Hello and thank you for reading. This first paragraph is an introduction and is not part of this story. I am adding this introduction to explain a few things about myself as a writer and this story. I'll start with myself. I've been dabbling with writing for about six years now, not taking it really seriously, just doing it as a way to convey the things I find fascinating in my imagination to people around me, mostly just friends. I have started somewhere around five different stories, but I have the bad habit of losing interest after a few months of writing only a few pages and giving up on the whole story all together. I'm never sure where I plan on going with my stories; I simply start with an idea and run with it and as a result, my stories can seem a little disorganized or "rushed". I tend to focus too much on action with very little character development, which is something I've been trying to work on improving, but I think it has still seeped out in this story "No More Fear". I began this story shortly after reading "The Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z" by Max Brooks, before I had even heard of Lost Zombies, and this story originally started based on the facts given in Max Brook's works from the point of view of my main character, Vic, and his brother, Zach. I have since then re-written the opening paragraphs to coincide with the time line and story line of Lost Zombies. Any formatting errors are the result of copy/pasting from MS Office Word, which likes to make its own changes to my documents without asking me. I have done my best to catch any other errors but if you spot something that seems confusing or isn't clear, please comment so I can fix it. So, now that I have thoroughly bored you, I will go ahead and get this show on the road. Thank you again and enjoy.
No More Fear
By Adam Miller
I had been following the stories for intermittently for the past few months, not caring much about the new disease that had surfaced recently and had been plaguing parts of the United Sates for several weeks. Like the majority of America, I put it out of my mind as easily as I turned off my television. After all, what concern of it was mine? I’d heard it all before. It would be taken care of in another month or two, just as other recent ailments had, and the media would move on to the next big thing. I, like so many others, decided it would soon become a distasteful memory, another tiny smudge on the tapestry that was human history, like the other disasters of my time, of which I had given little heed to because they hardly effected my life at all.
But this, I would soon learn, was different. It moved among the inhabitants of the land so quickly that it was impossible to contain in the densely populated areas. Those unaware of the plague did not know the symptoms. They never saw it coming. In some cases, an infected person could go nearly five hours before the effects became apparent to others. And there was no cure. No modern medicine could combat this plague. Anyone who became infected was doomed to death. But death was not the end of the terror. The virus would take over a corpse’s brain and cause it to rise again.
The walking dead.
At first, very few realized the victims were actually dying. They thought the reanimation was simply an advanced stage of the virus. They attempted to subdue the afflicted and take them to a hospital and in the process became infected themselves through scratches or bites. Once the victims started pouring into hospitals, the disease spread like wildfire.
The living dead.
Constantly they hunger for human flesh, never satisfied, never growing tired. I had heard on the news a few days before I ran that some military installation had some people who were infected escape. It was a small number of people, and no one I spoke to about it seemed worried. Neither was I. But we soon learned it only takes one zombie to spread the plague. I don’t often call them “zombies”. Zombies only live in Hollywood films. That’s what the media dubbed them though. I guess it doesn’t matter. The few of them that made it out of that military compound intact immediately feasted on nearby civilians. Within a few hours, hundreds, possibly thousands, were infected. Police and military were soon dispatched, but they were unable to contain both the flood of infected and the crazed citizens living in nearby towns and cities who were now panicking. Within a day, the infection had spread to Las Vegas. By the end of the next day, the city was completely over-run. I was far enough away from the initial outbreaks in my area that I was able to collect myself and decide what I should do. I knew I had very little time to act. I decided to call my brother, who lived not-so-far away and was the only immediate family member I had left.
I tried his cell number. Two rings and a recorded message came on saying that the service provider was experiencing higher than normal traffic and could not connect to the dialed number. I groaned and tossed my useless cell phone on the couch and picked up my home phone.
I realized my hand was shaking as I punched out the numbers with my thumb. I turned on the TV with the remote and switched the channel to the local news station as I held the phone to my ear, listening to it ring.
