I’m having a hard time imaging this being over.
Or, depending on how you want to look at it, maybe this is really all just beginning? I’m not tired at all. I should be exhausted, weary, ready to rest, but I’m not. I think that’s fortunate, though I know that attitude will change as I actually get down to work.
Where to begin? Do I tell this in dramatic fashion, dragging out all the details in sinful fashion? Or do I cut straight to the chase and drop the biggest of all bombs?
I suppose as the Scribe I should record history. History tends to start at the beginning, so I guess I’ll follow suit and do the same.
Abby, Michelle, Kevin, Harold and I all went into the city to find Cassie on March 3rd. I woke up early, shockingly at 3:33 am that morning in one of the houses in Spring Meadow that the locals gifted to us as a home away from home. Kevin and I joked that it was our “embassy.” Sort of funny, but also pretty accurate.
After eating an early morning MRI with my brother Kev, we got our gear packed up, checked, double checked, and we loaded into the HRT. We coordinated with Ethan and Quan’s group as they started out towards the western parking garage at the apartments. Our plan was to reach detonator range at roughly the same time so the explosions were more or less simultaneous. All went well up to that point.
We heard Quan blow the other garage before we tried to blow ours. Operative word there is tried… The explosion was incredibly loud, even over all those miles with all those buildings in between. We saw some plumes of dust and debris rising up into the sky and we knew the explosion was successful. Very exciting shit for sure. We were in detonator range on our own garage, and Kevin hit the switch.
The Jinx Fairy struck.
Clicky clicky went the detonator, but no boomy boomy went the bombs. We had a minor, spirited debate as to whether or not to scrap the mission, but I put my foot down, and opted to move forward. Everyone else was onboard, though I know Kevin was skeptical. We were watching undead shuffle off towards the location of the explosion, even with us in the HRT right there moving, so I felt pretty confident we would be okay. One downed building would have to be enough of a diversion for us.
I don’t necessarily want to say I was wrong… but my judgment could’ve been better. It was a “grab your heels and brace for anal impact” kind of day that day, and I think no matter what my call would’ve been, things would’ve been bad, or worse. The third was the day this had to happen, and I’m glad I pushed forward.
I think we made it 15 minutes before the roads started to close up on us. We were engaging undead from the windows on a constant basis and the HRT’s plow blade was seeing some robust work smashing walkers from the road in front of us. It got to the point where we were pissing through ammunition fast enough, and there were enough bodies in the road ahead of us, I made the call to change our route to something safer.
We knew we had the car alarms as well as the fires in the garage, and despite it not blowing up, I had a good feeling the undead would still be inside the garage. That creates a bit of a vacuum right? A few thousand undead from the city packed into a single structure means a few thousand undead off the street.
I was right. Sadly, the route we took to head us towards the hospital we hadn’t been on yet, and there was a nasty surprise waiting for us. To be honest I don’t remember what happened. The first thing I remember was coming to, hanging on my side in the driver’s seat. Thankfully I was wearing my seatbelt, otherwise I would’ve been tossed around like a goddamn ragdoll. Kevin got chucked from his seat, and as it turns out, he’s got a sprained wrist and has so many bruises he looks spotted like a fucking leopard today. Tough kid.
Michelle woke me up, and after shitting a bit of a brick I got myself under control, and undid my seatbelt to get out of the seat. We discovered later on that the entire street we had been driving on was covered with both exploded as well as unexploded cluster munitions. Michelle told me after the fact yesterday that I’d taken my eyes off the road for just a few seconds to crack some dumb joke about Kevin or something, and that was long enough for me to hit one with the HRT.
Abby and Hal were shaken up, banged and bruised but alive and still in the fight. Michelle had her bell rung, and I already told you about Kevin. At that point the Jinx Fairy was balls deep inside us. We had no vehicle, we were out of radio contact with Ethan and Quan’s group, we were all alone, and utterly, and completely surrounded by the dead.
I radioed back to Spring Meadow and told Agnes or Anders to pass along the message to the other group that our vehicle was down. I gave our approximate position, and went back to unfucking our lives. We debated a plan, and decided we needed to try and blow the garage to create a powerful diversion to not only pull undead away from Cassie’s work so I could get there, but also to try and kill a bunch of these dead motherfuckers.
Kevin, Abby and Hal took the detonator and an AT4 anti tank weapon and went to the garage. I gave Kevin mad shit for having brought the armor piercing weapon, but it turned out to be a good decision on his part. More on that later. When we exited the now ruined HRT (and I mean ruined. The entire right front of the vehicle was blown to smithereens. I think the only reason we survived is that it looked to me that the charge blew on the plow blade, and not under the tire where Kevin was sitting.) there was forty or so undead in all directions. We laid down fire to clear the streets, and we split.
Michelle and I headed north… west to the center of town, and Abby, Hal and Kevin headed southeast to the hospital garage.
