The Graveyard Tales

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Chapter 42

The Graveyard Tales

Chapter Forty Two: Surveying His Kingdom

"Report, lieutenant?"

The officer looked up from the printout he held. "General, sir, London is firmly under our control. The undead have been wiped out, and all entrances into the city have been barricaded. Those freaks'll need a fucking Blitzkrieg to get back in. We've collected all useful supplies and stored them in several different locations. We've got snipers positioned all over the city, and gun emplacements have been established as well. Nothing's getting in without us knowing about it, and once we do, they'll be wiped out within minutes."

"Good, very good. And the insurgents?"

The lieutenant took a few minutes to confer over the radio with units in the field. The insurgents had proven hard to dislodge, using the abandoned buildings as an endless supply of bases. Dealing with the undead had taken all the military's time and effort, and only now where they getting around to the human problem.

"As of now they seem to have split into four units, hitting our boys at several different targets. They're small and lightly armed, which makes them harder to track down. These guys aren't stupid."

The general narrowed his eyes at the junior officer. "Is that a professional opinion, lieutenant?"

The question implied that the wrong answer would result in a long hike minus any weapons. Possibly while blindfolded and doused in blood. "No, no sir, just an observation. These clowns don't have the firepower to kick us loose. Best they can do is harass us."

Another officer placed a report at the general's table, leaving quickly so as not to become a new focal point for his anger. He glanced at the report and then back at the lieutenant. "According to this, these 'clowns,' better known as the London Revolutionaries, have caused the deaths of fifty-eight of your fellow soldiers, blown up two ammo dumps and sabotaged seven of our vehicles. Given that we're operating with a strict limit of men and material, even the smallest group of insurgents can do significant damage."

The lieutenant turned pale as he heard the news. The general wasn't inclined to failure, and seemed to have a preference for the method of punishment favored by Stalin, despite the heinous lack of foresight this implied. Second chances weren't exactly in large supply.

Looking up from the report, the general turned to his subordinate. "So the question to you, lieutenant, is what we're going to do about this. And when I say we, I do mean you."

"I...sir, that is..." the younger officer quaked, unable to form a complete sentence, much less an intelligent strategy. Around the room, other officers glanced in his direction, then quickly back to their work.

"Might I make a suggestion?" offered the general, to which the lieutenant nodded vigorously. "You double your patrols, you tighten your security, and if one more act of aggression is perpetrated by these limey fucks, I will personally carve the name of the soldiers they've killed into your hide. All fifty-eight of them."

The lieutenant nodded, saluted, and walked out of the room as fast as he could. General Archibald Transon nodded to himself and worked his way through the rest of the reports on his desk. It had been awhile since he occupied another country. He'd forgotten how much paperwork was involved. But in the end, it was worth it. Operation New Shores was long overdue.

Shortly after The Great Exhumation, the allies of the U.S. were simultaneously struck with a strong sense of self-preservation. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of America, now known as The Graveyard. Naval blockades were formed and borders manned with entire armies in an attempt to keep the zombies firmly locked within America's borders.

Transon, a four-star general with a collection of medals as long as his arm, watched as one by one his strategies failed and armies fell. Tanks became surrounded by the walking dead, leaving the crews stranded and facing the choice of death by starvation or a Baretta. Bombing raids became next to impossible when your foe covered entire landscapes. In the end, a fighting retreat was the most Transon could accomplish, making his way to the Rockies, and temporary safety. All the while, he never stopped thinking about the supposed allies who had left his nation to rot.

Time passed, and Transon began to assemble his forces, those he knew would support his plans and wouldn't question his orders. And while his ranks swelled, he crafted his strategy. At first, he intended to retake the United States, but in time, he decided a new tactic was called for. So he swung his gaze abroad, to a new land.

The greatest fear of the countries across the sea was that the undead would one day find their way to their shores. After all, when your heart resembles a dried prune, drowning is hardly a concern. But it was believed that the mindless ghouls were no match for a naval blockade and constant armed patrols. Those few zombies who did make their way across the seas were quickly reduced to greasy smears. But the tricky part about any foolproof plan, is there's always a backdoor.

