Friday, November 14, 2008

Stockpile, Part 3 - Conclusion

This is the last part of a story that started here. If you haven't read it, go back and do that now. Because if you don't, you'll be confused, and you'll have nobody to blame but yourself.


Billy didn't wait for Gunther to charge this time. He ran toward the persistent zombie, bat held in both hands. He swung for the belly, and predictably, the undead reached arms downward to block. As slow as it was, it didn't have a prayer of shifting back up before Billy checked his swing and redirected it to the monster's head. The bat cracked against the zombie's skull with a noise like a smashed watermelon.

The undead staggered, and Billy attacked again, this time swinging for the fences. The bat crushed the zombie's skull, and it immediately lost all semblance of life. The body simply collapsed.

"C'mon!" he yelled at Gomez. "We gotta run!"

The square was nearly empty now, with all the shuffling undead converging on the hangar across town. Billy set off at a loping jog with Principal Gomez right behind him. He glanced over at the hangar, wishing he thought he could make it there, and noticed the town's only squad car parked outside. It was too far away to make out the face of the man who jumped out of the car and ran into the hangar, and at this point, Billy didn't really care. He just wanted to get to the barn.


Becky could feel herself about to be sick. She didn't want to make any noise. She just wanted to lie there and be left alone, but she could tell she was about to throw up, and there wasn't any way she could do it quietly. She started to drag herself away from the shuffles and moans she could hear through the corn.

And then, without warning, she vomited. Loudly. The grunts and moans became loud and more excited, and she crawled away, still retching. She didn't even see the scarecrow until she ran into the pole. Weak, sick, and tired, Becky pulled herself to her feet and leaned heavily on the scarecrow's sturdy pole. She didn't know how she could fight, but she knew she wouldn't let those demons catch her if she could help it. She meant to go down fighting.

All the fear was drained out of her now. She knew she was dying, knew she didn't have much time left, but she found that she didn't much care. With nothing left to lose, she was no longer terrified. Just really mad.

The lone zombie who did manage to find her discovered, not the frightened prey it had chased into a corn field, but an angry, violent woman. While the other two zombies nearby wandered aimlessly and blindly through the corn, this one was stunned by the fury of its supposed prey. Becky ripped the crossbeam off the scarecrow and smashed the undead over and over. The board splintered and snapped as she drove the monster to the ground, and then she slammed the jagged end of the plank right through the zombie's head, pinning it to the dirt, lifeless once again. A primal scream of rage came from Becky's throat, and then she collapsed again, welcoming the cool of the dirt on her face.


Things were looking darker than ever for Jake and Sheriff Anderson. Anderson had fired on the approaching zombies, this time with a little more success - one of them fell as a huge bullet tore through its forehead and sent its primal brain out the back of its head. But more were coming, and before they knew it, the two men were surrounded and fighting tooth and nail.

Anderson clubbed a zombie in the face with the butt of his gun, but didn't manage to slow it at all. The horrible creature still managed to slash his belly with its claws, tearing his shirt and his skin beneath it. Anderson stumbled back, bleeding horribly, and watched as the zombie approached again.

The undead horror never got to him. Just when Anderson thought he was about to join the ranks of the undead, he heard the roar of Jake's chainsaw as it tore through the attacking zombie and chopped its head clean off.

"We gotta go, sheriff! Right now!" Jake ran for the door, away from the crowd of zombies that pressed through broken windows. "I'll clear a path!" Chainsaw roaring, Jake threw himself at a small crowd of undead right outside the door. Blood and guts flew as the saw tore the zombies to shreds.

Anderson could barely walk. His belly wound was horrible, but he knew that the survivors would need his gun. They would need the first aid kit, too - but right now, he needed it worse. He would never be able to get out of the hangar, bleeding as bad as he was. He ignored the groaning undead and made for the radio room, where he hoped to hide long enough to patch up his wounds.

Three zombies blocked his way. For Sheriff Anderson, all hope fled. There was no way he could fight three of them now, not as badly wounded as he was. He pulled his revolver, and just for a moment, considered putting it in his mouth. As he hesitated, though, he heard the blast of a pump shotgun, and saw one of the zombies lurch sideways from the blast. Standing in the doorway, silhouetted against the late afternoon sun, was Deputy Taylor, the only other peace officer in town.

"Sheriff Anderson? Is that you? I heard you on the shortwave. What in hell is going on?"

The zombies were closer to the door than they were to the deputy. Anderson choked out a warning, but it came too late. The zombies fell on his deputy, who screamed once and then fell to the ground.

Taylor had bought Anderson the time he needed. He made the most of the delay and locked himself in the radio room. He ripped off his shirt, opened the kit, and hastily bandaged his belly and his bleeding forehead. But he was still cornered. Zombies burst through the door to the room, three hungry monsters out for blood.

