Afghanistain Summer, 2010
Afghanistan had always been a hot, smelly shit hole, even before the dead walked. Staff Sergeant Morgan Putnam crouched on the roof of the burnt remains of a burnt out Maxxpro MRAP and surveyed the muted destruction before him. His ACUs were so dirty and covered with blood and grime that the digital pattern was barely visible. He cradled an old Russian AK-74 in his hands, and a Berretta M9 was holstered on his hip, a large knife was zip tied in its sheath to his belt. Morgan's plate carrier was tighten over his slim, athletic, grimy body and it's pouches were empty save one magazine for the AK.
"Sarge is there anyone left?" The question came from a built young Mexican soldier on the ground next to the burnt wreck. His M16A2 rifle was slung on his back, his ACU pants just as digusting as Morgan's, and a magazine for the M16 was protruding from his pocket.
"Not that I can see from here Eddie. Bagram is FUBAR." He jumped off the armored truck, flexing his long legs to absorb the impact. Morgan rose to his full height of six feet. "There's alot of dead though, we're going to have to fight our way in if we want to get ammo and get rid of this piece of shit." He gestured with the worn rifle in his hand.
"You're sure it will be worth it to go in there? I want to make home to my familia not die trying to scrounge some MREs"
"Yeah I'm sure. " Morgan pulled the bolt of his AK back slightly, insuring a round was in the chamber. "We've burnt up almost everything we have just getting here, this pistol only has four rounds in it and I only have two magazines for this AK." He kicked the dirt with his boot and spit. "We have no water left and no food. It sucks, but if we want to have any chance of getting home so you can see that baby, we need to see if there's a way to call home in there, or if that's no go, find a truck and the stuff we need to survive and get to the coast through Pakistan."
"You really think this is world wide?" Eddie wiped dust away from his nose with the back of his hand. "If it is, we haven't got a chance in hell man."
"We'll have no chance if we stay here in the open complaining about it." He paused, "Dead guy walking." Eddie spun around and raised his rifle. Morgan pushedthe rifle down "No! Sound attracts them, remember?"
"Oh yeah my bad," Eddie handed his weapon to Morgan, pulled a folding knife with a large, dull grey blade from is hip pocket and snapped it open. "I got this one." He let the walker get close to him and lashed out to kick its knee. The walker fell and Eddie pounced on top of it, driving the blade throught the eye socket. The creature's movement ceased as the steel severed the diseased brain's circuits. Eddie wiped the blade on his pants and returned to his pocket. "Ok let's go if we're going."
Morgan led the way down the dusty road towards the gate to enter Bagram. There wasn't many walkers around as they approached. He figured that the noise from Bagram and the battle that had likely been fought there had brought most of the dead inside, leaving the perimeter clear for the time being. Battle scared Jersey barriers towered over them as they approached. They had been pocked and pitted as long as they had been in place, but the damage was fresh, and spent casings littered the ground. The ground itsself was burnt from grenades, with dried blood and foot prints everywhere. "Watch your step" He stepped over a ragged piece of metal lying in the road.
"Body" Eddie pied around a sandbag baricade and poked the corpse with his rifle. "This guy is done. Half his head is gone, poor bastard." He checked the body's vest and pockets and came up empty.
"Keep moving up." Morgan kept slowly walking forward, scanning the road between the barriers with his rifle up. "Body, he's still moving," The corpse was obviously a local, with most of his inside spilled out and scattered on the ground. Gore covered the sandbagged machine gun posistion it leaned against. The creature reached for them but didn't attempt to rise. Morgan smashed the butt of his rifle against the biter's skull until the bone gave way, crushing the brain underneath. He checked behind the sandbags. A soldier's body was lean against it, most of his left leg and arm missing. An M4 rifle was against his chest, it was obvious he had taken his own life to keep from turning. "Rest easy brother" Morgan reached inside the soldier's shirt and snapped his dog tags off, placing one in his pocket, and one in the fallen soldier's scrambled mouth so he could possibly be indentified later.
Eddie pulled the rifle away from the dead man's grip. "Sorry buddy. We need this more than you right now." He made the sign of the cross on his chest and handed the rifle to Morgan. "Might as well use this one, looks like there's still some ammo left in his vest, and I found these on the ground over there."
Morgan took the M4 and three 9mm rounds from Eddie. He loaded the loose rounds into the M9's magazine and holstered it. A quick function check showed theM4 was operational and Eddie gave him two magazines from the dead soldier's vest. Morgan removed the sling from the M4 and used it to sling the AK on his back. "Lets go" They moved through the rest of the barriers making up the "S" pattern of the gate.
"Whoa" Eddie muttered as they finally entered Bagram proper. The destructionbefore them was almost unfathomable. Bodies, shell casings and shattered vehicleswere everywhere. "Looks like the entire place went crazy dude."
"Something like that." Morgan scanned the area slowly, taking it all in. "Looks like locals rushed the place, alot of these bodies are Afghani, no walkers right here either."
A loud burst of gun fire erupted from somewhere inside the base. The soldiers sprinted back to the nearest barrier for cover. "That's pretty close by." Eddie pushed his rifle over the barricade and scanned for a threat. "Look some of are getting up."
