The Restless Dead

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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D_Man
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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by D_Man » Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:40 pm

Pleeeezzzzeeeee?!
To strive,
To seek,
To find, But not to yield.
~Tennyson

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by vthunter » Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:17 am

Major, I can't believe it's taken me this long to return. I think I caught up a bit on TB's story & have just re-read the last sections of this since Bill was, daresay, banished from the original group.

I hope you're well and haven't totally tired of telling this tale. It's one of the best continuing sagas out "here".

If you're done, THANK YOU!!

If you're NOT done, THANK YOU!!

Always looking forward to more (or is that moar)...

Vt :D
Last edited by vthunter on Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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majorhavoc
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All is Lost, Part 41

Post by majorhavoc » Sat Jan 30, 2016 2:32 pm

Poor Joshua and Tracy. Up to now all they’ve known of the zombie apocalypse is a single kind of undead; the common variety that endeavors to kill you in a relatively straightforward manner involving hands and teeth. But in the space of less than twenty minutes they’ve become acquainted with the Witch, the Tank and now the Hunter. Creatures that prefer to dispatch you by flaying you alive, crushing you like a bug, or ripping you from limb to limb.

Such a harsh introduction to the uncommon and far more lethal types of infected is enough to overwhelm anyone's ability to cope. Combined with the sudden and violent loss of their friends Andy and Liza, by rights this young couple should not be functioning as human beings. To their credit, Joshua and Tracy absorb the shock of these harrowing encounters with remarkable fortitude. Such is the highly developed survival instinct of the young.

The cacophony of howls, groans and wheezing hisses continue unabated both from within and without the safehouse building. Through the barred saferoom door, the raucous sounds of kicking, pounding and straining metal on this floor signal the creatures' arrival at the opposite side of the corner stairwell's door.

That won't hold them back for long, I ponder as I cautiously work my way down the escape ladder. Descending deeper into the darkened elevator shaft, I note a narrow slat of pale morning light illuminating the tangled wreckage at the bottom. Reaching the top of the debris pile, I find the last three rungs of the escape ladder resting limp upon the heap of twisted metal. My plan nearly backfired, I realize. The ground level opening is almost completely blocked by the smashed elevator car, a mangled electric generator and one thoroughly flattened tank zombie. Only the top two and a half feet of the opening are passable.

No sooner do I reach the bottom of the shaft than the first zombie announces its presence with a venomous hiss. It begins worming its way through the narrowed opening as I hastily retreat against the elevator shaft's back wall, shrugging off my pack and rifle. Entering the dark, confined space on its hands and knees, the creature thrusts its rotting head directly into the path of my ditch blade, whistling through the air in a shadowy arc. The honed steel edge slices through decayed flesh, scarcely slowed by rotting gristle and disease-riddled bone. The menacing sounds are cut short as the zombie's head is abruptly cleaved from the rest of its body. The decapitated corpse tumbles back out through the opening and onto the paved parking lot outside. I kick the severed head out after it.

It’s about as easy a kill as one could hope for; and I repeat this exercise four more times before Joshua and Tracy have joined me at the bottom of the elevator shaft. I take advantage of a momentary lull in this game of whack-a-zombie to hand the ditch blade off to Tracy, drop to my knees and quickly scramble through the opening.

Armed with a pistol in one hand and a pipe bomb in the other, I emerge into the chilly morning air and land in a crouch on the paved surface of the parking area. I'm directly underneath the safehouse building and am immediately confronted by another infected, stumbling towards me with its arms outstretched. There's barely enough time to bring the pistol to bear as the surging creature forces itself upon me, crowding me up against the debris spilling out of the elevator shaft. With its mouth agape, the zombie swallows the Colt's barrel; blacked teeth grating noisily over the weapon's metal slide. It's dripping maw full of polished steel, the infected is emitting an odd gargling sound when I pull the trigger. Rotting jowls explode as the zombie's oral cavity rapidly fills with hot, expanding gases. The .45 caliber projectile plows through the creature's soft palate and erupts from the back of its neck, trailing a fleshy ribbon of sinew and shattered vertebrae. I fall over backwards as the mutilated creature crumples on top of me. It's bloody discharge reverses course, showering down upon my face. Blinking the pulpy mess out of my eyes, I roll the corpse off my chest and stagger back to my feet.

I discharge the weapon three more times before I've created enough breathing space to arm the pipe bomb. With its fuse sputtering and the alarm piercing the cool morning air, I dart around to the other side of the central support column, ready to let the device fly. Instead, I immediately skid to a halt, frozen in mid-throw. Transfixed, I regard a phalanx of zombies directly in front of me, filing into the smashed entrance of the building's central stairwell.

It is not the sight of the creatures that stops me in my tracks, but rather the unnerving sensation of my mind folding back upon itself. My vision blurs and I feel my legs buckle underneath me. Suddenly, I am no longer alone, regarding a multitude of others. Rather, I am the multitude itself, looking back upon a solitary man as he crumples to his knees, swaying unsteadily. Something hard and metallic falls from his right hand and clatters to the pavement. Awkwardly, the figure reaches out to the concrete support column to steady himself. He rises tentatively back to his feet and I see he is holding another object in his opposite hand; something cylindrical and adorned with a tiny, sputtering flame.

Imagine trying to thread a needle, viewed backwards through a mirror, while hanging upside down. That's sort of what it feels like as I struggle to focus on that cylindrical object and somehow will this man to heave it out toward the open street behind us.

As the pipe bomb sails over our heads, we wheel about and scramble after it, drawn inexorably by its piercing alarm. As the distance between us and the solitary figure lengthens, the vertigo returns, my connection to the horde weakens and suddenly I find that I am myself again, standing alone at the corner of the support column. Shaken, I retrieve the dropped pistol from the pavement and stumble back around to the opposite side. The last I see of the pipe bomb is it arcing out into the street, dozens upon dozens of zombies chasing after it.

