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"The Last Hurrah"

I took a long drag on my cigarette, leaning out over the tarred roof of the old hospital. I blew out the smoke slowly, felt it curl around my face and waft away in the crisp evening air. I surveyed the scene around me. Stuck, smack dab in the middle of the city, low on ammunition, low on supplies, and completely surrounded. I was also safe from harm, however, having barricaded the stairwell that led me to the roof. For now, I was locked in a stalemate, but I had one major disadvantage--in a couple of days, I'd die of dehydration. This was it, I thought. Finally fucked. After all the planning, the patience, the (at times) raw willpower, all of it was going to go to waste because of one stupid mistake. I never should have come back to this town. I wouldn't have, if I had a choice. But I needed supplies. What else could I do? I went in. I spent the last few years avoiding this town completely. It held too many weird memories for me. I preferred the countryside. The softly rolling Appalachian hills, the mountain streams, the cowfields and corn rows, all of that was what I considered to truly be home. Besides all the quasi-romantic bullshit, it was much safer in the country than in the city since the plague. I don't know what they're calling the plague officially. Hell, I don't even know if anyone else is left out there to call it anything officially. All I know is it's a virus. One hell of a virus. You'd catch it, see, and it drove you mad. You got a real high fever, you stopped being yourself and you go rabid. I watched people who I would trust with my life run at me and try to take a chunk out of my arm--I'm talking real aggressive qualities, here. Predatory. And I haven't even gotten to the good part, yet. The part that makes me wonder if the victims are the sane ones and I'm the one who's lost it. Thusly: should you, by some means, manage to bring down a carrier of the virus, be it with a gun, a blunt instrument, electrocution, whatever--within a few minutes that dead body gets back up and comes at you again, though much more slowly. I figure, hey, if the laws of science have gone haywire, at least the bastards are less dextrous after you've offed them once. And I figured this out, too. Shoot them in the head, and they go down. Permanently. It's become a kind of official policy with me: head shots or no shots. Ammo's precious. That thought served to remind me of my current, untenable situation. No food or water. Trapped on a roof. And I only had four bullets left. I took a final pull on the cigarette between my fingers, then flicked it out over the edge of the roof. I watched as it spiraled, end-over-end, before finally landing in a shower of sparks on the flagstones of the courtyard below. It drew attention. Dozens of sets of eyes turned skyward, picking me out against the backdrop of the evening sky. Voices drifted to my ears, but they were no longer human. Feral growls and piteous moans rose all around me, and rotting hands reached skyward. I leaned down closer. They were three stories down. I was safe from them. For now. I had counted nearly fifty of the zombies in the courtyard, and I was certain more were inside. I felt confident calling these things zombies. They were dead, they were moving, they were zombies. Their living brethren, on the other hand... ...they could prove a bigger problem. Living carriers of the disease aren't hampered by such post-mortem concerns as decay and rigor mortis. They're as fast as I am, and just as strong. And I knew for a fact there were at least two of them inside the old hospital beneath my feet. I was confident I could get past the zombies in the courtyard, even on foot. A decent jog is twice as fast as any of those rotting freaks could go. But I'd have to deal with the living carriers first. They'd run me down faster than a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat. Not that it mattered. With the zombies as support, the carriers downstairs had an almost certain chance of killing me before I got out the main door. I felt a frown cross my face. Since when was I so fatalistic? Or, maybe, I was merely being realistic. I spun on my heels and walked briskly away from the edge of the hospital's roof. I'd had to leave my rucksack and half my gear downstairs near the access door I'd taken to get up here, but I still had my weapon. I picked up the rifle, a nice lever-action Winchester 30-30, and racked a round into the chamber. Action was better than inaction. I'd be damned if I was going to sit up here and slowly die of dehydration. I'd be damned if I let them win that easily. "You're going to have to work for it," I breathed, shouldering my rucksack and cradling the rifle in my arms. The sun was sinking lower behind the green hills to the west. It was going to be dark inside the building.I had an old, chipped, Army-issue crookneck flashlight clipped to the epaulette on my shirt, and I flicked it on. It cast a swaying, dancing beam of light in front of me. It would have to do. I had nothing else. I pulled the rusty metal door that led to the hospital's stairwell open slowly. The hinges cried out with a raspy, grating sound that weighed heavily on my ears. Noise was what had gotten me into this mess in the first place. I left the door standing open. Twilight cast a bit of illumination into the dark stairwell, and I was thankful for that much. I let my eyes sweep the roof. In all likelihood, this would be the last time I would be outdoors. At least, alive. I inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of autumn in Appalachia. It seemed a shame. Autumn was always my favorite time of year. Hallowe'en would be soon. The thought made my eyes narrow. This year, the monsters were real. With one last, longing look around, I turned and stepped into the stairwell. My boots rang out on the hollow metal of the stairs as I began my descent, rifle held out in front of me. They could be anywhere inside the sprawling three-story structure. I had to be on guard. The hollow ringing of my steps ended abruptly as I arrived on the third-floor landing, and stepped onto its concrete base. Here, I halted. There would be a throng of them waiting for me at the door on the ground level. I would only hasten my inevitable death going that way. I wracked my brain for an alternate route. Elevators. The hospital was undergoing renovations. During my harried ascent, I had noticed two of the three elevator shafts were hanging open. Apparently they were undergoing some maintenance just before the plague hit. There might be a way to climb down that way. It would put me across the building from the greatest concentration of the zombie below, at the very least. I turned my back on the stairs, reaching out a hand to the third floor's doorknob and turning.It was unlocked. Now came a moment of indecision--anything could be waiting on the other side. I took a quick breath, primed myself, and swung it open, snapping my rifle up.My flashlight's beam sliced through the darkness, illuminating the empty, sterile corridor beyond. I lowered the barrel of the Winchester, but kept it at the ready. I stepped forward onto the cold white tiles of the ward, eyes roving back and forth as I advanced. There were signs of violence here. An empty wheelchair lay at my feet, tipped up on its side. A bloody smear led away from it. I played my light over it, and saw it tapered off to nothingness a few feet away. It might mean nothing. Or it might mean I had company on this level. I shoved the chair out of the way with my boot, sliding it across the floor slowly so as to make as little noise as possible, and moved on. Every open door I came to was inspected, flashlight dancing through empty patients' rooms where disheveled beds and get-well cards sat, here and there a lonely, forgotten rose in a vase, long since dead, dried petals dotting the tiles below. I reached the nurse's station near the center of the level, resting