Cities of the Dead: Winters of Discontent

Cities of the Dead: Winters of Discontent by William Young Read Free Book Online

Book: Cities of the Dead: Winters of Discontent by William Young Read Free Book Online
Authors: William Young
Tags: Zombies, apocalypse, undead, walkers
was
hostile, but most were: nobody had anything and everybody was eager
to get something. And the zombies had nothing. Anybody still
counted as among the living had survived the Darwin cut and could
usually kill the undead without having to shoot them. Which was why
everyone trudging through the snowy forest today had a bow and a
blade in addition to a firearm.
    The four men worked through the
woods slowly, in a skirmish line with a hundred yards between them.
Mike and Pat were to Frank ’ s left, Will to his right. Frank
had met Mike and Pat in the fall when he and Will and parked the
aircraft and scouted the cottages along the Allegheny River near
the Kinzua Dam. They had wanted to find someplace to lodge for the
winter that wasn ’ t too close to a town. Population centers attracted the
undead, requiring keeping watches during the night which neither of
them enjoyed. But, they also wanted to be close enough that they
could go into it and forage. There was still plenty of canned goods
in household pantries, and you never knew what other useful stuff
you could turn up. Stores, on the other hand, had largely been
denuded of everything edible by the end of the first year. He had
learned that lesson hard when they had tried a raid into Pittsburgh
and lost everyone except Olandis from their original
group.
    Neither Frank nor Will had been
hunters before the end times. They had had to teach themselves
everything Mike and Pat had learned from their fathers. Over beers,
Frank and Will had occasionally talked about learning how to hunt,
but skirt-chasing had always taken precedence. After the last few
years of doing it, Frank now knew he didn ’ t like hunting,
didn ’ t like the
long hours of searching, tracking, waiting. Fishing was even worse.
He wanted the old world back, his old life back, his wife back. He
wanted to sit on a bar stool with Will and merrily complain about
married life and then switch gears to what it would like to be a
dad.
    Frank stopped in the snow and
stared at nothing, realizing his mind had wandered back to the
past. What had happened, had happened, and nothing was going to
change that. He lived in a cottage in the woods alongside the
Kinzua River with a girlfriend and his best friend. They could both
die today. He could die today. The past and everything in it was
irrelevant. Yesterday wouldn ’ t save him if he stumbled upon a
lurker zombie covered in the snow. Tomorrow didn ’ t exist. Today was life, and he
was in the Allegheny National Forest hunting with a bow, not
sitting in his office at the bank processing mortgages and
investment accounts.
    An hour later he heard
Will ’ s P90 fire
once. Twice. Three times. Then repeatedly, the reports nearing him.
Frank unslung his shotgun and took a knee, looking through the
flurries for a sign of his friend. Will had taken to wearing a
white cloak over his clothing so that he could blend into the snow
more easily. Frank ’ s radio crackled to life.
    “ What the hell is
Will shooting at? ” asked
Mike over the walkie.
    Everybody knew the sounds of
everybody else ’ s weapon. Mike had a Winchester .308 that boomed, Pat had
an AR-15 that kapowed, Frank ’ s shotgun kabloomed, and
Will ’ s P90 went
pow.
    Frank clicked his walkie, “ I don’ t
know, but he ’ s
sure as shit going through his magazine in a
hurry. ”
    A half-dozen more shots rang out in the
distance and then the snow fallen world fell silent, again. Frank
ran his eyes back and forth through the woods, trying to find
something that would make sense of the sudden eruption of gunfire
from Will.
    “ Hey, Will, you
listening to this freq? ” Frank said into the walkie. They were all on the same
frequency, so if Will were still alive, he ’ d have heard what he had just
said to Mike. “ Click if you
have to. ”
    Nothing.
    “ Will, are you
out there? Can you read me? ” Frank
said.
    Nothing. Minutes went by. Frank
raised his hand to his forehead and dragged it down over his eyes
and

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