Chronicles of URRGGHH
by Pat O’Malley
“I think that’s the last of them,” the large man said.
Beaten to a putrid mush; the dead had finally stopped moving. The man stood tall with a bushy red beard in a wool hat and green winter jacket. His gloved hands tightly gripped a baseball bat matted with bits of hair and brain.
“That’s a relief. Could you imagine if we were eaten by some stragglers after a big score like this? God, how humiliating.” A young dark-skinned woman said. She was holding a bloody shovel.
After the growing anxiety and hunger back at the camp, their luck seemed to finally be turning around. Not only had the three of them survived a surprise encounter with some biters, but more importantly they had stumbled upon a row of vending machines at the abandoned rest stop. Miraculously, even the machines that were smashed still had most of their contents intact.
“Everyone’s going to freak when they see all the snacks we got!” a young man with long blonde hair said stepping over a pile of gore with a small ax in his hands.
“Just don’t forget all the water bottles, you space cadet,” the woman said.
“Psssh, see if I give you a Milky Way now,” the young man grumbled.
“We got lucky today so don’t push it,” the large man said before zipping up his backpack, crammed with as much snack food and drinks as he could carry. “Let’s head back to camp before more of those things creep up.”
The three survivors huddled together, weapons drawn, and walked off towards the east where everyone back at camp waited for them.
As they walked away, a murder of crows was gathering around the pulverized corpses.
One of the blackbirds pecked at the eye of a halved face. The back of its chopped-up bearded head was a broken eggshell. Scraps of a grey windbreaker and jeans clung to the motionless horror.
With the sun getting low, the survivors continued towards their uncertain future in a less certain world.
For now, they were safe.
With a watery THUNK, the young man brought his ax down on the ghoul’s face.
“Fuck yeah!” he yelled.
With its bearded face nearly split in half, the emaciated creature let out a loud howl. Dressed in a filthy grey windbreaker and jeans, it blindly flailed its claws about. The blade of the ax was still lodged in its hideous, decaying face.
Behind him, the young man’s comrades were already going to work on the rest of the undead bastards. A large red-bearded man and a young dark-skinned woman were hacking away at the hissing creeps surrounding them. They were smart, using weapons that weren’t loud or could attract unwanted attention.
Not missing a beat, the young man yanked the ax out of the ghoul’s face before slamming it down again on its head.
“I think you got him,” the young woman said sarcastically before bringing her shovel down on the head of a hissing dead woman.
“Just double-checking. Hey, can you blame me?” the blonde man grinned wiping the blood from the ax’s blade with his sleeve.
“Are there any more?” he asked the large man.
Weak and starving, the dwindling horde wandered through the plains.
They finally came upon another group of the living when they reached an abandoned rest stop. Three warm bodies were ransacking the vending machines for whatever food remained inside. The undead groaned in a chorus of barely human sounds. At long last, they had found their prey.
Maybe now they would feed.
“Heads up!” the largest of the living shouted, noticing the approaching predators.
At the front of the herd, an undead man in a grey windbreaker growled, sticking out his arms hungrily as it slowly marched towards a long-haired young man sprinting towards him, raising an ax.
The herd continued their march in their awful, shambling way.
At one point, a pack of wolves attacked them. The barking, snarling animals tore down a couple of the moaning biters. Some of the undead growled in annoyance as their limbs were bitten off by sharp teeth; the irony lost on them.
The wolves didn’t like the taste and eventually left the remaining infected behind.
One of the undead who had avoided the wolves, a man in a windbreaker and jeans, moaned in hunger every few minutes. His scraggily-bearded face was pale and red with splotches of dried blood. Two milky white eyes that somehow stared at nothing and everything at once looked around as if to ask where all the food had gone.
They were all like this.
Following the sound of gunshots, it wasn’t long before the walking corpses found the small group of survivors fighting for their lives.
Drooling with saliva, an infected man, bearded and wearing a grey windbreaker crept up behind one of them. The panicking man was so busy shooting his gun he didn’t notice the biter until he felt small teeth tear into his jugular vein.
