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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.

    NIGHT PATROL by Patrick Turner
    November 16, 2010  Short stories   Tags: , ,   

    This is the second story of a series that began with 1ST OHIO VOLUNTEERS.

    1.

    Moonrise.

    The darkened, almost pitch black landscape below began to shift into faint shadow as a nearly full moon climbed above the eastern horizon. The cold, white lunar light gave the entire forest surrounding the tiny compound of the 1st Ohio Volunteer Regiment an eerie, almost enchanted quality. The chorus of crickets was almost deafening in the cool night air, broken only by the occasional hoot of a solitary owl.

    The rectangular compound, consisting of a dozen ramshackle tourist cabins surrounded by a palisade wall, sat within the embrace of a group of forested hills deep in the dense woods of a State Park in the sparsely populated Appalachian foothills region of Eastern Ohio.  It represented one of the few signs of living humanity that could be found for miles around.

    As the bright moon climbed higher into the night sky, more details could be discerned inside the camp. The compound was aligned on a north-south axis, with 6 cabins on the eastern and western sides of the compound, separated by a large rectangular parking area. A once white, but now dirty and bloodstained panel van was the sole vehicle occupant. The rest of the space was being taken up by several large canvas tents that were pitched on the rough gravel surface.

    Gunnery Sergeant Lou Raines was making his nightly rounds of the camp, checking that each of the sentries was awake and doing his duty. Occasionally the Gunny would find one of his men had nodded off in the dark, boring hours of the night. So these rounds were important in the overall scheme of keeping the compound secure.

    Gunny Raines came first to the front gate of the palisade wall. The gate had two guards on duty. They stood on a wooden landing built into the palisade that allowed them a clear view down the old service road for several hundred yards before it made a sharp bend to the right and disappeared into the otherwise unbroken forest.

    The men looked behind them when they heard the crunch of gravel and nodded to the Gunny as he made his way to the top of the landing. He spoke with them for a few minutes and hearing that all was well, nodded and looked out over the moonlit road and thick trees surrounding either side of it. All seemed quiet and secure.

    Raines turned and was about to walk back down off the landing when a distant, yet still audible gunshot echoed through the valley. The Gunny stopped and cocked his head in the direction of the sound. A moment later another report sounded through the trees, then a third. Finally a fusillade of distant shots could be heard, echoing throughout the trees, punctuated by sharper and larger explosions. One of the sentries looked to the Gunny,   the worry on his bearded face could just be seen in the pale moonlight. “What do you think it is Gunny? Hearing the occasional shot isn’t unusual, but that sounds like a regular pitched battle going on.”

    The Gunny just shrugged his shoulders and turned his ear in the direction of the ensuing reports, trying to discern a pattern. He recognized the blast of shotguns, along with the occasional sharp rattle of an automatic weapon. That was strange, not to many of the civilians in the various holdout farms and compounds scattered throughout the area were armed with automatic weapons.

    A call came from behind and the Gunny turned his head and looked down to see a figure standing in the dark.  His pale, young face practically was shining in the white light of the moon. It was the camp radio operator, Ellsworth. “Hey Gunny, better come over to the commo tent, I think you’re gonna to want to hear this.”

    The Gunny nodded, turned and made his way down the steep stairs and back onto ground level. The pair then crossed the short distance to a canvas tent. The sound of static and voices could be clearly heard as they approached the entrance. Ellsworth pulled the flap aside and the Gunny entered into the tent. It was dimly lit by just a single candle, which sat sputtering on an old saucer plate that itself sat on a stack of shipping crates that served as the table upon which rested a Citizens Band radio. The radio was the primary means of communication between the network of holdout farms and survivor communities scattered throughout the region.

    Ellsworth quickly crossed over to the CB and turned up the volume. The desperation in the voice coming from the speaker was clearly evident, along with the noise of gunfire in the background.

    “Hello! Hello! Does anyone have their ears on out there!? This is Jake Miller! Does anyone read me out there?”

    Ellsworth reached down and grabbed the mike and depressed the button. “This is Ellsworth, First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, please identify.”

    There was static for a moment, and then voice and the gunfire returned.

    “Miller! Jake Miller! We’re a farm located just east of Pomeroy!”,   between the static and the gunfire the voice was just barely audible. Gunny Raines went over to an Ohio map that was tacked to the canvas wall of the tent and ran his finger along until he spotted Pomeroy on the map. The farm sat about 5 miles to the south of their encampment. Just outside the borders of the park near Ohio Route 32.

    He listened as the voice came back over the airwaves. “We need help! We’re being shot at!” and then silence again. Ellsworth keyed the microphone, “Miller! This is Ellsworth, report your situation!” but no more replies came over the speaker.

    After a few minutes of trying, and not having gotten a response the Gunny placed a hand on Ellsworth’s shoulder. “Go get Taylor.” Ellsworth nodded and quickly left the tent while the Gunny considered his options.