That door took the form of a variety of naval transport vessels equipped for stealth missions. Transon decided that rather waste what little resources he had left on what was likely a waste of his time, he'd direct them towards a new target, one that in his opinion was more than due for some payback. The ships were loaded with undead and slipped across the seas under cover of night. Once on their new shores, the ghouls spread and multiplied, creating chaos and tying up the forces of the foreign nations.

Doors open, welcome in, Americans.

So busy where they trying to stem the tide of the living dead, Transon was able to slip more transports, this time with breathing soldiers, to these foreign shores to surreptitiously take over cities, bases, and establish fortifications. London was now his, and Australia was flying the red, white and blue. Japan was a total loss following the detonation of every nuclear warhead in their arsenal, but it also meant that a major threat had been averted. He counted that as a win.

But there was still so much work to be done, and as he stalked down the hall, sending underlings scurrying for cover, he reminded himself that some work could be pleasurable. And what fun he would have with the man awaiting his arrival.

Two soldiers guarding the door snapped to attention as he entered. He returned the salutes, then locked his gaze on the young man sitting in the chair before him. He was tied hand and foot, battered and bloody, the result of hours spent working him over by the general's troops. He turned to a female corporal. "Anything, Hill?"

The younger woman shook her head, her short black hair shifting slightly with the gesture. "Just his name, rank, and a strong desire to watch you fornicate with the undead, sir."

Transon smiled at that. He so enjoyed the defiance that blazed in the eyes of every member of the London Revolutionaries. Despite all the damage they had caused, and it was extensive, he felt a sense of respect for them. They were defending their homes, after all, not much different from what he was doing. Not that it would do them a shit's worth of good.

He casually strode toward the bound man, pausing to glance at the file his soldiers had assembled. Not much, but enough to get the conversation rolling. "Jack Slater, staff sergeant in the London Revolutionaries. Nice name by the way, quite the historical irony."

Jack only glared in response, eyes locked on Transon. The general stood before him, a warm smile on his face. Without a word, he reached down, grabbed Jack's right hand and snapped his pinky finger. The rebel fighter ground his teeth together, biting back a scream of agony.

"That was just to set the stage, lay the foundation, so to speak," said the general. "When it comes to interrogation, I find it helps so much that the target know exactly what the limits are, and how far the interrogator is willing to go. In this case, that was done to illustrate ground zero. It's only going to get worse from here, son, so you may as well drop the stalwart hero bullshit."

Jack smiled in response, an expression devoid of any warmth or friendliness. "Old man, I am going to personally feed your balls to the bloody zombies, and I'm gonna make sure you're conscious for it."

Transon laughed, a deep hearty sound, as if the young man had just told the best joke of the day. He paused to wipe a tear from his eye, and in one quick motion, grabbed Jack's mouth, digging inside and ripping a tooth out, root and all. This time, Jack screamed out loud, blood covering his remaining teeth. Transon tossed the bloody tooth to Hill, who quickly dropped it to the floor.

"I just hope I'm making myself perfectly clear," Transon said. "The more you sass me, the worse it's going to get. You tell me something that I actually want to hear, and maybe you get a clean, quick death. Let's start with the next mission your little gang is planning. Time, place, all that jazz."

Jake spit a considerable amount of blood onto the general's perfectly shined shoes. He strained at his bonds, the handcuffs tightening against the wood of the chair. The two soldiers at the door went for their weapons, though there was little chance the young man could actually break free. The general smiled, impressed with the soldier's bravado, then walked over to the far wall. Mounted there was a plasma screen television. He thumbed the control, bringing the screen to life. "Let's see if there's anything good on, shall we?"

Whatever defiant response Jack Slater was about to utter died on his lips as the image formed on the screen. A blonde girl, no older then ten years, was suspended by her hands over a crowd of ravenous undead, who fought and clawed to get at her. The girl was out of reach, but barely, and the ghouls clawed at her feet, desperately trying to get a taste. The child kicked and fought, but it seemed only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. Transon cocked a thumb at the screen. "Pretty entertaining, huh?"

"Who...who is she?" stammered the young man.

Transon thought for a moment. "Lisa...Lisa Davens, that's it," he said, snapping his fingers as he recovered the name. "We caught her stealing from the mess hall. We were going to just shoot her and be done with it, but I felt she needed to serve more of a purpose before shuffling off her mortal coil."

