The Woman and the Ghost

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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wyecoyte
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by wyecoyte » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:25 pm

Alright great updates. Can't wait for MOAR...

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:13 pm

Sweetness.........MOAR please. :)

EDIT: Post #200 =)
Last edited by Wrecking Ball on Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by 6F0 Nick » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:06 am

It is painful that we now have to wait for another update!!! :o
Who died and made you f*****g king of the zombies?"
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:12 pm

It was the second to the last day of Krista’s disciplinary period at the facility and she was increasingly nervous about her chances, since in two days she would be standing tall before the review board who would determine if she could return to Recon, would stay where she was, be reassigned to another post, or would lose her badge completely. She didn’t really believe that the last of those was likely, but Krista was the type who covered her bets. She had scheduled a visit with Doctor Ness after her shift was over the next day, since now she had the incarceration of David Aquilar on her mind and she didn’t need that screwing things up. He had indeed fallen hard, and if anything, what he had done since had made her feel less sorry for him. Had her badge been lost, she sure wouldn’t have assaulted any constables, that’s for sure. She also felt less and less responsible for getting him kicked off the Force. The three weeks since her first and so far last visit with Doctor Ness had instilled in her a belief that no matter what decisions were made by those who wore the stripes or the bars, everyone was still answerable for their own actions, and by losing his badge, David had answered for his.

That is not to say that she didn’t still feel guilt over it, far from it actually. Her actions had at least in part caused the dissolution of her team and as the team leader she had to bear a lot of responsibility for that, but that didn’t absolve the others who had all gotten together to decide to break regulations. They had all paid for it, and David more than the others, but it remained that she would hopefully have a clean slate in two days and could get it right this time.

That day, she was on rounds, which is to say that she was moving up and down the rows of cells on both levels banging her baton against the heavy steel doors, making sure that everyone was behaving themselves inside. More than one inmate decided to reference her chest, and for the most part, that was as rowdy as they got, excepting one guy who had attempted to steal one thing or another from the local produce warehouse and had gotten nabbed, who went so far as to inform Krista that she was on his mind while he masturbated every night.

It wasn’t as complimentary as the man had perhaps hoped it would be.

Also that day, she got no response when she banged on cell 29, David’s cell. She banged again louder. No response. She looked in the window and saw him sitting on the edge of his cot, his still-purple face in his hands, not moving, not crying, not doing anything but sitting there.

“Prisoner Bravo-481. Respond. This is your final warning.”

What she got in return was a childish, whimpering voice. “Krista, I don’t belong in here.”

“You assaulted two officers. You don’t belong anywhere else, and protocol dictates that you address me as “constable, specialist, or ma’am. I suggest that you do not attempt to engage me in conversation, Bravo-481.”

“Eat that shit, Krista. You know who I am. Don’t address me as a number. You should be in here, not me. You’re the reason I’m in here.”

“No, you and I, along with Dizzy, Doc, and Boba are all the reason that we lost the team. We all had a hand in it. Me, you, everyone. When we decided to look for good pickings in T or C, you were as enthusiastic about it as anyone else. You were a party to it, so stop acting like it was all me. Now let’s not do this. I have rounds to make.”

“Krista, you know that either we all deserved to lose our badges or we all deserved to keep them. We were a team. We were in it together.”

“The brass makes the decisions they make. I can’t explain it. Now please remain silent. I have things I have to do.”

“I never had anyone or anything, did you know that? I never did anything that mattered in my whole life until the fucking world came to an end. Once this place started up and the force was established, then I had something that mattered. Then I could be a somebody for a change. But now…here I am. What am I going to be after this? Another ex-con…the lowest form of life in this whole place. My life is over.”

“Our lives are what we all made them. You could have done something else, you know. You don’t need a badge to matter in this town. It didn’t have to end like this.”

“Soon, you’ll probably be back on Recon, you and the others. Me? Still in this cage…still rotting away…still that guy who fucked up and lost it all. You can explain it away all you want. The fact remains that you put me here, and I’m not forgiving you…ever.”

Krista was about done with this. “David…I’ve carried too much guilt for too long. I’m sorry you lost your badge, but I’m not going to blame myself for you getting wasted in the middle of the damned morning and jumping two of our guys. You jacked one of them up pretty badly. I didn’t make you do that. I’ve spent the last month feeling like shit over what happened to all of us. But I’m not going to feel bad for you being in here. You did that, not me.”

David looked up at her, his beaten and bruised face easily visible through the window. “Whatever. But this would have never happened if Brad was still in charge. But you fucked that up, didn’t you? And…”

Krista cut him off. “I’m not letting you throw him in my face. You and everyone else need to realize that what happened between him and me is no one else’s business, and you’re not using him to guilt me into accepting responsibility for your last fuck up. Now I might be out of here in a couple of days, and I will make those days hell for you if you don’t calm down and knock off your shit.”

He was silent for a few seconds and Krista was about to move down to the next cell when she heard a voice from inside David’s cell.

“I’m getting out of here in three months. When I do, I’m going to kill you.”

She turned back around and walked back to his cell. “David, when you get out of here, you won’t have it in you to kill anyone. You’ll be drooling all over yourself. And all I have to do is walk downstairs and tell someone what you just said and that three month sentence will be extended to a year.”

She walked briskly away. She didn’t want any more part of this.

The following day, Krista was back in Doctor Ness’s office, making sure her head was right for the review board the next day. She had experienced many revelations since their last meeting, and she wondered if they would come together into a new version of her that might get back onto Recon.

“So David Aquilar threatened your life?” Doctor Ness asked.

“Yes. Said he’d kill me once he gets out. I don’t think he cares what happens to him after that. He’d probably do it even if he got killed trying. Three months in that place can either cool a person’s blood down or make them worse than they were before. I can tell you one thing, one month in the Detention Facility cooled me down, and I was on the other side of the cell door and slept in my own house at night. I felt really bad for him this whole time, I really did. Then the way he was yesterday…I have a hard time feeling sorry for him now. If he could degenerate into a piece of shit that quickly, what was he before? I’m not sure I want to know.”

“Has this caused your sympathy for him to cease?”

Krista thought on that for a second. “Perhaps. I keep feeling sorry for the whole team, and I don’t even know Dizzy, Boba, and Doc are doing. But David…I even told him what we talked about, about how he was still at least in part to blame for what happened to him. He not only blames me for losing his badge, but he blames me for winding up in the slammer. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, but I know that he’s not in there because of me. I’ve gotten used to blaming myself for everything except the Great Depression, and I know that it wasn’t my fault that he turned into…whatever he is now.”

“And tell me more about this…Raymond Fuller, the man you’ve been working with for the last week or so. You touched on him a little, but you haven’t said much. He must mean something if you even said his name. So, how does this man affect you?”

“Admittedly, not much. I’ve spent the last month at the Detention Facility around him but we barely spoke until a week or so ago when we brought David in. He’s a nice guy, a year or so younger than me, sort of good looking, and he was really nervous about asking me something. When he did, he asked what I thought of him. I jumped the gun and thought he was asking me out. I was wrong. He was only asking what I thought of him applying for Special Teams. But still, because of him, I have something on the brain now.”

