B.O.S.S.: Game of Life, Part 1.

All month I did a short story starring two vampire hunters.   I thought I’d try something a little different.

Zombie Apocalypses.   Enjoy.

He wants you for your brain ladies. Not in a good way.

“Ha!  And that’s all she wrote!” Harriet spiked her controller and thrust her hands triumphantly skyward. “Another decisive victory!”

“No need to gloat.” Jeff groaned and let his arms sag.

Harriet pounced on him planting a kiss on his freckled nose.   “Don’t be a spoil-sport.  I won fair and square.   To the victor goes the gloating rights; to the loser, a trip to the store!

Jeff sighed and moved a lock of hair from Harriet’s face.   “Of course dear, anything in particular?”

“Ice cream,” she said, “Not picky about the flavor, whatever they stocked up on is fine.”

“Got it.” He leaned and kissed her.  She giggled when their lips touched and she pulled away.  She offered him a coy smile.

“You’re not trying to distract me are you?   Hurry up.” Harriet rolled a shoulder.  Her toughness didn’t take away from her beauty one bit, though she hadn’t been the one to make a run for a while now.  Jeff worried she’d get soft from the down time.   Harriet had been the toughest woman he had met before or after… everything.   But weeks of slacking could soften anyone.

Jeff ran a hand through her auburn colored hair.  “Of course not, I was just reminding myself how lucky I am to have you.”

“Good.” She moved off of him and tugged on the collar of her hoodie.  “And I changed my mind.   I want rocky-road.   If you bring that I’ll give you a special~ surprise.”

Jeff made a face.  “That’s not fair.  They’ll have what they have–”

“It’s like the lottery then.   Adds to the excitement.” Harriet hurried off out of the living room.

Jeff sighed and stood: a spindly and short lad with strawberry blonde hair and beady little brown eyes.  He stretched his long legs.   He hated how it made him shorter than Harriet seated, and standing he only had an inch on her: just over five feet tall.   He waded through a sea of wrappers and cans and worked his way to the front door.   They hadn’t cleaned in a while, but it had been weeks since the garbage man died.  “I should set one out anyway.”

He grabbed a trash bag and took a few minutes, filled to bursting.  He tested its weight and girth.   He walked over to the entrance way and unlocked all thirteen locks, pulled the three chains and turned the massive deadbolt pull arm.

 It snapped free, he took a deep breath and laid a hand on the bag, ready to sprint.

The door swung open, he spotted one lumbering in the middle of the lot.   He hurled the bag as hard as he could and turned to secure locks.   He had to settle for five by the time two more figures closed on him.  He ducked, and they collided.

Jeff sprinted to the center of the lot.   The shambling figure struggled under the bag, it had confused and stunned it.   He sprung off its stomach, got some height and landed with both feet clean on its skull.    Brain matter splattered all over the parking lot.  Its skull had rotted completely through.   It exploded like a melon.

He kept moving he had five blocks to cover.   The store near his house wouldn’t be stocked for another month.  On top of it being a long trip.   Had he won the game he probably would have had his nose on the monitors watching Harriet make the same run.

He loved watching her run.   Yeah, for that reason.

“Hey Jeff.   You have to take the long way.   You have twelve dead ahead.” Harriet’s voice chirped in his earpiece.

“Whaaat?   That’ll take forever.” Jeff said, “Can’t I just go through?   I can take twelve.”

“Hmmm… It would be fun to watch.  Tell you what.   Double or nothing.   If you take that way AND get my rocky road, I’ll make the surprise even better.”

Jeff beamed, how long had it been…

“Wake up! “ His earpiece blared.

Jeff felt the clammy hands on his skin in the nick of time.   His elbow shot up and drove its jaw upward.   Rotted teeth flew into the air and clattered onto the ground.   He gave it a shove toppling it.

“You were thinking about dirty things weren’t you?  You’re gonna get yourself killed.” Harriet laughed on the other end.

“I feel so loved.  I coulda died; you can at least pretend you’d be upset.”

“I’m not upset cause I have faith in you.   You’re not going to let a biter get to you.   Didn’t you say you were gonna take out twelve?”

“If you’re making promises, I will.”

“Is that ALL you think about.”

“End of the world Harriet.  Not much else to think about.”

“Ok.    Fine.  Kill all twelve.   I promise.”

“Nice.” Jeff pumped his fist and ran through a ruined building.  It had been bombed a few weeks ago, made a decent short cut.   The biters didn’t like the debris, as they fell over trying to pass over it.  He kicked up dust as he ran through and it left him coughing.