Warm meat and blood spurted into the ghoul’s mouth. The shooter screamed and fired one last shot, unknowingly attracting even more wandering undead to the scene. Content, the biter in the windbreaker feasted upon the dying man.
The remaining living went down firing a few rounds into the torsos of some of the herd. The terror of being eaten alive creeping towards them was throwing off their aim. Soon their guns run out of ammo and they unsuccessfully tried to flee only to find hungrier dead waiting for them.
“Oh God, no! Help us! Somebody, please help us!” a voice yelled.
No one did.
Alone, the infected, bearded man dragged himself to wherever his feet took him. Growling, he wore a filthy grey windbreaker and jeans covered in grime. He continued his slouching march until the city disappeared.
Eventually, he stumbled upon a large group of infected by a farm. Decaying men and women of various ages and sizes were preoccupied in devouring the remains of several cows, toppled over with their ribs and insides exposed.
Finding a spot, the bearded ghoul began stuffing his face with of chunks raw meat from one of the cows.
After the cow’s bones were white and picked clean, flock mentality took hold. The undead man in the windbreaker absently found himself following the group of biters. Moving on from the cows, they began their long trek across the empty, silent fields in search of more meat.
The further they traveled, the more stragglers they seemed to attract. Soon the increasing ghouls’ presence in the wandering group elevated it into what could only be called a herd. The moaning sound of the hungry dead was getting louder.
One night, the ringing echo of gunshots sent a flock of birds scattering into the starry sky. Alerted by the noise, the biter in the windbreaker let out a confused groan. Turning its head stupidly towards the sound, he began walking towards where it had come from.
The others soon followed.
Fresh blood matting his bearded face, the undead man in the grey windbreaker feasted. He took long, slurping bites from a pair of thighs attached to the smooth, pale legs he had all to himself. His teeth chewed and gnawed until he reached the bone.
Eventually, with his bloated stomach full, the biter dropped what was left of the legs. Sinewy with tendons and joints, they splattered on the floor. Awkwardly, the infected man walked past the loaded gun laying on the ground, outside of the alleyway, and into the sunlight. Stumbling around in his confused idiotic way he soon wandered off.
He didn’t notice the moaning, female torso trying to crawl after him.
“Please babe, you have to,” The pale, sweating man in the grey windbreaker pleaded to his wife.
They were hiding in an alleyway. They had fled as far away as they could get from that biting son of bitch. They hadn’t gotten very far; the man’s wound had left a trail of blood behind them until he finally collapsed.
This was it, their worst fear. They had ripped his jeans for a makeshift tourniquet they had wrapped around the throbbing bite mark on his ankle. Above him, his wife was shaking as she pointed the gun at his head.
Neither of them had gotten around to firing the gun, not even during what happened at camp. Ernie was supposed to have given them a shooting lesson. That would never happen now, Ernie was dead. The man and his wife had been lucky up until now but their luck had finally run out.
“Oh God, I can’t…please sweetheart don’t make me do this,” she was crying.
“I don’t want to come back as one of those fucking things!” the man shouted at her, he was crying too.
She tried to click the trigger back but she was shaking too badly.
“Promise me,” he said reaching out to her.
With one hand still pointing the gun at him, she reached down and held his hand.
“Promise me you won’t let me come back. I don’t want you to see me like that. I-I don’t want to hurt you,” he pleaded, ignoring the searing pain dragging him into the darkness.
“Okay, okay. Fuck, I’m sorry. I promise, I’ll do it,” she would give anything to wake up from this nightmare.
“I love you, sweetheart,” the man smiled at her, tears rolling down into his beard.
“I love you too,” she sobbed.
Then her husband stopped breathing. She felt his hand go limp in hers.
“Babe?” she whispered choking back another sob.
She dropped her husband’s hand. Gripping the gun, her hands finally pulled to click the trigger back.
“Oh God, I can’t. I’m so sorry honey. I just can’t-“ she cried lowering the gun.
