Jenn was driving us along Sierra Avenue already in downtown Fontana, the sky orange and gold shadowing the old mission-style church and casting the newer library glass in dim blue. We were on our way to the game after picking up Cris in Muscoy. As we passed city hall the conversation about the game turned to the old test sessions just before the release of the first edition of Zombie Horror.
Cris: “…Just be careful what you say in this game.”
Jenn: “What? Why?”
Cris: “HORROR MOVIE RULES! That’s why. Fresh batteries, look first. Y’know, in the test game those idiots wanted to stop for gas on our way out of the city for some stupid reason!”
I started laughing.
Cris: “Look at ‘em! YOU remember! So we stopped at the f&*#$n gas station and here it comes! A gas truck on fire covered with zombies, and of course a big explosion, and ugh! We didn’t even need the gas!”
Cris (whispered under his breath): “idiots”
Me (turning to Jenn): “Ha ha, I did do that!”
It was several minutes before we arrived at our destination, Jenn’s parents’ house. We were playing at the in-laws’ house because Gil was in town and this was going to be one of the rare times we could all get together. It was not long before we sat gathered around the 6-person dining table.
Preamble or the Info-Dump of the Dead
The incident occurs in the City of Amorsetville and the surrounding county somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The main feature of the county is a large lake, polluted by an old oilrig at its center, with a dense pine forest surrounding it. The main thoroughfare for the county, connecting it to the city and the freeway, is the Old County Highway that cuts through the forest passes and a shallow pass cut through the hills and runs into the rural areas with old houses and hillbillies, then scattered farms and ranches, then mostly new suburb developments until finally hitting the city.
On the Southside of the lake, Lake Ponchateaux, are narrow rocky beaches crowded with lake-goer trash, mostly beer cans and bottles, and a significant concrete section near the road is the termination point of the city storm drains. On the north and western sides, the lake is bordered and feeds a significant stretch of marshland with hills and thick forest on its east shore. Nearby the lake are a large and old trailer park (Atomic Park) and a wrecking yard/junkyard. There is also an active landfill a few miles west of these. To the south of the Old County Highway which runs east and west, is a maze of back roads, mostly dirt, and patches of old houses and trailers.
Near the far end of the county, at the western extreme, just off the Old County Highway is the Broken Saddle. It is an ugly faded yellow box of a building, an old dive bar. Currently, it is a pit stop for truckers and outlaw bikers who have some shady business to conduct on the county back roads. The old west style mortarboard has a chopper with a black saddle painted on it although the paint is long ago faded and peeling off to reveal a horse underneath the bike. The old horse ties still stand out front, sad leftovers from when it was a popular cow-punch themed nightspot.
The Outlaw Bar
In the Broken Saddle, the place was full, it was not a large space by any means but it did pretty good business considering its comparatively remote location. The jukebox was cranking out classic country and rock hits and a blue smog of cigarette and reefer smoke drifted lazily among the wood rafters and hanging pool table lights. Bikers in dirty denim dominated the few pool tables and various clusters of truckers occupied a few tables and some bar stools, yet there was room for more.
At a low table in the corner by the bar and opposite the rank smelling and ill-maintained restrooms sat our heroes. At the table nursing a pitcher of cheap beer were Wesley dressed in faux country & western finery (played by Jenn), El Guapo in a road-grimed duster (played by Gil), and Lilith, a pink-haired Goth in fishnets and gloss-black PVC moto shorts (played by Isis).
The GM (me): “Wha…frickin’ El Guapo! What like from the Three friggin’ Amigos movie!?”
Gil: “What? No. I haven’t seen that.”
Wesley, despite her plain looks and country-look reminiscent of a 70’s urban cowboy film, was a Bounty Hunter by trade. She was armed with a Desert Eagle in a hidden underarm holster underneath her shirt and another in a hidden holster in the small of her back accessible through a slit in the back of her shirt as well as a little .22 semi-auto hideaway pistol in her boot. She was a cousin of the Goth girl at the table, the same with the “outlaw” that was helping with the pitcher.
