Saturday, January 24, 2015


Genre: Horror (Zombies)


Carson Ryder: Ex-police officer/Ex-marine/Lost his wife Caroline, and daughter Charlotte/The unofficial leader of the group/Dying for a cigarette/Has mixed feelings about Nikki Fox
Corey Smith: Doomsday prepper/He was expecting and preparing for the zombie apocalypse for years/Lives in a fortified compound with a tremendous arsenal of weapons
Taryn Mills: Survivor found outside the Starlight Hotel/Lost her boyfriend and her family to the Biters/Former exotic dancer/Not afraid to use a gun
Nikki Fox: Former registered nurse/Lost contact with her family during the first initial weeks of the outbreak/Was married once but hid that fact from the group/She is secretly in love with Carson Ryder
Reggie White: Born and raised in Arkansas/Has never left the state before/He has a criminal record, but he’s not a violent man and tends to avoid confrontation if he can
Scotty Loomis: Originally from Utah/Friends with Reggie/A perpetual fountain of random facts and useless information
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/Former used car salesman
Amy Greene: First survivor who was taken in by Corey/She is a recovering alcoholic who manages with the support of Nikki Fox/Trying to take back control of her life


By Daniel Skye



Day Three Hundred and Twelve.
Jacksonville, Arkansas.
          A mass of human remains lie in a shallow ditch, the bones still smoldering from the makeshift pyre. Eli stood over the ditch with that sick, twisted grin branded on his face.
Eli Carver, Mr. Jones, and their sixty-plus followers had migrated from Sherwood to Jacksonville in search of more weapons and supplies for their imminent invasion. And they had encountered a small colony of survivors in Jacksonville, all tucked away sleeping in their tents.
Eli did most of the dirty work himself, slitting their throats one-by-one in their sleep. There was a mother, father, two small children, an elderly couple that could’ve been the kids’ grandma and grandpa for all Eli knew, and three other tagalongs crammed into a separate tent. Eli killed them all, and their sadistic followers helped drag the bodies into that ditch and relieve them of their weapons.
Jones was the one who poured the gasoline and lit the match.
“What’s our next move?” Eli inquired.
“We travel to Maumelle and pay a visit to your old friends,” Jones explained. “Give them an ultimatum. We need to make them understand that our group needs the property more than they do. That we need the food, the supplies.”
“And you’re willing to let them surrender? To let them hand over their supplies and just walk away?”
“Of course not,” Jones said. “Even if they surrender, we’re still going to kill them. I just want to give them the option to defend what’s theirs. It’s only fair.”
“Just promise me one thing,” Eli said.
“Carson Ryder is mine. No harm shall come to him. Not even a scratch. No one is to lay a hand on him but me. Deal?”
“Deal,” Jones said and spat into the ditch. “Now let’s get a move on it. See what other supplies we can find on our way back.”
* * *
          Maumelle, Arkansas.
          Ryder and the group had discussed the two vials they had managed to rescue from the lab in Texas. The supposed cure that Willard Pickman had spoken of. The only dilemma was they had no clue where to begin. No clue how to make use of this alleged antidote.
          Then it struck Reggie like a bolt of lightning. “Drake Sharpe’s drug kit,” he mumbled.
          “What about it?” Loomis asked.
          “There’s a syringe in the kit,” Reggie pointed out. “More than one. If we want to test it, we fill a syringe with a little of that stuff. And then all we have to do is inject one of these suckers and see if it works.”
          “Easier said than done,” Ryder said. “First we have to catch one of those things and bring it back alive. Who knows how long the effects take. It could take hours, days.”
          “He’s right,” Corey said. “But it might be our only shot. Reggie, grab some rope from the Quonset hut. Boys, grab your guns. Let’s go bag us a zombie.”
* * *
          Just over the hill of the compound, beyond the trees, the group found three roamers.
          “Take your pick,” Scotty said, rifle cradled in his arms.
          Reggie had his rifle slung over his shoulder and was eyeing the Biters carefully, who had yet to take notice. They all wandered in separate directions in search of food, never realizing it was right under their noses.
          The first two were “oldies”, as Kenny Sudrow used to call them. They showed signs of advanced rot and decay. The third one was fresher. A recent victim, turned no doubt by the deep scratches along its bare chest.
          Ryder pumped his Remington and aimed for the heads. He spared the third one so Scotty could distract it while Corey snuck around back with the rope and tossed the loop around its neck. He pulled the rope so the loop was taut like a noose around its neck. There was enough slack in the rope to keep a safe distance as they walked back to the compound.
          “It’s just like walking a dog,” Corey said. “A big, snarling, drooling, bloodthirsty dog.”
          “You guys know the name of the first zombie movie ever made?” Loomis asked. “White Zombie. Made in 1932. Rob Zombie originally named his band after the film.”
          “I’ll file that fact under LIGF,” Corey said. “For like I give a fuck.”
          Back at the compound, Corey tied the rope to one of the bars of the fence and left the zombie hanging there like a dog on a leash. Scotty gathered Drake Sharpe’s kit of illegal narcotics and retrieved one of the empty syringes. He passed it off to Ryder who filled the syringe with a small amount of the yellow serum from the vial.
          “Now here’s the tricky part,” Ryder said. “Corey, I need you to distract that thing so I can inject it.”
          “I have just the thing,” Corey said, running back to his property and returning with a roll of aluminum foil.
          “What’s that?” Ryder asked as they walked towards the fence.
          “Roast beef,” Corey said. “Forgot I had it in the vegetable crisper and found it two months after the shit hit the fan. It was rancid, but I decided to save it. I figured it might come in handy.”
          “Spoiled roast beef?”
          “Hey, you can never know,” Corey said. “And it looks like I was right to save it after all.”
          He unfolded the tinfoil and they approached the Biter. Corey dropped the roast beef, which at this point had lost all natural color and was a dreary gray. The Biter dropped to its knees and began devouring the dried, shriveled meat.
          Ryder approached cautiously with the syringe. He stuck the needle in the side of its neck and pressed down on the plunger. The liquid drained from the syringe and the Biter immediately dropped the rancid meat and turned all attention to Ryder.
          The rope held it in place as Ryder dropped the syringe and backed away. “Now we play the waiting game,” Corey said. “Let’s see what this shit can do.”
