It’s been showing up in my rotation lately, so I decided to share.
Torelli Family Farm, 300 miles East of Wichita, Kansas, 10 June 2011, 2000 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 20 days
Evan Torelli hobbled into the recliner with the help of his cousin Stacy. His uncle didn’t let anyone sit in his favorite chair, but he’d reluctantly let his nephew. Evan understood how proud his uncle was to even make the gesture, and he was humbled by it. He just wished he felt like he’d earned the man’s respect. With difficulty, Evan lowered himself into the leather chair. Even with all the pain meds running through his system, his body ached. Evan knew he should be in bed. If Dr. Milkens saw him up and about, the old man would’ve had a fit. There were just some things that a family needed to witness together.
The President of the United States was walking to a podium somewhere in the White House. His face was grim. He looked tired as he stood at the podium. His lips pursed tightly. The president didn’t seem afraid of what he had to say to the nation, but with the reluctance of a doctor about to tell a patient he just lost his leg. He took a deep breath and started to speak to an anxious nation.
“My fellow Americans, five days ago one of our great metropolises saw the largest outbreak of undead this nation has ever seen. We were forced to watch as tens of thousands of our fellow citizens were killed in the streets of St. Louis, only to rise again as the walking dead. Yet, even as we despaired for those people, we saw the true heroism of our fellow citizens. We all watched on as brave soldiers and Marines charged in to save every living soul they could. We watched as our fellow citizens fought off undead hordes to protect each other. I was as moved as any of you as I watched Dennis Jones fight off dozens of the undead to protect his stranded family. I mourned with this nation when he was pulled down just moments before a Marine convoy came on scene. Dennis Jones’ family is safe in a Kansas City hospital right now, and I’ve been told, they are in good condition.” The President paused as if letting the nation mourn for a moment.
“Through all of these brave and selfless actions, over two hundred thousand people were brought out of Saint Louis and evacuated to cities all over the Midwest. It has been heralded as America’s Dunkirk. The Miracle on the Mississippi. I can only be humbled by what those men and women, military and civilian accomplished. We have thousands of our own. We will mourn them and pray to God for His blessing upon the fallen and the survivors.”
“Yet in the face of this Miracle, I am forced to make an unenviable decision. By our nature, Americans want to rebuild in the face of such tragedy. Not just repair the damage and go on with our lives. No, we need to make it bigger, stronger, better. We need to prove to ourselves and the world that no matter what is done to us, we will not just recover, but become stronger for it. Unfortunately, this will not be the case with Saint Louis. After consulting with my military advisors and cabinet, I am declaring a quarantine zone of a fifty mile diameter around the City of Saint Louis to be sealed off by the Armed Forces of the United States. I am federalizing the national guards of Missouri and Illinois to assist. Any ships that must transit this part of the Mississippi river must do so in convoy under the protection of Navy and Coast Guard ships.”
“I did not take this step lightly. This is a necessary step, but only a temporary one. At this time, there is no method by which to remove all of the undead from St. Louis. We will keep patrolling the city, looking for survivors. Until we have the forces or the technology to eradicate this horror from our lives, we are forced to take drastic measures. I will be meeting with members of Congress in the coming days to determine how the federal government can best serve those who survived this terrible and horrific tragedy.”
“Thank you, and may God protect us all.” The President left the podium with reporters yelling questions at him. Evan’s uncle turned off the television. The room was deathly quiet as the family absorbed the president’s words. Evan never considered St. Louis his home, but he was still crushed by the president’s decision. Not go back and help? Maybe he should have accepted Mateo’s offer.
