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Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #59 Camping for the day along the Sammamish River SHTF & TEOTWAWKI

August 22, 2012

During the brief piercing, clarity provided by the helicopter’s search light, I notice thousands of zombies standing in the grass beside the highway at the golf course entrance. With one suddenly massive heave, the mountain of tumultuous undead started to move in the convoy’s direction while it was bathed in the piercing, hot white beam of light from the helicopter.

Thankfully the helicopter did not stick around very long or continue to illuminate the convoy. The undead would have swarmed our convoy, and we would have been in deep shit.

I would have shot at the helicopter had it remained and continued to illuminate the convoy. I am sure that I would not have been alone in shooting the helicopter had it remained. I do not recall any antiaircraft weapons in the convoy.

Although the quad 50 and the 20 millimeter canon can be used in an air suppression role, modern faster aircraft are hard to hit accurately with a manual mount hence the advent of radar and computer controlled guns.

During the Second World War and shortly thereafter, the quad 50 and its descendants briefly were extremely popular for air suppression, particularly for slow, low flying helicopters. Should we see more helicopters, we might have to consider air defense, as well.

I am sure that the helicopter saw our convoy personnel standing around, but no one got a decent look at the helicopter. Most agree the helicopter was not a gun ship, like an Apache, but might have been a police or news helicopter. No convoy member recalls seeing any armament on the helicopter.

I shut off my NVGs while the convoy blathers about the helicopter over the radio. I let the NVGs rest a minute and then turn them back on clearing the white out. With my NVGs functional again, I see that, thankfully, once the helicopter shut off its search light, the thousands of zombies stopped walking towards the convoy.

Grabbing my radio, I am just about to push the transmit button to tell the convoy the information about the thousands of zombies I spotted when Nikola beats me to it. His report about the zombies is much more concise than what I was considering.

Nikola spotted some white FEMA trailers and several large O.D. green tents in the golf course; things I did not see from my vantage point. Nikola also mentions seeing a large open pit mass grave reminding me of the one I passed earlier on I-5.

The general consensus within the convoy is that the golf course is not a safe place to stay for the day, so we press on. A radio discussion ensues about whether or not to send a search team in to the golf course for supplies while it is dark.

The pros and cons of sending a MOPP 4 dressed search party into a golf course full of thousands of zombies are argued at length. The final consensus is that risking more personnel for the unknown quantity or existence of supplies is not worth the risk involved. Conversation stops for a few minutes.

There is some concern with Rick’s alternate path through the University of Washington Bothell campus. Some of the convoy members express concern with the suggested route, through the campus, as it too may be full of zombies. Rick’s suggested route is more circuitous and will take longer, but if it contains fewer zombies than I am all for taking the route. I say so over the radio.

The quantity of abandoned cars becomes so numerous on the SR-522 highway main line that we are forced to leave the highway at 80th Avenue NE and jump on the Burke-Gillman Trail. Just as, we did earlier, we occasionally have to stop and blast clear anti-vehicle barriers using det cord and high explosives, but we make much better time on the trail than on the highway.

In the awful early morning while it is still fully dark, we pull off the Burke-Gillman Trail into a small, sleepy marina on the north shore of the Sammamish River. The marina has a large gray gravel parking lot with enough room for all of our vehicles.

The convoy members are understandably nervous about the Sammamish River to our backs several saying so over the radio. We hope that the Sammamish River current is strong enough, that any zombie in the river gets washed into Lake Washington.

The marina possesses a large rusty white tin metal building similar to the warehouse we stayed in the day before yesterday, but somewhat smaller and in much worse condition. While there is a break in the rain and there is still enough darkness that the zombies will not be active, a small search team is assembled to search the tin metal building and the rest of the marina.

The MOPP 4 dressed, convoy search team is dispatched after a mercifully short briefing. With the search team out, the rest of the convoy circles the wagons with the fajita truck in the center. Attempting to beat the rain, canvas shelters and ubiquitous blue tarps are strung between vehicles offering protection from the rain.

I am not quite sure what blue tarps have anything to do with camping in the Pacific Northwest, but several of the soldiers inform me that no one goes camping around here without a blue tarp. I am far too fucking tired to try to understand what a blue tarp has anything to do with camping. I only want to stuff my face and fall into my bed roll.

Gabe sticks his head out of the fajita truck for a few minutes. He starts handing soldiers tin foil turds. I shuffle along and join the queue, eventually getting handed a warm tin foil wrapped mystery by a haggard looking Gabe.

