Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mayan Prophecy

I was getting ready to lay down and I heard something bang up against the side of the house. I'm thinking 'deer' because we live in the sticks, maybe a friggen moose because that would be awesome. So I go downstairs the puppies are in the back room hiding under my office desk. I was like 'typical!' I turn on the porch light and I didn't see anything. So I'm a little scared, I said screw this, grabbed my .357. Now I'm brave! I opened up the front door, and I'm looking around, I can see nothing because it's dark as hell, but I hear this real heavy breathing.

I'm like 'shit what is going on?' Went back in grabbed a flashlight (still have the gun). I walk out on to my deck and go behind my house. The breathing is louder, I shine my flashlight down and there's a friggen black bear, looking up at me, I may have screamed, it was dark I couldn't tell. The bear didn't move except his head, he swiveled up to look at me. His eyes were wide and he looked petrified, I noticed wounds on his forearms and his back. I'm thinking what the hell attacked a bear. Pack of wolves maybe?

So now I'm thinking I'm way too far from the front door. I start edging back, the bear makes this low moaning sound and I hear him go thundering through the woods to the west side of my house. If he's spooked, I'm spooked. I start to hear shit in the woods on the other side of the house and I'm thinking, what a poor choice of weaponry I grabbed. I stayed a minute longer to see....them coming. It's started, my house is surrounded I don't know how much longer I'll have power. Good luck and God Bl....

I'm so exhausted. We made it through the night. The basement is lost...they...are...in...the...house. We've barricaded the door that leads downstairs, heavy oak, should hold them. But what's disconcerting is that I see the handle TURN from time to time.

It's just Travis, Tracy, Henry, Riley and myself. Maybe we should have done shifts to watch that damned door. I just want to be the first and hopefully last line of defense. I don't know what they are, human once. Not anymore. If you're reading this, you need to know THEY ARE FAST.

I thought I could keep them from getting inside the basement, went through two magazines. It looks like a head OR a heart shot will stop them. When I turned to pop my 3rd magazine in, they came and they came fast. I barely made it up the stairs ahead of them, felt more than one hand reach and grab for my calf. If Travis hadn't of opened the door I guess I would have been a late night snack.

It sickens me to think they're below us. My wife's Jeep is 25 feet and 500 ravenous sub-humans away. We're stuck, I heard sirens about 5 hours ago, pretty sure they're not going to make it. Once upon a time I'd wished for a zombie apocalypse. Be careful what you wish for, I don't know if we'll make it through the day.

I guess I figured it wouldn’t end like this. It’s kind of ironic, my last meal is going to be a fucking cherry pop-tart. I’m wincing every time I have to take a bite. The basement door is cracking, all efforts to keep that from happening have failed. Travis, Tracy me and the dogs have grabbed all the ammo and all the guns, and have retreated (fuck that Marines don’t retreat, we’ve withdrawn to readjust!) to the upstairs. We didn’t even bother grabbing anything besides some snacks this was not going to be a long withdrawn siege. Unlike ZF1 I do not have the luxury of being able to remove stairs.

Travis and I are shoulder to shoulder and will blow zombies to whatever maker they belong. Tracy after a quick lesson will be our re-loader. We’ve got enough bullets to coat my living room floor in 6 inches of enemy blood. If and when we finally fall even the zombies will have to take pause at the losses they suffered, and if this were middle-earth they would sing songs of our heroics.

Travis stiffened, I sagged, as we heard the basement door splinter, it’s show time. We locked the dogs in the master suite bathroom, I hope when the zombies are finished with us they leave them in peace somehow I could die a tad bit happier if that thought held true. The first zombies rounded the corner they were running so fast they couldn’t make the sharp turn to come up the stairs. More than a few slammed into the far wall and so it begins, Travis fired the first shot. I think it hit a shoulder but it was impossible to tell as we started to light them up. Rounds fired this close were devastating, arms fractured off, heads ruptured, dripping gray diseased mass across the wooden walls.

More than once my mind began to wander and wonder how I would get those stains out. They didn’t stop, no matter how many we blew apart, no matter how many times we changed out rifles and handguns, no matter how many times Tracy reloaded magazines and cartridges, they still came. No matter how many times that fucking cherry pop-tart threatened to reemerge, they came.

