Hello all! The other I decided that it was high time for me to try my hand at some Zombie literature. I’ve had an idea kicking around in my head, right next to where I was keeping “Frontera“, and it’s time to let it out! And so I give you the first draft of my post-apocalyptic zombie tale, “Whiskey Delta”!
Due to plenty of exposure to zombie flicks of late, zombie series, and zombie literature, I’ve come to learn a few things about the genre and what works, at least for me. Much like with Vampires, there are basically two big questions which determine what kind of film, book, series it’s going to be.
First of all, the zombies can either be the result of viral infection or the resurrected dead. This is what I would call the “paranormal vs. biological” realm and most franchises these days tend to go with the latter approach. Somehow, zombies that are the result of a viral infection are a lot more plausible than a biblical allegory.
Second, they can either be hotblooded living creatures that are consumed with the desire to kill, or slow, dottering undead creatures that look and smell horrible! This is what would be referred to as the “Infected vs. Undead” factor. The former is the kind of approach 28 Days Later took, while the latter is epitomized by such series as The Walking Dead.
Examples abound, and I hope people like the direction I took. Here is the first installment in the story, the prologue to the rest of the piece. And keep in mind, it’s a first draft so be gentle. And there’s naughty language too. And violence and zombies. But you already knew that last part didn’t ya? Enjoy!
Green and black. Always the same. Nothing ever looked different through a Starlight. No other hues, just different gradients of green on black. Some brilliant, some muted, but it didn’t matter. At night, all that mattered was what moved, and these days, it moved en masse.
Dezba lowered his scope and rubbed his eyes. After minutes spent looking at the green and black, even pitch black looked good. Less eerie, less filtered, less fake. The arms had a way of stiffening after holding up an A1.
The headset crackled, the voice calling on over the squad’s general frequency.
“Hold your position. Keep your eyes peeled.”
He heard a sigh from beside him. At the other side of the foxhole, Mill was also taking a break. In his case it was to stretch his neck.
“Are we even sure about this intel?”
“The Mage said it’s tight, so it’s tight,” he replied, repeating the mantra. That seemed to be enough, since Mill went right back to sighting down his sights again. Equipped with the SAW, which held no scope, he was the heavy gunner in their foxhole and couldn’t make a move until Dezba did.
Bringing the Starlight back into place, he got another eerie view of the landscape again. There were the glowing patches nearest them, bright from the moonlight that touched down on it, only small slices of black where shrubs cast their shadows. He scanned this way and that, checking out the side scenery. He spotted the other shining Humvee, the LAV, and the other foxholes that were cast in grey.
Beyond them was the relative dead of night. The line of Ponderosa pines that was black except for the few spots where the canopy opened to let things through. Not much was going on in there, until it chose to step into open…
He looked back to the roadway next; the thin stretch of dirt and gravel that the old man said was their spot. Others had dismissed him as a coot, somebody who had nothing better to do. But the Mage believed him, and so here they were. Sitting in wait, expecting that this was the point where the Whiskeys had been getting through the perimeter…
Finally the call came. “Eyes up”.
Dezba’s raised his gun into position. His heart began to pound and his hands tightened around the grips. Slowly, he scanned the horizon. No signs of movement. Next to him, Mill began to stir anxiously, waving the end of SAW around.
“Where are they?”
“I don’t see em,” said Dezba.
“What, man, I thought you Hopi fuckers could smell an enemy a mile away.”
Dezba smiled. “Wrong nation asshole.”
He scanned left. Something seemed to be moving by the tree line. He sucked in a breath and centered the scope there. Another stirring. The bushes at the edge were moving.
Damn coyotes, he thought. If they had come all this way because of some mangy little scavengers. And while they waited, the real hole in their line might very well be filling with Whiskeys, on their way in to find fresh victims. Tonight might even be the night that the damn things escalated and grabbed someone’s kid.
“Contact,” the Captain’s voice called. Deep and low. He had to be right.
Mill began to move his weapon back and forth with jerky movements.
“Shit… where?” he whispered. Dezba was wondering himself.
