Despite my wish to see what all the shouting is about, both Honey and I bolt for the hospital tent. Bursting into the tent, we find Doc sound asleep in his cot; LM tucked against his stomach both dead to the world.
Honey and I slip past the sleeping pair into the ward. Shack is sitting up, attempting to solve a much-battered cross word puzzle book. A battered, bright yellow portable US Navy battle lantern hangs from some bright red paracord, vainly attempting lighting the puzzle lying in Shack’s lap.
Shack’s face lights up when he sees Honey and I standing in the doorway. “Hi babes, what’s the only state with two unique words in its name?”
God, Shack is stoned out of his gourd! His eyes have that glassy, emptiness drugs impart.
“Rhode Island.” Doc, holding LM in his arms, answers behind Honey and I causing us to jump.
“Doc, I thought you two were asleep,” I grumble. I do not like being startled.
“We sleep lightly – not sure if that is true of all infected, but LM and I knew immediately when someone came close to us. We were fully awake by the time you passed our cot. We’re both hungry and so is Honey, so we’re gonna grab some chow.”
Reaching into one of the many OD green steel cabinets typical of a US Army field hospital, Doc pulls out several c-ration cans. Doc opens the cans using an old P-38 can opener. He sticks a brown US MRE spork in each opened can.
As Doc hands the cans to Honey and LM, I read the printing on the jagged, opened top. The cans are labeled ‘chocolate, nut roll, c-ration,’ and ‘pound cake’ packed in October of 1970. The ancient contents, packaged when my parents were little children, are dry and crumbly. My stomach lurches at the smells of the old rations.
Doc, Honey and LM eat the ancient rations with relish. Doc, seeing the look of horror on my face, explains. “KCAP appears to give us a little more flexibility in our choice of foods. While no one else in camp could probably consume these way past date c-rations, we can and do, saving the newer food stuffs for the non-infected.”
Smacking her lips, Honey adds her explanation. “But we are not going to be able to survive on these old rations for long. We are going to need some serious caloric intake, and soon.”
A panting out of breath, red faced Junior pokes his head into the tent. “They was hiding in the camp bathroom pits. They climbed out sometime this morning leaving wet footprints in the cement, visible in the daylight. The tribes are trying to find dogs that no one has eaten attempting to find them,” he says in a rush between gulps of air.
“And?,” I ask arching my eyebrows at him.
“Sam says get some sleep he is breaking the Scouts and other volunteers, which there is no shortage of, into groups searching the camp again with a fine tooth comb. Brenda and her crew are canning like crazy getting ready to move to Whidbey Island first. Sam is sending Brenda and all the livestock first to get them out of harm’s way.”
I know Brenda has been canning sardines caught with gill nets in the bay at Kayak Point like a fiend. I get tired of her whining because she is unable to recover ashes for lye. We do not have the time. I guess that Brenda will have to save her soil block makers for starting seeds in garden outside for Whidbey Island.
Brenda is also canning fish at Kayak Point using wood stoves. Trucks full of canning jars, lids, and pressure canners are spread throughout the camp. The preserved food is split between the convoy, tribes and the infected from the beach homes. Fish that cannot be canned is smoked and dried then stacked in boxes for shipment.
Sharing the gathered food causes some grumbling, but Sam attempts keeping a lid on the disgruntled. The current attitude in camp, with the horrific slaying of the small child, towards cannibals and infected in general, is poor at best.
One of the surviving cook helpers drops off wooden bowls containing wood sorrel, wild mint, and dandelion and chickweed leaf salad, sprinkled liberally with pickled nasturtium seed pods. A tasty red vinaigrette dressing covers the greens. The seed pods have a sharp peppery taste without the saltiness of brine. A chunk of cold Indian fry bread accompanies the generous salad.
I break out one of my precious, cold Matcha canned green teas. Shack contends himself with a Monster Mean Bean coffee drink. Shack crosses his legs making room for me sitting at his feet. The cast on Shack’s left shoulder and his injuries cause difficulty for Shack feeding himself.
Setting my meal down I take pity on Shack and feed him. After Shack finishes and lies down, I finish my own meal. Shack is nibbling on MRE cheese and crackers when Honey enters the ward carrying a loaded syringe for Shack. I have heard Shack suck through his teeth so I know the pain is bad.
Honey gently injects Shack with the pain killers kissing him lightly on the forehead afterwards. “He’ll sleep for a while,” she says to me.
As Honey and I watch Shack as he drifts into drug-induced sleep, one of Brenda’s workers ducks his head inside looking for collections. I heard that Brenda got tired of the smell from the overflowing latrines. She wanted to build something called a tree bog.
Note that in this instance the word bog is used in its British slang term meaning toilet. Brenda made a raised structure of pallets that she managed to save from the fires. Within the frame she then tossed saw dust, ashes (after extracting the lye), straw and other dry material in it making a sort of composting toilet.
Brenda planted nettles, lots of willow, mint, black currant, ivy and oleander around the toilet. The plants consume the waste, converting it to plant food. The plants are also supposed to cut smells; we will see how that works.
Someone found a tractor trailer full of 50 pound bags of Effective Micro-organism bran that was originally horse feed. Unfit for animal feed due to the mold and rot, the bran works well as a toilet adjunct.
I am not sure if Brenda’s tree bog will work for so many people, but as we prepare to cross the bay to Whidbey Island, a smaller population might be able to use a tree bog. It would be better if Brenda would construct two or more. That way they could be used without fear of over loading them.
Climbing into my bedroll, cold absent Shack’s warm body, I try to sleep. Eventually I drift off to sleep. I briefly wake as a hot, clammy Honey, slips in against my back. Honey wraps her warm arms around my shoulders, spooning against my back. Honey’s ultra-smooth body nestles against mine.
I drift off to sleep again, but before I do, I realize that Honey is naked, as am I.
I wake sometime later to someone lightly shaking me.
“Ruth, you’d better get up.”
The sight of the slaughtered child causes me to retch, something that I would not do again until I come across a similar scene many years later with Iain.
Longfeather kneels in the rocky sand. Placing the back of his hand near the fire pit, he feels for warmth. “Fire pit’s still warm. This was recent. Maybe an hour or so ago.”
Doc studies the remains carefully. I wonder what he is thinking while looking at the small, butchered carcass. Hunger? Envy? Disgust?
“Blood has not coagulated, less than 30 minutes, I would guess. Meat was ripped off, half-cooked at best. Impatient and in a hurry. Choicest parts eaten first – buttocks, thighs, and calves. Then arms, chest and some organs. Parts with the highest caloric worth eaten first, partially satiating their hunger.”
Doc looks at the Scouts. “Anybody ID the child yet” The Scouts all shake their head no. Two Scouts appear carrying a wool US Army blanket. They drape the blanket over the dead child, covering the horrific sight.
“Fucking cannibals,” someone yells in the crowd. “Let’s kill them all!”
“Now hold on,” Longfeather says studying the tracks in the sand. Despite not shouting, the elder Apache’s quiet words carry over the assembled mob.
“Doc – wait a minute – you said their, as in more than one. Then you agree with the tracks I see coming from the water. Someone was injured; I can see the drag marks and the blood in the rocks. Someone dragged a wounded person from the bay, by the looks of the marks; the injured person has two shattered legs.”