Evan still wasn’t sure how the team had made it out of the building. The noise of the explosion drew every zombie for two miles down on them. All of the fighting was a blur of gunfire and explosions. Evan knew he’d been out of ammo for his shotgun when the Marines finally showed up. He nearly shot one of the Marines with his pistol. It was in the LAV he’d finally broken down. His last reserve gone, Evan quietly wept as the Marines evacuated him outside of the quarantine zone. Somewhere along the line, Evan managed to bust up his ankle, a couple of ribs, and had dozens of cuts and bruises all over him. Mateo had come to Evan’s bed that night, and offered the teen a job with Zombie Strike, sort of. It was the same speech he’d given Evan back in the hotel. You should go home to your family, but if you want to come along, there’s a slot for you. Evan turned Mateo down. He’d seen enough. Mateo actually seemed happy about that.
As far as Evan’s family knew, Evan had joined up with one of the small bands of armed citizens that fought to rescue civilians in the two days after the outbreak. Jim drove the teen back to Kansas and told everyone how brave Evan had been. In the small town, Evan was now something of a celebrity. Not that he could enjoy it much. The doc said it would be weeks before he was healed up. Evan got up and hobbled over to the telephone. His family looked at him strangely as Evan dialed one of the phone numbers on the back of a business card.
“U.S. Army, 11th Task Force, General Adam’s office,” the polite, but tired woman said.
“My name is Evan Torrelli. The general told me to call this number if I wanted to join up,” Evan said.
“Yes Mr. Torrelli, I have your name right here.”
Skull Island, South Pacific, 11 June 2011, 2200 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 19 days
Mateo walked out onto the concrete dock and plopped down at the end. In one hand was a lit cigar. In the other was an unopened bottle of Glenfidditch. Mateo bought the bottle of whiskey for Collin some time ago. It seemed right to drink it now. Mateo Cortez really felt like getting drunk. Just for one night stop feeling all of the pain and sorrow. Intellectually, Mateo understood that any one of his team could get killed at any time. It was the nature of the job. They all rolled the dice and took their chances every time they went out. Jack, Billy, Collin, and Slim did this work fully knowing that they might not make it back alive. That didn’t stop each of their losses from cutting Mateo to the bone.
The rest of the team was asleep. They’d been on the go almost constantly for the past week. Slim’s body had been shipped off to England to be buried by his family. Slim’s father, a former general in the British Army, made it quite clear that Zombie Strike was not to come within a hundred kilometers of the family. As much as it hurt, Mateo abided by their wishes. The team had their own funeral for their friend this morning. Tredegar left shortly after. He’d been recalled to head up the investigative group under the growing Task Force 11. What had been a thrown together mix of army personnel capable of fighting the zombies was turning into a massive combined arms unit with full intelligence services provided by the entire alphabet soup of agencies.
Mateo heard boots clomping on the concrete of the dock. He looked back to see Kenn Blanchard walking down the dock. Kenn was Zombie Strike’s commander, pastor, father figure, and a bunch of other stuff. This morning, he’d officiated the Slim’s memorial ceremony. Now, his preacher clothes were replaced with the more familiar black fatigues. Like Mateo, Kenn had a smoldering cigar in his hand. Slung over his shoulder was Kenn’s newest toy, a Kriss Vector sub-machine gun. Mateo preferred his M4, but he was impressed with the bullet hose’s performance on the range earlier. The running joke was that Kenn now needed to update his Browning after updating his Tommy Gun.
“I was wondering where that bottle disappeared to,” Kenn said, sitting down next to Mateo.
“Seemed appropriate tonight,” Mateo said his voice hollow. The two men silently puffed on their cigars for a moment.
“Where’s Robyn?” Kenn asked, “She usually keeps you from going to those dark places.”
“Jess needed her more,” Mateo answered, “I tried to comfort her, but it’s getting harder. It’s harder to tell her everything will be all right when we see so much death around us. I’m thinking real hard on asking her to hang up her rifle.”
“So why don’t you?” Kenn asked, “You let that kid in St. Louis go back home. Jess could go back to the States and go to college.”
“The father in me wants to pack her up and ship her off to Florida. Maria left the girl enough money in her will to go to school,” Mateo said. Kenn’s eyebrow arched up. Mateo let out a tired laugh. “Yeah, that surprised me too. I didn’t think the two had got that close, but there it is.”