“Come on Zach, pick up,” I muttered to myself, growing impatient. Three or four more rings went by before I heard, “Hello?”
“Where were you?” I asked, slightly miffed.
“Vic? What do you mean?” my brother inquired.
“Never mind. Are you watching this?”
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to call you on your cell but I couldn’t get through. It’s getting pretty bad. At the rate it spreading, it could reach us in a few hours. You think we should do something?”
“I think we need to get out of here,” I said as I watched the scenes of horror flickering across the TV screen.
“And just where are we going to go?”
“I don’t know, but we need to get away from other people, away from the cities. It’s total chaos. Everyone is trying to get out. It’s spreading so fast. This is unbelievable.”
I watched as a group of police were shown on the screen. They fired their service pistols into a small group of infected. One fell, missing a portion of its head. The others kept moving toward the police at a steady pace, seemingly unaware of their dripping wounds. My mouth gaped.
“Vic? Vic, are you still there?” Zach’s voice brought me back.
“Yeah. Yeah. Listen; get over here as soon as you can. Grab everything you think we’ll need that you can fit in your car. Grab your hunting gear and whatever guns and ammo you have. I’d say there’s a fair chance we’re going to run into trouble before the authorities get a handle on this. Grab whatever canned food you have too, but hurry up and get over here.”
“So what exactly do you plan on doing?”
“Well, we’re getting out of here, that’s for sure, not sure yet where we’ll be headed. I’ll figure it out before you get here.”
“Okay. Shouldn’t take me long to get my stuff together.”
“If you have any full gas cans, grab those too. Oh, and bottled water. I’ll be ready when you get here.”
“Okay, keep an eye on the news.”
“Yeah, I will. You have grandpa’s old Luger?”
“Keep it on the seat next to you. And don’t stop for anything. Got it?”
“Ok, drive safe.”
“All right, see you soon.”
He hung up. I headed down to the basement of my modest two-story home where I kept my small collection of firearms locked in a fire-proof gun safe. I entered the code and opened the heavy door. I removed my grandfather’s military issued Colt 1911 .45 in its under-the-arm holster, five spare magazines and eight boxes of hollow-point ammo, fifty rounds each. My grandfather had served in World War II. He’d brought back his side-arm and a German Luger, among other things. On my eighteenth birthday, he let me choose which one I would like to have as my own, with my father’s permission of course. Two years later, my brother Zach, who was my only sibling, was given the Luger for an eighteenth birthday present. My firearm collection had grown slightly since then.
Next from the safe was my Ruger Mini 14 .223, five spare twenty round magazines, California gun laws be darned, and a green ammo container that held about four hundred loose .223 cartridges. The Ruger was equipped with a 3x9 power telescopic sight with flip up lens covers and a comfortable sling. I had several other rifles and shot guns, but I decided against taking them with me. No need to over-pack. They would be here when I got back. I grabbed the pouch containing my gun cleaning kit and a small purse of tools and locked the safe. I quickly slipped into the shoulder holster that held the Colt and slid two mags into the pouches opposite the gun under my right arm. I removed the Colt and checked the chamber. Empty, as it should be. I inserted a magazine and left the chamber empty, to avoid any accidents. I repeated the process with the Ruger and slung it across my back with the muzzle pointing down. One spare mag went into the back pocket of my jeans. I placed the remaining magazines and ammo in a large duffle bag along with the cleaning kit and tools. Neatly stacked next to the safe sat my hunting gear. I stuffed my hiking boots, a warm jacket, thin gloves, a pair of mittens, a hatchet, an eight inch survival knife, a flash light and several fresh packs of batteries, a compass and anything else I thought I would need into the bag. I headed back upstairs to the kitchen.
