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Jake Barker & The Chronicles of The AJAX
The AJAX and The Zombie Lord
10 things everyone gets wrong about Zombies.
1. They’re Not Slow.
I chanced a look behind me. Yup. I hadn’t lost them. A small horde of 6 or 7 had just crashed through the door I tried to barricade. Why is it the supply runs always go wrong?
In this life, you have to be resourceful; you have to think on your feet.
I kept running at a good clip, scanning from side to side, looking for anything and anywhere to help me. Down the hall I took a left, coming to the main doors to the Ice Rink.
Can they skate?
2. They Can Skate.
My heart stopped. There were two hordes on either side of the stands making their way towards me. My only shot was the ice.
I thought I was being smart, trying to move as quickly as I could across the ice, towards the exit on the other side. But then they joined me on the ice. A lot of them fell, but some were hockey players, still in their pads and skates – and skate they did.
3. They Make a Good Hockey Puck.
You can run. You should run. But sometimes you have to take a stand.
I pulled out my bronze Warhammer from my makeshift harness on my back. I smiled at the instant change I felt whenever I wielded such a true weapon. A large two-handed ‘horseman’s hammer’ with a far bigger, flat square head than normal on one side, with a blocky spike on the other.
They came. I swung.
They fell to the ice from my dizzying blows, finished off with a thrust of my hammer’s spike to the head. The ice made it hard to get sure footing so I stood upon the fallen hockey players. I’m going to call them Hockey Jocks.
Then one of the Hockey Jocks roared, and charged me.
I swung for all I was worth, right into his midsection and he went stumbling, then falling and sliding backwards into the goal!
4. They Have Fear Too.
The remaining zombies on the ice rink took one look at me and frantically retreated to the stands.
5. It’s Never a Good Sign When They Shake Uncontrollably
All retreated except one. The hockey player in the goal started shaking uncontrollably, writhing on the ice. Then it grew still, its eyes wide open, changed from blood red to the color of a harvest moon.
Then it stood, ripping the goal apart like it was nothing.
6. Some Can Talk… Apparently.
“Is this all you have? Pathetic!”
I was shocked.
“I have only suffered you this long because you amuse me.”
7. They Laugh
“Do I know you??”
“HEH, HEH, HEH.” He laughed, the hordes all joined in his laughter, sounding like a pack of hyenas.
That was not good. They were coordinated now. Organized.
8. They Can Drive
I was trapped. The stands were now full of hordes of zombies. The suped-up Hockey Jock grinned at me with intelligent bloodlust. And a small pipsqueak zombie was now driving a Zamboni behind me, intent on running me over.
I didn’t have much time. I didn’t have a chance. But that’s never stopped me before. I always find a way to smash heads and win.
9. They Have Alphas?
I stripped off the hockey pads from the fallen Hockey Jock below me. The suped-up Hockey Jock humored me, staving off his hordes with a motion of his hands.
How is it he was as mindless as they come, like a feral animal, all of them – and the next, he was the big bad boss of the ice rink?
Everything changed when he seizured on the ground and got that harvest moon color in his eyes. It was as if he received an instant upgrade after he stopped jittering, like something was being downloaded into his brain – receiving a transmission. There must be something more to the zombies than everyone thinks, there is a hidden truth of their hierarchy.
10. They Have a Really Cool War Cry
I now wore the most badass hockey armor a survivor has ever sported. My hammer in my hands, I was ready to face Death and Fate and spit in their eyes. The suped-up Hockey Jock charged and his hordes descended from the stands, the zamboni’s horn blaring like a war cry.
Most don’t know me. Some will never hear of me. But I believe I can save the world.
My name is Jake Barer.
I closed my eyes and breathed.
I was the master of my mind. And time seemed to slow. My resolve strengthened by the thoughts of those I cared for – those who needed me.
I could hear the blades scrape against the ice as the suped-up Hockey Jock neared me, the war cry of the Zamboni, and the scampering of his hyena-like hordes as they poured onto the ice.
I opened my eyes and Death blinked.
At the last possible second, I threw myself into a slide, and thrusted my Warhammer into the suped-up Hockey Jock’s stomach sending him head first onto the ice with a fatal crunch.
The Zamboni lurched to a stop, its driver aghast. The hordes stopped dead in their tracks, stunned at their fallen master. Their eyes glazed over, no longer controlled but still feral and brutal.
Before the ensuing rush, I clambered aboard the Zamboni, and kicked off its driver.