El Guapo, as he had dubbed himself, was a Gunslinger from southern Mexico and on the hunt for a bounty that he had pursued to the back roads of Amorset on the back of his chopper. While he was here, he had figured to source the help of his few relatives in the area. However, he was no closer to his quarry after a week of hunting. He had a wide-brimmed grey ten-gallon hat with a small peacock feather stuck in the band. Also, he was wearing, besides the dirty tan duster, a red lumberjack button-up, a brown leather belt with a large silver buckle, a pair of dark blue denim jeans, and a pair of well-worn cowboy boots.
IN addition, he was also armed with a Desert Eagle pistol in a hidden underarm holster underneath his shirt, a folding buck-knife in a sheath on his belt, and a bowie knife in his boot. He grabbed the half-full pitcher and refilled the Goth’s empty glass.
Lilith was by all appearances a club frequenting Goth-girl in the full drag, pancake makeup, bright red lipstick, and black fingernail polish. However, she was a consummate gear-head, Gizmoteer by trade, and was the only child of the severely alcoholic owner of the local wrecking yard. Her short pink hair was spiked into a faux-hawk, she was not armed to the teeth, however, she did own a gun, but she did have a multi-tool in a holster on her hip and a pocketknife zipped in a pocket.
All were bored and looking for a job, their prime concern to get some money, but here they were more likely to find trouble. Nonetheless, they began circulating amongst the truckers and bikers. Lilith talked with the bulky and somewhat tight-lipped bartender; her flirting got her a free shot. The trio almost happened upon a gunrunning deal but that would have required them to wait a while in the bar, a few hours. Already the bikers were picking fights with unfortunate randos walking into the place.
The motley trio decided to leave and head out to the Goth club after Lilith’s suggestion. Just as they cleared the tab and rose from their seats, they heard the wrack of smashing metal and the hideous bang of a car wreck. The place shook. For a brief second, the place was dead silent as the patrons exchanged wide-eyed glances. Suddenly, a scraggly older biker rushed in and shouted, “The bikes man! He hit our f*@#in’ bikes!”
The place cleared of bikers; most of the bike-riding patrons were of the notorious local outlaw motorcycle club, the Black Skulls.
Lilith: “Aw man! We need to get outta here.”
El Guapo: “Well, I’ll follow you on my chopper.”
Wesley (pointing at Lilith): “C’mon let’s go! I ride with you!”
They rushed out of the nearly empty bar and made it to their vehicles. They could see a small red four-door sedan had smashed into the line of choppers out front of the place. The driver was in bad shape as he was pulled from the wreck. He was drenched in blood, which El Guapo thought odd; the wreck did not look that bad. The trio then heard a biker-chick, a tall bleached blonde in leopard print and tight black leather pants cry out, “oh my god! There’s a kid in here!”
The trio pulled away in their vehicles and rolled to the dirt and gravel driveway to the street. Wesley saw that the biker chick was cradling the apparently unconscious child.
Isis: “Aw c’mon! We gotta get outta here!”
Jenn: “Well, I was just lookin’!”
Gil: “Yeah this is bad, let’s go! I’m already going.”
As El Guapo followed Lilith’s beat-up ’98 Chevy sedan, he saw the biker chick suddenly stand up screaming with the child fixed to her neck by its teeth. Something else was also happening with the passenger and driver but this was out of his sight. The trio drove away.
Gil: “Whew! Just in time!”
They had been on the road for about half an hour before passing a diesel tanker pulled over to the side of the Old County Highway. It was a chemical tanker, the graphics on its side indicated that the truck belonged to Geno-Chem. The tank sides were bulging and the truck emergency lights were blinking. El Guapo spotted the driver walking around the truck with a flashlight. He had a gas mask on. They drove by still about 30 minutes away from their goal in the heart of the city, the Goth club.
Zombie Goth Party
A while later, the trio found themselves in the city’s commercial district. The sodium lit streets appeared deserted and quiet. However, the line out front of the Goth club, known as the Bat Gate, was as long, black-clad, and morose as ever. The club had two large castle-style doors as its entrance and a bat silhouette above the doors limed in blue-white fluorescent lights. The bat suspiciously resembled the Batman symbol, which was a well-worn point of humor for goers and passersby alike.