“That being?”

“I think I need to move on. I’ve been carrying the guilt of what I did to Brad for sixteen months, and I don’t think I can do it anymore. I don’t want to be alone in this place for the rest of my life. How long can I carry that rock in my pocket? How long am I supposed to beat myself up over it?”

“Only you can answer that, Krista.”

“I know, and I think I have. I keep dwelling on everything, thinking everyone is out to get me, and it sucks. I have to get back to Recon, get back out there and deal with the real enemy. All I know for certain is that I can’t live like this anymore. I’ve been alone for sixteen months, torturing myself and letting everyone else help, you know? That’s no way to live. I didn’t come through those things out there to end up like this. Only problem is, I’ve forgotten how to get guys’ attention.”

“What exactly does that mean?”

“I used to get hit on a lot back in the day. Never a shortage, if you know what I mean. A lot of guys wanted to get my attention, now I have to be the one putting myself out there. I’ve never really been in this situation before, so this whole thing is going to be new.”

“I see. So, are you nervous about the Review Board tomorrow?”

“Of course I am, Doctor.”

“What do you intend to do?”

“Say everything that they want to hear. Say what I have to say to get back onto Recon, all that sort of thing. You know, that I’ve learned my lesson, that I understand the importance of regulations, that my actions impact others…that sort of thing.”

“And that’s what you think they want to hear?” Doctor Ness leaned forward, intrigued at this.

“Isn’t it, you think?”

“Perhaps, but if you sound like you’re reading your answers out of a textbook, it’s not as though they won’t know that you’re going through the motions. But about the specifics…Have you learned your lesson? I mean, do you understand the importance of the regulations that were put in place to keep people like you and your old team alive?”

“Yes, of course I do. It’s been quite a month.”

Doctor Ness went on. “Have you learned that your actions could have consequences that could and probably will go farther than just you?”

“Yes, you know that.”

“Then perhaps you shouldn’t concern yourself so much with what they want to hear. If they want to hear these specific answers, great. But it all means nothing if deep down, you don’t mean it. If what you think they want to hear is what you really think and feel, don’t concern yourself with saying the right answers. Concern yourself with saying what you believe to be true. Tomorrow, the truth will matter, not some scripted set of responses. They’ll believe it if you do, because it will be true.”

“I think I understand. I think I get it now.”

“Make sure you still get it tomorrow, Krista.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:29 pm

great stuff....MOAR pl0x?
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by SimonZayne » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:58 pm

Another great one Ponyboy.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:14 am

If the Duke City Constabulary had full dress uniforms or a system of medals and decorations, Krista would have been wearing them as she sat in a chair in a backroom of the Constabulary’s administration building, but they didn’t. Instead, she wore her blue coveralls minus her duty belt. In front of her sat the review board, consisting of Captain Heyward, Lieutenant Heyward, Doctor Ness, Deputy Chief of Police Matthew Forbes, and Police Chief Paul Deihl, who at sixty (or thereabouts) was the oldest person in the colony. He hadn’t had far to go when everything went to hell. He had been the police chief of Socorro, New Mexico where the colony had sprung up. Deputy Chief Forbes had been a captain in the Las Cruces Police Department and had come up with the convoy that had also brought Doctor Ness.

It was now ten in the morning and she had spent the last hour being drilled by the panel about her past actions and her intentions should she be allowed to return to Recon. As she and Doctor Ness had discussed the previous day, she was far less concerned about what they wanted to hear and more about what she truly believed, and the two had so far proven to be the same thing. She answered clearly and honestly, making sure she spoke in the most professional tone possible. She could see Doctor Ness smiling with his arms folded as she spoke, pleased that she was speaking the truth by design rather than to force the response she wanted from the board.

Chief Deihl and the rest of the panel had a few folders opened in front of them. They ranged from Krista’s service record to all those of her old teammates, as well as David Aquilar’s arrest record, her performance evaluation from her month at the Detention Facility, the court report from the recent trial of the Union Bar incident, and so on. She had been questioned on just about all of it, and she made no attempt to pass on responsibility to others when it had been hers, nor did she take upon her whatever responsibility that had been someone else’s. The review board took about two and a half hours to question her before retiring to a back room to deliberate, allowing Krista some time alone. Krista was unable to formulate a clear thought as she sat alone, wondering what they were saying and how long it would take to make their decision. Whatever optimism she might have had was now gone, destroyed upon contact with her tension.

They were gone for more than twenty minutes before returning, and Krista had not done so much as stand up to stretch her legs. She sat upright with her shoulders back and chin up as the board sat down.

Chief Deihl began speaking. “Specialist Kristiana Showalter, this board believes that it has all needed information to make a decision. We have spoken with you and now each other, and we are ready to put the ball in your court concerning your continued service with the Duke City Constabulary.

Krista breathed a little easier. She at least knew she wasn’t losing her badge.

“I have discussed your time at the Detention Facility with Lieutenant Heyward, and she has no complaints with your performance. Your conduct in the last month has been within the standards that we require for continued service, you were apparently not the instigator of the incident at the Union Bar, and so on and so on. To be brief, you have done nothing outside of regulations since your disciplinary period began. You can at least rest assured that you will be allowed to remain on the Constabulary.”

She was breathing even easier now.

“But your past actions on our Reconnaissance Teams may impact your return. Captain Heyward has free reign to decide who is assigned to him and who is not, and I have no intention of overruling him no matter what decision he makes.” Chief Deihl turned to Captain Carl Heyward, who was sitting directly to his left. “Carl, I leave this completely to you. Will you accept Specialist Showalter into Recon if she is allowed to reapply?”

Captain Heyward leaned back, preparing his obviously-rehearsed answer. “Sir, as you and the rest of this board are well aware, Specialist Showalter and I have clashed before, and I hesitate to accept a known disciplinary problem in my ranks. That being said, everything we have seen and heard would indicate that she has taken to heart the lessons that the last thirty days were intended to impart. If she wished to reapply, I will consent to consider her application without regards to her prior issues.”

There were nods up and down the table as Captain Heyward continued. “Still, I have my conditions. First, I expect that Specialist Showalter take an abbreviated refresher training course to ensure that she still meets the qualifications for transfer to Special Teams. I want to make sure she isn’t too rusty to perform the tasks that would be expected of her. More importantly, the last month has shown that she can take orders, but nothing here indicates that she can give them. If she wants to return to Recon, she cannot do it at her present rank. Specialist is not a field rank and this would be a field assignment, and I most certainly will not approve or support lateral promotion to corporal. I do not want her in command of a team. If she wants back on Recon, she must accept a demotion to the rank of police constable. I cannot have her in command of a team for the foreseeable future. That is all.”

Chief Deihl looked at Captain Heyward and made no indication that he regarded Heyward’s conditions as unreasonable. He then turned back to Krista.

