|A Journey to the East - The End of the Old World (Zombie Apocalypse)
Author: Insightful Author PM
Thought provoking, realistic and riveting; A Journey to the East chronicles the exploits of one zombie apocalypse survivor as he comes face to face with demons past and present as he travels through the wasteland left by the Rabies X virus. Equal parts action and social commentary, this novel is not just about the monsters that surround us, but the ones we create within ourselves.Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror/Adventure - Chapters: 7 - Words: 31,675 - Reviews: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 04-27-13 - Published: 01-26-13 - id: 3095544
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A JOURNEY TO THE EAST - THE END OF THE OLD WORLD
The Fox and The Hounds
I was gasping for breath and my heart felt like it would burst through my chest. My legs were burning after sprinting west for the last six blocks. The zombies had surrounded us just before we were overrun and only a few of us had successfully escaped from the barricade. I had lost sight of the others when we were forced to run through the thinnest part of the undead crowd that was closing in for the kill. Looking around I realized that I was the only survivor from my unit. None of the others who had been at the barricade had made it past the zombie swarm. Unable to move another step, I stopped to catch my breath. I leaned against the hood of an abandoned car while panting and shook almost uncontrollably from the stress of the situation. While gasping for breath, I looked up and down the street for zombies. I didn't see any but that didn't mean that they couldn't see me in this low intensity zone. The hunt had just begun and I was in the unenviable position of the fox.
I knew from my experiences of the past eleven weeks that the zombies would pursue me until they either caught me, were destroyed or I evaded them. They were uncompromising grotesque creatures that would continue the chase once they had finished off the other soldiers and police officers. They would continue the hunt relentlessly. The zombies never tired, never needed rest, and always craved for human flesh. Zombies are the perfect predator and they would follow me the same way that a pack of hounds runs down a fox. I felt a new sympathy for the fox while I contemplated my next move in this life and death game.
Forcing myself to start walking away from the fading sounds of gunshots several blocks away, I thought about the fox. At the beginning of the hunt the fox is released and given a minimal head start. Hundreds of dogs and dozens of horse mounted riders hunt down the fox. If the fox is smart, fast, and lucky it has a chance of escaping and eluding certain death. However if the fox makes a mistake, doesn't run fast enough, or suffers from bad luck; then the pack of hounds tears the fox to shreds. The hounds can afford to make a mistake and live to hunt another day. The fox has no such luxury in this life-or-death game. Looking down at my empty magazines I realized that I was just like the fox and the hunt was already underway. The hounds were coming and it was time for the fox to run for its life.
During the last stand at the barricade line I had fired every bullet that I'd been issued before the battle. I was thinking about all of my friends and men when … My thoughts trailed off and were brought suddenly back to my current predicament. A single moaning zombie stumbled out of the smashed doorway of an apartment and into the street. The shambling zombie had been an older Hispanic woman in mortal life. She was wearing a dirty pink bathrobe and one purple slipper. The veins across her face and arms were black in color and she was stumbling towards me with her arms outstretched. Her mouth was covered in dried blood and she had bits of rotting flesh hanging from her jagged and broken teeth. Bite marks covered her mangled left hand.
This hound hadn't eaten in a while and was like many of the zombies I had seen during the past eleven weeks. She had been an average everyday American and a resident of my city. But she had been transformed into a walking cannibalistic monstrosity by the Rabies X virus. The fingers of the zombie's right hand were grasping for me as she took a step in my direction every second and a half. Her body seemed to quiver with excitement at spotting the fox and a horrendous moan emanated from her throat. For a moment I thought it sounded like a hound baying. The first of the pack had arrived and she could smell my fear in the air. The zombie was slowly getting closer so I knew that it was almost time to flee.
Taking a few seconds to secure my equipment, I buttoned up my magazine pouches and cinched my empty carbine across my back. I didn't want to lose either my pistol or my carbine during my escape from the city. Without ammunition my weapons were about as useful as clubs but I could use them for that if it got much worse. However I was hopeful that I could find some ammunition during my escape or some when I got back to my billet. It was just after noon and I had a long way to go until I reached the safety of the established defensive line at the periphery of the low intensity zone. I heard the crunch of broken glass underneath of the zombie's feet as she shuffled past a burned out car. She was on the other side of the car and continuing her slow pursuit. Looking at her I noticed the gray dull look in her undead eyes.