So far the zombies hadn’t got past mid-way on the stairs, still entirely too close, what’s that five, seven feet max? I thought for the briefest of seconds we would have to retreat to my bedroom. At that point it would have been a waiting game. This was our Alamo, our final stand was here, we left this spot and we might as well have turned the guns on ourselves and saved the zombies the trouble. It’s a stand-off right now, they’re slowing up trying to slog through the death and detritus of their dead, and we’re exhausted, thankfully we’re not yet running low on ammo, but the zombies seem to be in endless supply. I’ll write again when I can. Is it Christmas yet? We could use a miracle.

Been up 48 hours straight. I can barely focus. There were times in the Corps during battle I’d stayed awake 72 hours. But that was 6000 miles and 25 years ago. I’m a different man than I was then, I cared for little, including myself. This constant worry for my wife and son (and dogs) is draining. There is no cessation in fighting, the enemy needs not regroup, re-plan or reform, they just come unmercifully. There will be no quarter, no surrender, and no Christmas greeting across the span of the battlefield.

We were spent, physically and emotionally and it didn’t help that we had all suffered a fair amount of hearing damage from so many shots. Dialog was difficult. “Running low on 9 millimeter!” Tracy shouted. That was fine with me, gripping the small Glock 26 was murder on my hand and forearms anyway and if I didn’t damn near have the thing pressed against a zombie head it was difficult to hit something.

I could hear Henry barking off to my left, that was unusual although he could be hungry or Riley was beefing so bad he couldn’t breathe, both were highly likely. “Did you hear that!” Tracy yelled.

If she was talking about the mini-explosions that heralded the outgoing trajectory of a bullet, I’m pretty sure I’d heard it about twelve hundred times. I’d sent Travis into the master bedroom to see if he could get some sleep, we were going to have to do this in shifts if we were to have a chance. Typical teenager he was somehow able to sleep. The dead zombies had piled up so high they were an effective barrier against a bull rush of the smelly bastards.

Tracy even had some time to sit down next to me on the top step and take some shots. She kept closing her eyes as she pulled the trigger, maybe because she was afraid of the noise or just in the off-chance she would hit something and have to see the devastation the bullet caused. Either way I didn’t blame her.

I laughed.

“You laughing at me?” Tracy asked as she almost fell over from her last shot.

“Hell no, my enemy is to the front I see no reason to have one from the side.”

“Then what?” She asked.

“I’ve written, what? Ten books on zombies.”

“Probably.”

“I guess I thought I’d be better at this.”

“We’re still alive.” She said tenderly.

“Yeah that’s a positive. I’m going to be pissed if we die though.”

“What?”

“Do you know how many readers I’ve told that if I’m the first zombie or the first victim in a zombie apocalypse I’m going to be ripped!”

“I think they’ll understand.”

“Did you hear that?” I asked Tracy as I stood up.

“Gunshots. Our neighbors?”

We live in the sticks, ‘neighbors’ is a term used loosely. I’ve lived in houses where I could have reached out my window and borrowed my neighbor’s ketchup (not that I would mind you, who knows where that bottle’s been). We’d heard shooting from houses in our general vicinity but nothing for a long while.

“Mark you in there?”

‘It’s Ron!” Tracy and I exclaimed at the same time.

“Hon.”

“On it.” Tracy answered.

Our bathroom window over looked the driveway, the only viable approach. Although I guess that was wrong, the zombies had materialized through the dense thorn laden woods. Enough to stop a sane human, not so with our latest dinner guests.

I could hear them exchanging words, but like I said earlier I had suffered no small measure of hearing loss since this started and since I had been attending concerts since the ripe old age of 12 I didn’t have much I could afford to lose going into this battle.

“We’ve got problems.” Travis said coming out of the bedroom rubbing his eyes.

“You don’t say?” I asked him popping off the head of what looked like a 12 year old girl.

I retched a little inside my mouth, that was about the sixth or seventh time I tasted that fucking cherry pop-tart and it got worse each and every time. Serves me right for eating Devil’s fare.