Longfeather falls silent as he looks at the tracks some more. “It appears that two people survived the helo crash; one badly injured the other perhaps less so. As Doc was saying, the infected’s metabolic rate requires a higher calorie diet – much more so when healing from injury.”
Sam silent until now looks around the gathered crowd. “Leaders and sergeants, you know your people. Rouse everyone in camp, everybody goes armed. Load for bear. If we have infected in the camp eating our people we need to remove them now. You know your people, find anyone that you do not recognize and bring them to the command tent – alive!”
The gathered crowd busts up with everyone heading for their respective part of the camp. Sam and Doc leave for the command tent while community, tribal and convoy leaders with the convoy sergeants, and squad leaders shouting orders. Longfeather as our Command Sergeant Major takes control of the situation.
Radio traffic crackles as the all guard personnel posted on the edges of the old park are told of the situation. It takes a few minutes, but eventually everyone is dressed, armed and standing on the beach, their backs to the water in a long, ragged, single file line. Most carry flashlights or lanterns. Not a torch or pitchfork to be seen — amazing.
Longfeather lifts a megaphone to his lips. “All right people this is what the squids call a FOD (Foreign Object on Deck) walk down. We’re going to walk in a loose line across the whole park. Leave no crevice or hole unsearched. Make sure you remain visual contact at all times with the person to either side of you. Anybody you discover hiding – call out, and the Scouts will secure that person for questioning later. Let’s get on with it – we are all tired and short of sleep.”
I find myself standing between Nikola and Carol with little Stiva swaddled deep within Carol’s Navy pea coat. Longfeather, with the Scouts spread out in a loose line, walks in front of the FOD walking people. The line stops often as people enter tents, shelters, look underneath boats and canoes, and search vehicles.
Occasionally a shout goes out as someone is found sleeping or more often than not, drunk and passed out. The drunks and sleepers are unceremoniously dumped out and searched. As the night wears on, we search the old park bathrooms, and administrative buildings.
While standing outside the burnt out remains of the Park Ranger’s home, Nikola produces a thermos from somewhere in his great-coat. He pours Carol a healthy cup and then pours me a cup as well.
Holding the chipped blue enamel cup in my hand, I am grateful for the warmth seeping into my hands. Sipping the hot tea with milk, I realize Nikola has liberally spiked the tea with alcohol — probably vodka. The warmth of the hot tea and the alcohol washing through my core is a blessing.
Nikola for his part is happy sipping from the Thermos directly. While there are a few cows and goats in the camp, I suspect the milk in the spiked tea is sweetened, condensed milk from a Russian IRP.
Nikola opens and then gives Carol a can of peaches in heavy syrup from an American MRE. I decline a can of Soviet-era smoked sprats in sweet tomato sauce. After opening it with a can-opener-cum-spoon, Nikola tears into the tinned sprats with gusto.
I nibble on one of my last packages of peanut M&Ms from an American MRE. Nikola and Carol each eat a Soviet-era bar labeled “chocolate ration” in neat, black Cyrillic letters on the white paper wrapper. The black hammer and sickle emblem of the former Soviet Union is clearly marked on both chocolate ration bars and the empty can of smoked sprats.
The night passes with little excitement. We finish the FOD walk down just as the sun rises over the waters of the Puget Sound. Most of the people disperse, many to go to sleep as I should be. I sit on one of the many tree stumps dotting the former park.
Nibbling on a stale, Hostess apple fruit pie in a waxed paper wrapper, I am lost in my thoughts when Honey walks up. Sitting on the ground at my feet, Honey eats a warmed packet of muesli from an Estonian MRE.
After wiping the inside of the muesli package clean with her fingers, she pulls a small strawberry and honey squeeze fruit pocket from an American FSR (First Strike Ration). Honey loudly chugs the squeeze fruit pocket.
Smacking her lips from the sticky sweet fruit pocket; “they didn’t find the two infected responsible for the attack,” she says without warning. “They’re still loose in the camp.”
Honey hands me our much abused plaid colored Thermos. Opening the Thermos, I inhale deeply of the steam rising from the contents. Ah, chamomile tea sweetened with some of Brenda’s precious honey. I gratefully sip the hot tea, feeling the warmth seep into my core, while Honey talks enough for the both of us.
After a slight belch which she politely covers with her hand, Honey continues. “The colonels are going north of the park to talk to the infected in the old beach homes. The improved park perimeter fence made of telephone poles, trees, tires and old cars was finished a few days ago. The perimeter snipers are armed with thermals. The colonels don’t think they could’ve gotten out. They’ve got to be here, somewhere.”
Suddenly, shouting erupts from the center of the park near the old bathrooms.
I wait nervously while Doc, assisted by Honey operates on Shack. After what seemed like an eternity, Doc dressed in bloody scrubs emerges from the surgery suite. He is followed by Honey wheeling Shack on a gurney.
Doc looks at me. I am sure that he can read the worry on my face. “Shack has a sucking chest wound, three broken ribs, a broken clavicle and a shattered scapula. He made it through surgery, but is still unconscious. I pieced his left scapula back together as best I could but he is going to have some lingering pain and may lose some movement in his left shoulder. He asked for you several times.”
Placing a Black and Mild cheroot between his lips, Doc steps outside to smoke. Doc’s silhouette is lit against the tent when he lights his cheroot.
Honey reenters the front “waiting room” of the medical tent. “He’s awake. He’s loopy from the pain meds, but he’s asking for you,” she says to me.
Blinded by tears, before Honey even finishes speaking, I rip through the canvas door separating the waiting room from the recovery area. Diving to my knees, I clutch Shack’s uninjured hand.
His eyes watery and hazy with pain and medication, Shack looks at me. I see no recognition on his face. “Who are you,” he asks looking at me blankly.
My hopes dashed, I start crying again, dropping my head on Shack’s torso. “Easy babe, ok … sorry bad joke,” he says with a chuckle patting me on the back of the head.
Whipping my head up, I fight the momentary temptation to slap him silly. The anger must have reflected in my face as Shack holds his right hand up, palm towards me. “Easy … easy Ruth, I was joking.”
“Doc listed your injuries, I am worried about you,” I tell him.
“Yeah, well any acrobatic stunt sex is out for a while, but I like it when you are on top anyway.” He chuckles at my blushing red face.
“You are beautiful when you blush.”
I am not used to be calling beautiful by my lovers. Adept, strong and athletic – certainly, but not beautiful. The moment passes as I grip Shack’s hand again.
“I still do not know your middle name,” I tell him kissing him lightly on the lips.
“I don’t have one; Meshach Rogers is enough of a mouthful. What’s your middle name?” He cocks his head at me.
“Elizabeth, but I rarely use it. I prefer to just put ‘E’ down.”
Shack sucks air through his teeth, his eyes clench shut. Honey as if by magic, appears with a hypodermic needle filled with a clear serum.
“Doc said pain meds and Versed would be wearing off about now. When I give him this Buprenorphine, it might put him to sleep for a bit, which would be good for him.”
I watch Shack’s eyes cloud as the pain medicine hits him. He drifts off to sleep. Honey still kneeling beside Shack on the opposite side of his regulation cot, looks at me.