She wiped away her tears just in time for him to lunge at her.
“Keep going! Don’t look back!” he was holding his wife’s hand as they ran for their lives.
“Oh God, oh Jesus,” she whispered terrified.
They had fled from the campsite, their former sanctuary. Undercover of darkness, they ran until they reached the border of a nearby town. The man could feel the gun strapped to his side bouncing at his hip as they ran but he didn’t want to use it just yet. There was no telling how many biters were still around and every bullet counted.
“Do you see anymore?” his wife asked.
They were lying low behind some abandoned cars.
“No, I think we lost them,” he answered not completely sure.
“Should we go back? We just left everyone back there!” his wife asked him wide-eyed.
“Let’s just lay low for now. We can try to go back in the morning to see if anyone made it,” he knew that they were all likely dead.
On the quiet, deserted streets, they wandered hand in hand. Both of them on edge, every sound unnerved them. They were walking by a traffic light when they were startled by the cawing of a murder of crows watching them from power cables.
The couple was too busy laughing from relief that they didn’t notice the lurker crawling out from beneath one of the abandoned cars behind them. A hungry moaning sound followed by a pair of decayed arms emerged and grabbed for the woman.
“No!” the man yelled as he watched the undead thing grab his screaming wife’s leg.
In the heat of the moment, he forgot about the gun at his side. Instead, the bearded man in the windbreaker kicked the bastard in the head.
“Get away from her!” he shouted.
His boot kicked the biter’s face away, releasing its grasp from his wife’s unharmed leg. The happiness he felt for his wife’s safety was short-lived when the bearded man released just how lethally stupid of an idea kicking at the infected was. Moaning, the monster’s head snapped back and chomped down on his ankle.
The bearded man in the grey windbreaker began screaming.
Everything was going fine until one night, as the survival group sat and laughed around the campfire, they were ambushed by a swarm of walkers. The confidence and hope for survival that the group had built since banding together vanished in an instant. First, someone screamed, soon they were all screaming.
They tried to fight back, bless their souls. Ernie and a few members of the other group hastily loaded their rifles and emptied shots at the intruders. For all their confidence in arming themselves, they were woefully unprepared to shoot at enemies in the dark. Nearly all the shots they fired either missed or grazed the unconcerned infected walkers as they shambled and snarled their way towards their meal.
The constant flash of the gunfire created a strobe lighting effect. For seconds at a time, you could just make out the image of the undead circling the screaming survivors as they realized that they were out of ammo and trapped.
It was in one of these gunfire flashes that the bearded man in a grey windbreaker saw their de-facto leader Ernie getting his face ripped off by the reanimated corpse Carla; the woman who usually made coffee for everyone in the morning.
Just earlier that day she had been laughing with the bearded man’s wife over some inside joke they had shared. Now the same mouth was devouring Ernie’s face.
It was pandemonium, more and more of the undead were creeping out from the darkness.
The sloppy sound of rips, tears, and chewing began to drown out the sound of screaming. Hell on Earth was transpiring at the survival camp as the bearded man and his wife hid behind a pine tree.
“They’re killing them! What do we do?” his wife whispered, trembling.
The man felt the weight of the revolver at his side. He knew that he should have at least tried to help what was left of their friends. Instead, the bearded man in the grey-windbreaker (it had been chilly that night) grabbed his wife’s hand and pulled her from the tree.
Together they started running.
Things had gotten much worse. Their neighbors had already loaded up their cars and abandoned their homes, driving off to parts unknown. Internet was gone but they still had phone service…for now. There was no telling how long until it went dead just like everything else.
In their kitschy suburban home, a worried bearded man and his petite wife with short dark hair were frantically packing all of their essential belongings in their suitcase. All they could think about was those “things” trudging en mass to their suburb and overrunning their home. They didn’t know where they were going but they knew they couldn’t stay here.
The man’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket, startling him before he grabbed the phone and speed-walked to the adjacent room to take the call.