    There wasn’t much the Gunny could do before daylight. The idea of a forced night march over the hills and down into the adjacent valley where the Miller Farm was located, across a possibly zombie infested wilderness was not very pleasing to the Gunny. He had to know more before making that march. He continued pondering the tactical situation when the flap moved to the side, spilling moonlight into the entrance. The XO of the 1st Ohio, First Sergeant John Taylor stepped into the dimly lit tent and looked around. He was shirtless, his broad shoulders blocked a good portion of the entranceway to the tent and the Gunny looked over at his XO.

    “Hey Gunny, what’s up?”, Taylor asked as he walked into the tent. He looked over the Gunny, an older man, with long, tangled gray hair that ran to his shoulders. He was going bald on top, and without his customary battered old baseball cap, the Gunny had the resemblance of an old hermit monk, complete with tonsured hair.

    “Not sure yet John, apparently one of the holdout farms a few miles south of here is being attacked. I’m not sure by who or what, but the guy sounded pretty desperate to me on the CB.”, the Gunny replied and proceeded to fill Taylor in on what he knew. Then he showed him the location on the map.

    “I want you to take a few men, and form a patrol to cross the hills to the south of here and into the adjacent valley where the Miller Farm is located and find out what’s going on. Take Symmes with you in case anyone needs medical attention.”, the Gunny said as he continued staring at the map.

    “If you run into anything you can’t handle, I want you to retreat into the woods and hole up until I can come with a larger relief in the morning. I want you to stay out of serious trouble. Do you understand?” The Gunny finished and looked at his XO, who despite the darkness could be seen working his square jaw back and forth, as was his habit when making decisions.

    “That’s a rough walk Gunny. That terrain, with only moonlight to guide us?”, Taylor replied as he looked at the map, considering his own plans and shaking his head.

    “Exactly, that’s why I need you to scout the area first so that I know what we’re walking into. I don’t want any surprises that will get our men killed. Lord knows there aren’t many of us left these days.”, the Gunny said gravely.

    Taylor nodded and thought for a moment, “Okay boss, we’ll be ready in 15”, Taylor replied and then disappeared through the flap of the tent, leaving Raines to stare at the stub of a candle, it’s small flame dancing in the draft.

    Exactly 15 minutes later the Gunny stood just outside the main gate as the men Taylor chose for the patrol filed through, each one acknowledging the Gunny as they made their way past. He looked at each of them as they came by.

    First came Symmes, the unit medic. He had a scruffy red beard to go along with his equally disheveled red hair. He wore a pair of blue jeans, the knees long since worn out and a heavy black turtleneck sweater to ward off the chill of the night air. He nodded to the Gunny as he walked by, placing a black baseball cap onto his head and readjusting his medical bag.

    Next to come by was Sequoia. Sequoia was an oddity in the camp. A pure blooded Cherokee Indian straight out of the days of Daniel Boone. He had grown up in the Mountains of Eastern Tennessee before joining the Army to fight the War on Terror. Of course no one could imagine what real terror was until the Shit came down on everyone’s heads, including the Muslims.

    The Gunny suspected that wasn’t Sequoia’s real name, but the Indian insisted on being called Sequoia and so that was how he was known. He had long, raven black hair that he kept back with a dirty blue bandanna tied around the top of his skull, your typical “do rag”.  He was short, with thick, sinewy arms and he carried little more than a 9mm Berretta and an ancient iron Tomahawk that had been passed down in his family for generations. He was bar none the best scout in the regiment, and it spoke well of Taylor to bring the sturdy aborigine along on this demanding hike. The sun had darkened the Native’s skin to a deep red, so dark that only the whites of his eyes were visible in the moonlight. As he passed the Gunny he flashed a white grin of perfect teeth.

    After Sequoia came Paulson. Paulson was a skinny rail of a man. In his late 20’s, he’d once lived in Pomeroy and knew the area well. So Taylor took him as a natural choice. He filed past and nodded to the Gunny as he went by.

    Behind him filed Ellsworth. The skinny, pale-faced kid who just turned 21 that week, and barely needed to shave. He nodded and said “Guns.” in acknowledgement as he passed by. Raines cocked an eyebrow. He looked over at Taylor who was standing next to him. Taylor shrugged. “Kid insisted he come along.” and the Gunny nodded in assent.

    Taylor then turned, and held out his hand. Raines took it in a firm grasp and their eyes met. Nothing more needed to be said between the two men. The mission was laid out before them and they knew what each was to do. Taylor turned, shouldered his AR-15 and followed after the line of men as they turned south and disappeared into the thick black of the forest.

    2.

    A few hours later, the night was at deepest pitch. The moon rode high in the sky. The fact that it was late in the month and the moon was almost full was a blessing for the five men as they came down the final slope into the valley in which the Miller Farm was hidden. It had been a demanding hike over five miles of rugged Appalachian terrain, but the men had made good time using the stars to keep their bearings due south until they crested a rise and looked down upon the moonlit valley beneath them.

    The Valley ran east to west, and had a 2-lane highway running down the center that was Ohio Route 32. To their right, off to the west they could just spot the moonlit spire of the church in Pomeroy itself. The town was really just a mile long strip of homes, a few stores and single gas station that sat pressed up against and even some of the buildings built into, the side of a massive hill.