“Uncle Ron’s leaving.”

“Fuck. Sorry.” What I thought was the cavalry was merely a message delivery.

Tracy’s head was hanging low when she came back out of the bedroom.

“He had to leave. They started to surround his car.”

Ron’s car was a 1992 Subaru, that was one pot hole away from its final resting place.

“Did he tell you anything?” I asked.

“Yeah he came here hoping to get more guns. There’s zombies everywhere.”

“Wonderful.”

Then our Christmas miracle started to happen (that would be a heavy dose or sarcasm laced with dread). Our post and beam house was starting to protest LOUDLY the number of uninvited we had in our living room and our stair case. A huge snap that was equal to or greater in sound than any of the guns we had fired exploded in the basement. I could only imagine that it was some sort of structural board as the house was being tested to the limits of its design and it was about to come up wanting.

“What was that?” Tracy cried. “Is someone in the basement?”

“I think our house is getting ready to fold in on itself.” I said in despair.

“Get some clothes on.”

“Why? Where are we going?” Tracy asked.

Travis knew better and had already headed into my closet to grab some hoodies.

“The roof.” I told her.

“What? Why?”

“Hon this house is going to collapse, we can’t be in here when it does.”

She was looking at me with panic in her eyes. My stomach was in full on tilt mode. My idea (see how I didn’t say plan) was to go out the skylight in the bathroom and onto the roof. Although from there I had no idea what we were going to do. It was twenty feet down to my yard which was frozen solid. It would be akin to landing on cement. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

“What about the dogs?” Travis asked.

“Gonna have to shove them in the laundry basket”

“The both of them?” He asked.

“It’s gonna be tight but we have no choice.” I told him.

I grabbed the sheets and started to tie them together, when I was fairly certain it would hold I tied it to the handles of the basket. This time I was confident enough to go with ‘plan’. I’d lower them down and they’d be able to get out when the basket went onto its side. Travis and Tracy got out on the roof, I was hefting up a very pissed off Bulldog basket and had it about halfway out when I heard in rapid succession the collapse of another two beams. And there were now zombies at our bedroom door. The hits they keep on a-coming! (Use your favorite DJ voice).

It’s Christmas Eve, I wish all of you that are still hanging on a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Getting down off the roof wasn’t quite as bad as I had anticipated. The scariest part was when one of the handles on the Bully basket let go, cantilevering them off to the side. Not sure if they cared or not, probably asleep. I hated using the pups as test dummies but it wasn’t like they would be lowering us down. I knew the tied together sheets could hold at least the combined weights of the dogs, somewhere in the 130 pound range. Tracy was easily under that, she was up next.

“Run to the car when you get down.” I told her.

“Okay give me the keys.” She replied.

Pretty sure the expression on my face gave it away. “You don’t have them?” She phrased it as a question but it really was never in doubt.

“First things first.” I told her when another series of wood splintering sounds resounded from inside the house. “Go towards the street. Travis and I will be right behind you.”

Henry and Riley were outside the basket just looking back up at the house. I wanted to yell at them to ‘scram’ but I didn’t want to be a zombie early warning detector.

“Take the dogs with you.” I told her.

“Henry won’t leave until your there and Riley won’t go without him.”

“Fine go to the street.”

I gave a fast demonstration to Tracy on a quick rope decent I’d learned in the Marine Corps it really revolved around the one fact of getting down and away from the rope as fast as possible so you didn’t get your ass shot. It usually came with rope burns if you didn’t have gloves, we all were going to have red palms tonight. I could only hope that was our biggest problem for later.

She was down and heading out the driveway before I could even begin to churn up some stomach juice.

“You’re next.” I told Travis.

“You sure about this?” He asked looking over the roof line.

I had a smart ass answer all lined up for him, the caving in of the center roof line was all the impetus he needed. He was down faster than his mother if that was possible. Then I got my answer.

“Fuck my hands!” He yelled.

“No swearing.” Tracy yelled from the woods by the side of the roadway.

I was next and I was having the same doubts as the boy, plus I had an additional 30 pounds of added desk weight. (You know the kind you accumulate by eating peanut butter laden snacks as you type at your workstation.) I would later blame the sheet giving on the added ammo I was carrying in my pockets.

