Hey everyone, here is the first snippet for Dead Train: All Aboard. You can expect Dead Train: All Aboard on 12 October, 2018.
The zombies didn’t move out of the way as two thousand nine hundred and fifty tons of steel rolled into them. The train didn’t lurch, it didn’t shudder, it didn’t even really slow as it crushed dozens of the rotting corpses and rolled right on through. The train snow plow on the front mostly sent the mindless undead tumbling out of the way, shattering their bones and leaving those it struck limp and motionless. Jack couldn’t even hear the sound of crunching bone and tearing flesh over the sound of the train’s wheels on the tracks and the grumble of the diesel-electric locomotives.
A few would sometimes find their way under the wheels or would catch a grip on one of the sides of the cars in passing. That was why the train riders went to full defensive status as they passed through towns. In towns, the train had to slow down for curves and track switches. As Jack watched, hundreds more zombies shambled out of the otherwise dark and deserted town, drawn by the noise of the train. Most of them were too slow to reach the train in time, but a handful were either fresher or simply more energetic, and those managed a stumbling run.
Most of those grasped blindly for the train and many of them lacked the dexterity necessary to accomplish anything beyond falling beneath the wheels and being ground into a red paste. Survivors fended off the handful that caught hold, using improvised spears. This situation wasn’t severe enough to warrant the use of ammunition.
“Watch for clingers,” Jack shouted over his radio. “Report in your status by car!” Captain Jack Zamora waited patiently, his body armor, weapons, and helmet a familiar weight. The gray-eyed former Army officer kept a confident expression on his lean face, even as he felt worry eat at his gut.
“Car forty-nine, all clear,” Chris Peck reported. The former construction project manager from Cincinnati had a proper attention to detail, which was why Jack had chosen him for the trail car. “No clingers and we’re clear of the town.”
The other cars reported in, one by one, and as the train began to pick up speed again, Jack gave a silent prayer of thanks. It looked like they’d made it.
“This is car twelve!” A panicked voice shouted over the radio, “Taylor is down, there’s a zombie, oh god, they’re killing us!”
Jack didn’t take the time to swear. He waved at the response team and started running back along the line of cars. Twelve cars, he did the math as he ran, trying not to think about how many women and children were in car twelve, fifty-five and a half feet per car, that’s six hundred and sixty-six feet.
Jack didn’t even notice the gaps between cars as he jumped them, shotgun clutched in his hands. A single zombie wasn’t too bad of a hazard, not by itself, not normally. They’ll be alright, he tried to tell himself. Yet he knew just how close they were to Indianapolis. He knew that bodies rose quicker the closer they were to the dead cities. One zombie would kill one person and the corpse would rise. Two would kill two more…
As he rushed forward, he saw car twelve. Children clustered on the top, center part of the car, passed up by their parents to safety. As he watched, a screaming woman tried to pull herself up on the side, clutching at the ropes that the survivors had run across the top for just that purpose.
Reaching arms caught her and pulled her back. She let out a shrill scream as they dragged her back and Jack knew the look on her face, he’d seen it far too often over the past six months. It was terror, but it was also disbelief. She didn’t understand –couldn’t understand– why this was happening to her. Before Jack could raise his shotgun, he heard that scream cut off with brutal finality and even over the noise of the train he heard the grinding crunch as she fell beneath the rail wheels.
Jack knew that there probably weren’t any other survivors in the car, but he didn’t hesitate. He ran forward, caught a side rope, and swung into the open car door feet first.
His boots slammed into a cluster of undead and the zombies tumbled back from the impact. Jack found his footing and brought up his shotgun. He recognized Taylor’s gray and bloodless face, the former Marine’s throat ripped out. He fired the Remington 870 Express and blood and bits of brain matter splattered his face and eye protection. As the headless zombie stumbled back, Jack pivoted, racked the slide, and picked his next target.
This was an older zombie, its flesh gray and its face sunken. It came at Jack with a jagged shard of bone sticking out of its arm where its hand should have been. Jack fired into the thing’s center of mass. As the zombie stumbled back, Jack moved forward, clearing the area.
The rest of his response team came through the open door behind him.
There was no finesse to what they did. As they joined him, Jack dropped his shotgun, letting the friction strap swing it back against his chest, even as he drew his hooligan crash ax. The short, ax-like blade was designed purely for chopping and Jack swung it as the next zombie came forward. His heavy blade split the zombie’s skull and as the undead child stumbled, Jack tried not to think, tried not to see, tried to turn off his mind as he split skulls, separated shoulders, and kicked moaning undead out the open side of the train-car.
Clearing the car took less than thirty seconds. He’d become so disconnected that it took a panicked shout “No, no, stop!” for him to halt, mid swing, about to brain a survivor who stood behind a makeshift barricade.
Jack lowered the ax, the blade covered in blood and hair, with bits of skin stuck to it. He tried not to think about the crusty, sticky nature of his stained uniform. The man that he’d nearly killed stared at him with a mixture of fear and shock, but with a level of hero worship that made Jack want to vomit. He turned away. “Status?” Jack barked. He answered his own question in the same way he had drilled his team. “One up.”
“Two up,” Joshua Wachope reported. The tall, bearded, lanky Special Forces man gave him a thumbs up. Josh was solid and there wasn’t anyone that Jack trusted more than him in a fight. I wish he was in charge of this shit, Jack thought, not for the first time.
“Three up,” Johnny Woodard said as he wiped down his ax. The tall, dark, former combat medic looked care-free, as if dismembering people was an everyday occurrence. Come to think of it, Jack thought, it very nearly is…
“Four up,” Hector Chavez snapped. The stocky, perpetually angry man glowered at the survivors of the train car. “How the hell did this happen?!”
“A zombie came in through the latrine hole,” a woman said, her voice distant. “It crawled up and it stabbed Taylor with its arm. Just like that and then he attacked Sophie and…” Her voice trailed off into a confused babble.
“How many survivors?” Jack asked as he turned back to face the men clustered behind the barricade. They’d flipped up a couple of the bunk beds and chairs, he saw. Quick thinking, Jack thought. Though he wished they’d been quicker. One man with a weapon could have stopped all this before it got out of hand.
“Uh…” the two men looked around, both of them clearly shell-shocked.
Jack restrained a sigh. “All of you, come out. We need to check you for injuries and infection.” He shouldn’t blame them, it wasn’t their fault that they didn’t know what to do, how to function. The cars at the center of the train were for those survivors who didn’t understand, who couldn’t defend themselves. They’re weak… a voice spoke in the back of his mind, but he squashed that voice. His people would train them, they would become useful members of his group… one way or another.
“Are they…” a woman gasped, “… are they contagious? I saw Frank, he got bit!” She pointed an accusatory finger at one of the men on the barricade.
The group surged away from the man and Jack just shook his head. “No. No they’re not contagious.” Well, he admitted to himself, only in the sense that they’re dead and they can make you dead, too. “But if you’re injured, then your wounds could turn septic and you could die.” And then you’d rise from the dead and try to kill us all. “We’ve got a medic, he’ll check you out.”
In theory, all the people on the train should know that… but they’d just picked up a few dozen survivors two days ago. Train car twelve was one of the places they put those survivors.
The latrines have covers that should have been latched until we got the all clear, Jack thought to himself. It wouldn’t surprise him if one of the newbies had left that cover open. That meant someone in the car had effectively killed Taylor and all the others. Jack just hoped that whoever it was had paid with their life.
If not, he thought grimly, I’ll kill whoever was responsible.