Read The Search For A Cure Online

Authors: C. Chase Harwood

Tags: #Amazing and unique zombie series.

The Search For A Cure (8 page)

Jones yanked him inside and slammed the door shut, throwing the dead bolt just as the laughing, howling creatures crashed up against it.

Copper's head cleared and in the pitch black he fearfully clung to Jones. "Something was in my head, bro. What they've been saying 'bout them in your head is true."

The pounding on the heavy steel door was muffled, but it was unnerving nonetheless – and hadn’t the lights been on before? Jones said, "Felt it too. Fucked up shit, man."

They each had a small infrared flashlight strapped to their helmets, which offered about fifteen feet of illumination for their NVG’s. The staircase quickly fell off into total darkness. Somewhere down below they heard what sounded like sinister laughter. Fiends were known to laugh with pleasure, particularly when playing with prey. Jones and Copper swapped in the last drum of ammo on the M240. They both carried knives, but a swarm of Fiends didn’t heed a couple of knives.


David Miller held the camp’s only umbrella and flashlight while standing at the perimeter taking a leak. He rested his tired head against the chain link. The man had complained bitterly about the filthy port-a-john and refused to use it for pissing anyway, instead, repeatedly angering everyone by standing in a spot he had designated as his urinal. A quiet woman named Nancy Green who had barely spoken since Jon and Nikki's arrival, watched Miller with mild distaste. Just before she turned her head away she saw a naked foot and another shod in the flashlight's beam on the opposite side of the fence. The feet shifted and Miller yelped as something tried to pull his hair through the fence. He pointed the light in front of him to reveal dozens of cold, wet and voraciously hungry looking Fiends. A middle aged female laughed directly in his face while gripping Miller’s hair in a tight fist. Miller howled and used the flashlight to beat against the hand and free himself. Nancy Green felt her body shudder and tears spring out of her eyes.

Miller violently pulled his head away, leaving some of his scalp in the Fiend's claw while the flashlight swept the area in front of him revealing bright animated eyes scanning the enclosure for an entry. The female laughed while licking at the bloody piece of scalp. She gnashed her teeth as she met his gaze, her talon like fingers griping the chain link with fierce strength.

The other prisoners were all crying out in various forms of fright. Jon looked over at the castle, but couldn’t make out anything in the dark heavy rain. He ran and grabbed the flashlight from David and pointed along the 180 degrees that was the exposed side of the enclosure. The heaviness of the rain cut down the flashlight’s reach, but he could see that they were surrounded. A bright flash of lightning lit the scene like a brief electric blue day - there were hundreds of them, thousands – bodies all the way back to the tree line. They were piling up against one another as they reached the edge of the moat. Some were falling in and struggling, drowning, their fellow predators taking little notice.

The prisoners scrambled over each other, tipping over their cots, splashing through the muck to get farther from the fence, bunching up into the center. The creatures started climbing. The noise of the chain link shaking and rattling should have alerted the soldiers, but the roar of the torrential downpour drove every sound into the ground.

Private Ken Ridley was on watch with Private First Class Jeremy Wilson. They were trying to stay out of the rain under a tarp on the roof of the power plant. It wasn’t really working; the rain was coming down so hard that it splashed underneath the tarp anyway.

“What the fuck are we doing up here?” barked Wilson. “Can’t see jack.”

“FUBAR, huh Wilson?”

“Excuse me?”

“FUBAR. You know, fucked up beyond all reason.”

“I know what it means, Cherry. Just don’t know why you’re saying it.”

“Cuzza this shit storm coming down on us.”

“This ain't World War Two, bitch, but even if it were, only a soldier gets to talk that talk.”


“You froze, Ridley. Froze up like a scared little girl when them Shitfobs came running cross that field. Fact, I think I saw you go change your underpants when the shit was over. You shit yourself Cherry Bitch?”