Slater didn't look away from the screen for a moment. There was no sound, but whenever the child screamed, he heard her in his head.

Transon walked over to the television and casually leaned against the wall, as if it were the Sunday football game being broadcast. "So, here's how it works, son. We know that you know a few things about the Revolutionaries' next attack. You tell us, and little Lisa here gets to see the sun tomorrow. But keep up this stoic soldier nonsense, and she'll die begging for her mother and cursing your name."

Slater looked from the screen to Transon and back again, a look of wild incomprehension on his face. Tears rolled down his face as he watched the young girl scream. "But, I'm just a grunt, I don't know anything!" he shouted.

The general laughed in response. "Do you think I'd stupid enough to grab some nobody, kid? You're a sergeant, which means you're responsible for leading others, which means, yes, you do know something!" The general backhanded Slater, hard, hard enough to dislodge a few teeth and a good quantity of blood. Slated coughed and spit, splattering the floor with crimson.

Transon began to pace back and forth in front of his captive, the calm, genial demeanor gone, replaced with a steely-eyed glare that could penetrate concrete. "Now I'm a busy man, Mr. Jack Slater. I've got a country to clean out and repopulate with the people you and yours tried to exterminate! Yes, you, don't you dare shake your head at me, you limey prick! You could have saved us! You could have sent troops to back us up, or helped us evacuate. But oh no, we might take the plague with us! We might bring the zombies across the seas! Well guess what, shithead? They're here! They've finished with us and now they're coming for your asses! We could have worked together to stop it, but you were so concerned with saving your fucking skins that now there's nothing you can do! You're dead, your parents are dead, and your whole country is gonna die, starting with this little bitch!"

"Wait!" Slater shouted, though the word was a little muffled when spoken through broken teeth and swollen lips. "I'll...I'll tell you what you want."

The rage in the older man's eyes subsided, and his breathing slowed. All at once, he seemed to transform back into the calm grandfather he was before. He even smiled, though it was the expression of the lion finding the weak member of the herd. He nodded to Hill, who brought forward a pen and a notebook and placed it on a nearby chair. She unshackled Slater, who didn't make a move toward the door. He knew a dead end when he saw one. Transon tapped the notebook. "All of it. Dates, times, locations, the size of your force and their armament."

Slater carefully took the notebook as if it were booby-trapped and began furiously writing. He glanced up occasionally to find the general staring back at him. When he was done he once more handled the notebook with care, gently placing it and the pen back on the chair. Transon picked it up, flipped through the notes, nodded and handed it to Hill. "Get this to Colonel Martin immediately. I want our defenses as tight as a drum."

Hill saluted and left. Transon looked back to the young sergeant and sighed. "I want you to know that none of this is personal. I don't like having to threaten a child, but the whole world's gone apeshit overnight, it seems. The old ways just don't work. We need to be inventive if we're going to survive in this new world."

Slater nodded quickly, eager to be out of this room and away from Transon. He pointed to the television. "And the girl, you'll let her go?"

Transon looked confused for a moment, as if he had completely forgotten about Lisa Devens. "The girl? Oh, she's already dead. Been that way for awhile, truth to tell."

The young man looked stricken. His mouth tried to work, but no words emerged. He looked to the television screen, where the child screamed and twisted to try and gt away from the dead, and back to Transon. "But...she..."

"Yeah, that's just a recording we made. Works wonders for interrogations. We've used it five times already," the general remarked. "The zombies got her awhile ago, tore her to shreds. Too bad, would have been great irony to feed you to her. Ah, well."

General Archibald Transon turned to leave, then stopped and gestured to the soldier still standing guard. "Shackle him, and then lock him in here until he starves to death. He should turn before his buddies launch their raid, and then we can set him loose on them. How's that sound, sport?" he called to Slater.

The soldier saluted, walked over to Slater, and secured the cuffs around his hands. Slater didn't move, didn't say a word. The soldier followed the general out the door, then closed it behind him and locked it. Jack Slater sat there, the recording of Lisa Devans' torture session lighting up the room. He looked at it for a moment, then began to cry, softly at first, and then louder and louder, until he howled in grief and agony. He cried for himself, for Lisa, for his comrades and countrymen, and lastly, for the rest of the world. Little by little, he'd watched it fall apart and now, he'd prefer to take his chances with the next one.

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