He’s Back!

Here’s a snippet from my book “SEVER” which is book 3 of my “Washington, Dead City” series for Permuted Press. As always, it’s unedited because I don’t edit until the book is complete:

31 October, 1813 hrs local
The Lincoln Memorial
Washington, Dead City

Kestrel had been here before. The zombies covered the National Mall like ants on a picnic basket, blocking his way forward towards the buildings there. Why the president had continuously denied the bombing of the city was beyond him; those things were a scourge that needed to be eliminated. From his elevated hide position he could see he skeletal remains of the very creatures that his team had killed on their last visit. It was one of the strongest feelings of deja vu that he’d personally felt before.

When he’d crossed the old Theodore Roosevelt Bridge towards Capitol Hill he’d caught a glimpse of movement in the shifting fog that seemed to always be present in the city now that the wind no longer blew across the region, kept at bay by The Wall. To his experienced eye, that one small flicker of movement had meant so much more than it would have to others. He’d been on the Mall last spring when they assaulted the Archives; he knew that there was an unusual amount of activity there, which is why he’d decided to truly begin his search in the area.

He’d slipped silently up to the back side of the Lincoln Memorial and slid along the wall until he came around to the front and crept up the stairs. Now, he crouched beside the massive marble statue of arguably the greatest president that the nation had ever seen. He’d packed 2,000 rounds of ammunition in his backpack – 73 pounds of 7.62 ammunition – for his scoped SCAR.

He’d questioned bringing so much at first and his back had really questioned he decision over the last four days as he had to hump it around with him. His mind told him to dump at least half of the ammo since he’d only seen one or two of the creatures at a time, and all of those had been too crippled to keep up with the main group of zombies and were easily dispatched with his knife. But he’d held on, pushing those thoughts of weakness to the back of his mind. Seeing the target-rich environment in front of him, he was grateful that he hadn’t pussed out.

Kestrel set the ridiculously heavy backpack on the floor in front of him beside the giant gray-green leg of the 16th President. He worked the drawstrings quietly and laughed to himself about they absurdity of the military uniforms these days that used Velcro fasteners. In this situation, the tearing of the fabric would have echoed across the open area and drawn the zombies directly to him.

He peeked inside the bag at the small cardboard boxes of ammunition. To save on weight, he had the ten magazines on his chest rig and another five in the backpack, but the rest of the cartridges were in their factory-sealed cardboard boxes. He’d have to reload his magazines by hand since the speed loader strapped to the inside pocket would make too much noise. It would be tedious work, but he had time. If he played this right, he’d have all the time in the world.

The operator got in a prone shooter’s position and lined up his first shot, far into the middle of the pack. He’d decided to begin there in case the creatures figured out that something was wrong, they hopefully wouldn’t head towards his position and instead, they head to where their fellow zombies died.

He’d also decide that the best bet would be to kill the healthiest-looking ones first. Those were the ones who would be able to move quickly if they identified his location. A large male, maybe he’d been in the military or one of the three-letter organizations when the disaster struck ambled across his scope. Its clothes had long since rotted away, which meant that it had been out there, on guard in the elements for a long time. Yeah, you’ll do nicely, Big Guy, he told himself.

Breathe, exhale, pause, squeeze and observe. A fine mist of blackish crap flew into the evening air and the big zombie dropped like a sack of shit. Kestrel waited for a reaction from the creatures around the one he’d shot, but none of them seemed to notice. A couple of them even tripped over the body until they’d somehow communicated to one another to avoid it. They were like a bunch of ants in their uncanny ability to pass along information.

He lined up another shot and took his time. He pointed his rifle at various locations within the mass of creatures, shooting silently and changing out magazines. He went through all five mags in his backpack, plus the one that had been in the weapon when he started, 180 rounds total, all head shots and all kills. It had taken more than twenty minutes and he’d barely made a dent in the crowd; this would take a lot longer than he’d thought and he would have given his left nut for a gunship. But that wasn’t coming, so he sat up and began the tedious work of manually reloading the magazines as quietly as possible.

The ten full magazines in his chest rack remained untouched. Those were for run and gun firefights, like if his position became compromised and he had to go quickly, possibly even leaving behind the heavy backpack full of ammo. It was a lesson he’d learned early on as a SEAL in East Timor fighting with the Aussies against Muslim terrorists. Always leave yourself with readily-accessible ammunition and reload your mags when possible you never knew when you’d need them.

Finally, nine empty cardboard boxes lay scattered on the ground, each empty of its twenty 7.62 millimeter rounds. Kestrel brought up his knee to form a stable platform for the barrel of his rifle and began selecting targets at random from the crowd. Time to cull the herd.

*****


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