    Taylor pulled his low light binoculars from his pack and scanned the valley from end to end. He slowly followed the terrain, looking for any irregularities, when he spotted what he was looking for. The dim light of a fire could just be seen on the other side of a rise that blocked his view. A black column of smoke, darker than the surrounding night, rose steadily from behind the rise. It was a sure sign of trouble.

    Taylor put away the glasses, and then led the way down the steep hillside towards the fire. Within a half hour they came to the Miller Farm proper and plunged into a ripening cornfield. The Millers had indeed been busy this season, despite living perilously close to Pomeroy. Towns and valley roads were typically avoided by the locals, as these once populated areas were where the dead tended to cluster and wander about, living bastard parodies of their former lives and looking for an easy meal.

    The Miller compound was in a fortuitous location on a rise just above the road. Taylor could see the barricade gate that had been thrown up on the access road to the farm proper was smashed. He hurried the men across an open space and into a copse of trees that butted up against the farm compound.

    They looked off into the open clearing that contained a sturdy, fortified farmhouse and a barricaded barn. The house was on fire. Thick smoke curled up into the sky and flames could be seen inside the windows on the ground floor. The sounds of several male voices could be heard shouting from within the burning structure.

    In a semi circle surrounding the house, were parked vehicles. A suburban, a couple pickup trucks, and about 25 motorcycles were evident. Clustered in a group near the vehicles was a crowd of about 30 men or so. They were clad in an odd array of clothing and gear mostly leather biker jackets with a mish mash of various gang patches. Apparently the apocalypse had caused a truce among biker gangs in the state. There were Hell’s Angels next to Iron Horsemen, a group of Outlaws stood off to one side cheering, as the flames grew higher within the burning house.

    One of the men, a huge specimen of humanity, easily 6’4” and weighing in at 300 was pacing back and forth in front of the porch, as if expectantly waiting for something. It wasn’t long before what he was waiting for happened.

    First a man stumbled out of the smoke, coughing and hacking. He stepped onto the porch and made it to the first step before gunfire erupted from the group of men standing in front of the now fully engulfed farmhouse. The man dropped off the porch and landed into the dirt at the base of the stairs.

    Two more men came out of the burning structure next. Having seen the first man shot down as he exited the structure these two came out shooting. One of the bikers went down in the dust, grabbing his leg and howling in pain while the group opened up on the two men who didn’t make it farther than the first man did before they too fell into the dirt, riddled with bullets.

    Finally, stumbling out of the flames, coughing and black with soot and smoke came an old man, obviously Farmer Miller and with him was a frail teenage girl. He had his arm around her as they came out and this time the men did not open fire, but allowed the two to escape the house and come into the semicircle of rough, leather clad and reeking men.

    The huge fellow came out into the center of the semicircle. The massive flames from the farmhouse casting his shadow on to the two hacking, gasping creatures that cowered beneath him. He laughed and kicked the old man in the face, knocking him down into the dirt before pulling a .45 and putting three rounds into the old man’s skull.

    The girl screamed out in terror and ran to the body of the old man, but the big guy just backhanded her small frame away, knocking her back from the body and her cries ended with a short yelp. She lay on the ground, whimpering and in tears. The huge guy lumbered over to her, grabbed her up by her hair and ignoring her screams and cries began dragging her the short distance to the barn, alone.

    Taylor looked at the men and indicated the direction towards the barn. Each man nodded and quietly slipped out of the copse of trees and using the fact that the fire was destroying the night vision of the men in the clearing kept to the darkness just outside the fire as they crossed the open ground to the rear of the barn.

    They filed in through a cracked door in the rear of the barn and quietly snuck into the main area. The light from the house fire was flickering into the cracks in the roughhewn walls of the barn and the smell of hay and corn was evident in the thick moist air.

    Taylor took the lead as he passed the stalls filled with grain and came upon the scene of this massive brute in the process of tearing at this tiny little girl’s clothing. She was catatonic with terror and offered no resistance to the groping of the massive bear paws that served as this guy’s hands.

    Taylor pulled a beretta from his holster and proceeded to sneak forward in the hopes of surprising the guy and capturing him. He slowly took one step forward, and then another. The big brute was completely distracted by his prize.

    Then Taylor took one step too many, and an old board beneath his boot creaked loudly and it almost echoed throughout the barn. The giant man looked to his right and caught Taylor in the light of the fire that glinted through the cracks in the wall.

    Taylor was amazed at the raw speed the guy had as he fairly leaped off the girl and towards the front of the barn. He squeezed off two quick shots that buried themselves just a couple inches from the monstrous guys head as he disappeared out the front door of the barn, yelling for all he worth to shoot the shit out of it.

    Taylor ran over and grabbed the girl up and turned just as gunshots echoed outside and bullets began punching neat round holes full of firelight into the walls. Taylor high tailed it to the rear of the barn and set the girl down. She was obviously completely in shock and stared blankly at the men and didn’t even understand who they were in Taylor’s opinion.

