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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

HANGING ‘EM UP by Greg Hall
May 14, 2009  Short stories   Tags:   

Ted worked the pump on the twelve-gauge, waited until his target was ten feet away, and squeezed the trigger.  His shoulder, toughened against the kick of the shotgun, jarred back briefly and another useless set of rotting arms and legs dropped to the ground.

“Careful, Ted, they’re starting to pile.”

Instinctively, Ted took two backward steps, replicating the fluid movement of a retreating fencer.  The last round was racked, and he had three potentials, one dumbly climbing over the corpse he’d just created, the other two flanking it.

“Still good to the backside?”

Ted felt Rick grimace at the question.  “Still good, Ted, or I’d have said something, huh?”

“Sorry.  Habit.  Not used to working” – here the twelve gauge barked and jabbed at his shoulder again – “with you lately.  You know, been schooling the rookies.  I’m dry.  Two of ’em, twenty yards each.”

“Alright.  Switch.”

Even though it was empty, Ted pointed the barrel of his weapon safely in the air and wheeled it around, his eyes leaving the shambling, tattered figures that were pursuing him as his partner picked them up.  Sweeping left to right behind them, looking for potential hiding places, Ted saw for himself that, yes, they were in fact still good on the backside.  The truck was still a hundred yards away, parked in a clearing that offered no cover for lurking zombies.

He’d already jacked in two fresh shells before his mind realized his hands were doing something.  Behind him, Rick squeezed off a round from his Mini 14, and quickly followed it with another.  He fancied himself a better shot than he actually was, but he did eventually get the job done.

“So,” Rick said casually, “not very talkative today.”

“Sorry.  Had some stuff on my mind.”

(Pop!)  “You, uh, realize that’s not a good way to be if you’re coming out to hunt.”

“Naw.  I’ve always been better when I don’t think about what we’re doing.  I always thought the guys that think are the ones that panic.”

“Oh, thanks-” (Pop!) “a lot, buddy.  I do nothing but think when I’m out here.”

“You do nothing but chatter all the time.  Cripes, Rick, how many more are there?”

“Suck me.  It’s… just… ” (Pop!) “There.  It’s just that sometimes their heads bob up and down right as I squeeze off.  Okay, clear front.”

“Still clear back.  No, I don’t mean to be a dick.  I’m just… I dunno, just not in the best frame of mind lately.”

Rick briefly broke procedure, hazarding a look over his shoulder.  “You alright?”

They were still doing their odd crouch-walk, Ted sweeping left and right for any sign of movement, Rick making sure nothing else was coming.  Ted let out a heavy breath.

“It’s just that… well… I’ve been thinking about hanging ’em up.”

“Aw, crap, Ted!  Don’t tell me you’re starting to side with Owens!”

“No, nothing like that.  I still don’t buy his line of ‘just wait, they’ll all rot away in a few years’ crap.  But, we’ve got plenty of young guys now, and good procedures in place.  I mean, it’s been a couple years since anyone got careless and got himself eaten.”

“Yeah, but… well, Dammit, Ted, you’re good.  The more hunters we have out, the more we bag.  These bastards ain’t gonna kill themselves!”

“I know.  But… I’m tired, Rick.  I shouldn’t be having nightmares anymore, but I do.  About every night.  Besides, they have been thinning out, and we have had to go farther out to find ’em these days.”

“Yeah, but we’re still nowhere near a city.  Won’t be too long before we’ll have to try clearing out Fremont.”

“I still think that’s insane.  We’ve given up on the cities.  Ought to just burn ’em down and start over.”

They were to the truck now.  Rick stood up on a running board to give one last, jaundiced survey of the horizon before hopping in the driver’s seat.  “I’m telling ya, Ted, you can’t just burn down a city.  Stuff’s farther apart than it seems, and even Chicago, with all those wood buildings, wasn’t all the way burned down by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow…”

Ted had hopped in and was no longer listening.

Rick, satisfied the coast was clear, grabbed for the handle of the pickup door.  Before he started to open it, he froze.

“Shit, Ted! What are you -”

Sidearm against his forehead, the old hunter didn’t look out at his friend.  “Sorry you gotta see this, Rick.  I didn’t want to do it back home, but I’m not leaving my meat out here for them.


  1. I liked this. People cultured and trained to sweep hostile areas. Very interesting. Keep writing.

    Comment by Scooter on May 14, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  2. What he said, keep up the writing and i will keep reading it!

    Comment by Gunldesnapper on May 15, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  3. the best way to say goodbye to your friends is to blow the zombie out of your self, good short

    Comment by greg on May 16, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  4. Hey great writing keep writing. i am a big fan of zombie shorts, and this is one of the best one’s

    Comment by Thomas on May 17, 2009 @ 12:51 am

  5. Damnit too shoooorrrrrtttt!
    uhmm I need more… OH YEAH Great Short..
    Wondering if the one who wrote this could email with a full blown story or would be cool if i picked up where you left off.

    Comment by Keoni on May 20, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  6. Not bad, but where do you fo from here?

    Comment by David Youngquist on May 30, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  7. a bullet in the brain… processing… sounds deadly.
    Great story, a little confusing though. i have to read it over.
    too short… but good start… keep writing… im hoping to see a chapter 2… hm.

    Comment by Jake on June 2, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

  8. I liked the story, but I think it leaves a lot of things yet untold. Eg., I’d love to see them try to clear out a city. Great job on setting up the mood though! Cheers!

    Comment by Max on June 16, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  9. Very good.
    Should have been longer though.
    kepp it up

    Comment by Dave gorack. on July 7, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  10. very good short perhaps to short but still an amazing read keep it up.

    Comment by rene on August 11, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

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