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Friday, November 27, 2015

ZOMBIES - 'We're Alive' Fan Fiction - Chapter 6 - HIGHWAY 80

Here's the lowdown.

A few years back, I was commissioned to write a story for the 'We're Alive' podcast.

Long story short, it didn't pan out.

But I spent a very long time writing it for it to languish in my computer.  I spent that time not only writing it for the 'We're Alive' folks, but mostly for my readers.

So what I've decided to do is publish my initial story here, via my blog, as a work of FAN FICTION, a completely unofficial piece about a character from the series.  This is completely unofficial and unauthorized, but I think my work and time spent on this project deserve to see the light of day.

I would like to encourage everyone who might enjoy this fan fiction to check out the officials 'We're Alive' website HERE.  It is a fantastic and well-developed world created by a group of professional writers and expert voice actors.  

In the meantime, here's the completlely unofficial, unauthorized 'We're Alive' fan fiction, originally entitled (WORKING TITLE:  BURT)

BY

BOWIE V. IBARRA

From an idea from the creators of the
“WE’RE ALIVE” podcast
  

Copyright 2011 PRODUCERS OF “WE’RE ALIVE” PODCAST, BOWIE V. IBARRA

CHAPTER 6 - HIGHWAY 80

             It was clearly a gunshot.
Actually, a more apt description would be gunshots.  Plural.
When you fight in war and then spend time in civilian life, it’s easy to distinguish a gunshot from a car backfiring, or other city sound that might be confused with gunfire.  It crackles like a spark.  It rattles the air.  It pulses through the human heart, as if the powerful muscle could feel the gunshot’s deadly potential.
The same deadly potential, however, has another side.  While a fired bullet can be used for assault, for crime, for gain, it can also be used for defense, for food, for preservation.  The only problem is the neutrality of the sound of the gunfire.  A firearm shouts the same cry of power every time it is fired.
Burt could determine the firearm used.  He could not determine why it was used.  The reports surprised him enough to pause the movie and step to the nearby window.  Dangerous, sure, but Burt was curious.  He also needed to know if a threat was on the way.  If it was, he needed to be ready.
Burt pushed the end of one of the blinds down, giving him just enough of a view to look out on the parking lot below.
Two guys had just blasted another guy in the face.  They then ran to yet another person that was crouched over on the ground.  This man was struggling with another person who was lying on his back.  The two strangers who had just mugged the other guy and shot him in the face ran to the struggle.  One guy kicked the man that was on top off of the man on the ground like a kickoff at a Giants vs. Cowboys game.  The guy’s head flicked upwards, and he tumbled off the person he had been assaulting.  The two guys then opened fire, blasting the kicked man in the face and putting him down for good.
“What the hell?” groaned Burt.
The two guys then helped the other man on the ground.  They lifted him up and started running away.  The guy that was attacked held his shoulder.  Burt could see blood.
Must have been stabbed or something, thought Burt, trying to make sense of the circumstance.  There’s no way in hell I’m going out there with those crazy bastards.
The bleeding guy was having a hard time keeping up, but eventually disappeared around a corner, following the others.
Burt let the small strip of the blind flick back into place.  He’d seen enough.
What the hell is eating this city? he asked himself.  “Just another day in Montebello,” he said. 
Moving back to his seat again, he took the movie off of pause.
There was Max.  Mad Max.  The Road Warrior.  He’d done his job.  He delivered the big diesel rig for the survivors.  He fulfilled his contract.  He was an honorable man.  All he wanted now was to get his gas and leave.
But now Papagallo wanted him to stay.  The wounded leader tried to coax the recluse of the wasteland to help.  The conversation would not end well.  Burt knew it.  The moment in the movie took on a new meaning since the day he reached a breaking point years ago during his time in Desert Storm, near the Kuwait-Iraq border.

