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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.

    1ST OHIO VOLUNTEERS by Patrick Turner
    October 8, 2010  Short stories   Tags: , ,   

    Sunrise.

    Lou Raines, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (retired),  scanned the crimson landscape below him through his binoculars from his vantage point on a high peak overlooking the eastern Ohio countryside.

    Thick, white mist still clung in the gentle valleys. It enshrouded the small towns in a thick blanket, with only the tops of similar peaks to the one he was currently standing on visible through the otherwise clear morning air.

    The sun hung as a blood red orb. The disk was just now clearing the horizon. Thick morning air refracted most of the light away. One could even look at the blazing star safely for a few minutes without the risk of going blind. Soon, within minutes, the orb would grow bright and fierce and burn off the mists, revealing the truth of what they hid.

    A nightmare landscape of streets littered with broken down vehicles. Papers blowing in the empty streets like autumn leaves. They would occasionally flitter about to land on whatever surface they happened to find.  Broken and burned out shop windows, their goods long since looted by the local populace were evident every few blocks.

    Through the lenses of his binoculars, Gunny Raines watched as the mists slowly cleared and the scene below him finally came into a sharp focus. The first vision that greeted him was the face of the Marlboro Man, on a billboard sign that hung above the parking lot of a strip mall on a metal framework.

    He scanned down the framework into the parking lot and picked out the first shambling corpses of the day. He counted at least two dozen of them. They were just idly roaming the parking lot. An old, fat woman, her muumuu torn to shreds and covered in blood, pushed a grocery cart in endless circles around the lot. Occasionally she would stop, and stare stupidly off into the distance. Then, after a few brief minutes, she would continue on her eternal circle.

    A grocery store looked relatively intact however. No signs of fire or other structural damage. The windows were unbroken as well, and from what limited vision his vantage point gave him into those windows, it looked almost untouched inside.

    A lucky find…

    He next scanned the surrounding streets. He settled first on the intersection coming out from the parking lot of the strip mall. An accident had occurred there. Two cars had apparently had a head on collision in the center of the intersection. The twin hulks sat with their noses smashed, staring each other down in a silent competition. Broken glass littered the paper strewn intersection but the traffic lights were still working. They slowly changed colors, from red to green and back with the regularity of an atomic clock.

    Cars lay abandoned where they were all around the streets. Some with doors hanging wide open. Evidence of the horrors below abounded. There were blood smears on many of the car windows, and silent, still forms could be seen within some of the vehicles. Flies were buzzing around in large flocks around many of the assorted cars and trucks that were stacked behind each other for several blocks from the intersection. Every time the wind shifted, the ripe odor of decay could just be picked up on the breeze.

    Death had come to this town in a big way.

    Gunny Raines lowered the glasses and blinked as the real, unmagnified world came back into focus. He looked around the large flat field he was standing in. It sat at the top of a high ridge that dominated the landscape for miles around. It had once had a peak like other mountains in the area but this peak had been cut off in strip mining for coal. The deposits had eventually given out and the site abandoned. All that was left was a grassy tabletop on the roof of the world.

    The Gunny was a tallish man, 6′ 1″ tall, with a broad chest and long, shaggy grey hair that ran to his shoulders. An old, weather beaten camouflage baseball cap sat atop his head. He was dressed in the modern battle dress uniform coat, in forest colors. However he wore a very non regulation pair of faded blue jeans.

    Gunny Raines looked behind him to a tree line that sat about a hundred yards behind his present position and whistled. From the empty wood line materialized a dozen men in an odd array of camouflage clothing. Some were attired in hunting coveralls, others in military surplus battle dress uniforms. Some had boonie hats; one even had a camouflage cowboy hat.

    They carried an odd assortment of weapons. A few carried civilian AR-15s while most carried shotguns and one of the older men even carried an old, beaten and weather worn M-14 rifle. They carried machetes, claw hammers; even a crudely fashioned sword or tomahawk was attached to their web gear.

    The only thing that looked the same about them was the specially made shoulder patches that each man wore on his left shoulder. On it was the seal of the state of Ohio and on the margins above were the stylized words…1st Ohio Volunteer Rgt.

    They represented the vanguard of a unit that hadn’t seen service since the Civil War. A day when militia units like this were the primary way the army of the United States raised men to fight its wars.

    This was a war no doubt, and the enemy was playing for keeps to. World wide extinction was what the dead promised the living, and they were making good on that promise every day. So, Gunny Raines felt a large responsibility towards these men and the odd assortment of one hundred or so civilians back at the main camp a dozen miles back. Hidden safely inside the dense woods of a State Park.