“Again, why don’t you?” Kenn asked. “If we need a sharpshooter, we could approach Sissy.”
“Sissy made her position clear. I did enough to that woman,” Mateo said, “Besides, we need Jess more than just because she’s good with that rifle of hers. There’s a reason Wolf decided to foster one of his pups with her. Some of it may have been because Billy was one of Wolf’s spirit warriors or whatever, but I think there’s more to it. We’re treading on some seriously dangerous ground here, and we’re going to need all the aces we can stuff up our sleeves.”
The sudden laughter caught both men by surprise. Mateo and Kenn spun around to their feet. Standing on the dock stood a seven-foot tall man. His normal tight black costume was replaced with a brown hooded robe. The whip in his right hand danced with anticipation. Somehow Giant made it to Skull Island.
“Hello Mikhail,” Mateo said in a casual tone, carefully setting down the bottle of Scotch and placing his hand on his Sig. Kenn already had his Kriss in his hands. “What are you doing on our island?”
“I came for you,” Mikhail hissed, “Come quietly, and I won’t have to kill your friend.” The two men traded sidelong glances. Mateo gave Kenn an almost imperceptible nod. Mateo’s Sig materialized in his hands. The two men opened fire into their looming nemesis. Giant snarled as the bullet after bullet slammed into his torso. Mateo’s pistol locked back on an empty magazine. With practiced motion, he dropped the magazine and went for one of his spares. Giant’s whip lashed out as the two men reloaded their weapons. Mateo felt the mystical leather wrap around him. Giant jerked upward, and Mateo was in the air.
Mateo heard Kenn screaming his name just before he and Giant went into the dark Pacific waters.
[Zombie Strike Part 9 Chapter 87]
Every so often some idiot tries to abolish marriage. Such attempts work as well as repealing the law of gravity, making pi equal to 3.0, or moving mountains by prayer. Marriage is not something thought up by priests and inflicted on mankind; marriage is as much a part of mankind’s evolutionary equipment as his eyes, and as useful to the race as eyes are to an individual.
St. Louis, Missouri, 4 June 2011, 1035 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 26 days
Evan Torelli stared as the fireball lit up the stairwell. Jim yanked the teen down as the basketball-sized orb of fire streaked over his head. Evan winced as the back of his neck blistered from the intense heat. He reflexively tried to gasp in pain, but he couldn’t get any air. Where was the air? Panic flooded the teen. He tried to get up, to run to where he could breathe. Jim’s iron grip held onto Evan’s armor.
“Breathe kid,” Jim said. Evan tried another breath and felt his burning lungs fill up with air. Satisfied Evan had himself under control, Jim rose up and let off a single shot. A female scream split the air.
“Thank God for stupid enemies,” Jim said as he fell back down. Evan peered up and saw two more of the Red Gollums were now standing in front of the female minion. Both were holding long spears and jabbing down at Quentin and Chief Stahl. Quentin batted the steel tips away the first attack with his warhammer. One of the spears slipped by him on the second attack and drove into his chest plate. The big man grunted. The blade didn’t pierce the hard ceramic plate, but Red Gollums were strong. It was all the force of a sledgehammer in a tiny point.
“Over here!” Evan yelled, standing up. The move caught Jim by surprise who grasped at air trying to keep the teen down on the deck. The two Red Gollums stared at him. He could feel their malicious glee as a new target presented itself. Evan placed the bead of his shotgun on the one that stabbed Quentin. The twelve gauge’s booms echoed off the walls as he pumped dart after dart into the monster. He couldn’t even hear its screaming over the thunderous roar of his shotgun. The eight heavy darts punched into the monster’s torso and shredded it. The Red Gollum slumped to the ground.
