Authors: Cedric Nye
-ZOMBIE FIGHTER JANGO-
By Cedric Nye
Copyright June, 2013
All Rights Reserved by Author
is dedicated to the Survivors.
Word spread like wildfire through the tattered grapevine of human survivors about a madman who had no fear of the zombies. Those who saw him called him the Zombie Fighter, and it was said that hell followed where he walked.”
Jango and Goliath
Jango glanced out the window of the tan four-door sedan that said Ash Fork Sheriff’s Department on the sides. He saw the same lake and the same mobile home park that he had seen with……. Sonja. His eyes became hot, and tears threatened to spill down his cheeks for the hundredth time since she had died. No, since he had failed her. Since he had….
He shook his head
, and roughed his shorn scalp with his hard, callused palm, as if the action might clear the pain from his soul. Jango knew from experience that dwelling on pain only made it linger, grow stronger, and he couldn’t afford to worship at any altar other than violence. The only religion for him was revenge. He forced all thoughts from his mind, and just drove.
As he passed the lake, he saw what he guessed were the same zombies that he had seen on his way north.
They were running toward the road in the creepy, swaying formation that packs of zombies seemed to favor. They had probably heard the sound of his car. Last time, he had sped past them, intent on getting himself and Sonja to safety. But things were different last time.
, and then brought the car to a full stop. He put the vehicle in park, then calmly reached over to the passenger seat, unzipped the black duffel bag that occupied the seat, and pulled out his pump shotgun.
Remington 870 had been a gift from a dead man. A sheriff’s deputy in Ash Fork, Randall Hank, had tried to save his wife from the Z-Virus. She had bitten him when he took her to get medical help. The deputy had been a man, though. He had shot his wife in the head, left a note that bequeathed his shotgun to anyone who would “kill a bunch of those damn things” with it, and then calmly put a bullet in his own brain.
Jango said as he loaded eight buckshot rounds into the extended magazine tube, “You were a real man, Deputy Hank.”
had also honored the dead man’s final request to have his body be either burned or buried. He had honored that request, and then some. Jango had blown up and burned down the entire town of Ash Fork. A funeral pyre for… “Sonja.” He whispered her name aloud; it was a prayer, a promise, and a curse all in one.
He shook his head, and looked up at the fast-moving zombies as they closed in on him.
The sounds of the approaching zombies’ wails made Jango’s hackles rise. The sounds that they made were the stuff of nightmares, and the sounds made his flesh crawl and his stomach clench.
He watched their undead legs churn
as they ran with unnatural speed, and he watched the way their arms trailed behind them as they ran. The way their bodies swayed around atop their legs made Jango think of children running while wearing straightjackets.
Jango climbed out of the car,
and listened to the blood-chilling hunting howls of the swiftly approaching group of zombies before he racked the slide forward on the shotgun to chamber a round, and shot the lead zombie, who by then was only twenty feet away. “BOOM!” The zombie dropped as if all its bones had suddenly turned to water, and half of its head disappeared in a spray of gray and black mist. He was already firing at his next target before the first zombie hit the ground.
He fired the remaining rounds so quickly that the seven shots sounded like one continuous peal of thunder. His left hand worked the slide quickly as he fired, and the spent shells spun off into the air to his right. When the shotgun was empty, six more zombies were dead, and one was missing its right arm at the shoulder.
Jango moved quickly,
then. He leaned into the car, tossed the empty shotgun on the passenger seat, and grabbed his ironwood stick. Almost three feet long and two inches across, the stick was as hard as its namesake, and almost as heavy. Jango wielded the stick with a fluid, almost feline grace as he ran around his car to meet the nine remaining goobers. When the first zombie was within range, Jango drove forward off his right foot, while his hips, waist, torso, and shoulders torqued forward, sending his steel muscled arm forward in a lightning fast stick punch. As his body unfolded, the stick extended in a blur, and struck the wailing creature’s head with a sharp, loud, cracking noise that sounded like a gunshot. The zombie dropped instantly, its skull completely caved in at the temple.
hungry howls had reached a crescendo, “Rheeeee-AAAEEEEEeeeeeeeAAaheeeeeeeee!” as they tried vainly to feast on the fast moving flesh of Jango. But he always seemed to be just a hair’s breadth out of reach as he danced his way through the ravenous creatures.
Without pausing to see the results of his strike, Jango continued with his dance of death
amidst the terrible wailing ululations of his sworn enemies, and every time his stick blurred out, another zombie dropped unmoving to the ground. Jango’s movements were sinuous and smooth, almost like a belly dancer. Every movement he made flowed into the next, and the next, and after less than fifteen seconds, only two of the keening, wailing, undead vermin were still vertical and moving.
