Steel Rain, the Last Day of Clarksville Tennessee

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh — but smile no more.”
~E. A. Poe

Clarksville Tennessee, 9 pm June 22nd 2010, the beginning of the end.

Katrina, dressed in six inch spike heels and a plaid short skirt, with a white button down shirt, watched Eric stone hungrily as he raised muscled, Tattooed arms over his head to the applause that filled the Armory. She loved coming to the MMA matches at the Armory especially when Eric was fighting.

She was honest with herself, she loved watching sweaty men fight, loved to see the muscles bunch and coil under tanned skin as they moved and fought. To be honest it turned her on. Eric was her Favorite, watching him move was like watching a predator stalk its prey.

At five eleven, with dark brown hair, bright glacial blue eyes, and ruggedly handsome, he moved fast and violently when fighting. But that wasn’t the only things she liked about him, for all his hard nosed soldier’s attitude, he was a kind man, always ready to talk with the kids who were interested in martial arts, the military, or the MMA. And he never just encouraged people, he would bring up problems they would face, point out as many difficulties as he could think of, and generally tried to be honest with them.

But as honest and intelligent as he was, he seemed to totally miss the interest she had in him, which wasn’t rare for guys. Some men needed a swift sledge hammer along side the head to drive a point home. Add in his deployments out country, and she had been trying for almost a year and a half to reel him in.

She knew he was interested, between the looks, and the comments he had made to others, there wasn’t a doubt in her mind. So Tonight she was going to Set her hook and reel him in.

As they announced the next match, and the crowd was cheering, applauding or booing, she rose and began to make her way down the crowded aisles and into the wide hallways, till she passed thru a door marked private that took her into the area reserved for the fighters, coaches, organizers and others associated with any of the first three.

As she walked down the hallway, people greeted her warmly, She smiled and said hi, as a regular visitor no one asked her to leave. it was quieter back here, at least. Sometimes out front, her hearing felt like it was under siege.

There were however moments when being a regular sucked, it was really bad for her reputation for starters, Because some people figured she screwed most if not all of the fighters.

She might not usually admit it to anyone, but it bothered her, that people not only thought she was a whore, but posted it online for the world to see. She knew she couldn’t make the people who thought she was a whore, realize she had only dated and slept with two of the fighters over the last two three years, knowing she couldn’t change anyones opinion with anything as simple as the truth, she just let them say what they wanted.

Eric was talking to one of the promoters, when she entered. Seeing him look in her direction she waved making sure he saw her. he smiled at her as he listened to the other man talk.

After a moment they shook hands, and Eric turned and padded towards the bench in front of his locker. He scooped up his towel and as she watched began to the sweat from his chest, she walked up, trying not to pay to much attention to the sweat slicked thick and ripped body. And knew she was going to fail. She smiled as she saw he hadn’t shaved either, his beard and mustache would be fire red if he ever let it grow out.

“Hey Eric” she said standing in a way that looked totally natural but drew mens eyes to every curve of her 25 year old body. He was no exception, his eyes took in every curve and hollow then fixed firmly on her face.

“Kat, you’re looking good tonight.” He said, as her eyes focused on the tattoo sleeves on his arms that almost seemed to move on their own as his arms flexed. it was a good Celtic tribal design,That flowed up over his shoulder and down his back and side. “ me and the guys are hitting the club tonight, as soon as I get a couple of things finished. Wanna join us.” She didn’t have to ask which one, there was only one that Eric Stone went to.

She smiled, oh he was definitely interested she thought. “ sure, what time.” She asked with no trace of the eagerness in her voice.

“It’s about nine, Im not fighting another match. So say Tenish.” He replied, giving her a wide smile that got her hot and bothered. If he thinks he is going to get away from me, he is sadly mistaken she told herself.

“I will be waiting, with bells on” she replied. “Not much else I hope” a Latino man said walking up. He was one of Eric’s friends, another soldier from Campbell, Martinez was his name she thought. He was cute in a boyish way, but not her type.

“oh not much more “ she assured him though her eyes never left Eric. “ Ill see you there” she said walking away throwing just a bit extra swing in her hips. If she hurried she could get home change, and be at the bar by ten thirty.

“Gringo she has it bad for you “Martinez said watching the blonde disappear into the hallway.

“Oh I have it bad for her too” Eric replied with a grin as he headed for the locker room and a shower. “And enough with the gringo shit, vato.”

He was interested in her, but every time he had started to hit on her, or ask her out, something had happened, that dragged his ass out country.

