Authors: Mike Staton
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Whatever it Takes
Written By: Mike Staton
Cover Design By: Ellie Krysl
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Whatever it Takes. Copyright © 2015 by Mike Staton. All rights reserved.
A gigantic thank you goes out to Ellie Krysl for the amazing cover design. If you like her work, see more of it at
Thank you to my proofreaders Nicole and my father, Wayne.
Table of Contents
The rain was soothing and safe. It brought life from a dead land. It eased stress. For Percival, who enjoyed the rain, it meant a short reprieve from the undead. The rain dampened the stench of the rotting corpses and drowned out the ever constant moans of the hungry. It brought a new sense of safety from the zombies.
Percival stared out into the gray haze created by the steady rainfall. He couldn’t see the zombies across the street, but he was certain they were still there. In the four months since the world was turned on its head, and the dead returned to stalk the living, Percival had seen a lot and learned more than his years of schooling. One of those lessons was that the dead never left fresh meat alone.
He sighed and rose from the lawn chair he had set up on the roof. He walked to the door and tugged it open. He frowned and pulled the door closed behind him before clicking on a flashlight and descending the stairs. As nice as it was to be holed up in a small department store, it was quickly approaching the time to leave. He had made a promise to the people he left behind in the Student Union, and it was a promise he intended to deliver on. A full month out and he was beginning to worry about their state.
He rounded the corner and pushed open another door. He almost walked right into Roy Joy.
Roy Joy was a big man, with the majority of his mass being fat. He had a small tussle of brown hair that looked more like drenched rodent had crawled up onto his head and died. He kept himself clean shaven and dressed in a nice suit (which he changed only when he became splattered with blood). And he never seemed to be bothered by the ever present death around them.
Percival wasn’t sure how the man had managed to survive in the wilderness alone. Percival wasn’t about to complain about it either. Every able-bodied man they found who could pull a trigger or swing a bat was welcomed.
“We leave tomorrow morning, Roy Joy,” Percival said. “With any luck the rain will persist through the night.”
“They track by smell and sound,” Roy Joy said.
Percival nodded. “How do you know that?”
“Bob told me,” Roy Joy answered. “Fredward, Joe, and Sally all confirmed it.”
Percival knew very little about Roy Joy. What he did know was that the man was insane. The man talked to the living corpses and thought they talked back. Percival shook his head slowly. “I doubt that. Zombies don’t talk.”
“You’re just not listening to the right ones,” Roy Joy answered. “I worked with Bob. He was a good man. I think he makes a better zombie though.”
Percival shrugged. Roy Joy might be certifiably insane, but most of his speculations about zombies had turned out correct in some aspect. Percival guessed that Roy Joy was sharing what he had learned while living- surviving- alone in a fashion that made sense to his broken mind.
“What else?” Percival asked as they walked through a clothing section of the department store.
Like many of the places they had searched for things to scavenge, this area was looted and ransacked. That hardly meant that everything had been taken, however. Clothes were strewn across the floor and many of the shelves and hangers were empty, but plenty remained for the diligent searcher.
“They want to come in,” Roy Joy said.
“They always want in.”
“They’re willing to compromise. They just want to eat our brains. They’ll leave our spleens alone. Will even try to eat around our ears.”
“Go back to doing whatever you were doing before,” Percival said with a sigh. “I doubt they’ll uphold their end of the bargain if we let them in.”
“You never know. Compromise is the first step to making everyone happy.” Roy Joy walked away, calling over his shoulder as he moved, “We should leave while the rain is still coming down. Would be safer instead of waiting for daybreak. Even with the darkness an’ all.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Percival shouted. Sometimes he really hated being in charge. He knew that the entire group was tired and needed the break. On the other hand, he also knew that Roy Joy was usually right when it came to zombies. As a result Percival took the man’s advice quite seriously; most of his advice at least.
Percival walked to the stairs, illuminating his way with the flashlight. He carefully descended, stepping over discarded items he could only guess were leftover from the initial outbreak. Most of the things were broken or not very useful to begin with and hardly worth the time to examine closely.
He needed to check with Karl and see how their makeshift barricades were holding up. In his short, but extensive, experience, the undead were tenaciously persistent in their attempts to get to fresh meat. Even if that meant bashing until their hands broke or wrists snapped. He’d seen more than one zombie with a hand dangling limp and sharp bones thrust through the skin. Or broken fingers where they had thrashed against something they could fit fingers through.
Those images taught him two things: zombies wouldn’t give up just because glass or wood or steel was between them and their prey and zombies felt no pain. Or they simply didn’t care when they injured themselves.
Percival shook his head. He was pondering the undead more and more lately. His wandering thoughts had put the rest of his body on autopilot. He had crossed the department store and walked to the main entrance of the store. Nadia stood with her back to him.
She was a shapely woman, a little older than his 20 years, and the fall of civilization had done wonders for toning her physique. She had short cropped blonde hair and stood a little shorter than he. She wore tight jeans, most people wore tight clothing now, and a black windbreaker jacket.
Percival stepped up next to her. “Where’s Karl?”
“Off taking a piss,” Nadia answered. She looked over at him, her blue eyes almost sparkling in the light cast by their flashlights. “Is it a bad thing that I almost don’t hear the drumming of them on the other side?”
Percival lifted an eyebrow up. He hadn’t even noticed the drone of dozens of fists against hardened and tempered glass. “I didn’t even notice it until you mentioned it.”
She smirked and looked back to the doors. She lifted her flashlight and swept it across the horde that could be seen over the barricade.
Percival was a little surprised he no longer consciously heard the moan. It might have partially explained why he hadn’t heard anything from the roof. He chose to blame the rain. For some reason it felt safer to do so.
