Dark Winter – Part 10

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Song for the reluctant heroes
Oh Give me your strength
Our life is so short
Song for the reluctant heroes
I wanna be brave like you
- Attack on Titan, “Reluctant Heroes”

Katie was four hours north of the bunker when she spotted the tracks. They curved deep fissures through the snow and hadn’t filled in yet. Fresh tracks then.

The sun was reaching its zenith but the temperature was still cold enough to burn her lungs. She waited for several minutes, listening intently for any sound that might indicate who made the tracks. The urge to move was strong. By her estimation, her dad’s cache should be roughly five hours north of the bunker by foot. She was so close and she had to know if he was alive.

Licking her chapped lips, she dug out a protein bar and ate it quickly before pressing on. Her energy was flagging and slogging through freshly fallen snow was not easy work. Her direction took her perpendicular to the tracks and when she crossed them, she paused to look at the impressions. They were big and heavy, judging by the displacement and depth. Large tires with thick tread. She didn’t recognize the pattern but they were widely spaced, so a truck of some sort.

Was her dad picked up by someone? Did he find other survivors? If he did, why didn’t he contact her by now? There was no sense stopping here in any case, so she hurried on, pulling out her map to double check the location of the cache. Then, with a quick look at her compass, she reoriented herself and headed over the hill and into a thick batch of brier.

“Great, just gr—” Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 9

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I feel wrong
I’m so human and flawed
I’ll break down even though I’m still strong
And time will make fools of us all
Build us up and then laughs when we fall
You pull me through
When I’m alone in the dark and the fear is my truth
- The Goo Goo Dolls, “All That You Are”

“You can’t go back out there!”

Lindsay grabbed Katie’s arm as she pulled out a box of ammunition from the supply closet. Shaking it off, Katie pried the metal box open and knelt to begin reloading her empty magazines. Have to go. Have to go. Taking too long. Hurry, Katie! She fumbled with a .22LR round and instead of snapping it into place, it slipped out of her hand and skittered across the floor to roll beneath the dresser. Her vision swam as she moved to reach for it and her eyes felt so heavy she could hardly keep them open.

“Get me a 5 Hour Energy,” she said, reaching her hand beneath the dresser to feel for the round. She could have just gotten another one from the box but wasting ammunition felt wrong. She had to get this one. It was very important to her for some reason. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 8

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And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
- Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

The dead were coming for her.

Katie stood where the snowmobile should have been, but in its place was only rutted snow and torn up shards of ice and grass. Where was it? Who might have taken it and how? She stood there, rooted to the spot. The impossibility of it, the unfairness of it, made her hesitate. That hesitation nearly cost Katie her life.

Something cold grabbed her from behind. Stiff fingers clutched at her jacket, dragging her backwards while another clutched at her arm. A hiss slid across her ear, the infected’s breath a fetid wind of blood and decay. It leaned towards her, teeth snapping for her flesh. If she didn’t move, if she didn’t fight, she’d die. Right here in the dark and the cold.

Fight, Katie! Fight! She could almost hear her father say the words, just like he’d said them so many years ago. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 7

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Somebody shine a light
I’m frozen by the fear in me
Somebody make me feel alive
And shatter me
- Lindsey Stirling, “Shatter Me”

At first, there was only the flicker of burning fires and the smoke that wafted across the heat-cracked street. The sound of the dead came on a wind that felt too warm for the early December air. It came from dozens of throats, first as scattered moans and hisses, then slowly joining together to create a cacophony of sound. From the time Katie and her dad exited the shelter until she saw movement in the smoke, only a few heartbeats elapsed.

They came slowly, lurching through the smoke and into the dancing firelight. They were men and women, but Katie knew without even seeing their wounds that they were infected. It was something instinctive, a survival mechanism buried deep inside that told her these were predators and she was prey. Those feelings were quickly confirmed as they emerged onto the street. Some wore the body armor of the National Guard, guns still hanging from dead hands, while others were people she knew. Janet Athens had been her biology teacher in tenth grade. Now she stumbled into view with her jaw missing, a black tongue swinging in the cool air. Her dad made a signal with his hand towards her right, telling her to fall back into cover.

