Somewhere in California. 2016.
It’s been nearly 30 years since that fateful night back home. I still have it, Van Helsing’s Diary. Just in case he comes back. I don’t know how it would happen but then again zombies now rule the world. In between Dracula and the undead we had quite a run.
We kept the club going through school. A couple years before Patrick and I graduated, Rudy went to technical school to become a machinist. He’s also studied to become a gunsmith and taught himself all he could about being a blacksmith, all while he entered archery competitions. Horace joined the Army right out of high school. He said he hated being known as “Fat Kid.” He enlisted in the Infantry, went Airborne, became a Ranger, and ended up in the Special Forces. He became a mountain of a man with combat experience all around the world. When he finally got discharged he came home and joined the company. Eugene joined the military too. He went National Guard as 25C radio operator/maintainer. He stayed with the company the whole time. Patrick and I went away to college. Eugene kept the Monster Squad afloat while we studied. We both received BAs in Biology. My little sis, Phoebe, went on to study ancient languages at UCL (University College London). She worked as a translator on the side. The Monster Squad became a company, complete with; tax id, workers comp insurance, the whole nine. It wasn’t easy though.
See, after the final battle with Dracula the government took over our town, within 24 hours our small piece of America was swarming with federal agents from various branches: FBI, CIA, NSA, we even have photographic evidence of MIB, Men In Black, but no one would believe us, we were just kids with crazy imaginations. Somehow they were able to convince nearly the whole town that a storm had resulted in a tornado touching down and causing the damage. The dead cops, they were injured by debris trying to get people to safety. Those cops gave their lives trying to stop the Forces of Darkness from taking over, they’re heroes. The reports of monsters written off as delusions. No matter what we said, what evidence we presented, we were laughed at and patted on the heads. The patronizing was infuriating. But rather then get discouraged and break up the club we doubled down and began researching other legends, building our armory: wooden stakes, silver bullets, arrows, knives, any arcane items we could get our 12 year old hands on. It wasn’t until we were all older that we began including firearms.
What kept us going? Stories of other groups mainly Mystery Inc. who traveled the Midwest and California, the Goonies up in Oregon, and the Ghostbusters in New York City. They were all over the news, especially Mystery Inc. While they uncovered that most crimes were caused, not by monsters but rather greedy men in elaborate costumes, we wanted to focus on the other things that went bump in the night. We researched the reports of Gremlins of California, the Critters of Kansas, I got to go on a Graboids hunt in the Midwest. We tried to find the Necronomicon, rumors have it that some Vegas magician had it locked it. We investigated the nightmare man called Freddy, we checked out Camp Crystal Lake. We had some successes, eliminating cursed mummies as well Lycan, and even some stray vampires. The Monster Squad began to have a reputation of taking on the jobs everyone else was scared of.
Then THEY came. The undead. The zombies.
We were definitely better prepared then the other groups around the states. We had the experience fighting for our lives, we had the weapons, and we had two guys with the training, Eugene and Horace. Horace had trained us with Eugene’s help. So we knew how to shoot, how to avoid detection, squad combat, the whole nine. It’s served us well these last few years. We’ve secured a warehouse and have been able to stockpile loads of supplies; food, water, medicine, ammunition. There’s a garden up on the roof as well as a water reclamation unit to collet rain water. We put in a septic system and our perimeter is tightened up tighter then Gill-Man’s ass. Lately we’ve been picking up radio chatter about strange things happening. Stranger then the dead walking. Cults and “Old Gods” type stuff. We’re planning a trip to a location nearby where it’s said that Mystery Inc is being held captive by an abomination. We’ll see if we can help.
We are the Monster Squad.
Date: March 17, 2015. Time: 1300. Location: Somewhere in southern Ireland
St. Patrick's Day. A day celebrated the world over by flooding any drinking establishment with even a cursory chance of being "Irish" or at least the one with the most plastic green decor, and indulging in a pint of the finest ale, stout, or whiskey that happy hour prices advertise.
Nowhere was this more true then in the United States, where generations of Irish immigrants took the once venerated holiday and turned it into shit show filled shenanigans. From Boston to New York to middle of nowhere middle America, people lined up to not remember what they did. If America was #1 with the St. Pats binge drinking crew the Irish capital of Dublin was a close second. Tourists would flood the streets looking for the traditional St. Patrick's Day celebration totally unaware that tradition meant church. Instead they'd get what they really wanted, sloppy drunk on cheap, yet still overpriced, green drinks.
Those days are long gone now.
The streets of Dublin, and all of Ireland in fact, were torn asunder by the flesh eating mobs that took the small nation by storm.
The Queen had tried to assist her Irish citizens, mobilizing all her forces. However, as history had taught the world, when it came to the defense of the United Kingdom what really happened was England was kept safe while everyone else was essentially on their own. In Ireland the survivors rallied together rising up to protect neighborhoods, then single blocks, then a street, and finally a single building. As the numbers of citizens dwindled the numbers in the horde grew. In the end THEY won. The current population of the Emerald Isle is unknown, at least it is to the five who have been defending and protecting a relic from another time. A relic from another place.
The Hooligans are a small highly specialized unit of Irish Army Rangers tasked with safeguarding the Stargate. A passage to other worlds. The only one in all of Europe and one of only a handful around the world. With the potential power of the Stargate it had always amazed the members of the unit that the totality of the British military hadn't come and taken control of it. Instead the five hand picked mission specialists were all that kept it from falling into the wrong hands. Whose those would be they had come to question as of late.
It has been six years since Idaho. Five since the fall of London and Dublin. Four and a half since everything went belly up. The Hooligans; Dublin, Castor, Brimstone, Scáthach, and Gunna had been on site from the beginning watching the world fall. They had stood their ground admirably as the personnel of the small Stargate complex began turning. It was no easy task to eliminate the very people they were assigned to protect but the horde had caught them off guard. The battle took them to the outer doors of the room holding the Stargate. The ensuing battle became one of many "last stands" the Hooligans amassed over the intervening years. After the smoked had cleared and the bodies counted, 295 personnel along with 371 civilians had been disposed of.
Several more assaults had occurred with diminishing numbers each time. For the last year they hadn't seen a single zombie, nor anything or anyone else. They talked about abandoning their posts and going out into the real world but there was no good reason other then curiosity. They had more then enough supplies, especially after raiding the small village 10km from the base.
So they stayed and waited, for what they weren't sure.
"Really? Blood sausage?"
"Damn right. My gran made the best damn blood sausage in the U.K. What about you?" Gunna takes a swig of water from his canteen, he already knew the answer, 'fish & chips.' They've had this conversation hundreds of times since it all started, 'what food would you have if you could have anything?'
"Chicken Tikka Masala."
Gunna spits his water across the room choking as he tried to speak. For three years the answer was always the same. "Wh-what the..."
"Yup. Chicken Tikka Masala. There's this Indian place Kashmir, in Galway, best damn Chicken Tikka Masala probably on the planet."
"I'm just messin' with ya. Fish & chips of course." The fiery redhead lets out a small laugh, "You should see the look on your face. It's like you've seen a ghost." Scáthach’s smile slowly disappears as she realizes that Gunna not only isn't laughing but is looking right past her.
The cottage they are in is typical for the area. Small, 2 floors, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a small eat-in kitchen and living room on the first floor. The living room includes a couch covered in a gaudy floral pattern, facing a small fireplace with a flatscreen TV mounted above the mantel. A couple of cushion covered chairs sit off to the side facing each other currently occupied by Scáthach and Gunna. Gunna's chair also facing the grimy double window. That looks out onto the derelict street. Scathach slowly turns in her chair. Her jaw drops. Time slows as the two try to process what is heading there way.
