If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 8, Part III
Mack looks up. “Yeah, here.” In his a canteen pouch on his hip he has about 10 v40 mini-frag grenades packed in there. Pulling one out and grabbing my med kit I make my way back to the U Haul. While finding a good line of sight from the Bug to the fuel tank I unzip my med kit pouch. Rummaging through I found the spool of dental floss. Carefully jamming the grenade under the grating between the side step and fuel tank I align it so the pin will pull out in the direction of the Bug making sure the spoon will fly off the grenade when the Zombies trip the line. I tie the knot on the round pin and leave the dental floss pack next to the grenade.
At the Bug, Mack is trying to start it. Tinker Bell is still acquiring targets and burning through ammo, there are shell casings littered all over the hood of the car and on the ground around her with four empty magazines. The Bug can be heard straining to crank over. Because it ran out of gas the fuel lines are probably empty and need to be primed.
“You going to get that thing running?!?” I yell. I could see him nodding through the windshield. Picking up targets Tyler is moving closer to Tinker Bell. Her suppressor is smoking and you can see the heat coming off the upper receiver.
Just then the Bug fires up coming to life. Mack gave a loud long blow of the horn. Tinker Bell rolling off the hood and gathers her empty mags in one motion. Not something you had to worry about in years past but it’s not a bad idea now to conserve assets like that nowadays.
“Get the Bug past the sedan and I’ll run this trip wire.” The Bug crept gingerly along the the shoulder past the abandoned vehicles. Turning back towards the U-Haul I step off some uneven pavement and my back gives out. Collapsing to my right knee and in intense pain I gasp for breath. The moans are louder than the sound of the Bugs engine, they’re getting closer. Using one of the bumpers I manage to get to my feet and stumble to the U-Haul. Grabbing the floss I make my way back over to the first car in the pile up. I see the tops of the heads of the Zombies coming up the road. Tying it off I make sure the floss is tight, but not piano wire tight. Carefully stepping over the wire I go back once again to the fuel tank.
This is the trickiest part. With my knife I carefully pry the ends of the safety to make the cotter pin a straight piece of wire with only the slightest of bends on one side giving it just enough tension to hold but allowing it to pull through when the zombies get there. If there’s too much of a bend in the pin the floss will just break and not trip the grenade. Making sure the whole thing is precariously balanced I peel off and try to make my way to the Bug. On the way my hip make solid contact with a quarter panel sending an explosion of pain up my spine and I drop again. This time I go all the way down landing flat on my back. I can’t move. My spine is in spasm and immobilizing me. Laying there I wonder if the blast radius will get me or will there just be a loud bang then I’ll burn to death from the cars catching on fire. As I pondered this, the sound of suppressed shots coming from the direction the Bug began to get louder.
“Are you on vacation or did you want to get back to work? Do you need a minute to take a nap? Cause I’m not sure we have that kind of time.” Opening my eyes Tinker Bell is standing over me with her hand extended.
“No, I said. I can’t get up that way. Help me roll over.” Pulling on my belt and shoulder she rolls me on to my stomach. Slowly pulling my knees under my chest and using a car as a crutch I begin to rise.
“A little quicker please.” Looking back to the horde she begins firing off some rounds. “They’re about ten meters from your trip line.”
I take a deep breath while rising, I can see the Bug just ahead. “Fuck it, let’s go.” I say wincing with pain.
“Tyler! Let’s move!” Tinker Bell yells to Tyler as he zips past us getting into the Bug. Falling into the back seat I let Tinker Bell take shotgun.
Flooring the little Bug it responds with an aggressive acceleration faster than any Bug, ever. Mack is working through the gears bouncing from second to third and back down again. The engine screams in that German sputtering as we are making our way up Decker Canyon towards the peak of the Santa Monica mountains. Thirty seconds later we hear the explosion from the mini frag go off. Looking back I can see the U-Haul explode. The truck rises into the air and lands with a crash. The fireball grows and in a chain reaction other cars in the pileup begins to catch on fire and their fuel tanks begin exploding, taking the horde of Zombies with them. Turning forward I slump down in the seat. The glow from the fire illuminates the white interior of the bug from a half mile away.
