A/N This excellent short story about zombies was written by Nathan Shephard who heard about our zombie competition too late, but got inspiration to write anyway. He emailed it to me, and I really had to post it somewhere. It's a tad long, but it's worth it. Hope y'all read and enjoy :D
P.S. a new short story competition is going on, and if you haven't already, read about it in the post below!
Anyway, on with the show!
Thud – the sound of a lifeless form hitting the ground.
A steady aim and a moment of focus-
Another body collapses. But there are more bodies now.
They come and they come- like relentless and determined waves crashing
upon a desolate shore, they keep coming. Whether dead or alive, they
pile up after each consecutive wave. And you know there’ll be more -
Keep moving – I have to remind myself! It’s kept me alive so far.
Keep moving, cause they’ll keep coming.
Something shoots past my face, thoughtfully caressing my ear as it
passes. I reflex as the projectile embeds itself in the cold concrete
wall behind me. A reflex that would’ve been far too late if the dart had
That was too close.
I’ve had too many close calls like this. The fact that I’m still alive
surprises me – I should be dead, like all the rest. There sure as hell
has been more than one occasion for that certainty.
Yet here I stand, in defiance or stubborn tenacity – one common trait I share with my enemy.
I turn around to see the serrated barb sticking out of the wall. There’s
only one thing that can do that. And I don’t want to stick around to
give it another shot.
Time to make myself scarce.
I slip through a narrow passage, just as I hear another dart zip by,
putting enough distance between me and that shambling horde. No doubt my
activities are bound to attract certain undesirables. You can count on
that every time a shot is fired.
The rest are merely distractions; bait to draw out the living - the real
monsters are the things that think gunshots are the dinner bell
I’ve seen my fair share of these monsters; always on the prowl, lurking
in the shadows, seeking their next victim to satiate their ravishing
hunger. Twisted abominations, a contradiction of life.
I round a corner, panting softly and straining my ears for the sound of pursuing footsteps.
I hear nothing. Keep going, don’t stop now. I must find a way out of
here. This dead edifice, this decaying city and ruined civilization will
let me go either way sooner or later. “When” might not be my choice,
My hand finds its way into my pocket where my fingers fondle a standard
9mm round and my thoughts drift off to a bleak possibility- but I stop
them before they can go any further.
Check my magazine: still got eleven rounds and two full clips. Gotta
make them count, don’t know when I’ll come across more munitions.
An object that only becomes a viable weapon once two parts are combined is hardly a reliable one.
But if all else fails, I’ve still got my trusty axe, it never runs out
of ammo- a cliché but it’s true. Partially blunted and well loved, it’s
got me out of more than one sticky situation. It means getting closer to
your foe to strike a blow, sometimes too close for comfort. And it
causes a wonderful mess; a splatter and spray of blood usually, but it’s
no dinner bell. Although, if you’re not well covered while handing out
the chops you could find yourself saturated in ichorous blood; one drop
splattered on an open wound or in an eye and you’re in for a protracted,
agonizing and measured death.
Blood- avoid it like a plague if you can.
I hastily make my way to the far end of the corridor where it T’s off
left and right. I knew coming here would be a risk, but it may still be
The end of the corridor comes to greet me, I stop to spare a glance
behind me; various forms have started to appear and gather at the other
end of the corridor.
Damn! I’ve called in the hungry mob with two shots! Bad idea.
Left or right?
The left corridor was dark and silent. There was an unsettling presence
about the darkness that convinced me I’d be better off going right;
where the eerie glow of the moon shone through the cracked and shattered
windowpanes, flooding the corridor with light.
You learn to trust your intuition with decisions like these.
Glass crunches underfoot as I make my way over it. There’s a lifeless
body slumped against one of the apartment doors. I’m not sure if it’s
officially a corpse yet so I keep my distance as I pass it.
