Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 105

Jerusalem, Israel; 6 October 2011, 1515 hours local; Countdown: 2 months, 25 days

Quentin McLintock pushed the woman to the street and brought the warhammer down. The zombie’s skull split open, spilling rotten brains on the street. Its companions let out their hunting moans as they turned to their new prey. Quentin heard echoing moans from dozens of throats. Maybe thirty or so zombies were now bearing down on him. Well, no one said the hero business would be safe or easy.

“Run,” Quentin told the frightened woman. She looked up at him in shock. Quentin pointed emphatically back down the street and barked, “Run, now!” The woman scrambled along the pavement for a few yards, found her feet, and sprinted back to relative safety. Quentin turned back to deal with the three zombies in front of him. He cursed to himself as he slammed the warhammer into the first zombie. This was not what the team expected when they landed in Jerusalem earlier in the day. Quentin spun and batted away the second zombie’s groping hands with the haft of his hammer. He swept his artificial leg out and knocked the third zombie off of its feet. As it struggled to get up, Quentin slid back out of the reach of the second zombie. He waited for it to take a couple of steps towards him before thrusting. The blow tipped the zombie backwards. As it fell, Quentin smacked its head like a baseball. The zombie stopped moving before it hit the ground. Casually, Quentin walked over to the last zombie still struggling to get up and dispatched it with a single hammer blow. Picking up a discarded newspaper, Quentin wiped the gore off of his hammer.

“Well that was nicely done mate,” Sport said jogging up the street. The diminutive Brit had his XM-25 slung across his back and was cradling a pump shotgun. “The woman’s fine, by the way.”

“One good thing, I guess,” Quentin said, looking at the four corpses on the street. Hunting moans echoed in the streets as more zombies started their slow shamble to the noise. “Have they located Jocasta?”

“Nope,” Sport answered, “Somewhere in this neighborhood. Let me tell you, the Israeli’s are a bit put out by that woman.”

“Not every day that their cultural minister turns out to be working for the Truth and unleashes a zombie outbreak in their sacred city,” Quentin said. “We’ve got to find her before the IDF or Mossad does.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Sport said, clearly not wanting to go over the day’s events. Quentin couldn’t blame him. It had been bad enough the first time. Sport motioned down a side street. “The boss wants us to meet up a few blocks over.” Quentin consulted the map on his PDA.

“Okay, follow me,” Quentin said. Sport grunted as Quentin started running.

“Not bloody natural for someone your size to run like a footballer,” Sport grumbled.

“I played football in college,” Quentin shot back.

“Real football, not that corruption of rugby you Yanks play,” Sport retorted. Quentin decided to let the little man have the last word. He was going to have a hard enough time keeping up with Quentin’s pace. In a few minutes, the two met up with the rest of Zombie Strike outside an abandoned professional office. Quentin grimaced at the sight of the tight-faced uniformed man standing next to his team leader. So, Mateo hadn’t been able to shake him yet. As soon as he saw Quentin and Sport, Mateo strode over to them.

“Any luck?” Mateo asked in a low voice.

“No, just a few zombies,” Quentin answered in the same hushed tones. “Our friend is coming over.” The uniformed man stormed over.

“Mr. McLintock, my government is being very lenient in letting a team of armed foreigners run around the infected zone. I would appreciate you not abuse our trust in you by harrying off on your own,” Major David Rabin stated in slightly accented English.

“If he didn’t mate, that lady would now be prowling about looking to eat you,” Sport said, trying to catch his breath.

“While I appreciate your protection of an Israeli, please don’t expect me to believe that was the reason you two split off,” Rabin said, clearly not amused.

“Prove it otherwise,” Sport challenged.

“Enough,” Mateo said before Rabin could respond. “We still need to find the sorcerer.” Rabin shot Mateo a sidelong glance, but didn’t say anything. The career military intelligence officer still didn’t believe Zombie Strike about the true nature of Jocasta Cheveny. He was having a difficult enough time dealing with the idea that she raised the zombie horde. The idea she was a mystic in the service of a powerful, but secret cult in the service of an Aztec god was a bit too much for Rabin at the moment. The four men rejoined the rest of Zombie Strike.

