“I have my scope sighted in on your head. Declare friendly, or I fire.”
I froze, belly in the grass, in the shadow of a nearby tree, and felt suddenly completely exposed. I stared at the shifting grasses, the nearby barracks, seeing nothing, having heard only that vaguely British accent somewhere to my left. Bricks were indeed shat.
Frozen for a long instant, I figured I had nothing to lose.
“Right. I’m not going to shoot you, then. Are you going to shoot at me?”
Another look at my screen, filled with nothing but buildings, tall grass and omnipresent danger.
“Hell no. I can’t even see you, honestly.”
A figure melted up from the grass barely ten feet away, swathed in grassy camouflage, with a ridiculously dangerous rifle leveled at me. The rifle lowered after a moment, and he crept closer, cocky grin on his voice.
“Good to hear. Wanna go loot that barracks?”
“I am -so- down for this. I was expecting to get my head blown off. Again.”
Laughter from my ghostly, grassy friend.
“You’re the first one I didn’t. Normally I kill everybody. Let’s go.”
Things were going remarkably well. I’d been gifted some nice camouflage, and was glad to at least be rid of that damned baseball cap. We stared at the airfield, at the edge of the treeline, planning our next move. From behind me, a slow, haunting growl turned into a hoarse scream. The zeds had caught my scent.
“Go, RUN!” from the ghostly stranger. We ripped through the trees, and onto the hot asphalt of the runway. On cue, high powered shots rang out as we broke cover, from the tallest tower of the airport. Ricochets pinged off the runway as we sprinted for cover, howling at our heels and hot bullets trying for our heads driving us at a dead run. We dove for cover behind the tall steel of the hangers, turned and pistoled down our undead pursuers.
Immediately we were on the hunt, circling around the rear of the hangers, keeping that tower out of our view as we closed the gap. Hanger after hanger flowed by, as I trailed behind the ghilli-suited sniper, following his lead completely. We were probably going to die, but for once, I wasn’t going to die alone.
We darted, building to building, closer and closer to the tall concrete fire station, the most likely spot our unfriendly shooter had fired from. If I closed the gap on him, I’d put 7 1911 rounds into his head for his troubles.
Into the building, and up the horribly cramped spiral stairs, up and up, out the window, to the tower’s peak… Nothing. Barren. Our shooter had vanished without a trace. We laid on the hot roofing, and scanned the horizon, squinting at our monitors like 80 year old men reading the fine print, for some sign.
Crawling along the front of the hangers, back toward his tower, was a zombie. In a backpack. With a gun. We didn’t need more than a second to both rise to one knee, sight in, and unleash a vengeful volley upon him. Blood sprayed from his chest, a scream rang out, and he disappeared between two hangers. His rifle discharged in his panic, and we stared grimly from atop the roost as the zeds turned, and shambled madly into the gap.
The screaming went on longer than we both expected.
Things had gone, as it happened, quite badly. The rest of my benevolent, murderous friend’s squadron had arrived. For an hour, we dominated the airfield. The barracks were picked clean, and we were riding high on volumes of loot and quite ready to crack open a few tins of sardines.
Then a volley ripped apart the ATC tower. Two men went down in there, ripped apart by bullets and shattering glass. I sprinted for the barracks, and dove into the ceramic tiles of the shower stalls as a grenade ripped apart the front entrance. I heard a string of curses over the radio, as a silenced bullet ripped through my newest friend’s leg, and he toppled into the grass.
Dust from the explosion covering me, I aimed down the sight of my shotgun, waiting for anyone foolish and greedy enough to come investigate my corpse. I didn’t breathe, I didn’t speak, only listened to the radio as my newfound compatriots panicked, cursed, and scattered in different directions.
Gunfire again, now from the opposite side of the airfield. At least two, maybe three different guns going off, answered from the far end once again. We’d gotten in the middle of two other squads, been picked apart, and now they were fighting over the scraps.
Silence, as tense as gritted teeth, broken only by wild, maddening panic every time a shot rang out. It seemed to last for hours. I must have passed out from exertion, or exhaustion. I rousted again, to the dead silence of the airfield, as calm as it ever was.
Cautiously, in a dead whisper, I tried the radio.
“Anyone alive out there?”
A long pause.
“Still alive… bleeding bad. Can’t walk. Can you find me?”
Same voice that challenged me barely a few hours ago, rifle at my head. Same man who left me live, after racking up a sociopathic kill count in the high eighties.
“Hell yes, man. I’m coming for you.”
Out of the barracks, slow and quick, his groans led me past the fence, around the gate. He could barely see. Spinning, trying to orient myself, to make sense of where he said he was… Teeth. Teeth and clawing hands and guttural roars that never stopped. I snarled in response, and the first zed’s head exploded to my shotgun’s answering roar. They came from all directions, and I had no escape. Again and again, gore erupted from the howling runners as I put them down. The shotgun’s roar too soon made that hollow, stomach-sinking ‘click’, and my pistol was in my hand, just as teeth snapped into my ankle. I screamed, hearing my bones crunch more than I felt them, and put two rounds through the crawler’s left ear.
Panic and adrenaline coupled with quickly mounting agony, I wrapped my shattered ankle, tight as a drum. Pulling the cap off the morphine with my teeth, I jammed it into my leg without a moment’s pause. I should have been screaming, down and useless, except for one thing.
“I can see you, mate… Yer right there..”
I stood, and ignored the white fire in my leg. Ignoring the bites on my arms, and back, I limped along the fence, leaning on it more than walking on my own. Around the corner, and I saw that bundle of grass. The grass was bloody, and a pile of zeds lay all around him. The rifle barrel was jammed through the mouth of the nearest, and he had his boot knife out and readied, despite the blood covering his face, and eyes.
I collapsed next to him, and stabbed him with my last needles, binding the worst of his wounds. He couldn’t stop smiling, despite blood-caked face, the dozens of bites, and a fractured arm. Still binding the worst bite on his leg, I gasped softly.
“Hell’s so funny, man?”
He wiped his chin, smearing blood and dirt across his cheek, and pointed. Twenty feet away, lying against the steel fencing, discarded and abandoned, lay a dirt bike.
“S’our lucky day, mate… Yer drivin’.”
[We biked away, my 2595 blood to his 443, vision blurred, out of morphine, one bandage left, with four clips of M1911 ammo between us. Don’t shoot a stranger every time. Sometimes, and yes, rarely, they will save your damn life.]