Whatever Days May Come
Written by: WildArm
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
Bill remembered the jungles of Vietnam, the constant crawling, shooting, killing, screaming—what was it all for? Looking back on it, he realized that life on the battlefield in those dark jungles was like taking a stroll out in Heaven compared to the madness and Hell that was going on around him. He'd give anything to be out there again with his men, fighting for God and for country. He'd give anything to not be here, to not be on the streets that were once his own, killing those he once called his friends, his enemies…
The infection arrived two weeks ago; two constant weeks of mayhem, looting, killing, and cannibalism have taken their toll on him. There were things Bill has seen throughout his life in the service— human beings doing dreadful things to other human beings—but not this. He thought that he'd eventually get used to seeing that kind of madness, but realized the moment he did get used to seeing what's been going on would be the first sign of insanity.
But he had to hold it together, if not for his sake, then for the three others he took under his charge. There was the ever-wild Francis, a member of the Hell's Legion biker gang who emerged as the sole survivor of his group. Bill got the sense that Francis was the loner type, living every minute like it was his last, and the man could certainly take care of himself without the help of the others, but during the course of their time together, Bill had convinced him to stick around, as there are types of infected that may require more than one pair of hands to kill. There was Louis: a nervous, weak-willed man who they had met earlier in the day. Although not the soldier Bill wanted to see when he first met the man, he realized that he could use all the hands he can get, and he'd have wait and see if the hysterical Junior Analyst will harden and eventually turn into the soldier Bill needed. And lastly, there was Zoey, an over-enthusiastic college student Bill found at the university dormitory holed inside her barricaded room. Bill was astonished when he saw Zoey in action for the first time; she could certainly hold her own in the face of adversity.
And aside from their obvious differences and their personalities, Bill would have to make due with what he had. Sergeant William Overbeck was a well-decorated officer in the United States Army, a former Green Beret who was a member of the 1st Special Forces Group, a soldier who had to turn his rifle in for a pink slip and a handshake when wounds sustained in the field were too much for him to continue his duty.
And he was also the man who could not wait to jump on the opportunity to wear his uniform once more, a uniform he considered to be his actual skin, a uniform he hoped he'd die in and be buried with.
"Bill," Francis said, looking over at him. "Your watch is over. My turn."
Bill shook his head, knocking himself out of the funk he was in, and nodded. "Is it that time already?" he asked.
"'Fraid so," Francis muttered, making sure his Benelli shotgun was fully loaded, and yawned as lowly as he could. "I hate bein' on watch."
Bill cracked a smile and pulled a cigarette out of the pack in his shirt pocket and pressed it to his lips. He lifted the pack towards Francis, who shook his head and said, "I hate cigarettes."
"Suit yourself," Bill said, lighting the cigarette. Francis yawned once more and sat down on a wooden crate beside him. The survivors were in an abandoned warehouse they stumbled upon earlier in the day. Once inside, they met with little resistance and found an attic they could easily gain access to. So far, they were catching up on some much needed sleep, and they'd take what they could get for the time being. Fortunately for them, there was also some salvageable food left in the kitchen: some pieces of bread that were as hard as rocks, as well as some peanut butter and some cans of cola. "Better than nothin'," Bill remembered Francis saying, ripping the bread in half and taking a celebratory bite, hearing his teeth snap as he tore into it.
"Ain't ya gonna sleep, old man?" Francis asked, eyeing Bill's cigarette ashes falling to the wooden floor. "We're gonna be in this attic for a while, so I think you should relax your seasoned bones."
"Too many nightmares," Bill said plainly, taking out his M1911 handgun and playing with the magazine. "Every time I close my eyes, I see her, Francis. Figure the less sleep I get, the less I'll see her."
"Ah, the wife," Francis said plainly, glancing over to look at Zoey fast asleep with her own handgun in her hands. "Yeah, I don't blame ya, old man."
