The Midnight Hour

November 5, 2016 at 10:38 am (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath) (, , , , , , )

Night had fallen over the ill-fated group. It had allowed, with the aid of Devon’s scouting, the party to creep through the back alleys and yards and avoid the larger clusters of the walking dead.

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It surprised Devon, when Icepick insisted he switch out and take point, but it also led him to believe they must be nearing their goal.

 

Making sure Duggen kept pace stayed Fallen’s major goal. Devon respected him for his concern. Duggen’s wound had left the man sweating and struggling to keep up, but after a short break and downing a few bottles of water they found, the man had caught a second wind and appeared more determined to see the mission though…whatever it was.

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The midnight hour had passed before Icepick called back to him in a harsh whisper. “Come on, you slackers, we’re here.”

 

Devon led the way to where Icepick crouched down behind some concealing bushes.

 

“A fucking mall. You brought us all this way for a mall. What the hell is this, Dawn of the Dead?”

 

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“Not the mall, dumbass. See that car dealership located right across from the Autozone? We scouted it out. The place is full of batteries and the gear you need to jumpstart them. We can each grab a vehicle and load up a couple of trucks with all the batteries they can hold. Once we get back, we can have the biggest working fleet in Tucson. We’ll be able to control this burg.”

 

The others had caught up and were listening. Duggen said, “But what about all the biters? This area is crawling with them. There must be a thousand out there.”

 

Icepick’s pale face flashed a grin in the darkness. “Relax, you think I’d come all the way out here without a plan?”

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“Well, let’s hear it,” Devon said. “We won’t be ruling over shit by our bodies becoming bite sized chunks of flesh riding in zombie bellies.”

 

“Simple, we’re right near the Santa Cruz wash. It’s filed with dry bushes and debris. Fallen and Duggen will work around to the wash and light some giant fires. The walls of the wash are forty feet high so they’ll be safe.”

 

“Once the fire distracts the freaks, Devon and I will break into the Autozone. We’ll gather the rechargers and batteries while Fallen and Duggen make their way to us. We’ll have four batteries charged up by then. We’ll replace the batteries, load the trucks and go.”

 

“I can see a lot of things going wrong with that plan,” Devon said.

 

“You got a better one, Captain Cockolded.”

 

Devon let loose a grunt which was almost a growl. “Yeah, we head back with our lives.”

 

“So said the pussy of the group.” Before Devon could retort, Icepick ordered the other two men off. Turning back to Devon, he said, “Come on tough guy, come show me if you got what it takes.”

 

“I’ll be showing you something before the night is over.”

 

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Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath

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Give Em Enough Rope

October 22, 2016 at 4:03 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Uncategorized, Zombie) (, , , , , , , )

Devon kept up the quick pace he’d started and they moved through the gathering undead before they could build into a force strong enough to stop their progress. The snipers concerned him, but soon they had left both them and their zombie fodder behind, but the other undead soon became their real problem.

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His mace came up and smashed through half the head of a fat zombie wearing a torn football jersey. He moved to his right and took down three move, but others moved toward them to take their place. His arm started to feel like he carried a railroad tie. He’d already made three runs through the clinging undead before the living snipers took out their ride and with Duggen’s shot arm still leaking blood with each step, they remained only a few degrees faster than the undead following in their wake.

 

Icepick caught up with him. After smashing the heads off two more lurching zombies, Devon turned and addressed the man supposedly in charge of their already ill-fated mission.

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“We need to hole up and treat that arm. It won’t hurt to let us catch our breath either and reassess our situation.”

 

“Reassess huh,” Icepick snarled over his shoulder as he drove one of his namesakes through an animated corpse’s eye. His pale flesh looked like it glowed in the sunlight as his eyes took in the abandoned buildings surrounding them. “Alright over there. Let’s hit that hotel.”

 

The hotel had two floors and they headed up to the second. Two of the walking dead were quickly dispatched and then Devon kicked in one of the doors.

 

The room had two beds. Duggen went to one and the other was placed against the door after they dead bolted it shut.

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It didn’t take long for the moaning and banging on the door to begin, but Devon moved toward where Fines had begun to bind Duggen’s wound.

 

Fines’ dirty face looked up at him and Duggen winced in pain. “The bullet passed through at least. I guess that will give him a chance.”

 

“A chance…” he let the words hang. “I hope that’ something we all have.”

