Steve woke, his hair dripping with sweat, visions of the man he had shot in the stairwell had played over and over in his mind like a video on a loop. It took him a few moments to realize where he was. He sat up in his sleeping bag; the cot creaked slightly as he did so. He reached down and found a little flashlight that he had stuffed in his shoe; he turned it on and shielded the light with his hand.
Tamelle stirred slightly mumbling, “Milk or non dairy creamer?”
Steve slowly unzipped the sleeping bag that still had the price tag on it, he climbed out put his shoes and jacket on. He grabbed his pump shotgun and snuck out of the office. Fenrir greeted him with a friendly sniff. The sun wasn’t up yet but there was a hint of light on the horizon.
“Good morning.” Vince said in a tired yet cheerful voice.
Steve mumbled something that sounded almost zombie like. Then he noticed the man asleep in a camp chair. “Hey Vince who’s that?”
“Oh him? That’s Pete.” Vince said like it should have been obvious.
Steve noticed that Vince had replaced his business suit with some more appropriate jeans, flannel shirt, and hiking boots probably from the gear in the back of his car. “Okay… but where did he come from?”
“He knocked on the door last night.”
“And you just let him in. How did you know he wasn’t…”
“Infected?” The older man pointed at the Dog.
“Hey if the dog is okay with how the guy smells he’s probably not infected.”
Steve blinked, his eyes were crusty. “So you’re trusting our lives to the dog?”
“Yes. Didn’t you notice how he acts around the infected? He can smell the sickness.”
“Whatever dude, go get a couple hours of sleep.”
Vince ignored the word dude this time. “Good, I’m exhausted.” He got up and staggered to the back of the store toward the office.
Steve wandered behind the gun counter and started browsing the weapons selection. The Glock was okay, but he wanted something better. Down on the far end of the counter he found a Desert Eagle. He pulled it out and fiddled with it, being careful to check the chamber to make sure it was empty. He imagined blasting zombies with its massive .50 caliber handgun rounds, but wisely decided against it. The blasted weapon weighed over four pounds empty; he never really understood why everyone in Hollywood seemed to drool over it.
After a few minutes of searching he found a Tactical Springfield XD in 45 auto. He liked the way it fit in his hand. He racked the slide and dropped and inserted the magazine. In a few minutes he had it on his belt loaded up with some expensive jacketed hollow point ammo.
Behind the counter he found a bottle of Zombie Lube. He chuckled as he put a little bit of it on the slide and barrel and worked the grease into the weapon.
The new guy woke up as a ray of sunlight hit him in the eye. He yawned and looked around, seeing Steve there he said, “Oh hello. Where did Vince go?”
Seeing the new guy yawn made him yawn as well. After he recovered, “Didn’t you know that yawn’s are contagious? Vince hit the sack in the back office.” Then he realized that the new guy had no idea who he was. “I’m Steve by the way. And you?” He had already forgotten the new guy’s name.
Steve absently noticed that he was just starting to go bald “Well Pete so are you a gun guy?” He asked.
Pete shrugged, “You could say that.” He said as he picked up the black rifle leaning against the wall next to him. He removed the magazine and put it in his lap. He checked the chamber to make sure it was empty. Once he was sure the weapon was “safe” he handed it to the young man.
Steve picked it up, it was fairly heavy. On the receiver there was a gear logo with the name Imbel engraved on the side. On top was a holo sight and fixed iron sights. Steve hadn’t seen a rifle like this. The charging handle was on the left side of the rifle, and it had a tubular folding stock that looked and felt solid. It had a forward pistol grip, and an expensive looking flashlight attached to a rail on the front hand guard. “What is it?”
“It’s a custom made metric FAL, it fires seven point six two NATO rounds. Perfectly capable of dropping most infected with one shot with center of mass hits.” He said as he reached for the weapon. Steve handed the rifle back to its owner who rocked the magazine filled with soft point hunting ammo back into the weapon. Steve noticed he didn’t charge a round into the chamber. And that the magazine had a large “E” stenciled on it.
“So why aren’t you loading it? And what’s the E for?” The college student asked.
“Well since we’re in a ‘safer’ location right now I figure I don’t need it loaded. When we break out of here I’ll be damn sure to chamber a round. The ‘E’ that’s so I can keep track of my magazines and dispose of any that start to fail.”
Steve nodded. “Sounds like a good idea I guess. Want to do some shopping?”