This corridor is long but I can see an open space at the end which
should be a foyer with a staircase. I consider the rough map of the
building I hastily sketched in my mind and I hoped it hadn’t changed
Another body; its organs decorating the floor and splatter of red
painted on the wall. It groans and I hear glass shifting beneath it as I
stride over it. I imagine it reaching after me.
It’ll never get
me though, I’m already gone and as I prepare to round the bend I hug the
wall to peer around the corner- a habit you quickly pick up on, it soon
My back against the wall, I glance around the corner and-
My heart sinks, and for a moment mortal jeopardy petrifies me.
Did it see me?
No – I would’ve known by now.
A sigh of relieve.
It’s just standing there. They do that, it still freaks me out. Some things you just don’t get used to.
You wouldn’t even know they’re there until it’s too late- until you’ve already run into one.
As though cast in stone, they stand idle- but once it has something to
kill it becomes fanatically animated. I’ve seen one of them rip a man in
half and that was after he managed to spray it with a couple of shotgun
shells- the worst thing to run into right now.
Especially if all you have is a 9mm hand gun and a blunted axe.
I’ve never killed one of those things before, it’s the type of brute I
try to avoid altogether and hope to never engage. The type, when
encountered, presents you with two options; flee or take your slim
chances fighting. And unless you’re some kind of badass, the latter
“Sentries”, some called them, believed to guard key locations. Rumour
has it that they’re blind but if that’s true, it’s never stopped them.
And what the hell could it be guarding here?
I hear movement at the other end of the corridor. Swiftly, my hand
gropes for the nearest door handle. It opens and I slip in, suddenly
relieved but then quickly realising my dreary situation.
Right now, I had a hungry mob steadily closing in on me from one side,
and a ruthless killing machine on the other. And by all appearances it
seemed as though I was fast becoming trapped.
Trapped- another way to get killed.
I found myself in a room that seemed abandoned and relatively untouched;
things were neat and everything seemed in order- a stark contradiction
to the matter. As though oblivious to the chaos outside its walls. Even
the bed was done- it seemed absurd. It was like this room was altogether
forgotten about until now.
I look around for a possible exit. The windows lead to a crumbling ledge
outside. It’s an option, but maybe not the best one. The drop is a long
one, and I could suffer no broken bones right now. I approach a door
which I believe leads to the bathroom.
I open it and suddenly find
myself flailing to keep from slipping off an edge. Steadying myself on
the door frame, I peer down at my feet; the tips of my boots hang over a
massive hole in the floor that seems to drop many levels deep, at least
five or six stories. I can’t see the bottom.
The wall to the right doesn’t exist anymore and even the ceiling is
missing; as though some kind of wrecking ball ploughed through this part
of the building.
That would’ve been a silly way to die. Rushing through doors, I should
know better. Silly mistakes get people killed in this urban wasteland,
I’ve seen this too.
Gunshots! That distinctive sound.
I haven’t heard anyone else shoot anything else in days! And it sounds like it’s coming from somewhere in this building.
Again- this time closer.
A bang and a shudder vibrating through the building, dust falls. Sounded
like a grenade. Someone is packing heat and attracting a lot of
As though to confirm this I hear the heavy foot falls of the Sentry stir
behind me, on the other side of the wall. For a moment I pity the
mortal soul down there somewhere, once you attract the attention of a
Sentry you better hope you’re packing extra frags.
I hear more gunshots, this time the distinguishing sound of automatic fire, drawing ever nearer.
Nothing I can do to help this person. If anything this will be a good
opportunity to give the Sentry a slip… But it seems it hasn’t moved
What the hell?!
That sound of concrete cracking, crumbling and splintering behind me, I
find myself steadying my balance again. A piece of brick bounces and
rolls pass me to leap off the edge and drop down the shaft.
My mind is trying to logically comprehend what just happened, but I know
already- I know that the thing just came through the damn wall!