Martinez returned the grin then went to round up Castor who was bombing out with a hot little blonde in a skin tight dress.

* * *

Stacey Barnes was a tired of his job. God he hated pizza hut he thought as he carried a bag of trash out to the dumpster. Stupid bitchy people, expecting fine cuisine at a pizza place. The soldiers from Fort Campbell were the worst sometimes; they found it funny to harass him and the other employees. Especially those airborne guys.

War mongering assholes he thought as he tossed the bag into the dumpster, then turned and started back to the door that beckoned him like some dark god inviting him back to hell. He gave the place the finger, and then stopped as he heard something. oh shit hope no one saw me do that, I might hate the damn job but I don’t want to lose it because some asshole tells that idiot manager.

He sighed heavily and looked up at the early evening sky, where stars were already twinkling overhead; the parking lot lights cast thick heavy shadows between the parked vehicles. Finally he turned towards the sound, and saw two men and a woman walking towards him, having stepped thru the hedges that surrounded the parking area, Staggering was more like it, their movements jerky. They looked liked they had been mugged, or in a wreck.

“You okay” he asked stupidly, taking a step towards them. Their shirts were soaked with blood, and the woman a plain faced 20 something looked like her arm was broken, and some one had pulled out a huge patch of her hair.

They didn’t reply just staggered closer to him, and he suddenly Felt alarmed as the more primitive part of his mind urged him to run. “Want me to call the cops” he asked taking a step back. The closest man, a balding square jawed fifty year old, in a suit suddenly opened his mouth baring blood stained teeth.

Stacey, for all of being 19, had thought he knew everything there was to know. Violence solved nothing, soldiers were killers, and being rich was evil. And the most important thing Monsters were not real. All that had been hammered into his mind from an early age.

And a biggy like monsters not being real was part of the bedrock of the universe, it wasn’t possible. But at this moment under the evening sky, he knew that, that belief was wrong, And knew just as suddenly it was far too late for him to learn that lesson.

The man leaped on him, Stacey tried to fight but was knocked to the ground, he punched and kicked but the man bore down on him. The stink from open mouth was like a charnel house, making him want to gag, but that was nothing beside the pain as the man bit down on his fore arm and tore out a strip. He howled and tried to escape but a hand grasped his ankle and then fired flared up his leg as the other man tore his calf off.

his vision was fading, but he heard shouts nearby, and a car turning into the parking lot. Kids were screaming in fear, it was too late for them too he thought as the light of the world faded to black.

* * *

Eric stone walked into the nightclub with his buddies, Martinez and Castor, it was not as crowded as usual. Which meant he could walk with out having to push thru a crowd. Strobes flickered, colored lights flashed and cigarette smoke filled the air.

He stopped at the bar and ordered a beer, a crappy domestic, he preferred Import personally, but when in Rome. Martinez always got a Corona, with lime. Like lime made it taste any better.

He looked around and saw plenty of good looking women, most out looking for a soldier to date and marry to get them out of town. But he didn’t see Katrina,. “ looks like she stood you up “ Martinez said with a grin.

“ you’d like that wouldn’t you.” Eric commented his eyes sweeping the crowd.

“Hell yes, seeing you strike out is like being in Berlin when the wall comes down, historic my man, totally historic.” Martinez replied with a laugh.

” you still jealous about that Czech Girl I met in Brussels aren’t you” Eric asked with a lopsided grin.

“of course we latino’s hold a grudge, but I did get the Swedish girl in Greece”

“And the clap if I remember right “ Eric said.

“It’s the little things that make a memory good” Martinez laughed.

“You didn’t seem to enjoy it then” Eric pointed out, then smiled as he saw Katrina enter the bar. He waved to her to join them.

Castor rolled his eyes, but followed as Eric led them to a table. “Just what I need, being a third wheel is starting to become a habit.”

Katrina sat next to Eric and kissed him lightly on the cheek, as the waitress approached she place a possessive hand on Eric’s Forearm. Smiling sweetly as she ordered a White Russian.

“Sorry to be late, something weird is going on out there” she said.

“No problems” Eric said eyeing the body that the skimpy outfit showed off to full effect, complete with the Fuck me five inch spiked heels.

“What do you mean weird” Martinez asked.

“ saw a bunch of Cop cars doing damn near a hundred heading towards the hospital and there was a wreck near the armory, and some wacko wounded guy beat on my window when I slowed down to go around it. Scared the hell out of me, he looked like death warmed over.” Katrina said shuddering at the memory.

