THESE DEAD LANDS: IMMOLATION–Cue The Mulcher
Now that These Dead Lands: Immolation is in the can and going through final proof–all 600+ pages of it–I thought I’d reach a little bit deeper into the story and show you one of the best ways to take out the dead. Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages, I introduce…the excavator mulcher.
When Guerra parked the Humvee near the intersection of Fisher Avenue and Quartermaster Road, Hastings got out and surveyed the area. The engineers had lined up shipping containers across Fisher Avenue, extending into the tree line while leveraging the creek there as a natural barrier. The engineers had also strung up triple-strand barbed wire and tanglefoot wire along the likely avenues of approach. It wasn’t perfect but it did serve to channelize the reekers. It was also effective, as there were already a few zombies hung up in the wire. The men manning the checkpoint atop one of the containers were picking off reekers, one by one. A makeshift ladder system had been welded onto the container to make getting up there easy.
Hastings scaled the ladder. Ballantine and Guerra soon joined him on top of the container. Several sandbag fighting positions had already been made, and more were still being constructed. Just on the other side of the container, a lowboy trailer was parked lengthwise along the wall, extending across the road. On the trailer was a yellow and black CAT excavator mulcher, a big machine that rolled on tracks like a tank. A soldier sat in its cab. The mulcher and the trailer were surrounded by a wide ring of gore and dismembered body parts. The road was covered in black viscera. A group of reekers was standing a few dozen meters away in the parking lot of Moose’s LZ Bar and Grill, a wood and stone building that advertised burgers, wings, and beer on a sign decorated with pictures of Black Hawk helicopters. Hastings wondered if the establishment’s owners had ever thought of catering to zombies.
“So what is it that you want us to see so badly?” Hastings asked Guerra.
Guerra called out to one of the soldiers on the checkpoint, “Hey, have him start it up and see if he can bring over the ones in the parking lot. I want the captain to see it in action.”
The soldier waved at Guerra and got on his radio. The CAT excavator started with a diesel rumble that immediately got the attention of the reekers. The driver gunned the engine, and a black smoke puffed out of the exhaust pipe. That got the reekers moving. Like cows, the dozen ghouls moved in a herd toward the excavator.
As the group closed in, the driver turned on the mulcher attachment at the end of the arm. It spun, howling like a jet engine, and the driver raised the device over the roadway. That was like a dinner bell to the reekers, and they stumbled toward the trailer, their moans lost in the din coming from the excavator.
When the first reeker got within reach, the driver lowered the arm. The mulcher landed right on top of the reeker’s head, and the ghoul’s head simply disappeared. As the arm continued its descent, the zombie’s body vanished inch by inch until the device was nearly on the ground. Plumes of gore and tattered flesh were thrown out to the sides.
The operator raised the arm again, moved it to the left of the remaining reekers, then lowered it to about four feet above the ground. He then leisurely swung the device into the group of zombies. The reekers disappeared from about chest level up as the mulcher arced across their bodies. The operator swung the arm in the opposite direction, catching the remaining reekers in the same manner. In less than ten seconds, the entire group of carnivorous corpses was wiped out, reduced to nothing more than a reddish gruel-like paste that the mulcher had blown across the pavement.
As the operator powered down the mulcher and killed the vehicle’s engine, Guerra turned to Hastings and Ballantine with a shit-eating grin. “See? I told you, Ballantine. You had to see it to believe it. Is that fucking great, or what?”
Ballantine nodded. “Holy shit! You weren’t kidding. What the fuck is that thing?”
“Local guy tells me they use it to clear trees and trim branches close to power lines.”
“Trim? You call that a trim? Who in the fuck made that thing?”
“No idea,” Guerra said, still smiling like a kid in a candy store. “But if I ever meet him, all his drinks are on me.”
Like Ballantine, Hastings was floored. “Guerra, how many of these did you bring back from that sawmill?”
“They brought six here, but there’s two more left at the shit-water plant for use as security when off-loading the train. We figured the train’s going to make so much noise that it’ll attract large groups of reekers. The other five have been set up at other checkpoints like this one. Last time I spoke to the S3, he told me business has been good since, and that means a lot less shooting and a lot more dead reekers.” Guerra motioned toward the soldiers around them. “The guys manning the checkpoints are glad to have these things. They sure do the trick, huh?”
“Out-fucking-standing,” Ballantine said. “I still can’t believe what we just saw.”
Hastings clapped Guerra on the shoulder. “Good work, Guerra. This will definitely help with base defense.” He checked his watch. “Ballantine, let’s get back. We still have a mission to plan.”
These Dead Lands: Immolation should be out around May 1, 2015.