Authors: Rich Restucci
© Rich Restucci
Run 2: The Crossing By R. Restucci
All Rights reserved.
Copyright© 2015. This is a work of creative writing. Like, fiction and stuff. My mom still insists that the undead are not real. No part of this novel may be reprinted, televised, or have anything else really cool done with it without express written permission and lots of royalty checks. Any similarity to actual people, or pieces of actual people, living, dead, or sort of dead is purely coincidental.
This book is for all the hardworking folks that pushed me to work harder. Except for Mrs. Miller, my first grade teacher. She was mean.
Foreword by Eve Bellator
Zombie enthusiasts are a motley group. This niche community is comprised of a seemingly limitless array of people, and those drawn to its ranks represent every walk of life. We are survivalists, preppers, horror fans, gore whores, authors, producers, directors, bloggers, artists, singers, photographers, geeks, nerds, military, schizos, sociopaths, gangbangers, rednecks, yuppies; we are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and children. We come in every color and size, race, creed, and socioeconomic class. Yet, zombie enthusiasts all identify with one common denominator: Humanity. Unequivocally, this can be attributed to the fact that zombies do not discriminate.
Zombies level the playing field in a way that no other catastrophe could. This playing field is set against a gruesome backdrop of complete annihilation- not merely the collapse of society, but life as we intrinsically understand it. The zombie apocalypse reduces the equation of life to its most basic formula: Us versus them. In the face of such a decimating adversary, humans have no other option but to set aside their differences and kiss their prejudices goodbye. Those of us who consider ourselves zombie fiends join forces under one stalwart banner that flies for the human nation.
Throughout my years as an administrator of social zombie websites, I have had the honor to virtually shake hands with the most eclectic mix of people. Rich Restucci is one such individual, and his novels are an excellent example of the way humanity will rally on a playing field scorched by the zombie apocalypse. His characters are not cookie-cutter, white bread individuals, but rather they are a mad mix of survivors, a hodge-podge sample of humans. Rich’s storyline aptly demonstrates his indiscriminate perspective and his own passion for the genre. You will find that his words weave a mesmerizing tale that is at once both horrifying and fun. Therefore, without further ado, I take great pleasure in introducing Run 2, The Crossing.
The streets and buildings of the San Francisco Bay area were quiet, the formerly bustling structures now dark sentinels under the luminescent glow of the early evening moon. Some of the concrete and steel towers still smoldered, but most were lifeless, in one way or another. The streets were no longer alive with movement, as they had always been in the evening, but empty, with trash strewn about, and the occasional corpse left to putrefy in the July heat. There was stirring in some places, the furtive movements of a survivor taking his chances on a supply run, or the lurching stagger of people who didn’t survive, but continued to exist.
The suburbs weren’t spared the terrible fate of the city either, as the plague which had ravaged the metropolis was rampant throughout the country, throughout the world. Infection was everywhere, and indiscriminate in whom it chose to taint. The power of this new disease was such that death itself no longer held its sway, and shortly after an infected human perished, something else, something evil returned. This evil inhabited the body of the person who once was.
The infected had had names, but their names no longer mattered, and had died with them. The presence of this new sub-species mattered to the uninfected, who were now hopelessly outnumbered and fighting for the very survival of civilization. Humans in every hastily fortified attic, broken-down vehicle, and converted building died every day for a can of Spam or a bottle of water. Each death was a brace against humanity, the numbers of the enemy swelling when a person’s expiration date was reached.
More terrifying than the fact that the dead now walked and sought the flesh of the living, was the truth of who these creatures had been. Your grandmother, the pizza delivery guy, the little boy next door, your girlfriend’s Rabbi; all slavering things, now looking to end your life with tooth and claw. Looking to eat you. Those unfortunates not entirely consumed by mobs of creatures but merely bitten or scratched, joined the ranks of the undead and hunted for anything with a heartbeat.
On a trash-strewn beach on the outskirts of San Francisco, one such thing stood staring, its head hung slightly to the side. A cold hand, just beginning the preliminary stages of decomposition, rose from its resting position and felt the tough rubber hull of a rigid inflatable boat. Footprints in the sand of the small beach led from the boat toward a continent full of insatiable cannibals. Not having the intelligence to realize what the footprints meant, the dead thing didn’t follow them, but continued to stare at the craft, wondering dully if this had been the source of the sound which had drawn it stumbling to this area.