“Almost there.  The entry is clear,” Harriet said.

Jeff stepped out of the dust and fanned it away.   Six of the biters were eating something… someone.  “Aw fuck, the neighborhood got smaller.”

“What where?”

“It’s in the camera’s blind spot.” Jeff sighed; he recognized the blue runner’s jacket instantly.   “Shannon.   You’re quickly getting your wish to be the last woman alive.”

“Well at least now I don’t have to worry about to sneaking over there,” Harriet said.

“What?   Oh come on you’re like… a million times prettier than her.”

“…now.” Harriet and Jeff broke into laughter.  He swiped a lead pipe from an abandoned Contruction yard.   He ran silently towards the pack and lined up a swing.   Four heads splattered against the arching swing, the pipe lodged into the ground with the impact.

The last two, covered in the dinner mate’s remains, faced him and roared.   He planted a boot  in the middle of the first’s face, smashing it’s soft flesh.   He axe-handled the second one and finished it with a bowie knife he picked up on his last run.

“None of that blood is your right?  I think you broke your record for splatter distance there,” Harriet said.

“I’m good.   You said there were twelve right?” Jeff rolled his shoulder.

“They’re just beyond the bar… oh!  You should pick up something from there too.”

“If they have anything; they only stock bars four times a year.” Jeff cleaned off his knife on the ground and sheathed it.  He kicked through some rubble to get another pipe.   He tested it’s weight with a few swings before moving on.

The bar had been completely surrounded by biters, ten or so.  They shuffled around aimlessly.  Oblivious to his presence, however near them a seven foot tall figure covered in muscle stared directly at him.

“Fuck… a Wight.” he frowned.  “You didn’t tell me there was a Wight.”

“Didn’t I?” Harriet said coyly, “Too much for you?”

Jeff flexed his fingers around his pipe.   The biters were the real problem, but an angered ‘Wight’ meant death.   He had to either kill it in one swing, or pick off the biters around it.   Even a drop of blood spilled on a Wight brought on the biters with twice the fervor as usual.

Jeff picked up a rock, rolled it in his fingers and tossed.   It bounced lazily off the leg of a biter, drawing nothing more than a lethargic glance.

“You might need to give up on the game, not much in the way of options here.”

“Never, I just need fire.” Jeff pulled on his bottom lip.  “Think the store has propane tanks?   Killing a Wight would probably get us an extra drop.”

“At least… but you don’t have any-way to light it.  Not like you can just throw a match.”

“I can make a Molotov though.  If the bar has anything I mean.”

“But… you don’t want to waste booze like that!” Harriet whined.

“Drinking it is more of a waste,” Jeff said, “You’re a weepy drunk anyway.”

Jeff scurried across the street, kept his head down, and slipped into the bar.   The bar looked full of beer, but no hard booze.   “Wine Coolers… That’s not gonna help.”

“Bring me one,” Harriet said through the headset.

“Fine.” Jeff pulled his backpack from his shoulders and loaded a few in.  Low to the ground, he spotted an unmarked jug.  “Holy shit…”

“What?  What is it?”

Jeff leaned forward and tugged it away from the counter.  He removed a cork and gave it a sniff.

“What?   Are you OK J?”

“Moonshine,” Jeff said with a grin, “Just what the doctor ordered.”

He scooped up some empty bottles and filled four of them.  He found bar rags that made some good fuses.   He put his backpack on his shoulders and started to leave.   He ran into something.

Jeff looked up.   The Wight stared at him with dead back eyes.   It’s presence blocked out the light of the overcast day.   He almost fumbled the bottle he decided to hold.

“Uh… why did you not warn me about this?” Jeff said pensively he looked around carefully, no biters  to be seen.   “…Harriet?”

Jeff tapped the earpiece keeping a cautious eye on the Wight.   They never attacked unless they were wounded.   Without biters it made it easy.

“Say uh… mind holding this?” Jeff offered the bottle of moonshine to the Wight.   It complied quietly without looking away from Jeff.   He slipped past and the beast began to move.

“Harriet?” He tapped his earpiece and hurried to a brisk walk. “I have a Wight on my ass.”

A chorus of roars echoed around him.  A biter lunged at him.  This very reason made Wights so dangerous: they set up ambushes.  It must have been how Sharon died.   He couldn’t kill with the Wight so close.   Early in the end he had seen a Wight split someone like a wishbone.  He had no desire to see it again, let alone endure it.

