Chapter 14

Yusif leads them on. The tunnel is gradually becoming more loose rock than stone.

“Slow down,” Monte calls ahead to him.

Upset at the loss of his friend Yusif ignores him and pushes on.

Dark holes lead into the depths on both sides, some big enough for a man. Unknown creatures scurry into the shadows. The men move cautiously.

“You’re sure this is the right way?” Monte asks Vanessa.

“If the map is correct.”

Oddball looks into one of the caves leading off the main tunnel back into darkness and then turns to Johnson, “So we’re almost out of here, right? All them Zumbi, Zombie thingies are behind us, right? No reason they should know where we are, right?”

Johnson looks up to see caves leading off above them, “Just keep tellin’ yourself that, buddy.”

A muffled scream comes from behind them, and they all look back.

“Where is Hans?” Krugger asks.

Uneasy, the men look into the dark holes; water drips and the sounds of movement come from all around them. A German soldier walks back, looking for Hans.

From one of the dark holes behind them a spear is thrust out and into the German’s gut; the man screams as the spear is jerked out along with a portion of his entrails. As he drops to his knees, another spear hits him in the chest.

“Look out!” Krugger yells as he jerks a spear and pulls a leather-clad woman warrior from the passage next to him that was attempting to run him through, “What do we have here?” he says with a smile. She hisses at him, an inhuman sound, and Krugger looks at her face to see it’s weathered and evil. She reaches for a dagger in her belt. “No you don’t,” Krugger tells her and in a quick move he snaps her neck and throws her back into the hole.

A rope noose descends from the ceiling and catches a German around his neck and jerks him up toward a hole in the ceiling. Krugger grabs hold of his feet to try and pull him down.

Vanessa screams. Oddball looks to see her being pulled up into another hole by her neck.

“Vanessa!” he grabs her feet.

Krugger struggles to hold on, “Your knife, use your knife!” Krugger is lifted off the ground. The warrior whose neck he broke steps back out, her head twisted awkwardly and hanging limp. She comes at him, and he kicks her in the chest, “Cut the line!” he calls up.

Monte and Karl fire wildly into the holes as more leather-clad warriors attack.

Pilch struggles with a warrior as she tries to run him through with a spear, “Three months without a dame, and it’s gotta be this.”

Muller steps up and shoots her in the face.

“Thanks…” Pilch turns to see that it’s Muller and bites his lip with frustration.

“Pilch!” Monte screams.

Pilch looks to Monte, who tosses him his rifle. Pilch looks at Muller and then turns to shoot an attacking warrior.

Oddball struggles to hold onto Vanessa, “Hang on.”

Krugger tries to save his comrade’s life and beat back the crippled warrior. From the shadows, a warrior emerges, with spear in hand. “No, bitch,” he kicks her in the face and then loses his grip, falling to the ground. The German on the rope is jerked up screaming. Something in the ceiling above makes a deep rumbling growl followed by the sickening sound of crushing bone. The German’s screams abruptly stop, and Krugger rolls away as a fountain of blood rains down from above.

Oddball looks on with fear as what’s left of the German splatters down onto the ground. He looks up horrified, and grabs hold of the line above Vanessa’s head and climbs up into the ceiling. A spear narrowly misses him, and he sees several leather-clad warriors pulling on the line leading down to Vanessa, “Hi ya’, ladies,” he says with a smile and pulls out his pistol. He aims carefully and shoots one and then another in the head; the rest scatter down tunnels and into the darkness with Oddball sending rounds after them. Oddball looks down to Vanessa, “Are you alright?” from a large hole he hears a growl and looks up, “Uh-oh,” A leather clad man of 400 pounds steps from the darkness with two large axes, “Damn, and I thought the women were ugly.”

Oddball looks at his pistol; it’s empty, “Gotta go,” and he drops down the hole as the two blades narrowly miss him, landing hard on Vanessa.

“Ow!” she cries out.

