Jeff and Harriet plumb into the mystery of their ‘captors’. More Zombie fun. Who doesn’t love Zombies?
The steel cage containing the dozen or so Doberman Pinschers showed signs of immaculate maintenance. They lifted their heads, wagging their tails in the prospect of food. Just as the guard said, these were no fighters, too skinny to maul much of anything they existed as canaries for the zombie threat.
Harriet stepped into the cage fearlessly. The two closest dogs moved to her looking the grab the first few bites. “Good, thanks for volunteering.” She crouched and gave one of them a snuggle at the scruff of its powerful neck and waved Jeff to bring over some scraps.
The dogs sat falling to an anxious hush. They were well trained. He handed over a handful of roasted guts to her, but the dogs stayed fast and patient. She fed both dogs two big pieces and smiled at them as they ate.
“Feed the other ones, we only need to let two of them out,” Harriet said.
Jeff walked about, handing scraps to each of the dogs. Each of them accepted the food with tired eyed whimpers. The two that stepped forward were in better shape than the others. The dogs were old and mellow. “No puppies here.”
“They probably can’t have them.” Harriet said, slipping her goggles around one dog’s neck. “Probably the same reason we don’t have a kid.”
“I thought we don’t have a kid because we’re careful.”
“You’re joking right? Did you fail Sex Ed or something?”
He rolled his eyes and finished off the bucket and set it down. He gave the last few pieces to the scrawniest dogs. “So you’re saying the zombie apocalypse really is the end for us?”
“Maybe. I haven’t seen a kid this whole time. I heard on some radio transmissions you can turn when you’re sick or weak. There’s nothing weaker than a little kid.” She gave the goggles a confirming tug. “But we’re immune, so I thought I wouldn’t mind an accident. I mean I like you and all— why not?”
“Harriet…” Jeff smiled at her. He always got the idea she took their relationship seriously, but hearing her say it warmed his heart. “We’d need to find someplace safe before we let an accident happen.”
“You’re nagging me?” Harriet chuckled and moved to the other dog. The first plopped down onto its butt and lolled a happy tongue. “Can you blame me? The world ended. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
His smile faded. “But now you are?”
“Yeah, At least until we find a safe place,” she said. “If it even exists, then we can see if it’s even possible.”
“So you– you’re hung up on the idea of trying?”
“And you’re not?” Harriet glared at him. “You heard the feds. Ninety percent of the population is a biter or dead. I’m sure you’ve made the joke before, when the world was normal. I’m not gonna let humans go out with a whimper. We find a safe place; have some kids; teach the fuckers to fight and rinse and repeat.”
“Rinse and repeat?” Jeff smiled. “Sounds like you plan to put me to work.”
“You’re bitching? You have the easy part. Never thought I’d be serious about being a damned mom, especially after seeing what good it did for mine.”
“We’ll make it work,” he said. “But, hey. Shouldn’t we, you know— get married first?”
“Why?” Harriet tugged at the second set of goggles. “Pretty sure all the courthouse burned in the riots.”
“We don’t need a certificate.” Jeff reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring. “It took a while to find one that fit.”
Harriet gaped, standing quickly and snatched it from him. She turned and slipped it on, boggling. It fit perfectly. “How the fuck did you—”
“While you were out from the tranqs. I found it in the store we holed up in. It gave me the chance to try— ”
“No.” Harriet said handing it back. “No fucking way. The answer is no.”
“What?” Jeff stared down at the ring. “But you were just talking about having a kid with me. Several kids! Why should they be bastards if they can help it?”
“You need to be a bastard in a world like this,” Harriet said. She pushed open the gate. “Go on Harry. Jeffy, get!”
She shrugged a shoulder. “They’re both boys.”
The dogs left the cage happily. They already knew their mission as they did it countless times. The two dogs scurried off into the night, staying close together.
The plan began without a hitch, but Jeff slogged out of the cage after Harriet, dejected. How could she say no? After everything they went through together. It made no sense.
Harriet grabbed him by the arm and kissed him roughly, pushing him against the cage. His mind raced as he tried to work through the reason. She seemed so angry a second ago.
She pulled away, gasping breathlessly. Her cheeks were flushed pink around her freckles, complimenting her damp auburn hair. “Now I need to find one for you, bastard. And next time you even think about proposing to me, do it properly. A dog cage? Really?”