Evan dove back down to the ground and started slamming shell after shell into the shotgun. It was then he realized Zombie Strike was engaging the other monster. Jim glared at the teen before standing up and firing his big lever action. As Evan looked up he watched the team as it did an odd version of the wave. Sport and Slim who were right behind Quentin and the chief rose up and fired into the monster. They dropped down when their weapons went empty, and the next two followed suit. Three pairs emptied their weapons into the monster before it screamed and went down. Almost before the monster hit the landing, Quentin and the chief were rushing forward toward a bullet-riddled door.
Quentin, Sport, Slim, and The Steve stacked up at the side of the door. Chief Stahl stood on the other side of the door and slapped the handle. The door exploded as another fireball streaked into stairwell. Evan slapped at burning door parts as they rained down on him. The team poured gunfire into the doorway and charged in. Evan followed Jim as the pair ran through the doorway. What had been a very expensive looking lobby was now trashed. The large floor-to-ceiling windows were shattered with large beams of sunshine providing odd contrast to the rest of the suite. The hallway behind the receptionist’s desk was barricaded by a line of riot shields. Four men behind the shields were popping up and firing small automatic weapons. Zombie Strike team members hid behind anything that could give them cover. Behind the shooting men was pitch black. Jim yanked Evan back through the door. They took up positions on either side of the door just before one of the men fired an entire magazine at them.
“Chief, Steve, Sport, on my mark, I want full magazines three feet above their heads,” Mateo ordered. “Quentin, tackling dummies.” The big man gave the team leader a wide smile and a thumb’s up.
“Boss, it’s The Steve,” protested the medic. Mateo shot The Steve an exasperated look, but didn’t say anything. The men sent two more bursts out. Then the room was filled with an odd silence.
“MARK!” yelled Mateo as he brought up his M4. Five automatic weapons emptied their magazines in less than five seconds. That was all the time Quentin needed. There was a reason Quentin was considered a star of West Virginia’s offensive line. He was not only huge, but amazingly fast. The human equivalent of a bullet train with a battering ram attached to the front. Quentin slammed into the center shield, throwing the metal plate back several yards. Without stopping, Quentin spun and whipped his warhammer in a deadly arc. Two of the men collapsed as the hammer shattered their skulls. Two shots rang out and the last two men fell to the carpeted floor. Jess and Slim stood up from behind an overturned marble table. Wisps of blue-gray smoke wafted up from the barrels of their rifles.
“These weren’t mercs,” chief said, toeing one of the dead gunmen. “Just a bunch of the Truth’s little acolytes. Stupid fools. Amateur hour.” The chief froze as screeches echoed out of the darkened hallway. He swung the light on his weapon down the hall an instant before six gollums leapt out into the hallway. Five made it into the lobby, bouncing off every surface as they attacked Zombie Strike. The last gollum was caught between the wall and a shield. Quentin grunted as the creature flailed wildly trying to free itself.
Evan lost track of Quentin as he focused on one of the erratically moving monstrosities. He tried to track the wiry gollum as it bounced around. As soon as it got close enough, the gollum lashed out with its axe. Evan blocked with his shotgun. The black blade screeched as it slid across the shotgun’s receiver. Jim stepped around Evan and placed the muzzle of his monster Smith revolver less than an inch above the gollum’s stone medallion. Evan felt the blast wash over him as Jim fired. The creature fell to the ground lifeless and withered away to dust in a few seconds. Evan looked up from the dead gollum just in time to see it happen. One of the gollums bounced between The Steve and Tredegar. It twisted in midair and managed to push itself off the ceiling. Evan lined up the creature and fired his shotgun an instant too late. Slim never saw the axe as it hit the small critical spot just under his helmet. Slim screamed in pain as the axe bit deep into neck. Evan’s dart slammed into the gollum’s creature and threw it out one of the windows.