    He turned to the sturdy Indian. “Sequoia, grab the girl! Come on, we’re getting the hell out of here.”

    The men filed out of the barn and ran to where a thick line of woods began and were almost there when the group of bikers came running around the sides and out of the rear of the barn and opened fire on them. The bullets zipped close by the group like angry hornets as they reached the tree line a mere 100 yards from the group of men.

    The soldiers crouched into cover and returned fire, chasing the men in the open off to find cover around the sides of the barn and a tense exchange of gunfire took place between the two groups of men. Then there was short lull. Big guy came out of the barn and started yelling at his men to spread out and flank around the small group of men.  Groups of 4 went off to the right and left to outflank the 5 men and 1 terrified girl cowering in the woods.

    Taylor looked at Sequoia, “Take the girl and get the hell out of here. We’ll hold them off as long as we can. Gunny will be here in the morning, so find a safe place to hole up and we’ll link up then.” he then patted the Indian on the shoulder and Sequoia flashed him a white tooth grin and snatched up the girl onto his shoulder like a sack of grain and sprinted off into the trees.

    Taylor loaded a magazine into his AR-15 and pulled back the charging handle, then looked at his pitifully small force. He then hunkered down and waited.

    3.

    A short, sharp gunfight bloomed behind Sequoia as he hustled down an old deer trail through the woods away from the Miller farm. The shouts of men in pain could be heard and rattle of automatic weapons fire slowly faded behind the stout Indian as he made his way down the winding path in the only direction he could go. Towards the zombie infested ruins of the town of Pomeroy.

    He broke from the tree line onto the paved surface of Route 32 and looked around. His senses were alive and functioning at an increased rate thanks to adrenaline and a lifetime of experience. He sucked in air into his nose and like a hound his brain broke down the various scents into their component parts. He could smell cool sweat on the now unconscious girl’s body. He could smell gunpowder drifting downwind from the vicious gun battle that had only a few minutes before ceased suddenly, leaving nothing but silence and the soft blowing of the wind.

    He also smelled decay. Rotten flesh, as well as rotten leather and wood and mold from decayed and decrepit buildings. He looked toward the town and the moon was just beginning its slow descent towards the western horizon. It threw an eerie blue light onto the necropolis, and for a moment he reconsidered on his plan to enter the town. His moment of indecision was broken however when he heard the tell tale roar of dozens of motorcycle engines as they started up and begin filing down the access road from the Miller Farm.

    Sequoia glanced back as he caught the first headlights crossing onto the highway and heading for town and he made his mind up then. He sprinted towards the wrecked town.

    As he made his way up to the line of buildings he spotted a few corpses standing in the middle of road. They were idly shambling about moaning and carrying on, but otherwise not much of a threat. Sequoia jumped off the right into the darkness between two buildings and sniffed the air. His sharp eyes missed nothing and his ears even less as he heard the engines roar into town and the sharp cracks of gunfire as the bikers rolled into town and opened fire on the deaders in the street.

    Sequoia scooped the girl up and moved off, blending into the night as if he was a shadow and soon came upon a tool shed sitting in a backyard. It sat unlocked and practically empty. He opened the door and laid the girl down on a dirty canvas rug that was lying inside the shed. He then sat her up and slapped her gently a few times on the cheek. She came to her senses and then her eyes grew wide as the dark form in front her motioned for silence by putting single finger to his lips.

    He then reached down and unclipped his holster and brought out a beretta and jacked a round into the chamber, turned off the safety and placed it into the terrified girl’s hands. He wrapped her shivering fingers around the handle and then their eyes met. She nodded in understanding then he smiled a white tooth grin, ruffled her hair and retreated out the door of the shed. Closing the door behind him leaving the girl to sit alone and scared with the moonlight shining in through a window above her head.

    Unburdened, Sequoia blended with the shadows even better than before. With the grace of a cat he snuck between the homes, shadowing the bikers as they rolled to a halt just inside of town. A few dozen corpses shambled out into the streets to attack the men, but were quickly dispatched. The headlights from all the motorcycles and vehicles lit the entire area up well and Big Guy got out of the suburban truck and looked around to survey the scene.

    He then climbed on top of the suburban and looked down on the assembled men around him.

    “Spread out! Find that girl and bring me that Goddamn Indian’s scalp!”, he cried out and the Sequoia watched as the men hustled off into the darkness between the buildings. He was watching so intently that he forgot himself for a moment until he heard a faint snap behind him.

    Instantly his nose picked up the odor of rotten flesh and his white eyes widened, then shot to his right. He then ducked to his left as a woman, or the naked, rotted remains of one reached out for him. He quickly recovered and came around with that ancient tomahawk, the weapon of his forefathers, and brought it down clean on the back of the rotted woman’s neck. There was a quiet crack, and her body went limp and collapsed to the ground at his feet.

    He spit onto the corpse and then his ears picked up the sound of two men nearby. They were whispering to each other in the darkness.

    “What the fuck are we doing man? Why’s he got us out here in zombie town huntin’ for some stupid Indian and a fucktard little girl for?” one of the bikers said as he scanned the area next to him with his shotgun.