“Did you hear?”
“Hear what?”
“They made Sgt. Slaughter a bad guy.”
Gunnery Sergeant Burt Scott was sitting in a tent, awaiting orders from his superiors.  Burt was the leader of one division of artillery support.  He was sitting with one of his team members who was talking his ear off.
“You mean wrestling?  Pro-wrestling?” asked Burt.
“Yeah.  They made Sgt. Slaughter a bad guy.”
“You said that.  Look, Pvt. Keith.  I don’t watch pro-wrestling.  It’s phony.”
“No, it’s real, sir,” Keith insisted.  “I seen Jerry Lawler fight Harley Race back home in Little Rock.  They were bleedin’ from their heads.”
“Keith, you’re an idiot, you know that, right?” said Burt.
“No.  Listen,” said Keith, continuing his story as if Burt never said a word against the topic or him.  “Sgt. Slaughter is with the Iraqis now.  He came out with the Iran Shiek.”
“You mean the Iron Shiek?” asked Burt.  He didn’t watch wrestling, but he was familiar with some of the characters.
“No,” said Keith, clearly getting worked up with excitement.  “He’s the Iran Shiek.  But now, he’s Col. Mustafa.”
Burt was wishing he had a beer.  “Oh, okay.”  It just wasn’t worth the energy to talk with Keith.
“Anyway, Sgt. Slaughter, he’s a bad guy.”
“Oh, really?” said Burt.  “I think you said that already.”
“Yeah.  I don’t like him anymore,” said Keith.  “My daddy used to like him.  But he don’t like him now, neither.”
“That’s great, Keith,” said Burt.
And then, silence.
It was clear Pvt. Keith had something to say that he thought was important.  He spoke his mind plainly.  And then that was it.  It was so peculiar to Burt that he turned and looked quizzically at Pvt. Keith.  It was like he was talking to himself, something totally different now occupying his mind.  And it was also obvious Pvt. Keith was totally unaware of Burt staring at him.
Jesus Christ, thought Burt.  Good thing I’m retiring.  These soldiers are getting dumber and dumber as the years go by.
“Gunney?” came a voice.  Burt turned to see a female soldier, the runner for the commanding officer of the base, at the mouth of the tent.  “They’re ready for you.”
“Thank God,” muttered Burt as he followed the private out of the tent to the officer’s location.
Entering the makeshift room made of a heavy canopy and tent curtains, Burt saluted the officers and took a seat along with the other team leaders and commanding officers.
Burt wasn’t much for the formalities.  And, as usual, his bad attitude never sat well with the officers. 
“Good to have you, Gunney Grouchy,” said Captain Peterson.
“Don’t try to kiss me after the meeting again, Peterson,” said Burt with a contemptuous smile.  “I’ll tell Norman.”
Peterson smiled.  He knew better than to continue in a cutdown contest with Sgt. Scott.
The officers started the strategy session, passing on what they wanted each team to do.  Then it was Burt’s turn to be told his team’s strategy.  Things were about to go downhill fast.
“Gunney,” said Peterson, “We’ve got you covering Highway 80.  The enemy is using the highway to escape out of Kuwait City.  At 0900 hours, I want you and your boys to send that highway to hell.”
It was a simple command.  It would be no problem figuring the coordinates.  But then a cruel complication fell on Burt’s mind.
Burt stood up to look at the map spread out before the group on the table.  His fear was confirmed.
“Sir, this is Highway 80, correct?” he asked, indicating the road on the map.
“That’s right, Scott,” said Peterson, looking to make sure the road Burt was indicating was the same one.  “Is there a problem?” asked Peterson with suspicion.
“Sir, highway 80 is one of the major highways out of Kuwait.”
“That’s right,” said Peterson, anticipating the direction of the conversation.  “We need you to hit it with your artillery team.  Was that not made clear?”
“It’s clear, sir,” said Burt.  “But that’s also a civilian highway,” said Burt, looking back at Peterson with disappointment.  Burt already knew what the answer was going to be.
“Is there a problem with the order, Gunney?” asked Peterson, standing up straight and putting his hands on his hips.  He suddenly reminded Burt of Mr. Baines back in high school.  Like Baines, Peterson expected everything he said to be obeyed.  Burt felt an immediate contempt.  This was cruelty at its height, but that was the true meaning of war.
Burt knew he was not going to get his way. But just like he’d given his enemies over the years in combat, he was going to give his superiors hell for using the strategy.
“The problem is that it’s a civilian highway,” Burt replied, repeating his stance.  “Is this whole plan your idea?”
“This strategy comes straight from the general,” said Peterson with authority.
Burt was surprised.  It was a ruthless strategy.  But it was war.
“So ‘Stormin’ Norman’ wants to blast 80, huh?”