The two soldiers have been coming to the cottage for years. It sits nearly in the center of the small village 10km from the Stargate base, it is the only town within 25km. Connected to the base by an underground passage the cottage was always planned as an emergency escape route should something happen at the facility. After the first battle at the station the team commander, Dublin decided that the cottage would be a good look out for zombie hordes or attackers making their way towards the base. Since then the shifts have been a week at a time, overlapping, so that while one person is leaving the next is on their way.
Two years ago all they'd seen was the random zombie straggler. One watcher would walk out, dispatch, and dispose of it. This became little more then routine. For the last year even that routine has faded. The village had no survivors. In its pervious life it had been an elaborate ruse. The village really being housing for all the Stargate staff. Positioned at such a distance to allow those at home to escape or defend their world from an extraterrestrial event. Now the Hooligans were all that remained.
That was until today.
Outside the window coming methodically down the street were people they had hoped to never encounter. Before the fall there had been numerous briefings on the actions and movements of those coming down the street. The afternoon sun glinted off the midnight black helmets. The red face masks identifying their ranks. Iron Grenadier Troopers. A platoon of Destro's finest soldiers were a mere 4 small village blocks away and they weren't alone. Supporting the Iron Grenadiers was a Razorback, a large piece of armor with an intense amount of firepower, the missile racks at the ready, an officer in a blackened mask different from the rest controlling the turret. It barely made it down the narrow village street but it was carefully making its way toward the two Hooligans’ current location.
It took mere seconds for the realization to set it, the Stargate was going to come under siege. They jumped into action grabbing weapons and gear, Gunna snatching his radio, "I'm calling it in."
"Hardline coms only. We don't know if they're listening." Scáthach responded.
“Roger that.” Grabbing the hardline, a phone right out of the 1960's with a single direct line to the watch station. He impatiently held it to his ears, three blocks away now, he knew back at the watch room a red light was flashing and a tone was squelching. "C'mon. C'mon."
"Anything." Scáthach asks her meticulously kept sniper rifle pointed down range in the direction of the Razorback, the officer in her sights.
"Does it sound like it.” The tension in the room threatening to spill out. At the fourth ring, "Hey what's up." The lackadaisical voice of Brimstone on the other end.
"We have a level one threat. Repeat. Level one threat. Over." Two and a half blocks.
Hearing the message brings Brimstone forward in his seat, "Received. Level one threat." He immediately enters several commands into the computer in front of him and hears the foot falls of the other Hooligans coming to the watch room. "Count. Over."
"Platoon. 2 squad trooper. 2 squad heavy. Armor present. Razorback." Two blocks. The IGs suddenly stop the officer barking orders from atop the imposing armor. Teams of two begin kicking in doors and doing full top to bottom sweeps.
"What's going on out there...?" The silence from Gunna puts Brimstone on Edge. Dublin and Castor listening in.
"Door to door. We're bugging out." With that Gunna slams the phone down on the receiver. Hearing the call, Scáthach immediately turns towards the basement door. The two waste no time getting downstairs, flipping a switch, and watching the furnace slide to the side revealing a set of dimly lit stairs heading to the corridor connecting to the Stargate operations center. They head down before the furnace has fully moved and flip another switch sliding it back into place. Before its settled back they are already on the sled, a one-time use quick extraction vehicle utilizing combined pulley and air booster systems designed to let them cover the 10km in minutes. Scáthach hits the power button which releases a quick hiss of air, then the release. The force of acceleration pushing them against the barely padded backrests.
They come to a quick stop at the end of the long tunnel. Waiting for them are Dublin and Castor. Meanwhile Brimstone continues monitoring the long range sensors.
“Update." Dublin asks strain clear in his voice.
Gunna is first to respond, “They showed up out of nowhere. Then started kicking in doors. One platoon. Two squads of IG Troopers and it looked like 2 squads of IG Heavies. Most definitely heading this way.”
“Don’t forget the nasty looking’ Razorback manned by Darklon.” Scáthach adds.
“Yeah I was trying to not think about that.”
“Darklon? Shit.” is all Dublin could say. They all know the odds are not in their favor. Dublin stands tall, “Activate all perimeter defensive measures. Prepare to defend the Bonn. Castor prep the auto-destruct. We can’t let the Stargate fall into Darklon’s hands.” Without another word the Hooligans set about readying their defenses. The Stargate had remained dormant for years. All those trained in its operation having been turned into mindless flesh eaters. No one on the other side was trying to come through either. Nonetheless the possibility of it falling into the wrong hands, someone like Darklon and the Iron Grenadiers, was unimaginable. Castor set to work readying a self destruct mechanism that would go off in one of two circumstances, either all the Hooligan’s biometric scanners would register them as dead or if any one of the Hooligans entered their personal code. Either method would have the same results. Setting off a chain reaction explosion starting at the Stargate and then each relevant system in turn. In two minutes all that would be left is a crater and scarred earth.
Brimstone called out from the workstation, “Perimeter sensors are going off line one at a time.”
Dublin immediately headed over, “What do you mean?”
“I mean it looks like they know where all our tech is and they’re disabling it as they reach it.”
“How far out are they?”
“If I’m right they’ve come through the village completely and are approximately 9 klicks out.”
“Shit.” Doing some quick calculations in his head, “We have less then 3 hours before it lights up. Do what you have to do to. Pray to whatever god you hold dear.”
The Hooligans set out, readying magazines, cleaning and checking spotless weapons. Going over in their heads how they want to die. The minutes tick away in silence. Dublin replacing Brimstone at the console, watching as each sensor array goes off line marking the ever encroaching enemy forces. One by one the other Hooligans gather behind him, watching over his shoulders. 7 klicks. 6 klicks. 5 klicks. 4 klicks. 3. 2. 1. “They’re less then 30 minutes out. It’s almost time. You all know what you have to do. Hold you position as long as you can. They’ll be in range of our remaining automatic defenses any minutes, but if it goes anything like it has, they already know where they are and will disable them. Leaving just us. You all know what’s at stake here.” Heads slowly nod in agreement. “I want you all to know it’s been an honor serving with you.”
“Same here sir.” Castor.
“Never would have made this long without ya sir.” Gunna.
“It’s been an honor to serve by your side sir.” Scáthach.
“Sir… We have a bigger problem.” Brimstone’s tone and voice gets everyone’s attention. “Look at the readouts.” They all turn. The monitors for the Stargate were off the charts. The video feed showed that somehow the gate was turning, aligning, preparing to open. Then the all too familiar sound, fwoosh, the liquid like surface propelled forwards then settled back, it’s surface glimmering.
Dublin could only muster, “Bloody fuckin’ ‘ell.”
Date: March 9, 2015. Time: Unknown. Location: Somewhere 65 miles from New Springfield
It's been six years since that fateful night. The tragic 911 call that came to announce the rising of the undead. The screams had been played by the media over and over again in the early days. The screams became symbolic of the times.
6.8 billion people hunted down to unknown millions. Could be hundreds of millions. Could be 1 million. Billions joined the ever growing ranks of the undead. Hundreds of millions more died due to the nuclear fallout. Still more found their end due to starvation, dehydration, the resurgence of once extinct illnesses, others to suicide, then there was the unspeakable loss of life at the hands of monsters.
Right now none of that mattered. Right now all there is is survival. The lone stranger needed to make it to New Springfield, come hell or horde.
He had hunkered down when it all happened. He had supplies to last several years. They'd run out 2 years ago. He'd spent the intervening time scavenging. There hasn't been much to find. Living things are scarce. Living things that are easy and safe to eat even more so. Then there's the water.
