The end of Winter was official. The entrance into spring was a bittersweet fact that stuck in the minds of everyone in the Zone.
The first sunrise of spring would not cause a stir of emotions among the populous, only a select few took time out of their surviving time to notice the date. Even still the emergence of spring wasn’t warranted as a serious threat, the undeniable fact that the undead would again rise didn’t strike fear into the populous like it had in earlier year, Citizens became comfortable with the Idea that the enemy’s numbers had dwindled from the winter onslaughts by the Corpse corps, even if it was only an idea.
The bright sunrise caste a curtain of light across the runway, reflecting off the windows in the observation tower. Zyracuse slept peacefully during the earliest sunrise since the snow fell like ashes during a volcanic eruption, heavy and never ceasing. Mornings first light crept into the homes of those still sleeping, till finally the light found its way onto Meaker’s boot.
A knock came to the door of Jacob Smith. I singular knock, that neither said hello nor goodbye. In the mind of Smith, the knock symbolized the beginning of another day. Smith was outside his home in five minutes, walking towards the homes of his squad to disturb their rest as well. It took no more than ten minutes more for the entire C Company of Corpse Corps to assemble at a military attention on the runway.
The large square formation of men and the few women stood perfectly at attention. Rodriguez stood centered and in front of the other platoons to be dismissed by his CO and then fall into his place with the others. Meaker was no where in sight, yet all stood perfectly at attention, fearing to fall at ease even for an instant. Too many times had he stayed in the shadows, waiting for people to screw up so he could conduct PT. Only a minute passed before the LT came marching out from the shadows behind Rodriguez. Meaker stood facing Rodriguez who quickly saluted, the LT returned the salute and Rodriguez quickly marched to his position.
Meaker did an about face and observed his formation.
“Good Morning Charlie Company” Meaker said sounding cheerful for someone who was awake since the crack of dawn.
The entire company in unison and with no hesitation plainly said their ” Good morning Sir.”
“I hope you all slept well, Because in case some of you hadn’t noticed… and I know theres those among you who haven’t. Spring started last week, That means plenty of dead things for us to kill again will be walking around out there. Winter gave you guys a break, PT was light and the Enemy barely fought back. So to get you out of your Lax routine I will be conducting PT this week.”
The mention on the LT and PT in the same sentence made the whole company uneasy, none showed any change in emotion however. The only member of Charlie Company who did not share the same feelings as the rest was a new addition to the Corps. The FNG of C Company’s name was Danny Wells, No more than eighteen. The skinny pale boy looked like he had never been outdoors in his life, Clearly not fit for Meakers platoon.
With a big smile Meaker clapped his hands together and happily said ” Lets begin.”
For the next three hours the runway was Company C’s hell. By the time PT had ended it was just turning 0700. Everyone but the LT dragged themselves back to their homes to get ready for the day ahead. Jacob Smith collapsed on his bed, sweat beads coated his face making it all the more uncomfortable. His children still slept silently in the room he had added. He remembered something the FNG of the Company had said while doing PT.
” Man, This PT’s Killin me” Grunted Danny Mid push up.
“Shut up and push, this’ll save your life someday” Smith had said to the new kid.
On his walk from his home later during the day he found himself having a conversation with a member of another Company. The short and bald man would have never survived in C company.
” You guys were out there at four o’clock this mornin?”
” yeah, We were out there for three hours. Let me tell you, I ever hear any of you guys bitch about how crappy it is in your platoons I’ll kick your ass.”
“Well that explains a lot, isn’t your company the one that had all those heat strokes last summer?”
“yeah…” Smith could remember the summer before, a bunch of fresh recruits had found themselves in the company. Meaker had worked five people to the point of such exhaustion that they had heat strokes. People passed out and threw up all over each other constantly during that summer. Till finally the LT had abruptly stopped conducting PT and Rodriguez do it instead. Rodriguez was former 10th Mountain, The PT was mild compared to what they had endured before. Everyone was convinced that Slater had ordered the LT to take it easier on the corpse, reminding him that they weren’t military. Smith knew better, Smith knew that Meaker had eased up for other reasons that he did not know.
Danny Wells sat in his home, a small box made of sheet metal and plywood. Barely big enough for two people, his arms hung limp next to him, his whole body was jello, the muscles burning with an intensity worse than any gym class he had ever endured before. A knock came from the side of his hut located in the corner of terminal A. there was no door on his shack, but Smith thought it polite to at least knock before peaking inside. Smith was Danny’s Squad leader and was making his rounds to see how his people were doing before walking off to Volunteer for other chores in the Zone.
“How are you doing Danny? I saw you having trouble in PT today.” Smith spoke empathetically, he knew Danny wasn’t going to make it at the rate he was going.
“My arms are killing me Jake, The LT is gonna kill me. I’m not cut out for this, maybe I should have a talk with the Captain and get transfered to another Company.”
Smith frowned ” You just need to hold out for this week, its hard for all of us, but trust me theres not a better platoon you could be in. After this week things will be different, you’ll see. You just have to stick it out.”
Danny frowned, he didn’t want to hear it but even the FNG knew about C Company’s reputation. The only question in his mind was if he could bare six more days like today.
