Written by Sionava
Norbert adjusted his glasses as he peeked out the window at the zombies. This place was only barely outside the south side of town, and probably wouldn’t stay safe for much longer.
“Gotta move out of here,” he muttered, but the only other person who’d made it to the shelter, some guy (TonZa? TonFa? Whatever. For some reason he was positive there was a capital letter somewhere in the middle), wasn’t willing to budge. Not without his pet dog, which he’d left at home…on the opposite side of the city.
What the hell. The main bulk of the horde were wandering the streets, so if he kept to the outskirts he should avoid most of the trouble. If the dog was still alive, and he brought it back, two survivors would be better than one. And if TonRa kicked the bucket first, well…Norbert was practical in these matters. He’d make sure it wouldn’t go to waste.
Norbert let the curtain carefully fall back into place and headed downstairs, peering into the near-pitch blackness and feeling around for any supplies. Despite the news he’d read that these shelters were under-stocked, it felt like he’d hit the jackpot. A rollmat, two tents, canned food, bottles of water, extra clothes, bandages and first aid kits, and best of all a wood axe. He immediately hefted that last item in both hands, carefully tested the edge, and nodded to himself. This’d do a better job than his pocket knife. Too bad there wasn’t a backpack, but as he was sure he could get to his destination and back before sunset he could afford to travel light for now. Pulling on some winter gloves to complement his jacket and boots, and grabbing some of the food, water and first aid supplies, he headed back up and took the southern exit from the shelter, into the concealing forest.
He headed west, pausing only to whack a couple of wandering zombies with his axe, and before long reached the southwestern corner of the town, which was occupied by a neat house with a picket-fenced backyard. Norbert did a double-take as he passed a smashed window, vaulted the fence and looked with contemplative interest at the staircase leading into the house’s basement.
Well, why not? Climbing in, he crept downstairs.
Again, luck was with him.
He ran his gloved fingers over the darkened countertops, stopping when he brushed the loaded magazine of a STEN.
Awww, yeah. And enough backup ammo to last me the day, at least.
He’d have to leave the axe, having no way to carry it for now save in his hands, but that was fine. Nothing topped a good SMG, and he could come back when ammo got low if he needed to. Affixing a suppressor that was also down in the basement, he made a mental note of the other guns and ascended the stairs to resume his trek.
He’d only crossed the street when he happened to glance into the window of the very next house and spot a backpack, and wasted no time smashing the glass in to grab it and strap it on. A watch on the bed was quickly put on his wrist.
There was a black leather touring suit lying abandoned on the floor nearby.
Norbert regarded it, images of himself, be-spectacled, black leathered, totally badass, bullets hailing from his STEN briefly filling his mind.
…mmmmaybe later. Besides, I can only imagine the look TonPa would give me if I came back wearing that.
The western side of the city also had a nice buffer of trees, and Norbert used it to his advantage, skirting a cemetery at the northwest side of town. Now there was only an open field between him and his goal…nothing to hide his approach.
Grimly, he pushed his spectacles further up his nose, held his STEN at the ready, and marched east.
Zombies meandered towards him from the town to the south and the east. Boomers, too. BRAAAAP! BRAAAAAAAAP! Despite a bit of ooze splatter, everything fell before him and he was soon at the threshold. The dog was inside, and alive! Norbert quickly blew the dog whistle TonYa had given him and wheeled to riddle a couple more zombies with holes, then mashed their corpses.
“C’mon dog,” he said when the mutt reached his side. “Let’s get outta here while we have the chance, then you, me and your master are heading somewhere safer.”
Backtracking the same way he’d come, Norbert paused only at the gun house to reclaim his axe, and grab both a handgun and double-barrel shotgun, with all the usable ammo. The shotgun was quickly exchanged for a Remington 870, pried from the undead hands of a zombie that met him coming the other way out of the broken window.
“Walk in the park,” he remarked to the dog, then put away the STEN for his axe and led the way east, on the home stretch to the shelter. Wouldn’t do to make too much noise near base camp, even if it wouldn’t remain such for much longer.
This proved to be a mistake.
A skeletal dog ploughed out of the undergrowth, snapping savagely at his jean-clad legs. Cursing as he flailed with his axe and cut up nothing but clods of dirt, Norbert dropped the weapon and tore at his backpack for the Remington, finally getting the shotgun out, pointed in the right direction and fired.
Bits of bone scattered across the ground.
Norbert shucked out the shell and put in a new round, then glared at his own dog. After having done absolutely nothing to help, the beast had the audacity to wag its tail.
