a Price for Every Head (Complete)

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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a Price for Every Head (Complete)

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 01, 2019 9:55 pm

This one is definitely gonna be a longer one than the Watcher. This one has been roughly plotted out to be twelve chapters long, though the stuff past 4 and 5 needs some work yet. Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy, and as always, thanks for reading.

***
Chapter 1: the Hunters

Julian slipped and fell into the mud. Around him were mossy trees and puddles of water from the recent rains. It was around mid spring after all, so he wasn't too surprised. At least he thought it was mid spring? Maybe it was late spring. He wasn't sure, but he didn't have time to think. He picked himself back up and bolted once more, darting in between trees and the occasional patch of briers. The sound of hooves was becoming ever closer, and if he didn't think of a way out fast, he was screwed.

He slipped once more and tumbled thirty feet down a slope. He suppressed an exclamation of swears and slipped behind a boulder jutting out roughly from the hill side. An eagle stared at him from the top of a silver maple before taking flight. The hoof beats got deathly close, he suspected up to the ridge, and stopped.

"...the hell did he go?" one of his pursuers asked.

"I dunno, give me a second... he went down there. His tracks are pretty obvious with all that rain we got last week." the other said.

Julian shivered unconsciously. People didn't escape from that voice. It always found them eventually.

"I reckon the river outta be at least bank full. We might outta head down that way tomorrow. That is, if we find the slippery bastard." the first one to talk said. Julian assumed he was the sidekick, but he wasn't sure why. Not that it mattered. He could've been the President and Julian would still be chased by two men with guns.

"Bank full? It's no doubt flooded the road already. Right now we need to stick to the task at hand though. We can't take our horses down there, they'll slip and twist an ankle in this kinda mud at that steep of a grade." Julian heard the racking of a rifle or shotgun from the direction of those voices, "We go on foot."

Julian immediately made a break for it. He made a mad scramble and managed to get up and going. He heard gunshots and a call to hold still, but he wasn't stopping for the Devil himself, let alone the pair chasing him down the hill. He slid, this time on purpose, down to the gorge at the hills bottom. It was almost knee deep with runoff, all of it heading towards the river. Having no where else to go, he followed it, sandwiched in between two slopes and with gunmen on his tail.

"Dirty bastards getting away!" the sidekick yelled. Julian screamed as buckshot ate at the tree next to his head.

Up ahead was a bridge almost forty five feet above the gully, long ago collapsed. An RV was beneath its ruin, sitting on its side on top of the majority of the halfway sunken bridge rubble. The windshield was facing them, shattered from days past. Julian saw his chance. He pulled out his pistol from his waistband. He had three rounds left, but unfortunately enough was a terrible shot. He had to get the drop on them if he was going to make it out of this alive. Nobody had ever escaped the hunter's voice, true, but there was always a first time for everything. At least that's what his grandma had said. She was always full of crap though.

Julian vaulted over the hood of the RV and the dash and into the aisle of the vehicle. He ran down it's length, the hunters firing rounds off at him the whole way. He sailed over the bed in the back and through the rear window, and dropped to the ground. Remembering that these men weren't green anymore, he did his level best to not leave tracks, but as that was near impossible, he instead focused his attention on trying to outsmart them. He noticed a ladder next to the window, and as the hunters climbed in the front, he vanished from sight and scaled the ladder as quick as he could.

.45 ready, he waited for them to come out. He slowed his breathing, and did his best to calm his nerves.

"He's no doubt up the hill by now." the sidekick said.

"Probably." the other replied, "Best give him a false sense of security though. Probably ain't even thinking straight, as panicked as that boy was. Still though, be careful."

He saw one of them step out. This was the first time he'd gotten a good look at either on of them, so he wasn't sure if this was the 'sidekick' or the main guy. The one before him however, whoever he was, was a Hispanic man in his 20s, not much older than Julian himself most likely. He had a pump action shot gun in hand, and was reloading it. This was Julian's chance.

He fired off a quick round and backed up out of sight. He wasn't sure if his shot had made his mark, but the screams of pain coming from the man was a good sign that it had.

"He's on the roof!" the injured hunter yelled.

Suddenly a gunshot came through the aluminum roof Julian laid on. The bullet hole was too close to his face for his comfort, and he scrambled off as more came, falling in the mud for a third time. He ran up the hill in serpentine, hoping that would make him harder to shoot. As bullets flew, his confidence and adrenaline both surged. When he reached the top he turned around, drawing the gun once more, only to find that he'd dropped it in the mud some distance back.

"Shit!" he yelled, running off down the long unused gravel road that cut through the woods. He dove behind a long dead SUV that had sunk in the mud up to its bumpers. He didn't wait for them to catch up though, and stormed off through the trees. He was doing well, too, gaining speed it seemed like. The angry voices behind him grew quieter in any event, which boosted his spirits. He saw a vine covered cabin up ahead, and laughed. His luck really was turning up.

A zombie came seemingly out of nowhere and Julian swerved around it, and right into a bear trap. He howled in pain and collapsed. The zombie went down upon him, gnashing and clacking it's teeth. Julian roared in defiance and pushed it's head back. This wasn't how he was going to die. He was gonna kill this zombie (somehow) and escape from the trap (somehow) and wait out the hunters until it was safe. Then he'd leave the state, just like he'd planned when the hunters had caught up to him.

A gunshot echoed through the hills, and the zombies head exploded, gore splattering on Julian's face. He spit it out and looked up, and saw the second hunter. That was the last thing he saw that day, or any day for that matter.

---

Scott stared down at the scum caught in the bear trap, now dead from Scott's revolver. He scratched his beard thoughtfully for a few seconds. He then holstered his side arm, readjusted the rifle slung over his shoulder, and jogged back to the bridge and down the slope to his partner. Salvador laid sprawled out in the mud on his back, hand clutched to his gun arm which appeared to be bleeding.

"How bad did you get shot?" Scott asked.

"Ah not much, just got my goddamn bicep pierced by that assholes bullet. I need a bandage though. You got any rags on you?"

"Of course." Scott told him, pulling one of three from his back jean pocket. "Those bullets gonna still be worth it too you?"

"Hell yeah. How many was it again?"

"Poster offered 100. This one wasn't anything big, just an escaped prisoner from Bill Mack's camp."

"Hey fifty a piece ain't bad for bottom of the barrel."

"Sure isn't. We'll get you better patched up once we get back to the horses, then we'll head on over to Bill's and collect that bounty."
Last edited by RingWraithsAnonymous on Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
the Watcher

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by idahobob » Thu May 02, 2019 6:59 am

Keep it coming! :awesome:
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by Coxy » Thu May 02, 2019 7:35 am

I'm hooked in ... looking forward to chapter 2!

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by Halfapint » Thu May 02, 2019 11:03 am

Interesting! I like it!
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by 91Eunozs » Thu May 02, 2019 11:20 am

Nice... I like how you changed the perspective too.

Only saw one typo towards the end... “those bullets gonna be worth it to you?”
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Sun May 05, 2019 6:15 pm

Thanks for the support guys. Here is chapter two. I had the main points plotted out, but I can't begin to tell you how much I had to make up on the fly because I didn't think about it until I hit the key board. Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy, and as always thanks for reading.