Here’s the story I pieced together from the trio that went thattaway;
Because of the relative vacuum created with the zombies in the garage, the run to the garage was fairly good for them. They reached the garage with minimal contact, and made a plan to suppress their weapons and head into the still fairly empty bottom level to try and find out what was wrong with the explosives.
I don’t know SHIT about explosives, but I guess Quan had some central detonation system on the bottom floor that all the different charges were slaved to. When they entered the bottom floor of the garage and cleared it, Abby found some loose wires that had been disconnected from the box, thus breaking the circuit I imagine.
Kevin switches with Abby, Abby and Hal lay cover for Kevin. At that point Michelle and I were getting gang raped by an army of the dead. I’d pissed through three magazines just moving down a street and a half and I had at least that much further to go again. I cried like a bitch to them to start making noise to get us some breathing room. They dropped their suppressors, and within seconds the gunfire started to distract the undead for us.
Back to them.
So like, two minutes into their louder shooting, they reported feeling a cold wind pick up. Like, creepy cold wind. I can remember the same feeling somewhat, but not quite to the level they described. I guess just seconds after... the entire parking garage filled with undead starts coming down at them. All three shit enough bricks to build a new parking garage, and they take off running literally for their lives.
They make it to cover out of blast range (read: theoretically out of blast range) and Kevin hits the switch. Kamotherfuckingboom. All the Semtex goes off, thankfully. Quan’s fear of the stuff being unstable turned out to be unfounded, which is clearly awesome for us.
So anyway, this garage was the one Quan didn’t like. It was more squat, with thicker floors and columns, and the bottom floor was half sunk into the ground as well. When the explosive blew, they didn’t take out enough support to topple te building immediately. Kevin said it was well on its way to collapsing, but with all those undead marching right the fuck out, he needed to bring the building down right then and there.
Enter the AT4.
Kevin jacks that pig up, lines up a shot straight into the center of the parking garage, and threads the fucking needle. The projectile goes right through a four foot gap at three hundred feet, and hits a pillar dead fucking nuts. Luckily the explosion took the entire pillar out, and like the finger of fucking God, down went the garage.
I heard the building shit the bed where we were, and wow did that buy us some time. Michelle and I had ducked into a pizza shop that I knew Cassie ate at every once in awhile for lunch. We’d gone in there to take cover and let the noise pull the undead in our area away. My hope was to slip out the back exit into a street or alley and then weave our way to Cassie’s work.
Of course as Michelle and I were getting up from taking cover, I get tackled by a fat undead prick. Michelle warned me just in time, and I sort of launched myself forward as he hit my lower back and legs. When I landed I sort of spun sideways, trying to get to my feet quickly, but he was literally in my junk and grabbing at me. My first thought was Kimber, but I gave the pistol to Michelle to use, and I also realized I wanted to be quiet. I snatched my knife off my belt and stabbed him in his fat head, managing to hit something grey inside there, killing him.
Talk about a close fucking call.
Michelle and I caught our breath, had a nice moment where I built up the nerve to thank her for being there for me(whereupon she touched my cheek, giving me a thrill), and we scooted out into the alley in the back of the pizza shop.
The alley was clear. We made it all the way down to the street that Casse’s work was actually on, and that’s when things went to shit. Well... went to shit isn’t the right expression. Went to weird is more apt.
Standing to one side of the intersection we walked into were... thousands of dead. Tens of thousands, all shoulder shoulder, standing in foul rank and file. Just a bit ahead of them was Alan, some asshole VP that Cassie hated. He was standing there, missing an arm and had this… malicious look about him. Normally the dead don’t have facial expressions, they don’t show emotion, but I swear to you Mr. Journal that bitch had contempt on his face for me.
I looked right, and the other directions had an equal amount of undead. Cassie’s direct boss, a woman named Melanie was standing in front of a wall of the dead. Her and Alan were there like… well, they were like sergeants or lieutenants.
In front of Melanie was Cassie.
She was dead. Very dead. Emaciated, drawn, bony, pale, sunken. She looked horrible. Her eyes had lost all the green sparkle I’d loved to look at. There instead was that filthy, milky, pus like white.
I won’t lie, nor will I posture here. I lost it. I straight up dropped to knees in a whole different place in my head and started to apologize over and over and over. I couldn’t say it enough or say it fast enough. I begged for forgiveness.
Then Cassie spoke. I… can’t remember all of the conversation. I remember being cold, very cold when she spoke. I remember the clouds coming in, and feeling like I’d finally gotten a chance to make things right by her. I remember her asking me to join her, to go to her in… the afterlife or something, and I remember hearing Michelle there. I remember Cassie seeing Michelle too, and I remember feeling so torn and confused. I wasn’t in my right mind.
Luckily Michelle was.
I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember when she started talking, the air became warmer, and sweeter. I remember looking down at my hands and seeing my knife resting on my wrist, starting to dent the skin from pressure. I was moments away from trying to kill myself to join Cassie.
I remember Michelle saying one thing before the world got turned around on me. She said something to Cassie about, “letting slip the chains of evil.”
