Zombie Apocalypse 3: Ghost Territory by author Janet Tavakoli

Zombie Apocalypse 3: Ghost Territory

Prepared to Die

Wednesday, Month Four of the Z-Factor Outbreak, Two Weeks After Zbigniew Volkov’s Suicide

Fifteen Miles from Greenleaf, Virginia

Ashen-faced and tense, his brown eyes burning like coals under their black lashes, Barry Johnson glared at the strapping twenty-something gang leader and his four fellow hijackers. The lean 42-year-old truck driver warily scanned the highway. Three more hijackers stood beside his truck’s cab. Even more hijackers stood on each side of the road. In total, twenty men surrounded him.

Zombie Apocalypse 3: Ghost Territory by Janet Tavakoli writing as Michael K. Clancy

Barry’s stomach growled. He felt weak and lightheaded. He’d been on light rations for four days. Breakfast was a piece of hardtack. His pants, bought when he was fifteen pounds heavier, hung loosely around his legs. He straightened his creased and sweat-stained shirt. He stood with his shoulders back, fully erect. At least he would face them like a man.

The young adults looked well-fed. Their leader stood smirking at him on the blocked road.

“Give me my keys,” said Barry sharply. His heart pounded with fear he couldn’t quell. But he’d be damned if he’d show it. Desperation fueled his resolve. It was futile, but he would go down fighting.

The hijackers had stolen two food trucks in the past two days and murdered the drivers. Barry knew that when he volunteered for this food run. The people in his already hungry town were close to despair. They were low on ammunition, running out of money, and couldn’t spare any more barterable goods.

“You want your keys? Come and get them,” sneered the ringleader.

Barry eyed him with furious resentment. This is what the ringleader had done to the other drivers, his brave friends. This worthless oaf took delight in taunting his friends before shooting them in the head. Afterward, the hijackers flooded the road with zombies and left his friends’ remains to rot on the road.

After each hijacking, the men of Greenleaf fought zombie hordes to recover the half-eaten corpses of the slain truck drivers. They could not abandon their friends, even in death. They deserved a decent burial.

The ringleader’s physical strength, combined with his gang’s show of force, were his only advantages. The good men the hijackers had killed were superior in every way to their tormentors, except in numbers and physical strength. Their families needed them. Greenleaf needed them. Yet they were gone. And for what? So that these useless knuckle draggers could stuff their faces.

He was minutes from home. The hijackers had killed the other drivers five miles outside of town. Greenleaf changed tactics. The chief of police and three officers had planned to meet Barry ten miles outside of town and escort him in. But the hijackers anticipated the change and planned their hijacking further away from town. They highjacked Barry fifteen miles from Greenleaf.

The town didn’t have enough men for daily defense from zombies and criminals much less men to ride shotgun on the food trucks. Every food truck driver had a pistol and a rifle, but a lone driver was no match for this swarm. The good people of Greenleaf would perish. The dregs of humanity would survive.

“What are you waiting for?” said the ringleader. “Are you a coward like everyone else in Greenleaf? You shot a couple of my men in the chest before we pulled you out of the truck. Just for that, I won’t shoot you in the head. I’ll beat you until you can’t move. The zombies of the men you shot will eat your flesh while you’re still alive.”

The ringleader’s sneer widened. His eyes glowed with sadistic pleasure. The previous two drivers had surrendered, hoping they would merely be captured, not killed. The ringleader didn’t expect much of a fight from this forty-something scrawny man. The driver couldn’t be more than five feet eight inches tall. He’d enjoy beating the driver to a pulp.

The ferocity of Barry’s attack caught the ringleader off guard. Barry dealt his nose a savage blow. The young man stumbled back several paces, barely keeping his balance. His sneer vanished. His eyes welled with tears. The ringleader’s broken nose streamed blood along the corner of his mouth falling from his chin to his T-shirt in thick droplets.

The ringleader was a bully, but unlike most bullies, he was no coward. He didn’t buckle when someone stood up to him.

“Grab him!” he snarled to his men.

Two men grabbed for Barry’s arms. Barry struggled with all his might and landed five solid blows before they pinned his arms.

Barry’s heart pounded harder. Every fiber in his being rebelled at the injustice of his situation. He was terrified but determined not to cry out. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.

“I think I’ll start with a right hook.” The ringleader swiped his arm across his face wiping blood from his nose. He stared at the blood on his arm. He raised his head, looked at Barry with hate-filled eyes, and stepped forward.

Barry used all his remaining strength to try to break free. The men holding him tightened their grip. The young well-fed men were too strong.

He tensed, anticipating the first blow.