Archive for July, 2013

The night was cool, but not uncomfortable. Wind whispered through the pines and the crackle of the two fires blended with the smoke from the meat roasting on two spits, slowly being turned over a bed of glowing coals.

I was being entertained by some new friends. As unlikely as that sounded, it was turning out to be a good thing. Everyone knew, or should know, the number one saying in Cherno: “Trust NO ONE!” But, to my amazement, I did trust these people and felt that even though I wasn’t in the Clan they would help me and have my back if needed.

Our arrangement was in all likelihood, not really unique. I was good at finding gear, and stowing it away for future use. I could drive like Andretti and Fly as well. I knew my way around weapons and field-craft and understood the vagaries of Military Protocol. Even though this was no actual Military, it still had a loose chain of command…very loose, but still there.

I sat on the ground and munched on a bag of peanuts from a MRE that I had found earlier in the pack of a ‘dead’ survivor…one of many oxymoron’s that brought an ironic smile to my face…Military Intelligence, Giant Shrimp, Honest Bankers, you get the picture. Occasionally I would raise my issue rangefinder to my eyes and peer over the scrub brush toward the small road that lead to the warehouse and ancillary buildings that surrounded one side.

Against the fence there were five eighty-eight gallon black drums in a line and two slightly away from them, one red and one blue. Drums being used as makeshift fireplaces were common all over this country.

 The system really wasn’t complex; if I needed a face to face I would light two of the black drums. Depending on which two were lit could mean “Meet me at___” or “I have Intel”.  A response was to light either the red, meaning NOT NOW or blue which meant “Meet at safe zone” The latter was an ever changing location where we had relative safety and solitude.

Earlier today, I had lit two of the black, and was glad to see a third and fourth black, and the blue barrel lit in response. I had stolen into the warehouse, stripped the dead body of his MRE, two bandages and a blood bag. Those you had to be careful of using as they as often as not would give you a serious infection. I stowed them in a bag alongside of the large chunk of fresh beef I had gotten early on in the day, and put out all the fires; message received. Had I changed my mind, I would have put them all out and lit the red.

This safe zone was an area clearly marked by the H1N1 Clan, very few would stray this far into the village. A few foolhardy fresh spawns would run into the homes, barns and sheds looking for food and weapons, and that was what I was watching now through the lenses of my rangefinder.

He ran crouched, and was actually doing a pretty good job staying concealed.  Weaving around buildings and vaulting over fences, he made his way deeper into the small, quiet Russian county village of Olsha.

Olsha was a very small community on the outskirts of the North East airstrip. It was formally a support village for the strip and enjoyed easy access to the ocean.

A distant growling reached my ears and I slowly turned my attention to a small, reddish house perched on the side of the hill facing away from the street.

The survivor was backing away from two zombies, one standing and a hopper. Both were equally dangerous. He had gotten himself pinned inside the buildings blocked entrance and a large fence.

‘Sucks for you buddy…’ I thought to myself as I watch the increasingly panicked man attempting to push his way through the aggravated Zeds, both now standing and striking at the human. Screams reached my ears, and shouts of other zombies ran to see what new food source was available. Flailing about himself with an axe, the man was being knocked to the ground repeatedly by the dead.  Before long, he lay prone on the ground, axe to one side and a hopper chewing on his right leg.

‘See ya next time…stay off the coast.’ The days of me saying prayers were over.

 

THUNK! The flaming arrow struck the side of the large wooden pallet that was leaning against an unlit drum. That was a signal to approach. I scanned the tree line one last time before standing and adjusting my gear and walking out to the middle of the street. It made my skin crawl knowing I was so exposed. I could almost feel the crosshairs on my skull.

“Shadow!” the familiar voice of Leroy came to me from behind a barn. He walked out carrying a crossbow, his DMR slung across his Ghillie suited shoulder. I crossed the street to him and shook his hand. “Good to see ya  Leroy!”  He smiled easily, his six foot plus frame made it easy for him to lug his Coyote backpack and the ever present Beretta M9sd strapped to his right leg in its green drop rig. “What’s shakin’ kiddo?”  I asked him, watching the zeds out of the corner of my eye.