If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 6, part I
Approaching the base I have expectations of paradise, but turning the corner and heading towards the main gate I see what looks like a base under siege. The American flag is visible at full staff from the highway on the flagpole but there are parts of bodies strewn across the road and littered where mortars have and large caliber ammunition had torn humans apart. Parts of the original fence had been knocked down and trucks with razor wire are filling the gaps. As they open the main gate you can see where the perimeter had collapsed several times while trying to hold the Alamo. We roll through the gate driving past three men and a woman with rifles at the low ready. When inside two of them let their weapons hang on their slings and they push the gate closed.
Mack stops the vehicle and kills the engine. Getting out with the box holding it above his head. “I got it!”
The woman looks at him. “You’re an idiot.”
“What? I knew it’d be there.”
“Only an idiot drives through a Zombie apocalypse to get a horn lever for a car when you CAN’T USE THE HORN!” She yells at him. She’s right, I mean when would you need to use the horn? It will just attract more Zombies, it’s not like there’s traffic. I got out of the passenger seat purposefully leaving the rifle on the seat. “Who’s this?”
“Easy, Tinker Bell. This is Guy.” Now that he said that I realize she looks remarkably like Tinker Bell. She has short blonde hair in a pixie cut and her nose has that slightly upturned cute pointy thing like Tinker Bell. She has a petite little body, the sleeves on her shirt are cut off and you can tell by her arms she’s very fit. Changing the subject Mack got back to important stuff. “The Bug is now complete, absolutely vintage pristine. Cut me some slack. So I like to complete the projects I start.”
“Really, that rule must not apply to KP.” Tinker bell wasn’t relenting.
One of the guys chimes in. “Would you two knock it off.” Turning his attention to me he takes a step. “Where’d he pick you up?”
“Right at the auto mile in Westlake.” Pulling my backpack out of the Bug, I set it on the ground. “I came through the Upper Las Virgenes Preserve from the Valley.”
Tinker bell spoke up. “If you don’t mind stripping down we’d like to make sure you haven’t been bitten.” After a moment of confusion, not sure what I should do I start to take off my shirt. “Whoa, hang on. I’ll go inside and you men can deal with this.” Slinging her weapon she heads into the barracks.
Turning to me Mack offers. “I kind of broke the rules by allowing you to get in the vehicle before I checked you out. I figured he was okay he was being followed by a small crowd of them.” Mack said reaching into the Bug and taking the M16 I had used, I knew he was attempting to deescalate the situation.
“Hi, my name’s Billy O’keefe. Sorry, but it’s in all our best interest if we clear you so there’s no doubt about the virus. If you don’t mind stripping down we’ll make it fast and painless, no one will say ‘squeal like a pig’. Promise.” He says chuckling. I began to pull off my clothes. “This here is Anthony, that’s Steve and Tyler is the one hanging by the gate.” They all nod.
I look at Anthony. “Paisan?”
I nod. “100% My parents were from out side of Tuscany and Sicily.”
“I thought so, with a name like Guy. Gaetano right? My people were from Naples.” He had dark hair, all of them about the same length as Mack. He’s a solid guy with a slight East Coast accent.
“Yeah, everybody calls me Guy. Nice to meet you. I finished disrobing and stood there in my birthday suit like a jackass waiting for them to say I was all clear. Billy made a hand signal to spin around. I turn my back to them.
“Cool. Thanks, sorry for any embarrassment we might have cause you. You can get dressed.”
After putting my clothes back on and grabbing my pack I follow them into the barracks. It’s dark inside. Only light from the windows create pools of light on the ground. There are weapons and ammo strewn about in various states of preparedness. Some are neatly organized into piles where there’s a weapon with it’s ammo in cans set up to grabbed and put into action immediately. There are several different sized rifles apart and look as if they are being cleaned or modified and some are damaged and being scavenged for parts.
