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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s story #73 At the Snohomish Armory for a while SHTF & TEOTWAWKI

January 1, 2013

Just before, Shack and I stepped from outside into the dim, shadowy parade hall, I spot someone in the shady wooded area behind the armory. Dressed in old woodland green camouflage military fatigues sitting upon a horse with large brown and white spots, the person leaves nearly as soon as I spot them. Shack says over the radio that the rider took off out of the woods “like his ass was a’fire, and his head was a’catchin’.”

Shack describes the rider as a young male, but I did not get a good enough look to determine sex. I also hear Shack describe the brown and white horse as piebald. I only know that because I heard Shack’s description of the horse and rider over the radio. I am not that familiar with horses. I did wince though at the sound of the riding crop repeatedly striking the poor beast.

Another convoy member that Shack says must also be from the country describes the horse rider riding “hell bent for leather.” Shack mutters something, which sounded as if I needed to read more Kipling, whatever the hell that means. I am not sure immediately if the rider is one of ours or not. A commotion of radio traffic indicates that Shack and I were not the only ones to see the Pony Express hauling ass.

I gather by the subsequent radio conversations that the rider was most unquestionably not one of ours. Sam and Randy advise the perimeter guards and our over watch snipers on the roof to be on the lookout for a possible attack. Sutton mentions that he could have dropped the rider, but Sam decides the let the rider go since he made no hostile action.

Shack and I, momentarily distracted by the horse rider, forgot all about the extraordinarily tall sword-wielding hirsute man until he grabs my arm. I did not realize that I had my pistol in my right hand, finger on the trigger until his very large, warm hand covered my wrist gently but firmly. I do not remember drawing my pistol. Shack I note also has his pistol out.

Speaking with an odd accent, which I cannot quite place, the exceptionally tall man says, “Save your ammo. I’ll take care of these few zombies. A blade does not require reloading.”

The tall man turns from Shack, and I to face the zombies. With his right hand, he pulls the sword from its long black, studded leather sheath across his body in one swift motion with no wasted movement. The massive black and silver-handled sword slides out of the sheath with an evil, lethal hiss. I see a Christian Gothic cross deeply etched on to each of the flat sides of the wide octagonal end of the sword’s handle.

Obviously supremely skilled and used to handling the thick heavy sword, he holds it vertically as if it weighs nothing with his right hand. As if saluting the zombies, he momentarily touches the wide sword blade to his smooth broad forehead. With fluid grace surprising for a man so large and muscled, he wades into the zombies with smooth, lethal efficiency.

I could see that the sword blade is exceptionally wide, easily as wide as my whole hand. The blade is double-edged with a deeply scalloped, wide blood groove running from the blade’s tip to the handle. (I later learn that blood groove is inaccurate it is properly called a fuller.) The sword blade did not look particularly sharp, not like some of those wickedly sharp Japanese swords that I have seen in movies such as Kill Bill.

The sword looks heavy and terribly lethal. With a blade nearly five feet long and the easily over seven-foot tall wielder’s considerable reach, he merely had to step forward about a half step to reach the first zombie. Bringing the sword down with an awful whistling swoosh, he hits the first zombie in the left temple with a brutal horizontal chop, burying the sword in the zombie’s face.

Wrenching the sword free with a sickening, wet sucking sound, he kicks the first zombie in the sternum off of the sword’s blade. As the first zombie collapses, he pivots dipping the sword handle near his knees. With both hands on the sword handle, he violently thrusts the point of the sword vertically up underneath the second zombie’s chin.

With a sickening wet crunch, the thick blade pierces the zombie’s palette shredding the brain. I watch the Kevlar helmet on the second zombie rise with the point of the sword embedded in it, the helmet chin strap sinking into the rotting flesh of the zombie’s neck.

With the sword point buried in the second zombie’s head and helmet, the man violently twists the sword ripping it vertically through the dead zombie’s face. Exploding from the face of the second zombie, the sword blade scatters teeth and bloody chunks of bone everywhere.

Whipping the sword blade violently over his left shoulder, flinging blood and chunky bits of bloody brain and skull, he swings it swiftly hitting the third zombie with a short vertical chop straight through the eyes across the bridge of its nose ripping the whole top of the zombie’s head off.

While the top part of the third zombie’s skull and part of its brain is still air born, he steps lightly backwards and plants an elbow hard into the face of the fourth zombie. Staggered by the hard unexpected blow the fourth zombie falters. Blade held horizontally, stabbing with a short violent vertical jab from the shoulders, the man buries the sword into the face of the fourth zombie under its Kevlar helmet rim.