He'd seen all the movies growing up. He'd been a fan of that one show the Walking Walkers. Stupid name, "walkers." Were they all related to that Texas Ranger? His kids perhaps? Or had the people in that show never seen a zombie movie?
That would be some weird alternate reality shit. A world where no one made zombie movies. Or tv shows. Or t-shirts, bobble heads, candy. Mmm. He'd chop off his own hand for a candy bar. Perhaps a Snickers. He can see the commercial now; some undead bastard is chasing a bunch of people on a soccer field and someone yells, "Hey Mark eat a Snickers." The dumb fool holds his hand out to the zombie, candy bar in hand, the thing turns, grabs the arm, and tears into it. Blood squirts wildly into the air. The shambling piece of crap looks up, flesh clinging to its chin and winks at the camera teeth glistening. The fresh maker.
No. That's not right. Damn it. His thoughts are jumbled. It's hard to focus on any one thing for too long. Except for his goal. Get to New Springfield. The last people he came upon had told him all about it. They have big strong walls with armed guards at the top. Enough food and water for everyone. Enough food to plump them up. He was tired of thin, bony, wiry meals. He dreamed of fat, soft, scrumptious morsels.
He licked his lips just thinking about it. New Springfield. The ultimate all you can eat buffet. He was nearly there.
Date: October 28, 2012. Time: 0900. Location: Somewhere in Nevada
That infernal grin. And that sickening cackling. I won’t go away. I won’t stop. It’s been incessant since this all started; day, night, it doesn’t matter. That smile of shattered rotten teeth and dead eyes filled with blazing hellfire…
“Harry.” The slap across his face is quick and hard leaving his cheek tingling.
“What was that for?”
“What was that for?” Throwing his hands up in frustration the exasperated Ron turns towards Hermione, “You deal with him. I can’t.” Her eyes go from the man she loves to her constant companion, the man they both feel compelled to protect.
“Harry where have you been?”
“I was here.”
“Yes, your body was but your mind… It was definitely somewhere else. Do you remember where?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I also don’t see what all the fuss is about. So I didn’t hear Ron. So what.”
“So what?” Frustration edging towards anger drips from Ron, “We’ve been trying to get your attention for 3 hours!” The words hit Harry like a sucker punch.
“You’ve been out of it Harry. Totally unresponsive. We’ve tried everything; splashing you with water, shaking you, loud noises.” The pity in her eyes leaking into her voice.
“Finally I slapped you.” The anger replaced with sadness and a touch of guilt.
“I’m sorry Hermione. I’m sorry Ron. I really am. I don’t… I don’t know what came over me.”
Ron places his hand on the shoulder of his best friend, “It’s okay Harry we’re here for you. You’ve just gotta tell us what’s going on. We need to know. We deserve to know. And… I’m sorry I hit you.”
“You’re right Ron.”
“Then let us help you.”
“It’s… It’s the Necrinomicon.”
“You know very well that it’s more then just a ‘book’ Ron.” Irritation spilling over into his voice.
“Okay man. So what about it?”
“I think it’s responsible for all this.”
“Well maybe not all of it but definitely something.” Looking at his friends he can sense their apprehension. “Do you remember when this all started back at the ___?”
“Of course. How could we forget Harry?” Hermione asks incredulously.
“Well when we went back to the room and got it I opened the box.”
“You did what?” The anger back in Ron’s voice.
“I looked at it. It was, awake. Smiling even. It hasn’t stopped. It’s burned into my mind. When I close my eyes there it is. And now even when I’m awake I see it.” He anxiously locks eyes with Hermione, “That’s where I was. Watching it. It just grins and now… Now it’s laughing.”
“The book laughs?” interrupts Ron, doubt plain on his face.
“No not the Necrinomicon. It’s something in the background. Something sinister. I don’t quite know how to explain it. But I swear it’s real. Even now I can here it in the background. Can’t you?” Ron and Hermione look at one another then back at Harry. Ron speaks up first, “Sure man, we hear it.” The relief on Harry’s face is all the reward they need for the white lie. “Give us a second will you Harry?”
“I’m not crazy.”
“No one is saying you are.”
“I’m not crazy. I’m telling the truth.”
“It’s okay buddy we believe you we just need to take a second to talk about where we go next.” The pair walk hand in hand across the wrecked hotel suite, sure that Harry won’t overhear their conversation, “He’s getting worse Hermione.”
“How many pills do we have left?”
“6-7 days max and that’s at half doses.”
“That’s not good.”
“No. It’s not.”
“We’ve gotta find more.”
“Yes Ron I know we do.”
“Hey.” He places his hand on her cheek making sure they make eye contact, “I’m not the enemy.” She places her hand over his nuzzling into the warmth of his strong fingers. “I know Ron. I’m not frustrated with you, just all of this. The world is falling apart at the seems. There are zombies eating people, tearing them limb from limb everywhere we go. And Harry, he’s losing his grip on this reality and there is nothing we can do.”
“Stop right there. As long as Harry has us that won’t happen. As for what to do, there has to be a pharmacy or a clinic we haven’t searched yet.”
“You know those things are always at them. Every single one we’ve been to. It’s almost like they are waiting for us.”
“True, but that just means we keep doing what we do, killing zombies and finding meds.” He looks deep into her eyes, “We’re in this together, all of us. We’ll help Harry like we always do.” Her smile is all he needs. As he is about to turn back to his friend muttering across the room from them he feels her hand in his, “Ron?” He turns, “Yes.” The kiss catches him off guard but he gives into it. Their arms circling one another. Holding each other a reassuring strength spreads between them. Slowly they pull away from one another. Ron looks down at his love, “We’re in this together never forget that. Now let’s get back to Harry.” They turn back towards the former Vegas legend, a magician and illusionist of the highest caliber now sitting on a dirty couch knees pulled up to his chest, arms pulling them in close, muttering over and over, “The Old Ones are not happy. The Necrinomicon is.”
The sound reverberated and echoed down the nondescript main street. If any of THEM were unaware of his presence his bellowing scream certainly alerted them. THEY shambled out of every smashed doorway, tripping over splintered wood and twisted steel. THEY dragged themselves through each shattered window, the wicked shards of bloodstained glass doing little to slow THEIR advance.
His giant club, the steel studs sunk deep into the hard wood…
…That was another thing all together.
He swung it like a man possessed. Each swing crashed into the bodies and bones of the hungry undead shattering them like twigs. Heads exploded like rotted Halloween jack-o-lanterns. Again and again he swung. Back and forth. The taut muscles of his arms barely straining under their unrelenting use. His terrifying grunts and snarls melded with the cacophony of animalistic moans, groans, and snarls of the rotted undead masses.
The frightened women watched from the cramped interior of the wrecked car. They had found themselves walking down what they thought was an empty street just trying to survive one more day when it all went south. A misplaced step and the bottle skittered across the asphalt. It was only a few at first, which the women quickly dispatched with well worn blades. However, with each fallen foe three more took its place. They quickly found themselves outnumbered and surrounded. The trio used up what little ammunition they had but that did little more then announce dinner was served. Thinking quickly they fought their way to the car, hoping that it was unlocked. It was. They piled in locking the doors knowing full well how little protection the Honda Civic would provide. The young women were completely honest with themselves knowing that the car had become rusty blue steel coffin. With the horde growing ever larger they knew they stood no chance of survival. They didn’t scream, even the normally cowardly of the trio sat quietly tears drawing down her pale cheeks. They sat in the penetrating silence of those who know their time has come and they have accepted the inevitability.