He shoved away the biter and saw three more in front of him.  He had to cut right to avoid being caught.  Lunging arm lashed out and missed him narrowly.

“Harriet!  I need high ground!” He called desperately into the headset.  His legs lifted from the ground and he felt himself moving quickly.   His eyes turned to see a lean looking Zombie holding him.  He squirmed but sprinters were too fast, too strong.   He grunted when his back made hard impact with the Wight.  The wind fled from his lungs from the hit.  Sprinters didn’t bite, but they enjoyed playing with their victims drumming up their terror until biters fed on their exhausted bodies.

The world spun and he could see the Sprinter watching him carefully.  Past that he could see the calm trot of the Wight surrounded by gibbering biters.

Jeff pawed helplessly at the Sprinter.   It swatted away his hand like swatting a fly.   Long limbs, no mouth, and large pitch black eyes gave the sprinter its unique look.   It made it that much more impressive that they effortlessly snuck up those they got killed.  Like most of the undead, it wore the scraps it had on when it perished, back when it could be called human.   This one sported a black suit, somewhat tattered but alarmingly tidy.

Great.   He could look forward to being killed by some corporate douchebag.

His senses returned.   He couldn’t get killed.   Not here.   Not now.     He reached out and snagged his pipe and swung wildly.   The Sprinter dodged away and lowered its gaze.   The biters and Wight closed in.   A crucial choice sat before him.

A thunderous shot rang out behind the approaching crowd and a biter toppled.   It had been some time since he had seen a shot.   His eyes scanned about frantically, realization dawned on him.  He flipped the frequency switch of his ear-piece.

“Harriet?” His head swam, who else could it be?

“Aw… I wanted it to be more of a surprise,“ she said.

“Where are you?” Jeff stood uneasily.

The biters spun frantically looking for their attacker.   They responded poorly to guns, and could never get a good bead on them.   Unfortunately ammo proved limited.

“Above.   I found this walkway last time I went out.” The sound of a gun reloading rang through the headset.

Jeff fixed his eyes on the hulking beast among the biters.   In his hand, the Molotov had shattered.   Alcohol stained his hand, arm and chest.  Black blood oozed from his hand, cut from the glass.

“Oh… shit…  SHIT SHIT SHIT!” Jeff scurried the closest fire escape.

“What is it?”

“The Wights is pissed.   Repeat.   The Wight is pissed!”

“Fuck.  Did I do that?”

“No, well… not exactly.” Jeff huffed, he approached the second flight.   “I gave it a Molotov so all I would have to do is hit it and…”

He could hear Harriet running.   She made distance, just as he should.

“It’s covered in Moonshine.   Just shoot it,” Jeff said.

“Easy for you to say.”  Harriet jumped between buildings in the distance.

The Wight let out an earsplitting roar, the feedback blared in his earpiece, the air raid siren’s squealed in protest, and the Wight slammed its fists into cement, splintering it.

“I’ll distract it.  It’s my fault it got pissed off anyway.” Jeff clapped his hands on his face.

“Moron!   It’s pissed.   Getting near it is—“

Jeff clicked off his headset, reclaimed his pipe and charged forward.

The biters noticed immediately and charged at him with equal fervor.   His first swing, a clothesline, decapitated a biter that stumbled a few steps before falling into a twitching pile.  He settled to a stop and the mob lunged for him.   A meaty fist swept them away like leaves in black colored mist, inches from his face.

“Bad idea!” Jeff broke into a run past the Wight; it lunged and narrowly missed grabbing a hold of his pack.  He glanced back and noticed a trail of alcohol behind him.  The bottles in his bag had been shattered and doused with the potent stink of bootleg hooch and cheap wine coolers.

He peeled off the bag and started to dispose of it.   Realization dawned on him as the Wight roared in feral rage.   He clicked the headset back on.

“—Fat headed son of a bitch!” Harriet’s voice sprung to life.

“Shoot the bag!”

“What bag?”

Jeff threw it at the Wight it landed clean in its face.

“Oh.  That bag.” Harriet sighed. “On it.”

The rifle shot erupted through the air and punched clean through the Nylon.   The Wight twisted, the bullet went clear through it’s left eye and stumbled it backwards.

“Fuck!  No spark.   You gotta be kidding me?!” Jeff winced.

“You can always bang two rocks together near him.”

“Not helping Harriet!” Jeff turned and ran into a nearby building.

