Shamblers: the zombie apocalypse

Shamblers

 

the zombie apocalypse

 

Copyright © 2014 Andrew Cormier

Cover Design by Andrew Cormier

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the express, written consent of the publisher. Exceptions to this are brief quotations for a book review and as permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, email: [email protected] with the subject line: PERMISSION REQUEST

This is a work of fiction. Any n
ames, characters, businesses, events, and references, are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is pure coincidence.

ISBN-13:
9781310183294

 

 

Dedication

 

Shamblers is dedicated to everyone who has struggled while trying to pursue their dreams. I know how you feel.

 

 

Acknowledgment
s

 

I want to thank fellow author and zombie apocalypse enthusiast Joseph M. Chiron for encouraging me in the early phases of this novel.

 

 

Part One: Nick Steiner

 

 

 

Chapter One

“W
hat do you mean we’re out of bullets? Fuck!”

The only thing worse than pulling the trigger of your .40 cal and hearing a hollow click as you re
alize your magazine is empty is being told the reserve ammo has just been used up as well.

“Are you sure there’s no more?” I asked with hopeful expectation.

“I’m not a fucking retard, Nick,” my companion by the name of Marcus Gray replied. Marcus was a pretty good fellow…well, according to recent definitions since the world fucking ended. I mean, I knew he’d probably shoot me and take the last of my food if it came down to it; I figured he’d at least shoot me in the front. He wasn’t the kind of guy to shoot a person in the back. Well, unless he didn’t like them to begin with. Then all bets were off. As far as I could tell, Marcus and I shared a mutual respect.

I looked at him and nodded
as we both crouched behind some fifty-five gallon metal drums. The nod was our kind of improvised signal that basically said ‘fuck this is gonna suck, and I’m probably gonna die, but here goes.’

Marcus
nodded back, which indicated that he felt the same. The look on his face was one of grim determination.

I dropped my pistol to the warehouse floor. It clanked off the cold cement and echoed throughout the warehouse amidst the snarls of the undead nearby. They’d discovered us earlier in the afternoon, having most likely followed one of our runners back from
his patrol to scavenge for food and supplies.

We had lucked out this time: it was a small group of the fuckers. Well, kind of small. If you’d say around
twenty zombies was a small number than you’d agree that this was a small group. I thought so, but I’d had to flee Bakersfield, CA at the start of the outbreak, and the population there had been well over 325,000.

Our group ha
d just finished taking out most of these zombies with the last of our ammo. It was now time to go in and play clean-up. It was always a nasty business, and usually someone died in the process. I hoped it wouldn’t be me this time.

As my pistol bounced off the floor
, I pulled out my machete. It was old, dull, chipped, rusted, and the handle was cracked. So basically it was a useless piece of shit. I hoped to replace it before it snapped off in my hand, but machetes were kind of in high demand, for understandable reasons. I still figured a piece of shit machete was better than none at all.   

Marcus holstered his pistol and picked up his bat. It was a regular bat. He had gotten pretty proficient with
it during the time I’d known him. We’d been killing zombies together for two and a half months. That may not sound like very long but believe me when I say that life expectancy has been way down lately. Like, we’re talking Verdun levels in World War I. We’re talking three to seven days average for most folk I met. Not that I counted, but I’d seen more people come and go than I cared to think about.

The fact that Marcus and I had survived together
for this long wasn’t a coincidence. We both knew our shit. Well, we had other talented associates in our little group, and we were really starting to work well as a unit, but I’ll get to them in a while. We’re still talking Marcus, and that’s how it’ll stay for now.

So Marcus
grabs his blood-stained bat in both his enormous hands, and I’m standing there with my machete behind some old drums full of who-know-what-crap. We both take off from behind the barrels at nearly the same time. The undead come staggering toward us, ever so slowly. They are no more than twenty paces away. By now, there are four zombies left of the original twenty. The rest of them had followed our decoy as he ran out of the warehouse. For the moment, Marcus and I could only assume that the rest of the members of our group were dealing with the bulk of those zombies. We’d be sure to double check after we took care of our own problem.

Zombies nowadays are much like you’d imagine them to be: they’re slow, they don’t think, sleep, dream, feel pain, play soccer, go grocery shopping, get pissed when their favorite footba
ll team loses the fucking Super Bowl, watch porn, or do any of the other stuff that people used to do prior to the world ending. Zombies only know one thing: eat people that aren’t zombies. They have a really good grasp on that concept, and I will say they have nailed it down. Oh yeah, and I should mention the headshot thing: aim for the head, smash the brain, cut the head off, or something like that – only way to stop ‘em.

Also, I should mention that
most people have taken to calling them shamblers now, because of how the zombies move. I guess some radio announcer came up with the term right after the outbreak. It sounded trendy and it stuck. I never liked conformity, though, so I still call them zombies. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Either way, I’m banking on the assumption that the announcer who invented that moniker was now long dead, so fuck trends.