          The group met again afterwards to discuss what to do with the vials until the effects kicked in. Ryder was fearful of keeping the vials on the property. He didn’t want them to end up in anyone else’s hands. And he didn’t want them destroyed.
          So they agreed it was best if the vials were hidden, buried until further notice. Ryder was the only one who knew of the location. He buried them somewhere beyond the gates of the property. But just in case something happened to him in the interim, he made sure to mark the spot with a C, so the group would know what to look for. He was going to mark it with an X, but he figured that’d be giving the spot away.
* * *
          That night, they sat under the stars and finished the bottle of Tenafly Viper. It was the only liquor they had left. Amy Greene joined them, but she didn’t imbibe. Not with Nikki Fox keeping a watchful eye over her.
          “What do you guys miss the most?” Corey asked. “Me, I’m dying for a steak. Rib eye, filet mignon, porterhouse. I’d even eat one of those two dollar steaks they sold in bodegas.”
          “I miss Sports Center,” Chen said.
          “I miss television in general,” Loomis said. “And movies, video games, fast food, cold beer. But what I miss the most is women. No offense, ladies.”
          “I’d just about kill for a cold beer,” Reggie said. “And a burger. I never realized how much I took things like Budweiser and red meat for granted.”
          “Baseball,” DeVito said. “I’d give anything to be sitting out in the crowd at a Yankees games again. One thing I don’t miss is cops and getting tickets all the time.”
          “You do realize I was a cop?” Ryder asked, and couldn’t help but chuckle a bit.
          “I miss my mom and dad,” Amy said. “And coffee. When I wasn’t drinking, I lived on coffee. I miss walking into Starbucks and smelling those fresh coffee grinds brewing and treating myself to a triple foam mocha latte.”
          “I miss my job,” Nikki said. “I miss helping people. It was such a huge part of my life.”
          “You’re still helping people,” Amy assured her.
          “I miss my family, my boyfriend, my car,” Taryn said. “Just about everything.”
          “I miss my wife and daughter,” Ryder confessed. “Now that I finally remember everything clearly, I miss them more than ever.”
          “Let’s talk about something a little more cheerful,” Taryn said. “Let’s all get to know each other a little better.”
          “We already know each other,” Nikki said.
          “Not who we are now,” Taryn said. “I’m talking about who we were. Who we really are underneath. I’ll tell you all something that only a few of you know about me…I used to be an exotic dancer.”
          “Like a stripper?” DeVito asked.
          “No, a stripper is a whore who takes her clothes off for money,” Taryn said. “I was a dancer at a very exclusive club. And I made really good money doing it.”
          “Care to give us a demonstration?” Loomis asked.
          “Eat me,” Taryn said.
          “With pleasure.”
          “So who’s next?” Taryn asked, ignoring Scotty’s vulgar comment.
          “I was a used car salesman,” DeVito said. “We’d buy clunkers, polish them up, and sell them to saps for a few grand a piece. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it beat mopping up floors for a living. I don’t think that makes me a bad guy though. I came from a very religious family. Church on Sunday was mandatory. I attended religion classes every Tuesday after school. And believe it or not, I flunked my final test and never received final communion.”
          “I can believe it,” Corey muttered.
          “I guess I’ll go next,” Chen said. “My father was very strict. He demanded perfection one hundred percent of the time. He did more than just encourage my involvement in sporting events. He practically forced me in that direction. And when I couldn’t cut it at baseball and couldn’t make the football team, I took up running at his suggestion. I think in a way he was trying to live vicariously through me. That’s why he always pushed me to be the best. He wanted me to succeed where he failed.”
          “I was married once,” Nikki said. “It didn’t work out. He was too controlling, too possessive. And in the end, I realized I was married to my job. And that meant more to me than my husband. So I filed for divorce and never looked back. I never told anyone because…well, I never felt comfortable.”
          “How come?” Amy asked.
          “He used to raise his hands to me,” Nikki confessed. “That’s why I don’t even like to think about the bastard. But I put a stop to that long before the divorce. I beat him senseless with one of his own golf clubs.”
          “You go, girl,” Taryn said.
          “I saw two goats fucking on the side of the road in Switzerland once,” Loomis said. “That’s all I’ve got for you. But seriously, I’m a pretty simple guy. There are no secrets I can share that will really blow you away. I was never married, never had any kids. Though my ex-girlfriend had a little pregnancy scare a few years back. I was terrified when she told me she was late. Thankfully it was just a false alarm. I wasn’t ready to be a father. I don’t think I ever will be.”
          “My license was revoked,” Amy said. “DWI charge. I hit three street signs, a parking meter, and a mailbox before I crashed head-on into a tree. The judge showed mercy by giving me probation and community service instead of jail time. And he made me attend mandatory AA meetings.”
          “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fireman,” Corey said. “I wanted to be the hero. I wanted to ride on the back of that shiny red truck and use that big hose to put out the fires. When I was three, my dad got me this toy fire truck. It had this white ladder and a little crank on the side so you could make the ladder go up and down. I’d give anything to have that toy back.”
          “Some of you already know a lot about me,” Ryder said. “I used to be a cop. I was also in the marines. I’m a good man who has done some bad things in order to survive. But haven’t we all? All you need to know about me is this…I would die for any of you.”
          “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Corey said.
          “I was born and raised here in Arkansas,” Reggie said. “I never traveled, never left the state. My passion used to be writing, but I never tried getting published. I got in trouble with the law a few times when I was younger. I used to work with my uncle a lot because he was the only one who’d hire me. I used to worry about the future day and night. Now I wish I had a future to worry about.”
          “You’re still alive,” Ryder said. “That means there’s still a future.”
          Beyond the gates, a single Biter gazed through the wrought iron bars, drool hanging from its chin where the skin had begun to rot and peel.
          “Is that the future you’re referring to?” Reggie asked, motioning toward their uninvited guest.