“Specialist, you have your choices. If you want back on Recon, you must take a refresher training course and be willing to accept a bust down to police constable. Otherwise, you can put in for assignment to any other department of the Constabulary. Lieutenant Heyward has already informed us that she would accept you in her department, and in your current rank, along with the authority that goes with that. But there is no guarantee that patrol or administration, or anywhere else would take you at all. We’re giving you until close of business today to decide. This board is in recess until…”

Krista spoke quickly. “Chief, if I may…I don’t need to think this over. I know what I want to do. If it is an option, I would like to be reassigned to Recon. I will take whatever training courses are expected of me, and I’m perfectly willing to accept a demotion to police constable.”

The Chief, as well as everyone else on the board, looked her over. Chief Deihl finally said, “Specialist, are you certain?”

“Yes sir, I am completely certain.”

“Very well. You will be off for the next two days. This Monday at 0700, report to Captain Heyward and he’ll take you from there. When you return home tonight, break out your gray coveralls and I expect you to be sure you remove the badges of rank from the sleeves and the pins from the collar, provided you have no already done so. This board is adjourned. Constable Showalter, you are dismissed.”

“Thank you, Sir,” was all Krista could say. She had made it. She was returning to Recon.

As everyone got up from their seats, Krista could see Doctor Ness smiling at her in an approving fashion. She smiled back, but turned her head in just enough time to see Captain Heyward mouth the words, “Welcome back to Dixie.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by 6F0 Nick » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:03 am

Woooooooooooot! More zombie killin time!!!
Great story!
Who died and made you f*****g king of the zombies?"
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wyecoyte
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by wyecoyte » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:06 am

Great story Ponyboy I think I know who ghost is now and if I'm right this time it will make for some excellent updates. If I'm wrong then I get to go cry in a corner waiting for some updates. But great Krista is back on the force can't wait to see what happens between her and David. Will there be a show down?

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:54 pm

YES! I love your stories. Tyvm, Ponyboy....MOAR pl0x.
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by cowboyfromhel86 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:27 pm

this is a really good story so far man awsome stuff keep it up and take your time no rush lol
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:19 pm

Krista had spent the next two days in a mix of apprehension and unrestrained anticipation. She kept wondering how well-received she was going to be on her new team, and what would happen if any of her old teammates were still carrying grudges, but getting back onto Recon was a dream come true, and now that she had been demoted, she believed that she wasn’t going to end up in a situation where she would have to choose between the rules and friendship. That was someone else’s worry now, and she was already planning to be the one person who kept the others straight, reminding them when necessary that the consequences can be severe, and it’s better to just stick to the rules than to develop elaborate ways of circumventing them.

Krista went through the expected training course, which meant rifle ranges, sidearm training, driving, radio operation, basic first aid, and of course, hand signals, and of course, how to keep your eyes and ears open and detect approaching dead. It was all old stuff to her but she threw herself into it. She paid especially close attention to the psychological aspect of her refresher training: how to bring down what had once been human beings, including old folks and young children, without thinking too much about how they died. It was the hardest part, as some zombies, however rotten they had become, might still have enough flesh hanging off the face to resemble someone familiar, or might even be wearing something similar to the preferred attire of an old, long-dead friend. It was a hard thing to do, and not everyone found it possible. The washout rate for Special Teams ran to about a third, and most of it was because of a trainee’s inability or unwillingness forget what the dead had once been and focus on what it was now. Also, those who did complete training and get assigned saw one in six or seven later request transfer back to the Damn Yankees or have that transfer forced upon them because they couldn’t adjust to operating in the dead world outside the perimeter after years of fairly comfortable living inside the colony, and bringing down the moaning dead without being able to forget that they had once been living humans was the largest part of that.

But again, Krista went through her training easily as it was not her first time, and the lessons imparted to her were old wine in a new bottle. She graduated back into Special Teams alone, while the new trainees continued on to the rest of their own training. Training for the new people lasted about five weeks while hers was only two, and that meant assignment to a team before anyone else. Some graduates would go on to ALERT, which meant another four straight months of rigorous training that weeded out two-thirds of those entering it. But wherever they wanted to serve, there were usually more new Special Teams constables than open positions. They wound up in support and logistics, serving until a field position opened up, which it usually did. Krista could easily imagine how five such officers must have jumped for joy when they heard an entire team had ceased to exist, opening up slots for five new field officers.

After graduating, she was ordered to report to the briefing hall, and the memories of the last time she had been in that room were still with her, but she forced that memory down and reported. She was told that she was now being assigned to a team and this is where they would muster for the first time, get acquainted, and begin taking on missions.

Krista opened the door to see four people waiting for her, one standing at the front of the room and the other three sitting down. The one standing immediately came over and shook her hand.

“Corporal Darius Hurst, welcome to Romeo One.”

Not that she needed an introduction. They had not been well acquainted, but she certainly knew who he was. Darius Hurst was a young (about Krista’s age), dashing, and distinguished-looking black gentleman who had come up in patrol and had served on Recon for a while, and his performance had put him first in line for two stripes and a team of his own. He was the current golden boy (upon hearing that, Hurst like calling himself ‘Black Gold’) who was going places, and not taking long to get there. Like Brad, he had the rare ability to make people like him right away without much effort.

“Constable Kristiana Showalter, everyone calls me Krista.”

“Indeed, Krista. You left quite a reputation around Special Teams when you went over to Detention, but I don’t care. I can’t run this team worth a damn if old stigmas stink up the air. We’re going to be a tight-knit family here on One, and you’re part of it. So, have a seat and let’s get this started.”

She sat down and looked around her, not recognizing two of her teammates, both of whom were younger than her to the point that had the world not ended, they probably would have been in their latter years of college. As introductions went around, she learned that one of them was Constable Rosa Martinez, who had come from administration, a young, pretty Hispanic woman with a nice smile and brown eyes that seemed to burn holes in anyone they saw. She smiled as Krista shook her hand. The other was Constable Allen Stack, a thin, almost wiry Navajo who made his inherently polite nature quite obvious as he bowed his head slightly while they shook hands. He had come from horse patrol. The third was Josh “Boba” Fetterman. They did not need to be introduced. Still, they shook as though there wasn’t plenty of history there, and if any grudges were being carried, Boba sure didn’t show it.

Corporal Hurst spoke up after the introductions were over. “First off, in one week, Romeo One goes operational. Between now and then, we’re going on maneuvers, a few miles outside the wall to get you new people used to being out there in Indian Country.” Hurst paused and said, “Sorry about that one Allen.”

Allen Stack just smirked and waved it off. He obviously thought that Hurst’s embarrassment was amusing.

“Anyway, but you’ve all been trained in this colony but our real job is out there. We operate sometimes a couple of hundred miles from here where help is hours away and all we have is each other, our training, and our ability to do what we have to do. So, we get used to being out there and around them, because I promise you, after a few minutes of driving, you will see them. We will stop and engage them. You need to get used to the idea of bringing them down without regards to what they used to be. They are monsters, plain and simple, monsters in human guise, and don’t bother thinking about the fact that they used to be human. Don’t waste any feelings on them. They aren’t wasting any on you.”