“You should be with me, you know,” Nadia said quietly. She’d lowered her flashlight from the mass of dead faces a handful of feet away, and also managed to cast her face into shadows with the same motion.
It made it difficult for Percival to read her. He knew, from a handful of classes on human development and psychology, that women were drawn to men of power, but he had never considered himself as such. Even after he had stepped forward and taken charge of the survivors at Brown College. This wasn’t the first time Nadia had brought the matter up either. He frowned at her. He was dedicated to Sarah, his right-hand woman, and had little intention of moving to someone else.
“We’ve discussed this before.” He turned away.
Nadia opened her mouth to say something, but Percival cut her off. He didn’t have time for this.
“I said no before. End of discussion. When Karl comes back, tell him we’re leaving in four hours. Maybe sooner if the rain lightens.” Percival walked back toward the interior of the department store.
“You’re making a mistake,” Nadia called after him. She didn’t elaborate as to what decision she thought was the mistake.
Percival chose not to dwell on it. He had settled the matter in his head, and as their leader it was his responsibility to make decisions and stick by them.
He walked through a hardware section of the department store and up to the side doors. He waved to Andrina.
Andrina was a teacher before the apocalypse. She taught history and was easily old enough to be Percival’s mother. Her hair was dark with a generous dose of gray streaked through it. She, unlike most of the survivors, chose to wear it longer than her shoulders. It was currently tied neatly into a bun at the back of her head with a pen thrust through the base of the bun. She wore a blue jacket and blue jeans. She glanced toward Percival as he approached.
“This likely won’t hold through the night,” she said, gesturing at the door. Half a dozen zombies could easily be heard on the other side of the door.
Percival eyed the makeshift brace that held the door. “What makes you say that?”
“Listen closely,” she said and was silent for a long moment.
Percival listened. He heard the eerie moans of the zombies on the other side of the door and the almost rhythmic thumps of hands against the door.
“Do you hear it?” Andrina asked.
Percival shook his head. “I hear the zombies and the pounding on the door.”
“Not the carpenter type. Oh well, Mister Polz.” Andrina stepped back from the door. “If you had a better ear, you might hear the creak of the wood. It means they’ve managed to break the locking mechanism and our little brace is all that’s holding the door closed.”
“Great.” Percival frowned. The news wasn’t entirely unexpected. It took dedicated work to keep barricades maintained. Dedicated work and materials. “Want to hear the good news then?”
Andrina dug her pistol out of her jacket pocket. She checked the ammunition in the magazine. Percival had come to realize that it was a nervous habit of hers.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“The brace only has to hold for four hours. Maybe a little less. We’re not waiting until morning to leave.”
“Is that wise?”
“Weren’t you just telling me about how this door might not hold for too much longer?” Percival asked. He folded his arms over his chest.
“Any siege can be extended and we have material we can stack in front of the door. What’s the process you took to come to this decision after you said we’d have time to rest and recoup here?” Andrina slapped the magazine back into the pistol and slipped it back into her jacket pocket.
“Roy Joy’s advice. I know I said we’d have time to rest and properly search this place, and I apologize for going back on it.” He hated going back on his word, but the situation had changed. The rain would let them move sooner than anticipated.
“The man isn’t all there, you know. We’ve not even had time to properly search the store.” Andrina sounded defeated.
Percival could guess what she was thinking. She had organized the construction of hasty barricades with Nadia, Karl, and Roy Joy and subsequently hadn’t had the opportunity to give the department store a cursory search. Percival had, however. Barricades and sieges were Andrina’s bailiwick. Hell, the woman had written her doctorate thesis on ancient siege warfare.
Percival’s duties as the leader were to assess the situation and surroundings. There wasn’t anything that they could make use of in the department store that didn’t require some sort of repair beforehand. While that meant they should make a note of it for future scavenges, it also meant they didn’t need to stay there longer. Percival guessed Andrina knew him well enough by now to know that he’d not rush away from a building with stuff to loot.
“The useful stuff’s been taken. We’d have to do an in-depth search to turn up anything really useful, and we’re running low on time. The guys back in the Student Union are running low on time.”
“The traveling when it’s dark is dangerous,” Andrina countered.
“It always will be. But traveling anytime is dangerous and at least the rain will help some. It’ll help hide us.” Percival hoped he wouldn’t have to have this sort of conversation every time he announced their new plan.
“I understand and will stand by your decision.” Andrina turned back to watch the door. “We trust you to get us home safely, Mister Polz, or we’d not call you our leader. Keep your confidence up.”
Percival nodded, even though he knew she couldn’t see him with her back turned to him. “Thank you for the vote of confidence. Want me to send someone to watch the door with you?”
“I’ll be fine alone, thank you.”
“I’ll be back when it’s time to go. Unless there’s an emergency, at which point, meet at the roof.” Percival turned away and disappeared into the darkness of the store.
He looked in on Evan and chose to let the young man continue to sleep rather than wake him. It was unusual that any of them actually slept peacefully. Percival figured that he could get Evan up when it was time to go, rather than well before that time.
He was searching the second floor for Sarah when she found him.
“Pst…” She beckoned him toward the changing rooms. Only one of the doors actually remained on one of the booths. “Hey, where you been?”
Sarah was a year younger than Percival and far fitter. She had short brunette hair and stunning green eyes. Her face was narrow and slightly angular. She had discarded her jacket somewhere in the department store and shed her heavy over shirt as well. She now wore a blue tank top and tight track pants. Both accentuated her curves and made her more alluring.
“Out looking for you, actually,” Percival answered. “Where’ve you been?”
“Got bored looking over Evan, he’s old ‘nough to sleep by ‘imself you know. So I left him and went searching through the pharmacy.” She grinned at him. Her pearly white teeth gleamed in the light of their flashlights.