Thursday, January 8, 2015


Genre: Horror (Zombies) 


Carson Ryder: Former marine/Former police officer/Suffers from retrograde amnesia/ Searching for clues to his past/Lost his wife and daughter
Taryn Mills: Survivor found outside the Starlight Hotel/Lost her boyfriend, George Verdi, to the Biters/Not afraid to use a gun/No known family
Nikki Fox: Former registered nurse/Never married/Lost contact with her family during the first initial weeks of the outbreak
Reggie White: Born and raised in Arkansas/Has never left the state before
Scotty Loomis: Originally from Utah/Friends with Reggie/A perpetual fountain of random facts and useless information
Corey Smith: Doomsday prepper/Lives in a fortified compound with a tremendous arsenal of weapons
Paul Langstrom: Former police officer/Originally from Detroit/Transferred to NYPD in 2008/Worked narcotics
Luke Chen: Runner/Competed in the Olympics/Knows how to use a gun but he prefers a katana
Dominic DeVito: Originally from New York/Not too bright/Afraid to use a gun for fear of shooting himself or someone else
Amy Greene: First survivor who was taken in by Corey/She is a recovering alcoholic


By Daniel Skye


          Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight.
          Corey had taken inventory. With the two groups supplies combined, they had enough food and water to last for an entire year, maybe longer. And they had candles and flashlights and batteries. Firewood for winter. Medical supplies for emergencies.
          They had it made. So why did Carson Ryder still have that awful feeling in his gut? It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Corey or his men.
          He appreciated everything Corey Smith had done for them and he trusted the man with his life. He’d taken quite a shine to Luke Chen and respected his skills with the katana.
          It was a blade Ryder was not quite familiar with it, but he admired the weapon and Chen even let him try it out one day when a lone Biter roamed past the gates.
          Dominic DeVito was another good man with a good sense of humor. Not too smart, but that’s part of what Ryder found so entertaining about the guy. This was a man who once thought the plural of goose was sheep. And he was also convinced the equator was an actual line you could step over like a crack in the sidewalk.
          Paul Langstrom was a tall man with broad shoulders and a massive chest. Before the apocalypse cancelled his gym membership, he was benching two-fifty. But he knew how to use a gun and he still had the instincts of a cop. That instinct to serve and protect. And that’s why Ryder trusted him the most.
          And Paul liked the fact that Ryder had no long-term memory, a fact he had learned from Nikki Fox. He was wondering why Ryder hadn’t remembered his voice, his face. He just hoped his memory stayed that way.
          Ryder was washing his hair over a bucket on the side of the third outhouse. Carved deep into the side of the outhouse were the words JONES WAS HERE.
          Indeed he was, Ryder thought. But where was Jones now?
          “Seen any zombies today?” Corey asked as he sauntered over, energy bar in hand.
          “Not one,” Ryder said, drying off with a towel.
          “They used to come around a lot, but the gates always held them back. I kind of miss using them for target practice. Kills the boredom. I used to play music for them sometimes.”
          “Really? What would you play?”
          “Pink Floyd. Rolling Stones. Zeppelin. AC/DC. They seem to really respond to AC/DC. Bon Scott AC/DC, not Brian Johnson AC/DC.”
          “I’m not familiar with either,” Ryder said. “Lost most of my long-term memory in an accident. I’m still trying to get it back.”
          “Well I have plenty of batteries for the CD player. I’ll play you some later.”
          “I don’t mean to pry,” Ryder said. “But I just have to ask…who was Jones?”
          “Mr. Jones was a problem that I had to deal with it. He showed up a week after Amy did. He just called himself Jones. Wouldn’t give his full name. He appeared to be in some state of shock. He was faking it, waiting for his buddies to come along. They tried to storm the compound, take it away from Amy and I. I stopped them. But I didn’t kill them. I should have, but I didn’t. A week later, his group killed five other survivors in town, took their supplies and kept on moving. I’ve been looking for Jones ever since. That’s why I was on the road when I found you.”
          “And you’re still looking for him? You don’t think he’s moved on by now?”