    “Shut the fuck up, I don’t know. But I don’t want no dead fuck to sneak up and take a chunk out of me, or some crazy fuckin’ Indian. So shut the fuck up.” His companion said to him then pointed towards a dark spot in the night and said, “Did you see that?”

    “Nah, I ain’t saw shit.”, the longhaired biker said and peered into the darkness.

    “I saw it, I bet it’s that fuckin’ Indian. You go around to that way. I’ll sneak over here, one of us is bound to run into him.”, said his companion. A skinny, shorthaired, guy with a goatee.

    “Oh fuck that man, I ain’t splittin’ up!”, Long Hair said.

    “You fuckin’ pussy, go over there before I split your skull myself then you won’t have to worry ‘bout no damn Indian.”, Skinny snarled and then as quietly as possible, which wasn’t very, snuck off in the opposite direction.

    Skinny proceeded behind the houses. It was pitch black and the smell was awful, of rot and mold. He continued past a rusty swing set. The swings, their chains rusted and squeaking, slowly swung in the cool pre-dawn air. He swept the barrel of his shotgun right and left into the night, squinting and peering.

    He was looking at a bush that had a particularly strange outline. He furrowed his brow and approached it slowly, his gun pointed in the direction of the bush. He swallowed a dry swallow and his thumb nervously flicked the safety to off. His eyes darted back and forth and the sweat on his brow was dripping down as he finally approached the bush. Something was moving inside it. He got closer, when suddenly a small dark form shot out from underneath the bush, snarling and hissing.

    Skinny yelped and jumped back, blasting a shot into the ground at his feet and heard a squeal of pain. He stood there panting in terror as the smoke from his errant shot cleared and looked down to the see the blasted remains of a big, fat gray possum.

    He cursed his stupidity and then turned, just in time to see nothing in the darkness but white eyes and a flashing white grin, then all went dark for Skinny.

    Long Hair continued in the opposite direction, shivering with fright and cold, he continued down a dark alleyway between a store and a ramshackle house when he heard a strange whistle behind him.

    He turned in time to see a dark form disappear behind another house. He hurriedly went over in that direction, just in time once again, to just make out a shadow as it disappeared around another corner.

    Long Hair licked his lips and then sneered, he pumped a round into his shotgun and yelled out, more to steel his own nerves than anything, “I’m comin for ya, you little red bastard!” and he jumped around the corner to find, nothing.

    He furrowed his brow for a moment and then spotted movement just ahead of him. He continued down, peering into the darkness. He was halfway past the building to his right when he came to a door.

    Suddenly that door flew open with a loud crash and a perfect nuclear family of deaders spilled out onto the man. A father, a mother, a teenage boy, and a little girl poured onto the hapless biker. They snarled viciously and clawed into him. He managed to get off one shot before they were upon him and their weight bore him to the ground. He screamed out in pain as they tore into his guts and he looked back. He saw, just a few tantalizing feet away, a pair of white eyes and a grinning white smile of perfect teeth seeming to float in the darkness.

    Sequoia continued down the half mile of ramshackle houses, silently avoiding a few deaders he smelled long before they had any hope of noticing him, and worked his way up to the towns single gas station.

    The gas station sat on a slight rise just at the edge of town. Sequoia, his bright white eyes darting back and forth over the terrain, moved up the hill as silent as a ghost and made his way to the old fashioned pumps that sat there. He raised the handle a few times and flashed a wicked grin when a steady stream of gasoline poured from the nozzle.

    He used a zip tie to hold the handle down and continued along the chain. He tied every pump open on full and gasoline quickly collected and began to run downhill into the town itself. He then pulled a Hershey bar from a fanny pack and began unwrapping it while he crouched down in the darkness to wait.

    4.

    Big Guy was pissed. He stood around in the center of the circle of bikes. Every now and then a deader came out of the buildings but he kept a few men back and they made quick work of the slow, stiff corpses.

    All that time wasted, and he didn’t even get the chance to wet his dick in that virgin farm girl. What a waste. Those assholes just had to come and spoil him and his boy’s fun. Well he’d make them all pay. If only he could find them. He lost more than a few men in a wild, close quarter ambush that lasted just a few minutes and then the shooters melted into the woods, like fuckin’ ghosts.

    He did spot the trail left behind by that Goddamned Indian though. He wasn’t sure how he knew, but he knew that the reddish brown form he saw in the firelight in the barn was a Goddamn Indian and he wanted his scalp.

    “Hey man! You smell gasoline?” one of the guys in the circle of bikes said.

    Another guy sniffed the air then replied, “Yeah! It’s strong too!”

    Big Guy furrowed his brow and looked around to see a steady reflection in the street as a thick flow of gasoline crept at a steady pace towards the broad circle of motorcycles. Then he looked up and just visible at the crest of a hill was a dark, man shaped shadow. His eyes widened when he saw the form throw a smaller object in his direction. Then flinched as a grenade went off and a searing envelope of flame approached down the street.

