Authors: John Holmes
Killers Get The Blues
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work copyrighted 2013 Think On Productions and John Holmes
Dedicated to all our brothers and sisters who never came home. We won’t
forget you, ever.
Sometime in the near future, a few years after the Zombie Apocalypse has
devastated the world, a small group of soldiers (sort of) is covering the United
States Army’s advance back into Upstate New York and the Hudson River Valley…
“You know what sucks about the Zombie Apocalypse?” Brit did her obnoxious eye roll
Another profound thought from our fearless leader.
me, though, and asked.
“What sucks, oh fearless leader whom I have seen piss his pants from fear?”
Sometimes her sarcasm annoys the crap out of me. She sat picking at a piece of
MRE cracker in her teeth.
She was wearing
dirty army ACUs, stained from weeks out in the field, her long red hair tied up
under her helmet, blue eyes contrasting with the dirt on her face.
“Toilet paper, or the lack of it. That’s what sucks most about the Zombie
Apocalypse. All those books we used to read, and movies, that stupid TV show, and
never once did any of them mention that mice and bugs would eat all the toilet
paper, and the survivors would have to make due with rags and whatnot.”
“And whatnot? What the eff are you now, Shakespeare?” Again, with the sarcasm
when I’m trying to hold forth on a serious subject. The firelight played across
the smart-alecky grin on her face, the shadows mixing with the dust we all had
on us from today’s patrol.
She turned to Jacob, who sat with his back to the fire, watching the stars
through the hole in the roof of the old farmhouse. “Jake, in this dream you’re
having, why don’t we have toilet paper?”
He ignored her, knowing better than to engage Brit
when she was in one of her moods, and kept staring at the stars. I knew what he
was watching for. The Space Station, passing overhead, beautiful and dead.
“Leave him alone, Brit. He’s pulled his weight so
far on this patrol.”
“It just creeps me out. I mean, why does
get to hide in unreality and I am stuck
dealing with reality?”
“You creep me out. A vegetarian zombie slayer.
Disgusting. Jake can’t help what’s going on in his head. You being retarded and
not eating meat is a sick lifestyle choice. By the way, that MRE cracker you
just ate is made from used animal byproducts.” To emphasize it, I took a big
bite out of the squirrel that I had been roasting on the fire. She shot me a
disgusted look and continued to wolf down her hummus.
Jake turned back to the fire. “How can I explain what goes on in my dream?
Someday I’m going to wake up and who knows if I’ll even remember this? I think
I’m in a coma, and I’m not going to ever wake up. In which case,
you’re stuck with me.”
Brit stared at him for a minute. Jake had joined the
patrol yesterday in Waterford, dumped on us by the FEMA idiots. He
OK, had been on the ball so far, but every now and then he just got a spacey
“Jake, you really believe this is just a dream.”
“Really? I have to sit here and watch some grubby pig gnaw on a squirrel
because you’re dreaming it? How about you dream me back to college or
something, where I can be getting laid by some football player on nice clean
sheets? With fluffy pillows all around and nice silk things to wear instead of
Jake sighed. “It’s like this, Britnney. People don’t rise from the dead. It’s
impossible. Can’t happen. Once you are dead, you’re dead. So I’m dreaming this.
Or more like I’m having a nightmare. Maybe I was in a car accident or
something. I dunno. Hopefully I wake up soon, my wife will be snoring next to
me in bed and my kids will be fighting downstairs over the TV. This is just a
really long-ass nightmare.”
People lost everything. I lost my family. My wife, my daughter. Hell, I had to
beat my wife’s head in with my rifle butt when she came after me, blazing red
Zombie eyes, trying to bite my head off. Millions, maybe billions have died,
and now we’re living in some Mad Max kinda freaky world. This is just Jacob’s
way of dealing with it without going totally insane. He really thinks he’s
dreaming this whole thing. What I’m worried about
At some crucial moment, he’s going to realize this
a dream and lose it right then and there.
I might have to put a bullet
in him then, because this is not the world I would want to wake up to.
“I got yer reality right here, Jacob.” With that, Brit leaned to one side and
let one rip.
“Careful doing that close to the fire. You’ll get
“OK, Jacob. You’re on the next watch, two hours with
Brit relieving Jonesy one hour from now. You know the Zs might come. If they
do, you know the rules. Wake one other person; and try to take them out
silently. We don’t need to have some howling screaming shit waking up every Z
in the neighborhood. Come on, Brit, I know this is a safe house, but let’s
check the basement one more time before lights out.”