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He moved to where Icepick gazed down at the alley which ran behind the hotel. “It is a bit of drop, but the alley doesn’t appear to hold too many geeks.”

 

“We can make ropes out of the sheets,” Devon replied. A silence stretched, but then he asked, “So can you let me in on what our mission is now?”

 

Icepick had eyes like frozen snow and they regarded Devon. “If you live long enough to get me to our destination, I’ll let you in on it. I can tell you one thing, you’re going to want to be part of this.”

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Devon walked away. “I serious doubt I want to be part of anything you’re involved with.”

 

“Just make some ropes from those sheets.”

 

“Give em enough rope,” he said.

 

“What did you say?”

 

Devon turned and looked back at Icepick. “Give a man enough rope and he can hang himself.”

 

“I’m not sure what’s that’s supposed to mean, Avis, but we’ll see who swings in the breeze at the end of this.”

 

“We sure will,” Devon answered under his breath before the sounds of tearing sheets began to compete with the growls of the rotting corpses who hammered the door.

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Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath

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Runners

October 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , )

Devon road in the armored SUV with Fines, Duggen, and Hutchins, while Icepick drove. The only good thing about being the runner remained he didn’t have to sit bitch in the back, because he might be asked to sacrifice his life running through the streets at any moment.

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He’d already raced ahead to lure the undead away three times. He felt amazed to still be alive, but each time as he hid panting in his sweat soaked clothes, he’d felt even more amazed when the men had bothered to pick him up.

 

As they drove through the desolate trash ridden streets, Devon noted how quiet the streets looked. “There’s something wrong here, guys.”

 

“What too you mean?” Fines said from up front in the shotgun seat.

 

“Where are all the dead? I’ve only seen two over the last 4 blocks, there should be twenty times that number.”

 

“Yeah, he-” Icepick began, but got cut off when the front two tires of the ride blew and he struggled to keep the ride under control. “Son of a bitch!”

 

“You aren’t kidding,” Devon yelled. “Look!”

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All around them the doors must have been rigged to open somehow for undead came pouring out of the fronts of over ten stores.

 

Icepick slammed on the breaks. Once they had skidded to a stop, he yelled, “Grab whatever you can, We’re all runners now.”

 

Devon was the first out of the ride. As the runner, he traveled light, and besides his leather vest, he only had his medieval mace and single pistol with him. He hurried to try to race through the closing gauntlet of zombies before it grew too late. Screw the others, they can follow me or not. He didn’t care enough about the commoners made criminals to stay to hold their hands through this trap.

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He watched as the moaning walls of dead flesh moved to cut off all escape before him. He would be the first to reach the gap, but it might not be enough. He shot two of the lead zombies, to the right, in the head and smacked back another with a left handed blow from his mace.

 

His actions proved enough for him to burst past the clinging grey fingers before the undead met in the center of the road.

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Zombie Masses

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He heard shooting behind him and cursed when a bullet tore past his ear like an angry wasp. He heard Icepick cursing. The cursing grew in volume when living snipers took shots at their group. Devon ducked down and for once the presence of the undead aided him, for they might have blocked the snipers from getting a clean shot on him.

 

He looked back and saw Hutchins wasn’t so lucky and two blasts took him in the back. This, more than anything else, distracted the undead. They paused to tear his screaming form to pieces, which enabled the four remaining men to race around the corner. Sporadic gunfire spat at them and Duggen cried out and almost fell when a bullet tagged his arm.

 

Devon turned, but Icepick yelled, “Keep going. Scout a way. Fines, grab Duggen and tell him if he can’t keep up, he’ll be left behind.”

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“Shit, man,” Fines started. “We’re heading back to the base right?”

 

“Fuck we are. We were sent out to see this and we’re not heading back until it’s done. Now get your ass in gear.”

 

Devon shared a look with Fines, but then jogged ahead to find a way to get them through the gathering undead.

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Zombie Skin

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Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath

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No Choices

October 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , )

His boots hit the pavement like heavy slabs of wet mud. His mind waffled between hopelessness to rage as he let Fines and his two droogs escort him to Edward’s apartment.

 

Again, he gritted his teeth, he shouldn’t be allowing himself to become trapped in a situation worse than he already found himself in. He didn’t like Fines, but he’d fought with these men, for more than a while, killing them because of the violent fallout of Tracy cheating on him, might be more than they deserve.