I find Joshua standing outside the smashed elevator opening, assisting Tracy down from the narrowed opening at the apex of the debris pile. Our packs and weapons are already on the pavement, scattered about at Josh's feet. We quickly gather up our gear and, amidst the howls and guttural yelps of the nearby infected, run in a crouch to the low cinderblock wall ringing the periphery of the parking area. There we kneel and peer over the edge as creatures continue to streak past the building, sprinting towards the sound of the pipe bomb's beeping alarm. We're cowering there when the explosive device detonates on the other side of the building.

And the pattern repeats itself with now familiar results. The bomb's actual effects on the creatures closest to it are unseen from our vantage point, but the thundering boom draws forth even more undead; suddenly materializing from behind every building, along every street and around every sign and obstacle within sight. They issue forth like a swarm of maggots, drawn to the sound of the explosion as if it where the rancid stench of carrion meat.

By now, I'm used to the spell a pipe bomb casts upon the undead. But my young companions react in mute astonishment as the creatures charge right past our position. A few of the infected even tumble over the low cider block wall we're hiding behind; some mere feet from where we crouch. It is as if we are invisible; these zombies utterly ignore us. They simply pick themselves up off the pavement and continue their mindless charge towards the explosion's point of origin.

We wait in the shadows until the stream of undead slows and then finally ceases altogether. Behind us and to the west, we hear the gathered horde angrily groaning and hissing on the other side of the building. With a quick tap on each of their shoulders, I nod to Tracy and Josh. We vault over the wall and run east.
Last edited by majorhavoc on Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:55 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by Odd Man Out » Sat Jan 30, 2016 6:24 pm

thank you very much sir.
no more Mr. Nice guy....

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by vthunter » Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:01 am

Wow, sir, what a treat and the closest to instant gratification I'll probably ever get!!

Similar to others, the game of LIFE kinda took me away from this community for awhile, but I hope to be back catching up on all the happenings & the info that ZS members contribute freely for others benefit.

Major, thank you again. I've said it before and it's probably old news but the work & time you expend is sincerely appreciated!! I wish I had a modicum of the talent you & other authors display here, for our enjoyment, for no more than these thanks and the supportive comments from your readers. It's amazing how we invest in the characters you develop and want to see them survive & live on...

Carry on, dude!!

a fan, Vt
:clownshoes:

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by Dragon80 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:10 pm

Nice!
BOB also used for backpacking
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=114606

GHB dedicated thread in need of serious updating!!!
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=112108

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All is Lost, Part 42

Post by majorhavoc » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:43 pm

Running in the early morning daylight, it takes a little less than ten minutes to reach the grassy field I crossed last evening, just after emerging from the river trail. Yesterday, with the last of the evening light fading all around me and moving cautiously, it felt like a much longer distance. Retracing the same route in the light of day, it doesn't seem nearly so far.

Only after we've sprinted down the wooded spur trail and emerge onto the open river walk do we slow to a halt. Feathery traces of mist linger over the gently flowing current, sparkling in the morning sun's slanting rays. The last traces of fall's bright colors on the opposite river bank reflect off the water's shimmering surface. For the first several minutes none of us speak; we stand doubled over, hands on our knees, struggling to collect our breath.

“Jeez-louise, Bill,” Tracy declares when she finally straightens up. “You run pretty damn well for someone who's ...”

“Someone who's what?” I challenge between gasping breaths. “Who's wearing combat boots?”

“No, someone who's … you know ...”

Me, with a hint of exasperation: “Oh. I see. You mean pretty good for someone who's so old. Ancient even?”

“I didn't mean it like that. You're not ancient, Bill. Just, you know ... mature,” Tracy insists, backpedalling. “I wasn't expecting you to be able to pour it on like that.”

“How do you think I've survived so long in all this horseshit?” I counter, gesturing to our surroundings. “By stumbling around with a walker and shaking my cane at the damn beasties?”

Josh lays an arm across the young woman's shoulder. “Here honey, let me help you get that foot out of your mouth.” Then to me: “All Tracy meant is it's impressive to see anyone twice our age do a 10 minute mile. With a full pack, that satchel of bombs you got there and a machine gun slung across your back. And,” Josh adds, pointing to my feet. “Wearing combat boots.”

“Closer to three times your age,” I grumble. “But who's counting?”

After removing my beret, I drop to my belly directly at the water's edge and plunge my head into the river, washing the filth and diseased blood off my face. Scrubbing vigorously, I wince when my fingers encounter my swollen and misshapen nose. Definitely broken, I conclude, recalling the violence with which the pipe bomb at the top of the elevator shaft slammed me into the corner stairwell door.

The grim business of dividing up our supplies comes next. Tracy had to pack so quickly, a little bit of everyone's gear ended up in each of our packs. Much of what was salvaged from the safehouse originally belonged to Andy and Liza, and deciding who gets what is heart wrenching. Now that we've collected our wits, the loss of their companions is finally catching up with these two.

“You know,” Tracy begins, staring pensively at a woolen watch cap I recall Andy wearing last night. “We wouldn't have to worry so much about who gets what if the three of us just stuck - “

“- Don't.” I caution. “Don't start with that, Tracy. I already told you: I'm not coming with you.”

“But why?” Tracy pleads, her voice cracking. “I-it's just that it's only Josh and me now. And you seem to know so much about these things … how to fight them.”