Ripping the sword from the face of the fourth zombie with a fountain of black blood flinging more bloody bits of bone and brain, he moves too quickly for the last zombie to grab him. Ducking under its arms, he steps to the left of the zombie whipping the dripping sword over his left shoulder.

Holding the sword in a two-handed grip in a position with the tip near the level of his extremely nice, tight, blue jean clad ass, he whips the blade down grunting shortly with the effort. Shack calls this the sky-to-ground move. With a wet sound, the quick violent two-handed vertical chop to the center of the zombie’s forehead, the sword splits the zombie’s head, and Kevlar helmet like an overripe melon.

The leading edge of the sword stops in the center of the zombie’s neck. Stepping forward following the collapsing zombie, he lets it fall on to the floor while keeping a light grip on his sword. Standing with one black leather booted foot on the supine zombie’s chest, he wrenches the blade from the zombie scattering more blood, bits of bone and teeth.

“See, no need to use bullets for so few,” he remarks causally. Bending over, he rips off a large chunk of the uniform blouse from the last zombie he killed as if this is a common occurrence. Using the torn shirt, he nonchalantly wipes the gore off of the sword with practiced ease while walking back towards Shack and I. I notice incredulously that he is not even breathing hard.

As if it were the most normal, causal thing in the world he drops the ripped bloody shirt piece with which he used to wipe the sword blade clean on to the parade hall floor. Sliding the sword back into its sheath on his left hip with a final lethal hiss, he places his large hands on his wide generous hips like a disapproving father observing naughty children.

The man is heavily muscled and large-boned. He has the smooth lines that look as if he gained the muscle naturally. The man clearly does not have the hard, lumpy look of a gym rat. I would place his height over seven feet tall, maybe seven and a half feet. The man probably weighs better than 300 pounds but is not fat at all.

“I’ll need to oil my sword later,” he remarks to one in particular. “Now, who are you?” he asks, arching his thick, bushy brown unibrow at Shack and I.

I noticed that he nearly has a single solid eye brow across his wide thick forehead. This man needs some serious manscaping. His shaggy, dark brown hair is worn a little long just barely touching the collar of his plaid flannel shirt. His piercing vivid blue eyes with light, silver flakes remind me of pure glacial ice. His eyes are nearly swallowed by the vast bushy dark brown beard that erupts from his face beneath them.

The man has a wide and large nose which peeks out from the beard like the tonsure of a Capuchin monk. I assume that he has lips underneath all that fur, but I could not hardly make them out, despite an occasional flash of flesh. His thick beard runs right into the collar of his shirt, and I could not see where his neck and face blended. This man is seriously hairy!

The man does not wear any jewelry; no wedding ring, earrings, not even a wrist watch. I recognize the large revolver in his shoulder holster as a stainless Smith & Wesson model 629. Both pockets of his flannel shirt bulge with contents. The delicate silver herringbone chain of a pocket watch trails from the left shirt pocket to a shirt button.

The wide light brown leather belt running through the belt loops of his blue jeans is bare except for a wide silver belt buckle. The belt carries the brown leather sheath of a knife that I bet, by the stacked brown leather handle, is a standard KA-BAR fighting knife.

Riding low on his generous hips just below the light brown leather belt in his pants is the thick, black studded leather sword belt. The sword sheath and belt match each other. Judging by the wear patterns on both, they obviously have been together for some time. The steel octagonal butt of the sword sticks up above his waist almost even with the butt of the 629. The tip of the sword sheath nearly touches the ground.

“Hello, cat got your tongue, or rather a zombie?” he asks.

Oh shit! I realize that I have been staring up at him, mouth agape and he has asked me two questions. I must look ass stupid. You just do not see every day a well over seven feet tall man wield a five foot long sword, like some demented Medieval Crusader, chopping zombies down with casual ease. The smooth lethality of this man reminds me of the old Samurai movies that Shack mentions when he occasionally reminisces about the old days.

Note to self, Ruth – never piss off seven-foot tall freak with sword!

“Uh, Ruth, I am Ruth” I managed to stammer out. “This is Shack,” I mention gesturing to Shack. I realize suddenly that I still have my pistol gripped in my hand and hastily holster it. Shack likewise holsters his pistol. Looking behind me, I realize that we have several members of the convoy who also witnessed the unexpected prowess of this extraordinarily large man.