“Alright Jacob, I’ll try.”
The whole week went without any problems.
The following weeks Friday a Storm was washing through central New York. It was raining and thunder could be heard in the distance following the lightning that cut through the sky. The few guards that were outside acting security were smart enough to have pots and pans outdoors with them, catching all the water they could. Danny Wells found himself indoors with a few of the older members, playing poker and drinking Zone made moonshine. He had survived Hell week, as it came to be known, and was assimilating into the Company. His only test left was combat.
Meaker was inside of the Captains quarters, a call for help had come from outside the wire. A few Bus loads of people from another blue zone farther north had been attacked by newly thawed Z’s and sent out a radio transmission for help. They had been heading to Zyracuse before they were attacked.
“No sir I’m not saying send the whole damn cavalry, just my Company to help get those people out of there, I know your conscience wont let you just abandon those people. Thats my field of expertise, Just give me the order Slater and I’ll take a small contingent out there to rescue the survivors”
“Meaker I don’t know how the hell you got to be Sergeant in the Army if you didn’t know how to take your damn orders. I said no, your lucky I don’t fry your ass for going out on Christmas like I specifically told you not to.”
Meaker couldn’t help but smile a little ” I don’t know what your talking about sir.”
“Yeah I’m sure…” Slater said sitting in his chair. After thinking for a few seconds he sighed.
“Alright, a Small contingent, take your new kid out so he can get some experience in… If the shit hits the fan head back to base, Don’t pull your usual hero shit. Dismissed”
Meaker saluted and walked out satisfied, He already had his Combat gear on.
“Man this is totally Fucked up! I ain’t goin down there fuck that shit, no freakin way man”
“God damn it if you don’t shut your fucking hole I’ll make sure you never open it again!” Meaker had Danny by his collar. The group was standing on the roof of an old gas station, the street before them was a sea of Zombies, there were three bus’s in the street, Islands of sanctuary in a sea of death. The poor fools atop the bus’s had gotten themselves trapped, and would either be rescued, or wait till the ever persistent cannibals below got to them.
Meaker looked at the seemingly hopeless situation, trying to formulate a plan. His thought process was diverted when he noticed the zombies had turned to face his position, while he was lying on his stomach to be in cover Danny had been careless enough to be standing during a series of lightning flashes. The zombies had seen them.
“God damn it Danny!” Smith yelled at the kid, a stern smack landing against the back of Danny’s head.
“Alright fall back people, maybe we can lure them away. Smith, Rodriguez, Stay here till theres few enough Z’s that you can handle getting these people back to base. I’ll take dumb ass to be the bait” Meaker ordered while readying his signature weapon.
A look of horror was in Danny Wells eyes even as Meaker pulled him along down to street level to go Zombie fishing with a mob of around two hundred. The second they entered the road they were the main object of affection. Smith and Rodriguez could only watch as the numbers thinned to follow Meaker in another direction.
” Shit SHIT!!” Danny screamed in terror, he worked hard trying to open a locked door in an attempt to find safety. The LT turned and rolled his eyes at the boys pathetic attempt to kick in the door before finally doing so himself. Danny quickly bolted inside the building. Meaker, With a S.W.A.T. shield on his left arm, stood in the doorway blocking the dead from entering the building.
” Check out the building, secure it and find us a way out!” Meaker yelled to Danny who was curled in a corner. Meaker stood in the doorway pushing against the wave of Zombies with the shield, keeping them just outside the door. Fingerless and rotting hands grabbed at him from around the shield, a skinless face pressed against the glass view port.
The pale boy frantically ran the other direction quickly looking in corners and carelessly stepping over bodies that could have reanimated any second. Danny found an exit on a far side of the building and hammered at the pad lock. Instead of securing the building he panicked and went straight for the exit.
Meaker kept shoving, using all his strength to hold the dead crowd at bay, his foot slipped once or twice before he quickly readjusted. Without warning the LT felt added weight to his right shoulder, He went to turn his head and brushed noses with a Ghoul that was gnawing at his shoulder, luckily the teeth could not penetrate through the Kevlar he was wearing. Meaker cursed out of fright before head butting the Z, giving him enough time to stab it in the brain through its left eyeball.
On the other end of the building Danny was just opening the door of the building when he was grabbed from behind and felt a sharp pain on the back of his neck, his whole body went limp, Danny gargled as the last of his final breath escaped his filling lungs. He died before hitting the floor. His body fell quickly thudding against the concrete.
Meaker slowly disconnected his fist from the back of Danny’s neck removing the olive drab knife,He had cut the spinal cord in one stab, The blade punctured Danny’s esophagus causing blood to drain into his lungs. Meaker looked at the kids dead body “Nothing personal kid, but I cant have you around if your going to be getting people killed.” he said coldly before stepping over him and running back to where the bus’s had been.
Smith and Rodriguez had done their jobs. Meaker arrived to lead them back to the Zone, the rain was still coming down hard.
“Sir, wheres Danny?” Smith asked as the three ran back towards the Zone with the survivors trailing behind.
“He didn’t make it.”
“Shit. Did you see him get bit sir?”
“I took care of him…”