“No,” Ken said, with weak assurance. He had thought he had though. The first chance he got, he went to the toilet to check his drawers. He’d never been so scared in his life.

“I been over there,” said Wilson. “I shot a Haji right in the fucking face my first day on patrol. Watched the back of his head splatter all over the fucking rag heads behind him. Looked just like what happened out there today. Platoon opened up and blew all them sand niggers to bits and pieces. Thought they had the jump on us. Douche bags think they can fuck with the US Army.”

Ridley took this in and then said, “I didn’t shit myself and I am a soldier.”

“Bitch, you’re not a soldier ‘til you’ve seen the elephant. You missed it. Too worried about crapping your pants.”

“That’s not tru–-“

“Shut it.” For the first time in the conversation, Wilson turned and looked Ridley in the eye. It was so dark that they could barely see each other so Wilson turned on his red filtered flashlight. “I don’t like being up here with you Ridley. Not ‘cause it’s raining like a motherfucker, but because boys who shit themselves in the face of the enemy get their buddies killed.”

Ridley stared back at him and finally said, “I’m not your buddy.”

“Sure you are, Cherry Bitch. If you’re not my buddy, then you’re my enemy – and you’ll have to watch your back.”

Ken kept his mouth shut after that. Deep down, he knew Wilson was right. He’d choked. He’d held onto the fifty-cal like it was some kind of life preserver. He froze and he didn’t know why. He had expected it to be like a video game – blowing away zombies – it was nothing like a video game.

A little later the radio squawked. It was Tyler Preston who had volunteered to keep watch down route 16 at the Henderson farm. He’d been having a grand old time calling in: ‘The flies er comin to the web’, as he described the refugees heading north.

“Motherfucking fuck! Someone got their ears on? Come back?”

Ken picked up the radio. “Go ahead, Tyler.”

“Fucking, holy fuck! Coming in the door! Fuck yo –“

The sound of gunfire – a brief handful of shots echoed from a distance, then nothing. Ken’s radio howled with static and he twisted the squelch knob to stop it. “Tyler, come in. You’ve got Private Ridley here. Come in?”

“Whoa, that dude is getting his,” said Wilson.

“Maybe the storm - screwing with the atmospherics. He’s getting trigger happy?”

“Get real - you heard that same as me. Fuckin’ crazy motherfucker‘s toast.”

Then they heard a distant jingle of shaking chain link.

“Hmm, now that’s interesting,” said Wilson. Throwing his hood over his head, he moved to the edge of the roof and peered out. It was nearly pitch black. His flashlight burned through maybe twenty feet of it. He turned and stomped on a switch that lit up the floodlights lined up across the top of the building. The rain and fog was too dense. In fact the brightness of the lights made things worse, the reflection killing his night vision. He could just barely make out the ghostly image of the power line tower fifty feet away. He stomped on the switch again. Then he heard the chain link again. “Either the fuckers are trying to get out or Deadhead’s are comin’ in.” He turned to Ridley, “Can’t see jack. You’re going to have to go downstairs and walk over there.”

“Okay. But why can’t we both go?”

“Cause I know how to fire the fifty, you green panty-waste. Now be a man and get the fuck down there.”

Ken’s soaking wet boots squeaked on the concrete floor as he crossed through the main room. If he ignored all of the dead power equipment, the place really was like some medieval castle. The new residents had used the big room that night for a banquet, celebrating their new digs. They’d gotten rip-roaring drunk and then crashed on sleeping mats all over the floor. To the private’s astonishment, Major Deighton was passed out on some kind of head table with a woman curled up under his arm.
He desperately didn’t want to wake the man if this was a false alarm. The major’s wrath was always brutal. He’d be cleaning the latrine for week if he blew it.

The room was full of loud snoring and he could hear at least two different couples quietly fucking somewhere among the slumbering crowd. Ken couldn’t believe his crappy luck as he went through a small entry foyer - pulling watch on this of all nights. He quietly unbolted the steel outer door and stepped outside.