“Not much Shadow, how are you?”

“Good…well you know…” my voice trailed off “Hungry? I brought beef!”

He clapped me on the shoulder, smiled again. “Cool! I could eat!” and with that he turned and walked into the woods, towards the makeshift safe area.

I followed him into the woods, every once in a while we would jink hard and double back to make certain that we weren’t being watched or followed. I knew that we were being over watched by another member of H1N1, but I didn’t know who or where they were.

After a short while, we came to a camp. Two familiar faces greeted me from around the rocks that surrounded the camp.

“Shadow, how are ya buddy!”  my friend Outlaw said to me as he crouched over the small, hot fire. Stirring something into a tin can he stood and took a slow, careful sip.

“Fuck! That’s Hot!” He said, wiping his chin with the back of his left hand. “Want some?” he asked

“Don’t do it!” said a voice in the rocks. That was Blackbird, another of the core members of this Clan. “It’s most likely poison” he continued.

“Your just pissed” said Outlaw, “Don’t listen to him Shadow, he’s just mad ‘cause I killed him by accident yesterday”

“Dude! Seriously!…Shadow, he decided to attempt a Heli back flip and smoked Mec and I!” Black spat.

“I do ‘em all the damn time!, and I said I was sorry” Outlaw replied.

“NOT AT 60 METERS in the air!” and with that, Black turned to me and continued. “ Don’t fly with this idiot Shadow…and don’t drink his ‘coffee’!

“Coffee?” I said. “Doesn’t smell like coffee.  Leroy walked over to the fires and lifted the chunks of beef onto a waiting spit. Setting it on two rocks, the meat began to heat, and cook, fat dripping into the fire and sizzling onto the coals and hot rocks.

“Well, its not really coffee…more like Chicory.”

Chicory was the roasted and ground root of the endive plant, which offsets what many refer to as the “bitter cup of coffee.” Since chicory tends to darken coffee, this darkness has often been misconstrued as meaning the coffee will be bitter or stronger. Many in the South would blend Chicory with coffee to yield a rich, sweet cup of coffee, and stretch the gounds to last longer.

“Lotsa gardens here, so I figured what the hell.” Outlaw took another sip. “Well, it’s not Starbucks, but it will do.” He took his can and walked over to the fires.

Black shook his head and turned back to watch the far tree line.

“Where’s Lead?” I asked no one in particular. Lead was another member of H1N1.

“Not here” said Black. Outlaw added “I expect he will be around shortly.

“So, what’s going on Shadow?” Leroy asked while adjusting the meat over the fire, it was charring nicely now and smelling even better. My stomach rumbled in anticipation of a steak dinner.

“I have some Intel on a base camp, but would rather wait to tell it once, to everyone.”

“Cool” Leroy said looking up from the spit

A crash deep in the woods split the quiet of the night. Leroy quickly covered the fires with a wet hide that was sitting in a pile of rocks, extinguishing the flames quickly. Steam and smoke rose from the pits and we were plunged into twilight. Quietly, Leroy un-shouldered his DMR and moved to the rocks to cover a flanking position to Blacks nine o-clock.

Outlaw and I looked at each other. Grim faced we moved out in a two man fire team to observe or engage the threat.

And that’s when a deep voice spoke to us from the barn…

two~ Ink

Posted: J July, 2013 in Uncategorized

Food, drink and rest. The tent was small and full of gear and I had tied myself to a tree overlooking it so that I could sleep without getting a nasty surprise while still keeping an eye on one of my caches. Throw a bunch of pine cones around the tent and you have an immediate crunching alarm to wake you.

I had made the decision to hide the UAZ. It was pretty quick for a Russian piece of shit, but was definitely noisy. I had packed it full of meat, boiled water and Shotgun shells. A few PDWs and a G17 rounded out the gear I had decided to trade out. I was looking for DMR mags and some antibiotics. The reality was that I actually had plenty, but wanted to deplete the supply as much as I could. The gear and the UAZ would help me achieve that goal for today.