the rifle on my shoulder and reaching up with my free hand to grasp the dangling flashlight.I panned the beam across the walls, lighting up the signs hung there. And the mural painted on the wall behind them.It was a happy scene drawn in bright pastels of a park in the sunlight, people having a picnic, a boy throwing a frisbee to a badly-drawn dog. Beneath it, in shaky black paint, was written: "Painted by our favorite little patients, 2003!" Jesus.I was in a children's ward.It was obvious the plague had been through here, as everywhere else.I shuddered at the thought, shoving the mental picture I had of carriers ripping into the sick children out of my mind.Whatever had happened here, I had missed it by weeks. The signs on the wall said the elevators were further down the corridor.I was heading in the right direction.Unfortunately, the corridor ahead of me was blocked by an impressive attempt to seal it off from the rest of the hospital.Beds, mattresses, crutches, gurneys and I.V. trolleys were all thrust together in a heap.The last stand of the third floor, I surmised.There was a gap torn through the middle of the blockade.It wasn't much, but I knew it was enough for a living carrier.They would pull themselves through the gap, one after another, like sand through an hourglass.Whoever had been hiding behind that barricade would not have survived. Taking great care to keep my ambient noise down, I padded silently up to the obstacle, sliding my eyes over it.I could climb through with little trouble.I slung my rifle over my shoulder and propped my foot up on a bedframe, reaching out my arms to pull myself up.For the barest moment, my flashlight's beam flitted across the gap in the obstacle. It took less than a second for the carriers beyond, shrouded in the darkness of the hallway, to react to the stimuli. A hissing face with bloodshot eyes flew into the gap, bared, glistening teeth shaped into a feral growl. I yelled despite myself, and fell off the side of the barricade, landing with a grunt on my back.The rifle slung on my back had dug painfully into my shoulderblade.I rolled onto my side and drew myself to my feet, unslinging the rifle and spinning to face the barricade. It was another carrier, a living host of the virus.She was maybe ten years old, spasming frantically as she tried to pull herself through the gap.Her arm was tangled in the debris, and she had lacerations up and down her face.I knew those marks--they were caused by human fingernails rending flesh. She had been infected by a living carrier.And now she, in turn, would try to infect me. I backed away slowly, rifle trained on her little form.I was breathing heavily, adrenaline coursing through my system. My vision swam and my trigger finger itched, but I reminded myself of the ammunition situation, and slowly realized she wasn't going anywhere.She had mired herself in the obstacle. The girl growled and gibbered, foaming a little at the mouth as she tried to get at me, throwing herself forward again and again, rattling and shaking the entire barricade, but her arm held her back.The pure, unsullied hatred in her eyes drove like a stake through my heart.She was corrupted, body and soul.She was the Enemy. "Bastards," I whispered. "You bastards." I stepped towards her, raising the rifle above my head slowly.In the last moment before I brought it down, I thought I saw comprehension in the little girl's eyes.Perhaps, I thought, even a hint of humanity. Then the rifle butt smashed into her forehead, snapping her head back.She squawked once, a pitiful sound, and then fell limp and silent.The light went out of her eyes. As I watched, rivulets of blood ran down her now-peaceful face, dripping almost inaudibly onto the tiles of the floor, a soft tip-tip-tip. I took a long, shuddering breath, and wiped the rifle butt clean of blood on one of the mattresses in the barricade.I turned to go, felt my knees go weak, and I kneeled quickly, reaching out a hand to the floor to steady myself. Why was this happening to me?To the world, even? What point was there in going on? I let myself slump into a seated position, back against the barricade, and leaned my head back.My eyes drifted to the right, where the limp arm of the infected girl hung. I watched her blood pooling on the floor.Soon, I thought, I would be like her.At peace.Or, perhaps, in Hell. Maybe, I thought, I should save one of my bullets for myself. I furrowed by brow, glancing around the dim corridor from my spot on the floor.What was I thinking? When the world is dead and society is stripped away, all you have left are your principles. Despair was not one of my defining principles, I reminded myself. I needed those bullets for a more constructive use than suicide. Rage, however, was always one of my vices.And even vices had their uses.I pulled myself to my feet, dusting off my pants as I stood, turning to face the body of the infected girl with the now-peaceful, innocent face. "I don't know who you were before all this," I said quietly, "but one of those things turned you. You didn't deserve to die like this.No one who's died like this deserved to.Today I'm going to do you a favor. I'm going to go downstairs, now.And I'm going to kill as many of them as I can before they get me.Today, you have your revenge. And so do I." Fuck the elevators, I thought.I want them to know I'm coming, now. I strode forcefully back through the ward, rearing back and kicking the fallen wheelchair I had passed on the way in.It clattered into the stairwell and crashed down half a flight, smashing into pieces.I was right behind it, slamming my booted feet on the metal stairs and dragging my rifle barrel along the railing, making each step an exercise in piercing noise.Even though they were two floors below me through concrete walls, I could hear the bassic growling of the carriers, and the dull thuds as they began to throw themselves against the door to the stairwell.I had had the foresight to break the knob off with my rifle butt on the way up.They couldn't get in. But they knew I was on my way. It would have been nice if I had more bullets.I laughed grimly. Now that I was resigned to death, the prospect wasn't nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.Like Doc Holliday, I had nothing to lose.I realized I felt good, heading for that confrontation.Better than I had felt in a long time. My 'tiny fucking mistake,' the error that had doomed me, began instead to feel like the blessing that had released me. Today was an exercise in irony, I thought as I reached the first landing. I had come here in hopes of securing gear to help ensure my survival.I had brought with me, originally, a radio, in hopes of contacting someone--also to help ensure my own survival.That my choice of location and choice of equipment were both meant to help me live, and that both ended up contributing to my death, was the very definition of the old phrase, "an ironic turn of events." You see, apparently someone with the feds decided it would be a good idea to record a message telling civilians to remain in their homes and seal the entrances.I guess it started getting played near the beginning of the plague, when there were actually still people alive to listen.Wherever it was broadcasting from obviously still had power.I hadn't counted on either.And, naturally, Murphy's Law ensured that I had forgotten to turn the volume on the radio down before I went into town. As I had entered the hospital, the message went back out across the airwaves, was translated to sound through my radio, and came blasting out of the speaker in a garble of static and frantic voices.I'd ripped it off my belt and smashed it against the floor in my hurry to silence it, but the damage was done.They were on me in moments, running in from the grounds outside, or shambling slowly out of dark patients' rooms and nurses' stations.I tried to run outside, but one of them actually managed to grab me from behind, and I'd had to slip out of the straps of