***

Chapter 2: the Wretched Things

1 week after their last hunt.

Scott adjusted the old Ford Racing ball cap he wore and looked up at the clouds, waiting for it to rain again.

"How's that arm doing?" he asked his partner, and both of the men slowed their horses to a canter from a trot.

"Terrible." Salvador said with a laugh, "But it's getting better. When do you wanna head back in?"

Scott thought for a minute, scratching his beard and chin, "Perimeter check is about over, so in a minute or two, sure. You in a rush or something?"

"No it's just... we're supposed to go on a supply run and-"

Scott interrupted, "You want to see Stacey again don't you?"

"Well..."

"There's a reason you have to foot the beans and bandages bill." Scott said with a chuckle, "Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to see her: we'll be there for a while."

Salvador raised an eyebrow "Oh? I thought you didn't like long trips."

Scott sighed, "I don't, but I'm taking Maddie with us, and I figured she'd like the chance to just hang out for a bit. It's been a while since she's gotten to come with us."

Salvador nodded in understanding.

---

They made their way down a long, overgrown gravel road. Weeds and tree saplings had overtaken it, and if they hadn't known better they might not have recognized it as even a path. A locked, gated driveway was all that stood between them and their base. Scott tossed Salvador the key, and he unlocked it and then locked it behind them after they'd gone through. The horses slowed as they approached home, and their riders took them to the small barn that served as the animals' home. Said riders then walked over to the storm shelter doors next to the burned out remains of an old farm house. Scott produced another key from a cord around his neck, and unlocked the padlock.

"I'll just wait here, since we're about to leave," Salvador told him.

"Fine with me," Scott said as he opened the doors.

He climbed down the ladder, and arrived at the entrance to the bunker. "Welcome Home," a mat in front of the door read. Scott took care not to step on it as he opened the door it guarded and entered the abode.

'Bunker' was more of a nickname than it's actual function. It had once been a simple root cellar, before being converted to a storm shelter some time before the end of life as Scott had known it had came. When Scott eventually found it in the early years of the apocalypse, it'd been just him and Maddie. After years of earning bullets through hunting and a lot of elbow grease, it had become a perfect home and base of operations.

Over time, the bunker had been divided into three different rooms. The main room was lit by a kerosene lamp. Cabinets with food and a propane stove sat against the right wall. A table with three chairs sat in the middle of the space. In one corner was a rarely used ham radio set up. A hammock strung between two support beams near the far wall was Salvador's bed, and a large tool box beneath it served as his weapons case. Two doors were on the left wall, and lead to the other rooms.

The one closest to the door was Scott's room. Inside was a rug and a cot with a pillow and blanket. A dresser served as his gun cabinet, with only a few of the drawers containing clothes. His share of bullets for his different guns were kept in a lock box under his bed, with the bullets he planned to shoot in magazines in the dresser. under the rug was a false trap door, with a string attached to it that also happened to pull the trigger of a Mac 10 when opened. A kerosene lamp sat on a small folding end table, right next to a picture of Scott's deceased wife, Mary. The other was Maddie's room. It was even simpler than Scott's, with only a cot and folding end table, a dresser (with more clothes and less guns than Scott's) and a rug.

Scott breathed a sigh of relief when the door closed, "Maddie, you better be up by now! It's-" he checked his watch, looking through its cracked glass at the hands that still somehow ticked, "7:30!"

"I'm up! I'm up!" A voice grumbled from within her room.

She stepped out, and Scott smiled at his teenage daughter. She had been only 6 when the shit went sideways, and was almost 14 now, much to her father's amazement.

"You sleep well, Mad Dog?" he asked.

"Not really." the raven haired girl replied.

"You gonna to come to town with us?" Scott asked, despite knowing the answer.

Her gloomy mood instantly dissipated. "You're serious this time? I'm gonna get to come with you again?"

"You sure are, and so long as we don't have a repeat of last time you'll get to come on the next trip, too." Scott told her. He sighed, "Just, try not to Kick the Miller girl's ass so bad next time."

"She started it." Maddie said defensively.

Scott sighed.

---

It was almost 9 when they arrived, given that they had to go around a chunk of the National Park. They rode in on horseback through the fence gates and into Bill Mack's camp, aptly called the Hog Waller. As they passed the pig barn, Maddie grimaced.

"That place always smells horrible. I can't see how the people around here stand it."

"I kind of like the smell myself." Salvador told her, "Smell's like bacon."

"Smell's like shit." she said.

"Maddie, watch your mouth." Scott said. He could feel her rolling her eyes behind him, and he smiled to himself.

They arrived in the center of the camp. the Hog Waller was built on the remains of a tiny town called Mountain Valley. Before the Outbreak it only consisted of a feed and general store, church, and a mechanic's shop. When Maddie, Scott, and Salvador rode in it had much more, and ironically had a higher population than it did before the dead came back. In the center of the town there was now a handful of new businesses ran out of trailer houses and the first of newly constructed buildings, which included a bar, an ammunition supplier, and a barter post.

"Can I go find Kat and Brent?" Maddie asked.

"Sure, go hand out with your friends." Scott said absent mindedly, "Just make sure you make it back here by 3. I'll either be at the barter post or the bar if you need me. Same goes for you, Salvador. Go see that girlfriend of yours, use your downtime wisely."

"She's not my girlfriend." Salvador said as Maddie was already hitching up her horse and going to find her friends.

"Right." Scott said, hitching his horse in front of the bar, the Rusty Fish Hook. He then walked over to the barter post, a large open walled place with a couple of tarps for a roof. It was a place for vendors to gather and sell various goods for bullets. The spot Scott was interested in though, was the job board. The job board had a large multitude of a papers nailed to it, all with job opportunities. From roofing to maintenance of the many pig barns the town hosted to a janitorial spot at the Rusty Fish Hook, it had a large variety of offers, all with details as to who to go ask about them. The ones Scott was interested in though, were bounties. There were only three that time, one another escaped prisoner, only 75 bullets for him though. The second one was for a suspected Insurgence member, 200 bullets, but he had to be caught alive, and Scott only dealt in dead or alives. The last was a bandit leader, '500 bullets, and an extra 50 for every one of his men you take'. That was a whale of an opportunity, so Scott ripped it off the board and looked at it closer, 'For more information, ask Bill Mack'.

"Damn, these boys must of pissed you off to offer that much, Bill." Scott said to himself, taking the paper with him as he went over to Bill's.

As he headed out to go to the leader of Hog Waller's house, a hand touched his shoulder. Scott spun around with a left and missed. The person he tried to hit gasped "Jesus Scott! I thought we were friends!"

Scott stopped and looked at Terrance with a smile, "Sorry about that one. Thought some fool was tryna cause trouble for a second."

"Nothing like that, just haven't seen you in a while was all." Terrance laughed, "When you gonna cut that beard of yours?"

"Never. This is six years of progress by God. Besides, no one would recognize me without it."