If bullets were cash, Antibiotics were gold.

 

Standing in a smoky courtyard, I looked out at the men standing guard…presumably for our protection.

Leaning against the wall of the Church with my arms crossed, I patted my concealed Colt 1911 that was stashed under my left armpit. Weapons weren’t yet taken at the gate, but 45’s were a bit rare. I didn’t want to give anyone an idea to follow me out and trade a bullet for it.

These trading posts were starting to grow. They were for now only in two major cities. Survivors and Clans were finding out that it often beat raiding. Some people had begun to occupy the farms in the area and had taken veggies, eggs and meat to this new market. Hired guns kept the neo-farmers safe and the survivors relatively docile.

Traders Law was simple: No Fights, No Brandishing Firearms, No Murders, No Stealing. Anyone caught was stripped, bound to a tank trap and left for zombies.

After the first few, many remembered the begging, the screams and the smell of what was left. Few broke easily the Traders Law now.

A makeshift bar had been set up. Potato Vodka and Apple Jack was giving way to a type of wheat beer that had been previously brewed in this region. Men were sitting around trestle tables, drinking and eating dried beef. Upon occasion you could hear a silenced weapon dropping a zombie that had strayed too close for a guards comfort.

A loud voice rang out of the small, smelly crowd. “Join US! Join the strongest clan in Cherno! We are recruiting and we can protect each other from that clan of abominations! He pointed at a nearby wall.

 SO, there it was, scrawled on the wall for the world to see. Three rings joined in the middle with what I knew was the Russian word for ‘Virus’. Bright red spray paint was a warning now

{H1N1}

 Image

вирусbi

Не работают. Вам останется только умереть уставшим

Translated, it meant  “ H1n1” “Virus” “Don’t run. You will only die tired.”

This wasn’t the first time that I had seen this symbol, this bracketed word.  I had often traded with a few of them, and found them to be surprisingly strong and well equipped. My guess was that some of the members are professionally trained. One man had my United States Marine Corps Eagle Globe and Anchor tattoo on his shoulder. Its colors proudly displayed. I didn’t recognize him, but the Corps was far reaching here a few times it seems.  Another of the men was definitely a Southern Boy. Nice enough fellow, easy to talk to and joke with. The other guys like to kid him about some time he did Stateside…something about getting caught with the Sherriff’s wife and his sister.

At the same time.

I guess the joke was that he gave them the best three minutes of their lives.

Many of the men on this fractured universe had now decided to tattoo or brand themselves.  Many people joined together in a bond of unity for protection and camaraderie.  They would find ink and scratch a prison type tattoo into their skin (typically on the back of their gun hand so it would always be visible) to show solidarity, pride of belonging, or to let others know who they were messing with.

Others, I suppose, did it so that if found they would more easily be identified.

Whatever…

It simply told me of affiliations. Some were strong, others simply an amalgam of punk ass kids that could only fight in groups.

Kinda like Yankees.

There were several of the latter variety. I saw spray painted walls that said things like

“DO NOT ENTER! CLAN DNP PROPERTY!”

DNP was the result of a north western warlord that had a few supplies, several trucks and more ammo than brains. They would roll in and spray bullets. Pick up what was left and roll out. Sometimes they shot their own men in what I hoped was friendly fire. They would strip the bodies and leave them for the ever present flies and zombies.

I stay away from them as much as possible. I know where the main camp they have is located and I occasionally raid a weapons cache for ammo when I feel like I am running low, but really they are more a nuisance and a danger to themselves the way they operate. I pop the guard, get what I need and move on.

Another group I see more than I care to is a small but very annoyingly vocal pack of idiots. One in particular seems to favor pink spray paint. I see things like “Ck” and “TKITN” which I am made to understand means ’The Kings In The North’. The ‘Carnage Kids’ clan is comprised of a few individuals that can only fight when together. I know this due to watching in amusement remaining members run as fast as they can when another member falls. Their strength lies in communication and a windbag named George. I have seen him a few times shouting and preening like some over dressed pimp attempting to convince the public that the two-dollar whores that follow him are actually thousand dollar escorts.

