Tasty Survival: Grandma Corabelle’s Fudge Brownies

Heads up! We’ve got a tasty treat for you today for Lt. Blue Brigade, with some down home cooking from Iowa! In other words….DESSERT!

Grandma Corabelle’s Fudge Brownies

1 cup butter
12 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
4 large fresh eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if ya like

Mix together butter and cocoa in dutch oven (or saucepan) and heat slowly till the butter is melted. Let it cool till it’s lukewarm. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Beat the eggs in, one at a time. Stir in flour and salt just till it’s mixed, and fold in nuts.

Bake in dutch oven with low fire/coals for about 25 minutes, and the top has lost its shine. Use a knife to scrape the sides for easier removal, or just scoop it out into bowls!

dutch_oven_brownies_2

Thanks to fellow ZSC member Beth of Orange Brigade for offering up this wonderful family recipe!

Moira Rescue Mission: Part VI

The mission to rescue Blue Brigade member Moira Jones continues…

A secret self-organized unit within the ZSC received the Urgent call for help from Moira Jones and sprang into action. Although the city is awash with walkers, these brave souls put together a mission plan on hearing Moira’s plight. Exactly what we expect from Zombie Survival Crew members. Below is a brief mission recap, then a continuation of the field reports pouring in following up on earlier reports of the mission’s genesis.

MISSION: Rescue one Moira Jones from 6th floor of over run hospital.
OBJECTIVE: Search for and rescue Moira Jones and bring to safety.
STRATEGY: Rendezvous with fellow members of the ZSC and use skill sets to bring Moira Jones to safety.

Field Reports:

PERSONNEL:

The Rescue Team

Emma’s POV (With Apryl):
     We moved slowly through the darkened hospital. I tried to steady my frayed nerves and ordered myself to get a grip. Purple Brigade prides itself on the ability to think clearly in any situation, and I needed to be on top of my game for this mission—even if I’d forgotten my go bag in my haste to get to the hotel. Luckily, Jess remembered hers and so I’d been able to receive a bit more information from the Purple Brigade leader, the Oracle.
     No one knew how many walkers there were, but the situation didn’t look good. Walkers had easy prey in a hospital, and so far there had not been one single report of anyone making it out alive. Still we had two powerful zombie-killing positives on our side: Blue Brigade Leader Norman Reedus and the Leader of Special Forces, Michael Rooker.
     With them leading us, we had hope. But each moment intensified the danger Moira faced, and there were so many questions swirling through my brain: Where did she end up? How much food did she manage to grab? Were there other survivors with her? Had she been bitten?
     I shook my head. I needed to make sure we got the first level clear before we could really begin looking for Moira. Out of the whole group, I was probably the newest and greenest. Sure, I’d taken on walkers before, but nothing of this magnitude. Frankly, in terms of combat skills, Luna, Jess’s zombie-killing dog, surpassed me by far.
     I was glad I’d been paired with Apryl. The woman could wield her Desert Eagles like no one’s business. She made that clear when she took out a walker reaching for Norman by firing an impossible shot right over his shoulder and directly into its head.

Purple Brigade

     I tightened my grip on my full Tang 440, twenty-inch blade. At least I knew how to use the thing. It was light, easy to swing, and razor-sharp.
     We couldn’t get in and out of the hospital without a fight. Our entrance alone made that quite clear.
     “All right people,” Michael whispered, loud enough for us to hear but quiet enough to keep any nearby walker from hearing us, “you all know what to do. You still have your walkie-talkies; so don’t forget to keep us informed as to where you are. We can’t help you if you get pinned down by walkers and we don’t know where you are, and we’re not going to go running all over the hospital looking for you when we’re trying to find Moira, got it?”
     We nodded. He looked each of us in the eye, and I held his gaze, drawing encouragement from his determination. We were usually a light-hearted and cheerful bunch, especially amongst each other, but not now. Finally, Michael gave a satisfied nod.
     “Let’s go get her. Just remember to watch your partner’s back, and if one of you gets bit…well, you know what to do.”
     I swallowed and glanced at Apryl, who nodded to Michael. I knew that if Apryl got bitten, I’d have to put her down, but I wasn’t sure if I could bring myself to do it.
     Cross that bridge if you come to it, I told myself.
     “Take out any walker you see as quietly as you can, if it’s in your way.” Michael whispered, lowering his weapon again. “And don’t forget, we’re headed for the sixth floor, ward six. If you find her before the rest of us, let us know and we’ll hurry up there.”
     We all nodded again.
     Everyone began to split off into their respective groups: Michael and Tiffany, and Apryl and me. But as we started to move apart, spreading out, our phones suddenly crackled to life and we all stopped short, looking at each other, then hurriedly each of us scrambled to answer. There was only one possible explanation for all of the phones going off at once: news from HQ. The ZSC managed to set up a fairly stable system of communication that allowed a single call to be made to up to sixteen people, so no doubt Norman’s crew were receiving the same call.
     “You have Rooker, Tiffany, Apryl and Emma,” Michael said into his phone. “Go ahead.”
     “And you have Norman, Eve, Jess and Rebecca. Go ahead.” Norman’s voice came in over the phone.
     “Rescue team, this is Yellow First Lieutenant Sean Patrick Flanery.”
     Each of us looked sharply at each other. A sense of foreboding settled itself into the pit of my stomach but I tried not to give in to it.
     “We’re reading you, Flanery,” Rooker said. “What’s the problem?”
     “ZSC HQ just received a call from Moira.” Sean responded, and I felt my breath suddenly cut itself off. Moira called? She was alive?
     “Moira contacted HQ?” Norman asked, sounding as relieved as I felt, “Is she all right?”
     “I don’t know.” Sean said. I could hear the tenseness in his voice, which made me worry. He wasn’t one to get worried easily.
     “What happened?” Rooker asked. “Is she in a secure location?”
     “She said she was, but now I’m not so sure. While I was on the line with her something happened, it sounded like glass breaking and I think something grabbed her. I couldn’t make out much more before the line went dead.”
     Silence fell. No one said a word.
     Finally Norman spoke, softly, but determinedly.
     “We’re going after her, anyway,” he said. “Did she give you a position?”
     “She said she was still on the sixth floor, and she said the only way up was the stairs.”
     “Then we’re taking the stairs.” Michael said, “Can you give us any more info?
     “Sorry, that’s all I got before the line went dead,” he answered. “Stay safe. Flanery out.”
     He hung up and we slid our phones back into our pockets.
     We split up and hurried off in different directions while I conjured up in my mind the map of the hospital Jess showed us. The nearest stairwell lay beyond the critical care ward, through another hall. Apryl unsheathed her hunting knife and I readied my blade as we fell into step beside each other.
     Power was out in the building. Very little light illuminated our path. We peered into darkened offices and patient rooms as we passed, ready to strike if we saw any movement or heard any moaning. Dark smears of blood covered the walls and floor. I could dimly make out what looked like dismembered limbs littered across the cold marble floor and occasionally a shredded corpse.
     Luckily the corpses in the corridor were just lunch, no coming back.
     I shuddered at the thought that this was the new normal. What was around us—this eerie quiet, this feeling of apprehension…of being hunted, this was our reality—a dark new world extending towards a grim a future we were hard-pressed to escape. Unless we could stop the outbreaks. That was what the Purple Brigade worked on. If Jess and I made it out alive, we’d have a good field report to make back to The Oracle.
     We reached the doors to the critical care ward and paused, listening to the hall that lay beyond it. We couldn’t hear anything. Apryl looked at me. “You ready?”
     I nodded, tightening my grip on the blade. One… She raised one of her silenced Desert Eagles and switched the safety off. Two… I grabbed the door handle and tensed. Three… I jerked the door open and we rushed into the critical ward.
     I’d never seen such carnage before. Ever. Blood, guts, flesh… all caked on the walls and floor, and strips of something I didn’t care to identify hung from the ceiling.
     Blood dripped from the ceiling tiles. The emergency exit light glowed red, making the whole place seem to be nothing but blood. The stench was unbearable. The smell of rotten flesh, of death, wafted through the air and I wrinkled my noise, swallowing to keep my stomach under control.
     “Oh, man,” Apryl muttered.
     Bodies of patients and doctors alike littered the floor, most torn apart, their intestines strewn across the cold floor, their muscles and organs exposed. Through it all waded fourteen walkers.
     The one closest to us—missing an arm and an eye—lifted its head and looked at us. A guttural hiss emitted from its disfigured face. The others turned to look. Their soulless, lifeless eyes bored straight through us. The unnatural glint of an insatiable hunger brightened their gaze as they spotted new prey.
     Together, we rushed the walkers. She took down the one missing an arm with a clean shot through the head. I swung my sword through the neck of what had been a doctor.
     His body crumpled, but his head clacked its jaws together as it tried to get a bite of my boot. I stomped down, feeling the sickening crunch of bones snapping, and turned my attention back to the others. Apryl felled two more as they approached. I took down two patients and a nurse. Apryl marched forward, duel wielding her Desert Eagles now, putting a walker down with each shot. She took down four more. I got another two, but as I swept my arm back from a stroke, I lost my footing on the slick, blood-covered floor and stumbled against a walker. It grabbed hold of my arms and growled. I tried to jerk free, but it wasn’t letting go of its food so easily. I pulled against it, harder this time, trying to kick myself free at the same time. It wasn’t working.
     “Down!” Apryl barked and I obediently lowered my head as the walker snarled.
     Blood and bone fragments splattered all over my face. The walker suddenly dropped, shot through the head. There was no time to wipe my face or thank Apryl. I quickly drove my blade into the face of another nurse and then pulled it free and spun, sword outstretched, and swiped off the head of another’s head. That’d been a close call. Very close. I turned to Apryl, shaken, but alive.
     “Thanks,” I said, wiping the gore off. “Are you okay?” She nodded, but looked me over worriedly as she approached.
     No bites on either of us. I needed to step up my game if I wanted to get through this.
     I looked down at the walkers, now still, on the ground as Apryl took out her walkie-talkie.
     “Apryl and Emma,” she said. “In the critical ward. Squirrel.”
     We grinned at each other and hurried back down the hall. Some of my confidence was restored as we made our way down the corridor and the other teams continued to check in. Not one had given the ‘Oreo’ alert, much to my relief. I kept reassuring myself that we would find Moira. She would be fine.
     There were more walkers in the next hallway, but not as many as in the previous one. I let Apryl handle it and instead pictured the layout of the hospital once again, placing our teams in the wards and corridors they’d last radioed in from. We were all still on the first floor, but judging from where Jess, Luna, and Rebecca’s reports, they were fast moving up. We were making headway.
     We paused by the stairwell door, hearing a slow shuffling coming from the other side. I nodded to Apryl and she gave a quick, powerful kick. The door slammed back, straight into two walkers. While they were dazed, she unsheathed her knife and took them out.
     “Apryl and Emma, entering a stairwell. Squirrel so far, we’re going up.”
     It looked like some debris was blocking most of the doors. We’d be doing a bit of climbing to get over it, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. Everyone radioed in that they were heading up. The higher we climbed, the darker it became, and soon we were in almost complete darkness.
     “We can work around this.” I murmured to Apryl as I heard her stumble over a piece of debris. “We’re to the third floor I think, so we’re half way there.”
     “I’m all right,” she said. “It’s just annoying. We need to move faster. I’m worried sick about Moira.”
     “I know,” I answered, trying to see her in the darkness, “I think we could try and go a little—”
     Something suddenly grabbed my leg. A growl rumbled in the darkness. I yelped and fell back, banging my head against a stair.
     “What?” Apryl called out. “Where is it?”
     My head spun. The walker tugged on my leg. I tried to pull free from its grip, and surprisingly, my leg lifted it up, so it was a small walker at least.
      Apryl rushed over and lashed out with her knife, but missed and slashed my leg. I clenched my teeth to keep from crying out as the skin split apart. Instead, I reached for my own knife.
     “I got it,” I told her and slammed my leg back down.
     The walker growled but let go. I spun my knife and drove it into its head.
     “Are you okay?” Apryl asked, rushing to my side.
     “Y-Yeah,” I assured her, wincing at the stinging pain in my leg and covering the wound with my hand, “I’m okay. Could you reach into my bag and get out the bandages? I think you cut me.”
     She quickly handed them over. I wrapped up the wound as best as I could, hoping that the scent wouldn’t alert any walkers or leave a trail for them to follow. I pulled out my flashlight and flipped it on to take a quick look at the walker, to make sure it was dead.