“You’re lucky you know that, Ruth. He was worried that you had been hurt as well. Shack wouldn’t let Doc put him under until we assured him that you were uninjured.”
Honey gets up and drops the used needle in a sharps disposal. “Doc considered infecting Shack as it might be the only way he recovers fully from his injuries. Doc’s talking to Sam now while doing the SIR (Soldier Injury Report). Doc wanted you to think about infecting Shack.”
“Honey’s correct Ruth, we should consider whether or not to infect Shack if he does not get better. Would you consider infecting him with a highly intelligent virus that hardens and heals the host increasing the viruses’ chances of survival?” I did not realize that Doc reentered the hospital accompanied by Longfeather.
“I chose not to infect myself with KCAP,” Longfeather says. I rarely hear the old Apache speak. “Doc chose infection, accepting the changes to his body. I could not live with myself if I did. When I run out of Metformin, I will join my ancestors as a whole man.”
“Would you choose infection over death, Ruth?” Doc asks through a mouthful of tough John Wayne bar. I notice that he has already eaten three MRE John Wayne bars as I see the shredded wrappers sticking out of his left BDU pants pocket. The top of a Russian IRP (Individual Ration Pack) sticks out of the top of his right BDU pants leg pocket.
Doc chugs a cool bottle of Fat Tire Amber Ale, and pulls another bottle out of his BDU blouse pocket. Using his front teeth, Doc pops the bottle cap off of the bottle of beer. He pulls another John Wayne bar from his pocket.
“I am not sure Doc. Hungry much?”
“The caloric load of maintaining the body with KCAP infection is significant. When we infected are injured, that caloric demand goes up significantly. We infected benefit from near instantaneous healing. An injury that would take someone, normally a week or so to heal we heal in minutes. That rate of healing comes with a very high cost. I believe it is sheer hunger, and drive for any source of protein that causes infected attacks on people.”
Doc chugs more beer. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Doc tosses the bottle in the trash. Tearing the OD green plastic John Wayne bar package open with his teeth, Doc takes a large bite of the dark chocolate and peanut butter bar. Doc continues talking through his food.
“KCAP floods the body with gonadotropins. Coupled with KCAP hyper stimulating the adrenal gland fueling both growth and aggression. Somehow, KCAP hijacks the RNA polymerase messengers, hyper stimulating the pituitary gland releasing a flood of hormones. Pituitary gland hyper stimulation is one reason why Honey and LM – for their age, have gotten so tall. If Honey continues to grow she will stand around six-foot or so.”
Doc pauses mid diatribe. He pulls out another MRE packet. This bar is an Italian MRE muesli chocolate bar; he rips the tan-colored plastic open with his teeth. Cramming half of the dry muesli bar into his mouth, Doc continues his KCAP monologue.
“LM if his growth rate holds steady, will easily stand seven feet or taller. KCAP dumps an incredible amount of an undocumented immunosuppressant that has defied classification. KCAP also does something to the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D and iron; but there is not enough completed research. Heavy KCAP infection causes loss of the frontal lobe and loss of reasoning. KCAP also enlarges and activates the dormant vomeronasal organ (VNO) in humans, bettering their sense of smell. If you haven’t noticed the flehmen response before in the infected – that is why.”
A Scout, wet to the waist enters carrying an International Ordnance MP2 9mm submachine gun. The lad talks to Longfeather quietly. Longfeather nods at the wet lad and he leaves.
“Search of the Blackhawk helo wreckage revealed less than 100 rounds of 7.62 NATO, co-pilot and gunner died instantly. Pilot drowned pinned in the wreckage, his head less than an inch from the surface.” Longfeather was going to say something else, but is interrupted by shouting outside.
Out of a weapons cabinet, Honey pulls out an ancient, original M3 grease gun – not an M3A1. She slams a magazine home loading the M3. Honey tosses an OD green canvas bandolier holding five grease gun magazines over her shoulder. The old American grease gun is very common in Israel. An original, unaltered M3 grease gun is very rare.
“I will watch Shack and make sure nothing happens to him,” Honey says to me. She places her fingers in her mouth producing a long, shrill whistle. A few seconds later, LM trots in carrying an old Beretta 92FS Inox and a SAR-21 bullpup.
The rifle is nearly as tall as LM. The SAR-21, made by Singapore Technologies is an ok bull pup weapon; its main problem is its proprietary mags.
LM drops the weapons at Honey’s feet and leaves momentarily. He returns dragging a brown canvas knap sack bulging with magazines for the SAR-21 and boxes of PMC Bronze 45 ACP ammo.
Honey looks at me and nods. “We got this,” she says.
From the same weapons cabinet, Doc grabs his LBV tossing it over his BDU blouse. He grabs an H&K UMP in 45ACP. While Doc’s back is to me, I notice that his BDU pockets bulge with MRE snacks.
Honey remains behind guarding the hospital, and more importantly to me – Shack. I am not sure how I feel about an armed LM. Thankfully, I am still dressed from yesterday’s supply run, so my AR15 hangs on my back.
While running across the park and on to the beach, another Scout joins us carrying a battered H&K 416 with an H&K M320 40mm grenade launcher mounted under the barrel. “You’re not gonna believe this – the fucking cannibals attacked us,” he says to no one in particular.
On the beach, we come upon a grisly sight – one that caused many gathered to toss their supper on the beach. Behind a small bluff, where it could not be seen from the camp, is a scene I have longed wish to forget.
Spit roasted on a jagged piece of rebar hanging over a fire pit are the bloody, butchered remains of a small child.
As a freelance editor, I am privy to several lists of manuscripts that editors do not wish to see. For more than five years, topping those lists is any manuscript with a zombie apocalypse (oh shite!).
However, there are several authors and some of the smaller publishing houses that have bucked this trend, and went ahead and published a zombie apocalypse book. Even some of the smaller indie publishing houses bucked the trend publishing a zombie apocalypse novel.
With the rise of print on demand, Amazon’s Author Central, and Kindle self-publishing services, (among other self-publishing venues) there are several authors doing well bucking the supposed trend, publishing a zombie apocalypse novel. The rise of more self-publishing venues has also seen a few more zombie novels hit the streets, some with a fair amount of success.
Now, granted, success is relevant. How do you define success as an indie author? Sell one book? Sell a thousand books?
Here is a link to the Goodreads Top 140 Zombie Books:
Now dear readers, I have a few questions for you:
- How many of these books have you read?
- Are there any books that you feel are absent from the list?
- Are there any books you feel need to be removed from the list?
Under a hail of bullets, Shack and I dive into the command tent. Most of the minigun fire hits the command tent and the area around it. Landing just inside the command tent’s entrance in a tangle of legs and arms, Shack and I attempt to untangle ourselves. Or rather I attempt freeing myself from Shack who does not move. Frantic I shake Shack.
I hear Shack grunt painfully. I realize there is blood all over my side and hands. Fuck! Shack’s hit. I frantically tear at Shack’s clothing. On the other side of the tent, taking cover behind a woefully inadequate, perforated folding card table, I hear the colonels shouting obscenities.
“I don’t give a fuck if all you have loaded is HE-CVT! Shoot the fucking helo!” Sam screams in the radio.