"Fair, fair. Say, how about you come over to my place for an early lunch, we could do some catching up."

"Sound's good."

---

"There was almost a breach of the Park's fence." Terrance said, "I was told almost ten dozen zombies were at it. If it hadn't been for the Rangers... well, ten dozen is a lot to have to take on at a place like this."

"Guess that's what the communities pay the tax to the Rangers for though, isn't it?"

"Damn straight. How's Mad Dog been doing?" Terrance asked, "It's been forever since I've seen her."

"Pretty good. Just got done being grounded for beating the dog shit out of some girl."

"Damn, I think I heard about that one. Faith Miller, wasn't it?"

"Yep." Scott said with a bite of sandwich in his mouth, "From what I heard from Maddie's friends she'd made some crack about Mary, and she just snapped. I don't blame her for it, I really don't, and she knows it. Thing is I kinda had to ground her or the next time she came on a supply run that Miller girl's mother might've shot her."

"Yeah, that girl always was a spoiled brat. Her mother too." he said with a laugh. Causing Scott to grin. The room went silent, but eventually Terrance spoke up again, "You reconsidered my offer?"

Scott stopped mid chew, then swallowed, his grin replaced by a frown. "I gave you my answer, Terrance. You know my reasons."

"Look Scott, we need you. The Insurgence-"

"-Is a terrorist group." Scott interrupted, "I already told you no. You keep up with it I may just start taking up bounties on you people."

"We do good things. Our actions might be violent, but our intentions aren't. Our goal is to liberate the entire Tar Creek area from government occupation. Surely you can get behind that, they've been a thorn in all of our sides."

"You actions might be violent?!" Scott said indignantly, "What about the Christmas Day bombings? Or East Bend? Or the Buchanan Bullet Press incident? Maddie almost died in that one, remember? Or do human lives matter less than driving the Marines out of Brant County!?!" Scott shouted, standing up.

"Scott, don't go." Terrance pleaded, "Mary would've wanted you to-"

"Don't bring up her name!" Scott yelled, throwing his plate at Terrance. Terrance dodged it and stood up, and Scott continued marching over and grabbing him by the shirt collar and shaking him, "You say one more fucking thing about her or the Insurgence and I'll burn your fucking house to the ground!!!" he then stormed out of the house, knocking a potted plant of the porch, causing it to shatter on the ground below.

He didn't stop seething until he got in front of the Rusty Fish Hook. He went in and past the tables to the washroom and locked the door before he collapsed and began to tremble and sob, images and memories of Mary coming back to him. After a few minutes someone knocked on the door.

"Yo, can you hurry up in there! I'm about to piss myself!"

By that point Scott had regained enough composure to cease crying, and got up, letting the weak bladdered man inside as he left and ordered a beer from the bar, handing him a small handful of bullets from his pocket. He still let loose a tear every once and a while, but no one was about to hassle a hunter over a few tears, and not just out of how intimidating one had a tendency to be. Everyone had seen their fair share of horrors in the early years of the new world.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
the Watcher

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by 91Eunozs » Mon May 06, 2019 8:28 pm

Nice update and character development...thanks for the moar!
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Doctorr Fabulous wrote:... It's fun to play pretend, but this is the internet, and it's time to be serious.
zengunfighter wrote:... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by DAVE KI » Mon May 06, 2019 9:26 pm

Just read this one.Huh wonder how it slipped by me? But this is a good one so far. Looking forward for more.
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by bodyparts » Tue May 07, 2019 11:31 am

Great read so far keep up the good work!!!!!!



MOAR!!!!!

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 08, 2019 9:16 pm

Once again, thanks for the support. Have fun with the next installment. Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy and as always, thanks for reading.

***

Chapter 3: a Kick to the Face

The next morning.

Salvador had left on horseback into the rising sun a few minutes prior, seeing that Maddie and Scott needed to talk. He had been right.

Scott shook his head, "I can't believe we're going through this again! What did I saw before we got to Bill's? Huh?"

Maddie was sitting in a kitchen chair in the bunker. With her head hung low, she replied, "Don't get into anymore fights."

Scott took in a deep breath, "And what did you do with this information?"

"I kinda didn't listen... but it wasn't me fault!"

"Here we go..." Scott said, exasperated. "It wasn't Faith Miller again was it?" he asked, then under his breath as he briefly stared at the ceiling "Please don't let it be Faith Miller."

"No. It wasn't. It was Tommy Higgins."

"I-" Scott was about to berate her, then stopped, surprised. "Tommy Higgins? The hell did he ever do to you?"

"The damn pervert grabbed my ass, that's what!" She exclaimed in outrage, "I know what you said, but I couldn't just let that slide. You always told me not to get taken advantage of and-"

"Stop." Scott said with a sigh, "May I please have a turn before you get into one of your famous rants?" he asked, his voice quieting and his tone easing.

"I guess."

"First of all: I'm proud. I honestly thought it was going to be one of your stupid blow ups like before. Second: your right, that boy is a bit... what he did wasn't cool. Third, and finally..." he took a breath, then smiled, taking a seat.

"What?" Maddie asked after a strangely long pause.

"You better have beaten the tar out of him for that one, Mad Dog."

She laughed, "Don't worry. I won't be seeing Tommy Higgins again anytime soon."

"That reminds me..." Scott said. He'd been dreading this moment for the past few weeks, ever since she'd asked. "About what we talked about..." he really didn't want to do this, but knew in the long run it would be for the best, "Your a damn good shot with that pistol of yours. Same with a rifle when I lend you one. You're also a hell of a tracker and..." God he was going to regret this, "I think it's time I train you to be a hunter." he spit the words out like they were snake venom he'd sucked out of someone's veins "I hope to God you choose a different profession. With your talent in making cookies on that burner over there- a feat I still have no clue how you accomplish each year for Christmas -you'd almost be assured a spot at one of the bakeries in the area. No matter what though, these are skills I feel obligated to teach you... even if I hope to God you don't have to do what I do."

She soaked it in for a minute, and despite herself Scott could see her trying to hide the excitement. She wrapped her arms around him in a bear hug, and Scott returned it like any good father would, head on her shoulder, eyes beginning to well up at the thought of his little girl eventually not needing him anymore. For so long she'd been his only purpose, but he accepted it as the way of things that she would eventually leave.

"Thank you so much. I won't let you down." she said.

"You better not." he said, "You ain't going on a real hunt for a while though. You've still got a ways of practice before you can graduate to that point, but I want you to know that I have faith in you. You understand?"

"Yes Dad."

Scott turned to head out and find Salvador and let him know the coast was clear, but had a last minute thought, "And another thing... if your gonna be off making out with some boy, at least check your watch next time and get back to the gate in time. You worried your poor father sick." he said.

He caught the crimson shade her cheeks turned and smiled after she got up and briskly went off to her room. He then entered his own, and looked at the picture of his wife before he picked it up and smiled again.

"You'd be proud."