I forced myself to walk a little faster as I made my way along the street. I took it slower that I wanted to because I was still recovering from my long sprint. I needed to conserve my remaining strength. The duration of the hunt would be a marathon and not a sprint. Although I could walk faster than she could shamble, she wouldn't tire and I had five miles to go until I reached the safety of the original defensive line. The ground I had to cross was uneven, choked with debris and crawling with zombies. Wrecked cars, furniture, building masonry, bodies, and the debris of a collapsing modern society covered the streets.
Looking across the wasteland I realized that without motorized transportation my escape from the city would probably take the rest of the day. I was anxious to get out of the city by night since spending the night in a city ruled by the dead made a dangerous situation even more lethal. They had all of the advantages after dark since they were no longer sight dependent like living human beings. Stepping over a fallen traffic light I paused for a moment to get my bearings. Looking down the different streets I decided that I would continue to head to the east and escape back to the barricade line.
Hearing a thud behind me I glanced over my shoulder. The Hispanic female zombie was pushing herself up off of the ground. She had tripped over the remnants of a mailbox that was overturned on the sidewalk. Her movements were unsteady and she like the rest of the zombies lacked fine motor skills. It took her a few seconds, but once she was on her feet she continued her shambolic pursuit in earnest. Looking at her snapping jaws I realized that it was time to make my escape so I picked up my pace and continued to pull away from her. I wasn't jogging but I was walking about as fast as I could walk while negotiating the difficult terrain.
If I had been a hero then I would have stayed and fought this sole zombie. I could have used my carbine as a club to put this monstrosity out of her misery. However I reasoned that it was time for the fox to run for its life because the hunt had already begun. I had to get to the safety of the defensive line at the perimeter of the city's low intensity zone. Looking back at her I thought to myself that the situation couldn't possibly get any worse. I then realized that the sound of gunfire was now totally absent. The situation must have gone from bleak to totally disastrous if the fighting had stopped.
I reached down and turned up the volume on my police radio. My portable radio let out an electronic gong sound every few seconds indicating that the police radio system was down. With the exception of the no signal sound the police radio was silent and had been so since just before I retreated from the high intensity zone barricade line. I shook my head and thanked the dispatcher for the warning about being surrounded. The transmissions from the police radio had been cut off when they contradicted the orders issued over the military radio. I turned the police radio off and turned up the volume on the radio issued to me by the National Guard.
The military issued radio at my side continued barking out orders about falling back to several different locations in different sections of the city. The closest rally point to my location was Memorial Square at the intersection of 23rd and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The large square was in the low intensity zone and only about a mile away from my location. We had used it before as a helicopter insertion and evacuation point during the latter stages of crisis. Listening to the transmissions for a few seconds I realized that the scope of the disaster must have been total. The radio would only interrupt the constant rebroadcast of the order to pull back in vain attempts to obtain locations and dispositions of units.
The person transmitting on the army radio went down a mostly unanswered list of units attempting to discover anyone who was left. I guess the generals wanted to get a status and disposition of units that no longer existed after the morning's battle. After a minute of mostly unanswered calls and unanswered questions from headquarters, the radio finally began to attempt to contact my unit. "Fox Strike Team… Status and Disposition…..Fox Strike Team do you copy?" I picked the radio up from my side to answer for my annihilated unit. For years I had been trained to answer the radio when called and never to question what I was told. But this time was different; I had endured enough and I was finished. Instead of keying the microphone and answering the order to give my location and disposition, I froze with the radio up to my mouth.
While I stood there frozen I had a moment of clarity. I came to the sudden realization that I was finished. I had endured enough of the damn war, ignorant self-absorbed politicians, misleading biased talking heads in the media, retarded gung-ho military officers and the profound stupidity of the human race in general. It was no longer my fight. I was finished and I was determined to not die for a cause that I no longer believed could be saved. They had broken the last straw when they threw my men away earlier in the morning and sent me to my death. I had finally had enough. I was finished.
My sense of duty, patriotism, and the person that I had been had died on the high intensity zone barricade line. The person I had been at the start of the morning had died with my men. Those morons had needlessly sacrificed my men and cost the lives of all of my friends. They claimed to know best while sitting safely behind the lines in command centers. With those angry thoughts running through my mind, I threw the radio as hard as I could towards the single zombie that was still shambling after me in her slow steady pursuit. She was over forty yards away and I missed her hitting a parked car instead of her head.