That three college freshmen with no survival training or preparation had survived as long as they had was a triumph in itself. They always knew death could be around the next corner. It wasn’t that they were helpless, they all had skills which they brought to the table. The leader of the group was the daughter of a police officer who demanded that she learn how to fire a pistol which she excelled at. One was a calculating planner. The other a cautious voice of reason. All three were intelligent and always thinking outside the box to find nonconventional ways to solve problems.
Now they sat huddled in the late model Honda watching as a lone man smashed and destroyed the creatures left and right. Time and again they watched as skeletal hands wrapped their broken and blackened nails around the man’s leopard print cloak only to be tossed aside like so much garbage. With each swing of his giant cudgel more of the creatures found true death.
It felt like time was standing still but in only a matter of minutes the big man took out the last walking monstrosity. With a final swing he shouted, “CAPTAIN CAVEMAAAAAAAN!” with such wild ferocity that the women in the car shrank back in terror. The few undead whose heads had been spared the brunt of his club met death under the man’s imposing boot.
Blood splattered and gore covered he walked directly toward the car. The girls knew their time had come. There was nothing they could do against a thing that could wreak havoc against so many undead cannibals. It was only as he got closer that the women became truly scared.
He stopped a few feet away from the dusty abandoned vehicle. He could smell their fear it pained him. He did not like it when the innocent feared him. Looking into the eyes of the terrified women twisted his stomach and made him forlorn. He gripped his club in his right hand letting it hang by his side. He looked into the car, placed his left hand over his chest, and plaintively spoke, “Me Captain Caveman.” His meek voice did not match with the brutal sounds which they had just heard emanate from the hulking brute standing outside looking in at them with sadness in his eyes.
Minutes passed and no one dared move. The women out of fear of the carnage covered man before them. The man out of fear of once again scaring the innocent away. He could still smell their fear. He gently repeated himself, “Me Captain Caveman.” He waited. He realized that the women were far too terror-stricken to respond. Dejected, his head hung low, his shoulders slumped he turned and began to slowly walk away, dragging his heavy club across the gore covered asphalt.
He had gone less then a block from the car when he heard her, “Wait.” Her voice still held a hint of fear. He stopped in his tracks and slowly turned to face the shaky voice. Down the road staring at him a mixture of fear and defiance on her face, stood a tall lean woman her dark skin standing in contrast to the two paler women cowering behind her. He stood motionless worried that he might make them run away, like the rabbits did when he tried to pet them.
From behind the tall woman her brunette companion meekly whispered, “Wh-wha-what do we do now?”
Standing firm keeping her eyes on the imposing man in front of her, finger on the trigger of her empty sidearm, her voice low, “I’m not really sure. I didn’t think that far ahead. Any ideas?”
“I say we try to get away, move slowly, try not to startle him.” These words of wisdom from the blonde behind her.
“I don’t think he wants to hurt us.”
“Well he didn’t. He could have. But he didn’t.”
“Maybe he just wanted us to get out of the car.”
“You really think that piece of crap is what stopped him? You saw what he did to those things.”
Even whispered at 25 yards he could hear every hushed word, the wind carried them to his highly sensitive ears. Hoping to ease their apprehension he took a small step forward. “Stop right there!” Before his foot hit the ground the leader of the little group had reacted to his movement, centering her pistol on his large hairy chest. He could smell it was empty, the wind, being his friend, carried that to him as well. He also knew she was even more scared now. He placed his left hand in the air while he slowly put his big club on the ground beside him. He never took his gaze off of the woman in front of him. His innocent eyes pleading with her to be his friend. As he stood back up he placed his right hand on his chest, left hand still in the air plaintively, and in his quietest voice, “Me Captain Caveman.” He then slowly moved his right hand out in the direction of the young women, palm up, “You?”
“What’s he doing?”
“I think he wants to know our names.”
“D-d-don’t tell him.”
“Because… Look at him.” He was a terrifying sight indeed. Standing well over 6’ 6”, long dark hair and beard merging with his think chest hair, all of it matted and stained with the blood and brain matter of the undead. His leopard print cloak soiled with dirt and things more vile. Slowly he repeated himself, “Me Captain Caveman. You?”
The woman lowered her useless gun, “I’m Dee Dee.”
Through the mask of gore the man’s face lit up, “D D.” His smile showed perfect gleaming teeth. He cocked his head to the side, like a dog confused but he word’s of it’s human, “You D D. They?”
“Ladies introduce yourselves.”
“No buts. Just do it. He saved our lives we owe him that much.” The blonde came out from behind Dee Dee first, “I’m Taffy. Taffy Dare.” The brunette struggled to garner up the courage to stand tall, “My name is Brenda.”
His already big smile grew so large it nearly engulfed his face. “D D. Taffee. Brend-a. Me Captain Caveman. We be friends?”
"Oh look they're back."
"What do you mean they're back?"
"Well let's see the first time this happened was 1932. Then again in 1968, 1978, 1979, and 1985. There was that incident back in 1991, well, except that that turned out to be nothing more then someone colorfully retelling events from 1968. And now look, they're back."
"This has never happened before."
"Sure it has in 1932, 1968, 1978, 1979, and 1985.”
"If this has happened before why haven't we heard about it? Why wasn't it on the news?"
"Well, it was. A squabble here. A riot there."
That was less than 12 hours ago.
"Fixed point in time."
"You keep saying that."
"And it is exactly what I mean. What's happening now. It has to happen."
"Why why does this..." I turn my arm sweeping the horizon glowing red from the uncontrolled fires. No fire service coming to douse the blazes. All around the gut wrenching screaming of the horrified masses mingles with the uncontrolled guttural moaning of the undead echoing into time and space, "...have to happen?"
"Because it just does."
"Explain it to me."
"There is no time for that..."
"You're a time traveler. Make time."
"I'm sorry but I can't. There are some things that even I can't change."
"Can't or won't?"
The pained expression on his face says it all. A mixture of sadness, anger, frustration, and defeat washes over his timeless countenance leaving him looking somehow older.
He places his hand on my shoulder, when he speaks the words are barely above a whisper. His usual boisterous energy completely missing, "Come with me. We can go see the Christmas planet Ember or the Face of Boe. We can come back when this ends."
"And when will that be huh? When will this nightmare end?"
"I don't know."
"How? How can you not know. You've seen our future you've shown me. We survive. Earth survives..."
"Humans. I never said anything about Earth."
"What? But New Earth..." My words stop me in my tracks. "That's it isn't it? That's why it's new earth. Because this one dies."
He refuses to look at me. His head hung low, "Again I'm sorry." Then he raises his eyes towards the sky. Staring at something only he can see, "If there was something I could do I would." The sound of consolation in his voice drips sadness. "Come with me."
"No." I stare him down defiantly holding my head high. "No. I'll stay right here. If this is a fixed point in time and has to happen I'll be here to watch it all."
In less than 12 hours my whole life has been turned upside down. It isn't the first time of course. The first time was when I met him. The Doctor. I'm not even sure how long ago that was, with all the time hoping and space travel.
What I do know is this time everything is different. This time the man I came to know as the protector of Earth. Of mankind. A savior to untold millions. Has decided now isn't the time.
He stepped into his blue box without looking back. Without so much as a snide quip or witty retort. He just stepped in, closed the door, and disappeared.
Now I find myself back against the wall. Quite literally. The small bathroom of the smaller flat is just wide enough for me to put my back against the wall and plant my feet on the door. Anything to slow their relentless pursuit. Their scratching and moaning never ceases. In fact it gets louder every second. More find their way to the open flat door. Stumbling over one another in hopes of crashing through the door and peeling back my flesh. Rory is next to me adding his weight to our attempted blockade. I reach out and take his hand. Tears filling my eyes. We say nothing. This is it. Our time together is finally ending. The door begins to crack. A hand thrusts through grabbing Rory's ankle. He doesn't scream. He doesn't pull away. Doing so would only weaken our hold on the door. He not in any real danger until there are teeth.