“Slim’s down!” shouted The Steve, pushing his way through the melee to his fallen comrade. Billy jumped next to the medic and shielded him from another gollum. The axe blade seemed to bounce off the wolf’s brilliant white pelt. Billy snarled. In an eye blink, the wolf had the gollum’s neck in his teeth. Billy shook the gollum like a rag doll before throwing it into a wall. The gollum withered away in flight and the bones shattered as they hit the wall. Jess stood next to her wolf, taking precise shots at the last three gollums as they bore down on the small group. They ignored the gunfire as the heavy 7.62 mm rounds punched harmlessly through their bodies. Jim snatched one out of the air as it leapt at Jess and Billy. The cowboy used all of his mass to slam the creature into the ground. His revolver boomed again and the gollum disintegrated. Jess dodged an axe swing and butt-stroked the gollum. It staggered back into Mateo’s waiting arms. In three seamless movements, Mateo cut away the gollum’s medallion, flipped the creature, and drove his knife into the gollum’s eye.
The last gollum slipped between the defenders and swung its axe down on the medic. Without even looking up from his patient, The Steve whipped up his Kimber and unloaded the magazine. The first two rounds shattered the gollum’s medallion. The remaining bullets tore its body apart. Slim’s wet gasping was the only sound in the bizarre calm after the furious combat. Jess collapsed next to her friend, grasping Slim’s hand tightly. The Steve was throwing everything he could into Slim’s gaping wound, but blood just seemed to pour down the front of Slim’s armor. Tredegar was screaming into his radio for a medevac. The Steve waved the FBI agent down, his normal shining eyes dull. The medic looked over at Mateo. The team leader nodded silently, his face an emotionless mask. The Steve punched in a code on Slim’s PDA. The Brit’s gasping slowed, and then stopped. Billy whined as Jess’s quiet sobs hovered in the air.
“Keep on coming Zombie Strike. I can keep killing you all day,” the female minion taunted from the darkness. Evan could feel his rage rise from the bottom of his gut. As he looked around, Evan could see the same faces on the rest of Zombie Strike. Even Billy was silently snarling at the hallway. The lone exception was Mateo. The team leader looked at the hallway with an almost impassive mask.
“Everyone else back into the stairwell. Quentin, please carry Slim. Sport you’re with me. Load your special magazine,” Mateo said his voice a tightly controlled neutral. Quentin carefully lifted Slim over his shoulder. Jess placed a hand on her foster father’s arm. Mateo looked down at Jess and smiled. She still looked worried as she followed the rest of the team out of the suite and into the stairwell. Evan yearned to comfort Jess and felt frustrated that he couldn’t think of anything to say. As he stormed down the concrete stairs, Evan found something on which to vent his anger. The zombies finally managed to make it up the stairs. Maybe half a dozen were climbing over the wriggling arms of their fellows and onto the landing. Evan put the glowing bead on the first zombie’s head and squeezed the trigger. The click of the firing pin on an empty chamber seemed to echo loudly. Jim and the chief pushed past Evan and made short work of the zombies.
“Get down!” Jim yelled as he turned back to Evan.
“Why?” Evan demanded. Then the top of the building exploded.
The universe is neutral; it simply is; it is indifferent to you. You must care about, and adapt to it, not the other way around. But reality is ‘benevolent’ in the sense that if you do adapt to it – i.e., if you do think, value, and act rationally, then you can (and barring accidents you will) achieve your values. You will, because those values are based in reality.
Or at least our current involvement.
There was no way to “win” the war. That was clear in the papers released by the Washington Post in 2019. We could prop up a corrupt government and possibly help some of the people. We could keep a relatively small military presence in the hopes that it would allow us to deter larger terror attacks, and allow us to gain intelligence on our next biggest rivals. What we weren’t going to do is create a modern state out of the graveyard of empires. The institutions weren’t there, nor was the will/desire of most of the population.
It was always going to end this way. Maybe faster, maybe slower, but it was always going to end this way.
St. Louis, Missouri, 4 June 2011, 1015 hours local; Countdown: 6 months, 26 days
Evan Torelli looked at the three-story building with a mixture of relief and anxiety. The relief came from finally reaching the building. From the map Evan had on his PDA, it looked like the building was only a few blocks from where the team killed the Red Gollum. Evan remembered Jim’s chuckle as the teen pointed out that the team was going the wrong way. It was made very clear to Evan that getting to the building was only part of what was needed. The team also needed to avoid as many fights with the zombies rampaging through downtown St. Louis.
