They came in waves; some running, others hobbling, some were actually crawling, limbs useless; I wanted to puke.
You know how soldiers always say if you weren’t scared you’re a damn liar. I’m here to tell you I was terrified; I’ve never came so close to shitting or pissing my pants for hours on end. There’s no disgrace in saying it; no one wants to die like that. One fucking bite; you’re off to the races, first comes the fever, then body aches and puking, blood oozes from every pore; coma and then death. Or if you’re really unlucky you get eaten alive; now there’s a pleasant thought; I’ve seen it, why do you think I’m so fucking scared all the time.
When the war first started you got the benefit of the doubt; now one scratch and they shoot you or put an axe in your head. I’d rather have a friend axe me than turn into one of them. Kind of came as a silent agreement over the months between the ranks that if you got a bite, no matter how small it was a death sentence; carried out on the spot. Some groups waited a few days to see if you started getting sick, having a high fever, or puking any running blood. That came to an end when some infected would just make the jump without ever showing a sign of anything wrong. One minute you’re having a conversation and the next all hell breaks loose and a bunch of people get bit or clawed and then you have to kill everyone with broken skin and zombie matter in any wound. It didn’t take much; a drop of blackened blood, piece of grey flesh landing on any open wound; incredible how little it took to become infected. We had one guy that wasn’t even in the front line that had a drop of black blood blow over the wire fence landed in his left eye. We put him down two days later as he made the jump.
Sorriest day of my life was when I was walking guard duty and I heard a moan from just over the wire. I looked but I couldn’t see a thing. I walked to the first row of wire and could just make out a small figure on the other side of the mounds of barbed wire and concertina. I pulled a few rolls apart and moved slowly between rolls of razor sharp wire towards the small figure with out stretched arms bagging to be rescued. Ten feet away the little thing jumped into the wire; teeth snapping, finger reaching for a piece of fresh flesh. I brought my AR up and centered the sights on the little girl’s forehead; squeezed the trigger and jumped like I was the one shot when it went off. Grey material sprayed over the black asphalt top of the street. She slumped into the wire and laid still; black goo dripping in thick ropes of glutinous glistening strings pooling into black lakes that looked like crude oil. The smell whiffed over the wire; a combination of rot, defecation and stagnant putrefied water. The little thing was still twitching as I made my way zigging and zagging through the rolls of wire towards the outer rolls. A whole crowd had run to the sound of the rifle blast and stood watching as I pushed my way to the broken body. The closer I came the more morbid the scene was; the gelatinous black liquid glistened in the morning sun, casting bright silver blinding light into my eyes. As the distance shortened I realized the figure I’d just killed in my mind’s eye wasn’t the beautiful little girl in a fluffy pink dress lined with white lacing I envisioned; matted hair, grey flesh with blistered open sores oozing black puss and grey stringy globs of white grey goo sliding down to crusted blackened stockings that once were white. Black knee length dress with a big collar now stained with black blood gelled clumps from the collar down the long sleeves ending in little clawed hands with razor sharp nails. The once lovely girl now zombie was still occasionally twitching; I raised my axe and drove it into her head splitting it wide open; liquefied black grey brain matter gushed out on the asphalt joining the pool of gelatinous putrefied matter slowly running in a slow stream towards the eager mouth of the storm drain. I puked on my shoes.
At first no one knew what was going on; Rise of the dead is what the newspapers and TV anchors were shouting at the top of their lungs. As the crisis grew most people just hid away in their houses hoping it would blow over in a few weeks like the flu; they soon joined the ranks of the undead. It finally got to the point the local news was showing the police shooting the zombies in the street. We lost a number of our Officers before they discovered only a head shot would stop a zombie. Within the first month the National Guard was called in to backup the Police; what a mistake. Trigger happy Guards men started shooting anything that was walking or crawling; can’t blame them; they were scared to death, just like the rest of us. The National news was freaking out calling for full U.S. forces to put down the festering undead. Oh they did finally; they brought in all the big guns, rockets, tanks; the whole nine yards. Blew up thousands of undead and soon to be undead; only thing was none of them seemed to realize that you had to put a hungry zombie down with a precession head shot, not blow them apart and create thousands of crawling land mines to step on and get bit.