“I thought I knew how to fight them,” I advise. “I'm not so sure anymore. Something's been happening to me and it's getting worse. Back there, when I was alone on the other side of the building; for a minute it almost seemed like I was one of … I wasn't myself. I don't think it's safe for you two to be around me.”

Josh now: “What are you talking about? The safest place on the planet right now is wherever the hell you are, Bill. Whatever spot you're standing on is the place where zombies go to die.” Then, more pensively: “Listen, it's just that losing Liza and Andy is tough. You have to understand: we were a team. We had each other's backs.”

“We've all lost something,” I concede. It occurs to me that when this whole zombie business first started, I couldn't actually say that; there hadn't been anything – or anyone - in my life for a long time. It took until the world around me started unraveling to discover a group of people who, against my better instincts, I grew to care for. Who gave me a purpose in life. And in losing them, I've lost that sense of purpose; that sense of belonging.

“All we can do is try to move forward; in whatever way makes sense to each of us,” I continue. “For me, that means getting as far away from Cape May as I can. All that place means to me now is something I thought I had and now is gone.”

Tracy, sniffling: “Do you think you'll ever be able to put enough distance between you and whatever it is that you've lost?”

“I doubt it. But I have to try.”
Last edited by majorhavoc on Mon Feb 08, 2016 9:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by thewickerman » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:38 pm

Welcome back, Major, and thank you very much.

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All is Lost, Part 43

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:54 pm

I spend several long minutes standing there, gazing at the bend in the river path where Josh and Tracy passed from view. Part of me yearns to join them; cast my fortune alongside theirs. A far more cynical part of my psyche wins out and I elect to keep company with a more familiar companion; my own brooding solitude.

The rest of the morning is a solemn march along the park trail, following the river's listless flow to the northwest. Alone with my unsettled thoughts, I reflect that of all the disorienting encounters with the undead over the past three days, this morning's episode was the most disturbing of all. For a few moments back there; I simply wasn't myself.

That's why I pushed Joshua and Tracy away, I tell myself. Sooner or later, I'd freeze up at some critical moment and get them killed.

The only upside to this unsettling bond that I seem to be developing with the undead is it includes an uncanny, if not always reliable, ability to detect their presence nearby; even before I can see, hear or smell them. It presents itself as the vaguest of sensations, a faint whisper of unnatural chill; snaking its way up the spine. Like a cold and unwelcome draft, something that might go unnoticed if one isn't paying close attention.

But I do pay attention, and that morning after parting ways with Joshua and Tracy; I experience eight episodes of this odd sensation. Each time it occurs, I soon thereafter encounter a zombie along the trail, lurking around a bend or standing hidden behind a tree. Armed with fore-knowledge of the creatures' presence, I'm prepared for each of them, a distinct advantage in the brief, violent skirmishes that follow.

The saddest of these encounters occurs around midday. I'm walking along a particularly straight stretch of riverbank with clear lines of sight ahead and behind. When the icy sensation again presents itself; I'm at a loss; there's no evidence of danger anywhere in sight, no place along the trail for it even to be hiding. But then I notice the barest hint of a side path leading away from the rivertrail, into a dense thicket of heavy brush. Only the subtle trampling of the undergrowth makes the tract discernable. Looming above it is a dark grove of oak and poplar trees, their branches densely intertwined like a vast and perplexing knot, waiting to be unravelled.

I want to ignore this feeling; just move on. But some vague instinct compels me to investigate. In that dark tangle of wooded growth I sense something waiting for me. Something I'm meant to see. Following the faint path, I duck my head underneath a low hanging branch and push my way into the shadowy undergrowth.

At once the brush and tree branches close in all around me; skeletal fingers grasping at my arms and legs. With my forearms raised protectively in front of my face, I plunge deeper into the gloom. And almost immediately I stumble into a tiny clearing encircled by a thick stand of black oak. Pitched in the center is a nylon backpacking tent. Only a pale wash of sunlight filters down though web of tree limbs above. It just barely dapples the surface of the tent's dark green rainfly. Fifteen feet in any direction and this encampment would be practically invisible to the wandering eye.

Something rustles inside of the tent, accompanied by soft, wet smacking sounds. I tighten my grip on the ditchblade and cautiously work my way around to the shelter's zippered entrance. With my weapon poised in my right hand like a spear, I bend over and ease the zipper open. Parting the mesh screening, I discover two corpses inside, both bound up tightly in sleeping bags zipped up to the neck.

One of cocooned bodies lies deathly still, but the larger of the two is very much animated. Even with its arms and legs immobilized within the sleeping bag, the zombie is still making good use of its head and mouth as it methodically gnaws and tears at the other corpse's exposed head.

Most of the other camper's face has already been chewed off. A woman judging from the body's smaller stature and the shoulder-length auburn hair. What's left it, anyway. The feasting creature has worked its way through the lacrimal and ethmoid bones, as well as most of the nasal concha. Bloody and exposed sinal cavities are about all that's left this poor woman's visage. The rest of her body is tightly bound; the sleeping bag twisted around her narrow frame like a towel wrung dry. In the tight spirals of nylon fabric I intuit this doomed woman's final moments of terror and agony. Trapped in the narrow confines of the tent and frantically writhing within her sleeping bag, she tried and failed to twist away from her assailant.

I'm brought to mind of my old army days; those miserable M-1949 sleeping bags. Fart sacks, we called them; unnervingly claustrophobic with their lace up liners and those damned metal zippers that were forever jamming at the most inopportune moments. I try to imagine being trapped in one, arms pinned to my sides; defenseless, as a ravenous monster bites and tears at my face.