    Big Guy dropped to the ground and rolled under his Suburban as the flames reached the circle of motorcycles and began lighting the motorcycles on fire one by one. His men scrambled and ran off into the darkness as each motorcycle flared into a giant bonfire, 2-dozen of them reaching high into the sky.

    Big Guy climbed out from underneath his truck and looked around. His men had fled. He was alone. Then he heard a shuffling noise over the roar of flames and saw deaders by the dozens begin to appear in the shimmering air. Only the heat and the wall of flames kept them from penetrating to claw at his flesh. They stood there, staring at him, and moaning.

    Suddenly he turned, and standing about 10 feet away was a short, squat form with thick sinewy arms and powerful legs. His deep red tan evident in the firelight while the whites of his dark eyes showed bright.

    Big Guy snarled in anger. “Alright Red Man! You wanna play!? Let’s play!”, and he drew a massive, 12 inch bowie knife from a scabbard at his back. It sat heavily in his massive paw.

    Sequoia brandished his ancient weapon. Its origins were almost entirely unknown to him. Who made it or when, was but a rough idea.  He felt the power of his forefathers in the strong, wooden handles which adorned the otherwise black iron blade. However Sequoia worried the ancient iron would shatter underneath the massive impacts it would receive from this massive brute.

    They both dropped into a crouch and circled each other. Sizing each other up. The crowd of dead outside the ring of fire caused by the burning motorcycles had swelled to form an almost impenetrable ring of necrotic flesh. Yet they could not get past the searing flames and heat, so they could only watch as the two men faced off.

    Each time they circled, they moved a bit closer to each other like two binary stars in a dance of ultimate doom as one impacts with the other. Slowly they moved, Big Guy smiling wickedly and laughing. He tossed the massive knife with ease back and forth between his hands and moved his head side to side and cracked his neck.

    Sequoia for his part merely stared silently. Trying to come up with a way to take on this massive creature without getting his head broke in the process. The flames wouldn’t last forever, and these dead would then rush in and finish them both. Time was of the essence.

    Growing impatient with the game, Big Guy howled and came forward amazingly fast and thrust his massive blade at the Indian. Sequoia ducked out of the way with amazing speed himself and recovered just in time as that massive blade made of modern steel whistled just centimeters from his nose once again.

    He ducked and twisted as Big Guy lunged again and again. Finally he caught an opening and dropped the blade of his tomahawk deep into the Big Guys thigh. It became stuck in the massive tissues that made up his leg. He yanked and it still didn’t free, Big Guy howled in agony and then swiped down with that massive knife and Sequoia jumped out of the way as the steel sparked on the pavement of the street. Sequoia was forced to back away.

    Big Guy pulled the tomahawk from his leg and threw it a distance away and then laughed as he limped closer to Sequoia, holding that massive bowie knife in the air. Suddenly, a number of dead broke through the ring of fire where the motorcycles at last began to fade and made feeble attempts to attack the massive man.

    One latched onto his arm, trying to take a chunk of the sinuous muscle and it barely broke the skin. He tossed it like a rag doll into another group of dead. Even more set upon him and he screamed out and used that knife to wicked effect, hacking and slashing limbs, heads, whatever he could as the crowd of dead grew denser around him.

    Sequoia backed into a hard object and realized it was the Suburban. He quickly, and deftly climbed up on to the roof as the fires finally gave out and the throng of zombies waiting outside the ring finally came forward and swamped the huge man. With such a wildly fighting prize, the Dead were not the slightest bit interested in the dark form that quietly grabbed hold the bottom of a balcony that reached near the SUV upon which he stood and climbed into the shadows.

    Big Guy wasn’t near finished. He was torn with wounds and bites yet he continued in his rage to wreck the rotted corpses that pressed against him. He plunged his knife over and over into the necrotic tissue around him. Bellowing out like an angry boar as more dead pressed in on him. Eventually, he lost his knife and used his bare hands to break necks or snap arms.

    He was a bloody, torn mess before he finally collapsed under the sea of dead, the corpses wildly attacking his muscular form.

    5.

    Sequoia quietly returned to the tool shed where he collected the terrified little girl into his arms and made his way out of the now burning town. The moans of the dead as they crowded towards the remaining flames in the center of town could be heard at first, but then slowly faded behind the stout Indian as he carried the girl back up to the short service road to the Miller Farm.

    The sun was just breaking the horizon and flooding fresh morning light down on the pair and as the light grew, Sequoia’s form became more visible. His skin was a deep tan, and wizened by years in the sun. He was covered head to toe in soot, and looked like something out of the days of Daniel Boone. He continued up the hill and arrived to find Taylor and the other 3 men of the patrol reinforced by a 10-man platoon brought over the hills by the Gunny.

    As he came forward into the courtyard of the wrecked farm compound, Symmes ran up and took the girl from the aborigine’s arms and whisked her away to a more private area to examine her.

    The Gunny walked up to the squat Indian and was greeted by a big white shit-eating grin on the face of the Noble Savage. The Gunny came up and held out his hand and gave a firm shake of Sequoia’s hand then clapped him on the back.