Although I didn't hit her with the radio I realized that it really didn't matter anymore. I was through and I wasn't going back to their world. Their rules had gotten all of my men killed and should have cost me my life. I had made the decision to desert and leave the madness behind me when I escaped. I had finally seen the light and had enough of this lunacy. The world had come to an end and I might have been the only sane person in the world to comprehend that the apocalypse had finally arrived.
The rally point they wanted me to retreat to was to the northwest and the last thing that I wanted to do was to rejoin the people who had sent me to my death. If they were to the west then I was going to keep travelling to the east. Turning to the east I decided that I was going to keep going and never look back at what the human monsters had done. I would do what I had to do to get out of the low intensity zone. Then I would do what I had to do to get out of this city and get away from all of the people who had betrayed my men and sent us to our deaths. I was no longer going to be the good little soldier and die on their command. I would no longer send anyone to their death by following stupid orders. I was in this fight for myself and I would do what I had to do to survive even if the rest of my friends and men hadn't.
Resolved by this moment of clarity and emboldened by my act of throwing the radio away, I picked up my pace to a jog and crossed yet another intersection on my way towards the barricade line at the eastern edge of the city. There was a crowd of zombies off to the north but they were two streets away and focused on something else. They hadn't seen me crossing through the intersection and I wasn't going to intentionally do anything to get their attention. The female zombie behind me had become distracted by the possibility of nearer quarry and had turned around walking west. I guess she had decided that there was a closer fox that other zombies had chased up a tree.
As I proceeded east along the street, I had to maneuver around debris and between wrecked cars. The street was surrounded on both sidesby square shaped two story apartments and business. Many of the signs were in Spanish. This area of the city had been a low income area and we referred to it as "The Barrio" in recognition of the ethnic makeup of the residents. Other nicknames it had been given by members of my department were "Little Tijuana" and "Little Guatemala". The area had not been particularly friendly to police officers and in all honesty we had not been very friendly to the residents either. Tolerance and prejudice are two way streets and we were both equally guilty.
Street gangs, shady businesses, abandoned buildings, violence, drugs and no witnesses were the norm in the Barrio. However I had worked a district here when I first started as a rookie police officer and remembered that many good people had lived here before the dead began walking. I just wish that our society had done something to help these poor people before Rabies X arrived. Our short sighted policies had sown mistrust and marginalized them to the fringes of our society. When the disease hit they remembered our past actions and had chosen to hide from us rather than let us help. We were finally reaping the consequences that our neglect, malice, and xenophobia had sown.
Because I hadn't worked the area in nine years, I didn't remember many of the residents. I wasn't sure what happened to the few people that I did remember. It was likely that some of the surviving residents of the Barrio had escaped the area during the previous five weeks. Some of the residents were still here in both zombie form and in human form guessing from my experiences in other parts of the low intensity zone. There were still sporadic pockets of survivors holding out in the low intensity zone. Some individual barricades at doorways stood somewhat intact and the zombies had been congregated around the one in the distance and were trying to force their way inside.
I spotted two more zombies trapped in a wrecked car just east of my planned route. Rather than take a chance I crossed the street to avoid them just in case they figured out how to use door handles. Zombies would normally use brute force and pound through the safety glass of the windshield with their fists. Since I was no longer being pursued I slowed my pace to a steady walk and put thirty yards between my location and that of the trapped zombies. While walking I began hearing loud metallic crashing sounds coming from the west. Unsure of what was going on I stepped into an alleyway to get out of the path of whatever was coming down the street.
The M1A2 Abrams tank was driving in reverse as it appeared from around the corner and started heading east towards where I was standing. The tank had turned onto my street about two blocks west and it was immediately apparent that something wasn't quite right. I'm sure that like me, the tank's crew was bugging out and had enough of the morning battle. They were retreating from the high intensity zone barricade lines. The tank's path down the street was comically surreal.I thought for a moment that the tank must have been driven by someone whowas drunk. The tank was swerving from one side of the street to the other side of the street brushing against buildings and parked cars. It reminded me of many of the DUIs I had pursued over the years. The tank smashed over the wrecked car that held the two zombies and crushed them under its treads.
