YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE...MAYBE TWICE!
In the Infantry, you grow accustomed to something working against you at all times. SOMETHING will fuck up when everything else is in your favor. currently for us, that something is snow. motherfucking snow. i grew up in Texas, where snow is a novelty you see in tiny amounts every few years. my time in Siberia was spent below the snow line during the cold months. this is my first winter dealing with catastrophic fucking levels of snow. and i'm spending it in the fucking Windy City during the goddamned Zombie Apocalypse. so yeah... i am most fucking definitely NOT enjoying winter this year. that explains numbers 1 and 2 of the title. the third? i'll get to that... but first, i gotta tell you why i hate the former 2 so fucking much right now.
my company has been clearing sectors of the outer parts of the city for the last few months. that's a goddamned nightmare for another time. MOUT (military operations in urban terrain for the civvies) is a very special clusterfuck even when everything is motherfucking perfect. adding the element of the undead turns it into a unique horror show that i'm failing to find a grotesque enough analogy to describe it properly. put a few feet of snow and subarctic temperatures on top of THAT and that's the hell we're currently in for the foreseeable future.
so the other day, we're sweeping some college campus. the buildings' layouts were actually pretty helpful, being more open than your average apartment building. contacts weren't as heavy since most people stopped showing up for classes right after the outbreak.
after clearing one area, my platoon had to cross a wide open field in the middle of the campus to get to the next section of the school. we had to cover the distance on foot because we couldn't get our Strykers that far into the AO. it was maybe one hundred and fifty square yards, give or take. and filled with snow up to my thighs (i'm 5'6"). so we form up in 2 columns by squad and proceed to push through that wonderful white powder that i will loathe for the rest of my accursed days.
i'm the sixth man back of eight on the left side column. it's pushing 1800 (that's 6pm) on an overcast day, it's gloomy and getting darker by the minute. we were grateful there was no wind that day and the cold wasn't as punishing as it could have been our platoon leader wants us to secure a few more buildings before we lock down an area and call it a night.
the formation was almost perfectly center in the clearing when things when horribly wrong.
Revenants suddenly starting sitting up, the snow falling away from their torsos as they slowly became upright. it wasn't just one or two and it wasn't just one then another. they were EVERYWHERE and bolted up EXACTLY at the same time. and they were all looking at us. it wasn't until later i started freaking out about how they could possibly have planned an ambush like that... they're supposed to be mindless fucking corpses.
but there they were, dozens and dozens of them with their heads and chests emerging from the white concealing layers. and there we were; 16 soldiers caught in the middle of them all with no where to run and more than 2 feet of frozen water molecules to make us sluggish even if we wanted to run.
for a couple seconds, they just stared at us. their faces were all ripped up, lips shredded to the point where most of them looked like they were smiling at us with the most perverse smile imaginable. i couldn't look away from their eyes, though. i didn't know how right then, but i could tell something was different about the fuckers' eyes.
before either of the squad leaders could start yelling out orders, the horde shot out of the powder and were tearing through the snow drifts faster than we'd ever seen.
and hell fucking yes- panic set in something fierce.
everyone opened fire. i didn't even bother lifting my M240LW to my shoulder, i opened up from the hip hoping to fuck up the closest ones enough to slow them down.
for a few seconds, everyone's shots stayed in their assigned sectors of fire. but that was before the first wave hit the columns like a heavyweight boxer trying to behead a motionless weakling.
i couldn't tell how many went down right then, but i could tell that was the moment things went from 'holy fucking shit- this is bad!' to 'cunt fuck bullshit we're seriously fucked!.'
guys turning away from the revenants to shot or beat the ones off the man next to them went down a moment later.
i could hear screaming of anger, fear and agony over the constant ripples of gunfire. some of the screams were immediately recognizable as those from one who had taken a gun shot. that meant that at least some of the guys had been shooting wildly and were hitting each other.
corporal hester was at the end of my line, both he and the guy between us were carrying M1014 shotguns in addition to their M4 rifles. those two probably saved my life more i witnessed, and they helped keep clear a two meter border around the three of us.
i finally managed to lift my machine gun so i could aim at the bastards and put the sons of bitches down for good. it seemed like forever and it seemed like it lasted a second during the time i swung that big fucking gun back and forth, lining up fuckers in the holographic sight and sending them back to hell before the unthinkable happened.
i squeezed the trigger and got nothing but a faint click. four hundred rounds gone without me ever noticing. i gotta be honest with ya, that scared the shit out of me- i've ALWAYS been on top of how much ammo i have loaded.
the world might never know how long i stood there staring like a fucking idiot at my 240 before some chattering ghoul broke my brain malfucktion by actually grabbing the goddamned gun while reaching for me. i almost fucking jumped out of my skin right fucking there, man. but i had the sense enough to jerk out of the gun's sling and use it to push the fucker back.