Like the lone zombie in the corn field, these simple but horrifying predators were not prepared for the sheriff's fury. He kicked. He punched. He lifted the radio set and smashed it over a zombie's head. He even clubbed one of them with a chair. Not one zombie got close enough to hurt him, and one of them even lay unmoving, its brains leaking out past the ruined radio set. The other two had been forced out of the room, and now Anderson dodged past them and ran for the door.


Billy and Gomez reached the corn fields just in time to hear the scream. "Somebody needs help!" said Billy, panting. Gomez nodded, and they both headed into the corn to find the source of the scream.

Gomez saw her first and pointed her out to Billy. "She's been bitten. I can handle this, but you have to keep them off of us." Billy nodded, trusting the principal despite three years of mutual animosity. He spotted several zombies, more from the waving corn than from actually seeing them, and ran toward them, yelling loudly. "Come and get me, you brain-eating bastards!"

Gomez ran over to Becky, pulling a small vial out of his coat pocket. "Trust me," he told her. "This will hurt - a lot - but it will help you." She nodded weakly, unable to protest even if she wanted. Gomez uncorked the vial and poured a thin white powder into the bite wound in her arm.

Suddenly her skin was on fire. The flame burned up her arm, through her blood, all the way to her brain. She screamed in pain, thrashing to try to escape the pain that was burning her from the inside out. Gomez tried to hold her still, quiet her down, but it was no use - the zombies heard her. The first thing Becky saw when the pain finally stopped was two undead tearing the principal in half.

She jumped up and ran. The closest shelter was the barn, and she wasn't going to stay out in the corn field any more. She silently thanked Gomez, whose sacrifice had saved her life, even if her arm still dripped blood from the gaping wound. She threw herself through the side door, right behind Billy. He wiped a smear of blood off his bat and said, "Where's Gomez?"

Becky shook her head, a tear sliding down her cheek.


Anderson followed the trail of shredded corpses as Jake plowed his way through the mass of zombies that surrounded the hangar. Following the drifter was the easiest way to get out. Out of all the undead that pursued him, only one got close enough to bother him, and he simply shot it through the face. Then he was through the crowd, running, and he could see the Grayson farm. With sunset less than an hour away, he jumped the split-rail fence surrounding the farm and made for the barn. As he ran, he noticed the farmer and his wife - but didn't bother to try to help them, since they were smashing out the windows of their own house before they saw him, and then shambling after him once they knew he was there.

The last rays of the day's sunshine hung in the air as Sheriff Anderson made it to the barn. But with horror, he realized that the people inside the barn weren't alone! The zombies had broken in, and he could hear the sounds of a fight from inside. Now with no medical supplies and only two bullets, he wasn't sure what he could do to help - but he wasn't going to let that sun go down without doing everything he could to save his town.


Inside the barn, Becky stabbed at a zombie with a pitchfork while Billy swung at another. Jake had dropped the chainsaw and was scrambling around, looking wildly for anything else he could use to add to their arsenal. He saw the sun slip behind the trees, and knew he had only minutes left to find what they needed. Without medical supplies, all the weapons in the world weren't going to help. The nurse had a horrible bite out of her arm. Billy's back was shredded, blood soaking all the way down his jeans and into the floor. Jake himself was limping, and knew he needed to bind his leg. But if he couldn't find bandages and antiseptic in the next five minutes, time was up and they were all doomed.

Billy swept up the chainsaw and pulled the cord. It roared to life, just in time for Billy to mow down both the zombies that were in the barn. He threw his weight against the door and blocked it with several bales of hay. Becky slammed shut the windows and shutters and locked them before the zombies could simply crawl through the windows. Anderson pulled the barn door shut, and with less than a minute of daylight left, the barn was sealed.

"Just what I needed!" Jake hollered triumphantly, and lifted a box full of vet supplies from inside a stall near the front of the barn. Success was within their grasp - each of them had a weapon, they had medical supplies, and the barn was clear. Jake let himself enjoy a burst of hope.

Just before that last ray of sun disappeared, though, the survivors in the barn discovered Farmer Grayson's last, horrible secret. Years before, Grayson had killed a man over a land dispute - and buried him in the barn. The zombie appeared as if from nowhere, tearing through floor boards and screaming in guttural, unintelligent rage. Jake's cry of dismay echoed through the barn - if even one zombie was in the barn when the sun set, all was lost. And while they could probably finish the horrible thing between the four of them, in a matter of seconds it would be too late. Billy ran for the monster, but only Sheriff Anderson was close enough to do anything. He grappled with the zombie, slammed it against a wall, but didn't manage to smash its head into the hook as he had planned. He beat the zombie, but in the end, it wouldn't matter. They had the weapons, they had the medical supplies, but they were going to lose because this one horrible monster would take too long to die. His snarl of frustrated rage was cut short as he was booted out of the way.

