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Firebreak

by

Paul Arnold


Keith worked more feverishly, stinging sweat dripping into his eyes just the way his blood dripped to the floor. The nail finally went flush with the wood plank, and he couldn't drive it any further in. An exhausted sigh escaped his lungs, and he finally sat back against the wall, satisfied with the work.

The flint sparked, and flame danced from the lighter. Keith took a deep drag from the cigarette, wincing as the heat shot down through his lungs. Coughing, he returned the lighter to his shirt pocket, and dropped the empty cellophane wrapper to the ground. There were gunshots from further on down the street, but Keith ignored them. Just as he had been ignoring them for the better part of two weeks.

More sticky warmth spread down his right side, dripping all the way down through his pants, and going into his shoe, which was getting heavy with all the blood. Keith glanced around the basement, frowning at the shuffling feet visible through the ground level windows. There were more shots, but instead of the intermittent popping he usually heard, these were very rapid.

Great, calvary's arrived just in time to save me. Mustering the last of his strength, he hefted himself from the stool he'd been sitting on, and looked out of the window that was facing town. A truck carrying men in military fatigues slowly made its way up the street, either shooting or running down the undead that clustered around the huge vehicle. One of the soldiers hefted his arm, and threw an object, which after it had gone off, Keith realized it to be a grenade.

Stumbling, he grabbed the windowsill in an attempt to steady himself. His ankle gave, and he fell to the floor, as tools and junk fell from the workbench behind him. The still lit cigarette landed on his bare arm, and he brushed it off frantically, cursing the soldier who had thrown the explosive. He pulled himself up again, but as he shakily stood all the way up, he realized it was brighter than before. Keith turned around just in time to meet the wall of fire that the cigarette he had flicked and inadvertently sent spinning into a puddle of gasoline that had formed when the shockwave from the grenade had toppled the container from the bench, slammed into his body.

The flames licked at his flesh for a split second, before the oxygen compressed in the small room, and exploded out through the window and up through the basement door.

The small house was quickly becoming an inferno, and Corporal Lewis had seen enough.

"Evac, all vehicles evacuate vicinity, now!" The half-tracks and tanks began turning around as the house flared again, and set the surrounding trees aflame. The house immediately beside the one that had first exploded into flames was now beginning to combust.

"Goddammit," he breathed. "The wind is blowing into town."

He looked over his left shoulder at the Richmond skyline. He shook his head, and tapped Simons, the radio operator, on the shoulder. "Dial up NORAD. Tell them we have a serious fire on our hands, and we're going to pack up and evacuate Richmond."

The coms man nodded, and went about his task. The zombies were slowly stumbling away from the lapping flames, and several who weren't quick enough, flailed as they were consumed.

Lewis shook his head and faced forward. After successfully holding Richmond for the better part of three years, it had come to this. A fucking fire.

The convoy slowly made its way down the winding street, as the flames began spreading from house to house.


-THE END-