WARNING: This has nothing to do with the Board Game. Just saying.
Walking dead is back on so it put me in a Zombie Mood. Last time we checked in with Jeff and Harriet some serious bad stuff went down. For those of you new to the short story you can catch up here. This is a friendly reminder that I have a nifty folder with my short stories all in one place, if you’re ever up for a reading marathon. Feel free to use the site search engine to track down the original post if you want to comment on a favorite, I appreciate all feedback.
Part 9 — Vengeance
Jeff carried Harriet to a small motel room. He paused at the door, taking a precursory check for any odd vents or outward threats, something Harriet usually handled when they found a new place. It had one major room with a comfortable bed and a single table with a bible in its only drawer. It brought back memories of every crappy vacation Jeff had ever taken.
He laid Harriet on the bed, checked the windows to ensure they opened, tore apart their lamp and overhead light to check for bugs, rapped on all four walls to ensure they were plaster and not two sided mirrors, and slumped beside her to lament on their predicament.
Jeff shook Harriet gently in close ten minute intervals. As he reached for the twenty first she sat up quickly, dukes raised. In her groggy haze she recognized Jeff, looked about the room and slipped off the bed. She did the very same walk through he did in silence. Jeff had no complaints.
“Chae is dead.”
“Figures,” Harriet said, putting her hands on her hips. “I should have known something bad was going down, guess I got sloppy.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Never said it was.” Harriet shrugged a shoulder. “So do we care about this? I mean we hardly knew the girl.”
“Yeah. We definitely fucking care.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear.” Harriet stooped over, peering under the bed. She hesitated then stood. With a pantomime of thumb and pinky she glanced downward. “But– We’re outnumbered and better off just letting it slide. They’re letting us have our ride back?”
Jeff narrowed his eyes, even playing along for a bug stung his pride. “Yeah. They said they wanted some of the doses of the cure. I agreed thinking they’d spare Chae.”
“That was pretty stupid, but a deals a deal. I guess you weren’t very specific?” Harriet paced to the window, looking outside.
“Yeah should have known from ‘we’ll take care of her’.”
Harriet tightened a hand on the curtain. “She didn’t suffer right?”
“Bullet to the skull.”
“Fuck. I bet Dick did it. I’m right aren’t I?”
Jeff nodded. She didn’t need to see it to know his answer. “How long do have to get the hell out?”
“Forty-two or so. You’ve been out for over three hours.”
“Well we’re leaving, now,” Harriet said.
“They probably don’t have our ride fixed.”
“Then we pester their asses till they get it done.” She stormed back towards the door, but Jeff stopped her.
“You should rest. Just a bit more,” Jeff said.
“And waste time?”
“If you didn’t need the rest you woulda bowled right over me. A few hours isn’t gonna hurt.”
Harriet landed hard on the bed and peeled off her clothes.
“We checked. No cameras. And if you’re not gonna let me get back to burning steam off by killing biters, you’re up champ.”
“But– I– Chae. She’s dead because–”
“Because some asshole shot her,” Harriet said. “We’ll let Karma deal with them, alright? Now get your ass over here before I drag it over here.”
So he did.
They may not have gotten much in the way of rest, but Jeff’s sense of motivation swelled over the next several hours. Darkness fell over the wasteland turned safe haven and the biters cries took to the air. They were always so much noisier at night. Jeff suspected it came from them running into shit.
Occasional bursts of gunfire peppered the night when the sprinters drew close to the camp. But for Jeff and Harriet it let them know the weakest defended sections of the compound. The took turns showering in the cramped bathroom, exchanged notes and left with the guard locations fresh in their heads.
“Halt.” A guard approached, gun at ease. “It’s dangerous to go out at night.”
“Then give us guns,” Harriet said.
“Negative. I have no weapon to give you and mine is registered and chipped for me alone.”
Jeff let out a low whistle. “Whoa. High tech.”
“I am authorised to give you night vision equipment. You are a guest for the allotted time agreed on.”
Harriet raised a demanding hand. “Cough it up. We want to check on the guys repairing our ride.”
