For the Taking

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The boy scout looked clean, even his hair. The jeans were worn but clean and the brown scout shirt almost new. Everything about him looked like Midwestern clean cut youth. Except the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, the Ruger 10/22 rifle in his hands and the radio headset that was attached to the radio on his belt.

The street was any Midwestern small town street if you were willing to ignore the burned out building and husks of cars that looked like phantoms of their former selves. This street was definitely on the outer most edge of town. The tree line starting on the edge of the street flowed around a small park with the remnants of a baseball diamond. Here in Middleton North Dakota there would definitely not be a baseball season

Behind him in the woods the Tick of the weapons fire had subsided to a clean-up level and he decided to take action.

He walked to the middle of the street next to one of the burned out cars. His tone loud enough to carry but not a yell, “Send out the brownie and we will let you go on your way!” he could see people peeking through the windows of the burned out house they had taken refuge in. He just could not understand the lack of fight in the human race. They must have just lost something over the years. Too much of an easy lifestyle. To many prepackaged meals. Burger king! They just had no ability to survive.

A middle aged man walked out of the building sheepishly. His head darting back and forth down the streets. His behavior reminded the boy scout of a deer getting a drink of water at a pond. When he was comfortable he said in the same low yell “We are not leaving that child with you! You can’t keep her safe!”

He took a drag of his cigarette and flicked it into the broken down street he was standing on. At the same time his earpiece came to life. “Teddy we got a group coming at us from the south. 25-30 probably.” He pinched is microphone key and said “Yeah roger that, Send Sally out for me, I’m gonna be stuck here for a minute.”

 

He turned his attention to the dirty scraggy human in front of him cowering in the doorway. “Look mister, give me back the girl and I might even feed you before I send you on your way.” Just about that time a girl ran out of the wooded tree line pushing a golf club cart with barrels sticking out of it. Teddy, stiff in a conversation with the man reached behind him and handed the girl his rifle and she replaced it with another one that looked almost the same; a Ruger 10/22 with a 30 round magazine and a large tube on the end.

The moaning and grunting could be heard coming out of the alleys of the nearby buildings and the man started to look terrified. “We have to get out of here! Those things are coming!” Teddy nodded apathetically. “Yeah, I know you guys run from them. All the hiding and screaming! No wonder you don’t last very long.” Just about that time the first large group of zombies turned the corner. Teddy turned and started putting rounds downrange. The rhythmic tick, tick, tick, of his rifle was accompanied by the same noise coming from the edge of the woods on the street’s embankment.

As the pile of zombies grew and the remainder started to flow around the pile, a young woman came out of the woods followed by another kid pulling a red wagon full of rifles. She took up a spot on the road edge and the tick, tick, tick, from her rifle only stopped when she handed her rifle to the kid behind her and had it replaced with another one.

Five minutes of this and the street corner was silent. Sally, the little girl with the golf club cart behind Teddy fished out a pack of cigarettes and lit one and handed it to him. He looked at her as she started to load up the used magazines with more 22 LR. Cases of them still unopened in the cart. “Don’t you be inhaling that shit!” She shook her head with a smile on her face as she continued to load the magazines.

 Teddy waited a minute for the dirty man to come back out. He started where he left off, “One meal and maybe another for the road, but let me make myself clear you are going to give me back the girl.”  The man stood up a little straighter and walked toward Teddy with a little more dignity. Teddy didn’t even take his cigarette out of his mouth. He just held up his hand. He had seen it a hundred times already. “Sir, don’t even try” The man continued onward building up his bearing, “Now son I can see you are in real need of some adult leadership here and we would be more than happy..” Teddy cut him off, “What? teach us how to run and scream? I bet you would be more than happy to eat the food though.  Shit, you’d be happy to do anything other than what you been doing, dying.” The man looked shocked at the statement. “I don’t have to put up with that from a little shit like you.”

Teddy flicked the current cigarette into the street between them next to the first smoldering butt. “But what you do have to do is give me back the girl.” The man started to say something and teddy interrupted him, “The kid in the tree behind me got his shooting badge at 6 years old. He has been shooting squirrels with the rifle in his hands at twice this range his entire life. He is gonna put a round in your head if you say anything else other than send her out right now. Last chance to live through the day ‘cause I am done asking.”

 

When the dirty adult realized that the boy scout had his microphone keyed while he made his last statement he conceded. With a sigh the man looked over his shoulder and said “send her out” 

A minute later a very diminutive girl comes stomping out of the building with an angry look on her face. As she passed teddy he said “Next time you get caught Margaret you are going to spend the entire summer on dish duty.” She did not even slow down. As she passed him she said “fuck you! Teddy” under her breath and disappeared into the tree line.

 

About the Author

G. A. Brucks is the author of the post apocalyptic novel Link State, available to buy now on Amazon.

G A Brucks