Frontier

They came in waves. The barrel of the machine gun was hot. Steady left to right. “Choose your targets…  Don’t waste any rounds.” I barely had time to look over my shoulder. Castaneda was surgical with his AR15. I watched as a roaring face pulled itself over the crumbling cinder block wall of the outer perimeter. Its eyes glimmered and it moved way too fast for a human… once human. No one knew what they were now. Castaneda’s AR15 jumped and it lay twitching in red ruin. They came in waves. I slammed a fresh magazine in and kept at it… burning eyes, gnashing teeth. Smoke and death. How the fuck do you kill something twice?! How does something come back to life? I pondered these maddening questions as I removed the arm from one of them in a welter of gore…  “Shit.” It crawled towards me, howling furiously… one arm dragging itself. I put one through its head and a torrent of blood splattered the window edge. “Jesus…”

It went this way forever. Magazine after magazine. Blood oozed from a million wounds and I heard them clawing at the roof and beams. “They’ve worked their way behind us! Dude… watch our back!” Castaneda moved quickly. I heard him behind me in another part of the building. Boom! Boom! His twelve gauge Mossberg was speaking. That thing sure made a mess of them. Castaneda shot one in the face a few hours ago and it literally stumbled around for a few minutes without a head… if I hadn’t been so completely disgusted at the sight, I would’ve laughed. It was almost comical. A lull. They stopped coming. “Drink some water.” Castaneda threw a bottle to me as he moved up beside me. “I’ll watch.” He pulled a large box nearer and removed more ammo. “Fucking things…” Our eyes met. We were both growing weary. I had to get a grip on myself from time to time. Insanity slipped its fingers under my skin. I heard voices whispering to me… It had seemed like days. At first it was almost unbelievable. I watched as one of them moved up slowly behind a woman on a bus and bite her. “It couldn’t be?!” I stood frozen… “What the…?”

She screamed. A fountain of blood jumped from where her shoulder once was. It splashed the roof and those seated nearby. They shrunk back horrified. It quickly became madness. It stayed that way and here they were. Castaneda was inside of a gun shop when I broke down the back door to give myself a fighting chance. I needed firepower. He stood there pointing a sidearm and looking at me… “Hey dude. Lower that thing. I think we are thinking the same thing. He looked closer. “You know what the fuck is going on?” He growled, as he lowered his pistol. “No idea. None. I saw one of those things bite a woman’s shoulder off and figured that I’d seen enough. Their teeth grow! Did you know that? That thing’s teeth were four or five inches long…” He shook his head in the negative and pointed to the open door behind him. “Lots of stuff in there. Stock up.” My name is Castaneda. I’m a cop…   well, I was a cop. I looked at him over my shoulder. He had a blank expression on his face. It was one I’d seen before. When you suddenly realize nothing will ever be the same as it once was. I started shoving ammo into a huge backpack. “My name is Ozzie. Let’s see if we can figure a way out of the city.”

We’d been together ever since. Castaneda watched my back and I watched his. We didn’t run into too many people and when we did, we didn’t want them around us. Panic-stricken, noisy, running, ill-prepared, slow, soft and weak. I don’t think we slept longer than thirty minutes at a time. Daylight seemed to filter into one long, gray nightmare. Things burned redly and the sky was the color of dull metal. They came in waves. If we were quiet enough, they’d root around the building and continue on. Where they were going or where they came from, we didn’t know. They were attracted by the gunfire so we tried to stay quiet. Ghosts. Invisible. Castaneda was peering over the window ledge. I smelled skin cooking. Nauseating. He shouted horsely and pointed… several of them were crawling over the block wall. Tattered clothing hanging down. Rivulets of hair lank and clotted with blood and dirt. Eyes burning. Red-rimmed. They came. We fired and fired.

I found myself shrieking incoherently as one landed on top of me as it got inside the building. It smelled horrible. Feces, urine, blood. I tore out my Gerber knife. I stabbed it in the face and neck. It clawed at me. “Jesus Christ…!”  Rolling in the dirt. My blood thrummed in my veins. “Fucker! I twisted its arm underneath it and stabbed and stabbed…. “FUUUCK” Brutality. Castaneda was screaming and shooting. I felt its fingernails rake my face. Blood poured out of me. I threw the thing off of me and it scurried like an animal and quickly pinned me down again. Blood, warm and copper-smelling was everywhere. I was slippery and my eyes were swollen… I clawed and fought that fucker with everything I had. I saw its head go back and its teeth extended. Time crawled. Nothing moved. I couldn’t speak as the flashing white teeth arced towards my neck and face. Hate filled my heart. I was poison. All I stood for was lost… it lifted my face up and bit again. Pain stomped across my brain in giant black boots. It held me against its neck and swallowed. It groaned in ecstacy. I woke up. Sweat-soaked. The sheets were a tangle around my legs. Desperate. “Jesus Christ!” The coffee pot had started on automatic and it gurgled wetly. I rubbed my eyes and — for a moment — I could still smell those things. My skin crawled. I sat up. My pulse hummed… I felt the cool floor under my feet as I moved to the bathroom.

Tony Alva, Rick Stine and Lance Mountain

Tony Alva

Lance Mountain

I soon checked my phone. Messages. Things were beginning to feel normal again inside my head. “Ahhh, this I understand.” Skateboarding. Familiar ground. My bad side burned itself slowly out. The past came to haunt me. I sipped coffee and read the text and looked at the photographs. It seems like the crew found a new pool. I shook my head to rid it of the lingering images from last night and slowly got dressed.  Skate- Ozzie

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