"I just wish things were different, you know? I play it over and over again in my mind, take by take, wondering if I did everything I could at that moment, wondering if there was anything that I could have done to make things different. If things were different, then who knows? Maybe Beatrice would be with us right now."
"Forget all that, old man. The main difference here is that the four of us are all immune to the virus, and your old lady wasn't. Even if we managed to get her this far, there's no telling how long she would've lasted. All it woulda taken was one single scratch and it woulda been over for her. So don't be too hard on yourself."
Bill remained silent, taking a slow puff of his now finished cigarette and let it fall to the floor before he put his boot over it. No matter how much of an asshole Francis came off as, he was right in every way. Regardless of circumstance or things being different, Beatrice had a very high chance of succumbing to this virus sooner or later. It was just unfortunate that the "sooner" part came first.
"And besides, if you woulda acted differently, you wouldn't be here neither."
"Dying is the easy part, Francis," Bill said. "It's staying alive that's the hard part. There were so many times when I wanted to just throw myself into the middle of a horde and let them take me, but knowing full well that Beatrice would have been disappointed in me stopped me so many times before. She's the one who's been saving me all this time."
"Cut the horseshit, Bill," Francis said. "The only reason you're still here is because you know how to use a gun. And the only reason I'm still here is because I'd rather be with someone else who knows how to use a gun than out there on my own, ready and willing to get my ass turned inside-out by a Hunter, or get my neck snapped by a damn Smoker."
Bill grinned and nodded his head, lying down on the wooden floor and lowering his beret over his eyes. "You're a real class act, Francis," he said, letting out a low yawn and closing his eyes. "Real class act."
It's been several hours since the news spoke about a mysterious virus spreading throughout the city. Detailed accounts of survivors spoke about loved ones who were attacked and killed by others, only to rise up and attack others themselves. Something about it seemed like a very scary horror movie to Bill, and he wasn't about to take his chances in being unprepared for the attack to come. The news showed the routes leading outside of the city being barricaded, as the entire city was quarantined, leaving the citizens to act as their own kind of justice, as well as leaving them to act unruly and chaotic.
"Bill, where are you, honey?" he heard his wife call out.
"I'm in the den," he called back, lifting up a dusty metal box and blowing the dust off of it. He unfastened the clips attached and lifted up an M1911 .45 handgun he had bought some years back when he had to retire from the service.
Not just one, but two.
"What are you doing in here, hon?" his wife, Beatrice, asked, glancing at the handgun in Bill's hand. He was also wearing his uniformed boots, pants, shirt, and beret. This wasn't the first time Bill had done this in the midst of a crisis; the last time he wore his full uniform was on 9/11. "Oh, Bill," she said, disappointed. "No. We spoke about this."
"Bea, there's something going on and I want us to be ready for whatever is going to hit us. I'm not going to be like those saps on the news, waiting to get attacked and do nothing about it. I've never been like that."
"Oh, for Christ's sake, Bill!" she exclaimed. "There's nothing happening that we need to worry about. The news said that the people who were sick were brought to the hospital and are getting treated. The reason they barricaded the city is so it doesn't spread to any other place. Besides, they said it's transferable in direct contact, and look at us. Am I sick? Are you? No."
Beatrice was usually the voice of reason in Bill's clouded mind, but for some reason, he didn't want to take his chances this time. He had stored these weapons away so he might give them to his child someday, but seeing as though their son was living his own life down south, these weapons were cast aside, forgotten, serving no purpose other than to collect dust.
Bea had endured years of Bill's nightmares, years of talking in his sleep, commanding men who were long dead and waking up in a cold sweat, screaming, sometimes crying. It had all taken its toll on the woman, and she was glad when he finally cast his weapons and uniform aside and began to live his own life. But much to her dismay, Bill was always a soldier; it was something she knew he could never get out of his system.
