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Authors: Ricky Fleet,Christina Hargis Smith

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror

Hellspawn Odyssey (4 page)

BOOK: Hellspawn Odyssey
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“Thank you, Gloria, oh God thank you!” Kurt shouted up at her but only able to see her legs from the angle of the driver’s seat.

The decapitated creature fell from the window and John straightened in the seat, covered in all manner of vile fragments and liquids, yet alive. Kurt waited to get clear enough to risk a bump start on the engine. He put the van in second, turned the ignition and released the clutch which threw them all forward. The engine refused to fire.

Rolling the window down Kurt called back, “One more try, then we abandon it!”

“Ok, I’ll get you rolling faster again, hold on.” John replied, wiping his face of brains and other foul globules.

The Land Rover hit them once again and coupled with gravity they hit ten miles an hour rapidly. Kurt repeated the process and the engine coughed into life, roaring with the depressed accelerator and lurching forward, leaving the gathered swarm in their wake. John met their speed and leaned out of the broken window to see, the cobwebbed windscreen more dangerous than the air that whipped his face, causing his eyes to water. How dogs enjoyed this he couldn’t fathom. They reached the turn for the Barracks and drove into the tree lined avenue, fields lay on either side with a deep drainage ditch between them and the road. They were safe for now and pulled up next to one another with engines idling and spoke through the windows.

“Are you ok?” Kurt’s heart was racing
.
They had come close so many times.

“Yeah, Sam’s idea saved my life, look at that.” John held his arm out to them and they could see the indentations of teeth on the copper band. Sam stuck his head through from the back and smiled, overwhelmed that he had inadvertently saved his grandfather. “You are a star, mate.” He winked at his grandson
.
Sam blushed and sat down in the back once more.

“So we are just going to drive right up to the gate if we can, the army should have been able to hold them off with their hardware,” Kurt assumed logically.

“And if they haven’t?” John left the question in the air, Kurt didn’t want to countenance the possibility they would have to stay on the road and try and reach Chichester.

“Are we just going to sit here all day? We nearly died once already!” Debbie complained and Kurt just ignored her.

“Shh, we are nearly safe
.
It’s just down this road,” Peter said.

“Don’t you shush me, I-” she started to lay into Peter again.

“Thanks, Pete
.
Sorry for the near miss back there
,
” Kurt cut her off mid-sentence and glared at her in the rear view mirror. “Let’s go.”

They moved off and John fell in behind again, driving carefully, though it wasn’t necessary. Any zombies they passed were trapped in the boggy ditch, sunk to the waist and gradually melting with the flowing water. They managed to get within half a mile of the guarded front gate before the abandoned cars choked the road solid and proved impassable. Kurt opened the door and stood on the step to get a better vantage point. He didn’t have the words, he simply froze and stared.

“What can you see?” Sarah asked, concerned at the look on his face.

“I’m afraid it’s not good
,
” Gloria said after looking out through the top of the van.

“Well that’s just great!” Debbie huffed and crossed her arms, sulking again.

“What is it, Kurt?” Peter tried to get him to speak
.
Gloria just looked down at the group with fear in her eyes.

“We can’t get through
,
” Kurt said quietly.

“That’s ok, we can just take our stuff and walk around the cars
,
” Peter replied with a grin, not understanding what Kurt was trying to convey.

In the distance the cars gave way to an open area that ran alongside a deep river that filled and emptied with the tides of the Solent. The guardhouse was situated on this side with a bridge that then crossed the river to the Army complex. The gates were broken and hanging from the hinges, the bridge was filled with the dead, as was the whole area surrounding it
.
Tens of thousands of the zombies were trying to reach the small island, but were prevented by four Viking armoured personnel carriers parked at the other side of the bridge, side by side. Soldiers stationed on the heavily armed vehicles were carefully patrolling, keeping a close eye on the masses of cadavers but not engaging, their rifles slung on their shoulders. Two more sat within the rotating turrets, cradling mounted Browning heavy machine guns. Large holes were littered around the entrance area where the initial attack had been met with lethal resistance and Kurt could see arms reaching from the artillery craters, forever trapped in their unfilled graves.