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Shaking his head, he figured they deserved worse. He knew these men, but still he held his hand.

 

He marched in front, with the three guards behind him. Seconds before he reached Edward’s door, the door creaked open revealing a room far too dark for any reasonable human to function.

icepick

He saw a flash of long platinum hair and knew at once that the bastard known as Icepick had opened the door for them. Icepick looked paler than a ghost. His ivory skin almost glowed within the stygian room. He favored Devon with a devil’s smile while twirling one of his namesakes with his long luminescent fingers.

 

Despite Icepick’s unnerving presence, Devon forced his sight to land on Edward. The man looked as grizzled as Icepick remained tight. A wild flowing mass of dark hair couldn’t be distinguished from his ill-maintained beard. This along with his stocky build gave him the impression of a man created from the mating of a madman and a rabid bear. Only his eyes looked sharp, a deep liquid brown that bore into Devon until, he had to fight not to shudder under the gaze.

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“Devon, have a seat.”

 

He moved forward. His legs pushed through small stacks of garbage, most of it consisted of junk food wrappers and half crushed aluminum cans.

 

After he claimed the chair in front of Edward’s cluttered desk, the man-mountain began. “You and I both know that despite his learning, Nathan is a spoiled fool. We all do stupid things and suffer for our woman. Tracy has made you suffer, but you took it out on Nathan, which since he’s Delia’s sister, means that now I also have to suffer if I want to continue having my bed warmer, but be spared the headache.”

 

He folded his hands and leaned forward. “So you understand you have some payback in store.”

 

“Which is?”

 

Edward chuckled and leaned back. He made a hand gesture toward Devon. “To the point this man, isn’t he Icepick?”

 

“Seems like. Other men might bitch and whine and make excuses. You aren’t going to do that are you, Dev?”

 

“Is sitting here part of the payback, because I can go and come back when you all figure out what direction you’re headed.”

 

Edward grew fierce and slammed his fist on the table. “Watch your mouth or we’ll give you an extra one! We know exactly what you’re going to do for us or die trying. Icepick has something he needs to acquire. It won’t be an easy mission or a safe one and guess who was just hired to be their runner?”

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Devon didn’t answer because he had to try to maintain his composure. A runner was the most dangerous job a man could get. It involved sprinting through the streets which needed to be traveled in order to lure the dead out. They would chase after the runner in order to let the team pass through the area in greater safety.

 

“Why no vehicles?” he managed to ask.

 

Icepick answered. “We’ll use them to get close, but where we’re going no vehicles can enter.”

 

“So what are we doing?”

 

“You’ll find out if you live long enough,” Edward answered, “Now get the hell out of my face. You have two hours to gather your gear. You’re heading out tonight.”

 

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Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath

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See Emily Slay Part II (Year Two)

October 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , )

“Get down!” he father yelled and all of them dropped to the dirt.

“Can you tell how many there are?” Jewels, whispered.

“It might just be one,” he said back. “But that doesn’t mean there might not be more around, or his shooting isn’t summoning more dead-heads.”

Zombies on the march

A loud rattling was heard next. Emily couldn’t tell what it was. It sounded like rocks banging around in a rolling trash can.

Spencer yelled, “Look out!”

It took her a second to understand why, but then she saw it too. Somehow the shooter had freed the zombies and they began to lurch toward her family.

“Alright no one panic,” Her father said over the growls of the approaching undead. “That’s what he’s going to expect us to do. He also is going to expect us to shoot the zombies, which will help give away our position, so right now no one fire. You got that?”

No one argued with him and the zombies drew in closer.

“Dad, what are we going to do?” Spencer asked.

“Hold tight,” their father said, while looking through the scoop of his rifle. “No one shots at my family,” he said under his breath. When the zombies drew within twenty feet of him, he took out his dagger and rapped it on the barrel of his gun. The metal tings proved enough to draw the attentions of all three undead and they lumbered his way.

Ten feet.

Five Feet.

Emily panicked. “Dad, what are you doing?”

Emily with Bat

“Stay put and aim your rifle to the left side of the baseball dug out other there.”

She did as he asked.

Then, when the zombies stood over him, her father bolted to his feet. Shoots rang out, but only impacted the zombies, as he father backpedaled a few feet. He brought up his gun and fired. Emily joined in with her rifle.

“Emily keep firing. Jewels, grab Spence and retreat. I’m aborting our mission for today.”