Then she smiled hugely as a song by Lady gaga began to play and dragged Eric to his feet. “ Dance with me or lose me forever” she said leading him to the dance floor, Leaving Martinez and Castor rolling their eyes before setting out to hunt down dates for the night.

The music was pounding, and the club lights were flashing, throwing rapid fire fingers of light into the dark corners of the club. Waitresses in tight short shorts and tshirts moved easily thru the crowd delivering drinks. The noise level was incredible, occasionally a voice or voices would rise above the general noise level, to be snatched away and drowned out by the music.

It was just past midnight, and Eric was licking a shot off Katrinas tanned flat stomach when he noticed a commotion towards the front door. Over the music he heard shouting then some one screaming.

“ what the hell” he muttered rising to his full height, as people surged away from the front doors. Even across the room he could sense the fear that rolled off the fleeing people.

Two men entered the bar, drenched in blood. One dragged his foot behind him. Both were so pale they were a white, A brunette, dressed provocatively screamed at the sight, and it was like blood in the water. Foot dragger lunged for her, his teeth clamping down on her shoulder and tearing away a huge chunk, and all hell broke loose as people panicked. Many were screaming.

“ holy shit” Martinez shouted in shock as he came to his feet, staring in shock as foot dragger ripped another huge chunk from the womans shoulder.

The other new comer fell on a man in a cowboy hat, dragging him down and Eric actually saw a spray of blood rocket into the air in the light of the strobes, as the man had his throat ripped out.

Six more people entered the bar, all of them moving jerkily, wearing bloody clothes. And the screaming stampeding partiers rushed for the exits. Those that tried to get past the new comers were dragged down and Killed.

Eric Grabbed Katrina and held her close as people surged past, knocking over tables and chairs in their panic. Eric saw a huge man, totally panicked, pick up a woman and throw her thru a plate glass window to escape. “ Come on” Eric called out loudly, waving for Martinez and Castor to join him as he started to plow his way thru the terror stricken crowd.

A woman, who normally would have been pretty, if Eric and his friends had, had the time or inclination to think about it, staggered knocked off balance as people slammed into her, then was knocked to the floor. She screamed and curled up, trying to cover her head as people ran over her.

Eric grabbed a burly looking shit kicker by the neck and literally picked him up and moved him to one side before he could run over the woman. Eric leaned over and helped the woman to her feet, the crowd of panicked people just parted around him like he was a wall.

“stay right behind me till we get to the door “ He shouted trying to be heard over the still blaring music and the screams and shouts of panic. The woman nodded her thanks as he moved past her.

He and the two men with him were like a snow plow, pushing the crowd to either side forcing them to slow down. But never once pushed down or knocked anyone over.

The rear fire doors were open the alarm wailing almost drowned out by the music. Eric looked towards the front and saw that even more of the weird nut job killers had entered, and were tearing their way thru what was left of the crowd behind him. Katrina held on to him for dear life, tears streaking down her face as she took in the carnage. The unknown woman looked faint but doggedly followed along behind him.

“ Fuck this” Castor said and drew the pistol he had carried hidden under his untucked shirt. That it was illegal to carry in a bar was no longer a factor when people were being ripped apart.

A woman, huge chunks missing from her shoulders and breasts staggered around the bar, heading for them. Her mouth opened and closed, her eyes were milky white.

Castor, shaken but still in the game saw that she moved like the others who were busy tearing people apart. He didn’t care what might be causing this, he wasn’t going to get torn up like that or bitten by those things.

Castor leveled, aimed and fired into her chest sending her to the ground. “ got one “ He called out unneccesarily, then fell silent in shock as the woman climbed back to her feet. His eyes widened at the sight. The .45 had left a large hole in her chest. There was no way in hell she could be standing up again.

More of the infected or what ever they were, were coming around the bar now, pursueing the last of the fleeing Club goers. Eric didn’t know what they were, and didn’t really care, they killed and that’s all he needed to know at the moment.

“ lets go, that’s an order soldier” Eric barked, Castor obeyed with out question, and the five of them fled out the rear of the Bar. They raced around to the front and saw more of the infected people in the parking lot killing people that had escaped from the bar. Martinez, his arm around the waist of the new woman, was helping her move quickly.

“ I dropped my Purse, I don’t have my keys” she wailed suddenly, visions of being left in the parking lot with those things .

“ don’t worry, we wont leave you” Eric promised as he eyed the parking lot from the shadows of the buildings corner. He could see five more of those things entering the door of the nightclub, which was jammed open by a torso. Not a sight he had ever thought to see in the US.

