gut, he longed for the life he had known. The emotions were conflicting with the virus-grown rage and insatiable hungry for blood and fresh flesh. The sound of distant gunfire grabbed his attention and Stampley looked toward the sound. More shots rang out followed by the honking of car horns and he realized it was only celebrations and not the detection of his forward scouts.

––––

Hardin came out of the bathroom and strolled down the long, cool hallway towards the turbine room. The cavernous opening was humming as the huge machines spun, turning the massive motors. He slipped on the foam-padded headphones and continued down the walkway. Making his way to the break room, Dean Hardin thought about what to eat. The food was much more enjoyable now, whipped together by a crew of very good cooks at the school. It was fresher than the frozen burgers, hot dogs and burritos that the vending company used to stuff in the machines.

Holding open the refrigerator, he spied the lasagna and gently nodded his head in approval. The sounds of the music filled the room as he pulled the headphones off and plopped the container of pasta in the microwave. Without thinking of how special it was to enjoy the luxury of food and power, Dean set the power to high and walked across the room to grab a soda. Just months before, during the attacks and the tumult of the fight against the X-humans, such things had already been a memory. No one could have predicted the end of the industrialized world. And now, in a man -made world, with man-made power, Dean Hardin was about to enjoy a delicious meal, listening to good music and in the calm of a solid concrete fortress.

Out in the turbine hall, the number 1 turbine had already shutdown. The flow of water had slowed to a trickle and the computer took over to prevent overheating. The alarm had sounded and the warning light was flashing in the control room. Normally, there would have been at least one engineer in the control room at all times, but there weren’t enough qualified personnel available anymore. Automatic trip switches transferred the power load to the other turbines. Number 2 turbine had flashed several times as water flow to it also slowed. The intermittent water supply had caused warnings and alarms on the control panel as well, but they didn’t register. The lack of trained crews had cut the periodic maintenance schedules. Spare parts weren’t available anymore either. All in all, the system was mostly self-regulating. The computer shut down number 2 turbine and transferred the load to the last remaining motor.

There was a noticeable flicker in the lights throughout the city. The digital CD players in the music halls coughed and stopped, flashing back to default settings. Some people noticed but many figured it was just a fuse or circuit breaker because so many lights were on to brightly light the dance halls.

Dean got up to reset the microwave, after checking the plug. With a shrug, he hit the power button once again. The ding of the bell on the microwave sounded and Dean stepped over and pulled the platter out. Dean stuck his finger in the middle and thought the meal was still too cold to be just right. He replaced the lid and tossed it back in the microwave and punched in another, higher number to get the pasta steaming.

Slightly frustrated, Dean watched the platter slowly spin around and started to stand back up when the power went out and the room went dark. “Damn” Dean snapped, thinking he’d blown a fuse switching the microwave to the higher setting. The hallway was dimly lit with the emergency exit signs that ran off a battery back up. That seemed odd, the entire hall was dark, not just the break room. Dean stopped in the darkened hall and listened, hearing the alarm buzzers coming from the control room and turbine hall. “Shit” he exclaimed and made his way as quickly as possible in the dark to the control room.

Racing through the turbine hall, he picked up his pace, knowing there were no obstructions in the large room. He slowed and bumped into the end of the metal stairway that leads upstairs. Grabbing the handrails on both sides, he sprinted up the slatted metal steps. At the top of the stairs, he looked back at the turbines and could tell that at least one of them was winding down. The glass-lined office was glowing with several rows of flashing red and yellow lights and a bright white strobe light bathed the room in intermittent flashes like a poor quality disco.

As Dean reached for the doorknob, he saw another strobe begin to flash atop the number 1 turbine. Fumbling for a flashlight, Dean tried to read the re-start procedure, in a full panic; he hadn’t bothered to check the water flow. Pressing a series of buttons, he saw no change in the light board or in the sounds of the turbines. The rows of red lights on the #1 and #2 turbine control panels stopped flashing and went solid red. The #3 turbine was carrying the full load of the city, the protective fences and the power plant operations. Dean grabbed the handset of the emergency phone and punched the connect button to alert the command center of the problem.

