An Untoasted Surprise
It was a pretty nice day, all things considered. Summer had just started but the weather wasn’t too hot yet - a bit muggy in the swamp where the cabin was, but not bad. Robert swished the last of his clean water in his canteen before taking a swig.
Joe called out from the kitchen “Hey, starting on the last box of poptarts, we need to go raiding soon.”
Jane looked up from her crossbow, carefully maintaining her only weapon. “We need water first, and we don’t have a ton of ammo. Tomorrow, but get your gear in order tonight, we need to go early while it’s dark. I don’t want to get shot by any of those guards again, nearly died last time.” Since The End, Jane’s life had spiraled from being a secretary to an armored clad raider.
Robert grumbled and started checking over his armor, a mix of sports equipment and homemade garments. Only four bolts for his crossbow remained, and he kept them tucked into his back pocket. Every raid felt more dangerous, more desperate - but it was the only way to get food and supplies. The one time they had ventured into town they lost Sarah to the hordes of shambling, stinky undead. The visual of yellowed teeth sinking into her pale throat still kept him awake at night.
The cabin had two doors at an angle to each other, forming a small courtyard where their pickup sat - a converted beast with armor and a machinegun mounted on it. Their main firepower when raiding and one of the only things they really had ammo for. Outside the cabin, swamp went on for a half mile keeping intruders at bay. Jane had always told Robert and Joe to never stray from the yard, claiming she had buried landmines along the property.
Jane looked Robert over, her brow furrowed. She had become the leader of the group by default, the calculating brains and strategy leader to the brawn of Joe and Robert. Robert returned her gaze, his attempts to smile seemed to fail. The look on his face was always glum, his soul had paid a heavy price for their raiding and the bodies they left behind.
There was a knock at one of the doors. Jane and Robert both glanced at it in time to see it fly open, splinters flying, to reveal a hooded black shadow wearing some kind of mask and long jacket. A soda can covered in duct tape rolled into the cabin’s main room and a thick green choking haze began to fill the room.
Jane and Robert both picked up their crossbows as they coughed and moved towards the door. Robert desperately shouted “I think we’re under attack!”
“Where are they?” Jane responded, coughing in a fit as the gas filled her lungs. She moved towards the other cabin door.
The shadow reappeared outside the doorway and Robert fired his crossbow at the figure, only to have large caliber rifle fire come his direction in return. The sound deafened him, but he could still feel himself coughing on the green haze. He moved behind the tattered sofa and looked up only to see the dark figure gone again.
“I’m going to for the turret!” Jane shouted as she opened the other door and stepped through it. It only took a few steps before she made it to the pickup and looked at the worn but shining weapon - a military M60 heavy machine gun in 308 winchester, a devastating weapon built for war. She put her hand around the turret controls and slammed the switch to on, only to hear the sound of a futile “click, click, click”. She realized the turret had no ammo in it as the sound of a rifle shot rang out, and coldness started to seep through her body.
Robert saw Jane’s body fall lifeless from the back of the technical. He called out to Joe “I’m going to see what’s going on out there!” As he turned to check on his comrade making breakfast, he saw the shadowed figure slip into the living room of the cabin without a sound.
Robert tried to reload his crossbow, as the figure raised it’s rifle. With the gas now disappating, he could see a slender figure wearing a gas mask with a heavy kevlar lined duster jacket over them. Their face was obscured by a hood, a small headlamp glimmered from their forehead. They held a beautiful old rifle with a walnut stock and distinctive lines, an M1A that was meticulously cleaned. Robert was dead before he even got the crossbow bolt out of his pocket.
Joe came out of the kitchen, his weapon nowhere on him, his poptart left on the counter. The masked figure showed him no mercy and spoke no words.
It only took a few minutes for the figure to depart the cabin and head back up the forest trail out of the swamp. As McGee pulled off her gas mask, long unwashed red hair spilled out of her hood. She tucked her gas mask in her bag, gently patting the hundred rounds of belt linked ammo she had retrieved from the technical.
She fished a poptart from her pocket, sniffing it before biting in.
“Dammit, jerk didn’t even toast it first.”