As he did this, the woman resumed flipping through the channels on their split-screen. Sadly, each channel she flipped through displayed the same “PLEASE STAND BY” rainbow message that had appeared on the screen when all news reports on the catastrophe went dead hours ago.
One of the last news broadcasts was footage of a crowd of those infected things shambling down city streets.
That was when it all became real.
“Good news, babe! I just got off the phone with Ernie from work. He’s inviting co-workers and friends to his RV to stick together and stock up on supplies,” the anxious, bearded man told his wife.
“I can’t get in touch with my family!” she said worriedly.
“I’m sure they’ve found safety. We can keep calling them as we move but we’ve got to hurry!” He held on to his wife’s shoulders. “Ernie said his group has had luck avoiding those things. He even has a few firearms to spare.”
“Are you high? We don’t know how to fire guns!” she stared at him
“It’s just to be safe love. You know I always thought Ernie was a gun-toting survival nut, he’s perfect to join up with! Besides, I bet you look sexy holding a gun,” he winked at her.
She smiled. Even amidst the terror and confusion that had turned the world into a hell-scape overnight, she was still able to smile. Maybe there was still hope after all.
“There’s strength in numbers babe. We’ll just stick together and watch each other’s backs until the military or whoever sorts this mess out. Everything will be okay,” he smiled back at her.
They hugged each other.
“I promise,” he whispered into her ear.
He was sitting in his car driving home from work. It had ended early when the city-wide announcement came out shutting down jobs for the indefinite future. The world going to hell in the background didn’t bother him too much.
The first thought he had was “Sweet, I get paid time off from work.”
Even traffic was breezy, there was hardly anyone out on the roads anymore. More and more people were staying indoors. Everyone had heard reports of the “mystery virus” and some of the stranger reports that were being rumored.
The man wasn’t taking any of it very seriously. A morbid part of him even found the rumors to be cool like the world was turning into a bad sci-fi movie.
He snapped out of his thoughts by the sound of blaring sirens. In his rearview mirror, he saw the flashing red lights of oncoming ambulances behind him. He moved his car to the right lane allowing the half dozen or so blaring ambulances to race by. No doubt someone was in trouble
“Hmmm, that’s a shame, “He scratched his beard.
He turned his eyes to the vanity mirror and absently the space between his eyes. It was getting colder out, soon he would have to go back to wearing warmer clothes. He’d have to dig out that old windbreaker he’d had for years.
In the side console, his phone buzzed. It was a text from his wife.
“Hey babe we’re low on green beans would you mind picking some up?” the text read.
“You got it. I’ll grab some now,” he texted back.
It was their anniversary.
“Thanks, Love you.” She replied
“Love you too ☺” he texted back.
Lately, grocery stores were becoming downright depressing, everyone scrambling and grabbing what they could. Couldn’t they see that they were being swept up in the media hysteria? There had been other “viruses” in the past SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu everyone should know by now that he would blow over sooner or later.
He switched his blinker on and headed off to the grocery store to get dinner for him and his wife. Unknowingly driving into an uncertain life in a more uncertain world.
As he drove, he turned to look out his driver-side window and turned to see what looked like some drunk wandering on the sidewalk. He was an older man who looked pale as all hell and didn’t seem to know where he was. The bearded man in the driver’s seat shook his head. The only epidemic he saw was a mass increase of day-drinking.
Even so, hadn’t he seen another person trudging slowly in a daze earlier today? Unprecedented times made for a good excuse for the whole country to drink apparently.
“I’m right there with you bud,” he said to the staggering man outside.
Most of the radio stations were experiencing technical difficulties so he connected his phone to his speakers via blu tooth and blasted some Tame Impala.
As Kevin Parker talked about feeling like we only go backward, the man smiled to himself.
Not a bad end to an interesting day. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? It didn’t matter that his fate was already decided for him. He didn’t have any idea; unlike you.
What mattered was that tonight he was going to cook dinner with his wife followed by some red wine and fun times.
For now, they were safe.