The dust settles to reveal the menacing shape of the Sentry sprawled on
the bed, thrashing and kicking up a fuss. It obviously didn’t expect the
Soon its up though, grunting and hissing through nostrils, shaking off
its collision. Its head raises and shifts from side to side, it seems to
be peering, straining its senses to pick up on a target. Then it stops,
as though something catches its attention.
Its head turns slowly. Slowly towards me, then stops. Has it noticed me?
If it had eyes it would be looking directly at me, but I could still sense a thousand yard stare that cut right through me.
I’m standing stock-still.
Quivering arms raise and I peer down the barrel at the ugly face of my adversary. My finger curling around the trigger.
One chance. That’s probably all I’ll get- one chance to put a bullet
through its head. One chance to get it right and put it down for good -
with one shot. One chance, one faultless shot.
There’s that moment, when time seems to slow down to extend you the
courtesy of contemplating your last few precious moments and accepting
your fate. You notice things; things you would never think to consider
in these moments. Like how the dust fell as it resettled, like a lazy
rain, partially obscuring the menacing, hulking figure before me.
The noise echoed up the shaft from a lower level behind me to snap me
out of the spellbinding grip of mortal peril, its sound augmented as it
bounced off the walls.
The Sentry grunted, then suddenly launched forward – it had a fix on its
target. It wasn’t me (thank God), but I now found myself directly in
its path (dear God!).
Charging forward, and directly at me.
Instinctively I step aside- it crashes pass me, taking some of the door
frame with it, smashing into the wall on the opposite end of the small
room, before it falls down the shaft.
Clinging on an edge I watch as it quickly descends; tumbling into the
darkness and obscurity below, bouncing off concrete protrusions on its
I’m tremendously relieved and I can’t help but wonder how I managed to survive that.
This is turning out to be one of those days.
Just keep going! Gotta keep moving- I remind myself.
Stay in one place too long and you’re bound to test your luck. Especially in a place like this; so close to The Fallout Zone.
Darting out the room, my pursuers have closed some distance. Their glee
is spine chilling as they notice me- this puts a spring in their shamble
and they stumble forward faster.
I turn to leave-
But suddenly I’m sprawled on the floor, and for a second I’m dazed and confused, my head swimming.
There’s a numbing buzz filling my skull. Did I hit my head?
My vision clears and I suddenly realise my sidearm has eluded my grip.
Lying only meters away I scramble up to retrieve it when a searing pain
suddenly grips my arm.
My hand instinctively wraps around the source of pain and I can feel a
liquid seep between my fingers. Glancing down I see a laceration.
This isn’t good! Panic threatens to overwhelm me but I won’t let it. I
scoop my handgun up noticing a barbed spike not too far from it, the
blood on it still fresh and I get this feeling it’s my blood.
There’s a strepitous shriek, I turn to see a form rushing through the
fleshly obstacles around it. It knocks one down and swipes another aside
with its mutated clawed arm, the body flies through the air in two
pieces, smacking against the wall with a meaty thud and collapsing in a
pile of fetid flesh and blood.
My eyes widen, it’s coming for me. Rushing to meet me on four limbs; its
eyes manic and its twisting tongue hanging out the corner of its
lipless mouth - a permanent grimace of long pointed teeth. Its tail
flickering behind it, another spine emerging from its tip, ready to
I don’t even debate it, my arms are raised and shots are fired. The
first few are off the mark, the result of an impulsive reaction. They
zip passed my target, the next few shots rip into it- but still it
comes, ever more enraged.
Last chance – don’t screw it up, okay.
The following shots sail true- I’m sure of it! But I don’t have time to
see them land, I’m darting out the way before it rips into me.
Collapsing to the ground as it crashes into the wall at a tremendous
speed, I’m on my feet again as quickly as I can manage, pistol at the
It lies there motionless, the wall cracked by the impact- blood
splatters the impact crater on the wall and pools on the floor around
it. The massive claw on its arm twitches. The unconventional combination
of hot lead and solid masonry must’ve done it!
