(From the "Serial Killers" Creature Features)

Chapter Five: Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive

It’s
not everyday you watch the body of one of your friends burn in an
open pit. Normally, I would refrain from such an activity, however
this particular occasion warranted my participation. This was different.

It
was different because the body I was watching was someone who had
been one of my closest friends. It was different because she was
more than just a good soldier; she was one of the best. It’s
different when it’s someone you’ve fought along side,
sharing both victory and defeat. It’s different when it’s
someone you’ve had sex with, sharing both love and ecstasy.
It’s different when it’s Chloe.

You
tell yourself that it’s a necessary precaution.

I
watched several of my men dig two large pits a few yards away from
a hill hundreds of their comrades fell taking. Those that were not
digging were stripping abandoned armaments from the dead. After
the pits were dug, several drums of gasoline were poured into them,
forming a thin layer of mud at the bottom. The bodies were then
tossed into pits. This took a great deal of time. Then again, there
were a lot of corpses on that beach. The slain enemy soldiers, minus
a few samples taken for examination purposes, and zombie parts were
tossed into one pit. As a sign of respect, our troops were placed
in the other.

Countless
bodies were swallowed up by those pits. Every now and again, a few
extra drums of gasoline were spread over the growing pile of corpses.
We must expend more gasoline burning the bodies of our dead soldiers
and defeated enemies than we do fueling our own tanks.

In
time, the beaches were cleared. With the exception of the two giant
ditches, you would never have known that this area was the site
of a major battle; a major victory for humanity against our enemy.
The creatures. The restless.

Chloe’s
was one of the last bodies to be tossed in.

The
smell of gasoline only marginally drowned out the stench of death.
Regardless, I remained. I looked to her. Chloe’s body was very
pale, all the color had drained out of her. Her hair was damp, saturated
with gasoline. I remember staring into her eyes for quite some time.
I wish I could say that she looked peaceful, at rest, but she did
not. Her mouth was left gaping open and her body lay contorted on
top of hundreds of other corpses. She looked shocked. She looked
frozen in time, as if her life had literally been stolen from her.
It had, and her final resting place was a ditch.

The
pits were set ablaze.

You
tell yourself that it’s a necessary precaution.

Most
of the men turned away, having seen enough for the day. Others were
pissing into the open grave of our enemy. I watched Chloe’s
body burn. I stood silently as her hair and cloths got fire, and
solemnly watched as it spread across her entire body. Her once perfect
skin blackened completely in a matter of minutes. Her eyes were
hollowed out by the flames. I watched as she literally disappeared
before me. I watched her burn right down to the bone.

Three
days later I was starring into the eyes of Chloe’s replacement,
Private First Class Anya McKenzie, who just four months earlier
had completed her recruit training in Vancouver. Chloe had been
a part of the NorthWest Brigade for three years and an Archangel
for two. She was battle hardened and experienced. She was an excellent
shot. She was prepared for anything, which says a great deal given
the enemy we face.

McKenzie
on the other hand hadn’t even participated in the landing.
She had just been flown in this morning from one of the carriers,
where her previous duties included, but where not limited to, guarding
the brig, which was had remained unoccupied since we left British
Columbia. She was nineteen years old and had been on a total of
four field operations. Her training specialization was combat medicine.

Chloe
and Reggie were among the eight Archangels I lost during the landing;
Anya McKenzie would be my replacement for half of them.

The
other half would be replaced by Specialist Sean Regan. Regan I learned
was previously in one of the Skitari units, so named for the legendary
Spartan rangers of King Leonidas. Like all Skitari, Regan was trained
as a scout and specialized in forward combat tactics. His unit was
dropped behind enemy lines the night before the landing, and attacked
various enemy positions in conjunction with Siberian Free State
forces the next day in order to draw enemy support away from the
beach. He denied promotion on two separate occasions for reasons
undisclosed and was being transferred to the Archangels against
his wishes.

These
two were going to fill the gap left by the elimination of close
to a third of my unit. I thought for a second that this must be
one of Colonel Black’s cruel jokes. Then my senses got the
better of me and I realized that with our limited human resources
I was actually pretty lucky.