As the tank approached me the humor I felt at the almost comical sight of a drunken tank driver crashing into cars and buildings disappeared. The topside of the tank was crawling with the undead. There were at least twenty zombies hanging onto the topside of the tank. They were trying to get into the tanks hatches and devour the crew. During the weeks since the first outbreak I had learned that zombies were not particularly coordinated creatures. But once they got a firm hold of something they did not let go, especially if they knew that their favorite prey was inside of the tin can.
The crew was desperate to get the zombies off of the tank so they were intentionally running into as much clutter as they could to dislodge them. It was a race between the tank crew and the zombies. The tank crew was panic driven to get the zombie's off the tank before the zombies could figure out how to get inside the tank. It was madness to run from zombies when you were safe inside of a tank. However the shock of what had just happened was turning into panic among the few survivors of the morning's operation. The crew was inside of a 70-ton tank, but they were just foxes and the hounds were baying for their flesh.
My inner monologue surfaced suddenly and I could not help but yell out "SH*T" as the lumbering tank swerved towards me. I began running north through the alleyway as the tank crashed into the buildings. The spot where I had been standing was pulverized by the armor of the tank as it ground against the sides of the buildings. The tank didn't stop or even slow down. It just continued its eastward flight and I heard it go over another car as I continued to travel down the alleyway to the next street.
I emerged from the alleyway moments later onto Johnson Blvd. Johnson Blvd was a large east-west secondary artery and just like the other street it had small square two story buildings lining both sides of the street. I quickly concluded that one street was as good as the next when trying to escape this death trap. Hopefully this street would have fewer zombies and fewer tanks driven by panicked drivers. At least the noise from the tank would probably draw the zombies away from Johnson Blvd.
As I walked east along the street I didn't hear moaning but I heard the racket from the street I had just been walking. The loud noises made by the tank as it escaped had drawn most if not all of the zombies away from this street and onto the one that I had been travelling. Zombies were dumb like hounds could be, but there was a definitive advantage in numbers and I was definitely outnumbered. Math has no mercy. Being fatally outnumbered is a losing proposition and I was determined not to lose.
I really needed to find ammunition for my weapons. I had been issued 210 rifle rounds that morning and I only had empty clips with me after the disaster. During the first few minutes at the barricade I had shoved the empty clips into my pockets to avoid losing them. I thought that I would be able to reload them later during lulls in the fighting. I quickly discovered after the first few minutes of action at the high intensity zone barricade that I wouldn't have the opportunity to reload as the zombies swarmed over our barricade and flanked our lines. We had left thousands of rounds in the Humvees when we retreated.
Towards the end of our last stand at the barricade, I had just thrown the empty rifle clips down as I loaded fresh clip after fresh clip. I first used up all 210 rounds of my .223 ammo and then I had continued to fight with my pistol. During my escape through the crowd I had used up all 52 rounds of 9mm against the horde. Although my weapons were now empty I had just enough ammunition to fight my way through the undead crowd. But it hadn't been enough to let me help anyone else who was trying to escape through the swarm. Fortunately during my sprint I hadn't lost my weapons. I was still carrying my pre-zombie war Glock 17 duty weapon and my recently issued Ruger Mini-14 carbine.
I had been issued the carbine at random out of the property room/armory when we abandoned headquarters. The Ruger Mini-14 was one of the weapons that the police department had seized over the years in the course of day to day businesses. It was kept on hand in the armory with other similar weapons in case it was needed during an active shooter or armed terrorist crises. I don't think that the department ever intended that the few hundred weapons stored for emergencies would be used against walking cannibalistic corpses.
Looking down at my watch I realized that it was already after two in the afternoon. We had arrived on the barricade line at nine that morning. I was sure that our last stand had lasted about two hours before we were overrun. I guess I had travelled maybe half of the five miles back to the original barricade line at the border of the low intensity zone. I had at most another three hours of usable daylight left. It was mid-March and unfortunately the sun would be going down before seven.
I heard a roar overhead and saw the approach of fighter aircraft. I made out the shape of the aircraft to be F-18s. Four F-18s were in the flight and they were coming out of the west. I watched them approach and realized that they were going to make a pass over the high intensity zone. The fighters were flying 1500 feet off of the ground in a spread formation. They were hugging the deck of the city as they made their approach towards the high intensity zone. I saw the aircraft each drop multiple large silver-colored objects that looked like rectangular water balloons. The silver objects fell beneath the line of buildings around the hospital and moments later I saw pillars of fire rise up as the sky itself caught fire.
