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Zombie World: Human Remains Book: 1

By: Lester Crowley

3 Chapter 1 “If anyone told you the bad guys lose at the end of the world they’d be dead wrong,” Graves said, and pulled the trigger of his Desert Eagle. The pistol roared, sending a screaming bullet into an old man’s head. Alex, tied beside him, screamed as his uncle’s brain matter splattered across the snack aisle of the gas station. “You son of a bitch, I’ll kill you! I’ll track you down and kill you.” Alex’s wailing for justice bounced off Grave’s motorcycle jacket and tumbled to the linoleum floor like a spent shell casing. He leaned over, staring down at the twenty something year old. He smelled of stale cigars and hard liquor, a tattoo of a crow clawing a rotting skull was on his neck. “You go ahead and do that,” he sneered. Graves put the handgun into his side holster and withdrew a large knife from his back. The blade was long and serrated. The handle was engraved, depicting a wolf’s head. He tossed the knife across the floor and laughed. “You’re a lucky guy,” he spat. “I was just going to shoot you, but I kind of like the idea of you hunting for me. Why don’t you crawl over your dead buddy, grab that knife, and come and catch me.” Alex gave a willful stare. “I will,” he promised. Graves laughed even harder. “Oh, I like you,” he chuckled, and slammed his black boot into Alex’s chest, holding him in place. “Take your time finding me, pup. The dead walk the fucking earth and I’m having a blast.”

4 He lifted his boot and strolled toward the door. He snatched a few bags of potato chips on the way out and shot a zombie in the parking lot. Alex heard the motorcycle Graves came in on start up and thunder down the road. He imprinted his face into his mind’s eye so he’d never forget it. He would find him and tear his heart from his chest. But first, he had to get his hands untied. He spotted the knife only a few feet away, he could’ve taken five steps if he wasn’t bound and reached it, but instead he had to crawl on his belly like a snake. The electric entrance to the gas station slowly opened. A zombie shuffled inside, its vacant stare spotted him immediately. It reached for him with one arm, as the other was gnarled down to the elbow. Alex flopped toward the knife. He struck his jaw on the hard floor by accident and a jarring pain rang in his head. A decayed hand curled around his ankle. Alex kicked with all his might, breaking free of the zombie and inching closer to his freedom. He heard a hungry groan from the entrance, as two more living dead wandered inside. Alex rolled forward. He had the knife behind his back within seconds. The zombie he’d broken free from reached for him again. He waited until its rotting head was lingering over him then put his heels together and kicked for all he was worth. The blow hit the zombie square in the face, both feet sinking into rancid flesh. The zombie made a loud crack as its nose was crushed under Alex’s feet. It paused momentarily, then, went in for a chomp.

5 As the zombie grabbed Alex’s leg and was about to take a bite he cut the rope on the knife’s blade and stabbed. The knife slipped inside the zombie’s skull with ease and made a wet slurp when Alex yanked it out. He got to his feet, ready to deal with the other two zombies who’d invaded his home. They were faster than the ones he was used to dealing with outside. Both were men at one point and in all likelihood assimilated into the walking dead not long ago. He leaped backward as the pair reached for him. He let them stumble forward, and sprang. The knife bored underneath the chin of one and the blade’s tip showed through the top of his head. When Alex tried to wrench the knife free he couldn’t. He twisted the handle to no avail but couldn’t manage to loosen it. The other zombie grabbed his unprotected arm and pulled the flesh toward its infected mouth. Alex let go of the knife for now. He jerked his arm away seconds before the sharp, blackened teeth could tear his skin. He shoved the zombie with his palms and watched it topple over. He wrapped his fingers around a shelf holding a variety of stale Milky Ways, Skittles, Gummy Bears, and other candies, and pushed it over. The zombie was already halfway up and ready to try again when the metal rack fell on top of him. The zombie twisted underneath the rack and pinned himself between the shelving. Alex ran to the dead zombie and curled both hands around the knife handle. He put one foot on the corpse’s face and pressed down while he pulled. The wolf head at the