my rucksack to escape it. The thing was down there, somewhere, wandering around with my ammo and food. I decided on the fly that if I saw him, I'd gun for him.I wanted my rucksack back on general principles, now.I had finally managed to run back into the hospital, barricade the stairwell, and go up and out onto the roof to mull over what had happened. I rounded the landing of the second floor, gritting my teeth.I'd been hiding from these things so long, I looked forward to the showdown.I could hear them more clearly as I got closer, pounding on the door in an erratic pattern, distant moans and growls providing an eerie backdrop to my descent. How long could I push on before I was brought down, I wondered? How many would I take with me? Five? Ten? Twenty? I rounded the final flight and stopped.I was facing the door to the lobby, highlighted in the dark stairwell by my flashlight's beam.It quivered as the infected pounded on it from outside. I could see a bit of light outside the door, dim and blue, the final effort of twilight before true night.That was fortunate.The light would help me kill them better. I guessed there were six or seven out there.Six or seven.Four bullets.Then what? I'd have an unwieldy club.It would have to do. I lifted my foot outwards to head down the final few stairs, but I stopped it in midair.My eyes glinted.I remembered my flashlight catching a glimpse of red paint and glass as I had rounded the corner.I slowly reached up a hand, grasped the light, and panned it left.It came to a rest on a metal box bolted to the wall.I smiled. Not a grim smile, but a genuine one. It had to be a gift from a generous god, I guessed. The fire axe that was illuminated in the case would make a much more suitable replacement for my unwieldy club.I strode over to the case, sparing a glance at the door that separated me from my enemies. They continued to pound away. "Emergency use only," I read out loud."To be used only in event of fire." I reached into my pocket, pulling out my crumpled pack of cigarettes, and opened the top.One left.I stuck it between my lips and lit it, watching the reflection of the burning coal as it glowed brightly in the glass. Then I smashed through it with the butt of my rifle, sending glass shards crashing to the ground. I swept the rim of the case with the rifle butt, clearing away the shards still hanging there, and driving the zombies on the other side of the door into a near-frenzy. Their pounding increased.I reached into the case and pulled the heavy axe out reverently, cradling it in my hands. "Alright," I said, walking back over in front of the door.I leaned the axe against the wall by my feet, and hefted the rifle."It's time." I took a drag on the cigarette between my lips, blowing out the smoke in a quick sigh, ashes swirling in the air in front of me.Then, before I had time to dwell on it, I reached out a hand, turned the knob, and kicked the door with as much strength as I could muster.It flew open, crashing into the besieging force and sending half sprawling to the floor. I leveled the rifle and narrowed my eyes.One of them had been missed in the door's swing.It was an infected, a living carrier, a man not much older than I.He glanced back at the fallen zombies, and whirled on me, hissing inhumanly and baring his teeth.I barely flinched as I pulled the trigger.The blast was deafening in the enclosed space. He seemed to fall back in slow motion, blood trailing from the hole where his eye had been moments before.He hit the floor, a fevered look of surprise notched on his frozen features.I worked the rifle's lever, a quick clack-clack, and the empty brass flipped to the floor, tinkling as it rolled against my foot and stopped.A wisp of smoke blew away from the barrel, and I spat my cigarette out. "Come on, you bastards," I said. And come, they did.The second living carrier I knew to be in the building had been among those knocked to the floor in my first assault.She rolled quickly to her feet, launching herself through the doorway at me, snarling.I fired a second time as she came at me, and she jerked to a halt, falling first to her knees, then on her face in front of me.I chambered my third round. The undead compatiots of the carriers were on their feet now.I raised the rifle to my shoulders, taking a careful moment to aim, and fired, the round penetrating the temple of one of the undead, spraying brain matter and shards of skull across the corridor.It fell. Before it even finished twitching, I had sight-acquired and fired on the fourth of them.It slammed into the far wall, sliding to the floor slowly, leaving a dark red blood trail behind it on the white paint of the wall. I dropped the rifle to the ground, and retrieved the fire axe.Thus far, I hadn't moved from my original position, but now I strode forward, pushing the door all the way open and moving out into the hallway. There was one more undead at my feet.It hadn't been able to pull itself to its feet after the door had knocked it down.I felt my face contort in rage as I slammed the axe bit through its skull.I put my foot on the re-killed head and levered the axe out of it.It came free with a sickening noise, and I spun around, facing the hall that led to the main lobby, axe in my hands.I could hear them.More were coming this way. The first one rounded the corner a moment later.She might have been attractive in life.Now, half her lower jaw was missing, and her tongue hang out the side of her face, twitching as she moaned, reaching an arm out towards me as she stumbled along.Behind her, more appeared, of every race and age, with varying wounds and post-mortem scratches and bruises.I stayed put, watching them filter into the hall, lip curling in disgust. A vision of the little girl upstairs flashed in front of my eyes as I watched them, followed quickly by a vision of myself among their ranks.I lowered my head, hands gripping the axe so tightly my knuckles were white.When the first of them had crossed half the distance to me, I charged. I locked eyes with the female zombie as I ran at her.If zombie could have expressions, I imagine she was elated for a moment.Her prey was actually coming to her, instead of the other way around.Then I decapitated her with a wild swing of the axe, and she was elated no more.The axe embedded in the plaster of the wall, but I yanked it out in a spray of dust and wound it up over my head, bringing it down into the shoulder of the next zombie in line.It managed an annoyed sound, and was brought to the ground by the force of the blow.The next zombie took the axe bit in the face, the stroke carrying through into the chest of a fourth.I yanked my weapon free of the gory mess and plunged forward. Hack, slash, kick, shove, slice--I rained death on all sides as I advanced. I felt the anger and indignation in me begin to fade as fatigue set in. I pried the axe from the neck of a foe and kicked the corpse back, hunching over slightly as I panted for breath. There were plenty more enemies in front of me.I took the moment to glance around, and felt my heart sink.I had fought my way into the lobby, and in the wider space the zombie had circled around me as I had advanced. I was surrounded. Behind the throng of zombies in front of me, I could see the swaying trees outside on the grounds through the building's wide windows.The front doors were no more than a dozen feet away. But I wouldn't be going outside.The circle closed in as vapid, empty faces moaned, and cold hands reached out towards me.I drew in a deep, shuddering breath, raising the axe in my hands and pulling myself to my full height. This was it, I thought. I felt fingers grasping at my shoulders from behind. The last stand. I swung the heavy fireaxe, felt it bite into the crowd.I would go down fighting, just as I wanted. In the end, I reasoned as I felt the axe being torn from my grip and the teeth sinking into my body, it's not such a bad way to die.To go down swinging, with honor. A woman couldn't ask for more.

