Disclaimer: Still my story.

Zombie Nation

Chapter Four: Origins of Ashelin

The entire base was rejoicing at the days victory. Using the MD-500 was always a last resort but in this case where the base was caught completely unprepared, it was a necessity. Vin was the celebrated hero of the night but the two regiments were not ignored at all. The bartender, Mel, had unsheathed many bottles of well aged Scotch and sixty year old wine for the people who preferred it. The cooks of the base had prepared the closest thing to a feast physically possible and with the exception of a few people, everyone dined for hours until the food was completely gone. Vin sat at the head of the table with Marty, Jared and D. Madcar and Elena were 'mysteriously missing' as Daniel put it. Newbie sat politely next to Kyle's empty seat. Ashelin appeared to be looking for Kyle as did a number of the assembly. Eventually they decided it was for the best not to go looking for him and instead enjoyed the food and drinks.

Kyle leaned on his balcony on the thirtieth floor looking out at the stars. He could still hear shouts of happiness and rowdy laughter from downstairs even through hundreds of square feet of metal and his closed steel door. He found large groups annoying nowadays which was completely off from his normal personality. The collective moans of a few hundred existing zombies wafted up from the battlefield along with the smell of rotting flesh that made his face cringe. He sighed and leaned back against the railing, closing his eyes. I wonder if all my other relations survived the outbreak. All of my family up in Kansas, Billy, Jason, Nathan…Jezi.

He opened his eyes slowly and Ashelin stood in front of him, having entered the room absolutely silently. Kyle made no motion to show that he was in fact surprised that Ashelin had been able to sneak up on him. No one had been able to do that in a long while. As Harrison liked to say: 'Kyle has the eyes of a hawk, the nose of a hound and the hearing of some kind of craaazy elephant.'

"Why aren't you at the party, you helped today," Ashelin said quietly.

"Why aren't you?" Kyle replied in a monotone.

"Because it's a little awkward for me considering the fact I don't really know anyone else," she said.

"You know any of them as well as me. I only got you out of the hospital, besides that, I don't know you that well. Hell, you don't know yourself," Kyle said, slightly annoyed for almost no reason.

"I've been remembering more and more. Almost everything has come back… at least I think it's everything…" she said.

"And?" Kyle tapped his foot a few times.

"I don't want to talk about it right now," she said. "I just want to get some sleep."

"Didn't anyone assign you a room?" the young man asked.

"No, no one bothered to. So I hope you don't mind but I'm sleeping here. I feel the safest here," She slumped down on the bed. Kyle turned his back to her and stared back out over the horizon. His head sagged a little and for once in a long time he decided to succumb willingly to his sleeplessness. He undid his jacket and laid down on the bed next to Ashelin, who was already asleep.

"DAD NO!" Gunfire. Screaming.

Ashelin woke up in a cold sweat to the dream she just had. What the hell was that? she thought, clutching her head. More of these bloody memories. Ashelin got out of the bed gently so as not to wake Kyle, who was lying perfectly still on his back. She slipped on a pair of slippers that had been donated to her by Melissa from across the hall.

The door didn't even creak as she opened it to step out into main hallway/room of the thirtieth floor. A light was emanating from the room to the right of her which she knew to be the planning or map room. She had done some reconnaissance while everyone was outside fighting. The door to Kyle's room was a bitch to pick, she thought, I wonder how I knew how to do that…it'll come to me eventually.

Ashelin crept quietly down the wall and lightly pushed the map room door open to find Jared leaned over the table, bathed in red light. "Jared?" she asked timidly. He spun rapidly with a knife drawn and then relaxed at the sight of her.

"Sorry, didn't hear you come in," he said, re-sheathing his knife and turning back to the large map table. Ashelin padded over and leaned over the table as well to see what Jared was looking at.

"What exactly are you planning?" she asked without looking up.

"I don't know. I never do. Usually, I just stare at this map memorizing each street, bypass and building. Right now I'm working on getting the sewer system memorized. So far, we've been able to keep the city fairly clean of zombies, but the sewers are a completely different story. They're not complicated at all but from what we can tell, they are entirely overrun," Jared sighed. "Kyle suggested we clean the sewers with sweepers teams but I have a feeling we wouldn't have enough men. It just wouldn't work with how few we have." Ashelin turned around and found a chair to sit down in. Her mind began running through all the factors in play and all the statistics of men vs. zombies, proverbial numbers and the possibility of contact to the outside world.