***

It was about two hours later. Salvador and Scott road into the city limits of the government run town of Brandon, a city that once boasted 50,000 and the former county seat of Brant county. Today's estimates were about a forth that, still impressive none the less. The inner half of the town had a large wall around it, with only one gate in and out. The farther into the ghost town and closer to the wall they got, the more they got the feeling of being watched. At one point Scott looked up and nodded to a window in a second story house and waved. The shadows within moved, and Scott smiled a bitter smile to himself.

It wasn't long before they saw the wall up ahead, and stopped. As much as the new administration hated Scott and the other hunters, seeing them as subversive to the military and appointed militias they had established over just about everywhere on that side of the Mississippi, the current Governor also recognized the fact that they would be a hard group to drive out, and thus tolerated their existence. Scott looked at the twelve foot high metal panel wall, and at the barbed wire that topped it. A watch tower overlooked the gate, and a pair of soldiers manned it. Scott had done this many times, and to that end had already pulled out his rarely used, year old identification. The kind that towns like Brandon had come to require if one wanted in.

He got going again, setting his horse to a canter as they rode in front of the gate. It opened, leading them into a lane, with another gate about ten feet away. A window was set on right hand wall, and Salvador rode over to it ahead of Scott.

The soldier inside slid it open. His eye was bruised, detracting from his tough demeanor.

"Papers." he said.

"Got a bit roughed up, did we?" Salvador asked sarcastically.

"Salvador Rodriguez. Says here your papers are in need of renewing."

"And?"

"You needed to renew them three months ago. No admittance without proper papers."

"Well how the hell am I supposed to renew my papers without being able to enter?"

"I can renew them." the soldier said, "For 20 bullets."

"Vampires." Salvador said, digging through his pockets.

"Don't." Scott told him. "You stay here, make sure we don't get locked in."

"Papers." the soldier asked Scott.

Scott handed them over.

"Sir, your papers-"

Scott interrupted, having a realization "I know damn well their overdue."

"Then pay the fee."

"I could just shoot you." Scott told him.

"I'm gonna have to tell my supervisor about this." the soldier told him

"I could shoot him too. As well as those boys up on the tower, and don't even try to tell me that down the street there aren't sentries in the red house, the Circle K, and the Walmart parking lot. All of which I could also just shoot."

The soldier stared at him for a minute, eyed the rifle on Scott's back and the pistol at his hip. "Always did hate you fuckers. Go on in."

Scott snapped himself out of his thoughts of what he merely wanted to do. Instead of threatening to murder a half dozen U.S. Marines, he paid the 20 bullets for the soldier to stamp his papers, then entered through the now open gate.

Following the city ordinance, he and Salvador left their horses in the stable near the gate, the pair spreading out in the town. They both knew the drill. They would be back at the horses and gone in a few hours, but not after gathering some gossip and finding out more about the bandit gang Bill wanted gone. Scott had already had a lengthy discussion with him on the matter, but still wanted to see if he could scrounge up some more information. He would've taken Maddie with him- she was the one that needed to see how things like this went down, after all -but Brandon was no place for Maddie.

Scott headed immediately toward the river front, were Tar Creek met up with the river. As he passed into the lower income section of the town, a few women at the street corners began to try and sell themselves to him for the night, and various other shady characters would occasionally offer to take him to a "party" to have a "good time", which Scott knew that around there meant either he'd end up in a drug den, in a cage, or as a secret ingredient in the stew at one of the food pantries.

He quickly got out of that towns version of the hood, and ended up in the market area out by the river front and the docks. Old freight boats sat only partially out of the water, long ago sank and rammed into the river bank, and a handful of operational ones sat in the docks, with men unloading wares from different areas, including a large batch of farmed sea food from down south.

Scott always headed to the job board first, no matter what town he was in or why he was there, so that's where he ended up that day. Here it was more of a few boards scattered through out. In Brandon it was all governor approved and almost all governor appointed, almost never any bounties. This time it was different.

He found a large list of names, about fifteen, all with small photographs next to them


Attention! Wanted Men!

Governor Mark Ramirez has declared the following people enemies of democracy and outlaws.
Their crimes include murder, conspiracy, and vigilante justice, among others.
The are to be taken either by force, dead or alive, or be driven out of the greater E. A. Poe National Park Region.
Find a U.S. Marine for more details

Edward Andrews
Alfonso Barnett
Bessie Flowers
Christopher Flowers
Shane Harrington
Edgar Lloyd
Kim McCarthy
Victoria Morris
Scott Owens
Salvador Rodriguez
Hugh Schwartz
Andres Townsend
Carl Underwood
Harvey Vargas
Dennis Vega
Caleb Welch
Leo Williamson


Scott felt a sick feeling. His and his partners names were there, and all of the names he recognized on that list were hunters. One, Shane Harrington, was already crossed out, his picture taken down. As Scott stared at the sarcastically smiling photo of him that appeared on the list and his ID, he felt a feeling he hadn't known since before he'd taken up hunting, in the first couple of years of the new world. The feeling that he wasn't the predator, but the prey. He pulled out of his pocket something he hadn't used in a long time, an old walkie. Knowing- and this time thankful -for the fact that Salvador always had one on him and charged when he went anywhere, Scott turned his on, and told him it was time to leave.

---

Mark stared at the list. He recognized a couple of those names as he read down it. He wasn't so sure about taking on a hunter, but he had starving kids at home, and his factory line job was barely making ends meet. He then saw a message that made him rethink it, written on the paper in large letters on top of the list in blue pen.

'Don't fuck with the hunters. Anyone known of collecting a bounty for the death of one shall swiftly regret the decision.'

---

It was almost a week later, and the pair of hunters hadn't gone more than a couple of miles away from the bunker until that day. Scott had forbidden Maddie from leaving, an order she understood, but it did little to ease his nerves. He and Salvador had left the safety of their home woods for the first time in a while to meet with a group of other hunters, namely the ones on the list. About twelve had shown up, and of those they had found out that two more had been killed since Scott had found the hit list. The twelve had agreed to keep in radio contact, and had discussed the possibility of joining forces for mutual defense. There was even talk of making a stand at one of their bases, or making siege on the city of Brandon, though both were quickly shot down by the others. After what seemed like a long meeting, it finally ended, and the pair that lived at the bunker quickly rode home.

"You know, I was thinking of taking Maddie on a practice hunt. Y'know, have you hide out in the woods or something and have her try and find you. A hide and go seek kinda deal. So long as nobody shoots anyone it'll be fine." Scott said with a hollow laugh.

"Sounds like fun. You'll be with her, I assume? Making sure she doesn't get nabbed by a swarm or something?"

"Something like that."

It was late in the afternoon when they got back. The gate was unlocked, the chain having been cut and laying in the grass. Salvador and Scott drew their long guns as they rushed down the road to their home.

"Please God, let her be safe." Scott pleaded as they got closer and closer.

They got to the storm shelter, finding the door wide open.

"Fuck!" Scott cursed, "Salvador, make sure we weren't followed or tailed, set up a position at the barn!" he ordered, rushing down the ladder.