Lilith pulled her beat-up sedan into the parking structure immediately adjacent to the club. El Guapo decided to cruise around the around block as he “was not parking his hog in there”. He eventually found a parking spot about two blocks north of the club, the curbs lined with cars from the club goers. So, he parked his bike under a street light and proceeded to walk to the club entrance. He passed by a wide alley that ran along the rear of the Bat Gate where some club-goers congregated to smoke cigarettes and “get some air” after drinking too much. The pale electric-cyan of mercury-vapor light illuminated the rear double-doors and limned the tight knot of smoking Goths in impenetrable black. El Guapo spotted the silhouette of what he assumed was a homeless man stumbling through the shadowed part of the alley that spilled into the sidewalk.
El Guapo yelled a command to “stop right there” suddenly at the shadow. The lurching form seemed not to heed his warning. However, it was advancing slowly so he walked away but at a more hastened pace. As he put distance between himself and the shadow he heard a Goth-chick in the alley mutter, “What was that, ha-ha-ha!”
Meanwhile, Lilith was busy flirting with the bouncer at the door. Eventually, the flirting paid off; both women were let in without having to be searched. They waited just inside the doors for El Guapo as the deep bass thumped through the floor and vibrated their bones. When El Guapo showed up, they entered. He did not mention his odd encounter.
The trio bellied up to the acrylic and glass neon-lit bar, the bartender was in full drag and heavily muscled with a multitude of face piercings and tattoos. They ordered a first-round and as they pronounced cheers, they vowed not to split up “no matter what”. Not long after their pledge, Wesley was approached by a Goth-Prince decked out in shiny black PVC, silver chains, and hairy chest exposed by his open-breasted outfit, a mane of pitch-black hair framing his white-painted face though his chiseled good looks still showed through. She immediately went off onto the dance floor with him.
El Guapo (as he took another shot of tequila): “Figures.”
Jenn: “Whaat!? My character doesn’t know what’s about to happen and she needs a little!”
Isis: “Gaawd! I know! I’m so TENSE!”
Lilith (taking her goblet of red wine in hand): “Ya know what? I’m gonna go see if I can get us up into the VIP tables.”
With that, Lilith went to the far side of the club opposite the entrance and began to work her charms with the bouncer minding the velvet rope that held off the commoners from the tables on the mezzanine. After easily getting past that hurdle she then spotted for somebody on the upper roped off mezzanine to charm, preferably a loner, she soon spotted her target, a lone effeminate looking person with only the top of their head shaved and butterfly tattoos between the heavily linered and lashed eyes. She seductively sauntered up to their table. In contrast, El Guapo haunted the bar served tequila shots from the muscly, fully cosmetically tricked out bartender.
El Guapo (stopping just short of a buzz): “This is too much for me man! I got to get out of here.”
He left to smoke a cigarette out front. Then he started walking around the corner as the bouncer told him to “take it around the corner”. He decided to go check on his bike, his cigarette still between his lips. There were a few people on the streets, or more accurately in the street. A woman with a horrified look on her face ran past El Guapo so fast he could feel the draft in her wake. He turned back around and saw that four people were running at him!
All four appeared disheveled and dirty but they were not homeless. They were zombies, fast zombies. El Guapo quick-drew his Desert Eagle and took pumped two shots into the lead creature’s chest. It had little effect.
Isis: “No! Head! Head!”
Gil: “But my character doesn’t know that yet… hey, since my shots should have already killed him, can I take a shot?”
El Guapo took careful aim at the lead zombie it was almost upon him. He pulled the trigger and completely missed. The lead zombie grappled his weapon-arm.
El Guapo: “Sh@#! Sh@#! Sh@#!”
The second zombie was also upon him and grabbed a hold of his other arm biting into his forearm. Fortunately, it only tore the heavy material of his duster sleeve. The other two zombies were close. He strained his wrist to point his weapon at the first zombie. Its head burst like a ripe melon covering El Guapo in a thick and rancid coating blood and brains. He turned his pistol on the second zombie again. Again, he was splattered with soupy gore. The third zombie ran at him and he moved just in time to shove the barrel of his gun in between its bared yellow teeth blowing out the back of its skull. He was able to put a bullet between the eyes of the last from a comfortable distance.