One was the zombie
that he had shot in the shoulder, and the other one looked as if it had been a professional body builder when it had still been human. Jango snapped his stick out, and with a wet “CRACK!” the one-armed zombie collapsed like a puppet whose strings had been cut. He then turned his attention to the last zombie. Up close, the creature was even larger and more intimidating. The massive monster towered over Jango, and the creature’s shoulders seemed almost as wide as it was tall. Its undead flesh rippled with muscles that would have given a human enough strength to pull a man limb from limb. On a zombie those muscles would be ten times stronger…… at least.
The giant zombie moved just as swiftly as its smaller counterparts
had. It rushed at Jango in a blur of limbs, howling and screeching its hunting call as it came. Jango avoided its rush by rolling to his right, then turning back to engage the mighty monster. Jango danced in, and then away, his stick striking with violent and unerring precision every time it snapped out. But the zombie’s height kept Jango from being able to strike its head. His stick tore the huge zombie’s lower jaw from its skull and did terrible damage to the zombie’s face. However, he could not strike the creature’s brainpan.
Again and again
, death was avoided by a hair’s-breadth as he danced tirelessly with the monstrous creature. He found himself surprised to notice that the creature almost seemed to be adapting to his movements!
The giant zombie gave a screeching roar, and managed to catch hold of Jango’s shirt as he struck at the creature. Jango immediately wrenched loose, but he saw that he had left a large portion of his shirt in the wailing giant’s massive hand.
Jango swiftly recovered from his surprise
at the creature’s behavior, and decided to finish the deadly game of cat and mouse. He planted his feet, and slammed a mighty stick punch to the giant zombie’s right knee. The joint and kneecap were shattered to bone meal by the force of his blow, and Jango immediately followed it with a strike to the undead leviathan’s other knee.
The zombie went down, slowly collapsing as the shattered limbs refused to support
its massive weight. The moment its enormous head was within reach, Jango smashed its skull with a quick, snapping blow.
around at the unmoving zombies, and wondered if he was losing his mind again. He had a pistol under his arm; so why had he fought the gigantic zombie with his stick? Why had he risked his life? He hadn’t refrained from using his pistol because of noise. This far outside of town there was little likelihood of a swarm of goobers descending on him.
“I wonder, I wonder, I wonder why?” Jango said in a voice not his own. The voice that came out of his mouth sounded like a metal coffin
being torn apart by a chainsaw. Then, he understood. He suddenly knew exactly why he had fought with his stick.
“I have to get stronger, harder, and faster. The only
way to get hard enough to walk the Apocalypse Road is in the crucible of battle.” He spoke in his own voice again, and the dog, the source of Jango’s monstrous strength, retreated back into the mad matrix of his fractured mind.
Jango felt no satisfaction from the kills
. However, his pain and his torment were lessened by the violence, and for Jango, that was enough. Jango could not rest as long as a single zombie still walked the land, and he had turned a corner in his mind. Pressure would start to build in his head if he went too long without killing zombies. The zombies were no longer undead humans to him. They had become something all their own. They were the living embodiment of every evil that he had seen or been subjected to in the course of his life; they were the adversary. When Sonja died, he had sworn to himself that he would never stop killing the zombies. His safety, his peace, his life; they no longer mattered; only revenge mattered.
made another promise as well; that he would hunt the Z-Virus to its very root. He would hunt, and hunt until he found where it had begun, “And burn it the fuck down,” he said out loud as he climbed back into the car.
He took an extra moment to reload the shotgun, and to double-check the pistol under his left arm. He gently replaced his stick on the passenger side floor, leaned against the seat so that the stick lay at an angle that made it easy to grab
in a hurry. Jango hummed to himself tunelessly, as he put the car in gear and drove over the corpses that now littered the two-lane highway.
A Twist in
The hard, gnarled scrub of the high desert suddenly changed to trees as Jango drove toward Prescott. It was almost as if some massive hand had swiped the trees away on the north side of some invisible line. As his car entered the forested area, Jango slowed, alert for any sign of threats.
had been so focused on any sudden or furtive movements that he almost didn’t see the man standing perfectly still on the right side of the road. When he finally caught sight of the strange figure, his foot immediately came off of the accelerator, and he applied a gentle pressure to the brake pedal.
The large car came to a smooth stop about fifty feet away from the man. Jango looked him over
through the windshield. The stranger was dressed in tan cargo-pants and what looked like a fitted long sleeve dress shirt. He had a fisherman’s vest on over the shirt and a nondescript pair of brown hiking boots on his feet. The man was tall, maybe an inch or two over six feet, with the weathered look of an outdoorsman and a pair of glasses perched high on his hawkish nose. He had a large revolver on his right hip and a cloth bag in his left hand. The man regarded Jango with an open expression on his face, and stayed where he was.