Clay, the wounded soldier from the assault on the cannibal enclave, with whom I have gotten to know since then must have played Dungeons & Dragons because he mentions behind me that the sword the hirsute individual was wielding is a bastard sword, also known as a sword of war.

“Well, hi Uh Ruth lovely to meet you and you too Shack. What brings you to the new Snohomish, Washington National Guard Armory?” he asked, arching those damned bushy eyebrows again, his arms crossed across his chest like a disapproving school principal.

“It is Ruth, I mean just Ruth,” I stammer again what is wrong with me, I cannot get my tongue to work right!

“Well, Ruth what brings you here?” he asks again. “And Shack, is that like the old basketball player? You don’t look like a brother.”

“I … I mean we, were hoping to find some ammo, maybe some supplies, but it looks as if we are too late” I motion around the empty and obviously looted armory. Shack then corrects the tall man on the spelling of his nickname and how he came about it.

“The National Guard units disbanded or abandoned their posts and took almost all their weapons and equipment with them. Anything the departing soldiers left has been long ago looted by other survivors.” The large man seems terribly calm.

Sam and Doc Jamal arrive in the parade hall. The man continues to talk. “I was hoping that there might be some diesel around here. That blue Ford pickup parked at the front is mine. I have been running it on waste vegetable oil (WVO), but I need diesel to warm the engine up to operating temp before I can run the WVO. Good diesel is getting mighty scarce.”

Sam and Doc perform basic introductions. Turns out that the large, furry man’s name is Iain, and he is from somewhere in Oregon. As Sam details a small squad to clean out the parade hall, our convoy settles into its daytime routine. Shack and I walk back to the radio shack holding hands, which makes me feel like a giddy school girl with her first crush.

Sam, Doc, and Iain go into the command and cantina tent and disappear. Shack and Nikola tucks Carol and I into our bedrolls. Despite giving a good snogging to Carol, which I thought might lead to something more, Nikola departs the tent to go listen to the radios. We just finally got the only surviving AN/PSC-5 radio working again.

Nikola hopes that the PSC- 5 radio might pick up some new radio traffic. Surprisingly, Shen was quite a bit of help to get the PSC-5 manpack radio to work, saying that he had worked with similar Chinese army clones. Shack kisses me on the cheek, and I fall asleep quickly sleeping through the day.

When Shack wakes me up with his customary hot aluminum butterfly canteen cup of sweet black tea, he seems urgent to talk. Sitting up in my bedroll, I see that Carol is already out of her bedroll. The fact that Carol has not stowed her bedroll for travel today tells me that we are probably going to stay for another day.

Sipping hot tea, flavored with some nasty no-calorie sugar substitute, I grimace at the horrid aftertaste. While Shack refills my aluminum cup from the old battered plaid plastic Thermos, I ask him what is going on with convoy.

“As you gathered, Ruth,” Shack says in response to my probing. “We are staying at least another day here. The mechanics managed to squeeze a few gallons of diesel out of the dregs of the bulk tank. They have also collected all of the waste motor oil that they could find. They also collected spare parts for some of the vehicles. It appears that most people thought to drain the fuel tanks, but no one thought to collect the motor oil.”

Shack talks while I get dressed. At least he does not turn away and does not turn red anymore at the sight of my body. Sitting down to put on my boots, I listen to Shack continue to talk.

“Iain was a tremendous help. He has been scouting around the Pacific Northwest by himself for a few weeks. He has several maps upon which he has annotated bridges that were dynamited by the Army Corps of Engineers or bombed by the Air Force. Pretty much any serious bridge on any significant highway has been blown to shit either by the Engineers or the Air Force.”

Shack and I walk to the latrine and afterwards to the chow hall where we grab some grub. Gabe and the cooks have done a good job. We are out of tortillas again, except for the occasional MRE tortilla. Dinner tonight is a whopping heaping bowl of beef-flavored Ramen noodles with orzo mixed with red kidney beans, green peas, lima beans and little, brown, crunchy nuts which I cannot identify.

Picking at the little brown nuts, Shack sees my confusion and takes pity on me. “They’re pine nuts. Longfeather found a whole bunch of pine cones in the wooded park behind the armory. Had the Scouts collect all of the pine cones they could find. Spent most of the day busting them apart and taking the pine cone nuts out. Seems the Native American tribes used to eat quite a few pine nuts. The Princess is using the pine cone bits as fire starter in her Chinese laundry.”