“Eleven o’clock high, by the treeline, coming towards the road.” Dezba and Mill both looked to their left. Small spots of bright green, black patches in their wake. “Confirmed, Whiskey Deltas at two hundred meters.”
More followed. They moved slowly, as usual, but were gradually converging on the dirt road. Just like the old man said…
“Standby,” the Captain ordered. Dezba did a quick check just to make sure his safety was off. At times like this, leaving it on could was just as deadly as forgetting to put it on. With what he knew to be an armed rifle, he watched the glowing ghouls walk until they reached the road.
And just like that, they changed course, as one. Each and every member of their little party turned and began walking on the gravel and dirt path that had been cleared from the brush. Moving, aiming the shadowy faces and milky eyes in the direction of the forest opposite them. It was almost enough to make one stop and think…
“Standby,” the Captain repeated, a note of urgency creeping into his voice.
The bodies kept moving, their heads coming into full view now as the last of them left the cover of the street for the moonlit path. He could see their milky eyes now, count every hair on their rotting heads.
“Get some,” came the order.
The line erupted in muzzle flashes and tracer fire, the field opposite kicking up dirt and fleshy bits a nanosecond later. Through his scope, Dezba saw nothing but bright flashes, pausing between shots to make sure his crosshairs were poised over a still-moving Whiskey.
“Get some! Get some!” he yelled between bursts.
Another one dropped. Movement from an arm sent him a few degrees to the right. The LAV must have seen it too because several tracers erupted around the downed body a second later. Dezba adjusted his fire again, closer to their line where the first of them had reached the road. Nothing but crawling bodies now, and he was sure to go right for the exposed heads.
“Cease fire!” came the order. “I say again, cease fire!”
Not everybody seemed to hear, as guns were still going. Dezba shoved Mill with his boot to get him to stop. The last shot echoed out finally and new orders came.
“First Squad, enter the field and dispatch any movers.”
To his left, the Sarge from 1st was quick to respond. “Roger that, sir. First Squad is Oscar Mike.”
“Get to sit this one out, huh Cochise?”
Dezba scowled. How fucking hard was it to remember his real name? But then again not much could be expected from those he called friends. In the grand scheme of things Whiskey Tangos were just a step up from Whiskey Deltas. Dumb as shit and only half as ugly.
More shots rang out shortly thereafter. He brought the Starlight back up and caught a glimpse of 1st Squad doing its thing out in the field. One by one, he identified the six of them as they walked between the corpses, sending bullets from their M9’s into the heads of the downed bodies. The familiar tap, tap, taps of their guns was a reassuring sound at the end of a long night.
He picked out the Sarge just as his hand went to his head set to give the all clear.
“Eleven confirmed, sir. All dead.”
“Dead,” Mill said with a laugh. ”How fucked up is that?”
“You know what he means.”
His headset buzzed again with the final order. “Commence sanitizing.”
Dezba raised the Starlight to his eye for the last time to watch as 1st Squad finished with the last of it. One by one, the bodies were thrown together in the middle of the dirt road. The Sarge came around when they done and poured from a green can until they were thoroughly doused. He was sure to drop the scope before anyone set it all ablaze. Flames weren’t too pretty when seen through NV.
“Whoo, look at em burn,” Mill said. The pile blazed in no time at all, the fire rising to consume the filth and dead flesh.
“Too bad we can’t eat em, huh?” Dezba regretted saying it the second it came out of his mouth. It was all he could do to get the taste of filth out of his mouth now. Luckily Mill seemed to get a laugh from it.
“Cook em long enough, I’m sure it’s safe!”
Dezba suppressed a gag and set his foot on the top of the foxhole. He took a second to safety his weapon again before using it as a counterbalance to hoist himself out. 1st Squad cleaned up, which meant 2nd would have the less unenviable duty of making sure no more Whiskeys came this way again. Luckily, they brought enough motion detectors and frag mines to ensure that wouldn’t happen again.
“Guess the old man’s intel was right on the money,” Mill said, following him as he extricated the hole.
“You know what they say, man. The Mage knows.”