“Enjoy it while it lasts guys,” Gabe says. “The fajita truck is nearly empty.”

This news is not greeted with happiness. Between the rain, general lack of sleep, and overindulgence in caffeine, the convoy members are a surly lot, me included.

Shack and I plop into some folding chairs next to one of the tanker HEMTTs. Our little Smart car is sandwiched between the desert tan HEMTT to our backs and Carol’s blue Chevy pickup to our front. The soldiers are still busily stringing tarps, cables and poles to hold the tarps up as well as camouflage covering.

The camouflage covering will not hide the convoy from a determined observer. The camouflage covering does, however, cut down on the light entering our shelters, and gives another slight layer between us and the rain.

The camouflage covering may hide the convoy from a passing or casual observer. As for hiding the convoy from the zombies, the scouts reported that when wearing their Ghillie suits, as long as they did not move, the zombies utterly ignored them.

The general, untested theory is that the zombies are looking for specific prey. As long as you do not look like their preferred prey, the zombie might not bother you. The Ghillie suits broke the soldier’s outline enough that the zombie did not identify them as prey until they moved.

As shelters are erected and sleeping areas established, a few propane lanterns are lit to offer some light in the dark, dank shelters. Despite the multitude of tarps and canvas strung, leaks are inevitable and happen with disturbing frequency.

Munching our respective burritos which I think are chicken, Shack and I drink a warm can of beer while we stay out of the way of the convoy soldiers tasked with erecting the shelters. For being stuck in the middle of the gravel parking lot, the soldiers do a pretty decent job of making sure everyone and everything are covered up.

The colonels swing by and mention that they are going to be suggesting either forming as a militia or some other organized body. They want everyone to think on the idea, and in a few days the convoy will meet to discuss the options. Everyone will be allowed to speak, and all suggestions are encouraged. The colonels walk off continuing their tour.

Along the bank of the Sammamish River, a line of trees offer shade and some shelter from the rain. The tree line is also chosen as the location of the latrine. A line of ragged, shallow trenches are dug which are quickly filled with odiferous waste.

The rain continues through the early morning. As the sun rises, we see the dark, violent sheets of the black, inky looking rain falling from the skies. The air still has a metallic tasting smell to it. Jamal says the rain is not that hot with radiation, but no one should go into the rain needlessly.

The occasional hot, blue lightning bolt streaks across the sky. The lightning briefly illuminates the dark clouds of rain with a quickly fading pale blue light that almost looks purple close to the lightning’s terminus. The lightning is thin, wickedly forked and remains within the clouds, not appearing to strike the ground. The thunder is loud and high within the clouds.

Shack talks to me while I dig out my sleeping bag and make sure the water proof bivouac bag is secured to its outside. Earlier Shack and I had walked to the latrine which someone managed to shelter enough to drop trou out of the warm rain. I am still amazed the colonels found a NBC suit in my size.

It has been a exceedingly long time since I wore the ungodly hot and uncomfortable MOPP gear. I had forgotten how truly unpleasant the experience is. I am surprised that I remembered how to don the NBC gear and seal it up.

Since Israel uses mostly US Army issue gear, it was like riding a bicycle after a long absence. Once you have been properly trained in MOPP procedures you are not likely to forget it, because the experience is so miserable.

I hang my NBC suit and gas mask to dry after wiping them off with a decontamination kit beside Shack’s own drying NBC suit on top of our car. I notice that Shack is still in a talkative mood. Sitting on my bed roll while taking off my boots, I see that I am fortunate in that my sleeping area is away from the dripping edges of the tarps and deep enough in the shadows that I should not be bothered by sunlight if there is going to be any today.

“Not going to get much sleep today,” Shack mutters. A booming echo of thunder reiterates his statement.

“Yeah, well we need to protect the perimeter. Camped in the open as we are, we have to be more inconspicuous,” I tell him.

“Guys are out laying tangle foot traps and several different forms of early warning devices, should someone, or something trot by,” Shack says. “You know the Roman Legions when they marched erected fortifications every night, including a palisade if possible.”

“Shack, we do not nearly have as many people as a Roman Legion contained. It is hard enough getting the guys to dig a trench for a latrine. Imagine trying to get them to dig a trench clear around the whole camp. What kind of warning devices are they putting out there,” I ask.

“The boys are putting out these neat, little trip markers that snap a cyalume light when activated. So if, you suddenly see a green light in a tree, you know someone or something is coming. No one is putting any of the usual traps out there like Claymores or other antipersonnel mines because we just do not have that many. We also do not want to put any of the lethal shotgun shell traps or the flare launching traps as we do not want to attract more attention. Several strips of sticky fly paper are being laid between trees and narrow spots. Some of the SF guys are laying trip snares. For some reason, they took a shit load of 550 paracord with them.”

