“I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. What happened? How did I get here?”
“I was hoping you’d be able to answer your first question. The rest of your squad brought the two of you back; she’s in real bad shape.”
“She who? What do you mean ‘the two of you’? Who else was hurt?” Allen pleaded with the doctor.
“Sasha,” Krezner replied. “She’ll be lucky if she lives through it, but then again, maybe she’ll be luckier if she doesn’t. We had our hands full with the two of you. I did the best I could to set your legs, but we lack the supplies to help Sasha. The best I can do is try to alleviate some of her pain.”
Charlie Danton lay in the shadow of an overgrown overpass watching a wide and shallow stream. The road in between was cracked and looked sticky in the July sun. The burned out hulk of a tractor trailer lay on its side further down the road, the skeletal remains of a great beast from some other age. A twisted guard rail sat along the stream’s bank rusting into the earth. Across the stream a lone doe wandered out of the tree line and lowered her head to drink.
Amidst the hanging weeds and vines Danton raised his rifle. He thumbed off the safety and put his eye to the scope. The doe’s eyes drifted along the opposite shore while she drank. Danton stroked her fur with the crosshairs and watched. Birds twittered overhead.
The brush at the doe’s side rustled slightly. She straightened her neck and pricked up her ears. It rustled again, farther down the bank. She turned slightly to watch out of the corner of her eye. It rustled again and she turned to face it.
On the other side of the stream Danton saw her turn and caught sight of her full silhouette. He pulled the trigger. The doe reeled and fell in heap upon the smooth stones at the water’s edge. A small rabbit shot from the undergrowth and darted down the bank before diving into a corrugated drainage pipe. The birds abandoned their roosts and took to the sky.
I should have gone with the others. We heard about the evacuation, but I didn’t go. We had plenty of notice. I had time to barricade the doors and windows. I had to protect my home. It wasn’t the ghouls that I was afraid were coming: I’ve seen the movies and figured I could stop the zombies if it came to that. No, I had to stay and protect my house from looters. I wasn’t about to pack up and move and leave all of my things behind. I couldn’t take my 65 inch plasma with me, so I stayed behind to stand guard. That was the biggest mistake of my life. The rest of my friends all headed west. They figured that they would get away from the heavy population of the east coast. I hope they made it.
I quickly boarded up all possible entrances to my home. The only way in or out was through a second story window that was over the porch roof. As far as I knew, those ghouls couldn’t climb and I needed to be sure that I had an emergency escape route. Next, I had to make sure that I was ready for whatever may be coming. Whether they were trying to steal my PS3 or eat my brains, I was going to be ready. I quickly realized that I didn’t own many weapons; you just can’t kill a zombie with a stereo speaker. I had to improvise. The legs from my kitchen table would work nicely on both the living and undead. The table was one of the few pieces of furniture that I owned that wasn’t made of cheap particleboard. When you’re spending thousands on hi-tech toys, there’s just not much left to buy furniture. I kept two of the solid oak legs by my side at all times, never knowing when I would need to use them.
Clipboard knew something was up as soon as the 18th Squad came trudging down the boulevard. They were moving too slowly. The 18th had been becoming one of the best: they were going out farther and returning with more kills than any other unit. They were cold, efficient, and ruthless—just like everyone else in Corpse Corps. They did not carry guns. They didn’t need to. Their ZEDs—zombie elimination devices—always came back covered in gore.
They were never very loud, but today, they were noticeably quieter. Parker, Uptown, and Vannawhite all piled through the checkpoint and reported their kills. They marched silently on through toward the baggage claim to stow their weapons. Holey came through last.
“How many’d you get, Holey?”
“Sixteen personally. I split a couple with Uptown. Give them to him.”