I rush
ed the first zombie. I heard Marcus shout as he swung his bat at another. My heart was racing. My zombie was missing an eye. Most of the flesh appeared torn from the top of its skull, which was visible and white. The zombie looked as if it was wearing a janitor outfit with a whole mess of blood that formed a V-shaped stain down the front.

Janitor-zombie snarled
at me and gnashed its teeth. I swung my crap-machete horizontally as hard as I could. With a pretty gross sounding plop, my crap-machete cleaved into the janitor-zombie’s head. I nearly split that fucker’s head in two. The second zombie was already coming at me. It was just feet away. I could practically feel its wretched breath on my face. I needed to react quickly.

As I jerk
ed my machete free, I went to impale zombie #2 through the bottom of its jaw. And, of course, this is when I noticed that my crap-machete had fucking snapped off in the janitor-zombie’s head. I was left holding a wooden handle.

“Ah
fuck, God damnit!” I yelled in despair. It was too late to change plans now. The zombie was upon me. Its yellowed teeth were cracked and broken. It lurched at me and snapped its teeth. It was begging for a taste. As it pushed against me, it tried to force me to the ground. I held it at bay with my left hand. It strained against me with unnatural force. I had all I could do to keep those fucking teeth from sinking into my flesh; one bite and it would be “bye-bye Nick.”

Raising my right hand
, I jammed the handle that once had a machete attached to it into the zombie’s pure-white, dead eye.

The zombie g
rowled and snapped at me as I heard the handle thunk into its face. The machete handle was now jutting out from the janitor-zombie’s eye socket. The zombie groaned. Flakes of spit flew into my face. As I continued to hold it at bay with my left hand grasped around its neck, I pounded on the end of the machete handle and drove it further into the zombie’s face. One….two….three whacks…the zombie suddenly collapsed. I had pierced its brain.

“Holy shit!” I exclaim
ed as I stepped backward and allowed the zombie to smack off the cement. I caught my breath as I looked over at Marcus. He simply grinned as he stood nearby. One hand was on his hip. He leaned on his bat like a cane with the other. Both of his zombies were already smashed open. I watched as their brains oozed out all around them and blood trickled to a low-dip in the warehouse floor to form a small pool.

“You dick, you could’ve helped me out,” I shouted in annoyance
in-between labored breaths.

“Yeah
, I thought about it,” Marcus replied. He then turned around and started to wipe the gore from his bat. Marcus wasn’t much for words.

“Well,” I added as I retrieve
d my .40 cal from where I had dropped it, “why didn’t you?”

Marcus looked up from wiping off his bat and
shrugged as he replied, “you looked like you were doing alright.”

“Damn man, next time feel free to interject. That one got pretty damn close.” I sighed with annoyance and started
to walk toward the warehouse exit. I figured I’d check up on the zombies outside and see if the rest of our group had taken care of them. Marcus just laughed and called me a pussy.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

I exited the warehouse. The scene that greeted me was the usual slaughter. I say it that way because you could hardly go anywhere anymore where there weren’t bodies or parts of bodies lying around. So the slaughter here was nothing extravagant or worse
than what I was accustomed to.

This time, luck was on the side of my group. The bodies were mostly that of the zombies we had
just encountered, and I didn’t notice or hear any zombies in the immediate area. I immediately saw that one new guy had been killed. He looked like he’d been a computer programmer prior to the apocalypse: thin, tall, glasses, crew-cut. Maybe he’d been an accountant. I couldn’t recall his name.

He was
now sprawled out in the dirt. His guts were all torn out and strewn around him. Someone had bashed his head in, perhaps to put him out of his misery, but more likely to keep him from coming back as a zombie. The creature that had likely killed him was heaped right next to him. It was a woman-zombie. She’d been a redhead, and had recently turned. Her flesh hadn’t yet rotted away. Except for the dead eyes, she actually looked very pretty in her black and white dress. The bottom half was white, the top was black. Her breasts now hung out of the top, which had slid down nearly to her belly-button. Once upon a time, I was willing to bet she’d been a knockout.

Were it not the zombie apocalypse, had I stumbled upon this programmer and this redhead laying side by side like this
(though presumably clothed and covered up decently) I could have easily seen them as a loving couple, maybe spread out on a beach blanket together. Yet, it was the zombie apocalypse. So now they were both just fucking dead, one the victim of the other, and the scene was grotesque.

“Wow
, look at the tits on that fucking whore!” Marcus exclaimed as he spotted the dead duo. “Fuck! Why do the hot chicks have to turn into shamblers? It’s fucking bullshit!” he cursed with genuine anger and slammed his bat into the knee of the woman-zombie. He nearly split her leg in half.