“Welcome
to the Archangels,” I said after examining their orders, “Zane
will introduce you to the rest of the unit.” They proceeded
to exit my command tent, leaving me alone with Sarah and Gabriel.

“He
doesn’t want to be here,” I blurted out before picking
my pack of cigarettes up off a table of maps.

“How
do you know that Michael ?,” Sarah asked, imagining I was being
too quick to judge.

“It’s
in his fuckin’ orders report,” I responded as I tossed
her the file and left the tent.

I lit
myself a cigarette and walked toward the ridge overlooking the beach.
The wind was blowing in from the ocean, and there was a chill in
the air. In the distance, the skies were dark gray. There was a
storm coming.

The
beach. A few days ago, our forces were being slaughtered here before
finally breaking through the enemy’s coastal defenses. Today,
thousands of refugees from all over the Siberian Free State were
being marshaled from this same beach to a group of transports that
would ultimately ferry them to safety. Siberia was a hellhole, the
past few months had seen some fierce fighting all over the territory.
As a result, the place was a wasteland.

Notwithstanding,
a significant potion of the population insisted on remaining, to
push back the monsters and, in time, rebuild. While I could not
blame the refugees for wanting to leave, my heart went out to those
who remained. They faced a great deal of uncertainty, knowing full
well that another push by the enemy could come at any time and in
all likelihood overrun our positions. Nevertheless, they chose courage
over fear, and defiance over submission.

If
not now, when? If not here, where? These were the people who could
win the war for us.

“Michael,”
I heard Sarah yell as she came out of the tent, “gear up, we’re
going into the city!”

“Fuck
off,” I replied.

“Colonel
Black’s on the horn, they’re facing some stiff resistance
inland and need more combat units, he’s sending the choppers
over now to pick us up,” she returned.

“Of
course it’s stiff resistance…they’re god damned zombies,”
I yelled back. Son of a bitch, doesn’t he know I’m undermanned.

I walked
back toward the command tent. As I was about to enter, Sarah yanked
the cigarette from my mouth and started smoking away. “You
owe me for that,” I said. “The hell I do,” she replied.
I took the receiver from Marlene and spoke with Black for a few
minutes.

The
Colonel explained to me that too many of our units were assisting
in the evacuation, leaving his security force stretched thin. The
Siberian and Pacific Alliance units had their own problems to the
south and west of the city. The NorthWest 18th had already been
called in. He was in a tight spot, and without immediate help it
was about to get desperate. I told him that the Archangels were
never ones to say no to a fight.

“Tell
the unit to saddle up,” I told Sarah as I grabbed my pack and
M-16.

“What
about the new guys ?,” she asked.

“They
both come, but tell Kevin, Damon and Terrance that they can stay
behind and rest. They took burial detail the other day.”

I could
hear the helicopters approaching before I even got out of the command
tent. Black must really be in trouble; he wasn’t wasting any
time.

The
ride inland was short and uneventful. Under the combined might of
our forces and the Siberian units, we were able to clear several
of the roads leading inland, in some cases for as far as fifty miles.
The majority of our flight was over one such road, which was packed.
Traffic was moving both ways. Trucks and personal carriers laden
with refugees and the wounded were moving toward the beach. Armor
and support troops were moving inland, toward the front. It was
pure chaos down below, and we were headed right into the heart of
it.

As
we approached the landing site, I could hear the shelling, even
over the sound of the helicopter. We hit the ground, and upon our
arrival found a number of field medics eagerly awaiting the use
of our transports; they had plenty of wounded to ferry back to the
medical frigates. I noticed one of Colonel Black’s staff motioning
for us to follow him. He was yelling something that I couldn’t
hear; I just nodded. We followed him away from the landing site
to Black’s field headquarters about twenty-five yards away.

“Captain
Sullivan, thank for acting so expeditiously,” Black said as
I entered his command tent.

“Just
following orders Colonel, what’s the situation sir?” I
replied.

“Random
pockets of resistance across the city. They’re harassing the
armor units I’m trying to move across the river and slowing
down the evacuation efforts.” He paused after saying this,
almost as if he were unsure what to say next. I tried to anticipate
where he was going, while also attempting to satisfy my own curiosity.