Low crawling backwards dragging Shack, I try ignoring the bullets striking the shredded tent. One of the cooks, the pretty black one that I never caught her name lies dead on the floor beside the table in a puddle of blood. Near the dead cook lies a dead Scout, shredded by the minigun’s rain of lethal lead.
Reaching the imagined safety of an ABS plastic folding table, I notice that Doc lies over Sam pining him to the ground. There are several holes in Doc’s uniform; his back is soaked in blood.
“Doc, you are hurt.”
He looks over his shoulder at me. “I shielded Sam; thankfully, I heal much faster now than I used to. Probably would have died if it was not for the KCAP infection. KCAP has infected more of my body now. I am still learning what my limits are.”
“Doc that’s nice, but can we focus on the fucking helo shredding our people with a Goddamn minigun. Don’t think I am ungrateful. (Sam looks at me.) Crazy fucker’s moving before I even heard the minigun. Man’s scary fast. He took several rounds for me.” I can barely hear Sam over the fucking scream of the minigun. I hate those fucking things – they sounds as if the universe is ripping apart.
“Doc, Shack’s hurt,” I yell over the din of the minigun and the sudden steady ear and chest shattering, thump, thump, thump of the 105mm MGS Stryker. The steady scream of the minigun abates as the pilot takes evasive action avoiding 105mm shells.
Doc first checks Sam, who nods at him and then low crawls over to Shack. He obviously does not like what he sees as he puckers his lips. A worried frown creases his face.
While Doc checks Shack, with my heart in my mouth, I wait fearing the worse. Over the radio, I hear the Quad-50 state that they are blocked from swinging to engage the helo. The Oerlikon 20mm is blocked as well.
Sam orders both mobile guns to stay in their place. Over the din of the minigun and the 105mm cannon, I hear the occasional pop of small arms fire and screams as 7.62mm bullets hit flesh. There is a brief pause in the steady thump of the 105mm, and then it commences steadily firing again.
Nikola dressed in full combat gear leaps into the tent through a huge tear in the side his Stechkin pistol clutched in one fist. Nikola carries three ballistic shields, the same kind issued to SWAT teams and riot police.
Shielded by three layers of bullet resistant Kevlar and carbon fiber, Sam continues to call for Stingers while the 105mm continues to bang away. One of Rain’s Russian husbands, the one that used to be OMON police arrives carrying more ballistic shields. It takes more time to read these words than it did for the men to erect a small shelter. Rain’s husband has a Stechkin pistol in its red Bakelite holster on his hip.
Once the men erect a small shelter from the hail of bullets, Doc pulls Shack inside of it. I slide in among the men, fearing for Shack. There is really nothing we can do until the helicopter runs out of bullets or gets tired of shooting.
The radio squawks again. The lads have found the Stingers but they are buried at the bottom of the ordnance trailers and will take hours to dig out. Sam says more than a few choice words then orders the lads to seek cover and forget about the Stingers for now.
Looking at Doc, Sam swears that the convoy will not get caught with their pants down again. As Nikola and the other Russian quietly converse in Russian, which I was not privy too, they keep looking at the bottom of the table.
Nikola reaches around the shelter, pulling a small, black plastic box with a flashing LED light on the bottom. Nikola mouths ‘homing beacon’ to Sam and Doc. I see the anger reflected on Sam’s face.
“That fucker planned this,” Sam growls.
“All warfare is based on deception,” Doc says.
“Quoting Sun Tzu does not help me right now Doc,” Sam replies. Indeed, I would not hear so much Sun Tzu until I lived with Iain, another devotee of the ancient Chinese general.
“Sun Tzu said, ‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.’”
“Great, now Ruth you are getting into the act as well. Can you guys give the Chinese general a break? He never had to deal with being pinned down by a minigun.” Sam is really pissed.
The sudden steady rip of the minigun is cut off suddenly with an exploding fireball that plummets into the bay illuminating the whole camp. When silence, like an oppressive blanket settles over the camp, I hear slight scattered applause. I guess the 105 finally found its mark. I hear the shouts of the injured and the dying within the camp.
Doc first checks to make sure that Sam is okay. Then he lifts Shack as if he weighs nothing. The man is preternaturally strong. Shack probably weighs about 180 pounds, all of it muscle. There is no fat on the young man. Despite the heavy burden, Doc leaps with Shack in his arms, clearing the folding table in a single leap.
I frantically trail Doc; desperately trying to keep up with the exceedingly tall man carrying my injured lover.
We start walking towards the command tent at a brisk pace.
“Junior what’s goin’ on?” Shack asks as we walk together still holding hands.
Junior answers without looking at Shack.
“Your father is here under a sign of truce. He has taken control of the Adventist village and wants you back there with him. I shouldn’t say more, but I don’t think Sam and Doc are very happy about the situation.”
We walk in silence until we get to the command tent. The inside of the command tent, warmed by a large wood fire in a 55 gallon drum takes some of the chill off of the evening. I am thankful for the warmth in the tent.
Sam, Doc and Shack’s father sit around the folding card table usually used by Junior for administrative duties. I am struck by the differences between the two Rogers men. Both men are tall, but that is where the similarities end.
Shack’s father is slenderer than his son, and has a harder look. Shack is slightly taller, but is much thicker in the shoulders, arms and waist. Shack is much more muscular than his father. Both men exude an aura of strength and assuredness. The elder Rogers lacks Shack’s youth, but possess experience his son lacks.
Looking at Shack’s father sitting at the table, legs crossed in front of him I get the impression that the man is impatient, and wants to get this over with as soon as possible. Before Shack or his father can say anything, Sam speaks.
“Shack, please sit at the table. Ruth we are out of chairs, so if you could remain standing I’d appreciate it.” Sam points to an empty chair between Doc and him. Shack takes the offered chair without a word. I stand beside the warm stove, thankful for the heat sinking into my back through my jacket.
“Bob, since you asked for this meeting, why don’t you start,” Sam suggests.
Shack’s father speaks. “It’s simple; I want Shack to join me in the village. My only surviving son should be with me. You don’t respect him; shortening his name is disrespectful. You also allow the infected within your camp – displaying both a lack of leadership and poor decision-making. Once I took control, I shot all the infected and those that had anything to do with the infected. I also got rid of any niggers, Jews, wet backs and WOPs in the village. I shot all the infected lovers. The fact that you sit here with an infected nigger, shows you are not fit to lead.” Shack’s father practically sneers at Doc.
I can see Shack’s face flush with anger. “Dad, Doc’s not …” but Doc cuts him off by holding a hand up and shaking his head.
Shack swallows and tries again. “Dad, I prefer to be called Shack. It’s much easier.”
Shack’s father ignores him. He turns to look at Sam. “You booby-trapped the mortar Stryker. I lost several good men when it exploded. It also killed Carmine who was standing beside it. Saved me the trouble of shooting Carmine myself, because I thought he was sneaking people and livestock out of the village.”
Sam sighs. “Carmine was sneaking people and livestock out. He is also the one that warned us that you were in the village and attempting to pull a coup. The mortar Stryker was irreparable with a tranny that was shot. Carmine helped sneak the last of our people out. He also knew the mortar Stryker was rigged – we told him before we left. I think he chose to die. Maybe he felt guilty.”