He found a man dead where the door mat used to be. He was about stomach deep in a pit of punji stakes. The door behind him had been knocked almost off it's hinges, and Scott's adrenaline kicked up to about 15, sending him into autopilot. He pushed past the intruder and into the main room. three bodies and a ram sat on the floor, and a man sat in the corner, holding his guts in one hand and a pistol in the other. He took a shot at Scott, and Scott blew his brains out with his rifle.

"Maddie!!!" he screamed. He didn't enter his room, knowing it would be pointless. He flung open the door to hers, finding a dead man in it as well. The rug had been moved, and the trap door that lead to the escape tunnel open. Scott dove into it, crawling down it on his hands and knees.

"Smart girl." he said, trying to reassure himself, "She got out and took down four of the bastards with her..."

He was going as fast as he could, and burst out of the bank of a pond, slipping quietly into the water. Well, maybe not as quietly as he would've liked.

"Maddie," he said quietly, despite his urge to scream out her name, "It's me, it's dad. Where you at."

He heard a cough and ran over into the bushes and shrubs with their new leaves toward the sound. "Maddie?" he said, a little louder. He heard a cry of pain and ran towards it, "Maddie!" he yelled, beginning to panic.

He found her leaned against a tree some distance from the pond, her back to it. She had a pistol in a weak grip at her side, and her shirt was stained red. She was pale and he knelt down in front of her, wrapping her in an embrace.

"Thank God your-" she was cold. He felt a sense of horror, and noticed the arm he'd wrapped around her back was sticky with blood.

"Fucking fool." a man's voice- one that was a little high pitch -said. Scott heard the click of a revolver hammer and tears fell down his eyes as he stared at his Maddie.

"No... You're not dead." he said in almost a whimper, not believing that his little girl was dead. That Mad Dog was dead. That his purpose had been taken from him.

The voice behind him recreated both the cough then the cry of pain Scott had heard, then laughed sardonically, "I thought hunters were smarter than this. I knew I'd find you and the Hispanic at the same place, so I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone."

Scott was weeping, and soon his turns turned from sorrow to an endless, seething, infuriating, absolutely complete rage.

"It's nothing personal. Well, that's a lie. You did put my cousin back in jail, but other than that this is just me and the boys trying to earn some cash. I hated having to kill your daughter. She is yours, right."

"Oh Maddie." Scott said, beginning to tremble. Her murderer was supposed to think it was of sadness. In truth it was the inner rage that threatened to steal away all of Scott's humanity.

"Maddie, huh? Nice name... The bitch killed five of my boys, you know. You should be proud."

"Don't call her that." Scott said quietly, no longer sobbing.

"Just drop the rifle and the pistol, and lets make this easy. I want to shoot your ass, but I'll get more if-"

Scott stood up, his back still to the stranger. He heard foot steps heading a bit away from him.

"Drop the guns!!!" his newly found nemesis shouted.

Scott dropped the pistol and the rifle, and turned around. The bald man that stared back at him smiled.

"There you go, Now, I'm gonna tie up your wrists hear and all will be-"

Scott's demon pushed to the surface, and all conscious thought was lost. In an instant the knife he kept up his sleeve was in his hand and he was shoving it into the bald, mouse voiced mans neck. The murderer drowned in his own blood as he collapsed, and Scott kicked the gun away from him. The gritty details of the things he did to that man's body, despite him being long dead, are best left to the imagination as he near literally tore him to pieces.

Salvador came almost an hour later.

"I got worried," Scott heard him say as he approached, "And I-"

"They killed her." Scott said, breaking down in front of his friend. "And now I'm going to kill them."

Salvador stood there, unsure of what to do. He lent him a hand and pulled him up, "I saw tracks back at the barn, going off into the woods toward the park. Guess some of them had second thoughts and left."

"They... they killed my baby girl." Scott said, tears running into his beard.

"And we'll kill them back." Salvador said, tears beginning to strike him. He'd always liked Maddie, "One step at a time. First, we're gonna need to get back to the horses if we want any hope of catching up with these mother fuckers." he then told him, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Scott felt a new strength build within him and he brushed away Salvador's hand, "Yeah, one step at a time." he said bitterly.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
the Watcher

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by 91Eunozs » Wed May 08, 2019 10:32 pm

Well hell.... that just sucks. Nice job drawing me in...damn you!

Oh yeah, several typos; most in the beginning. Gonna stew on my irrational anger at a fictional character’s death for awhile before re-reading to find them though. Damn fine job getting me emotionally invested in Maddie...well done.
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by DAVE KI » Wed May 08, 2019 10:45 pm

Oh man that sucked :ohdear: . But now we have a man on a mission. To kill them all :twisted:. Hell of a good update.
"We'll Fight Them, Sir!, Until Hell Freezes Over, And Then We'll Fight Them On The Ice! Sir!

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by idahobob » Thu May 09, 2019 7:14 am

Oh my! :ohdear: That just sucked! Go get 'em! :vmad: :vmad:
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by Halfapint » Thu May 09, 2019 6:12 pm

Great updates!!! Just read the last two!
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by Kolat » Fri May 10, 2019 1:19 pm

MOAR!!!
毒を食らわば、皿まで

“When drinking poison, lick the bowl."---Yoritomo Tarao, Small Enlightenments by Nancy Sauer

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by bodyparts » Fri May 10, 2019 8:29 pm

WOW!!!that was good stuff . :clap: :clap: :clap:
SO now the hunt begins !! Rottin SOBs !!!!
thanks for the chapter. keep up the good work!


MOAR!!

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Sun May 12, 2019 10:12 pm

As DAVE KI said, we now have a man on a mission, and as Bodyparts said, the hunt is on. Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy and as always, thanks for reading and thank you for the support.
Edit: I feel dumb, but I just realized while working on the next chapter that this whole chapter I was calling Salvador 'Salazar'. My bad guys sorry, just fixed it though there shouldn't be anymore of this mysterious 'Salazar' character.

***

Chapter 4: Dark and Dirty Business

Roughly 30 minutes later.

Scott climbed up the ladder to the bunker and closed the storm doors behind him. Salvador was already waiting for him, and had gotten the horses ready. Salvador had two bandoleers of shotgun shells, and Scott had grabbed a half dozen extra spare magazines. He tightened his ball cap and looked to the sun, seeing it maybe an hour at the most from setting over the mountains.

"Lead the way." he said as he mounted his horse.

Salvador turned his around to the barn and trotted over, showing Scott where the different signs of the enemies departure.

Scott shook his head, "I already know all this shit. Less talking more riding."

He heard Salvador mumble something under his breath before heading on. They were forced to a slower pace than Scott would've liked so that they could do a halfway decent job of tracking them. It appeared that they'd the men they were tracking were on horseback. Three to six horses, though there could be more men if they paired up. The tracks lead out west, though why anyone would want to go toward the National Park was beyond both of the men, but either way that's were the tracks lead, so the pair followed. As they rode, they passed the broken bridge and the cabin where Scott had shot Julian those weeks ago. Seemed like just yesterday Scott was teaching Maddie how to tell the difference between zombie tracks and living man tracks. Then he realized it was.