"Have you tried calling any else?" Ashelin asked without thinking.

"I'm resisting the urge to be as cynical as I usually am, but yes. Yes we have tried to contact other survivors. But other than long range walkie-talkies we have no means of doing so. Cell phones are out because satellites have not been maintained. Coast to coast walkie-talkies don't work because their relay stations are down. All in all, we're stuck here. Other than sending out valuable recon people there's nothing we haven't thought of," he finished.

"Where did the helicopter come from?" Ashelin smiled slightly.

"A small army base. Forty, maybe fifty miles south, south east. Why? Do you plan on using that to contact other people? We don't have enough jet fuel to power it, we used half the tank today," Jared took in a deep breath.

"No, I didn't plan on using it for contact, but army bases generally have some kind of long range communications device that doesn't rely on satellites or radio towers," she said. Jared frowned.

"We checked the base, all we found was Vin, the helicopter and a stock of weapons. Not much else. No communications device," Jared stated.

"What about an SOS beacon?" she raised an eyebrow, "Those can go halfway around the world because they don't actually receive signals, they simply broadcast them."

"Oh that would be lovely. Then we can broadcast to all of they raiders and anarchists around the country that there is a large, well stocked, well protected base full of weapons and women. We'd be overrun with barbarians! Not zombies, human beings that can think, can plan, can move rather quickly, can drive cars and shoot guns and probably consist of mainly well trained, well armed men!" Jared nearly shouted.

"But it would call all government forces in the country too. Well trained, well armed, well led men that have the advantage in numbers over any raider party," she said in a monotone.

"Yeah, that would happen. Those government forces are probably bunkered down somewhere, waiting out the storm. I seriously doubt that they would come help us," he gritted his teeth.

"It's worth a shot," Ashelin shrugged.

"Nooo, not really no," the blonde man slumped over slightly.

"Why not lure them to another location?" A new voice said. Marty stood leaning against the doorframe. "That's how you hunt, you don't lure the deer to you, you lure them to twenty yards in front of you." Jared perked up somewhat.

"That could work, set a beacon up twenty miles west of here," he said, pointing to small field on a map, west of the base. Marty stepped inside to look at the spot Jared pointed to.

"Won't work," Kyle's voice now came from the doorway.

"Why son?" Marty asked.

"Well the point of the beacon being out of the base is so they won't be drawn to here, right?" Kyle said pointing at the base on the map. "Now, how do we know which way the army or the raiders will come from? If they come from the east they'll come right across our base and chances are destroy us. If they come from the north, they'll have to come down this highway to get to the beacon and that draws them across our base once more. The same thing will happen if they come from the south, yet again. The only way for it to possibly work is if they came from the west.

"If, even though I've just shot down your theory, you wanted to continue through with this your best bet would to place the beacon to the north. That way, they could come from almost all directions without hitting us. Except the south. Fuck." Kyle sighed. The three sitting in the room looked at Kyle for a moment. Jared and Marty glanced at each other and then grinned at Kyle "What?" he demanded.

"Looks you're setting up a beacon," said Jared.

"What? Me? I don't know how!" Kyle exclaimed.

"I do." Everyone spun to face Ashelin.

"How could know how?" Marty squinted.

"My father was a G7 agent in reconnaissance for the government. When he quit they debriefed him. Debrief of course meaning brainwashed him. Somehow he figured out how to bypass the brainwashing and find his memories again.

"After a few months he began to get emotionally erratic. He wasn't getting enough action, or something like that. He didn't get enough of the adrenaline he craved I suppose. He began using his now recovered stealth and combat skills to steal from large art dealers and so on," she replied.

"What does that have to do with electronics in any way?" Jared challenged.

"I'm getting to it. I found out that he was robbing in other cities as well as our own and I decided that I wanted to also. Dad was all against it at first but then as I bugged him more and more about it finally he gave in and began teaching me. By the time I was fourteen I had roughly the training of a ten year G7 agent. I can do anything the government trained their men to do which includes setting up and maintaining SOS and recon beacons," Ashelin crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. Marty and Jared stared at her while Kyle began laughing to himself.