The unknown man fired off a few rounds, but then retreated. Her father grabbed her arm and soon they did the same. For a few tense minutes they retraced their steps while keeping the fleeing forms of Jewels and Spencer in sight.

Desert

Once they reached the desert he took them up to the top of a small rise and stopped. Her father looked back the way they had come.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Whoever that was is following us.”

“But why would he do that?”

“I hate to say this sweetie, but he might want you.”
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See Emily Slay, Part I

October 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , , )

Her dad had stayed an individual. He thought every issue through like he was the first man on earth. The past decisions of others or expected norms meant nothing to him. He made every move his own way, the way he believed to be best. Someone else might call him stubborn or ego driven.

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But maybe that was why they were all still alive.

Case in point. Instead of her father and Jewels making a run into northern Tucson and leaving the siblings behind, her father insisted that they always stay together…always. He had told her once that having her and her brother along on all the raids kept him from doing anything too risky and that alone might have helped keep him alive.

Emily had just turned thirteen and her once thin form had begun to show the first signs of womanhood. Spencer teased her about it and she couldn’t wait until he was a teenager so she could return the favor. She sighed as the moved through the giant saguaros. That would take three more years and she wondered if there was any hope that they could somehow live that long.

Emily's got a gun

Her rifle lay heavy over her shoulder and the sun felt like it already roasted her flesh, but she wasn’t about to complain. She left that to Spencer.

“Damn, maybe we should just do this at night. It’s so hot, I feel like I’m walking on lava.”

“Don’t be a moron. The dead are more dangerous at night. We’d have to be-”

Her father made the sign for them to stop and he and Jewels crouched down behind a large prickly pear tree. Her dad whispered something into Jewels ear and the woman dropped back to them.

She said, “Emily, your dad wants you to move up to his position carefully.”

She did as he asked, without question, keeping low. Upon reaching him, she saw that the desert opened up into a sun baked park below them. Maybe a half dozen of the walking dead lingering there.

Zombies

“Em,” he said, looking her way. “We need to cross through this park. It’s safer because we can see them in every direction for hundreds of yards. Yes, the gunfire attracts them, but I think it’s worth the risk to have our path cleared and more importantly give you some more target practice.”

Keeping her thoughts in check, she replied, “Okay dad and leaned the barrel of her rifle against the top of one of the cactus. Taking aim she dropped the first one.

That’s the easy one, she thought to herself. Once they heard the shot, the others began to move her way. Lurching and stumbling through the brown grass. She dropped another one, but it took two shots. The next one took three.

“Dad, I don’t want to waste too much ammo.”

“I’d rather waste every bullet we have than not have you know how to shoot. We can find more ammo. I can’t find another you.”

Biting her lower lip, she took out the next one in one shot. They moved closer.

“You need to shot faster, honey.”

She missed the next shot, but then put a bullet between one’s eyes. Two remained, but they were too close. She went to fire, but her rifle was empty. “Dad?”

“Don’t panic, you know what to do. Draw your pistol.”

She did and killed one with three shots, but the last one was only feet away.

Her father put a bullet through its head. “Come on,” he said and motioned for the others to follow. “That was great shooting, sweetie,” he said as they hurried across the park.

“But you had to kill the last one.”

“Yeah, but you could have done it, if you needed to. I would never take any risk with your life.”

He drew out the last words as he halted. Before then the southern side of the park had been converted into farmland, but had three spaced out walkers chained to the ground.

“Why would someone put walkers in the middle of a place they’re trying to grow food?” Jewels asked.

“I think they’re using them for scarecrows,” his father said, just before gunfire broke out.
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Betrayal

October 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , , )

This serial started 9/16/14

Max hurried over to where the girl, Jennifer, had dropped the ladder into the alley, but she had already scrambled down the back of the next building.

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Damn it, He cursed silently. I just saved her. How could she betray me like this?

Reality set in and he realized she’d done what she’d done. The only thing that mattered would be for him to find a safe way out of this mess and with him perched on top of a roof of a building surrounded by a few hundred zombies, this might be no easy feat.

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Looking around, he didn’t see much on the roof that could help him. He had his sword and a few knives, but he needed to figure this out. He did a quick circuit of the roof. As he had suspected, far more zombies trashed around the front of the store than the back, but there was still plenty back there. He might have been able to fight his way through, but again, he might not.