As they got close to the Park, they found a feeding ground in the middle of a clearing. There were easily 3 dozen zombies, all focused on eating. There were 2 horses and 3 men, barely recognizable as such save for the skeletons and shredded flesh. The arms and faces of the undead were bloodied, along with the ground near them. The leaf litter was all stirred up, but past the ruckus they spotted continued horse tracks, even if there seemed to be fewer.

"Let's not linger. We're loosing daylight." Scott told Salvador, taking the lead. Soon enough they entered a large field of waist deep grass and wildflowers. It wasn't long though until they reached the fence.

The fence was an amalgam of chain link, cattle panels, sheet metal, and wire (mostly barbed), and many materials overlapped. Moss and vines covered parts of it. On Salvador and Scott's side were faded warnings not to enter in white pain, warnings only five years old. On the other side, bones and carcasses of various animals (and some people), as well as caked layers of blood in some sections served as indicators that you were on the wrong side and needed to get out. On Salvador and Scott's side was acres of grassy fields, while on the other were tall trees, a mixture of evergreens and deciduous.

And there was a hole in it. It wasn't a very big hole, large enough for a man (maybe with a pack if it wasn't very full) to crawl through and under into a place only fools and the literally fearless ever dared tread.

"Did they-" Salvador started to ask.

"They sure did." Scott told him, dismounting to check for certain.

He looked at the scuff marks in the dirt under the hole, and considered for a minute that it might've been animal activity. He peeked through gaps in the fence, and saw that there were boot prints on the other side.

"Did you find tracks?" his partner asked nervously.

Scott looked at him, noticing three abandoned, saddled horses grazing at the edge of the field in the distance, "Yes."

"It could've been one of the rangers." Salvador said, "Or a zombie track, you just don't know for sure."

Scott scoffed, "On the contrary, if it were a zombie track there would've been scrapping from drug feet. Had it been a ranger I doubt we would've seen any tracks, given their thing for moccasins."

"You can't honestly be considering-"

"Those people killed Maddie." Scott growled, "I'll be damned if I let them escape."

"They're as good as dead anyway."

"No, they aren't. You and I have both been in those woods before."

"That was different, Scott."

"What, cause we got dumped in there by the friend of a mark? No, it's not. What they are probably doing, what I'd be doing, is cutting across the Park so that I wouldn't be tracked. I'd stay in long enough to get through them off, pop back out somewhere else and be solid. We have no idea of where they plan on coming out, even in a general sense, so we can't just follow the fence and hope to find their tracks. This thing is hundreds of miles long."

"I'd tell you how dangerous it is, but you already know. In case you forgot, the herds in there ain't like the ones out here. There they get thousand, two thousand head of zombies in one massive, monstrous thing! And that's not even mentioning what else lives amongst those fucking trees!"

"Fuck off!" Scott shouted, ending his partners rant, "I've survived that place! I was in there for a year before they put the goddamn fence up! I was out here living this before the Rangers! Back when you were safe in one of them government cities out East! Back before... before...." Scott stopped himself short of saying, 'Before Mary died' for he just didn't have it in him.

Salvador took a deep breath, "That's true, but that's also before they showed up.

Scott shook his head, "I still have to do this."

"I have a terrible feeling about this." Salvador said.

"You don't have to go." Scott told him, tossing his bag over the fence, "But if you stay- watch my horse." He told him, hitching his horse to a tree about 30 yards off from the fence.

"Fuck you." Salvador muttered, tying up his own horse and tossing his pack over as well. He then followed Scott under the fence and into E.A. Poe National Park and Forest.

Once they got in the embarked in silence, not wishing to draw undue attention (the leaf litter below them was loud enough as it was). Where the wilderness on the safe side (not that either side was truly safe) had various animals and plans, the forest simply had bones and skeletons (save for the birds), most of it's plants long ago trampled down by the rampaging herds of zombies. The sun was beginning to set, and they had found themselves going down a lengthy slope towards a stream, way farther in the forest than they ever wanted to be.

They saw a body up ahead at the bottom. It was leaning against a boulder and halfway in the water, mangled and chewed on. It's foot had been caught in a bear trap that had been placed long ago, a lot like the one Julian had been caught in. It's bones were mostly bare, remnants of internal organs splashed out on the ground from were it had been eaten from mostly at it's abdomen. A .45 with no more bullets sat on the ground next to it, a few slain zombies evidence that it had been used.

"Zombies don't just half eat shit," Salvador whispered, "We need to get going."

Scott shook his head, "No. There are more tracks. They headed down this stream." he began to here zombie moans, and the fearful sliver of him wanted to run, for the sound they made and the amount of it they made almost sounded like the ocean, reminding Scott of the port town he grew up in many states away and many years ago.

"Are you crazy?' Salvador hissed, "You want to be out here after dark? Or do you just want to wait for what drove away the zombies to come back?"

Scott was about to berate Salvador for suggesting to leave, when he saw a zombie crest the top of the hill ahead of them in the dusk glow. Then another. Then two more. Then half a dozen. Then fifteen. It wasn't long before a wave of zombies crested the hill after the first handful, and Scott drew his silenced pistol from it's holster.

"Fuck." he said. Salvador was almost frozen in fear, slowly drawing his pistol. Scott stood up and whacked him on the shoulder, "We don't have time for this! You want to live then we've gotta run!" he told him, booking it back up the hill from the direction he'd came. He turned around every dozen steps or so to pop off a round, most of the time hitting one, his misses at the very least hitting them in the chest or neck. He reached the top and heard screaming behind him. He turned around and saw his friend and colleague get bit on the arm. Salvador turned and shot it, then pulled out his shotgun, knowing he had little time left on planet Earth. At least, alive.

Scott watched as he began to shoot the zombies that began to surround him, his swears quickly reverting back to Spanish, his mother tongue. Scott snapped out of it, realizing he had died almost a minute ago, and the sound was starting to drag in loners. Some of the herd was tearing Salvador's body to pieces, but the rest was still trudging up the hill. Scott made a break for it, but decided instead of going back to the fence he'd circle around until he could get to the tracks. He wasn't about to forget his grisly task.

---

Around fifteen minutes had passed. The sun had set, but there was still light. Scott could see the beginnings of stars though, meaning that he had to hurry and find a place to seek shelter. No matter how bad he wanted to avenge Maddie's death, he knew he would fail in the dark. He eventually found an old foot bridge and a forked trail. A worn sign showed him the way to three different places. Across the bridge would take him to an overlook, down the right fork would take him to a camping area, and down the left fork would take him to 'the Inn'. He decided to try his luck with the last one, mostly due to the fact that the tracks seemed to go that way.

---

He'd caught up to the mother fuckers. They were in one of the second story rooms of 'the Inn', which was basically a Park run hotel for tourists. At least, it used to be. Scott knew they were in the second floor room at the far end from the stairs because he saw a faint light, probably from a candle or a lantern, coming from the shattered window, it's curtains billowing outward.

He was loosing light fast, and if he wanted to get this done he needed to do it fast. He quietly made his was across the lot and settled in under the walkway to the room, listening. He heard voices from inside, though he couldn't make out what they were saying. They were trying to be quite, a move Scott thought was wise. He himself was terrified of another herd (or worse) coming through.