There were maybe fifteen more in the parking lot, that were now heading towards the sounds of slamming car doors, and engines starting. There were three of those things between his position and his truck. They moved slow enough that they could make his truck with out any real danger. “I’m not leaving my Truck,” Eric said as he readied himself. “We would die if we tried to get away on foot, no telling how many of those wacks are out there.”

Tires were squealing as people who had escaped the cannibals in the parking lot fled, running over anything that got in their way.

Martinez wasn’t even tempted to laugh when he saw a man get hit by a car and go pin wheeling thru the air to smash down on another car, a 67 camero, Eric noted. The man lay twisted and still for a moment then the corpse began to twitch and jerk. Then it sat up on the hood of the old camero. Martinez crossed himself with his free hand, not wanting to believe what his eyes were telling hm.

“ lets go” Eric said and led the way, clothes lining one of the white eyed freaks as he passed. It flipped over and slammed to the ground. Another lunged out at him from between two cars and he grasped its arm and sent it flying across the hood of the car next to it. It slid over and landed between that car and another with a meaty thump.

Castor shot the next one, and then Eric was at his truck, fumbling his keys for a second then got the door open, He shoved Katrina inside, before pulling a Mossberg shotgun from behind the front seat. Martinez already had the rear door to the Titan open and was helping the injured woman inside.

“ get in the damn truck” Eric bellowed, even as the pager he wore started buzzing on his belt. From the quick glances down Martinez and Castor’s pagers must be going off too.

Castor and Martinez leaped into the back seat of the Titan shouting at Eric to go. Eric was already scrambling into the drivers seat, keeping the shot gun across his knees, he rammed the key into the ignition and twisted it. the V8 roared to life, drawing the attention of more of the infected, or what ever they were. Eric backed out of the parking spot, tires squealing, a moment later he was speeding out of the parking lot bouncing over the curb, and onto the street, were six cars had collided. One, a Mini cooper burst into flames as they barreled past the speedometer needle already passing eighty as the V8 roared.

“ whats going on, what the hell is happening “ Katrina was asking, sobbing and shaking in the passenger seat. Martinez and Castor were talking excitedly in the backseat. The injured woman was silent slumped against the passenger door, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed. Eric ignored them all. He should take Katrina home, and report. But he wasn’t just going to leave her or the injured woman out in all this mess. Because he suspected it wasn’t just a small event, not with the pager jumping on his belt.

“ calm the hell down damn it, your soldiers” Eric barked at his friends, who instantly subsided. “ get your IDs out.” He said hoping that the base was safe. Five minutes later he was turning into the road that led to the gate, and could see two strikers flanking the gate on the inside of the fence. Engineers were already busy re enforcing the gate, and the area around it. Some one was on the ball.

Rolling up to the gate Eric and the others flashed their IDs, “ where are their ID’s” the Gate Guard asked, pointing to the women. the man looked nervous and kept looking out the gate. “They don’t have one, they are with me. I’ve already seen a lot of people die tonight, no way in hell am I taking them home in that shit.”

“What unit,” The man asked, obviously wanting to be anywhere but at the gate.

“5th SF,” Eric replied, the man eyed him for a moment then broke half a dozen regs and waved them thru.

A hundred feet in, they were waved off into a parking lot and two hard faced Screaming Eagles ordered them out. Eric climbed out, and the soldiers stepped back seeing the shotgun, which he placed on the seat.

“its going to hell out there” he said by way of explanation.

“Step away from the weapon” a Skinny, scared looking 2nd Lt. ordered, His Adams apple jumping nervously in his throat.

Eric stepped away and shut the door. “ look lets get this on the road.” Eric said pointing to the pager on his belt. “We’re are being recalled”

“Every one is being recalled” The Lt said,“ have any of you been bitten” he asked.

“ no” Eric replied, looking at every one else. Each echoed his response.

Katrina seemed to be under control again which was a good thing. The butter bar eyed Katrina and the other woman damn sure neither were military, he opened his mouth to ask who they were but Eric spoke up first. “ REMFs from Supply, They were at the same bar we were. The place was a blood bath.” Eric lied smoothly, hoping no one pressed the issue, because he wasn’t going to let those two women be tossed out into what ever the hell was going on beyond the gates.

The Lt must be a decent sort, he knew that was a lie but didn’t press, he let it drop. “ Im sorry but we have to search every one for bites, what ever this is its passed when you get bitten.”

“Its like that dawn of the dead shit” a PFC muttered just loud enough to be heard.

