A/N: This one-shot is dedicated to my friend, Paul. Because he asked me to write it. Happy reading!
Ted Erikson: Musician and Zombie Hunter
It had been a long night for Ted Erikson and unfortunately it was about to get longer. The young, acoustic-folk star had just preformed a concert for an audience of thousands. That portion of his career was going swimmingly. Playing on-stage for hours on end while wearing a suit certainly wasn't a walk in the park, but hey, it was better than his night job and so much more fun. Music was more like a hobby he got paid for than an actual job. No, the hobby he considered his actual job was a lot more…unusual. And dangerous. And not for the faint of heart. His other job was a zombie hunter. He was a pretty busy dude and could honestly say his life was never boring.
His best friend, Steven, was waiting impatiently for him backstage. He'd played a few more encores than he'd planned and he knew they were running late. Steven made sure to inform him of that.
"The zombies will still be there," he answered, shrugging. He placed his guitar in its case, making sure it was secure. That thing was important. Maybe it didn't save lives, but it pretty much was his.
"But the people might not be," Steven reminded, as he waited for Ted to change into appropriate zombie hunting attire, which simply meant a different suit. The one he wore to performances needed to stay nice.
"I know, I know. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have played that last song. But this is only making us later, so let's go!" he responded, ducking out of the dressing room.
"Gage is already at the shop," Steven informed him. He nodded. That was good. At least someone was on time.
"Jesse and T-bone?" he asked as they navigated their way to Steven's red Bronco. The concert security was helping them get to the car, but once they were there, it was well established that they were on their own. It wasn't that security didn't want to go with them. Ted simply wouldn't let them. It made his manager a nervous wreck, but Ted could take care of himself. He didn't need a babysitter.
"They're on their way. They'll get there before we do, I guarantee it."
"I know. I'm sorry. I just couldn't quit. It's been a while since I've preformed."
He shrugged. "I get it. But still…zombies, dude."
"Yeah. I'm aware. Fuckin' zombies."
He nodded in agreement and they made small talk for the rest of the ride; music, movies, video games, girls, etc. It was the usual car conversation of two normal guys. Granted, they weren't the most normal guys, but that didn't mean they couldn't have normal discussions.
They finally arrived outside a small white building with a neon sign displaying, 'Steven and Sons Plumbing.' Ted often wondered why they never changed it to 'Steven and Sons Zombie Killing,' because it was widely known that that was the buildings true purpose, but they never had the time. Besides, it wasn't the only inaccuracy. Steven had no sons. Might as well just leave it as is. There were damn good high school memories associated with that business.
The door was locked when they tried it and Steven had leant his key to Jesse, so they were forced to knock. Gage let them in.
"You're late," T-bone pointed out as they walked inside.
"He knows," Steven replied, going straight to the back room. The building only had three rooms. The front room was a reception area. It contained a desk, a couch against the left wall which Jesse seemed to be napping on, a couple of chairs against the right side of the room, and a door to the back, on the right side of the desk.
The back room was the interesting part of the building. The only normal thing in it was the door that led to the bathroom, on the left side of the room. The rest of it was in essence an armory. Each wall contained floor to ceiling shelves with various zombie hunting supplies, guns, knives, flamethrowers, explosives, bows and pretty much anything they could possibly need to take out the undead. Today, there also happened to be a strange girl, standing in front of the gun shelf. Ted started at her presence when he entered the room and looked over at Gage who was right behind him.
Gage nodded. "She's interning here, I guess."
"I thought we stopped taking interns after we lost a few and then that last one almost got us all killed?"
Jesse entered the room, overhearing the last portion of the conversation. "She's not exactly an intern. More like a…foreign exchange type deal. Except we didn't exchange anyone for her. I don't know. Let her explain it. Karoline!"
She turned around, smiling at them. "Yes?"
"This is Ted, one of the bosses." That was pretty much it for Jesse's explanation. He went over to the shelf to grab his Glock and a few other close range weapons. Gage followed him, grabbing the Springfield Armory XD and the case where they all kept their trench knives, which were a combination of brass knuckles in the handle and a knife.
Karoline walked over and introduced herself. "I'm Norwegian. My team sent me here to see if I could learn any new or better ways to kill the zombies."
Ted frowned. "When did the virus spread to Norway?"
"About six months ago. An American brought it over. It hasn't been pretty."
Six months ago. Before the travel restrictions. Karoline was going to have a hard time getting home, actually. Hell, it was amazing that she'd made it here.
"It hasn't been that pretty here, either. Luckily the virus hasn't spread too far. Just sporadic outbreaks here and there. We've been taking care of it."
"I've heard. You're doing much better at it than we are. It's why I'm here. Do you mind if I come with you all?"
