Extinction: First Strike
Author: Jack Skoal

Chapter 19
Turn for the Worst

Chapter 19
Quincy, Illinois / 17:54 Hours / December 1, 2013
We find their vehicle overturned in a ditch a few miles from the radio station. The sight of it on its roof sends me in a blind rage. I jump from the turret to the hood to the hard ground in a flash, and without thought I approach the wreck. Dead are crawling all over it like cockroaches, and I’m set on a mission to squash each one them to a small stain on the earth. I feel as if I’m floating outside my own body, controlling myself like a video game. I can since where each fucking creature is before I can see its decaying putrid face. Every vein in my body no longer flows with blood but with a desire to exterminate. Every shot I take is on auto aim. It delivers a cure, sailing through the air at 2,800 feet per second to their disease ridden cranium, setting their trapped souls free. I swear I can see their souls ripping free from the prison that had been holding them back.
The last rotting bag of bones I aim to terminate is eating what’s left of Jimmy. It’s holding a piece of his ridiculous t-shirt in its hands, sucking the blood from the cotton strands. Jimmy had looted it at the last place we stopped. The shirt had a picture of a storm trooper on it in the style of the Starbucks logo saying “May the froth be with you.” He said he was saving it from the dark side, meaning the closet he found it in. I recall walking in the room and seeing how happy he and Kaylee Ann were at that time, even with the nightmare happening all around them. I had stood in the door way and said three simple words to him, in good humor. “You’re an idiot!” and then I had walked away.
I get to within a few feet of the revolting creature in its weathered and tattered army fatigues. It pays no attention to me and continues to gnaw on the blood-soaked shirt. Dropping the rifle, I pull the Colt from its holster and march right up to the despicable creature. I look right into its clouded eyes as it shifts them up predatorily, still chewing on the shirt. I return the threatening stare, full of rage and hatred towards it and its kind. I raise the Colt, pressing hard against his bloody lacerated forehead. It finally drops Jimmy’s shirt and releases a sound that I can never find the words to describe, as if it’s saying “It’s mine.” I stare into its eyes, trying to see through them at what drives the creature to kill. I see nothing there, its just hollow inside, just a mindless soulless killing machine, so I pull back the trigger. The hammer falls and releases a thunderous boom, propelling the bullet through its skull. Its head snaps back from the impact, thrusting its body over its legs.
The Humvee is a mess and their gear is dispersed everywhere. I search all around the area but I can’t find any trace of their remains. I find blood everywhere and three corpses of unknown people, most likely former creatures, but I don’t find any trace of the others. There’s so much blood but no remains I can clearly identify as Carl’s or Kaylee Ann’s.
The others begin shouting from the Humvee “Get back, they’re coming. There’s a pack coming.”
I look over the wreckage and can see a swarm approaching. There’s so many of them. I feel instantly and endlessly exhausted. But then something else catches my eye, a small movement high in the distance. I squint, trying to focus in on the object, now clearly a person, waving his arms frantically, illuminated by the setting glow of the sun. Carl? Hope rises in me, wiping out some of the exhaustion. The only thing I can do at this point is run. I get back in the Humvee and we take off, heading further up the street, leading the herd away from the wreckage and the water tower.
“I saw Carl,” I tell Clyde.
“Is he dead? What about the others?” Clyde asks frantically, looking like he’d prefer to not hear the answer.
“Carl’s alive. I saw him on top of a water tower back there. They got Jimmy and I think they may have gotten Kaylee Ann too.”
“Oh Christ!”
Our three new members sit quietly in the back, not sure how to react to the situation. I think they know that after all we have sacrificed to save them, they knew better than to say anything that wasn’t helpful at this point.
“We still have some more rounds for the big gun. Get us close, Clyde, and I’ll do the rest.”
“There’s too many of them, you can’t shoot them all.”
“I’m not going to. You’re going to take this five ton monster and roll right over them.”
“I don’t know about this Jack.”
I begin my climb in to the turret, disregarding Clyde’s final attempt to talk me out of it. He directs the vehicle into the pack and starts his approach towards the water tower. My mind runs on auto pilot as I load our last hundred rounds in the 240 and charge the bolt. The first zombie collides with the front end, slamming it’s face down on the hood, before catapulting off. Others bounce off the sides, skidding across the dirt. Their bodies twist and contort as they plow through the soil. Limbs bend in ways I never knew possible.