Then the dam broke, the hordes flooded towards me, a sea of the undead upon the frozen hockey rink. My ride cruised at a whopping 9 mph, mowing down those in front. I swung desperately from side to side, knocking down zombie after zombie, but I was being overwhelmed.
I was 10 feet from the edge of the rink as the Zamboni came to a halt, stuck on a mass of fallen zombies.
I would never make the jump with my Warhammer so I threw it over, moved to the back of the Zamboni, then ran and jumped for all I was worth.
I slammed into the glass, but had enough of a hold to climb over.
Grabbing my Warhammer, I ran down the exit tunnel, the hordes not far behind.
I made my way to my abandoned gear bags I had collected before the horde came upon me. I rummaged quickly to find three molotov cocktails I had fashioned from some syphoned gas, beer bottles, and some old rags.
The whole length of the hallway was now a fire blockade.
Shouldering my gear bags, I kicked open the exit door on the side of the arena where I parked the car. The loud bang of the heavy metal door reverberated in the empty lot.
Every TV show and movie I’ve ever watched the good guys have a badass car. The Winchesters had the Impala known as “Baby”, The Dukes had the “General Lee”, “Eleanor” in Gone in 60 seconds and of course one of the greatest of all time, “The Mystery Machine” in Scooby-Doo.
Well mine was a matte black 1970 Challenger I called, “Christy”. My Dad helped my brother and I completely rebuild it before The Fall of Civilization. She was even faster than when I bought her, when I bought her she had just an inline 6 engine. Right before The Fall I had a 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 put in.
I saw someone snooping around her as I got closer.
“Step away from the car before I beat your head in.”
The person stepped away with his hands in the air. When he turned around I saw he was young. I wouldn't put him past 14. A scrawny kid in black jeans and an orange and blue flannel shirt.
“Who are you and what are you doing to my car?”
“My name – my name is Jordan O’Shea. I – I heard some noise in the arena where I’ve been hiding. Then I saw you were fighting all those zombies. I thought you were dead and I was next. So I thought it was the perfect time to make a getaway. And – and I saw this car and –“ He was shivering the entire time.
I tossed him my navy blue utility jacket from one of my bags. “Here, put this on kid. You’re lucky I didn’t have a gun and shoot and ask questions later.”
“Thank you for the jacket man.” He put it on as I went to the trunk and put in what food I had scrounged up and my Oakley Kitchen Sink backpack with the pair of skates tied to it in the trunk.
“What were you doing in there anyway?” I asked.
“I’ve been with a group for 3 years now. A couple weeks ago, I couldn’t take being with them anymore. They never cared about me. Always just put me to work or made me bait. So I ran away, and I’ve been hiding out here.”
It couldn’t have been easy for him. There were a lot of groups and enclaves out there that didn’t treat people right. I admired his guts to leave and try to make it on his own.
I was putting my hammer into the trunk when I heard Jordan making some weird noises. I looked up at him. “What the hell is wrong with you kid.”
He just pointed towards the arena where a horde of zombies was coming from another exit, and moving on us quick. I hurried up to the front of the car.
“Get in the damn car kid!” I got in and peeled out of the parking lot. I headed toward the airport where I had set up a base with two others.
“Where did those zombies come from?”
“How did you make it out of that ice rink? I saw all the hordes. It’s impossible!”
“It’s what I do kid.”
I pulled inside the baggage claim area and went and closed the heavy metal door that we had put in after deciding on this as our base.
“Jesus Christ Jake, what did you do this time? The sensors around the base have been reading massive zombie movement the last half hour.”
I walked to the back of the car and grabbed the supplies and emptied them into our collections bins, setting the skates aside. A young gal only a couple inches shorter than me stood off to the side, arms crossed. That’s Britt. She’s always on my case. Don’t mistake her small stature, the woman is a powerhouse, sporting a 4 foot Scottish Claymore when she means business. Her blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail like usual, a light gray t-shirt tucked into some loose blue jeans that were rolled up shortly above the ankle, her gray converse shoes completing the country schoolgirl look.
“Welcome back Jake. Glad you’re not dead Jake.” I mocked jokingly.
She wasn’t amused.
“I wasn’t the cause of it. If you watch the recording,” I pointed to my body camera, “You’ll see that.”
She let it be as I turned to Jordan. “Make yourself at home kid, but don’t go too far.”