Red Brigade

     “Oh my…” Apryl breathed.
     It was a toddler. Or, had been a toddler. Its neck and part of its leg bore huge bite marks—a little girl with pretty, long brunette hair caked with blood. Her little hands were dirty and covered in blood as well. Neither Apryl nor I spoke for several minutes. We resumed our silent ascent up the stairs.
     We finally made it up to the sixth floor and approached the door, relieved, but wary. We slid our weapons out in preparation.
     Apryl went first. There was an odd sound as she yanked on the door. She gave a sort of chuckle and whispered, “You have to push it open.”
     I laughed a little and waited for her to push it open, but something was wrong. She grunted as she shoved against it as hard as she could, but the door didn’t budge.
     “Give me a hand,” she whispered. I edged in and shoved against it with her. It was no use. The door wouldn’t budge.
     “Oh you have got to be kidding me,” she growled. I wasn’t much happier about the situation.
     “I guess they locked it or barricaded it. We’ll have to go back down and try the fifth floor.”
     “Such a waste of time,” Apryl said as we started back down.
     I nodded, not that she could see me, but she expressed my sentiments exactly. If this door was barricaded, what about the fifth floor door? We’d probably end up having to double back and find the other stairwell, which would cost us a lot of time. Time we didn’t have.
     Both Apryl and I rushed back down to the fifth floor door and tried it. It too was barricaded, but gave way a little as Apryl leaned against it, so I helped her and together we shoved against it as hard as we could.
     After shoving and grunting for several minutes, we managed to push the door open wide enough to squeeze through. For a moment, I thought we were alone and somehow stumbled across an area that didn’t have any walkers. But just as Apryl started to reach for her walkie-talkie, we heard it. A sickly groan came from one of the rooms. A walker in a hospital gown emerged, staring at us. Apryl started to go for it, but I caught her arm and stopped her as more walkers emerged from the other rooms. Their moans grew louder. More and more began to issue forth.
     “We’ve got this.” Apryl raised her Desert Eagles while I unsheathed my blade.
     The thought that one of these things might be trying to get to Moira filled me with disgust and anger.
     We’re coming, I thought. We’re coming, Moira. Just sit tight.
     “You take the left side, I’ll get the right, okay?”
     I nodded, then we both rushed forward. Walkers fell with every bullet Apryl fired and with every swing of my blade.
     We’re not going to let these things stop us. They’ve taken enough from us already: our families, our homes, and our security. We’re not about to let them take Moira, too.


Moira Rescue Mission: Part V

The mission to rescue Blue Brigade member Moira Jones continues…

A secret self-organized unit within the ZSC received the Urgent call for help from Moira Jones and sprang into action. Although the city is awash with walkers, these brave souls put together a mission plan on hearing Moira’s plight. Exactly what we expect from Zombie Survival Crew members. Below is a brief mission recap, then a continuation of the field reports pouring in following up on earlier reports of the mission’s genesis.

MISSION: Rescue one Moira Jones from 6th floor of over run hospital.
OBJECTIVE: Search for and rescue Moira Jones and bring to safety.
STRATEGY: Rendezvous with fellow members of the ZSC and use skill sets to bring Moira Jones to safety.

Field Reports:

PERSONNEL:

The Rescue Team

Jessica’s POV (With Rebecca):
     Rebecca, Luna, and I slowly started making our way toward the hallway directly in front of us. Rebecca was a new recruit in the Red Brigade of the Zombie Survival Crew and incredibly grateful that her machete arrived in time for the rescue mission. She ordered a special-made Billhook Machete and also brandished her desert eagle with silencer. I carried my cast iron skillet, a sword that I’d commissioned, and also a gun with a silencer. Luna had her unmatched keen senses of smell, hearing and sight even in the dark, and of course, her fangs and powerful bite. We halfway down the hall when all of the sudden Luna stopped in her tracks and let out a soft growl.
     “Jess, I see something down there in the hall,” Rebecca said, tightening her grip on her machete.
     I squinted made out a dark figure hunched over another dark figure. We inched closer. Slurping and crunching noises filled the hall—definitely a walker enjoying a meal.
     “I got this,” Rebecca said and moved forward.
     As she approached the walker, it lifted its head up and sniffed the air. Before it could even turn around, I heard the machete swing through the air, and thud—the walker’s head smacked the wall.
     I moved closer. Rebecca smiled and said, “Four!”
     “That would’ve been a hole-in-one, right there,” I joked. Surprisingly there weren’t any other walkers the hallway. We made it to a set of stairs.