"To Whom It May Concern"

This is my story.Well, the important parts, anyway.I'm writing this down in the hopes that I can look back on it someday, and laugh at myself for being a hung-over idiot. Today started like any other.Well, not quite.I woke from my drunken slumber at about half-past eight, took a piss, staggered into the kitchen for some day-old coffee, and sat down in front of the TV for my morning fix of local news.I lit a cigarette (the first one of the day is always the best), and started flipping through the channels.Thay were all the same (they always are), but in a different way this time. I tried channel 2.What the fuck?Where I should be seeing the ever-so-perky visage of my favorite local "away girl", there was nothing but a black and gray EBS logo.I then tried channel 13.Same shit! Channel 4?Cannel 5?I'm sure you can see the pattern developing here, can't you?Along the very bottom of the screen rolled a constantly looping list of places to avoid.Some were schools: others were office buildings and such.And what the fuck is with the sirens? I vaguely recalled hearing something on the news last night.I seem to remember the anchorman with the bad rug saying some shit about a new virus or flu or something.So what?Some people call in sick and it makes the fucking news?I knew Utah was a boring place, but come on.I turned the TV off and went for the radio.Shit, Dissapointed again!Figures. At first, all I got was that "emergency" squeal.I turned the dial until I finally heard a voice.It was the local shock-jock "Slick Bill".He didn't sound like he was having nearly as much fun as usual, so I listened closer.He was going on and on about some shit.I could barely understand him.I was, however, able to decipher a couple of unsettling phrases.Ones like "Keep all doors locked", and " Under NO circumstances should you attempt to make contact". Jesus, I thought.What is this dude so fucking wound up for?This has got to be some kind of sick-ass joke! My curiosity piqued when he began to scream.Not fake screaming, either.None of that "Hollywood" shit here.This was real.Too real. He sounded like he was being ripped apart, or something.When the screaming ended I could hear growling noises in the background. Then the signal cut off.I think that did more for my state of awareness than any amount of cold coffee could. I ran back to my room to get properly dressed.If the shit really is hitting the fan, I'll be damned if I'm going to die in a pair of "Spongebob" boxers! Then (as the fog of my hangover started to clear), I looked out the window. Chaos.There's no other way to put it.It looked like every single person in the whole damn city had dropped some bad acid, or something.People were chasing each other, running each other down with their cars, and clubbing each other!Not to mention some crazy asshole out there with a handgun.Talk about fucked up!It was like some giant game of rugby with no rules, where all the players are wearing the same fucking shirts!I couldn't tell who was who out there. God, this is so insane! And just when I thought I'd seen it all, it got worse.A lot worse.From where I sat, I watched a little kid remove one of the kidneys from some teenage slacker-type kid in an "I Love Soccer Moms" T-shirt.The little bastard wasn't alone, either.While the kid was busy clawing away at the guy's lower back, an old lady (who should've needed a walker, by the way), ran out from behind a truck and started chewing on the side of the guy's head!She fucking ran!!Once the guy was down a whole shitload of them came out of nowhere to join in.Not even in the movies have I ever seen anything like this! I'm sure as hell not going out there!What the fuck is happening here?Is it everywhere?I wonder if this has anything to do with all the crazy shit that's goin on in Africa? I tried to call my parents but nobody answered the phone.God, I hope they're okay.They're pretty smart, maybe they got the fuck out of Dodge when it started getting weird.Maybe not.Maybe they're out there chasing people around, too.Shit!I can't think like that. I think I'm just going to sit tight.Jesus!I never thought I'd need to fear a little kid, let alone an elderly woman! Fuck this!Yup, I'm staying right here.Oh shit, there's someone knocking.Should I answer it?What if I don't and it's my mom, or something?What if I do and it's not?I suppose I should at least go check it out. Okay, I'm going to look out the peephole.I'll finish this once I know what's going on. Whoever it is sure is knocking hard.

"Private Arlen"