"I don't care if we're not sick, Bea. I want to be ready. Television says that if these things bite you, you get sick, too. I don't know about you, but its better safe than sorry for me, Bea." He reached over in his toolkit and pulled out a rusted machete, which still had some sharpness to it. It was a perfect thing to hold on to in case he ever ran out of bullets. "Now go along back in the house, Bea. I'll be right there."
Beatrice stood with her arms folded, looking at him. When she sighed and turned her head to the house, she saw two men flailing about on her front lawn. "Bill?" she called. "There are some men on our lawn."
Bill put one of the .45 in the back of his pants and held the other .45 in his hand, along with the machete in his other hand. He brushed past Beatrice and called out to the men, who merely looked up at him and proceeded to run toward him.
"What the hell?" Bill yelled, seeing that the first man approaching him was missing half his face, and that the second man was missing his arm.
He raised his .45.
"You fellas need to stay where you are or I'll shoot!" When Bill didn't get a response, he fired his .45 into the chest of the first man and shot the leg of the second man. Idiots, he thought, watching the second man squirm on the floor, making his way back onto his feet. He let out an inhuman shriek and ran towards Bill once more, who shot him in the head without remorse.
"Is the other one dead, Bill?" Beatrice asked, referring to the first man Bill had shot.
Bill walked over to the man who was shot in the chest, kicked his leg lightly for any signs of movement, and turned to face Beatrice. "It looks like it."
"Bill!" Beatrice yelled, pointing.
Bill turned around and saw the man standing face-to-face with him, his breath reeking of God knows what. "What in God's name…?" Bill began to say, getting knocked down to the ground by the man, the two rolling onto one another, Bill's .45 getting knocked to his side. Bill shuffled his body to look at the man, who bared his teeth and went to bite Bill.
Just like the television said they would, Bill thought, looking to his side, the .45 just within reach of his hands. He held the man by the neck as he continued to snap, and in a quick motion, Bill grabbed the .45 and pointed it to the man's chin, aiming up and firing once, watching the exit wound erupt at the top of the man's skull.
The man closed his eyes and rolled to Bill's side; he needed a moment to catch his breath. In a moment, Beatrice came running over to him. "Bill, are you okay?" she asked. "Are you hurt? Did he bite you?"
"Yes, no, and no, Bea," Bill answered, getting to his feet and looking at the two dead men by his feet. "But do you believe me now? Something is going on here, and we need to get back in the house and barricade it."
Beatrice nodded her head. "I'm sorry I doubted you, Bill," she said, feeling wounded. Her annoyance in him always wanting to be the soldier had almost got him killed.
"You never have to be sorry to me, Bea," he said to reassure her. "But we need to get going. Now."
Bill and Beatrice ran into their home, shut the door behind them, and locked it. Beatrice ran toward the front door and locked it as well, followed by locking all the windows and shutting the drapes.
After a few minutes in silence and occasionally shooting glances outside the house, Bill knew that they couldn't stay long in their home and stay safe at the same time. They had the option of either shutting themselves in and waiting this out, hopeful that those things outside don't wise up and break into their house, or pile into the car and make a run for it.
Bill would rather make a run for it.
When he was about to tell Beatrice his plan, the phone began to ring. Beatrice ran over to it and pressed it to her ear. On the other end was their next door neighbor, Dorothy, who was also in her home hiding out from those things. It was too bad that she didn't have as much luck as Bill or Beatrice.
"Bea, I'm in the house. There's a man outside who's hammering on the door. He was chasing me in the yard and I managed to get inside before he got to me. I'm scared, Bea! I'm really scared!"
"We'll be right over!" Beatrice yelled into the phone, hearing a loud crash and the line go dead. She immediately unlocked the back door and ran outside, running to the back of Dorothy's home.
"Damn it, Bea, get back here!" Bill called out, his .45 gripped in his hands, keeping his eyes peeled in case any more of them decided to show up.
"Dorothy is in trouble!" she shouted back. "You heard her, Bill! She said someone's in her home chasing after her. You expect us not to help?"