Becky shoved the sheriff aside to have a clear shot. She screamed as she drove the pitchfork through the surviving zombie's face, destroying its brain and pinning it to the wall. "Back to hell, you devil!" As the unearthly light went out in the zombie's eyes, darkness fell on the town.

Anderson turned to Jake. "What now?"

Jake shrugged. "That's up to you, I suppose. We can run, or we can fight."

Anderson pulled the pitchfork out of the wall. His face was set. He was resolved.

"This is my town... and I'm taking it back."


If you have ever played Last Night on Earth, you probably recognize a lot of what happened. Just to clarify, here are a few cards and events that shaped the way the game (and the story) played out.

Sheriff Anderson started with a revolver (as always), but rolled a 1 for his first attack, and had to discard it. Zombies played 'There's No Time, Leave It!" on the next turn, and the revolver left the game, forcing Anderson to have to take a random draw instead of retrieve his revolver. The next item he found was a revolver... but he still rolled '1' three more times in the game, and if not for his 'Man of Action' ability, would not have had four weapons at the end of the game.

"I've Got to Get to the..." forced Anderson to have to run to the hangar. The shortwave radio was entirely my idea - that's not actually in the game. I just used it to explain why Anderson had to run all the way across town.

Anderson used "Escape Through the Windows" to get away from the zombies who had cornered him in the general store.

Zombies wounded Becky early in the game, and played "I Feel Kinda Strange." Becky then hid in the cornfield most of the game, hoping she could avoid fights and thus avoid becoming a zombie hero.

The gasoline-and-blowtorch combo failed miserably.

Six zombies closed in on the hangar after Jake left. Sheriff Anderson (holding a revolver and the first aid kit) was wounded a second time, and was about to have to fight three zombies. "Deputy Taylor" prevented the fight from occurring, giving Anderson enough time to heal up. The next turn, Anderson repelled two zombies and killed a third, and then ran out of the hangar to head for the barn.

"Principal Gomez" was played to cancel "I Feel Kinda Strange." Although I left it out of the story because it was getting too long, Billy used the fire extinguisher to drive the zombies away from Becky so she could get to the barn. She found a pitchfork when she searched there.

Jake drew a "Just What I Needed" while holed up in the barn to pull the only "First Aid Kit" left in the deck.

On the very last zombie turn, the heroes had killed enough zombies that the zombies were able to spawn - and one went into the barn. Victory conditions for the heroes required the barn to be cleared, so the zombie player was pretty confident, having just placed three zombies in the barn with only one turn left for the heroes.

Billy used the chainsaw to kill two of the zombies in the shed. Anderson attacked the last zombie, and succeeded in winning, but did not kill it. The zombie player started to celebrate a victory, and then the hero player played "Get Back You Devils!", allowing the stalemate to turn into a kill. With absolutely no more time left, the heroes pulled out the narrowest of wins.

The thing about Last Night on Earth is that just about every game could be turned into a story, just like this. Not all will be as thrilling, but even if the heroes lose, the game is always like playing a board game version of a zombie movie. I simply cannot recommend this game highly enough. Go here and get a copy:


Wind Lane said...

That was a lot of fun to read, only thing that didn't make sense was why they had to have the barn empty by sun down. You never gave an explanation for that in the story. Other than that it was a rip-roaring good time. :-)

Matt Drake said...

Unfortunately, the game didn't give an explanation, either, and unlike the 'I Have to Get to the...' card, which you really can't try to use in a story without a decent explanation, I just decided Jake knew something he didn't feel like sharing. Maybe a lot more zombies start popping up when the sun goes down. Maybe zombie lords appear at dark. I was torn between inventing an explanation for the deadline and being as true to the actual game as possible - and I totally was. Aside from the shortwave radio, there was nothing in this story that didn't happen. The same zombie came after Billy time after time, and then he killed it with a bat. The human drew Principal Gomez early on, and didn't use him until much later to cure Becky. In fact, if you have this game, you'll recognize all these lines:

"It's happening. They're coming... again."
"What the hell is going on in this town?"
"Back off. I can handle this."
"Sheriff Anderson? Is that you?"
"Just what I needed!"
"This is my town... and I'm taking it back."

So since I was doing my best to be as close to the game play as possible, I just said that Jake knows why they have to hole up, but he's not telling.

Jim said...

Yeah... Sometimes the best explanation is no explanation.

Nice write-up of the game. Now if only you had played the "This could be our last night on earth" card...