    “Damn Good Job, Son! Damn Good Job!”, the Gunny said

    Sequoia merely looked at the Gunny out the side of his eyes and with that wild, white tooth grin said, “Thanks.”

    The End

    32 Comments

    1. Just wonderful…your scene depictions created vivid images in my mind…the farm’s valley, the fire circle in which the fight took place, etc. Very gratifying dispatchings of the bikers, too. I hope you keep adding to this storyline.

      Oh – and please let the indian recover his tomohawk somehow.

      Comment by Zander 77 on November 16, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    2. Love it. Great series.

      Comment by The hunter on November 16, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

    3. Awesome!!! I have been waiting for a follow-up to the first story about 1st Ohios. It did not disappoint.

      Comment by Jon on November 16, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    4. Awesome, totally awesome. I hope you keep writing about the 1st Ohio Volly’s. It’s interesting to me to read about Sequoia because I’m in a First Nations Studies class right now and we just got done reading about the Cherokee’s and how a few escaped the removal period.

      You definitely have a talent, please keep it coming.

      Comment by Terry Schultz on November 16, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

    5. Great!! Please keep this series going.

      Comment by Mark on November 17, 2010 @ 9:55 am

    6. PHENOMONAL!!!!! I CANT EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE HOW MUCH I LIKE THIS STORY AND ITS PREDECESSOR. BEING A NATIVE CLEVELANDER I LOVE THE 1st OHIO VOLUNTEERS. HOPE TO READ MANY MORE STORIES FROM YOU.

      Comment by Brett on November 17, 2010 @ 10:03 am

    7. freakin’ badass! keep em coing!

      Comment by implant on November 17, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    8. Good character development. I’ve bought into them, and now it’s time to see where you take them. Will be looking forward to the next story/issue! Great Job!

      Comment by South on November 17, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    9. Great imagery, excellent pacing. I am a fan!

      Comment by Clement S. on November 18, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    10. Top notch story, please write some more.

      Comment by Joe from Philly on November 18, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    11. Looking forward to the next chapter.

      Comment by Bernie on November 18, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    12. Your tourist cabin area sounds like a place I once lived. We had bikers a cople of hills over and a true sewer of a small city too. I can see it plain as day.

      Comment by Mac on November 18, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

    13. To mac:

      LOL

      Backwoods America is almost universal in certain aspects is it not?

      Comment by Patrick Turner on November 18, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    14. It is a good story but I personally have a few issues with it. Firstly I found it a little too descriptive at times. This isn’t always a bad thing but the first few paragraphs bored me with the over description. Secondly how many times do you have to mention the Indians smile/teeth. I can see it is his trademark thing, but it just seemed to be at the end of every paragraph it was mentioned. Finally, for me, it seemed as the zombies were added as an afterthought. It was almost as if you had the story already and then remember you were submitting to a zombie fiction site and put them in just to keep inline. Not all stories based in the aftermath of WWZ need to feature the actually Zs. If you read Jeffrey De Rego’s work they very rarely have zombies in them, maybe just something as subtle as a slight mention.

      Comment by Wade Cole on November 19, 2010 @ 5:19 am

    15. @ Wade Cole
      “Finally, for me, it seemed as the zombies were added as an afterthought. It was almost as if you had the story already and then remember you were submitting to a zombie fiction site and put them in just to keep inline. Not all stories based in the aftermath of WWZ need to feature the actually Zs. If you read Jeffrey De Rego’s work they very rarely have zombies in them, maybe just something as subtle as a slight mention.”

      I disagree. The scene of the zombies watching around a ring of fire during the final battle made it all the more epic. Sure, maybe not a very likely occurrence, but epic nonetheless.

      Comment by Jim on November 19, 2010 @ 11:27 am

    16. Sure, I admit that this tale(and others to follow) may not sit well with some zombie purists who would like a more traditional approach to the zombie apocalypse. I make no apologies for that. Most zombie stories have several overriding(and stale, IMO) themes that have been staples of the genre since Night of the Living Dead.

      The military are a bunch of meat head thugs. Government is not to be trusted, etc. etc.. and I wanted something different.

      Instead of ‘social commentary wrapped in a zombie story’ I chose to go for swashbuckling high adventure similar to old 19th century adventure fiction writers like Joeseph Altshelter, Ambrose Bierce, etc.

      As far as going ‘overboard’ on vivid scenery all I can say is that I’m trying to construct an epic alternate world that is intentionally NOT based on a Max Brooks or Romero vision of social decay. I fail to see how I can construct an entire alternate world for a reader who is used to the stereotypical zombie tale without a vivid construction of the world in which these people live. Also, it’s intended as a fictional celebration of my home state and I’m sharing with the reader places and outdoor scenes from my child hood experiences.

      Anyway, I intend to take this series into themes that I personally have rarely seen in a zombie apocalypse tale. Instead of a tale of woe and misery, I intend to write more tales of heroic adventure and self sacrifice of a small group of good men struggling to maintain some semblance of law and order in an otherwise screwed up world.

      But I do appreciate constructive criticisms and I do take these comments into account when writing the next tale.