Nods went around the room. Darius Hurst clearly knew the game. He had played it before. He was acting very much like the toughened veteran that he in truth was. Krista was falling under the spell of liking him already.

“Also, so you’re all aware, we had two other new arrivals from refresher training. One Dana Zachary and Isaac Kepford, who just came off a disciplinary period. Zachary was assigned to Romeo Five this morning and Kepford to Four.”

Krista was surprised at that. She didn’t know what had become of them since the team had been broken up. She also wondered where they had gotten their refresher training. They, and Boba for that matter, hadn’t gotten it with her.

“So Krista, you will be assigned as our driver for now. So you’re aware, Boba here is our radioman and Rosa had just completed her medical training course. Stack is our point man for now. We might shake it up a bit after I see what you all can do in the field. Our maneuvers start tomorrow morning at 0830. For today, I want us all back on rifle ranges. Also, help each other out. Get to know each other, those of you who don’t already. Again, this is a family, and families look after each other.”

This was the part where a team leader usually said, “dismissed.” Hurst didn’t. Instead, he said…

“Okay gang, let’s get this shit done.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:57 pm

I'm loving every word of it..MOAR pl0x?
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:30 pm

The next morning, Romeo One was out on maneuvers about eleven or twelve miles outside he colony on US 60 west of home. They hadn’t encountered any yet, but they had passed by the long burned remains of piles and piles of the dead, courtesy of ALERT’s first forays out to this area, and the living dead were not migratory. They tended to mill about until something indicated that prey was nearby, so this area was probably fairly clear. That was, until they had gone out another three miles and saw a small cluster of half a dozen a hundred yards or so off the highway.

Darius said, “Krista, stop us here. Let’s drop these guys. They need to get used to dealing with these things sooner or later.” Krista stopped in the middle of the road and the team got out, and Rosa and Allen were clearly nervous about the first time being outside the colony’s walls since they had arrived there. Krista could relate. The walls had given physical and psychological comfort and now, they were out in enemy territory again, and those old fears came back.

“Everyone relax. Krista, Boba, keep your eyes open behind us and on the flanks. You two, come with me.” Darius led Rosa and Allen to the edge of the road. “Okay, don’t worry too much. Just get ready to dance.” Rosa and Allen readied the old early-model M16s they had been issued and stood ready, clearly with rising tensions. They hadn’t seen any of them in a while, and it was easy to forget what it was like to be hunted by them.

They shambled to within fifty yards. “Remember, aim for the head, just like you were trained. All it takes is one. One squeeze and it won’t get back up. That’s all it takes. Just wait…” they closed to thirty yards. “Okay, safeties off.” He heard two telltale clicks. “Now aim and aim carefully. Take your time. Fire when ready.”

The team heard two cracks. They didn’t hear any others after that. Apparently, they had hit their marks.

Darius was pleased. “See how easy that is? Just one to the head. Nice and easy. Now then, just do that again. Pick your targets. They’re getting closer.”

Rosa and Allen fired twice more each. “There you go. Not so scary when they’re on their backs with a third eye, are they? Just remember that. They can only get you if one of us is stupid. And on Romeo One, we aren’t stupid. There you go, half a dozen of the bastards on the ground. They took everything, didn’t they? All we had, they ate it alive, and now here they are, ready to take the rest. But now, they’re our bitches. Now, we decide when they go down. Don’t freak out, don’t hesitate, don’t pity the fuckers. Just aim and squeeze. Every one you take down now is one your kids don’t have to in thirty years. We want our world back, they’re in the way. It’s that simple. Now saddle up. We’re heading back. Enough fun for today.”

When all got back in the bus, Krista could see that neither Allen nor Rosa were shaking or exchanging nervous glances. They had taken down three each and many more would eventually follow. Darius Hurst had talked them through it and helped them see the truth of the situation, and did so to the point that they were calmer after the shooting than they had been before. Clearly, this guy was going to make a great team leader. Krista saw in this man the leader she should have been.

As she drove the black, modified bus back to the colony, Krista felt a sort of relief, or perhaps it was even exhilaration. She actually enjoyed being outside the perimeter. Out here, despite what had happened to it, was a huge world almost completely devoid of human life. It was quiet outside the rumbling of the engine. The world seemed larger than it had before, and it offered a strange kind of freedom that ran contrary to most people, who once inside the wall off the colony, never wanted to go outside again as long as one shambling corpse was still out there. It was a big part of why she wanted to wear the gray again. She was happy to be out in the world, dead or otherwise.

They had gone out about as far in other directions over the next few days, and all took turns taking down any dead they encountered. The two new people were slowly getting used to fighting the dead and were doing an admirable job detaching themselves from whatever history the dead bodies themselves might have had. They now were seeing their enemies as targets and little else. It was rarely so easy for anyone, but then, not everyone was fortunate enough to have Corporal Darius Hurst as their team leader.

It was in the briefing hall at the end of the week that the team had their meeting, when everyone just wanted to hear those magic words.

“As of today, Romeo One is cleared for operations. In two days, we start taking missions. Good job everyone.” That was all Darius had to say.

Krista was surprised at how the week had gone. Not exactly had how well the two new people were acquitting themselves, but mostly that Boba hadn’t once brought up the past in any conversations with her. If anything, he spoke as though they had just met, not referencing the time before their assignment to Romeo One at all. He never spoke about Dizzy or Doc, nor about David, even though that would have certainly been an interesting conversation had it happened, but Boba seemed determined to completely ignore the past and everything about it, the good and the bad, for the sake of starting over on a new team, a new team leader, and new teammates, going to far as to treat Krista as though she was a new teammate.

She was perfectly okay with that. It was the textbook definition of a fresh start.

After the news was handed out that Romeo One was in the game, everyone lined up and Darius began handing out the “R-1” pins, which promptly went on everyone’s collars. What was of greater immediate note, however, was Darius had informed them all that this was the night of the party, which tended to happen when teams went operational. That night, the team would gather at his place, bringing their rations from the brewery and distillery, and would basically spend the night getting fucked up and sleeping it off the next day, with the day after that being when the team as a whole would be ready to go wherever they were sent and do whatever was needed of them.

A few hours later, Darius’s place was full. Most of Recon, five teams worth, was there, as was the gang from the motor pool and some people from ALERT, some of those still in training, as well as those from support and logistics, who were hoping that an opening might form on a team soon so that they could attend a party like this for themselves. Krista didn’t take any shit that whole night. Everyone was too busy getting wasted and cracking jokes that only seemed funny for those too drunk to know better. There was some kissing in the corner, some games of Quarters, and a lot of loud F-bombs. The music was loud and the laughter was louder. Krista had mostly walked around only speaking to those she was fairly certain wouldn’t throw Brad in her face, but as the evening wore on, even the simple act of walking itself was getting to be a challenge. She plopped on the couch, feeling as though she was about to snooze right there.

Then she saw him. Or at least she thought she did.

Through her beer haze, Krista thought the face of Ghost was staring right at her, his skull mask hiding any emotions. He just stood, obviously looking at her, not moving, not speaking, just looking. No one else even seemed to notice him. He stared until she looked away, trying to focus against her drunkenness, trying to make sure that she saw what was, not what her subconscious wanted her to see, and surely, when she looked back, Ghost was gone, provided that he had ever been there to begin with.