“You have a better chance getting a crack at
undead pussy than the real, live thing,” a woman’s voice piped up from nearby. A round of hearty laughter from our surviving companions followed the joke.

Marcus turned
to face the woman who’d made the joke at his expense. “Don’t get jealous, baby,” he said. “There’s plenty of me to go around.”

The woman snorted as she brushed her dark hair away from her face. If I remembered right, her name was Olivia, though I had only met her a few days ago. “
Too bad I’m celibate,” she told him plainly. She clearly had zero interest in Marcus, though for the life of me I couldn’t see why she wasn’t turned on by his rude, callous, dick-headed, arrogant, and priggish manners. Oh, and his violent and sometimes unpredictable temper. He had all of the qualities a beautiful young woman could want in a mate. I should point out my tendency towards sarcasm now in case that slipped by.


All nine inches of me are here if you change your mind,” Marcus shrugged and pointed to his junk.

“More like your inch and a half,” the brunette quipped.

“So what’s th
e damage?” I broke up the back-and-forth chatter between them as I surveyed the area. I didn’t feel like hearing about Marcus’ junk and I genuinely wanted to know where we stood.

“Well,
we’re critically low on ammo, I can tell you that much. We also need to repair the perimeter fence,” the woman whose name I thought was Olivia stated, “I heard that the shamblers broke through on the Southwest side.”

“Is anyone working on that?” I asked with urgency.

“Yes, but it’s going to take time.”

“How long?”

She tapped her fingers to her pouty, red lips and answered, “maybe a few hours.”

Fuck. That was bad news. It would be dark in a few hours
. The zombies always got more active at night. For whatever reason, they developed a more incessant hankering for flesh around sunset. I likened it to myself having a snack before bedtime. We had to get that fence repaired or it would be a major problem.

“We have enough wire and materials to reinforce it, though,” the Olivia woman contin
ued, “and everyone who’s able to work is now helping with it. The only shamblers we’ve seen, other than that group that surprised us, are stragglers. The guards shouldn’t have any trouble keeping the area secure for now.”

“That’s encouraging,” I
replied, “and what of our recent scavenging raid?”

Olivia turned and looked over her right shoulder. “HEY MARTIN!” She shouted. “GET OVER HERE!” With a wave of her hand, she summoned to a plump, middle-aged man in a Hawaiian shirt and khakis. He held a clipboard and pen and was presently taking some notes, presumably regarding who had died.

Martin looked up from his clipboard upon hearing his name. He pushed his square-rimmed glasses further up his nose then started to walk over to us.

“Martin has been responsible for
jotting down the tally of goods,” Olivia turned and informed me, “at least for today, until we had this little mishap.”

I nodded:
every morning we rotated camp duties to a different individual. We did that based on a group consensus. It ensured that no one person could act like a dictator. It also helped us to develop a variety of skills that we knew we’d need for our survival and for rebuilding the community going forward. The only drawback to our system was that it sometimes became confusing to figure out who was in charge of what: especially when people frequently died.

Martin sheepishly strolled ov
er to us. He cleared his throat then politely nodded to me and Olivia in turn. He then nervously stuttered, “hi there, Becky, what is it you…
ahem
…you need?”

Okay, so maybe Olivia’s name was Becky. Whatever. I didn’t put much stake in learning
the names of people who I thought would be dead by the end of the week.


We’re wondering if you have the count of the goods that were scavenged before this attack,” Becky asked bluntly.


Ahem
….” Martin cleared his throat and fumbled with his clipboard, “I uhh, I uhhh…..let me see,” he answered. After flipping a page, he made some more fucked-up Martin noises then recited his figures, “today’s hunt has yielded,
ahem
, two cans of albacore, solid-white tuna, a yellow potato, a box of angel-hair pasta, and…
ahem…
a four ounce jar of mango-pineapple jam.”

“What the fuck!” Marcus gr
unted. He almost caused Martin to faint. “That’s all we got from today? That little fucker we sent out had better not be holding out on us!”

“Easy there buddy,” I said as I patted Marcus on the shoulder, “you’re gonna
cause Martin to have a fucking stroke.”

Martin nodded agreement. He looked ready to piss himself.
I figured that he already had, though I could see no evidence of it.

“Sorry man,” Marcus apologized
to me (though he really should have apologized to Martin, but it was rare for him to ever admit wrong-doing, so I was happy that he made the effort), “but I’m standing here listening to this ass-wipe and what I’m hearing is this,” he held up three fingers, “three of our people died for a jar of fucking mango-banana-whatever-shit. That doesn’t sit well with me. The fucktard that we sent out to raid supplies led all those fuckers,” Marcus pointed to the dead zombies, “back here. Three people are dead because of him. We need to teach him a lesson.”