I slung the empty bags across my shoulders, picked up the skates and walked to a different part of the airport. I stopped at the workshop where my best friend was bent over a table making him look shorter than he really was. He was a tall guy, about 6’3, a good 4 inches taller than me with buzzed blonde hair. He almost always wore a black t-shirt, blue jeans, and brown combat boots. A black armored vest if he was in combat and a pair of Oakleys on his backwards UA hat. The lens color depended on the fight. Inside the lens were clear. Outside, during the day, the lens were blue.
“How goes it Brent?”
“It’s going alright, just adding some stuff to my gear. How about you?”
“Same old, same old. Your sister is on my case as usual.”
I walked over to a different bench, setting down my things, pulled the hammer off my back and picked up the skates. I grabbed some extra scraps of metal from the bench and one of the welders and went to work adding the skate blades to the upper handle of the hammer like wings, leaving a hand hold above them and under the head of the hammer. Then rewrapped two leather grips, a short one hand hold above the blades, and a much longer hold that could fit two hands in various positions and distances along the lower half of the handle.
I held the hammer in front of me with both hands, admiring its craftsmanship. The handle was all bronze like the head, all one piece. The whole head was 5 inches high, 9 inches long, and 5 inches thick, with blocky slanted edges. The front, top, and bottom were plain but the sides were especially beautiful in their design. At the bottom of either long face was a 1 inch repeated engraved line of upside down L’s that were connected by a line at their base, together looked like a twisting and turning path of a labyrinth in linear form, with a bold straight border above and below. In the middle of either face was something I never quite understood. It wasn’t a complex gathering of symbols, it was simple. An engraved large circle with two embossed crescents facing and slightly hanging over the edge of the circle. It was clearly some emblem of significance. But of what I wasn’t sure.
That’s the other thing. Although it appeared to be made out of bronze, there had to be some other rare metal in it as well for it was able to go toe to toe with harder metals like steel and felt much lighter than what it should have been. Lighter than a regular sledgehammer yet hefty enough that it required endurance and training to wield.
Later in the day I was on the roof looking onto the city when someone cleared their throat behind me. I turned around to see Britt with her arms crossed, then turned back to where I had been looking.
“So, you going to explain who the kid is and why you brought him with you?”
“Last time I checked, we don’t abandon people.”
“We talked about this Jake. We agreed it was best to stay the three of us. We have a good thing going for us, why risk that?”
“No, you talked, I listened. You aren’t the boss around here so get off my case Britt.” I got up in her face and stared her down.
“You may be right but I'm the only one around here that actually uses their brain instead of always thinking with their heart.”
“I wasn’t going to leave him in that arena to die.”
Brent climbed up the ladder. “Sorry to interrupt whatever is going on up here. But we have a Horde of incoming zombies from the West.”
I dismissed it. “It’s fine, the defenses out there will stop them.”
“They’ve already made it past the defenses.”
Britt paled. “What? How could they do that?”
“Not sure but we better get out there.” Brent replied.
The three of us climbed down the ladder and went to weapon up. Jordan came up to me looking a little worried.
“What’s going on? Where are you going?”
“Stay here kid.” I hung my Warhammer on my back.
“I want to help.”
I put my hand on his shoulder. “You will. But not this time.”
I left him to meet the others at Terminal 3.
“Ok guys, remember, stay close together, have each other's backs, and call out incoming zombies.” Brent and Britt nodded then both put headphones in and turned on their own playlists. I did the same, queuing ‘Old Time Rock n Roll’ by Bob Seger.
The horde was quite the sight. Zombies wore whatever clothes they had on when they were turned.
We stopped a ways off from the horde. When we stopped, the zombies stopped as well. That’s something new. A zombie at the front of the group looked to be making hand gestures. He turned his head towards me, we locked gazes.
It couldn’t be. Was it the same one? And next thing the horde surrounded us.
I guess I should tell you, zombies aren’t decaying like in the movies or TV shows. They definitely look like a living death with their ashen gray skin and red eyes; tougher and stronger than the average human. But they’re not unstoppable, their arms don’t fight for them with a mind of their own. They have physical weaknesses like we humans do. Even zombies can’t live without their heads or other vital parts.
I turned to the other two. “Ok guys stick to the plan and we’ll get through this.” Then hit play on my phone.
The first wave rushed us. We created space to act. I had my hammer with the skate blades on two sides of the handles, almost like wings. Brent with his two katanas, one drawn off his back and one from his left hip, and Britt wielding a Scottish Claymore. They started to tear through the zombies on either side of me, fighting like a well-oiled machine. But more just kept coming.
I looked up and saw the lead zombie from earlier just standing in the middle of the pack.
“Just like at the ice rink.” I said under my breath.
