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.)
We have observed several broken, poor imitation, Japanese swords lodged in some pathetic zombie. The poor zombie is often walking around with the broken blade or sometimes even the whole sword or knife stuck in the poor thing.
A few weeks ago we came across a zombie with a poor imitation Japanese wakizashi thrust through him. The handle was on one side of the zombie, while the tip barely protruded from the other side. After killing the zombie and removing the wakizashi we discovered that the blade was badly bent. Attempting to straighten the wakizashi blade resulted in it shattering into three pieces.
The other evening Shack and some of the Scout lads were sitting around a small fire in front of our tent. Shack was using some “survivor-style” knife with a large fixed blade and a hollow handle containing a lot of useless junk. Shack was making fire-starting feather sticks, not a real hard task for a knife.
The POS knife blade broke, snapping off right at the handle. One thing that KCAP has taught us is that good equipment is priceless. Another lesson was that just because something is imported does not mean it is junk. Case in point – my favorite, Cold Steel Vietnam-era, reproduction antipersonnel hatchet.
My Cold Steel hatchet was made in China. After a good sharpening, the hatchet has served me well. Shack likewise carries a Cold Steel Warhawk, also made in China, which required only a good sharpening to become an excellent lethal weapon. Both tomahawks have survived rough use. Good equipment is priceless.
Speaking of priceless, thanks to Doc, Viri is now armed with a FDE, Kel-Tec SUB-2000 9mm folding carbine. The little carbine takes Glock 17 magazines of which Doc made sure that Viri had several of the extra-long magazines holding 30 rounds each. A little Bushnell red dot sight of some kind sits on top of the small carbine.
I was sure that the red dot sight would prevent folding the carbine when Doc showed me how the front handguard twists so that the red dot sight is on the bottom. I am not that familiar with Kel-Tec firearms. Like most academics, Viri had never handled a gun before the zombie apocalypse.
Shack mentioned under his breath that, “during a zombie apocalypse is kinda late to learn how to use firearms.” Doc suggested better to learn late than never to learn. I helped Viri load her magazines with PMC Bronze 9mm 115 grain hollow points from 300 round tan Spam bags also provided by the convoy.
Viri also carries a 4-shot Sauer Bär pistol chambered in .25 ACP tucked into her more than ample cleavage. The little Belgian antique pistol is rather underpowered, and (in my opinion, anyway) woefully inadequate. The .25 ACP cartridge was never a known man-stopper, and even some of the .22 rim fire rounds have greater kinetic energy.
Still any pistol these days is better than no pistol. Because of the prevalence of people with no firearms experience, the convoy personnel have taken to offering firearms training in the evenings. Sam and Longfeather conduct most of the training, with Sutton and Randy teaching those that show promise, some long-range shooting.
The other female infected survivor, Martha “not fucking Stewart!” is a quiet, mousy little woman. I have not had an opportunity to talk to her, but the mousy woman barely talks to anyone other than those that are also infected with KCAP. It was painful watching the fidgety, infected woman learning how to shoot and load the little M6 Scout rifle chambered in .22 Hornet and .410 shotgun — it was obvious that she had never handled a firearm before.
Loaded with some of the newer .410 self-defense rounds, the little .410 shotgun can be an effective personal defense weapon. Most of the self-defense .410 rounds were designed for the Taurus Judge and Smith & Wesson Governor pistols. I wonder what the ballistics are for the self-defense .410 rounds designed for short pistol barrels when fired in a longer shotgun barrel.
We have taken to referring to the small, infected woman as Mouse because the name suits her. Thankfully, someone has not given Mouse a pistol because the way she missed everything with the M6 Scout, flinching and shrieking every time the weapon bucked in her hands, she would never have hit anything with a pistol.
Shack and I, if we are not on guard duty, have taken to spending the evenings with little Stiva on the beach. Carol is afraid that the tyke will roll into a campfire, so they stay well away from any heat or fire. Sometimes we are joined by Doc and Viri, and even Honey and LM occasionally drop in for a while.
Doc and Viri were quite animated last evening, talking about how KCAP possess a microbial efflux pump that is unusually efficient, and stronger than any other microbial efflux pump found in nature. I have taken to taking notes now when the Doc and Viri go into one of their scientific tirades. I think Doc enjoys being able to argue with someone who understands what he is talking about.
