“Last Stand”

I originally wrote this “flash fiction” story for a website for Halloween 2007, and decided that because it was short and told from a first-person point of view, presenting it via Twitter for Halloween 2009 might be fun. When I posted it as a series of tweets, each entry was ended with the hashtag “#laststand,” which let readers find all of the tweets if they weren’t online when I started posting. Unless you use one of the programs available on the Web to read tweets in the correct chronological order, you end up seeing the most recent entries first, and reading backwards. With that in mind, I decided to post the story here in “proper” format.

Please be advised that the story contains strong language and depictions of graphic violence.

Last Stand

Dayton Ward

They’d started gathering at the outer fence this morning, wandering out of the forest to the farthest boundary of my property. Nightfall had come and now there were hundreds of them, each emitting that low growl of theirs. Did they understand each other? It sure as shit seemed that way. Their stench assaulted my nostrils even from where I watched them on my second-floor terrace. A few learned the hard way that touching the fence was a bad idea, thanks to the generator charging the chain-link barrier.

Where the hell had they all come from? Were they drawn to me, the last – so far as I knew, anyway – uninfected human in the area? Maybe we were somehow connected by their horrific, insatiable need to plunge their rotting teeth into my living flesh?

Fuck that.

When the plague hit, I’d been like every other corporate drone, having left behind my military career for the private sector. I liked the relative stability, and the pay was a hell of a lot better, too. I also liked not having to move every few years. I was stuck in rush hour when the first reports came over the radio, and I got home in time to find Amy already infected. She’d been chewing through our daughter’s skull when I blew her head off with my shotgun.

That was a year ago, and I still wake up screaming and sweating, and that’s on the nights I can sleep.

Idiots on the radio had said it was a plague from space, or maybe some kind of terrorist attack. I don’t remember much, the weeks after I was forced to kill and bury my family still a blur. I’d gone numb, letting long-dormant instincts and training take over as I packed my truck and left town. All around me, people were succumbing to whatever had befallen us. I drove for days, getting gas and food where I could. I left the city behind and tried to disappear into the surrounding mountains, until I found this house. The owner was infected, and one pistol shot to the head later, the place was mine.

It took months to fortify the house as I stockpiled supplies, erected the fences and laid out the mines and other booby traps. Weapons and ammo were no problem, thanks to the abandoned National Guard armory down the mountain on the outskirts of town. Most of the town’s residents were already dead, and I’d been able to handle the odd zombie shuffling about. For months I’d lived alone and made improvements to my little castle, knowing that sooner or later, a day like this would come.

Should’ve got me when you had the chance, you pricks. I’m ready for you now.

Motion sensors I’d placed at 200 and 100-meter marks around the house started going off just after sunset. How many were coming? That question was answered when I looked out from the second-floor terrace. There were dozens, no, hundreds of them. Where the hell had they all come from? Had they detected me somehow, or just found me by blind luck? Not that it mattered.

My heart feeling like it might hammer right through the wall of my chest, I ran across the terrace to my primary setup.

I’d been planning for a day like this, setting up the fences and other surprises in the hopes of controlling their advance. I was moving to the M-60 machinegun I’d positioned on the terrace when enough of them hit the fence to blow the circuit. The generator died and I ignored the alarm coming from inside the house.

I turned to the wall behind me and hit the switches controlling the perimeter of floods I’d set up outside the fence. Hot white light bathed the forest and I could see them, hordes of the undead stumbling with definite purpose toward the house. So far, the maze of fencing I’d laid out was doing its job, funneling the fuckers right where I wanted them to go. I kept firing the M-60, cutting them down like weeds along a sidewalk, waiting until enough of them were in the kill zone.

Then I hit the hellboxes for the Claymores I’d set out on both sides of the artificial alley I’d created. Opposing rows of twenty daisy-chained mines detonated simultaneously.

Baby go boom.

The explosions rattled the house and even my fillings as thousands of steel balls cut through the confined space. At less than ten meters the results were devastating, all but vaporizing the zombies closest to the mines. The fences were torn to shit, splattered with blood and bone along with whatever remained of the bastards’ skin and clothing.

Hundreds of them slaughtered in seconds, and still they kept coming. There was no way I was going to get them all.

I blew the final line of Claymores I’d positioned in front of the house, and they went off without a hitch. The blast obliterated dozens of the damned zombies, and still more followed after them. I mowed down wave after wave of the fucking things, and more took their place.

So much for Remember the Alamo. Time to haul ass.

Running downstairs to the living room, I pulled aside the throw rug to uncover the door I’d built into the floor. Beneath the door was the tunnel I’d dug between the house and the barn fifty yards away. My SUV was waiting there, packed to the gills with gas and supplies. Somewhere, I’d find another sanctuary, even a temporary one.

The bastards were pounding on the walls, the front door and the windows. They’d caught my scent now. There’d be no stopping them.

Opening the trapdoor, I grabbed the remote detonator to blow the explosives I’d rigged throughout the house. I paused, catching sight of the crude calendar I’d been drawing on the living room wall.

October 31st. Halloween.

Tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

I couldn’t help the laugh escaping my lips even as glass and wood broke behind me. Then the door buckled, snapping under the weight of dozens of zombies pushing inward.

Dropping into the hole, I closed the trapdoor, running several meters down the tunnel before my thumb hit the detonator.

Trick or treat, mother fuckers.

Copyright © 2007, 2010 by Dayton Ward. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on ““Last Stand”

Lay it on me.

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