“Stow that shit Barker.” The Lt, snapped.

“no offense Sir, but can we get down to the groping already. “ Eric said motioning to the insistent pager once more.

A couple of minutes later they had been patted down, Martinez had slipped barker his phone number and was mouthing “ it was good call me” holding his hand like he held a phone to his head, as Eric drove away. Castor was actually laughing, Funny how the semblance of normalcy could push back the horror of just a short time ago Eric thought.

There were a lot of looks as they rushed to the Barracks room with the two women in Tow. But no one said a word.

“ Hanks, find some boots, and clothes for them” Eric told a Sergeant in the hall, who gaped at Katrina. Then Hanks nodded and rushed off.

Once inside, Katrina didn’t know what to do, and wasn’t even sure where to look as Eric, Castor, Martinez and a man she hadn’t met stripped down and got into uniform in less than two minutes. The other woman, collapsed on the bed, staring at the lights. Only focusing when Martinez knelt beside her. “ whats your name” he asked gently.

“Christie” she replied softly, her eyes darting around the room as if searching for threats. She was going to have PTSD Eric decided. Hell they all probably would.

“Christie, you’re going to be okay.” Martinez said, the usually sarcastic, smart assed, hard faced Soldier was as gentle a lamb now. “Do you hear me” he asked. She nodded slowly then her eyes fixed on the door behind them.

“ If I didn’t see this, I wouldn’t believe it. Not that Im being nosey or anything SSgt Stone, but being the First sergeant, Id like to ask why are there women in your Room” a deep voice said from the doorway. All eyes swiveled to the wide troll in the doorway. Command Sergeant Jake Turner, was not exactly ugly, but no one would ever call him handsome, or cute. Calling him plain faced was an insult to all plain faced people. What he lacked in looks his wide shoulders, thick arms, legs and body, made up for, and conjured images of trolls or maybe dwarves.

“Couldn’t leave them out there Top Katrina was my date, and ….” Eric paused, as the emotions of what he had seen finally struck him. He took two deep calming breaths amazed that the First sergeant wasn’t screaming at him to get on with answering.

“Christie there was getting trampled when she was knocked down. She lost her purse and keys and if I had left them..” Eric shook his head, and tried to describe what he had seen. He let it come out in a terse statements just like an after action report. It was the only way he could talk about it. When he finished Turner was silent for a moment.

“I don’t know what’s going on Top, but I saw people attacking and eating other people tonight. And the people they chewed on got up and attacked other people. No way in hell I was going to take her home with all that shit going down.” Eric added.

Turner stood there for a moment, and Eric wondered if the man was going to have the two women escorted off base, Top seemed to reach a decision, “get your gear, and report for the briefing, don’t ask me for details for once I don’t have any. The Major and all Detachment commanders present are conference with the Governor, the Chief of staff and the Mayor right now.” Turner said as he turned and walked away. He never said another word about the two women. A minute later Hanks peeked into the room, with clothes in his hands. “ got what you wanted, got them off Ruger, he is skinny enough they might fit .”

“Thanks” Eric said to Hanks, who was still staring at Katrina’s ample cleavage as he deposited the clothing on the bed before he finally stepped out of the room.

“get changed and don’t leave till I come back. And I will come back” Eric promised the two women “Castor let Katrina have your pistol and magazines, we are about to get the good stuff anyway. Sorry Christie, as soon as we get back Ill make sure you have a weapon. Just shut and lock the door when we leave and don’t open it till we get back or someone tells you, I sent them.. if you think you need to get out, then do what you have too.” Eric said as Castor reluctantly passed Katrina the holstered weapon and the magazine pouch.

******************************

Shiloh clutched the shot gun tightly to his chest, as he moved slowly down the street keeping to the shadows. His truck had broken down a block back., he had no idea why there was nothing on the news about this. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. So far he had only seen five of the zombies. That was what they looked and acted like and that was what he was going to call them. All he wanted to do was to find a vehicle and get out of town and back to his farm with out getting bitten. What he got for going out for a beer in town, a zombie outbreak.

That he would have found the very idea absurd an hour ago, meant nothing. Once he was convinced of the reality of something that was it for him. He accepted it.

He had already vowed to get home even if he got bit and warn his wife and kids before he took his own life to protect them from himself.

His footfalls sounded loud on the sidewalk, as he reached the end of one building he stopped and peered around the corner and saw nothing in the darkness between the furniture store and the next store that looked to be a thrift shop. He darted across the open space, and pressed up against the Thrift shop.