“That was close.”

She looks into his eyes, “Thank you,” and she kisses him on the cheek.

Pilch dodges as another warrior comes out of a hole near him. The spear nicks his side, and he winces in pain. Yusif strikes, deftly severing the warrior’s head. It lands at his feet, and he kicks it away. Pilch looks at Yusif with grudging appreciation.

“Forward!” Monte screams and pushes everyone forward as Johnson, Krugger, and Yusif beat the attackers back behind him. He looks back to see Oddball and Vanessa still on the ground looking at each other, “Come on!”

Oddball pulls her up, and they run down the corridor. Monte sees the 400-pound monster moving alongside them in the side tunnels, “Faster!”

The 400-pound man emerges from a hole with both axes swinging down in flight, and with a crunch and a scream, a German is cut to pieces.

“Must move faster!” Monte screams and stops and lets the other pass. The axe-wielding monster steps out in front of him, and he calmly shoots him in the head; his body falls with a thud.

“Grenades!” Monte yells.

Pilch stops and pulls a grenade as Oddball and Vanessa pass.

Johnson and a German battle several warriors, holding them back.

“Johnson, run,” Monte yells.

The German is run through with two spears, and unable to move, he flails in desperation as he is stabbed again and again.

“Do it!” Johnson yells to Monte as he takes a spear in the chest.

“We gotta save him,” Pilch yells and starts back.

Johnson struggles to hold the undead back, “For God’s sake, do it!” he screams as he’s run through again.

Monte snatches the grenade from Pilch and then throws him to the ground, stopping him from running back to Johnson. He looks down to Pilch and shakes his head and then tosses the grenade, landing it at Johnson’s feet, “Cover!” he screams diving to the ground.

The explosion brings down the tunnel in a thundering avalanche of earth and stone, cutting them off from the attackers. Dust fills the air and rubble has fallen all around them. Monte and Pilch are on the ground breathing heavily.

Oddball walks up to help them, “You’re a god damn hero, Sarge.”

Pilch looks over to him, “I think he should get one of those medals.”

Oddball smiles, “And a flag.”

Pilch agrees, “Definitely a flag.”

“For your coffin, of course,” Oddball smirks.

Muller pulls Monte up, ”Thanks.”

Oddball pulls Pilch up, “My hero.”

“Fuck off,” Pilch dusts himself off and then looks back to the rubble, “Johnson.”

Monte nods, “He did his duty.”

Vanessa looks back at the rubble, “Amazon, Russian steppes 4th century B.C.”

Monte glares at her, “Thanks, Professor.”

“Only rumor, never been any real evidence, until now…”

“Hey, hey, look at that!” Oddball yells interrupting her.

The roof has collapsed from the explosion and daylight streams into the tunnel. Pilch runs to the hole. Sand pours down a break in the rock and Pilch cups it in his hands like water, “We’re out!”

The rest of them look up.

“So long Romans, so long priests, so long undead,” Oddball cries out.

“And so long little Arab bastard,” Pilch adds.

Pilch tips his helmet toward Yusif.

“Come on, Pilch. Give me a hand up,” Oddball says.

Monte looks to Yusif, “Listen up.”

Oddball and Pilch look back.

“Yusif can’t do this alone. If any of you yellow-bellied bastards want to go home and wait for these things to come knocking on your door… well you go ahead and get,” he looks over the men. “Rest of us got work to do.”

Muller nods, “We will stay.”

Muller, Karl, and Krugger walk behind Monte to join Vanessa, leaving Oddball and Pilch standing alone under the light.

Pilch looks to the Germans and nods, “Well, why not. You think I’m gonna let some Kraut steal all the glory,” he looks up to the light and then joins the others.

Monte looks to Oddball, “Well, what’s it going to be?”

Oddball looks to Vanessa, who stands behind Monte with her arms crossed. He sighs, “I’m going to regret this. Ain’t I?” and he joins the rest.