6 base disengaged, and then the rest followed, making a sickening sucking noise as he ripped the blade out. He addressed the last remaining intruder. The zombie gnashed its teeth at him as it struggled to free itself from the metal rack. Alex bent over him, reared back, and stabbed the zombie in its eye sockets until it was motionless. Afterwards, he sat on the floor and wept. This gas station had been home for his uncle and him ever since the beginning. They’d banded together, locking the store down, eating what they needed to survive, and taking comfort in the tattered remains of their family. And now his uncle was among the dead. He went to where his loved one laid. He avoided the blood stains and chunks of bone shards littering the aisle. His uncle had met his final end. With his head blown apart he would never return to join the living dead. Graves was to blame. If it wasn’t for him his uncle would still be alive. Alex clutched the knife so tight his nails dug into his palms and he bled. “Graves,” he spat the name out like a curse. In a world where the dead were eating the living why did an asshole have to come along and make things worse? He told him to find him. Hunt him down and finish his life for ending the life of his uncle. And Alex intended to do just that. He wiped the knife blade clean on his shirt and slipped it into his belt. He vowed to never use it again until the day came when he could put the blade against Graves’s neck, slit it, and watch him choke on his own blood.

7 Alex spent the remainder of the daylight burying his uncle behind the gas station. He forgot the history of the old world, and filled his heart with the incessant need for revenge.

8 Chapter 2 Sarah and Joelle were on a reconnaissance mission for the Marauders in the brisk autumn cold. Sarah drove the Volkswagen van while Joelle rode shotgun and helped navigate the new terrain. “Make a right on Seymour Street,” Joelle instructed. Sarah spun the wheel. The tires squealed as she made a sharp right and nearly crashed into the side of a building. “Watch where you’re going,” Joelle gasped, and pressed herself against the dashboard. “You’re too cautious. Try to loosen up a little,” Sarah laughed and playfully punched her in the arm. “That kind of talk will get you killed,” Joelle replied. She rubbed her arm and tried to act like it didn’t hurt. Ahead of them, a zombie was standing in the road. His clothing was in tatters about his body and had he moved out of their way he might’ve passed for a human. Sarah accelerated. “I’m not dying, not today at least,” Sarah said. Joelle braced herself for the impact and screamed. But Sarah wasn’t paying any attention to her. The van collided with the zombie head on. Instead of flying over the hood or being jammed under the vehicle the rotting corpse exploded in a hail of organs and bones. Ropey intestine covered the windshield and his head flew over the roof. Sarah laughed long and hard as she turned on the windshield wipers.

9 “Are you crazy?” Joelle shook her head. “Never mind, don’t answer that.” “Damn, that one was a splatter. I didn’t think he was that old,” Sarah cheered. The windshield wipers cleared most of the intestine away except for one long chunk which got struck under the blades and hung over the side. “Did you see that shit?” Sarah asked, and mimicked the zombie impacting with her hands. “He was like BAM!” “Are you out of your fucking mind? We’ve got a job to do,” Joelle pressed. “Chill out,” Sarah said. “He’s just one less zombie we have to deal with. What’s your problem anyway?” “My problem . . .” Joelle repeated. “My problem is that Graves assigned me to help you today and all you want to do is goof off.” “Hey, I’m still doing my job. What’s wrong with having a little fun? It’s the end of the world, lighten up.” Joelle crossed her arms. “Make a right down Western Avenue and then we should be there,” she told her. “You’re really mad at me, aren’t you?” “Just keep driving,” Joelle said. Sarah shrugged, “You’re the boss.” She made another sharp right turn, jerking the wheel hard enough to shred a layer off the tires. Joelle was thrown sideways into Sarah. “Slow the fuck down,” Joelle demanded. Sarah pushed her off and straightened out the van.