He still saw nothing on the street, so maybe it hadn’t reached here yet. In fact it looked normal, orange street lights blazing ever twenty feet, cars parked here and there along the street.

He stepped out and started walking quickly, still hesitant about stealing a vehicle, His eyes darting back and forth across the street and sidewalks. Reaching the intersection he started to cross when a car came hurtling down the street. As it passed him it braked and he saw the light bar across the top. He froze, scared he was about to get arrested, normally he wouldn’t have given a damn. But there was no way he wanted to be in a jail cell if this got bad.

“Mister, get off the street. Its not safe out tonight” a Serious looking blonde cop said out the window of the patrol car as it backed up and stopped beside Shiloh

“Id love to get off the street, my truck broke down a few blocks back and some nut jobs tried to attack me” Shiloh replied.

“You weren’t bit were you” the cop asked, his eyes narrowing.

“No thank god, I’ve seen the movies, if I get bit, I’m butting a bullet in my brain.” Shiloh said seriously.

The cop only nodded at the statement. That scared Shiloh even worse, The cops reaction told Shiloh it was as bad as he feared.

“If you can find a vehicle take it, and don’t go near the hospitals or clinics” The cop was serious, deadly serious. “you go to a hospital your as good as dead, good luck buddy, I’m outta here.” The police officer said then drove away, leaving Shiloh to stand and stare after the retreating cop.

After that Shiloh began to check every vehicle he came across after that. As he stopped to check a Ford F350, with an off road package and slide in camper shell. At that moment a Sheriffs car roared by lights flashing but no siren.

He waited breathing heavily scared spit less till the Cruiser was out of sight. He didn’t think explaining to another LEO that a Police officer had told him it was okay to steal a vehicle to get out of town would fly.

Surprisingly the door was unlocked, he hunted around all the spots he could think of to hide a key and finally found a small black plastic box in the rear bumper that contained a key.

What if who ever owns it, needs to get out. What if he is running from some of those things and finds his truck gone. Ill have killed him, Shiloh thought, he looked up and saw that the truck was parked in front of an old Local hardware store.

Cant do it damn it, he thought. But why would it be parked in front of the hardware store that’s been closed for hours. He pocketed the key, and walked to the door and peered inside the dark store.

If there was any one in there, he couldn’t see them. Take it, take the damn thing and get back to your family. He thought even as he raised a hand and knocked on the glass. The door swung partly open at his touch.

The hair on the back of his neck rose, not a good sign, this place should have closed and been locked up four hours ago. Be a freaking man he thought. “Hello any one in there.” He called out. Not sure why he was trying to find out if the owner of the truck was inside. It would be safer and easier to just find another vehicle.

He pushed the door open and the bell over the door jingled merrily almost giving him a heart attack. “ hello “ he called out a bit louder than before. Somewhere in the back, he heard metal clatter on the floor in the darkness.

He gripped his shotgun tighter staring into the darkness, and thought he heard the sound of something scuffing on the floor. Fear flowed thru him, this isn’t smart he decided stepped back outside and pulled the door closed. Through the glass door Shiloh saw Something slowly appear in the darkness, Shiloh felt his sphincter tighten as he finally saw the man who wore a John Deere cap, jeans and a dark colored T-shirt. The exposed skin was fish white, almost glowing in the darkness. The milky white eyes fixed on him and the man broke into a shuffling jog, teeth clashing together.

Shiloh turned and almost ruined his pants, another zombie had been creeping silently up behind him, and was maybe six feet away. He leveled the shot gun and fired, the sound rebounded off the buildings. He pumped the slide and fired again, knocking the zombie on its ass. Behind him glass broke as John Deere man tumbled out onto the sidewalk.

Shiloh decided he didn’t give a damn who owned the truck. He ran around to the driver’s side, and saw more of the things appearing between buildings, he yanked open the door and piled into the truck, ramming the key into the ignition. He twisted it and the truck roared to life. He flipped the zombies the bird and roared off down the street.

******************************

it didn’t take them long to get weapons checked out, and assembled for the Briefing. Turner looked concerned, as he stepped up onto the podium, Eric wondered idly where Captain Carver, his ODA attachment commander was, then he remembered that Carver lived off base, odds were good Carver and his family were trapped or dead by now.

“all right I want every swinging dick, ready to move in Ten. Bailey tie you damn laces.” The Top bellowed, as he walked up to the gathered troops. There was a round of nervous laughter at the old Joke.