This is the longest amount of time I have heard Shack speak in a while. When I say nothing, Shack starts speaking again.

“The scouts also reported that we should all fall back to the large tin building. That is where they are putting the noncombatants,” Shack tells me. “Then we just wait for dark for the zombies to go dormant, and drive outta here.”

“Well, zombies do not move very fast. As long as we do nothing that could attract zombies from far away we should be reasonably safe here,” I tell Shack. “The thunder, if it continues, may disorientate the zombies and cover any noise the convoy may make.”

“Shack, how did you end up in the Army so young?” I suddenly ask him.

“Dude, where you been,” he looks incredulously at me. “I got drafted when they conscripted all healthy and able persons between the ages of 16 and 60. That was back when they were still trying to keep the KCAP pandemic east of the Missouri River. I lost my father with the 2nd Kansas when Kansas City fell. I’ve been working my way west with various Army and other service groups since.”

“The Army was letting drafted family members serve together. Dad and I went through abbreviated basic, Air Borne and Mountain schools together. Dad was also our company chaplain. Mom got a deference to care for my two little sisters. Mom got evacuated up the Missouri River with my sisters on a boat. I never heard if they made it or not.”

Shack pulls his little three legged stool out, sets it up and plops down on it. I take my boots off and lay them on the driver’s floor board of my car. I take my jacket off and lay it in my driver’s seat. I fuss with my hair for a while, trying to get most of the fuzzy bits secured.

Shack walks over and helps me apply some desperately needed conditioner to my hair from my toiletry kit. I appreciate the help, and Shack’s warm presence is comforting. I wonder how the Princess and her surviving child are holding up. I hope they got the Princess and her kid situated in the tin shack.

I put my pistol with its AAC suppressor, loaded with a round in the chamber, safety off and a full magazine under my pillow. I lay a spare, full pistol magazine of the Federal 147 grain subsonic hollow point rounds beside the pistol as well as my Sure Fire flashlight.

I lay down in my bed roll and am instantly out.

  1. Greg Landgraf permalink

    Man, I like the Ruth blog! Keep it coming!

  2. Green Eyed Jinn permalink

    I’m flattered for the incorporations.
    The cyalume kits are cool. I’ve never used one before. The jingle-bell device I mentioned earlier worked really well at a campground on Vancouver Island years and years ago…instantly deterred some scumbags who were breaking into cars at night.
    Finally, you are to be congratulated on being the first Zombie Apocalypse or TEOTWAKI fiction author who has any effective use and discussion of ghilli camouflage. The Mountain Man books I mentioned before have the only effective discussion of anti-zombie-bite armor. You’re almost there with more use of the MOP suits to prevent infection. Yours is the only good, detailed use of camo. Now…to put the ideas together.
    I keep hoping to see the story encounter other survivors…either holding out in hiding or trying to move out.
    One thing strikes me while thinking about under-water zombies: most navigation lights and channel markers run off deep-cycle batteries and most have some solar recharging rigs. They will stay functional for a long time. And some buoys have bells that clang with wave motion (tho’ those will be out in open water areas). I haven’t been to North Seattle in a few years (still have a house in Bremerton, but living on the east coast now), but the area you mention should have some of those navigation lights still working. I wonder how many zombies wandered out to try and get to those flashing beacons? Sort of like the cyalume trip-wires, I wonder if you could lure zombies out into deep water with a floating strobe light? Or battery-powered boom box in a row boat? Water temps in Puget Sound drop into the 30s much below 50 feet — and KCAP doesn’t like cold, right?

    • Green Eyed Jinn you are welcome on the inclusions – when my readers make good suggestions I like to incorporate them into the story. Yes KCAP does not like cold, so zombies in deep cold water will cease to function. Other than the Seattle barricade, the convoy will encounter other survivors. One major problem with the cyalume kits is that they are loud, so the thing that tripped it usually hears it snap the light stick. I like the flare launching trip snares too but those would attract zombies.

  3. Helios permalink

    “As long as you do not like their preferred prey, the zombie might not bother you.” I think you meant “look like their preferred prey.” I don’t like their prey either, having not chosen cannibalism.

    • Thanks for catching that Helios. The problem (one of many) of being your own editor is that sometimes you are too close to the work and a simple mistake will slip past me. Thanks for catching the slip.

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