“What?” Britt asked in the middle of impaling a very fat zombie on her Scottish Claymore.
“At the ice rink, one of the zombies had a seizure and then its eyes changed from blood red to the color of a harvest moon. Next thing I knew he was leading the hordes, making them organized. Making them smarter.”
“Dude. Might have been something to mention.” Brent complained as he cut two zombies in half in one fluid move.
We fought on. I motioned to the lead zombie.
“Guys, look at that zombie. See his eyes?”
“He hasn’t moved since this started.” I explained, “He’s the Alpha. He’s controlling them.”
Brent formed up on me. “Since when do zombies have Alphas?”
“Does it matter?” Britt huffed as she joined us. “We’re with you. Let’s kick his ass.”
Together we undercut one zombie Grunt after another, while working our way to the Alpha. He threw every zombie he could at us, switching strategies on the fly, ordering them to retreat often, dragging out the fight. It felt like we were fighting a chess match. We’d take ground, he’d counter, pushing us back.
The intelligent malevolence in his eyes was familiar, but being closer now, I realized he looked nothing like the Hockey Jock.
The fight was lasting too long, soon we’d be too tired to fight – or run. It was time to switch things up. It was time to do something unexpected.
This section of Terminal 3 was a lounge area. It was time to make the terrain work for us.
“Do as I do.” I yelled.
Britt and Brent followed me slightly confused as I led us vaulting over benches leading diagonally away from the fight.
“What are we doing?” Brent asked slightly out of breath.
“Giving him an opportunity to make a mistake.”
I smiled. He sent all but five after us.
We were a good 50 feet away now but he thought we were retreating. Now they were spread apart.
We turned on a dime, and charged the now spread out hordes, cutting them down as we vaulted over the benches, straight towards the Alpha.
I stormed toward him like a bat out of hell. When I finally reached him his eyes went wide – checkmate.
I swung with as much force as I could muster. The Alpha went flying into his remaining guards. I ran up to them to try and get to him before he could get back up.
He was just starting to stand as I charged right through him and used one of the skates to take his head clean off. The rest of the zombies went to acting like normal zombies, uncoordinated and predictable. We managed to finish off the rest of the zombies that were there, with no more showing up. I rested my hammer on my back again. Brent put his sunglasses up on his hat. We were all breathing a little hard.
Britt walked up to me. “What the hell was that.”
“Nothing anyone else has seen before.”
“It was just like you said.”
We walked back in mostly silence.
I didn’t voice my concern, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Was that Alpha connected to the Hockey Jock? How did they find us? Will more come?
“What if others know where we are now?”
The shadow that fell on my face was all she needed to know I held the same concern.
Once we got back to Terminal 1 we went to our separate rooms we had built. My favorite clothes, a sky blue long sleeve that matched my eyes, carmel cargo pants, utility belt, leather sling, and light tan combat boots were soaked with blood. In this life, if you liked a particular outfit, you’d better have multiple pairs. Washing out blood isn’t quick.
I peeled the bloody clothes off, fixed my brown wavy hair, and got into a pair of basketball shorts and a cutoff t-shirt. Brent was standing outside my room talking with Jordan.
"Can you get more traps back online on the West Wing?”
“You got it man.” He turned to Jordan. “Come on kid, why don’t you help me fix up some traps before bed.” With that, they both took off towards the workshop.
I washed off the little bit of blood left on me with a wet rag then shut my door, and went to sleep.
The next morning I shaved and went for a run around the Terminal like I did every morning, then went to the makeshift gym.
As I was working out Jordan came into the gym. “Can you teach me how to fight?”
I set down my weights. “It won't be easy kid. It’s kill or be killed. Not everyone has it in them. They were people once, sometimes… people you knew.” He seemed unfazed, determined. “You’ll have to work hard, eat right and do what I say.”
“I’ll do it sir, I want to be able to defend myself against zombies.”
“First, don’t call me sir. I’m not that old. Second, we need to get you a weapon. Lets go.”
I headed for gate A12 and A13 not looking back to see if he was following. I then went underground and walked to the part of Terminal 3 that wasn’t connected to any other part.
We got to the other side which we used as an armory.
“Ok kid, go pick a weapon. Take your time. Pick what feels like an extension of yourself. This is important because it’ll be what you use from now on. So, make sure you like the way it feels in your hand, and that you can use it without getting tired too quickly.”
I leaned against the door frame while Jordan looked at all the weapons that had come into our possession since The Fall, edged and blunt alike. Most survivors stick to melee weapons as the zombie numbers are so high that gunfire can often bring down seemingly endless hordes upon you. Operating as a small party, we opted for melee weapons.