“Colonel,
I’ll have to admit that I’m a little confused. With all
due respect sir, my unit has been on the beach since we took it.
I’m a little in the dark as to what we’re up against,
in fact, I’m still in the dark about what we’ve already
fought.”

“We
don’t know yet Michael, or at least not completely. Needless
to say, there are zombies all over the place, but they’re being
marshaled around by what my reports indicate are men.”

“I
know sir, we were up against some of them on the beaches. Who are
they sir, rogue Siberians?,” I asked.

“Whoever
they are, they seem to be able to control the zombies, order them
around, command them as if they were some type of unit,” he
replied. He then paused again, and then got down to business. “The
4th Armored is going to be crossing the river tomorrow and proceed
toward the front. I need your unit to rendezvous with elements of
the NorthWest 18th and Siberian 6th Light Infantry and hold the
two primary bridges leading across the river at the north end of
the city. The 6th is out there now, and has been for close to twelve
hours, but is encountering heavy enemy fire. The 18th is already
on there way to support them. You leave immediately.”

“How
do we get out there sir?,” I asked.

“On
your boots Captain,” he replied “I’m sorry Michael,
the last three lifts I’ve sent to that part of the city have
been shot down. It looks like they’re going to make a push.
I need you out there. These tanks have to get through if we hope
to press our advantage.”

“Not
a problem Colonel Black,” I said “my ass has been on a
beach for three days now. I could use the exercise.” Black
was still laughing when I walked out of his tent.

We
moved north, and were accompanied by a pair of Siberian soldiers.
We were told by them that their real names would be too difficult
for us to pronounce, instead we could call them Luke and Leia, “like
in the Stars War.” I could tell they were just fucking with
us, but I liked them both immediately anyway. Regardless, with fighting
in various areas all over the city, I knew that they were the only
ones that would be able to get us in and out with as little interference
as possible. Their position was thus greatly appreciated.

We
were told it would take a little over two hours to reach the north
end.

The
city was a shell of its former self. Though an industrial center
and not exactly known for its aesthetics, the fighting that occurred
here during the weeks before our arrival and the three days since
the landing had destroyed any semblance of municipal structure.
I couldn’t imagine anyone still living here; in fact I couldn’t
imagine anyone ever living here again. Yet, several of the city’s
residents remained.

On
a number of occasions, I remember passing by groups of people scavenging
for food and supplies, searching through the rubble for anything
they could use to stay alive. These were hard people; only those
with children begged for assistance. I ordered my men to hand over
all but a day’s worth of food to them. An hour into our march,
we had nothing left to offer.

The
storm that was forming over the sea this morning had moved inland
and was about to break. It would be the first clean drinking water
some of these people had in days.

A little
more than halfway into our march we reached the remnants of a park.
I ordered the unit to stop temporary in order to rest. As soon as
we stopped, I remembered hearing Zane sarcastically cry out that
he was hungry, and Sarah summarily telling him to shut the fuck
up. Gabriel was sharing a cigarette with Samantha. Jack and Marlene
were looking over a map with “Leia.” I decided that I
would exercise my foreign relations muscle and engage “Luke”
in some conversation.

“Uhh…Luke,”
I began “how long have you been in the Siberian Army.”
I couldn’t have asked a lamer question.

He
looked at me oddly as I approached him. “Four years. Almost
from very beginning of war,” he said with pride. “Yourself?”

“About
the same.”

“What
were you doing once upon a time Captain?” he asked.

“I
was in graduate school.”

“What?”
He sounded surprised.

“I
was in graduate school,” I replied, smiling.

Luke
chuckled a little. “Graduate school, yes?”

“Yes.”

He
chuckled a little a more, clearly amused.

“What
was your major course of study?,” Luke asked.

With
some reservation I replied. “Ancient History,” I said.
He seemed ready to burst at that point. Calmly, I asked him what
was doing before the war.

He
took a deep breath, collected himself and replied, “The same.”

We
both burst out into laughter. Everyone looked at us as if we were
the village idiots, but Luke and I just could not help ourselves.