“Impossible, there are thousands of them
,
” Kurt explained and Peter looked crestfallen.

“Oh, ok
,
” he answered, seeing the all too familiar look of scorn from his fiancée.

“Options?” John had joined them and was wiping the gore off himself with the baby wipes that Gloria had passed to him.

“We head to Chichester I guess
,
” Sarah offered.

“No, why don’t we head to the marina and see if we can get a boat?” Kurt suggested, “We could get to the island from Emsworth Harbour.”

“I don’t like boats, they make me sick
,
” Debbie added.

“I’m sure being torn apart would make you feel worse
,
” Braiden rasped at her, which was enough to still her tongue.

“Does anyone know how to sail?” John asked but the group came up short, blank faces stared back at him.

“So we need a boat with an engine. Let’s go and take a look.” Kurt pulled a three point turn in the road and John did likewise after climbing back in the Land Rover, trying to ignore the dampness of the bloodied seat he was forced to drive from.

Chapter 3

They followed the road back towards the main village and turned into the yacht club that was normally the preserve of local sailors and posers, those that loved the status that came with expensive yacht ownership. Rows of boats of varying sizes and ages were stowed on large dry dock storage racks but they lacked the machinery to get them down to use. The family stopped at the main entrance
;
looking left they could see the main clubhouse where people went for a drink and a meal after a day on the open sea. Zombies were stood around it in large numbers, which could be a sign of life within the building. At this point they could do nothing about it
.
There was no way to coax the dead and draw them away without blocking the main entrance
,
so they ignored it with regret. On the right were rows of stilted houses that had been rebuilt after a particularly bad flood had washed the previous homes away. They were quiet, only a few of the lingering dead stood in the area
.
None had noticed the new members who coasted their vehicles without noise towards the dock area.

“This is as far as we go
.
We need to fight our way to the moored boats.” Kurt pointed
.
There were ten or more between the survivors and the possibility of salvation which rocked and bobbed with the lapping waves.

“I will do no such thing, Peter
.
We will stay here while they clear the way
,
” Debbie stated. Peter ignored her and picked up a length of steel pipe that had been saved in the escape from the fire. “Peter! What the hell do you think you are doing?” her eyes blazed at him.

“I’m helping to save our lives
,
” he answered without looking at her.

“You can follow closely behind us, ok? I don’t want to leave you in here.” Kurt tried to reason with her, a tantrum now would bring a hundred more down on them from the surrounding area. Thankfully she stood, still angry but quiet for now, self-preservation more important than her temper. Peter looked at Kurt and nodded gratefully.

“Gloria, don’t fire unless we have no other choice
,
” John instructed. She knew what was at stake
;
only if one of her loved ones was in mortal danger would she risk the noise.

“Do we take our bug out bags and suitcases?” Sam asked as he and Braiden moved them to the rear doors.

“No, leave them
.
Grab your weapons, put your safety gear on and let’s get going. Sam, can you pick a few off as they get closer? We will cover you.” Kurt stood aside as Sam readied himself, Honey stood next to him, teeth bared, growling low in her throat. They formed a circle and held their weapons, a mix of hammers, crowbars, and steel pipes plus Gloria with the loaded shotgun. The zombies were voicing their inhuman cravings
;
the living flesh they desired was so close they could practically taste it. Sam picked off the first with ease, but the advance of the larger group was causing him to shake with fear and adrenaline. His second shot missed, ripping a portion of the cheek away.

“Sorry
,
” he said shakily and reloaded.

“You got this, bro
,
” Braiden said into his ear, wielding his trademark, long shanked screwdriver.

Sam aimed carefully and took his shot, shattering the brain on the corpse with no cheek. The rest of the group readied themselves, raising their weapons as they were slowly surrounded. Debbie was preparing to scream, Kurt could see it in her eyes. He would have no choice but to knock her unconscious or kill her too, the fate of his family was too important. She saw the look, realised what he was about to do, and held her hand to her mouth, stifling the urge to cry out.