I spare a disdainful glance at the creature; a “Cutter” they called this one.
The shambling horde approaches and the possibility of additional Cutters roaming the ranks are likely.
I survey my surroundings, pleased to see a staircase at the end of the foyer and quickly make for it while reloading my clip.
I ascend two floors before a sudden pain surges up in my arm and I’m reminded of the tear in my flesh.
It won’t stop bleeding.
Shit! This is bad, this is really bad.
No time to staunch and dress it, don’t lose focus – just keep going dammit!
My legs carry me up another few flights without stopping. The buzz in my
head subsides to give way to the nagging concern of the sharp sting in
my upper arm.
I see the sign “Flr 72” on a door. That’s the one! Carefully, I open it.
My hand turning the door knob slowly- it opens with a squeak that
confounds my efforts to remain inconspicuous.
But only an enigmatic silence and a still darkness come to receive me.
What are the chances of Creeps being this high up in the building?
Slimmer than usual but I haven’t survived this long by taking slim chances.
I sweep the area best I can, my eyes adjusting to the lack of light,
proceeding cautiously but steadily. My arm going slightly numb now- the
pain becoming less severe.
Soon, I find the apartment I’m looking for – the door is open ajar and I step in.
It doesn’t take long to find what I’m looking for. It was exactly where I expected it to be.
I’m out of the apartment and making my way down the corridor when I have to stop.
Did I hear something?
Another couple of paces and I have to stop again. That sound, I heard it again. But now, only reticence.
I continue and then suddenly stop – I definitely hear it this time!
A tapping noise, like the sound of scurrying claws over a solid surface.
Something is following me.
I turn around peering into the darkness, my grip around my pistol
tightening. It sounded close. I imagine malevolent eyes glaring at me
from the shadows. I can feel goose flesh wrap around me.
I run, as swiftly as my legs can carry me, and I hear the scurrying
tap-tap quicken to match my pace behind me. I don’t peer behind me, I
don’t slow down even while rounding the corner. The door, I must reach the door. My arm reaches out, my hand curls around the door knob and I slip through, slamming it shut behind me.
A violent impact shakes the door in its frame and I’m thrown back.
Quickly I descend the steps, two flights down and I hear the door above
me shatter, a splintered shard of wood falls down past me.
Shit! Here it comes!
I just keep running, even when my legs start to burn and my chest
tightens, I don’t stop. I don’t know what that thing is but I don’t
intend to find out. The knowledge that it stalks its prey is a hint of
some intelligence – that’s enough to unnerve me.
Suddenly I can go no further. The flight of stairs simply breaks off,
wrecked and crumbling. I have to volt up another flight to reach the
nearest door. Struggle to open it, it’s jammed!
Dammit! Try the next one. This time luck!
I find myself in another foyer – and I’m not the only one.
A man stands there in black fatigues – dressed for war.
He holds some kind of automatic rifle in his hands, standing over a corpse of Cutter. Around him bodies lay strewn in pieces.
He turns to face me. A gasmask covers his face and beneath the goggles I sense a cryptic and calculating stare.
I’m thrown forward, the door behind me shatters and I hear the clamour of automatic fire followed promptly by a shrieking wale.
I stumble to my feet, look around to see the man thrusting a combat
knife through a repulsive looking mutation with multiple limbs and
curved talons. He must’ve moved damn fast to cover that distance and get
in under it with a knife. He pushes it aside, extracting his blade from
its throat, as it slumps to the floor.
I make my getaway while he’s occupied. Speeding off at a run and even as
I do I hear the thundering roar of what could only be a Sentry close
by. Suddenly a massive form crashes through the windows to my left and
sprawls on the floor only a few metres ahead of me.
I come to a grinding halt as it rises, shaking off shards of glass. It
bellows and charges at me. Bullets spit past me like streaking lines of
yellow light, one coming close enough to my neck that I could feel the
heat as it passes.
