By Captain Jacob E. Billet
I sit on the church steps. The hot church steps. The summer sun has warmed them nicely though its punished everything else with its relentless brilliance and heat. The steeple above casts its pointy shadow over myself and my team giving us, at least, some relief.
Stokes, Phelps, Mulholland and an additional trooper load of twenty congregate around the HURON, taking a break, having a bit of luke warm water from canteen or slurping a delicious and nutritious Meal, Ready-to-Eat. I sit next to an old wrought-iron railing which leads up to the massive oaken doors of St. Mary's Catholic Church; the church sealed up tighter than a whorehouse after a VD outbreak. The railing, painted black at one time, stands slightly akimbo, at an angle, base with concrete bolts rusted and ready to pop off the steps.
<<Latest news from WOOD radio correspondent Matt Furley, there's been another small riot on the streets of Grand Rapids as anti-zombie protesters quarreled with pro-zombie civilians.>> The radio squelches from the HURON PA system. <<High tempers exploded on this hot day and a bloody fist fight broke out in front of City Hall.>>
"Damn, can't we all just get along?" Stokes grumbles, steps up to the stairway where I sit. A stump of one of his retched cigars hangs from the corner of his mouth, a crumpled, empty container of MRE "mashed potatoes" in hand.
I wonder how much of the cigar butt the sergeant has swallowed while eating the meal at the same time. Meh.
"The answer is, NO, Sergeant," Loutonia says. She leans against the HURON, rubbing at the side of the armor hide with a dirty rag. "We, as human beings, cannot get along."
"That's a pretty negative statement," Mulholland replies, seated atop the HURON. His M4 rests in his lap. He watches a pair of shambling locals walk-stagger in our direction.
"Um, you read much history, my friend? One of the earliest records of people getting up in arms and beating the shit out of each other is back in Mesopotamian times 3100 BC," Loutonia returns. "Nothing negative there, other than the many instances of Humankind wreaking havoc upon themselves."
"That's what we're here for, kids," I add my two cents. I wipe my forearm across my forehead. My arm comes down and looks like I've just ran it under a garden hose. It is a sweaty, hot gawddang day. "Keep the peace. Make sure no one gets out of line, living or..."
The pair of UCRA civilians stop in front of us. Stokes picks up a can of "Bram"--the doped and processed meat slop given to the local undead--pops the top, tosses it aside. The can hits the hot asphalt of Turner Avenue, bounces, rolls and spills the red, moist puree in the street. The zombies sniff the air, then hobble-shamble after the nasty food stuff like toddler's-first-time-walking. It would be funny if it wasn't so damn pathetic, and your thoughts weren't wrapped around, "That could be me."
As the dead civilians approach the upturned can of drugged slop, Stokes unholsters his sidearm, and fires in their direction. Our jaws drop as the Sergeant, well known for his shitty marksmanship, hits the can squarely, sending into a gentle, spinning arc. The civilians, unfazed, tattered limbs reaching out, comically pursued it.
"That is," Loutonia screeches, "exactly what I am talking about!"
With rag still in hand, she makes a fist and slugs Stokes squarely and solidly in the arm.
"Hey!" Stokes bellows, rubs his arm while keeping an eye on the woman in case she reels back to swing again. He holsters his sidearm. Thankfully.
"Kids," I say, getting to my feet. Even that little action makes the sweat dribble down my forehead. "No fighting among each other. We fight against dirt bags and miscreants trying to do us and the city harm, not one another."
It was time to get rolling. Three square miles, on a boiling hot day, trying to avoid mashing shambling civilians into the pavement when they hobble out in front of your 72-ton vehicle... Patrolling the UCRA wasn't what one could call a good time.
"Everyone mount up. We're oscar mike," I say, moving past my crew members and the other troops, and head towards the Huron.
"Dirt bag," Loutonia hisses at Stokes.
"Miscreant," Stokes returns fire.
I roll my eyes.
Gonna be a long day.
The TRANSPORT Series can be purchased here:
TRANSPORT (Book One)
Barnes & Noble
TRANSPORT (Book Two) HUNT FOR THE FALLEN
Barnes & Noble
TRANSPORT (Book Three) UNCIVIL WAR
Barnes & Noble
If you are in the Grand Rapids Michigan area, Schuler Books has paperback copies on their shelves (in SciFi/Fantasy section). Store location is:
2660 28th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512