Dead Lands: Part Two
By: Kelly James
There wasn’t any turning back now. I had the zombie. I had the subjects. The only thing left was for me to muster the courage to give the order.
“With all due respect, Colonel, how long do you expect us to hold this bitch down?” Phillips called, his voice barely rising above the zombie’s snarls.
“Very well, Max. Shoot Howard and let the zombie attack Phillips.” I said as I rubbed my temples.
Max turned and started back toward Phillips and Howard, her hand rested on the M-16’s trigger.
“What’re we going to do with this thing, major?” I heard Howard ask as Max closed the distance.
Max didn’t answer with words, or at least, I couldn’t them over the report of her weapon.
I turned away as Phillips began screaming. Secretly, I’d hoped he’d win, but his rifle was slung across his shoulder and he carried both his and Howard’s Kevlar helmets, one in each hand.
The screams didn’t last long.
“Colonel, the zombie?”
“Kill it, Max. It has served its purpose.”
Her rifle sounded again. A single shot, that I knew, exploded the dead girl’s head.
Now, we only had to wait.
* * *
January 1st, 1017 hours: Louisville, Kentucky
Phillips rose with a roar. In a matter of minutes, his ravished flesh came back in a twisted parody of life. He stumbled to his feet, looking around as if he was confused.
Just like Smoltz, I thought. For Smoltz, it had only taken a few seconds to get his bearings and attack. I expected the same from Phillips.
“Well, it appears contagion is a factor, Colonel.” Max hoisted her M-16 and prepared to fire.
“Wait,” I said as I lowered her weapon with my hand. “I’d like to observe his behavior. You never know, he might not be like the rest.”
As if to answer, Phillips caught sight of us and charged. Max fired and a small red dot bloomed on Phillips’ forehead, followed by a red mist from the back of his ruined skull.
Max shrugged. “Wishful thinking, sir.”
I nodded as I started toward Howard’s corpse. Howard hadn’t showed any signs of reanimation, yet. I hoped he stayed dead.
“How much time are you giving him?”
“What do you mean, major?”
“We can’t watch over him forever, sir. Eventually, we have to put a bullet in his head, one way, or another.”
I supposed Max was right. If Howard didn’t reanimate soon, destroying his brain had to be done.
“We’ll give him until morning, if he doesn’t come back by then, we’ll bury him, right and proper. I want to move out at 0500 hours so we can be near Cincinnati by dusk. We’ll cleanse the Queen city the following morning.”
“Very well, sir.” Max nodded toward Howard. “Should I stand watch over him?”
I turned back toward the camp. A few guys had gathered at the fence line and watched us.
“No, I’ll send a couple of privates back for guard duty. You’ve done enough. Get some sleep.”
“Yes sir,” Max muttered as we both turned from Howard’s body and started for camp.
The walk back was quiet until Howard leaped upon Max’s back and tried to rip her neck open. I whirled, retrieving my 9mm from its holster in one fluid motion.
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