From my pantry I filled two cardboard boxes with canned food and grabbed what bottled water I had. I dragged the duffle bag to my bedroom and tossed it on my bed. From the top dresser drawer came my home owner’s insurance: a Glock 17, full mag, empty chamber. It had its own holster that would ride in the small of my back or on a belt. A separate holster carried two magazines, each stuffed with seventeen 9mm hollow-point rounds. The Glock was equipped with grips that had an integrated laser sight useful for low light conditions, as well as fiber-optic front and rear sights. I arranged both the holsters on my belt, the Glock riding on my left hip, cross-draw, and the mags slightly behind it to make reloading easier. I reached under my bed and pulled another green ammo container that held six fifty-round boxes of ammunition, several sets of spare batteries for the laser sight and two additional magazines. This went into the duffel bag. I then raided my dresser and filled the remaining space in my bag with clothing.
I finally zipped the bag shut. I deposited the duffle next to the boxes on the kitchen table, pausing for a moment to try to think of anything else I might need. I thought of several. I headed back downstairs and fished out my best sleeping bag. After a little more fishing, I was able to find several fifty-foot coils of black nylon rope. A file and wet-stone to keep my hatchet and blade sharp were the last items from the basement. I toted it all back up to the kitchen and place it all in a third box. I moved out to the garage that was connected to my home and searched out a lantern and a can of fuel and brought them back inside to join the rest of my equipment. A map of the surrounding area was the last item on my mental check-list. I grabbed my keys off of a hook by the front doorway of my house and slowly opened the front door. I peered outside. The sun was resting on the tips of the mountains to the east, the sky burning a brilliant orange. I listened for anything unusual.
I quickly walked to my means of transportation, a white ’96 Mustang, and unlocked the driver door. After rummaging through the glove compartment for a moment, I located a small California road atlas. I closed the glove box, locked the car and headed back inside. Glancing at my wrist watch, I realized it had been nearly forty minutes since I spoke with my brother on the phone. I expected his arrival any moment. I headed for the living room, switching on the lights as I entered. I scooped up the remote as I sat on the couch and proceeded to turn up the news channel. I placed the atlas on my lap and began thumbing through the pages, finally coming across my geographic location. I looked up from the atlas just in time to see a civilian hurl a flaming bottle of what I assumed was gasoline into a small hoard of infected. The bottle shattered at their feet, momentarily engulfing the group in flames. Several caught fire immediately but none of them slowed. They continued staggering on toward the camera, the flames climbing up their bodies, large blisters quickly forming on pale skin. A large man, looked to be about six feet tall, two-seventy at least, ran at the leading creature with a baseball bat raised above his head. He swung the bat with enough force to hit a six-hundred foot homer, making a solid connection with the infected’s temple. Its head snapped to the side and the flaming corpse toppled over, tripping several more infected as it landed in their path. They quickly climbed over the fallen corpse, which ceased to move after the blow it had received, rose to their feet and continued on again. A woman’s shaky voice came on as the large man with the bat targeted another infected.
“Authorities are advising locals to remain indoors with your windows and doors closed and locked. Do not attempt to leave your homes unless instructed by local law enforcement. Rescue teams are being organized to remove survivors and military troops are being deployed to contain the outbreaks. Once again, remain indoors until help arrives. If someone in your group has been bitten or scratched by someone showing signs of infection, separate them from your group and do not attempt first aid. Wait for professional medical teams to arrive.”
“Screw that,” I said out loud to no one. The large man with the bat and several other civilians continued mercilessly beating the heads of the infected with crowbars, bats and tire irons. The view changed to an aerial shot, probably from a helicopter. In the dim light dozens of columns of smoke could be seen rising from between suburban homes. The camera zoomed in from above on a larger horde of infected numbering around thirty. Directly in front of them was a group of civilians dotted with several flickering lights. I watched the lights arc toward the hoard and watched as the hoard was swallowed by flames. Bright flashes came from the extended arm of one of the fighters. A flaming infected crumpled to the ground with each muzzle flash. The guy was a great shot.