“So where do we go now?” Chief Stahl asked.

“After the zombies,” Mateo answered, “She’s got to be there somewhere to control this many of them.”

“Matt, what if she’s not there?” Jess asked. Mateo gave his foster daughter a quizzical look and motioned for her to continue. “The question I keep asking is why. Jocasta already destroyed the Levant Scroll. Why didn’t she just leave through one of their portals? Why raise the zombies? What else could she be after?”

“Just for the record, you’re getting too smart,” Chief Stahl told Jess. The former soldier looked at his team leader. “She’s right. We’re looking at this wrong. The horde may just be a distraction to keep the Israeli authorities – and us – busy.”

“Hundreds of zombies as a distraction?” Rabin asked incredulously.

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Mateo said, mulling over Jess’s comments. “Okay, Jocasta destroys the Levant Scroll in a big, flashy news conference because she claims it’s a blasphemous document to all of the Abrahamic religions. Does so and orders the dead to rise causing a zombie outbreak. Do you think she knew we were in country?”

“She may know now, but doubtful when all of this happened,” Rabin answered, “My people were barely warned before that odd helicopter of yours landed.”

“Could she be after another artifact?” Mateo asked Quentin.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” Quentin said, searching his mind. “The Levant Scroll was the only item in Israel that was outside their possession. Nothing in the stuff we grabbed from them mentioned anything else.”

“How about regime change?” Chief Stahl suggested, “Israel’s one of the few countries that hasn’t been subverted by the Truth. What if they have their people ready to take during the fun and games?”

“How very perceptive,” a new voice said from above. The team all brought their weapons up. On top of a five-story building across the street from them, a minion stood. This one was male, dressed in the tight ninja suit that was the minion’s uniform. In his outstretched hands was a golden pyramid. Quentin figured the minion had a shield up. The Truth’s minions learned the hard way what happened when you confronted Zombie Strike without defenses. The minion stepped off the roof and levitated down to the street.

“Well, I can certainly see why my fellow Champions are worried about you,” the minion said, almost as if praising the team. “None of us expected anyone to figure out what was actually happening.”

“Dear God, what they said was true?” Rabin said. The minion looked at the major and laughed. The major flushed in shame and anger. He unslung the Tavor assault rifle and aimed it at the minion.

“Wait,” Mateo said, grabbing Rabin’s shoulder.

“Why?” Rabin demanded. Mateo wordlessly pointed down the street. The rifle nearly slipped out of Rabin’s hands as he saw the sprinting forms of a dozen gollums.

[Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 106]

I Lasted Eight Days…

Before buying a new gun this year.

“firearm”

As you may have read in a prior post, one of my gun wants was an upgraded sidearm. I’ve been carrying an M&P9 for the better part of ten years now. I decided to go with the M2.0 for two main reasons. First, because I like how the gun feels in my hand. Second, because it uses all of my magazines and holsters that I have for the M1.0. I also like the Flat Dark Earth color. Now, I just need to run a few hundred rounds through the M2.0 with all the magazines. Probably stagger loads between ball and self-defense ammo.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 104

Odessa, Ukraine; 4 October 2011, 1425 hours local; Countdown: 2 months, 27 days

Quentin McLintock charged the sorcerer as the man began uttering words to a spell. Like most folks, the sorcerer didn’t realize exactly how fast someone Quentin’s size could move. One moment, the Truth sorcerer was waving his hands and chanting, the next Quentin was slamming the four-foot iron rebar into the man’s midsection. Quentin felt the ribcage give way as the iron bar folded the man in half. The sorcerer grunted and fell to the ground. He didn’t get back up. Quentin whirled on the next sorcerer to take down. The shock wave picked him up and threw him into a wall of the courtyard. As Quentin looked up, he saw what caused the blast. Alan stood in the middle of the courtyard, his scarred face scowling as blood poured from his now-broken nose. Jim must have gotten in his first lick. The cowboy picked himself up off the cobblestone ground and dusted himself off. Jim gave Alan a satisfied grin.

