One would think that a sporting goods store slash gun shop would be the ultimate zombie survival destination. Unfortunately it didn’t have that much food inside, and despite the bars on the windows the Mog’s might be able to find a way inside.
Pete was glad to be with a group of seemingly good people. Even though he was still a bit wary of Vince because of the confrontation last night at the door. He couldn’t blame him though. Some people might use the outbreak to do all kinds of savagery. Pete stood watching the small group of infected that were milling about of front of the store. The last group they had to actively repel but this group didn’t seem too interested in trying to get inside. Maybe they had enough brains left to wait them out?
“Hey Tamelle, why do you think those Mog’s are just kind of milling about? I mean it’s not like they can’t smell us in here.”
She looked up from where she was crouching grabbing some energy bars off a low shelf. “I’m not sure. But I have noticed they aren’t all the same.”
“Oh how so?”
“Well the firefighters we ran into in the McMillan offices actually knew how to use their tools.” She stood up and stretched, Pete caught a glimpse of a lower back tattoo. “Some of the infected seem to remember things from their former life.”
“So wait they weren’t just swinging their pikes and crowbars?” Pete yawned, “They tried to pry the door open like they would have before becoming infected?”
“Yes, I don’t think they’re all mindless.”
Pete shuddered, “Let’s just hope we don’t end up running into some SWAT zombies or National Guard ones then.”
“For giving me something else to worry about.”
A while later Tamelle wanted to practice on the indoor range. Pete and Vince talked about it for a moment, and figured Pete had the better “bedside” manner to be an instructor.
Drills drills drills. Tamelle didn’t really like drills, but she had to admit she was getting better at handling her weapons. Pete would load the magazines without her watching. Sometimes he would put in a dummy round that would cause a failure to fire when she pulled the trigger. Pete had taught her something called an immediate action drill. When the rifle failed to go bang she would slap the bottom of the magazine, pull on the charging handle, see if the bad round popped out, let the handle go forward, and push on that forward assisting button thing, and pull the trigger again to see if the rifle would fire.
The first couple of times it was very awkward and slow but after a while she could do the whole thing in just a few seconds. After doing those drills for a while, Pete taught her how to transition to the pistol. She would drop the rifle and let it hang from its sling, draw her pistol and fire three shots at the zombie target, aiming at the chest, moving up trying to get for a head shot with the recoil.
After emptying a pistol magazine into an Osama Bin Laden target Pete called for a cease fire. She re holstered the weapon and took off her black M4 cleared it and leaned it on a rack.
“Good shooting there Tamelle. I really think you’re getting the hang of it.”
She looked away embarrassed, “Well thanks, you’re a good teacher.” She said as they walked out of the range, “So Pete how’d you learn to shoot like that?”
“He shrugged, well my dad taught me when I was little. But I’ve always been into shooting. I shot in Scouts, and eventually joined the Army. I was in the 82nd Airborne for a few years until I was medically discharged.”
“Oh really. Did you get wounded in combat?”
Now it was Pete’s turn to look away, “Nah, I busted up my knee playing football. It’s almost healed but the Army didn’t want me back.”
Tamelle smiled, “So I guess I should stick close to you if we have to make a run for it.”
Pete rolled his eyes, thankfully he could run if he needed to but he wouldn’t ever be an Olympic sprinter. “Funny.”
The next couple of days passed fairly routine. They kept the range hot training Tamelle and Steve. Pete and Vince also spent some time turning money into noise to keep their skills sharp. A tenth of a second could make the difference between escape and becoming one of them.
Pete had parked his pickup around the side of the store and as far as they knew they had two working vehicles. The Land Rover, and an older single cab Dodge Dakota.
“So do you guys really think we can just drive out of here?” Steve asked as he leaned on the counter where a map of the city had been spread out.
Vince shrugged, “I don’t know you have any better ideas?”
Steve bit his lip, “Well yeah I’ve been thinking.”
