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Part III - Dead Cold
Dash had learned from earlier and aimed straight for the head. The ﬁgure had made
it another limp step before it took a bullet square between two dull, lifeless eyes. He moved towards his kill slowly expecting it to stand back up like the ﬁrst attacker had but nothing moved, nothing in front of him. Upstairs they heard feet moving along the ﬂoorboards the banging was still ongoing, clearly something had stirred above them so much so Dash did not spot the ﬁgure beside him. When he saw it lunge for him it was too late, a shot rang out and stuck somewhere in the ceiling as the pair fell to the ﬂoor. “Dash!” Abi cried when she saw them struggling on the ﬂoor. Teeth gnashing wildly, cold dead ﬁngers pulling at his ﬂesh, the stench of death ﬁlled Dash’s senses. He fought with all his might but the man on top of him was nothing but dead weight constantly pressing down. “Get him offa me!” Dash twisted his head so the corpse could not clamp it's teeth down on his nose. Bernie rushed over and picked up the attacker with little effort he held it above his broad shoulders then slammed the corpse down over the edge of the bar. It hung there for a moment, it’s legs bent over one side of the bar, its back and head dangling over the other. As Bernie helped Dash to his feet the attacker moved, turning its head towards them and letting out another low, lifeless moan. Bernie pointed the barrel of his cut-down at the groaning beast and pulled the trigger. “Don’t let them get close… and aim for the head.” Bernie ﬂicked out the lever of his "Stick together, don't get separated. Bernie help me move these tables." The two of weapon, ejecting the spent cartridge. them moved tables and chairs in front of the ofﬁce door, tipping them over giving the obstacles odd corners and limbs. Abi and Zeke did the same at the base of the stairs just as one appeared above them. Abi ﬁred off two quick rounds one in the neck the second in the jaw. Her target took half a step backwards before walking into a bullet ripping straight through its head. Abi stared down the iron sight of her revolver at her kill. "Come on, get back." Zeke threw his arm around her waist and pulled her away from the base of the stairs. They stopped at a table in the centre of the room. Dash had dragged it away from the other supplies to give them some distance from their targets.
"Keep an eye on your targets and make every shot count." Dash looked at them all
in turn to make sure they understood before taking aim at the ofﬁce door. One by one they appeared either in front or above them. One by one shots were ﬁred each one hitting its target. Not every shot was a kill shot the shufﬂing bodies at the doors had irregular movements and would quickly jerk to one side or loose their footing. Even Zeke who was the most proﬁcient marksman had difﬁculties with one or two. "I need to reload." Bernie called out over the noise of shots being ﬁred and bodies hitting the ﬂoor. His cut-down riﬂe took longer to load than the other weapons they had, each round had to be loaded into the chamber one at a time. His ﬁngers delicately picked up rounds from the open box and slotted them into his weapon with ease, the old man had never been fazed by much. He loaded one last round into the chamber and looked up, seeing them for the ﬁrst time. While they had been occupied with the threat from the rear of the building three ﬁgures had entered the tavern by the front door and stood staring at him. A fourth shufﬂed though the door way slower than all of the others he had seen. Clearly the cold was affecting them. back. "Don't worry, I've got this." He handed his cut-down to Dash and calmly stepped round the table. The captain struggled with the kick back at ﬁrst but found his rhythm after a few shots. Bernie reached down and pulled the large wrench out of his pack and kept it low by his side, it swung slightly with each step the weight making it a pendulum in his hands. The ﬁrst body had broken away from the group and was moving towards them, the heat of the ﬁres had loosened up its limbs. It reached out for Bernie, it's mouth slung open but no sound came out. Bernie swung the wrench upwards and drove it down into the creatures skull with a crack then it slumped to the ﬂoor. The next one reached out for him, taking a step closer, Bernie matched its step and swung the wrench up knocking it off of its feet and across the tavern into the wall. Before the next one could move Bernie was on it driving the tool deep into its head, collapsing one half of its skull. He used his momentum and lunged at the last body, it's head exploding against the wooden wall as the metal broke through its face. Bernie watched the creature slide down the wall collapsing in a wet slump on the ﬂoor. He caught his breath, great streams of freezing vapour pouring out of his mouth whipping backwards around him pushed by the wind from outside. The wind brought something else with it, the low groaning of dozens of dead men moving slowly "Come on Bernie I'm almost out here." Dash turned to his mechanic and saw them "What's going on?" Abi ﬂicked her head round for a glance and only saw Bernie's at the entrance. "You have got to be kidding me!"
towards the tavern. Bernie slammed the door shut and forced the grip of his wrench through the box handles of the door. "Bernie? Talk to me!" Dash called levering another spent case out of the cut-down. "I'm alright but there's a whole heap of mess outside waiting for us." Bernie jammed "How bad?" "How many rounds do you have?" As Bernie ﬁnished something slammed into the
his thumb over his shoulder pointing to the door.