He carefully scanned the trees for signs of movement, and strained his ears for any sounds that
didn’t belong, but Jango couldn’t find any signs that the man was not alone, so he let the car roll forward slowly, left hand on the wheel, as his right hand drew the Ruger KP89 from its holster under his left arm. Jango let the pistol lay in his lap, his hand draped lightly on the grip, ready to come up shooting at the first sign of trouble.
he was level with the man, he braked, and hit the button that made the window on the passenger side roll down. The man moved slowly, keeping his hands where Jango could see them as he leaned into the window.
The man’s face lit up with recognition.
“Ha!” He exclaimed, “You made it!”
was nonplussed by the man’s reaction. He had never seen the man before, but the man seemed pretty certain that he knew Jango.
“You were sick as can be when I found you in the woods.” The man continued speaking,
and cleared up the mystery of his acquaintance with Jango, “I had a heck of a time keeping you hydrated, man, I don’t know of anyone else who got
sick without turning into one of them. I mean, you were actually steaming! A fever that hot should have destroyed your brain, but it obviously didn’t. Amazing!”
“I had already been working on an herbal mixture to keep people from turning into, those, well,
so I gave you my formula,
the man told him.
Jango looked at the man, and thought of Sonja. The planes of
his face began to shift; his eyes went an ugly gray/green color, and his thews swelled with killing strength.
ground his teeth and held on to his mind, and forced himself to take long, deep breaths. As he inhaled, he let his stomach swell and the tide of rage receded.
he had calmed himself, he looked up at the man and asked, "So does it work?" "Does your formula really work?"
"I believe it does," the man
answered. "Trick is, you have to get it to the person before they turn. Otherwise, it doesn't work."
Jango's mind was racing, and he started going to a bad place in his mind. Jango blamed himself for Sonja's death, and the knowledge that there had been a
potential cure for the Z-Virus so close by only made the tide of his rage rise higher.
The man continued speaking, "
So anyway, it's good to see you up and around again. When I went back to where you had been and you weren't there, I was pretty worried. Oh, and I have your gun at my house. Do you want to come get it?"
Jango noticed a bright,
vulpine quality to the man's eyes that reminded Jango of a hungry bird or a snake. Jango didn't allow his thoughts to reach his face, even though all of Jango’s senses went on high alert. He kept his face flat and emotionless as he answered, "I would love to get my gun back."
The man smiled and said,
“Great! Why don't I just hop in and show you how to get to my place?”
smiled back at the man, and said, “That sounds like a plan, Stan.” He reached over and moved his gear into the backseat so the man would have a place to sit. Jango would be damned if the man was going to sit in the backseat where the he could bushwhack Jango at his leisure.
hen Jango finished moving the gear, the man opened the door and climbed into the car.
Which way?” Jango asked in a voice so cool and calm that it would have fooled a polygraph machine.
The man smiled
and directed, “Straight ahead.” Then he turned toward Jango and said, “My name is Bernard Banks, and you are?”
Jango turned his head toward the man, his eyes dancing with the fires of madness, and said, “I don’t know you, and you sure as shit don’t know me, so why don’t we just
skip the social niceties. That ship has sailed, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
Bernard Banks just smiled, and looked ahead through the windshield
as Jango drove.
Jango was silent as he
drove. His thoughts were focused on the man riding beside him in the car. He had a feeling the man was a wolf in sheep's clothing. His life had been full of wolves, and sheep, and he had learned to tell the difference early on. There was something unpleasant about the man, like an apple with rot inside of it, but he found himself needing to know what the man had planned. He became obsessed with the idea that the man was evil, and that he, Jango, was fated to do battle with him.
The man interrupted
his thoughts. “Just go ahead and take a right on the Governors Highway.” The man pointed ahead.
made the right turn, and drove through a nice residential neighborhood that boasted large houses, green lawns, and giant trees that lined both sides of the two-lane road. The houses looked as if they could be 100 years old, or just two years old. It's not as if he cared how old the houses were. It was just an idle thought that passed through his mind.
waited for the man to give him further directions, but the man remained silent as he continued to smile his creepy smile. Jango found himself hating the man more and more. He felt his mind filling with terrible feelings of anger and rage. For some reason that Jango didn't know and couldn’t explain, the man set off every alarm in his head.
to follow the road as it twisted and climbed the rugged mountain at an almost impossible angle. As the elevation increased, the trees changed from the imported oak trees that had lined the street to the ponderosa pines, scrub oaks, and junipers that were native to the area. One side of the road was the solid rock wall of a mountainside. The other side of the road was a sheer 200-foot drop.