I couldn’t argue with
Marcus’ logic there, though I did stand up for poor Martin, “I totally agree with you buddy, with the exception of Martin being an ass-wipe. I don’t know him well enough to make that judgment call, and I don’t think you do either.” Martin smiled sheepishly. His cheeks were bright red. Marcus twirled his bat around in one hand and looked at me with annoyance. He hated being corrected. I continued anyway, “our scavenger: that thin guy with the cauliflower ear, whatever his name is, broke a cardinal rule.”

“Never lead
shamblers to the camp,” Martin recited.

I nodded, “c
orrect. We made our rules to keep ourselves safe. That guy endangered us all.”

“So let’s hold a consensus,” Becky chimed in, “I say we vote to kick him. If it passes, he’s out.”

Marcus spat on the ground. He nearly hit one of Becky’s dirty, white tennis-shoes. “Why do we have to fucking vote on every God damned thing?” he complained. “Why can’t we just beat the piss out of the fucker and send him on his way? It’d be one less mouth to feed.”

Becky scowled at him. “We’re trying to rebuild society, not plunge it back into chaos,” she lectured
.

Marcus opened his mouth to argue, but I cut him off, “Olivia…errrr…
.Becky is right,” I told him, “we can’t act like animals. We’ve lived in hell for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be normal. It’s important that we at least try to do things civilized.”

Marcus paused for a moment, stared up at the sky, and sighed as he responded, “I hate when you guys all gang up on me like this.” Looking at me, he added, “Nick, buddy, I
thought you would’ve had my back. Remember when we used to just hand out beatings to people who fucked up?” he slammed his fist into his open palm to illustrate someone getting smashed, “and that’s if they were lucky. Don’t pretend like you’re some saint Lucyfus all of a sudden.”

I was pretty sure
that Marcus had just invented a saint, but I couldn’t deny that he had me pegged: we had survived for so long because we had done some terrible things. There was no doubt in my mind that everyone I was now acquainted with had committed vile atrocities. Well, except for perhaps Martin: I suspected he was still a virgin, and had survived by clinging to people who could protect him.

Marcus
and I had been associated longer than anyone else we knew. We had done things to survive that I hadn’t thought I’d been capable of. The way I had met Marcus was an interesting story all by itself:

I
was separated from my family at the onset of the infection. I haven’t seen them since. After I narrowly escaped the city, I was forced into a quarantine zone by the military. Everyone I’d met there had also perished when the area, designated Zone #24B, was overrun.

The military had
come up with a “brilliant” idea to stop the epidemic early on: they gathered everyone who wasn’t infected into camps and surrounded us with a series of large, electrified fences and guard towers. These multi-acre concentration camps were erected outside every city in the US.

The general population
was content to move into these camps at first, because they had actually worked (for a few weeks). At that time, outside the camps, there was nothing but death and mayhem. I, myself, had felt safe contained within the militarized zone when I first arrived. Until that point, nothing had even slowed the growing tide of zombies: the government had knocked out bridges, fire-bombed cities, dug trenches, and sent soldiers into urban areas with the latest gear and equipment.

By the time
the quarantine camps went up, everyone had seen a lifetime of madness packed into a few weeks; most of us were just happy to be alive and remotely safe.

This was, of course, until a few really large and inevitable problems sprung up. The biggest was the rationing of food and water, which quickly turned into a lack of both.
I later learned that many quarantine camps had rioted. The solders who manned them either left their posts or were killed by rioters. Likewise, many rioters, and even whole camps, were outright gunned down by the terrified soldiers. The other, main problem with the quarantine camps was that the electrified fences failed once the power grid finally went down. This is what led to the downfall of my quarantine zone. Once those fences lost power, a surge of hungry zombies (who had watched us for weeks as if we were candy inside of a vending machine), pressed right through the fences to get to us.

I
survived solely because I made panicked, pleading eye-contact with a soldier in a nearby Humvee. For whatever reason, he had taken pity on me and allowed me to climb inside with him.

The driver of the Humvee
, who happened to be a female soldier, punched the gas a moment later. We sped off as fast as it would go, running over people and zombies alike. We didn’t stop until we were nearly in the desert. From there, one thing had led to another. We had encountered Marcus and his group camping out in a metal, 1976 Airstream RV.

Ever since our first meeting, Marcu
s and I had pretty much spent our time killing people or zombies almost every single day. I tried my best to leave the past in the past. I found it quite interesting that Marcus had just insinuated that I wasn’t backing him up. Did he really think we were ganging up on him? It sounded ridiculous. No, it was beyond ridiculous. It was childlike. Fucking Marcus.

As Martin went back to his business with the clipboard, I replied, “I never claimed to be no saint man, but I sure as shit plan to live long enough to see the world go back to normal.
No one
is going to make it on their own. If we keep beating down everyone who fucks up, there’s going to be no one left.”

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