A twig snaps under my boot and suddenly the zombie is aware of my presence. It's unsatisfactory meal of dead flesh instantly forgotten, the infected creature lunges for my ankles with an enthusiastic grunt. It awkwardly pursues me as I back away, worming its way through the unzippered door. I wait until its head is clear of the fabric confines of the tent and then spear its throat with the ditchblade. The creature emits a wet gargling noise as it thrashes ineffectually. Twisting the handle, I work the blade in between cervical vertebrae and lever apart the last strands of supraspinous ligament and finally the spinal cord itself. The zombie expires with a sputtering hiss.

Steeling myself for the grim task that remains, I grasp each corpse in turn and drag it out into the open air. I lay both alongside a crude fire ring just outside the tent. As I set the second corpse down alongside the first, I observe a tiny wisp of smoke wafting from the powdery ash. Holding my palm just above its dusty surface, I detect the faintest hint of warmth lingering in the embers.

These people set up camp here just last night, I realize. Had I not turned off the trail for the safehouse, I might well have encountered them; alive.

Entering the tent on my hands and knees, I'm soon sticky with the partially coagulated blood pooled on the shelter's fabric floor. Choking back a wretch, I quickly grab the two packs by their haul loops and begin retreating towards the tent door. I'm halfway out when I spy a small leather bound book stuffed into a mesh pocket sewn into one of the tent's sidewalls. Without knowing exactly why, I fish it out and slip the volume into my coat pocket.

The two packs are absolutely huge and it soon becomes apparent that these ill-fated campers were carrying an absurd amount of equipment. In addition to the tent, fly, ground cloth and sleeping bags, these two were equipped with a small camping stove, complete with extra fuel, a cook set and utensils. A coffee press, spice kit, measuring cups and a folding spatula. They even have what appears to be a collapsible pasta strainer. A goddamned pasta strainer, I marvel. No fewer than three flashlights, two headlamps, a couple of pen knives, a hatchet, folding saw, two sets of telescoping hiking poles, a pair of cell phone chargers and what appears to be a small GPS unit, along with a third wall charger. Air mattresses and self inflating camp pillows, water bottles and way, way too much extra clothing. But very little in the way of food and no weapons whatsoever.

It's the end of days, I reflect. And these people where packed like through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Which wouldn't be a such bad idea if the other hikers weren't trying to eat you.

Sorting through the extravagant collection of camping gear, I reject almost everything except for their meager food stash, a couple of batteries extracted from one of the flashlights, and another pair of wool socks. I also consolidate the contents of the couple's waterbottles. I take several swigs to wash down the next dose of the cephalexin for my infected my left hand.

Feeling particularly ghoulish after pawing through this doomed couple's personal effects, I work my way back through the dense undergrowth. Returning to the river trail, I kneel along the muddy bank and begin furiously scrubbing my hands and sleeves. The doomed couple's blood comes off easily enough, but the nagging feeling that I've crossed some moral threshold by pilfering the dead isn't so easy to wash away.

Sitting there on the river bank, I withdraw the leather bound book I retreived from the tent and crack it open. It's a journal, penned in a crisp, feminine hand. I immediately skip to the final entry.

Oct 8th.
I know I shouldn't look at it this way, but I can't help but feel like this is a grand adventure Bobby and I are on. I never got along that well with my
parents and Bobby absolutely hated his. Is it so wrong that I'm already over their deaths? They didn't want us to be together anyway. But I always
knew I'm destined to live the rest of my life with Bobby. Maybe they all got what they deserved by trying to get in the way of fate. Love conquers all!

We had hoped to make it to the Clayton safehouse by nightfall, but we ran out of daylight. We're not getting nearly as far each day as we'd hoped. Maybe
we're bringing too much stuff? Bobby says we need it all, but I think it's slowing us down.

We should be safe enough camping here along the river. We've pitched our tent behind some really thick bushes. I went back to the water's edge to fill up
the water bottles before it got too dark. Looking back it's really hard to see anything's back there. You can hardly see our campfire at all.

I wish Bobby would relax; he's been acting funny ever since we had a really close call on that bridge we crossed this morning. We got surprised by these two
zombies that were right behind a wrecked car. If I didn't know better I'd say those things were hiding there, waiting to ambush us. But of course that's
impossible - zombies can't think. I thought I did a pretty good job rolling that one zombie off of Bobby. It was pretty touch and go there until we managed
to push both of them over the side of the bridge. It must have a 100 feet before they hit the water. Hah! Trying doing the back stroke after that, you freaks!

It's funny because usually it's me that has a hard time getting over close calls like that. But this time it's Bobby that's been totally in a funk the rest of the day.

Well, he's sleeping now. He wouldn't even let me spoon with him. Usually I can get him to relax, even a little frisky ☺ just by snuggling, but tonight he
practically shoved me away. Said he needed his space. And then he turned his back to me and zipped up his sleeping bag tight. Can you believe it? Talk about
the cold shoulder! Hope he's in a better mood tomorrow. Well, I should get some sleep too. Assuming I even can fall asleep. Bobby sure is snoring weird.
Never heard him make that kind of noise before. Oh well; tomorrow's another day!


The rest of the journal is, of course, blank pages. A life's story never to be continued. Looking up, I regard the placid river. Implacable, indifferent to all this suffering. A piece of flotsam drifts by, spinning lazily in the current. It's a child's playtoy, some sort of inflatable swim ring with a dolphin's head. As I watch, more and more objects float past my solitary perch on the water's edge. A picnic cooler, then a red plastic gas can. Here comes a Santa Claus; one of those life-sized, blow-molded plastic lawn ornaments. Half of jolly old Saint Nick's face is rimmed in green algae; he's been in the water for some time now. But he's still beaming that shit-eating holiday smile. Ho-ho-ho. Merry Christmas to all! And to all: a good night!