Bill was never one to leave someone else behind. Just the thought of Dorothy flailing about while someone is tearing her to shreds threw gasoline on the fire under his ass.
The back door of Dorothy's home was ripped off its hinges, but there was not a sound to be heard, not a breath stirring aside from Bill and Beatrice. Bill saw the bloodstained carpet, which lead a trail of blood to the top of stairs. Bill pressed a finger to his lips to silence Beatrice, who shook violently; he didn't want to startle any unwelcomed company.
The trail of blood ended at Dorothy's bedroom. Bill turned to Beatrice and asked her to stay put. And when Bill walked into the bedroom, he saw the carnage. A man who looked to be in his thirties was hunched over a woman, his hands bloodied, peeling a piece of flesh and devouring it that instant. Bill took aim and was about to pull the trigger when he saw the leg of the woman move, and heard her moan.
It was Dorothy. And she was still alive.
"Bill…" she called out, reaching her hand to him. "Help me…"
The man on top of Dorothy abruptly turned his head and, seeing Bill, let out an inhuman shriek and jumped to his feet only to be greeted by a bullet to the forehead, the man stumbling and falling a foot or so away from Dorothy.
"Bill!" Beatrice yelled, peeking her head into the bedroom. Her eyes grew wide, her mouth open. She let out a scream that nearly popped Bill's eardrums.
Bill put his hand over her mouth. "Shut up!" he quietly yelled. "You want more of these things to know where we are? Now, I'm gonna take my hand off your mouth, Bea. Don't scream, okay?"
She muffled a "yes" and nodded her head. And when Bill took his hand off her mouth, her eyes broke into tears as she saw Dorothy sprawled out on the floor, her guts spilling onto the carpeted floor; the zombified man had been blocking her view to the carnage.
She was dead.
"Bea, I want you to wait outside, okay?" he said, nodding to her. He had to do what he had to do, what the television said to do in this circumstance.
Beatrice nodded her head, sniffled away the tears, and waited just outside the door. Bill took out his rusted machete and stood over Dorothy's corpse. "I'm sorry," he said softly, striking down, the machete connecting with Dorothy's neck, severing her head from her shoulders. He then grabbed the bed sheet on the bed and covered her body with it.
Beatrice was standing outside and clung to him as he left Dorothy's bedroom. "I'm sorry, Bea," he said, petting the hair on the back of her head. "We have to get going now, sweetheart. We don't have much time. Who knows if they heard the gunshot or not."
Beatrice pulled away from him and wiped her eyes. "Let's not stick around to find out." Bill had to give it to her; she was really trying to be strong for him. She knew he appreciated it; he didn't need to have the only person he was with to break down now, especially when he could use all the help he could get.
Bill held Beatrice's hand as he made his way back towards the steps, glancing down to make sure none of those infected managed to get inside the house, and descended the stairs. "Now," Bill began, whispering, "when we get to the outside of the house, I want you to run to the car as fast as you can. I'll watch you get in before I do. Do you understand?"
Beatrice nodded her head, and when they made their way downstairs, Bill yanked the door wide open and watched Beatrice take off in the direction of their minivan, mere feet away. Three of those wandering infected ran towards Beatrice, who were immediately shot down by Bill.
When he saw that Beatrice was safely in the minivan, Bill ran as fast as he could, but the fastest he could conjure was a fast limp, as his leg never fully recovered after his tour in Vietnam. He yanked open the front door seat, the back of his shirt getting tugged on by one of the infected. He kicked back, the infected wretching backward, and piled into the minivan, Beatrice slamming down on the accelerator. Bill took a glance back at the countless infected that were still on their heels despite being in a vehicle.
"Jesus, don't these things ever give up?" Bill asked, reloading his .45 and glancing over at Beatrice, who looked like Hell. "Don't you worry about a thing, Bea. Everything is gonna be all right, hon."
