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Tastingashes
November 6th, 2010, 08:19 PM
This is a piece I have been working on since May of this year. Any and all comments or criticisms welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider.
-Nathan

Prologue
(Didn't you hear me tapping...?)

It's dark and quiet in the hallways of Columbus University, the kind of hollow silence that takes on a menacing presence when experienced alone. No footsteps echo here, everyone has gone home and off to better things for the weekend. Even during the days it's mostly vacant around the Lab buildings, summertime of 2010 is obviously meant for bigger and better pursuits than dusty books and even dustier professors.
There is a static feel to the air however, rogue electrons tearing around chaotically and lending a jittery charge to the building's interior. Were there any insects here in this sterile, man-made environment, they would have gone silent as well.

The Soldier stationed quietly outside laboratory "C" has hunkered down for the night, alert despite the copy of Maxim propped in his lap. A cup of coffee has long gone cold beside him, forgotten thanks largely to this "swim-suit" edition. Body Armor is quite a pain in the ass when worn in the humid Georgia summer be it night or day; he has discarded this, against regulations of course.
Some nagging thought or small noise pulls the young man's eyes up from the scantily clad pages in his lap. Something mundane has changed here, and only his jangling nerves (shitty day old coffee!) would have ever noticed it.
He shifts uncomfortable in the crap-ass metal chair and begins to write off the goose-bumps on his arms to imagination. That is when his mind finally locks onto the obvious.

Humming.

Vague and electrical to his ears, It's not actually silence he is listening to anymore. More out of boredom than duty he stands and stretches thinking a short walk will help keep him awake.
Forgetting his flak vest completely, the soldier hauls the rifle up on his shoulder with a huge, jaw-cracking yawn. A patrol would definitely do the trick.
Dark-soled boots make little sound as he treads softly down the mind-numbing white-on-white corridors. He can't help but think working here would drive a sane person psychotic in a very short while, with the endless hallways and florescent lighting...

A light mechanical clicking halts him in his tracks.

Instinctual dread and panic flood into him suddenly and for no apparent reason. His knuckles go white against the dark stock of his rifle and he feels a bead of sweat slide down his chest beneath his uniform.
"Get a hold of yourself.. Jesus!" the soldier thinks, breathing shallow and swallowing acidic-tasting saliva back down his throat. His hands don't want to ease their grip and tremble mightily at the effort.
An unexplained fear continues to seep through his body despite his senses reporting no threat. Something primal, some fear burned deep into his ancestor's genetics long ago and handed down through time has taken hold in the soldier's mind.
Heart beating wildly, the soldier chambers a round with extremities felt numbly.
The HUM has grown louder. No, the HUM.. has grown...deeper.

For a brief moment the florescent lights flicker on, rings of electrically charged light flow up and down each tube, dancing madly back and forth. The soldier gazes intently at these, weapon forgotten in hand and pupils dilated fully.
A slim trail of drool makes it's way down his lips and onto his chin, the HUM consumes all thought, all attention.
The radio-whine of static from his belt jolts him badly, he realizes with a start; He is no longer in a hallway, he is in a room.
He can't remember his name exactly, his head ripples with sharp and immediate pain.

Looming before the soldier is a huge machine, like something conjured directly from the science fiction movies he used to watch as a child. Taking up the entire colossal room he stands in, this thing, this abomination (He wonders at that...where did that come from?) literally vibrates all around him. Large metal columns stand in each corner, each covered in esoteric lights and strange dials he cannot begin to fathom.
He vaguely recalls an open door behind him, a look over his shoulder confirms the remains of that door and it's frame. Mostly splinters now.
With a disembodied feel, he looks down at his hand and sees blood mixed with splinters.
"This can't be right" he mutters through thickened, slurring lips.

Another static whine at his belt makes him jump and fumble at his radio (Hand should hurt, he thinks distantly) which is now bleating some garbled words at him.
"Johnson...Goddammit Johnson ...What are you DOING?" comes out of the strange device, the soldier turns his head sideways quizzically at it. Who is Johnson?
Interestingly enough, his sticky red thumb depresses a button on the device and he hears a strange, guttural voice talking from somewhere nearby.

"I have an armed intruder in Lab C, The accelerator has been fired. Send back-up immediately."

Losing interest in the buzzing voice coming from the box in his hand, the soldier gazes dumbly into the center of the room, where two large cylinders leveled horizontally from opposite walls point directly at each other, like two gunfighters drawing down on each other.

The HUM is all around him now, caressing his skin like a rape victim's last breath. He just has time to wonder at that thought when a strange black...emptiness forms between those gunfighter's barrels. A shadow with no source grows there, consuming the feeble light around the dumbfounded soldier and gently pulling the breath out of his lungs.
He watches, amazed, as his breath leaves his body with a deep sighing heave. Visible now, due to the mist forming in it from the bitter cold he is only just now feeling. Sudden and severe cramps double the young man over and bring him to his knees before the HUM (no..the machine...?)