Shack and I aside from our usual guard rotations, also partake in pulling security for the Scouts while they acquire supplies. Shack and I got to protect the Scouts when they searched a rolled over ambulance on its side in a deeply forested area. The old krankenwagen flew off of the road and rolled down the side of the bank towards the river.
Trapped between a small river and a thick line of trees, the ambulance lies on its side, all doors closed tightly. The fuel tanks, emptied long ago by other looters, are a disappointment. However, the huge Cummins diesel’s crankcase is filled with several gallons of motor oil. The ambulance’s position provided easy access to the engine.
One of the Scouts stood beside the engine, and using a sharpened punch, pierces the side of the oil pan. As the viscous, black oil glugged into the catch bucket, other Scouts searched around the old krankenwagen, discovering a corpse mostly ejected through the windshield on the driver’s side.
I run over to watch but I quickly get tired of standing around. I decide to search the krankenwagen’s cab. Dressed in a solid blue jump suit, the ambulance driver was badly cut, his face and arms shredded by the windshield. Wild animals had been snacking on the poor dead ambulance driver, so I was not sure how much of the damage to the poor man was from the crash or from nature.
Searching the ambulance driver’s corpse reveals a wallet full of useless credit cards and a crisp five dollar bill, equally as useless as the plastic. I pocket the money, as it may be useful either as rolling paper or as tinder. I do not bother reading the name on the driver’s license.
A quick search of the corpse reveals three-quarters of a pack of Marlboro Red 100s. I rip off the black nylon rigger’s belt from the corpse dropping it in my recovery sack. A nice, frequency agile Motorola radio with a long microphone handset was still attached to the corpse’s belt. The radio is dead, so I pop open the back of the case revealing a nice set of lithium polymer batteries.
I drop the radio in the recovery sack hanging on my waist. I pocket the smokes for later, my mouth already watering at the thought of the sweet smoke entering my starved lungs. I toss the ambulance driver’s wallet back into the ambulance through the shattered windshield. When I tossed the folded wallet into the ambulance’s cab, something moves inside, thumping around heavily.
Pulling my pistol, I lean over the driver’s corpse looking cautiously down into the dark cab. Something moves inside the dark compartment.
My response is an elegant, “Huh?”
“During the siege of the old village, there was a reason that no artillery or other indirect fire weapons were deployed. We tried to catch the attacking gang in a pinch between our two forces. Thanks to you my men were decimated, and nearly overran.”
“I did not know that there were friendly forces outside of our barricade,” I reply.
“Yeah, well Sam and I could not be certain who the traitors are within the village, so that information was kept strictly need to know. I guess they figured you didn’t need to know,” he replies sneering at me.
I walk away from the man before I decide to hurt the asshole. Tempting as it is for me to thrash the odious man; I am more pissed at Sam and Doc for not telling me that there were friendly forces. I also feel somewhat betrayed. I make an effort to avoid the asshole for the next few days as every time I see him my blood pressure rises.
The next few days pass uneventfully. Shack and I get into the guard rotation taking our turns manning the guad-50 on the main gate and the 20mm Oerlikon cannon facing the beach. I prefer standing behind the old 20mm cannon, despite the lack of shelter it offers. I prefer the view of the bay and water over looking at the abandoned highway.
I find myself often fondling the huge; seven-inch long 20mm shells each weighing a solid half of a pound. Today, Sam is tearing around Kayak Point Park in his old Ontos, playing in the sand and rocks on the beach.
Brenda said that before some of the dams on the Snake and other rivers in the area were removed, most of the beaches here were plain rock with no sand or other sediment. All of the dams on the major rivers kept the sediment out of the bay, were it settled along the beaches as sand.
Brenda explains that the lower Snake River dams were the last to go before KCAP hit. She explains that the lower Snake River dams were the largest ever removed in the US. Many groups and several of the local tribes pushed to remove the three major dams on the Columbia River.
Brenda felt removing the three, large Columbia River dams was not something that the government would allow because of how much electrical power the three dams provided. I get to make some small talk with Brenda today at lunch.
I am closest to Brenda and Carol, while the Princess and I strive at least to be civil to each other. The Princess and I do not talk unless necessary, even on woman’s bath day. I suppose she has never forgiven how I treated her in the first few days of my joining the convoy.
