The mist settled in and soon the compound was hidden from any prying eyes. The Captain rummaged among the rags and equipment until he withdrew a rifle. It was old and it took me a while to recognize the make. It was a Russian. Immediately I knew it was the rifle that the recruit was talking about. It didn't matter now, it was the Captains. What he laid his hands on belonged to him, be it the trigger of a gun or your throat.
I followed him outside with my own rifle. Unlike the old veteran I was still an active soldier. Although, in these times, what's the point of stripes on our shoulders? We were both men in a world that wanted us dead. The undead trying to purge all life and we fell smack dab in the middle of that category. It was uncomfortable position, but it was the position we were stuck in, so there was no use complaining.
We climbed up the stairs of the compound and stared over the wall into the mist. We were the last ones left. Last nights attack took the greatest toll. It reached the point where we would waste a whole day digging graves, so instead a blanket and nod was all we gave to honor the fallen. That and a bullet to the brain. However, that's something we try not to remember. We had enough problems to keep our mind occupied.
"I reckon these are our last hours," the old man said loading the rifle. "Best make your peace now, son."
"If it's all the same to you, I'm going to try to extend that deadline," I told the Captain. He grunted a small laugh, still with some edge to his gruffness.
Hours did past and the sun began to settle. Mist cleared slowly and we began to see further. I saw slumped figures shuffle among the highway pillars. They had gotten close, but we still had time make an escape if we needed to. I looked at the old man and realized that wasn't his plan if the worst case scenario came to fruition. I would be lying if I said I didn't care. I respected the old guy, but I wasn't going to die for him either.
The zombies would have caught scent of us by now and would start making their way towards the compound. Sure enough, as the mist drifted away we saw the edge of the horde, walking in our direction. The horde would collect the stragglers between us and them, making their numbers grow faster than we can put them down.
I no longer saw a point in waiting for them. I propped myself into a shooting position on the wall and shot round after round into the mass. Bodies fell, but the sea of evil didn't seem to subside. Night was coming, so I best make my shots count. Soon the veteran was helping me. It was a futile effort, but the more we dropped the better we felt. It felt like payback for all our losses.
My rifle clicked noticeably, signaling the last clip emptying. There were guns on the wall from the other soldiers and as disrespectful as it was, we needed them now. Hundreds had fallen before they reached the gate. The old man was panting with anger. We had finally used up the last of the ammunition and now we waited for the zombies to force their way in. The Russian kid had a plan for this. I jogged along the edge till I found the gasoline container.
Jogging back I saw the veteran was weeping. I ignored the fool and began to empty the contents of the container over the zombies heads that batted against the gate. There was so much, enough to keep a car going for a long while in these times, but this was a last stand. The Captain quietened when he understood what I was doing. Reaching into the folds of his jacket he withdrew a lighter and held it out towards me.
"Do you want to spend you last moments like that or do you want to spend them fighting?" I asked him, not taking the lighter.
He stared at me with red eyes, but the message hit home. He flicked the lighter into life and held it above the zombies heads. He dropped it and soon waves of monsters groaned as their bodies burned. The combination of fire and decay did their work and the bodies broke and crumpled to the ground.
The Captain walked away as I watched the zombies fall. He returned with a Jerry-can in each hand.
"Let's see how long we can keep them burning."
The answer was, 'long enough for help to arrive.' Another squadron arrived to find hundreds of bodies, burnt or shot up littering the outside of the compound while two soldiers stood on top of the wall, smoking the last pack of cigarettes and drinking the last few bottles of booze. That day wasn't our last day, but it would have been if we had no reason to fight. We fought for the ones we lost and the guilt we felt for not being able to protect them. We fought for redemption.
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