"Can you shoot a gun?"
"As long as you can take care of yourself, I don't care. Have you met the team?"
"Just Gage and Jesse."
"Alright, well, this is T-bone. And…where did Steven disappear to?" Ted wondered aloud, knowing that he'd at least entered here, but was nowhere in sight.
"Bathroom," Jesse guessed. It made sense. It was the only possibly hiding place.
"Alright then. Well, I'm Ted. Steven is in the bathroom, and like I said, this is T-bone."
"T-bone?" she repeated, sounding confused.
"It's his nickname."
"Why?" she asked turning to T-bone, still sounding confused.
He shrugged. "Just because."
"…okay," she replied, deciding just to go with it. She went back over to the shelves, grabbing a switchblade off the shelf and a Beretta 92FS. She couldn't be that bad of a gunwoman if the Beretta was her weapon of choice. That, or she just picked one. It really could be either way.
Steven exited the bathroom. He and T-bone both grabbed Smith and Wesson's from the shelves. Steven's was an M&P while T-bone's was a 99. Ted grabbed his M1911. The gun required more maintenance than most of the others, but there was just something about it that he loved. Gage handed the guys the remaining trench knives, they made sure they had plenty of ammo and then they headed out. The six of them piled into the Bronco. T-bone told Steven where they were going; there was a nasty outbreak in a small rural town about two hours away. Unfortunately, they were behind schedule, so Steven undertook the job of making up the lost time during the drive. No one was happy with this compromise. Dying in a car wreck on the way to go fight zombies just didn't seem that appealing.
They made it to their destination in an hour and a half. At this point it was 2:17am. They were still late, but Steven had definitely made up some of that time. The town was extremely small. The population, according to the sign that welcomed them to the city, was only 63 people. Depending on when that sign was put up, the number could be too low. As they drove into the town, they figured that the number was pretty accurate. The place was too small to contain any more than that.
They drove down the main road, recognizing the signs of zombie in numerous places. Windows were shattered, stores had been looted, and the road was bloody. Despite all the signs, there were no zombies nearby.
"Where are they?" Steven wondered.
"They go where there is food," Karoline reminded.
"Alright. So your town is infested by zombies, where do you go to survive?" Ted mused.
"Some people would go to a church," Gage pointed out.
"The zombies were made by a virus, not by magic. They invade the church. You died. Where else?"
"The nearest Wal-Mart?" T-bone suggested, knowing that was their plan if the zombies ever hit their town.
"The nearest Wal-Mart is two hours away. You made it out of town and survived. The zombies didn't follow. Next guess?"
"Local hardware store or supermarket," Jesse guessed.
"There's probably a few survivors at both," Steven agreed. Ted began searching for the nearest hardware store on the GPS. It was at the far end of the town. The supermarket was down a side street and nowhere near the other location. Looked like they were splitting up, which was nothing new to them. They often did it to cover more ground while they were hunting. It was an effective strategy so long as they never split into more than two groups.
Steven parked the Bronco at the intersection of the main road and the side road that the supermarket was down. It was an older vehicle, which meant there was no remote unlock, so he didn't bother to lock it at all. The zombies would leave the car alone and if the hunters needed to flee in a hurry, it was better to have it unlocked.
The group split like it usually did. Jesse, Gage, and T-bone headed toward the supermarket. Steven and Ted went to the hardware store, bringing their new companion with them. Their weapons were out and ready to fire. Each group had a radio to keep in touch with the other, for emergency use only. The less noise they made, the better.
It wasn't very long before Ted's group spotted the store. The only real indication that they had reached their destination was the large group of zombies clustered outside the store, trying to break their way in. The group contained about twenty zombies, which meant either forty people were hiding in that small building (unlikely) or there were zombies elsewhere.
There was no discussion. They didn't need it after doing this for so long. Even Karoline knew what to do. All of them fired upon the hoard of zombies, instantly gaining the attention of the ones they didn't shoot. That was always when things started getting scary, when the zombies noticed them.
The three fired again and Ted noticed that Karoline was a pretty good shot. Six months of zombie killing experience wasn't that much (his team had two years), but she was holding her own. Maybe she'd stick around a while. That'd be nice. This whole three person sub-team felt a lot safer than when it was just Ted and Steven.
The zombies started getting closer, so they started moving backwards. Eventually, it would come down to hand-to-hand combat, Ted knew, but they would avoid that for as long as they could. It was much harder to get infected if the zombies were at least twenty feet away.