A silent, grim record of humanity parades past me, written in the prose of floating detritus. Dejected, I rise stiffly to my feet, flip the journal into the river and watch it sink from view, lost in the dark current. I rejoin the river trail and continue my trek downstream. Adrift in my own tide of despair.
Last edited by majorhavoc on Mon Feb 08, 2016 9:21 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by TheWarriorMax » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:38 pm

Damn that's cold - hiding the fact you were bit. Understandable though.

I love the scope of human emotions and experience in this story - so believable.
"And how can a man die better,
than facing fearful odds,
for the ashes of his fathers,
and the temples of his gods".

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by D_Man » Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:37 pm

Great update.

Thank you!
To strive,
To seek,
To find, But not to yield.
~Tennyson

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by vthunter » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:10 pm

Superb, Major, another couple of great passages!! Very realistic on the camp!!

Looking forward to the next installment.

Vt

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All is Lost, Part 44

Post by majorhavoc » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:36 pm

I reach the western terminus of the river trail in the early afternoon. Rounding a bend, I suddenly encounter a pair of heavy wooden posts rising up from the trail's crushed stone surface. And just beyond; an asphalt parking lot. I'm genuinely shocked; as though I somehow didn't expect this pathway to ever end. As if I didn't want it to.

Fifty yards away and well to my left is a single story cinderblock structure, capped with a shallow peaked roof with deep overhangs on all four sides. It's a public bathroom building, abutting the parking lot's southern edge. Directly opposite me and almost 100 yards away, the far end of the parking area funnels onto an access road. It sweeps left, up a rise and past the river park's entrance sign: a large stained wooden panel set atop a flagstone foundation. It identifies the trail system I've been following for the better part of two days: 'Salmon River Pedestrian Trail'. In slightly smaller lettering below it: 'Step Into New Jersey's Scenic Splendor.'

I'm below grade so I can't actually see beyond that rise, but I know there's a road up there, just past the park's entrance sign. A broadly spaced picket of telephone poles marches past the park entrance, receding towards the western horizon. There's also the matter of the zombies up there; I've learned they now favor the roads. I count no less than thirteen forlorn figures arrayed along that crested rise, shuffling beneath the telephone poles and moving steadily southeast. They're too distant to take note of me, as long as I don't make any noise.

To my immediate right is a map kiosk, just a few feet off the trail. It's a shallow glass cabinet hung between two stout timbers, topped by a miniature version of the bathroom building's peaked roof. Stepping off the trail, I investigate the map cabinet more closely. Beneath the glass panel are posters warning of Lyme disease and the need to clean up after your pet. But the display area is dominated by a large color-coded map portraying the entire Salmon River Trail system. It's an impressively lengthy greenway. Orienting myself with the marked features and the distance scale on the map's legend, I estimate that I've traversed close to twenty of its thirty-one mile total length.

Two thoughts occur to me as I turn back to face the sprawling and eerily empty parking area. One is that I feel dangerously exposed standing out in the open. The second is that for the first time in the better part of two days, I have absolutely no idea where the hell I'm going, or even what I intend to do.

I now understand the true purpose served by following this winding river trail. It's afforded me the luxury of not having to decide a damn thing. With no real plan for the future, I've allowed myself to be urged along by geography, much like the dark river itself. Mindlessly, I've followed the path of least resistance through a blighted and forsaken landscape. Now I'm faced with the harsh truth that I don't have a clue what to do next.

Last night at the Clayton safe house, I told those four that I was planning on getting around the major cities, hole up for the winter someplace north. Did I even mean that? I decide no; it was nothing more than a convenient lie. Something to explain why I was rejecting their offer to join them. Why I was passing up a chance to choose human companionship over solitude. Over something much worse.

I regard the bathroom building; it'll at least be a place to get out of sight for a few moments. A source of cover while I figure out what the hell I'm going to do. Warming to the idea, I also consider that it'll have sinks and mirrors in there, hopefully a supply of toilet paper. I need to get a better look at my broken nose. Pack it with tissue and stabilize what I suspect is a deviated septum.

Hunched over and moving quickly, I trot diagonally across the parking lot. A trio of overlapping bicycles are leaning up against the near side of the bathroom structure. One adult-sized model with knobby tires, and a pair of children's bicycles. One of the smaller two-wheelers is bright green and the other, parked directly behind the adult model, is pink with glittering tassels and what looks like a teddy bear and a pinwheel attached to the handlebars.

I reach the northeast corner of the building and flatten myself against the cool cinder block exterior. Out of habit, I approach the men's entrance. There's no actual door, just an eight foot wide gap in the wall. There I pause, straining to detect any indication that the men's room might be occupied. But I perceive no noise or movement, save that of a weathered plastic bag swept along the concrete apron by a chill northern wind. Satisfied, I step through the gap and am immediately confronted with another cinder block wall. It's a privacy screen; requiring visitors to follow a short zigzag course into the bathroom area itself.

After negotiating the privacy screen, I'm again struck by how dim and unwelcoming building interiors have become, even at midday, now that artificial light is no longer available. I find the space as dark and still as a crypt. Each of my footfalls echo off the bare concrete floor and the cold cinder block walls. The only natural illumination penetrating the gloom is the indirect daylight coming around the privacy screen behind me, and from a slatted ventilation window at the far end of the bathroom, set high against the south wall. Flicking on my flashlight, I survey the interior. It's typical for a public facility built on a tight government budget and according to standardized, uninspired building plan. No doubt drawn up sometime in the 1950's, if not earlier. Above me I see the construction is literally barebones; there's no actual ceiling up there, just an exposed web of wooden trusses supporting the roof itself.