"Shit if we had walked into the middle of that...." He let the sentence hang. "Wait a few minutes, let the walkers more on. If there's any crawling on the ground, we'll do 'em quiet, and move on."
"Got it. I'll pull rear,"
After several minutes no more walkers were in the immediate area, drawn away to the sound of gunfire, which had been more or less continuous for the last few minutes. "Ok, you see the Security office down towards the end of the QRF vehicle line?" Morgan asked in hushed tones.
"That's where we're going. The gate guards usually keep MREs and pogey bait in there, some cases of water. We can figure everything else out from there." Morgan stood. "Stay close." They took off for the office, rifles raised, alert for walkers that they had already learned would step out of random corners when least expected. As if the Taliban wasn't problem enough.
"He's moving." Eddie jammed his knife through the skull of a walker, which had a large piece of spine-severing shapnel in its back. "Good, right behind you" They kept moving at a rapid walk, when Morgan spun on his heel and snapped a quick shot, from Eddie's perspective the shot was aimed at him. The sound of a body slumping to the ground caught his attention. He turned "Holy shit dude" The walker on the ground just behind him was still, blackened blood oozing from a hole that began just below its nose and exited the back of its skull. "Thanks,"
Morgan lowered the M4 and nodded. "Lets get out of the open, guarantee something heard that shot." They made it to the security office without further incident. Morgan checked inside the concrete and sandbag bunker next to it. "Yup pallet is full of bottled water, some of it's got holes but we should be able to salvage plenty." He motioned to the door. "Let's clear out this office."
Eddie grabbed the door knob with one hand, kept the rifle up with his right and swept to the left, Morgan came right behind clearing to the right. Both rifles opened up simultaneously as walkers stumbled out of the darkness. "Fuck you!"
From the light of the muzzle flashes Morgan could see the walkers advancing, he kept firing, killing them so close that the flame from each shot was burning thier dead faces. As the last one fell, the bolt of Morgan's rifle locked open on the empty magazine. Out of habit from years of training, he dropped the rifle down with his left and drew his M9 with the right, scanning the room he realized that all the walkers were dead. "Reloading". Morgan re-holstered the pistol and changed magazines in his M4, then shut the door behind them. The room was nearly dark, but some light shone through gaps in the wall, and through the partially covered window in the door. "Got a flashlight?"
"No but I got a glowstick," Eddie pull a tubeular package from his cargo pocket and tore in open, cracked the glowstick and shook it. Its green light wasn't all that powerful, but better than nothing. "Hey look, whole box right here in the floor," Eddie started cracking and throwing glowsticks into the far corners of the three room building.
"Check the bodies, then we'll sweep the rooms." Morgan bent over the bodies and began the gruesome task of picking through thier pockets and pouches. There wasn't much, but he did find more loaded magazines for both the pistol and his M4
"Got me a gat." Eddie said with glee. He strapped a M9 in a thigh holster to his hip, then made sure it was loaded.
"Good shit." Morgan kept searching bodies. After he finished, he stood up. "Alright what we got so far?"
"I've got five mags of 5.56 and two for this 9 mil" Eddie paused, "Got a few more glow sticks, a multitool, a Rip It energy drink and a bottle of aspirin. You?"
"Well found a multitool, three mags of 5.56, two mags for the 9 and a smoke grenade," Morgan piled what he found on the front desk. "I'll take the right, you take the left."
"Guess it was your turn to find the good stuff," Eddie said pointing the two MRE boxes in Morgan's arms. "What'd you find?"
Morgan grinned, "Full box of MREs and bunch of other stuff, check it. Four bandoliers of 5.56, two more loaded mags, three more Rip Its, a flashlight that works, aid bag, a compass and best off all, maps."
"Why the maps?"
"So we can find our way out of here of course. hoping we can get in touch with home or someone else here though." Morgan set both boxes next to the pile of supplies on the desk. "You get anything?"
"Nope didn't find shit," Eddie tapped the corpse in front of him with his boot. "So what now?"
"I say we go sit in which ever one of these rooms is cleaner and eat an MRE. I'm starving."
"This one aint to bad," Eddie pointed to the room behind him.
" 'Ight," Morgan grabbed some of the glow stick on the floor and tossed them inside the room. After eating, Morgan started going over the maps. "So if we can't call for help, we can head south to Pakistan, and get help there, or get to the coast and find a boat."
"Where are we going to find a boat in Pakistan dude?" Eddie asked skeptically.
"In Karachi. There's a big port there. We should be able to find a ship there that will get us across." Morgan replied. "We just find a MATV, enough fuel to fill it. That will get us to Kandahar, and we can resupply there." Morgan pointed to the map, "We just just keep heading south in to Pakistan."
"If Pakistan hasn't gone to shit already, they won't be happy to see us," Eddie pointed out. "And if it has, how can we be sure we'll find a ship that will take us home?"
"Haven't figured that part out yet, but we'll get there. We're going to need that assault pack." Morgan pointed to the bag in a corner.