In
fact, I remember laughing uncontrollably up and until the point
when I heard the first shot. I remember watching Luke’s body
fall to the ground; he just seemed to collapse. I remember being
tackled by Adam and flying across the air until I came crashing
down on the ground.

I remember
Rachael screaming, “SNIPER!”

My
unit scrambled all over the place, and for the first few minutes
everybody seemed to be firing their weapons in every possible direction.
Everyone was yelling at the top of their lungs. Complete and utter
confusion. Someone was screaming in the distance. What few windows
were intact in this part of the city I heard shatter as everyone
continued to fire.

After
a minute or two it was just quite.

I was
behind a pile of concrete rubble with Adam, Rachael and Sean Regan.
The rest of the unit had scrambled all over the park, and it was
difficult to ascertain exactly where everybody was. I could make
out Jack and Marlene, and two or three others, to my right, behind
a burnt-out Volkswagon bus. About twenty yards or so to my left
were Zane and Sarah’s platoon. I had no idea what was in front
of me.

A second
shot rang out.

The
cycle repeated itself. Everybody started firing their weapons all
over the place while screaming at the top their lungs.

“CEASE
FIRE,” I screamed over everyone, “CEASE FIRE.” After
a few seconds it was silent again. I motioned for Adam.

“This
is your game man,” I told him “what should we be doing
to counter this, and how the fuck can we get out of here?”

“It’s
going to tough Captain,” he began “this place is a sniper’s
wet dream. Wide-open area, not much cover, no room to maneuver.
One can you can get a group pinned down in something like this,
it’s difficult.”

I just
stared at him for a second. “You are absolutely no fucking
help at all.”

“Sorry
Captain, I’m just a little rattled. I’m usually on the
other end of the scope.”

“Don’t
worry about Adam. Just think of something.”

As
if the situation wasn’t bad enough, it began to rain, and rain
hard. Nobody dared move out of position though. Better to be soaking
wet and sick for a week than to be shot down and have your friends
burn your corpse because they’re worried you might come back
from the grave. At least, that’s what I always told myself.

I had
to figure out exactly what was going on. I started crawling over
toward the edge of the rubble pile and pulled out my field glasses.
I scanned the area. Everyone was frozen, except for Gabriel who
was tending to someone on the ground, the sniper’s second victim.
I couldn’t tell who it was. Luke’s body was about five
or six yards from where I was. All the blood appeared to have already
drained from his body. The sniper had knocked his head clear off.

Another
shot rang out, this one about two inches from my head. Fragments
of stone and concrete smashing into my face. How could I have been
so stupid? He could see the reflection from my field glasses.

At
least I had an idea now where he was.

I crawled
back over to where Adam, Rachael and Sean were. “He’s
in front of us,” I said.

“How
do you know it’s a ‘he’,” Rachael sharply replied.

“Now’s
not the time okay Sylvia Plath, let’s just get out of her alive
first,” I returned. “He, she, it is definitely in front
of us. So, beside our group, it looks like the group thirty yards
northwest of our position, and the group a few yards in back of
them where Gabriel is, are the only other ones absolutely pinned
down. Everyone else should be able to slip out of the park safely
so long as they use sufficient cover. ”

“They
can circle around and ferret the bastard out,” Adam said.

“Exactly,”
I responded, “and if they can’t find him right away, as
soon as it gets darker we should be able to slip out of here with
a few well placed smoke grenades.”

Another
shot rang out. This time there was only a shot scream, followed
immediately by silence. No one was going to even bother wasting
the ammunition anymore.

“We’ve
got to move now. At this rate, half the unit will be dead by nightfall,”
I remember saying, not really to anyone in particular.

Someone,
however, picked up what I said.

It
was Regan. “I’ll cover you sir.”

“What?”
I asked.

“I’ll
cover you. The three of you break left toward the bus, after I break
right. You said the area by the bus was probably outside his line
of sight. Well, the only way to let them know that is to get over
there and tell them. We don’t have a radio, and if you scream
anything over there the sniper’s going to change position.”

“What
are going to do beside get yourself killed, if you don’t mind
me asking Specialist,” I asked.