why i didn't grab my M9, i can't tell you. maybe i the cold made me stupid, maybe i was to scared and pissed off to think about it, i don't fucking know. but laying right fucking in front of me was the body of the number five guy (i'm ashamed to tell you i never learned his name), one of the breaching team members. and sticking out of his assault pack was your average, ordinary, basic crowbar- the all-access pass to anywhere we didn't want to blow the fuck up.
so i snatched it up and proceeded to beat the skull in of the sumbitch still clutching my machine gun. it dropped after a couple good loud cracks. another of those assholes was almost on top of me, so i beat that fucker down too. and then another one, and then another one.
listen, i'm in pretty good fucking shape for a soldier, but swinging that fucking chunk of iron got old faster than the movies lead you to believe. gratifying as fucking hell while it lasts though, i'll give it that.
panting like a morbidly overweight dumbass chasing a Krispy Kreme truck, i dropped the crowbar the second i remembered i still had a gun.
the M9 handgun isn't the best side arm in world. and i'm not even really qualified to use it, but all machine gunners get one, so i had one and i can shoot the goddamned thing- not great, but good enough.
i fired two shots, achieved one kill. then i had enough space to take a look around me.
countless zombies were scattered in every direction across the snow covered quad. random assortments of body parts were littered around them, blown off by the gunfire. splashes of bright red blood and deep crimson fluid changed the white and grey landscape to one of horrific color.
alpha team of squad one, guys 1-4 ahead of me where just fucking gone. there were three huddles of zombies tearing at something bloody on the ground. i couldn't see the other body, if there was one.
i could see three guys from alpha team of squad two about fifty yards away being taken down while they tried to shoot or swing their rifles. apparently, they'd decided to make a run for it. their choice to leave the rest of the platoon behind had some seriously negative consequences.
two guys from bravo team, squad two were still standing. one of them was their squad machine gunner, the other was just a FNG rifleman.
there were still zombies over a hundred yards away still running towards us. these i noticed with a sense of detachment, like they were coming for somebody else and i wasn't really there or none of it was real.
hester put his hand on my shoulder, that pulled me back to reality.
'come on, bro,' he said, 'we gotta get the hell outta here.'
i just nodded and picked up my machine gun, shaking the snow off of it before slinging across my back. i didn't have time to reload the fucking thing, my 9mm pistol would have to do for now.
'which way?!' the FNG frantically screamed at hester, who happened to be the ranking soldier still present.
hester pointed to a group of buildings to our right.
and we ran.
if what we did could be called running through such deep snow. we all kept looking back to see the revenants getting closer every second. we didn't want to, but we did. it didn't take a mathematician to figure out they'd reach us before we reached the buildings.
hester led our motley little group due to his sheer size alone. his stature allowed him to forge a slightly more manageable path through the snow and we struggled to stay in his wake. i hear him scream 'shit' , his voice more pissed than anything else right before he peeled to the side of the group and shot into the closest zombies.
we took the hint.
second squad's gunner was the next man to provide bursts of cover fire after we cleared hester.
i was next. turning around as i stopped i couldn't believe how many ghouls there still were. two or three dozen, at least. i shot a few times with my M9, going for center mass shots and getting every one. i knew it wouldn't kill them, but the closest ones were still around fifteen to twenty meters away- too far for me to go for a kill shot.
i hoped to hell the fuckers at least felt it.
i heard a pair of booms from the shotgun of the guy on my team, Specialist Campbell.
the FNG was almost as tall as hester but was somehow last. i heard him sobbing as he turned to face the closing horde. there was a time when i would've shed tears myself over the emotional wreckage of a child in uniform way too young to be fighting, but the door on that life was damn near shut.
this wasn't just fucking war- this was the motherfucking end of the goddamned world! and if the kid, possessing enough balls to enlist with the infantry, didn't cowboy the fuck up he would die extremely quickly. but not before most likely becoming a liability to the rest of us, one that could be fatal to some one else. i'd seen it too many times already over the last few months. the time for scared crying was long fucking gone. all there was now was time for killing, time for dying and if you were lucky enough, time to prepare for killing and dying.
but he held his shit together, firing his M16A4 rifle sobbing the entire time.
hester didn't fuck around where we reached our destination. he blew the glass doors wide open with his twelve gauge and ran inside without slowing down. to everyone's credit, no one else fucked around once we were inside- we had a rather impressive mountain of tables, desks and chairs covering the destroyed opening in under ten seconds.
without a word, we slumped against the wall facing the doors in exhaustion just as the pounding and inhuman snarls started.