Many of the men had fought, and died.But some remained, some still willing to fight.The world was all but lost for now; it wasn't totally taken by this new plague that had swept across this nation with a hammering blow. The plague that had been little more than a new sickness.But it was certain even now, as Private Jon Arlen ran across Highway 127 at the Highway 40 junction, that the world had shit the bed. Of course it was only his observation, there were other men in his platoon that thought otherwise.The maniacal rank of this army now was to its full extent.And if it could get any worse, then he was certain he'd die. He glanced up from his feet and saw salvation, in the form of a brigade of heavily armed men walking towards him with quickened pace.They stood in front of a La Quinta Inn, the area that the National Guard had taken refuge.It was only a temporary base for this garrison. But how long was temporary to the eyes of the United States National Guard?They'd been here for two weeks, and he hadn't seen any sign of anyone coming to rescue. More than half of his platoons were dead; the cause of looters and likewise factions that now roamed Crossville, Tennessee.Molotov's and hand-made dynamite sticks were no match for anything his platoon had in possession.Except for the fifty-caliber he'd manned, he wished the fifty had had more ammunition than it had. He took out possibly ten of them before the fifty went quite. He wasn't a coward; just unfortunate. Looters weren't the only things he had to worry about.There were other...things...abroad. Things that should not be.And they were fast as fuck. Carriers, that's what some of his buddies called them. But he called them just plain zombies; he'd seen them in horror movies, including one that had come out in the past year.Those were as fast as these, but that didn't mean they weren't something to fear.They were fear, busting down your door and breaking in your windows.Fear was running through your streets and biting your neighbor, then it went on to find more of your neighbors, and finally fear would find you. He looked over his right shoulder and saw them swarming through the convoy he'd left two hundred yards behind him.Many of the score started a mad run for him, the survivors of his platoon. The men in front of the hotel opened fire, rendering the carriers defenseless in the flat lawn with the grass.That green grass soon turned crimson as the bodies were obliterated by the mix of 7.62 and 5.56 rounds filtering through the barrels of United States steel. Jon almost fell at the horrifying sound of large caliber rounds whizzing past him, but remained on his feet.He glanced down at his mud-covered M-9 pistol.He had no idea how many rounds were left, but he knew it wasn't empty.Many a foe on his trip had thought themselves worthy to stare down his barrel.He had stupidly left his M-16 in the Humvee with the fifty-caliber mount. So far he was grateful for having a gun at all. The shots in front of him had died down considerably, but many were still firing.He walked up to a Captain, who was eyeing him intently. Captain Donald Matheson was a fit fellow, weighing in at an easy two hundred pounds with the biceps to show.He fiddled with his trigger safety any time he was nervous. "Report, Private!"he barked, revealing teeth that had seen better days. Jon snapped off a quick salute."Sir, ten were lost to roaming gangs in downtown Crossville.We no longer control downtown.Sir!" Jon barked back, Downtown Crossville was being used as a safe zone as well as a supply dump.He thought back to the slaughter, and mentally shuddered. "Fuck!" Captain Matheson screamed, letting go a puff of smoke as he lit his cigarette.He fiddled with his trigger safety. "Grenade!" someone to the far right bellowed, it was followed by a sharp explosion and dirt showering the men. "Listen up, pansies," the captain bellowed."We've got a job to do, and that's to clear out this sector.I'll be damned if we aren't gonna fucking complete our mission! Hooah!" "Hooah!" came the response, thick with readiness. Jon's response lacked a lot; he didn't think the world would sort this kind of shit out.And he was sure that he wasn't crazy.Yet. Jon walked to the entrance of the hotel, walking up to an area full of downed men, he stopped in front of the area. Some were bitten and had worsened in health over the few days they had been there.He didn't exactly like that; he'd seen zombie movies and hoped that this wasn't the case. One started moving erratically, belying his weakened state unable to lift a finger. Jon took a step back.It stopped, dead.He watched the last breath exit the lungs of the sergeant. "Fuck." He gasped, gripping the M-9 with white knuckles. Any minute he would get up, any fucking minute that sergeant would be biting others. But he was going to stop that, here and now. But just as he vowed to end it were it started, ten more stopped breathing. Jon glanced to the right, and then to the left.Insuring no one was watching.This was the moment of courage--his moment of courage.And he ran. He pushed through to the left, running further into the bowels of the hotel.Bounding past men and women that had no idea what was happening. He got to the elevators and pushed the glowing button as the screams first started.The screams were relentless, ongoing until the person died.He dropped his pistol involuntarily and started running to the emergency stairs. More screams were thrown into the chaos, as well as a volley of gunshots.But all faded as he leaped and bounded up the stairs taking three at a time. Soon level two came into view.He glanced down, looking if anyone had followed him. The door on the lowest floor was thrown open.And to his ears came the sound of boots pounding against the concrete steps. "I saw that fucker run!" screamed a familiar voice, and that familiar voice had a name; Corporal Brad Jenkins.A man that had despised Jon since the day they'd met in boot camp. He glanced at his empty left hand.No pistol.No life. He continued up the stairs, but with a quieter pace.Why the hell had he dropped his gun? He stood no chance up against Brad and Josh. PFC. Joshua Lynwood was a fighter by heart, the only problem in his case, though, was that he was a fighter that didn't need a brain.He let his fists do the thinking. "I'm gonna cut that dipshit's prick off." Brad vowed. "Yeah!" Josh chimed in. Jon crested the third level and shot into a room.His breathing was the only thing that kept him sane--the only thing that separated himself from the fucks running around outside.He cocked his head and walked to the window, it was a full view of the outside. Many of his platoon were caught in between two waves of carriers, one coming from the town, and another coming from the lobby of the hotel. He heard their pounding footsteps seconds before they actually stalked past the door. "End of the line, dipshit!" Brad bellowed, making sure the whole level could hear him."Search the rooms."He ordered. Ray heard the footsteps of Brad and heard him attempt to open his door. After what seemed like hours but was only five seconds elapsed, he went to the next room.Private Arlen let loose a breath long forgotten in his lungs, and silently took in deep breathes. He heard more attempts down the corridor, followed by cursing. Jon elected to make his move; he stealthily walked to the door. The sounds of gunfire still rang outside.He grasped his hand around the knob and twisted the silent ball slowly, he was awarded with a clicking sound as the lock disengaged.And with a flash of energy and swift arms that belied his strength the door was open. "Shoot the mother!" Josh screamed, catching first glimpse of the private. Jon ran towards the stairs, bracing for an inevitable volley of 5.56 rounds in the back. And then that would be the end of Private Jon A. Arlen. Bound by bound, leap by leap, he came closer and closer to achieving his goal.And then Josh opened up. The crudely taken shot hit him high on the right shoulder, flinging him over the banister and sending him falling to the stairs that awaited his arrival.He landed mid-way on the flight of stairs.His air had escaped from his lungs and rendered him unable to accurately breathe.But that soon recovered. "Don't shoot him, you dumbfuck." Brad said. Jon rose to his knees and felt the back of his head.There was a large lump, but no bleeding.He stood erect and scanned the area; he saw nothing but heard Brad and Josh above.This caused an all-out run down the stairs. "Come back here, dipshit!" Brad pursued him. Jon giving up was unlikely.He would rather betray himself to Captain Matheson and get shot, than let his pursuers lay one finger on him. "You can't run forever!" Josh said. Jon kept at the mad run even with his bruised head and blurred vision. He came abreast of the emergency door and pushed it opened. After hearing the metallic clang of the door closing, his eyes scoured the ground in search for something to reinforce the door with.Nothing was forthcoming. He walked towards the lobby, his foot kicking a metallic object.His pistol. He picked it up and checked the magazine; half full. He smiled and started into the lobby. He had no fear now.There wasn't an ounce of fear behind his thick military issue glasses.He stalked into the lobby and caught a carrier feasting upon a soldier.He shot them both in rapid secession. A carrier outside came to investigate the loud noises; he was shot. Another shot, and then another. And his magazine went empty. No matter, he dropped it and grasped the cold grips of an M-16 A2 and opened up, felling four more swiftly. He turned around and gave the two men in pursuit of him what they deserved.He turned and ran out the front door, he inhaled a deep breath of air and realized this was a new start for him. He started for the Humvee which he had manned the fifty.During his run he checked the clip for his rifle.Empty. He dropped it and ran faster for his abandoned rifle in the Humvee. Two soldier carriers came running after him from the left. He ran faster, his lungs balls of fire.Being awake for long periods of time and sleeping so little was wearing him down.He yawned, despite the adrenaline rushing through him.He glanced down at a body that littered the lawn; it was Captain Matheson.Minus a neck. Two hundred feet to the Humvee, and his weapon. He could make it, just a few hundred feet.He took bounds and leaps, running the same speed as the carriers behind him.His heart pumping his lifeblood through vessels. One hundred feet now separated himself from the rifle. His speed was decreasing and he knew it.His legs ached from exertion since the rise of the first carrier.He, along with his platoon, had been sent to this town to patrol and protect it. What a bang-up job they'd done. He came to within twenty-feet and glanced back.The carriers were still gaining speed, but not as rapidly as he'd thought.The private came abreast of the Humvee and tried the doors, locked. "Fuck!" he screamed.How the hell had the occupants gotten the time to lock it up? He swung around to the opposite side and tried the front passenger door.To his surprise it swung open. He grabbed a pistol that lie forgotten in the seat and put three rounds into the first carrier, then readjusted his aim and felled the other with one shot. After checking his immediate vicinity, he clambered into the driver's seat of the Humvee and twisted the key.It roared to life and he put it into the appropriate gear and gunned it.He turned left and began down Highway 40. It was until he was forty miles away from Crossville when his white knuckles abated and he realized he had a new life ahead of him. A life he wouldn't fuck up.

"Mr. $1,500 AR"

