I remember the lack of sound that night. Everything was quiet, none of us said a word as we sat there, waiting for our orders. The Night was a thick black, as if a veil had been pulled over that dilapidated, dead city. The monotonous black only segmented by the street lights or occasional burning car. I remember moving around the building we were posted in, a run down Soviet-bloc era looking school. We were on the first floor in what seemed like a nursery. It was hard to tell with the amount of blood covering the walls. I was walking through the men, making sure they were all solid, nothing was necessarily wrong with any of them. I just remember the vivid fear in their eyes. If this were some back alley in Fallujah, or a high rise apartment in Tehran, they would’ve been laughing and joking, but not here. None of us were prepared for this second deployment. Twenty-three men, all battle tested, were shaking in their boots at the thought of this next offensive. I knew I had to break this silence or it would psych everyone out.
“Hey Jackson!” I loudly whispered.
Jackson was a mountain of a man, six foot eight, twenty four year old former college football star from East Chicago. His plate carrier barely fit his muscular frame and his M4 seemed like it was a nerf toy in his gigantic hands. Hell, I even remember during a firefight the man picked up a damn 240 and shouldered that fucker for full cyclic fire. Even had a few kills under his belt. But even his ebony skin looked to have an ivory shine.
Jackson’s eyes quickly darted to me “Y-Yeah L T.” He stuttered.
“Do you remember when Tex and Wilson over there ended up destroying half the barracks right before we shipped out to Kuwait over some stripper.”
In almost an instant the entire platoon’s eyes were on me, and the entire mood of the room changed.
“Oh come on, Lieutenant! Why do you have to bring this up every time! I just can’t -“ Tex said, visibly flustered by the situation.
“Yessir I do remember!” Jackson said, chuckling to himself.
“How does that story go again? I'm a bit hazy on the details.” I said.
“Well, sir, if I remember correctly! Myself, Williams, Gonzalez, and Trenton were all sitting in the barracks playing pok- I mean, we were playing a game of friendly old maid! And all of a sudden we hear a crash in the room down the hall. We get up to investigate, and we find Tex, piss drunk, half in his rooms window, the other half of him draped out the other side of the barracks with this tall, blonde bitch in a trench coat sitting in his room. Now to paint this picture! We have Tex, drunk as fuck, and on god this bitch looked like Woody Harrelson wearing a wig, this bitch had bigger pecks than most of us. Tex had immediately shot up and tried to deflect saying it was his sister. And I’m all like, bro, I know you’re from the south and all, but I doubt this is your sister. Now Tex is already slurring his speech and having a hard time talking. We brought them out into the commons. Now we already have a 5’5 man from Texas trying to sneak in a 6’0 tall burley bitch. But just as they sit down, Wilson walks in, and his eyes widen to the size of fuckin searchlights. As he goes “Gertrude?” This bitch straight up said “oh hi! How’s it going daddy?” As if nothing was going on at all. And all you see is Tex get up pissed as all hell! And he-.” The Story is cut short.
The Radio quickly pops on. “Contact! Times one unknown footmobile center of the street two o’clock! About seventy five meters!” Our marksman on the third floor alerted us.
“Quickly get to your positions.” I ordered as I flipped my nods on and looked down the sight of my ACOG.I could see the cold, glassy, soulless eyes of the monstrosity in the streets. It’s Teeth and mouth still stained red from whatever it had just killed. I turned on my radio. “Eyes on! Target is confirmed as a Bravo Zulu! It’s a class alpha!”
“Rog, permission to engage over?” The marksman said with a cold unfeeling voice.
“Permission granted.” I said without a second thought.
No sooner than those words left my mouth, a slight gust was heard, then the BZ was down. Its head scattered across the street by the round. I took a second, and wiped the sweat from my eyes.
The silence of the room was deafening. No one was prepared to see the target drop. My actions were damn near completely robotic. But as soon as that body hit the floor, I felt a rock in my stomach. Just then I heard.
“Did he have a backpack on?” Said Williams, our automatic rifleman.
“Yeah, I think he did, but it was way too small for him.” Tex said, choking on his words.
“Man was rocking a hello kitty backpack chief, I wonder-“ Wilson said stopping short. “Shit man, do you think he was looking for a kid when he got infected?” Wilson stopped for a moment, his eyes widened, “Holy shit, did we just kill a kids dad? What if his kids are still out there waiting for him or some shit?” His eyes widen as he drops to the ground, hands on his forehead. “Jesus Christ we just killed a fucking civilian. What the fuck have we done? We are mon-“ Wilson began to tear up but was quickly cut off.
“Stow that shit Wilson!” Jackson shot up, grabbing Wilson and helping him to his feet. “You heard the briefing like the rest of us, they aren’t the same people they were, they are hostile and will turn you into a fucking happy meal if given the chance. They aren’t civilians anymore! Right, Lieutenant?” Jackson, choking on his words as he looks at me. His eyes widened with complete uncertainty, as he stared at me looking for validation.
In that moment I felt the entire detachments eyes on me, all looking for security in what we have just done. Is this what it felt like being a German officer in World War Two? Having to justify possibly atrocious acts in the name of security and the idea of a greater good? I took a deep breath.
“Boys, we have been through a lot together, especially in Tehran and the financial district. We have seen war time and time again. And I would never steer you wrong.” I paused for a moment, my own uncertainty piercing the veil for a single moment. As I continued “Our duty is to protect the American people and the constitution from all enemies foreign, or domestic, and that man out there, wasn’t a man anymore. The Briefing we all read in the Operational Report told me that these things attacked and wiped out Ft. Green, and rushed into the city, killing and eating every single person that got in their way. These things classify as a domestic enemy. And it is our job to make sure this shit doesn’t get out any further than it already has. I know this is very morally questionable, but it is as if someone you know has rabies and it’s too far gone. There is no way to save them. Say a prayer, maybe take a second, but there is still an entire city of these motherfuckers left. We are the tip of the spear. And by God! I will make sure we are sharp enough to Pierce these fuckers and send them to hell. Just trust in each other and watch each other’s backs, and more than anything Follow RoE. If it groans, shambles, has bloodshot eyes, or sprints at you without hesitation, aim for the head or the knees.” My voice sounded like thunder. Little did the men know exactly how terrified I truly was. Fuck me, this entire time I was thinking to myself. “What the fuck? Why in the fuck are we dealing with some night of the living dead bullshit? I don’t fucking get it? How is this even possible?” Millions of questions kept passing through my mind the whole time, but I knew I had to keep strong, not for me, but for the sanity of the men I’ve learned to call friends and brothers. I looked around the room seeing their baby faces. All of them seemed a bit uplifted after my speech.
Just then, Tex said in complete confidence “Hooah” and one after another the guys gave a similar response, though some seemed disingenuous, the spirit was there.
“Alright guys, get back to security, we should be getting the call for the operation to start any minute. Remember if you see anything, call it out.” I said, walking to the red door of the nursery, opening it slowly and walking through. “I need to check on the rest of the platoon.” I thought to myself as I walked towards the nurses office.
Bio: My name is Allen! It’s nice to meet all of you! I’m just a guy who came up with way too many story ideas and now has way too much time in his hands. If you have any comments or criticisms on my writing don’t hesitate to message me! I’m always looking to improve!