Next thing I know I’m back on the other side. All the undead are gone, and it’s just Cassie and I standing in an empty intersection on June 23rd. The sky is sparkling blue and sun is warm. It’s like the last nineteen months of guilt never happened. It’s like I went to her that day, instead of taking care of just myself like a coward.
We embrace. We kiss. It’s beautiful. It’s everything I’ve wanted. But it’s fleeting. I know it, she knows it.
She tells me to move on. She tells me all the same things she told me in that dream a year ago. She tells me I am a good man, and that I deserve to live, and I deserve to love. She tells me she can see and feel the connection Michelle and I have, and that embarrasses me. I feel very… guilty about how I feel about Michelle. I want to love Cassie, to still be in love with her, as well as fall in love with Michelle, but that’s not possible. Nor is it healthy, or what the world needs.
I know now, in that moment what I need to do. I need to give Cassie peace, to set her free from the constraints of whatever hell that’s holding her, and give myself fully to someone who I want to love, that wants to love me back. I close my eyes, and when I open them again, I’m facing her dead body.
Michelle comes to me, hands me my Kimber and puts her arm around me, and with her support and presence, I was able to do what I didn’t think I could.
That’s what this is all about right? Leaning on our fellow man and woman, and believing that in the end, all will be well. Believing that somewhere out there the faith you have in whatever you believe in is being rewarded by something. Something bigger than you. Something that wants good things for you and for those you love.
It’s about having faith in those you know well, your loved ones, and having hope that those you do not know well will treat you better than you could wish, despite our failings and flaws.
When I pulled the trigger everything changed. I felt a weight come off me that I didn’t realize I was carrying. I watched- no, I felt a tangible outpouring leave me, and leave Cassie, spreading out into the world like ripples on a still pond. As the first ripple met and passed the ranks of undead, they fell to the ground like dominos. Each and every corpse standing fell to the ground.
Behind them, standing on the base of a traffic light I saw Kevin. With him he had both Abby and Hal, and they were slack jawed. We exchanged looks, and everyone knew…
It was over.
We checked many of the bodies to see if they were still animated by… Evil, but they weren’t. They were simply dead bodies now. No more murderous intent, no more hunger for the flesh of the living. No more fear of dying, no more fear of the dead.
Together we started walking back. I remember handing my pistol back to Michelle so she could holster it. I also remember taking her hand and squeezing it, holding it like I never wanted to let go again. Probably because I didn’t want to let go then, and I still don’t want to let go now. She’s in Hall C still, but I want to ask her to move to Hall E. I feel like we’re at that point.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I think fifteen minutes into our slow walk we heard radio chatter over the walkies. It was Ethan and Quan’s group rolling into our area of the city, and they were looking for us. They’d seen the dead fall, and were wondering if we were okay. We told them we were fine, and directed them to our location.
It’s amazingly easy to travel in the city with no traffic, and no zombies. Kind of amusing how easy it was. We stopped at Spring Meadow for an hour to eat and tend our wounds. I’ve got a motherfucker of a cut on my jaw from the HRT’s demise. If I figure out who dropped those cluster bombs I’ll punch his ass in the hairy beanbag. Retard.
The other team that blew the other garage had zero injuries. Not even so much as a frigging hangnail. I’m so glad for that. I just purged a shitload of guilt, I really don’t want to pile more on.
Sua Sponte is the Ranger motto. It means “of their own accord.” It is supposed to reflect that Rangers, as an elite fighting force, is entirely composed of men who volunteer multiple times over for progressively more difficult and more dangerous duties, simply to be a better soldier, and to help their nation, and the man standing next to them. They volunteer because they can, and because they know that when the job needs to get done, they will be there, willing to give everything necessary to get that job done.
De Oppresso Liber is the Green Beret motto. It means to free the oppressed. To set free those who have been bound into situations that are contradictory to democratic values, as well as human values. It means to help those that cannot help themselves.
That Others May Live is the motto of the Air Force Para Rescue units. It speaks for itself. PJs are trained, and one might even say naturally inclined to put their own lives on the line to save the lives of anyone. They do what they do, so that others may live when they would otherwise die.
Why am I rambling on about these mottos? Because we’ve got Rangers, one wily Green Beret, and a handful of Para Rescue men here taking part in the events that may or may not have just given mankind a second chance. These are the men and the creeds that we’ve lived by, and that many of us have died by.
I hope as time goes forward we continue as citizens of this new world to live by the creeds that the best of us tried to live up to. My hope is that I am a better man today, and that my fellow survivors are better people as well.
We have earned our second chance.
Now what do we do with it? Do we rally everyone under our banner, and attempt to lead whoever is left? Or do we seal ourselves off and try to do this right, alone?
We’ve got a lot of meetings going on here. Trying to figure out where we go from here. Do we continue to fortify? Are the other groups going to continue to be threats to us? Is it safe to plant crops outside our walls again?
I’ll chime in when we’ve figured some of this out.