Jacob went through the routine of checking his gear. As a scout, your gear
stays next to you or on you at all times, even in a safehouse. We stand guard
with our packs on our backs because you never, ever know when things are going
to go to shit and you will have to run for it. Then your ass is out in the
wilderness, with help dozens of miles away, zombies and wild animals roaming the
woods and deserted towns, and nothing to save you
except what you have on you. I’ve been there, alone in the dark. It’s damned
scary. Hammock, rope, water filter, two MREs, extra ammo, compass, multi-tool, poncho,
lighter, small .22 caliber revolver, signal flare. All fit into a small pack
that you didn’t touch unless you really needed it. They can and will save your
Brit ran the crank on her light and I flicked the safety off my M-4. Her job,
behind me, was to keep the light where I needed it. She might be a vegetarian
smartass with a sex drive like a Mack truck, but she was my partner.
We headed down the stairs to the basement.
I had called this a “safehouse” and hopefully it was. To us a safehouse was
usually an old stone farmhouse which we had used before. Whenever we got a
chance, we pulled stone from the second floor and bricked up the windows. The
front door was barricaded lumber ripped from the walls,
overlapped and hammered into place
. Upstairs, there were two coiled
ropes for making a quick getaway, one with a grapnel hook we could use to catch
into a nearby tree. We could hold out here for as long as our water lasted, but
once a Z showed up, they started screaming and more and more would come from
miles around. The Army actually ran missions where they would fort up in a
place like this, bring in pallets of ammo, spend days shooting everything that
showed up and then clear out by helo. They did that when they wanted to clear
an area for “resettlement” or needed to salvage something from a nearby site.
Not for us Scouts. We walked by day to objectives we
were told to check out. We lived outside the wire in our own fortresses. Ours
was in Stillwater, on an island in the Hudson River. We had barricaded the two
bridges and lived in the house on the island between
Zs don’t like the water. They can’t swim but they do fall in the water
sometimes and get dragged along the bottom by the current, washing up somewhere
downstream. To guard against that we’ve built a six foot- high wall around the
house, and we’re trying to grow our own food. Nothing like the Fobbits that
lived in the Army base downriver or the pogs that lived (existed?) in the FEMA
camps outside Buffalo, working the fields.
Last time were we were in this particular house was about two months ago,
scouting upriver to see what remained of the hydroelectric plant in Glens
Falls. Our mission this time was to check the locks on the canal system and
report back to the Army Engineers on them. We had cleared this place, taking it
in a quick rush through the door just before sunset, when the Zs were least
active. I had killed two with my shotgun on the second floor. I was just
relaxing and shoving shells into the magazine when one had jumped on me from
the hole in the roof. That was when I pissed my pants. Brit would never let me
forget it. She about knocked both our heads off with the baseball bat and had
kept a gun on me for more than an hour to see if I had been infected. I laugh
about it now, but right then? It had literally scared the piss out of me.
The stairs creaked as we walked down. In the movies, this was the time when
they would build up suspense, and let me tell you, they were spot-on right. I
had that twist in my gut that made me feel like I wanted to puke and I was
sweating my ass off. It didn’t go away until we had cased out the whole
basement. We’d found nothing there except two old skeletons, which I knew were
there from last time. We ignored them, since the real dead held no terror for
Brit shook me awake at 2 AM for my watch. “Get up, squirrel breath,”
she whispered, then stuck her tongue in my ear. I almost
jumped out of the sleeping b
ag. It was frigging cold as shit despite
being early May, and I jogged around for a bit to get warm. There ain’t nothing
like having to get out of a warm sleeping bag on a cold night. I grabbed my
boots out of the bottom of the bag and pulled them on, then my armor. I checked
my rifle and chewed on some Skittles.
“Gah, that was
! Forget toilet
paper, obviously you’re missing Q-tips, too.” Brit spat loudly on the floor.
“Goddamn. I frackin’ hate you sometimes. I really, really do.” She gave me the
finger and crawled into my sleeping bag. I grabbed my gear and headed up the
stairs, joining Ahmed on watch. He filled me in with a mumbled “not much,” and
handed over the NVGs. Then he leaned over and picked up the sniper rifle,
turned the scope back on and settled down on the bipod.