That was when she noticed some guy had passed out on the couch next to her, his head in her lap, snoring like a puppy. Krista smiled as she looked down and saw the head of Raymond Fuller smiling in his sleep.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:50 am

OHHHH JEEEZUS.....things are heating up??? MOAR pl0x?
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:57 am

By the time Krista woke up the next morning, most of the partygoers were gone and those that remained were filling the house with raspy snores. Stacks and stacks of bottles were everywhere, and the workers at the recycling plant were not going to be happy to see a shipment of this size. Krista, shaking off what cobwebs she could noticed that Ray Fuller was gone. She wondered why exactly he had fallen asleep with his head on her lap, but the fact that he knew that she would have said ‘yes’ to a date proposition was on her brain.

Without waiting for anyone else to wake up, Krista staggered (literally) down the street and to her own home, which was not exactly close. Her head felt like a punching bag and her legs had a hard time keeping her on balance, let alone in a straight line. She did manage to sneak into someone’s bushes before throwing up for the better part of three minutes. Fortunately, it was early and most people weren’t awake yet. Once she got back home, she stumbled in and fell asleep on her own couch. She didn’t wake up until three in the afternoon.

The following day, when the headaches and haze wore off, she was back in the briefing hall along with the rest of Romeo One. First day on operations and they had a mission.

“Okay people, listen up. This is our first time out for real and we’re going to knock this shit out flawlessly. We’ve been ordered to recon US 380 between here and Carizozo, about an hour or so off I-25 to the east. Someone upstairs has some idea of establishing a way station there for the trade route they’re thinking of putting together between here and the colony at Pecos, Texas. It’s going to be at least a year before that route opens up, so we need to be out there trying to find a safe path between here and there. Basic stuff. We hit the road and make a note of anything that might hinder overland transport between here and there. Car wrecks, debris, toppled telephone poles, that sort of thing. We go as far as we can, but if the road won’t let us get closer, we turn back. Nice and easy. Saddle up. We’re out of here at 1000 hours.”

That gave One two hours for the pre-op check, which went by the numbers. The gas tank was full, the mechanic’s report was read their vehicle cleared for operations, gas cans were loaded onto the purpose-built racks on the sides of the bus, and so on.

The bus had once belonged to the Socorro School System as one of the short buses that had been the punch line of so many jokes about retarded people, but the ones Recon used had been heavily modified, the inside especially so. The rows of seats had been removed for one thing, and the area directly behind the driver’s seat now had a three-level steel rack bolted to both the floor and the roof, the levels holding MREs, water bottles, ammunition, first aid supplies, and a radio, as well as a large tool kit containing all manner of automotive tools and parts, engine oil and coolant, and flares. Eight seats (like those found on charter buses) were now installed to allow for passengers if necessary, and of course, a CD/MP3 player had been added, since the long miles, even in a sometimes nightmarish landscape, could be rather boring at times.

Everyone holstered their general issue Beretta M9 sidearms (except for Darius Hurst, who carried an M1911) and took up their early model M16s, filling their pouches with old steel 20-round GI magazines. They were ready to go nearly half an hour before they were scheduled to depart.

Romeo One headed down I-25 through the south exit and were heading east on US 380 minutes later. It didn’t take long to see that if anyone wanted to start using this road as a trade route, it would need a lot of attention first. They had barely gone four miles east of San Antonio (New Mexico, not Texas) before Darius started having Allen take notes.

“Allen, mark the location of this on the map. Semi, no trailer, burned out and blocking eastbound lane.” Krista swung around to the left of it, and more lay ahead. “Also, three-car smash-up. Two sedans, one more or less on top of the other, SUV in the rear, blocking westbound lane. Make sure you keep marking locations.”

Here and there, the dead could be seen lumbering near the road or off in the distance, drawn by the motion of the bus and the sound of the engine. Allen and Rosa had engaged them a week before, and thus they weren’t particularly rattled by them, not in a moving vehicle. But Krista kept up her pace, not wanting to be around if a large number stumbled onto the road at the same time.

They had almost gotten to Carizozo when they saw a gasoline truck, or what was left after it blew apart, laying on its side, blocking the whole highway. Stacked on the western side of it were nearly a dozen cars, smashed into each other, looking burned out as well. Krista could easily imagine what had happened. Regardless of what made the tanker blow, a bunch of drivers couldn’t stop in time and slammed right into the burning wreck, probably burning to death before they could even unbuckle their seat belts. It was a terrible, frightful thought, and seeing the probably fates of those who didn’t even live long enough to be devoured alive or turned into their killers was a painful reminder that fortune had smiled on a precious few.

New Mexico had been one of the least-populated states in America, no more than one million before the end came. Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Texas, which surrounded the state, all had populations several times that number, but now the population of the state, or what had once been a state, was barely four thousand, all in the Duke City Colony. That was less than one-half percent of what it had once been. The vast majority of humanity had been dead and gone, or undead and anything but gone, for years, and to see with one’s own eyes the broken remains of the world’s population showed how fortunate anyone was to have beaten the long odds and reach the safety of the walls of the various colonies across the shattered United States, and the US was as lucky a country as existed. Some still shuddered as their minds wandered back to the news reports of India and China, the two most populated countries on earth, and how their billion-plus numbers literally vanished, perhaps to absolute zero. The population of Africa had more or less ceased to exist, at least south of the Sahara, while North Africa was still holding out in colonies much more primitive, but no less successful than those in the US. The Middle East was now just a name and a place with no people. South America had been ravaged. Even Japan, England, Ireland, and Australia, with seas and oceans to protect them, had been depopulated. America, with its population depleted to less than one percent just like its former state of New Mexico, was the luckiest country in the world. That alone would make a person stop and think about just how absolute the devastation was, and how incredible fortunate they were to now be living behind the wall and in peace and prosperity.

Krista certainly thought so now, but not for the first time. Allen and Rosa, gazing upon the blackened tomb of a dozen or more desperate drivers, were unable to speak or even think. They would do plenty of both later, but for now, all they could do was see what was left of those who never had the chance to find a place like Duke City.

Darius said, “Allen…Allen! Snap out of it. Mark this location and be descriptive. It’s going to take a lot to get this shit out of the way. Hell, they might just want to try another route. For now, let’s head back.”

Krista turned around and began the trip back home. She, with permission, plugged in her MP3 player and turned up the volume.

The last month had not made her forget how to block out the horrors of a dead planet.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:38 pm

Oh yeah, baby!! Mission time!!! MOAR zombie wants MOAR story. :)
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by FrANkNstEin » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:28 am

great story so far! may i kindly ask for MOAR! :mrgreen:

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:42 am

Romeo One’s operation on US 380 was hardly Krista’s first time out in the wild, so she found herself able to shake it off. But Rosa and Allen were visibly shaken in the briefing hall after their return. Not that the three veterans on the team held it against them. They had all been there before and had reacted the same way. There was no guarantee that the two rookies would suck it up and get numb to the terrors of the world outside the wall, but they would either learn to accept what had happened to the world they had known or they wouldn’t. Everyone inside the colony, especially after the years that had passed, though that they had grown accustomed to the new world, but that was usually limited to what they saw everyday. Being outside reminded people what those terrible days were like when there was no colony, no new civilization, and no place to go to be safe.