Two months into the zombie wars a new and deadly weapon joined the ranks of the undead; just as undead but twice as effective were the new zombie dogs, cats and all kinds of animals. They’d been bitten by the undead and made the jump to the infected. No one was safe in the barricaded buildings and sand bagged walled bunkers. The dogs and cats would clear the obstacles and be inside the bunker as though there were no defenses at all. We very soon realized roll after roll of wire; concertina, barbed, chicken, hog wire was the only way to slow them down enough to get a head shot. Do you have any idea how many rounds of ammunition it takes to hit a running zombie dog before it bites numerous people; axes, Tommy hawks, all kinds of old weapons made the come back to weapon of choice when the bullets ran out. They ran, jumped into the wire not seeming to realize they’d be wrapped tight; fighting to get untangled only wrapped them tighter. Lucky for us; make your way slowly through the wire and put an axe between their eyes was the only real way of handling them. It took time for us to become callus to the snarling, snapping of the jaws; growls, screams as they fought their hardest to get to one of you. It was terrifying; nearly all of us were traumatized, just hearing a dog bark or growl would loosen bowels.
Our food stores ran out in the fourth month; we knew they would and had been rationing food for weeks. Five scared volunteers slowly made their way through the wire and hugging the side of the nearest building headed down Aspen street towards the closest super market anyone could think of. Ten blocks; might as well have been ten miles. We were all standing on top of anything that would get you high enough to see over the barricades and wire. A few even had binoculars; unbelievable what some put in their bug out bags. The small group made it one block; still within unaided eye sight when they jumped the first zombie. Instead of putting an axe to its head; someone shot it between the eyes. The zombie dropped like a rock. All five turned back towards the wire as one; a couple even pumped a victory fist in the air. The bark of the gun announced to every zombie within ear shot that dinner was served. The first to get to the group was a huge German Sheppard and a medium sized boxer. We could clearly see three of our people go down under the weight of the Sheppard. It was a massacre; the first human zombies hit the group like linebackers no more than thirty seconds after the shot. It was all over within a minute; a pile three or four deep with countless numbers undead were fighting to get to the fresh meat; at least it blocked the grisly view as they were torn to pieces. One huge zombie fought his way out of the feeding frenzy and walked away eating an arm ripped from a shoulder. Funny; no was hungry for dinner that night.
The fresh meat got all the zombies in the area wound up and we were under attack for eighteen hours straight; the first eight rows of wire were smashed flat to the ground with tangled screaming zombies tearing at the wire; they just never seemed to get tired and lay still; only after smashing their heads would they stop fighting and snapping. Three additional high wire rolls had dogs and cats tangled; nothing is more nerve racking than the sound of snarling dogs and screaming howling cats ripping fur and limbs to get to you. The last two rolls of mixed wire had two dogs and one little zombie that had crawled and weaved its way through the openings in the wire but was finally stuck tight. They were dispatched with a single bullet from our reserve ammo stores. Another wave would have broken through and put us all in hand to hand combat with the undead. It was voted that following morning that further forays into the zombie zone had to have armored protection; wasn’t a single dissenting vote.
After a large scale attack like this the worst was clearing the wire. We counted two hundred and thirty five human zombies and sixty two animal zombies tangled in the wire after the attack. Each had to be put down and then cut out of the wire without damaging the wire roll. The tricky part was not getting bit or clawed by a nearby zombie as you dispatched the ones you were working on. A few we had no choice but to use our dwindling supply of bullets on. Bodies too tightly and closely wrapped in the wire to safely clear; out stretched hands grabbing and possibly ripping open our hazard suits. Nearly every gunshot brought more zombies hoping for a quick meal. We’d have to retreat slowly through the wire rolls as the zombies hit the first wire and charged as far as they could get before the wire stopped them. Some would make it right to behind you; a shot would ring out and the roll of wire just behind you would sink to the ground. It was nerve wracking work. We would cut the zombies from the wire and another crew would carry the pieces outside of the furthest roll and dump them in a pile. The pile was growing and becoming a problem; it was blocking the view of any attacking zombies from that direction. Someone decided we should dump gas on the pile and burn the huge pile down a bit. The pile was lit up and bellowing smoke clouded the camp.