The bullets ripped into the brute. It clutches its face in agony and I have to dive aside to avoid it ploughing through me.
hit the ground hard and the Sentry charges past, crashing into the wall
beside it as it struggled, disorientated and infuriated. I see the man
approach, casually striding up to the creature. He draws a side arm and
with one shot ripping through its head, the Sentry drops.
An efficient killer. Is he on my side? We share a common enemy but
there’s always this ever present issue of trust amongst other humans
where self-preservation is concerned. I’m not waiting to find out, this
guy must have a death wish to come into a place like this blasting away.
He might as while be banging a gong, inviting every Creep in a 5 mile
radius for a feast.
And it doesn’t matter how “hard-core” you are, when the bigger things start showing up, you will die.
“Stay where you are!” I shout, raising my pistol as I get up again.
He stops and raises his gloved hands in an unthreatening gesture.
The first person I’ve come across in days that isn’t already a corpse.
But this man was different, well trained, well equipped. Is he the only
one here? Why is he here? Where did he come from?
I hear the faint buzzing of a chopper in the distance. Something is
definitely going down and I find myself in the middle of it now.
I fire three rounds. They cleave into the wall beside the man, he rolls
away to evade, masonic dust sprouting from the walls like blood from a
I make my get away. Sprinting down the corridor. I remember the day this
hell visited us- this man reminds me of the people responsible. He
appeared to be well sponsored by a resourceful organisation, probably
connected to that chopper too. No survivalist looks like that. You know
one when you see one, survivalists looked like me; a rag-tag shamble of
whatever it takes to stay alive.
I ran over the massacred bodies of the Creeps that stood in the way of
some heavy fire power. He obviously came through this way. That may mean
my chances of running into something sinister could be abated.
Sure enough, I managed to make my way down to the ground floor without
encountering much more than a clumsy “Hobbler” or two, too slow to be a
I had a lingering impression I was being followed at a careful distance,
but I’m open to the possibility that this could be the result of a
Soon I’ll be free of this tower of ghouls.
I step into the main lobby and freeze.
It’s filled with Hobblers – Dammit!
They stumble around mindlessly but with a single purpose, driven by the
need to satiate their perpetual craving. And with all the dinner bells
ringing from this derelict building, the lure was probably too good to
Now they blocked my only exit out of here.
I take a deep breath – Okay, let’s do this.
I pull the buff over my lower face and bring down the hockey mask
strapped to my head, completely concealing my face. I holster my pistol
and reach for the axe.
A Hobbler moans with delight as it notices me, suddenly more begin to take note of presence.
Here we go!
Cleaving my way through the shuffling crowd in a spray of red, taking
care to make the blows count and allow myself the room I need to
manoeuvre, keeping a steady progress as to not get completely
surrounded, and not offering the nape of my neck to the nearest freak
The exit approaches and with one more swing to thwart the last fetid obstacle my way is clear!
I step out into the world and cold night. Ungainly figures are steadily
approaching from all angles, stumbling out of alley ways and hobbling
I’ve made it.
But something isn’t right.
What’s this feeling? This sensation? It’s not elation… It’s something… else.
My upper arm begins to sting again. Suddenly my legs give way and I
realise I’m on my knees. The bloody axe slips from my grasp. My vision
is swimming, my head filling up with flashing lights and numbing pain. I
feel myself sway, my eyes peer up, struggling to keep consciousness but
despite myself I slump over to fall upon the cold asphalt. All feeling
and sensation swiftly leaving my body as I lay upon the ground in front
of the doors to the building ringing the dinner bells.
I can’t move!
I lay there, fading away fast but all I’m thinking of is how close I came - and how I’d end up on tonight’s menu despite this.
But then I hear something.
Is that gunfire? Automatic? Are the delusions setting in? As long as there is no pain. I’m ready to leave this cruel world.
I hear voices in my head as dark figures loom above me, “She’s still alive, call in the Bio-Med, she’ll need the vaccine.”
Then I drift off…