TWO WEEKS AGO – CINCINNATI, OHIO
The sound of Spartan’s pipe bomb was like an angelic choir to Trojan. While those closest to him, and his group, stayed, the rest of the zombies chased after the explosive. What appeared to be between twenty and thirty of them were crowded around it when it finally blew. Chunks of body parts went flying in every direction. Trojan quickly finished off those closest to him and turned his attention over to his wife.
Raider was having a tough time before the pipe bomb. She was barely keeping the zombies back. Both she and her daughter were bleeding. She had managed to put her back against a tall median, so the zombies couldn’t get behind them, but there were still too many. If she didn’t get help soon, they’d both be in trouble.
Irish had been closest to the pipe bomb, so most of his zombies had run off. He killed the few he had left with his shotgun. Seeing that Trojan’s son was down, he began making his way over to him. Trojan recognized what he was doing and pointed towards his wife. “I’m ok for now,” he yelled. “She needs you more than I do.”
Now that Raider was getting help, he focused on his son. Trojan started panicking when he still couldn’t find a pulse. Leaning down, he put his ear on his son’s chest to listen for his heartbeat. It was faint, but it was there. The child’s breathing was also very shallow. They had all gotten a crash course in treating wounds since the zombies started showing up, but this was beyond him. He needed Bulldog. She had been a nurse in her previous life and she would know what to do.
Bulldog watched as the car went flying at Wildcat. After seeing him dive out of the way, she breathed a sigh of relief. She quickly unloaded an entire clip of ammo from her pistol into the tank’s back. It turned its attention to her as she loaded another clip. Other people she had seen had been able to dual-wield pistols, but she was never able to get the hang of it. No matter how much she practiced, she was never able to get any kind of accuracy out of her off-hand. As the tank got closer, she couldn’t help but think that even she couldn’t miss it from here.
Wildcat was able to pick himself off the ground and put himself into the kneeling firing position. He fired, slid the bolt, fired, slid the bolt, and kept it up until he heard the gun click. Replacing the magazine only took him a few seconds, but it was long enough for the tank to block his view of Bulldog. Not wanting to miss and accidentally hit her, he shifted his aim higher. Before he could pull the trigger, something flashed in front of his scope.
Spartan had walked up behind the tank and was unloading his shotgun into its back. While Wildcat commended Spartan’s bravery, he also cursed the man’s stupidity for walking in front of where he’d been firing. If he had been a half-second later, he’d probably have one of Wildcat’s bullets in his head. The tank, with a more pressing threat, turned towards Spartan. Hawk joined Bulldog and both began pumped bullets into the tank’s back.
The tank reached down and tore a huge chunk of concrete out of the street. It turned and threw it at Hawk and Bulldog, who were the only two that were close enough together that the projectile would hit both. Hawk was able to dodge it, but Bulldog got clipped on the shoulder. The impact, while only glancing, was still powerful enough to spin Bulldog and throw her to the ground. Seizing the opportunity, the tank ran up to stand before her and raised its arms; ready to pound her into the ground.
Trojan had been calling for the others for a few minutes, but none of them had answered. After hearing the pounding on the overpass above them, he was fairly certain he knew what was happening to them. Irish had killed the last remaining zombie near Raider and walked toward Trojan. “Irish,” he started, “Stay here with him. I’m going to go check on the others.”
As he walked out from underneath the overpass, he looked back at his wife. Raider was trying to calm their daughter down as she tended to her wounds. From what he could see, both of them had suffered only minor cuts. Then, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. A spitter emerged from behind one of the cars. Trojan called out a warning, but it was too late.
The spitter launched its goo at Raider and her daughter. Raider, having heard her husband’s warning, grabbed her daughter’s hand and tried to pull her to safety. As the goo landed around them, Raider’s hand slipped off her daughter’s. She tried to stop, but her momentum made her fall forward. When Raider recovered, she saw that she landed outside the puddle of goo, but her daughter had fallen inside of it.
