AaW Chapter 21
The group sat around watching the television, listening to the news from Diane, Jim and even a short segment from Ned, the news was all bad. The sun was barely above the horizon and Marge was sleeping fitfully on the couch. The couch had been placed in the way of the front door, as a makeshift barricade. The house was sparkling clean again, they still had running water, although the electricity had blinked off twice in the last forty five minutes. Diane droned on as the group sipped their coffee.
“...our viewing audience, my last word is that if you are in the evacuation zone, to please do everything you can to get out, we will be hearing from Ned again shortly, from the evacuation zone. Jim what have you got for us on the national scene?”
Jim, somehow still looking fresh and ready, said, “Thanks Diane. Nationally communication is gone. We have only rumors about what is happening out east. The governor has rolled out the guard here, and is in a meeting with the governors of Iowa and Missouri, which have not been hit as hard as Kansas. The Nebraskan governor is out on the front lines himself, he left only a message that if you are an able bodied adult you should be heading towards the fight, not watching the news. It appears his strategy has had some success, they seem to be holding the horde that came down interstate eighty on the outskirts of Lincoln after an orderly pull back from North Platte to give the troops time to recover and rest.”
“Iowa is sending troops to all of its borders, but so far they have neglected to cross those borders, citing the rivers on both the west and east side of their state as 'natural boundaries' that other states should fall back to. The last news we had out of the state department was a warning to evacuate Chicago, this was six hours ago. From an affiliate station in the south of Kansas we have word that the national guard of Louisiana has blown the dikes and flooded New Orleans and the surrounding area.” Jim paused and put his hand to his ear piece, “The governor has announced an agreement with Iowa, Kansas and Missouri to act in concert to stem the advance. Iowan troops are streaming into both states now and should be to the outskirts of Kansas within thirty minutes, with some troops arriving sooner by helicopter.”
From inside the house the group heard a series of shots ring out in the street, awakening Marge, whose complexion was gray. Dora and the others went to the window and carefully opened the shades. Some of the zombies in the street in front of her house were taking fire. Others were milling about on the lawn starting to head towards whomever was firing the guns. Dora pointed out three zombies who were hanging back, or in one case outright retreating. “You see it? Tell me you see that?”
“We see it.” said Mary and Paige at the same time. Alex, Mike and the boy merely nodded.
“What?” asked Marge from here place on the couch.
“Gunfire in the street, some of the zombies are running away from it.” said Dora, “It wasn't just chance then last night.” Dora caught a flash of white in the woods across the street. The trees were not really woods so much as a well-manicured park, however they did provide some cover, Dora's suspicion was that the little girls were hiding over there in the trees.
“Well we better get up on the roof to help these people out. You know it is going to be Roger don't you? He probably convinced some national guard ya-hoos to bust in here so he could get his precious stuff and drag us off to safety.” Dora said.
“Alex, do you know how to shoot?” asked Paige. The man nodded, and she said, “Good you come up with us, we have an extra rifle. Mary we will leave the shotgun with you and Peter, okay?”
Mary nodded, then said, “Point the trigger and the bullet comes out the other end?”
Paige paused while handing over the shotgun, “You haven't fired a gun before?”
“Shit. Okay new plan, Mike you stay here and at least teach Mary how to fire and reload the shotgun, then come up to the roof afterwards. You better teach Peter too, Mike, just in case.”
The group split up and Dora could hear Mike rushing through where the safety was and how to load the shotgun as she went up the stairs. A few minutes later they were on the roof and looking down the street where Roger had driven off a couple of hours ago. They left Mike the big MR556, as he had the most experience firing it, even if he didn't like it. The three of them went over to stand on the roof near where the garage roof branched out from the house. Lying down on the slope of the roof they braced their rifles on the peak to give themselves every bit of help to make accurate shots. Dora sighted in on the van down the street and then pulled her eye back from the scope to look at Paige, who stopped and turned her head to stare at Dora.
“Hell yeah, Paige! Let’s do this!” Dora said, Alex took a moment to realize what the fuss was, then he too let out a whoop of delight and started firing into the crowd of zombies around the news van at the end of the block.
Downstairs Mike had just finished showing Mary how to fire the shotgun, when his ear caught Ned on the news, “We seem to have found some survivors out here, Diane.” A zombie coming towards the camera was thrown forward missing the better part of its head. The camera panned up to take in a rooftop where three people were laying down firing at the mob in front of the news van. Mike stood there watching with Mary for a moment, mouth opened. Mary was playing with the safety and without looking up she said, “You going upstairs?”
“Those sons of bitches.” Mike swore.
“What?” she said looking at him.
“They left me the god-damned MR556!”
Mary seemed impressed, “You can tell that by the sound of the guns.”
“No.” Mike said, pointing at the television screen, which showed Dora and the others up on the roof and the MR556 laying unattended by the open skylight.
Her eyes slid towards the television screen and then back to Mike's face, “That is... That is here? That's us?”
“Yeah, dammit.” Mike set off for the stairs, calling back over his shoulder, “Be careful with the shotgun!”
A few minutes later Mary and Peter saw Mike climb up onto the roof behind the others, he gave a wave into the camera clearly intended for them. Peter waved back, which brought a smile to Mary's face. Mike lugged the big rifle to the top of the garage, where he exchanged a few words with the others that ended with all three of them flipping Mike the bird. Resigned he got down behind the peak of the roof like they were and started firing towards the area in front of the camera.