10 “We’re fine. There’s nothing to worry about . . .” Her sentence trailed off when she saw the wreck in the road. A military truck was lying on its side and partly covered a jeep. Both vehicles were useless metal shells and blocked the road. “Great, how the hell am I going to drive through that? I thought the report said this road was clear?” Sarah sneered. Joelle opened her door to get out. “I guess we’ll just have to walk the rest of the way,” she said. Sarah’s upper lip twitched in a snarl. “Wonderful,” she growled. Joelle eagerly got out of the van. She stretched her arms out and rolled her shoulders. Sarah got out of the car and examined their surroundings. The city was a disaster area but relatively devoid of zombies and other raiding nomads. They were parked between a pizza restaurant and a brick building. The windows of the pizza place were shot out. Inside, she could see cobwebs on the upturned tables and lots of broken chairs. “This city is a shithole,” Sarah spat. Joelle finished stretching and pretended not to hear her. “Let’s arm up and get this over with. I told Graves we’d be back before sundown.” “Yeah right, and I guess you always do what he tells you?” “That’s how I got to be your boss, Sarah,” Joelle smirked.

11 Sarah dug in the backseat and produced a M16 assault rifle. “Yeah, so fucking what? You might be my boss but I’m the one covering your ass. Without me you’d be zombie fodder, remember that. You wouldn’t want my aim to slip now would you?” Joelle swallowed a hard lump in her throat. She tried to stand straighter and look strong and tough enough to take on Sarah, but they both knew that wouldn’t happen. Back at camp, Joelle was boss, but out here, far removed from the Marauders and their laws, Sarah was queen. “Remind me again why you came so highly recommended?” Joelle questioned. Sarah lifted the M16 to eye level and aimed at the pizza restaurant. She scanned the barrel through the broken glass, and pulled the trigger. There was a loud retort from the rifle then a blood splatter. Joelle leaned forward as a zombie missing the top of his head tumbled from the open window and slapped the pavement. Sarah shouldered the firearm. “That’s why you brought me along,” she grinned. “You . . . you’ll kill us both. Do you realize how much noise that just made? We’ll have the entire town barring down on us within a few minutes.” “Let them come,” Sarah answered. “I’ve got plenty of ammunition.” Joelle rubbed her own head in frustration. “Hey, don’t sweat it. I’ve been with the Marauders for a year and a half now. I can handle just about anything.” “Yeah,” Joelle muttered, “But can you handle yourself?”

12 Sarah’s lips curled downward in a frown. “Who were you back in the Old World anyway, a drill sergeant?” Joelle added. “I was a stripper,” Sarah replied. Joelle’s eyes widened. “I’m just kidding,” Sarah laughed. “I helped my dad on a farm. I was signed up to go to a university when all this shit happened.” Joelle nodded, “We’d better get going.” “Sure thing, boss lady,” Sarah quipped. Sarah grabbed a backpack from the van and shut the doors. They were forced to climb over the mess in the road. Joelle first, then Sarah close behind. The military truck had an enormous hole in the center; jutting pieces of sharp metal stuck out unevenly, creating a dangerous hazard. Joelle stumbled as she tried to manage her way around the gaping hole. Her shoe snagged on the metal and she went tumbling backwards. “Oh shit,” she wailed. Her instinct kicked in and Joelle put her hands out to lessen the impact sure to come, but sure never fell. Sarah caught her by the shirt just in time and yanked her back. “Hey, try to be a little more careful,” Sarah said. She helped Joelle get her shoe unstuck without a qualm. “Thank you,” Joelle said, and meant it. “That could’ve been a nasty fall.” “Don’t mention it.” From behind them came a chorus of moans and the sounds of dragging feet. Sarah shoved Joelle forward.

13 “Move out, boss.” Joelle crawled over the wreckage and this time she avoided the large hole in the vehicle altogether. She made her way over the wreckage and onto the road then waited for Sarah. The street before her was a mess. Countless bodies decomposed on the sidewalk or on the road, flies swarmed in and out of unbarred mouths as they feasted on a banquet of rotting flesh. Joelle covered her nose to keep out the rancid stench. Sarah came down the side of the wrecked military truck and stood beside her. “Damn, what a trash heap. We must’ve missed the party,” she said. “Yeah . . .” Joelle drifted off. She witnessed a dead man stuffed inside a trash can. A crow pecked at his exposed feet, stripping off the carrion and consuming it. “This is even worst than the last town.” Sarah shrugged. She pulled her arms out of her backpack and dug inside. Moments later she produced two green surgery masks to cover their nose and mouth. She gave one to Joelle, who quickly put it on, and Sarah the other. “The zombies won’t be able to get over that wreck for awhile. How far away are we?” Sarah asked. “We’re about half a mile away from our destination. Are you ready?” Sarah put her backpack on and armed herself with the M16. She brushed past Joelle and planted her boot down on the head of the nearest motionless corpse. The head cracked under her heel, sending dark matter onto the concrete.