          Day Three Hundred and Fourteen.
          The group’s patience paid off. For two days, they let the serum do its work. They watched as the skin regained its pigment. They saw the flesh healing at a miraculous rate. Hair and skin cells multiplied. Warm blood began to flow through its veins.
          The antidote seemed to jumpstart the heart and the brain, but left the victim with little to no memory. Carson Ryder could sympathize.
          Eventually, their test subject began to regain his speech.
          “What’s your name?” Ryder inquired that morning.
          “I don’t remember,” the man said. “Can you untie this rope?”
          “Of course,” Ryder said, cutting the man loose from the fence. He stretched his sore limbs and took a puzzled glance around the property.
          “Do you remember where you’re from?” Ryder asked.
          “No,” the man said.
          “Do you remember anything? Your parents? Perhaps a brother or sister? Do you remember where you were born or where you grew up?”
          “No,” the man shook his head. “I’m sorry. I can’t remember much of anything.”
          “This is going to come as quite a shock to you,” Ryder said. “But you were dead. For how long, I don’t know. But longer than any man should rightfully be dead and live to tell about it. The world has…changed. It has become a very dangerous place.”
          “What happened?” the man asked. “Where are all the people? Was there a war? A terrorist attack of some kind?”
          “You could say that,” Ryder said. “The Black Lodgers. A group of international bioterrorists. They released this toxin into the air. It brought the dead back to life.”
          “Zombies?” the man said in disbelief. “I was a fucking zombie?”
          “I’m afraid so.”
          “Cool,” the man shrugged. “So where the hell are we?”
          “Arkansas,” Ryder said. “Maumelle to be precise. We’re close to Little Rock, if that means anything to you.”
          “It doesn’t. But the name sounds familiar.”
          The first thing Ryder felt was something warm splatter against his face. The second thing he felt was the weight of the man’s body when he collapsed at Ryder’s feet.
          Ryder, unarmed, turned to the fence and saw Eli Carver standing outside the bars. But he wasn’t alone. He had Jones and a small army with him.
          By then, the whole group had heard the shot and gathered outside with Carson to see what they were up against.
          “Greetings, old friends,” Eli said. “So happy to see you again. Lovely place you have here. It’s a shame we’re going to have to take it away from you.”
          “Over our dead bodies,” Ryder said.
          “We’ve prepared for that scenario,” Jones said. “But we’re going to give you one chance to surrender. You have twenty four hours to decide. Then that gate is coming down and we’re coming inside.”
          “If you think we’re going to surrender, you’re dreaming.”
          “Then prepare yourselves for the inevitable: War. We’ll be back in twenty four hours.”

To Be Continued With Part Thirty Three: UNDER ATTACK

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