Tamelle laughed, “Thinking is dangerous don’t you know.”
“Funny.” He coughed, “Look why don’t we drive down to a Marina and steal us a speed boat? Then we could motor out into the ocean and head down the coast somewhere safe.”
Pete sighed, “Is there a ‘safe place’ anymore?” Right as he asked that question the rumble of jet engines filled the air.
The little group of survivors ran to the bullet riddled windows. Two F-18 fighters flew overhead passing out of sight in a few seconds.
“Does that answer your question?” Tamelle asked. Seeing those jets made her feel a little bit of hope. Somewhere there must be a safe zone.
“I’d bet they were Navy.” Pete said as he stepped back from the window.
“Aren’t there some carriers stationed near here?” Steve asked.
Pete rubbed his temple, “Well I don’t follow the squids too much but I’m pretty sure there’s two Nimitz class carriers moored at a couple different bases in Washington.”
“So if the carriers are still working maybe we can sail a boat out to them.”
Vince shook his head. “Are you guys’ nuts? They’re not just going to let us climb aboard. If they think we might be infected they’ll blow us out of the water. Can you imagine how fast the virus would spread through a ship?” He sat down on a folding chair. “I really doubt they would risk an entire ship just to save a few survivors.”
Pete shrugged, “Okay but why are they flying fighters over the city then? If they weren’t going to get involved they would ‘steam’ out to sea and wait the infection out.”
Steve leaned up against the bars. “So what’s the governments Zombie plan eh Pete?”
“Zombie plan?” Everyone looked at Steve like he was nuts. Fenrir went back to his sleeping bag and lay down on it. “Yes Zombie plan, you know the government makes plans for terrorism, natural disasters, and pandemics, so why not Zombies? They’ve probably known about this strain for a lot longer than they let on.”
Vince was going to have a massive migraine he just knew it. “Easy there Steve, loosen that tinfoil hat just a little bit.”
“If the Government did have a Zombie plan its details were just a bit above my pay grade.”
“No. It makes sense doesn’t it? The government unleashes the Mogadishu virus to punish the Somalis’ for killing our guys back in ’93.”
Pete shook his head, “So we would wait over what seventeen years before attacking them with a biological weapon? Come on now Steve what else do you have cooking up there?” He said pointing at the younger man’s head.
“Why were we messing around Somalia again just a couple of years ago then huh?”
Tamelle couldn’t stand it anymore. “Boys please… it really doesn’t matter what caused the outbreak, all that is important now is to figure out how to not end up on the wrong end of an infected smorgasbord.”
Steve chuckled, “Tamelle is there a right side to a zombie smorgasbord?”
Vince struggled to retain his well practiced poker face. “Steve shut up. Just shut your damn mouth for TWO minutes!”
“Who the hell do you think you are to…” Steve never got a chance to finish his sentence. Vince leapt across the counter his fingers gripping the younger mans throat.
Fenrir barked, and chaos reigned for the next few minutes as Tamelle and Pete went hands on to keep the combatants from killing each other. Steve reached for the pistol on his belt, but couldn’t get it out of its holster with the woman hanging on his arm.
The black former barista yelled. “Stop this bullshit now!”
Vince let go of the younger man’s throat, and Steve took his hand off his pistol. The group collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Pete managed through labored breaths, “There’s plenty of ways to die out there. How about we skip the one where we kill each other, okay?”
Fenrir didn’t understand why the humans were all wrestling, but they smelt like Browning did when he had to fight with those men he put in the back of vagens. Then he smelt something new and horrible. He followed the scent toward the front of the store. A few other dogs were loping along in front of the broken glass.
They didn’t smell right. One of them looked over at Fenrir, and their eyes met. They were full of hate and death. The other dog began barking. Fenrir felt his heart begin to pound as they rushed over to the bars. He returned their challenge and growled, letting them know they weren’t welcome around his humans.
