Live Fire

October 15, 2010

Walking briskly Daryl led the group of four across the moonlit city street and took a left on a feeder road. Each of the four walked with care, picking their way through the debris so as to not make any sound, their clothes soft and dark, whispering cotton, the multitude of weapons they each carried, padded and dulled so as to make no noise and to reflect no light.

The city they walked through, a bustling city of hundreds of thousands, of culture, business and learning, had not prepared for the infections. Officials had ignored the warnings, until the first hospital had gone quiet. Phone calls went un-answered and nobody opened the doors, locked and bolted from the inside. The police were called, they sent a team in, they did not return. They sent a second, much larger team in. Gunfire erupted from the second floor, the survivors raced back to the exit, slamming the doors behind them, gashes and bite marks gouged into their arms and legs with stories of unimaginable horror, of people gone mad. As they were sent to other nearby hospitals the army was called and they sent a team in.

Three days later the city was dark, power extinguished by countless downed power lines and bodies caught in city distribution transformers.

As with any city, the first rule was to never go in, for Daryl, Ed, Mark and Chloe, they had no choice. Survival is sometimes more than just finding food and shelter, it’s finding a purpose, and for this group of four they were intent on finding their purpose.

Turning left once again Daryl led the group into a long street, surrounded by tall residential buildings and withering trees. He paused as a slowly moving figure stumbled into the moonlight. With a smooth motion Daryl un-slung the light, composite hunting bow from his shoulder, notched an arrow and drew back the string. With a light thud the figure fell to the ground, the arrow passing cleanly through its skull and skittered across the street. “We’re here” Daryl whispered and pointed at a nearby entryway door. He motioned to Chloe and back to the door.

Advancing on the doorway she pulled a set of keys from her pocket as the group spread out behind her and notched arrows. She paused at the door, noting the flaking white paint and listened. Satisfied that she could not hear anything from the other side, she flicked through the key ring and pushed the key into the lock. Twisting the key slowly she eased the lock open and pushed down on the handle creaking the door open and peering into the darkness beyond.

With a sudden slap against the door, a pale white hand shot out of the darkness, grabbing her shirt and slammed her against the opening, desperately trying to drag her through. Twisting Chloe scrabbled for her holstered pistol, brought the gun up alongside her head and pointed it into the darkness where two dull eyes stared back at her. Two shots rang out loudly, causing the three on the street to jump and spin toward her. Chloe staggered backward as another figure shouldered into the door and swung it open before dropping to the floor as an arrow slammed into its skull. A third stepped over the fallen figure pushed forward by two more living dead, pale arms outstretched toward Chloe who raised her pistol as arrows flew past her, burying themselves in the chest of the advancing zombies.

Deliberately pacing her shots, Chloe started firing and her attackers started falling. More figures lurched through the doorway, stumbling over the mounting pile of bodies as Chloe began to fire faster in rising panic and the rest of the group continued to unload arrows. Shifting his position Ed pulled out a flash light and fired the beam into the dark hallway. Dozens of swaying undead were lit up by the light, their pale pallid skin reflecting a sick yellow color. Swearing he shouted out “There’s too many, we need to back off!” before turning to see a dark figure stumble around the corner of the street “We have more coming from the south guys!” he shouted out as he notched his final arrow and hammered it through the creatures chest. Staggering from the impact it lurched forward, eyes fixated on Daryls back, as several more figures rounded the corner, drawn by the gunfire and fighting.

Backing away from the door Chloe reloaded and looked around as a smash of glass made her look up and throw herself to her side. Crashing through a fourth story window the glass encrusted zombie slammed into the ground next to Chloe, its bones splintering through its shins as it reached out and grabbed her leg, dragging itself on top of her. With an ear splitting boom, the zombie jerked violently to Chloe’s left before lying still, its upper skull sprayed across the street from Marks shotgun. She pulled herself up and scanned the surrounding windows for more drop-ins. Zombies started to enter the street from the north as Daryl shouted out over the sound of their gunfire “Mark, take the north, Chloe the door and windows, Ed, you got the south, I’ll float, look for an opening so we can get out of here!”

Dozens more started to pour into the street from both directions and the doorway, stumbling over each other and the prone figures to reach the four as they methodically took aim and unloaded rounds of ammunition at the advancing horde. A crashing sound as four more burst through another building entry way was met with Daryls rifle fire and they collapsed to the ground as yet more lurched over their bodies. Daryl looked around wildly as Chloe threw her now empty pistols to the ground and pulled a compact automatic from its sling. “There!” she screamed, pointing at an external, raised, fire escape “Were going to have to go up!” Second rule, broken, with purpose.

“Incoming armor!” Daryl spun to see Ed firing at the armored zombies, remnants of the local police and army forces, combat helms shaking as they absorbed his heavy buckshot. Running to the fire escape Daryl jumped against the wall and threw his weight upward, grabbing the collapsing stair and pulling it down. He stood on the stairs tail end and started firing wildly into the densely packed mob of zombies bearing down on the four. Chloe ran past him and up the stairs, jumping upward and pulling the next set down, Ed came next, swinging his now empty shotgun at a grasping zombie and knocking it to the ground before climbing the stairs. Mark flipped his rifle to automatic and unloaded the full clip into the outstretched hands and faces as they grabbed at his shirt and the gun. Pulling himself away he tried to reach the ladder as Daryl backed up, firing to keep a clear path for Mark. Bullets rained down around him as Chloe and Ed fired rapidly into the crowd, he grabbed the railing as a hand gripped his leg and pulled him backward, screaming with a look of shocked terror on his face before being swallowed by a dozen moaning bodies as they tore and bit at him.

Daryl reloaded as the first zombie climbed onto the stairs and advanced toward him over Mark’s bubbling screams. The creature crumpled as Chloe fired two shells through its skull, and tumbled over the railing, only to be replaced by another as they began to climb after the group of three. Turning Daryl ran to the next ladder urging the other two onward and upward. As they reached the second landing, the stairs, with no weight on them swung upward and away from the first zombie as it reached the landing. Breathing a ragged sigh of relief Daryl looked out over the railing and turned to the others “We made it” he tried to say. Instead the crash of glass swallowed his words as a figure crashed through the landing window, into Daryl and dragged the two of them over the railing to the street below. Chloe screamed and fired wildly into the now broken window as another figure tried to climb through. Jumping, Ed grabbed the next set of stairs and pulled it down before dragging Chloe by the shirt and the two climbed upward. Rushing they desperately climbed as more windows shattered on each landing and the fire escape began to shake from the weight of so many. Firing the last of her ammunition Chloe took the lead pulling the ladders down as Ed fired through windows and cleared a path for the two of them.

Finally the two reached the upper landing. Mark turned, covered his face with his arm and fired two round, severing the hinge bolts and watched the stairs fall to the landing below, pinning a squirming figure beneath it.

Looking out across the barren rooftop they checked behind the large AC units and determined that there was no threat for the time being. They stood together and peered down at the streets below them, thronged with hundreds if not thousands of zombies, milling around and looking up at the two figures.

As the fire escape tore away and crashed down to the street below, bore down by the weight of dozens of zombies, Chloe looked at Mark and asked “What now?”

He shook his head and looked out at the streets and the crumpled structure that had been the only method of roof access. Shaking his head he looked back at her and said “I have no idea Chloe, I have no idea.”