I have a limited skill set just happens that the skills I have gathered have been serving me well since the dead started to walk the Earth. Traditionally those skills should be such as scavenging, or shooting a gun. Perhaps skills with fixing machines or farming would have served me equally well but all those skills I possess either in limited fashion or not at all. I cannot farm and while I have scavenged enough to keep alive I’m hardly a master at finding food and supplies. Fortunately for Terry Fox’s safe house Malkoris keeps finding ways to keep our larder full. I cannot fix a car and my skills at changing a flatten tire are questionable. How lucky it is then that the world is full of abandon vehicles rusting away by the side of the road who might smell a bit ripe and might cage a zee or two but are still serviceable. I can’t seem to hold onto nice things, for example that incredible SUV that Tenda Foot went out of his way to get for me. While I’ve killed many a zee I’d hardly claim to be a sharpshooter and instead favor the spray and pepper until they stop moving fashion of shooting. So what skills do I bring to the table of the living among the dead?

Quick wits, insane luck or blessed by fate, and crazy ideas. None of those sounds particularly useful if they aren’t combined with the other skills but I have one last ace up my sleeve. Somehow I usually manage to convince others to go along with my ideas and so far it hasn’t cost anyone their life. That might be part of the reason they keep doing the things I suggest. We needed out of the building but all exits were entrenched with the dead hitting the walls or pushing against the doors to enter. What they needed was bait, something to draw them out and that was what I wanted to give them. When I presented the idea I could see the look of doubt in the Bluetone Production member’s faces. To my relief it was a Shark that quickly spoke up and agreed to be the one placing his life in danger. He pointed out rightly so that we only had one functioning bike at the moment after all.

As a group we headed to the roof gathering up what supplies we could along the way. Once there measurements were taken for the gap in the alley between Bluetone and the next building. My suggestion had been to find what we could in timber within the building but Jammer recommended something sturdier without rot, like a ladder. Several were carried up, large ladders normally used for tasks like changing light bulbs and fixing ceiling panels. Laid across the gap we tied down the ladder on our side and turned to our volunteer “bait”. “Sharkbait, ohh, ha ha,” I muttered under my breath as I helped tie ropes around my companion in case this went horribly wrong and the ladders fell.

I heard him laugh and grumble back quietly, “really Chyram, ‘A Finding Nemo’ reference? You really are a nerd sometimes.” I blushed and grinned back, nervous. This was my idea, but the risk was primarily his. If it worked the path will be clear for me and my other guardian who would slip out to go secure the dish for the station. Moreover it was going to have to work twice, both to get us out of the radio station and to clear a path to let us back in. Certain now that he wouldn’t fall into the zee horde we were preparing, we strapped a small speaker to his back. I stood back and watched as my idea went into place breath held.

It had started with a really stupid idea. How do you move something that is stubborn and single minded? Something as stubborn as a donkey – how do you move a donkey? You dangle a carrot using a long stick and a rope dangling in front of the beast’s face. Slowly he lowered himself off the side after tying off the rope at the midpoint in the ladder, until he dangled off the ladder suspended between two buildings. In theory if the ladder fell he would hit the side of the building and we’d pull him back up. In theory he should be completely safe. Lone Wolf peered over the side and turned to give the thumbs up, he was in place. Thomas took off in a run to get the speaker playing the station’s music, drawing the eyes of the zees upwards. Fresh meat, right there, just out of reach, spread the word you damned corpses!

I hesitated before approaching the side, peering down as the music roared beneath me. From below the smell or rot carried upwards on the breeze overtook my senses and I had to force back a gag. The alley was starting to swell with the dead. With some worry I could see the first problem in my plan. The alley was a choke point, a narrow passage. The zees with lesser strength were being pushed down and trampled, crushed beneath the weight of those stronger that climbed upon their backs to reach for him. In a way they were building their own ladder up towards him. My driver growled, “I checked the front, it’s clearing out, we better go, we don’t want to give them too much time to build upon that hill they have going.”

Together we rushed for the stairs and headed for the front doors where we’d be let out. It was a really stupid idea. Why were we doing it? Oh right, nobody had a better one. At least this way some of the dead should be mangled beyond mobility. It was a crappy way to thin the herd, but it was something.

In the lobby he prepped his bike even as Thomas shoved into my hands the instructions on how to remove the dish safely. We were going to need something bigger than a bike to bring it back but the radio station across town would either have vehicles or we would find one closer to the location. Climbing on back of the bike with the tools in my backpack I held to the guardian shark. I couldn’t see anything past his bigger frame so everything was reduced to smells and sounds. The doors banged open. The rotting smell of the dead wafted into the lobby as guns cracked taking down stragglers on the front door. The bike surged forward with the smell of gas and exhaust, squealing tires upon the lobby floor. I heard the crunch as we went over at least one body lying upon the entrance outside the front doors even as they slam behind us. The bike thumped down the steps and peeled off down the street even as I heard a loud bang and clanging sound. It sounded a lot like a ladder falling and then following it were gun shots.