On the left hand wall is a row of four stainless steel sinks. Above each: a grimy, unadorned mirror bolted to the wall. Opposite the sinks are four porcelain urinals hanging off the right hand wall, shared with the women's room on the other side. Further down, the urinals give way to a row of three enclosed toilet stalls.

I approach the mirror hanging above the closest sink and stop dead in my tracks when my reflection swings into view. The whole area around the bridge of my nose is swollen and mottled purple and deep blue. The bruising extends all the way across the tops of my cheekbones and bleeds into the puffy lower lid underneath each eye. I look like the losing side of a badly mismatched prize fight.

I look like a monster, I think, recoiling. Were those two just being polite this morning; not saying anything? Or were they too afraid? God knows I'd be.

It's apparent that the nasal structure is fractured and badly askew. Setting the ditch blade, pipe bomb satchel and my backpack on the floor next to the sink, I reach up to my face with both hands, lace my fingers together and plant a thumb on either side of the misshapen bulge at the top of my nose. Sucking in my breath, I set my jaw and in one swift movement, brutally shove the bridge back into position. It realigns with an audible 'click' and my face explodes in pain. My eyes are instantly awash in tears. “Sonnofabitch!” I squeak, startled to hear my voice sounding more like a high-pitched cartoon character than an enraged war veteran. “Jesus that smarts!

Blinking through watering eyes, I try to get a better look at my self-administered closed nasal reduction. But I have to abandon that idea because blood suddenly comes gushing out of both nostrils. I've managed to dislodge a clot up there. Pinching my nose severely, I stagger to the first bathroom stall, pawing at the door. Cursing myself for not having tissue at the ready, I yank it open and find the dispenser inside has been smashed open and the toilet paper missing. The other two stalls are exactly the same; the precious contents pilfered by looters weeks ago.

They were actually talking about the widening TP shortage before the news stations went off the air. The penultimate sign of the apocalypse, I reflect grimly. First came the undead, spreading fear in the streets. Then the power failed, plunging cities into darkness. But we knew that the end was well and truly nigh when we ran out of a means to wipe our asses. This is how mighty civilizations fall.

Desperate, I stagger out of the men's room, blinking in the bright daylight. I hasten to the women's entrance and pause just outside. Again probing the interior with my senses, both God- and viral-given, I detect nothing except empty stillness within.  My cause is becoming urgent because now that I’ve stemmed the blood flow through my nostrils, it’s beginning to fill my sinus cavities and back up into my throat.  I’m starting to choke on my own blood.  I plunge back into the darkened building on the women's side.
 
At least my eyes have stopped watering. My left hand still clamped down hard on my nostrils, I quickly take stock of the women's bathroom. It's largely a mirror image of the men's layout. Sinks on the right this time, toilets on the left. The same lattice of open roof trusses are visible above, and another of those slatted ventilation windows set high along the back wall. But instead of four urinals, I find here in the women's room a row of six enclosed toilet stalls. Twice as many chances of finding tissue paper; I should have come in here first.

I frantically check the women's toilets, yanking open each stall door in quick succession, but one after the other, they reveal themselves to be empty of TP.

I'm in front the sixth and final stall, not really expecting this one to be any different than the others. But as I practically yank the door off its hinges, I'm also not expecting to encounter a grotesquely obese zombie filling the space inside. Rising from its perch on the toilet, it towers over six and a half feet, belching a gaseous stench of fetid rot and decay. The creature is dressed in a voluminous sleeveless plaid shirt. A massive gut spills out from the unbuttoned lower half, oozing with open lesions. Great flanks of rancid skin and dripping puss cover the thing's arms. The creature's dungarees and noticeably soiled underwear are coiled limp around trunk-like ankles. Male genitalia must be down there somewhere, but everything from the navel to the knees is hidden in successive rolls of decaying fat.

The creature emits another foul smelling belch and I take a step back, expecting it to follow. But while the gargantuan zombie is struggling mightily, it stubbornly remains inside the bathroom stall. I realize this thing is actually stuck in there, confined to the porcelain throne upon which it took its last earthly shit. I've already unholstered my pistol but resist shooting it, knowing what will happen if I do. These boomer zombies explode like a biological bomb, showering everything in the immediate area with hideous green bile. A substance that immediately attracts any and all zombies within a 500 yard radius.

This one's growing increasingly agitated and beginning to shake the stall to pieces. If I back up to just inside the bathroom entrance, I could shoot it where it is and then rush back to the men's bathroom. And hope none of the attracted zombies spill into the men's side of the building. A safer course of action would be to wait and see if it extricates itself from the toilet stall. Then I could push it out into the parking lot, pop it out there and retreat back inside the building to wait out the inevitable horde.

I'm still deciding how to proceed when the boomer zombie does something wholly unexpected. It vomits.

There's just no other way to describe it. It draws back its bloated, pustule-ridden head and opens its mouth wide for what I expect to be another gaseous belch. Instead, a torrent of foul green liquid rockets out of that orifice and drenches me from head to foot. I'm immediately plunged back to near blindness, the stinging bile occluding my vision far more effectively than watery tears of pain. Utterly shocked, I reflexively squeeze the Colt's trigger. At almost point blank range, the .45 caliber slug has no difficulty finding the creature's bloated exterior. It instantly explodes in a shower of rancid entrails, a dozen cartwheeling body parts and yet more boomer bile. I'm just beginning to wipe the stinging mess out of my eyes when I hear the gathering roar of the approaching horde.