The snap catches me by surprise. Rory's scream even more so. Blood pouring from his shattered ankle. Yet he keeps holding his position. He let's out an agonizing shriek. My voice joins his. Another section of the door cracks. It's only seconds now...
Date: July 4, 2015. Time: 1436. Location: Aguilar, CO.
"Wh-wh-what do you mean you're pregnant?"
That was seven months ago.
Shaggy remembers the conversation as if it were yesterday. He had known Velma since high school, she had never had interest in boys.
He thought about the conversation in the coffee shop. The Mystery Incorporated Gang had decided to go to college together but when that didn't work out they chose the next best thing, the Western Massachusetts Five College System. They each attended different schools but were always within a short bus ride of each other. In fact they were all able to take classes together, usually on the paranormal. Fred went to Amherst College, Daphne to Mount Holyoke, Shaggy to Hampshire, and Velma to Smith. Shaggy even found the pup he named Scooby Doo at a UMass Amherst frat party. When not studying they met up in downtown North Hampton at Woodstar Cafe, a quaint local coffee house specializing in fair trade coffee and fresh baked goodies. They had been sitting around talking about their next adventure, a trip to the Northampton State Hospital, a long abandoned insane asylum with decades of reported ghostly activity.
Velma, who was normally very chatty, had been acting distant all night, "Hey guys… I have something I need to tell you…" She took her glasses off rubbing her temples before replacing them on her thin nose, "I don't know how else to say it other than to just say it, I'm a lesbian." She wasn't sure what to expect.
"We all know. C'mon V we know you better than anyone." Daphne said while putting her arm around her best friend.
"Yeah, like we always knew." Shaggy said tucking the bill into his wallet.
“What's with the money?" Velma asked confused.
"Oh. That. Well Shaggy and I had a bet as to when you'd come out. I said after Graduation…"
"And I said before." Shaggy interrupted with a smile.
"Look Velma you're our friend…" Fred started.
"My best friend." Daphne said with a smile.
"You can't do it alone Shaggy."
He squirms under her intense stare. "I won't really be alone, right Scooby." The big dog's usual huff came in response. “And besides like, I don't see another choice. You can barely walk. You'd be more of a hinderance then helpful."
Velma scrunches her brow, hand on her stomach. She knows that it's coming soon. "Okay." Her voice defeated eye intense, "You take Scooby. I'll stay here and wait for you. If you need to get out quick I'll drive up and we'll scram."
The place had been packed. When it all went down people had flocked to hospitals, clinics, police stations, and places of worship, anywhere they thought they could find help or be protected. Shaggy, Scooby, and Velma had spent the last several years avoiding them. Now Shaggy finds himself walking up to the doors. He gave the handles a quick jiggle, "Locked Scooby." He knelt down and got to work. One of the many skills he had excelled at over was lock picking. In under a minute he had the cylinder turned and the door unlocked. "Okay Scoob. This is probably gonna be bad. You ready?" The Great Dane lowered his nose to the bottom of the door and let out a low whimper. "I know. I feel the same way. But… It's for Velma." He raised to his full height, cracked his back, and stretched. First putting in the big dog's ear protection, then his own he shouldered his rifle and reached for the knob, "Here we go." Before he could fully open the door the weight of one of THEM slams into it. Jaws snap at the open space between the door and its frame. Shaggy, caught off guard, stumbles back the door flying open. The thing locks its dead grey eyes on Shaggy. With its jaw dropped open it stretches blackened and broken hands as viscous ooze stains the finger tips where nails once grew. It would have been the last of Shaggy if not for the bravery of his loyal companion throwing his himself against the creature's legs knocking it back. He wasted no time in regaining his composure and putting a 5.56 between its eyes.
And it was on.
The dinner bell had been rung.
All the starving abominations fought to sink their teeth into Shaggy and his four legged pal moving towards the duo en masse, "Scoob this is bad. It's too open." To his right he saw a short hallway, "This way." He backtracks his way into the hallway. Doors stand shut on either side, he glanced at them, "No time to check 'em." The narrow hall acts as a choke point allowing THEM to come at him in near single file. Scooby stood defiantly in front of Shaggy his deep barking mingling with the echoing rifle fire. One by one they went down, though not all were truly dead when they fell.
Movies and TV shows pre-TEOTWAWKI* had people believing that anyone could make a headshot every time. That just wasn't reality. In reality the swarm in front of him, had once been the sick, ill, and injured, now they stumbled and shambled some dragging IV stands and other medical equipment in tow. This meant their heads bobbed this way and that. Add to the situation the varying sizes of the people some tall and some short and Shaggy found himself constantly readjusting his aim. Most shots rang true, others didn't.
Bullet casing littered the floor, he found himself reloading more then expected. As the bodies piled up those not truly dead continued scratching and clawing their way towards the two survivors. On his last magazine he began picking off heads as they came over the wall of dead. Choking smoke and the acrid smell of gunpowder mixed with the putrid odor of the fetid undead. Carefully placing each shot Shaggy fought off the urge to vomit. Behind him the doors had started to buckle. He had noticed them moving as soon as he stepped in the hall. Always aware to keep them in his peripheral he knew it wouldn't be long before what was behind them got out. The way in front of him was completely choked by bodies, stopping his fire to check his magazine, "Well Scoob, looks like we've got about 5 rounds. We're gonna have to go into one of these rooms and hope that we don't miss and we have more bullets then they do brains." Scooby cocks his head to the side in response. Shaggy had noticed that none of the windows had bars over them, being a small town it made sense. Now he was glad. He turned to the door through which the room on the other side would bring him closer to the Mystery Machine and more ammo. The door shook, "Okay one more time." Rather than turn the knob he kicked in the door, his foot nearly going through the cheap hollow veneer. The thing on the other side was knocked off its feet. Shaggy went in rifle ready saw the downed thing and ended it. A quick scan showed him it was the only one in the room. He slung his rifle, "Looks like that's it. Now I wish I hadn't kicked in the door. Closing it behind him he pushed a large metal exam table in front of it. He knew the things wouldn't get through the pile of dead but, "It's better to be safe then sorry eh Scoob." The dog seemed to nod in agreement.
Shaggy went to the window and saw the Mystery Machine two buildings down. Velma was still safe inside. From his vantage point he could see a few walkers roaming the street, "Okay Scooby Doo we gotta get outta here, back to the van, grab ammo, and finish clearing this place out. All without getting bit. Think we can do it." The big dog wagged its tail. Reaching down Shaggy scratched behind the dog's ears.
They've spent the last month holed up in the abandoned clinic.
"They're getting closer Shaggy." The man says without looking up.
"Okay Velma, you're gonna have to push." the now familiar voice says, tone even. Looking down at the man and woman helping his long time friend Shaggy is terrified something might go wrong. He had met them while scavenging for supplies in the small burg of Aguilar, Colorado. They had nearly shot each other. Now the newcomers were delivering a baby that shouldn't be, that couldn't be, but was. Velma had never been with a man. The closest she had ever come had been back in Maybury when she was tied on top of Shaggy.
She had tried to figure out how it was possible. How she had become pregnant. Velma wouldn't tell Shaggy her worst fears. They had both seen the truth of the church of Crystal Ball, a.k.a. ‘Father Flagg’, the ritualistic orgy. She was worried that they had participated the day prior. The thought terrified her.
Another contraction, "Push!"