Bailey was a pretty squared away soldier; he had to be, to be in the 5th SF. On his first deployment to Afghanistan, the FOB had come under fire, and Old Baily, being a balls to the wall type had leaped up from his cot out of a sound sleep, slammed his feet into his combat boots, grabbed his weapon and combat harness and charged out to greet the Enemy in just his boxers and boots.

Halfway to his Defense position he had tripped on his own laces and hit the ground, some how his boxers ended up around his ankles, his tripping had saved his life, an RPG round shot right thru the area his torso had just been in. He had gained the nickname Bare ass Bailey that day.

“Listen up, its shit out there, totally FUBAR. You people are going to be sent out to secure as many civilians as possible. Do not pick up anyone that has been bitten, Do not let the infected get any closer than twenty feet if you can help it, and do not unass in an area surrounded by the infected. You will eliminate the infected on sight. Am I crystal.” the top said looking at the sea of faces around him, seeing the shock on their faces. The situation was too chaotic to be dealt with other than harshly. At least Stone, Martinez and Castor had seen first hand what the infected were capable of, the others would just have to learn on the job, and he wondered how many would die getting those lessons.

“we got lucky on the artillery side of things, the Big Duece was passing through enroute to deploy to the sand Box so we are Artillery rich. This means Arty will be on call to support you if needed for two hours, after that the Artillery battalion is going to be busy leveling everything as far south as the river, and three miles to the east. That’s how much time you will have to get civilians out of the fire zone”

“holy shit” someone in the back muttered earning a glare from Turner.

“this is as serious as it gets people, if we don’t do something to wipe out large numbers of them fast, we will be overrun, The Base commander on his own authority, has opened the base to civilian evacuee’s ten minutes ago, the same evacuee’s have been drawing large numbers of the infected after them, and we barely stopped the last large group of infected from getting on base.

Make no mistake, you cant break their moral, you cant discourage them, or reason with them. they will just keep coming, till they are dead or you are.” The top said quietly, which had far more impact on the assembled men than any amount of yelling would have. “we are Soldiers, we have a duty to do, and we will by god do it, or die trying” he added.

“Hoooah” some one bellowed,

“Top, what about other places, I mean….” Specialist Harmon asked looking embarrassed to have spoken out. but he was only bringing up what every one else was thinking.

“as far as we can tell, its everywhere. New York city went off the air two hours ago, DC, the last word was the president was being taken to Andrews, the city was going down fast. Boston, Charleston, Tampa, Houston, Boise, St. Louis, Seattle, every where is or was reporting these things. God knows how many are already dead, and if we don’t do our jobs a lot more are going to die, pray for your families where ever they are, but theres no way you could get there in time to make a difference.” The top looked around, for a moment then “ Stone you and your men will be going to the St. Stephens, two Chinooks will be tasked to pick up who ever you manage to get out. Ingerson, You and yours will be securing the Elementary school on….”

Eric tuned it out, as he tossed a look at Martinez, whose family was in Miami, then his thoughts turned to his brother only an hour or so down the road, and he might as well be on the moon. At least he knew that Jared could take care of himself, he thought as they were dismissed. He turned and headed for the Hummer that would take them to the Flight line where their Helo was waiting. God, what’s really happening out there. There was no answer, not that Eric was expecting a burning bush, but it would have been damned helpful.

As they filed out heading for their birds, Turner Appeared and had Stone follow him into a small room, where he produced a small box from his pocket. “this was supposed to be done with a full ceremony, at the end of the week. But with all that’s going on out there, I doubt we will be having any ceremonies for a long while.” Turner said opening the box to reveal two black metal Sergeant First Class Rank tabs. “its already official, and don’t you start crying, or Iwill pin one to your dick.” Turner said as he quickly placed them on Erics collar. “congrats Sergeant you deserve them, now haul ass and go save our people” Turner said shaking Erics hand, then all but pushed him out the door.

*******************************

Deputy Max Snell, stood behind the barricade his men and volunteers had thrown up across the road, around two AM, and watched as the first of large crowds of the infected came into the view. Just watching them lurch, stagger and Limp towards them sent shivers up his spine, the blood drenched clothing and gaping wounds didn’t lessen the fear that gnawed at him either.

Infected my ass he thought, those aren’t people any more, they are undead straight out of the stupid movies. The feel of the AR in his hands helped steady his nerves, at least the Sheriff had opened the armory and the evidence room so that every one from the deputies to the dispatchers, and volunteers could arm themselves. And Hank who owned the Custom rifles and sportsman shop had opened his ammo stores for them. So they were as stocked, locked and loaded as they could be.