Corporal Darius Hurst was proving himself to be truly on the ball when it comes to keeping his team together. “I just wanted to tell you all that you performed well today. I know that it was a hell of a thing seeing that tanker wreck out there, but if nothing else, it should remind you that you are damned lucky to be here, and even luckier that you are still tough fibered enough to be willing to go back out there and help us take our first toddling steps towards taking the world back. I’m proud of you. If today stays with you, I want you to schedule an appointment with Doctor Ness. Trust me, it can help. For now, everyone go home, get something to eat, and get some sleep. So far, we have no operations tomorrow. Romeo Five is the only one going out. So we’ll focus on some drills and such until they need us. Take care.”

Darius patted some shoulders as everyone left. Their first operation had served its purpose and everyone now had the night to shake it off.

For Krista’s part, she simply went home, catching a ride on the shuttle and chatting here and there with Pete Birchum, who only now learned she was back on Recon, and congratulated her for being back in the gray. He dropped her off on her street and she plopped down on the couch and clicked on the TV to see what was new in the world.

It was nothing much. The TV station was playing several episodes of NYPD Blue, broken only by a couple of bulletins for a few local matters, such as a blood drive at the clinic and a quick update about the upcoming softball game between an Episcopal church group and the volunteer fire brigade. The episodes were from the show’s second season, and Krista found herself thinking here and there, “Damn, police work sure isn’t what it used to be…”

For the next four days until they were off for two straight, Recon One didn’t have occasion to go outside the wall. Instead, they ran drills and hit the obstacle course and rifle range, and pulled duty inspecting a trade convoy that had come in from the Four Corners Colony (which had once been the town of Durango, Colorado), and, on the last day, ran simulated scenarios on the training grounds with ALERT Two. It was all pretty routine, as most days on rotation meant practicing their job rather than actually doing it, but Krista was certain that they would be outside the wall again soon enough. Something was always being planned, and Recon would always be the eyes of those doing the planning.

In fact, the next full week didn’t involve anything outside the wall, and it was more drills, more marksmanship classes, more physical training, more lectures. It was the same as it had been during Krista’s time on Three, days or weeks of tedium broken by a single day here and there out in the wastes of mother earth. Either it was the excitement and terror of being outside in the world or endlessly training for it.

Krista couldn’t have been happier.

On the second day of her third week back on Recon, the team got orders again, and this time, they would be heading this time to Lordsburg, a town past Silver City towards the southwest of the colony, in hopes of finding a suitable route that could get them over the Arizona line and hopefully to a place that could serve as a possible new colony, with Duke City and the Winslow colonies establishing it as a joint operation. This was a plan that would most likely take no fewer than five years to come to fruition, but another colony would mean more territory cleaned and cultivated, and would be another step towards retaking the world. Lordsburg, however, was a long way. One hundred and fifty miles, give or take, or at perhaps three hours there and another three back. That made this an all-day operation. They would be heading out the next day at 0630.

A couple of years earlier, Krista had been out this way before. She had been part of the operation that helped clear out remaining pockets of the dead in Silver City and her team, then still commanded by Arlen Bradford, had rescued a small group of survivors that had made a go of it but had found themselves low on food and just about everything else, and around the time that Romeo Three and Five, as well as ALERT Four arrived and began sweeping the town, the dead were breaking through the survivors’ barricades. It was Bradford who saw this and ordered his team out to start putting down the dead, and within minutes, the civilians were in the bus and headed back to the colony while Romeo Five and ALERT Four continued taking down the dead wherever they found them in the town. One of the survivors had recently attempted to goad Krista into a fight at the Union Bar and was now out after finishing his sentence in the Detention Facility.

They passed through Silver City on the way to Lordsburg, a town none of them had ever visited, not even before the dead rose.

Krista rumbled through Silver City, seeing a zombie here and there, but it was almost a ghost town, completely devoid of life and almost devoid of unlife. If Duke City and Winslow were going to work together to build another colony, or at least an outpost, Silver City had been a major obstacle that had now been cleared. Lordsburg was now waiting to be dealt with. She remembered all too well the tough operation in Silver City, and she knew that this time, if Lordsburg wound up being a major deal with more than one team and ALERT thrown into the mix, they wouldn’t have any survivors to worry about. Too many years had passed and anyone not living in a colony was probably long dead.

“Krista, you were here before, weren’t you? Back on Three? You were in the operation that cleaned this place out.” Darius asked.

“Yes I was. That was a hell of a fight, and since we found those civilians, we missed the worst part of it. Still, it was a tough one. A couple thousand at least. If ALERT Four hadn’t been there, not may of us would have gotten out of there. But then, it still wasn’t much compared to you guys when you hit Alamogordo, huh? I hear that was a real slaughterhouse. Running around for hours blasting away until they stopped coming.”

“Yeah…remember how chaotic it was back then? When they just sent us out with nothing but a vague idea of what to do when we got somewhere? I’m just glad they finally figured out what to do with us. I think Recon is actually doing some real good. I bet a lot of the places we’re going will be walled and inhabited by the time we’re old.”

“One would hope, Darius.”

After a little while longer, they passed Silver City and were back in open country, but it was only a short hop on State Highway 90 to get to Lordsburg. Anyone who had ever seen ‘The Last Picture Show’ would have found this place familiar. It would have been easy to pass off the state of the town as typical of anyplace where the dead had been, but time and depleting fortunes had done most of the damage. Stores were boarded up, houses were abandoned, and it sure didn’t look like much was keeping it alive before the dead came and finished the job. Three kinds of people had lived in this sleepy town: young people who only wanted to get the hell out, adults who had long since given up their dreams of living somewhere else, and old people content to just wait to die. The young and the old had, in their own ways, gotten their wish.

After entering the town, Allen took out his notepad and prepared to make a note of whatever seemed of importance in Lordsburg, New Mexico.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:04 am

I need MOAR....I'm suffering from a lack of MOAR :D
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Scott in AK » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:51 pm

Ponyboy
I have been lurking for several weeks now, and have read most of your stories.
Keep it up! I like your work
He who tries to tread on me
will find himself in misery
and this I promise faithfully
upon my fathers name

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:14 pm

For the most part, when a luckless victim died and became reanimated into another dead cannibalistic killer, it would only move if there was something to indicate that prey was nearby. Without a potential target, zombies didn’t move around much, and tended to just stumble around until something caught their attention. Thus, towns that were full of zombies years earlier usually still were, even if those zombies had gotten a little ripe since. Also, when the dead had been cleared from a town, the town would still be mostly clear long after, Silver City being an example.

