A Zombie Story

Posted on May 18, 2011

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Rain pattered on the roof of the three story clinic. Within the ruined building were ten soldiers, all from the Army. The clinic had served as a command post when the war against the undead still raged. All the men were a part of the original command staff. Even the original officer in charge of the sector still remained. That officer, Major Raison, sat in a doctor’s office, long since cleared out of all the doctor’s possesions, on the third floor pondering the severity of their predicament. On the desk before him was a radio. In the past few days it had been picking up signal traffic that indicated a force of a fairly large size was still battling it out in Sacramento. Raison had tried making contact, but to no avail.  As he rested his elbows on the desk, and his chin on his folded in hands, he thought long and hard of what most likely was to come. It had been a little more than two months since his men were overrun, and he and the other men were forced to barricade the clinic. Tempers were beginning to flair as boredom, claustrophobia and hopelessness were setting in. The men were already unhappy with his decision to stay as the rest of the division pulled out of the city, putting his sector on the front lines. Colonel Menderson had come to him personally when he got the message of his decision.

“There is still hope,” Raison said as he looked up at the tired, aging face of the fifty-five year old man. Menderson was bewildered.

“The city is the epitome of chaos. Civilians have abandoned all faith in us for their protection. They’re taking up arms and forming militias, some dedicated to their own survival, while others consist of psychopaths who kill anything and everything.”

“So you will run in the face of adversity?” Raison regretted the words as they slipped out. Menderson stepped forward and leaned in close over the desk.

“You’re an unabashed optimist,” he said angrily. “You refuse to see the dark reality of the situation, and that kind of attitude can only get men killed. Sometimes running away is better than staying to fight. It’s not about what’s honorable, it’s about what’s reasonable.”

“You can keep running away, but soon your back will be against the wall. What then? Surrender? In this case surrendering means certain death.”

Menderson scowled. He stood straight and said, “Your sector is now the front. The division will be right behind you.” He turned to walk out, but as he entered the doorway, he turned his head back and said, “Good luck” and shut the door behind him.

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Raison shuttered at the memory. Menderson had been right. That evening, infected and militia alike bombarded his position. By morning the streets were littered with abandoned humvees, tanks, trucks, and bodies of his men, the various militias that tried to get through, and that of the undead. His men and his command staff had supported his decision at first. They had shared the major’s passion to stay and fight for their homes, their families, and their country. But that devotion was crushed with their swift defeat.

“Everything was a lie,” Corporal Hunting had confided in him one day. “I grew up believing that if you thought something could happen, and worked hard to make it so, it would happen. And even if it didn’t, to get back up and keep going. How do you keep going in a mess like this?”

Raison had no words of wisdom. It seemed that getting back up didn’t pertain to every situation. Or did it? he thought. After all, he and the other men were still alive. It had to have happened forsome reason.

“But what reason did all this happen for?” Hunting went on. “If everything happens for a reason, why did this happen? Sure maybe some people who died out their had it coming. But what about the good ones? Why did they need to be punished too for the wrong doing of others?”

These were deep thoughts for a boy of only nineteen. Though the major had found himself in a similar mindset when his mother died. He was only sixteen then. His mother was divorced from his alcoholic father. Working three jobs, she did her best to take care of him and his sister. She went to church every Sunday, donated what little money she could to charities. And she loved her children deeply. But as she walked home from the grocery store one evening, a man waiting in a nearby car got out, grabbed her and forced her into the backseat where he raped her violently. After he was finished, he stabbed her to death and left her body in a nearby dumpster. What had been the reason then?

“Nothing seems to make sense,” Hunting had said. Just how much his questions bothered him was realized when he was discovered in a pool of blood in a room with his wrists cut. His death filled everyone with a profound sense of hopelessness. Even Raison.

Now Raison’s worries were focused on three other men in particular. Corporals Tack and Rack, and Private Seltz were all showing signs of serious mental deterioration. Corporal Rack called everyone either “fag” or “gay” and laughed as if it was the funniest thing he’s heard. Corporal Tack claimed to be a “super empath”; he said that not only could he sense current emotions and get an idea of a person’s past, but he could also sense what a person will feel and what will happen to them. Private Seltz obsessed over music. He put it before the lives of the rest of the men.

“I want this CD,” Seltz had said one day at a meeting in the former break room.

“You’re a fag,” Rack answered him. He started busting up. Tack, who sat next to Rack, threw in his word as well.

“I believe by next week, you will be dead.”

“Not if I get this CD. It will keep me alive.”

“Seltz,” Raison interjected. “I understand that the music store isn’t that far away, but you can’t go alone. It’s too dangerous. If you get in trouble, I don’t want to have to send a rescue team for you.”

“But the CD is worth the risk.”

“No amount of pleasing rhythmic sequences is worth a life.”

Rack managed to control his laughing long enough to say, “Major…” he took a few breaths. “…you’re…” he chuckled, and took another breath.  “…gay!” He let himself go in uncontrollable laughter.

“Oh but this is definately worth a life. Maybe a few actually,” Seltz said casually. Raison sighed.

“Major,” Tack said.

“Yes…corporal?” Raison’s frustration was apparent.

“I believe tomorrow you will be happy.”

Raison slapped his palm on his forehead. Then he looked at the nine young men staring back at him.

“Anyone besides the three stooges have anything to say?”

The other “solemn six”, as Raison referred to them, shook their heads.  “Alright, dismissed.”

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A knock at the door broke Raison’s concetration. He sat back in his chair and said, “Come in.”

Captain Wilson, his second in command, Sergeant Oak, and Corporal Jenkins entered. Wilson, standing in between the other two, spoke first.

“Sorry to trouble you, major,” he began. Raison studied their tired-looking faces. Their eyes seem to hold a sort of hopeful gleam.

“We’ve been thinking. We’ve been here a little more than two months now, waiting in the hopes relief will come. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, it doesn’t look like it will. We don’t know what is going on outside these walls. No planes or helicopters have passed overhead since our position fell. And it seems radio traffic is at a bare minimum. We must assume the government is no longer in control. Our only hope is to go out and find some sort of colony or safe haven with more people and supplies. Quite frankly sir, if we stay here much longer, all of us will lose our minds like the three stooges.”

Raison stood. The corner of his mouth arced up in a slight smile. “I was thinking the same thing, but I wasn’t sure if you would want to take the risk.”

The three men before him managed a smile themselves.

“Sir, growing up, my grandmother told me that when you get knocked down, you should get back up, no matter what amount of adversity faces you.”

Raison nodded. A full on smile rounded his face.

“Very good, captain. Your grandmother was a smart woman. Ready the men, we move tonight.”

“Very good, sir.”

For the first time in a while, Wilson, Oak and Jenkins stood at attention. The new sense of hope restored some enthusiasm. They gave Raison a crisp salute, which he promptly returned. After they left, he sat back down.

Everything seems to be looking up, he thought.

The Forward Operating Base, not far north from Raison’s position, lay in ruins. Humvees and trucks burned, and tanks were left abandoned. Bodies of soldiers, militia and undead were everywhere. In the communications post, a dead soldier’s head and shoulders rested on the table before him. He had been shot in the head from behind. His brains covered the radio he used to man. Though it still sent out the last recording: “This is Forward Operating Base Sacramento. The city is free of infection and civil unrest. Shelters and supplies will be provided to all refugees. Any persons who hear this broadcast should proceed with haste to the city of Sacramento. Message repeats. This is Forward Operating Base Sacramento…”

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Posted in: Stories