Initially the fireballs were intense and rose several hundred feet in the sky. I could easily see them at more than three miles away. The subsequent fires didn't act like some of the fires from burning buildings I had watched since the beginning of the war. The fireballs rose and then disappeared beneath the horizon of the city. I heard the sounds of multiple muffled explosions and felt a warm breeze blow out and then in from the blast wave. The breeze blowing towards the fire didn't dissipate. The fire was consuming all of the oxygen and starting to burn like a furnace. After dropping their ordinance the aircraft banked hard and went to full power as they turned around and headed back to the west. I didn't feel the heat from the fire but I felt the wind from the fire sucking air towards the former downtown.
As they went to full power and accelerated away from my burning city I realized that the F-18s were flying from one of the aircraft carriers on station off of the Pacific coast. They were dropping a type of incendiary ordinance on the largest concentrations of zombies. Looking up I realized that the UAVs (unmanned ariel vehicles) were still flying over the high intensity zone and they were probably helping the inbound F-18s with real time targeting information. I thought to myself that it would be nice to still have the military radio that I had thrown away earlier. If I had kept it I would have at least known if I was standing in the middle of the next location to be targeted. Surveying the nearby streets I actually relaxed when I failed to spot a single zombie in the immediate area. I assumed I was somewhat safe from a tactical air strike since there were no zombies visible to the UAV.
As I continued walking east, I would pause, turn around, and watch the fireworks show as additional flights made their attack runs on different parts of the high intensity zone. I watched three more flights of four aircraft each execute the same maneuver. Each new flight arrived approximately five minutes after the last flight departed. I tallied the count and concluded that sixteen aircraft had dropped some type of incendiary ammunition on the high intensity zone in the last 20 minutes. It was probably a desperate attempt to thin the ranks of the undead or perhaps it was a cover up what had happened that morning. Turning around to watch the buildings burn for a few seconds I realized that Operation Hammer must have truly been a total disaster. When I turned around I finally felt the warmth on my face from the fires and silently watched as the tall buildings downtown burned like a torches. The breeze blowing towards the fires was increasing in intensity.
With our defeat the President's whole goal of minimizing the damage to personal property and preserving American cities had died on the barricade line as well. It was too bad since my city was always known for its skyline. I watched in silence as the most recognizable building on my city's skyline tumbled to the ground. The collapsing building made a crashing sound that was barely audible over the rumbling sound from the fires. The heat generated from the fires was intense because I could feel it on my face even with the wind blowing toward the fires. I heard a roar overhead as another flight of war planes streaked towards the inferno. These aircraft came out of the east, dropped their ordinance short of where the others had on periphery of the high intensity zone. The zombies must have been spreading out away from the city center in search of prey.
With the escalation of military response it was now apparent that the dog of war was off of the leash. Looking around I realized that I was too close to ground zero for comfort. If they escalated to another level and used nuclear weapons I wouldn't survive. I reminded myself that I had one goal: SURVIVE! I needed to find ammunition for my weapons. I needed to get out of the city. I needed to stay one step ahead of my pursuers whether they were human or zombie. Now only in the hours after the morning's disaster I realized that the human race was more dangerous than any zombies I would face on my journey.
I turned back to the east after watching another flight of Air Force F-16s execute the same maneuver as the navy jets. These jets turned north instead of east when they were done dropping their munitions. It was time to leave this dead city behind as I continued walking east on Johnson Blvd. Since it was a four lane divided secondary artery it had more businesses than the road on which I had started my escape. I successfully transited four more blocks and sprinted across three more intersections without incident or drawing any attention from the random zombies that were shambling around. I reached my tentative destination just before five in the evening. There was maybe another mile to mile and a half to go before I would reach the Chamberlain defensive line barricade we had abandoned in the hours before the offensive.
Fate, luck, or divine will determine if an individual lives or dies during a battle. Preparation and skill can help a person's chances but they can only help to a certain point during the chaos of battle. I don't know how I managed to survive the morning encounter with the undead. It was probably a combination of training, skill, fate and luck. Somehow I had avoided undead encounters for the last few blocks and thanked God I was here because, "some days it's your day and some days it isn't". I stared at the front door of the business that would hopefully contain the items that I trying to find. Hopefully luck would keep going in my favor. It was time to do some shopping and for the first time in my life I would be shopping without paying.