The following is an excerpt from Chapter Eight of the zombie novel ‘Wave of Mutilation’, you can find the full novel on Amazon in eBook and paperback form.
Early the next morning, the second day since the rise of the undead, the airspace over Manhattan was abuzz with activity. Military, law enforcement and civilian aircraft were suspended in the air or darting like flies over the corpse of the great city. Pilots did what they could to help but there was so much chaos to try and contain, and nowhere truly safe to take survivors. A small NYPD helicopter sprinted over the Upper East Side, above 5th Avenue as it ran alongside Central Park. On board were six people, rookie officer Maxine Schreiber, two other uniformed cops, the pilot and co-pilot and a SWAT sharpshooter. Maxine knelt by one of the open cockpit doors while the sharpshooter, a swarthy man named Reynolds, was ready for action at the other side with his huge SIG Sauer sniper rifle. Below, 5th Avenue and the numbered streets branching off it teemed with violence and swarming masses of the living dead. Even worse than the streets were the hundreds of people taking refuge on rooftops throughout the Upper East Side. They waved their arms, jumped up and down or used makeshift signs, anything to try and flag down the passing police helicopter. These people were hanging on by a thread, but there was no one available to save all of them by this point. Maxine’s chopper was tasked with rescuing some doctor VIPs from further uptown instead.
Maxine was a compact woman in a blue uniform and body armour with short, blonde hair. The wind through the open doorway buffeted her and tried to tear the cap off her head. Suddenly, Maxine was stunned as a piece of fuselage not far from her head seemed to pop open of its own accord. The first eruption was followed by a second, and a third, holes climbing toward the tail of the helicopter.
“What the hell was that?” Brady, one of the uniformed officers, yelled.
“Someone’s shooting at us!” Maxine said, only realising the truth as she said it. She huddled with her hand on her pistol, eyes scanning the rooftops below for the perpetrator.
“God, have those things learned how to use guns, too?” Brady said. With the ghouls’ already staggering numbers and contagiousness, if they had gotten smart enough to use guns and shoot down helicopters the human race was well and truly screwed.
“Probably someone with a rifle, bitter we didn’t pick them up!” Reynolds said, “If they can’t get away no one can, that kind of attitude.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” The pilot said, as the helicopter lurched, “They must have hit the fuel line! We’re pissing fuel, we can’t stay in the air!”
“What?” Maxine shouted.
“I have to put it down, or we’re going to drop right out of the sky!” The pilot said, the aircraft lurching again.
The upturned faces of the hungry ghouls watched the helicopter drop. There were no suitable rooftops within reach so the pilot was forced out over Central Park, which was quieter but by no means unaffected by the chaos. They got down low enough that Maxine could distinguish the hungry features on each individual zombie’s face. A gang of ghouls, including one in stained chef’s whites, that had been pulling apart an overturned hotdog cart stopped to watch them go. Already running empty, the pilot brought the blue and white whirlybird down inside the park as gently as possible. They had ended up somewhere under the trees between Central Park Zoo and the sunken 65th Street transverse.
“What the hell do we do now? We’re screwed!” The sweating, red-faced cop named Stanton said as the struts hit the ground.
“Call for an evac!” Reynolds said.
Maxine jumped out of the chopper and fanned out defensively with the others. It was hard to believe they would last long enough for anyone to respond, however. Drawn by the commotion of the helicopter’s emergency landing a wave of zombies was already closing in. If the zombies followed pattern that meant even if these creatures were fought off it would only mean more and more coming.
“Freeze, police!” Maxine warned the nearest zombie, her Glock 9mm in hand, knowing it wouldn’t work, “Stop or I will be forced to fire!”
The zombie, a big, square-headed man in a garbage collector’s uniform didn’t even slow down. Maxine fired first into his chest to no avail, trained to aim for the centre mass. Slowly and calmly, breathing deeply, Maxine corrected her aim and fired again as the garbage man came within a few feet, hitting him between the eyes and sending him tumbling to the pavement.
“This is Air Unit Five, this is Air Unit Five, requesting an immediate emergency evac!” Brady was shouting into his shoulder-mounted microphone, “Our chopper is down near the Central Park Zoo and we are under attack! We need immediate assistance!”
A pair of ghoulified joggers were next to go down, Maxine careful not to waste the bullets. Stanton was next to her, the fat man aiming for the head as well. Reynolds climbed out of the chopper, carrying his rifle with him. He raised the SIG Sauer SSG 3000 to his shoulder and the crack of it echoed through the trees. A significant hunk of skull blew off a zombie still some distance away and the zombie cartwheeled back onto the path. Reynolds fired again and again, every shot meeting its mark, but it was quickly obvious the bolt-action rifle with its five-round, internal box magazine was not the weapon to fight off a whole mob of the diseased ghouls. Other than the sniper rifle they were all, including the pilots, armed with only 9mm pistols.
