|Left 4 Dead: Manhunt
Author: Jalos PM
Four new survivors stranded in southeast America, fighting their way to New Orleans -- and revenge. CEDA has failed them and everything they knew, and Jacob -- the leader of their group -- has sworn vengeance for the countless dead.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Horror - Chapters: 11 - Words: 18,508 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 04-27-10 - Published: 03-08-10 - id: 5802860
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Mist drifted in off the ocean like a ghostly curtain, slithering across the sand and reeds, refracting the moonlight into a thousand silver shreds. The world was as silent and still as a grave, the damp mist pressing in, muffling sound and, combined with the oppressive nighttime heat, forming a hot, cloying soup of ghostly, wavering light.
This soup, however, was abruptly torn asunder as headlights slashed through it, and the strident roar of a humvee engine burst the silence like a soap bubble. Said humvee followed soon after, bouncing and jostling along the rolling sands. Coarse grains flew from its wheels, creating a swirling cloud of choking sand that hung in the air for several seconds as the vehicle past by.
The humvee was originally tan, but the entire front half was now red from blood splatter, some of which had even decorated the windshield with scattered red streaks. The front fender and grille were dented and twisted from numerous collisions, and one of the headlights was cracked but still functional. Crude reinforcements had been added to the vehicle in the form of metal plates riveted to its front and sides, and various other pieces of scrap bolted on wherever they were needed.
Riding in the humvee were four men, all wearing patchwork suits of makeshift armor, with everything from hockey pads to Kevlar to bits and pieces of scrap metal hung, sewn or tied onto their person somewhere. Guns ranging from AK-47 assault rifles to pump-action and fully automatic shotguns were slung over shoulders, stacked in empty spaces in the humvee, stuffed in holsters and hung on backs. All four men looked not in the prime of health; bruised, scratched, and covered from head to foot in blood splatter and a sticky green substance that reeked of dead things and bile, they all bore grim expressions, except for a tall man lounging in the back seat, casually fondling a bloodstained fire axe with a heavily nicked blade. He smiled to himself as he ran his fingers over the red blade, feeling the layers of sticky, dried blood that practically coated the weapon.
Suddenly, the man driving the jeep let out a cry of alarm, and yanked hard on the steering wheel as a humanoid shape appeared from the fog in front of them. The brake was applied with great force, and four guns instantly snapped up to firing position, their barrels trained on the mysterious shape. "Don't shoot!" came the panicked response to this action, and the newcomer stumbled closer. As it came closer, it was revealed to be a woman, maybe in her late twenties, with long, matted brown hair. "I'm… I'm human! Please, don't shoot!" The guns were hesitantly lowered, but the man with the axe kept his hand resting on the butt of the pistol holstered at his hip. "Thank God… thank God…" the unfamiliar woman repeated over and over, sinking to her knees in the sand. The man with the axe gave her a hard stare, and his eyes tracked down to the sand at her knees, where blood was starting to pool. His eyes widened, and he said, barely more than a whisper, "George?" "I see it, Jacob," the driver replied in the same hushed tone. The man with the axe – apparently named Jacob – hopped down out of the humvee, his combat boots sinking into the loose sand as he landed. Sheathing his axe and walking over to the woman, he put a hand under her chin in an almost-caress, and lifted her face to the limited light of the moon. She cried out at the touch, and Jacob closely inspected her, taking in the slight grayish tint to her skin, the red veins encroaching on her eyes, the pallid blue color of the veins that stood out like ropes on her face and neck, then released his hold and let her head drop. Reaching down and undoing the snap on his holster with his forefinger, the man said "Yep, she's got it." "Got… got what?" the woman said in a trembling voice, looking up at Jacob with wide, terrified eyes. Jacob said nothing, merely wrapped his fingers around the rubber grip of the Colt .45 handgun resting at his hip, and slid the 6" of polished steel lethality out of its resting place. Ignoring the woman's feeble protests – growing feebler by the minute – he reached out and placed the cold steel muzzle of the weapon between her eyes. Saying simply "Goodybe," Jacob squeezed the trigger. With a report that boomed in the foggy silence, the bullet sprayed a fountain of blood and brains out the back of the woman's head, and she fell backwards to lie in a heap on the bloodstained sand. Holstering the smoking weapon, Jacob climbed back into the growling humvee, which roared to life again and lurched forward, bouncing and jostling along the beach until it disappeared into the mists.
By sunrise, as the rays of light from the ball of fire just beginning to appear over the horizon burned away the mists, the humvee had bounced and jostled its way inland, into the ruins of an evacuation center. Barbed-wire-topped fences and concrete barriers blocked off half the road, and beyond them was a mess of tents and tables scattered about like children's toys hastily discarded, some lying on their sides, some smeared with blood. A CEDA banner had formerly hung on the perimeter fence, but someone had spray-painted "CEDA SUCKS" over the text in red. The group shut the humvee off outside the evac center to avoid attracting unwanted attention, and made their way in on foot, after appropriately arming themselves with the guns from their vehicle. "Great," George said, staring around down the barrel of his M1A4 tactical shotgun. "Fourth abandoned evac center in a week. This ain't a good sign for the future of this country." One of the other men, a rather short, middle-aged man with an untidy mop of tan hair just starting to go bald across the scalp, spat out a wad of the chewing gum that seemed to follow him everywhere, and said "Country, my ass. This ain't a country any more." "Ron," Jacob said, giving his axe a nervous twirl, "I'm going to have to agree with you there."
The group spent the next ten minutes or so looting the camp for anything of use they could find. They found a handgun with a few clips, some scrap metal, and a machete pinning a zombie's corpse to the ground. The blade had been dulled by being rammed into the ground, but nothing a little application of a sharpening stone wouldn't fix. They were about to pull out with their loot when something caught Jacob's eye. Saying "Cover me," he hopped down from the jeep and, axe in hand, made his way cautiously over to one of the tents. The interior was an abattoir, strewn with corpses – some of them burnt – and coated with blood. And then Jacob saw it. One of the corpses was a young girl, maybe eight or nine years old. In her hand, she clutched a note, held so fiercely that the paper was crumpling. Carefully prying the cold, clammy fingers off of the letter and extracting it, Jacob flattened it out on his knee, and read.
I am safe, as is your father. We were taken away last night by helicopter, and we're now safely in New Orleans. We were told that another helicopter would be coming for you, so just hold on until it gets there, okay? I'm so sorry for leaving you. Be strong for mommy!
As Jacob read the final sentence, he felt a cold rage start to boil inside of him. CEDA had failed them. All of them. They had failed this little girl. They had failed her mother. They had failed Rob, and George, and Jack – the fourth member of their group – and himself. In the name of the countless, nameless dead, in the name of those who had survived and were trapped in this living hell, he would make CEDA pay for what had happened. If it was the last thing he did on this earth, if he spent his final breath in accomplishing it, he would find whoever was responsible for this nightmare, and he would put a bullet between his eyes.