Authors: M.D. Massey
Tags: #dystopian, #werewolf, #shapeshifter, #horror, #vampire, #vampire hunter, #post apocalyptic, #zombie, #werewolves, #werewolf hunter, #zombie hunter, #apocalypse, #post apocalyptic books, #Zombie Apocalypse
“Sir, if I’m not mistaken, Fort Hood was wiped off the map when the bombs fell. There’s nothing left there.”
He chuckled. “Oh, but there is something there. We have reason to believe there are nuclear warheads in a secret storage facility on the north side of Fort Hood. I intend to liberate those weapons and commandeer them for purposes of ridding the State of Texas from the undead plague, once and for all.”
- - -
fter spending another half hour or so listening to Colonel Klink’s diabolical plan for Statewide Eradication of the Presence of Undead Paranormal entities (“Operation STEPUP” was what he called it), I knew for a fact this guy was absolutely batshit crazy. His plan was to find some nukes, plant them all along the Corridor, and blow the whole thing sky-high. The colonel figured that if he cut off the head of the snake, the body would follow.
I had to admit, in some ways it was a decent plan, except for the whole “where are you going to get the nukes” and “what about all that nuclear fallout” parts. Even so, the guy was certifiable. No doubt about it.
I also discovered that he’d been a cop in civilian life, working as a night-shift commander in Hays County. I think the combination of having had a small degree of authority, both in his civilian job and as a weekend warrior, made him think he had some sort of crucial leadership role to play in the post-War world. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m all for people stepping up and taking the reins of leadership in a crisis. I just think it’s sort of a prerequisite to accepting the position that you’re still taking all your meds, or preferably, that you’re completely sane in the first place. Unfortunately, however, Colonel Leakey didn’t get the memo. A pity, that. Because that meant I was going to have to kill him.
After my coffee klatch with the colonel, I spent the remainder of the day learning the command structure of the joint, and going over their unit SOP for engaging various nasties. As the new guy, I also got assigned latrine duty, so I ended up digging toilet trenches for a few hours. I kept an eye out for the captain all the while, but I saw no sign of her, not a single black hair from her pretty little mad-scientist head. I assumed they had her working in their med station, and wondered what I could do to get myself put on sick call so I could talk to her.
Then, like a gift from heaven, the answer appeared right above the latrine trench I was digging. I was sitting in the bottom of the trench taking a break, when some asshole walked up and started pissing on me. Hazing the NG was a long-standing tradition in the military, but some things were reserved for your worst broke-dick fobbits... like pissing on them while they dug a latrine trench. No sooner than I figured out what was up, I rolled out of the way and vaulted myself out of the ditch. I’d dug it six feet deep by order of the sergeant who’d given me this shit assignment in the first place. Rule of thumb was one foot deep for every week the latrine would be used, but I figured he was having me dig deeper than necessary just for fun. Unfortunately, that just made it harder to get myself out, so the jokester was able to follow me down the line, waving his dick at me and laughing it up the whole time.
As I came out of the ditch, he was right on top of me. So, I grabbed the first handle I could reach—his man parts—with one hand, and then began punching him repeatedly in the face with the other. Now, the thing about having someone crush your nuts while they punch you in the face is, you don’t know what to cover or protect first. Most guys will default to trying to get you to release their nuts, and that’s what this joker did; but instead of letting up I really put on my G.I. Joe kung-fu grip and continued clobbering him in the face. By the time they broke it up, his face was a wreck and he’d passed out from the pain.
“What in the great goat-dicked cluster humps is going on over here?” A stumpy little guy with faded sergeant major’s insignia on his ACUs stomped up to us and waded in the middle of the scene. There were three guys holding me back, and a couple kneeling down by the practical joker who were giving me dirty looks.
One of the guys holding me back spoke up. “Sergeant Major Marsh, Corporal Jones just came up and pissed all over the new guy while he was digging a latrine. He had it coming, Sergeant Major.”
The other guys holding me nodded in agreement. After getting a good look at Corporal Jones I could see why. He had the look of a bully, big and stocky, and a face only a mother gorilla could love. I was fairly certain that half the compound had been subject to his “jokes” at one time or another. I imagined I was probably the first guy to stand up to him with any degree of success.