Mr. $1,500 AR had been eyeing us for a while.At first, it's okay, because everyone gives every other survivor a careful once-over for signs of infection.This was different. "What are you cuties doing in such inhospitable environs?" He asked with all the tact of a sleazy used car dealer. "Medicine for our friend," I said, "The herbs aren't keeping the infection down." "What's wrong with your friend? If he's been bitten, you know what you're going to have to do, don't you?" He pointed his index finger and pulled his thumb back like a pistol's hammer, and made the unmistakable gesture of blowing his brains out, complete with what sounded like a duckfart.He looked back at us, and cocked his head, "And what's with all the commie guns? Couldn't you afford the good stuff?" Crystal was seething.We'd seen this kind of macho commando asshole before.Our patience with this type had worn threadbare.She scowled at him, waiting for any excuse. He fondled the AR.I have to admit, it was a sweet rifle. "We need drugs," Anita stated flatly, "antibiotics.Our friend wasn't bitten, he was scouting and was almost killed by one of your traps." A self-righteous grin spread across his face, "yes, ma'am, we do make great traps. It's too bad your friend didn't see.I think we can help you lovely ladies." Crystal was nauseous with frustration and helplessness.She shrunk back to the door.One of these post apocalyptic fratboys started to get up close to her.There was a call over the jerk's walkie-talkie and he looked out into the parking lot and then ran up the steps.Something was going on. "Marcus, can we help these ladies get medicine for their clumsy friend?" He was all of a sudden all business, so maybe we would be able to finally get somewhere.The guy behind the desk disappeared.It occured to me that the desk was out of place. "You ladies don't need to be so on edge, here.I mean, you know the business we're in.We're skilled professionals, and you don't need to be afraid.I don't keep this baby to impress people," he smiled in what must have been an attempt at tenderness, unslung the rifle, and started talking about everything from the telescoping stock to the birdcage muzzle break. Marcus appeared uncannily with a charitable smile on his face, "I'll help you.After all, it's not every day we get cuties dropping in to visit!" I thought I was going to puke.All we were trying to do was buy antibiotics off this handful of smug assholes and all they can do is hit on us.Fucking retards!The world as we knew it is gone and they still can't avoid thinking with the little head.I'd rather deal with the fucking carriers, at least they don't try to get uncomfortably friendly with you.Yeah, I'd take the threat of mortal harm over these shitbags.How the hell did they survive with this fratboy mentality, anyway? Mr. $1,500 AR put his arm around me.I sidled away, and he didn't get the hint.By the time Marcus came back with the drugs, I had almost decided to scrap this whole plan.Besides, it seemed pretty clear that they were going to follow us as soon as we left.Oh well, measures could be taken.We bartered for some food, some fuel, and a few boxes of 5.56 NATO we pulled off a dropped LD.Anita came back from gazing into the parking lot and verified the drugs in the bottle were right.The creeps tried to follow us, but luckily a handful of LD's and three carriers had appeared around the old hotel. "You girls aren't going out with those monsters out there, are you?" Marcus was visibly shaking, but Mr. $1,500 AR (plus $1,000 in accessories) made a ridiculous face like a bulldog taking a dump and readied his rifle. I just smiled the way you do when you have to, extended the bayonet on my SKS, and flipped the safety off.There was enough gas to get back, the question was getting to the car.Crystal tapped the safety of her Remington 870, and Anita made sure her Russian M44 was set to go.Mr. $1500 AR scoffed at our guns. "Totally inadequate!" He called out."Don't worry girls," he said in what seemed to be an attempt at an earnest tone, "the guys and I will cover you.If you need anything, you know to come to us, and we can always figure out a way that you can get what you need." I looked at Crystal, but she was surprisingly calm.Out of all of us, she smiled widest and sweetest as we left. A carrier in a tattered business suit bounded across the parking lot, and Anita brought up her M44 and fired.We're never ready for that shockwave.The bullet had pierced the carrier's chest and sprayed red paste into the air behind it.We had seen the mess those soft points make.I knew why Anita hadn't shot it in the head.It would eventually come to and give those commando assholes at least some trouble.A pair of LD's appeared from around the corner.One was that hideous, sagging gray, and the other was relatively fresh with an arrow sticking out of its chest.I lined up the gray one in my sights and squeezed the trigger. Big chunks of skull and brain sprayed from its head.Crystal launched a load of 12-gauge 00 buckshot into a carrier in full sprint.Before Anita could deafen us with the M44 again, I blasted the fresher LD right at nose level.Mr. $1,500 AR just stood and watched inside the door, playing with his right ear.A carrier got between the car door and me, and I actually think it was caught off guard when I charged it and drove the bayonet into its chest.I had learned to sidestep the sprinters if it came to bayonet work.Just a sidestep, pivot, and you never even lose your balance.It fell to the ground, sliding off the blade and leaving it smeared red. I started the car, and watched in the rearview mirror as the door came off in Mr. $1500 AR's hands and clattered down the steps.I glanced at Crystal. "Hey, fuck him," Crystal said, "he was an asshole and a fucking scumbag and he fucking deserves having those doors detached from the hunges." "Well," I smiled, "now I almost feel bad for stuffing gum in the action on his AR...Almost." I thought back to how when he squeezed up to me, I stealthily squeezed gum into the action of his rifle. All the commotion of the steel door going down the concrete steps had drawn more attention than the car.We could see more carriers and living dead cresting the hill.Mr. $1,500 AR was screaming at his post apocalyptic frat brothers and pointing at the unhinged door as he faded out of sight. "Well then I guess those cocksuckers are going to have an interesting time for the rest of their lives," Anita smiled. "What's that gonna be, five minutes?" Crystal smirked. "Aw, give 'em some credit, I was thinking fifteen," I said with uncertainty. It had become a much harsher world, and it was hard enough to survive with people we knew and trusted.We could not have let those guys find the house. If they hadn't hidden their traps, this whole fucking mess would have never happened.

"Sixteen Rounds"