They spent the next hour or so fingerprinting plenty of firearms. Pete grabbed boxes of .308 hunting ammo for his rifle and made a stack of them on his chair. He also picked up a light weight five shot .357 Magnum snubby. “Backup.”
Steve looked at the gear this new guy was wearing. He had a tactical vest covered in pouches magazines, a large sheath knife, and other gear. He definitely looked like someone ready to take on hordes of the undead. He was glad he was on their side.
The Zombie Master watched his followers tear into the corpse of the ex-survivor. He was a little disappointed that Grant had made scrambled eggs with his brains. He would have made an interesting zombie. Dar… Zombie Master didn’t really know what he was doing, but something inside him made him hate normals. Hew knew they would try to kill him when they found out he was infected. Nobody was working on a cure, just a solution. That made all the normals murderers.
He looked over at Capital, she was smiling with a big chunk of survivor meat in her hands. He waved at her and she went back to munching on the raw meat. He knew he needed to protect them, the man known as Grant had probably killed a hundred or so of his children. He deserved to be eaten.
Survivors would become harder and harder to find, he worried about keeping all of the infected fed. Maybe they could go after pets and animals at the city zoo. The infected wouldn’t eat anything unless it was freshly killed. He knew some of his children wouldn’t make it, and that thought made him feel gloomy.
He had begun working on a way to control his mob. They listened to him but didn’t really understand anything he said. Some side effect of the virus perhaps? He knew the brain was changed by the virus in strange ways. One thing he noticed, despite what Hollywood preached, they didn’t eat brains. Maybe it tasted bad? Or perhaps the virus concentrated itself in those tissues and it made it inedible for his children.
It hurt to think, the virus was affecting him too, but he was somehow immune to the mindlessness that manifested itself in the rest of his children. He thought for a long time and tried to remember his name, or anything about his life before the outbreak. Everything before his new state of enlightenment seemed out of focus. It didn’t matter, “Zombie Master” was good enough for him. What did his life before really matter? He would make the normals pay for leaving him to die.
Had he ever been a normal? Somehow he remembered working in some gray cage with no door, so he knew it was true, but it didn’t matter anymore. He was the King of the Infected. He would kill the normals and make them suffer.
He opened a can of peaches and ate them with his hands. The sticky sweet juice tasted good. He mused that perhaps that was how survivor flesh tasted to his children. Today he would take the car out again and look for those people he had almost crashed into last night, maybe he could lure them into the warehouse?
Kirk had been hiding in his office for since the outbreak. The campus was crawling with infected college students. He peered out the window as he sipped a cup of hot Earl Grey tea. He had managed to bar the door with his filing cabinets. The Liberal Arts building was full of infected. Occasionally one of them would get frisky and try to bash his door in, but his makeshift fortifications held up remarkably well. The sun was coming up and his little emergency stash of food Kirk kept under his desk would be gone soon, even if he rationed and only ate a little bit it wouldn’t last more than a week. He figured today was the day to make his break for freedom, waiting until he hadn’t eaten anything for three of four days would make his chances even worse.
He looked forlornly at his Cherry Red Toyota Pickup. It was so close yet so far away. They would be on him before he got halfway to the parking lot. He didn’t think his little Russian Markarov pistol would give him enough firepower to cut his way through the couple hundred… things out there walking around the quad.
He chuckled as he looked at his customized cold war era pistol. If anyone at the university had ever found out that he had it he would have been fired by the left leaning administrators faster than he could say pink slip. He had some nice custom made wood grips fashioned for the little weapon because the brown plastic ones that it came with were hideous. The Soviets made good arms but they were always so ugly. After having the weapon re blued and fitting the new grips it was much better.
Kirk looked back at the pickup; behind the seat lay his trusty Mossberg 500 twelve gauge, and truck emergency kit, luck favors the prepared. He finished his tea and set down the dirty mug. It was go time.
He grabbed his computer tower and was about to toss it through the window. Something that he had almost considered on some days. He stopped as he saw a young brunette woman running across the grass, a large mob of Zombies close behind. He watched her draw the beasts hanging around his area away from his location. What an amazing stroke of luck.
He tossed the computer through the window and kicked out the remaining glass. He dropped ten feet down to the flower bed unharmed. Kirk’s immediate area was clear of the pale freaks. He sprinted toward his pickup, pistol in one hand, keys in the other. A zombie stumbled out from behind a Subaru wagon, saw him and charged. The college professor slowed down, pointed the Russian pistol at the freak and squeezed the trigger twice. Two shots to the heart dropped the running dead in its tracks. He hadn’t even really aimed, he had just fired on instinct. His little survival pack bounced against his lower back as he ran faster than he thought possible.