Sam takes a sip of coffee. “While you were busy purging the village and taking over, you did not realize until it was too late that we were wise to you. We had already moved all the livestock and critical gear from the village. You can have the village, but we are not leaving you any equipment.”
Shack’s father is silent for a moment. Then he stands. “Meshach, come with me – now.”
Shack is silent for a moment. He shakes his head slowly. “No dad. I’m staying here.”
“Is your little Jewish slut worth that much to you that you would forsake your only living family member?” Shack’s father asks with an ugly sneer. I have been called much worse than a Jewish slut before, but Shack reacts as if slapped.
“Before Pastor committed suicide by swallowing a whole bottle of sleeping pills, drinking a bottle of vodka and tying a plastic bag around his head, he told me you’ve been fucking the little Jew bitch.”
I have never seen Shack turn so red. The veins stick out on his neck. His fists clench. Through clenched teeth, he speaks slowly.
“Dad, please leave. I never wish to see you again.”
Shack’s father, silently looks at him for a moment. “I’m disappointed in you, son. Is she really worth alienating yourself?”
“Dad, I don’t know you anymore. The man I knew was not a bigot, and not the cruel person you are.”
“You just didn’t know me that well,” Shack’s father responds.
“I wish that I did not know you now. I wish you had remained dead, and not killed my memories of the good family man. Please leave, you are dead to me.”
Bob turns to look at Sam. “This isn’t over,” he says with a sneer. He haughtily marches out of the tent, shoving past Shack. He does not even look at me.
Shack turns to leave and I step close to him. “Shack, Ruth please wait a moment. I’d like to speak with you both for a few minutes.” Sam reaches into the foot locker at his feet. He carefully places his old 45 back in it.
While Sam digs in his footlocker, Doc speaks for the first time. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
“Doc, I do not think now is the time for you to quote Nietzsche,” Sam says. He places a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-year-old bourbon on the table. “Everyone sit. After a meeting like that, we could use a drink.”
Sam pours everyone a very stiff shot of bourbon. I have never cared for bourbon, finding it too course for my tongue, but the warmth it imparts when the booze hits my stomach is very pleasant. This bourbon is actually quite good.
“I believe that Shack’s father feels that KCAP, in Nietzsche’s words, freed him from certain obligations of right and wrong.” Doc stares at his mug in silence, sipping bourbon.
“Fuck me that was difficult. Sorry Shack. Some of the Russians with a few convoy stragglers were the last to leave the Adventist village. The Russians left some surprises behind them. They were the last to arrive at Kayak Point and rejoin the convoy. We knew about the elder Rogers’ coup d’état, and the regrettable hanging of several of our former members. Carmine was able to sneak most of the convoy members out of the village before Shack’s father took full control.”
“Now that Shack’s father has crawled on to the tiger’s back – let’s see if he can ride it,” Doc quips.
Falling silent, Sam sips bourbon from a chipped, blue enamel coffee cup. We sip bourbon for a few minutes in silence. Sam offers a second snort, but I decline. About half of the bottle of bourbon is gone. We quietly wish Sam goodnight as we step outside into the early evening.
Kayak Point, before all of the trees were cut down must have been, at one time, quite beautiful. We see something moving over the water. Suddenly we hear the distinct noise of a low, fast-flying helicopter.
The helicopter, flying dark is difficult to see against the moonless, cloudy night. It suddenly banks, and a column of fire leaps out the side of the aircraft. The distinct, ear-splitting roar of a minigun shatters the night. Thousands of 7.62mm rounds shred the area near Shack and I, pelting us with dirt and chunks of rock.
Without conscious thought I put a round through Beer Gut’s head. Still loaded with 147 grain hollow point, subsonic ammo my pistol’s slight cough is nearly lost in Chuck’s screaming repeatedly, “Get the fucker off a’ me!”
The back of Beer Gut’s head explodes in a frothy spray of white bone bits, pink brains, black blood and clumps of hair. After Beer Gut’s brains spray all over the grass next to Chuck, it takes him a few moments to realize that Beer Gut is now truly dead. Chuck stands. I now aim my pistol pointedly at his forehead.
“Shack check Chuck. Make sure he is not bitten.”
Shack puts on a pair of blue surgical gloves. Ensuring that he does not block my shot, Shack carefully checks Chuck’s wrist. I can see the vivid red tooth marks on Chuck’s wrist from here. Carefully pulling up Chuck’s BDU sleeve, Shack gently squeezes and twists Chuck’s arm.
“There is no broken skin. Thankfully, human teeth are poorly suited for ripping through BDU material.” To Chuck Shack says, “You’re a lucky fucker. Three inches lower – he would have bitten your hand.”
Chuck, visibly shaken flops to the ground. We give him some space. I thankfully put my pistol away without having to shoot a friend. I kneel next to Beer Gut, noting that my shot hit a little low and to the left of what I would have liked. I point at Beer Gut’s corpse.
“He turned in less than an hour. That is the fastest I have ever seen a body reanimate. I wonder if this is a new strain of the KCAP virus or were these assholes already infected. This one also waited until someone got close enough before striking. It knew that someone would come for the gun. It made the decision to lie still until someone reached for the bait. That shows intelligence which I am not comfortable admitting a zombies might have.”
Shack walks over and kicks Leader none too gently. “This asshole is still out, but he breathes.”
Chuck stands and wipes off his pants.
“You cool,” Shack asks him. Chuck nods in response and turns towards me.
“Thank you, Ruth for your quick thinking. And thank you for being willing to shoot me if I was infected. I would hate to hurt those I love.”
I nod at Chuck; no more words are necessary. I point at Beer Gut’s corpse again.
“Shack your Rhodesian jungle load almost cut him in half. I am surprised that he had the ability to move at all.”
“Oh, that wasn’t my usual jungle load, Ruth honey. Nikola gave me a butt ton of boxes of explosive 12 gauge ammo. The Russians have a long history of using explosive ammo as far back as the Second World War. Randy and Sutton told me that the Russian snipers are all loaded with explosive sniper rifle ammo to be used for important shots were a kill is absolutely required.”
We leave Beer Gut’s corpse where it lies and get back to work. It will be dark soon and we do not wish to be outside camp in the dark.
We quickly strip the inside of the ambulance which is a true godsend. Several bottles of iodine are recovered which comes in handy. Body needs iodine but cannot make it. Seaweed is a good source of naturally occurring iodine.
Brenda has had the scroungers out on the beach collecting seaweed. There has not been a lot of seaweed to collect as Brenda and some of the other people who grew up in this area state that we are on the wrong side of the Puget Sound for good seaweed.
Mushrooms, the only vegetable source of vitamin D have been scarce of late. While there has been plenty of rain (too damn much rain for my tastes), the unusually colder weather has hampered some of the warmer-loving mushroom varieties.
We also compete with other foragers and not just humans either. There are several species that eat mushrooms. Vitamin D is seriously lacking in our diet, a malady Brenda tells me was quite common in this area pre-KCAP during the winter.
With the lack of sun, cooler weather, and increased precipitation, I imagine all of us are short of vitamin D. I did not see any vitamin tablets in the ambulance, but I was busy stuffing sterile med kits into a recovery sack.
The Kayak Point med center lacks an autoclave and the power to run one. All surgical tools are boiled, run through a flame or dipped in alcohol. Sterile dressings and medical tools are a blessing.