I can barely see; the world all around me appears as if viewed through an oily green film. So I reduce the equation to the simplest terms possible. That block of light over there; that's the bathroom entrance. The creatures will have to come through that to get at me. It's a bottle neck and they'll be silhouetted by the daylight. Unslinging my M-16, I drop to a knee and retrieve the three rifle magazines from the cargo pockets of my pants, as well as the two spare mags for the Colt pistol. I'll work the rifle first and when that's out of ammunition, I'll switch to the pistol. After that, I'll swing away with -

It's then that I remember the ditch blade, lying useless on the floor of the men's bathroom, along with the backpack. And the satchel containing my last pipe bomb. They might as well be a hundred miles away. Grimly, I shoulder the rifle and turn to face the bathroom entrance as the first creatures arrive. I'm still largely blind, but judging from those surging shadows spanning the width of the entrance, they're spilling in three abreast. I can't miss.
Last edited by majorhavoc on Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:39 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by independantGeorge » Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:45 am

its a majorhavoc marathon :) Thanks for continuing the story!
sent from my walther PPQ

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by selen » Thu Feb 11, 2016 6:49 am

Thanks for the update :D Why didn't Bill just run away from the obese zombie?

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by TheWarriorMax » Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:10 pm

selen wrote:Thanks for the update :D Why didn't Bill just run away from the obese zombie?
It happened too fast. While it takes done time to read the segment, the events happen in the space of a few heartbeats. Door opens, Bill is stunned, it retched, then vomits. Game over.
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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by vthunter » Fri Feb 12, 2016 7:03 pm

Dang, I really love this story!!

Good way to start the slightly chilly weekend we're expected to get up here in the Northeast.

Nothing like a retching zombie to, honestly, warm the cockles of one's heart. :mrgreen:

Hoping you might have more, Major, those cliff-hangers can get the pulse going & the blood pressure rising.

How the hell is Bill gonna get out of this, sorry for the pun, tight spot?!?!

This treat beats chocolate all to heck for Valentine's Day!! :lol: :lol:

Vt

P.S. You had me chuckling right good on the "stopped 'dead' in his tracks..." line. Nice touch, sir, nice touch!! :clap:

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by majorhavoc » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:19 pm

A few quick notes:

1) Sorry for the long absence. Life intervened.

2) No guarantees how long this latest outburst will last. Things actually settled down a few months ago, but I found I had lost that creative spark, that connection with my muse, or whatever you want to call it that made writing so easy in months past. These latest four installments are largely drawn from material I had written almost a year ago, but wasn’t happy with. I revisited it recently and discovered I had a few new thoughts on how to rework it. No up to my personal standards, but I went ahead and posted it. Figured maybe getting it out there will help break the logjam. It might not, so no one should get their hopes up.

3) Know that whatever the reasons for delays in updating this story, it’s not for lack of story ideas. There’s a whole coherent plot to this tale and it does eventually come to a conclusion. It’s just the mechanics of communicating that vision that have been tough lately.

4) With regard to zombies that vomit magical green puke that draws in other infected. When I first started this story, the Left 4 Dead video game was still fairly popular. I could count on players instantly recognizing and accepting certain zombie attributes. Suffice it to say that this is what boomer zombies actually do if they’re not dealt with quickly. In this story, Bill is discovering that only now. There’s a lot more weird shit out there that’s coming.

5) Finally, at this point I’m so far removed from the original game that in certain areas I’m going seriously off script. That might bother purists, but I always knew there wasn’t enough there in the source material to sustain a real story. After over a quarter of a million words, I think maybe I’ve earned the right to call Bill and his strange odyssey my own creation now.

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Last edited by majorhavoc on Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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All is Lost, Part 45

Post by majorhavoc » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:27 pm

I'm on one knee and firing in short, controlled bursts. The bodies are piling up at the entrance like cord wood, but they keep coming and coming. Old muscle memory reasserts itself as I'm brought to mind of the frenzied fire-reload-fire cycles that characterized some of our more vicious firefights in Vietnam. Guys to my right, guys to my left. Most of us hit, some multiple times. But you just keep it up because if you stop to even think about it, you're already dead. All you can do is hope the other side runs out of bad guys before you run out of bullets.

Only now I'm all alone. Three times, the M-16's bolt locks back, inert. With smoke pouring out of the ejection port, the spent magazine clatters to floor without my even being aware of ejecting it. I'm only slightly more conscious of my left hand sweeping the next mag off the floor, slamming it home and slapping the bolt release. With each successive reload, the next wave of creatures advances a little further into the bathroom before I can bring the gun to bear. The onslaught shows no signs of abating.

I'm in a sinking boat and the water is pouring in faster than I can bail it out.

The fourth time the M-16 falls silent, I cast it aside, unholster the pistol and begin firing point blank. They're falling right at my feet now. When I reload the pistol, I gather the third and final pistol magazine, jam it between my teeth and stand up. My vision becomes clearer as I blink the last of the boomer bile out of my eyes. I back up as I continue firing, putting precious distance between myself and my adversaries. Just enough so that when I empty the Colt for a second time, there's a sufficient interval to seat the final magazine, get the pistol back into battery and resume firing. These are my final seven rounds; I squeeze off three in the blink of an eye, felling the advancing creatures just in time.

Only after I expend my last bullet do I consider I might have better used it on myself. I'm backed up against one of the toilet stalls. Jettisoning the Colt, I unsheath my knife and retreat into the tiny enclosure, pulling the door closed after me. No sooner does it latch than a wall of frenzied undead crashes against it. The whole structure of interconnected stalls shudders with the impact. The bathroom now completely filled with zombies, the raucous mayhem is nearly deafening. Howls, shouts, groans and hisses echo off the stone cold walls and floor.