Gil: “Holy crap! I almost died… it only takes ONE bite huh? Crap!”
Meanwhile, in the club, Wesley was behind one of the giant hanging Persian rugs along the wall at the rear of the club near the alley exit. She and her Goth-Beau had their hands under each other’s clothes and going at it all hot and heavy. It was a well-known make-out place called the “tapestries” and to go behind them had become local slang for “let’s go do some heavy petting”. Wesley’s Goth-Prince had just unzipped his tight leather pants at her behest when she heard some screams. The sounds of dozens of trampling feet just on the other side of the carpet overwhelmed even the loud club music. Then she was pinned against her guy by innumerable bodies on the other side of the tapestry. She could barely breathe. A crush of people coming in from the alleyway was suffocating them!
It took her a while to push her way along the wall and into the dense, panicking crowd. She could see people being trampled on the dance floor and see others being attacked or attacking, biting and scratching. The scene was insane and terrifying, the music abruptly cut-off and all that could be heard after through ringing ears were stomping feet and screaming.
Jenn (joyously): “Alright! Now I can pull out my MP4!”
Me (the GM): “What!? You couldn’t carry that thing into the club!”
Jenn: “Why not? It says it’s a machine pistol in the book.”
Me: “YES… it’s an SMG… *sigh*”
A few minutes of explanation later…
Me: “It’s in the trunk of Lilith’s car.”
Immediately, as the chaos began to spread, Lilith raced from her mark down onto the stairs to spot for her friends. She desperately messaged them on her phone. El Guapo was outside but Wesley was still near the back of the club. Fortunately, Lilith was able to spot her just as the fleeing crowd pushed her to the ground. Lilith leaped to action over the brass banister and made it easily to her friend in time to pick her up from the floor. They fled towards the entrance. The crowd pushed them along like a mudslide then suddenly as the flood of people hit the bottleneck to the entrance the riptide of the crowd forced the pair apart.
Lilith was pushed backward, Wesley was knocked to the carpet immediately taking a few kicks to the stomach, and as she struggled to rise using the wall, had the wind knocked out of her when another club-goer was forced into her catching her in the gut with an elbow. She blacked out when a knee smashed into her face while falling to the floor. The next thing she was aware of was hanging on to Lilith’s shoulder for dear life and tasting the blood flowing from her nose as they ran out into the already crowded streets.
The bruised pair of women spotted their friend, El Guapo, inspecting some dead bodies lying on the pavement. He had a smoking gun in his hand. They shouted to him and the trio agreed to meet around the corner in their vehicles and get out of dodge post haste.
Lilith and Wesley ran to the parking structure via the caged-in pedestrian ramp, Lilith had parked her Chevy on the second level. As they beat it up the ramp they stopped when a twitching and badly wounded man blocked their path. He immediately charged them. Wesley immediately drew her Desert Eagle and put a hole in his chest but to no effect. As a result, Lilith quick-drew the twin Desert Eagle from the small of Wesley’s back. Her bullet nailed the zombie in the forehead blowing a fair portion of its head off spattering Wesley with blood.
Wesley: “My gun? You pulled my gun from my back?”
Wesley: “Don’t do that again.”
They made it to their car as another zombie charged them from across the structure. As they backed up, they knocked it back with the rear bumper then peeled out of the garage. Wesley called El Guapo. He was already at the agreed-upon nearby intersection, it was quickly becoming “a clusterf@#k”.
Later, on their way out of the city, they ran into an intersection choked with cars and crowded with zombies rushing over them like a wave of piranha. They immediately turned around by running over the curb and onto the sidewalk avoiding the other cars as they also entered that trap and crashed in desperate attempts to escape. After driving excessively fast through a maze of strangely empty residential streets they finally drove onto the Old County Highway. All let out a sigh of relief. They had agreed to hold up at Lilith’s dad’s place, the Wrecking Yard.
They had been driving for a good while along the completely darkened road well over the county border when their headlights glared back at them off a dense yellow fog flowing over the road. It was gas coming from the stalled tanker on the side of the road. The very same tanker they had passed hours ago on their way to the club. They stopped a fair distance away, should the wind change. The bulging tank had apparently ruptured.