Till now the numbers of wandering undead, had been on the low side, and then there had been nothing for several hours, but then twenty minutes ago, a frantic report from another barricade, over on I 24, had been cut off, but not before they could hear the screaming and heavy gunfire.

He was worried about his wife, which didn’t help his mental state either. She had insisted on going to work, believing that what ever was going wasn’t as bad as they thought and was confined to south of the river. By the time he had found out otherwise and tried to call there had been no answer on her cell or at her Job. Deep down he suspected she was dead, if she were lucky she was dead and not one of those things.

On the southern end of town, thick black smoke boiled into the sky, and he could actually see the orange glow of fire reflected off the smoke. Some one had torched the whole area he suspected.

At five hundred yards, some of the men opened fire, yanking him out of his spiraling thoughts. He saw bodies tumble, and swore. their orders were to ask any one approaching to disperse, if they refused to respond, subdue if possible. The use of Lethal force was to be used as a last resort. But like the rest of the men and women at the barricade. He knew, deep down inside there was no talking, no persuasion with those things. Only living or dying.

He lifted his AR and began to fire into the crowd. He burned thru a magazine, and was replacing it when some one started shouting “ shoot them in the head or cripple them body shots are no good.”

“ no shit, they are fucking zombies” he muttered as he leveled his AR and began to fire into the steadily advancing crowd.

The zombies hit the barricade, and it held. Thank god it held he thought as he kept shooting at spitting range. And then he was out of ammo. How did he go through seven magazines and not notice, He slung the AR and took up the Benelli semi auto shotgun and began to fire once more.

He had to pause to reload the shotgun, forced to step back as hands grabbed him. The barricade of cars, wasn’t going to stop them he realized as zombies were already leaking around the buildings they had anchored the barricade’s ends to. and once they were out of ammo, he suspected the zombies would be able to stagger over the bodies piled against the barricade and cross into the brave men and women trying to stop them.

“Barricade I 41a, hold tight, help is on the way” Max barely heard it over the din of gun fire, which was tapering off, as more and more people were running out and trying to reload Magazines. Max stepped to his Car and picked up the Mic. “ better make it fast, we are almost down to sticks and stones here”

“Roger, hold onto to your drawers boys and girls” the man said.

Then suddenly two black hawks came out of nowhere, from the direction of town, one moment the sky was clear and there was no sign or sound of aircraft then suddenly they were over heard, mini guns whirring, the heavy slugs ripping huge holes in the mob of undead.

Max wanted to cheer with the others but none of them were looking behind them like Max was. To his horror the infected or undead, what ever, were appearing, staggering out from between buildings or in some cases from inside buildings. The leakers had found their way to lunch Snell thought.

“we have some of those things behind us” he yelled into the mike, as he watched the number of undead swell from tens, to hundreds, and still the numbers grew.

“Roger, get every one down, and hang on.” The Military man replied.

One minute later the world came apart, as artillery shells shrieked down on the area bracketing their position. He couldn’t believe the noise, it tore at his ears. A rumbling shriek and cracking noise, that went on and on. It was like an insane freight train rumbling across the area. He could hear screaming and then realized it was coming from him. But he wasn’t alone, others were screaming right along with him. The ground bucked and heaved; buildings behind them and in front of the barricade came apart in flame and dust. He clutched the ground, which didn’t help, even the ground was jumping up an down.

The Black hawk’s against the rules raced through the area, in tight circles adding mini gun fire to the mix, the tracers came so fast that it looked like a bar of light from a science fiction movie Laserthat moved across the crowd ripping apart the zombies just outside the impact areas, eliminating the undead that weren’t caught in that hell storm.

Then suddenly it was over, he couldn’t hear anything but a loud ringing from about ten million church bells. One of the Black hawk came down and hovered ten feet over their vehicles. He could see a man in the open side door pointing at the Vehicles and then towards the NW.

He nodded then gave a thumbs up and starting shoving people towards the trucks and cars, shouting at them to get to Ft. Campbell. There was nothing but death left in the city of Clarksville.

********************
as the last of the Black hawks turned for home and the remaining vehicles raced for the base, the undead appeared in the distance, sweeping across the rubble and the craters, heading for the distant military base, but then the Hammer of god rumbled across the sky once more, and the Steel Rain began to fall, shrieking and whistling, pounding, hammering everything in its path, as it walked back and forth like a mad God of war, reducing everything it touched to dust. The Artillery fire, supplemented by Mortars fell across the area fell hours, when it lifted, nothing moved on the shattered moonscape that had once been part of a major America city.

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