"That's how you picked my doors lock and snuck up on me," Kyle concluded.

"Looks like it," Ashelin smiled.

"So do this mean you have your memory back?" He asked.

"Not all of it," she stated.

"Wait, she had amnesia?" Jared was still staring.

"Apparently," Marty shrugged and started towards the door. "I'm gonna get some sleep, you guys should do the same. If we're gonna do this, we better do it as soon as possible which means within the week." He exited. Kyle was already back in his bedroom while Ashelin and Jared stayed behind.

"So is all of what you said true?" Jared questioned. Ashelin stood and stepped silently towards the door.

"Not the full truth." And she was gone.

Ashelin woke up a few hours later and found the bed empty once again. Kyle was sitting in a chair across the room watching her with vacant boredom. "Finally awake," he said with a smile.

"What time is it?" She asked as she rolled out of bed.

"6:30, you've been asleep for about four hours," he said as he stood up. "We're setting up that beacon today, if we can find it."

"Today? Already? Shouldn't we send some recon to the base first?" She was a bit startled. The past few days had left her nothing but exhausted.

"What do you think we are?" Kyle tossed her a bundle of clothes. "Put em on and then meet me downstairs in the main hall." He left the room and jumped onto the conveyor belt to get taken down. Ashelin held the sack for a moment, then set it down and opened it. Several items fell out. A pair of knee pads and elbow pads were tied together and a pair of combat boots were at the bottom. The boots had a layer of fabric over them so that they could be more silent. Dark gray and black camouflage jeans along with a matching dark camouflage t-shirt were folded up on top of a female bullet proof vest. She put all of this on as quickly as possible and then headed down the conveyor belt.

Kyle was at a table eating in front of her when she reached the bottom. On the table in front of him lay a slew of weapons. Some of them were very modern and high tech and some she was sure were well over a century old. Kyle grinned and put out his hand for her to take a seat. A bowl of warm Cream of Wheat was on the table with a paper towel over it. Ashelin glanced up thankfully at Kyle and began eating. While she was Kyle pulled out a map and set it next to the weapons. "The military base is here, as you've no doubt already seen," Ashelin nodded, "Now, Watchers have reported that most of the zombies in yesterdays attack were burned if not shot. Still, they estimate around two hundred still between us and the army base. I know you know how to shoot a gun and fight with melee weapons but do you know how to ride a bike?" Ashelin looked up at him slowly. She nodded, almost with annoyance. "Hey, quite a few people here don't," he said.

"Anyways, we'll take bring two bikes just in case we get in tight spot. I don't want to get eaten and I'm sure you don't either." Ashelin finished her bowl and Newbie quickly collected it and left. "Onto weapons, do you have any preference? We'll probably be dealing with long and short range combat…"

Ashelin stood and looked over all of the weapons. There were lever action, bolt action and semi-auto rifles of all kinds. Next to them were pump, double barrel and semi-auto shotguns. Several trench spikes and various other knives were strewn about all around other melee weapons. One bladed object caught her eye.

It was like a tonfa in general shape but that's where the resemblance ended. There was a single edged blade, three foot in length, with a handle centered in the middle, sticking up, making it look like some kind of misshapen 'T'. At the back end of the blade, away from the cutting end, was a strap to make sure the blade didn't move in combat.

Ashelin picked it up and strapped it on, ensuring it's tightness. She did a few quick movements and decided this was her weapon. "I'd take two, in case one gets stuck and remember to never dual wield them," Kyle said, handing her another, "That's why I always carry two machetes." She nodded and continued to look at the weapons. A Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun stood out amongst all of the others.

"Is there some kind of training area?" Ashelin asked, hefting the shotgun.

"Follow me," Kyle picked up his rifle and lead her through the base. "Oh, yeah, you never got a tour, did you?" He asked as they walked.

"Just what I've seen coming and going," she replied. Kyle nodded.

"The bottom floor is mainly just unnecessary rooms, like the main hall here. We only use this place for assemblies and the like." They rounded a corner, heading towards the outdoors.

"Why waste an entire floor?" She wondered aloud.