Velma does as Brian asks, she pushes with all her might. All dignity having left her. She knew that childbirth wasn't the beautiful natural thing that movies and television tried to sell it as. She knew she was going to defecate, bleed, sweat, scream, and cry. She was okay with all of that. What she had a hard time accepting was not knowing who the father was. Flagg had said Shaggy would be the seed, she the vessel, did that mean it was Shaggy's? She cries out.
"It's crowning. Keep going." Brian stays cool and level headed. As does Emily his wife acting as nurse. For years he had travelled the globe under the guise of being a Medic for Hire. Working for companies that supplied personnel to regions in need. The reality being that he was a Cobra Medi-Viper attached to Cobra Special Operation Forces. He travelled the globe treating wounded Range Vipers, Swamp Rats, Snow Serpents, and their ilk. Since the SHTF he and Emily had stayed in the Rockies trying to stay one step ahead of THEM. He was hoping to meet up with a Cobra Unit and get Emily to safety but instead found himself in this run down medical clinic. He was surprised to see how well stocked it was. Yeah it was trashed by the things that had been trapped inside but it had never been the victim of looters. He was putting all his training and the gathered supplies to good use now. "Just a few more and it's out." There's a moment when Brian, Hawkeye to his comrades in Cobra, almost lost his composure, "Emily hon' get me a blanket. One more push Velma. C'mon you're almost there." Her scream reverberates throughout the room as the child clears her birth canal. Quickly Brian wraps it up. A regular doctor would have had the child removed from the room, perhaps he would have suggested early termination, but Hawkeye had trained under Dr. Mindbender. He had been involved in numerous grotesque experiments and abominations to the world. This barely phased him.
"Is everything okay doc?" Shaggy says worry plain in his voice.
"Shaggy come here please." Hawkeye rubs the newborn's chest unsure of what to do.
"What's wrong with my baby?! Give me my baby!" Velma tries to sit up only to be met by the caring hands of Emily.
"Please you've been through a lot. Your baby will be…" Just then the small creature cries. A sound heard in every nursery the world over.
Without a word Hawkeye hands the bundle to Shaggy, "Let's see…" His voice trails off. The thing in his hands is no human baby. He has no words to describe it.
"Shaggy give me my baby." The pleading tone in Velma's voice turns him towards her. He hesitates, the bundle in his hand squirming. Slowly he hands the small thing to Velma. With open arms and fear on her face she takes the child quickly pulling it to her breast before looking. "He's mine."
"V-v-velma look at it."
Slowly she begins to look down. The bundle still held close. She let's down the blanket. Her eyes light up, “Isn’t he beautiful?” She looks up beaming, “He has your eyes Shag.”
* TEOTWAWKI - The End Of The World As We Know It
Date: March 2014. Time: 0900. Location: Pennsylvania.
"Looking back on it it sounds like the plot to a bad 90s action movie but it’s the way things were." The man I'm interviewing, Firefighter Kenna, stares off into the distance as he recalls the beginning of his ordeal.
“Let me see if I understand this correctly, Kenna. You want us to gear up in Turnouts. Grab hooks, halligans, and axes. Make our way cross town, which is infested with those things, to a National Guard armory that’s more then likely already emptied either by the military or looters in hopes of finding some supplies?” The look on his face said it all there was no way he was going to agree to this crazy scheme. It was insane. It was suicide. It was all we had.
“Yes.” I tried to act strong but the defeat in my voice held my enthusiasm at bay. I was able to convince myself to keep and maintain eye contact with him.
The silence was deafening. I was just about to go on about how we could locate survivors and help them. I was ready to counter with arguments about public service. Honoring the memories of our fallen. Taking care of our families.
“Well damn it. What are we waiting for?” And just like that the argument was over. “We’ve got nothing better to do. Might as well have an adventure before we end up as dinner right.” The smile on his face tried to hide his concern.
It’s amazing how all of us made it to the station. All 23 of us. Some arrived with their families; wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends, kids. Being single I had no where else to go, but the family guys, I would've thought they’d take off, try to find an evacuation station, get to the mountains, anything. But no, we all took an oath and each of us showed up. We brought what we had; canned goods, bottles of water, a couple shot guns, some pistols, other various supplies. We secured the doors, packed into the upper levels of the station house then destroyed the stairs. We’re a Hook and Ladder group, we specialize in entering burning buildings and ventilating structures, we tear shit up. So taking out the stairs and replacing it with a chain fire ladder was no issue. We were lucky for while. But supplies began running low. First we just hit the near by businesses. Then we spread out.
We had all heard the saying, “It ain’t stealing if you leave a note.” So we left notes. We had exhausted the local sources and had lost too many good men, and women. The first guy got bit as we tried to commandeer some supplies from a pharmacy. Got tagged by a quiet one that was standing behind a door. We took him back to the station. We’d all seen the TV reports and listened to the radio but no one wanted to believe it. If you got bit you became one of THEM. A Zombie. Took us two more guys, after Bobby, turning in the Station House and tearing apart their families before we came to the consensus, anyone bit was put down with extreme prejudice. Still we had already lost too much.
It had been decided that we would stay put and wait for rescue, which we all just knew was coming cause there was a SOP (standard operating procedure) for disasters. We’d spent the last several weeks holed up, waiting for... The National Guard? FEMA? Anyone from the Government? Someone to find us. We now found ourselves out of food. Running low on water, an irony to be sure. And desperate.
Down to seven men. Trying to support 11 other survivors. Madness.
The big man had settled it. He had been silent as we went over the pluses and minuses of the plan. As we tried to figure out how to break the plan to the terrified huddled families.
It had started the night before as we were rationing out the last of our supplies. When I suggested the plan, “You’re fuckin’ crazy man.”
“You know how many of those things there are out there?”
“They fuckin’ tore apart my son!”
They laid into me. But I didn’t give up. We argued. All day yesterday and into today. Once Walker agreed…He was a career firefighter, old school. Graying at the temples and widening at the midsection. And he could still whip the ass of any Rookie and most of us regulars in PT. Built like a brick shit house is how my father would have described him.
I was hoping they could talk me out of it. Not that I’d talk them into it.
THESE EVENTS TAKE PLACE PRIOR TO THE EVENTS IN CHAPTER 55
Date: Unknown. Time: Unknown. Location: USA.
Prior to the shit hitting the fan the town had a small population, the one thing that worked against them was Route 87. Scared, confused, and armed thousands had taken to the road trying to escape surrounding areas, no one knowing where it was safe. Reports changed hour to hour where the evac areas, FEMA camps, and safe zones were. It seemed like they were falling to the creatures faster then they could be set up. The resulting traffic jams were like buffets for the spread of the disease. From car to car the walkers went attacking anyone they could grab. Men, women, children, no one was spared. Had the road not been built the town may have survived relatively unscathed but the greased palms of the mayor and the town board overruled the numerous objections of the residents.
He remembered the day he responded to the call for help from the town. The had taken a group of Guardsmen in a small convoy; 2 deuce and a half and 2 Humvee. They were stopped at the edge of town by the traffic. Cars blocked the way, people busy fighting with each other fell prey to the undead. He didn't know what to do. The radio was squawking with the desperation of the town leaders, holed up in the municipal building. He ordered the large trucks to lead the way pushing the cars out of their path. He told his men to pick off the infected from the Humvees. Easier said then done. The Weekend Warriors wasted hundreds of rounds trying to hit the growing, yet still manageable, number of undead. They hit just as many uninfected as they did the contaminated. His order was one of the many poorly executed plans that led to the rumors of soldiers firing upon citizens. It was also the turning point in his life and idea of survival. The Guard Unit had been getting smaller as every morning they awoke to find another of their ranks having disappeared in the middle of the night. The failure of the mission was the last straw for the Guardsmen they all left. Choosing to try and save their own families and themselves over trying to maintain order.