Purple Brigade

     “Rebecca and Jess, squirrel. We’re at the stairs.” I paused. Something didn’t feel right about how quickly we made it to the stairs. Only one walker, and that was it?
     “We are heading up.” I put the walkie-talkie back in my pocket.
     Rebecca, Luna and I made it safely to the top of the stairs and headed down the hallway. We came to a door, and we pushed it open, walked through, and froze.
     “Oh my God,” Rebecca said.
     My eyes stung with tears and I knew I couldn’t keep them from pouring down my face. Rebecca and I embraced one another, sobbing quietly. Then we heard a very soft snarl.
     We pulled away from each other. The tears fell even harder as we moved toward the sound. There it was, in an incubator, probably not even a week old when it had been bitten. Its entire left arm and part of its face had been ripped off. It snarled as loudly as it could—barely louder than a whisper. Rebecca and I looked at each other and knew what we needed to do, but my heart broke.
     I lifted my cast iron skillet over its tiny body and as I brought it down to end it’s suffering, it snarled. I fell to my knees and wept. Rebecca crouched down and we tried to comfort each other, but there was just no comfort to be had.
     Rebecca pulled me back to my feet. We searched the room now filled with tiny growls and snarls. There were probably twenty infant walkers in incubators. Helplessly, they all reached, hoping for something to satisfy their longing.
     Rebecca and I looked each other in the eyes and said at the same time, “They are not alive.”
     I lifted my cast iron skillet above the nearest incubator and I brought it down, before moving to the next one. Rebecca watched with tears flowing and stepped toward a snarling little body. She pulled up her machete and brought it down, ending its suffering. Our tears never ceased as we made our way around the room, and before we knew it the room fell silent. My hands trembled as I looked at the mangled and cut up bodies.
     “We had to do it, Jess,” Rebecca said, tears still flowing down her cheeks.
     “I know, but…” my voice trailed off. A noise came from the hallway.
     We wiped the tears from our eyes and moved slowly toward the hall. We pressed against the doors to listen and heard the shuffling of feet. I pulled the door open. Rebecca, Luna and I slipped out. We stayed against the wall and moved quietly down the hall. Something grabbed my leg and I fell to the floor hard.
     “Oh, crap!” A sharp pain shot up my side. I’d fallen onto my sword. Blood ran down my side.
     “Luna, get it!” I said as I tried to kick at what latched onto my leg.
     Luna snarled and growled as she pounced my attacker. She bit into it. A sickening crunch sounded as her teeth tightened down on its rotting skull. Its hand released my leg.

Red Brigade

     “Jess! Oh my gosh, are you ok?” Rebecca knelt down beside me.
     “Yeah, just kinda stabbed myself,” I said, feeling like a fool.
     Rebecca reached into my backpack and found some first aid items to mend my wound.
     “You’re going to have to do it.”
     Rebecca’s eyes widened as she looked at me and she knew what I meant. I needed her to pull the sword out of my side.
     “Bite down on this,” she said as she handed me a towel from my bag.
     I closed my eyes tightly as she gripped the handle of the sword. I pictured Moira. Saw her fighting off walkers, trapped in a room with little to no provisions. Anger built up in me and I felt no pain as Rebecca pulled the sword from my side. She quickly bandaged me up and helped me to my feet.
     We pressed on and came to some more stairs. I pulled the walkie-talkie out of my pocket, “This is Rebecca and Jess. Squirrel, and we are about to head up another set of stairs.”
     I turned my flashlight on for a second to read the sign posted by the stairs.
     It said: “Take these stairs to get to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th floors.”
     I looked at Rebecca and she looked back at me. “You ready for this?”
     “Hell yeah, I am,” she responded “Are you?”


Moira Rescue Mission: Part IV

The mission to rescue Blue Brigade member Moira Jones continues…

A secret self-organized unit within the ZSC received the Urgent call for help from Moira Jones and sprang into action. Although the city is awash with walkers, these brave souls put together a mission plan on hearing Moira’s plight. Exactly what we expect from Zombie Survival Crew members. Below is a brief mission recap, then a continuation of the field reports pouring in following up on earlier reports of the mission’s genesis.

MISSION: Rescue one Moira Jones from 6th floor of over run hospital.
OBJECTIVE: Search for and rescue Moira Jones and bring to safety.
STRATEGY: Rendezvous with fellow members of the ZSC and use skill sets to bring Moira Jones to safety.

Field Reports:

PERSONNEL:

The Rescue Team

Tiffany’s POV:
     “While I was on the line with her something happened, it sounded like glass breaking and I think something grabbed her. I couldn’t make out much more before the line went dead.”
     Those words from Commander Flanery echoed in my head. Scared for all of us, I questioned if we’d make it in time and even if we did, would we make it back out? I knew I shouldn’t think about stuff like that, we’d made it this far. But what if we were too late?
     I shook my head. “No,” I said to myself. Moira counted on us and we were going to get her to safety, no questions asked.
     Michael and I broke away from the group and made our way through the 5th floor. I took lead. My katana was quieter than Michael’s HK417 chambered 7.62 millimeter. We entered the Burn Unit. The mix of burnt and rotting flesh attacked my nose. I choked. The faint gunshots of the others echoed in the ward as mine and Michael’s boots stomped along the dingy floor.
     Michael yanked me back into a dark corner. I looked over my shoulder. He put a finger to his lips and pointed over my shoulder towards five walkers shambling down a nearby hallway. He motioned for me to take the two on the left. He’d get the three on the right. I nodded. On the count of three, we charged from the hallway, running towards the walkers.
     I thrust one of my katanas forward. It slid through both walkers, pinning them to the wall. They growled, clawed and snapped at me. Singed flesh hung from their bodies. Without a second thought I ran the blade of my second katana through their skulls. I cringed a bit, but it needed to be done.
     I let the bodies hit the floor before pulling my blades free. I shook the blood from them as Michael dropped the last walker with a shot to the head. We looked at each other and nodded. I felt safe knowing Michael had my back.