Trojan sent a continuous stream of ammo at the spitter at the spitter until he saw it fall. He heard his wife cry out, but he went back to check on the others. From the frantic tone of her voice, it sounded like both of his children needed Bulldog’s help now.
As Bulldog sat helpless in front of the tank, Wildcat and Spartan opened fire on its back. The tank never got to deliver the killing blow to the woman. All of the damage it had taken had caught up to it and it was starting to fall. That could have been the end of it, but Wildcat wanted to teach a lesson. He aimed for a spot three inches to the side of Spartan’s ear, steadied himself, and pulled the trigger.
The bullet went right where he wanted it to, past Spartan and into the falling tank. Spartan visibly jumped as it passed him. Turning, his face red with anger, he walked over to where Wildcat calmly stood.
“What the hell are you doing,” he demanded. “You almost shot me!”
Wildcat waited until Spartan had stopped in front of him. With one hand, he slapped Spartan across the face while the other grabbed Spartan’s gun that it didn’t get pointed at him. The surprise of getting slapped made Spartan drop the gun. Another slap followed and Spartan found himself unable to process what was happening. He was so used to getting his way that someone standing up to him was still foreign.
“Maybe next time,” Wildcat yelled, “you’ll think before you step into my line of fire.”
Wildcat threw the shotgun down at Spartan’s feet and walked over to where Bulldog was getting to her feet. “You ok,” he asked her.
“It’ll probably be bruised as hell tomorrow,” she replied. She pointed to Spartan, “Everything ok between you two?”
“It is now.”
Hawk ran over to them. “I hate to interrupt,” she gasped between breaths, “but Trojan’s yelling for you Bulldog. Something happened to the kids.”
Bulldog took off running, not caring if the others were with her. She made it to the children’s’ side as quickly as she could. Not wanting to miss anything on either of them, she took her time going over their injuries. When she was finally done, she couldn’t look Trojan or Raider in the eyes.
“I’m sorry,” was all that she could say.
“Both of them,” Raider asked.
Again, she had trouble finding words, so Bulldog just nodded. Raider buried her face into her husband’s chest and began sobbing uncontrollably. Trojan did his best to stay strong, but he couldn’t keep the tears at bay.
“I’m sorry,” Bulldog said again. “If these were normal times: if there were working hospitals, if there were doctors around, I’d say that they’d make it. Right here, right now, though, there’s nothing you or I can do except…”
“Go,” Trojan commanded. “Take the others up to the store and leave us alone for a few minutes.”
“If you don’t, they’ll turn into…”
Trojan turned to face her. “You think we don’t know that?”
Raider stepped in. “She’s just trying to help, baby.”
“I know,” he sighed. “Look, Bulldog, I’m not trying to get you to leave because I’m not planning to do what needs to be done. I’m just wanting us to have a few minutes alone with our children before…”
Trojan couldn’t continue. He broke down into tears. Bulldog walked away, leading the others to the store. All of them went inside, except for Wildcat. His vision blurred as he watched Trojan through his scope. Holding back tears of his own was making it difficult to see what the couple was doing.
The fact that he was crying at all was ridiculous to him. After all, he had only known these people for about a month, although he wasn’t exactly sure. Keeping time was becoming harder as things got worse with the zombies. In that short time, however, he had come to think of the others, except Spartan, as family. While he knew he wasn’t the children’s father, he had come to think of himself as their uncle. That meant that this was something he didn’t want to watch, but he felt like he needed to.
Trojan and Raider might still need his help. There was no guarantee that they killed all of the zombies in the area. Plus, he wanted to make sure that Trojan went through with it. He’d be damned if he let people he considered family turn into one of those things. Not if he could prevent it.
So, he watched through the scope as the couple went to their son, said words that only they would know, and then Trojan calmly pulled the trigger. He watched as they repeated the process with their daughter. When they were done, he watched as they held each other tightly. At this point, he took the scope off of them and scanned their surroundings. This part he didn’t need to see. He had seen enough of the damage these zombies could do to a person.