Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #61 leaving the marina for the night’s drive SHTF & TEOTWAWKI
The Princess walks away towards the snow plow, leaving our little band with nary a look behind her. Well, that is gratitude for you, but I suppose she did not appreciate me stripping her with a knife.
Let us pray that we do not have to go through that ordeal again, or I may lose my patience and shoot the Princess after all. Had I been trapped in the cab of a truck with such a farschtunkener I would have tossed her ass out for sure.
I believe Rick will be pleased that she smells a whole hell of a lot better. The Princess is not as fashionably dressed as she was before her bath, but standing beside her or trapped in a vehicle with her will no longer be an endurance challenge.
It is frosty this evening; I can see my breath in the air. One of the soldiers, I did not catch his name, mentioned that it hailed for a little while this afternoon. Black flecked, dirty gray, and hot enough with radiation to cause concern, the hail was mercifully short-lived.
The soldier who was talking about the hail also said something about radioactive iodine released in to the environment by nuclear weapons. It has been years since I have studied anything on nuclear weapons and their effects on the environment.
Maybe it is time to refresh my memory on the dangers of nuclear weapon fallout. There were quite a few nuclear weapons used in the very latter days of the KCAP pandemic. By the time nuclear weapons were employed, it was far, far too late.
Desperate to stem the zombie avalanche the world governments tried, by profligate nuclear weapon use, to reduce drastically, the number of zombies. I never was able to ascertain a firm count of how many nuclear weapons were used. Some of the last estimates I read before leaving D.C. always indicated about 100 or so various types of nuclear weapons were detonated around the world.
Looking towards the eastern horizon, I can see in the distance, over some mountain range, shadowy dense clouds wreathing the tops of the mountains like an angry, tempestuous turban. Inside the clouds, I see the occasional cobalt blue flash of lightning.
The clouds and lightning are too far away to hear, but the light display is impressive. I see sheets a dark rain falling along the foothills below the mountains.
I get chills from my cold, wet hair resting down the center of my back underneath my shirt and jacket. I am glad that I am wearing my field jacket. Hopefully, my body heat will warm my wet hair, and I will not be chilled so much.
I hope I can run the heater a little bit in the car and not worry about overheating Shack. I am a child of the desert and get cold easy. I hate being cold more than anything else.
Shack is wearing a lot more gear than I am. I have been meaning to ask Shack if he has SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) plates in his Interceptor vest. Shack may not need the SAPI plates unless we run into similarly armed survivors.
After a quick latrine stop Mal, Carol and I walk back to my little car where the two ladies and I part with little fanfare. Mal and Carol walk quickly away to go to their respective rides after saying ‘see you later.’
Opening my driver’s door, I drop into the driver’s seat in my little Smart car. I lay my rifle beside Shack’s left leg, muzzle down. I pull my holstered pistol forward on my hip a bit so it does not dig into my side.
In the passenger seat, Shack is snoring with the seat tipped back. Shack’s rifle lays between his legs, muzzle down. Sitting on the dash is a small, plastic plaid thermos on its side. Laying beside the thermos, is a pair of tin foil wrapped mysteries.
Pulling out my empty aluminum canteen cup from my pocket, I unscrew the thermos lid and sniff the contents. A few faint wisps of steam rise from the inside of the thermos. My nose tells me that the thermos is filled with more of the delicious Thai black tea I had earlier. I can smell just a hint of anise in the tea.
I pour a steaming cup of tea, wrapping my hands around the warm cup enjoying the warmth that it radiates to my cold hands. Sipping the still too sweet tea, I enjoy a few moments of quiet, well other than Shack’s sonorous snoring.
It is getting colder this evening; overhead dark clouds threaten more rain and possibly thunder storms. I finish my first cup of tea and quickly pour a second cup, reducing the contents of the plaid plastic thermos by half. My movements wake Shack, who grabs one of the tin foil wrapped mysteries and hands it to me.
“Just eat it,” Shack says to me. “Don’t worry about what’s in it. It’s something Fiji Colorado or something like that in Spanish. Gabe says this is the last of the canned tomatoes, beans and last of the rice so enjoy.”