They came out of nowhere; the smoke covered their approach and they were in the wire and on us before even a single shot rang out. Brainless; but even the undead recognized a tactical advantage when they saw one. Seven zombies tackled the body crew and took them down without losing a single undead; five more made the charge over the fallen wire hopping easily over the out stretched hands of their tangled comrades and hit two of our hazard suited people cleanly taking them down and tearing through the flimsy material; sinking teeth deep into the fresh pink flesh. Already on guard but blinded by the smoke our sentries opened up with everything they had; all twelve zombies went down along with four wire clearers by stray bullets. We lost nine people in five minutes and fourteen since the failed mission for provisions. Retreating into the relative safety of the camp the survivors were summary stripped and closely checked for bites or any wounds that would signal the need for an immediate execution. The clamor of gun fire brought a new wave of undead into the already damaged and flattened wire; three making it to the last roll of wire and through grasping clawed hands were put down with axes. One terrier made the jump using a fallen zombie in the wire as a spring board over the last defenses and into the camp. Some scattered running for their lives; others stood and cornered the small dog and hacked it into pieces. We were very luck not to lose anyone in the last attack. New suits were put on; double tape covering rips and tears from our escape from the wire. More men assigned to the cleaning crew; we had to repair the wire as soon as possible. One more attack and the camp would be easily be breached; we were all in danger of joining the undead.
The camp was put on lock down; no noise, no fires, no lights of any kind. We worked five hours straight to dark; managed to get four rows of wire stood up and reinforced. The whole camp was on high alert through the night, no one slept; we all were watching the remaining wire. At dawn we resumed clearing, stacking and reinforcing our defenses. Again at dusk the camp went into lock down; dark and quiet as a tomb. Ammunition reloading and any cooking were restricted to day light hours; three hard days of work brought our camp back to nearly original condition, short of the kinked and weakened wires.
Ten days after the onslaught of the hordes of undead we felt like we were ready again. Our loss of man power could never be gained back; we had no hope of anyone being alive in our immediate area. Occasionally in the beginning after this small group built the first camp with defenses that held against the initial acts, you’d hear a shot or two as hold outs in barricaded homes were overrun. Later nothing; not a peep that would lead you to believe there was anyone left outside the wire.
There were a few things that a callused defender had to notice and comment about; the undead didn’t draw any flies. Not a single fly would land on the rotting corpse of an undead. Fact of the matter, there wasn’t hardly any flies. The undead ate every piece of anything that they thought might be worth eating; and maybe a whole lot more that wasn’t. Lots of new things were discovered and noticed; not a lot to do inside a small camp unless it’s under attack. One thing for me that was hard to take in the beginning was the lack of airplanes, the sound of traffic, not a single combustion engine roar to fill the air; it was so quiet.
Sitting at a small table having lunch someone whispered “I hear a truck!” then a few heard the diesel engine in the distance they freaked out; it was a surprise they weren’t shot on the spot.
We were saved; the Authorities had finally arrived and we would be free again, free at last. The camp erupted in war woops and shouts. The diesel engine was getting closer and the pop, pop of a few rifle rounds as it made its way closer to the camp. All the camp was at the wire straining to see the first tank come as it came around the furthest corner we could see too; nearly six blocks down the straight stretch of Aspen street. We all held our breath; the tank was a yellow school bus with heavy wired windows and reinforcements on every inch of its surfaces. Zombies were clinging to every purchase they could find; the hood and the bus top were piled four deep with zombies. A bottom zombie would slip; loose hold and a whole pile would fall off, hit the ground and fight one another for a foot hold to get back on. The big yellow bus chugged down the street towards our camp; so slow from being loaded down with bodies it could barely move at a walking pace. The yellow monster stopped ten feet from the first roll of wire and cut the engine. Two shots rang out and a couple zombies fell from the windshield directly in front of the driver. Our people with binoculars shouted “It’s a woman” then fell silent as zombies closed the gap. Six hours we stood and watched the bus; covered with zombies like ants on the mound; a few would realize the camp was there and peel off the bus and stormed the wire. We finally saw that to clear the bus we had to get the zombies to attack the camp. I walked slowly through three rows of wound wire before the first zombie saw me and jumped from the bus and dove into the wire; soon the bus was clear and the first two rows of wire were full of thrashing zombies caught like flies to fly paper. We put down the zombies and cleaned the wire; the driver of the bus once it was abundantly clear that we’d put downed the entire horde, opened the door to the bus and stepped out on the asphalt. She was gorgeous, shoulder length strawberry blond hair; tanned perfect skin, and a figure that showed she’d been eating right as the rest of us had ate little or nothing for the last few weeks. She took command of our cleaning crew and box after box of food and ammunition was carried off the bus. When it was finally unloaded she jumped in, fired the diesel up and backed the bus out of the way of the firing lanes. She locked the yellow bus up tight grabbed her M16 and followed me through the labyrinth of wire to the inner camp.