    The line of men came within 20 yards of Raines’ position and began to form a defensive perimeter, just as they had been trained. Raines admired them for the way they expertly sought cover in the most advantageous positions they could find. They scanned their assigned sectors without being told. Not bad for a rag tag group of civilian soldiers that even the Guard wouldn’t take.

    One of the men, after seeing each man into position approached Gunny Raines and stood beside him looking down into the valleys of death below. Endless valleys of death as far as the man could see. Luckily they had nothing to fear. They were the meanest men in the valleys.

    Gunny Raines looked over at his executive officer and second in command. First Sergeant John Taylor, US Army (retired). He was one of those army pukes but a pretty good operator and a good man to have when things got rough. They had served at the same time, though in different branches, during the 80’s and then Operation Desert Storm. They retired shortly thereafter believing the world safe and their duty done. Between the two of them they had over half a century of military experience.

    He wasn’t as tall as the Gunny, but he was broad shouldered and had managed to keep fit in his retirement years by being an active member in the National Guard, until the Guard basically ceased to exist that is. He had brown hair, and a square jaw that constantly worked back and forth whenever he mulled over a tactical problem, or just what to eat for supper.

    The men they commanded however, one full dozen of them, didn’t add up to twenty years of experience between them. But the hard Darwinian process of life after the dead had turned them into a harsh, ready to roll unit capable of just about anything they put their collective minds to.

    When the US government broke down completely as Washington D.C. slowly ate itself into a necropolis. The states were forced to take up the burden of continued leadership and civil defense and continue the fight without direction from the Fed. They reinstituted mass levies in all 88 counties of Ohio and raised militia regiments in a fashion not seen since the men’s great-great grandfathers’ days.

    They mustered in at the town square, swore an oath to defend the constitution of the United States and the Great State of Ohio and then were issued whatever garb and weapons could be gathered from the local gun stores. Each man then received his shoulder patch and they were prompted to vote for their officers and NCO’s.

    That was over a year ago, and the war had taken its toll on the regiment. This county could only rely on about fifty armed combatants out of a paper number of two hundred and fifty. Casualties of a war every nation on earth was fighting for survival in.

    These men were the hard core survivors of a truly endless war. They accepted their fate stoically. Some were retired police or military, others were just hard men who’d grown up in the area and knew the wilderness and surrounding townspeople. Knew where the outlying holdout farms were, and where to avoid.

    They had carved out an existence in the Appalachian foothills of Eastern Ohio for over 6 months for themselves and for the civilians back at camp. They were a sad lot mostly, the Civilians. Women and children, widows and orphans really, of the men of the regiment. Along with a few handfuls of survivors picked up from various holdout farms and towns in the area. A small group of unwashed, dirty, starving people fighting for whatever scraps of survival could be found in this harsh wilderness of the damned.

    Gunny Raines was their leader and their protector. A responsibility he felt particularly keenly right now as he realized he was about to risk his men on yet another mission of survival. He strove to bring each man back alive and unwounded. For each man lost could not be replaced, and only swelled the already vast numbers of the enemy.

    He spit onto the ground and looked at his XO. “What do you think?”

    The XO worked his jaw back and forth a moment, then replied. “Well, as always the situation seems to be on these sorts of things. Getting in won’t be much of a problem. It’s always getting back out again that seems to be the tricky part.”

    Gunny Raines nodded gravely, then handed the binoculars over to the XO. Taylor put them to his eyes and scanned the strip mall and its attendant “hostiles”. Fat woman was still doing her endless circle and stop routine. The rest seemed to be scattered out pretty fairly.

    Though that could change because the dead seemed to like to hide from the daylight inside the surrounding structures of open spaces like this and only come out when a serious disturbance gets their attention. What one moment appears to be half a dozen corpses, winds up within minutes swelling to hundreds or even thousands of them. Caution needed to be taken.

    Gunny Raines squinted into the now fully radiant sun. “Let’s take the men downhill through that dry wash there.”, he said as he indicated a dry, shallow creek bed that snaked down the steep hill. “We’ll cross the gravel road at the bottom and make our way to the tree line just at the edge of the parking lot there. We’ll go in silent. Tell the men to fix bayonets.” the Gunny finished his orders.

    The XO nodded and went off to relay the orders to the men. The men in turn nodded and began attaching bayonets to their rifles, although some of the men just slung their weapons tight to their backs and brandished various hand weapons of nasty variety and use.