I admit that I was not nice to the Princess, but she needed someone to put their foot in her ass, and it was my foot, so she hates me. Today, we are eating Jerusalem artichokes, steamed asparagus, dried banana chips, and a decent celeriac soup with garlic, green beans, leeks, onions, tomatoes, and blanched horse parsley.
Brenda and the cooks are miracle workers coming up with meals for this bunch of people. Our cooks apologize for the bland taste, but when cooking for so large a group, there is not really anything they can do about flavor. The important thing is that there is food, and plenty of it.
I did not know that Shack hates asparagus, so he gave me his portion. I have always loved asparagus, although Amy hated it too. Our cooks have actually started to make decent bread, and the Indian fry bread is common at meals too.
Someone recovered an ancient Corona grain mill which the cooks have put to good use. Along with the Corona grain mill a Little Dutch Maid mixer has also been pressed in to service in the kitchen.
Doc has been hanging out with an infected black woman from the group in the houses to the north of the park. Shack, Longfeather and Doc often get together to eat and talk. Honey, LM and I usually tag along for some of these discussions as sometimes they are really interesting.
On this occasion I got to meet Doc’s new lady friend, a very tall KCAP infected, black woman with bright red, straight hair full of small colorful beads that falls to her ankles. The smaller of the two infected women, the black woman is willow thin and has naturally bright red hair.
I was curious about her retaining her hair for as I understand it, KCAP infected lose all of their body hair. Doc was stumped too because usually anyone infected with KCAP, loses all their body hair. Viridiana is unique as far as we know. For some reason that Doc has not figured out, Viridiana (“Viri” for short) did not lose all of her hair. I was not aware that black people could blush.
Although Doc is not ethnically black, it was fun watching him blush when discussing Viri’s hair after Shack asked if the carpet matched the drapes. Doc thinks Viri’s red hair might have something to do with her keeping her hair after infection. Viri was a geneticist at the College of the Bahamas. Doc and Viri are quite interested in how KCAP works in the body. I have to admit that between the two of them when they go all scientificy on me, I get lost and there is no way I can write everything the two doctors discussed.
Both Doc and Viri agree that KCAP improves its host, bettering the human race by removing all of the infirm and sick. Doc chose infection hoping to cure his diabetes. Viri chose infection because her group on the boat after a harrowing crossing of the Panama Canal suffered Ciguatera poisoning from farm-raised salmon they took from an abandoned fish farm.
The group KCAP infected themselves curing the Ciguatera poisoning. I had never heard of Ciguatera poisoning as it is not common anywhere that I previously lived. Ciguatera poisoning is also not common here in the Pacific Northwest either. Ironically, Ciguatera poisoning is quite common in the Bahamas, so Viri was very familiar with the symptoms of Ciguatera poisoning.
Viri carries a nice Japanese tanto of modern manufacture. Amy was a collector of fine Japanese knives; the tanto was always her favorite Japanese knife. She carried a modern tanto at work in the firehouse. I am not the knife expert that Amy was but I can appreciate a good blade. One of Amy’s favorite Japanese blades in her collection was a “cursed” 16th-century tanto made by famed Japanese smith Muramasa Sengo.
I gave Amy her Muramasa tanto for our fifth anniversary. I was not aware that there were many forged Muramasa blades. Most forgeries of Muramasa blades were particularly made during the Tokugawa Shogunate. I was concerned that perhaps I had bought a forgery.
I was contemplating how much pain I would inflict upon the antiquities dealer once I returned to Haifa. Amy alleviated my fears, silencing my rumblings of bloody revenge by verifying that the tanto was indeed an authentic Muramasa. The mirrored hako-midare hamon was a specialty of Muramasa.
It was not until a few years later that Amy learned that her treasured Muramasa tanto once belonged to General Tojo. The tanto was once part of the former MacArthur Museum, and was listed as stolen. The MacArthur museum identified the tanto as a forgery but Amy was able to verify that it is a true Muramasa tanto.
The infected walk into the chaos like they are above it all, and offer no outward appearance of concern. The small group of infected led by a large older male. They are lightly armed. Of the three men and two women, only the two largest men carry firearms. The smaller male and the two women carry various bladed gardening tools, pressed into service as weapons.