Dressed in the tattered rags of what was once a police uniform, the thing removed its appendage from the boat, and the hand brushed an empty weapon holster. Slowed synapses fired in the dead policeman’s brain, and if understanding was possible for it, it understood that there was no food here. It moved to leave, but stepped on an oversize stone and fell. It didn’t put out its hands to attempt to break the fall, it simply crashed face first into the rocky beach. The fall damaged the creature’s nose, but the trip had broken its ankle with an audible snap. Feeling neither of these injuries, it rose with painless determination, intent on travelling down the beach. It now had a noticeable limp, the left foot at a ninety degree angle from where it should be. Bones grinding, it didn’t have the mental capacity to read the warning sign placed next to a small, convex piece of green plastic slightly raised on two sets of scissor legs. The claymore mine detonated when the policeman walked through the tripwire, the thin layer of C4 explosive propelling dozens of tiny steel balls outward at approximately twelve hundred meters per second.
The creature fell forward as its legs were peppered with the steel projectiles, bone and muscle shredded into non-functional meat. Undeterred, it tried to stand but was unable as its legs were mostly gone. The hand that had recently rested on the boat was also now missing, but the former policeman reached both its arms out, sinking the fingers of its good hand in the sand attempting to pull itself forward. It failed as it didn’t have the strength in one good arm to do so. It settled for a tripod approach of using its two arms and what was left of its midsection to move at a pathetic pace in the direction it had been blown. Although it did not comprehend this, it was now following the footsteps that would eventually lead it to those that had made them. It would seem even Lady Luck had abandoned humanity.
A large Texan smiled and elbowed another former policeman, this one very much alive, in the ribs. “Boom. He he. Tole ya them claymores was a good idea,” he whispered.
“There’s only a few of them in the road,” Chris whispered to Boone. “We could run right past them, or even club them to stay quiet.”
Lt Commander Boone was lying prone on the warm roof of a single car garage with SEAL members Cole and Seyfert, and civilians Chris Rawding and Martinez. Boone didn’t know Martinez’s first name, but he knew the guy had been an SFPD SWAT sniper. He looked across the small street at the Wavy Road Surf Shop, then raised his night vision binoculars and looked up and down the length of the road. There were eight dirt bikes chained together under a carport to the left of the shop. “Yeah, but there’s about a hundred and fifty right up the road that way,” he pointed left, “and another fifty that way,” he pointed right, “not to mention there’s movement inside the shop. Half the city could be in there for all we know.”
Chris looked crestfallen. “This is actually a suburb, and the population is only about thirty thousand. We need those bikes!”
Boone considered the idea for a moment. “Too many variables. If we get in the shop, and it’s full of Limas, we’re in trouble. If we get the keys but the bikes are out of gas, we’re in trouble. If one of the Limas in the road sees or hears us and starts to moan, we’re in trouble. Lastly, if nothing goes wrong, and we get the bikes unlocked, and they’re full of gas, then what? The second we start them up, those things will hear it and come after us. There’re too many in both directions to effectively negotiate them without becoming a hot lunch. The worst bitch of it is that there’re only eight bikes, but twelve of us. Those bikes won’t really run with two. Sorry Chris, but the bikes are a no-go.” Boone saw the look of dejection on Chris’s face and put his hand on his shoulder. “It was a good idea though.”
Boone’s group of twelve was going to have to hoof it through the suburb to the first waypoint of their journey. The goal was getting to a civilian maintenance depot where three military Light Armored Vehicles were in for repair, and subsequently using those vehicles to gain access to a weapons cache at an as-yet undisclosed location. Boone did not like to hoof.
A loud moan came from below them to the left, and Boone threw his closed fist up in the air signaling for quiet. His radio came to life with a whisper. “Sir, target spotted, twenty meters, two Limas closing slow. Claymore might have tipped them off. They’re looking for something.”
. Boone thought. “Androwski, can you evade?” Androwski was on the ground in the smashed and ransacked store attached to the garage with Benotti and Stark, two more of the SEALs. Covering the rear of the structure, in an alley, were civilians Rick Barnes, Anna Hargis, and Dallas (Boone didn’t know if this moniker was his first, last, or middle name, or just plain made up) along with SEAL team member Usher.
“Negative, they’ll be on us in twenty seconds and there’s no place to hide in here.”
Boone’s earpiece received two squelches in rapid succession, indicating Androwski would comply with the “go quiet” order. He would dispatch the targets with as little sound as possible.
