Zombie Nation 02

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“I always like California this time of year.” Sherman Baker said to his partner, Jean Emory. They were standing on the top of a building looking down at what looked like a deserted street, waiting patiently.

Jean, looked at him, however she kept her thoughts to herself.

“You can talk, they won't hear, it’s too late for them now anyway, we have them.” Jean smiled and shook her head slowly from side to side.

Below them a couple of wasters came out of the building they had been sheltering in for the night, they moved with eerie ease down the block, clinging to the edge of the building near the sidewalk.

“See? We found them.”

Jean smiled, “Sure Sherman.” Her voice barely above a whisper. The two humans on the street below continued to slither along the road, then broke left at the next street and headed towards the outskirts of town. “They move smooth. How many of us have they killed, do you think?”

“Not enough. They didn't even see us. We’e not even hiding.”

“It’s dark.” she said, her voice dripping like warm honey in the cool night air.

Sherman shrugged, “Shall we?”

The two ran towards the edge of the building and jumped across, spanning the fifteen feet with ease. When they got to the building overlooking the cross street they stopped and looked for their quarry. The humans were nowhere to be seen. Jean smiled faintly.

“I think they have killed a lot of us. I think they played us.” Jean said.

Sherman looked up and down the street using several different spectrum of his sight. “Well I'll be damned. I am inclined to think you are correct. They would not have sent us if these were easy wasters on the loose.”

“Yeah me and a founding father of our great nation. Stun me with your brilliance.”, the sarcasm in her voice came through even at the soft level she was speaking.

“Watch and learn, granddaughter.” Sherman said in his best southern drawl. The man turned and dropped three stories to the sidewalk below, landing with barely a sound. Jean smirked and went down the old fashioned way, climbing down the face of the building with the ease of a spider.

Sherman looked like a man, if he were alive he would be in his thirties, his hair was black as night, matching his eyes, which were set a bit too far apart and back into his head to make him handsome. He stood about six feet tall and he had no facial hair at all, not even a five o'clock shadow. Jean, by contrast was a thin wisp of a girl, about five feet five inches tall and looked to weigh about a hundred pounds soaking wet. Her hair matched Sherman's; however her skin was alabaster, in contrast to his, which was a deep tan.

Jean was his granddaughter in the sense only that someone that he had infected had, somewhere along the line infected her. She was no less his descendant in any regard and Sherman considered her his closest family member.

‘I dare say I trust her with my unlife.’There were damned few in that category these day too. Thinking it over Sherman came to the unfortunate conclusion that she might be the only one he trusted implicitly anymore. ‘Politics.’ Then he snorted quietly, drawing a curious glance from Jean.

Sherman bent his head down to the pavement and sniffed, pulling in a lungful of air that he didn't need. Raising his head he pointed down the street. Both of them moved silently, Sherman crouched over pausing periodically to stay on the scent. They moved quickly; gone was the game played on the rooftop; these humans were dangerous and a threat to the nation Sherman had worked so hard to create. They had ducked into one of the abandoned buildings and then out the back through the overgrown fruit trees. Their trail continued to weave through buildings, over fences, through abandoned cars and down into a ravine with a trickle of water in the bottom. The two in pursuit finally caught sight of their quarry near an old water tower; the two humans were climbing a ladder to some sort of hidey-hole built into the water tank itself.

Sherman put his hand over Jean's chest, pausing them both. He crouched and she followed his lead, leaning in close. “What?”

“It makes no sense, they ran all this way, kept to the ground and now they are climbing a tower, with no escape? We better be careful here my dear.”

Jean snorted, “They're only living. You’re paranoid.” yet she did not move. Taking a look more closely she pointed out a trip wire strung through the grass. Sherman sighted along her hand and nodded.

“An ambush? It blows my mind. I haven't had a human try to hurt me for almost a year.” said Sherman seriously, “What does it hurt to wait for a moment? I don't think they are going anywhere, do you? Why don't you go around to the other side and cut off their retreat. I’ll move in when you’re in position..”

“Yell if you need me.” said Jean before disappearing.

“Jean.” Sherman called. Jean paused and looked back at him, “Be careful, these guys are different, right?”

She nodded and then moved off, like a ghost through the woods.

Crouching down Sherman waited, trying to figure their angle, ’What were these guys doing here?’ Sherman was still crouched down when the bullet tore through his chest, passing completely through him and into the soil behind him, raising a puff of dust. He didn’t hear the retort of the rifle.

“Shit.” he muttered softly as he rolled to the right. He ended up on his hand and knees, where he pushed himself up and into the pine tree above him. As he went he concentrated on protecting his head, both by using the cover nature provided and his own skills as the most powerful zombie left in existence.

‘I’m slipping.’ Sherman thought, ‘Too much soft living.’  He should have been paying closer attention to what the men had been doing. Looking around for Jean he could not see her anywhere, another shot thudded into the tree trunk near Sherman's head. Irritated he focused and reassessed the threat. Two more shots silently thumped into the tree, one passing through his hand, which was exposed slightly. ‘Good shot.’ This thought was followed immediately by, ‘They are no threat to me, they only have guns.’ Sherman didn’t carry a gun himself, he could close to short range in mere seconds if he needed to and up close no one was his equal. The trip wire held him back. Not the threat of it, but the thought of it being there at all. ‘What am I dealing with? Another assassination attempt? Using the living?’

Sherman pushed off of his tree and leaped for another one that was slightly toward his attackers. His journey could not quite be considered true flight, although anyone seeing it would assume it was. Forty feet from his original tree he caught a branch and swung himself over, flipping into a completely new direction and launching himself laterally to another large pine. The tree he had touched erupted in a fireball as it was hit with some sort of heavy weapon.

Sherman brachiated closer while keeping to his side of the water tower; the rifle fire slowly started to lose track of him, with each successive shot further and further away from where he was. Spying out what the men on the tower were doing was no easy task, but he could make out three of the living. They all seemed to be facing his direction; one was messing with some sort of equipment on the top of the tower, while the other two held weapons, a rifle and what looked like an old time rocket propelled grenade launcher. They were not moving around too much on the tower, but he noted that the movements they did make, reloading, aiming, were smooth and quick. They were fast, perhaps as fast as he was, which had a very disturbing connotation for him.

Too late he spotted Jean, she had used the men’s distraction with him to reach the base of the tower and start up one of the legs.

“Jean, retreat. Get out of there.” Sherman said calmly into the mic resting on his cheek, hoping he wasn’t too late.

The man at the top of the tower started to slide down the side and grabbed for a series of hanging wires to catch himself. The tower exploded into flame, an arching fireball that kept expanding in a burst around the forest floor, the tree Sherman was on, a stout pine at least twenty inches around at the base was snapped off like a matchstick as the tower went up. For a few moments Sherman was only concerned with getting himself out of the fire, which had set his skin ablaze and burned away his clothing.

He found relief in the ravine he and Jean had followed to get to the tower; in the lowest spot there was enough water and mud to put out the flames. One of his eyes slowly reformed, it had been damaged by the explosion or perhaps he had poked it out in his mad rush away from the flames. Shaking his head as if to get his eye working more quickly, Sherman rose over the edge of the gully and looked back at the tower, it was an inferno. They had killed themselves and Jean.

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