    One man, a full blooded Cherokee no less, brandished an ancient iron tomahawk that had been passed down in his family for generations. Supposedly it had scalped a British officer during the French and Indian war, but that was just an old family legend. He lovingly sharpened and polished the weapon, and it was obvious that it was of ancient make. The weapon had been cared for through the centuries and Gunny Raines had seen it work on enough occasions to know that it was as effective today as it was in the mid 18th century at removing a scalp, and a good part of the head with it.

    The men formed up in patrol column and the point man, a ruddy faced former college kid in real tree, slowly moved down the hill. His practiced ears and eyes alert for the slightest movement in the underbrush surrounding them.  He was attending Ohio University in Athens when the shit hit the fan.  He and his girlfriend were chased out of the dorms by a ravenous horde of undead students. Some of whom were once their friends. They ran headlong into a detachment of the 1st Ohio as it fought a holding action at an intersection on the way out of town to buy time for what civilians were left to beat a hasty retreat into the surrounding countryside.

    He thought about his parents as he wound his way down the draw. Were they alive and still looking for him? He doubted it. From what other men of the regiment who were posted near Columbus said anyway. The city was completely consumed. The only living things left there were cats and dogs. Which the dead seemed to not be interested in as much, though some were occasionally known to try and chase small mammals.

    The boy stopped at the bottom of the hill where the tree line broke for the old gravel road that passed through the area. He looked carefully to the right and left making sure that no wandering dead were about. For some reason they liked to wander, sometimes very far from where they originally died. They seemed to have vague memories of their former lives and would often repeat actions that were important to them in life.

    The boy was satisfied that no immediate threat stood on the road. He slowly stepped out on the gravel surface and as quietly as possible crossed the road into the ditch on the other side. He crouched down next to an overgrown corn field.

    The corn had long died, but still remained standing in the field. It was limiting his vision to a few feet into the field. His eyes narrowed and his senses perked. The rest of the team was a hundred yards up the hill behind him. He turned his head and looked back and just caught the hint of movement on the top of the hill as the last team members stepped off into the morning dew drenched forest.

    Suddenly, without warning or noise, several dark forms sprang from the depths of the cornstalks and bowled over the kid onto his back. His weapon flew out of his hand and landed with a clatter and a splash into the bottom of the water filled ditch. The boy screamed out in terror as feral growls and flashing white teeth filled his ears and his eyes. Then, there was a hot searing pain at his throat.

    Gunny Raines heard the scream instantly go quiet and he cursed and looked at the men. “Double time it men!” the Gunny shouted. The men tore down quickly through the draw. Then down to the edge of the tree line. They heard the growls as they reached the gravel road and sprang over the edge and looked down into the ditch.

    The boy laid there, his throat a shredded mess. Blood was streaming from his mouth and his eyes staring up at a blue, cloudless sky. Eating at the open wounds they had made in the body, was a pack of feral hounds. Huge animals, the hounds had shaggy, dirty coats of fur caked in mud and refuse. Their ribs were showing through their ragged pelts, and they hungrily pulled bits of skin and muscle away from the boy’s arm. It was obvious that they were crazed with hunger, and a distracted boy was just as good as anything else to be found these days. The deer and other mammals had retreated from the awful smell of decay near the cities and towns as deep as they could. Garbage only lasts so long, and Mr. Darwin was constantly at work weeding out the stupid and the weak.

    As soon as they sensed their meal was interrupted the hounds looked up at the men on the ledge and began growling menacingly, one of the hounds grabbed the boy by the ankle and began pulling and tugging, trying to drag his body back into the corn. The men quickly raised their rifles and unleashed a single volley into the pit with the practice of a firing squad. One man made sure a bullet went right between the eyes of the kid.

    The men then made good time and within an hour drew up on the edge of the tree line that bumped up against the parking lot of the strip mall. The sun had risen to about a quarter of the sky and the temperature was starting to rise. The men had worked up a sweat in the walk down here, and many took a swig from their canteens.

    One of the men passed gas, bringing a soft chuckle from the surrounding guys. One look from Gunny Raines brought sheer silence from the men, and they all looked out at the parking lot and the stores beyond.

    The parking lot was relatively clear of vehicles, with only the odd junk car rusting in a space here and there. The dead could be clearly seen just milling about the lot. Fat woman came into view on one leg of her eternal walk around the lot. The tree line sat just below the parking lot and the men looked up as she stumbled by, her cart rattling and squeaking on the pavement.  The smell of her was awful and even from 30 feet away her odor was overpowering.