Loud and ugly retching noises fill the air and he barely realizes that they are coming from HIM.
How can he vomit (blood???) he thinks dully, when he is so damned HUNGRY.
Ignoring the horror on the ground before him (Is that HIS blood?) he turns dizzily to see three uniformed men crash through what is left of the door and into the room behind him, all with weapons up and seeking targets.

The soldier watches distantly... the nightmare unfolds quickly around him.

The older of the three soldiers, the one to his left, clutches his head and screams a high and pitched undulating cry as he drops his rifle and staggers left, directly into the soldier in the center who has gone down on one knee and opened fire, aiming madly at the shadows in the center of the room.
Loud bursts of gunfire shatter the cocoon of numbness around the soldier as fire blooms in his hands. Eyes rolling in his head, he scrambles to his his feet and for the first time feels the blood flowing down his face from his eyes.
A humming noise vibrates his body and blurs his vision and he struggles to keep upright. More gunfire erupts around him, making him focus on his squad, his friends, going ape-shit near the doorway. Confusion reigns, his mind is dead-locked with terror as he watches his sergeant blow a hole through Findley's chest... (He graduated top-honors with Findley...)
Findley doesn't even blink however, he continues snarling and choking the life out of the Sarg...
It is Harker who actually draws his attention though, Harker who is the biggest gaming geek slash college nerd he has ever met. The man has his crucifix out from under his flak vest and is actually kneeling to pray!

(Is that blood in Harker's eyes?)

Hungry.

The young soldier blinks rapidly as he looks down and finds his thumbs buried in Harker's eye-sockets, the even younger soldier gibbers in pain and terror, blood and warm gore slide down the soldier's hands. Harker's fists beat a feeble rhythm on his chest as the last shots ring out. Someone is screaming nearby (Why does his throat hurt?).

Other than the over-powering HUM vibrating all around, only the wet sounds of eating can be heard in the twisting shadows of Laboratory "C".



{Copyright:Nathan Davis 2010}
YouTube - TastingAshes's Channel (http://www.youtube.com/TastingAshes)

shraga
November 7th, 2010, 10:22 AM
No footsteps echo here, everyone has gone home and off to better things for the weekend. Even during the days it's mostly vacant around the Lab buildings, summertime of 2010 is obviously meant for bigger and better pursuits than dusty books and even dustier professors.

Repeating yourself in the first paragraph is not a good sign of what's to come.


There is a static feel to the air however, rogue electrons tearing around chaotically and lending a jittery charge to the building's interior. Were there any insects here in this sterile, man-made environment, they would have gone silent as well. Not quite sure what is going on here. These sentences are poorly constructing and extremely out of place


and swallowing acidic-tasting saliva back down his throat We know where he swallows, no reason to reiterate.


Heart beating wildly, the soldier chambers a round with extremities felt numbly Nothing here makes sense. You don't "chamber a round" and i am not sure what you mean by the latter part of the sentence.


The HUM is all around him now, caressing his skin like a rape victim's last breath. Disturbing, and not quite sure how a last breath caresses a person's skin


emptiness forms between those gunfighter's barrels. What gunfighter? What barrels?


How can he vomit (blood???) he thinks dully, when he is so damned HUNGRY Is there a connection between these two things?


his friends, going ape-shit near the doorway. really? maybe not the best literary term


hole through Findley's chest... (He graduated top-honors with Findley...) I would find a better way to introduce this character maybe hav them on guard duty together in the beginning, build some reader sympathy if you want us to care


If I understand correctly, this must be the beginning of a zombie story.
The story itself seems a little sloppy. You may be overdoing it with your simile's, don't try so hard.
Let it flow more naturally, connect us with the characters if you want us to care that they die, maybe make the first guy vegetarian to show us how this "machine" made him go against his own nature.

Good luck

Tastingashes
November 7th, 2010, 07:31 PM
Very good points, thank you for your help here. Should I continue posting sections of this story here? Or would that be considered rude? I am still learning proper decorum here.

Tastingashes
November 16th, 2010, 12:04 AM
Chapter 1 (Damnation, he reflected, is but a word)

Blood and bites, they all said early on. It spreads from being bitten or bled on. That became our gospel quickly, at least it was until we learned differently the hard way.
I think, in retrospect, that bit of misinformation cost more lives than all the military's "Sanitation" missions...