However, his cronies had a different story to tell about what had happened. One of them chimed in almost on top of the other militiaman. “It weren’t like that, Sergeant Major. Jones just came up to see how the new guy was doing, and the NG just went off on ’im. He’s crazy, Sergeant Major.” The guy who spoke up was a tall skinny fella wearing BDUs without any rank insignia. Wouldn’t surprise me if he got busted so many times, they took away all his rank. Or, that he just didn’t give a shit about dress code.
“Atkins! Do I look like a dumb-ass to you? If you were locked in a room with nothing but a stick and a rock, you’d break the rock and lose the stick! Now pipe down unless you have something useful to say.”
The sergeant major turned his eyes my way and looked me up and down. With a sneer, he leaned in and took a whiff of me. “Holy sweet goat balls, newbie—you were supposed to dig a latrine, not bathe in it! Now go get your piss-reekin’ goat-smellin’ ass cleaned up!” Then he looked over at Corporal Jones. “And take him to the medical station!”
I raised my hand. “I’ll take him, Sergeant Major. It’s my fault he’s all beat up, so I’ll do it.”
The sergeant major squinted at me, then at the corporal’s goons, and finally at the guys who had taken my side. “Ratcliff, Atkins, and new guy—take this piece of shit to the med station.” He pointed at a slight black man behind me, and also at the skinny tall guy who’d lied to cover Corporal Jones. Then he pointed to me. “And go get cleaned up, newbie!”
I watched the SGM storm off, and then looked at the two troops who got picked. The tall skinny guy gave me the stink eye. “You’re dead, newbie—just you wait.”
The black guy spoke up. “Atkins, shut the hell up. You know Jones had it coming. Hell, he screws with you and Rummy just as much as he does with the rest of us. Why you idiots stick up for him is beyond me.”
Skinny guy just looked off to the side and fumed. I spoke up. “Well, I guess we’d better get him to sick call—looks like I jacked him up pretty good.” Ratcliff chuckled and grabbed Jones’s feet, and I grabbed him under the arms. Atkins just walked along all beside us all the way to the med station, never once offering to lend any help.
- - -
s I suspected, the med station was located inside one of the containerized housing units, and had apparently been adapted for that purpose before the War. As we carried Jones in, a nurse in fatigues directed us to take him back to a treatment room. We laid him down on the treatment table, and he started coming around, moaning up a storm. Atkins had somehow managed to ditch us between the front door and the treatment room, which was alright by me. I stood there silently while Ratcliff sized me up.
“Some of the guys said you got tabbed out of the 3rd battalion. Said you saw combat in the ’Stan.” I just looked at him and grunted.
“I get it, I get it—you the silent type. That’s cool. I was over there too, long before all this shit went down. Not combat arms, but supply. When I got out, I decided to join the State Guard. That’s how I got hooked up with this circus.” As he said it, Ratcliff gave me a look that said he wished he hadn’t.
I paused for effect, then eyeballed him. “So if you don’t like it, why do you stay?”
He crossed his arms and leaned back with one foot against the wall. “Shit, man, where else am I going to go? We’ve been all over this damn post, and down to what’s left of Lackland—it’s a wasteland down there—even spent some time searching Fort Sam Houston for med supplies. And let me tell you, there ain’t nuthin’ left. It’s all gone, man, and I can’t tell you how many people we lost fightin’ them things while we were runnin’ all over creation trying to find out if there was any command structure left.”
“And what’d you find?”
He smirked at me. “What d’you think? Nuthin’, not a damned thing. We’re all that’s left of the military, at least around here. No idea what’s happening anywhere else.”
“So, you know about this plan of the colonel’s—Operation STANDUP?”
He shrugged. “That’s above my pay grade, man. I just run the supply shed, make sure we got the things we need.” He looked off down the hallway. “Hey, I think that hot-ass Mexican doctor is coming. She fine, but I gotta split—got work to do. But, come by the Swamp later tonight—we always got a card game going on, and some of the boys and I make a mean hootch.”