"If the wall were overrun they would come immediately towards the base. We could get everyone to higher floors and then fold up the staircases making it impossible for them to get up," Kyle said simply. "Anyways, the next five floors are basically food stores, the kitchen area and general clothes and entertainment storage. Above those are twenty stories of sleeping quarters for non combatants. The highest of those floors are for combatants families. The very top floor is for me, Harrison, Jared, Madcar, D, my dad and a few other important people."

"If you're so important, why do they let you fight? Or even go outside the base's walls?" It didn't make any sense to Ashelin.

"We all have to pull our weight around here. Each one of us contributes what we do best. Jared is good with strategies and planning so that's what he does. My dad has a large amount of weapons training and various other survival skills so he teaches newbies what they need to know. D and Madcar are awesome mechanics and engineers so they and a few other people do all of the maintenance work on vehicles. I'm good at ninjutsu, stealth and recon so that's what I do," Kyle responded. They walked in silence for awhile as they passed through the doors and through the courtyard.

Around the back of the building were several training dummies that were sliced to pieces. A control panel sat next to them. Ashelin looked at the dummy's feet and realized they were connected to gears so they could move. Near the dummy training area was a firing range. On it, several young men and a few young women were listening intently to Marty, who was obviously teaching one of his gun safety courses. He waved at Kyle and Ashelin and then went right back to what he was doing.

"Now how fast can you decapitate one of those dummy's heads?" Kyle motioned towards the middle one. Ashelin was standing twenty feet away and two seconds later she had shot forward and cleanly sliced the middle dummy's head off. Kyle looked surprised temporarily and then motioned to continue as he pressed a button. Several of the dummies surrounded Ashelin, arms raised. She spun quickly and took of two heads in one cut. When she reached back to take out a third her blade accidentally jammed itself through one's forehead. Without hesitation, she unsheathed the other blade and sliced off it's head, with the first blade still stuck in it. Now that she had a bludgeon Ashelin swung it hard causing it to dislodge and take off another's head. With two more left she leapt forward and slammed both of the blades through their foreheads.

It actually looked like she meant to do each action on purpose. Kyle grinned widely. "Now how well can you shoot?" He asked.

"I think a movie a few years ago said it best: 'I'm a fuckin surgeon with a shotgun'." Kyle nodded and motioned for them to leave.

"Well then we better get going. I want to be back before dark," he said.

"You don't actually expect to get to the base, retrieve something we don't know is there, set it up and get back here before dark do you?"

"God no! We're staying outside the walls tonight. That's why you're driving," he replied and laughed.

"Driving what?"

"That," Kyle pointed to the roof where the MD-500 stood getting refueled with what little they had left.

"I thought you said we were taking bikes!" Ashelin was confused.

"We are, we just aren't riding them unless we need too," Kyle replied as they stepped back towards the base. Ashelin knew how to pilot, she just didn't like to.

"Who's going to navigate?" she asked.

"I will, but let's hurry up and get going," he replied with a wave. Kyle seemed without worry as they walked through the bas and onto the elevator. Ashelin was inadvertently clinging to Kyle, but he obviously didn't care. They stepped off at the top and Jared was leaning against the wall opposite to them.

"What's going down man?" Kyle asked.

"Just wanted to wish you guys luck. Seems like things have been going a little fast paced in the past three days so I've been thinking too much, as usual," he shrugged.

"We'll be fine," Ashelin assured him.

"On a completely unrelated note, how's Harrison?" Kyle said.

"Doctor's say he's fine, just a temporary reaction to extreme stress," Jared replied.

"What about the guy he stabbed?"

"Fine too, turns out the screwdriver didn't pierce any fabric, it just dislocated his shoulder." Ashelin stared at the pair of blondes.

"Long story, involves zombies and screwdrivers," Kyle said grinning.

"Not gonna ask," she shrugged and walked off towards the heli-pad.

"I'll see you when I see you," Kyle said and hugged Jared.

"You too. Now go forth, and sin more creatively."

"Fuck you." Kyle laughed and left.

Two miles away a young woman named Dami laid out on a roof of a two story house next to a young man, Trey, who held a compound bow.

"Has anyone been able to hail the Base?" Dami asked.

"Not that I know of, though I think if they were overrun someone like Vin would escape in the helicopter," Trey yawned, sitting up.

"Yeah, you're probably right. Well, I'm off," the girl got up and jumped off the roof onto a balcony. "Though we should probably send someone to check, don'tcha think?"