    She was about halfway past the skirmish line of men when suddenly she stopped for one of her stares. She just slowly moved her fleshy neck to the right, out across the parking lot. Then, her head slowly came back in the other direction and she looked into the wood line. Her mouth hung open, and a swollen tongue could be seen between her cracked lips. She then looked forward, moaned once and continued pushing the cart, continuing her slow lap around the lot.

    Gunny Raines nodded to Taylor, who had a crossbow in his hands. He peered through the scope at fat woman, the back of her head filling the crosshairs. He touched the trigger and with an audible slap, the bolt was thrown off the crossbow and whizzed 30 feet to slam with a wet crack into fat woman’s skull. The fletching was hanging out the back of her head. Fat lady dropped to her knees and then fell forward onto her face with a final thud.

    Gunny Raines nodded to the men and they slowly made their way out of the treeline and up onto the lot. They then spread out into teams of two, carefully keeping a distance of 25 feet between each team. The two man teams had a dual function, one man to work offense while another kept an eye on his teammate’s rear and sides. The dead had a nasty way of sneaking up on a man or materializing out of crevices and holes.

    Absolute silence was the goal. If they had come in blasting with firearms, every dead corpse for miles would be alerted and would begin a steady exodus en masse to the sound of the guns. They would go from dozens to hundreds to a horde in a matter of minutes and the men would be overwhelmed where they fought. So instead they went in quietly with hand weapons. The only noise was the echo of their boots off the walls as they jogged forward and the wet slaps of hand rifle butts, bats and axes smashing skulls, or taking off heads, or simply impaling them through the eye sockets. Whatever was needed to destroy the brain and make it stay down for good.

    The dead in the parking lot stopped and turned towards the sound of the men approaching and began mindlessly shambling forward. Sequoia, the self insisted nickname of the Cherokee with the tomahawk, used that weapon mercilessly to dispatch several dead that had packed together as the men broke from the tree line, in seconds, without breaking the continuity of the line. His measured strokes were followed by a spray of crimson as he cut his way past, leaving several corpses behind him with smashed skulls.

    The men crossed the lot with ease and came to the door. “Axe up!” came the call and a burly man carrying a huge, ichor stained fireman’s axe came forward and hacked the plexiglass window from the door with ease, then stepped through.

    Each man entered one at a time and then took up positions inside the door ready to defend from any dead that may be lurking in the aisles of the grocer while those in the rear guard pulled out specially designed plywood panels with iron bands as reinforcement and bolted it to the door frame, blocking the entrance from the few dead left out in the lot.

    The power was out and the place was pretty dark. It’s not a lot of fun to play “Find the Zombie” in the aisles of a darkened grocery store, but what choice did they have? Each man broke into the customary two man teams and began a methodical search for supplies. Symmes, the medic, and his assistant Grimes headed off towards the pharmacy in search of antibiotics.

    Symmes was once a paramedic with a local volunteer fire department. When the shit first broke out, he was one of the first responders. He saw how the dead attacked with a slow but steady ferocity. They tended to pack together and attack in a mass. They moved slow but once they locked on to a target they could come on surprisingly fast. One bite or even some of their fluids in an open cut, and you were a goner within 48 hours.

    He carried a .357 revolver and a flashlight, tactical style with the gun resting on the wrist holding the flashlight and scanned the aisles. He caught movement behind the pharmacy counter. He focused the light there.

    A young girl, barely 19, stood there in the light staring dumbly at the floor. Then her head slowly turned towards the source of the light and Grimes could see that she was once very pretty. Death had wrecked her once beautiful features. Her skin was a pale white, and her lips a sickening blue. Her eyes were sunken, and her hair hung in limp, knotted locks. She opened her mouth and a feral hiss came from her throat. She turned and reached forward clawing across the counter to get to the meal in front of her.

    Symmes sighed and holstered his pistol. Then he drew his machete. Silent protocol was still in effect and he went over and decapitated her as cleanly as possible. Her head hit bounced off the pharmacy counter and rolled onto the floor, while her body lie sprawled over the counter, her arms still twitching with some reflex action. Symmes then slid the machete back into it’s scabbard and went to work looking for medicines on the far side of the counter.

    Vitamins were found and loaded into backpacks. Vitamins were just as important as food, because they kept away deficiency diseases like scurvy. The diet of the survivors at the camp was far from ideal. Consisting mostly of hunted meat, they got fairly little in the way of fruits and vegetables except berries when they were in season. So vitamins were a top priority for the men.