In a few moments he reached his truck, Kirk’s hands were shaking as he tried to fit the key in the lock. His key fob had broken a month ago and he hadn’t taken the time to get it replaced, no keyless entry today.
A zombie Emo boy came around the tail gate. “Stop wearing girls pants!” He yelled as he fired at the purple haired freak. He might have almost enjoyed shooting the zombie kid had he not been shaking so much. He managed to get the key in the lock when the Emo zombie crawled toward him and grabbed his leg and bared his teeth.
Kirk kicked the monsters teeth in, fired one more shot punching a hole in its forehead. He managed to get the door open and scramble inside. He turned the ignition and the truck roared to life. He reached for the shifter as a Hispanic gangbanger wannabe landed on the hood of his pickup. Stomping on the gas the beast slammed into the windshield. He stomped on the brake pedal and his unwanted passenger fell to the pavement.
The professor ran the infected down and cranked the wheel. He jumped the curb and tore across the well manicured campus lawn tearing up the turf with his tires. Maybe just maybe the girl who had made his escape possible had managed to stay one step ahead of the monsters.
He dodged some lame piece of artwork made from scrap metal and drove with two wheels on a walking path. A slow infected girl wearing a Huskies t-shirt covered in that black vomit stood there like a deer in the headlights as he ran her down.
He followed the mob across the green, running down the slow movers, until he found the largest mass of bodies. They were surrounding an old oak tree that was growing next to the Administration building. Kirk reached behind the seat and grabbed his shotgun. He pumped it chambering a double ought buck shell into the chamber. He followed the zombies gaze up the tree and saw the girl struggling to make it higher up in the tree.
The professor hit a button and the sunroof opened, he stopped the truck short of the tree and stood on the seat. He fired into the mob, as fast as he could work the action. In seconds he had fired all seven shells. Half the mob had been dropped but now they had his undivided attention.
The zombies swarmed the truck. Kirk dropped back down and shifted into reverse. He cranked the wheel to the left as far as it would go and jammed the transmission into “1”. Mashing the accelerator the pickup began spinning donuts of death. The bumper and bed of the truck became a massive baseball bat knocking the infected shattering bones and crushing the unfortunate beneath his tires.
Seconds later most of the beasts were down but a few had managed to dodge his onslaught. He reversed up to the tree smashing into the trunk of the old oak denting the rear bumper. “Jump!” He yelled through the open sunroof. The young woman hesitated for a moment.
“Jump, I can’t stay here long!” He insisted, his hand reaching for the shifter.
The girl did a hasty sign of the cross over her chest and let go of the branches she had been clinging to. The loud thud in the truck bed told Kirk she had made it. He jammed the tyranny into drive and mashed the pedal to the floor. The truck struggled to gain traction for a moment and an infected cheerleader halfway up the tree managed to land on the roof of the cab.
A stringy arm scratched Kirk’s ear, he screamed as he fired the Markarov through the headliner and the slide locked back. The infected tumbled off narrowly missing his human passenger lying in the bed of the pickup. Something warm pooled in his eardrum, blood.
He drove through the walking paths again till he made it to a parking lot. Something hit the beer window, he half expected to see a zombie trying to break it open. Then he realized it was the young woman who he had somehow managed to rescue.
He slid the beer window open and the skinny girl managed to wriggle through it and drop down into the passenger’s seat. “Thanks professor.”
Kirk had managed to make it to the street. He glanced over at the girl and managed to say, “You’re welcome. How’d you know I was a professor?”
She smiled, “Don’t you recognize me? I’m Maria Teresa, Ramirez, from your Tuesday, Thursday into to American Lit class. My friends call… called me Mary-Te.”
Kirk knew all his students, even though some of the lower division classes were rather large. He took a quick look at her then back at the road, “Ah yes, I graded your paper on Poor Richards Almanac last night.”
“I was bored, had nothing better to do.”
“What did I get?”
“Ouch.” Then she laughed, “What about Zombie Survival 101?”
He smiled, “Well since you’re still alive, A, but since I had to come rescue you, maybe a B minus.”
“You really are a hard grader aren’t you?”
“Is that what you college kids say about me?”