“Not expecting that?” Jim asked.

“I’ll admit that you caught me off-guard,” Alan said, wiping the blood with hand, “So, you’ve hurt me. You got your lick in. Now, do me a favor and go away before I have to kill you.”

“You’re still not getting it Alan. I’m not letting you leave this courtyard alive. You’ve caused enough damage,” Jim said. Before Alan could respond, Jim charged the Truth’s lead sorcerer. Alan threw his hand up to cast a shield. Jim bounced off the sudden energy barrier, but he didn’t fall back. Instead, Jim angled the bounce to hit a wall to Alan’s right, and launched off from the wall to attack the sorcerer from a new direction. It was like human billiards. Alan tried to swing his shield around, but Jim’s fist connected with the sorcerer’s body first. Alan grunted and slid back a few feet.

“Nice trick Jim,” Alan grunted, holding his injured side, “Looks like I’m going to have to actually take you seriously.”

“About time,” Jim answered, wrapping his scraped and bleeding fists with a couple of handkerchiefs.

“Just to make it clear, I don’t want to kill you. I’ll stop the moment you relent,” Alan said, trying to plead with the cowboy.

“Don’t you worry about that. I’ll relent when you’re dead,” Jim said. The courtyard grew silent. Everyone’s attention was riveted on the two combatants. Jim and Alan were still as statues as they stared at each other. Tense moments passed.

“DIE!” Alan yelled, releasing a bolt of black-purple energy. Jim slid under the bolt like a baseball player sliding into home plate. Alan stepped back as Jim leapt up with a punch. Jim pressed forward with a fast series of jabs. Quentin recognized the movements from Chief Stahl’s training sessions, but these were faster and more fluid. Alan blocked the strikes, but just barely. He was clearly surprised by Jim’s sudden speed. Alan snap kicked the cowboy, but Jim slid to the side to avoid the blow. It was a trap Jim saw just before Alan thrust a glowing hand into the cowboy’s chest. Jim screamed in pain as the blow drove him to the ground. Jim could barely breathe as he tried to stand. Alan strode over to stand over Jim.

“Why? Why did you try this?” the sorcerer demanded, “I gave you chance after chance to avoid this fate. Now you’re going to die in some far-off land. What made you think you could kill me?” Jim reached to the small of his back and pulled something out. With impossible speed, Jim leapt up and grabbed the Truth sorcerer. Before Alan could react, Jim drove the small knife into his chest. Thunder rocked the courtyard. Alan staggered back, looking at the crude knife in disbelief.

“Made a deal with the spirits of Raven and Coyote. Seems they were a might bit put out when you defiled their holy ground back in Wyoming. I kill you, and they’ll see about getting your curse off my daughter. Seemed a fair trade,” Jim said, still holding the burn from Alan’s chest strike.

“Spirit knife?” Alan asked. Blood came out of his mouth as he spoke. Jim just nodded. Alan looked around. “I should have believed the Levant scroll.” His eyes focused on Jess. A look of sudden realization came across his face.

“Why didn’t I see it before?” Alan asked, staring at Jess. The girl brought up her rifle as the sorcerer took a step before. “Of course, you’re the —-“ Before he could finish the sentence, Alan crumpled to the ground. Sudden memories flooded Quentin’s mind. He jumped up and sprinted across the courtyard. He quickly grabbed his two friends and fled down the nearest alley. He’d barely made twenty feet before the courtyard erupted in a mystical explosion. The next thing Quentin knew, he was on the ground. The three zombie hunters shakily stood up. Billy jumped down from a nearby roof. Jess let out a happy squeal as the spirit wolf snuggled up next to her.