Then he spied the entrance that led down into the store from the roof. After looking down and insuring no undead lingered inside, he hurried down the ladder.

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Dust and the flailing arms of zombies veiled the light and created a grey obfuscation, like his eyes looked through a dirty glass. Any hopes of finding weapons evaporated when he saw he was within a former flower store. Besides a few pairs of shears and some old boards, there wasn’t much he could have used as a weapon.

Then a thought came to him and he moved toward the rear door of the place. His stomach churned as he thought over his options. No need to delay, he thought. It will just give them time for more of their kind to show up. They always do.

After grabbing the door handle, he took a deep breath and pulled. “Damn it,” he cursed out loud this time, when he saw the bolt was still driven home. He pulled back the bolt and then banged his free hand on the window a few times. “I’m in here you losers.”

That got their attention and with a quick jerk he opened the back door.

The zombies came pouring into the store, but Max had already started moving. He dashed to the ladder and sped up to the roof. After sneaking to the back of the building, he looked over the side.

As he had hoped, the undead back there had funneled into the building. After giving them another minute, he felt himself smile once only a few remained in the alley. Max climbed down and only had to hack through a couple to clear a way out for himself. Two minutes later he sprinted back to him apartment, cursing Jennifer the whole way.

* * *

The commotion down the street must have lured most of the zombies camped out around his apartment away and it was a simple matter to climb his emergency ladder to the second level and then pull it up after him.

It had been a tiring and horrid day and he collapsed onto the bed he’d been using without even taking off his boots. For a while he allowed himself to wallow in self pity, but soon that got old. After throwing an old tie-shirt over his eyes, he willed himself to sleep, and hoped tomorrow might be a better day.

* * *

He awoke an indeterminate time later. Darkness had fallen across the desolated city, but for some reason a chaotic jumble of lights played over his bedroom wall. Outside it sounded like the zombies were going crazy and that was what had probably woken him up.

Rushing to his window, he froze. Somehow his building had been lit on fire. Flames rose and already licked at the second floor windows. But what grabbed his attentions was a giant monster pick up truck driving in wide circles just beyond the fire’s light.

The window rolled down and he spotted Jennifer at once.

Her angry voice screamed up at him. “This is what you get for killing my friends, you prick!”
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Snapping Jaws and Fallen Hopes

September 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , , )

Whipping around, Max drove the hilt of his sword straight into the zombie’s forehead. It didn’t kill it, but it drove it back a few steps and slowed down the other two moving in behind it. After stepping back a pace, Max drew back his sword and stabbed it through the first one’s jaw. It dropped quickly.

A hack through the neck brought down the next one. The last one received the point of his sword through its eye. But killing these zombies stayed the least of his problems.

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Behind him he heard the girl scream again.

After concealing himself around a corner, Max stopped to catch his breath. The woman’s screams had one positive effect, they kept the zombies focused on her, but how the hell was he going to be able to help her in a world without working vehicles.

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He watched as she struggled to keep the zombies at bay from the top of the overturned ambulance. How did she end up in this fix? Hell, how has she stayed alive all this time?

His eyes scanned the stores and apartments that lined the streets. No businesses offered any help. Then he saw a maintenance shed behind one of the closer apartments. He rushed that way. Again the girl’s screams aided him for he was able to dash through the few zombies that weren’t focused on her. However, his actions drew their attentions and they began to lumber his way.

For some reason the padlock dangled on a chain, leaving the shed door open, which suited him fine until it almost cost him his life. A lone bald head zombie burst out of the shed and grabbed a hold of his shirt. It smelled like a corpse filled with shit and he saw that the man wasn’t bald. Instead he’d been scalped to the bone of his skull.

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Max tried to backpedal, but the moans behind him grew closer. The thing went in for a bite, but Max held out his sword, two handed, with the blade aimed at the undead’s jaw. Teeth snapped on his steel, but soon the zombie gagged. Max pushed the zombie into the shed until its back hit the wall. One hard shove later and his sword decapitated the freak from the tongue up.

He had no time to catch his breath a good ten zombies still headed his way. Soon there would be no escape. Then he saw it. An extending steel ladder. He sheathed his sword and then quickly snatched it up.