However, as Krista drove Romeo One into Lordsburg, it wound up being the exception that disproved the rule. As far as anyone knew, the next-nearest human settlement, the Winslow, Arizona Colony, had never been near the place, and certainly Duke City hadn’t, but the streets were inexplicably clear. It wasn’t just that not one zombie could be seen staggering around, but there was no sign of bodies. Other than being completely devoid of the living, there almost appeared to be no sign that the dead had ever come here.

At least seeing the living dead made sense. When there was no sign of them in a town that had not been scouted, and there was not even one sign of a dead human body, that just got eerie, and most would prefer the dead just be in plain sight.

Darius didn’t let the confusion distract him from the fact that he was in charge of a long-range recon mission.

“Allen, make a note and be sure to mark the time and location of the entry. No sign of either living or dead. No static bodies.”

Allen Stack diligently made the note as he was told, though the condition of the town was still on his mind. He wondered how a town could be without either the living or the dead in this day and age, and how not even one dead body was even lying on the sidewalk. He hoped that one of the three veterans in the bus might have seen something of this type before, but Krista, Boba, and Darius were as confused as Allen and Rosa. This was completely unprecedented.

Boba spoke up first about this strange development. “Okay, I’m going to just be the first to say that I’ve never been to a place like this since the shit hit the fan. This doesn’t make a bit of sense.”

“No…no it doesn’t.” Krista said. “I can’t imagine how this could have happened. How could any town not have them in it? Or even a living person or a dead body that didn’t come back? It just looks like everyone packed up and left and the freaks never came here.”

Darius was still in command, and he was determined to keep everyone on track. “So we don’t assume anything until we actually know what happened. It could mean anything. We keep our eyes open and our safeties on. We make a couple of circuits and we head back. If we don’t see anything, we ask the brass if Winslow has ever had a patrol down here.”

“We already know that no one, at least not from a colony, has ever been here.” Boba replied.

“Yeah, I know. But check anyway. For now, let’s just get through this place.” Darius’s hand seemed to be inching toward his M1911, but never actually reached it. To the trained eye, he was as nervous as anyone else but doing a better job hiding it.

What else was of note was that the town itself was intact. The streets were clear of wrecked cars, the buildings had not burned to the ground, and there were no piles of charred corpses or even much in the way of litter.

“Krista, stay on the main road. We’ll have a peek at the smaller ones once we get to the other side of this place.” Krista took the bus all the way through town, but the story was the same. No living, no dead, and no living dead. Darius had her start down some of the smaller streets, including some residential ones, but again, they saw nothing. Rather than what he had been expecting to record in his notebook, Allen Stack didn’t record what they saw, but what they did not see, and what they did not see was a town that had any sign of the living dead, or that anything had happened at all. The town was perfectly intact. The team could only wonder, and they did, what would happen when the after-action report was passed upstairs when they got back.

They didn’t bother too much about scouting the rest of the town. There didn’t seem to be a point, at least not on wheels. The sound of the rumbling engine would have dawn out any nearby living dead, unless by some coincidence all had their legs torn off. Darius ordered Krista to stop back on the main road, the nose of the bus aimed north back towards Silver City, and had the team get off their seats and onto their boots.

“All right, gang. Let’s take a walk. No more than a hundred yards out, maintain your intervals, stay sharp. Take your corners wide. Safeties on. Hand signals if you hear anything. Let’s go. Stay on my lead.” Darius led them to a couple of the side streets, and no sign of anything appeared. Had it been an old western film from years earlier, it might have been reminiscent of a group of gunfighters walking into town with the dust blowing around them and a tumbleweed bouncing along, but no people in sight. They turned down one street or another, looking in windows and down alleys, but there was still nothing. If anything in this town was dead, it was not where it could be seen. If anything was alive, it was well hidden. After about half and hour out of the bus, Darius had had enough.

“Okay gang, let’s head back. There isn’t much more we can do around here. Let’s go home and see what the brass makes of this.” They were in the bus heading back towards the colony a few minutes later. Even though there were no dead to speak of in Lordsburg, everyone was glad to be out of that town. These days, the living dead weren’t a particularly strange sight to anyone who operated outside the walls. A completely deserted yet intact town was a different matter, and even the veterans like Krista, Boba, and Darius were a little rattled, but did a better job concealing it than Allen and Rosa were doing.

Of course, after getting back, other teams including some of the ALERT people, were pelting them with questions, which always happened after returning from a previously unexplored town. About a dozen or so grays and Brown Coats stood in disbelief as Darius and the rest of Romeo One went through the details of the state of Lordsburg, New Mexico. After a few minutes, as the mechanics went about checking under the hood of the bus and so on, some browns and grays were already formulating theories about what the hell was going on in that town. Some said that it hardly mattered. If the dead weren’t around, it was clear and the route to a new colony was already assured in the easiest way possible. Others were saying that there was no way a town could be intact and clear of both the dead and the living, and that something strange was going on and further investigation should be undertaken before even trying to declare the place secure.

But it was up to the town council and the Constabulary’s brass to decide what to do about Lordsburg.

It was the afternoon of the next day, when Romeo One and Four were attending a class on instinctive close-range marksmanship with the sidearm (taught by Sergeant Ghost) that they received the news that for now, Lordsburg was considered a red zone. Krista wasn’t surprised at all, though Allen Stack was quite visibly so.

In the Duke City Colony, towns were classified depending on their supposed level of safety. A ‘blue zone’ was, simply, a place that was completely safe and fortified, which is to say, a colony. A ‘green zone’ was a town that had been scouted, swept, and had either been cleared of the dead or mostly so, to the degree that either Recon or ALERT could enter with minimal risk, and Silver City was among those. A ‘yellow zone’ was a town that still had at least a moderate presence of the undead, but a team with its eyes open could get in and out without much in the way of problems, and Elephant’s Butte was classified as one. Then there was the ‘orange zone,’ which still had a large presence of the dead but could be entered if the need arose, but was still to be avoided if at all possible. Of course, there was the ‘red zone,’ in which the dead existed in great numbers and the town itself had not been properly scouted yet and no one was to enter under any circumstances without strict orders. Truth or Consequences, obviously, was one.

And now they had another, but Lordsburg became the first ‘red zone’ that had been properly scouted and not one sign on the living dead had been discovered. That made it unique among any of the red zones.

But this particular red zone was possibly in the path of a route to a new colony and metaphorically the future. The Duke City Colony had plans for this place, so it probably wouldn’t remain red for long.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Wrecking Ball
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:53 pm

Oooo, oddly enough, probably my favorite installment yet. MOAR pl0x.
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:21 pm

If any of the higher-ups yet knew what they had in mind for Lordsburg, they sure weren’t telling Krista or anyone else in Special Teams, but after a week or so, everyone seemed to let the whole affair fade from their minds. As always, there were more immediate matters, and among them was the recent road detail, escorted by ALERT Two, which had begun the arduous process of clearing out US 380 to Carizozo, as no one had been able to find an alternate route that offered a better chance of getting a new route opened up to the colony at Pecos, Texas.