The few town squares and trading posts that occur around Cherno and Elektro are often invaded by this self aggrandizing blowhard.  It’s all I can do to not break the Traders Law and rip his throat out with my teeth.

But, I chose instead to watch this retarded excuse for a human strut and shout, and see people roll their eyes and smirk at his antics.

He’s the kind of guy you hate to be stuck in a party with. I’ll have my fill one day and it will be over, but for now, he is content convincing anyone that will listen that he is a God. I let it go, but not for much longer.

The trades were slow, so I decided to pack it in and bug out before someone could get a good position and shoot me out of the UAZ.

It was getting dark. I made my way to the gate and nodded at one of the guards. Interestingly he looked at a man standing by the outside of the side gate.  A sideways glance showed me that the man spun and took off across the street, disappearing behind a broken and painted wall. Small hairs rose on the back of my neck.

“See ya next time” I muttered. “Might be able to get some ammo for this DMR” Misdirection was good. I had a ton of 7.62

“Yeah?”  The suspicious guard responded. “wanna trade it for a AKM?”

“Nah, it was my mom’s…kinda sentimental ‘bout that kinda stuff” I said as I slid behind the wheel of the UAZ. I started the noisy, Russian jeep and ground it into gear.

Stabbing the throttle I jetted out into the side street, turned hard left and then right, intending to get to a safe zone as quickly as possible.

At the last moment I spun the wheel hard and drove through a gap in a small split rail fence and jammed the gas pedal to the floor. The UAZ bucked and bounced up the hill, Cherno fading behind me. It was going to be a twisty, long drive home, but I would not take the chance in someone being able to follow or ambush me.

All at once, someone jumped out from behind a bush. He was armed with a Winchester and pointed the long weapon right at me I quickly spun the wheel, downshifted and throttled up. He was fast, but was no match for almost a ton and a half of steel.

I heard the crunch and scream as he bounced under the tires of the UAZ.

Smiling, I thought to myself “There’s a new tat for ya. It’s a tire tread. Ill sign it SHADOW next time I see you.”

Lights off, NV on, I headed to my safe zone .

Another day in Cherno…just another day.

Tin cans…and dried out Pepsi cans too, were all that I found in the hatch, er, open doorway of the small Russian farm house. The door to the kitchen was open where I could see a table, two chairs and a dirty sink.

I walked into the little kitchen. Setting my DMR on the rickety wooden table, I leaned over and picked up one of the overturned chairs and sat down. It was a bit risky, but to actually sit in a chair (even one as uncomfortable as this) was a nice change.

Looking at the empty cans made my stomach rumble. It had been a while since I had eaten anything substantial. The rabbit I caught was tough and small, but it was at least food.

Next time I might risk a fire. Bloody meat wasn’t my favorite thing to enjoy.

As near as I could figure, it seemed like when a ‘survivor’ was ‘killed’ they either stripped off some of their gear, or someone did it for them. That was the only way I could explain the food, clothing, weapons and TAC gear one could find in buildings.

I did watch in horror once when a bandit I shot re-animated in front of me.

He rolled around a bit and then stood. Hunched over, he looked around at the room first, then himself.

Picking through his pockets, he removed a military MRE, and a single can of Coke. After looking at them with dead eyes, he growled and dropped them to the ground. The last thing he did was to move straight toward me before a double-tap of my M9-SD tore the back of his head off, dropping him to the ground.

Doubtful that he would turn up on the beach anytime soon, I’ll bet.

I moved in for the much needed food and drink, and made my escape through the back entrance of the storage room.

That was two days ago, and the rabbit one. Food soon, and drink or I would be in serious trouble.

I had not seen Hoppy, the Russian or any other person in weeks. Things fell apart after the tent med base next to the airfield had been over-run. Balota was a nice town once I’ll wager, noise from the single airstrip was balanced with sea air and easy navigation to the main coastal highway. If it were in America, I would surmise that it was mainly people that worked on the base or in not too distant Cherno.