He couldn’t avoid giving a battle cry as he rushed from the barn and barreled the front of the ladder into the first zombies face. It went down with a broken neck. It proved an awkward weapon, but zombies were awkward fighters and he bashed two more over and rammed a fourth. This was enough for him to break through the accumulating pack and he ran with his new prize toward a building he has scooped out earlier.

* * *

“Hey,” he yelled toward the woman, who was luckily still holding her own. “I’ve got a ladder here. I’m going to drop one end onto the ambulance and when I do, crawl over it to this building.”

She stared at him, not answering and for a moment froze and he saw the zombies gain a foothold on the side of the vehicle.

He dropped the ladder. Some forgotten God must have granted him luck that day for it landed on the side of the ambulance.

But still she didn’t move.

“Come on, please. If they grab a hold of the ladder, I won’t be able to retrieve the ladder and we’ll need it to get out of here.”

She used what might have been a climber’s pick as a weapon. Chestnut hair just touched her shoulders and her petite face gazed at him wide-eyed like Max was the first human she’d ever seen. But when a zombie climbed onto the ambulance behind her, she jumped onto the ladder and jogged across.

It surprised Max how quickly she crossed and with a twist of the ladder he freed it for the hands of a few zombies that clutched at it. Looking over his shoulder, he saw her narrow frame trembling and he wondered when the last time she’d had something to eat. “Please help me pull the ladder back.”

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She paused for so long, he didn’t think she would, but then her hands grabbed the far end of the ladder and with her help, he was able to pull it onto the roof of the business they stood on.

Feeling unsure for the first time, he stretched his hand forward and tried to smile, while below him the zombies worked themselves into a frenzy. “Ah, hi, I’m Max.”

She didn’t take his hand. “Jennifer.” After another long pause, she added, “What are you going to do?”

“You mean to escape?” He pointed. “See that building over there?”

She nodded.

“I was going to drop the ladder over to it. I was thinking that if I make a shit-load of noise up front here, you could sneak over there and then I’ll rush over there too. By the time the zombies realize where we are, we could already have jumped into the alley behind the store.” He tried to smile again. “I have a safe place and a little food. We should be able to get there okay.”

His eyes followed her trim body. It stayed hard to guess her age, but he figured she might be a couple of years younger than Max’s twenty-one years of age.

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“I go over first?”

“That would be best I think.”

“Okay.”

A minute later he had the ladder ready and dropped it to the next building. He watched her scamper across. Once he was sure she had made it, he moved over to begin to bang on the front of the store, but before he reached there, Max heard a loud rattling behind him.

Jerking his head back, he saw that the girl had dumped the ladder off the roof and already sprinted for the drop off into the alley.

“Son of a bitch!”
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I’m Not Sure I Want to Find Out

December 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm (Apocalypse, Eternal Aftermath, Horror, Zombie) (, , , , , , , , , )

Pain roared through him. He had seen suffering, usually at the hands of his new family. He had even dealt out more than his share. But he had always felt distant, removed. Now that he had become the man being hurt, everything changed.

Normal things like watching the ants move along the floor of the stifling shack, seemed light years away from him. The pain owned him, made him remember his parents and how they had always seen such promise in him. It reminded him of school and that nice older woman at the convenience store. All that was dead now. Everyone was dead. He knew that, but they still loved him. They would never hurt him. They were his new family.

A slap across the face caused Haeds to look up at his capture.

“Earth to crazy-ass loon. Are you going to answer me or should we go to finger number three.”

Haeds looked from the grizzled face of the evil shitkicker, down at the stumps of two of his bleeding fingers.

Brown spoke again. “Listen dumbass, I don’t have time to screw around and it’s all your fault. If you think you can still enjoy being king of the zombies without fingers I guess that’s your choice.” The clippers moved over the middle finger of his left hand.

“No! Wait, stop!” He panted. He didn’t want to tell these losers a thing. He was the king of these wastes. But one thing Brown said did make sense. He didn’t want to be a king without fingers. He would tell them. What would it matter? They would all be dead soon anyway.

He spit out some blood that had been lingering in his mouth. “I got bit, okay. But instead of the bite killing me, like it did everyone else, I survived.”

Brown became dead serious, but at least didn’t look like he was about to hurt him anymore. “So what happened?”

“I got sick—you know the fever, like everyone else. But I got better. It didn’t kill me.” He rolled up his sleeve. The twisted bite scar had been a mark of pride for him. I badge of honor that always reminded him that he was better than everybody else. He began to enjoy his role, despite the pain. He would teach this low-life who he was really dealing with.