We couldn’t help it; she was grilled and questioned until the wee hours of the morning. What we found out was that there were millions of zombies and their numbers were growing exponentially by the day. We were crushed. She told us she was maybe two maybe three days in front of a huge wave of zombies that were eating their way west over running every fortified camp they found. There was no way of stopping them in her opinion. We’d have to flee or join their ranks.
We didn’t have much time; we’d all need to have transportation fortified like the bus. There was a school bus about two blocks down fifth street; abandoned across both lanes, door wide open and empty of children. The lights had been going the first time I saw it; we’d have to jump it to get it started and then move it down to the camp. We broke into teams; team one cut the wire from the walls to the outer perimeter. Team two with a rifle team (thanks to our new supplies) went after the school bus. Team three found two SUV’s (the big ones) and pushed them back to the camp. Rose our savior and bus #1 driver turned out to be a self taught welder and with two teams help would wire the second bus and SUV’s into fortified transportation. She would also rig all four vehicles with no climb wire rolls so the zombies couldn’t climb or hang on the vehicles. We knew right where to get the no climb wire; the County lock up was four blocks down and a couple streets over, Roses bus was put to immediate use to bring rolls back we cut from the fences.
Team one completed the wire cuts and rigged heavy lashed cables to points along the rolls of wire; pulled they opened and spread the rolls of wire apart, making an exit opening we could drive through. They finished just as we arrived with the second bus, the SUV’s were pushed through the wire less than an hour later. The huge battles over the last week had depleted the number of zombies in our area and we only had two encounters, quickly putting them down with axes; nice and quietly, not a single dog came after us.
Work went on round the clock; we spread every piece of concertina wire we had left around the front of the camp towards where the onslaught should be coming from. Welding smoke filled the air and sparks flew in every direction; tanks were filled, supplies lashed inside of both buses. The SUV’s had little surprises welded to their bumpers with quick releases.
Here’s the plan; we’d learned from experience that zombies came in waives. The first wave of zombies were always the worst; they were the ones that were in the best shape, no parts damaged from being infected; like arms bit off, legs broken. These were the ones that ran full blast into the wire; could jump the first row like OJ Simpson; the dogs and cats were always with this group. The second wave was much slower; damaged goods. Slow; dragging legs, arms missing or ate to the bone in areas. The third wave was very slow; they’d show up after all the shooting and axing, during the clean up. Crawling, dragging themselves along with one arm, mostly going in circles with one leg; they were pathetic but deadly. You’d think they were dead, ignore them laying on the ground; then you’d get a bite on the ankle; your dead. We strung all the wire we had to catch as many of the first wave as possible; not to kill them but to entangle them in the wire so they’d spend the next years fighting to get loose. We’d hold fire on these until the wire was over whelmed and full of bodies. Then load the busses; leaving fire teams to knock down as many as possible as the zombies climbed over their buddies trapped in the rolls of wire. Pull the wire openers and drive West to find a ship to take us out to sea; trying to avoid any conflict that we could along the way. If we were lucky we’d be able to pick people up on the way.
Rose was wrong; a good thing. She was four days in front of the army of zombies. We had just enough time to make a few adjustments to the perimeter wire and finish the last upgrades we figured out as the buses and SUV’s were being fortified. It was an amazing thing to watch. Nine O’clock on the dot we began to hear them; moaning, you could actually hear teeth gashing together. It had the effect of turning your legs to mush and bowels to water bags. I’ve never heard anything like it; ever been to the zoo when the lions roar; something deep in your brain goes off like a land mine. All you want to do is run and never stop. This was much worst; how much worst we were about to find out.