I scanned the area from the rooftop. The infrared sensor picked up a few hot
spots, way in the distance. I called spottings out to Ahmed.
3 o’clock, 800
meters or so.
We had the ranges pretty well sited from the last time we
were up here but I didn’t expect much. We had cleared out quite a few the last
time, but you could still smell the stench lingering. They give off heat, too.
Not as much as a live body, but whatever it is that animates them, it makes the
muscles work, and that generates heat. Another thing the movies got wrong.
Ahmed shifted his scope over to the right, then started muttering under his
Shit just freaked me out, and I had
told him time and again to not do that around me. Reminded me of all those Haji
terrorist videos you used to see of them shooting at us over in the desert, and
I could still here the echoes of that call being yelled at me when we duked it
out in Fallujah. I asked him about it once, why he was here in America.
“Nick, yes, you were the Great Satan. Infidels. I fought you in Afghanistan. I
fought the Taliban, also, to protect my people. Then this happened, the demons
from hell. Allah has sent me here to America to kill demons, instead of
infidels. God is great, and it is as he wills it.” Great, I have a muj sniper
on my team who might slit my throat one night. Apparently he had managed to
escape from prison in Guantanamo Bay when the plague started, made his way
across Cuba alone and gotten to Florida. That was all he would say about it.
There weren’t any sides anymore other than living versus dead. We had been on
more than a dozen scouts together and he was a damn good shot with the rifle. He
pretends he wasn’t trying to kill me ten years ago, I pretend I wasn’t chasing
his ass all over the mountains of the ‘Stan ten years ago. We both agreed
was all just bullshit now.
POP! Suppressed, of course. A shot on a night like tonight would bring the Zs
running. Ahmed picked up the empty brass and slipped it in his pocket when it had
cooled. In the NVGs I watched the hot spot burst into a glowing mist, and the
“So what’s your view on taking down Zs like this in
the middle of the night? Allah OK with that? It bothers me sometimes, you know?
Once they were someone’s mother, kid, whatever. At night, through the scope,
they look like people. “
“Nick, they are dead. I am only releasing their souls to go to Heaven. It is
Allah’s work.” With that, there was another POP! A figure I hadn’t seen, off to
the left, tumbled up and backwards from behind a bush where it had been hiding
for the night, knocked over by the impact of the round in its chest. I watched
as it started to get back up and waited for the Z scream to start. Another muted
POP and the figure fell down, with a hot splash through the head.
“I had to smoke that one out, as you Americans say. Hiding in the brush.”
Another thing the movies got wrong. Zs are smart. Not people-smart, but maybe
like monkey-smart. Apparently the infection destroyed their higher order brain
functions, and, having no heartbeat, they can’t process things all that fast
but they have an animal instinct. They go to ground, hide out, wait in ambush.
Territorial, too. Ninety percent of Zs will stay within two miles or so of
where they died unless another one starts screaming. That’s why towns and
cities are such a bad idea. You can find yourself facing a horde within five
minutes, `cause those suckers can
when they get pumped up. One on
one, I can out run any zombie, but holy shit, you do
want to trip
and twist your ankle. As for the other ten percent, they wander around like
lost souls, always moaning. They are what make things so dangerous on a patrol
through open country. You never, ever know when you’re going to bump into a
solitary Z, and have it attack or start moaning, drawing more to you.
We waited the rest of Ahmed’s shift but nothing else
showed up. Just a pack of wild dogs that was, thankfully, south of our
position. We watched them plow into a herd of deer, taking one down and then
fighting over the kill. Stray dogs scare me almost as much as Zs do. What’s
that, you say? Call me a puss to be scared by a dog? Hell yes. These aren’t
your friendly golden retrievers or yappy little shits you want to kick like a
football. This is the Rottweiler or pitbull that fought its way to the top of
the pack when its trailer park meth dealer/owner turned Z and it got loose in
the wild. I love dogs, and Rocket slept by the front door of the house, always
half-awake, listening for Zs. A pack of strays though?
Jones came up for the last hour of my watch, letting Ahmed get another hour of
sleep. Then we conducted Stand –to, everyone a hundred percent up, waiting for
the sun to rise. It’s a hard, hard world we live in, if you can call it living.