“Fat lot of good you were,” he muttered, then stooped to retrieve the axe and shove it, rather than the shotgun, into the backpack. “The only thing safe in the woods would be the trees,” he added sourly to himself.
His legs were both thoroughly bitten and bleeding, although not badly, and he’d always been good dealing with pain. He’d hold for now. Better get to the shelter before that shotgun blast brings company.
Back with TonD(G? T?)a
A couple of minutes later they were at the shelter, and the grateful TonDa was teaching him some basic first aid, which Norbert immediately put to good use with his legs and some bandages. They didn’t end up helping much, but a good rest would patch him up. As soon as they blew this joint, grabbed the rollmat and tents and got out of here they could pitch camp a safe distance away and get some sleep.
“So you coming or what?” he said to TonJa, heading for the door.
“Yeah…I don’t think so.”
“…What? Really?” Norbert frowned. “Well, if you’re staying here and keeping all the stuff in the basement I can’t carry myself, can I have some of your–”
“No, you can fuck right off!”
Norbert’s frown deepened. Save a guy’s dog, get your legs savaged, and this was what you got. Screw this. He turned back for the door and, reaching it, noticed the dog was still at his own side rather than its master’s.
“Huh. This guy’s an asshole to you, too? That why you stayed at home?”
The dog stared up at him mutely, wagging its tail at his voice.
Norbert tapped a finger against the Remington, which he was holding propped up on his right shoulder. “And I don’t suppose you’ve eaten recently…have you?”
He turned around.
“Whatever. Look, man, sorry I was asking for handouts. Listen, I have a spare shotgun.” He casually lowered the Remington down into both hands. “Do you have any food to trade, by any chance?”
“Oh? Let me ch–”
Norbert pulled the corpse’s clothes off and pulled out his pocket knife. He glanced at the dog. “This will only take a few minutes.”
Evening – Day 1
Evening falling and bellies full, Norbert spent the night in the basement with the rollmat cushioning him from the cold floor. The dog hadn’t wanted to come downstairs in the dark, so sadly it wasn’t surprising when a cut-off yelp, breaking glass and smashing furniture woke him. Nobert fumbled for his glasses and put them on, then squinted at his watch. 2AM. It’d be dark. No use for the STEN if he couldn’t see more than an arm’s length in front of himself, and if yesterday was any indication he’d be better off relying on the shotgun than the axe.
Checking it was loaded, he crept upstairs and only just made the ground floor when a huge shape loomed before him from out of the night. The shotgun blast got the brute full in the chest, but it didn’t stop the momentum of the zombie’s thick-knuckled fist. Norbert flew backwards across the room and crashed into the metal lockers pressed up against the wall, gasping more from shock than pain. Staggering to his feet he threw himself out the nearest door, was accosted by a smaller zombie and wildly blasted its head off without thinking. His ears rang as he fired indiscriminately at everything that jumped out at him. Near-blind in the dark, now deaf, and no idea which way danger was coming from but knowing it was coming for him.
Oh my God, where is it? Where is it? How many rounds have I used?!
The Remington’s barrel weaved in the black air as he tried to point it in every direction at once, and then the brute appeared right in front of him with its muscular arms swinging like the pendulum of Death’s own clock–
The monster dropped.
Norbert smashed its head in with the stock and fled east into the trees, barely able to see where he was going, stopping only when the soft earth became asphalt under his boots. A road. He took a deep breath and calmed down. His hearing had returned and there were no sounds of pursuit. Almost as good: he knew this road. It led most of the way to a mansion out of town, and in the dark he could hopefully get there unmolested. It was a fancy place. There was sure to be food, drink, soft beds, and it’d be a damn sight better than this place now it was all busted up and crawling with zombies.
He reloaded his shotgun, and set off once more.
Dawn – Day 2
Hours passed. Dawn broke. It rained, then cleared. Shining 9mm casings and the pulped remains of zombies littered the opulent hallways, the latter leaking ichor into once-valuable carpets. A giant bee buzzed on the southern grounds, periodically murdering zombies that tangled with it. A giant wasp patrolled the east, doing likewise. A giant blue blob of ooze sludged aimlessly around a group of dead human bodies near the front door, their bodies mangled beyond recognition but still fresh beneath their matching lab coats, if one felt the need. And with a sharp new steak knife, that need would be easier to satisfy.
But for now…
Norbert put down “The Book of Five Rings” he’d been perusing, stood, stretched, picked up his bottle of cabernet sauvignon and wandered over to the pool table to set up a game for himself.
On the whole, he thought to himself as he took a swig of the red wine then exchanged the bottle for a cue, the Cataclysm could be much worse.