While the night crew showered, the day crew stored the shelters and other gear and got the convoy ready to roll. Movement and preparation orders are sent over the radio, and drivers start their vehicles.
I note that my little car’s fuel tank has been topped off while I was sleeping. Shack gets out for a moment to piss in the gravel. After Shack finishes, he stretches and then he hops back in the passenger seat. Shack drops his rifle back between his legs, muzzle down. Shack helps me tightly strap and adjust my Kevlar helmet to my head, but it is not quite dark enough for me to have to use the NVGs yet.
I test my NVGs to make sure the batteries are still viable and have enough juice to last the night. Tipping the NVGs back up out-of-the-way, I prepare to drive for the night. Shack’s NVGs are also tipped up, but he loosens his neck strap letting it hang John Wayne style. He pushes his Kevlar helmet up, tipping it farther back on his head.
Shack grabs, the other tin foil, wrapped mystery. He peels the foil and munches on his food with gusto. After a while, he reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out two small aluminum cans of Red Bull.
Shack offers one of the 8.46 oz cans of Red Bull to me, probably out of politeness. I decline, not only because I prefer to drink the too sweet tea, but also because I hate the taste of Red Bull. There is also a finite amount of Red Bull left in the world, and I will leave it to those that wish to drink it.
With our little car idling, Shack and I munch our warm breakfast burritos. Not sure I want to know what meat I am eating, but I have to admit the taste is not bad. The thought of eating squirrel is not pleasant, and I try not to dwell on the idea. My burrito has little chunks of braised meat (squirrel?) in a tasty, mildly spicy red sauce with black beans and cooked Spanish rice with whole canned tomatoes.
Shack finishes his first can of Red Bull and chucks the empty can out of the window. I tell him that I wish to run the heater and that he may wish to crack the window if he gets hot. His mouth full of mystery burrito Shack just shrugs at me, so I assume he is Ok with me running the heater.
I forget to ask whether or not Shack has SAPI plates inserted in his Interceptor vest. Shack is starting to get that musty, woodsy smell from wearing his Interceptor vest so long. Sometimes old protective body armor that you have worn for a long time stinks like crazy.
Ready to move orders come over the radio and I realize that my canteen cup will not fit in any of the cup holders in this little car. I finish my cup of tea and set my empty cup and the plastic thermos on top of the blue and white plastic Igloo cooler behind Shack’s seat.
I press the clutch in and put the car in gear. Here, we go again, another night of fun and games.
With a gentle rumble and scattering of a little gravel, the convoy pulls out of the parking lot. Pulling back onto the Burke-Gillman Trail, we continue heading for Rick’s suggested route through the UW Bothell campus.
Over the radio, orders to look out for the motocross delinquent youth gang are issued. Traveling on the Burke-Gilman bike path again, we pass numerous zombies who look more gaunt and ethereal in the late fading evening light than I remember they did yesterday.
“Jamal says the fallout appears not to have affected the zombies to any measurable amount. The rain, however, has been unkind to them. Most of the zombies that have been out in the rain are now water-soaked.” Shack continues talking as he finishes his burrito and last can of Red Bull.
Shack flips the empty wad of tin foil and then the empty Red Bull can out of the window. I see the empty Red Bull can strike a zombie in the chest who immediately starts waving its arms attempting to grab whatever hit it. Rotting chunks of water-soaked dead flesh fly off of the zombie’s frantically waving arms.
“Some of the zombies, Jamal says, resemble a water-logged corpse pulled out of a body water. You know – what the cops call a ‘floater.’ So some of these zombies are going to be pretty nasty looking.” Shack says watching the rotting flesh fly from the frantically arm waving corpse as it disappears behind us.
Shack settles back in his chair and goes back to sleep after a few minutes. For someone who just downed two cans of Red Bull, he falls asleep quickly. Then again, the ability to sleep instantly anywhere is a prerequisite of being a soldier.
For a while, we drive in silence as Shack starts to snore again. We pass several extremely revolting zombies standing beside the trail. Obviously thoroughly water-soaked, these zombies have considerable sagging folds of rotting skin hanging off of their arms.