      Comment by Patrick Turner on November 19, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

    17. I not going to go into a rant or appologise for my post but I just want to justify my comments.
      I have been reading all the tales posted on this site for a while now and one of the things I have noticed the most is that there is hardly any critical feedback on the stories. This may be because the readers don’t feel good to say exactly what they think of the story. The whole “if you don;t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” theory.
      A writter will never learn from his mistakes if all he gets are positive comments.
      My thanks to Patrick for taking my points on board and I hope you don’t think I am being nasty for no good reason.
      I understand that not everyone will enjoy every thing ever posted on here. I personally don’t get the poetry, but I won’t comment on them as I don’t think any comments I make would be helpfull in any way. What I posted as my first comment was how I felt when I read this story. I did enjoy this tale and I will read others by this author but I wanted to put my personal opions across.
      I see, as I’m sure others do, the gradual improvement of tales from regular authors who contribute to this site.
      Pete Breven has gone from strength to strength in his ‘minister’ tales. I personally hated Nick Lloyds ‘waiting’ but throughly agreed with ‘revenge’ winning the last round of the competiton. And Kevin Fortune has just got better with every thing he does.
      I would say one thing to the authors on this site (as I don’t think I’ll ever be one) you can never please everyone and never take what people say to heart, but learn from it. And to those who read the stories post what you feel, no matter if you think you may upset. Everyone has an opinion and no feedback should be considered negative.
      Oh and one last apology to Patrick for using your story to post this.(not) rant. It was coming and it just happened to be now that iit came out 🙂

      Comment by Wade Cole on November 19, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

    18. No wade, I thank you for the honest criticism. Like you said, how can we improve if we don’t get honest criticism. It’s like those people on American Idol who spend their lives being told how great they sing when in fact, they don’t sing well at all.

      I intend to publish one day, and only honest critical assessment will allow me to develop my writing skills to the level necessary to do so.

      I ask anyone with a hint, or a tip, or even a plot suggestion to feel free to leave a comment. I’m a big boy I can take it. 🙂

      Comment by Patrick Turner on November 19, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

    19. Great story. One thing I have to wonder- using the military system of pay grades, a Gunnery Sergeant is an E-7, while a 1st Sergeant is an E-8. Why is 1st Sgt. Taylor under the command of a person he outranked?

      Comment by Liam Perry on November 21, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

    20. Liam – It’s a milita unit. NCO’s were voted for.

      Comment by Patrick Turner on November 21, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

    21. Really enjoyed this!! Glad to see you incorporate the raider element of Z apocalypse. Also enjoyed the theatrical scenes involving their hulking brute of a leader! Great detail, made it very easy to picture what is being read, and sense the emotions involved. Well done, cannot wait to find out what happens next to the Militia!! Oh! and I too hope our hero is able to reunite with his trusty tomahawk!!

      Comment by Jake on November 22, 2010 @ 10:46 am

    22. Loved his story. Thanks

      Comment by Zoe on November 23, 2010 @ 9:16 am

    23. Both chapters were well done. Enjoyed both, though the first seemed have more “fire” (unsure how to explain). I think with more, writin, and critical insight (both on this forum, and others) you’re headed in very good direction. Great use of militias.

      Comment by Griff on November 26, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

    24. sorry about the spelling and loss of words. need to check before submiting
      Sua Sponte

      Comment by Griff on November 26, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

    25. This is an amazing story. It shows that in this midst of chaos, there is a small colony surviving, that there is some normality. I like how it’s not over the top but more realistic. Some stories I have read where the guy goes around killing zombies with a knife.

      Maybe explain more about what the others do while the 1st Ohio regiment are out on patrol because these patrol’s can last for hours and surely the others must do something while they are away.

      Can’t wait for more episodes in this amazing series of stories.

      Comment by Sam on November 27, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

    26. Perhaps a lil heavy on the broad descriptives about the native American but I loved the story. More please!

      Comment by Neecey on November 29, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    27. Very cool tale, I look forward to reading more from you.

      Comment by Retrobuck on December 4, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    28. I dig the realistic descriptions of S.E. Ohio. I often drive through there, and since reading the first story, I’ve often spent those drives wondering how a ZA would play out there. I personally would make for the state prison at Lucasville. 😉

      The depiction of the Native American character troubles me somewhat. It sometimes feels a little too minstrel-ish, which makes me uncomfortable. Otherwise, a serviceable effort.

      Comment by T.C. Abernathy on December 6, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    29. I really liked that the descriptions of the native American’s smile added a touch of… I wanted to say mischief? : )

      The descriptions were wonderfully vivid, the characters believably human. Overall, really well written. More, please?

      Comment by Brielle Marie on December 7, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

    30. just found this site and LOVE it…. LOVE this story very intense, you have to write more about this group. Cant wait to see more

      Comment by marine1371 on February 15, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

    31. Hope the 1st Ohio Volunteers will get more stories. This is like band of brothers in a Zombie Apocalypse setting

      Comment by Jiggy on August 7, 2011 @ 1:32 am

    32. awesome stories! i hope to read more episodes in this series 🙂

      Comment by john on September 20, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

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