A large bandit squad had made the decision that they needed the food, weapons and med gear that we had saved up. A large battle had started and we too few survivors were overpowered easily.

I found myself awake on the beach many kilometers away with basic gear, and a new hat.

Go figure.

Yesterday morning I found a Winchester and a few rounds on a body in a barn. He wouldn’t need it anymore I thought as I eased it over the well used pack he was wearing and slung it onto my back.

“Sorry buddy” I said to the body. “I need this now, and the Coke too…” The aluminum can was hot and dented, but wasn’t leaking. I stuffed it and the slugs into my Alice packs side pouch. “Might meet you again someday, but do us both a favor…don’t look at me or follow me or we will do this dance again!”

The sound of footsteps outside the barn made me duck behind the haystack that was on the second floor. I hoped that whatever it was wouldn’t hear the flies buzzing all over the body a few feet from me.

Slowly, I cracked open the Winchesters trap door and saw the brass of the rounds in its tubular magazine.  Easing the hammer back, I brought the weapon up, ready to drop the threat and run to the trees.

Grunting, the survivor moved up the first set of stairs to the level I was crouching on. I listened intently to see if he was alone, and waited for him to cross the end of the stairs. Launching myself up I brought my Winchester inline with the survivors face. One pull of the trigger and he flew off the top of the stairs, falling to the stone floor below, bones crunching and blood mixing with the straw. I carefully moved down the stairs and watched the doors while removing the hatchet from my belt. My eyes darted from side to side and with determination I struck twice, caving in what was left of his skull.

In this world, it was a mercy killing…almost.

I shrugged out of my Alice pack, and pulled his body to the side, stripping him of his Coyote Backpack, the pistol belt and its holstered weapon and to my amazement, his green stocked DMR!

He didn’t have much food on him, but did have ammo, bandages, antibiotics and a canteen. All of which made it in and on my equipment belt and new pack.

I stopped and listened for movement…nothing here, but growling and barking in the corner of the building lot told me that the shot had brought some hungry company. I stole out the door and quickly cut to one side. Dropping onto the ground, I moved behind another hay pile and cinched down the new gear.

Bringing the DMR off my shoulder, I scanned the tree line to see if there were any of his friends. Nope. I pulled the operating rod back a bit to confirm that there was a round in the chamber and stabbed the mag release once I saw the gleam of a 7.62 sitting in the breech. Pushing on the top of the magazine, I determined that it was only down two rounds. Racking the magazine back into the weapons well, I decided on a next move.

“Nothin’ to do but to do it!” I said to no one, and sprinted for the tree line. The fading sounds of growling and aggravated zombies faded behind me. Peering over my shoulder, I looked to see if I was being chased or followed. Nope, all was as clear as it could be…this time.

I was watching a small group of survivors that had set up a camp just NNE of Elektro a short time back, and they were talking about the small airstrip that was located not far from the coast, but way up north.

Tensing my legs, I was about to back away from the three when I heard one of the men say ‘too bad you killed that nurse. I coulda used a time or two more with her’. The two other men laughed loudly, stupidly at the rapist comment. It was enough sound to cover my movement up to them.

Six rounds, three dead bodies, a Russian federation UAZ and new gear were now mine. I chose not to finish them. I hoped to meet them again, and kill them all over… I smiled to myself with that thought as I loaded their gear into the UAZ.

Starting the Russian Jeep up, I slid into first gear and moved onto the road. Let’s see about this airfield, and let’s see if we can get back to the world.

I need food and sleep, but first, I need to hide this UAZ. And while running through the forest like some over armed bunny was hard, driving was too noisy and THAT brought far too much attention.

For now, I need rest, so I decided to stash the UAZ in the trees, and take off on foot.

Two days later, here I am. Me, a canteen half filled with questionable water, and a large virtually empty backpack.

Ill tell you the rest after some sleep.

~Shadow