“Aren’t we supposed to kill zombies?” Evan asked Jim as the team sidestepped a horde through a small alley.
“Nope, that’s the military’s job right now. We need to get the minions responsible for this outbreak. Can’t do that if we blow all our ammo on walking range targets,” the cowboy answered. “And believe me, we’ll probably need every round we’re carrying to deal with those folks.” Evan kept quiet after that and followed Jim. The team went down side streets and alleys, through buildings, and even hid in a parking garage. The Nasty Stuff helped, but it was mainly a matter of noise discipline. After forty-five minutes of careful movement, the team was spread out along a pair of alleys that faced the minions’ building. At least, that’s what everyone was hoping. That was where the anxiety set in. Evan had never done an assault. All of the horrible ways he could die were flashing through his head.
“Relax kid, you’re gonna hyperventilate and pass out before we even get into that building,” Jim said. Evan tried to calm down, but his body didn’t want to cooperate. “Listen, everyone has felt the same thing the first time. Stop overthinking and just trust your instincts.”
“Easier said than done Jim,” Evan said, his eyes still fixed on the glass double door Mateo designated as the team’s entry point.
“Concentrate on your job. Watch our collective back and making sure that nothing gets Tredegar. Man’s got a sharp mind. Not so good on the shooting bit. You do that and let everyone else do their job.” Evan noticed that Jim didn’t say everything would be alright, but he didn’t say anything. He really didn’t want to know. At Jim’s cue, Evan slipped down the alley to stand just behind Tredegar. If the FBI agent was nervous, he didn’t show it. Evan checked his shotgun one last time and waited as Mateo cued the team.
“Green light, stop. Red light, go. Red light, stop. Green light, GO!” Mateo barked the last order. Quentin, Sport, Jessica, and her dog sprinted across the street. Quentin pushed open the doors with the dog close on his heels. Sport and Jessica were covering them with their weapons. As soon as the quartet was through the doors, Jim, Slim, Chief Stahl, and The Steve dashed across the street. As soon as Mateo motioned, Evan followed Tredegar through the door. Just beyond the doors was an open air lobby. A large fountain dominated the center of the lobby. Huge skylights in the ceiling poured down sunlight. Off to each side were long hallways. The rest of the building was dark giving the whole area a disturbing contrast.
“Any sign we’ve been noticed?” Mateo asked.
“Nothing,” Quentin answered.
“Billy’s got their scent,” Jess chimed in, “Somewhere on the third floor.”
“Gotta wonder what they have waiting for us if Billy can smell them all the way down here,” Chief Stahl said. The former soldier turned to Tredegar. “I don’t suppose you could ask your eye in the sky exactly where the bad guys are?”
“Sorry Chief, it’s not that precise right now,” Tredegar answered.
“Didn’t think so. Okay boys and girls, time to do this the hard way,” the chief said.
“Oh you have no idea!” boomed a melodic feminine voice out of the darkness. The building seemed to shake with the combined hunting moans from what had to be dozens, maybe even hundreds of zombies. Office doors slammed open all around the team and zombies seemed to pour out at the team. Gunfire erupted as Zombie Strike engaged their natural prey. Evan brought up his shotgun and placed the bead on the head of an approaching zombie. He squeezed the trigger. Evan wasn’t using traditional slugs. These were heavy metal darts, essentially scaled down versions of the M1 Abrams’ “Silver Bullets.” At fifty yards, they could take down a man in body armor. At fifty feet, the speeding dart pulped the first zombie’s brain, and then went on to take down four more zombies before embedding itself in some drywall. Evan didn’t see any of this. He was already attacking his next target.
“If you run now, you just might survive,” the voice taunted as the zombies closed on the team.
