Risen Dead II:
The Bonds We Keep
"Tell me again...what happened to my parents..."
"When the world went to hell no one saw it coming. People didn't believe the news reports until it was outside your front door. Most families rushed to hospitals and refugee camps, they died first. Some stayed home to wait it out, but as the number of dead began to outnumber humans the horde was big enough to swallow even well-fortified houses up whole. Only those who made it out of the cities in time stayed alive. Your parents were smart enough to escape but not lucky enough to survive."
"Are they dead or risen?"
"I'm sorry, Ophelia..." Boss Vance hung his head in shame and remembered the day the fort was overrun...
That day the number of survivors was more than cut in half. Fort McDonnell was up in the Adirondack. Built in the 1700's and reinforced with the present day military upgrades, it was an ideal place to wait this pandemic out. Boss was already in the group when they arrived. Nobody really knew him and besides protecting the group nobody really trusted him. He knew and kept to himself because of it.
Being on the outside looking in he found himself watching the group exist around him. He always admired Ophelia's father constantly putting the 2 lives of his women before his own. But nothing could stop it. You see back then they still hadn't known the plague was now airborne, and the fort teared itself apart from the inside out. This was the last time the word "airborne" served as just a rumor.
"Please Mr. Vance...you've never told me what actually happened that day... I'm old enough now, I deserve to know the truth!"
"Okay...okay...Ophi. You are right, you deserve to know, just don't get mad when I don't hold back..."
Ophelia was scared but still wanted to know, she needed to know, ever since she was young, almost five years ago. She was finally getting smart enough to be self aware and curious of her past. Her maturity was obliterated in the chasm of the apocalypse. Boss knew if he left her alone her fate was grim. Boss knew he was unfit but looked around that day and something changed inside him.
Martin and Joan were her parents. Ophelia's guardians against the undead plague. Martin still had his tie on with a crowbar in his hand. That is how Boss knew they were from the city. Martin pushed his glasses up and smudged red on the lens. His girls were okay. They made it to Fort McDonnell.
There was no one to blame when people began to drop from fever. It could be nothing. Many were dead within the hour. The soldiers who first led our group contained most of them. "That is until you fell."
"What?" Ophelia gasped.
"Your father..." Martin stood up to the few remaining military leaders. He kept them from shooting Ophelia before she rose, like a wild animal he fought, wielding both their rifle barrels in his hands. Joan protected her baby no matter how crappy she felt. Before long the fever took a hold of her too and both of Martin's girls were unconscious on the ground.
"When your mom re-awoke her eyes were dead. I tried to save your father but his back was turned and vulnerable." Martin released the guns involuntarily and stumbled back when his leg was snatched and his ankle bit.
Martin turned around ready to strike the zombie when he saw it was his own wife.
Before his hand could fall they were both gunned down by the soldiers, but it was too late. "The other dead had risen and people were already getting bit. I had to do something. I ran to their deaths and your family was nothing but a pile'a bodies. And I prayed that one moment...Once since this all happened...that there was something I could've done...something that I could do. I prayed and prayed and prayed...and that's when you broke your fever and awoke still alive."
"From that day forward you became my responsibility..."
"All because of a prayer?"
"What I realized later on is that... It was there... right in front of us the whole time. What did that zombie movie say...'When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth?' Well if there is a hell then there must be a heaven or at least fate."
Boss looked above Ophelia, at the ceiling where there was a latch. They had run out of food 3 days ago after finding this fallout shelter almost 6 months ago. It was fun while it lasted but now it was time to go back outside. Boss gathered his equipment. A brief nostalgia reminding him of where he came from and how he survived.
His shotgun, the only thing keeping him alive above the rest. His pack with his rations and change of clothes. Including the elastic gear. Under Armor and tights under his shirts and pants, an advanced version of medieval chain-mail. Boss' belt was rag tag mix of hunting knifes, kitchen knifes, screwdrivers, and stakes. His best melee weapon he gave to Ophelia to protect herself. Along with the machete Boss gave Ophelia the very same crowbar.
The same crowbar that her father tossed up to Boss when he was gunned down. Boss then carried Ophelia to safety, after taking her by the hand up to the soldier that killed her parents, pressing his shotgun up to the soldier's armor and pulling the trigger. His partner turned on Boss as he picked up Ophelia, giving her the crowbar to hold. Poor little girl was so traumatized already she didn't even cry. She just awaited her fate. Boss let the zombies take the other soldier out as he used his remaining shells on the wooden barricades covering the back door.
Once clear he opened the door and swung it around, enclosing him and Ophelia while unleashing the horde on any survivors left in the fort. When Boss felt the coast was clear he opened the door enough to get out and closed it behind him; sealing the tomb. Outside he reloaded his shotgun while posting baby Ophelia on guard with the crowbar.
Security she was not so good at, but surveillance there was none other. Its like she could sense them and the moment they were in eyesight or earshot Ophelia would cry out. Boss looked up and saw it coming for them. It was only one and if he fires his shotgun more will come. So Boss looked around for something quiet, his belt rather empty. Embedded in one of the already slain zombies was the black machete. Like the sword and the stone, Boss put his foot on the body and pulled the machete from it just in time to lobotomize the approaching zombie.
Boss put his equipment on and climbed the ladder to open the latch. When he looked down, Ophelia was putting on her own utility belt with screwdrivers and Swiss army knives. Boss lifted the heavy metal latch to daylight, dull grey afternoon. He got a quick look around and helped Ophelia out of the fallout shelter. They ran across the backyards to the end of the street. They were in a suburban neighborhood built into the mountain.
Boss searched for a car with adequate fuel, to his luck there was a truck with the keys still in it. When he called for Ophelia she did not answer. He got back out of the truck and when he closed the doors saw a man holding her by the throat.
"You can't take her Ned!"
"It was just a matter of time is what I figured," Mad Ned Candles laughed.
Boss approached them slowly.
"That's far enough, Boss!" Ned Candles held a knife to Ophelia's throat. Boss looked into her eyes and she did not cry. She knew Boss would do something, she knew Boss would save her.
"Drop that shotgun big guy!"
Boss threw his shotgun on the floor and raised his hands slowly. He winked at Ophelia who drew a screwdriver from her belt. Suddenly she froze up like she used to when she was little only without screaming out. There were undead nearby. Boss looked around and spotted them. He looked back at Ophelia and signaled her to protect her throat instead of stabbing him with her screwdriver.
The zombies come crashing down on Ned Candles and he falls on Ophelia pressing the blade into her throat. Luckily Ophelia caught the blade with her screwdriver in time. Ned screams out as the dead gnaw on his neck and back. Ophelia wrestles with his knife when they hit the floor. Boss tries to pull her out of the wreckage and fights off the dead at the same time.
Boss knocks each one down with a blow to the head. They start to become too much for him as even dead Ned Candles rises. The machete gets stuck in Ned's dead head and Boss trips up after losing his grip. They tower over him when he sees Ophelia get free and pick up his shotgun.
Before the last shell hit the barrel she dropped each and every zombie around Boss. It was too late though. At least it was for poor Ophelia. Ned's knife was sticking through her hand. In order to free herself she had to dislodge it from Ned's motionless corpse. Her blood was tainted just the same as a bite. Instead of making Boss kill her or not telling him and eventually turning, Ophelia took the other way out. With the last shell in Boss' shotgun, Ophelia opted out of the horror that was becoming the living dead.
Boss dropped to his knees and stared at the girl and the shotgun. What was he suppose to do now? How was he suppose to go on?" What was the point? After all those years of taking on meaning, he was once again alone...
One man trying to survive in the Zombie Apocalypse.