Authors: R.J. Spears
Tags: #Zombies, #action, #post apocalypse
A Zombie Novella
Book 2 in the Forget the Zombies Series
By R.J. Spears
Copyright 2013 R.J. Spears
This eBook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No parts or portions of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, be it electronic or mechanical, without the expressed written consent of the author.
For more information about this author and his other works, visit R.J. Spears' website at:
This one is dedicated to old friends. We saw Romero's Dawn of the Dead back in the day and that started me on my zombie journey.
Special thanks goes to Michael Bray who created the foundational artwork for the cover.
I also want to give a huge shout out to my old friend, Tim Albrecht, who served as the best beta reader an author could ever have. You're a steadfast reader and have a great eye.
Thanks, old friend.
Pop Tarts; wars have been fought for less.
These were a limited edition version called Wildberry Bloom. Joni’s son, Martin, had them, but a big bruiser who went by the name of Tank (I kid you not) wanted them. It was an apt nickname, and while he was big, his version of a tank would be somewhat doughy around the middle. He was just over six feet six with beefy arms and legs plus a voluminous gut hanging over his extra wide belt. A little spongy, I would say, but not to his face.
Not all was well in the camp and this latest simmering of tension was indicative of the overall ill-tempered attitude circulating among the refugees. Of course, we were in tents and it was Texas. And it was August. I’ve been around the world and there are fewer hotter or more miserably humid places than Texas in August. Anyone would be pissed off if they had to be there. Oh yeah, we were in the midst of an impending zombie apocalypse, too. That was the icing on the cake.
“Hey, kid, give me the Pop Tarts or I’ll smack you down,” Tank said.
The refugees in line for supplemental food dispersal parted like the Red Sea as Tank made his way toward Martin and me. We were just outside the main commissary. These supplemental foods (if you could call Pop Tarts food) were the stuff you could snack on between meals and they were a true rarity. Most of our meals consisted of rice and beans with stale bread, choked down with tepid, bad tasting water. Let me tell you, we were living the high life.
I was there with Martin because Joni needed a break and, besides that, I liked the kid. He had a rough time since his dad had disappeared in the Outbreak. This kid was a brave one. He had been with us on the whole harrowing escape out of San Antonio — the zombies and firebombs and all. He had seen some serious shit — people being eaten by zombies or being shot — and he had born up under it. Not too many adults could say the same.
The troops managing the camp, which was just north of Austin, did their best, but the situation was starting to spiral down the drain. At least, from what I could see. This supplemental food was the first one of its kind in days. The troops had raided an abandoned convenient mart and brought back this booty. What they didn’t take for themselves was distributed to the kids first. It was meant to keep up morale, but with food supplies being so low, this largess was back firing.
“He had them first,” I said.
“My kid saw them first and he wants them,” Tank said, puffing out his chest.
“I don’t see any kid with you,” I said.
“He was here, but he went back to the tent because he was sick. I want them.” He pulled back his shoulders hoping to look more menacing, but it really only made his gut more pronounced. “Now.”
“A likely story,” I said. “When you bring the kid back, he can have them. Until then, they’re ours.”
“This is your last warning, bub,” Tank said pushing through a mother and her two young kids, nearly knocking them over. “Hand them over or I’ll stomp your ass.” All the eyes went to me and Tank. None of the eyes belonged to soldiers, though. Like cops, the soldiers were never around when you need them; only when you didn’t.
I felt a gentle tug at my wrist and looked down to see Martin peering up at me, his eyes as big as saucers. He pulled me down to his level.
“Grant, he can have them,” Martin said almost whispering. “I don’t really need them.”
“Martin, that’s really nice of you, but it’s the principle of the thing now. He thinks he can bully us to get them and, frankly, I’m not putting up with it.” I rose back up in time to see Tank’s sweaty mug loom into my personal space. His breath was no better than his attitude.
While many a man would have backed down, I wasn’t that type of man. Sure, Martin wasn’t my kid in any way, shape, or form, but I was the best thing he had to male role model. Backing down would be a bad example. Plus, I was in a testy mood. Lastly, backing down would mean a hit to my dignity. Yes, even in the zombie apocalypse; the rules of the school yard still applied. That meant that keeping your pride intact was important.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no hero. Far from it, but my years in the U.S. Marshals service had taught me how to judge people. Tank was all bluster. He’d back down before I had to prove a thing. Now, I just had to wait him out.
I turned my back to show Tank that I wasn’t afraid of him. That’s when he punched me.
It was a haymaker that I hadn’t seen coming. It connected right at the base of my neck and felt like someone had thrown an anvil at me. He must have reached back into the next county because stars appeared in my eyes and I felt my feet leave the ground. My body was no longer under the control of gravity as I flew into a crowd of refugees. I ended up half-dazed in a tangle of people.
