Behind Every Peacemaker


William stood up, stretching his legs. The walk in to their position had been rather taxing, the six of them following a circuitous path to avoid detection. The problem was less with the distance and more the stop-and-start cadence they had to adopt out of necessity, the area teeming with infected.

Worst part of it though was the fact that he was contending with a new primary arm; since the nature of the ambush placed a greater emphasis on volume of fire, he left behind his AR and instead carried one of the AKs they had recently converted to full auto. He had no complaints about the rifle itself – the conversion was expertly done – but the thing was considerably heavier than his AR.

And it wasn’t simply the rifle itself, although that was no walk in the park, their gunsmith using an old Norinco RPK clone with its heavier receiver, longer barrel and steel bipod. Every accessory weighed more than its comparable equivalent on the AR: the load of eight steel 40 round magazines, the +300 rounds of steel-cased and steel-cored ammunition, the PK-AV sight with its side mount seemingly forged from iron. By the end of their walk his back and thighs were howling their protests; funny how quickly you lose your enthusiasm for a gun once you have to carry it, he thought, doing some knee bends.

“You OK there, chief,” Chris whispered, lips curling up in a grin.

“I’ll be fine,” William reassured him, concealing his displeasure, the entire affair made all the worse due to Chris’ obvious amusement at his predicament. “Fuck if this place don’t stink though,” he added with a scowl, standing up.

“I can just picture who’s been squatting here,” AJ agreed from his position down the hall; the place was the type of two story houses with separate flats on each floor common to Detroit, this one dilapidated in a manner also common to Detroit.

“Be happy we’re upstairs,” Chris chided, “Imagine what the basement smells like, goddamn crackheads and junkies pissing and shitting down there.” He gestured at the heap of used needles and small plastic baggies they swept into the corner earlier. “Whole place is probably saturated with the fucking HIV virus,” he added, sneering with disgust.

“We got the view, that’s the important thing,” AJ reminded. And William had to admit that, as much as the place was lacking in the niceties, it did provide a panoramic vista of the street below; he and Chris at the front windows in the onetime living room, AJ across the gutted kitchenette, watching the back and positioned to receive hand signals from Max in the opposite position.

Nice little crossfire set up, William admitted, slumping back against the wall. Be a shame if the long walk was for nothing.

+++

William, Chris and AJ spent the rest of the morning in the upstairs apartment, alternating between dozing and playing movie gun trivia to distract them from the heat and smell. William was just on the point of stumping his partners – convinced neither would get ‘The Survivors’ as the answer to ‘308 Valmet and Walter Matthau’ – when suddenly they heard an explosion coming from the west.

“Game time,” Chris announced, the men shouldering their weapons.

The echo of the explosion died down, the sound of car alarms rising as it faded. Gunfire erupted, followed by the roaring of engines and the noise of vehicles crashing. William shouldered the rifle and shifted the bipod about on the warped and rotted table he set by the window.

He leaned over and looked down past the vacant lots in front of their position as the gunfire continued, hoping to catch a glimpse of the target coming in the gaps between the houses on the opposite side of the street. By design they couldn’t see the actual trap; Rick’s team was directly covering the VBIED, Rick having the trigger – well, not the actual detonator, William corrected himself, but the activator, the bomb set to detonate by a motion detector to guarantee it went off as the lead vehicle passed – his team’s field of fire designed to drive the target directly into William and Chris’ field of fire.

William saw – or maybe only thought he saw – the flash of something moving over a fence. He craned his head about, straining for a better view when the bomb detonated. A huge noise, like the sound of close lightning but deeper, sounded, William flinching as the concussion wave hit him through the open window, shaking the house.

“Hold fire until I shoot first,” Chris yelled over the roar, dust and smoke billowing over the houses, “We want them completely committed to the kill zone.”

William nodded and put his eye to the sight. He watched the scene, wide-eyed and ears ringing. Hold fire, he repeated to himself as he reached up with his index finger to push the safety lever to Fire.

A second volley of gunfire erupted, this one closer. A roar of engines sounded past the homes, William tensing, tapping on the receiver of his rifle with his trigger finger. Finally a vehicle appeared in the clearing, a Lincoln Navigator, straddling the sidewalk, moving slowly on two flattened tires.

Chris fired, the driver’s side window shattering. William opened fire, pouring a long burst into the vehicle; the SUV stopped then lurched forward, sideswiping a lamppost before disappearing from view.

Several men wandered into the clearing backs turned and shooting towards the ambush. Chris signaled William to hold fire, waiting a beat until several more appeared, followed by two vehicles apparently idling around some obstruction.

That makes it at least four vehicles, plus whatever was immobilized at the first site, William calculated. Someone involved must have owned a gas station somewhere.

Chris fired again, one of the gunmen dropping. William squeezed the trigger, holding it back as he raked the scene, the gun making the metallic rattle distinct to AKs as he moved the dot from point to point, watching with pleasure as their adversaries either dropped or scurried for cover.

He had just shot out all the windows on the first vehicle in the line when he heard the click of his hammer falling on an empty chamber. He removed the empty magazine and reached down for a replacement, rocking it into place and then pulling back on the charging handle.

William squeezed the trigger again, loosing another stream of fire just as the second vehicle in the line, a Super Duty pickup, rammed into the first, attempting to push it out of the way. William raked this vehicle as well, emptying another magazine into it as it crawled out of view, dimly aware of the bullets striking the face of the home in front of him.

They continued like this, William firing long bursts while Chris kept up a steady cadence of aimed fire. Halfway through his fourth magazine William noticed that there was nothing left to shoot in their kill zone. He turned, directing his aim through the gaps in the buildings across the street, firing towards the detonation site. For the first time he became aware of the car alarms going off in the houses across the street, screeching in the growing gaps between shots.

William loaded a fifth magazine and shifted his aim back to the kill zone. He began firing short bursts into the crevices of the yards on the opposite block when Chris signaled him. “Hold fire,” he called out.

William ceased firing, watching the scene through his sight. The gunfire trailed off, leaving nothing but the yelping of the car alarms.

They sat there for a few moments, waiting for the gunfire to resume, only a few solitary shots from Rick’s position interrupting the wailing. They watched as the first infected appeared on the scene, singly at first but within a few minutes growing.

Soon enough there was a whole hoard of them, swarming about. The three sat, their guns remaining silent, instead watching as the infected scurried about the street beneath their window, rushing into the wide open house, attracted to the blaring siren.

They waited a few more minutes until Chris removed a radio from his pocket, a cheap children’s model. He turned it on and pulled the antenna out then held it out the window. Shrugging at the others, he pressed transmit, another explosion, softer and more muffled than the others coming from the street.

The three watched as smoke began to pour from the house with the siren. Infected began to stream back out into the street, wrapped in flames, the three watching the scene, nodding with admiration.

“The car alarms were a nice touch,” Chris complimented, pushing the antenna back in.

The three stood there together, black smoke billowing into the sky. Genius, William thought as he watched a cluster of infected drag one of their smoldering companions to the ground, biting and tearing.