Some of the creatures just outside my refuge stumble in the mad crush and fall to the floor. Most of them are quickly trampled under an avalanche of churning feet. But two manage to find the gap between the floor and the bottom edge of the partition walls. They immediately begin crawling underneath. One advances a half a foot into the toilet stall's interior and proceeds no farther; its legs pinned by the dozens of undead just on the other side of the partition. But the other zombie manages to rip itself free of its ruined pelvis and drag a severed torso all the way into the confined space, pulling itself along on bloodied elbows. The exposed spinal column of the frenzied creature whips back and forth like the tail of an expectant predator, closing in on the kill.

I climb onto the toilet seat to elude the prone creature's grasping claws. There I kneel, afraid to stand erect and reveal myself to the surging multitude over the top of the partitions. Suddenly a ragged crease emerges along the stall door’s inner surface. It lengthens until it spans diagonally from the upper hinge point on the right, to the lock bolt midway on the door’s left side.  Stubbornly, the door hinges and lock bolt cling to their respective mounts, but the compromised triangular section suddenly folds inwards.   A pair of zombies comes spilling halfway through that wedge of space, their outstretched arms grasping and pawing at me.

With both my options and my tiny refuge rapidly diminishing, I look up at the darkened interior of the roof structure directly above; the roof trusses and their web of wooden cross members. Gambling all, I rise from my crouch and plant a foot on the chromed flush column protruding from the bathroom wall. As the toilet stall door finally gives way and the entire row of partition walls begins collapsing, I lunge skyward.
Last edited by majorhavoc on Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:42 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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All is Lost, Part 46

Post by majorhavoc » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:35 pm

Twenty one years ago, I was putting up a storm window outside my second floor bedroom window when the ladder I was standing on slid out from underneath me. One second I was on solid footing; the next I was dangling from the sill. The inner sash was wide open and all I had to do was hoist myself up and crawl to safety.

I couldn't do it; I was too out of shape. As the strength ebbed from my trembling arms and hands I realized how far removed I was from my fighting prime, when I could have hauled myself through that window with a 70 pound pack on my back. But at age 46, I had no choice but to let go. I ended up breaking both legs and messing up my right knee. I spent the next eight weeks recovering, first in a VA hospital and then in a rehabilitation center where I made life positively hell for my physical therapist.

Today at 67, I grasp the roof truss with both hands and haul myself upwards. I don't quite have the strength to hoist myself solely with my arms, but it's an easy swing at the waist and I've got my left heel hooked onto a crossmember. Followed by my right and then with a final grunt, I lever my hips up and onto the truss.

I'm lying atop the wooden beam, my arms and legs wrapped around it in a desperate embrace. I’m looking down upon the swirling mass of infected beneath me, mere feet away. That's when it happens again; that mind-altering shift in perspective. This time I resist and my field of vision flickers between the surging crowd of undead below, and the man clinging to the rafters directly above. My point of view, my outlook, my very being darts back and forth like two radio signals, maddeningly close in frequency, tuning in and out. One instant all I feel is fear; my own life in mortal jeopardy. The next: primal rage; a seething, festering anger that this thing, this being, this one ... continues to elude us. We must ... We must … destroy it. Wreck it. Ruin it. Wipe it from all existence. It vexes us. It torments us, it … lives. It dares to live. Life … all life … is agony. How it burns! Life is … intolerable!

I wrestle free my mind and gather my feet beneath me. Shakily I stand erect in the trusses. I shouldn't try moving just yet, I still fighting off the vertigo. But I have no choice: some of the creatures are starting to scramble onto the sinks and the toilets themselves. Incredibly, they're beginning to reach up towards the roof trusses from those elevated perches.

Moving awkwardly through the triangular spaces between the wooden crossmembers, I work my way towards the back wall until I'm standing directly in front of the slatted ventilation window. A few hard kicks sends the shattered frame sailing out onto the grassy lawn at the back of the restroom building.

As I begin easing myself through the opening, I take one last look back and see that three of the infected have now managed to reach the truss structure itself. One is hanging from a beam, its legs dangling into the sea of undead below. The other two have made it all the way up and are more or less standing upright in the roof trusses. One can't seem to figure out how to move through the complex angles of the intersecting crossmembers. But the other takes a halting step forward and then loses its footing, falling back into the writhing mass of undead.

The last thing I see before I scoot out that window and drop to the ground below is another half dozen or so creatures scrambling from elevated positions on the sinks and toilets and latching onto the roof trusses. I realize I'm witnessing the creatures engaging in a collective learning behavior. Gathered in a horde like this, with all those zombies surging, flailing and grasping, by sheer chance one of them is going to accidentally discover a strategy that brings itself one step closer to the horde's objective. Even if that one creature fails at the very next step, it's already transferred that learning to the rest of the group. So more and more adopt that new strategy until one of them happens upon the next correct step. Once one creature knows it, the entire horde instantly copies it. Bringing the entire mass that much closer to its goal. It's eerily simple to watch it develop before my eyes. But frightening in its implication.

They're learning how to climb; problem-solve in three dimensions, I realize with a start. This is only going to get worse as time goes by.
Last edited by majorhavoc on Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:32 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by harleyvato » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:46 pm

Damn,that was close! Thanks Major!

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by Dragon80 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:37 pm

Thumbs up!
BOB also used for backpacking
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=114606

GHB dedicated thread in need of serious updating!!!
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=112108

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by vthunter » Sat Feb 13, 2016 1:00 pm

Thumbs way up..........

MH, you "OWN" this story, for sure; obviously you can take it anywhere you feel the flow takes you.

Just glad to have you spinning more tales in their world, sir!

Hope the words come easy, liking the current plot, and can see you possibly going in many different directions.

Vt

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Re: The Restless Dead

Post by teotwaki » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:50 pm

Ha! Ha! I am only on page five and have forty MOAR pages to go! :mrgreen:
My adventures and pictures are on my blog http://suntothenorth.blogspot.com

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