Boone turned around and looked at the other members of his team, holding up two fingers. Everyone on the roof nodded in affirmation. They all had radios as well and had heard Androwski, but Boone wanted to make sure they had all heard correctly.
The veteran SEAL peered once again through his field glasses to the larger, closer group of undead up the street, and kept his eyes on them. He was interested to know if they would have to bug out alone, or with a shitload of company.
The ratcheting mechanism from Androwski’s suppressed MP5SD3 sounded like a cannon shot to Boone, but the Limas at the end of the road seemed not to notice. As he was panning right to check the smaller horde, he noticed that three of the ones nearer to them had turned to investigate.
“Danger close! Twenty meters, straight!” Boone whispered to the radio.
Three more undead dropped in their tracks as the SEALs in the store took them out. Unfortunately, the huge plate glass display window of the Wavy Road Surf Shop imploded, showering surfboards and wetsuits with beads of shiny safety glass. That got the attention of some of the larger group, and they began to stumble and jerk their way toward the commotion. Soon the whole pack was on its way. “Contact in the zone! Right, left, and forward! Fall back to the rear and secure the alley!” As silently as possible, the six on the roof made their way down the back of the garage and met up with the other six. The alley was closed five feet behind them with a dumpster against the wall. Ahead of them it was about twenty meters long, with buildings to their left and a chain-link fence on top of a low concrete wall on their right, ending in a paved street. Usher and Stark were at the far end of the four meter wide passage, both on one knee, each with their weapon’s advanced combat optic gun sight (ACOG) to an eye peering in different directions.
“We need to bug out!” Boone whispered into the radio. He noticed that there was trash throughout the narrow path. “Keep it quiet and watch your footing. Ush, Stark, point. Andy, Benny, rear. Cole, Sey, with me and the civvies. Barnes, have your people keep their safeties on. No chatter!” The dozen people slunk down the alley, looking behind dumpsters and boxes as they moved. Halfway down, Usher lifted his hand and made a fist. Everyone froze, and Boone had time to think that maybe the civvies would be okay on this mission, when a lone creature banged against the chain-link fence and growled loudly, its shabby fingers reaching for them through the obstacle. Boone raised his suppressed MK23 handgun and ended the thing’s misery. Other undead could be seen in the near distance stumbling toward the link fence and their re-killed brother, and possibly dinner. The mission team heard moans and mewling off to their right, and knew that their position had been compromised.
“Sir!” Boone heard Usher whisper. “Whole fucking town is on the way, left! Sixty meters!” Crashing could be heard as the things thundered through the store the survivors had just exited.
Boone started down the alley. “Let’s move! Now!” The group reached Usher and Stark, and waited for Boone’s orders. Across the street was another alley, but it was shrouded in darkness and could be a dead end. Boone pulled a small mirror on a collapsible stick out of his tactical webbing, and stuck it out past the building. His whisper of
…was enough to send tendrils of fear spiraling down Rick Barnes’ back, and his testicles tightened accordingly. Thumping came from behind them. The things had found the back door to the store and wanted out.
Quickly, Boone did mental calculations. Left was not an option, as a tide of undead was slowly plodding toward them. Back was a death-trap, and forward was too risky, as nobody could see the end of the alley opposite the one they were in.
“Keep to your assignments, we’re going right. As soon as we can find a place to lose them, we take it, keep moving.” As Usher and Stark moved to the right, Boone added, “And look for a vehicle we can use, something big!”
The group moved to the right, and suppressed weapon fire from the two SEALs in the front cleared the way. They were being quiet, but not silent. Corpses littered the road ahead of them, all with head trauma, as they fled north through the suburban sprawl. They slowed when they reached a hill overlooking a housing district, and everyone paused to catch their breath.
Boone pulled out his night vision binoculars again and looked the development over. “Sporadic movement, but no hordes that I can see.”
Dallas pointed. “There’s a Fed Ex truck at the corner. Could we use that?” Boone panned to the intersection Dallas had indicated.
Martinez looked through the scope of his rifle. “Seems to be clear too.”
“Yeah. We’ve got maybe ten minutes to get a couple of vehicles before the group we just left catches up to us.”
“Dirt bikes would be nice,” Chris said sadly.