The soaked zombie’s faces with sagging jowls look as if a stoned, drunk and blind potter badly molded putty in some barely recognizable human like shape. Couple zombies, either partially or totally naked and once morbidly obese in life, are great sagging mounds of water-logged dead rotting flesh puddled on the asphalt.
Thankfully, I have a strong stomach otherwise I might have tossed up my breakfast into my lap. I wonder about the survivability of the water-soaked zombies. If these zombies dry out will that hasten their decomposition? What about if the zombies stay wet?
Water is not kind to dead flesh, but I wonder what water does to reanimated dead flesh. I remember Jamal a while back was talking about popping zombies into an industrial microwave. I wonder what will happen if you microwaved a water-soaked zombie?
The radio crackles to live startling me. I slammed on the brakes which surprisingly does not wake Shack because the colonels’ VW came to an abrupt stop. Stop orders are transmitted over the radio (little late!), and we come to a somewhat gentler final stop after I let off the brakes and coast some to close the distance between vehicles. Rick transmits over the radio, “bunch of kids on bikes standing in the trail ahead.”
“Shack,” I say as I shake him awake. “Trouble,” I tell him. I hear a car door behind me open and shut.
Shack wakes up quickly and smoothly brings his rifle up, flipping off the safety. Nikola stops by my door and motions for me to follow him. Nikola is in full Spetsnaz battle rattle with his Threadcutter rifle held in both hands.
Nikola is wearing his Russian Army issued green Kevlar helmet. An AK-47 bayonet is silver duct taped vertically handle down on his left shoulder. His O.D. green canvas Russian LBV is filled with six magazines for the Threadcutter as well as three O.D. green Russian RGD-5 (Ruchnaya Granata Distantsionnaya) frag grenades and one American, white smoke grenade.
I note again, that Nikola is carrying a suppressed, large frame Glock pistol cross draw style on the lower left side of his LBV. I would not expect a Russian soldier to carry a Glock. However, prior to the KCAP pandemic, the Glock pistol was so good that approximately 65% of police forces worldwide issued some model of a Glock pistol. The Glock is an excellent pistol as it is reliable, effective, safe, simple, and fast.
I just never quite cared for the Glock pistols. It is a personal thing, but shooting a pistol and trusting one to save your life, you need to use a pistol that you are most comfortable with and can use to the most effective degree. For me, that is my old Hi-Power, for Nikola it apparently is a whopping Glock.
Leaving Shack’s and my little Smart car idling and Shack guarding it, I fall in on Nikola’s left side, my own rifle held in both of my hands. I must look positively tiny next to the strapping Spets soldier. I have to admire Carol’s choice in men as Nikola does have a stupendous ass.
Passing the colonel’s VW station wagon, both colonels join us, falling behind us so that we are walking two abreast and two long. I wonder if the colonels appreciate Nikola’s ass as much as I do.
Glancing at the colonels, I note that neither colonel is carrying anything more than a sidearm for a weapon. I note also that neither man is wearing anything heavier than a uniform blouse. Jamal is bareheaded, his smooth pate shining in the pale, dark orange extremely late evening light like burnished mahogany.
On top of his head, Sam has crammed an old, ratty sweat stained Silver Tips ball cap. Since it is nearly fully dark, I wonder the practicality of wearing a ball cap, but it is tipped back so it does not obstruct his vision. I remember a stupid song about wearing sun glasses at night so maybe it is an American thing.
I wonder who the hell or what the hell the Silver Tips were as I am not familiar with the name. I believe it must be a sports team of some kind. The cap is ripped, stained and frayed, but looks comfortable and obviously something that has spent many hours upon Sam’s head. I believe the ball cap at one time was white, but now it is a dirty, molted beigeish tan.
The four of us walk forward to the head of the convoy past the three idling HEMMTs and to the front of the idling snow plow. Rick leans out of the window of the snow plow and gives us a head nod. I hope he appreciates the bullshit I went through to get the Princess cleaned up. She is lucky I just did not shoot the spoilt bitch and be done with it.