Krista and the rest of Romeo One had been assigned to a special training course, designed to increase the overall effectiveness of individual Recon teams, which was all a clever way of saying that they would have to do a hell of a lot of physical training and run obstacle courses left and right, to say nothing of endless protocol seminars. It would all take two weeks, and Krista was not happy to find out that ALERT Four was off rotation in that time. It meant that the odds were good that Ghost was in charge of their training.

They arrived on a Monday for their quality time with Ghost, and that morning at 0530, they gathered in the motor pool in the dead of night to see Ghost coming at them, tactical gear and M4 and everything else, carrying a clipboard.

His voice was, as always, gravelly and without a touch of emotion. “Listen up. Command has given me two weeks to get you people worked into a better state of preparedness and proficiency than you are now. In case your written orders did not mention it, you will not have any days off or even an hour to yourselves in the next two weeks, and all of you are temporarily assigned new quarters. Follow me, and I do not recommend falling behind. Move.”

They all followed Ghost, everyone looking like they just got kicked in the guts except for Darius, whose face didn’t betray a single feeling or thought. They gathered their gear and followed Ghost out of the motor pool and onto the athletic field at New Mexico Tech, which had retained its previous purpose and was also used as something of a parade ground among other uses. Everyone, this time including Darius Hurst, were shocked to see five tents, all medium-sized military types, pitched in the middle of the field.

“Welcome to your new home for the next two weeks. We have placed a port-a-john in one of the parking spaces at the edge of the field. Each of you will find a five-gallon water jug in your tents. This is what you will use for drinking, hygiene, and everything else. You will be allowed to refill your jug once every morning, but no more. You will also find a sleeping bag, a bar of soap, a toothbrush with toothpaste, a hairbrush, and nothing else. Nothing will be replaced for the next two weeks, so you will husband your resources. You will sleep when you are told, wake when you are told, and you can expect to not make a single decision during this training period. You will follow orders. Nothing more, nothing less. If you fail any single part of the training regimen, you will be sent back to refresher training with the applicants for Special Teams. If you utter a single complaint, make one snide comment about your training or your instructors, or do anything that I find disagreeable, you will likewise be sent back for refresher training. If you even feel the need to complain inside your own minds, I suggest that you all remember that what you are about to experience is insignificant compared to what you must experience before being allowed to join ALERT. Drop your bags in your tents. You will assemble in the parking lot in ten minutes. Move.”

Krista walked into her tent, and her sleeping bag was already unrolled on the ground with nothing that approximated a pillow. Her toothbrush and so on was piled into a plastic bag on the ground and the water jug was in the corner. She was already tired from not sleeping well the night before and she was already wondering if she would make it through the first day. What scared her the most was that now, Ghost was in a position where he had total control, and if he wanted to single her out and send her packing back to training with the newbies, he could do so and no one would dare to challenge him on it, not even those higher on the food chain.

She heard Ghost’s voice from the outside. “Everyone get your equipment on. Complete field kit, rifle, sidearm, ammunition, everything. If you carry it in the field, you will carry it this morning. You have five minutes.” Krista was certain that the first five minutes of the ten they had been originally allotted had not yet passed.

They all slapped on their field gear and slung their M16s over their shoulders. Romeo One was now assembled where they had been told. Ghost walked slowly and methodically in front of them.

“If you are all wondering if there is a specific reason that you were assigned to this training course, I suggest you stop wondering and focus on carrying out your orders. It is time to stop fearing the living dead and start fearing the minute ahead of you. Everyone clear your rifles.”

They all removed their magazines and ensured their chambers were empty.

“Now hold your rifle over your head. We are going for a run, and if your rifle gets any closer to your head as we run, you and I are going to have a disagreement. Line up and let’s move.”

Clearly, Ghost didn’t believe in the concept of easing anyone into anything. His idea of training others seemed like throwing the baby eagle out of the nest and hoping it learns to fly before splatting on the ground.

They held their rifles high and ran single-file with Ghost next to them, keeping pace, and holding his M4 Carbine high, which was far heavier than their own weapons, considering the numerous tactical additions. Within ten minutes, everyone on Romeo One was huffing and puffing, but still going. Ghost was running alongside without a single grunt to indicate that his body was rebelling.

Krista felt as though her legs had been doused in kerosene and set on fire as they ran around the Civic Center, through one of the residential areas, and finally, through the industrial district. They made it all the way to a small park on the other side of town, not far from where the houses ended and the farming fields began. Here, Ghost ordered everyone to stop. “Drop your gear and rest for five minutes. Afterwards, we are running back.”

It was almost eight in the morning before they got back. Ghost didn’t believe in going as the crow flies, either. It was also obvious that he intended to skip breakfast.

After getting back, there was no rest for either the weary or the wicked. Ghost followed their run with a solid hour of calisthenics. Again, Ghost practiced what he preached, and did every single thing he ordered Romeo One to do.

The next two weeks of Krista’s life were not pleasant.

None of them were sleeping much, largely because Ghost didn’t let them. When they all crashed out after visiting the showers (which itself was not an everyday affair), Ghost would allow them at most two or three hours and then start slapping his baton against their tent poles and everyone was at it again, running and climbing obstacles, crawling around in the dirt and doing calisthenics. Everyone felt as though they were on the verge of passing out almost every waking moment, but it was Krista who wondered how Ghost was even awake himself, let alone so sharply focused.

After a full week, a week in which everyone was forced to realize that their physical and mental limits were far greater than they previously thought, Ghost woke them all up at 0100 and told them they were now going on a field exercise. The next weeks was gearing up to make the first look like first grade recess. What still puzzled the whole team was that so far, Ghost had not yet even raised his voice.

During a fifteen minute break between running (again) and what would prove to be a rather intense seminar on hand-to-hand combat, Boba couldn’t contain his curiosity anymore, and no one, not Ghost or anyone else, had told them that they weren’t allowed to inquire about what they were training for.

Boba had to speak through a huffing and puffing mouth. “Sergeant Ghost? Can I ask you something?”

“You may, Constable, but be aware that asking a question does not automatically convey upon me some responsibility to provide an answer.”

“What the hell is all this about? Why are we being trained like Green Berets or something? It’s for something specific, isn’t it? The brass has something in mind and we’re being trained for some major deal, aren’t we?”

“Constable, I was ordered to train your team and that was all. I am not high enough in the rank structure to be told every matter of even remote importance. This is not the time for your mind to be anywhere but in the moment. You had best concentrate on finishing the next week. The purpose of this training session is the concern of neither you nor me. Return to your team.”

Ghost went back to looking over a clipboard and marking something here and there that Boba couldn’t see. For the next few seconds before Boba went back to his team, Ghost acted as though no one was near him at all.

Boba told the others about just how little he had learned in his private thirty seconds with Ghost. It inflamed everyone’s curiosity rather than satisfy it, but everyone, even Darius, was aware that not many would must throw together a tough-as-nails training course just to amuse themselves. Cops, like soldiers tend to gossip and speculate when they don’t know what’s about to happen or what decisions are being made upstairs. But what they could all agree on was that something was up, and whatever it was, Romeo One was going to be right in the middle of it.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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