Before we leave, Chuck calls in our situation letting camp know that we are heading back in a few moments. Chuck’s conversation is interrupted by a frantic Doc. Doc has treated several cases of cholera and fears a pandemic in camp. I overhear that Brenda and some of the other folks search for a solution to the overflowing latrines problem.
On the radio with Doc, Chuck gets frantic directions searching for meds badly needed by the convoy and village members. Sending the first load of medical supplies back with half of the Scouts, Shack and I go with the second load.
We did not really have time to inventory all the medical supplies taken from the ambulance. We just dumped it all into various recovery bags throwing them into the vehicles before they became too heavy to carry.
Lastly, we dump the (surprisingly) still alive Leader face down in the back of the truck. One of the younger Scouts watches leader while riding back to camp. Roaring into camp just before dark, we unload the vehicles dumping the medical supplies on Doc. We also dump the still unconscious Leader (Shack punched him a few times in the broken leg to verify he was not faking it) on Doc as well.
Doc produces some long shackles from a cabinet. Doc chains Leader’s three good limbs to the gurney. Doc is not gentle with the unconscious man, either using his increased strength to wrangle the dead weight of the injured man. Doc does a cursory inspection of his new patient. “If he lives ’til the morning I’ll take that leg off. He may not survive the surgery. It may have been a kindness to shoot the man. Because a one-legged man is of no use in this new world.”
Shack and I explain our reasoning for bringing the injured man to Doc. Doc, fingers steepled under his scruffy, gray stubble-covered chin nods at us. “Yes if his blood type is O negative, I could certainly use it.” We leave Doc’s tent quickly afterwards.
After unloading the recovered gear Shack and I, wore out and hungry head for the mess hall. Entering the mess hall we note that it is full. Some of the people sitting in the mess hall I recognize as ones we had left back at the Adventist village. I notice there are groups of people quietly crying. What the fuck is going on?
One of the younger Scouts starts talking to Shack while we stand, stunned at the mess hall entrance.
Junior walks up to Shack and I. Interrupting Shack’s conversation with the Scout, Junior buts in. “Shack, someone is here to see you in the command tent. Sam said you’re to come immediately. Don’t stop to eat, put your gear away, or shit. Ruth, Sam said since you two’s joined at the hip, you might’sa well come too. ”
I crack open the ambulance doors ready to slam them shut again. I am not sure what I was expecting. What I was not expecting was for Chuck and the other Scout tumbling and leaping out of the back of the ambulance yelling like fools.
“Where the fuck ya’ been,” Chuck yells in a rush as he bursts through the open doors.
Other than two thrashing zombies well secured to a pair of gurneys, the ambulance is empty.
“Well, that’s anticlimactic,” Shack says wryly, putting his grenade away.
“What the fuck happened,” I ask the other Scout from the ambulance. I see that he is a much older white male, whom the other Scouts call “Gramps.” I have heard of this man, and seen him around camp, but I have never had a chance to meet him. Gramps must be in his late 70s if the tales of him once being a Selous Scout are true.
Gramps appears to be a bit long in the tooth for Scout work, but so far he has kept up with the much younger men and women. I notice Gramps carries a much battered Uzi, the grip safety taped down with black electrician’s tape. Despite the Uzi being distinctly Israeli, I have never cared for the weapon.
I wonder where Gramps found the heavy little machine gun. From the size of the bore, I bet his Uzi is chambered in 9mm Luger. Gramps carries the Uzi with the breech closed. Trying not to be too obvious, I look closely identifying that the selector switch is placed in full auto.
Assuming that the inserted magazine is fully loaded, all Gramps has to do is rack the slide back and squeeze the trigger. I also note that the Uzi does not have the ported barrel of the later generations, which supposedly helped retard muzzle climb.
“Those three assholes snuck up on us and shoved Chuck and me in the back of the ambulance with the two zombies,” Gramps replies. “We didn’t even have time to shoot or anything. I guess they figured the zombies would kill us and then they could get our gear easy. We barely escaped being bitten by standing on the lower gurney.”
We watch the two struggling zombies strapped in the back of the ambulance. As we stand there, two grease covered Scouts from the front of the vehicle join us. The dirty Scouts carrying three alternators and several automotive belts, green canvas tool bags strung over their shoulders stare at us for a moment.
“What the fuck’s everyone standin’ around for,” one of the greasy Scouts asks.
We cannot help it, as Shack, Chuck, Gramps and I all burst out laughing.
“I don’t get it,” one of the greasy Scouts says, “What’s so fuckin’ funny?”
After calming down and taking a short break for snacks and necessary breaks in the trees, we start emptying the ambulance. Shack and I help the lads unlock the gurneys from the krankenwagen. Using a length of rope and a come along we yank the gurneys from the ambulance.
We debate if it is worth killing the two zombies, who are both dressed in US Marine MARPAT fatigues. Shack and I agree that we do not like the idea of leaving two servicemen trapped in such a hell. Shack suggests setting the two restrained Marine zombies beside Leader, who still appears to be unconscious, or dead – I care not, whichever it is.
The two Marines are well secured to the gurneys. Both were severely injured, with several bites, scratches and ragged bloody holes. Blood soaked bandages cover both of the Marine’s torsos, shoulders and arms. Because the men were fellow soldiers we decide, by a show of hands to put them out of their misery.
Since I have a suppressor on my pistol loaded with subsonic ammo, we decide to use it. I shoot the first Marine zombie in the head. Chuck, having lost the coin toss, shoots the second. A quick search of the bodies reveals nothing of worth. It is a shame that these two Marines would die with no one even knowing their names. They did not even keep their dog tags.
We dump the Marines in a hastily dug trench, covering them as much as we can. We have neither the time nor the luxury of a proper burial. I hope wherever the Marines are now that they are at peace. I turn to leave but, Shack our resident PK (Preacher’s Kid), quietly quotes Revelation 21:3-6. While Shack speaks we remove our head-gear.
It is the first time that I have heard Shack quote scripture. It is amazing to me that the elder Rogers, has fallen so far from loving father and Army chaplain to the monster we faced not even a month ago.
We all mumble a quiet Amen when Shack finishes. After strapping my helmet on, I kiss him lightly. Shack helps settle my unruly pony tail back in place down my back underneath my field jacket. I need a haircut to remove some of the dead and split ends. Maybe next bath day I will ask Carol and Honey to trim my hair.
We walk back to the ambulance holding hands silent with our thoughts. After the burial we strip the two dead predators. Pointing at the dead Mohawk while looking at me Shack asks “Is this dead asshole a skin head or a punk? Only stupid neo-Nazi asshole I’ve ever seen with hair.”
Chuck interjects, “Who gives a fuck? He’s dead – so ya’ can’t ask him now. Maybe ya’ shoulda’ asked him before Ruth staked his ass to the ground like a tent.”
“It was his head, not his ass.”
“Whatever, Shack the fucker is still dead. Dead is dead.”
We work in silence for a few minutes. Shack points out that dead Mohawk also has ‘skin’ and ‘head’ tattooed on his knuckles in blue ink which I had seen before. Stripping the slender man reveals a large Totenkopf tattoo in the center of his chest and a large swastika covering his stomach.