"Probably. Go suit up, you and me'll go," Trey said. Dami went inside. The young man sat for a moment, thinking, then absentmindedly drew an arrow and notched it. A moan wafted up from the surrounding woods. The boy's attention was instantly focused on the exact point from which the moan came. He quickly pulled back the string and loosed the arrow at the figure that was staggering up the hill. A dull 'thwock' resulted from the headshot and the corpse fell backwards and rolled down the hill from which it came. Trey smiled and leapt onto the balcony below him.

The helicopter took off shakily at first but Ashelin steadied it, remembering her father's training. Kyle looked relaxed despite what they were about to do. He was laid back casually in his chair reading. Ashelin tilted the chopper and they took off to the South. They passed over quite a few hundred yards of perma-deads, as the Base called the permanently deceased and then onto the rest of the city. For awhile, there were just broken down buildings. Then Ashelin began to notice buildings that appeared to have blast damage. Finally they crossed a large crater that was filled with bits and pieces of structure.

"Jesus… is this where they dropped that MOAB?" she said aloud. Kyle gave her the thumbs-up and began humming 'Welcome to the Jungle' to himself. She shook her head and continued her observations. The blast damage began to recede again and by the time she had reached the suburbs it was all once again back to broken down boring houses. Several undead were still prowling about, moaning pathetically when the noisy helicopter flew over them. Kyle looked out the window and smiled.

"Can't get us up here, motherfuckers," he laughed and went back to reading. The cockpit went back to silence for an hour or so as they passed over fields, highways and other small towns.

"Kyle?" she finally spoke.


"How did you guys know about the zombies? How come you guys didn't just think it was some sickness?"

Kyle closed his book. "Since we were fifteen, all of us have been studying zombiology. Jared was the expert on their physics and I was the expert on combating and eliminating them. Quickly, we spread it amongst our friends, that's why all of them survived. That and shear viciousness. I then spread the knowledge to the kids at my school and Jared spread it to the kids at his school. Eventually, we had hundreds of combatants. Most of them survived for at least a year or two," he responded simply. Ashelin nodded.

"Well then lucky me," she said and banked the helicopter as Kyle pointed.

"Dami you ready yet?" Trey shouted down the hall as he finished buckling his chest armor.

"Yeah, yeah, just gimme a second," Dami replied as she hopped out of her room, pulling on a particularly lethal looking pair of boots. Trey laughed as she tumbled into the wall and finally slumped to the floor to finish the straps. She finally stood up and reached into her room one last time to remove a shotgun. "All ready," she said. Trey nodded and they walked down to the stairs together.

At the bottom of the steps was a lounge filled with several people. A pair of children were playing XBOX 360 (Dead Rising) that was being run by a battery, the gauge saying it was half full. A platinum blonde woman lay on the couch, reading while her husband ran on a treadmill that was filling up the battery slowly.

"Well Mom, going out, not back, avenge death," Trey said as he and Dami began to exit.

"Trey!" The blonde woman was now standing.

"What?" Trey shut the door.

"Do not joke like that, in this world, you could easily die," Trey's mom said.

"You know I didn't mean it."

"Well you haven't even mentioned to anyone that you're leaving at all. We don't just let people outside the fence for no reason. We let Scouts go off and Gatherers go off, not our teenage children," the man on the treadmill said.

"I'm eighteen Tom, Dami will be eighteen soon. Make her stay if you must but I'm a legal adult, I have the right to go," Trey responded.

"What do you need anyway?" Trey's mom sat down.

"We're going to see if the Base is okay," Dami stepped into the conversation.

"Well then call them, go hail them on the radio," Tom said.

"We already tried that, apparently there's interference or something," Trey sighed.

"Well then we'll send someone else, but not you. Besides, we usually send people out in groups of three," Tom said.

"I'll go," A voice said from the hallway. A young man named Ben stepped out into the living room. "I haven't been outside the fence in ages."

"Ben!" Trey leapt over and hugged Ben. "So we have three, can we go now?" Trey's mom sighed irritably. Tom looked slightly defeated.

"Yeah, go on. But no engines, take cycles or take the trail, no noise," Tom waved at them to leave.

"Go suit up Ben," Trey laughed and stepped outside.