“Jim, are you good to go?” Quentin asked, looking at the cowboy. Jim gave a pained smile.

“Good enough,” Jim wheezed. Quentin gave him a skeptical look. Jim’s chest still looked like he’d run into a hot iron, and it sounded like he’d broken some ribs. Jim waved off Quentin’s concern. “I’m hurt, but we need to get to that truck. The team needs us if we’re going to survive to find the city of the dead.” Jess walked over and examined the wounds.

“Jim, we need to get you back to The Steve,” Jess said.

“Fastest way to do that is to get the truck,” the cowboy insisted.

“I don’t like it, but he’s right,” Quentin said. “Jess, take the point with Billy. Jim, you stay close and be careful.” Jess gave Quentin a cold stare, but didn’t say anything. She stormed up the alley with Billy in tow. The pup’s tail swished nervously. Quentin helped Jim out of the alley, each man holding a pistol. The quartet picked their way through the streets. Something about the magic explosion from Alan’s death pushed the zombie hordes away from this part of the city. They could hear the echoing moans, but they didn’t come across a single undead. Quentin smiled bitterly as they reached the truck. He carefully lifted Jim into the driver’s seat. The cowboy was weak, but he dismissed all of Quentin’s attempts to have him lie down. Jim was the best driver Zombie Strike had, especially for large vehicles. Jim waited as Jess and Billy climbed up on the roof. He gave Quentin a confident smile and put the truck in gear. Even hurting and weak, Jim easily navigated the large SUV through the streets of Odessa. Jess’s rifle cracked as zombies tried to stop them. Jim rolled over a few more. In a few minutes, they were behind the rest of the team.

“Let’s go,” Mateo said as the truck pulled up. Zombie Strike loaded the wounded Seraph into the truck before piling in. As soon as the Chief closed the rear door, Jim spun the truck back to the docks. He didn’t even give Jess the chance to kill zombies. He simply sped past the few hordes that tried to get in their way. In less than ten minutes, Jim was crashing through the marina’s gate and sliding the truck next to the docks. At Mateo’s command, Zombie Strike leapt out of the truck and stormed onto the yacht. As expected, there was no one aboard. Chief Stahl and Sport sprinted to the ship’s control deck as Quentin started cutting the ropes. He’d cut three before he realized Jim wasn’t on the boat.

“Matt, where’s Jim?” Quentin yelled. The team leader looked back at him in surprise.

“What he’s not with you?” Mateo asked back. The two immediately sprinted back to the truck. They found their friend behind the wheel looking all the world as if he was asleep. Except he wasn’t breathing. Quentin gingerly lifted Jim’s lifeless body out of the truck’s cab. He fought back tears. Quentin knew Jim had been hurt worse than he’d let on. Why didn’t he force Jim to go back to The Steve? Mateo gripped Quentin’s shoulder and gave him a knowing look. Wordlessly, the two zombie hunters walked back to the ship. There would be time to talk after they’d made their escape. As they laid Jim’s body down on the deck, the Guardians appeared. Quentin gave the two stone-faced Aztecs a murderous look. If they noticed it, they ignored it.

“So where are we supposed to go now?” Quentin demanded.

“The sorcerer told you,” the Guardians answered. Quentin stared at them as his mind replayed the battle in the courtyard. What had Alan said that told him where to go? His mind came to Alan’s dying words. He should have paid attention to the… Quentin dashed up to where Chief Stahl and Sport were easing the ship out of port.

“We need to get to Jerusalem as fast as possible. The last clue is about to be destroyed.”

[Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 105]

Goals For 2022 – Or Not

I’ve been putting what my goals are for the upcoming year for the last couple of years. I was tempted to forgo it this year. Mostly because I need to focus on one overriding goal this year. My weight. I’ve kinda ballooned over the last 20 months. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances. To a degree. However, at the end of the day, I’m responsible for me.