Were on a mission and are going to save Carl at all costs. Pressing the trigger, I let the rounds fly “Come get some you rotten puss sacks.” The rounds find their intended targets, laying waste to all that stood before them. Clyde continued to plow us a path straight to the base of the tower, leaving a trail of twisted mayhem behind. The turret spins smoothly in the roof, providing flawless access to the remaining dead. I manage to take out two more before the belt expires, and the gun goes cold.
“My rifle, pass me my rifle.”
My AR-15 appears from the depths below. There are creatures climbing the sides of the Humvee now, bringing with them the stench and sounds of death. I begin spraying round after round getting some in the head and killing them for their second time, while others our only impaired for a second before continuing their pursuit.
The sound of another gun echoes from behind me, and a body falls behind me thumping off the roof and tumbles to the ground. I turn back to see Carl taking aim from the edge of the water tower’s deck. The rest of the dead go down without much trouble. Only a few remain, the ones that had their legs broken or removed and are now clawing through the mud on their stomachs.
“Carl, you ok?” I shout from the base of the tower we’re parked beneath.
“Yeah but Jimmy’s pretty banged up.”
“He’s alive?” The news surprises me.
“He’s alive, but got pretty messed up when we rolled.”
A voice rings out from inside the Humvee, “I’m a doctor! I can help!”
I climb out of the turret and jump down. Carl waits for me at the top of the water tower, still watching the area for more threats. The climb up the tower takes me a few minutes. As I peak over the platform, I’m surprised to see Kaylee Ann holding Jimmy in her arms. He looks pretty messed up. Blood covers most of his body and his shirt is missing. He has some pretty gnarly-looking lacerations and is bleeding heavily from his chest and face.
“It’s nice to see you guys. I thought we were done for,” Carl says, while moving back to attend to Jimmy.
“We’ll talk after we get Jimmy down; he looks pretty bad. One of the new people down there’s a doctor,” I whisper, not wanting to upset Kaylee Ann any further.
“You mean you got the people from the radio station?” I nod and then turn my attention to Jimmy.
I looked him over, trying to see how we are going to get him down without killing him in the process. “Let’s just get him up and over to the ladder. We’ll figure something out.”
I help Jimmy up, “Come on kid we’re getting you outta here.”
Jimmy tries to speak but only manages to cough, spewing up some frothy blood.
“Don’t talk kid just walk. We’ll get you patched up in no time.”
Carl starts heading down the ladder first to be sure Jimmy doesn’t fall. Kaylee Ann and I help Jimmy get on the ladder next. I can see the pain he’s in as he begins his descent down, and it appears his left arm is broken. I watch Jimmy unsteadily advance down the ladder a few runs before I follow. As soon as I cleared the deck I swing around to the back side of the ladder. I have to slide the rails down to put myself even with Jimmy.
“I gotcha kid! Keep moving.”
I can see the undead in the distance reading them-selves for the second wave of attack.
“Come on kid, you’re doing fine.”
Jimmy stops to cough again, spewing some of the foamy blood on my face. I see in his eyes his worry at the site of the blood.
“You’re just a little banged up kid. You’ll be alright in a few days.”
The others are waiting at the base of the tower to help Jimmy off the last few rails. The man we found at the radio station immediately starts looking him over as soon as he’s on the ground.
“My name is Michael, you must be Jimmy.” he says in the practiced voice of a man who has spent years learning how to steady his words for others. He looks at his arm and nods, “Yes, it looks like you have quite a nasty break.”
“Can you help him?” Kaylee Ann cries, letting Clyde slip in to holding him up.
“Yes, but I’m going to need to get a few things to patch him up.”
“Stacy, Emily let’s get him in the truck,” the doctor directs his companions.
“Clyde get the stretcher out of the back, we can put him on that, while we look for a place to hold up,” I say, trying to be helpful.
We get Jimmy strapped to the stretcher and loaded in the Humvee. It is a tight fit getting everyone crammed in, with there being eight of us now. We leave the field in search of a place to bunker down for a few days while Jimmy recovers.

 

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