Jeff’s look of confusion melted into a smile. He pulled her into a hug. “Sorry. We’ll focus on making these jerks pay, get the hell out of here, and look to the future.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Harriet said, hugging him back. “I’ll let you do the honors, though. He made you watch.”
He pulled away from her and nodded. “Yeah. That bastard is all mine.”
“I never liked Dick anyway. Let’s see if we can score us some guns.”
The walk to the camp outskirts came easy, minutes after their release Jeffy and Harry started barking, drawing attention away from the usual patrol routes. It gave them the perfect chance to take out the key perimeter guard watching the desired exit.
Jeff took his gun, even if it couldn’t be fired. The guard’s assault rifle had weight and had a bayonet; it would do the job against biter or man. The perimeter guards didn’t use night vision, instead opting to use sensors that tracked the biter’s taint. It also tracked friendlies, probably the reason they gave them goggles.
Harriet went through the message log, noted the intervals of his reports and hotwired the device to broadcast all clears from stored voice recording. It would only work once or twice, but by then they hoped to be done with their revenge.
Their Humvee had three technicians and two armed guards circling it, the repairs had been completed and the rubble cleared away. Two of the men fiddled with the box the government supplied them, the one with the cure.
“Access Denied,” a soothing voice said. “Access is limited to one user, please consult head technician for authorized access.”
“It’s a damned bio lock,” one technician said. “Probably set to one of the kids they brought in and the sample from the dead girl doesn’t open it. We’re gonna have to convince them to open it.”
“It’s a bio lock, David. We can just kill them both and one of their samples will—”
Jeff tossed a rock.
The two technicians spun around, fixing their eyes on a patch of bushes. Technician David jabbed a finger at the bushes. “Hey. Guard, check that out.”
The guard grunted. “There’s nothing there. If it was a biter, the scanners would have picked it up.”
“It could be a feral beast. Check it out anyway.”
“Fine, What a waste of time…” The guard sauntered over to the bushes took a cursory glance and turned back. “See nothing—”
Harriet lunged from the bushes and pulled him backwards, slamming him hard into the ground. The other guard raised his gun, stepping in front of the technicians. “What the hell? I’m not seeing anything?”
“It’s an animal I tell you,” David said.
“Brains,” Jeff said from the bushes.
“Brains,” Harriet said, suppressing a chuckle.
“Holy shit,” the guard said, scanning around and snapping the safety off of his assault rifle. “Are the scanner’s broken?”
“Impossible. Just—” David paused to consider. “Wait— the reanimated can’t talk.”
Harriet sprang into action, using the unconscious body of the first guard to charge forward. The guard turned to fire but hesitated, allowing Jeff to pounce behind and knock him cold with the butt of his rifle.
He aimed the rifle at the Technicians, drawing panicked yelps from them and they threw their hands into the air in surrender.
The technician next to David relaxed. “Wait. They can’t fire those we’re—”
Jeff cracked him across the face. “They work just fine.”
David eyed his fallen companion and watched Harriet corral the other tech near the front of the Humvee. “Why are you doing this? We fixed your vehicle as promised.”
“Well, because we figured you might want to kill us for the access ‘codes’ to the samples. Your friend has a big mouth to match your egg head.” Jeff waved the bayonet at him.
“Do you have the codes to unlock these guns?” She rested a fist on her hip. “I don’t see ours in here.”
“They wouldn’t do you any good. Even if I told you, I have no plans to–”
“You don’t listen very well do you? I don’t need anything but the codes. I was cracking into more complicated systems before I hit high school. Now tell me the damned codes before Jeff starts poking holes in uncomfortable places. After you give the codes if an alarm goes off, silent or not, I poke holes in uncomfortable places. I’m much better at it by the way.”
David grudgingly handed over the codes and Harriet worked her magic with the Technician’s laptop. Jeff checked the Humvee, finding no bugs or foreign devices– even under the seat. He came out to find her wearing a grim look. David and his colleague were knocked out cold and tied up.
“Notice how we haven’t seen any civilians since we got here?” She turned the laptop around. “This is why.”
The screen showed research reports. Lines and lines of science gobbledygook he couldn’t begin to understand. He got the impression Harriet didn’t either. Shy may have been a computer genius, but this was more along the lines of mad science. Jeff shook his head.
“Everyone in this camp is infected, even Jeffy and Harry. Worse, we just gave the brain controlling the biters all the info they need to stop the only cure we have.” Harriet curled her hands into tight fists. “This isn’t a safe haven. It’s a human cattle farm.”