    They then hit the baked goods aisle. In their panic most of the people in town had bought canned goods and bread and all readymade foods. Of which there was relatively little. But they left the real treasures. There were bags and bags of flour, sugar and salt. Yeast packets and various other goods that could feed dozens if rationed properly. A bag of flour was priceless compared to a few loaves of bread, and the men grabbed them up and loaded shopping carts with the bags. A store load of rice was found in the back and the men cheered as they realized enough was here to feed them all very well for a month or two.

    Gunny Raines went to the truck docks and peered through the peephole in the side door. There didn’t appear to be any dead that he could see, so he reached down to the radio at his belt and placed it by his mouth. “Ramirez, you ready?” he said into the radio.

    “Sure am Gunny!” came a rough, static reply. In the background loud mariachi music could be heard playing.

    “Then come on around the back to the dock and back in. Just be careful, my vision is impaired and I’m not sure what’s out there.” Raines said.

    “Yes sir!” was the reply, though it was almost drowned out by mariachi and then there was silence.

    “Okay men! Get this shit together and ready to load! We got hungry mouths to feed! MOVE IT!” Gunny barked and the men jumped into action, gathering the found supplies by the dock door and then setting up defensive positions around the badly needed supplies.

    The sound of an engine growing closer was soon evident, along with an occasional wet thud. Then the squeal of tires and mariachi music soon came to the ears of the soldiers. A sly grin crossed some of their faces.

    Through the peephole, Gunny Raines could see the once white, but now dirty and bloodstained panel van they used to haul themselves and supplies, come around the corner and then back into the dock area. Mariachi music echoed off the walls of the dock. The dock door flew open and men began loading the supplies onto the truck with practiced timing.

    A sliding panel at the front of the cargo area slid open and a short haired Mexican face appeared. “Hey guys! Hit the mother lode eh?” he said as he turned down the mariachi music.

    Several of the men smiled and nodded at Ramirez as they loaded the boxes of supplies and bags of flour and other precious goods into the truck. While Taylor the XO, led a team of 4 men outside to establish a defense around the truck. Everything was duly being loaded and Gunny Raines jumped into the passenger seat of the cab next to Ramirez and asked him about the surrounding environment.

    “It’s getting busy out there Gunny, I saw a large mob of them wandering this way from the other side of town, at least a hundred. Be here any time, we really have to move.” Ramirez said with deadpan seriousness and then looked out the front window and cursed.

    A group of about 20 dead had gathered and came around the corner of the building and began shambling their way towards the truck. There were only 4 men out there and they looked up at the cab and asked Gunny what his orders were.

    “Get in the back of the truck, we’re moving now.” Gunny said out the window and the men promptly picked up and packed into the back of the van. The rear door rolled closed and latched tight from the inside and Gunny just looked at Ramirez and said “Go”.

    Ramirez nodded and put the truck in gear, turned up the Mariachi music and pulled forward accelerating towards the dead in front of them. The truck plowed right through the center of them, dead flying backwards and under the truck. Those in the cab and the back were shaken as the truck rumbled over several bodies and then kept on moving into the parking lot.

    Ramirez hit the accelerator and headed across the parking lot towards a gap in the stalled vehicles so that he could negotiate his way back out of town, but as he hit the center of the lot, the engine sputtered and stalled. The truck rolled to a quick halt.

    Ramirez cursed violently and turned the key. The engine turned over, coughed a few times and then failed again. The wiry Mexican screamed obscenities in Spanish at the steering wheel then gave it one last try on the key, no good.

    To make matters worse, the dead were beginning to gather around and take notice of the meal that had presented itself for their dining pleasure. They turned and began shambling, crawling, even clawing their legless way towards the men and their hard won prize. They weren’t about to give up without a fight.

    “Taylor! Get the men out and form a perimeter! Full weapons! Keep ‘em off us till we can get this piece of shit started. Ramirez get to work!”, Gunny shouted back and then opened the door and stepped out.

    The back door of the truck rolled open and the men spilled out of the truck and into the lot. They formed a defense circle around it. They began calling out targets in their sectors and requesting permission to fire.

    “Permission granted” shouted Gunny and the men opened fire. They carefully conserved each and every precious shell. Dead began dropping like sacks of potatoes on to the pavement as the cracks of steady gunfire echoed off the buildings surrounding the parking lot. Suddenly, over the din of gunfire, the men began to hear it and it grew louder than even the pop of firearms. It was the sounds of hundreds of moans, cries and even screams. It was the endless cacophony of an undead horde, and it was headed their way.