Boone smiled, a rare occurrence. “Yeah, they would. Alright people, we need to keep moving. Martinez, cover from this hill, Benny, cover Martinez. Andy, Sey, point. We’re fifty behind you.”
The two SEALs rushed off quietly, checking low areas and behind obstacles as they moved. They reached the truck and Androwski checked underneath while Seyfert hopped up on the runner and looked in the cab. Simultaneous whispers of “Clear!” came through everyone’s radio earpiece. What little undead presence there was in the immediate area was stumbling in the other direction. Seyfert turned to his buddy. “Andy, check the back, I’ll cover.”
“Fuck that. Rock, paper, scissors.”
Androwski lost the kid’s game, and proceeded to open the rear door of the parcel truck while a smug Seyfert covered him. As they opened it and peered inside with their night vision goggles, the rest of the group minus the two on the hill arrived. “Back’s clear of hostiles too, but it’s gonna be tight with all these packages.”
“Pile in everybody,” Boone ordered. “Sniper team to our location ASAP.”
Dallas looked back to the hill and saw the two men running toward him. “They’re comin’.”
He walked toward the driver’s side and swung into the cab. “Keys are in it!”
Boone was peering through his night vision binoculars down the street. “Wait until the sniper team gets here and then start her up.” Seven people squeezed in, and it was indeed, tight. There were two shelving systems, one on each side of a small corridor that ran all the way up to the cab. Some packages on the floor made for even less room, and Anna started a bucket chain, the group removing twenty-six packages before Martinez and Benotti showed up breathless. “Sir. Limas,” Benotti relayed to Boone, “too many to count. Five minutes to the rear.”
“Catch your breath, Benny, you might need it. Dallas, can you drive this thing?”
Dallas chuckled and turned the engine over. It started on the first try. “I’m a truck driver, Boone.” Dallas turned on the headlights, and saw a mauled woman in a gore-covered Federal Express uniform lurching toward them. “We got Dead-Ex bearin’ down, can we go?”
“We’re all aboard, head northwest.”
The parcel truck was parked such that Dallas had to back up to move. He sped backwards about twenty feet or so, then threw the truck into first gear. The noise from the vehicle was loud, and slow, lumbering shadows approached from all sides.
Boone looked out the back window with his NVGs. “That’s a lot of fucking green! Go Dallas!” Not needing further incentive, Dallas pulled away from the curb and hung a left, continuing down a residential street. The dead encroached from all sides, but in minimal numbers. The main horde was behind them somewhere. After only about a minute, the headlights illuminated a thick cluster of staggering forms in front of them. Dallas slowed some, not sure how to proceed other than to run them down, but at the same time he didn’t want to damage the vehicle as he plowed the cannibals under. Androwski had taken the passenger’s jump seat and pointed toward a small group of creatures coming toward them down the middle of the street.
The first thump took the riders in the cargo hold by surprise. “What was that?” demanded Anna.
“Road kill, ten points!” Dallas shouted over his shoulder.
It’s gettin’ thick up here, Boone.”
He was forced to slow the truck some. “Hey, roll up your window, will ya pard?”
Androwski realized he had his elbow resting on the open truck window and he jerked it in, feeling foolish. He locked the door and rolled the window up. It was sweltering in the truck, and Dallas, reaching right, flicked on a small fan.
Boone struggled through his group to get to the cab. “Time to check in. Andy, switch with me so I can make a call.” Androwski got up and moved past Boone without a word. Boone sat in the passenger’s seat, put on his seatbelt, and pulled the comm-unit out of his ear letting it rest on his shoulder. He then reached for a second radio, switched it on, and began to transmit, “Rock, this is Wanderer, come in, over.”
Almost instantly there was a reply, “
Wanderer, this is Rock, we read you five
“Transport acquired, proceeding northwest to acquire superior transport. Moderate Lima presence, over.”
Final coordinates to follow on next transmission. Be advised, new intel on Limas: Unconfirmed reports suggest some Limas are much faster than previously determined
Boone was confused. “Say again?”
Repeat, some Limas reported running. Repeat, running
Dallas looked over at Boone. “Is that boy serious?”
Boone pointed in front of them. “Watch the road.”
Dallas looked forward and steered slightly to the right.
Boone keyed the microphone again. “Unconfirmed?”
Affirmative. Intel comes from the last group to arrive at base
Intel not confirmed by base personnel; however, many newcomers concur on Lima speed. Caution advised. SITREP required when first mission objective met, Rock out.”