“Air Unit Five, this is Unit Eight responding to your distress call.” A voice appeared on the radio, “We are in your vicinity, are you able to make it to Sheep Meadow where we’ll be able to set down and lift you out?”
“Confirm, Unit Eight, Sheep Meadow, we’ll see you there-, or we won’t.” Brady said. He snapped off his radio call and wrapped both hands around his weapon, firing and hitting another zombie.
Together, all firing, they moved away from their downed chopper. Reynolds was forced to drop his rifle, and let it hang over his shoulder by its strap. The creatures seemed incredibly fast, not really any physically faster than a normal person but they moved with no sense of self-preservation at all, no hesitation. Reynolds unholstered his 9mm pistol and put a bullet through a zombie’s brain.
Another zombie, a woman dressed in a bloodstained wedding dress, stumbled through the trees dragging her dress’ ragged train behind her until Maxine shot her, “Happiest day of your life, right? Fuck.” Maxine said. They destroyed the first wave without a casualty, although only just, and expended most of their clips.
“What-, what the heck is that?” The co-pilot said while he was in the process of reloading.
Two huge, white, shaggy shapes split the crowd forming the second wave headed their way, and then were joined by a third. Rumbling toward the noise of the helicopters and gunfire from the direction of the zoo were three enormous, gore-streaked and zombified polar bears. The smallest of the bears was still three times the size and weight of a human being. The other two were car-sized, hugely powerful, weighing easily half a tonne each.
“Holy mother!” Stanton said. Barrelling down the concrete path between the trees the bears were on the group in seconds.
The first undead polar bear reared up on its hind legs with a mighty roar, its snowy fur streaked with crimson. The other two bears had huge, grotesque wounds obviously inflicted by the first bear or by one another. One had a whole half of its ribcage exposed and still dribbling gore down its side, while the other was missing the better part of one of its front legs and its flesh was peeled open in several places. Brady froze, trapped in front of the first, giant polar bear. With one swipe, claws the size of railroad spikes cut through Brady’s throat and sent his head spiralling away like a baseball. Before the body could drop the polar bear sunk its jaws into Brady’s shoulder and lifted him off his feet, blood jetting from the ragged neck stump.
The sniper, Reynolds, reloaded his pistol and fired into the side of the first polar bear’s head. The bullet must have glanced off the side of the bear’s thick skull, however, as it seemed to have no effect. The second zombie bear loomed over Reynolds and tried to catch him with its swinging claws. Reynolds let himself drop onto his back to avoid it and from the ground he aimed his pistol at the soft underside of the second polar bear’s jaw. Reynolds emptied half a clip into the bear’s head until its skull was demolished and its huge, shaggy bulk keeled over, incidentally crushing a human zombie beneath its weight. Reynolds couldn’t bask in the victory long as two human zombies lurched toward him on both sides.
Meanwhile, Maxine had to struggle to swallow the impulse to throw up after watching the zombie bear decapitate Brady and tear huge chunks of meat off his body. As the bears led the charge, the human ghouls had closed in around them like a pincer. The cops and pilots let out a barrage of shots, blowing apart faces and brains, but there were too many. Both their helicopter’s pilot and co-pilot were picked up and dragged into the mass, hands and teeth sinking into the screaming men’s flesh.
“There’s too many! Run, just run for Sheep’s Meadow!” Maxine shouted. Emptying her second clip she managed to clear a gap in the direction of the large, grassy field. Maxine raced through the opening without waiting to see who was following her, fumbling to reload as she moved.
Reynolds and Stanton escaped the clutching hands of the massed ghouls and followed Maxine. The first polar bear was tearing apart Brady’s headless body, barely recognisable anymore after what the bear had done to it. The smaller zombie bear fought with half a dozen human ghouls over the squirming pilot, eventually ripping him completely in half. Steaming entrails showered the horde, which the zombies greedily stuffed into their mouths.
Maxine and Reynolds raced along East Drive, keeping pace with each other. Stanton took up the rear, less fit than the others, breathing so loud he sounded like he was hooting but driven by desperation. They threaded through the trees with more zombies pouring after them. Stanton tripped on a root and the others had to help the big man back to his feet. They were all breathing hard as they emerged from the tree line into Sheep Meadow. It was a wide, open space carpeted in bright green grass over a gently sloping field, still an undisturbed, calm oasis in the midst of all the fighting and dying going on across the city.