So, this year, my single goal is to get back down to 200. This is going to be a long, hard slog, but I need to. My dad had a heart attack in his mid-thirties. Due to the hospital food and therapy, he slimmed down significantly. Much as I did when I started my own journey. Over the next two decades, his weight steadily increased. I’m not going to cast aspersions. Weight loss is hard when it’s your single focus. And my father had a lot things taking up his attention. Moreover, while I don’t think his weight significantly contributed to his cancer, it had to make things more difficult in treatment.

There are many ways I want to be like my dad. This is not one of them.

This year, I’m working to 200. Not sure if I will post my progress. Still debating.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 103

Odessa, Ukraine; 4 October 2011, 1300 hours local; Countdown: 2 months, 27 days

Quentin McLintock dropped the empty magazine out of his pistol and quickly slammed another home. He hit the slide release and brought the pistol back up. Two rounds of 10mm brought the zombie down. It was just a bit too close. Seraph groaned in pain behind him. If Quentin didn’t link back up with the rest of the team, she was going to bleed out. Assuming he could survive the next few minutes.

“Matt, where are you guys?” Quentin asked over the radio. The Truth was obviously very annoyed with Zombie Strike for going after its close-held secrets. They pretty much cleared out Odessa’s downtown and brought in hordes of zombies with minion controllers. Just to add fun, they also brought gollums and a group of sorcerers. It was a gollum’s axe responsible for the nasty gash in Seraph’s midsection. Maybe if that vision hadn’t sucked all of Zombie Strike in, they would have been prepared for the ambush. As it was, Quentin, Seraph, Sport, and Seraph’s French agent, Marc had been split off from the rest of the team.

“I have no clue,” Mateo answered, “Everything’s in Cyrillic. We could be a block from you, we could be a mile. I hate these old cities.” Quentin looked around him. His little team found cover behind the wreckage of some construction equipment. The minion controlling the small horde in front of Quentin actually melted a bulldozer with a beam from his artifact. Unfortunately for the minion, he couldn’t generate a blast that powerful and keep up a shield. Sport’s slug nearly decapitated the minion.

“Seraph’s hurt bad,” Quentin reported. He looked around. “Matt, can you see that church spire about fifty feet up with the gilded cross?”

“Looks brand-new?” Matt asked, “Yeah, it’s to my ten o’clock, maybe a couple of hundred yards.” Quentin consulted the map on the PDA strapped to his forearm and did some quick calculations.

“I think we’re about six blocks west of you,” Quentin said, “Can you get to us? I don’t want to move Seraph if at possible.” There was a moment of tense silence.

“Yeah, the chief thinks so. Hole up and see if you can think up an extract,” Mateo answered. Quentin let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. He looked down at the beautiful woman. She looked so weak holding the blood soaked bandage to her side.

“Marc, you and Sport keep that horde off of us,” Quentin said. The Frenchman looked at Quentin with wide eyes.

“Are you mad?” Marc asked, “You want me to fight the undead with this?” He shook the Glock 17 Sport handed him earlier. Quentin grabbed the man by the front of his shirt and lifted him off the ground.

“Yes with that pistol, and when that runs out, either find another or pick up a stone to throw at them. You will fight them until you are dead or we’re extracted, do you understand me?” Marc paled as his eyes locked onto Quentin’s cold dark eyes. The French agent swallowed hard and wordlessly nodded. Quentin released him and bent down to Seraph.

“Hold on Seraph, help’s on the way,” Quentin said quietly, stroking the woman’s hair. She looked up and gave him a mirthless smile.

“You think even your pill pusher can fix this up?” she asked, every word wracking her form with pain.

“He’s dealt with worse,” Quentin said, trying to look confident. He looked down at his PDA. How were they supposed to get everyone out of this city? They’d driven into the city in Seraph’s huge, slightly armored SUV. From some pirated television signals, Quentin saw most of the downtown was flooded with groups of undead. They were trapped between the Black Sea and zombies. How were they going to get out? As he stared at the map, the solution smacked him in the face.