A warbling siren went off next, causing Dean to jump. No one was answering the phone and looking at the gauges, Dean Hardin knew it was only a matter of minutes before the system overloaded and popped the breakers to prevent #3 from burning up. The inlet flow gauge showed that water had stopped and Dean tried the outside camera system to see if the ice blocking the inlet was something he could handle himself. The cameras were off line. “When it rains, it pours” Dean commented as he grabbed his jacket and headed to the entrance tunnel that lead up to the top of the dam.

A metal walkway ran the entire length of the dam, interrupted only by a several cupolas that stuck out over the edge so that engineers could view or maintain electrical connections of monitor water levels and conditions. Each cupola had a door on either side, much like a passenger train car. Dean opened the first of the doors and tried to turn on the inspection lights to illuminate the area near the inlet port. Nothing happened and so he went out the other side and headed to the next door. As the door slammed behind him, a thousand eyes looked up at the noise. It was too dark to see, but they knew, something human had caused the noise.

Dean stepped into the second cupola and tried the lights again, and still nothing worked. Angrily, he stepped back onto the catwalk and fished the small flashlight from his pocket. Shining it down to the water, he could barely see a difference as the weak beam of light reached the water. Here and there, bodies floated by, but that didn’t alarm Dean. X-humans were always floating by and with the warming weather; perhaps more were thawing from the snowy banks and dropping into the current. The light wasn’t enough to see out to the inlets and Dean cursed at his bad luck.

He had a choice; go back and try to raise some help on the phone, or make his way through the labyrinth of concrete tunnels to the maintenance shafts for the inlet tubes. If it was just some ice blocking the tubes, he could climb out on another catwalk and chop them up with an axe. Time was running and Dean knew that without some relief for the last turbine, the city would be dark shortly. He hadn’t even given a thought to the zombies, figuring like many in the city, that the creatures had frozen to a final death over the winter. He knew this was not a one-man job, but right now he was the only man available. Dean opened the door leading into the bowels of the dam and snapped on the cheap LED flashlight.

––––

Stampley growled out an order and several rows of zombies advanced into the fence. Their faltering gait brought them in contact seconds apart, but the result was the same. Blackened, charred chunks of truly dead beings rained down on the crowded grounds, showering the army of undead dead. The power was still up and the unfortunate Zs that touched the fence exploded under its power. Stampley was surprised, knowing that more juice must have been directed at the city defenses. The lights and the music from the city were drowned out by the hisses and tormented cries of the dying. The power had not only killed these first scouts, it had nearly evaporated them, incinerating their emaciated, starving bodies.

The zombie leader barked another series of orders only the undead understood, and watched as more of his veteran legion of followers stepped forward. Dozens more of the anxious creatures walked headlong into the fence and met the similar fate. But this time the lights of the city flickered, if ever so briefly, letting Stampley know that the fence would give with the right amount of pressure. He turned to face the restless mongrels of his army and growled at them. Without fear or hesitation they moved, hungry to get at the warm-blooded feast in the well-lit city.

––––

Dean Hardin opened the door and could hear the rush of water 30 feet below him as the river raged past. The catwalk out to the inlet port was only partly assembled. To avoid having the unsuspecting from walking straight into the port, the catwalk was built on a hinge for the last ten feet. That section was pulled back, bent up at a right angle to the water and padlocked in place. Dean opened the lock and started to turn the hand crank to lower the section.

He still couldn’t see what was clogging port, but could just make out a faint paleness against the dark water. “Yep, ice musta broke loose up river and floated into the port” he told himself. Dean Hardin walked out to the end of the catwalk and knelt down. With the axe in one hand and the flashlight in the other he leaned forward. He let the weight of the axe drop down and held the tool by the end of the handle and lowered it down to contact the ice.
Just as it touched, he flicked on the light and moved it to hold it in his mouth so he could hold onto the side rail.