From a thousand miles away, I heard shouts and some screams as my senses returned. I shook my head and looked up to see a crowd of refugees standing around me with frightened looks on their faces. I peered through their legs and saw Tank standing menacingly over Martin who cowered away from Tank’s meaty paws.
Well, two could play at this game, but I wasn’t going to fight fair. Where he had socked me in the back of the neck, I had a more effective place targeted. He was so confident I’d stay down, that he didn’t hear me coming.
I reared back, and while my punch didn’t come from the next county, I’m hoping it was at least a couple blocks worth of impact. My fist connected with his back at about the place where his kidneys were positioned.
While he was spongy on the front, his back felt much like a bag of hard sand. Still, he felt something because as he stumbled forward and grunted.
It took him a moment, but he turned around and shot me a look of such utter over-heated anger that I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t start melting if he kept it up much longer. I fully expected steam to shoot from his ears at any second as he braced himself to have another go at me. What made it worse was that he didn’t look all that affected by my punch.
Like a bull he charged at me.
If I hadn’t had the scrutiny of the crowd around me, I might have gulped. When I reflected back at how I had faced down scores of zombies, I certainly thought that I could find the courage to face down this one asshole.
He rammed into me like a locomotive. We steamrolled into a group of people, spilling them onto the ground like bowling pins. I went down, but he somehow managed to keep his balance. Standing over me, breathing like an elephant in heat, he brought up a booted foot, preparing to stomp me. His boot was so large that it seemed to blot out the sun.
The boot reached its apex and then started down on me. At the last possible second, I rolled out of the way, but I could swear the ground shook when it hit.
The tent filled with yells and screams. I wasn’t sure if they were cheers for the fight or outright fear. I was really too preoccupied with not being stomped to pay too much attention.
He brought up his boot and I slid away again, barely, but that left him straddling me with nowhere to go. His choice was to fall on me which would most likely smash me flat or try another stomp.
The stomp must have been the least path of resistance because he started back with his foot when his face went from an expression of menacing joy to one of pain. His foot fell down catching my side and still nearly knocked the wind out of me.
He peered back over his shoulder and I looked between his legs at what could have distracted him.
Standing in the perfect pitcher’s stance with his tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth, Martin readied himself to toss a can of peaches at Tank. I saw a can of green beans lying on ground which I surmised is what got Tank’s attention in the first place.
Martin let it rip and it flew at the perfect trajectory right into the side of Tank’s face. A gush of blood burst forth from his nose.
“Why you little shit!” Tank cried out as he started to pivot towards Martin.
Tank must have only been able to focus his pea brain on one thing at a time because he completely ignored me. I decided to exploit this oversight. I brought back my foot and shot it out in a lightning kick right into his nether regions. It was a direct hit and I think he’d say, (if he could find the breath to do so), that I had sunk his battleship.
His face went pink, then red as it scrunched up, making it look like a tiny little piggy as he tottered back and forth while cradling his injured sack in his hands. I learned not to count your chickens before they hatched because the final resting place of his body had yet to be determined. He swayed away from me and then towards me and then away again.
I decided to shift the balance in my favor and kicked him in the balls again. The impact sent him away from me and, like a skyscraper being demolished; he seemed to fall in on himself, toppling to the left as he did. Once again, the ground shook and a plume of dust rose into the air around him as he panted like a beached whale, lying splayed across the dirt.
I stood up and leaned over him, “You try to take this kid’s Pop Tarts again and you’ll get more of the same.” I put my arm around Martin and we walked confidently through the crowd. We were barely out of the tent as soldiers streamed into the tent from several different directions, guns at the ready. The missed us entirely, but Tank didn’t get missed. I heard later that they hoisted him out of there in not a very delicate manner.
As for myself, I could feel the bruises starting to swell around the different parts of my body. Despite the pain, I tousled Martin’s hair and said, “Martin, you’re a brave little guy, but next time, run like the wind and get away from guys like that.”
He smiled back at me which almost made the whole incident worth it.
“What happened to you?” Randell, the former Alamo tour guide and our group’s resident cheerleader, asked when we came into the tent.
I didn’t think I looked so bad. “Just a little scuffle at the commissary,” I said.
Joni moved up and took a quick inspection of Martin and then me.
“Mom, you should have been there,” Martin said. “Some guy tried to take my Pop Tarts but Grant and I took care of him. Right, Grant?”
Joni’s expression shifted from concern to parental annoyance. “Grant, really? He’s with you for fifteen minutes and he’s in a fight.”
“Hey, the other guy started it,” I said, putting my hands in the air.
Just then Mack pushed his way into the tent calling to me, saving me from an official scolding. She still gave me the stink eye for getting Martin in a scrape,
“Hey Grant, can we talk for a minute?” Mack said. He was a 50-something tourist from Ohio and, like us, was stuck at the Alamo when the shit hit the fan. He usually disagreed with whatever I said, but we had reached a negotiated truce as of late. His standard operating mode was irritated annoyance, but there was concern in his face today.