14 “All of them are dead, I think. Let’s not waste any more time,” Joelle advised, and walked out into the sea of dead bodies. Sarah grabbed her by the arm, pulling her back. “I don’t take chances,” Sarah told her. She shoved Joelle out of the way and continued down the street. Every time she came up to a dead body she stomped the head in until it was a pile of mush. Joelle crossed her arms and followed her lead. “We should really hurry up. Those zombies on the other side of the wreck are bound to figure out a way to us,” she explained. Sarah used the sidewalk to scrap brain matter from her boot heel. “I’m getting really tired of your shit. Just because Graves put you in charge of a couple of missions doesn’t mean you know what the hell you’re doing. How many raids have you been on?” “I’ve been on four raids,” Joelle said proudly. Sarah laughed hard. “You’ve only been on four raids? He must have a shitload of confidence in you to give you a job like this.” “He should have confidence in me,” Joelle defended herself. “I can take down any door anywhere.” “Yeah, we’ll see,” Sarah said, and pointed her rifle at her. “What are you doing?” “Look to the right and then get the hell out of my way,” she demanded.

15 Joelle jerked her head around in time to see the animated corpse crawling toward her. The long – haired man’s fingernails managed to rake her sneakers before she leaped out of reach. A loud report from the M16 rang and a few bullets smacked his head. He crumpled on the street, dead again. “I . . . I’m sorry,” Joelle apologized. “I’ll let you do your job as long as you let me do mine.” Sarah took off her backpack and handed it to her. “Why don’t you hold onto your own things? I can aim better without this dragging me down.” Joelle tightened her mouth and fed her arms through the backpacks loops. She secured it and waved Sarah forward. “Make a left down this street and we should see the building.” Sarah walked around the last of the bodies lying discarded on the street. She turned left down a narrow alley and kept the barrel of her gun at eye level. Ahead of them, a city dumpster blocked the exit. Sarah continued, moving faster now. Joelle adjusted the straps on her backpack, pulling it snug against her skin. She knew why Graves had instructed Sarah to carry the pack instead of her. Sarah was expendable and she was not. Yes, Sarah could fire a rifle and always completed her missions with few casualties but she didn’t have the unique skills Joelle possessed, and that meant her life didn’t matter as much in the eyes of the Marauders. As Joelle pondered the frailty of Sarah’s life she discovered something interesting jutting under a

16 rejected milk carton. Joelle stopped and yanked on a hard jewel case. Her fingers slid over the unopened DVD in familiarity. “Oh my God, this is The Notebook! I love this movie. I haven’t seen it in years.” Sarah didn’t hear her. She was a good fifteen feet down the alley and closing in on the dumpster. “Hey Sarah, look what I found,” Joelle called to her and held up the DVD. The scrap of hundreds of dragging feet and hungry moans made Joelle look over her shoulder. “Oh fuck,” she gasped. Countless shambling corpses made their way into the narrow alley. Some crawled on their elbows, but most walked. All wore the same vacant expression and moaned in hunger. Joelle ran for her life; if they didn’t move that dumpster out of the way or climb over it they were finished. “Sarah!” Joelle’s cry alerted her to snap her head around. Sarah pointed the automatic rifle at the horde but didn’t pull the trigger yet. “Get down,” she ordered Joelle. But Joelle continued running toward her. “I said get the fuck down.” Joelle was gasping for air in the short burst of speed she put on. She wasn’t watching where she was going when she tripped on a glass beer bottle and crashed onto