“Fenrir what’s wrong?” Tamelle asked as she picked herself up off the floor. She walked toward the dog and heard the barking. “Guys we’ve got dogs!”
Pete picked up his FAL from where it had been leaning against the wall and pulled the charging handle. He saw where Fenrir was barking near the bars. The glass was weak where it had been riddled with holes. “Vince get the dog back!” He yelled as he flicked the safety off.
“Fenrir hierr, hierr!” Vince called. As he reached for his collar. With the dog out of the way Pete opened fire on the pack of infected dogs through the window. The lead dog was drooling black ichor from its mouth. Its fur was sticky and matted, it reared up on its hind legs trying to get through the bars. A .30 caliber round struck it in the chest and it fell writhing on the sidewalk.
Steve fired his .45 at a large Husky. It took six shots before it went down. The remainder of the dogs continued the vain attack on the barricade biting broken glass and steel bars.
Tamelle felt useless just standing there, she wanted to prove that she could put down zombies with the boys. She grabbed her AR and chambered a round and pushed on the forward assist just like she had been taught. She jerked the trigger and her shot went wide narrowly missing a scrawny mutt. “Slow down” she told herself as she adjusted her aim and squeezed the trigger gently. The mutt’s head jerked as the bullet struck it in the muzzle. A couple more shots and it went down.
With the pack of dogs put down Tamelle put the safety on her rifle like she had been shown and leaned back against a display case. “Is everyone okay?”
Everyone said they were. Vince looked at Fenrir’s nose and muzzle looking for any cuts or bite marks. “Fenrir’s good.”
Steve holstered his handgun. “Guys do you know what this means?”
Vince was waiting for the next tinfoil hat scenario from the college kid. “Let me guess PETA developed a new strain that only affects dogs so that they will infect their masters?”
“What? No… what kind of delusional paranoid conspiracy is that Vince? Seriously man. No the Mogadishu virus jumped from humans to dogs. I wonder what other animals are susceptible.”
Pete changed to a fresh magazine. “Let’s just hope we don’t run into any Zombie bears.”
“Yeah I don’t think we’ve really got to worry about that in the city.” Tamelle said dryly.
“Zombie dogs… zombie dogs… hmm. I know, they’re Dogbies!” Steve proclaimed.
The other survivors groaned and walked away.
Mary-Te looked out the peep hole. The apartment landing was empty. She clutched the rifle the professor had given her like a security blanket. She had a backpack full of ammo, gear, and food. She hoped she had taken the right things. Slowly she unlocked the door and turned the handle.
The door opened without creaking, and she peeked her head out the door, the coast was clear. She crept down the stairs. Her heart was pounding and she realized that she had been holding her breath. There weren’t any zombies in sight, so she walked slowly to the truck. She unlocked the driver’s door with the key. She tossed the backpack on the passenger’s seat and sat the butt end of the rifle in the foot well.
“I might just… make it.” She said between ragged breaths. Had the professor been eaten? She heard horrible noises the night that he had left. Or had he turned into one of them and would he try and bite her throat out?
She closed and locked the doors and turned the key. The truck roared to life and she sighed. “Time to get outta’ here. Madre de dios ayudame.” She prayed as she put the truck in reverse.
Mary-Te looked in the rear view mirror and saw someone standing a few feet behind the truck. Her heart tried to launch itself out her throat as it ran toward her. She stomped on the gas and struck it with the bumper. She cleared the car port and jammed the shifter into drive. She sped off through the parking lot dodging an abandoned car and made it to the street.
Kirk watched her go from his perch on the roof of a convenience store. A couple other infected leapt from the roof after her and broke their legs on the asphalt below. The former professor had enough sense left to use the stairs before chasing after the delicious smelling human. He tried to remember what she smelled like, but his memories were hard to recall. As black drool filled his mouth he remembered smelling something so sweet and greasy like her before. It was called pig meat… no, no! Bacon! He broke into a run after the truck.