Clown World, Chapter Three, Book One…unedited…

The streets were deserted, if you didn’t count the burnt-out husks of vehicles, abandoned buildings, and pigeon poop everywhere. Wild dogs patrolled the street in packs. Ted led us around the beasts and motioned for us to move toward a bakery with a broken window. Me and Ted covered Emily as she crawled inside. An alleyway ran on both sides of the building, so I motioned to the one I’d clear, and Ted took the other.
A rusty blue trash bin was pushed against the wall. At the back of the bin the earth had been disturbed. I stopped, my heart in my throat. “Improvised Explosive Device,” my mind shouted at me. “Do not move.” I dropped to one knee and pulled my binoculars to my eyes. Further on in the alley, a dead donkey lay upon the road it’s back to me.
I wiped the sweat from my eyes and looked through the glass again. A cooper wire ran from the rectum of the donkey, and I began to back up. Moans rose into the air. From the corner of the broken window, Emily saw me. Her green eyes darted back and forth furtively; they were the size of half dollars.
“Jake,” she whispered. “Hey, Jake.”
“Sssh,” I whispered back. “Lurkers,” my mind screamed at me. I took four quick breaths and held the last one.
“Is it the Lurkers?”
“I sure hope not,” I muttered to myself.
Ted had backtracked out of his alley as well. He met my eyes, pointed at his, and then motioned toward the alley. I nodded and flipped my selector switch from safe to fire, as the sound of running feet approached us. A scream came from the alley, followed by, “Oh God, no!”
“FIRE,” Ted shouted.
Then, all hell broke loose.
“Emily, run,” I shouted, as I lifted my rifle. Emily rushed past me, and I squeezed the bang-button. The rifle ripped off multiple three-round burst, recoiling into my shoulder, as bodies dropped like flies.
“Moving,” Ted shouted.
“Firing,” I shouted back. Swarms of people rushed toward us, not caring how many lives we ended in their charge.
Ted took up a defensible position and laid down a heavy volume of fire. I ran backwards toward him, firing as I moved. We’d thinned out some of the swarm, but they kept coming. I looked over at my friend, and he had this crazy grin on his face. It’d been years since I had seen him this happy.
“Come and take it, you bloody heathens!”
“Reloading,” I shouted.
“Firing” Ted yelled. I brought the weapon to bear and blasted a three-round burst into the face of a young woman.
“We’ve gotta get them off of us, Ted!”
“Roger,” he yelled, as he pulled the pin on a hand grenade. “Willy Pete,” he shouted as he tossed the phosphorous grenade in the midst of the swarm. Both of us hightailed it to an empty building as the grenade went off.
The guttural moans of the swarm metamorphosed into the shriek of the damned. As the phosphorous ate through the flesh of the swarm, Ted and I checked our gear. He lifted his hand to receive my high-five and said, “that’s what I call giving it to ‘em.”
From out in the darkness, a 2×4 with rusty nails driven through it collided with Ted’s unprotected head. He fell to the ground, blood spewing from his mouth.
“Home Run,” Alf shouted.
I drew my sidearm and pumped two rounds into the bloody midget’s face. Alf’s head exploded backwards, blowing chunks of his brain matter into the face of Emily. Her green eyes filled with fright. She went to scream, but I slapped a gloved hand over her mouth and shoved her into a darkened closet.
“Ssh,” I whispered, pointing at the door.
Moans filled the street, and in the alley outside of our building, Blondie and his gang of rapists argued.
“Blondie, what are we waiting for?”
“We’re waiting for Alf…”
Another voice chimed in, “those things are gonna find us and kill us…”
“Not if you shut up,” Blondie snapped.
“Do you really want to risk it, boss man?”
Finally, Blondie relented. “We’ll come back in the morning and look for Alf,” Blondie growled at the men, “but Alf gets first taste of the brood sow.”
Quiet murmurs filled the air, but the men agreed to Blondie’s terms. Their heavy footfalls were replaced by the shuffling footsteps and deep, guttural moans of the swarm.
Emily and I stayed hidden in the dark closet. From where we sat, we watched as Ted gurgled and spit out his last breath in a shower of crimson phlegm. I felt something wet touch my hand. It was the tears of my favorite actress. Darkness fell upon the town, the night filled with the damned walking to-and -fro, but I couldn’t care less about them.
My friend lay dead in front of me, and I was pissed.


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