The ground was saturated and he cursed as his right boot sunk into a puddle that was higher than his ankle. He swept the flashlight back and forth close to the ground until he’d found the clearly marked path that led past the mines to the prisoner cage. The cattle ramp/drawbridge completed the castle image in his mind - World goes to shit and somehow we embrace the dark ages. He felt bad for the folks in the cage, and frankly didn’t understand the major’s mindset on keeping them locked up like that. Why not just let them go if they didn’t want to fight? If folks wanted to bug out north, why shouldn’t they? It wasn’t like they had signed a contract with the Army like he had. Keeping them as bait – well that was breaking the law. The country still needed laws.

As he got closer, he could hear the fence jingling with what could only be the weight of people climbing. He thought, Damn if those folks aren’t trying to get out. I sure as shit don’t want to have to shoot somebody.

He reached the gate for the barbwire perimeter fence, removed the padlock and swung the gate open. The shaking sound of chain link unnerved him as he stepped up to the cattle ramp and kicked the chock that was holding it up. The cable that held it spun out quickly as the heavy ramp swung down and landed on the opposite side of the moat. He brought his rifle to shoulder height like he’d been trained and stepped out to the ramp’s center, keeping the flashlight held along the barrel of his gun. The edge of the beam caught something in the moat. It was a body, no, make that bodies floating face down. Then he saw more struggling in the water. He aimed toward the cage and saw Kathy with her crutches laying on the ground. She was trying to climb one of the transformers in the center. White with fear, she squinted at Ken’s light and let out a silent cry. Several Fiends finished crawling over others that were trapped in barbed wire and jumped inside. They raced for Kathy.

Just before his bowels let go for real this time, Ken swept the water around him again. He locked eyes with a Fiend who was using its drowned brethren to pull itself up onto the ramp. Another climbed out of the water on the castle side, blocking his escape. Ken raised his gun and slammed it into the Fiend, knocking it back in the water. The thing pulled the rifle from his hands as it fell. He didn’t look back and ran for his life.

As he sprinted, he could feel his shit tumbling down his legs, getting trapped where his pants were tucked into his boots, and he found himself laughing with hysteria at the absurdity of it – the extra weight around his ankles. He knew exactly where to go and charged right past the power plant to the lakeshore. In one quick move, he flipped over one of the canoes and started to launch it. A small part of his mind registered that a few canoes were missing, but that was quickly swept away by his sheer panic. He got a leg in the boat just as the first ghoul came running at him. He swung the heavy flashlight into the monster’s neck, crushing its Adam’s apple and dropping the thing to its knees. He shoved off as best he could and paddled with adrenaline-charged strength, pulling quickly away from the shore as more of them crashed into the water.


PFC Wilson watched through the deluge as Ken’s flashlight bobbed along back toward the castle. The kid was moving at a pretty good clip. He peered over the side and was astonished to see Ridley run right past the open door. He pointed his own light into the gloom and called down to the useless cherry fucker, but got no response. Three-seconds later, a man in tattered clothes ran past in hot pursuit, then another and another. A fourth looked up and saw Jeremy, and then Jeremy knew he was screwed.

Ken paddled with all his might until he was sure he was over deep water then stopped. The canoe made a graceful crescent-shaped turn back toward shore and he watched the rain-filled sky turn orange from the bright flash of Wilson’s fifty-cal. The concussion from the big gun echoed across the lake, vibrating the very seat of his canoe. As he sat without noticing his own filth, he could see dozens of Deadheads backlit on the shore. Then his eyes grew even larger, and he took a sharp breath – they were pouring through the door – the door that he had left open. He heard screams come from within, and the sound of several guns joining the fight. The flash from the fifty joined with the even brighter flashes of tripped anti-personnel mines, which lit up hundreds and hundreds more infected as they poured into the compound. He had opened the gate from hell and let the demons march right through.

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