“Not a chance,” Mateo said at their unseen tormentor. “Chief, stairwell.”
“Got it boss. Sport, Quentin, your with me. Slim, cover us.” The three zombie killers formed a wedge as Slim poured fire down one of the hallways coming off the lobby. The Brit was firing his SR-25 as fast as he found targets. The chief opened up some room with a long burst of gunfire. Quentin led the three team members as they charged into the gap created by the gunfire. Quentin’s warhammer wasn’t as big as a sledge, and the big man whipped it around with unbelievable speed. The chief and Sport covered Quentin’s flanks with gunfire. Evan lost them as he was forced to transition to his pistol. The Beretta M9 felt gargantuan in Evan’s hand, but it was what he had. He fired at the oncoming zombies until the slide locked back on an empty magazine. Maybe another five zombies down. Evan dropped out the magazine. Where were his spares? His hand danced around his waist as he tried desperately to remember where the magazine pouch was.
“Evan, reload that shotgun. I’ll cover you,” Tredegar said, stepping in front of the teen. The FBI agent fired off several bursts from his M4. Evan slammed the empty pistol into its holster and loaded the shotgun as fast as he could. He felt the feed ramp bite into his thumb as he slammed round after round into the tube. Evan chambered the first shell and moved up next to Tredegar.
“FRAG OUT!” hollered Sport over the radio net. Evan almost didn’t get his first shot off. What in the world did that mean? The answer came in an almost deafening roar that shook the building. Evan kept his calm long enough to fire twice more. Good God, didn’t they ever stop coming? It seemed like every time he put one down, three more took its place.
“Everyone into the stairwell!” shouted Mateo over the din before charging to where Quentin, Sport, and the chief were standing. Where there had been a door before, there was only a ragged door frame. Evan followed Tredegar as the pair fled the oncoming zombies. He felt the gunfire crack around him as the rest of Zombie Strike covered their retreat. Evan nearly vomited as he entered the stairwell. It looked like the stairwell had been painted in zombies. Evan’s foot slid out from under him, and he nearly went sprawling into what looked like pulped guts. Jim caught the teen before Evan face planted into the foul-smelling stuff. The team quickly moved up the landing.
“Sport, for the record, never use any of those custom jobs of yours again!” the chief barked at the short Brit.
“Why?” complained Sport.
“Because I nearly got decapitated by the door! Do you even know how to make a proper frag grenade?” asked the chief.
“I followed the cardinal rule. P equals plenty,” Sport answered. The retort was so dead-pan, Evan couldn’t tell if Sport was joking.
“Dude, never let the demo guys plan the entry. That never ends well,” The Steve quipped. Chief Stahl could only nod in resigned agreement.
“Joking’s over. Quentin, Sport, you’re on point. Get us up to the top floor. Sport, don’t you throw another grenade unless I tell you or you see Giant. Is that understood?” Mateo asked. Sport nodded seriously. “Evan, Jim cover the back.”
“What about the zombies coming into the stairwell?” Evan asked, hearing the ragged cacophony of hunting moans.
“Zombies don’t exactly climb stairs,” Jim said, “It’s more of climbing over each other. Best thing is to let them bunch up and then take them out quick. Kind of acts like a dam.” The team moved quickly up the stairs. The second floor landing was clear. That didn’t sit right with Evan. The minions had attacked with so many zombies. They couldn’t keep any to attack the team on the second floor?
The team stopped suddenly just shy of the third floor. Standing at the landing was a woman in a tight fitting black jumpsuit. A balaclava covered her face. In her hand, she was waving around what looked like a long knife. The entire team had weapons pointed at her, but she didn’t seem to care. The look in her green eyes was pure contempt.
“I don’t care what Mikhail wants,” the woman said. It was the same voice that taunted the team earlier. “You’ve killed too many of my friends.” She pointed the knife’s tip at the team.
“Time to die Zombie Strike.” Evan stood unbelieving as the fireball lit up the stairwell.
There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.