Lilith: “Screw it, I’m gonna ram right through it!”
Wesley: “What about the gas!?”
Lilith (shrugging): “Just roll up the window. I’ll go real fast through it, or hold your breath.”
El Guapo: “What about me!? I’m totally exposed!”
Lilith: “Then get in the car!”
El Guapo: “I’m not leaving my bike.”
Because of the gas, they decided to not risk it and go around the long route via the country back roads. These roads were rough, completely unlit, and mostly dirt. There was the occasional old house and group of trailers as they drove. They did slow pace as to avoid getting stuck in a rut, hitting a rock, or running into the deep drainage ditches on the side that were becoming increasingly frequent. They were finally nearing the highway. However, a few hundred feet from the highway just after the sharp turn in the dirt road Lilith skidded to a stop. El Guapo rumbled up alongside. A trailer home hauled by an old pickup sat jackknifed across the road blocking it. The pickup was still idling.
El Guapo: “Aw crap.”
Wesley: “Well I’m not getting out of the car. Isn’t there a way around?”
The trio looked for a way around the vehicle but the drainage ditches on either side were too wide and deep to cross. If they tried, they would inevitably be stuck. El Guapo dismounted his chopper, pulled a machete hidden in a scabbard behind one of the saddlebags on the back of his bike, then slid it into his belt.
El Guapo: “*Sigh* Okay, I’ll go c’mon.”
Wesley (handing Lilith the 9mm from the glove box): *Sigh* “Okay.”
Lilith: “I’ll stay here and keep my headlights on.”
El Guapo slowly and carefully moved around the trailer followed closely by Wesley. Both disappeared from Lilith’s view. EL Guapo walked up to the cab of the idling truck and saw that the keys, to his relief, were still in the ignition.
Isis: “Well, yeah it’s idling.”
Gil: “Oh yeah, hehe.”
El Guapo: “But that trailer. There’s probably something in there.”
So, El Guapo decided to walk, very quietly and carefully, to one of the trailer windows. Indeed, he could see something moving in there.
Meanwhile, back at the car, Lilith was cradling her gun. A pair fists pounded on the driver’s side window. She immediately shot the zombie through the window.
The trailer door burst open and four zombies charged El Guapo. A large bearded zombie with its throat ripped out tried to tackle him but it missed, he took the opportunity to blow out its brains. He tried to shoot another that charged him but he hit its belly instead. Wesley aimed her paired Desert Eagles and dropped two more leaving only the one with a hole in its stomach standing. Two zombies then rose from the bed of the pickup, one armed with a shotgun which it fired mostly by accident. The shot missed entirely. The second leaped from the bed and tried to tackle El Guapo but fell flat on its face in the dirt.
Wesley felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to shoot nearly killing Lilith, who had carelessly prowled around the trailer to her friends. The last trailer zombie grabbed El Guapo’s gun-hand, in response he whipped the machete from his belt and chopped off the creature’s arm. Wesley dropped the one-armed zombie splattering its head all over herself and her friends with a double-shot to its cranium.
Lilith put a bullet in the brain of the zombie on the ground. El Guapo took a shot at the shotgun zombie but missed. Wesley finished it destroying its head with another double-shot from her paired weapons.
El Guapo: “Okay, I guess we better check the trailer?”
Wesley: “Uk! Do we have to?”
Lilith: “You first.”
Wesley went all the way to the rear of the trailer finding a bloody mess but no more creatures. Wesley and El Guapo were in the middle of the trailer standing by the closed bathroom door. They both could hear something moving around in there but were busy arguing about if they should open it. Then they started arguing about who should open it and who should wait to shoot. Of course, the door shattered and a small zombie, an undead child, charged Lilith. El Guapo missed horribly with his machete lodging it in the doorjamb. Lilith blew the back of the kid’s head out all over the toilet.
Finally, the trio arrived at the chain-link gate of the wrecking yard. The old-style billboard sign stood at an angle facing both the dirt and gravel driveway and the highway. The dirty faded white face of the old sign read Fletcher & Sons Wrecking & Repair since 1965. There was an old barely visible picture of a red tow truck next to the name. El Guapo sneered her family name was Flecha Hierro. Lilith got out, opened the lock & chain on the gate, and rolled it open. At this time in the morning, the gate should already have been open, the yard workers should have already opened the place up. However, the reality of last night began to slowly collapse on top of each of the trio’s heads.