Sam had the chance of one more kill and then the remaining dead were on them. Paige missed the attention of one of the zombies while she swung her steel pipe at a second. Honey leaped and hit it in the chest, barrelling it to the ground which allowed Gloria to step forward and crush the skull with the wooden gun stock. Kurt was wrestling with another and they fell in a tangle to the gravel, sharp blackened teeth trying to close on his hammer hand. Braiden leaped on the back of the monster and rammed the sharpened point through the skull and all motion ceased as it fell dead on top of Kurt. John was being set upon by two of the creatures which held his arms and were trying to reach the softer parts of his upper biceps. Peter rushed forward and stabbed the steel bar at the faces which knocked one to the ground, giving John the chance to jam the point of his crowbar through the other’s eye. Peter stepped forward and crushed the skull of the fallen cadaver, covering the gravel with stinking blood and brain. The gore was swiftly coated by Peter’s bile and scant breakfast of dry Weetabix
.
He was out of the battle for now. The others formed back up to protect Debbie and Peter
.
They were now in the majority as the final horrid abominations came at them. Kurt had watched Honey’s heroics and tried the same tactic for the slow moving threat, swinging his boot and kicking the nearest zombie in the midriff. It collapsed to the ground and one swing from the hammer finished it. The last fell in sprays of green tinged plasma and the group surveyed the carnage. It looked like a horrific child cartoon of the sun, the group the blazing centre and the splayed out zombies the rays, red and green in the place of golden yellow.

The whole episode had lasted a minute at most but they were all breathing as if they had sprinted uphill. It was a mixture of the exertions and the foes they had faced, otherworldly fiends whose bite would predicate a quick demise and resurrection. Honey moved between the fallen bodies and sniffed, satisfied the threat was now gone. The area was clear and the sound of the scuffle had been shielded by the racks of clean hulled vessels.

“Is everyone ok?” Kurt asked and they all checked each other over and apart from some light bruising they were all unharmed.

“It was close,” John stated and they all agreed, they could not go recklessly into combat like that again, they would not get lucky every time.

“Follow me,” Kurt said and walked to the docks, looking for any vessels that were suitable. Most were small, personal fishing boats for taking out with friends and some beer
.
None had the outboard motor fixed in place as they were taken off to deter thieves. The larger ones would all be started by key and a spare set was often kept in the clubhouse safe, but gaining entry was out of the question with the crowd of rot surrounding it. If they could even fight through the horde they lacked the requisite safe cracking experience, and nobody had the skills to hotwire one either. Their only choice was two less than sturdy looking row boats which had the oars laid within.

“Well it isn’t like we are used to luxury anymore,” Gloria told them and climbed carefully into the boat, switching weight from leg to leg with the gentle rock before seating herself. The others split themselves and settled in, only Debbie remained on the dock, a resolute look on her face.

“You won’t get me on something like that. Look at it, it’s going to sink,” she complained despite the fact they were both holding several people with no signs of leakage.

“Please just get on, Debs, it’s safe, I promise,” Peter pleaded with his fiancée.

“How many boats have you ever been on, you fool?” she questioned with a taunt.

“Bye,” Kurt said and started to row away, leaving her blustering on the jetty. He looked at Peter who was torn between the choices and winked, trying to communicate that it was just a scare tactic. John made to push off and she came running, stepping down into the curved bottom and slumping onto the wooden seat.  Kurt was twenty yards away and decided to clear the air with Peter.

“Sorry, I had to do that, every second counts,” Kurt told their new member.

“I know, it’s ok,” Peter replied, embarrassed at the whole situation.

“Has she always been like this?” Kurt had to know, “How the hell could you put up with it?”

“She was never this bad, you know, before it all happened. She didn’t hit me as much before.” He lowered his head and watched the water as it splashed against the wooden side. The oars left a sudsy wake on the surface from the dirty sea. The harbour was not pristine by any stretch of the imagination, debris and rubbish washed in with the tides.

“She shouldn’t hit you at all,” Paige added and the rest agreed.

“It’s not like that. She would only ever do it if I made her angry.” Peter tried to defend her, but he heard how pathetic it sounded as he was uttering the words. Paige gave his arm a squeeze and Honey jumped up and licked his face, showing her canine love.