While I provide security, Shack finishes searching Mohawk. The only thing of worth is a folding black-handled knife that Shack discovers, with an enthusiastic “sweet.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a Rat Worx MRX full-sized chain drive auto knife, Ruth. It’s a very expensive knife. I am not sure how this dirt bag got one, but I betcha’ he didn’t buy it.”
“He probably stole it.”
Shack presses the button. With a healthy snap the clip-pointed dark gray blade locks in the open position. He hands it to me. Being a fan of auto knives myself I admire the knife. My SOG Pentagon Elite, which may not be as expensive, but suits my purposes. I close the knife carefully, handing it back to Shack who slips it into his LBV.
Chuck turns towards Beer Gut’s corpse. Bending down he reaches for Beer Gut’s camouflaged duck gun. Suddenly Beer Gut rolls over pining Chuck’s arm to the ground. Beer Gut’s large fleshy face whips up and clamps its teeth on to Chuck’s left wrist, twisting his head like a dog worrying a bone.
Faster than you can read these words, Shack lifts his right leg pointing his knee at Beer Gut. Slapping his hand down to the butt of his Serbu shotgun he fires it through the open bottom of his OD green nylon leg sheath.
Shredded by Rhodesian jungle load fired from less than five feet away, Beer Gut’s ponderous girth dissolves in an explosive, frothy cloud of blood, purple entrails and bone fragments. Nearly blown in half, Beer Gut collapses with a quiet moan, his shotgun falling with a loud clatter. Distracted by the sudden demise of his friend, Skin Head mouth agape stands rooted to the spot.
I deliver a vicious, vertical front offensive kick to Skin Head’s right femur. With my weight and strength behind it, the ball of my foot and boot heel hits him just above the right knee. Caught flat-footed with his knees locked, Skin Head’s right leg shatters with a similar sound as if breaking a thick, dry wooden stick.
As Skin Head crumples, I snatch my rifle from his hands. I follow him to the ground. I plunge my Glock fighting knife through Skin Head’s left temple pinning him to the ground. Kneeling beside the twitching corpse, I begin turning towards Leader, flipping the safety off my rifle. I just hope that my rifle is still loaded as I start to aim at Leader.
Momentarily stunned into inaction as Shack and I eliminated his companions, Leader stands frozen to the spot. Realizing his two friends are dead, he frantically paws at the .45 in his waistband. The weapon snags on something. Leader frantically jerks up on the handle of the old pistol.
Somehow he pulls the trigger, shooting himself in the thigh. Leader collapses while uttering a string of blasphemous curses. Covering the wound in his thigh with his hands he vainly attempts stanching the flow of bright, red blood pumping through his fingers.
Shack pointedly aims his reloaded Serbu shotgun at Leader’s head. He takes a moment extricating the .45 from Leader’s waistband. Flipping the safety on the old pistol, Shack slides the old .45 in to his waistband at the center of his back. With the muzzle of his Serbu pressed tightly against Leader’s forehead, Shack pats him down for any other weapons.
Confiscating a small, bright pink Swiss Army Knife, Shack hands it to me without taking his eyes from the wounded man. I am momentarily undecided what to do with the handy little knife. Opening it, I see that it is a genuine Victorinox and is in good condition.
The little knife needs a good sharpening and some oil. I decide to keep it. Later, after a good sharpening and some oil, I will add the little Swiss Army Knife to the Every Day Carry (EDC) lanyard around my neck. Thankfully this is not one of the ginormous Swiss Army Knives.
None too gently nudging Leader’s leg with the toe of his boot, Shack ignores the wounded man’s high pitched screaming. When Shack presses on Leader’s thigh, Leader goes absolutely pale nearly passing out. Pulling his knife, Shack looks at the man who has gone stark still. I can see the red pressure ring from the muzzle of Shack’s Serbu shotgun on the man’s forehead.
In stark contrast to how Shack touches me, with little gentleness or care, Shack slices Leader’s pants leg, flipping open the blood-soaked denim with the blade tip. Careful to keep from touching the man’s blood, Shack probes Leader’s leg with the blade of his knife. Several times the man piercingly screams.
Standing over the weeping man who is now quietly begging for help, Shack looks at me. “Femur’s busted, knee’s busted – round’s probably buried in his knee. He’ll bleed out in a minute or so. His screaming’s gonna attract zombies and cannies. Your call,” he looks at me for a decision.
Looking around, I make a quick decision. “What is his blood type,” I ask. Shack shrugs at me. Pulling a blood type test kit from my LBV, I put on surgical gloves. As I approach the man, Shack presses his Serbu firmly into his forehead, twisting it for emphasis.
Careful not to get any of the man’s blood on me, I take a sample. After dropping the reagent into the test tube, and shaking it the prescribed time, I check the results on the handy included chart.
“This is your fucking lucky day,” I tell the weeping man. To Shack I say, “He is O negative. Doc can use him for a blood bag if nothing else.” Quietly, I think for a moment.
“Shut him up. Do not get any of his blood on you. Put a tourniquet on him. If he survives until we get back to camp, then maybe Doc can patch him up. Otherwise he dies here and we leave him for zombie chow.”
I slip my AR-15’s sling over my shoulder. Nodding at Shack that I am ready, Shack replaces his Serbu in its thigh holster. Pulling a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) from his LBV, Shack kneels beside the wounded man.
While putting on surgical gloves he speaks to the man. “This is going to hurt – a lot,” he tells the quietly weeping man. I do not turn away as Shack reaches underneath the man, sliding the CAT completely around his leg.
“You’re lucky I’m making sure your balls aren’t caught by the CAT as your kind shouldn’t breed,” he tells the man shortly before he starts tightening the CAT. Shack has to tighten the CAT significantly to cut off the blood flow. The man screams briefly before passing out. I watch Shack duly note the date and time with a thick, black Sharpie on the man’s forehead. Lucky it was not the asshole with the huge tat on his forehead.
“He still alive?”
Shack bends down to check. Standing back up, “Barely,” he replies as he strips off the surgical gloves. I retrieve my knife, wiping it off on the corpse before sheathing it again. Now that it has quieted down I hear banging from inside the ambulance. I motion to Shack to get ready.
I pat my Hi-Power in its holster still wearing the suppressor. My AR-15 hangs from its single point sling on my back. Pulling my rifle around to my front, I get into the ready position dropping to my left knee. I wish that I had mounted a suppressor on my rifle as well.
The suppressor will reduce the sound of the shot but will do nothing for the supersonic crack of the bullet breaking the sound barrier. No help for it now. If I have to shoot, it will be not much louder than the boom of Shack’s shotgun.
Shack ensures his Serbu is loose in its holster. He pulls a US Army, baseball-sized, M68 impact fuzed frag grenade from his LBV. With one hand on the spoon and his fingers through the pin, Shack nods at me. Here we go.
I quickly flick on my Sure Fire flashlight. The brief pulse of red light momentarily illuminates the inside of the krankenwagen’s cab. A zombie, dressed in similar clothes as the corpse hanging out of the windshield batters himself against the seat and safety belt attempting to reach me. Entangled in the passenger seat belt, and pinned underneath the passenger seat against the window, the zombie thrashes around in a frenzy.