"Yeah, I dont feel like carrying everything in an MRE box everywhere." Morgan retorted. "We got enough full mags to fill our vests, split the pistol mags, throw everything else in here." Morgan started making sure all the mags were completely full before putting them in his vest. "We leave the MREs, bag and the AK in the bunker next to the water and go find us a MATV."
"Shouldn't we try to radio home first?" Eddie asked.
"MATV would make it easier to find the JSOC without getting eaten, and we're likely going to need to shoot our way in. Willing to bet that's where the last stand was made, might be survivors there."
"There's no one left alive here but us," came a female voice from the front door.
Both rifles came up. "Who the fuck are you?" Eddie shouted at the young woman at the door. "Drop your weapon!"
"Easy hero," she laid her M4 rifle on the floor at her feet. "I'm friendly."
"SOP to announce yourself." Morgan told her. "I'm Staff Sergeant Putnam, who are you?" He asked as he slowly lowered his rifle.
"2nd Lieutenant Rachel Pierce, I was with JSOC, and there's nothing left there." She slowly lowered her hands to her side. "It's pretty bad."
"How bad?" Eddie asked as he also lowered his weapon. "Have you heard from anyone? Is there help coming?"
"Where are you guys from," She asked ignoing Eddie for the moment.
"COP farther north," Morgan replied. "When the freak show started, locals blamed us, attacked along side the Taliban, and when more dead showed up and the guys killed in the fighting started coming back, it was to much. We were overrun."
"That's pretty much what happened here. How'd you end up here?" the Lieutenant asked.
"Popped smoke outa there at the last second, been fighting our way back here for nearly three weeks." Eddie replied. "Was that you firing off out there?"
"Yeah that was me. Most of the dead are around the JSOC, had to get out. Been hiding on top of bunkers, CHUs and in towers for several days. Can I sit?" She pointed to the desk.
"Sure," Morgan handed her back her M4. "Have you heard from home?"
Rachel sighed. "Not for almost two weeks. These things are there too." She wiped sweat from her forehead. "But a couple days ago I started getting really bad interference on the satalite radio, sun spots or something. Heard some guy saying he was going to the CDC in Atlanta, transmission was pretty garbled and I couldn't reply."
"That's it?" Eddie was almost furious with grief. "Then we're totally fucked dude. Gonna die in this shithole man."
"Shut up puss, we ain't dead yet." Morgan grabbed Eddie roughly around the shoulders with one arm. "We'll get home."
"I did over hear something about going to Pakistan," Rachel said. "Isn't the worst idea really."
"Stop in Kandahar first," Morgan told her. "Check around, see if we can get a call out." Banging on the walls from outside alerted them to walkers outside. Morgan looked out the door's window. "There's only two," He pulled his knife from its sheath. "Let's deal with them before they attract to much attention.
Eddie opened his blade. "I'm getting really tired of this man,"
Morgan buttstroked the creature closest to him with his M4, pushing it back into the other. They both lost balance and fell, and were quickly dispatched. Morgan looked at his watch. "Getting late, going to be dark soon. We'll rest here, tonight, keep watch in one hour shifts."
"That's not really a good idea Sergeant, these things are everywhere," Rachel said from the door way where she had been covering them with her rifle. "We really should get out of here."
"Better than being outside, or trying to find a place else where" Morgan replied. "We clear the bodies and stay here, prepare and leave in the morning. Eddie, lets throw these guys out, LT, bring some water inside." He went back inside the building and started dragging out bodies. It took nearly half and hour to drag all ten of them outside.
"You guys just busted in here and didn't get bit?" Rachel asked?
"Didn't expect that there would be so many," Eddie shook his head as sweat started to drip into his eye. "We got lucky."
"That we did," Morgan looked around. A walker was stumbling out the gate. The distinctive sound of an AK-47 sounded in the distance. "I'll take first watch. Our journey begins in the morning."
They racked out in the same room where Morgan had ate his MRE. He let Eddie and the LT sleep for 2 hours before he woke Eddie up by kicking his boot. "Your watch man."
Eddie sat up. "Ok," He rubbed his eyes. "What time is it?"
"23:00 dude wake the chick up next, and don't fall asleep." Morgan pulled his vest off and used it for a pillow. He was asleep in seconds.
Morgan awoke to Eddie kicking his boot. "Wake up Sarge, we got trouble."
Morgan sat up and quickly pulled the vest over his head, years of experience and adrenaline made it easy for him to push off the fog of sleep. "What is it?" he asked as he grabbed his M4 and stood up.
"Three locals, with AKs picking over the bodies outside." whispered Eddie. "They're pretty close."
"Wake up the LT," Morgan peered out the window in the door. Three men were still going over the bodies that were scattered around. A walker stumbled towards one of the men and he killed it with the bayonet fixed to his AK-47. Rachel woke up muttering. "Shut up," Morgan hissed.
It was to late. The men outside had heard something and were moving on the house. One appeared to be the leader and was signaling for his comrades to flank around the house. "Fuck you." Morgan raised his M4, lined the sights up on the leader's chest and fired.
To be continued......