As Jango stared at the rock wall
, he found his thoughts turning to Sonja again. He had never known the feeling of love before Sonja had broken down his emotional armor with one lingering touch. Sonja had made him feel so warm and so alive that he felt himself flush at the thought of her touch, and the memory of her fragrance. He shook himself out of his thoughts. He knew full well that warm thoughts would get him killed, so he focused his mind on the task at hand.
How much farther?” Jango asked the man.
Just another mile or two,” the man said, with the same creepy half-smile frozen on his thin lips.
Jango gripped the steering wheel
more tightly, but he kept his face calm and emotionless. He would find out the truth soon enough.
After a few
more minutes, the asphalt road turned into dirt and gravel. Deep ruts were worn into the road from vehicles being driven on it during the rainy season. Jango slowed, and aimed his tires so they would ride beside the ruts, rather than in them.
A few minutes after th
e road became gravel, the man instructed, “Take a left up there.”
followed a long, winding dirt road that led nearly a mile back into the dense, brooding forest. Evening was upon them, and Jango began to question whether or not it was a good idea for him to be there.
stopped wondering about the wisdom of his actions when a palatial two-story house, with large, white columns, and a veranda that stretched across the entire front of the house came into view. Jango didn't know much about square footage, but he would guess that this house was the largest in the area.
The house that stood before him
was much larger than any of the other stately mansions and sprawling homes that he had seen lining the Governors Highway. The enormous home represented the kind of money and power that only came with inherited wealth, and Jango instinctively distrusted anything that stank of privilege.
pulled the car up the drive and onto a large, paved roundabout that encircled a huge fountain. Jango purposely pulled his car around so that it was facing back the way that he had come.
Jango noticed a
hum. It was an undercurrent of noise, like a large motor running far away or underground. He noticed that the house had lights burning in some of the windows. These were the first electric lights that he had seen in months.
Jango swiftly put together the information and figured that the man must have
a large, powerful generator running to have so many lights burning at one time. Jango knew a little bit about human nature, and he had a feeling that this man beside him in the car had lived his entire life hoping for something like the zombie apocalypse.
knew that there were both good and bad people in the world, and he knew the limitations that each of those groups operated under. Good people respected the laws because they believed them to be correct, and they chose not to hurt people because they felt it was wrong. Bad people, on the other hand, the twists, they didn't hurt people because they were afraid of being caught. The people like that spent their days hoping and praying for a time when there was no law, for a time when they could go out into the world unchecked, and satiate every foul desire they had ever imagined.
Jango suddenly knew, without a doubt, that the man
riding beside him was one of those twists, and that he meant him harm. But, with the long practice of an abuse survivor, Jango kept all of his thoughts and emotions from showing on his face so the man wouldn’t be on guard.
So, you want to come in inside or what?” The man asked as he climbed out of the car.
Yeah, yeah, I'm coming,” Jango replied.
Jango opened his car door and stretched, taking the opportunity to look around. He immediately noticed
that the grounds of the house were plain and unassuming. There wasn't anything in sight to give him any information that could be of use. The very lack of personality, though, made him immediately think of masks and disguises, which only added to his feelings of unease.
pocketed the keys to the car, pressed the button that locked all the doors, and closed his door tightly. He then walked around the back of the car, and closed the door to the passenger side where the man had just gotten out.
The man smiled again
, and said, “Looks like you could use a new shirt, buddy. When we get inside, I can get you one.”
Sounds good,” Jango responded.
The man turned and headed toward the
enormous house, and Jango followed along behind him. When they were about fifteen feet from the house, he noticed the man reach into his right front pocket.
Jango had left his stick in the car, and he
suddenly found himself wishing that he had it right then. In the absence of his stick, Jango silently pulled the spine cutter from its sheath on his belt, and held it in an icepick grip with the blade’s edge facing away from his hand.
Instead of attacking or pulling a weapon out of his pocket though, the man just seemed to fiddl
e around in his pocket. Jango heard a muted “thunk!” come from the front door and decided that the man had pressed some kind of automatic opener when he had reached into his pocket.
The man turned
his head to look over his shoulder as he opened the door to the house, and said, “Well, come on in and make yourself at home.”
the adrenaline to begin trickling through his system as he stepped slowly through the door. The adrenaline flow started the process that would take him into his destroy mode. With his senses sharpened under the influence of adrenaline, he noticed a smell coming from Bernard, and it was a smell that he had been exposed to before.
When Jango was a teenager
, the state had put him into the county hospital where they kept all the lunatics that the state system had chewed up and spit back out. The smell that permeated the air now was the same stench that had been exuded by a violent schizophrenic who had been locked-down in that hell hole, a man who would never be able to live out among people again. The man had been an eater of human flesh, and a killer of women and children.