    Ramirez meanwhile had the hood of the truck open and was frantically checking wires over and trying to find the reason for the truck to not start. He was praying fervently in Spanish and checking for loose connections when he felt a hand grab his ankle followed by a searing lance of pain being shot into his calf. He screamed out in terror and pain.

    Gunny Raines looked over and saw the mangled corpse, really just an upper torso with arms and a head, struggling from under the truck and with a firm grip on Ramirez ankle and chewing on his calf. Ramirez dropped to the ground and was frantically kicking the thing in the face with his free leg and managed to force it off. He back pedaled away and limped over towards the truck, muttering in Spanish. Raines football kicked the thing square the in the face and took half its rotted head off, ichor spraying in a sickening rain. The rest just collapsed into a twitching heap of flesh and Gunny went over to Ramirez who was praying fervently next to the wheel.

    “I’m dead meat Gunny! I’m done for! Oh mother of Christ! Oh Gunny! “, tears began welling down Ramirez’ face and he cursed loudly and grimaced from the pain in his calf. “Fucker took a good chunk out of me! Damn, it hurts!” Ramirez said through his teeth.

    Raines looked down on him and sighed “Damn it Ramirez, what am I gonna do now? You’re the mechanic of this outfit and I can’t get this truck started. Symmes!” Raines called to Symmes who gave Ramirez a quick shot of precious morphine and then tied off the wound. Raines and the medic then helped Ramirez to his feet and he went back to work under the hood of the truck, working desperately to save their lives.

    Meanwhile, the first wave of the horde began emerging from the side alleys and streets. They worked around and over the stalled vehicles in their wake. The moans and wails were echoing off the walls and driving right through the men in the slowly shrinking perimeter. The gunfire picked up in intensity as the number of targets grew, and the men were now beginning to grow desperate.

    One man pulled out a box from the back of the truck and opened it to reveal Molotov cocktails made from wine bottles inside. The men quickly took them and lit the rag fuses, before tossing them at the front of the wave of undead. The bottles arced clumsily through the air and then shattered on the pavement, creating rings of fire. More than a few dead were caught alight and moaned, flailing about wildly as the rest just backed away from the rings of fire for a few moments.

    Ramirez finally had the problem solved. The distributor cap was fouled with gunk and bits of flesh and other human pulp. He cleaned the cap and replaced the wires and prayed for everything he was worth that he could get it done in time. Finally the last wire was connected and he hurriedly limped around to the driver side of the truck and got in the cab.

    He crossed himself quickly and then turned the key and the vehicle started up. He shouted in glee and yelled out the window, “Come on! Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

    By this time the dead had forced the men to within a few feet of the truck. Some of the men were desperately clubbing the closest undead with the butts of their rifles, or impaling them in the face with a timed bayonet thrust. They retreated to the rear and climbed in the back. The last men getting in were clubbing and kicking frantically at the crowd of undead reaching up into the truck, desperately clawing for their flesh. Taylor emptied a shotgun into the mass, several measured blasts that scattered them back several feet and allowed them time to shut the door. They rolled it closed and locked it down, just as the dead began beating on the door and the sides of the truck, rocking it back and forth.

    Ramirez hit the gas pedal as Gunny Raines fired his .45 out the window at the rapidly approaching undead and the truck leapt forward into the crowd of uncaring corpses. The truck bounced wildly and the men were tossed around like marbles as the truck careened into and bounced over bodies on the way out of the lot, some of the dead vainly holding on for a few moments before finally dropping free from the bumpers. The truck squealed around a corner and disappeared. Leaving the confused crowd of dead behind to look around at each other.

    The sun was setting as the truck pulled into the state park and wound its way slowly up an old service road to the camp. The camp itself was a series of cabins that had been built for renting to tourists during the season. The men had commandeered the cabins and built a wood log stockade fence, 12 feet high around the cabins. There were landings built into the wall every 10 feet.  Room enough for 2 riflemen to stand and directly fire down on any dead who might happen to wander up from town. Though this far back, they were few and far between.

    The gate was opened as the truck roared in, and then closed just as quickly. The truck skidded to a halt in the center of the compound. People came out of the nearby cabins and slowly came to the see what the team had brought in. Dirty children, in torn and patched clothing appeared from behind the buildings and stared curiously at the truck that brought such vitally needed supplies, and occasionally treats like chocolate bars.

    The rear of the truck opened and the men spilled out onto the ground. A few of them getting down and kissing it and saying thanks to a God who had wrecked his own creation for bringing them back safely. The men began unloading the goods, and a cheer went up through the crowd as the precious flour and rice were brought out.