Kyle stepped out of the chopper and chambered a shell. He and Ashelin stood on a helipad, quite far off the ground. At first Kyle had been worried that zombies would be overflowing the helipad but there didn't seem to be any around. He uncapped his scope and took a few looks around. Ashelin meanwhile was checking underneath the helipad for movement. She saw none.

"Looks like there ain't any here," she said.

"Oh I assure you, there are. Somewhere," Kyle was overcome with paranoia. Where, the fuck are they? They were almost overrunning this pad when we took off of it with Vin. Maybe they wandered off, it has been three years… He thought. "Check your weapons, make sure there are no jams," Kyle sat down and began quickly checking the slides of his pistols. Ashelin followed suit. Kyle finished first and got up to go unhook the bicycles from the rack. Ashelin finished and got the second bike off and followed Kyle to the edge of the heliport where they climbed down with one arm still holding bikes.

They stood still for a moment on Kyle's command and then took off towards a building with the word: "Communications" written across it in large red letters. Other buildings had various labels as well, Kyle noticed for the first time. They set the bikes up around the side of the building and then ran back to the front.

They reached the door and Kyle stood back aiming at about eye level. Open it, he mouthed to Ashelin. She nodded slightly and slipped the door open and dodged back. Nothing came out. Light streaked in through doorway enough to light the room, which was completely deserted. Slightly askew, but free of blood or the stench of decay.

The pair searched the room quietly and found nothing. Kyle nodded towards another door and started aiming again. Ashelin did what she did earlier and once again, there was nothing. Another messed up room, but no blood or zombies. Unfortunately no SOS transmitter either. After fifteen rooms of nothing, Kyle began to get annoyed.

There were two conjoining rooms left. They checked the room swiftly and found nothing. Fucking, fucking fuck! Kyle mouthed angrily. Ashelin sighed and pointed. Kyle followed her finger and found a locker. So? He shrugged. Ashelin walked up to it and tapped on it lightly. No sound came from within. She opened it, shotgun raised. An entire five shelves of various SOS signals and transmitters were sitting in front of them like gold. Which one? he mouthed and stepped over. Ashelin looked up and down the shelf carefully. She picked up one from the bottom shelf that was quite heavy and hefted it to Kyle.

Let's go, she pointed towards the door.

Wait. I want to check this room. Ashelin gave Kyle a hard stare. He set down the SOS transmitter and held his hands up. It will be fine. Kyle knocked quietly and put an ear to the door. No sound came for a minute. He opened the door and in mid step back a corpse burst from the room and nailed Kyle, who was off balance. They tumbled to the floor in silent battle. Kyle shoved his forearm guard into it's mouth and pushed back as hard as he could. Apparently in life, this human was stronger than Kyle because it pushed back and kept getting closer to his face. Ashelin had panicked and now was trying to get a clean shot without hitting Kyle, but with a shotgun, that was pretty hard. She had begun to un-sheath a blade when Kyle suddenly whipped out a boot knife and jammed it through the zombie's temple. The corpse went tense, twitched a little and died it's final time.

Kyle breathed heavily and heaved the body off of him. He pointed roughly to the room and Ashelin searched it quickly. She found no more zombies and stepped back out of the room shaking her head. Kyle got to his feet and checked his arm. His guard now had deep teeth marks but there was no fluid to fluid contact. Kyle breathed a sigh of relief and stepped into the room.

From the state of the room, Kyle tried his best to picture what happened. It played inside his mind. A worker at the base got bit and fled to this room where he stocked it with guns and ammo on the way. He passed away and reanimated within the walls and couldn't escape. No one had come in this building so he hadn't been dispatched.

Kyle picked up one of the guns that was laid across the desk. It was different from any gun he had ever seen. It was basically an Over-Under but with a 30-30 rifle on top and a 12 gauge shotgun on the bottom. The only odd thing was, the bottom half was pump action and the top half was bolt action. The build of an Over-Under was just like a Double Barrel shotgun except an Over-Under was vertical. "I think I'll have to take this," Kyle said almost inaudibly. He looked at it lovingly and quickly slung it over his shoulder. They checked the room quickly and found ammo along with more of the Over-Under hybrids. After loading up the ammo, guns and transmitter they left back the way they came, silently shutting doors behind them.