          “I don’t know,” Corey said. “But until I’m certain he’s either gone or he’s dead, I’m going to keep looking. Hey, Jones isn’t your problem. He’s mine. You don’t have a thing to worry about. Those gates can hold anyone back. And they can’t climb over the top because of the spikes. We’re safe as long as we’re in here.”
          “I know,” Ryder said. “I was just curious. This is your property and whatever decisions you make are final. So do as you please. If you need any help, I’m here.”
          “Thanks,” Corey said. “And let’s just keep this to ourselves if we can. I don’t want to rattle the others. The girls especially. That Nikki seems so fragile. She’s not cut out for this sort of thing.”
          “Who is?” Ryder wondered.
* * *
          The road had not been kind to Eli Carver. His face caked in soot, dirt stains on the cuffs of his pants, a hole in his left shoe; He staggered down the vacant road, his knees ready to cave in on him.
          “Must find food,” he muttered, his tongue smacking at his dry lips. “Food and water.” That’s what kept him moving. That and the Colt .45 tucked into his waistband and the thought of blinding and torturing and killing Carson Ryder. Soon his revenge would come to fruition. He just had to restore his energy first.
          He needed to find food and water. He needed to find supplies and a car. And he needed to find the interstate.
          Any car would do, so long as it took him across the interstate. To Texas and back. That’s all he would need.
          He saw signs for Sherwood, Arkansas a half mile back. And up ahead, he saw the public library, the doors boarded shut from the outside. The graffiti on the front of the building read KEEP OUT and STAY AWAY. Warnings that would not deter Eli Carver.
          He walked up the wide steps of the public library and approached the door. The boards were hammered in deep but could easily be removed with a crowbar or chopped through with an axe.
          He knocked several times, three big raps against the door to see if the noise stirred anyone or anything lurking inside. Dead silence.
          Until he heard the footsteps approaching. It wasn’t Biters. Biters don’t move that fast. No, these were the footsteps of people; Survivors.
          Eli, standing at the landing of the steps, looked down and saw all the people. Saw the guns. He raised his arms to the air and did a head count. He counted thirty. And they were all packing heat.
          He never attempted to reach for the Colt .45 in his waistband. The thought crossed his mind, but he was outgunned and outnumbered.
          The supposed leader of this group, a tall, lean man with no hair and sunglasses with dark lenses, stepped forward to address him. His lenses reflected Eli’s bemused expression. Lenses with no transparency. His eyes were as much a mystery as his name.
          “State your name and your purpose,” the leader demanded.
          “Eli Carver,” he replied. “I’m looking for food, water, supplies, a vehicle. I need to get to Texas.”
          “What’s in Texas?”
          “A cure for all of this.”
          “And why would you want to cure such a perfect world?” the leader inquired. “We love it the way things are. We’re free to do as we please.”
          “I don’t want to save this world,” Eli said. “I want to destroy the cure and make sure no one else can implement it.” Eli, showing no fear, rolled his sleeve and flashed his tattoo.
          Several members of this group rolled their sleeves on cue and flashed the same tattoo, including the leader himself.
          “Call me Mr. Jones,” the leader introduced himself. “Anything you need, my followers and I are at your service.”
          “Excellent,” Eli grinned. “You got any cars?”
          “A few,” Jones said.
          “Good, then let’s find the interstate. Depending on how jammed up the roads are, we might be able to make it there in a day or two.”
* * *
          Later that day, Corey gathered his mini CD player, the one that also ran on batteries in the event of a power failure, and his AC/DC collection. He popped in Highway to Hell and Ryder listened to the first track as they stood at the gates. They stared through the vertical bars, waiting for the Biters to catch the sound and come shambling down the hill towards the gates.
          Paul Langstrom, Luke Chen, Scotty Loomis, and Reggie White came down to join them eventually. Even Dominic DeVito wandered over. Not to participate. Just to watch. Guns weren’t his thing.