He smiled a toothy grin. “Hey, man, gotta hang on to some memories, right? Anyways, stop on by, some of the guys’ll probably want to congratulate you on stomping Jones a new asshole. Ain’t nobody likes him around here.” Ratcliff tipped me a two-fingered salute, then slipped out the door just as the doc walked in.
The doc glanced at Jones and acted as if it were nothing peculiar to see me standing there in the treatment room. “So, what happened to him?” She nodded at Jones, who was still moaning on the table.
“Acute testicular compression, followed by repeated blunt trauma to the mandibular and left orbital region.”
She continued to examine Jones as she spoke. “Your handiwork?”
“He started it.”
She chuckled. “It sounds like you have some medical experience.”
“Ranger First Responder training. Plus, I cross-trained as a sixty-eight whiskey.”
The doc nodded. “I could probably see about getting you assigned to the clinic. It’d keep you from digging trenches.”
“I wouldn’t object, but that might not make me too popular with the rest of the enlisted around here. New guy, getting a cush job and all.”
She gestured around her. “You can see what I have to work with, and we are short staffed. I have one nurse here to help me, and that’s it. Let me talk with the colonel and I’ll see what I can do.”
I nodded at Jones. “He going to make it?”
She pulled his pants down and took a look inside his boxers, then grimaced. “Well, let’s just say the outlook for the future arrival of a Jones junior isn’t looking good.” Then she muttered under her breath, “I’d watch your back if I were you.”
I looked around, then leaned in and whispered, “Anybody giving you any trouble?”
“Just some soldiers playing grab-ass. But, the colonel thinks I’m too valuable to let these savages loose on me, so for the moment, I’m safe. But you—if they find out what you’re up to, they’ll string you up for zombie bait.”
I winked, and then whispered back, “Don’t worry about me. Just be ready, and play along with it when it happens.” Then, in a conversational voice, “I gotta go get cleaned up, Doc. Let me know what the colonel says about getting me assigned here.” She nodded once, and went back to treating Jones, who looked so bad I almost felt a twinge of guilt about putting him down. Then I caught a whiff of myself and thought better of it.
- - -
knew they wouldn’t assign me to the med station, since I was more valuable to them for my combat experience than I was for any medical knowledge I had. I spent my time over the next few days observing the rhythms of the place, getting a feel for where and when they’d be most vulnerable, and what the best way would be to get the doc out. I decided that the best time to spring my plan would be when I was on watch. The only problem was that they weren’t putting me on watch yet, probably because they didn’t trust me enough.
That was no problem though; all I had to do was lose a card game, and before I knew it I was taking over perimeter watch for one of Ratcliff’s buddies that hung out at the Swamp. As for the plan, I had a few surprises in store for the colonel that would be delivered to me courtesy of the Wonder Twins. I’d already left instructions for Gabby and Bobby at the designated dead-drop point, scribbled on a scrap of paper that I tied to a rock and tossed way out over the outer compound wall. I just hoped they’d get it in time.
Now, all there was to do was wait until it was time to get us out of here. I had some reservations about what I was about to do, and decided I’d try to minimize casualties among the rank-and-file foot soldiers in the colonel’s militia. A few of these folks were decent people who were just trying to get along and survive, and they were only here because Colonel Leakey and his crazy outfit had offered them the best chance to do so. It was too risky to tell anyone about my plans, but I might try to come back later and recruit a few of these guys away from here.
Anyway, I figured that once I had the colonel out of the way his militia would fall apart. If it didn’t, I could always deal with these clowns later. But right now every day I spent here was one more day that I wasn’t working to get Kara back from the ’thrope pack in the Corridor. She was my first priority; everything else could wait until I’d set her and the rest of the settlers free and destroyed the Corridor pack.
- - -
hat night I stopped off by the med station for some aspirin, letting the doc know that tonight was the night. She didn’t respond at all, but I figured she was playing it low key in case anyone was watching or listening in. So, I took the pills and slipped them in my pocket to save for later, and headed out to start my watch shift.
Once I got to the wall, I called up to the guys who’d been on watch during the day. “I’m here to relieve one of you guys, filling in for Specialist Kelley.”
One of the militiamen, a Mexican-American who went by the name of Topo, peered down at me. “I thought the sergeant major was keeping you off of guard duty.”