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Authors: William Allen

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Hunger Driven: A Zombie Short Story

BOOK: Hunger Driven: A Zombie Short Story
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Hunger Driven

A short story

By

Will Allen

All rights reserved 2015

 

Dedicated to my family.

 

 

 

This short story is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental. All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.

 

Note- though the cities and towns written about in this story have real world versions, they are not the same places.  There is no Dollar General at that intersection in Jasper, but there probably should be.

 

And my great thanks to the leaders in the “zombie” genre, who have all managed to make engrossing stories with some of the scariest monsters.  Books by WJ Lundy, JW Vohs, James Cook and John Ringo inspired me to try my hand at this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer and Warning to Readers: if you accidentally purchased this short story thinking this was a tale about zombies being chopped to pieces with magical swords or crushed with enchanted crowbars, you might want to return this item for a refund.  Firearms are featured in this story as the tools they are, not as big boy toys or compensation for any perceived inadequacies.  This story is not intended to glorify “real life” gun violence to any extent, and again, if this concept is beyond your understanding or acceptance as a reader, please stop now and get that refund.  I do not mean to offend but I wanted to make sure we are all on the same page here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Killing zombies is easy.  Just aim for that sweet spot between the eyebrows, just above the nose, and gently squeeze the trigger.  Bang.  Another dead zombie.  Easy work if you can get it.  Just don’t look into their eyes.  Those blank, filmy white orbs can sometimes seem to clear for just an instant, giving you a glimpse of the soul trapped inside.

Crazy?  Maybe, but I have seen hardened killers sometimes freeze up at those milky eyes and stand there, trapped in a daze.  Some manage to shake it off, but others just get eaten.  The dead are always hungry, and no amount of flesh can satisfy them.  I avoid looking into the eyes and focus on the shot.  That’s my job.  My new job, anyway.

From my perch atop the Family Dollar, I had a great field of fire to work with.  The store was the northern anchor to a short strip mall of small town businesses, and the commercial space across the street was now a vacant, burned out lot that used to house a video rental store and tobacco shop.  This gave me open sight lines out for several hundred yards for my kill zone.  This was great, since the parking lot out to the highway was packed with zombies.  A horde, if ever I saw one.

I had driven in the night before, lights out and using a pair of borrowed night vision goggles that made the whole world look flat and green.  Parking my big truck out behind the store next to a sealed loading dock, I mounted an extension ladder in the truck bed and began what turned out to be dozens of trips up to the tar paper and gravel coated roof. 

Ferrying countless boxes of ammunition up along with the rest of my gear left me exhausted, but I took the time to carefully break into the Family Dollar’s back room.  I swept the store and lowered the metal storm shutters over the glass windows facing the street.  I hated clearing a room using those goggles but I found no dead waiting inside for me.  I’d noticed those shutters the one time before when I had been in the store.  I thought they might help keep the horde out once the party started.  No doubt the Colonel might like to pick up a few items from the stock. 

Back outside, I found a half dozen rotters milling around, drawn by the sound of my truck arriving.  I dispassionately dispatched each one with a suppressed shot to the head.  The little 22 caliber pistol worked just fine, and the subsonic rounds did the job despite their anemic load.  Six down, and several thousand more to go.    

Just before falling asleep, I’d set up the battery powered stereo I brought and loaded the CDs I wanted before donning my noise cancelling shooter earphones.  The music was not overpowering tonight, just some pop rock stuff played at a decent level.   Like what someone would have played at a backyard barbeque.  Still, the sound carried in the night, with nothing else to interfere with the noise.  Nights were different now, after the First Wave rose, so this should be enough to attract the dead for miles around.  All part of the plan.

I must have tossed and turned in my sleep because I woke up with the bag twisted around me like a cocoon.  Or a funeral shroud.  I took care of my morning business and started a pot of coffee on the little camp stove.  Decaf, damn it, but the full strength stuff made my hands a little jittery and I would need that control today.

Walking over to the edge of the roof, I looked out at the sea of undead waiting and decided it was time for me to clock in for work.    I finished my coffee, reset my earmuffs, and picked up my rifle.  The leather and neoprene gloves felt a little stiff at first, like always, but the repetitive motion would soon have the material loosened up.   I went through a lot of shooting gloves on days like this.  I had two more pairs stowed in my duffle for later.

Zombies can’t see for shit, and that includes the ones that still have eyes.  The unknown force that reanimated dead cells to undead, hungry action seemed incapable of preserving delicate tissue.  So, the corneas of the walking dead get scratched up pretty quick between natural decay, accidental damage, and a lack of lubrication, or so I figured.  I’d seen zombies eyes leak black fluid but nothing that looked like tears. 

I’m no biologist, but some of the Guard units, including those under Colonel Northcutt, have doctors spending long hours trying to figure out this disease.  Or affliction. Or curse of an angry God.  The jury was still out.  All I know is if you get bitten, you die.  Then you turn.  I’d witnessed the process enough times to grasp how the transition occurs, anyway. 

Doctor Singh swears the zombies still have limited biological activity going on, somehow managing to draw nutrients from their meals and excrete waste without having a functioning stomach or colon.  Or heart, for that matter.  Still, they leave a disgusting trail of shit behind them that only gets worse as their own natural decay proceeds. 

A few nights before, Singh had confided in me over a few drinks that he thought the plague had been created using prions.  The word sounded familiar but I had to look it up in the dictionary just to be sure.  Once I read the definition, I thought I had an idea of what he meant.  Mad Cow disease was caused by prions.  Maybe the Doc was on to something, or maybe he was just as lost and damaged as the rest of us and searching for a reason. 