The largest male carries a battered, full fenced receiver, AR-15 rifle with attached carry handle and Vietnam-era skinny handguards. The rifle has the traditional pencil-thin barrel and I would bet that its twist rate is 1-in-12 or 1-in-14. A single gray metal magazine is inserted into his weapon.
The smaller male carries a sawed off, nondescript, imported over-under shotgun which might be a 20 gauge or other smaller gauge of shotgun. No handguns are evident among the infected.
Dressed in casual street clothes, the only similar clothing among them is a cotton hoodie. I swear the damned hoodie is the unofficial uniform of the Seattle area. Randy and Sutton says that it is because of the cooler and damper weather that so many chose to wear a hoodie. A hoodie is also something that is easy to don or remove should the weather change, which it does often in this area.
Things are tense for a moment, until some men and women with tribal, ethnic appearances come over and start passing bowls of steaming food around. It is harder to attack someone when you are holding a turned wooden bowl of steaming food. Food is far too precious now to waste it attacking someone.
The smell of the food in the bowl shoved into my arms makes my mouth water. I inhale deeply smelling the steaming pile of food in my bowl. It smells wonderful. Stirring with my handy, brown plastic MRE spoon, it appears to be a pottage of peas and beans with small chunks of reddish meat. Several small squares of slightly yellow bread lie on the edges of the bowl.
Our hands now full of food, everyone seeks someplace to sit. Shack and I wander over to some of the larger logs on the edge of the asphalt sitting with our backs to the water. The timing of our arrival appears fortuitous as we are in time for the evening meal. Directly behind us is the single pier jutting out into the water.
Shack and I are joined by Brenda and her two husbands. The infected wander off to sit by themselves on the playground equipment in the center of the park area. Behind the infected is a small latrine building emitting an awful smell when the wind shifts. I would not wish to eat so close to such a rank smelling building, but the infected do not seem to mind.
The smell causes Brenda to gag, coughing into her hand. One of Brenda’s husbands pats her back. She looks at me sheepishly. “I may be pregnant,” she says with a weak smile, as if I need an excuse for her to be ill at such a foul smell.
We fall silent concentrating on eating. We notice that Doc, Honey and LM join the infected eating in the playground. Shack raises his eyebrows at this, but there is really nothing we can do so we continue eating. Sam eats while standing talking to a tall man with a long ponytail streaked with silver.
I assumed that the small semi-round pieces of yellowish, puffy bread were tortillas. I am confounded by their taste and study the piece of greasy, puffy bread in my hand. “It’s Indian fry bread,” Brenda explains at my perplexed expression.
“Huh,” is my intelligent reply.
“According to Navajo tradition, fry bread was created when my people were forced to move to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico. The Navajo used supplies given to them by the US government, when the land would not provide traditional Navajo food,” Longfeather explains. I did not see him approach, so engrossed was I in eating.
Nodding at us, Longfeather sits down in front of us, cross-legged his food perched precariously on his legs. “For many Indians, but more so for those who were forced off of their traditional lands, fry bread connects the present to one of the most painful periods of Native American history.”
Falling silent Longfeather digs into his food with relish. Despite being rather bland, the pottage is filling. I find myself emptying my bowl, wiping the dregs out with my last piece of greasy fry bread. The food brings calm to the camp. Looking around I realize that among the separate groups, they have arranged themselves so that their areas are distinct.
In the center of the area, running along the water between the single pier and the asphalt around the playground is a large open area. We are assigned, unfortunately being the last to arrive, the area closest to the foul-smelling latrine buildings. The next few hours are spent setting up our tents, and other gear.
One surprising change is that the radio gear will remain packed. We are not keeping a radio watch while here and will use only the man portable radios and not the base radio sets. Shack and I, along with the rest of the usual radio crew are assigned guard rotation.
Doc, Honey and the infected confer with Sam and the stocky man with dark narrow eyes, a fixed sneer, and jet-black hair worn in a ponytail to his shoulders. After the meeting, the infected return to the houses to the north. I note now that infected are now carrying several firearms given to them by the convoy.
The largest woman now carries a purple nine millimeter Sccy pistol in a black nylon Uncle Mikes holster. The Scouts recovered the unique Sccy pistol from a dead zombie a few months ago. There is only one magazine for the Sccy pistol so I hope that she is careful not to lose it.