“More or less.”
They drove on in silence for a while slow enough to avoid wrecks but fast enough that runners wouldn’t be able to catch them.
After a while Mary-Te spoke up again. “Umm Professor?”
“Mary-Te, just call me Kirk, if you hadn’t noticed… school is out.”
She nodded, “Okay Kirk, why do you have guns? Aren’t they against school policy?”
“Are you glad I had them when I rescued you?”
The teacher sighed, “I began leaving this shotgun in my truck, and the pistol in my desk the day after the Virginia Tech massacre.”
“I figured that if anyone tried that here I would at least have a fighting chance to stop the killer.”
“So… you put your job on the line to look out for us?”
“So where do we go from here?” She asked.
“I’m not really sure. I never really expected to make it to my pickup, you actually made that possible.”
Kirk slowed down to avoid a stalled car. “Well you got a bunch of the infected to chase you, clearing a path for me to my truck.”
“I was just running for my life. Those… things found my hiding place and I just ran.” Her hands were shaking as she covered her mouth. A few moments later she continued. “Thank you for saving me. You could have just driven off… and.”
“Hey don’t worry about it.”
They continued down the streets of the city for a while. The sun was up but hidden by thick clouds, giving an oppressive feel to the day.
Maria looked at the professor; she noticed a trickle of blood running down his neck. “Hey Kirk, did you know that you’re bleeding?”
He shrugged, “I caught a piece of glass when I was climbing out of a broken window.” He lied. He wasn’t sure if he was infected, as far as he could tell it only took one drop of their black vomit in the bloodstream to infect someone. Kirk wasn’t an epidemiologist but he had learned from observation how the virus spread.
“Let’s go to my apartment.” He said. “I’ve got some food and more guns there.”
A few minutes later they pulled up to his apartment complex, rolled into the carport and turned off the ignition. Nothing moved.
Kirk put a fresh magazine into his Markarov, and handed it to Mary-Te. “Know how to use one of these?”
She nodded, “Umm, sort of. My dad took me to the range before I went off to college.”
Kirk grabbed the shotgun and loaded it. “Ready?”
The pair walked quickly up the steps to the third floor. One of Kirk’s neighbors, he didn’t remember the man’s name, was lying on the landing, obviously infected. Large puss filled sores were all over his face, a few were oozing black crud. His eyes snapped open and he growled. Kirk silenced him with a shotgun blast to the face.
Moments later they were inside his apartment. They shoved the entertainment center and couches in front of the door, wedging them in between the kitchen bar. Kirk went straight to his bedroom and pulled a long locking case out of the closet. He pulled out a black Galil, and gave it to the girl.
“What’s this?” She asked.
“It’s Israel’s take on the AK.” He said as he fished out a bunch of P-mags. “I had an adapter fitted so it takes AR magazines.”
They spent the rest of the day inside his apartment, gathering up all his supplies and ammo. The pain in his head and stomach told Kirk that soon he would be vomiting black filth. As night fell he rushed off to the bathroom and emptied the contents of his stomach into the toilet, by candle light.
Mary-Te knocked on the door, “Hey professor, are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” He lied as he wretched again.
“Kirk, you don’t sound fine, are you sick?”
“Leave me alone.”
A half our later his head felt ready to pop, and his little intestine seemed like it had tied itself in knots around his colon. He opened the bathroom door and stumbled into the living room where Mary-Te was sitting on the floor.
She gasped when she saw him. “Kirk… you’re infected.”
He nodded. “That blood on my ear and neck, wasn’t from glass… one of those things scratched me. I’ll become a zombie soon.”
Tears filled her eyes. “I’m sorry, if you hadn’t…”
“Maria, don’t. I don’t know how much time I have left, here.” He took out his car keys and set them down on the bar. “I want you to have the best chance of surviving. Take anything you can use. Wait till morning in the apartment; if you want to make a run for it you can take my truck. I already cleaned the bathroom with bleach, so it should be alright.”
“What are you going to do?” She asked.
“I’m going to try and lead as many of the infected away from here as possible, so you’ll have a better chance of making it.”
“Don’t leave… I don’t want to be alone.”
His stomach heaved again. Kirk leaned up against the bar to steady himself. “You already are. I’m one of the walking dead now. If I stay I’ll be trying to claw your eyes out in a couple of hours.”
Without another word he moved the makeshift barrier enough that he could slip out the door, and headed out into the night.