“Quentin, hold your fire,” Mateo said, startling the big man out of his thoughts, “We’re coming up your back.” Quentin looked up as Chief Stahl and The Steve trotted over from a building corner. Chief Stahl moved up to help Sport and Marc. The Steve hands were already yanking all sorts of medical gear as he kneeled down next to Seraph.

“Got this dude. Don’t worry. The Steve will fix up your lady friend good,” The Steve said, his trademark smile plastered on his face as inspected the wound. The Steve thumbed back to where the rest of the team was trotting up. “Dude, the boss is going to need you to figure out how we’re going to get out of here.” Quentin nodded, unhappy about leaving Seraph. It was his fault that she was hurt. If he’d been faster taking down that gollum, it would never have managed to get a piece of her. That didn’t mean The Steve was wrong. Quentin got up and walked over to Mateo.

“You come up with a solution?” Mateo asked, slinging his G36.

“Maybe,” Quentin said, holding up his PDA, “The truck is parked in this garage about eight blocks north of us. A small team could get up there and get it.”

“That’s a pretty infested area,” Mateo commented, “What good’s getting the truck going to do us? We’re not going to be able to drive out of the city.”

“No, but it will get us to the docks,” Quentin said, highlighting some streets. “Trying to go this way would be suicide on foot, but the truck with some shooters on the roof could make it. I checked the marina. A lot of boats left, but there are a couple of nice yachts and some speedboats. If we can get out into the Black Sea, we should be able to get some help from M&W.” Mateo thought about it for a moment.

“Okay. Take Jim, Jess, and Billy. Let Jim drive the truck and have Jess up top with her rifle,” Mateo said. “Get in, get the truck, and get back. Don’t waste time fighting unless you don’t have a choice.” Mateo motioned for the Jess and the cowboy to join them. The large spirit wolf trotted happily behind Jess. Mateo filled them in on the plan and sent the team off.

Jim took the lead. The cowboy was missing his normal rifle and revolvers, but he was handling the AK proficiently. Quentin came behind him with his Colt 10mm in one hand and a four foot length of rebar in the other. Quentin understood Jim missing his normal weapons. Quentin really wanted his normal warhammer. If they came across a hardware store, Quentin was going to get a sledge. Jess and Billy brought up the rear. Jess had her rifle slung and was holding her pistol in a low ready. The quartet slinked through the streets.

Mateo and the rest of the team was busy making as much noise as they could to draw as many of the undead to their position as possible. Even two blocks over, Quentin could hear the gunfire and explosions. Quentin didn’t know how Mateo’s group was blowing stuff up and he wasn’t sure he wanted to. It was doing the trick. The small alleys were deserted as they made their way north to the truck. They’d gone about halfway to the garage when the alley they were using suddenly opened into a small courtyard that had been converted to a parking lot. In the center of the courtyard were four Truth sorcerers chanting around what looked like a small version of the stone table the Truth used back in Wyoming a year or so ago. Billy growled as he stepped into view.

“Well, as I live and breathe, how did you manage to find me Nate?” asked one of the sorcerers. The sorcerer turned around and pulled off his elaborate gold and feather Aztec headdress. Quentin stared into the scarred visage of Alan, the Truth’s lead sorcerer.

“Just lucky I guess,” Jim answered congenially. The tall cowboy slung his assault rifle and cracked his knuckles. “There’s a couple things you need to know though Alan.”

“Oh, what?” asked the sorcerer, clearly intrigued. The other three sorcerers were taking up positions behind their leader.

“First, I just go by Jim these days. I put Nate behind me,” Jim said.

“Sad, but understandable. I take it things didn’t work out with her,” Alan asked, looking sincerely compassionate to his one-time friend and now enemy. “What’s the second thing, Jim?”

“I aim to end you here and now.” The courtyard crackled with electricity as the battle began.

[Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 104]