Orange Brigade

     “You ok, Kid?” Michael asked.
     “Yeah.”
     “Let’s move out.”
     I nodded. Michael took lead. That’s when I heard it, growling and shuffling. I lifted my head to see Michael and I surrounded by walkers. Every direction stood a drooling, rotting corpse. We were trapped.
     I mumbled a few curse words and pressed my back against Michael’s.
     He looked over his shoulder at me. “Ain’t afraid of these bone heads are ya?”
     “Of course not.”
     “Good.”
     He fired a shot. I swung my katana, sending flesh and blood splattering everywhere. One walker tried to bite; just as he did I rammed my katana blade into its throat. I swung the other, decapitating another walker. It seemed like there were countless walkers. For every one that dropped, two more took its place. I kept telling myself, think of Moira. She needed us.
     Michael’s gunshots echoed, silencing the skin, heads and blood splattering around us. My clothes were wet with walker blood, but it didn’t matter—I’d swim an ocean full in order to save Moira. Michael and I continued cutting a blood soaked path to the stairway. We were almost at the end. One more floor and we’d meet up with the others.
     Someone grabbed me. I thought it was Michael, until I felt blood trickle down my arm. Crap.
      I tried to jerk my hand away. I didn’t feel any pain from a bite, but that could be my body running on adrenaline. Pulling away, the force caused me to drop one of my katanas. Something grabbed my ankle. Before I knew it I was pulled down. My head smacked the floor.
     Despite being dizzy, I knew I needed to get up. On the floor was the worst position I could be in with a horde of walkers. I rolled over, kicking at the walker who tried to bite my leg. My head throbbed, felt like it may fall off my neck and roll away.
     I grabbed my other katana and swung, slicing through the abdomen of a walker. Blood and gore spilled onto my jeans and down my arm.
     Michael yelled, “Kid! Get up!”
     But I couldn’t. He took a few more shots, then felt him—at least I hoped it was him—grab me by the ankle. Before I knew it, I was being dragged towards the door. I grabbed the pistol from the waist of my pants and fired at a few walkers following us, nailing them in the head.
     Michael dragged me, leaving carnage behind us. He stopped and yanked me to my feet. We turned, shooting the last four remaining walkers as we backed out the door leading to the stairwell. Michael slammed the door shut and I leaned back against it to catch my breath. If it were a cartoon, my heart would’ve been beating three feet out of my chest.
     Michael looked at me. Something warm ran down the side of my face. I touched the top of my head and flinch.
     “Sh*t”
     Michael shined his flashlight on the wound. He fished in his back pocket, pulling out a black and red bandana and wiped the blood off my face to inspect the cut on the right side of my head right along the hairline.
     “Damn kid, they got ya good. You didn’t get bit nowhere, did ya?”
     “No, I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
     Michael nodded, wrapping the bandana around my head to protect the cut. He asked me how many fingers he was holding up, what’s my name, who he was. Once satisfied, he stepped back. I regrouped, shaking off the dizzy spell and ignoring the pain in my head to get ready to charge up the steps with Michael. I reached for my walkie-talkie first—needed to give a status report.
     “Team Rooker, just left the burn unit. Squirrel!!”
     “Good, Eve and I are on our way up. All’s clear on our end.” Commander Reedus responded.
     “All’s squirrelly over here” Em chimed in.
     “Squirrel!!” Jessica added.
     “Alright then, everyone, let’s get our behinds up to that floor and get our girl.”
     Michael and I charged the steps. I pushed myself onward. I had no choice. Even as the pain in my head increased, Michael kept telling me to move my butt. We reached the top of the stairs, looked at each other and proceeded to kick the doors open.


Moira Rescue Mission: Part III

The mission to rescue Blue Brigade member Moira Jones continues…

A secret self-organized unit within the ZSC received the Urgent call for help from Moira Jones and sprang into action. Although the city is awash with walkers, these brave souls put together a mission plan on hearing Moira’s plight. Exactly what we expect from Zombie Survival Crew members. Below is a brief mission recap, then a continuation of the field reports pouring in following up on earlier reports of the mission’s genesis.

MISSION: Rescue one Moira Jones from 6th floor of over run hospital.
OBJECTIVE: Search for and rescue Moira Jones and bring to safety.
STRATEGY: Rendezvous with fellow members of the ZSC and use skill sets to bring Moira Jones to safety.

Field Reports:

PERSONNEL:

The Rescue Team

Eve’s POV:
     
     We split off from the group and made our way silently toward the eastern staircase. Aside from the big group we’d encountered when we first entered the building, Norman and I weren’t seeing many walkers. We took down five before we made it to the door that opened into the stairwell.
     “This seems a bit too easy,” Norman said, almost too softly for me to hear. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or thinking aloud.
     “You okay, Eve?” I looked over to see him watching me.
     “Yes, I’m fine.” I tossed him a quick glance and added, “I’m worried about Moira. That message from Sean has me a bit freaked out.”
     “Yeah, me too.” Norman stepped forward to peek in the window of the stairwell door.
     He leapt back as a grotesque face slammed against the glass.
     “Damn!” He studied the walker for a moment. We could hear more of them shuffling around behind the door.
     I pulled my hunting knife out of its sheath and held it so that the blade ran along my forearm. My left hand gripped my compound bow. I nocked an arrow—held between my right middle and forefinger, leaving my two other fingers and thumb wrapped tightly around the hilt of my knife. I turned and covered the hallway behind us while he prepped his weapons.
     Norman pulled back the string on his crossbow until he heard it lock. He slid a bolt in place, pulled a silenced 9mm Glock out of his waistband and chambered a round. He grabbed his walkie and announced that we were entering the stairwell.
     “Here goes!” He yanked the door open and stepped to the side as I loosed an arrow into the group amassed there.
     My arrow went through three skulls before lodging into the fourth, not quite penetrating the creature’s brain.
     Norman jumped over the fallen and began working his way through the dozen or so other undead that crowded eagerly toward him.
     I took the flat of my palm and shoved the arrow through the skull of the fourth zombie before sending a second arrow flying to take another out just as it lunged for Norman’s back.
     The base of the stairwell was far too constricted to use our bows practically. We slung them and focused on knife work.
     He gestured to the stairs behind me with a nod of his head and used his hands to signal that he wanted me to go first, he would be right behind me. Fortunately, red tinged emergency lights still lit this area and we were able to make it up the two flights to the third floor.
     Norman studied the map near the door.

Lt Blue Brigade

     “Right. It should be a straight shot past this nurse’s station then we head left and the next set of stairs should be just down this hallway. There are,” he did a quick count of the small rooms off the hallway, “only 12 rooms, six on each side, between us and the stairs. We’ll assume they were all occupied when it all went down. Of course there are 48 rooms total in this wing so we should be prepared for worst case scenario.”
     He reloaded his gun and crossbow as I double checked my guns.
     As he pushed the handle down, the emergency lights failed, throwing us into pitch black.
     “Holy crap!” I whispered. “I can’t see anything!”
     “Here.” I tapped one of the flashlights against his hand and he took it. I swung my bag back around, the other flashlight in my hand.
     I felt breath on the back of my neck; my heart constricted and goosebumps rose all up and down my arms. This breath was cold and it reeked of rotting flesh. I whirled around and smashed my flashlight against its face before tripping on Norman’s shoe. I fell against the railing, my right foot slipped off the edge of the top stair and I tumbled down, coming to a stop on my back a few feet below. My flashlight rolled down to the landing and flickered on spreading an eerie light up the wall.
     I couldn’t breathe and my ankle throbbed.
     I tried to get up and felt sharp pain stab through my ankle. I sucked a breath in through my teeth to keep from crying out. Tears pricked my eyes as I flopped back down.
     Norman rushed down. He came into view on my left side.
     “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
     “It didn’t bite me.” I wanted that to be very clear. “I hurt my ankle when I fell. I don’t think I can walk on it.”
     He looked down at my ankle and grimaced. I knew it had to be bad.
     “It’s already swollen and bruised. It looks awful.” He carefully lifted my leg.
     “I’ll have to help you walk.” He decided after even the tiniest pressure on the joint made me wince.
     “Norman, there’s no time for that! You need to get to Moira.”
     “I am not leaving you behind. I have to make sure you get back to your little girl!” I could tell from his tone there was no point in arguing.
     “I need a way to stabilize it. A splint or something. All I have is an ace bandage and some gauze in my first aid kit. Then maybe I can put some weight on it.” I tried to pull my toes up which earned me a wave of hot pain that cascaded up my leg from my ankle.
     “Hey!” Norman reached into his back pocket and pulled the map back out. “There’s a medical supplies closet just past the nurse’s station. Think there’s something there we could use?”
     I shrugged and frowned at him. “I don’t think you should go in there by yourself.”
     “Come here.” He helped me to my feet and guided me to the top of the stairs.
     He had me sit against the wall, facing the door. He jogged back down the stairs and grabbed my flashlight.
     “I’ll be right back, okay?” He pointed to my guns, “Keep those handy.”
     I took them both out and rested them on my lap. “Be careful in there.”
     He nodded then slipped through the door.
     The silence in that darkened stairwell was deafening. As I waited, I fought back tears. I worried that he’d get hurt. I worried that we wouldn’t get to Moira in time. I worried that I’d never see Michelle again.
     At one point a walker leaned against the door, which failed to latch behind Norman. I shot it and the four that followed. Their bodies kept the door wide open, but I couldn’t move them.
     I saw a zombie fly backwards, an arrow embedded in its skull and breathed a sigh of relief as Norman came into view.
     He took the bandage from my kit and carefully wrapped my ankle first. He fit a stiff ankle brace over that and then a walking boot before helping me to my feet.
     I took a tentative step and while there was still a great deal of pain, it was manageable.
     “This will work.”
     We entered the cardiac ward. At one point most of these people were someone’s grandparent, husband, wife. Bodies littered the floor as we made our way to the staircase that’d take us to the sixth floor.
     We were nearly there when a walker launched itself from behind a curtain and latched on to Norman’s arm. “Son of a…” He fell backwards, as it snapped at him.
     I limped forward as quickly as I could and drove the blade of my hunting knife to the hilt into the base of its skull.
     Norman panted, his eyes wide. I took hold of his arm and pulled back his sleeve and examined it carefully. There were indentations where the teeth had tried to penetrate, but the skin remained unbroken.
     “Thank God,” I whispered. “I guess you and Daryl don’t share the same luck when it comes to sleeves.”
     “Ha!” He smiled and shook his head.
     I helped him up and we walked over to the door that would lead to Moira. He signaled on the walkie-talkie that our wing was clear and we were heading up the final 3 flights.
     “God, I hope she’s alright,” Norman breathed.
     “Me too.”
     He opened the door and we began our ascent.