A few of the zombies were down. Head shots on moving targets, even slow moving targets, were difficult. Ted stopped focusing on his teammates and started focusing on the enemy. He fired again and the bullet went through the eye of a decaying woman and came out the back of her skull. Blood spattered onto the nearby zombies, not that it fazed them. She fell to the ground and Ted shot again, this time hitting a zombie in the chest and doing no good. It was irritatingly difficult to kill something that was already dead. If the brain wasn't damage, the damn things would keep coming. Fuckin' zombies… He shot again, this time the bullet went into the zombie's forehead and Ted saw some brains come out the other side as the guy went down. He wasn't sure if that was gross or cool. Mostly gross, since the brain was infested with zombie virus.
He estimated that there'd be maybe four more shots before he would have to switch to the knife. What it just him or was this group of zombies faster than the last one? They seemed to be getting stronger as each group occurred. That couldn't be good.
Another shot took out a child zombie. That was always sad. The pet zombies weren't pleasant either. Zombie dogs were scary as hell, too, because for whatever reason, they were faster than the human zombies. They also had pointy teeth. Scary.
He fired on a little blonde girl with pigtails. She was dressed up, like she'd been planning to go somewhere. Guess that plan had been ruined. Nothing like becoming a zombie to ruin a day.
His estimation was one too high. There was one last shot, taking out one of the more intimidating zombies, before he was forced to holster the gun and draw the knife. He also put on some sunglasses. Middle of the night or not, it was a good idea to protect one's eyes in order to avoid blood splattering into them or some other form of infection. He jammed the knife into the skull of the nearest member of the walking dead. Being designed to slice through metal helmets, the blade easily went through the bone. The zombie was neutralized and he withdrew his knife, which was no coated in a combination of blood and brain. Lovely. He swung at the next zombie, wielding the brass knuckle portion of the handle and cracking the forehead of his opponent. Another hard punch to the forehead effectively scrambled the guy's brain and he was down for the count. He began taking on the next threat, when he realized that another zombie was coming up on his left side and within biting range. Suddenly, it fell. Karoline stood behind it, her switchblade bloodied. He nodded a thanks and she smiled in response before returning to battle. He took out the current enemy and looked around to take stock of how many they had left. There were three remaining. Karoline was fighting one and Steven was in the midst of dispatching one while another approached him from behind. Ted moved in on it, stabbing it in the back of the head. They were good. Steven radioed in to the other team to inform them of the neutralized threat on their end and to let them know they were going to check up on the survivors.
They knocked at the door, telling the people inside that the zombies were gone. No one opened the door, no one ever opened the door, but they did respond. Steven and Ted made sure no one inside had been infected by bite, scratch, or any other method, and then told them to call the Center for Disease Control. Steven and Ted's team's job was to take out the threat. Cleanup was up to the CDC.
Jesse radioed back to say that they too had finished the job and were making their way back to the Bronco. Ted's group began the trip back themselves.
"Thanks for saving my life, Norway," Ted said while they walked.
"Norway. I like it. So if you're giving her a nickname, does that mean she's sticking around?" Steven asked.
"Up to her," he replied and they both looked at her.
"I'll be here for a year, if it is okay," she answered.
"We might have to keep you a little longer than that, Norway," Steven decided. Ted nodded in agreement. She smiled but shook her head.
"My country needs me, too."
Understandable. Everyone, everywhere needed all the help they could get.
The group made it back to the vehicle and climbed in. Jesse, T-bone, and Gage were already inside. Steven started up (and made sure to lock) the car and they left town.
"Celebratory, job well done, pizza for breakfast?" Steven asked. It was a tradition after all.
"I'm thinking Ted should buy it since he made us late," T-bone suggested. The rest of the team agreed.
"I hate all of you," was Ted's response.
"Dude, it's not like you can't afford it. Your day job makes bank," Jesse argued.
"I'm thinking Domino's," Gage proposed.
"Pizza Hut," T-bone argued.
"Papa John's," Steven voiced.
"If I'm buying, we're getting Little Caesar's. It's cheap," Ted informed them.
They all agreed, because who would turn down free pizza? Though they did continue debating the merits of the different pizza places. Normal conversations for a not so normal group of people. It was always easier to enjoy the little things when they risked their lives on about a weekly basis.
They stopped by Little Caesar's, got their pizza, and returned to the office. Ted had had a long night, but it wasn't over. It wouldn't end until this pizza debate could be solved, but that was his life. He was Ted Erickson, damn good musician and excellent zombie hunter.
It's nearly three am and I just finished writing this, so I apologize for any mistakes. I've never written zombies before, so I hope I didn't do a terrible job. It's been a while since I've written a one-shot, this was fun.
Special thanks (in order of appearance) to Paul, Steven, Gage, Alex, Jesse, and Karoline. I hope you all enjoyed.