Jordan picked up a few but put them back down, not satisfied. Then something caught his eye. He picked up a parang and moved it from hand to hand and took a couple swings with it.
“This is it, it feels great in my hands.”
“Ok, grab the sheath and let's go.”
Once he had the sheath we headed back to the gym.
“Ok, to begin your training you’re going to start with a wooden version of the weapon and you are going to train against me. The zombies don't fight the way you and I do, but no better way to get used to the feel of a weapon than fighting someone.”
After two hours of a hard workout, I turned to him. “Ok kid go find yourself some food and take a break. You worked pretty hard.” I smiled, this kid was what made this life worth fighting for.
Meanwhile I stopped in the kitchen, made myself a sandwich and headed for the roof again. Half an hour later Brent climbed onto the roof, beer in hand and gave me one. The beer was of his own creation. Definitely wasn’t the best I’ve had but wasn’t the worse
“What's on your mind Jake?”
“Just thinking about what it’ll be like once we finish all these zombies and can rebuild the world.”
“Not possible man. We will be fighting this fight from now till the day we die, you know that. There is no way to finish these zombies. There’s too many of them and too few of us, you gotta keep your head outta the clouds man.”
“That is where I think you are wrong Brent. There will be an end to the zombies, and when there is we will rebuild not only the country but the entire world.” I looked out at the waning sun. “We gotta keep believing because if we don't then we have already lost the battle.”
Brent finished off his beer and headed for the ladder. “How the hell are we best friends. You always have your head in the clouds.” He shook his head, but smiled as he headed back down the ladder.
I climbed down shortly after, donned my regular gear and went to find Jordan. I found him in the workshop watching Brent work on some stuff.
“Hey kid, you wanna go on a supply run with me?”
“Sure. Where are we going?”
“The Zoo. Well, what’s left of it anyway, it’s more of a wild reserve now, animals roam about, come and go. Some wild ones take refuge there from time to time, but mainly former Zoo animals still hang around their old enclosures now and then. We’re gonna see if we can find some food.”
Britt as usual showed up out of nowhere. “What’s this about you goin’ out on a run? It’s already too late in the day to venture out.”
“Britt do you have the base wired or something. You always seem to show up to bitch about something.” Brent said not looking up from what he was working on.
“Brent I wasn’t talking to you, so just butt out of this conversation.”
I turned to her. “We desperately need food Britt. We’ve been rationing our rations for days and this is the last time this season some of them show up. Like I told you yesterday. You don’t have to like my decisions, but you aren’t the boss around here, so get off my back.”
“I don’t know what’s with you lately. You’re taking too many risks.” She shook her head like she couldn’t or wouldn’t understand.
“Go get your weapon Jordan and meet me in baggage claim.”
I walked down to baggage claim and waited for him. He got into the car as I opened the metal door, then got in and backed out. Brent closed the door behind us.
We headed towards the Zoo. Strangely enough, apparently The Fall only affected humans. Once there I grabbed my bag out of the trunk and handed Jordan one. Just be on the lookout kid, it’ll be getting dark soon. I took my hammer off my back and headed for the gate.
There was a lock on the gate which I broke with the butt of my hammer and walked in.
“Ok so there’s some red river hogs that sometimes come back here later in the day that would make some great food, so let's head there first.”
We reached the enclosure and headed in. I think a lot of animals, wild and old ones from the Zoo alike, found solace here within the Zoo’s walls. It was strange that a place meant to confine animals became a wanted sanctuary for them after The Fall. Even for animals, zombies were a constant threat.
It was dark when we got in so I turned on my flashlight. I saw we were too late. The hogs were already dead and torn to shreds with no usable meat left. That wasn’t good. The predators of the Zoo had moved on elsewhere to my knowledge.
But there in front of us was a large pride of mountain lions at the far end of the enclosure. They could have just been wild ones, they were common here in Southern Ontario. They wore tan-colored coats, much like the African lion but slender in build without the bushy mane and a head too small for its body. I could feel Jordan shaking next to me.
“Calm down kid, don't make any sudden movements and we will be fine.”
“There is an entire pride of mountain lions in here with us. It’s a little hard to be calm!” He yelled in a whisper.
With that he took off running back out of the enclosure. He hit the door on his way out, making a loud bang and the lions turned to stare at me.
They slowly started to circle towards me, stalking me. I knew I wasn’t going to out run them so I pulled my hammer off my back and got into a fighting stance.
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