OFFICIAL ZSC COMMAND COMMUNICATIONS RECORD

For those of you who have been following the plight of Blue Brigade loyalist, Moira Jones, we received another communication from her last night. You may recall she sent the Zombie Survival Crew command a cry for help, and we are proud of our crew, because the response was immediate. Field reports came in and a rescue mission was mounted. Below is the communication record of a call received last night in the command center. While the situation seems dire for our brave crew member, we will not give up hope.

Personnel:
First Lieutenant SEAN FLANERY/Yellow Brigade
MOIRA JONES/Blue Brigade

Signal Acquired – 22:14

FLANERY: ZSC Command, Lieutenant Flanery. State your name and brigade.

JONES: Oh, my gosh! It works! THE PHONE WORKS!

*static*

JONES: Hello? Are you…

*static*

FLANERY: Name and brigade?

*static*

JONES: … me! It’s Moira!

FLANERY: Moira! Thank god. Are you alright?

JONES: I think so, but I need your help!

FLANERY: Commander Reedus and Rooker have put together a retrieval team. They’re on the way to you now. Just hang on.

*silence*

FLANERY: Moira? Are you okay?

*silence*

FLANERY: Have you been bitten or scratched?

JONES: No, but…

*static*

JONES: … scared.

FLANERY: Say again?

JONES: I said, I’m scared.

FLANERY: Oh kid. That’s okay. Hell, if you weren’t scared I’d be worried about you.

JONES: I wish Donut was here.

*barking*

FLANERY: She says, “Stay Dixon strong.”

JONES: Will you stay on the phone with me until the rescue team gets here?

FLANERY: Of course, I will, kid. We just need to make sure you’re as safe as possible. Are you in a contained space? Can the walkers get to you where you are?

JONES: I don’t think so. The only way up to the sixth floor now is the stairs and I blocked the door. I don’t think they can get in.

FLANERY: Good. Now what we need to do is…

JONES: Oh no!

FLANERY: Oh no, what?

*static*

FLANERY: Moira?

*silence*

FLANERY: Moira? Can you hear me?

*smashing glass*

JONES: LET GO OF ME!!

FLANERY: MOIRA!!

Loss of Signal – 22:30

END OF RECORD


Moira Rescue Mission: Part II

The mission to rescue Blue Brigade member Moira Jones continues…

A secret self-organized unit within the ZSC received the Urgent call for help from Moira Jones and sprang into action. Although the city is awash with walkers, these brave souls put together a mission plan on hearing Moira’s plight. Exactly what we expect from Zombie Survival Crew members. Below is a brief mission recap, then a continuation of the field reports pouring in.

MISSION: Rescue one Moira Jones from 6th floor of over run hospital.
OBJECTIVE: Search for and rescue Moira Jones and bring to safety.
STRATEGY: Rendezvous with fellow members of the ZSC and use skill sets to bring Moira Jones to safety.

PERSONNEL:

Emma’s POV:

Purple Brigade

The cold wind cut through the thick hoodie, pea-coat, and flannel shirt I wore as I walked along the cracked and crumbled sidewalk. I shivered and ducked my head down in an effort to keep it at bay.
     It seemed I was always cold these days. The power in the abandoned library I lived in finally kicked the bucket and at night the cold became unbearable. The daytime wasn’t much better thanks to the heavy gray clouds covering the sky for miles in all directions.
     Another problem with clouds, they made everything feel so much more depressing. Sure, the city wasn’t deserted, not yet. Several apartment complexes and quite a few stores had been abandoned when the first outbreak occurred.
     But those who stayed…stayed put. No one ventured outside anymore, not for long anyway. The gray clouds were always a kind of symbol of that for me, in a weird way. They had this feeling of expectancy, of waiting. You knew the clouds wanted to break and shower the city with rain, sleet—whatever it was up there—but it kept itself contained. That’s kind of the way things were now.
     I touched the grip of my Colt 1911 as if expecting Hell to break out right there. It didn’t. I relaxed a bit and tried to concentrate on keeping my teeth from chattering.
     The first outbreak happened a little over three months ago. It sent everyone into a panic. There’d been smaller ones since. Whenever someone dropped dead it was only a matter of time before they began walking around again. Everyone came to expect this, but that didn’t make it any less frightening.
     I have it a bit easier than most, though, no family to take care of really. I have a sort of ‘family’ with the Zombie Survival Crew, but no one to be obligated to. I missed that.
     See, I’d been living with my little brother and my uncle. Then my brother, Todd, turned. He was one of the first to turn, actually. Just six years old… After that my uncle took off. I don’t know where, and I don’t really care.
     Everyone in our apartment building left to go find shelter deeper in the city or find their family and friends. I think we all knew the first outbreak was just the tip of the iceberg.
     I left too, taking as much food as I could and a few blankets, and moved into the public library.
     To be honest, I’m surprised no one else thought to go there. I mean, the doors are heavy wood, easy to barricade with bookshelves. There’s entertainment, and as a long as you have enough food and warmth, it’d be perfect.
     Oh well, guess I’m the only one to think of it.
     I headed to the abandoned supermarket just a few blocks down. My canned food supplies were low. If I was lucky, I’d be able to find a few cans that hadn’t been grabbed already.
     As I walked, I looked up, brushing back some of my windswept hair out of my face, and saw a group of four coming towards me. I stopped, my hand immediately going to my gun. They stopped. I saw that they were alive.
     They reached for their weapons too, and eyed me with suspicion and distrust. I dropped my hand to show them I wouldn’t draw my weapon if they weren’t. They started to move, but kept their hands close to their weapons as they crossed the street, watching me the whole time.
     I started walking again, making sure they wouldn’t try anything when I turned my back. Only after I rounded a corner did I relax.
     You couldn’t be too careful. It wasn’t just the dead you had to fear; you never knew what other people were planning, either.
     The Walkers aren’t really a huge threat in this area, not yet, anyway. It’s only a matter of time. Everyone knows that. You can’t stop people from dying, and you can’t keep them from coming back, either. No matter how many times you heard the broadcasts swearing up and down that a cure is right around the corner. That’s complete bull crap.
     Fear ruled the city now.
     I breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted the darkened windows of the supermarket up ahead. Half way done with the trip, but I didn’t feel safe. No one felt safe anymore.
     I slid my gun out from my belt and switched the safety off, chambering a round. Satisfied, I moved quickly up the sidewalk and to the broken automated doors. I peered inside, quieting my breathing so I could hear better. I didn’t hear anything at all, so I eased inside and waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.
     I didn’t want to use it the flashlight in my pocket, (a) because I didn’t know how long the batteries would last—and there was a shortage of batteries now ever since the power outages started happening more and more frequently—and (b) I didn’t know if a Walker lurked inside or not.
     My eyesight adjusted and I eased my way towards back wall. I’d been in here a few times with better lighting. If there were any canned goods left, they’d be back there.
     Trying my best not to make a sound, I started to make my way down the aisle.
     I should’ve checked the ground better, I know. My foot hit a basket in the middle of the aisle and it went clattering across the floor.
     Gasping, I froze and waited for the echo of metal clattering on the floor to cease. As it died away, another sound made my heart stop, then immediately begin hammering at my ribcage.
     Slow, shuffling footsteps came from somewhere in the store.
     I whirled around and inhaled deeply, hoping to smell it before it got too close, or I hear it. Whatever it was. I couldn’t stay put, it would be suicide. The smartest thing to do would be to keep moving. I did.
     When I estimated I reached the canned goods section, I reached out and started feeling for cans. It didn’t matter what I picked up, I’m not a picky eater. I was just happy when my hand touched the cold aluminum and started snatching up cans, shoving them into the canvas shoulder bag. I tried not to let them clink against the extra ammo clips in there.
     Satisfied I grabbed enough for another week or two, I started for the exit.
     “Uhhhhhhhhhhh…”
     The moan came from right at my elbow. I whirled. My arm smacked into cold, clammy, rotten flesh.
     How could I not notice a walker getting that close? The sound of cans clicking together probably distracted me but that was no excuse. I needed to do better than that.
     I aimed my gun at where my arm met dead flesh, then thought better of it. With my other hand I pulled free the Army Scout knife strapped to my leg and swung.
     The blade ripped into soft tissue. An angry growl crept from the darkness before a heavy body stumbled against me.
     “Get off!” I shouted, shoving it back as hard as I could and swung again, aiming up towards the source of all the moaning.
     “GAH!” The walker moaned. The blade dug into thick bone. It hit the skull, but didn’t penetrate to the bone. I quickly jerked it free, a foot against the zombie as leverage, then brought the knife down as hard as I could.
     It plowed into the zombie’s skull. A disgusting, cold liquid squirted onto my hand, doubtless blood and brain.
     Thunk.
     The zombie fell at my feet, dead once and for all. I pulled my knife free, wiped it clean on the nearby shelf, re-sheathed my weapons, and bolted for the door.
     I didn’t stop running until I was halfway down the sidewalk.
     That was close, I thought. Too close. Pay more attention next time.
     Still, it was satisfying to be alive in spite of the gray, gooey slime on my left hand. Best of all, at least seven cans were in my bag. I patted my haul appreciatively.
     As I walked, a noise off to my right made me stop. I reached for the blade once again—it’d be best to keep noise to a minimum. A terrier, very dirty looking, padded out of the alley up ahead. I stopped short.
     I hadn’t seen an animal in ages, except for crows of course. All of the pets disappeared; either locked in with their owners, run off, or eaten from what I could figure.
     “Hey, puppy,” I crooned, offering my hand in a sign of friendliness. “You all alone? Come on, I won’t hurt you.” I inched forward, careful not to look threatening. The dog stopped, ears lifted in alert.
     I smooched my lips, begging it come with me. “I won’t hurt you, I promise.”
     The dog whimpered then cautiously trotted forward, staying as far away as possible. He sniffed my hand. I tried my luck and slowly uncurled my fingers to touch the rough fur on his head. He backed away. I clicked my tongue. He approached again.
     I managed to gently stroke his fur. Slowly, his droopy tail began to sweep back and forth. That’s what I love about dogs. They can go through the worst things and still be willing to love if shown affection.
     “There we go,” I murmured approvingly, stroking under his chin when I saw it made his tail wag faster.
     “Now just come home with me and we’ll—”
     The dog’s head jerked towards the alley. He gave a startled yelp before turning and darting away.
     “No, wait!” I called, getting to my feet. “Don’t go!”
     A clattering from the alley grabbed my attention. I drew my knife. Doubtless the little dog heard something in the alley before I did.
     Another walker appeared from the mouth of the alley, shambling forward unsteadily.
     I pulled back and drove my knife into the side of its head, pushing over against the wall. It struggled for a moment, so I twisted the embedded knife, making sure I destroyed the brain, and then jerked it free. The zombie crumpled at my feet. I fought off a wave of nausea.
     A woman this time, with dirty, long blond hair. She couldn’t have been dead very long. Her color wasn’t as bad as I’d seen before, it was still a bit pink, though fast changing to gray.
     “Mwaaaaaaahh…” The moan came from the alley. I whirled, my knife ready to go into the head of another walker, but I stopped short.
     The alley overflowed with walkers. Their voices joined together in a grisly howl of the hunt.
     I bolted for the library. I charged through the front doors and slammed them shut and tipped the heavy bookcase barricade in front of them.
     In a few minutes the sound of their moans grew louder. The scratch of their nails raked against the wooden doors as they thumped against them in vain.
     I started towards my little sleeping spot in the back corner, a good vantage point from which I could see every entrance and exit. Suddenly my pocket vibrated. The musical jingle of a ring tone floated up to me.
     I scrambled for it. The phone only ever received calls from other Zombie Survival Crew members—all of which were formidable fighters. If they called, things were dire, indeed.
     We’d been lucky so far to maintain a stable connection.
     I pulled it free and looked at the caller ID. My eyebrows raised in surprise. Eve!
     “Hello?” The line was filled with static, but I could still hear her.
     “Emma!” she said in relief. “I thought you would never answer. Are you okay?”
     I glanced at the doors. The walkers continued to thump and moan outside.
     “Sure,” I said. “Nothing I can’t handle. What’s wrong?”
     She paused. I frowned. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good.
     “Eve, what’s wrong?” I asked, a bit worried.
     “It—It’s Moira,” she said quietly. My heart skipped a beat.
     “What?” My voice rose in panic in spite of my efforts to control it, “What’s happened to Moira?”
     “She’s okay,” Eve said hurriedly. “For now. We just got word that her hospital has been overrun with walkers. She’s pinned down and needs help, fast.”
     I ran a hand through my hair.
     “Thank God.” True, her situation was less than appealing, but as long as she lived, I’d hold out hope.
     We agreed to meet at the abandoned hotel close by the hospital.
     “Be careful,” Eve said. I smiled. She’d become a surrogate mother and big sister rolled into one.
     “I will if you will,” I said. “I’ll be over in just a little while.”
     Over in my sleeping area, I reached under my pillow for the rest of the ammo I kept stashed there. And for something else—my sword. I loaded up with the extra ammo, bits of jerky, bandages, an extra knife, and some pain pills and antibiotic ointment I’d been lucky enough to find. I strapped on my sword and headed for the side door, hoping the walkers hadn’t gone around back.
     All clear.
     I took a deep breath and kept my sword at the ready, just in case. The bookshelf barricade slid out of the way. I slipped through the door and onto the sidewalk.
     Out of the multitude of buildings I picked out the one I knew to be the hospital. It stood quite a hike away and doubtless wouldn’t be an easy trip. But I didn’t care. This was Moira we were talking about, Moira. The strong one, the one we all looked up to and admired.
     The angel.
     I swallowed the lump in my throat at thought of how scared she must be. With Eve, Jess, Apryl, Tiffany and Rebecca helping me, there’s no way we’d let anything happen to her.
     Hang on, Moira, I thought. Breaking into a jog, I ran still clutching my sword. “Help is on the way.”

Jessica’s POV:

Zombie Survival Crew

“We are going to need more supplies.” I said, looking at the nearly bare shelves.
     My mother, little sister, step-dad, and fiancé were staying in my house. All of the doors and windows barricaded.
     “I will drive to the store and see if there is anything left.” Unfortunately, people didn’t always take what they absolutely needed. Most of the stuff went whether it was needed or not.
     We were down to a few cans of vegetables, a box and a half of cereal, and five bottles of water. That wouldn’t last very long. A trip to the store was in high demand. Not to mention, we needed medical supplies. A couple of band-aids, not even half a tube of Antibiotic ointment, one wrap, and about twenty-five Ibuprofen pills.
     I put on my homemade weapons belt and grabbed my cast iron skillet, slipping it in the holster designed for it. Then I grabbed my twin Desert Eagles with silencers, army knife, and three daggers.
     As I put on my coat I said, “Come here, Luna”.
     Fortunately, I’d taken the time to have Luna properly trained by Sean Patrick Flanery and Donut. She was a zombie killing machine. With her, I felt calmer. I knew she had my back.
     Luna and I headed for the door. “Don’t forget your phone!” mom called out and tossed my phone to me.
     “Thanks!” I smirked and walked out the door.
     Luna and I got into the car and headed to the store. When we got there, there a group of living people stood outside.
     The group of men looked like they meant business. One guy held a baseball bat and thumped it against his hand. Another rested his hand on the handle of a machete. Two others stepped forward, holding crowbars. I stopped for a minute and looked over each one of them carefully. Didn’t see any guns. I moved toward the doors.
     “Don’t take another step,” the biggest guy warned. “We run this place, and if you want to come in, you’ll need to pay.”
     Pay? Right…we’ll see who will pay.
     I took another step. “I’m warning you,” he shouted. “You need to give us some weapons if you want to come in here!”
     I couldn’t help it. The giggles bubbled up in my stomach. I let out a huge roll of laughter. They were just amusing. Did they not know? Well, of course they had no idea that I was in the Purple Brigade of the Zombie Survival Crew and therefore properly trained to handle any and every situation that might arise.
     “What are you laughing at, ho?” asked the smallest guy of them all.
     I went from laughing to serious in a millisecond. Oh no he didn’t.
     Not taking my eyes off of them, I opened the car door. Luna stepped out. She bared her fangs. Her hackles rose down her back. She stood there and stared at them.
      “What was it that you said? I don’t think my dog heard you quite right,” I said taking a few steps closer. Luna stayed in step with me, not taking her eyes off of them.
     “I called you a ho,” the little guy said, emphasizing the word.
     “That’s what I thought you said.” I smiled.
     With one swoop, I pulled the three daggers from their holster and whipped them toward the men. They hit their mark, leaving the little guy standing.
     While the three clutched their legs, Luna lunged at the little guy and took him down to the ground.
     They writhed on the cold, wet concrete. I smiled and said, “I wouldn’t move if I were you. Luna doesn’t take jokes very well, and that’s all you guys are…a joke.”
     I walked into the store and grabbed a few more cans of food, some more medicine, and some dog food.
     When I walked back out, the four grown men were sitting with terrified looks on their faces. One of them actually peed himself.
     “Keep the daggers,” I said with a grin. “There’s plenty more where they came from. Come on, Luna.”
     We got in the car and headed back to the house.
     On the way home my phone rang. LK Gardner-Griffie, my commander, informed me that someone was in distress. A fellow member needed help. LK was safe, but couldn’t get out to help anyone at the time.
     “I’ll take care of it,” I assured her.
     “It’s Moira. She’s trapped in her hospital room, almost out of supplies. All of her caretakers are dead.”
     The words stung like a million bees.
     “I will get a group together to help her,” I promised.
     As soon as I hung up with my commander I called my sister, Eve.
     Without even saying hello she asked, “Are you safe? Is everything okay?”
     I assured her that I was fine, but told her that we had a problem.
     “What is it?” she asked, desperation in her voice.
     “It’s Moira, Eve. She sent out a distress call through ZSC. She’s stuck in her hospital, alone, barricaded on the sixth floor. She’s not injured but is running low on food. She needs our help.” Panic rose up inside my chest.
     “Alright, let’s meet up at my work then we can head out from there. We can’t leave Moira defenseless like that!” Eve’s voice cracked.
     “Okay, see you there.”
     I got to the house and unloaded everything and informed everyone that a very sweet young lady needed my help. I said goodbye to everyone and packed a few supplies, my weapons and Luna in the car.
     I headed to Eve’s work. She got in the car without a word. We were all business on the way to the hospital.
     Eve pulled out her phone to call Emma.
     I listened to the conversation. When Eve said we were pulling together a team to go help Moira and asked if Em was in, I gave my best “Hell Yeah, let’s do this’” grin to my sister.
     Eve hung up with Emma after telling her where to meet us. She looked over at me and gave me a soft punch in the arm. “You ready for this, Jess?”
     I smiled. Luna nudged me; I pat her on the head. “Those walkers don’t stand a chance. Let’s go save Moira.”
     We took off for the hospital.

Misson:

The Rescue Team

We all gathered in room twelve upon arrival. The stench of death filled the air. The moans of walkers echoed in the distance. Apryl, Jessica, Rebecca, Emma, Eve and I stood discussing strategies. Jessica got a map of the hospital. She wouldn’t tell us how. A knock on the door made us jump. Walkers couldn’t knock! We draw our weapons, ready for a fight. Eve grabbed the door handle and yanked it open after a silent count of three.
     We lower our weapons. Michael and Norman stood in the hallway. They’d received our mission and coordinates. We laid out a plan—who’d go where and how we’d work our way through the hospital. The only option was to clear it out in order to reach Moira.
     Michael tossed his bag down on the bed and pulled out walkie talkies. We established a safe word when one of us clears a path, “Squirrel”. “Oreo” meant pretty much get your butt to my location I am in need of assistance. We’d reconvene on the sixth floor.
     The mission would be tricky but Moira was worth it. Her bravery is ZSC legend. She possesses the courage of an army of millions. We needed to draw on that and go get our girl.
     We headed out, ready to stomp walker butt and save our little chick-a-dee.
     Standing outside the hospital, the world became quiet—too quiet. Despite our nerves, we needed to go in there. Michael would lead the team of myself, Apryl and Emma. Norman had Eve, Rebecca and Jessica. Once we cleared the first level, we’d break apart once more; Norman and Eve, Michael and I, Apryl and Emma, and Jessica and Rebecca. We all look at each other, say a prayer and charge the hospital
     “To Moira!”
     This would be one hell of a night.


Zombie Survival Crew Rescue Mission

This file contains the mission objective for the members of a secret self-organized unit within the ZSC. These members received the Urgent call for help from Moira Jones and have sprung into action.

MISSION: Rescue one Moira Jones from 6th floor of over run hospital.
OBJECTIVE: Search for and rescue Moira Jones and bring to safety.
STRATEGY: Rendezvous with fellow members of the ZSC and use skill sets to bring Moira Jones to safety.

PERSONNEL:

The Rescue Team

Tiffany’s POV:

I sat perched in an old chair inside an abandoned house. The cold evening air howled. Rain leaked through the roof. I faced the boarded up door, a black handled katana with an eleven-inch blade on my lap and another within reach. My eyes ached. My long black hair lay matted and dirty across my shoulders. The toe of my heavy black leather boot tapped on the floor as I stared at the door. I wasn’t expecting company, but I made sure I was ready should someone decide to “drop by.” I wore all black and my long leather duster jacket. I hid in the shadows, ready to pounce.

Orange Brigade

     I’m a member of the ZSC Orange Brigade. We are the ones always one step ahead. We are the oddballs lurking in the shadows. The ones you are unable to read because we are so full of surprises. We’re the thinkers—the ones who plan ahead, ready for anything. I’ve perfected moving without being seen. It’s how I stayed alive the day the world went crazy and the dead started walking. It’d been a normal day. I was restocking my go bag, you know, just in case. I spotted my neighbor, Ms. Newman wondering around my backyard. She looked beat up, bloody, and lost. I rushed outside to her side. When she turned around reality slapped me in the face. I thought, maybe I was dreaming. Maybe I was seeing things. When Ms. Newman lunged for me, I grabbed a nearby shovel and disposed of her.
     I ran for my house and went for my phone. Sure enough an alert text greeted me. D-Day arrived. I reacted quickly, contacting my fellow brigade members and my brigade buddy. I told them I was safe, alive and on my way to a designated location. A horde of walkers right outside of the city cut me off. They chased me to my present location. I set up camp to wait for them to clear. I contacted other ZSC members. Eve, Rebecca, Em, Jessica and Apryl. Sure they are from different brigades, but we are all fighting for the same cause.
     My phone echoed through darkness and I’m quick to grab it. I hit a couple buttons. It’s my first lieutenant David Della Rocco. He got an urgent message from Blue Commander, Norman Reedus pertaining to brigade member Moira Jones. She was trapped in a hospital over run by walkers. Blue brigade is rallying members for a rescue mission. He reached out to his good friend Rocco for help. Moira didn’t have much time. She was low on resources and needed help ASAP.
     I let Rocco know I’d help and bring reinforcements. Standing, I hurried to collect my supplies, holster my swords to my back. I look over my shoulder and motion to someone. From the shadows stepped another ZSC member, Apryl. I met her right inside the city, she’d been running from a walker. She found the house we hid in. I felt a connection to this girl; we were both oddballs, which made things perfect—we fought off the horde as a cohesive unit.
     “Moira’s in trouble.” I relayed the message to her.
     Apryl nodded and pulled out two Desert Eagle mark XIXs. “Let’s go save Moira!”
     We turned and took a deep breath. For Moira, we’d willingly face whatever waited on the other side of the door.
     I quickly contact Rebecca and tell her the dire situation. I send her the coordinates of where the hospital is and the nearest hotel to the hospital where we’d meet up with everyone else. Then I passed it down the chain to Eve, Em and Jessica.
     “You ready for this?!” I asked Apryl.
     “Heck Yeah! To Moira!”
     I had faith that with all our combined skills, Moira would be safe. One more alert went out to Special Forces—attention one Michael Rooker—we’d need him. I stuff my phone in my pocket and look at Apryl. We kicked the door open and ran into the darkness.