I was halfway down when I felt the free fall sensation of free falling or for you truly optimistic, ‘short flight’. I thudded to the ground solidly. This was punctuated by the rapid firing of guns, luckily not mine. Zombies were bearing down, I didn’t have time to lament the air getting knocked out of me. I’d once been blindsided by an opposing lineman in high school once. I felt that daze like quality at this very moment. And I didn’t have the luxury of taking the next play off at the sideline.

I stood up and wobbled mightily. Zombies were literally falling by my feet.

“Dad move your ass!” Travis was screaming.

I just about had those little stupid cartoon birdies swirling around my head. I started to head towards Travis’ yell. Zombies close on my heels. I saw Tracy jumping up and down waving her arms. She was facing away so I don’t know what the hell she was doing, I’d find out soon enough as I sped down towards her.

Travis waited until I got flush with him before he turned and followed. I could hear a car or something fast approaching, now I knew what Tracy was doing. She was trying to flag them down. Would they stop? Would I if the roles were reversed? I could hear the engine revving as if in answer. And then just as suddenly I heard tires sliding on gravel.

“Son of a bitch.” I breathed out.

Only in Maine. If we had the misfortune of living in New York they probably would have given us the finger as they sped past.

“Get in!” A grizzled old man said sticking his head out the passenger side window.

Tracy was hopping into the back bed, Travis had long since passed me and was getting in.

“Might want to pick it up dad!” He yelled.

“Yeah and you might want to kiss my ass.” I grumbled.

The truck was starting to pull away just as I got my first foot into the truck, I would have been left in the dust if Tracy hadn’t of grabbed my sweatshirt. It was close until Travis helped. I felt a zombie hand scrape down my back. And then we were off.

“Holy fuck.” I said as I leaned back, zombies were almost abreast of us and we were still building speed.

When I caught my breath, I thanked our savior.

“Name’s Jed.” He said sticking one hand through the middle glass that separated the cab from the bed.

Tracy looked at me. ‘No fucking way.’ She mouthed.

I could only agree. Life imitates art and all that shit, I get it, but Jed is a fictional character in a book that saved Michael Talbot’s ass a couple of times. Looks like I’ve found my own.

“Where you headed!” he shouted as he swung the truck to the left in a valiant but failed effort to avoid a zombie.

The resultant mist of bone and blood that shot over our heads reminded me of the cherry pop-tart I’d eaten a couple of days ago. “Headed to my dad’s in Belfast!” I shouted over the roaring wind.

He looked back, longer than he should have. “Belfast is gone son.” He said slowly. He didn’t offer a clearer explanation. “I’ve got relatives on Foster island that’s where I’m headed.”

He paused. Not sure what he wanted from us. I was still trying to wrap my head around my grief.

“You folks look like a deer in the crosshairs, do you want to come with me?”

I looked over towards Tracy. I didn’t have an answer, I mean it’s always easy to think up one when I’m sitting at my desk sipping coffee maybe eating a Devil Dog or two. But my house had just been destroyed and I had no idea where the rest of my family was. I needed some time to think.

I apparently took too long, Tracy was all about making sure her son was safe. “We’ll gladly take your offer.”

The truck came to a stop we all piled into the cab, I don’t remember much on that 4 hour drive. There was some traffic, some fighting and more zombies. I was lost, emotionally and spiritually, and hell even physically I had no fucking clue where Foster Island was.

When we finally did reach Jed’s destination, there were greetings abounding. I didn’t much care to stay in the house for small talk I went out onto the deck to watch as the sun went down, I was unsure if it would ever rise again.

When I was confident I had sufficiently frozen my body and thereby my brain so I didn’t have to think anymore, I went back in. The clock had just turned to midnight and two thousand, twelve years ago baby Jesus was born.

To paraphrase John Lennon - ‘So this is Christmas’ - Would there be a happy New Year?

More to come around the New Year

Thank you everyone!

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1 comment:

  1. Sweet shit Mark. Keep it rolling. I'm looking forward to your next book, can't wait.
    Mike from Michigan.

    ReplyDelete