I walk over to one of the carbines. It has been modified, I recognize the parts they used on it from some of the work I had done about special operations. Picking it up I’m careful to follow range safety rules. I need them to trust me and nothing will make them skittish about me more than looking like a rookie not knowing how to handle a weapon. I look at Tinker Bell.
“Mind if I look?”
Shaking her head. “No. Go ahead.”
I eject the magazine, pull the charging handle back locking the bolt to the rear and make sure it’s clear. The action is pretty good and is well maintained. I can tell it’s been recently fired because it isn’t spotless, there’s some carbon build up. I turn the dial on the Aimpoint optics and the red dot is absent, I figure the electronics were fried in the sight from the EMP. Raising the barrel I point the muzzle towards the window. The 3x scope is to the side, I flip the lever and it snaps into place easily magnifying the far end of the base. I can tell this had been a special operations weapon because it has a quad rail with a free float barrel. Not standard government issue, that’s for sure.
“It’s a good rig, but there’s no optics so we’re sticking to iron sights. You serve?” Tinker Bell asked.
Mack chimed in before I could reply. “He says he wasn’t in, but he sure does know how to run a rig because he was taking head shots with iron sights at 100 yards.”
“I’ve had some training.” I hit the ping pong paddle and send the bolt forward. In a safe direction I press the trigger. Hearing the click I set the weapon back down exactly as I had found it. “Nothing formal, just a little time on the range.” Satisfied with my answer Tinker Bell throws a couple blankets and a pillow on an empty bunk.
“You can take this bunk. We need to head to the South end of the base for a bit but we’ll be back for supper. Mack, why don’t you stay here with your buddy and make sure he gets comfortable.”
They grab their rifles and head out the door.
“Hey, you wanna take a shower?” Mack was pointing to the door. “The water is probably still fairly warm. We have two tanks that are painted black. One for salt water and one for fresh so they get warmed up during the day, you have to get wet with the salt water and rinse with fresh. Not ideal, but it saves water and it’ll get the grime off.”
“Yeah, that would be great.” I threw my pack on my bunk following Mack outside.
“You want some clean clothes? We have some stuff that might fit you.”
“Thanks Mack, that’d be great.” As her heads off I begin peeling off my clothes and throwing them into a pile, just then I realize just how bad I stink. He was right the water was pretty warm. Warm enough that I didn’t care that it was salt water. I was standing in a shower and had soap and shampoo. Rinsing off with fresh water was more than I could have ever dreamed of.
“Here’s a towel and some clean stuff. Let me know if anything doesn’t fit.” Mack yelled into the stall.
“Copy that Mack, thanks.” I was trying to finish up quickly and get dressed. I don’t want to become the guy who takes Hollywood showers.
If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 4, Part II
“Stay here.” I said looking into her eyes, I wanted to be sure we made eye contact and she fully understood. She nodded. I went back down as fast as I could and kicked at his hands on the rung knocking him off. This time when I got up to the landing the ladder had no weight on it and the springs allowed me to pull it up out of their reach.
“Are you okay?” It was a stupid question taking all things into consideration.
She started crying. “I think so.” We were standing on a fire escape with several Zombies on the street below and with who knows what horrors inside the building. This woman had just been raped and then witnessed her attackers being murdered in front of her and I ask if she’s okay.
Trying to get her mind off the immediate past and my stupid question.
“Let’s move up higher.” I said.
“Okay.” She took a breath. “I’m fine, really. Thank you. I’m good.”
I couldn’t worry too much about her mental state right now, I needed to get us to a safer location ASAP. I’d try to fix things later. This wasn’t exactly the time for sensitivity training. One problem at a time. I started to climb the stairs and make my way to the roof. It had been a six weeks since the power went out and just when we were starting to get used to being in the dark ages the Boogie Man showed up bringing flesh eating Moaners.
Opening my eyes I see Wilfred lying in the middle of the trail standing watch. “Hey Brother. Everything good?” He just stares at me. Pulling the plastic out of my pack I tear out a little strip of meat. Breaking it in two I share it with him. “Alright, enough messing around, let’s get moving.” I had slept for about six hours and it’s cooling off.