Eve’s POV:

Lt Blue Brigade

The world went to hell so quickly and I was so unprepared. As a member of the ZSC Light Blue brigade I should have known better but I never expected the worst disaster in history to take place so soon! When the call came in from my commander, Anthony, I stood there staring at my phone for a long while.
     A few shots fired close to my house and broke my paralysis.
     I quickly strapped my double thigh holsters on and the calf sheath for my hunting knife. I slid the knife in place and loaded clips into my twin 9mm Taurus 917Cs and fitted silencers onto the end of each barrel.
     I got my daughter and grandma into the car with essential supplies in a matter of minutes. I set my compound bow and quiver on the front passenger seat and moved to open the garage door, one of my silenced twin 9s in hand. I gave grandma a thumbs-up. She nodded and watched me in the rear-view mirror. My grandmother made fun of me on many occasions for what she felt were ridiculous preparations. As I looked into her fear-filled eyes I knew she finally understood.
     I pulled the garage door open in one quick movement and took down the three walkers loitering in front of our house. Grandma pulled out and I hopped in the car. I told her to head to my uncle’s house.
     I spoke with my uncle about supplies and how long we could ration out food before a run would become necessary. Suddenly my phone rang. My sister, Jess. I was relieved to hear her voice.
     “Are you safe? Is everything okay?” Jessica promised she was fine but that we had a problem.
     “It’s Moira, Eve. She sent out a distress call through ZSC. She needs our help.” Jess ran down the situation. Her voice cracked with worry.
     “Alright, let’s meet up at my work then we can head out from there. We can’t leave Moira defenseless like that!” I fought back tears, thinking of her stuck in the hospital alone.
     “Okay, see you there.”
     I explained to my daughter that I needed to go and she’d be safe, asked her to keep an eye on grandma and make sure she stayed out of trouble.
     She gave me a stiff nod, a serious expression on her face. I pulled her into a hug, my tough little girl, and kissed her on the forehead before grabbing my go bag and leaving the house.
     Jessica and I met up, quickly planning a route to the abandoned hotel.
     I put in a call to the last member of our small group…and listened to it ring. And ring. I began to worry she hadn’t received her warning in time.
     “Hello?” Emma’s voice sounded on the other end.
     Oh thank God.
     “Emma! I thought you’d never answer. Are you okay?” My voice trembled. I looked over at Jess who watched the parking lot with focused intensity.
     “Sure.” She hesitated for a moment before adding, “Nothing I can’t handle. What’s wrong?”
     Again the thought of Moira—who’d been through so much and was tougher and sweeter than any young girl I’d ever known—alone and scared brought tears to my eyes. My throat tightened as I tried not to cry.
     “It…” I took a deep breath to steady my voice. “It’s Moira.”
     “What?” Panic came through the phone loud and clear. “What’s happened to Moira?”
     “She’s okay, for now,” I said before Emma could work her way into a full panic. “We just got word that her hospital has been overrun with walkers. She needs help, fast.”
     “Thank God.” I could picture her standing there with a hand over her heart, relieved that Moira lived.
     “Jess, Rebecca, Tiffany, Apryl and I are putting together a rescue team.” Jess threw me a quick glance, a “hell yeah” grin on her face. “We’re going to get her. You in?”
     “You know I am,” she said. I could so hear the implied “DUH!”
     “Good,” I said, smirking at her eagerness. “We’re meeting at the abandoned hotel close by the hospital and formulate a plan of action from there, okay?”
     “Okay.” She paused. “Just give me a minute to take care of something and I’ll be right over.”
     “Be careful.” My chest constricted again at the thought of Emma making her way to our rendezvous by herself. I wished I were there to make sure she stayed safe.
     “I will if you will.” She sounded like she smiled at my overprotective mother hen statement. “I’ll be over in just a little while.”
     We hung up. Jess turned to me. I inhaled deeply and gave her a soft punch on the arm. “You ready for this, Jess?”
     She smiled and patted her dog, Luna on the head. “Those walkers don’t stand a chance. Let’s go.”
     We took off to meet up with the others who’d help us save that brave little girl.

….To Be Continued


Albuquerque in a Blur

Albuquerque Comic Con set the bar pretty high for our 2012 convention season. Before I forget, we have to thank Jim, Cody, Alfred, and the small army of volunteers that took care of us during three very, very crazy days (and one very special 11-year-old girl who was Jinxie’s helper throughout the weekend). Without them, your brave commanders would’ve ended up hiding under a table or trying to melt snow to obtain drinking water.

Wait . . . snow?

Yes, you read that right. When Juliette, Jinxie, and I got to town, we were greeted by a sight very few of your commanders have seen lately—snow on the ground. There wasn’t much—or we’d probably have snowball fight pictures for the gallery—but there was enough to make it really cold. Thankfully, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino stayed toasty warm over the course of the con.

On to the fun parts!

We invaded the Hard Rock Friday morning with Neil, Anthony, Noel G., and Madison Lintz. As soon as the tables were set, a sea of folks swept over the convention center. I’m not even sure how many people we talked to that day. There were a lot of them and they were all So Friggin’ Nice. The highlight of that afternoon came when Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation) paid us a surprise visit. I’ll tell you right now, it is nearly impossible to render Jinxie and me speechless. He managed to do so by saying, “Hi.” Before you all groan and disown us, we did rally and had a nice little chat with him.

Friday night we learned the secret to turning Juliette into a giddy little girl (Jinxie side note: which was hysterical). No, I won’t divulge what did the trick. (Did you really think I would? She travels with a crossbow!) After we calmed her down, we hung out and met even more new folks including Daniel Gillies (The Vampire Diaries) and Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That). It seemed to be the theme for the weekend—meeting really awesome people. The secondary theme was not being able to keep Juliette in one spot for more than ten seconds.

What do you mean that’s normal? No one can have that much energy!

Saturday, the floodgates opened in the Hard Rock Hotel. You think I’m kidding, but at one point we couldn’t see anything across the hall from the ZSC/Walking Dead table. Except Waldo. He’s getting really bad at hiding these days. Juliette, however, is a pro at hiding and somehow managed to disappear before Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk) paid us a visit. No cha-cha this year.

When we weren’t communicating with potential ZSC members, we ambushed cosplayers. Twice on Saturday the tables were turned, forcing Jinxie and I to save Anthony from having his face chewed off by the undead. His survival training needs to be refreshed. Obviously he’s forgotten the difference between fans, crewmembers, and friggin’ zombies! The smell is the key, dude. Just sayin’.

On Sunday, it became impossible to tell which of us at the table were walkers, and which were zombie slayers. The general consensus was the universe didn’t contain enough coffee to keep us going. Then a strange thing happened, once the fans started coming in, their energy gave us a kick in the backside. If we haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now: we could not continue to survive long convention weekends without you, the fans and crewmembers that stop by to visit with us. Thank you!

The hardest part of any con weekend is saying goodbye. We saw Neil and Noel G. off on a safe flight back home. The rest of us stayed another night and had a nice, calm, quiet dinner . . . okay, I can’t keep a straight face on that one. We weren’t quiet at all as we shared funny stories around the table. It made for an awesome way to wrap up the chaos in Albuquerque.

The story doesn’t end there. Keep an eye out for my travel post. You’ll learn what happens when two of your commanders take a road trip through the desert.

Missed out on the action in Albuquerque? Our next live appearance will be at Monster Mania 21 on March 9-11th in Cherry Hill, NJ.