“I’m
going to spread the word to the positions that aren’t in the
line of fire so they can withdraw and hunt this fucker down…Sir.”

I just
stared at Sean for a moment. For someone who didn’t want to
be in this unit, he sure was going out of his way to be a team player.
Then again, the plan may have just been his attempt to get out of
the unit for good.

“Let’s
do it,” I replied.

We
readied ourselves. Everyone made sure they had clean magazine loaded.
Sean tossed several smoke grenades to his right, he then broke.
Two more shots rang out; he drew the fire. By the time the sniper
had corrected himself, we were halfway to the VW. Luckily, Jack
saw us coming and laid down some covering fire. Another shot rang
out, but we all made it safely.

After
I explained to them what was going on, Jack moved his men out of
the park. Against protest, Adam and I remained.

It
was starting to get darker, but nightfall was still a few hours
away. The rain was still pouring down relentlessly. I told Adam
to try and figure out where the sniper was. Based on what he could
tell, Adam directed my attention to the hotel at the northern end
of the park.

“We
know he’s in that general direction. From the hotel, you have
the entire park laid out before you. It’s the perfect position
Captain. It’s the sniper’s choice,” Adam calmly stated,
never taking his eyes off the location.

“Then
that’s where we need to be,” I replied.

Another
shot rang out. This time it sounded different however.

We
couldn’t waste anymore time. Adam and I slipped out of the
park and moved north through a series of shelled out buildings.
Eventually, we were able to meet up with Jack and his platoon, Sarah’s
platoon, “Leia” and Sean Regan. The son of a bitch pulled
it off. All but two of our positions were safely out of the park.

We
made for the hotel, using every bit of cover we could fine. Jack’s
platoon remained outside and covered the front of the building from
various positions. A detachment from Sarah’s platoon covered
the rest of the perimeter. The rest of us went in.

It
was apparent that in its day, the hotel had been quite the site.
The past few years had taken their toll on the old building however.
The place was about to cave in. Nevertheless, we proceeded; a structural
mishap was the last thing any of us were worried about.

Slowly,
carefully, we searched the first floor and then the second. Nothing.

We
stopped on the third floor.

The
search was over. Hanging from a piece of black cord in one of the
third floor bedrooms was the sniper. His rifle lay at his feet.
Upon examination, I noticed that his neck had been slit before he
was strung up. However, the floor beneath had only the slightest
trace of blood. This had just happened. He was just killed, probably
moments after we entered the hotel.

He
had a note pinned to his body, which read simply: TRAITOR.

While
I did not recognize the body, I knew the handwriting.

I knew
it as if it were my own.

THE
END OF CHAPTER FIVE



The Restless
is a work in progress. I am very curious as to what you think about the first six chapters and the overall story-arc. I am receptive to suggestions and encourage criticism. Please feel free to contact me at scfahey@yahoo.com. Don’t worry – the next few features will be much heavier on the creatures.




SUBMITTING STORIES


Here are the rules:

1.) The stories must be YOUR OWN. We will not tolerate plagiarism. Do not submit any stories that are not entirely yours.

2.) Stories must be spell and grammar checked, aligned to left, and be in a Microsoft Word format (exceptions can be made).

3.) Stories must NOT be a series of one sentence paragraphs. Use correct structure, as a short story would appear in an anthology book.

4.) Submit only stories that fit in the framework of the ground we cover here at CHUDstories. For an idea on what each topic we’re running is, CLICK HERE.

5.) If your work has been published elsewhere, please inform us so we can notate that on the site.

6.) Your stories always remain YOUR PROPERTY, we’re just an engine to new readers. We might eventually look into running anthologies of these works in a printed format but we will always contact you for permission.

7.) Please supply a bio and picture, if at all possible. We want people to know YOU, especially if they connect with your writing.

(Please specify what section it’s for.)




All fiction is the property of its author and is reprinted with permission. CHUD does not own the rights to these stories, only serves as an online outlet for them to be read. For information on how to purchase the rights to these stories, consult the author. For info about this site or advertising, contact Nick Nunziata.

© Nick Nunziata and CHUD.COM