It’s a real pretty day.Spring is in full bloom, maybe sixty-five degrees, not a cloud in the sky.The trees have greened up right nice and everything is coming to life.Reminds me of when I was a kid back in Hawkins County, just before school let out for the year.The sort of day makes you want to ride in a convertible or work in the yard. Much too pretty of a day to be sitting on the floor eating stale crackers. No birds singing, though.Hell, I don’t blame them.Not all that much to sing about on my end, pretty day or not.I guess resignation has set in.I’ m fucked.Proper fucked.After two and a half years of running and fighting, it’s over.Shy of one finger, less a wife, missing half my teeth and trapped…Fucked.I do miss the birds, though. I used to love Gatlinburg when I was kid.My folks brought me here all the time when I was a kid.We didn’t live but an hour away so it was an easy trip through nice country.They’d load us kids up and we’d spend the day, miniature golf, cotton candy, shopping.Can’t do that anymore, the place was looted to shit and back. I don’t see anything alive. Dead’s another story. There was only one of them as I can into town.He had on a cook’s smock and was walking down the sidewalk, kind of listing to port.Older guy, like me, much the worse for wear.He’d been big, before, but was wasted looking, like they get.He had all his appendages which was a plus.I hate it when they grab at you with missing hands or crawl on stumps. I met him head on.One lick from my camp ax did him.All in all, not too bad.I’d been swarmed more than once. You can only camp for so long and then you have to come looking. Looking for food, medicine, any supplies left.I’d been in the hills the six weeks, near about.By myself, no game, no company.It’s hard to find animals even this far up.It‘s like they knew when to get out of Dodge, and beat us to it.You can see their signs, sometimes hear them, but not ever run across them. I was running out of everything, near starving.But, the worst part is lack of ammo, sixteen rounds remaining for my rifle.No choice but to forage The police station was ransacked.Empty, at least.Same story with the Save-All drugstore.Plenty of T-shirts and plastic souvenirs, no food. The trip was shaping up like a bust.Survivors like me had swept through and cleaned the place out.Wasn’t easy, either, judging from the corpses.Had to be over thirty corpses out in the open, bundles of rages and bones.Gatlinburg wasn’t shaping up as an answer to my lack of supplies. Nothing for me to do but keep poking around, had to be something left. After an hour I thought about calling it a day.I’d found one pack of beef jerky and a box of crackers.No rounds for the rifle, no antibiotics and no one alive.Not that it was unexpected, I hadn’t seen a soul, alive, since last fall. That’s why the Boar Pen Saloon made me jump for joy.It had its security gate down and locked.A quick check around the rear showed the back door was still secure and all of its windows were unbroken. Undisturbed.Pristine.A Godsend. The place said “Cold Beer”, “BBQ”, “Best Pies in Town” and it was untouched.All I had to do was get in The finger and my wife were the first things to go, the teeth came later. In fact, I lost the finger on the same day as my wife.She’d gone out back to the garden to get some tomatoes for Sunday supper.I was laid up on the coach watching a Braves game.The last thing she said to me was, “Honey, you’re going to have to re-stake those plants.” On my way to the fridge to get another beer, I glanced out the kitchen window.There was my wife rolling around on the ground with Susan DeBois from next door.By the time I got to them, Susan had torn my wife’ s throat out with her teeth. Then she came for me, charging like a fullback, bloody mouth and all. That one hundred pound woman knocked me slap into the pole beans and started snapping at my face.That’s how I lost my finger; she bit it, clean to the bone on the second digit. By the time I got her off of me, my wife was getting up.I had Susan pined to the garden dirt with a shovel when I was hit again, in the back, by my wife.Both of them snarling, snapping and clawing at me.The shovel did the trick.That’s how I learned about head licks, puts them down, for good. The finger was a problem.It didn’t take me long to realize what was happening and what a bite meant.I cut off my left ring finger at the first joint with a kitchen knife and the burned the stub over the gas flame on the stove.Some say amputation won’t work.It did for me. Poor diet and lack of oral hygiene, plain and simple, took my teeth. Over time I started to avoid towns, not always the healthiest places. The dead aren’t the only things that eat people.With livestock gone and few farmers left among us, food became more and more precious.You could buy a girl for a can of beans.Lack of protein in the diet was killing folks.Still, you wanted companionship, someone to talk to, a bit of news.Sometimes you had to go to settlements. Shit, I couldn’t show my face in Knoxville, their Baron had seen to that.Maybe a thousand folks left, holed up, sitting on food and a few guns, under siege beginning in the Spring until late fall.I’d spent four days there, right before the leaves fell last.They’d welcomed me at first, real friendly like.Said they could always use another gun.That was before our little dispute.I didn’t want to swap my AR-15 for a lever action . 22.The Baron, a fellow named Bledsoe, had no since of humor about it. Wouldn’t see reason. They tried to take it.I split.Better part of valor and such. I wonder if they called him lefty, now.My camp ax is real handy to have. Others had tried to break in to the bar.The gate’s lock showed signs of being pounded by something.It was deformed and scratched, but still held.Of course, a ball peen hammer and chisel can work magic.Just happened to have both in my backpack. It pays to be prepared. Six good whacks and the lock sprung free.The gate started rolling up, immediately, and I grabbed my gear.Unfortunately, I wasn’t counting on the battery-powered alarm. It was a hell of a racket until I knocked it down with the hammer.That was problem number one. Problem number two was the interior.Once the gate was up I could see the barricade behind the glass doors.Barricades meant people went in and didn’t come out.If they didn’t come out, it meant they’d turned.The alarm riled them up, shadows were already moving around.I wasn’t about to go in.. I also wasn’t going out.By the time I knocked out the alarm and pulled down the gate there were at least forty of the dearly departed outside. Caught between a rock and a hard place. So here I sit, munching on the crackers and beef jerky, drinking my grape soda. There’s over a hundred of them now, inside and out, with me in the middle.You could think of it as a race.Will they figure out the gate or glass doors first?And me with sixteen rounds.

"Survivor: Contagion"