They never did make it to the mayor. The traffic was too thick. Watching the van racing through the streets that had stopped him in his tracks reminded him just how much the fire had changed. The van slammed into gutted and burned out cars and swerved around the larger trucks and SUVs. They had nearly made it out of the town proper and onto the relatively more open road when it happened.
It wasn't the largest horde, he had whittled down its numbers, but, like many things over the years he just stopped. He had stopped keeping track of the horde, consoling himself with the notion that should it come back he would let them take him. He didn't go out of his way to avoid them but neither did he seek them out. He knew they were down in the valley which was one of the reasons he had stopped scavenging through the rubble. Now the mass of undead flesh had gathered.
His attention having been fixed by the van's movements he didn't see where the gang had come from only that the van collided head on with it. He could tell the driver had thought he could plow his way through it. He would have too if it weren't for the several bodies that had been wedged into the wheel wells. It came to a screeching stop and was immediately surrounded. He couldn't hear anything but he could see it all. He had no intention of going down there. He had given up on helping people after the debacle trying to reach the trapped politicians. So he watched. The creatures scrambled over one another trying to claw and bite their way into the van. Hands smeared blood and ash on the sides as the mass pounded on them. Still he watched. He saw the driver's side window go part way down, a gun barrel poking through the grate. The rapport of the shotgun echoing through the valley, he knew it would draw even more of THEM to the scene. Still he watched. He heard the gunshots again and again, first from the driver's side then the passengers. Two distinct sounds meaning at least two firearms and probably two survivors. He could see the smoke rising from the tires as the driver tried in vain to dislodge the corpses. The van rocked back and forth. He knew that inevitably the horde would flip the van and get the trapped terrified people inside.
The monocular was tossed into his bag.
With a renewed sense of purpose he ran into the cabin grabbing his favorite firearm, the M60. He grabbed one of the bags full of ammunition belts and ran out sure to secure the door behind him. He took to the trail dodging branches and roots making it to the Deuce and a Half. The old workhorse started with a shudder. He threw it into gear and headed towards the town. He knew it was only a matter of time. The cloud of dust rose as he tore down the mountain dirt road. The truck jumped as it hit the pavement. He knew that once he cleared the curve in the road he'd be near the van. He hoped the occupants were still safe the near continuous gunshots slightly easing his worry. Rounding the bend he slammed on the breaks. Ahead of him less than 100 yards sat the van. It was still surrounded and rocking under the weight of the decayed dead. Once on the roof he loaded up his weapon and with a smile on his face unleashed lead hell. The rounds tore through the bodies of the dead smashing into the concrete sending bits of rock flying through the air. Those closest to him turned towards him, arms outstretched they walked directly into his line of fire. Nearly all fell under the heavy barrage only to drag themselves across the ground, others were sent to their true deaths by a round to the head. He stopped only to reload sending round upon round downrange.
Inside the van Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby Doo watched the "crazy bastard" mowing down the horde. In a matter of minutes the horde had been cut in half, many literally. Shaggy flashed the lights of the van to signal the heavily armed man. Without releasing the trigger he waved his left hand holding the giant weapon one handed like some and action movie star. Shaggy continued trying to dislodge the bodies stopping the Mystery Machine, first forward then back. From the passenger side Velma resumed firing at the horde. Unable to get the van to budge Shaggy turned it off and took to gunning down those who got close from his side. In the back Scooby lay on the floor his big paws over his ears. Shaggy and Velma had both taken to keeping ear plugs handy. The first time they fired one of their weapons from the van taught them that the reverberation could be just as dangerous as the bullet.
The slaughter continued for what felt like forever. Half way through the big man on the truck got off the roof and fired while walking towards the van. His shots became more controlled. Short bursts rather than long sweeping passes. His smile never changed.
"I g-g-guess so." They each take a moment to reload their weapons, Shaggy's a Mossberg Shotgun, Velma's a hunting rifle. They had other weapons but weren't familiar enough with their care never mind their operation to use. That all changed upon meeting the big Army Vet. Looking back at Scooby, "Scoob you stay here. V and I will be right back." The big dog whimpered in response the sounds of the weapons hurting his sensitive ears. Shaggy opened the doors, stepped out, and began picking off walkers.
"I say we meet our mysterious savior." With weapons at their sides they made their way over to the heavily armed man wearing the huge smile.
As they draw near he looks at them, "Well that was damn fun. Thanks."
"W-w-well like the pleasure was all ours." the tall lanky one with the shot gun responds.
"You really saved our asses there mister." The statement from the short nerdy looking girl in an oversized sweater, skirt, and combat boots.
Date: November 11, 2014. Time: 1315. Location: Mulberry, KS.
- Wh-wh-wher am I? -
The large dog lifts his heavy head from the cold floor. His eyelids are heavy and are fighting against his opening them. His body aches, it's like he had been playing with one of his litter mates all day or out chasing the bad smelling things. It takes him several minutes to rise to his feet. They feel unsteady under him, like they are not his.
- Wh-wh-wha's rong wif me? -
He stands in place unmoving. Trying to move his head brings him back to the floor. His insides hurt. Coughs and convulsions grip his body. Opening his mouth the contents of his stomach rocket out.
- Bad meat. - He growls from the floor. He's felt similar to this before, last time his favorite parts disappeared. This is worse though, he worries that his new favorite part is gone. With renewed tenacity he struggles to regain his feet. He looks at each one in turn making sure they are his. He looks between his legs, a wave of relief flowing over him, it's still there. After several more failed attempts he is able to not only stand but look around.
The room is lit but just barely, a high placed window allows some sunlight in. He looks around for his people he doesn't see them. He smells the air unwilling to trust his eyes which he knows show him funny things. Only the musty smells of rotting wood, dust, and mold fill his nostrils.
Slowly, carefully he walks around the room. He finds the door and scratches at it. It rattles but does not open. He smells under the door. Nothing. He barks. The sound echos around the small room and hurts his ears. The pain makes his eyes go funny. He won't do that again.
- Where ar dey? -
The dog wonders why his people locked him up. He strains his memory trying to recall what happened. He remembers the people playing with his friends. The bad meat. Then… He walks the perimeter of the room again looking for anything. Coming back to the door he jumps up slamming his giant paws against it. It shakes but again stays closed. He looks at the window. Five feet off the floor the window sits. It looks big. He cocks his head to the side trying to figure out… An itch distracts him. He scratches at it with his foot and tries to chew it off. It goes away, - Dat il teach itch to bodder me. - His task complete Scooby sits down wondering where his people are. He looks at the door. Then the window. He scans the room. A pile of large crates are stacked near the window. Scooby walks to the door. He scratches at it again. Still locked. He looks at the window. Somewhere an idea is growing in his canine brain.
As he sits staring first at the door then the window he hears it. A faint almost inaudible scream. It's his person. Shaggy. He stands growling. What he heard lasted less then a second but it was enough. Scooby charges the crates throwing his weight against them. Once. Twice. The third time they topple, several breaking in the process.
Others fall in front of the window. He climbs on them carefully placing his feet with each step. The window is just the right size. He could go out it but not only is there glass but also wood on the outside. This perplexes him. Sitting on top of the boxes head again cocked to the side Scooby tries to make a plan. As he sits he hears keys at the door. He turns looking at it. Rising up. He smells the air but can't tell who is on the other side. It might be his people. As the door knob turns Scooby lowers his head and bares his teeth. His instincts telling him it is not his friends. It opens, "Now just what the hell is going on in there?" The man says no more. As quickly as he opened the door the Great Dane is upon him, his powerful jaws sinking sharp teeth into the man's jugular. And just like that Scooby Doo is free. He stands over the man letting loose a long menacing growl that would terrify even the bravest of men. He looks left and right. Seeing an open door to the outside he heads for it. Carefully he looks, listens, and most importantly sniffs the air before leaving. The smell of people is faint. He steps out into the sun. The building where he was a captive is directly across from the church. He runs across the street to the open church doors. He enters with a snarl only to find it empty. Quickly he put his nose to the ground and searches for his people.