His thrashing reminds me of a grand mal seizure. The zombie is definitely male, with a sharp-pointed goatee surrounded by a wispy moustache that he probably at one time thought made him look mature. Until Iain, I was not one for bearded men; usually preferring my men (and women) clean-shaven.
Goatee zombie continues to violently strain against the seat and the seat belt restraining him. We are not sure if zombies can see the red or blue lights used by most of the survivors. I do know the infected can see red and blue light.
Crawling on top of the ambulance’s cab, I verify that goatee zombie is trapped inside the cab. I do not need him suddenly bursting from the vehicle now that he has motive. Stupid bastard does not realize that he can open the seatbelt. As I move around the krankenwagen, goatee zombie’s head follows me.
I change pistol magazines for one full of 147 grain, subsonic hollow points. Screwing the suppressor on my pistol, I contemplate shooting through the heavily cracked windshield. I discard the idea, concerned about a ricochet.
Looking around I verify that there is nothing else more pressing than the damn goatee zombie. The last thing I need is a bunch of zombies or worse cannibals, sneaking up on me while I am distracted with dispatching goatee zombie.
Gently racking the slide open, I catch the 115 grain FMJ bullet that pops out of the chamber. I lock the slide open, releasing it when I slam the magazine full of 147 grain subsonic hollow point bullets home. I watch one of the stubby bullets slide from the magazine into the chamber with a resounding thunk.
I cannot mount my Sure Fire flashlight to my pistol, as my old Hi-Power is not new enough to have any kind of rail. Despite lacking a mounted weapon light, I manage holding my Sure Fire flashlight in my weak hand while aiming with my right. I succeed in leaning over the driver’s corpse taking careful aim down at the still thrashing goatee zombie.
Making sure there are no friendly forces near goatee zombie, I gently press the trigger. The pistol coughs lightly bucking in my hand. A neat hole appears in passenger corpse’s head while the back of his skull vaporizes in a frothy fountain of black blood, bits of bone and chunky bits of gelatinous black brains.
The fountain of gore splashes against the passenger window, pooling below the corpse. With a disgusting finality, goatee zombie settles for the last time against the passenger door. Noting the lack of pink brains, I surmise that goatee zombie had been dead for some time. He might have been an early casualty during the initial outbreak.
First responders and soldiers suffered horrific losses early in the KCAP pandemic. Since I was shooting down towards the ground, I did not have to worry about a pass through striking someone friendly. I drop to my knees; the ground is cold underneath my legs.
Pulling my Cold Steel hatchet, I clear enough of the shattered wind shield so that I can reach the corpse without cutting myself on glass. Replacing my hatchet back on my belt, I slide into the cab just enough to reach the corpse.
Searching the corpse reveals an identical dead Motorola radio, a cheap empty nylon wallet, and a nearly full can of Copenhagen dip. His reflective vest holds another, sealed can of Copenhagen, and a cheap, red plastic disposable lighter.
The smell of Copenhagen makes me gag, but I know some of the lads enjoy it, so I drop the cans of dip into my recovery sack. Shaking the lighter, I see that it is about half full. I pocket the disposable lighter.
Searching passenger zombie’s corpse one more time, I discover an ankle holster on the inside of his left leg. “Umm, naughty naughty, krankenwagen boy – not supposed to carry guns,” I mumble. I separate the Velcro, the nylon stretchy fabric flopping on the bottom of the cab as I pull the ankle holster from the corpse.
Thankfully, the black nylon ankle holster does not land in the puddle of blood. Pulling the little pistol from the ankle holster I am disappointed with my find. I recognize the little pistol immediately. It is a Smith & Wesson Model 61 “Escort” nickel plated with white plastic grips. The S&W Escort pistols were real POS that jammed all the time.
There is only one, five round magazine. A quick search of the corpse fails to deliver another magazine. Ejecting the magazine from the gun, I notice that it contains five rounds of CCI Mini Mag .22 LR ammo. I slip the Escort’s slide back far enough verifying that there is a round in the chamber. I put the shitty little pistol back in the ankle holster dropping it in my recovery bag.
I am uncertain how the rettungsassistent became infected. I see no signs of bites or other injuries that would cause KCAP infection. I do not have access to all of its body. I am certainly not going to pull it out so that I can figure cause of infection. I leave the poor bastard where he lies.
Wiggling and shimmying my way out of the cab someone grabs my ankle. I scream, echoing in the small space. Rolling on to my back and frantically grasping for my pistol, I feel a large, cool calloused hand grip mine. “It’s me sweetheart,” Shack says. I relax.
Now I feel like a complete and utter fool for screaming like a silly woman. I hear thumping and cussing nearby. I finish wiggling out of the cab Shack guiding me so that I do not hit my head. “What is that banging about,” I ask once I am standing upright.
“They’re trying to get all three alternators out of the engine compartment. These damn ambulances usually come with a pair of mighty powerful alternators. This one has three for some damned reason. Chuck says this ambulance has the 94 amp stock alternator plus two heavy-duty 220 amp alternators. That’s a lot of juice for an ambulance,” he says scratching his head. “Sorry for startling you.”
I kiss him lightly on the lips. Realizing that we are alone while the Scouts rip apart the ambulance, I lean in and give him a good, deep snog. “I am jumpy after I shot the ambulance passenger zombie,” I say by way of explanation. Someone whistles at the back of the ambulance. Holding hands, we quickly walk around to the ambulance’s rear.
Three people with the cool look of predators stand at the rear of the ambulance. The leader is a tall, lanky white man with stringy, greasy brown hair falling over a stained red bandanna tied around his forehead. Leaning against the hood of our Hummer, the leader wears dirty tight blue jeans and a stained and ripped denim jacket.
With cool consideration, the leader sneers at us. He has his thumbs hooked into his belt loops. Tucked into Leader’s waistband is an old .45 in condition one, with the hammer locked back.
To Leader’s left, is a white man with a ponderous beer gut jutting from his puffy blue nylon jacket. Dirty, ripped blue jeans strain valiantly to contain Beer Gut’s huge ass. An equally straining black leather belt, its buckle facing the ground holds a leather sheath for a large bladed knife easily the width of my hand.
I notice that the handle of the huge knife is a human femur bone. Beer Gut sneers at me as he watches me realize what the handle of his knife is. Beer Gut cradles a camouflaged duck gun in his arms.
To the right of Leader is a skeleton-slender white man with a spiky Mohawk leading into a greasy pony tail on his shoulders. Covering the shaved sides of Mohawk’s head are the typical blue skin head tattoos often gained in prison.
Tattooed in the center of Mohawk’s forehead is a large, rather artful, black, blue and gold Deutsches Kreuz. His large forehead tattoo runs from the bridge of his nose to his hair-line. Visible wrapped around my AR-15, “Skin Head” is tattooed across Mohawk’s fingers in blue ink.
Leader pulls the toothpick from the corner of his mouth. Motioning at Shack with the sodden sliver of wood, he says “Hey, man we’re gonna borrow yo’ woman fo’ some fun. You can have her back when we’re done. You be cool, we don’t hurt her none.”
Fuck! Shack and I were supposed to be on guard! Beside me, I feel Shack tense.
(Author’s note – Before someone yells at me for Ruth’s spelling of moustache – please remember that Ruth is originally from Israel. She prefers the European spelling vs. the typical American spelling of moustache.)