"Dorothy is dead, Bill," she said tearfully. "You just killed people. What can possibly happen that will make it all right, Bill? Can you please tell me?"
Bill sighed and took a cigarette outside of his pocket and lit it. "Bill, you know I hate it when you smoke!"
"The end of the world is happening before our very eyes and you're concerned with me smoking a cigarette? You're a nervous wreck half the time and I need this to settle my nerves, to keep me focused. I'm not going to stop now because you don't like the smell."
Beatrice slammed on the brakes and gave a look that could have killed Bill right there and then. "Put out the cigarette, William."
Oh, geez, he thought. The only time she used his real name was when she was very mad at him. Despite this end of the world business, Beatrice was still his wife and wasn't about to be shoved around by him.
He pried the cigarette from his mouth and lowered the window a creak and threw it outside. She then continued to drive. Bill saw all the homes of the neighborhood he was in with smashed windows, doors, bloodstains on the grass and the concrete. Some people were even running away from the infected at that moment, screaming their heads off.
"Can't we do anything for them, Bill?" Beatrice asked.
"I'm afraid not," Bill said, shaking his head. "The second we leave this van, they'll take it from us and leave us stranded. Either that or get attacked as soon as we get out."
"So what do you want me to do?"
"Just keep driving, Bea. Let's keep our eyes peeled for any military stations they have posted around town. Maybe we can get a little more information from them about how to stay safe."
The minutes slowly turned into hours, and Bill saw the transformation from day to night, saw the transformation of his once flourished city to the pile of ruins it was now. Not since 'Nam has he heard so many screams, gunshots, blood, and death. Not since those days in the hot jungle with the blood of his men on his uniform had he seen such carnage. How could this happen to the world?
The minivan sputtered once or twice before stopping completely. Bill glanced over at Beatrice, who said simply, "Ran out of gas."
"Shit," Bill replied, opening the car door and overlooking his surroundings. "Okay, Bea, we need to get out of here and find some shelter. Maybe there's a military station somewhere nearby." From what the news said, they stated that the military was already stationed at different checkpoints, but he has yet to see any, and they've been driving for hours now.
Bang! Bang! Gunshots right down the block. "Come on!" Bill called out to Beatrice, who got out of the car and walked over to Bill before the two set off down the block. The shots came from a police station up the block, where the gunshots had faded. Were there cops still alive? Bill thought, walking into the station.
A dead cop right at the entrance changed his answer right away. And right by the officer's hands was a pump-action shotgun.
"Thank God," Bill muttered, noticing that the shotgun was fully loaded, and cocked it immediately.
When he motioned for Beatrice to get behind him, he slowly walked down the hallway, careful not to make too much noise. When he heard another gunshot, he jumped, aiming the shotgun in the direction of the blast. It was either a lunatic with a gun who was trigger happy or a cop.
Bill prayed it was a cop.
What rounded the corner was a tall man with a shaved head and a goatee who had tattoos covering both his arms, among them a big patch of artwork that read "Hell's Legion". He looked over at Bill with cold, stone eyes and pointed the shotgun at him.
"What are you looking at, Gramps?" the tattooed man said, grinning from ear to ear. "Can't you see we're in the middle of a crisis?"
For the sake of my wife by my side, I didn't fire my shotgun at this rude man. There was something in his eyes I felt I could trust, though I knew he was as wild as an aminal in the woods. But with all the shit that was surrounding us, who knew what potential alliance this man and I could form to comb through the city and find more survivors to increase our numbers. I still watch this man to this day, never knowing what he might say or do next; he's as unpredictable as they come.
- Sergeant William Overbeck, United States Army (Ret.)
Author's Note: There's the first chapter to what I hope will be a long story in the Left 4 Dead universe. I'm thankful to all those who read, and will appreciate it if you review my work should you decide to read it. Seeing reviews from those who read the story and want to read more will prompt me to write that much quicker.
Take care, guys! Look for an update soon.