“Fire it Up!” It’s a 6.

Holy shit damn!.. hang on baby, we’re goin’ for a ride!”

As the huge fireball filled the rear view of the Humvee, Jaya hit the gas like Ken Miles at le Mans; as the military vehicle cornered on 2 wheels, ravenous red orange flames licking its bumper, elation spread across her face like the raging inferno consuming the warehouse behind them, now a literal island of fire; it was then she realized there were some perks to surviving a post-apocalyptic world.

“Damn! did you see those rabids? never knew what hit ’em …. hey Ry, you ok over there?”

White knuckled left hand gripping the outer edge of the leathered passenger side seat, right on the grab handle above, Ryan turned towards Jaya, doe-caught-in-the-headlight eyes focused on the woman behind the wheel and wondered when she’d turned Furiosa  – “uh, good yeah, thank you…but…how…um like…what just…?

Her laughter cascaded out of the Humvee’s open windows; for a second, Ryan wondered if something in Jaya had snapped, if she’d gone crazy – this was, but not, the same woman he’d been on the road with going on 2 years . One would think under the circumstances, you’d get to know someone pretty well while trying to avoid raving monsters determined to rip you to shreds and eat you.

Bless me Father. It’s a 6.

Children’s laughter tumbled out of open half windows as the yellow school bus neared the corner of Bitteroot Way and Sunflower Lane; rumbling to a stop, it’s trifold door opened, freeing the girls and boys from Feldspar Elementary onto the side walk in a neighborhood only recently host to a summer full of kids without the demands of adults.

Father Lazarus gracefully dodged an abandoned tricycle, the caboose from a toy train set and various other toys spilled over from the community playground; walking down the row of townhouses, an occasional furtive glance behind him, he arrived at number 8711.

I cannot sanction it, nor does the Holy See, regardless of fanciful media reports of an increase in so called demonic possessions; in spite of the evidence you’ve provided Father Lazarus, the answer remains an emphatic no.”

Pardon my objection to your decision, Your Grace, but I have been pastor at St. Damien’s for the last 13 years and know my parishioners and many of their friends, Catholic and otherwise; the family that brings me here, seeking your and the Church’s support, I know very well and I would not be pleading my case if I did not believe in the legitimacy of the family’s claim.”

The red front door of 8711 Harmony Court flew open just as Father Lazarus reached for the bronze, hand shaped knocker (the significance representing a religious family resided within, did not go unnoticed); Maria D’Aletandre greeted the priest with a voice as soft as the early fall afternoon breeze whispering in the trees, “God bless you for coming”.

From somewhere on the second floor, piercing the hushed silence as Father Lazarus stepped through the threshold of the home, came the sound of furniture scraping hardwood floors and a guttural noise as if from a wounded animal so loud it was followed by the peal of shattering glass – the grip on his small duffle bag secure, he followed his parishioner up the stairs.

Destiny’s last Fireteam. It’s a 6.

I’m alive…

Clawing through cobwebs of unconsciousness, I heard my grandmother’s voice – “Ryan, sweetheart, make sure you’re home in time for dinner, you don’t want to be out after dark…” The room slowly came into focus as the echoes of her voice faded.

The sole window allowed a rectangle of sunshine to explore bloodstained block walls, yet its penetrating warmth did little to prevent me from breaking out in a cold sweat as the memory of the events leading up to today, crashed reality’s gate. How is it I wasn’t killed in the park?

Taking a deep breath to clear the litter of emotional debris, I focused on my immediate situation…

Editor’s Note: This is the 7th installment of a zombie tale originating from my Six Sentence Story “Zombies and puppies”. It picks up from last week’s Six.

This Means War. It’s a Six.

October 24, 2020, I wrote a Six titled “Zombies and puppies“. Then came a follow up, “Seven“.  Lo and behold there was a 3rd Six in the series, “Event Horizon“. Click on the Six titles to refresh the story in your mind or, read for the first time. Today, may I present a 4th Six about the continuing adventures of Jaya and Seven. And zombie mutants, of course!


Of 2 things I was certain: I would die protecting my dog; my dog would die protecting me. 

“What the hell, Seven! What have I told you about not waking me unless it was an emergency”, irritated, it was precious few seconds before I heard the sound of a distant lowing… “I take that back buddy, they’ll be a little extra something in tonight’s dinner for you – c’mon, we got to go!”

The zombies, or “rabids”, seemed to be most active after sundown, right up until the break of dawn when they all but disappeared, leaving us the daylight hours as the most secure time to catch a little shut eye and/or move camp; I’d been asleep only an hour or two, the warmth of an early morning southern sky, a lullaby, allowing me to step over the line of consciousness drawn in the sand that leads to slumber – until that is, I’d felt Seven’s wet nose insistently nudging my neck. 

Seven, 1 year and a couple of months – constant companion, lookout sentry and more than once, life saver for both me and Ryan, was still a puppy in many ways, though he increasingly acted “wiser” than his chronological age implies; since that horrifying night of death and bloodshed in the furniture store when fate stepped in to deliver him to us, he’d been nothing short of a wonderous, playful and miraculous gift.

The three of us had been on the move for the better part of the year, road weary, exhausted, irritable with each other, we never made camp anywhere for longer than 2 or 3 weeks so it came as a total surprise when Ryan and I realized we’d been camped outside of McKinney, Texas for well over a month, the two of us both thinking, but not saying out loud, the hope whispering in our ears like a best friend whispering a secret that maybe, just maybe we’d found a safe haven to rest while we made bigger plans for finding other survivors.    

One day, with the sun at it’s highest, a fireball in the sky, Ryan left camp on foot to forage for supplies in McKinney while Seven and I took the truck to make a perimeter check a few miles out; when we were finished, we’d pick up Ryan at the park in the center of town and head back to camp but as the truck approached downtown, Seven began a low, menacing growl, it’s increasing intensity a distraction that almost caused me to miss spotting Ryan, loaded down with our supplies, ambushed by a group of rabids who’d come racing out from under cover of the park’s trees.  

Zombies and puppies. It’s a 6.

Skyscrapers stood silent, greyed sentries guarding the deserted city whose streets were more empty and desolate than Times Square at 7:00 am, January 1; where orphaned newspaper pages, tossed and rolled like semi flattened tumbleweeds, blew along pot-holed blacktop, catching every so often on the back tire of an abandoned car.

Road worn and weary, we’d been on the move nonstop for 13 days and desperate for safe haven, somewhere to rest, recharge and most importantly, do reconnaissance of the immediate area. Walking past smashed storefronts, jagged plate glass window shards lining the sidewalks like eager patrons opening day of a new high end boutique, we’d all but given up finding a place with easy access to the street yet not totally open to it either.

Defacto leader of this motley band of survivors, I’d felt an odd relief when, after only a few days on the road, I discovered we’d all grown up on movies about vampires and werewolves, natural disasters, and… zombies; that not a one of us hadn’t watched all 6 Resident Evil films so naturally, in our minds and imaginations, we were convinced we knew what to expect.

Over here! I think I found the perfect place – trying not to run, our bodies anticipating the opportunity to finally sleep, we quickly walked the half block towards what we desperately hoped would be a place we could safely crash; pushing each other through the doorway of Newbury Furniture and More, the high fives started to fly as we realized we’d actually get to sleep in a bed.

Basking in our amazing stroke of luck, none of us noticed the golden retriever emerging from the back part of the store, an almost comical parade of gold colored puppies wobbling along behind her; in another lifetime this might have been a heartwarming scene but current day, not so much, as all of the puppies were growling; we knew right then, this was about to get very, very messy…