The other infected now carry Hi Point pistol caliber carbines and several Hi Point pistols. The Hi Point pistols and carbines are rather common, because they were so cheap. Unfortunately, repair parts and extra magazines for the Hi Points are rather rare.
As I watch the newly armed infected leave, the stocky man with dark narrow eyes, a fixed sneer, and ponytail of silver streaked jet-black hair to his shoulders walks up to me. Facing me with a sneer, he place his hands on his hips.
“So you’re the bitch that was killin’ my men.”
The Mobile Gun Stryker parks at the sharp turn at the top of the hill leading to the beach below. We pass the Stryker as it sets its securing stanchions, its crew running around the outside. Two of the Stryker lads leap into one of the UTVs, tearing down to the beach with a mound of empty sand bag sacks.
The rest of the gun crew prep shells and lay out their defense. I note that they are planning to surround the MGS with a barrier of sand bags. This park at one time had a lot of trees. Most of the trees have been cut down which makes it easier for the MGS to swing her long gun.
The lack of trees also gives the MGS a clear line of sight for the whole bay in front of them. Behind the MGS towards the gate, the gun has a nearly unobstructed line of fire. Several smaller burnt-out buildings, which might be the remains of the park ranger’s offices, are to the left of the MGS’s positon.
Several soldiers from the rearward vehicles lay mines, including claymores and other antipersonnel mines in the bushes and along the roadway. There is only one way in and out of Kayak Point unless we abandon the vehicles. Pinned against the bay, an attacking force could hand us an ignoble defeat similar to the British at Dunkirk.
Walking behind one of her Russian husbands, I see that Rain still caries her old Belgian-made Browning .25 ACP pistol in a cheap black nylon shoulder holster. The Russian husband pushes a wheel barrow loaded with old Soviet antipersonnel mines. Rain drags an old, wooden, two-wheeled cart covered in a woodland camouflaged tarp.
I bet Rain’s cart is also full of old Soviet mines and other nasty weapons. As the Russian turns to say something to Rain, I notice that he carries an old PP-2000 9×19 sub-machine gun. I wonder if the Russian husband worked for the interior before KCAP. I also wonder if that sub-machine gun he carries is full of the unique +P+ armor-piercing version of the 9mm cartridge.
Turning back to the road, I notice that one of the soldiers assigned to the sole remaining Stryker is setting up an ancient Knight’s Armament Company Stoner LMG A1. The old, tan FDE 30-06 machinegun is rather rare – I wonder where he got such a unique weapon.
I also wonder how much 30-06 ammo the soldier has. The old Stoner fires from 20-round box magazines, but was very accurate. With the battered ACOG mounted upon the Stoner LMG the soldier should be able to direct accurate fire.
Shack leans out the door as the overloaded UTV passes us. He yells that the beach is rock, not sand but the soldiers do not hear him over the roar of the UTV’s engine. Shack shrugs and rides in silence as we drive down into the beach area. The smell of smoke and salt hangs over the area.
There are quite a few people in the park. I am surprised to see so many canoes and other water craft beached in the gently rolling surf. I slow the truck unsure if the people standing around the old picnic shelters are friend or foe.
The colonels drive down, park their car and get out. The colonels immediately start shaking hands and greeting the people around the picnic shelters. The group has obviously been camped here for a while, judging by the tents and amount of refuse.
I notice several wooden canoes, which judging by the decoration must be tribal. I had heard that Brenda and most of the former Adventists were members of some of the local Native American tribes. I wonder if these canoes might be from similar or allied tribes.
Standing beside the idling truck I notice that it is not actually one group, but rather several distinct groups camped here together. There appears to be a few different tribes perhaps, and at least one or more distinct groups of survivors. I climb on top of the truck to get a better look. Shack follows me leaving Honey and LM in the cab.
From my vantage point on the cab roof I can see that Kayak Point is in total chaos. I see the colonels are having a heated discussion with a tall, stocky white man dressed in a faded OD green field coat.
The white man arguing with the colonels has dark, narrow eyes, a fixed sneer, and jet-black hair shot with gray worn in a pony tail to the bottom of his shoulder blades. He holds in his arms a weapon, but from this distance I cannot name it.
The small area at the foot of the hill becomes a madhouse as the convoy attempts to reorganize itself in the wake of finding Kayak Point occupied. We did not expect to find Kayak Point occupied.