I note that the Princess has her laundry cranked up on full and appears to be using wood. Shack tells me that the propane supply is running low, and we are going to be leaving some of the empty bulk propane tanks here. We will also be dropping one HEMTT, the diesel tanker as it is empty now. Stripped of any spare parts, the HEMTT is unceremoniously left at the very back of the armory motor pool.

The Princess’ laundry has also become the de facto water purification site. The water tanker HEMTT has made a few trips to a nearby river to refill. The water tanker has also refilled all of the water buffalos in the convoy. Fresh water is in plenty supply, but drinking water still needs to be boiled before use.

The colonel’s station wagon is the other change in the convoy. The colonels finally gave up on their little battered station wagon and took over a pair of Humvees, assigning a corporal to drive each of the colonels with two more soldiers for protection detail. Splitting the colonels makes tactical sense, and despite their friendship, not having them in the same vehicle makes more sense than risking losing both of them together.

Sam says not having to drive all night anymore will take some pressure off of him and lets him focus more on the convoy leadership. The colonels with their assigned drivers and three bodyguards seem content with the change. The next few days will tell how the colonel’s change works out for the convoy.

When Shack goes to sleep in my bedroll, along with Shen and Nikola in their own bedrolls beside him, Carol, and I take over the night radio watch. Seems Iain did not stick around terribly long, taking off in that battered 1986 Ford pickup; same model year that I was born. Iain has been bopping around on his own, moving slowly and quietly as to avoid attracting too much attention. I am surprised that Iain has survived all by himself for so long.

The long quiet night passes without anything eventful happening. Carol and I talk all night long to keep each other awake and alert. Thankfully, a thoughtful Nikola and Shack made sure we were well supplied with hot coffee and tea. Shame that there is only the nasty tasting no-calorie sugar substitute sweetener. There is very little radio traffic on the air. Even the religious nut jobs have fallen silent, or we are finally out of their range.

Carol tells me a lengthy tale about Nikola and the Scouts attempting to find a few milk goats. Carol is fully showing and has a delightful baby bump upon which she rests her coffee cup. The need for milk goats is so that if Carol cannot breast feed, we could use the goat milk for the baby. I consider telling her that Bedouin women use camel’s milk as well, but it might make her ill at the thought.

Goats are pretty common in Israel with some of my cousins raising them occasionally. Not too sure about finding goats around here as they are not that popular in the Western US, compared to dairy cattle. Most of the farms we have passed have been long looted of anything of edible or other value.

In the morning, the boys relieve Carol and I. Carol, Shack and I get some breakfast from the chow tent, oatmeal again. Most of the convoy personnel are taking advantage of the opportunity to sleep indoors for a change. Today is a shower and laundry day, so Carol and I get to take a quick shower and change our clothes.

Freshly showered, sliding into my bedroll feels so damned good. Shack kisses me good night, and I am nearly instantly asleep. Shame too, because I had half of a thought to pull Shack into my bedroll for a good night tumble.

I do not wake until Shack wakes me in the usual manner with some more of the black pekoe tea sweetened with more of the awful tasting no calorie sugar substitute. I meant to tell Shack to skip the sweetener.

While I dress, I note that Carol’s and all the rest bedrolls are gone, so I assume that we are moving tonight. Shack is really excited this morning. As I dressed, and while we walked to the latrine and then to the chow hall; Shack talks non-stop. It appears that the convoy had an exceptionally busy day while I slept.

Noting the busy vibe in the convoy, as the tents are being stored and all gear readied to move, I listen to Shack detail the day’s events. While he talks, I am glad that they let me sleep, but I sort of wish they might have woken me up. After all, I am supposed to be an S-2 officer in this outfit. I cannot be much use intelligence wise if they do not wake me up.

Around noon, several men and a couple of women on horseback rode up to the armory gates. The thing that amazes Shack the most is that these folks had a couple of camels with them. The camels are apparently rescues from a local zoo and are employed as pack animals. I am all too familiar with camels. I despise the fucking disgusting animals maybe more so because of my Arab heritage.

The horse riders leading the laden camels are from another group of survivors in the nearby mountains east of Snohomish, Washington. These survivors came to trade, offering several cases of canned foods, and several bulk sacks of grain, flour, sugar and salt. The survivors also traded several smoked salmon, apparently a common food item around this area.