It’s a bad idea to walk along streets but it should be safe to walk on a hiking trail like this one. About an hour into my night time hike Wilfred suddenly gives a couple little Yips, I thought at first he might be calling to some other coyotes in the distance, but he yipped and then just stopped. Looking back I whisper to him, “What is up with you?”
“Hey.” A voice calls out of the blackness startling me. “Hey. Boy are we glad to see you.” You’re normal right? I mean you spoke so you can’t be a Zombie right?”
Turning I see a man about six feet away and another standing off to the side of the trail by the trees. He walks forward. “Boy you scared us for a bit till you spoke to the dog. Is that a dog? He’s little.”
“A coyote, he’s a pup.” I reply.
“Nice backpack, you got any food in there? We sure could use some food. You wouldn’t mind sharing with us would you?” Some people give you an uneasy feeling and this guy wasn’t giving me a vibe you’d get from a friend on a Sunday afternoon.
Stepping back trying to keep distance I keep them both in my sight. “I’m out of food. You guys been out here long?” As he reaches for me I slap away his hand.
Immediately he gets puffy chested and steps forward. “Don’t fucking touch me!” I back away even more. “Who do you think you are? You can’t assault people like that.” Sectoring to my left I keep them both in my view.
“Why don’t you take that pack off, I’ll hold it for you. Let us see what cha got?” He tries to make me think he’s helping me somehow, trying to be my friend. Holding his hand out waiting for me to surrender my pack he steps forward again. With his step forward I take one more back to the edge of the trail.
“I’d rather you not do that.” I’m out of room. Reaching forward again he puts his hand on my right shoulder strap and begins to pull the pack off my shoulder. Putting my left hand on top of his and finding his thumb I squeeze quickly feeling the first knuckle pop.
“Ow, what the fuck are you doing?” His eyes get wide enough for me to see the whites under the moonlight. With the pain he tries to pull harder.
As he pulls it allows me to roll his arm down towards my belt and I’m able to hyper extend his elbow locking it with his wrist torqued. I drive my right forearm into his elbow just above the joint and into the base of his triceps. As I drive him down my back twinges and I loose some control dropping with my full weight onto my knee. As I land his arm bares the burden of all my weight and I hear a loud snap. When his arm snaps he lets out a blood curdling scream. Recoiling and rolling away from me he tries to escape, but I’m able to follow him and use my knee to come down into his ribs. I let out a deep grunt with the impact on my lower back. Ignoring the pain I try to remain in control.
His buddy starts forward. “You asshole, you didn’t have to break his fucking arm, we weren’t gonna hurt you!” I see he has a machete in his hand and swings it at my head. I drop the limp arm, dodging his swing. Drawing the large KaBar knife from the sheath it naturally comes out tip down. Raising it quickly allows me to block his second backhand swing. The back of the knife isn’t sharp it’s a single edged blade but meeting his force is enough to create a gash on the back of his forearm. He drops the machete and comes at me with a punch. As he comes forward I step to the inside of his swing. While meeting his punch I stick the blade straight forward at the height of his throat. It’s his own momentum which carries him forward into the blade and with a quick gurgle it’s over. He literally cut his own throat. Pulling the blade out of his larynx. He falls to his knees dropping into his own puddle of blood.
“What did you do to him? You killed him? We were just hungry? You didn’t have to do that!” I bent down looking him in the eye holding the blade to his throat for a moment then wiping it off on his shirt. I stand and silently walk away not showing any weakness, but my back is screaming and with every step there’s excruciating pain radiating down my left leg.
He won’t follow me, not with his arm broken like that. I hope. After about an hour of walking and looking back I set my pack down gingerly and retrieve the pain meds and muscle relaxers. I pop one of each taking a swig from the flask for good measure. Looking around for Wilfred I realize I hadn’t seen him since the fight, he must’ve gotten scared and ran away. When the second guy came at me I was too concerned with creating distance between me and him to try to coax Wilfred into coming along with me. I quickly put the pack back on before things tighten up and get back on my way. My hydration bladder is getting low and I need to get to the housing development on the other side before sun up. I’ll be too exposed when the sun comes up with out any water.