I checked my time piece again. Fifteen more minutes had passed. Where was my brother? Had the virus already reached his home? From my hunting backpack I retrieved a Nikon 20x60 power spotting scope and headed to the attic. In the attic of my house there was a window that faced west towards the coast, roughly seventy-five miles distant. My home rested snugly on the side of a gentle slope about a thousand feet above sea level which gave me a spectacular view of southern California. On a clear day I could just barely make out the haze of the Pacific Ocean on the horizon. I rested the Nikon on the edge of the window sill and cranked the dial to sixty. I could see several columns of smoke drifting skyward between me and the setting sun. My brother lived about thirty miles closer to the coast. The smoke was definitely closer than that. My stomach sank. If Zach didn’t arrive within the next ten minutes, I would have to try and find him and get him out of there. This thing was spreading so fast; if we didn’t leave soon we’d be in the thick of it in no time. I went down to the main level and retuned the Nikon to where I’d gotten it. I breathed an aggravated sigh.
I jumped slightly when I heard a loud pounding on my front door. I drew the Glock and went to the shade and peered outside. I was extremely relived to see it was Zach. I holstered the Glock and rushed to unlock and open the door. His skin was pale.
“Thank God you’re alive, what took you so long?”
“I ran into a little trouble on the way out. So many people were trying to get away,” he closed his eyes and shook his head slightly, as if trying to shake an image from his mind. I noticed his hands were smeared with blood. I grabbed his wrist.
“Are you hurt?”
“No. There was a woman on the side of the road about ten miles back. She was carrying a small child and running. All alone. I don’t know where she was trying to go, but as I pulled up next to her, she tripped and fell. She dropped the kid and neither of them moved. I checked their pulses. She was still breathing but the kid was gone. I left him there. The woman is in the car. She had a gash on her arm and it was bleeding pretty bad so I tried to put a tourniquet on it.”
“She’s in the car?”
“The back seat.”
I went to my brother’s late model Jeep Wrangler and opened the rear door. Her head was on my end, she looked to be in her late twenties, her brown shoulder length hair was pulled back into a pony-tail. She had on a pink short-sleeved tee, blue jeans and tennis shoes. I checked her pulse. It was slow. Her skin was pale and clammy. On her left bicep was a wound that looked like a bite mark. The tourniquet tied above the wound had done little to stanch the flow of blood. Her eyes were closed, but every few seconds the lids would twitch. I felt a twinge run down my spine.
Zach had buckled her in. Right now, a car accident was the least of her worries.
“She’s fading pretty fast. We need to get her help,” I shut the door and headed back to the house, ushering Zach in front of me, “wash the blood off your hands and help me get my things loaded up.”
Zach headed for the bathroom and I began transferring the boxes and my gear to the front door. As I set down the third box, I heard a loud thud that came from outside. I pulled the shades aside and peered out into the growing darkness. Again I heard it.
I flipped on the flood light next to the door. I saw the rear window of the Jeep flex slightly with the next thud. The woman must have come to. I went out and opened the Jeep’s door. The woman was kneeling on the seat facing the door, her head was bowed. Her hands were balled into tight fists in her lap and her skin was a ghastly grey. Her breathing was labored and raspy and her chest heaved with each inhale. She didn’t move, just sat there breathing at me.
“Ma’am, are you all right?”
She slowly raised her head and stared at me for a few seconds. Her pupils seemed dilated. Saliva oozed from the corner of her mouth. The left side of her torso was now soaked in blood from her wound. I started to reach out to her, “Let me help you.”
She suddenly lunged at me, springing forward with her legs. I jumped back as she swung at me with an outstretched right hand. Something caught her as she sailed towards me and she hit the cement driveway face first. Hard. I heard a sickening crunch. She was hissing as she raised her head again, revealing to me her smashed nose. Blood speckled her face and the cement where she hit it. Her nose bubbled with each breath. She clawed at the ground intensely, trying to crawl towards me. Something in the car was holding her back. The seatbelt was wrapped around one of her feet, and she didn’t seem to realize it or care. All she cared about was reaching me.
I tried again to calm her down.