Hardin wasn’t ready for the pull against the axe but held on thinking the water was tugging at the tool. When the light shined over the inlet port, Hardin gasped, dropping the light from his mouth. In the split second it took to react, he was pulled off balance and toppled into the pile of bodies plugging the inlet port. With a singular drive, the mob of hands pawed at him and dragged him down. His screams could not escape the sounds of the river coursing over the dam. His body could not escape the gnawing, snapping jaws much closer.
Link Posted: 5/24/2009 12:16:41 PM EST
Man, you are really prolific! Thanks for the new chapter!
Link Posted: 5/24/2009 1:50:04 PM EST
This. Story. Rocks.
Link Posted: 5/24/2009 6:06:00 PM EST
Thanks for the new chapter but why are the humans in your story so ********** stupid?

The sound of distant gunfire grabbed his attention and Stampley looked toward the sound. More shots rang out followed by the honking of car horns and he realized it was only celebrations and not the detection of his forward scouts


Anyone wating precious ammo in my town would be hit with a basebal bat to the knees.

He hadn’t even given a thought to the zombies, figuring like many in the city, that the creatures had frozen to a final death over the winter. He knew this was not a one-man job, but right now he was the only man available. Dean opened the door leading into the bowels of the dam and snapped on the cheap LED flashlight.


Always assume the worst & hope for the best. I just got through scolding a dope on another board for the same thing. Except we were argueing about the cost of ammo.
Link Posted: 5/24/2009 11:04:02 PM EST
First off, Spartie, I hope you arent considering me a dope as well that needs your corrections and guidance.
As for characters in a fiction tale about zombies being ********* stupid, well people are sheeple much of the time and quickly lose focus on stressful crisis situations. Complacency Kills. What better format to highlight or reinforce that point than in a frivilous, tongue-in-cheek novel? Zombies outnumber the living by thousands to one, someone's got to die.
Link Posted: 5/25/2009 1:18:08 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/25/2009 1:18:38 AM EST by sharkman6]
I think the writer did a great job of illustrating how being complacent will get you killed. Not all characters should be perfect. That would make for boring stories.
Link Posted: 5/25/2009 7:28:20 AM EST
Originally Posted By sharkman6:
I think the writer did a great job of illustrating how being complacent will get you killed. Not all characters should be perfect. That would make for boring stories.


THIS!!




Awesome Update!!

LIVE ZOMBIE FREE OR DIE

Link Posted: 5/25/2009 8:39:28 AM EST
Excellent update as usual! Thanks much!
Link Posted: 5/25/2009 9:56:53 AM EST
Originally Posted By fast45:
First off, Spartie, I hope you arent considering me a dope as well that needs your corrections and guidance.
As for characters in a fiction tale about zombies being ********* stupid, well people are sheeple much of the time and quickly lose focus on stressful crisis situations. Complacency Kills. What better format to highlight or reinforce that point than in a frivilous, tongue-in-cheek novel? Zombies outnumber the living by thousands to one, someone's got to die.


I apologize for the misunderstanding. I was NOT refering to you. I was thinking back on the truck guys earlier & now these unnamed characters

I do see your point too. I was just wondering why they were that way. Me, I'd be walking around with a .22 & three bricks of ammo just when I go to the shower.
Link Posted: 5/25/2009 7:31:50 PM EST
Well thanks for such a quick update, fast45! Awesome!

You've got me in suspense now after this one.......................................hope to see more very soon!
Link Posted: 5/25/2009 8:15:34 PM EST
Link Posted: 5/25/2009 9:11:15 PM EST
Oh man, it's SHTF time.
Link Posted: 5/27/2009 12:26:18 AM EST
excellent as usual.
the real question here is... when does it come out in paperback???
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