door behind him. He shifted his weight and pushed back against the door. Dash saw the mechanic properly now, pushing on the door with all his might while something else pushed back. He looked up at Zeke who was just loading the last round into the chamber. "Go, Abi and me have got this." He shouldered his riﬂe and aimed at the stairs again. Dash sprinted towards the door and slammed his shoulder into the wood next to his mechanic. The pair of them strained trying to hold back the persistent horde outside. As the door swung slightly inwards locking up against the wrench in the handles Abi joined them throwing her slight weight behind the door also. "Abi what the hell are you doing to help Zeke!" "I'm out! I don't think there are many left back there." "You alright back there Son?" Bernie called without looking. The tall ebony man "They are slowing down but so is my ammo." "When they stop get us something big and heavy. We might have to get up close
ﬁred a shot and stopped another threat from making through the door.
with these rotting bastards after all." There was another surge at the door, the handles were starting to wiggle loose. Soon Bernie's make shift lock would not help them and they would be face to face with a whole pack of dead men. They were running out of time and out of exits. Dash began running scenarios through his head and each time he came back to the same thing. We should have stayed on the Hawk. "What's the play Dash?" Bernie looked him square in the eyes and saw the young "I'd like to say something miraculous but I think all we've got left is ﬁght our way out. captain working things out, if there was one thing he could do it was think on his feet. Don't let them grab you and don't get caught in a corner. Bernie on my signal pull out the wrench and move away. We'll take as many of them down as we can." "Of all your suicidal plans Cap'in I like this one the least." Abi started looking over
her shoulder for something she could use to fend them off and saw Zeke moving towards them carrying Bernie's tool kit.
"I've a few rounds left and a bag full of trouble. I'm ready when you are Dash." Zeke "Ok Bernie... Do it!" Dash and Abi ran back to the tool kit and pulled out the ﬁrst
shouldered his riﬂe reading his aim for the door being opened. thing that felt sturdy. Bernie gripped hold of the wrench by its head and yanked it out of the handles when the door was ﬂush itself again. The two wooden doors ﬂung open, helped by the frozen wind and the shufﬂing horde spilling through the entrance. Zeke took a breath, steadied his aim and squeezed the trigger of his weapon. A round ripped though the head of the ﬁrst corpse and into the second. He pulled on the bolt and ejected the cartridge slotting a fresh one in place and took aim again squeezing the trigger. This found its target too and caused the back of the group to explode. The crew stood there in shock and all of them turned to Zeke who looked equally confused. "Get down!" Bellowed a voice from outside just before another explosion ripped through the next row of dead. A further two explosions cleared the entrance to the tavern. Dash was the ﬁrst to uncover his head and see the front of the building covered in gore and smouldering embers. Through the smoke and snow a ﬁgure entered. Unlike the ones they had been ﬁghting, this one was shorter than Abi but as wide as Bernhard. He was covered in thick winter clothes and carried a brutal looking shotgun. "You folks alright? Any injured? Any of you get bitten?" "No we're ﬁne, except for the ringing in my ears. Thank you." Dash walked up to "Vernon Wells. You folks from the Supply ship?" Vernon took Dash's hand and "That's us. Dashiell Adams. How did you ﬁnd us?" "And what the hell were those things?" Abi asked picking herself up off the ﬂoor. "Got your message, it was pretty beat up cause of the weather but I've never been
their saviour and held out his hand in gratitude. shook it, for such a small man he had an immense grip.
one to keep a lady waiting out in the cold." Vernon lifted the goggles off of his face and let them snap back onto his head his bright blue eyes stood out against the deep wrinkles on his face. His thick beard shifted and Abi assumed he was smiling at her. Another man entered the tavern he was dressed just like Vernon, insulated against the cold. "No more out here boss." "Good. Grab the tug and pull their ship into the shaft, better'n leaving it out in the
cold to seize up." Dash moved to say something but Vernon raised his hand to calm him down. "Don't worry captain we won't damage your bird. Just don't want her singed when we blow this damned place all to hell."
The crew of the Aurora Hawk quickly packed up their gear and readied themselves
for the trip. Vernon's team laid charges and packs of explosives at key points around the tavern. The men from the mountain we experts at blasting their way through solid rock, a wooden hut would posed no problem to them. "So what were they?" Dash asked zipping up his ﬂight jacket. "A blight left behind by the royal scientiﬁc institute." Vernon lead them out of the "What's scientists from the capital got to do with this place?" Dash had a hard time "No idea but eventually we lost contact and started ﬁnding those corpses walking
tavern leaving his mean to work. keeping up with the smaller man, he seemed to be build for the snow. though the tunnels." More of Vernon's men were outside moving from structure to structure preparing them for demolition. "We shut the pass when one of them attacked some of my guys." Vernon pointed to the enormous metal door built into the side of the mountain. It was slowly sliding into the rock unveiling a hulking tug truck which would rescue the Hawk from the snow. "That's a big door." Dash stood in awe of the huge shifting metal. "How the hell did we miss a giant metal door?" Bernie wiped snow from his thick "She's been shut up for a while so the snow probably covered her up. Climb in, I'll
beard and shook them off his gloved hand. tell you everything when we get you folks warmed up." The crew entered the transport tuck looking forward to the promise of a hot meal and not having to ﬁght for their lives. The engine roared to life and the tires dug in deep pulling them along the snow and away from the dead men and their dead town.