“Let me help you,” I reached out a hand and she swung at it again, trying to scratch or grab me. The images from the news flashed through my mind. There was nothing I could do for her. People in the streets were killing the infected on sight. She was oblivious to pain at this point. She was clawing so franticly at the driveway to get at me that she had worn her fingertips down to the bone, tracing bloody lines in my direction with each swipe. She was hissing and moaning with rage, spittle landing at my feet.
I drew the Glock, jacked the slide back and let it slam forward. I triggered the laser and centered the bright red dot on the bridge of her nose as she looked up at me with rage. I pulled the trigger. The shot seemed to echo on forever. I heard the bullet casing clatter as it landed on the concrete. The woman’s body fell limp and she ceased to move. Her back was covered in blood, bone and grey matter. Her head had fallen forward and a pool of blood began forming underneath. Zach came rushing out the door shortly after I fired, Luger in his dripping hand. He looked down at the corpse and the mess and then up at me.
“She was infected,” I said, somewhat matter-of-factly.
“So you shot her?” Zach said, flustered. I don’t think he really understood what this virus did. Neither did I, until now.
“She was trying to kill me. Look at her hands and her face; she’s lost her mind. She smashed her face on the driveway and she kept on coming after me like she didn’t even feel it. She’d still be clawing at me if I hadn’t shot her.”
“Vic, you can’t just shoot innocent people!” Zach said arms outstretched in disbelief, left hand open, the other surrounding the Luger.
“People have been killing the infected for the last hour. Besides the police. I watched mobs of people trying to kill hordes of them on the news,” I paused for a few seconds and holstered the Glock. I ran my hand through my hair and sighed, shifting my weight from one leg to the other, “Look, we don’t have time for this. We should get going before more of them show up,” I jabbed a thumb at the heap on the ground behind me. Zach stared.
“Look, there was nothing we could have done for her, Zach. She was as good as dead the moment she was bitten. Get used to the idea of killing them. If she hadn’t have gotten tangled in the seat belt she would have gotten me for sure,” I said, “I don’t want to know what would have happened if she had.” I turned back to the Jeep and untangled her foot.
“Go get my stuff,” I said over my shoulder, “It’s inside the door.”
Zach just stood there.
“Zach!” I yelled, starting to lose my patience. Zach jumped.
Zach shook his head and turned to retrieve my things. I grabbed the woman’s pant legs, one in each hand, and began dragging the corpse out of the way across the road, leaving a crimson trail of her blood behind me. I heard some commotion behind me and I heard Zach cough. I looked up to see Zach on one knee, vomiting on my lawn. I walked over to him quickly, knelt down next to him and put an arm around his shoulder.
“Come on Zach, stay with me here. We’re gonna make it out of here. We’re gonna be okay. You have to trust me; we are going to get through this together.”
When he finished, he wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced at me.
“I’m sorry, I’ll be fine. I-I’m just a little shaken up is all,” he stuttered. I patted him on the back a couple of times.
“Just focus on what we need to do,” I said, trying to get his mind off of what he’d seen. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen blood. We’d hunted game of all kinds together growing up, often camping in the mountains for several days at a time eating what we’d harvested. He inhaled deeply several times and slowly got to his feet. He picked up the box without a word and continued packing. Thatta boy.
I went back inside and grabbed the last of my stuff. Zach loaded it into the Jeep and then climbed into the driver’s side. I locked the front door of my house and headed for the Jeep. I removed the Mini-14 from my back and set it across the back seat, doing my best to keep it out of the blood soaking the seat covers. I hopped in the passenger seat and noticed Zach had his M1A1 .30 caliber carbine standing up against the dash. Our grandpa had given it to him. I got his M1 Garand, which was locked securely in my gun safe. It was too heavy and had a low ammo capacity; I mainly just shot it at the range for fun.
“Where to?” Zach asked.
“Head for the mountains. We’ll find somewhere to hole up for a week or so till this clears up.”
“Sounds like a plan.”