Gunshots ring out.
Just barely louder than the old Fun Snaps I used to hurl to the ground when I was a child. Goddamn I loved those things. Crack. Crack. Crack. “Dance, Dance you fool!”, I would yell at my friends. Just like I saw in the old Westerns when the bad guys would shoot at someone's feet. “Dance!” A little smile creeps on to my face.
I'm yanked back to my putrid present. Fun Snaps seems like another life now. Like an old movie I saw when I was a kid. Not my actual life. It is all but impossible to remember what childhood felt like. Or even happiness, for that matter. No one has uttered the word 'carefree' in years. Since before this all started. The fucked up thing, though, is that is actually a possibility that no one may ever use that word again - for the rest of human existence. I mean, if we removed words like joy, glee, calm, serenity, or comfort from dictionaries and books, would future generations even know such concepts ever existed? I don't think they would. Crack. Crack. More Fun Snaps. It's coming from the four story office building next to me. Crack. Crack.
From the second story balcony of the Pueblo-style building in which I am currently kneeling, I can now see five, maybe ten, very angry Zed frantically making a B-line toward the source of that noise. Some are upright, others lurching forward on all fours, and still others are full-on crawling. But they all seem to be twitching maniacally as they move. It's as if every movement forward causes their dysfunctional nervous systems to fire thousands of jolts of electrical energy throughout their decrepit bodies. Disjointed, unconnected, but somehow continuous movements of their heads, arms, legs, and trunks punctuate their movement like some fucked up cartoon character with its hand in a light socket. It's freaky as shit. But still, somehow, they move forward. And some at alarming speed.
Crack. Crack. I can picture my fellow survivor in the office building next to me, back to a wall in the corner of a room, eyes pouring over a gun sight, like a river flowing over a rock, but always focused on the destination downstream – the door. Picking off one or two Zed at a time as they amble into the doorway across the room may not appear challenging on the surface, but it requires focus and attention to detail. You cannot let your guard down, not for one second. While you are facing forward, you feel the wall caress your back and you know your six is covered.
Having your back to the wall is the safest thing to do when Zed are around, you see. Sure, it's not a 100% protection, some of the undead are strong enough to get at you through the wall, but it is your best bet and you have to just go with it. That is, until you feel a hand crash through the wall and claw at your back. But you really have no other choice. Back to the wall, weapon pointed at the door. But with every gunshot, more zombies are alerted to your presence. Talk about a Catch-22. If only that poor soul had a hatchet to at least attempt a silent defense.
Crack. Crack. Oh shit! Ten more undead twitch and scream their way toward the office building that is producing the thunderous noise, a noise that echoes through a cityscape devoid of sound save the groaning corpses. I look down at the radio mic on my chest. Do I offer help? It is possible this lonely survivor is huddled in the corner counting their last bullets. Down to only four, what will they do when that fifth zombie ambles in? What if they have no food or water?
On the other hand, they could be laughing at the mindless bags of meat, cackling as they mete out ultimate death from their Winchester Rifle, one bullet at a time. Laughing as they engage in target practice, all the while flush with food and ammo. A crazed human who has begun to enjoy killing. Far more dangerous to me than any reanimated meat-sack.
Crack. Crack. Aw, fuck it! There's no way to know without trying. And without humanity, why live – right? I key the mic - “Hey. In the office building. I'm friendly and I'm happy to help. There's a lot of zombies headed toward your building. Are you friendly?” Silence. Then, Crack! Crack! Ok...well, they probably can't talk right now. So I wait. Every gunshot brings more hungry animals.
At that moment, a figure appears in the door to my room. Oh shit. Is it human? Fuck, that's never good. No wait, it's a zombie. And it doesn't yet seem aware of my presence. Slowly, it ambles into the room, twenty-five feet away from me. If I shoot it with the M16 in my hand, I’m dead. If I put down the M16 in deference to the quieter hatchet and then a human walks in (I did just announce myself to the person next door, remember?) I'm dead. Shit! M16 down, hatchet out. I cock back the hatchet and walk straight up to the single-minded eating machine that wants nothing more than to devour my very body. One step, two steps. I cock the hatchet back just that little bit more and, in one fluid motion., I bury it in his neck. Messy, but quit.
I don't celebrate, though. Not for one minute. I get no sense of satisfaction. There's no time. I back up in to the corner, secure my hatchet, and pick up my M16. Then I hear it again. Crack! Crack! But this time it is louder and it comes from about 300 yards in the other direction. The Zed turn in response to the new noise, like a group of children being called to dinner by their mothers, and they run. All at once they run toward the new sound. Good for the person in the office building, bad for the new guy. More importantly, however, is that his is very bad for me. Very, very bad. One person I can take in a fair fight. Two is a different story, especially in the middle of a city that is overrun with walkers. And humans are always worse than zombies. Don't ever forget that.
Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! It now comes from both locations and the zombies are running everywhere. Back and forth, it's like they can't decide which meal would be more tasty. Back and forth, they run, screaming that high-pitched scream of a dying animal, feral and desperate. Back and forth, they run, mindlessly responding to the sound of gunshots. Back and forth. But none to me. The fact that I am alone right now pounds into my head like so many throbbing headaches. My offers of help met with silence, there is no reason for me to announce myself further. I decide to let this play unfold without my participation. I watch, and listen, and hope, with my back to the wall, that no else appears in that doorway.
***Neotericity's story inspired me to write this, my first DayZ tale. It is about a solo session I had yesterday on Lingor Island. The photo above is not my screenshot, by the way. I'll try to use more of my own screenies in the future.***