The Wight gave Chase, the strap of the pack dangled around his neck.  Moonshine ran down his face and bare chest.

“Probably not the best idea, one more pillar goes down in that building and you got a thousand pounds of rocks coming down on your head.”

“I didn’t notice.” Jeff had cornered himself but the Wight’s girth was keeping it from getting in, but signs the ceiling wouldn’t last were piling up.  He had a small window to squeeze through but it wouldn’t buy him much in the way of time.

“Rocks?” Jeff’s eyes widened.  He threw scraps of wall at the Wight, pushing its rage further.   The rocks piled near him.   He dove through the window as the ceiling collapsed.  Stone struck stone and the satisfying sound of flame came to life.

He kept running.   It would take time for the flames to kill the Wight.   If it killed him at all.

“I’m heading back.” Harriet said, he glanced back and saw her waving from a rooftop.

“I won’t be long.   Have that surprise ready for me.”

“Yeah… but the Wight killed half of em’.”

“Hey!” Jeff slowed to a stop.  “That totally counts.”

“Get me my ice cream, then we can talk.” Harriet cut the line.

Jeff growled and flipped the frequency.   He jogged into the store.  The keypad had been newly installed.   He must have just missed the drop; that meant fresh food.  With Sharon dead the selection only got better.

“A-L-I-V-E.” Jeff said, the door beeped and allowed access.

Inside the shelves were pretty bare but fresh supplies had been set out.   Ammo, a radio, new packs… It had been one of the better runs he had made.

He held his breath when he went to the walk-in back freezer.

Vanilla.  Chocolate.   Vanilla.   Cookies and Cream.

“Rocky FUCKING Road!” Jeff held the ice cream over his head triumphantly.   He snuggled against it endearingly.   “Who’s getting some today?   You sir.   Yes you are~.”

He walked out of the cooler and came face to face with a blank pale face.

The Freezer door slammed behind him, her turned and ran for a weapon.   A sprinter had followed him in?!   No the sprinter.  The same one he saw in the plaza.   He reached for a steel flashlight but his hand bumped into black fabric.

 He looked up and saw the sprinter staring at him.   With the same black eyes, the same tidy suit.  He turned to run down another aisle and saw another.   Standing.   Staring.

Sprinters were Zombie magnets.   Two in the same place meant a funeral.   Three… he didn’t even want to think about it.   He turned to leave the store.   He could always come back but in the door way stood the same sprinter with its judging stare.

Jeff backpedaled slowly.   His thoughts swam and his heard pounded to bursting.  He bumped into something, turned and saw the suited sprinter.   He seemed taller than before.   Jeff felt like a child, two feet tall.   He turned another… and another… All four ways to run all blocked.

He crumpled over and clutched the container of ice-cream like a teddy bear.   It had been all over.   This, would be how he died.

“Jeff!” Harriet’s voice said in an annoyed tone.

His eyes snapped open, sweat rolled down his face.

“Jeff.” I can hear you.   Talk to me.   Are you crying?”

“What…?   N…No.” Jeff stood slowly.   He looked around, and found nothing; just alone in the store.   The door to the outside remained closed and quiet.

“Did they have it?”

“What?” Jeff brought a hand to his ear.

“I said… did they have it?” Harriet growled.   “The Ice cream.”

Jeff looked down at the cartoon moose on the container of ice cream and read the letters carefully.  Rocky Road.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Well get your ass back here.   It’s not like we have a working freezer in here.” Harriet voice rang clear in his ears.   He hadn’t dreamt that.

“Yeah…” Jeff quietly loaded up on supplies, left the store and took the long uneventful way back home.

As soon as he stepped through the door, he gave Harriet a strong hug.

Harriet blushed at the sentiment.   He had hardly noticed the lingerie she wore, a size too small for her nonetheless.  He gave her another squeeze.  “I’m glad you’re here with me Harriet, Thanks.

They enjoyed the ice-cream together, full of warm smiles and relished another day survived in the world gone mad.  Afterwards, they enjoyed dessert.

2 thoughts on “B.O.S.S.: Game of Life, Part 1.

  1. What’s this? A zombie story with a happy ending? How can that be?!? 😉

    It’s interesting how desensitized they are to the situation; they’ve obviously been enduring survival mode for a while. And while Jeff shows a brave face, it’s nice to see he has all this fear bubbling just below the surface.

    It was a fun read! 😀

    • Happy for now. You go far enough ahead in the Zombie Apocalypse it simply can’t end well… But doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the small victories.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

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