Maxine automatically scanned the sky for their pick-up, deep and blue and surrounded by the canyon walls of the New York skyline, “Come on, come on, where are they?” She said to herself.
The three of them continued into the centre of the enormous meadow, there was nowhere else really to run and they couldn’t stop moving. Moments later, a wall of zombies melted through the trees after them. The polar bear that had attacked Brady was amongst them. They let out a hungry collection of howls, moans and inhuman roars, and even more zombies started closing in from all other points around the meadow. The trio were surrounded and even at their best they didn’t have enough ammunition to deal with all of them.
“Make them count!” Reynolds said, as they staggered to a stop in roughly the middle of the enormous field. Stanton was red as a tomato, sweat pouring down his face into his collar, but he clutched his pistol tightly. Maxine held her pistol in one hand and unsnapped her black, extendable baton in the other.
Standing back to back, the three cops blasted every zombie that got close enough. One good thing about the zombies, Maxine thought, they didn’t have the sense to attack with any sort of skill or tactics and instead ran dead straight at the muzzles of the trio’s guns. Still, the zombies’ overwhelming numbers would soon make that advantage moot. Thankfully, another helicopter just like the one the three of them had been flying came screaming low over the trees. Maxine, Reynolds and Stanton desperately waved their arms to signal Air Unit Eight as the chopper howled around the trio, the downdraft from its rotors washing over the grass and ghouls.
Maxine almost cheered, but there was no time to celebrate. Her pistol was empty and that had been her final clip. The others were faring no better with their ammunition, so Maxine stuffed the gun back into her holster and wrapped both hands around her baton. A zombie, an old woman in a faded, pink housedress who’d nevertheless gone completely savage, lunged at Maxine. Maxine swung the baton at the old woman’s head and broken, infected teeth sprayed from her puckered mouth. The zombie fell on its back, but wasn’t out of the fight permanently.
“What’s he doing?” Stanton said.
The chopper started to circle around them again, but came in even lower and tilted itself forward. Its blurring rotor hovered so that the very ends of the blades were only about four or five foot off the ground, with the nose pointing almost straight down. The pilot couldn’t land with dozens upon dozens of zombies still closing in and risk being overwhelmed and dragged down, so he’d found an alternative. The rotors spun through the heads and shoulders of the surging zombies like a massive blender through butter. Heads were turned to red mist, or were bisected or hurled from their bodies, and torsos were shredded to ribbons. A swathe of ruined, mangled, twitching corpses bathed in blood were left on the grass in the chopper’s wake as the helicopter made a wide, lazy circle around Sheep Meadow. The helicopter dipped lower, churning whole bodies to pieces, walking corpses exploding into rags of flesh and clothing and guts as soon as the huge, blunt blades touched them.
Maxine used her baton to beat the head of the old woman who’d attacked her to mush. Another zombie closed in on Stanton, still breathing hard, as his pistol went dry. He threw the empty gun at the ghoul’s face but it bounced off and the creature snatched and bit him in the shoulder, knocking the overweight police officer to the ground, “No!” Maxine shouted, swinging her baton at the zombie’s head. Even after forming a moat of pulverised bodies enough zombies had slipped through that the chopper had to hurry or none of them were going to make it.
The police chopper neared the zombified polar bear and the mass of human zombies around it. The zombie polar bear reared up on its hind legs defiantly and roared. The chopper roared back, blades spinning into the horde, and more bodies exploded into chunky, red salsa, heads and limbs flying like confetti. The giant polar bear was hacked to pieces, right down the middle. Blood and chunks of white fur splattered the glass cockpit of the chopper. Half of the bear was literally hurled right into the air, straight up and over the helicopter.
Just like that, however, as if the weight of blood and gore coating its sides was too much, the helicopter dipped fatally too far forward. Grass and dirt was stirred into the air in a huge flurry as the front of the helicopter ploughed into the earth. The fat blades of the helicopter snapped into long, wicked shards, some as tall as a person. The broken blades whipped through the air like gigantic shuriken and several more ghouls were speared or cut in half by the shrapnel. The body of the chopper crumpled, the tail bending and breaking off. Seconds later, flame split the fuselage and bloomed in all directions into a monstrous fireball, blowing the chopper and all those inside to pieces.
“No! No, no, no!” Maxine yelled, as the explosion went rolling over and over across the grass. Reynolds tried to reach for his shoulder-mounted microphone but there wasn’t enough time to both speak and defend himself. More zombies, missed by the chopper, closed in. Others started to emerge, broken and wreathed in flame, from around the source of the explosion. Maxine and Reynolds ended up back to back, swinging their batons, but nothing was going to save them as the gauntlet of ghouls closed around the two cops.