    Ramirez limped to the back of the truck and grabbed a box of Hershey bars and limped over to the ragged group of kids standing there staring at the truck. He smiled and began passing the bars out to each one. Tears streaming down his face as the little children’s eyes lit up at the idea of a real treat.  They thanked him and then ran off behind the buildings, their shrill cries of laughter and delight warming his heart.

    He winced and looked down at his wounded leg. The wound was already festering, and it hurt like hell. Within a few hours he would be bed ridden. By morning he would be delirious with fever and by nightfall he would be dead, to rise and attack the only family he had left. He heard the gravel crunch behind him and he turned his head to see Gunny Raines standing there.

    “Shitty deal you caught today, Son”, was all the Gunny could manage to say.

    “Yeah Gunny, there really is no sense wasting time with it. I don’t want to suffer through it. The dying that is.”, Ramirez said as he stared forward at the kids munching on their precious chocolate bars. One of the girls, a dark haired little 8 year old smiled and waved to him. Ramirez waved back.

    “How do you want do it? I’m afraid the morphine and other drugs that could kill you we need for the others. Besides, you know it is best if we…”

    “Destroy my brain? Yeah, I know Gunny. It’s cool. Hey, did we find any smokes in that place?” Ramirez said. A gentle breeze blew through his hair and he thought to himself that it was at least a nice day to die.

    The Gunny reached into his pocket and pulled out a brand new pack of Marlboros. Ramirez preferred Kools but in this day and age you took what you could get. He put the cigarette in his lips and the Gunny lit it for him. He took a deep drag and blew the smoke into the air. Relishing the way the nicotine made him feel dizzy. He was almost calm about his fate.

    He butted the smoke out and held out his hand. The Gunny nodded and pulled his .45 from his holster and handed it to the little Mexican. He smiled grimly and turned and limped towards the gate of the compound. The guards at the gate ropes looked at the Gunny, and he nodded and they opened the gates.

    Ramirez limped through and out and the gate was closed as quickly as it was opened. The Gunny looked up at the sky, blew out a dense cloud of tobacco smoke towards the quickly emerging stars, and thought about tomorrow. These supplies wouldn’t last longer than 4 weeks or so. He didn’t have many men left for these missions, and he lost two of them today…

    His thoughts were interrupted by a solitary shot. It echoed around the hills besieging the little compound of the 1st Ohio Volunteers.

    The End

    30 Comments

    1. Well done, wouldn’t mind reading more of this one

      Comment by dmrma on October 9, 2010 @ 10:06 am

    2. Ohio’s in trouble with that rate of attrition of Dad’s army. Nice story but somewhere in America there has to be a community that survives because Max Brooks said so! I’m bowled over by the quality of stories being posted here.

      Comment by David Emanuel on October 9, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    3. Depends whether you think it would be a Zombie Apocolypse or not. Not much of an apocolypse if loads of people survive.

      I think this is a solid story.

      Comment by Pete Bevan on October 9, 2010 @ 11:53 am

    4. Loved it. Very discriptive of the area they lived in. Would have liked to read a bit more of the gunny

      Comment by Hazzard1Actual on October 9, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

    5. Leave a comment this is exactly the kind of storythat keeps me coming back and reading. thank you.

      Comment by Brian Parmeter on October 10, 2010 @ 5:38 am

    6. Finally! A story where the military guy isn’t a meat head and doesn’t die! Nice job! I espeically liked how the Gunny was older and not some young, perfectly built 21 year old. Very cool.

      PS: does anyone know the email of the admin? I’m new and want to send my story in. sorry for posting this guys

      Comment by ZombieLover on October 10, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    7. ZL click on submit at the top of the page

      Comment by Pete Bevan on October 10, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    8. thank you sir. although i was a little confused at how they listed it. it is west@talesofworldwarz.com right?

      Comment by Zombie lover on October 10, 2010 @ 9:19 am

    9. Leave a comment I’d love to hear more about this outpost. The story was well written, and leaves tons of room for more sequels (hint, hint).

      Thanks for sharing.

      Comment by Kristen on October 10, 2010 @ 10:31 am

    10. Hey thanks all, it’s my first story. 🙂

      Basically the area described is actually real, even the feral hounds! They lived in a pack on a crazy farmers land my dad and I hunted as a kid. They didn’t attack people but if you got a deer you had to guard it because they were not shy about eating the carcass while you watched and were quite vicious.

      I’m working on a sequel, glad it was enjoyed.