          In fact, he was terrified of them. Terrified of accidently shooting himself or one of his comrades. So he left the shooting to the professionals and kept his distance while the gang did a little target practice.
          The girls refused to watch or join in. They found the idea barbaric.
          “Bunch of savages,” Amy Greene had called them as they had walked off to the gates with their rifles and shotguns in hand.
          “Oh, why don’t you have a drink and change your tampon,” Langstrom had remarked churlishly.
          Amy Greene was a recovering alcoholic, and she had been clean since Day One. Corey’s compound had been a dry community since her arrival. And then Ryder’s group arrived with their food and supplies and their bottles of leftover liquor.
          Just the sight of the booze was tempting. But she managed to fight and resist the urge to imbibe. She wasn’t going to throw all that hard work down the drain. And Nikki and Taryn did everything they could to encourage her sobriety. The three girls had formed quite a bond over the week and they had promised to all look after one another, no matter what happened.
          The first Biter staggered down the hill, ambling toward the gates. This one was fresh, recently turned. It still had all its hair and its pigmentation had not been altered yet. Aside from its vacant stare and the drool pouring down its chin, and that gaping hole in the side of its craned neck, you could hardly tell it was a zombie.
          “This one looks really fresh,” Chen said. “Maybe a day or two old.”
          “He kind of looks like Johnny Depp,” Reggie said. “Should we tell the girls there’s a celebrity in our midst?”
          “Nah, don’t bother,” Paul said.
          “Did you know Johnny Depp used to own a nightclub in West Hollywood?” Scotty asked. “You want to know what it was called?”
          “Not really,” Reggie said, paying more attention to the Biter than Scotty’s random factoids.
          “Corey, you want to do the honors?” Ryder asked.
          “Sure, why not,” Corey said. “I always wanted to kill Johnny Depp.” He raised the Mossberg, pumped the mechanism, and fired one deafening blast that echoed over the hill.
          A dead shell popped out from the breech and he pumped it again, waiting for more.
          The title track of the album faded out and “Girls Got Rhythm” kicked in, Bon Scott’s voice wailing through the speakers.
          The music, and the shotgun blast, just seemed to draw more of the Biters out from the surrounding woods. The second one that stumbled down the hill was fresh like his counterpart. He hadn’t lost all of his hair yet and the advanced rot had yet to set in. He was a rotund fellow with thinning gray hair.
          “This one kind of looks like Burt Reynolds,” Dominic said, chuckling.
          “Yeah, if Burt Reynolds swallowed himself,” Scotty remarked.
          “Can I take this one?” Luke asked. “I never did like Burt Reynolds. Except for that movie Boogie Nights. I give him a pass in that one.”
          “I thought you preferred your sword,” Paul said.
          “It’s a katana,” Luke passive aggressively corrected him. “And I’ll make an exception for this occasion.”
          “It’s all yours,” Corey said.
          Luke rested the butt in the groove of his arm and aimed steady. He lined up his shot, pulled the trigger, and nailed it right between the vertical bars.
          “Nice shot,” Ryder said. “Next one’s mine.”
          “Be my guest,” Corey said.
          A few more stumbled down the hill and pressed their faces against the bars, too narrow for them to squeeze their heads through. Ryder lifted his Remington, pumped it, and stared at one rotting face that was trying to squeeze through the bars. It’s browned, baked beaned teeth scraped and smashed against the bars. It foamed at the mouth with anticipation. Anticipation that Ryder cut short with a single blast from his Remington, sawing its head off its shoulders.
          The men all opened fire, taking down every single Biter that was waiting at the gates. Nothing seemed strange about this event. This was a bonding experience. The men laughed and joked, admired each other’s shots. They rambled on about the music, about movies, their favorite TV shows, favorite sports. This was a reprieve, a vacation from the horrors of the outside world. Inside those gates, they were safe. So they believed.
          But they had no idea what lied up ahead…

To Be Continued With Part Twenty Eight: NEW FRIENDS, OLD ENEMIES

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