Katie kept low and hurried to a position further along the ruins of the school to her right. She ducked into deepest darkness she could find and took cover behind a two foot wall of rubble, covering her dad while he hurried to her. The group of infected was large, two dozen at least. The part of her brain that was still focused on her task made a quick scan for Lindsay’s mom, but didn’t see her. The other part, the one that was just seventeen and scared out of her mind, found herself shaking at the sight of them.

Focus, Katie. You can do this. Continue reading

The Space Cantina – Dark Winter Spotlight

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Dark Winter Spotlight on H1Z1.com

So the very kind and awesome Community Team for SOE’s H1Z1 ran a spotlight for Dark Winter today! I can’t tell you how amazing and awesome that is! I’m pretty humbled by it to be honest.

You can find the story here!

It also pushes me to make the best story I can. People are reading this story, and some are even enjoying it. For the first time, I have people waiting to reading stuff. That’s a very freaky thing. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to bring entertainment to even one person every week. So for everyone out there reading Dark Winter every week, and even those who give it a look and decide it’s not for them, thank you.

I will do my best to give you an awesome story.

Behind the Name of Dark Winter

Dark Winter is a work of fiction. It’s Fan Fiction, actually, inspired by the H1Z1 Zombie Apocalypse game by Sony Online Entertainment. There’s been some speculation about the name and I thought I’d talk about it here.

The term “Dark Winter” comes from a mocked scenario by the US Government in 2001. It simulated a bioweapon attack on a major US city using a highly virulent form of Smallpox. The scenario has the outbreak occur on Black Friday at an international airport. Operation Dark Winter was run to determine our readiness in the event of such an attack. Sadly, our healthcare system was found woefully ill prepared for such an event. You can read about it online at Wikipedia or wherever you get your information. It’s a pretty fascinating read.

The upcoming game “The Division” also uses this scenario for the background to their game. I used the term “Dark Winter” here as more of a metaphor, though I did have the outbreak in Mount Hope occur on Black Friday.

History! Yay!

Anyway, thanks for reading everyone. I should have Part 7 ready later this week, barring hold ups. I’ve had kind of a busy week so it might not happen on Friday. We’ll see. If it doesn’t, I apologize and will instead post it as soon as I can. I don’t want to publish a half-assed story.

 

Dark Winter – Part 6

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Ring around the rosie
Pocket full of posies.
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.
– Old Children’s Rhyme

“You can’t just leave me here!”

Lindsay clung to the sleeve of Katie’s coat, nearly causing her to drop the gas mask she held. Katie tried to ignore her and adjusted the straps on the mask, but the tugging on her sleeve became more insistent. Finally she gave up and turned to face her friend. Lindsey looked terrified and desperate and instantly Katie’s heart went out to her.

“You’d only slow us down. No offense, Lindsey, but I am barely allowing Katie to do this,” Katie’s dad said as he zipped up his white parka and shouldered his pack. They were both wearing thermal gear and a thick, waterproof jacket. The jacket and their pants were both white with woodland print. They’d used them for hunting in the snow in the years past. As Katie fingered the mask in her hands, she began to wonder if her dad hadn’t used hunting as a cover for a lot of things.

“No I won’t, I promise! I can be fast! Please, Mister Fox, it’s my mom!”

Katie looked at her dad, her face full of questions. When her gaze met his, his jaw tightened and he shook his head.

“I’m sorry, but Katie’s been trained and you haven’t. It would be even more dangerous if you were with us.” Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 5

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O bhr bhuva sva
Tat savitur vareya
Bhargo devasya dhmahi
dhiyo yo na pracodayt
- Sanskrit, Gayatri Mantra

When she woke again, Katie was warm. It was the type of warmth that promoted turning off the alarm and sleeping until noon. A good, lazy Saturday morning, and when she finally got up, her dad would chide her for being lazy. They’d have a late breakfast of eggs and scrapple and orange juice on the cabin’s porch and let the sun warm her face and brown her skin. The birds would sing in the trees but beyond that, it would be so quiet. Peaceful.

Safe.

Safe from her mother. Safe from the kids at school who knew. Safe from the mothers who picked up their children instead of letting them ride on the bus with her. Here, no one bothered her. No one knew except Lindsay and they hadn’t even talked about it. Her dad knew, he had to know by now. Didn’t he?

She’d talk to him when they went fishing. They always fished in the early afternoon if he wasn’t teaching his survival classes. She loved those too. They taught people how to shoot, how to prepare, how to survive events like…

Like this. Continue reading