17 the concrete. Her movie flew from her hands. A loud snap came from her ankle and she knew in that instant that it was broken. Sarah sent a barrage of bullets streaming into the living dead horde. The roar of gunfire between the narrow spaces of the two buildings was deafening, and Joelle covered her ears. The bullets ripped through the zombies, popping their heads like grapefruit. When the gunfire ceased, Sarah bent down and pulled Joelle by the collar. “Get up, now,” she ordered. Joelle tried, but her left leg wasn’t obeying her commands. She withered on the street like a squashed bug. “I can’t, my ankle is broken,” Joelle cried. Sarah pumped a few more rounds into the approaching crowd of zombies. Shell casings piled around her feet until she had unloaded an entire clip. Joelle used her arms and good leg to drag herself behind Sarah. “Help me stand,” she hissed through her teeth. Sarah shouldered the assault rifle and shoved her arms under Joelle’s armpits and pulled. “There’s no time. We have to get the fuck out of here, now.” Sarah dragged her over broken glass and a pool of black, stagnant water. Joelle’s whimpers were drowned out by the hundreds of zombies coming after them. They were an endless sea of dead bodies, stumbling over each other just for a chance to sink their teeth into warm flesh. A few of them were faster than the others and clawed at Joelle’s limp foot.

18 “Sarah, pull faster!” Joelle cried and kicked at the horde with her working leg. She managed to hit one of them in the face but it did little to deter its advances. Sarah dropped her. “No, please, don’t leave me,” Joelle pleaded. The zombies were upon her in seconds, climbing up her legs and going for her exposed skin. She tore the green mask from her face and screamed. Two of the zombies chewed on her jeans, but couldn’t break through to the skin beneath. The retort of a high caliber pistol silenced their gnawing. Joelle was splattered with their infected blood as one by one Sarah planted a bullet in each skull. After they were dead she grabbed Joelle and dragged her to the dumpster. “Climb over this while I hold them off,” Sarah ordered. “I can’t, my ankle,” Joelle complained. “You have to try. I’ll give you a lift if you can just stand up.” Sarah stuffed her pistol between her jeans and lower spine. She dug through her cargo pants for a spare clip to the automatic. Joelle used the steel hangings on the dumpster to get on her knees. She forced her cracked ankle back, and screamed in pain as she began to climb. The zombie horde was nearly upon them, clawing, moaning, and inching closer. Sarah slapped a fresh clip into the rifle and rained bullets into them, splitting heads open and driving the crowd back.

19 Joelle forced herself to climb faster. She cut her hand on the dumpster and bled out. Ignoring the wound, she gripped the dumpster lid and heaved herself up. Over the top of the trash bin she could see the target clearly, and then she started to slip. “I’ve got you,” Sarah said, and pushed her onto the top. She leapt on the dumpster and crawled up the side. Her M16 slipped from her shoulder as the strap was cut on a metal hanging. Joelle helped her, pulling her up with all her strength. Sarah went for her assault rifle but the living dead slammed into the dumpster’s side and clawed at them from below. “Leave it, we have to get to that building,” Joelle instructed. Sarah withdrew her sidearm and began loading bullets into its chamber. “Yeah, and how in the hell are we going to do that? You can’t even walk,” she scoffed at her partner. “I can hop,” Joelle told her. “Besides, they can’t get us now.” Sarah looked down on the hundreds of decayed faces. The zombies banged on the dumpster, but couldn’t manage to climb up the sides. But with heavy numbers they could eventually overwhelm the blockade, either by crawling over each other or pushing the dumpster out of their way. “We need to move and fast,” Sarah said. “I’ll help you down then we haul ass to that building. How long will it take you to get us inside?” “One minute, maybe less,” Joelle answered. “Do you pick locks?” “Something like that, don’t worry.”