Mary laughed, prompting Marge to ask, “What?” weakly from the couch.
“The television crew is here, on our street, with Ned. See?” Mary turned the television more towards Marge and stepped out of the way so she could see Ned reporting.
“...had gone on here, these people have defended themselves well. You can tell by the dozens of zombies on the ground around the front of the house. If it were not for the survivors I would turn this crew right around and get the hell out of here, even with the scores of dead, there are more than that still shambling around. Diane, Jim, the crew and I are going in, with luck we will be reporting back in a few minutes, however due to the danger I cannot I ask my camera man to film instead of fire a gun. So we are out for now. Signing off this is Ned for KSHB TV in Kansas City.” The camera went dark and Diane weakly called out for Ned to stay safe.
“Mom, are we rescued?” asked Peter.
“No, Peter we aren't, not yet, but things are looking up.”
On the roof the others saw the cameraman exchange his camera for an assault rifle provided by one of the national guardsmen traveling with the group. As far as Dora could see the entire party consisted of five people, a driver, a cameraman, Ned and two guardsmen.
“Damn, I knew he had balls, but I thought there was a whole convoy with him, not two guys with guns.” Dora said quietly.
“So? Before Alex and Mary arrived there were only the three of us.” said Mike.
“True, I just thought, you know, him being famous and all, even if it is just 'KC famous', that he would rate more of an entourage.”
“Times are tough, I doubt the military cares much about getting news out, they need to tell people where to go and all, but other than that...” Alex's voice trailed off. “They got trouble.” He went back to firing faster.
The mob around them had just been reinforced by another group coming from behind the van, this group had come in from another street on the four way intersection. It took a second for one of the guards to realize what was happening, then he clued into the reason why the garage group's shots stopped falling in front of the television crew. Tapping his fellow guard on the shoulder they both turned and fired on automatic at the huge mob coming from behind them.
The driver rushed to the side of the van and tossed his rifle in, then he backed the van into the oncoming crowd. The short distance he had to get up speed was not sufficient to plow through the crowd as he had apparently hoped. From the rooftop, even over the other sounds of the morning, they heard him cursing as he shifted the van into gear and lurched forward. Dora saw instantly that something was wrong with the van, it slid a bit sideways and plowed into the curb leaving a trail of sparks. The front wheel popped with a sound louder than the surrounding gunfire and the van, barely in control barreled forward into the mob of zombies in front of Ned and the others. The cameraman continued to follow the van at a brisk trot while Ned and the guardsmen turned and volleyed into the oncoming horde.
From the side a couple of zombies came out towards the group on the ground, Dora's group handled them easily. Finally Ned and the guardsmen started falling back, running after the van as fast as they could go. The van had almost made it to the edge of Dora's driveway before it finally slowed to a stop. The driver picked up his rifle from inside the van and pointed it out of side window and let loose a barrage of shots into the zombies on that side of the car, then he opened the door and hopped out, clearing more space around the vehicle. Ned and the others reached him with the mob hot on their heels.
“I hope Mary cleared the door to let them in.” Dora muttered.
“That would risk her precious son.” Alex said, shaking his head, “No way. You better send one of us down there to do it.”
“Fine. Mike! Go down and get the front door open.”
“Why me?” Mike complained, getting up nonetheless.
“Because you hate that fucking rifle and I am tired of hearing you bitch about it every time you miss a shot.”
Mike sulked away towards the ladder.
Down below the five figures concentrated on the group in front of Dora's house, letting the group behind them close to a dangerous distance.
“What the fuck?” asked Paige, firing into the group behind Ned. Dora and Alex began doing likewise.
“You! On the roof, clear the ones in front of...” Ned called out, his voice was drowned out by a low flying military helicopter, which passed barely twenty feet above Dora's head so fast she had not even heard it coming. “...will clear those others up!” Ned finished. The helicopter slowed and turned nimbly, coming around sideways to the street where it hovered and door gunners started firing at the zombies.
Dora just watched, not even bothering to fire her rifle, while the zombies were literally torn limb from limb by the helicopters machine guns. The bullets were making craters in the street as they passed through the bodies. In moments it was all over, the mob had been reduced to a pile of bloody red chunks, steaming softly in the morning sun. Not all of the them had been put down, zombies here and there still moved forward, but had Ned wanted to retreat he could easily have moved back that direction with little fear. Instead he kept moving forward and came up Dora's driveway. The helicopter swiveled around and its guns plowed into the group in front of Dora's house. In seconds all zombie resistance had ceased to exist.
The flying vehicle tilted from side to side momentarily then flew off, leaving silence behind. The small group on the rooftop quietly took in the scene below them. The zombies who were left were quickly dispatched with a few well-placed shots. The helicopter had accomplished in thirty seconds what it would have taken them the better part of a day.
“That is the difference between military and civilian firepower. Just amazing really.” said Alex softly.
In the trees across the way Dora saw a flash of yellow, she lifted her gun and fired at it, but was certain she had missed. Down below she heard Mike say, “Come on in! We have coffee and can make you up something to eat if you are hungry.”