Brenda and her husbands start unloading equipment. Directing the HEMTT towing the engineering trailer to park near her vehicle, Brenda starts surveying the beach. I know that Brenda wants to be as close as possible to the beach because that is where most of the wood is and where the salt water will come from.
I see quite a bit of drift wood scattered on the beach. Most of the larger material including whole logs are still strewn over the beach. All of the smaller drift wood has already been burnt. We brought bucking saws, as well as splitting equipment. Shack told me that the engineering trailer has a ginormous air-powered chainsaw in it.
I wonder if the diesel cost running the air compressor will be less than the cost of gasoline in a chainsaw. Shack assures me that diesel is easier to make and procure than gasoline, so running the air compressor will be worth it. He tells me that the ginormous air-powered chainsaw has a five foot long blade that will cut the largest logs with ease.
The more wood that we can cut as fast as possible, means the sooner that we can get off of this exposed beach. The less distance that we have to haul water and fuel, the more efficient the process will be. The cooks start assembling the cook tent, while everyone else jockeys for position. With the cooks and Brenda’s crew adding to the chaos the mood turns dark as arguments break out.
To the north, from a group of nice houses that once bordered this park, walks a small group of obviously KCAP-infected people. The group of infected are armed but from this distance I canot see with what. I lean over into the cab, yelling at Honey to hand me the binoculars from the glove compartment.
The sight of the infected causes instant panic – weapons are drawn.
Traveling closer to Kayak Point, we see increased signs of unrest. I am not familiar with this area, but it looks like it was sparsely populated before KCAP hit. The road is very hilly, with dips and swells. I laugh as Shack twists his tongue in knots attempting to pronounce some of the names of the roads we pass. I learn later from Brenda that most of the names are taken from the local Native American tribes.
Honey and LM continue to eat as we drive. With the roadway mostly clear, our convoy actually reaches a whopping 40 miles an hour. I gratefully shift into fourth gear, as Honey cracks open another MRE, this one a rare Estonian.
The only reason I know the nondescript white plastic covered box is an Estonian MRE is because someone thoughtfully labeled it in English. Honey continues eating. I cannot read or speak Estonian, and it appears that Honey does not either.
“Christ kid, how much shit you gonna’ eat,” Shack mutters from his side of the cab.
The Estonian MRE Honey is furiously digging into does not seem as sparse as one would expect. She makes a horrid face after tasting something that smells like garlic-infused pâté. LM chortles as Honey shudders making a horrid face after tasting some of the pale gray, lumpy pâté.
Honey flings the opened container of pâté past Shack’s nose, some of the foul-smelling stuff striking him in the face which amuses LM to no end. Listening to LM near tears laughing on the floor brings a smile to my face. The pâté must be fairly horrid as Shack furiously scrubs at his face with his shemagh trying to get the nasty stuff off.
“Shit! Just hand me the nasty crap and I will toss it outa’ the cab. Don’t fucking do that again!”
Shack is visibly angry. His rare display of temper causes LM to bust out laughing again which considering the situation is pretty funny. Even I start giggling, LM’s laughter is infectious. After a moment even Shack cracks a smile, despite the splatter of nasty pâté on his LBV.
“Doc told me that KCAP does something to the adrenal glands. Because LM and I are still growing, our caloric intake need is very high.” Honey mentions this little tidbit while she cracks opens another mystery can of potted meat from the Estonian MRE.
I distinctly smell fish, as Honey shovels little smoked, oil dripping silver fish into her mouth with a white plastic fork. She eats some of the fish and then hands the rest to LM who digs into it with relish.
“LM and I are always hungry. Doc is hungry a lot more too, but not as often as us because we are still growing. We know, that with KCAP, death is followed by transformation. KCAP improves and hardens the host, improving KCAP’s chances of spreading. I am not sure that LM and I want to find out what happens if we starve to death. The hunger pains are horrible. I get the strongest urges to eat anything. If I got hungry enough, I fear I might attack someone.”
At this proclamation, Shack looks at her wide-eyed. I see his right arm moving, I wonder if he is loosening his Serbu in its holster on his right leg.
Honey takes a deep breath after this spat of information. Sipping from her canteen, she rummages around in the Estonian MRE again. As she digs, Honey continues to talk.