The whole crew were manning the walls; this was our last stand in our home; a home that had saved us to this point and we were going to give them a good fight before letting them own it. The ones with the binoculars stood on the highest points to give Intel so we could move people along the walls and fortify areas that looked to be the hardest hit; then make a run for the buses. What we didn’t expect is the lookouts reaction to what they saw; must have been horrible to have a close up view of what was coming. Gasps, moans of unintelligible words, tears dropping like rain, one gal threw her binoculars down and ran for the buses screaming; took two men to keep her from locking the doors leaving the rest of us locked out.
Six blocks down the road, just at the bend, we could see running zombies; no real direction just making sure they kept in front of the pack to get the first good bite in on anything that flushed and ran. These were the ultra fast, the runners, the jumpers the climbers, the ones that you weren’t going to get away from. I have to say it was an amazing thing to see; they didn’t even get around the full corner when they saw the wire and live fresh meat in the distance. The first real wave was clearly broken into multiple fractions of the fast zombies. The real athletes were closing the gap to us so fast I don’t think you could have hit them with a rifle; fast doesn’t even give justice to the speed. They were flying towards us; next distinct group was the normal fast zombies; I couldn’t have out run anyone of them, but fast is the correct word for this group. Next came zombies like I will be if I get infected; running but not like a sprinter, they were running as fast as they could; none of them wanted to get left over scraps. Behind them was the draggers, cripples moving as fast as they could get their broken limbs to take them; they went on forever, they just kept coming around the bend.
A mutual gasp went through our group; this was going to be a very short battle. The first wave hit the wire at top speed, jumping the first couple rows of wire and landing anywhere from on top to almost past the third roll; we held our fire. I stepped backwards, you couldn’t help it; fuckers made it half way through the wire in a single leap; we hadn’t seen any zombies like this before. They started to pile up in the first to the third rows of razor sharp wire; zombies now were now using the fallen and tangled to walk on and were in row four and five of wire. The order was given and everyone let loose with as many bullets as we could fire making sure it was a clean head shot; we slowed them down but dropping them in place just built the pile higher and the fast ones used the growing pile to jump farther into the wire closing the gap with incredible speed. Four minutes of firing was all we had; they were now falling at our feet and we were seconds from being overrun. One zombie leapt so far he went over our heads and landed behind the firing lines. I shot him in the back of the head as he skidded to a halt and tried to turn around to come back for us. Hit the buses a scream went out; grenades by the hand full’s were tossed from the first row of wire all the way out into the street; which was now full of the slower horde. Thank god for eye protection; rotting black grey flesh of zombies rained down on us as we fought to get on the buses before they overran the walls. Without eye protection a bunch of us would have to be shot and thrown off the bus in short order.
I was third from the last in line for the bus #2; turned out I was the last. Zombies broke the walls and caught the last two at the door. Doors were bolted and reinforcement rods were slammed in place. Engines were started and as the first SUV inched forward the lashed cables pulled the wire apart out the back of the camp. We followed the two SUV’s into the street clearing the last of the wire. Both SUV’s split and from the back around the spare tire areas sprang out rolls of concentina wire. The SUV’s roared around the zombies tangling them in the wire; when they had as many as would stick in the sharp wire they cut the lines and joined the buses rolling down Aspen Street heading West out of town putting as much distance between us and the mobs of zombies.
I could go on about the small battles we fought on the road to the West Coast, but that’s for another story and it’s time for all of us to hit the hay and get ready for another full day tomorrow; so good night and sweet dreams, see you all tomorrow morning at chow.
Epilog: Rose and I have been married for two weeks now; the service done by a clergyman we didn’t even know we had in our group. We’ve made land fall once; zombies everywhere so we keep sailing around looking for a zombie free zone; even picked up a few people on small boats, man were they glad to see us steam over the horizon. I think we can hold out for a few years if we can keep finding good water and the catch from the sea provides enough for all of us. Us…… oh that’s right; we’ve added three new members to us in the last month. That makes 37; I wonder if we will ever inhabit the world again.
I truly think not; the zombies number in the millions and unless you kill them they will last until they rot completely away; from what I’ve seen that could take decades or more. The last zombie I saw on dry land as we sailed from the docks looked like he waved good bye to me; god in heaven I hope that’s not what I saw.
From the Ramblings