“That’s right, Gunney.”
Peterson grinned devilishly.  Burt saw it, and a surge of hate grew in his heart.
With all that being clear, it still didn’t sit well with Burt.
“I don’t like it,” said Burt, plainly.
“We’re not paying you to like it,” said Peterson.
“There’s got to be another way,” replied Burt, shaking his head.
“And we’re not paying you to think, either.  We’re paying you to do what you’re told.”
It’s Baines all over again, thought Burt. 
Peterson sensed an escalation to the discussion.  So he dismissed everyone.
“Gentlemen, you have your orders.  Everyone is dismissed
except you, Gunney.”
Being singled out did not make Burt happy.  Whatever was happening was not going to be any fun.
“What kind of Marine are you?” asked Peterson.  “You’ve served the corps proudly for over twenty years.  And now you don’t want to play war anymore?”
“Don’t question my devotion to our corps, Peterson,” said Burt with a sharp edge.  The moment was intensifying.  Their powerful energy was charging the space.
“If you don’t go out there and do as you’re commanded to do, then I will question your devotion, Gunney.  Never in my life have…”
“No preaching, Peterson,” groaned Burt, waving Peterson off with a smug frown.
“No, Scott.  You will listen to me,” said Peterson, moving closer to Burt.  “Never in my life have I met a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps who suddenly became so chicken-hearted in battle that he didn’t do what he was ordered to do.”
Burt could feel the energy of their space change.  A psychic wave of anger washed over him, charging his body right down to his fingertips.  He knew exactly where this conversation was now heading.  So he made an effort to stop it. 
“Don’t say it, Peterson,” said Burt, shaking his head.
“You know what you are, Gunney?”
“Don’t you say it, Peterson,” warned Burt yet again.  His anger was turning to rage.
“I’m going to say it, Scott, because you need to hear it.”
            Their negative energy had grown wild like a grass fire in the summertime.
“Don’t do it,” said Burt, plainly.
Peterson smiled like a diabolical villain in a melodrama.  “You’re a goddamn disgrace, Gunney.”
Arrogance is not the word for it.  Officers have expectations.  And 99.9% of the time, the expectations are met.  When they are not met, people are verbally reprimanded.  Dressed down.  Then the matter is resolved.
Never does an officer expect to get punched by their charges.  That’s the expectation. 
Today, when Burt punched Captain Peterson in the mouth, it was a very, very rare exception.
Peterson was not a total pussy, even though many thought he was.  He fired back with a punch of his own, taking Burt by surprise.  Before long, they were rolling across the sandy floor.  Punching, gouging, and striking like pitbulls in a dog fight.  They rolled out of the tent to a surprised bunch of soldiers.
Lt. Kent, who was in the briefing and anticipated this, held the others back.  “Let them sort this out, boys.”
Private Keith was also present.  “Boston Crab,” he shouted.  “Put him in a Boston Crab.”
Burt and Peterson punched and kicked their way back into the tent.
“Gunney could have put him in a Boston Crab,” said Keith to Kent.  “It would have been over.”
In the tent, Peterson judo-tossed Burt over his shoulder and through the table.  The throw sent pencils and paper into the air.  Peterson was surprised when Burt brought him to the sandy floor with a toe-hold.  It was such a surprise to Peterson that when Burt executed a sweet float-over into a side headlock, Peterson was stuck.
Burt squeezed Peterson’s head, growling, “I’ll give the command, Peterson.  But when I get out of his sandy shithole, you sign my honorable discharge papers.”
Peterson didn’t want to honor the request.  But in the end, Burt was going to follow orders after all.  That’s all that mattered.
“Deal,” groaned Peterson.  “Now, let me go!”
Burt released the hold.
The two Marines picked themselves off and dusted their uniforms off.
Peterson extended his hand.  “You’re a real sonovabitch, Gunney.  You know that, right?”
“That I am,” said Burt, reluctantly taking Peterson’s hand.  Before he released his hand, he had one last thing to say.  “Honor your word.”
“As long as you honor yours,” said Peterson.
Burt walked out of the tent to give the command to his artillery force.
Private Keith followed close behind.
“Hey, Gunney,” said Keith.  “You should have put him in a Boston Crab.”
======


Check out the 'We're Alive' podcast HERE...

Network with Bowie and find his other titles at his official website, ZBFbooks.com.

For the full scoop on the story, join the official ZBFbooks.com Facebook group HERE.

2 comments:

  1. I've been waiting to read this for a long time!

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