The wind began to get heavier, and He adjusted the button up he wore, rolling down the sleeves. He heard a roar in the distance. It wasn't a coyote's howl. It wasn't a wolf's either, and it sure wasn't a bear's roar. Scott knew exactly what it was, and it scared him more than anything else in that damn forest. He crept to the stairs slowly, moving only with the wind so a creaking board wouldn't seem suspicious. He got right to the under the windowsill, and realized that there were two men. Both were afraid from the sounds of their voices, though Scott still couldn't make what they were saying out over the wind. He figured he probably had five minutes, if that, of light left. The light from inside disappeared, and the talking ceased.

Scott peaked in and saw little, save for the two vile human beings inside. One was on the bed, the other given the shaft and having to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. Scott waited, and eventually heard snoring. At that point it really was dark. The moonlight shined into the room from a rear window, and Scott slid in through the glass less front.

His eyes adjusted, and soon he could make out the silhouettes of the pair. He had plans for them both. The man on the bed he snuck up on. He grabbed a spare, slightly moldy pillow that the sleeping man had thrown in the floor and shoved it onto his face, at the same time putting his arm down over his throat, making sure he'd make no noise... and then there was one.

The other Scott also snuck up on, but he didn't kill him. No, Scott had other plans

---

When Troy woke up, he was tied up, but still in the room. His captor had the a blade in hand, a blade that had caused many slices and stabs into Troy's limbs and stomach. Death was almost certain, it had been assured in fact, but it was a matter of whether or not it would be quick that Troy cared about at that moment. His captor undid the gag.

"I trust you won't scream now, we don't want to draw the zombies in do we? If so I'll just let them eat you."

Troy shook his head in protest.

"Good. Now, who hired you?"

"I told you, I saw the bounty list in town and took it. I've got a pregnant wife to feed," Troy lied, trying to earn a swift death, "Please, you gotta believe me."

"You're lying." His captor said, putting the gag back. The man in the Ford hat headed back to his bag, then pulled out a pair of pliers.

Troy tried to move, but couldn't as he was tortured once more.

"Okay, how about now?" the horrible man asked him.

Troy sobbed, his mouth numb with pain, "The Governor of the State!" he exclaimed through a bleeding and almost toothless mouth, "He, he put up the list a month ago, but few took up on it. He was unhappy with the results, so he just hired a dozen of us straight up to kill you." he painfully moaned, "He sent another group like us in after the Flowers. Something else was mentioned, something about sending in the soldiers if our teams failed. Please, please believe me." he begged and pleaded.

The man regarded him in for a minute. Troy couldn't see his facial expression in the dark, but he knee it must have been bad.

"I do... but that doesn't mean I'm finished."
Last edited by RingWraithsAnonymous on Mon May 13, 2019 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
the Watcher

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by 91Eunozs » Sun May 12, 2019 11:49 pm

Damn... hard luck for that poor bastard. Well earned fate though...

Really nice job on this fast-paced chapter; it really covers a lot of ground in a short space (see what I did there?) LOL...

—break—

Edit mode:

Loose= not tight; lose, losing, etc. is the word you need.
White paint...though “pain” was eerily apropos.
Quiet = not making much noise...they were quite quiet...or not!
“Cause” should technically be spelled “ ‘cause ” since in this use it’s a contraction of “because” but not a biggie...I’ve done a lot worse!
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woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by idahobob » Mon May 13, 2019 6:10 am

My, my. I reckon retribution will be Scott's,eh.
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by Halfapint » Mon May 13, 2019 12:07 pm

Great update! Digging this story.

91 caught what I was seeing. Only other editing I might do would be better transitions. You talk about him following the tracks to the inn, and the next is he's here. It's rather abrupt and with no transition of how far he walked, the lay out of the inn, just he's there and he's under them. It doesn't really detract from the story in anyway just makes it play out a bit rushed is all.

Keep it up, I'm really really digging this!
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed May 15, 2019 10:01 pm

To 91 Eunozs: Hopefully this time the only grammar issues will be 'cause cause sort of things. It ended up getting gone over a time or two to work out the issues.
To idahobob: Yeah, seems that way doesn't it?
To Halfapint: You have a point, looking back I don't like that transition. Normally I try to take more time with those spots, particularly when there is a new location involved. I was in a rush when I did that one though, so hopefully I'll learn from that and remember to write more before I go to post.

Let me know what you think, I hope you enjoy and as always, thanks for reading and thank you for the support.

***

Chapter 5: the Lonely Black

It was sometime after midnight. At least, that was what he guessed at. He wasn't really sure. Either way, both men in the bedroom were now dead. Scott himself was in the connected bathroom, eyes tearful and mood sour.

The fact that Governor McKenzie had decided to make a move against the hunters surprised him. He knew there was bad blood between both sides, but Scott also knew that there was an order from the president telling him to strictly not go after them. Question was, what made him change his mind? Did the president decide to abandon the idea of coexisting with Scott's kind, or had the governor simply gone rogue? The answers were few, but the implications seemed great. The man he'd tortured had told him a lot, most of which was at least mostly true. Scott doubted the ability of a group like the one that had attacked the bunker to take on the Flowers' on their home turf. As for the other hunters... his first move would have to be meeting up with them again, seeing who all was left and making a plan to assassinate McKenzie. Assassination was the best solution Scott could come up with anyway, but if the soldiers got mobilized... that would be a problem. This could very easily turn into a rebellion. As much as he hated it, he knew the Insurgence would end up on the hunters' side as well. He hoped to God it didn't come to any of that though.

Another one of those horrible howls echoed through the night, sending a chill down Scott's spine, and breaking his concentration and sending it down a new line of thought. He was in trouble, and he knew it. Thankfully none of them seemed too close, though it was hard to tell the way sound echoed off of the hills. If a herd came through he'd be fucked, especially if it was more than a few hundred... he'd seen them level houses before.

There it was again: that awful, blood curdling sound. Scott froze, for that one had seemed awfully damn close, and he didn't want to do anything to draw it's attention. He waited for what seemed like an hour, though it was probably only thirty minutes or so. That's when he heard the rain start up, and soon after thunder.

He was relieved in a way. To a point at least the noise from the weather would help disguise any noise he made. Was he really going to sit in the bathroom until morning? He wasn't sure, but it seemed the safest option for the time being. He couldn't think of any alternatives, and truth be told he'd never been in this part of the forest since before, meaning he had no idea how long it might take to go to another 'safe' spot. He laughed internally at the thought of safety in a place like that.

A third howl, this time loud enough to make him clamp his hands over his ears. His breathing sped up and adrenaline shot through his veins. That meant one of them was way too close for comfort. He grabbed the rifle that he hadn't had to use yet, and flipped the safety off. Things might just get a little crazy.

He heard another noise, but instead of a ear piercing howl it was more of a growl, confirming his fears that the thing was indeed close. Knowing he'd rather have it see him on his own terms, he got up, against all of his self preservation drive.