      Comment by Patrick Turner on October 10, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    11. I like the idea of survivor colonies, especially in backwoods America. It would be inevitable and they have a better chance of making an impact then anybody living in a city would. But as you stated here, there strength is their weakness. Better suited to survival but much less numbers.

      Really enjoyed your story, I too would like to read more.

      Comment by Terry Schultz on October 10, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    12. Excellent ! Please continue, reminds me of the Sgt. Rock comics I loved as a kid!

      Comment by FRANK on October 11, 2010 @ 11:15 am

    13. Very interesting, well done.

      Comment by Doc on October 12, 2010 @ 7:41 am

    14. Outstanding read, please do some more. This was a top notch story.

      Comment by Joe from Philly on October 12, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    15. Very well written! I am looking forward to reading the sequel

      Comment by Hank Mardukis on October 12, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    16. Enjoyable story. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

      Comment by brycepunk on October 13, 2010 @ 12:39 am

    17. I’m a former Marine, so this story won me over the moment you had a Gunny running the show! Great story I feel bad for poor Ramirez though.

      Comment by James on October 13, 2010 @ 7:41 am

    18. This is exactly the kind of story I love reading. It wasn’t about action, but about survival and the changes necessary to do that. To me, the best zombie story is the one about how people adapt to becoming prey. And way to go with avoiding the common archetypes; like the cruel military man, or the infected victim who doesn’t do the right thing. GOOD read!

      Comment by Scooter on October 14, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    19. All I can do is echo the sentiment made by everyone else! This was a great read from start to finish! Keep it up and ummmm yeah, finish up that sequel?

      Comment by Glenn on October 14, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

    20. Wait im a little confused how did 50 guys go to 6?

      Comment by Jim on November 14, 2010 @ 3:26 am

    21. It was just a team dispatched from the camp for supplies. The rest of the men were back at camp, other duties, etc..

      I’ve submitted the sequel, things will make more sense.

      Comment by Patrick Turner on November 14, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

    22. Ramirez was a good man as was the gunny but the medic poor man head to behead a woman I wouldn’t be able to do it I understand there not people any more but damn its just too hard to grasp

      Comment by kage on November 14, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

    23. you certainly do not know shit about the u.s. military if you think a first sgt is going to take orders from the equivalent of a staff sgt. even worse a staff sgt with more then 20 years under his belt. just because he is a marine doesnt mean shit and doesnt mean the first sgt superior skill, and experience dosent mean anything, in real life the gunny would be the xo.

      Comment by sgt coop on May 27, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

    24. I read the second one first, and just finished this one. I write a little. I read A LOT. I really enjoy your writing and especially enjoy the setting of these stories. I’m ex-military and think the ragtag army of amateur and professional soldiers idea is great. Keep it up.

      Comment by JamesA on August 5, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    25. Oh, yeah. Sgt Coop, lighten up, man. It’s a story. Besides that, the author stated that they elected their leaders. The Gunney and 1st Sgt were their ranks at retirement and they call each other by that rank. I work with a guy who was a 1st Sgt on active duty and I still call him “Top” even though he’s technically below me on the CoC at work. It did not detract from the story at all, IMO.

      Comment by JamesA on August 5, 2011 @ 11:31 am

    26. LOL

      Well I certainly didn’t intend to bruise any interservice egos here, but I thought I made it pretty clear their ranks weren’t “official” and they were elected to their posts. These men are old enough and mature enough to pretty much be equals anyway. It’s obvious that they respect each other immensely and former rank is inconsequential to the story other than to show they are both highly experienced veterans.

      Comment by Patrick Turner on August 25, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    27. As a secondary comment to clear it up further for those who may not understand. This unit, due to the collapse of organized military around them, were raised in a 19th century fasion before there were standing armies of any real sort. In such an army, as during the 19th century, a former commissioned officer could easily find himself under the command of a junior rank. It happened during the civil war ALL THE TIME.

      Comment by Patrick Turner on August 26, 2011 @ 5:10 am

    28. Sorry, Patrick. Just saw your follow up comments. No need to apologize about veteran’s (or not veteran’s – you never can tell) easily bruised egos. I think the whole basis behind your stories are more plausible than most. Bottom line is, I enjoy the heck out of this series (just finished Columbus Day) so keep up the good work.

      Comment by JamesA on September 29, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    29. A gunny in the Marine Corps is equal to a SFC in the Army E-7 not a staff Sgt E-6. Maybee Sgt coop dont know sh*t

      Comment by Brad on October 7, 2011 @ 12:44 am

    30. Great story Pat!

      Comment by Brad on October 7, 2011 @ 12:48 am

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