Kurt reached the harbour wall first, rounded the concrete marker, and the long island which housed the army divisions came into view. Houses, workshops, industrial storage units for the real hardware, and the evenly spread, manned watchtowers were surrounded by high fences and razor wire.

“Watch out!” came a shout from the other boat and Kurt looked around, unsure of what the problem was as they were a good distance from any land or obstacle. Then he saw it, a bloated, wet, decomposing zombie was floating along like a piece of driftwood, carried on the current that was heading out with the tide. Kurt backstroked and stopped the vessel just in time. Its arms reached and were within inches of finding purchase. Who knew if it would have the ability to pull itself on board, but with the weight of the passengers, the rim of the hull was only eight inches clear of the water’s surface. It cleared the craft and carried on the long journey out to sea. This new revelation, that even the open water was dangerous, filled them with a deeper dread. The planet was a death trap, every inch now held mortal threats to the remaining humans.

“Thanks for the heads up
,
” said Kurt to those in the other boat which was now alongside. They looked as the zombie floated away, carried past the massed thousands that were blocked by the troop carriers on the bridge. They were surprised to see the crowd was unwilling to go into the river to reach the meal on the island. Any dead that fell were pushed or jostled into the water, where they would bob around for a bit before following the same path out to the Solent as their receding bloated friend.

The group rowed the remaining distance and ran the vessels up the pebble beach. The fence was eight feet high, and from what they could see, it ran the complete perimeter of the island. Corpses were scattered here and there as far as the eye could see, some still clinging to the chain link fence. They had all been shot in the head at close range, open skulls and gaping wounds the work of the rifles and pistols carried by the soldiers.

“I told you we would make it!” Peter told Debbie triumphantly, but she was still unhappy.

“Let’s walk and see if we can get the attention of one of the guard towers,” Sam suggested. They didn’t need to as soldiers were running towards the group, guns raised.

“Halt, don’t move!” screamed one of the men as he dropped to one knee and sighted the group with his assault rifle.

“Drop the gun!” shouted another to Gloria who quickly lowered the shotgun and placed it on the stony beach.

“Wait, we aren’t infected, we need your help,” Kurt pleaded and moved to talk to the pair.

“Don’t fucking move I said!” bellowed the man
.
Honey ran to the fence, barking ferociously with her hackles raised. The soldier aimed the gun at the dog and Paige rushed forward, shielding her.

“Please, we just want to talk.” Kurt had raised his arms and spoke to the larger of the two men who had two arrows on the arm of his uniform shirt which indicated to Kurt he was the most senior.

“Call it in,” said the steely eyed man, not lowering his gun.

“HQ, this is Mills, come in, over,” the junior soldier spoke into the radio with a crackle of static.

“This is HQ, go ahead, over,” was the tinny response.

“We have civilians in the western quadrant, request course of action, over.”

Seconds passed that felt like minutes facing the barrels of the guns.

“Sit tight, Mills, Lieutenant Baxter is on his way. Keep them covered, over.”

“Copy, over.”

Kurt tried to speak to the men, but they refused to be drawn into a conversation. The guns never wavered and the group understood that they would be shot if they pressed the issue. Despite the fall of mankind, the army was still maintaining strict discipline and security where possible.

“I knew we should have stayed in our house
,
” Debbie exclaimed, totally forgetting the fact that their food would have disappeared within a week or two and they would have had to run the gauntlet through the gathered dead, probably fatally.

“Will you just shut up!” Braiden croaked at her.

“How dare you speak to me like that, you horrible little shit!” Debbie spat back venomously and Braiden stepped towards her.

“I said don’t move,” yelled the soldier, aiming the pistol directly at the youngster who paused mid stride.

Debbie and Braiden stared with hatred at each other and Kurt was bitterly regretting his decision to stop at their house. Peter was proving to be one of the good guys, but Debbie was as far removed from him as it was possible to be. How they ever ended up dating he didn’t know. He would make a point of asking at some point if they survived this episode.

BOOK: Hellspawn Odyssey
13.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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