Seemed pretty simple, you get a bite or scratch and you're a goner. Get blood in a wound or eyeball, same thing;Meat-Popsicle. All the movies had that part right... especially the Flu-like symptoms that set in so fast. Some of the shit I've seen still makes my hair stand on end, and I haven't even gotten around to the Crazies yet!
What feels like a million years since the Shit Hit The Fan officially, is in reality less than three days. The University is where the first outbreak started, I know that much. What confuses things from there where the massive power fluctuations that followed....no not outages either, I mean fluctuations. Every light in the city of Columbus must have come online at once, like some falsetto super-nova at 3 a.m.
Ever heard of The Devil's Hour? Guess that's another superstition validated.
Next came Fort Benning itself, and brother let me tell you, we proud men of that former military base didn't put near as much of a fight as we wanted too. Not even close.

Hard to fight your friends and family... More so when they are running at you full tilt screaming blood and trailing their own intestines everywhere.

Thank god for the NATSAT early warning sirens at least. Without Uncle Sam's star piece of tax-dollar gadgetry the base would have vanished without a shot being fired. I will never forget those two Holocaust hours spent in muzzle-flashes and bloody, acrid smoke. Sleep doesn't come much these few days since and when it does, I'm right back in the barracks yelling noiselessly in the roar of gunfire and murder. Nothing like fighting the living dead in your boxers to mess with your dreams huh?
Goddamn I need a smoke.
What's left of the base is pretty much unrecognizable now. Last good look I got at it was day before, and it's just a giant charred crater now. I heard a lot of gossip about the HAMMER Protocols, in case an enemy captures sensitive information/equipment/personnel (Oh yes, I said personnel). I had just never given it much credit...or even thought.
Two hours into an uncontainable outbreak and the men-in-charge brought the HAMMER directly down on our asses. So I am inclined to give it a little more credit now, if only a little.
My vision came back within a few minutes after the first soundless flash explosion, minutes that seemed to stretch on into hours. Being the heroic fucking soldier that I am, I happened to be exiting stage left from that hopeless carnage (After finding some pants, naturally). The burns stretching across my back and shoulders however, nice and raw.

Who knows, maybe it helped slow them down some, God knows we desperately needed something on our side. I can't help but wonder how bad the University went down, I know we had a contingent stationed there. Lindsey, the hot little olive-skinned number tagging along with us now was a student from over there. So we have a little sketchy information. Can you believe she came to the Base when everyone started tearing each other apart on campus?
From what little we have gotten out her, I'm thinking we dropped the bombs on the wrong area.
However bad we had it, the University was worse, nightmares made flesh there. Seems we had more of the Crazies happen to us, which why it took the powers that be two hours to unleash hell on one of our own Bases.

Zombie motherfucking central at CSU.

It's kinda like every horror movie you've ever seen coming to life funnily enough, these things shamble and moan just like you would think. Others, they run man, and FAST. The very first one I saw was like that, covered in gore and gone berserk. She was one of us too, still in full BDU's with a rifle slung across her back completely forgotten. She beat the barracks door to shit in a matter of minutes and promptly tore it off by the hinges before marathon running straight at us.
We must have put 40 or 50 rounds into her before Ronald capped her in the forehead with a luck shot. She just kept coming and getting back up and snarling some kind of gibberish at us. A fly on the wall might have laughed at that sight, 5 grown men in various states of dress backing up in full retreat from a single female (technically unarmed) always back-peddling with intermittent 3 round bursts..

I remember a lot of twitching though, like her body still wanted to come at us, maybe just the ol' imagination taking over in shock.

Ronald was the first to notice the HUM too, we were just standing there in the dark listening to distant gunfire and sirens. None of us had it in us to speak, we stared dumbly at the corpse undulating with spasms at our feet when he looked up and around.
"That's the damnedest noise..." He muttered thickly.

It was then I saw his eyes glaze over, pupils first going to slits in a snake-like fashion and then dilating fully until no iris remained. I can't get those black eyes out of my head either.
Don't get me wrong here, I like Ronald, He was a good guy to have around, but I knew somehow, Ronald just wasn't home anymore. On some base level I heard the HUM too, like a static chalkboard being pulled across every nerve ending. I was too busy being terrified of my former friend to process it just then.
Of all the creepy things he could have done just then, Ronald just started laughing. Full-on gales of laughter that echoed in the narrow barracks-room, it wasn't the contagious type either, none of us found anything remotely funny in that hollow, booming sound issuing from Ronnie's throat.

As we all spread out back and around our friend (thank you basic training) I noticed some strange flickering lights outside, like heat-lighting off of the Florida coastline at night, it was beautiful in a scary way. I had enough sense to keep eyes on Ronald who ignored us completely, he knelt down to the woman's corpse...and just stuck his hands inside of her. Nothing fancy mind you, he actually grabbed inside of her with his hands.
Now my pal Ronald isn't a very big guy, he wasn't the weight lifting type, but once he had a grip on whatever it was in her chest...well.. he stood up and Lifted her over his head, still laughing as her blood dripped down his face and slid down his pale arms.

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Copyright Nathan Davis 2010
YouTube - TastingAshes's Channel (http://www.youtube.com/TastingAshes)