He was able to confirm that, despite the decayed state of the dead, he could still pick up random-seeming electrical impulses from the few zombie heads we’d delivered to his clinic for study.  Just the heads, and with the lower jaws removed for safety.  I did that myself, after seeing the bastards still chomping even after the head was separated from the rest of the body.  He was unable to chart the EEG results, but the very existence was noteworthy since dead bodies shouldn’t generate any EEG readings.  

Despite his hard work, Doctor Singh’s theory doesn’t explain everything.  He still can’t account for the First Wave, those that were infected seemingly overnight and did not turn from a bite.  What do you do when a quarter of the human population turns into ravenous, hunger driven monsters in a matter of hours?  I worked hard at not remembering those first few days.  We all lost so much, and every day is a struggle not to give in to the depression.  For me, doing my job keeps my mind off the dark, and the cold taste of the gunbarrel in my mouth.   

Anyway, except for the fresh turned, zombies generally have poor eyesight.  Somehow they have retained a decent sense of smell and what might be considered a heightened sense of hearing, and these senses drive their hunting.  A couple of times zombies have homed in on my hiding place so quickly I would swear they heard my heartbeat.  For that reason, I turned up the volume on my stereo at eight am, or zero eight hundred in military style, and rang the bell for breakfast.

Colonel Northcutt called me the Pied Piper, but that was just for show, something to give the survivors in camps a little encouragement.  In reality, I was an exterminator, pure and simple.  Mind you, not the Terminator.  I am taller, a little younger and don’t speak with an Austrian accent.  I was more like the guy, pre-Z, who trapped the possum in your attic or sprayed poison in your yard for fire ants.  Nothing cool or fancy about disposing of just another pest.  Maybe like that crazy guy Billy the Exterminator from one of those annoying reality TV shows I never watched.

Shooting zombies in the head, hour after hour, can be pretty boring once the horror wears off.  Yes, that sounds silly, but humans have a remarkable ability to adjust to even the most demanding of environments.  We can get used to anything, given enough time.  I knew from experience that most folks can make themselves do it for a few minutes, or a few hours, holding off the tide of undead from breaching their defenses.  However, as the hours give way to days, eventually they get distracted.  Or sick.  Or kill themselves. 

For whatever reason, I could keep going long after most folks lost their minds.  When I first started doing this full time, about three months ago, the Colonel insisted I take along a spotter, or a relief shooter.  Six times I went out with another man, usually a member of the local National Guard or a surviving member of law enforcement.  Five times, the other person declined to go out with me again after their first extermination gig.  The sixth man?  Deputy Coulson was with me in Diboll where we cleared for three days straight.  He was a quiet man, and seemed very religious.  He spent a lot of that time talking to God, anyway. 

The deputy must have been displeased with whatever God said to him on that convenience store rooftop.  That was my guess, since a week after we got back to camp he went to see God face to face, so to speak.  In the barracks that night, he stuck the barrel of his shotgun under his chin and pulled the trigger.  After that, I refused to take anybody else out with me.  I felt nothing much anymore, really, and killing the dead was just something I did. 

I’d lost a lot when the dead rose, more than some it could be said, and I never talked about it to anyone. At times I wanted to kill myself in despair, but the zombies weren’t spurring me on to do it.  I wonder what that says about me?  Or the screwed up world I find myself inhabiting.

Just like today.  Somehow I managed to keep on going, moving from one shot to the next until I either ran out of targets or ammunition.  Running out of ammo was a very poor career move in the zombie extermination business.  Same with mechanical failures.  To address these problems, I was relying on fairly simple technology and redundant systems.  This trip I brought six identical Ruger 10/22 rifles chambered in 22 Long Rifle, in addition to my personal defense gear.

Equipped with a cheap little 3x scope, the 10/22 looked like a toy in my big hands but it did the job.  I used the box housing of an air conditioning unit conveniently placed near the edge of the roof as a rest for my rifle and I sat on a collapsible stool.  The setup wasn’t exactly ergonomically designed but still I managed to stay hunched over in a shooting position for nearly an hour.  Killing dead things with the steady pace of a metronome. 

Finally, my cramped muscles forced me up to walk around.  I didn’t want to get too stiff or risk deep vein thrombosis, so I timed myself to take these little breaks.  This kind of job would compare to a marathon, not a sprint, and I’d learned to pace myself.  I wasn’t a kid anymore at forty, and my body needed a bit more maintenance and stretching each morning to get going. On the other hand, I hadn’t been in this good a
physical shape since I was in my twenties, if then.  Like that silly zombie movie from several years ago insisted, cardio kept you alive when a horde was in pursuit.  The dead were generally slow but inexorable.  After taking a ten minute break for water and to relieve myself over the side, I got back to the business of exterminating.

By noon, all my ready loaded magazines were empty and I was starting to get hungry despite the wretched stench of the dead.  Hauling myself up from the stool I took a few more laps around the rooftop and surveyed the surrounding area.  The parking lot was standing room only for the animated corpses and I could not get an accurate guess on the numbers, but it had to be in the thousands.  Jasper had a pre-Outbreak population of around fifteen thousand, and I thought that might easily be what I had here. 

In the days following the First Wave, panicked city folk flocked to the smaller towns and carried the infection right along with them.  I imagined a good portion of the dead I was now seeing came to Jasper looking for shelter and found only death waiting.  Or undeath.

BOOK: Hunger Driven: A Zombie Short Story
10.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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