Blocking the path is a group of about 10 or so youths dressed in hard plastic BMX protective gear. They chose their spot well as it is beside one of the metal anti-vehicle barrier posts that we have to use explosives to remove from our path. I see one of our soldiers standing nearby with a short section of det cord and a small blob of off-white plastique.
I wonder if the youths realize that there are two soldiers armed with a belt fed machine gun standing in the dump bed of the snow plow. I note the two soldiers in the dump bed are currently in MOPP 2 posture. It had not even occurred to me that the exposed soldiers would have to be in MOPP gear to survive the fall out.
The colonels join Nikola, and I waiting for the youths to make their move. I notice most of the youths are white males. Couple youths in the back that look as if they may be either Asian or Native American. One of two of the youths might be female, but at this age, it is hard to tell and the bulky protective BMX gear makes positive identification of gender difficult at best.
The tallest and biggest of the youths, a blonde white male that I guess is about Shack’s age comes walking out from the midst of the youths.
“Who’s in charge,” the tall youth asks.
Sam and Jamal step forward from behind Nikola and I. “We are,” Sam says simply. “What do you want?” He says without preamble.
“We want food, medicine and weapons now,” the tall youth says.
Sam sighs with a resigned shake of his head. “Son, did you think before you decided to stop a heavily armed convoy? How well do you think that toy plastic body armor is going to stop a bullet.”
The kid whips up his head. “You wouldn’t dare shoot kids. It’s against the law,” he says with a defiant shout.
“Yes, it was at one time, but just in case you have missed it, we are in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. It’s not illegal to shoot stupid people just because they bother you anymore. I am disinclined to give supplies or weapons to punks who get in my way and demand things like misbegotten children.” Sam pauses to take a breath.
“We can just either drive through your piss poor road block or drive around it. That troop there,” Sam points at the young soldier with the det cord and plastique blob, “is going to blow this metal post out-of-the-way. I suggest you not be standing next to it when it goes off.”
Sam seems more irritated rather than mad, but I do not know him well enough to judge his mood. Jamal, however, does and looks at the assembled youths, their bikes, and the position that we are in.
Jamal whispers something to Sam too low for me to hear. Sam nods at Jamal and then looks at the kid again. “Son have you been eating? Did you stay out of the fall out or were you out in it?”
“What does that have to do with anything?” The kid asks, but I can see his eyes are deep milky blue pools of worry.
“Well my astute friend here has noticed that you and most of the youths that we can see seem to be suffering from the first stages of radiation poisoning. Jamal has noticed the red rim around your eyes, the fact that you are losing your hair in large clumps and the sores on your neck and hands.”
The kid looks hurt, and he mumbles something to a smaller youth standing near him. “You are right we are sick, and we have not had much to eat. We found some vending machines, but those were emptied pretty quickly. The stores that have not been looted already are either full of zombies or claimed and guarded by gangs with guns.”
The kid looks at his feet, and continues talking. “Some of the gangs will trade pretty girls or ammo for food, but no one is giving up guns. There’s been a few turf wars going on around here. But it is not drugs this time it is food, ammo and medicine. Most of us are sick and have been puking our guts up. We have lost three kids already, one died this morning.”
“Son, how many of you are there,” Sam asks.
“This is what we have left,” the kid says. “There are 16 of us. We kept the youngest kids out of the rain, but those of us that were out in it are mighty sick. We also refused to trade any of our girls, and have been chased a few times by gangs trying to steal the girls. We saw that you have women with you and let them have guns.”
“Uh son, I do not let the ladies have weapons. The ladies all came with their own weapons, and they can use them well,” Sam seems a little embarrassed.
Sam looks at Jamal. “Do the best you can Jamal, but we gotta move fast before we get swamped by zombies or worse attracted to the engine noise.”
Jamal orders the kids loaded into the back of the dump truck. The largest kid whistles and three younger children, all girls pushing bikes run out from some trees. Sam orders the bicycles loaded on the HEMMTs.
Just as, Jamal is urging the kids to run faster and to get into the truck, the soldier on the driver’s side of the dump bed and armed with a SAW, shouts “contact left!” The soldier lets rips a short burst with his SAW. The hot, bright flare of the muzzle flash, looks like a tongue of flame, caressing the side of the snow plow.