My hand came up to the headset Thomas had given me and I pressed the button barking, “report!”

“Ladder down, the dead climbing up it. Hostiles taken care off. Fishboy is back on the roof, ladder recovered for your return.” Jammer’s voice was sharp in my ear, clearly busy with what he was doing. I crinkled my nose, at the thought of the return trip. I got us out and nobody not already dead was killed. This couldn’t work twice to get us back in?

Few straggler zees were seen on the drive across town. Those we saw were old rot, nothing new from the cult and easy enough to avoid. When we reached the station entrance was going to be easy. It wasn’t that the doors were open but rather they had been torn off their hinges. I looked up to the roof where the dish was sitting and grimly brought out my shotgun. Spray, not precision, and as such my friend had best stay at my back. Together we entered the building, seeing signs of looting and a few corpses that no longer moved.

We took the stairs, heading up slowly as lighting was bad within the passage. I took the lead flashlight tapped to my shotgun, preferring to have the bigger man at my back watching for anything that followed us in. It was by some miracle that nothing prevented us from reaching the roof, though more than once we passed a floor where we could hear the dead trapped on the floor. Despite the situation and how serious it was, my focus was off and when we reached the roof we were nearly surprised by the dead man who was sun baked and brittle. My shotgun blast sent his body in many directions, mostly away from us. It also agitated the dead below within the building. “Damn it Chyram? What the hell is wrong with you? Next time I take the lead on the way down!”

I shook my head and snapped back, “No you’ll be carrying the dish. It’s too heavy for me. Don’t worry about it, I got this, secure that door.”  What was wrong with me? I kept going back to what I learned from Bluetone and the attack of the cult. That was the boldest move I had seen from them yet. They hadn’t wanted to leave behind any survivors as witnesses. Soon as Bluetone hit the airwaves again we were going to be kicking the hornet’s nest. I shook my head to refocus. Without that dish all my scattered thoughts were immaterial. Looking up I started to climb the tower soon followed by the Shark.

We used chains to secure the dish so it wouldn’t fall and be damaged and then I set to disconnecting it. The wind on the tower ripped at our clothes and toyed with taking my tools from my hands. Right towards the end the instructions on paper were torn away and sent off the building into the air. “Damn it!” I glared at what was left, mostly certain I knew the remaining steps. Wisely, likely anticipating my growing frustration the Shark said nothing but kept watch below and on the street from the tower. Finally, some skinned knuckles and one cut thumb later the dish came free and we lowered it down to the roof. It wasn’t going to fit through the stairwell which gave us the next challenge. Again over the side of the roof was the only answer we could think of. Together we strained as we lowered the dish as far as we could. Despite the length of the chain we had on the roof it was still a half a story up when we reached the end. “I don’t think we can lift it back up.”

“I don’t think we have a choice,” he replied. “Even if we do bring it back up, how else will we bring it down? We’re going to have to drop it and hope they can repair any damage we do.”  Our eyes met, mine human, his dark and cold. I nodded my head once and we both let go watching the chain snake over the side and fall down below. We moved to the edge of the building and looked down below. It had only been a four story building. It only fell a half a story. It can’t be too bad can it? I could see that the antenna was bent and the falling chain hitting the dish probably wasn’t doing much good to the body of the equipment.

Shaking my head I grumbled, “Come on, we still need to get a truck.” The passage down the stairs was more trouble than entering. The third floor had caved in their door. Not only were their zees waiting for us on the other side of the door to the roof but the caved door was a hazard we had to climb over to get down the stairs below. As we fought our way down the smell became more intense for me and I had my shirt up over my nose. Worse for the Shark, the rotting blood was giving him a feral edge and I wasn’t comfortable with the wide grin he had by the time we exited. I could have wept in relief at how quickly we found a truck with keys. Nervous of my companion I insisted upon riding in the bed of the truck to keep the dish secure. My hand hit the headset again, “we’re on our way back, and will be twenty minutes in this traffic.” Look a joke, I must be in good spirits! “Will you be ready for us? We’ll come around back to the garage doors but we’re going to need help to bring in the dish.”

“We’ll be ready” chirped the response and I smacked my hand on the glass of the back window three times to signal the driver to go.  Bracing myself I kept the shotgun up as we headed back for the station. Thomas is going to kill us when he sees the state of the dish.

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