Our convoy traded several basic M4s (minus optics) with several cases of M855 ammo. With each M4 came six standard 30-round magazines. These survivors had civilian AR15s, but no machine guns, so Sam traded them several of our spare M4s. We had more weapons than personnel anyway. The survivors called themselves, the Gold Bar Rangers (GBR), not sure how they came up with that snazzy name.

The GBR informed us that highway 2, east bound out of Snohomish up over the mountains is impassable. Several of the bridges and large portions of the raised highway were destroyed either by the Corps of Engineers or bombed by the Air Force. Interstate 90 east bound is also in a similar state with large portions of the raised highway blown to bits by the Air Force. The GBR also mentioned that the I-90 snow shed, whatever the hell that is, was also bombed by the Air Force.

There is an unusual amount of wet, heavy snow in the Cascade Mountains. With more snow building up nearly every day, the passes through the mountains may not be open for several months if ever. The GBR mention that even at their place they have several feet of snow, which is unusual for the end of June.

With no snow removal, the roads that do survive through the Cascades are impassable right now. The unusually cold spring weather has dumped more snow in the mountains. The GBR did suggest that highway 20 east bound might be passable in a few months if the snow bothers to melt away.

We do have a snow plow with an experienced operator. Speaking of that operator, Rick mentioned that before the Washington Department of Transportation disbanded, there were reports of more than 115 feet of snow in some parts of the Cascade Mountains while they were still measuring.

More snow has fallen since then with the unusually cold spring. Rick also repeatedly mentions the extreme danger from avalanches in the mountains. Rick does not believe that a single snow plow could forge a way through the snow. The risks of getting stuck up there and ending up like the Donner party is too strong.

Going over the mountains to the city of Twisp and from there north into Canada to the Canadian city of Osoyoos was the convoy’s general idea. Sounds like getting over the Cascade Mountains may take longer than we hoped.

The convoy pulls out of the Snohomish armory heading north on highway nine.

  1. Anonymous permalink

    Love this story, Great job of holding my intrerest. I check everyday to see if you’ve written more. Thank you for entertaining us. Larry

  2. Greg Landgraf permalink

    Thanks for the story!

  3. They grow em big in Oregon. Sounds like logger stock. Sorry that it sounds like he won’t be joining the team and we’ll likely never hear about the claymore(ish) clad Paul Bunyan fellow again.

  4. Tim permalink

    Awesome twist loving the story keep it up.

  5. I agree with everyone, you have done a fine job a firing up the story and keeping us guessing what will happen next, as an example, I thought that the character Lain might have been some type of strange Zombie handler as Mischion in the walking dead, I was wrong and your representation of his character was killer. thank you. I will try to get back on my small tale, I seem to have fizzled since getting back to work.Thanks for the great additions. M.M.

    • Please, please… don’t froegt to take the can opener with the canned goods… Ha! I almost hashtagged zombie apocolypse. I should probably spend less time on twitter ;*)~Kristin

  6. I think Iain will make another apperance……. Just a feeling. 🙂
    Really nice story with day to day things and not all slice and dice ’em.

  7. If I may ask, without opening up a hole in your fine work… How are they going to make their way through the heavy snow up highway 9 and with only one snowplow?, perhaps the snow is not as thick as the “gold bar” folks told them Just wondering. Can’t wait for your next eye-opener. M. M.

    • Highway 9 runs north-south but is a low lying highway in the valley of the Snohomish River. BTW I live less than a half mile west of the highway. From what the GBR told the convoy any of the major roads eastbound over the Cascades (I90, SR2, SR20) are impassable with snow.

      • Thanks for the update, i live way the hell down in South florida, it was 80 degrees today, what a winter we get, 80 degrees in January.
        The story is awsesome as usual and i really enjoy the way you work and drive it, always surprising us and lighting the story up.
        If I didn’t have to run reports on a 800 School Board personnell and the production of our various depts, i might be able to put a decent,readable, story together.
        But i still have a job. Times are hard now, we have lost over a hundred good hard working folks here in Broward County.
        I sent you a respose back on chapter #71. Check it out and let me know about the latest additions to the tale I have sent.
        Thanks and be well. M.M.

  8. I am praying my llitte heart out that the internet will be magically restored when I get home. Then I feel slightly guilty for wasting prayer on something like that. Then I think of how crabby my husband will be if the internet is not restored. Then I start praying again with a clear mind and heart.

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