Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Puncher - 3

That camera lead was putting out a wireless feed that a production team was picking up somewhere outside the venue. Smith hadn’t seen the armored bus coming in, but he knew it was out there. They would mix it and edit, and then push to a satellite, where people all around the world would pay for the privilege of watching it.

In the Old States, this was illegal, but in a meaningless way. The government had to spend most of it’s time and energy fight outbreaks and sweeping the midzones, so tracking and busting people watching punching on the internet wasn’t very high in their priorities.

Smith kept his back pressed to the door and reviewed his options. The good thing about runners is that their attention spans were short. Shamblers would keep clawing at the door for a while, but runners were going after the next person. He slid and up the door and took a deep breath, held it.

He stepped away from the door and spun, arm raised. Nothing. Probably swarming on the tanker. He grabbed the lamp to the next room. The doors and windows were boarded shut. There were two door ways that would take him out of here, but they were both boarded up. He glanced for the camera, looked at the doors they were covering. Thanks you production.

He pulled one of the boards away, and rotted teeth snapped at his fingers. He stepped back, holding the board. The zombie reached through the gap, stretching for him. He could smell it from where he stood. This one looked to be a rotter, stinking fluids barely held together by a bag of skin.

Smith snapped the two by four in half over his knees. He grabbed the reaching arm and pulled hard. It separated from the rotter with a dull squelch. He dropped the arm, held the broken board with both hands, and drove the point right between the things eyes, or at least where its eyes ought to have been.

Smith tore away the rest of the boards and moved into the next room. No more rotters. He pulled the board out of the thing’s head. He didn’t like this. He suspected that the rest of the punchers had been forced into the buildings, the venue seemed to be constructed that way, but he couldn’t see them, which was a problem. Fuck that.

He had a straight shot through what must have been three buildings back before. He was about halfway through when he fell through the damn floor. He lost the board and the lamp. He barely got a grip on edge of the floor before he went the whole way into the basement. The hole had been hidden by an old, nearly invisible sheet on the floor. Naturally, there was a camera looking straight down into the hole. He should have seen it.

He pulled himself up and something pulled him down. He looked down into hole. A zombie looked up at him, not too far gone. It had a serious grip on his ankle. He could hear more moans down there, shuffling as other moved towards it.

He kicked at the thing, scraping his boot down his leg. He felt one or two of its fingers break, but it held on. It got a grip on his other ankle. Fuck. The other zombies moved around, shoving for position and reaching up. He could feel their hands grabbing at him, but none could find purchase. Smith’s fingers were going numb.

He kicked forward with both legs, swing his bodies as hard as he could. Again. The zombie lost its grip on him and he jerked himself up, got his chest up above the hole. He couldn’t find any purchase on the smooth floor, but he wriggled enough of himself out of the hole to be able to swing his legs up out. He rolled on to his back and took a deep breath. He slowed down his pulse and looked up at the camera on the ceiling. He gave it the finger.

He stood up slowly and inspected his boots and pants. Nothing there. He was a room or two away from the street. The doorway to the next room was boarded up, too tight for Smith to get a grip on the boards. He wasn’t supposed to go that way. He had no intention of walking into any more traps.

The thing about buildings in this town was that many of them had been constructed more than a hundred years ago, the last twenty of which they hadn’t had any maintenance or heat available. So while the doorway might have been secure, the walls around them weren’t.

It took a couple of minutes for him to punch a hole big enough for him to slide through, which he hoped was giving the production team a fit. He really didn’t appreciate the hole in the floor trick, especially considering what he was getting paid for this shit.

He kicked the plywood out of the window and looked at the street. He caught the attention of a couple of shamblers, but he didn’t see any runners near enough. He looked back towards the gate and saw the tanker still there, a pile of zombies in front of him and more runners coming for him.

Smith dropped out on to the street, turned and punched the head of a shambler clean off. The body twitched for a second or two and tried to take a step before it spun and feel. Smith figured that the viewers would love that. He didn’t see any of the other punchers. He figured the runners had herded them into the buildings, and that was going to slow them down.

He had a fairly straight forward run to the end of town, and he could probably get there first, assuming no more surprises. He wasn’t sufficiently stupid to believe that. Between the runners and the trap in the building, he figured that there was more to come. He smiled underneath his helmet and began to jog.

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