20 “Damn, Graves was right about you. Tough as nails,” Sarah grinned. “I try my best to impress,” Joelle smirked. Sarah slipped her handgun back into its holster and climbed off the dumpster. She immediately felt better knowing she was on the other side of the walking dead. The zombies were still making a racket but at least she didn’t have to look at them anymore. She raised her hands out to Joelle. “Come down real easy. I don’t need you to break anything else.” Joelle pressed her stomach to the dumpster lid and descended feet first. Sarah grabbed her by the waist and slowly put her on the ground. Joelle flinched when her broken ankle touched the street. She relied on her other leg for support. “Lean on me,” Sarah ordered. “No, I’m fine. You need your hands free in case we run into more of them.” Sarah didn’t listen to her. She braced herself under Joelle’s shoulder and helped her stand. “Once we get to that door your on your own,” she said. “Thank you,” Joelle mumbled. Together, the two ladies made their way out of the alley. Once clear of the narrow confinement, they spotted the Liberty building across the street and made there way over. Joelle flinched with every forced step and held onto Sarah like a life raft. “Easy now, we’re almost there,” Sarah urged.

21 When they came to the wide double doors Sarah eased Joelle down on the stoop. She then proceeded to try the handle, but the door was locked and probably reinforced from the inside. Joelle took off her backpack and began pulling electric wires, clay, and three sticks of dynamite out. “Damn, I guess this won’t take long,” Sarah laughed. She knocked on the door. “Hellooooo, is anybody home?” She waited for a reply then knocked again. “Open up, we know you’re in there. Why don’t you make this easy on yourself and save us the trouble o breaking in,” she demanded. A soft, quivering voice answered, “We don’t have any food, go away!” Sarah took out her handgun and beat on the door with it. “You heard the man, Joelle. He says there’s no food and we should go away.” Joelle slapped the clay on the door, inserted the wires and dynamite then shook her head. “He’s lying. If he would share his spoils like a good boy we wouldn’t have to do this.” “How many people do you think he’s got holed up in there?” “None,” Joelle said. “He’s a greedy man. If he had anyone to help him they would’ve shot us through the windows before we even got here.” Sarah looked up the side of the building and spotted an endless row of glass. “I hope you’re right, boss.” “I am. I trust the scout. Now help me across the street before this thing blows us apart.”

22 Sarah lifted her by the armpits and let her lean against her shoulder. She snatched the backpack up and aided her toward the alley. They were halfway across the street when the dynamite exploded. The blast sent pieces of wood and metal into the air, destroying the door, and sending a shockwave throughout the small town. The man inside was screaming, not in pain, but disbelief. Sarah put Joelle down on the sidewalk. “I’ll be right back,” she told her. “Stay put. “Do you think that’s such a great idea? What about the zombies?” Joelle trembled, as she glanced back at the alleyway. The dumpster was shaking back and forth. Dozens of rotting, skeletal hands poked out of the spaces between the dumpster and the wall. They would push through any minute and come for them both. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing,” Sarah smiled. She cocked her pistol and walked into the open cavity where the door to the Liberty building once stood. The man was still shouting and screaming obscenities at the madness of the world. The dumpster inched forward. Joelle could make out hundreds of decayed heads and flapping jaws moaning for a taste of her flesh. She dug into her backpack again, producing a stick of dynamite and a lighter. The dumpster shook and toppled over. Hundreds of zombies poured out of the alleyway like water breaking through a dam.

23 Joelle lit the wick on the dynamite. She held onto the red stick, wondering if it would be better to keep it and finish her twisted life. The zombies shuffled toward her, their mouths gaping open with anticipation. BAM! BAM! The retort from Sarah’s gun echoed in the building; the man inside stopped screaming. Joelle dropped the dynamite by accident. She watched as it rolled away from her and wished she had the strength to chase after it. The zombies were closing in on her, reaching for her, ready to rend and rip into her warm body until she littered the streets like the rest of the trash in town. Joelle pulled out another dynamite stick. She didn’t have time to start the fuse when the one she dropped exploded at the front of the zombie horde. The discharge took eight or ten zombies apart. Their limbs flew into the sky and hit the concrete with a sickening sound. Joelle went to light the stick in her hand, but it was too late. Dozens of hands pawed her damaged leg, pressing against it, and cracking the bone further. She screamed as the zombie horde pulled her closer. Her life was over.

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