The guard handed over two packages, both contained top of the line night vision goggles complete with heads up computers. Voice command. Before the apocalypse they’d go for a half million, military grade.
“How kind of you,” Jeff said, booting his up.
“Hey. You got dogs here?” Harriet said, setting her pair on her forehead.
“Yeah. There’s a kennel nearby, why?”
“I haven’t seen a fucking dog for a year. You OK if I petting Zoo it up?”
“Sure. They’re a bit edgy since we use them to sniff out biters but– I don’t see the harm. Use the scanner to get to it.”
Jeff had already been wading through the topside map, even without the guard routes it made for a clear picture of the grounds. “Found it. Kennel Six right?”
“Right,” the guard said. “And please be careful. We don’t need anymore biters than there already are.”
“It’s cool,” Harriet said. “We’re immune remember?”
“Heard it before,” The guard shrugged. “We don’t take chances here.”
“See this suit? It’s wired to explode the instant biter blood gets in my veins, best peace of mind I can get.”
“Yeah. Not weird at all.” Jeff said, frowning. “You realize that also means they can blow you to hell for any damn reason at all.”
The guard scoffed. “Like they can afford to. Volunteers are few and far between, they don’t force people into it either.”
Jeff narrowed his eyes. “But they’re fine with shooting an innocent girl in the head.”
“An innocent girl that was bit. I got a husband and a kid better for it.” The guard lifted her visor, offering a look of sympathy. Look, I know you’re pissed, but look at the big picture. Our doctor may be a dick, but he’s saved thousands for the dozens he’s killed.”
“It’s cool. We get it.” Harriet held up a hand. “I’m sure if it was your husband or your kid you’d be just as fine with it. Maybe both of them.”
The guard narrowed her eyes and lowered her visor. “Fuck off. I got a patrol to finish. You want to risk your neck to pet some scrawny Dobies, be my guest.”
Jeff followed Harriet, fiddling with the goggles the whole while, it didn’t point out guard locations, but the fading signatures of biters accompanied by gunfire let them know exactly where they were. “You know considering this place’s size they’re stretched pretty thin. Their perimeter is solid but the inside? Someone could just walk in.”
“I noticed,” Harriet said.
“You’re not gonna mess with the goggles?”
“Don’t want to get attached.”
They approached Kennel Six in time to have a overweight guard train an assault rifle on them. “Freeze. Unauth– Oh. You’re those two. For criminy sake, this is no time for walks.”
“You’re the kennel guy right? Can we pet the dogs?”
“Yeah, sure. Feeding time is soon too, if you want to take care of it, they’d love you for it.” He lowered his rifle, gesturing to a bucket of slop.
Jeff crouched to examine it. “What’s that crap?”
“Leftovers from our slaughtered livestock. Bet ya didn’t know most of the biters ignore all game and domesticated animals. We have as many animals as we do people. Still we play it safe and give the dogs the worse cuts.”
“You assholes have steak?”
“Twice a week,” he said, drumming his belly.
Harriet smirked. “You certainly look well fed.”
“Hey piss off,” he said, pushing his goggles to the top of his head. “It’s genetic. I’m strong as hell. I was a lineman before this crap went down.”
“You know the dogs well? Any two that would stick together in a pinch?” Harriet peered into the cage of sleeping dogs. “They don’t look primed for fighting.”
“No way, that’d be inhumane. These dogs guard. They sniff around and bark to draw attention, the biters ignore em’ so it’s gravy.”
“Not all of them ignore dogs. The ones in suits would probably pick them off. They’re intelligent.”
Fatman, what Jeff took to calling him anyway, raised a brow. “Zombies in suits? I think you’ve taken too many blows to the head.” Fatman turned away, distracted by gunfire.
Harriet snatched up a length of pipe and smashed it into his face. “One less than you have fatty.”
Jeff let out a relieved sigh. “Finally. So what’s the move?”
“Give me the goggles.”
“Hm?” Jeff pulled them off his head, handing them over.
She pulled off her own goggles and dangled them on the end of a finger. “You and I are going to wander around aimlessly, while a pair of mysterious strangers cause havoc in this little hamlet.”