They had a brief discussion and decided to “beef up” the car and get on the move as soon as possible, at least by tomorrow morning. Lilith pulled her car into the large corrugated steel garage and started work immediately, too energized with adrenaline to sleep, Wesley assisted. El Guapo asked where the office was finding out that there was not only television but also a CB and Shortwave radio system. The door to the office was at the rear of the garage past the tall warehouse shelving packed with new and old auto-parts. He tried to ask a few more questions but Lilith was not listening completely focused on her task. Wesley shrugged. So, El Guapo started around the shelves into the dark rear of the garage.
He soon saw the office door, ‘office’ painted in plain block letters across the bottom of the frosted glass window of the old grease smeared door. Something groaned and El Guapo froze in his tracks. His hand crept to the grip of his gun. The groaning was coming from the wheelbarrow next to the office door. He saw a body lying there starting to move. It was dressed in old, worn and oil-stained coveralls. He readied to shoot taking careful aim and then the body raised a half-empty whiskey bottle to its mouth. El Guapo sighed realizing he had almost shot Lilith’s alcoholic father. Her father emptied the last drink and tossed the bottle mindlessly away then gurgled and passed back out.
Soon enough he had found and was operating the CB radio. On the emergency channel, an evacuation message was mechanically repeating itself. It said something about a checkpoint at the far end of the county and a few others around the perimeter of the city limits as well. Next to him on another table was an array of security monitors that someone had forgotten to turn off. He glanced over and saw that the front gate and other areas around the vast junkyard had fixed security cameras.
He turned back to the CB trying to find some paper and a pen to jot down the message details. He finally found what he was looking for after a few more minutes and then he glanced over at the monitors. At the front gate were a pickup and several choppers. He saw that a few bikers had already skipped the barbed-wire topped fence and soon disappeared out of view. They appeared armed.
Lilith had a welder’s mask on and was welding some sheet steel to the side of her car, completely focused and obsessing. Wesley had just set down some heavy steel poles. Lilith had requested them. She would build the cowcatcher from them. Wesley stretched her back and took in a deep breath. She heard a slight noise to her left and turned to see a double-barrel sawed-off shotgun shoved into her face.
There were three bikers with guns at the wide entrance to the garage. The guy farthest from them was wielding an A-K. All were wearing the colors of the Black Skulls OMC.
Biker with Shotgun: “We’re gonna take what we want … PUT YER F*#$IN’ HANDS UP!!! Now. Where’s the gas?”
El Guapo stepped out of the shadows like a gunfighter of old and put a single bullet in the shotgun-wielding biker’s forehead. With that, Lilith pulled out a 9mm, her personal firearm, and drilled some holes in the A-K biker’s chest, he dropped his rifle but was still standing, a confused look on his bearded face. Wesley pulled her paired Desert Eagles and dropped both of the remaining bikers. El Guapo ran over and picked up the AK-47 shouting, “they’re at the gate!”
He jumped behind some wrecks near the front of the yard and then peeked around the corner. A second later, he unleashed a full burst on the bikers waiting behind the gate. He knew he had killed a biker sitting on his chopper. Wesley shot into the pickup’s windshield killing the driver and the passenger. The rest of the bikers, under a hail of bullets, retreated swiftly.
Jenn (to Gil): “I am SO glad you didn’t miss this time!”
The horizon began to burn brilliant blinding silver scorching away the beautiful bands of gold and orange of dawn. The trio moved the bodies from the truck then dragged them around the back, behind the garage. They pulled the pickup and the custom chopper into the yard locking the gate behind them.
Epilogue or Dawn of the Doomed
Early morning. Lilith distracting herself with a side project out of nowhere, making leather gauntlets with steel plates for Wesley. It would be around 3 pm, after hours of wrenching madly and non-stop, when she finished armoring the car and adding an improvised cowcatcher in place of the front bumper. The other two passed out utterly exhausted. All three were safe… for now.
End of Part One (Session played 8/10/19)