He sat in the back of the room.He didn't move, he didn't breath. He was a man at one point.He had a family, wife, two point five kids, a house with a picket fence.He probably even had a dog; I bet his name was Buck, or some other typical name.But not now.Now I was watching him to see if he was going to get back up, to see if I was going to have to put him down again.I had killed him once.He was one of the infected. He was one of the undead. When did it all happen?Two weeks?Six weeks?Six months?Time ran together these days.It had started as the flu.You get a virus, your temperature rises, and you start to act a little goofy.People were hospitalized by the dozen, quarantined from the rest of the population. But it got out.The first patient died three days after infection.I had heard it was a woman named Eve.Sort of ironic when you think about it. She rose back up.She rose back up, and no one knew what to do.They stood there trying to make their minds comprehend what they were seeing.By the time Eve was on them it was too late.She had bitten an intern, and the infection had spread.Over the next day the hospital was evacuated, but it was too late.Newly infected people were loose on the street, and the virus was spreading.Within the week, most of New York City was an army of the walking dead, and living infected. An army barricade was erected, but it failed just as quickly as it had gone up. I looked at the man longer, I lowered my rifle.He's not getting up.I had killed him with the butt of my rifle coming down on the back of his neck.I had hoped it was enough.He was living infected.I didn't even know his name. I was living in Ann Arbor Michigan when the news broke about New York State being turned into a battleground.I woke up each morning reading the news in disbelief.How could we be losing a war with an enemy who was sick?Each day brought news of how the battle lines were falling further and further back.New York, Vermont, then Maine. No one really noticed when New Jersey fell. Before long the whole of New England was lost.The maps on the news channels would show it in a deep crimson red as they waxed and waned about the loss of life.They had been the first to brand the title of Zombie onto the infected.They paraded experts, and politicians who looked as if they were on the verge of panicking.Society as we knew it was over. Who was he?I started to go through his pockets.Most of the undead had their ID on them; it's hard to pick pocket someone who is trying to actively eat you.He was still fresh; I would've put his infection at a day old.He lived in Detroit.Apartment, not a house and not a single picture of a kid in his wallet.Maybe he was just nobody after all? Washington DC fell within days.After that there was no more United States.It was just mass of land being over run.People were running. Not me though.I stayed in my apartment.I barricaded the door, and decided I would wait out the initial invasion before venturing out.I had enough food and water to last a week. His name was Michael.I thought about the friends he had, calling him Mike while they probably drank beer together.Twenty-two years old.He was just starting to get an idea of what it was like to be an adult. And now he was just a broken bloody mess with a stranger going through his wallet.I would like to think I did him a favor, bringing him out of his cannibalistic stupor.I would hope someone would have the compassion to do the same for me. I watched them from the balcony of my fifth floor apartment. I watched as they over ran people.Zombies.The first one showed up the day after I had nailed pieces of wood over my door.Panic broke out almost instantly.Zombies hunt in groups, where there is one you'll probably find twelve.Only one is needed to take down a city.They have basic instincts.Seeking food seems to be their main goal.They hunt warm flesh, and our comfortable ninety eight point six degrees makes them ravenous.A single bite can infect a person, and depending on the severity of the bite they become either living infected, or living dead.Ann Arbor fell in two and half hours.I wonder why they don't attack the living infected. "Sorry Mike, nothing personal." I said to him as he lay on the ground.I went through the rest of his pockets to see if I could find anything useful.Keys, a book of matches, a pack of cigarettes covered in his own blood, and a flask.I pulled up a chair and shook the flask.It was heavy, full.I opened it and took in a deep breath of the aromatic alcohol.Whiskey, a good kind.I took a deep pull off of it.It's been a while since I've had whiskey. I ventured out of my apartment three days later.Most of the living infected had moved there way out of the city, leaving the slower, shuffling living dead.You could power walk your way past them without a worry in the world.I needed food, and thought it might be a good idea to get some medicine if I could find it.Ann Arbor had two close hospitals.University of Michigan , and St. Joes Mercy.I had to hope that one or the other wasn't over run. The streets looked like a chemical bomb had gone off. Destruction was every where around me.Most of the buildings were intact.Cars and most store fronts were destroyed.The streets were littered with trash, and bodies of those were killed before the virus could take hold.There half eaten corpses sat on the sidewalks, and asphalt like refuse.I slung my rifle over my back and went to the garage. A Vespa was turned over in the parking garage.It had probably belonged to some college student who didn't get away. The whiskey burned a little, but it felt good.I pulled a pack of my own cigarettes from my jacket; I let the gun rest in my lap and lit the end. The burning ember was the only light in the room."Here's to you, Eve." I took a long swig off of the flask."I hope whatever vengeance you're taking is worth it." I looked at Mike and poured some of the whiskey on the ground. Exhaustion over took me.I looked at Mike, he hadn't moved.He was dead; the blow to his neck had been enough.I put a nearby tarp over his body.I leaned back in the chair, and closed my eyes.I needed to rest before making a run back for home. The moped had a full tank of gas, more than enough to get me to the market, hospitals, and back.I didn't want to be out after dark, it was easier to dodge the zombies if I could see them.The zombies took notice of me quickly, shambling towards me arm outstretched like in the movies. I buzzed past them.I reached the market first, the front windows were broken, a car sat awkwardly in one of the cash registers.I could hear no sounds coming from outside other than the wind and the groans of the zombies.I went in. I grabbed one of the shopping baskets, making a list in my head of what I was going to need.Nothing that wasn't in some sort of shrink wrap, nothing from the freezer section.Cigarettes and liquor would be nice to have around. I heard a noise coming from the street.I ducked behind a magazine rack and looked out over the top.Some of the zombies had followed me, and a few of them were left over living infected."Shit."I eased the rifle off of my shoulder and pointed it.A carbine bolt action, with a clear sight at the end.I had picked it up at a surplus auction, and was going to have it retro-fitted for display at a local show for World War II.I took aim, glad I didn't get far enough into it to have turned the gun into a paper weight. I lined up my sight with the first infected, I held my breath as I squeezed a round into his head. They turned towards my direction; I ran to the back of the market slamming a heavy metal door behind me and started quickly piling things in front of it.I could hear the pounding of their dead hands on the other side.Their groans of hunger grew louder as they smelled my flesh from the other side.There was an office behind me, I went into it and started turning over the desk and rolling it out into in front of the door.How long would it take before they lost interest? I heard someone's foot shuffle behind me.I turned and pressed myself against the wall.I turned my rifle around.I only had four shots in the magazine.My rucksack with my extra ammo was hanging off of the moped.I saw the infected head come around the corner, and brought the rifle down on the back of his neck.I dragged the body into the office, and closed the door.I hope he isn't going to get back up.I sit down and watch. I startle awake.How long had I been out?An hour?Two?All night? There were no windows in the office to give me a point of reference.I sat up slowly, a crick beginning in my neck.I popped it and stood up, stretching my arms towards the ceiling.I let the rifle sit on the floor next to the chair.It was finally quiet.I looked around, tripping over a tarp.I needed to find out what time it was.I stepped out of the open door to the office, yawning.I see a window at the back of the market, sun light trickles in.I must've slept the night through.I walk back into the office to get my rifle when I feel a hand pull me to the ground from behind.I fell back on Mike, who has already taken a mouthful out of my neck.Damn.I almost made it.


my name is myles. i am a survivor. when the plauge started, i was at home sick. little did i know that a much worse plauge was starting. it was a mutant strain of rabies. it caused the brain to swell and caused phsycosis, leprousy, and a bad case of the munchies. even worse when you killed the infected, they got up and walked to you, slower than before. 92 % of all bitten became zombies. 50 % of those who didn't turn became phsycotic and crazie. he rest died out right or mutated into terrible monsters. exept me. i was bitten and survived. i was immune. i was hunting out suplies for my family one day when i spotted a crowed of infected. they lumbered to me. some sprinted. i raised my shovel and when the first zombie got in range i smashed the shovel on his head then i swung the shove and decapitated the next one. i kicked the third zombie to the ground and thrusted my shovel into his brain. the dead infected were about to catch up. i took out my shot gun and and aimed carefully and shot one in the head . I then shot anouther. i kept shooting until i ran out of bullets. i ran in to the crowd of the undead and punched one in the face. i pulled a round house kick on another. i then took out my knfe and stabbed a zombie in the face. i then decapetated anouther. i kicked one to the gound. did this until i heard a low rumbeling . please not be a mega-zombie!! i kept kicking and stabbing while the rummbling got closer. finnaly i saw what was causing it. it was a bus. my jaw dropped and a zombie managed to bite me. i quikly stabbed it and coninued killing zombies. three people ran out the bus and started shooting. one shot almost hit me. "watch it!!" i yelled. after a few minutes, my knife and there gun whittled the crowd to nothing. i then approached the three shooters. "thanks for assist." the three people studdied me warily. there goup conssisted of two men and a women. they noticed my bite wound and backed away warily. "relax, im not infected. i've bin bitten many times before. they stared in shock. they the woman said "my name is mary. we are lokking for supplies and shelter for the night." i grinned. "named myles. im immune to the plauge. you can stay at my place for the night. but, i will warn you, there is very little suplies out here. i should know, i have lived here all my life." mary said " how old are you?" i replied "sixteen. ten when the plauge started. now we should leave before we attract any company." i then went and picked up my shovel. "lets roll"

15 minutes later

i was almost home. mary and her crew had relaxed around me finnaly. if i was infected i would be showing signs of maddness. "its just a little bit farther. it the big one, you can't miss it. yep that one. when they saw my house the gasped. i lived in a huge skysraper. the biggest one in town. i started counting the people in the bus. there was about 15, not counting mary and her crew. and then suddenly the bus honks rapidly and zombbies start to come out and eat us all easily

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