“But why did it happen? What makes you different from everyone else?”

“I’m just better than-”

After grabbing him by the collar, Brown yelled in his face. “Knock it off or we are back to the clippers. Why… are…you…different? Something must have happened to you when you were younger.”

“Looking up into his eyes, Haeds said, “When I was a kid I got real sick.”

 

*         *         *

Spencer was just about to try to force his way into the shack, when Brown beat him to the punch and opened the door. Sweat and grim covered his upper body and large sweat stains had pooled under his armpits.

“So how’s shit stain in there?”

“He’s going to have to give up the piano,” Brown said, while reached for a water bottle that Wart handed him.

Spencer wrinkled his nose. “Huh, did you learn anything? Come on man, the shit’s hitting the fan with Godzilla force around here.”

“I think I figured out why the zombies don’t attack him, but that isn’t going to do much to help us fight off four hundred Walkers.”

“You don’t know the half of it. Like everyone’s leaving.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Spencer pointed toward the rides a Brown took in the sight of the frantic packing. Brown opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the appearance of Mel, Flinch, and Rollie. Flinch pushed Rollie’s wheelchair through the clinging desert sands and was just able to make it to them. It looked like Mel had scavenged some gear along the way. An extra rifle hung over his shoulder and he had a few bags filled with other supplies.

“Nice to see you have Devon’s shotgun,” Spencer said, addressing Rollie.

“I pretty much gathered everything I thought I’d need. Not being able to walk puts a whole new perspective on an army of undead heading your way.”

As if coming out of a daze, Brown looked over at Kimberly. “Weren’t you with Ann? How is she? Is she safe?”

“Alexander was with her. She’s more hurt up here,” she said, while pointing at her blonde head. “He’s a psychiatrist and right now that’s what she needs.”

“But everyone is leaving. How do we know if she’s being loaded into a car right now.” Shooting a glare at Spencer, he said, “Has anybody tried talking this people out of this. Devon wouldn’t want this. I’m sure he has some plan or something brewing.”

Two people jogged toward the growing group. Spencer knew them just enough to remember their names. James and Ditch. James had a lanky body. He kept his curly hair short, and tended to play with his thin mustache when he spoke. His buddy Ditch was from Germany and favored a sledge hammer for a weapon. He had the body for it and only wore a tattered blue vest over his giant muscles.

“Gentlemen.” Brown said once they have drawn near.

“Are you guys bugging out like the rest?” James asked.

“We haven’t really decided what we’re doing.”

Ditch spoke up. “Yah, if is all the same to you, ve vould like to, ah…” He looked over at James, “Ve would like to do vhatever you’re doing.”

“Well… as soon as we figure it out we’ll let you know,” Spencer grumbled.

 

*         *         *

Devon stared at the ladder reaching up to the score-box twenty feet over their heads. The zombies had been cleared from the room, but this left them with only a handful of bullets left. The gymnasium doors were locked behind them, but Devon knew that wouldn’t help if they still had to fight their way out of town.

“So are you ready for this?” he asked Emily.

“What, I can fight my way through a ghost town filled with the walking dead, but I can’t climb up there?” She looked at him and then back up at the elevated room. “Honestly, I’m a bit worried about what we could find.”

“I know the feeling. I’ll start up first. If we run into trouble, my pistol will work better than your rifle in close quarters.”

It was the longest twenty seconds of his life, but Devon made it to the smashed out window that the top of the steel ladder rested against. Before his head had reached the opening, he was already hearing muffled noises. Grunting.

“Slow down, it sounds like that freak might be hiding zombies up here too.”

“Be careful.”

As he drew near the lips the sounds changed. They were more urgent. He could almost make out words. “Oh the hell with it,” he mumbled, but then louder said, “I’m coming up. Please don’t blow my head off.”

At first, he could see nothing in the stygian room.  For a moment, he balanced awkwardly on the ladder while he fumbled for his flashlight, all the time trying to keep his gun pointed into the room.

The sounds, he could call them voices now, grew more frantic. They still sounded like they came at him from under five layers of blankets. What’s going on in there?

Finally his light pierced the darkness and he almost tumbled off the ladder when he saw what the room held.

“Emily, there’re people in here! From the looks of it, two men and a girl.”

 

Want to find out how Devon began his battle against the Apocalypse?

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