Slightly elated, the pair opened the final door and stepped out into the sunlight. Both of their smiles faded immediately. Six armed men stood around the chopper and the pad it was landed on. Kyle and Ashelin froze. None of the men had looked at them yet so Kyle started backing up ever so slowly. Another man stepped out from beside the building, wheeling one of the bikes. Kyle and Ashelin froze again. The man stopped and stared at them. He then raised a .410 shotgun and fired. Kyle took the blast down the left side of his face, the BBs taking off a chunk of his ear. He screamed and dropped to the ground on reflex while Ashelin had already fired her SPAS-12, knocking the man off his feet and into a wall.

The other men heard the shots and had begun screaming and firing their rifles or pistols. Ashelin grabbed Kyle and drug him back inside the cinderblock building. She quickly looked over his ear. It was bleeding bad, both from the chunk that was missing and from the actual eardrum that was probably blown out.

"Kyle, can you hear me? Are you okay?" Ashelin was talking loudly.

"Fucking Christ!" Kyle spat and leapt to his feet. "They are fucking dead!" Before Ashelin could stop him he had kicked the door outwards. He fired three times in three seconds and Ashelin heard three screams. Finally Kyle skidded back into the building, clutching his chest where another bullet had hit.

"Kyle!" Ashelin shrieked and rushed over to him.

"They're fucking lousy shots," Kyle tore open his jacket. A dented but still solid bullet proof vest lay over his chest. Ashelin breathed a sigh of immense relief.

"How many more are there?" she said, helping to his feet.

"Three methinks," he said with a laugh.

"Where are they?" she said, trying to look out a filthy window. She stepped around to window that was situated behind the door. "I can't see a God damn thing out of this--" The door burst open and the three men stood pointing pistols at Kyle. Apparently, they were completely oblivious to Ashelin.

"Hiya guys, how are ya?" Kyle said sarcastically.

"Drop your guns," the middle one said.


"Drop em, or I'll drop you!" the middle one shouted.

"God that line is lame. Well gentlemen, I have a better idea. You drop your guns." And with that Ashelin stepped from behind the door, shotgun raised. The three men dropped their pistols and Kyle gathered them. He then raised his rifle.

"Walk backwards, slowly." The men obeyed. Ashelin kept her shotgun trained on them the whole time. Once they were in the middle of a courtyard Kyle smiled. "Get on your knees." The men suddenly looked panicked. "Oh, Christ, I'm not like that. I'm with a girl here, just get on your fucking knees," Kyle rolled his eyes. Using one hand he pulled some rope from his backpack. "Ashelin, would you do the honors?" Ashelin stepped forward and grabbed the rope. "Don't tie it very tight," Kyle said, looking off into the distance.

"Why?" she said and tied a quick triple slipknot on the first guy.

"Just trust me." She sighed and finished tying the knots.

"Now what, you just leave us here?" One man spoke up.

"Precisely," Kyle laughed, "I'm gonna keep my eye on you three until we leave, then you can escape but for now, sit perfectly still." The men nodded and looked at the ground. One started muttering something. "And no talking!" Kyle fired a shot into the air making the three men and even Ashelin jump.

"I'll go start the chopper," she said, and hurried off. Kyle edged backwards and then broke into a run for the bikes. He grabbed them both and pushed them towards the helipad. Ashelin already had the chopper running by the time he got there so he just handed the bikes to here and she clipped them onto the rack as he climbed up.

"Ready then?" he said and smiled.

"As ever." They climbed into the cockpit and Ashelin took off smoothly. Just as they passed over the tied up men, she saw them already squirming to escape. "Why didn't we just kill them?" She turned to Kyle, having set the helicopter to autopilot.

"There's always worse things than death."

"What do you mean?"

"You don't honestly think we shot that many times without attracting the attention of at least one undead do you?" Kyle smiled.

"There were zombies?" She thought she smelled something but she thought it was just Kyle where the zombie tried to bite him.

"Marching towards the base. I fired once more to draw their attention to the courtyard."

"You're evil," she grinned.

"They would've done worse to you if we'd both been caught," Kyle slumped down into his seat.

"I guess you're right…" Ashelin turned back to the controls.

Somewhere in the distance deafened by the chopper blades, two people screamed.