“He can’t talk yet, but I get very strong mental images from LM. Doc did a KCAP blood count on us. LM has three times more KCAP viral bodies than I do. But with him, because he inherited KCAP from his father, he is closer to the other infected than I am. LM is going to have to be very careful, because if he gains more KCAP viral bodies, it may kill him or push him into near madness with hunger.”
Honey falls silent for a minute as Shack and I look down at LM sitting on the floor board, eagerly licking the empty can of smoked fish. Honey triumphantly finds a pair of small clear plastic packages of crackers. Handing one of the packages of crackers to LM, she sighs.
“I suppose the crackers were for eating with the fish.” She burps lightly. “Excuse me.”
Honey rummages in her pockets for a minute. Finding some small packets of US Army MRE jelly in brown plastic squeeze tubes, she bites the corner off a brown tube of jelly. She hands the open tube of jelly to LM along with another plastic sleeve of crackers.
Opening her own tube of jelly she squirts jelly on her crackers. I distinctly smell grape jelly, one of my least favorite flavors of jelly.
We ride in silence for a while, listening to Honey and LM munch. I am still full from lunch, but am thankful for the cool can of Budweiser that Shack hands to me. I feel some guilt drinking alcohol while driving, but it is not like I am getting drunk from one beer.
We stop briefly and I see some activity ahead. Shack takes Honey with him and goes to investigate. A few minutes later they return.
“What was that?” I ask as they climb back in the cab. I put the old Dodge back in gear, noting that the engine is running a bit on the warm side. I turn the heater up removing more heat from the engine.
Shack and I roll our windows all the way down to let the excess heat out of the cab which is stuffy enough with four people in it. Shack opens the beer window letting a cool draft blow through the cab.
“Some asshole up ahead was lying in the center of the road. Stupid fucker must have been desperate for a drink because he drank paint thinner. What was left of him was dragging itself across the road; the empty tin can of paint thinner still clutched in his fist. Paint thinner zombie could hear but not see. Was pretty simple to smack ‘em in the back of the head with an e-tool.”
Shack takes a long swig from his canteen.
“Randy and Sutton followed paint thinner zombie’s trail. They came back with several cans of paint thinner and some other flammable liquid shit, such as acetone. Gonna’ pour it in the HEMTT tanker. Thin out that nasty used motor oil shit we’ve been burning.”
Now that the convoy is moving again, the temperature of the old Dodge diesel stops climbing alarmingly towards the red. The engine temperature returns to normal as we drive easing my concerns. I closely watch the engine temperature from now on.
We have been going downhill for a while now, so I hope we are getting close to Kayak Point. We pass a sign, or rather what is left of it, for the Kayak Point golf course. Remembering our last experiences on a golf course I do not wish to explore this one.
Crucified to the sign with jagged pieces of rusty re-bar, the moaning infected person reinforces my wish to avoid the Kayak Point golf course. Pinned on its back, in an awkward position the hapless infected as we pass it attempts to reach towards us, as if begging for mercy.
The naked, emaciated infected corpse is horribly burnt, its sex unidentifiable. Draped over the low, hip-high, fire-scorched concrete sign the burnt infected shakes its head and snaps its teeth at us. The convoy slows as we pass the unfortunate creature.
A muffled shot cracks from the rear of the convoy. The pinned infected’s head snaps back spraying a fountain of gore. I would later learn that it was one of Rain’s Russian husbands that put the unfortunate infected out of its misery with an ancient Mosin Nagant rifle with a large, black Wix oil filter on the muzzle.
I am not sure about Doc, but Honey and LM do not seem all that disturbed by the death of the infected. Honey smears reconstituted peanut butter on MRE crackers. She follows the smear of PB with a healthy squirt of “honey” from a brown plastic MRE squeeze tube.
Honey gives LM, Shack and even I (despite how much I despise reconst peanut butter) a few of the gooey dripping, smeared crackers. All of us munch the awful crackers covered with gritty, oily peanut butter dripping with fake honey silent with our thoughts.
After a full stop at the end of the road, we cross another highway, turning down a steep grade. Passing a white steel pole gate, where the colonels direct construction of pillboxes and gun emplacements we finally enter Kayak Point.
Behind the colonel’s station wagon I see a sign welcoming us to Kayak Point, a Snohomish County park. The colonels direct everyone, with the exception of the construction crew and the first team manning the gate defenses to drive down towards the beach.
It feels good to enter Kayak Point.