Left and right the dog walks swinging his nose. Sweeping for a scent trail. Finally he finds one. It is almost gone but its enough. He follows it out of the church and down the street. He comes to a door. Pushing his muzzle against it it opens. Inside all is black. He is at a loss. His instincts tell him to run away. But his people are there and he knows its not good. Pacing back an forth in front of the door Scooby tries to make a decision. Instinct is a powerful thing. Then he hears it again, the scream of his person. Before his mind understands what his feet are doing he is through the door. Darkness envelopes him. His eyes are no good, but his ears and his nose… He tracks the direction of Shaggy and Velma with efficiency, the winding path designed to confuse and confound no match for his mighty nose. His sense of smell takes him directly to a large door. Pushing against it it stands closed. Defiant to his strength. He scratches at it to no avail. The smell of his people is strong from under it. As is the stench of blood and gore. He knows they are on the other side. He jumps against it. Digs at the floor. Nothing works. Inside he can hear the rising discord of a group. Above them he hears the loud voice of the man in the robe. Louder still the screams of not just one but now two. Shaggy and Velma scream, their voices booming throughout the underground labyrinth. The combination of the noise and the scents drives Scooby into a frenzy. Again and again he jumps at the door slamming into it.
The timeless wood absorbs each impact. Others stronger then this one have tried to enter the chamber which it blocks none succeeded.
Inside the scene is one of utter desperation as Shaggy and Velma plead and scream, their fear mounting with every breath.
Outside Scooby's rage boils over. He uses his body as a battering ram slamming repeatedly into the door. A door that has stood the test of time. A door that rested the Vikings. A door that has resisted gods. He has no chance, yet with the loyalty demonstrated only by canines he struggles on. Man's best friend. The first beast to be coaxed out of the darkness by the waiting hand of man. A creature who for millennia has stood as guardian, protector, companion, friend. A beast whose heart is true. No guile. No deceit. No jealousy. Just the purity of an evolutionary track that brought man and dog together. Never before has the door faced such clarity of purpose. Never has it faced an opponent free from the commission of sin. The magics which bind it, which give it strength, begin to wane under Scooby's selfless determination. Blood courses down his side, from his paws. His nails begin to break under the unabated clawing. The blood drips to the ground. The rock digests it as it has all the life fluid that has fallen upon since before time began. The wood cracks.
He hears the words of his person. Begging. Pleading. Scooby doesn't stop. His throat horse from his endless barking. The wood gives. The door bursts open. Something unfathomable. Scooby's eyes immediately fall upon his people. Tied atop one another on the macabre stone. Their fur is missing. Their screaming is continuous. A man stands in front of them back to Scooby. Above his head he holds a blade. Surrounding them a crowd of people lost in trance, bodies swaying in erratic fashion as they shout recitations.
Scooby runs towards his people. The incantations never cease. The followers completely engrossed by the primitive words. The giant dog launches himself at the man before him. He sinks his fangs into the back of the mans neck knocking him forward. The sharp blade in his hands nicks the ropes tying Velma and Shaggy down. Seeing their canine companion the two struggle against the ropes. Lacerations spread as they fight the binds. Scooby drags the man to the floor dropping him like a rag doll. Father Flagg coughs and chokes as blood fills his lungs. Power escaping his body as the followers continue on, their trancelike state holding them rapt.
The rope holding Velma and Shaggy gives. After several more determined twists they are free. From the sarcophagus they fall to the ground, bodies bruised, battered, and bloodied. With fire in her eyes Velma reaches for the man at whose hands she suffered. Her small hand wraps around his throat digging in. He does not struggle. "You?!" Her words angry as she recognizes the man before her, his expertly applied prosthetics having been torn off when Scooby attacked. She had seen his picture before; he was a sociopath of the highest order, a master manipulator and hypnotist, rumored to have psychic abilities, a known agent of Cobra, Crystal Ball.
A wretched smile creeps across his face upon her recognition knowing his reputation had preceded him.
"Why?" The one word spit from her throat like venom.
"The Great Old One. He has spoken. He has chosen."
"There is no Great Old One."
"Blasphemer!" Hissing blood he knows how this all ends, as do his followers. "Our GOD has demanded it." As if addressing an unheard voice he continues, "I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for…" The blade enters his heart without a sound. The body crumbles to the ground. Velma stands bloody knife in hand. She watches as the blood drains from the corpse. The ancient stone taking in each droplet. The chanting ceases. Without a word the people file out of the cavern leaving Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby in utter silence.
"Where are they going?"
Velma turns and watches as the last of the believers exits the cavern. "To their graves."
The three stumble and struggle their way back to the Mystery Machine. The streets of the town empty. The full moon high. They do their best to tend their wounds. Velma refusing offers of help from her friend. Instead Shaggy focuses on his dog. Between each pass of the alcohol soaked bandage Shaggy scratches Scooby behind his ears. He takes the dogs head in both hands and looks into his deep black eyes, "Thanks Scooby Doo." A big wet tongue is Scooby's reply. Shaggy finishes with the dog then works on his own wounds knowing there are some that no amount of antiseptic will heal.
"Let's go." Shaggy turns to the words to find Velma bandaged and dressed. Wearing one of her trademark pleated skirts, knee socks and combat boots, her sweater replaced by a tank top. In her arms she struggles to hold an M-60, ammunition draped over her shoulder. On her belt several fragmentation and thermite grenades.
"Don't Shaggy. We are ending this town."
"Oh I'm not gonna stop you. I just want to know where I can get one of those." He nods towards the big weapon.
"You can have this one. It's too much for me anyway." He stands and takes the hefty machine gun.
"It's gonna feel better in a minute." She grabs a SAW. The weapon is lighter and more manageable then the M-60 but just as destructive. They had procured the military weapons from the home of a self-proclaimed gun nut, Craig McConnel, the same guy who had given her the file on Crystal Ball as well as other Cobra operators who meddled with the macabre and otherworldly. He said he had no more need for either the weapons or the files, he was going to head to the sea and spend his last days surfing the waves. He had gone on about how weapons couldn't save him at the end of the world. Now however, while they might not save Velma and Shaggy from the end of the world they just might save their sanity.
Charging the weapon, "You ready Shag."
"You better believe it."
The night is filled with the reverberation of machine gun fire. Much to the chagrin of Velma and Shaggy none of the towns occupants put up a fight. They find them lying in their beds awaiting the Grim Reaper. When the smoke clears the streets are flooded with the blood of the guilty. Velma and Shaggy head to the building from which they escaped the terrors of the underground lair. They toss several grenades into the coal-black passage. The explosion rocks the very foundation of the town.
Velma, Shaggy and Scooby silently limp their way back to the Mystery Machine, replace the weapons in their crates, buckle up and drive into the night.
Deep underground the concussion from the blast knocks one of the votives from its pedestal. It shatters upon the floor, the broken stone revealing the decrpit body of a creature identical in appearance to the statuary. It takes but a single breath with which it lets out a nightmarish shriek before shriveling and being consumed by the timeworn rock.
Upon the dais the Sarcophagus has sat unchanged since its creation. Defended and protected by the demons at the five corners. With one destroyed their power wanes. A crack appears in the ancient container. Green light escapes. From somewhere within and beyond a laugh.