He walked through the open doorway into the room slowly. He glanced out the rear window and saw that it was pitch black outside, something that wouldn't lend itself to his task. He shouldered the rifle and looked through the thermal scope out the window- it might not find the undead, but it would find what was about to try and eat him.

Nothing.

He shuddered, suspense building up. He heard another growl, then scraping sounds coming up the stairs down at the end of the outdoor walkway. Scott slowly crept to the front window, not yet poking his rifle and head out. He heard creaking steps through the rain, coming closer. He did the deed, resolving himself to shoot anything with a heat signature.

He found what he dreaded, and in any other situation he would've fired without hesitation. This time he hesitated as his darkest fears coalesced into the creature before him, just a red and yellow, vaguely humanoid blob through the scope. His hesitation gave it enough time to let out a different kind of sound, not a growl or a howl, but a loud, guttural, ungodly roar. Scott poured an entire magazine of unsilenced bullets into it's torso, and quickly ejected the mag and put in another. It was on the ground, but started to rapidly bear crawl toward Scott's window, despite the fact that he could see warm dots of blood pour appear on the cold wood. Scott emptied another fifteen round magazine, this time closer to it's skull, and in a panic ejected and inserted a mag as he saw it twitch and spasm, shooting it until it ceased those motions as well.

Scott stopped after putting in his fourth fifteen round magazine, taking a couple of deep breaths. The forest was silent, having all been alerted to his gunfire. He stared through the scope at the dead corpse as the heat ever so slowly left it. He began to shake as he bent down to pick up the empty magazines, scorching the back of his hand on a searing hot spent bullet casing. He wished he'd bought a silencer for the rifle he had, but money always seemed to be a little too tight. At the moment he had bigger issues though.

The forest came to life again, and Scott new he was fucked as at least a dozen howls sounded in the distance. He tore his bag off the bed, leaped out the window, tripped over the beasts antlers, and booked it down to the ground. Fuck silence and stealth, he was a dead man if he didn't get a move one. It had taken 45 rounds to make sure the one was dead, and he simply didn't have the 500+ rounds required to take on another dozen of the monsters.

He pulled a head lamp out off his pocket and pushed it onto his hat, the light resting on the bill of his hat. He then turned it on as he sped through the forest. He knew he was around a mile away from the fence. He'd traveled three just to get to where he was, but that was with zigs and zags, and Scott had no intention of doing anything other than a straight shot to where he had come in at. He heard the howls behind him as he drew attention. His adrenaline pushed to levels he'd never experienced in all his years in the new world, and he knew he would beat every last one of his past mile times.

The howls got earsplittingly close, and he drew his pistol, shooting behind him as he beyond sprinted to the fence, it's silhouette visible in the distance. The rain was pounding down on him, and he felt his ears grow wet from blood. It was a wonder he wasn't deaf by then, he thought later. He saw the whole in the fence and the howls turned to the roars. He chucked his bag as far as he could and watched it clip the top of the fence, sailing over it. As he dove through the hole he came through earlier, much like he'd dove into home base in high school, he felt one of them grab his shoe. He got all the way through, and the things crowded around the nine foot fence. They slammed into it and roared and growled, trying to get to the almost home free Scott.

Six inch long claws dug into his shoe, the grayish blue hand they were attached to tightening its grip on the Scott's boot. He felt them start to puncture through as he shot the hand a half dozen times with his pistol. It retracted, violently taking his boot with it. Had it been tied tighter it would've done serious damage (as it was, it was definitely sprained at the very least) He dropped the sidearm, shoving the barrel of his rifle into the hole and firing the whole magazine into it as he scooted away. He got up and ran, not stopping until he reached the trees where the horses had been tied up.

He had barely made it out of E. A. Poe National Park and Forest.

The noise soon stopped, and Scott trembled as he heard them begin to howl and run off in some other direction. Scott stood up, wiped the dust off, then promptly collapsed. His now bootless left ankle hurt like a bitch, but he could move it, meaning it wasn't dislocated. He looked up at where the horses were tied to the tree, only to find them gone, their ropes cut.

Scott laughed sadly.

"When it rains, it motherfucking pours." he said to himself.

Not having anything else to do and nowhere to go, he hobbled around until he found his bag, the contents mostly intact. He then climbed up the tree the horses had been on and unrolled his sleeping bag, making a somewhat less uncomfortable sleeping spot in the crook of a tree, sheltered from the rain by the leaves and branches.

---

He awoke in the early morning, the rain a distant memory. His ankle still hurt, but not nearly as bad, which he took as a good sign. He got his things, climbed down the tree, and began to walk back. Once again the route home was faster as he didn't have to follow any winding path.

He was about halfway back to the bunker when he saw the smoke slowly pour over the trees.

He ran as fast as he could (not nearly as fast as he would've liked given his ankle). The closer he got the more the smoke seemed to be coming from his place. He pushed through the trees and got onto the dirt road, he tore through the still open gate and past the barn to find his storm shelter doors wide open, smoke billowing out of it.

He took a deep breath and jumped in, not a good decision as his ankle soon taught him. He held in a swear and pushed in, desperate to save something. The fire had overtaken the main room and was close to Maddie's. Scott's room was ablaze, and his heart sank

He rammed open Maddie's door and stumbled in, burning his hand on the door knob and in desperate need of air. He grabbed the first thing he thought to grab (and one of the few things he direly cared about enough to risk his life), then ducked down, taking a deep breath of clean air. He then bolted back out and up the ladder, knowing bullets and fire were a bad mix.

And just like that, he lost everything but the contents of his bag, the clothes on his back, his pistol and rifle, and one thing from the bunker.

---

It wasn't much longer after that that he found himself at the creek. He had dug two things out of his bag: a pair of scissors that he had Maddie use to cut his hair, and a razor. The razor hadn't been used in six years.

Scott stared into his reflection in the morning light, and used the scissors to their end. He then grabbed the razor and used it, cutting himself due to his lack of practice as of late. By the time he was done he watched the first of his beard hair disappear from sight down the stream. He gazed at himself, and was impressed, for all of those jokes about people not recognizing him turned out to be true. He barely recognized himself if he was being honest.

He looked at it one more time, then picked up the singed photograph of him, Mary, and Mad Dog from nine years prior. Back before everything went to shit. Scott smiled sadly and began to tear up sorrowfully, taking a minute to compose himself. He carefully put it in his pocket, and took of his hat, tossing it in the stream. He watched it disappear around the bend, then stood up, stretched, and left the woods outside of where the bunker used to be.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

My Fiction on ZS:
a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
the Watcher

idahobob
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by idahobob » Fri May 17, 2019 9:13 am

Time to start the hunt.
People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."

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91Eunozs
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by 91Eunozs » Fri May 17, 2019 10:05 am

Damn fine chapter...Thanks!
Molon Latte...come & take our coffee order
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:... It's fun to play pretend, but this is the internet, and it's time to be serious.
zengunfighter wrote:... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.

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bodyparts
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Re: a Price For Every Head

Post by bodyparts » Fri May 17, 2019 4:55 pm

Damn fine chapter.... indeed !!! Thanks for the update and keep up the good work! :clap: :clap: :clap:

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