11 May 2012

The Hounds of God on Ascension Day (Zombie and Nun Flash Fiction)

Sister Mary Olympia shouldered her CETME and snapped a fast round through the skull of the undead postal carrier that was shuffling toward her. The corpse staggered backwards and then dropped to the ground. The battle-hardened nun strolled up to the body and reached down for the bundle of letters that he still clutched in his fist. She pulled them out and quickly leafed through them. She selected one sealed with the Bishop's signet and slipped it underneath her scapular and into her cincture. The rest she let fall to the ground, where the wind blew and scattered them over the zombie's motionless body. She touched the copy of “Watchtower” to the glowing cherry of the cigarette that she held in her teeth, fanned the air with the magazine until it was in flames, and then touched it to the clothing of the lifeless corpse. She walked away as the body slowly burned. “Bloody heretics,” she said, “all of 'em.”

A small undead child appeared around the corner as Sister Mary neared the entrance to Holy Nativity Convent and Primary School, and again she brought the CETME to bear. The jacketed .308 NATO round tore a gaping hole through the little girl's forehead, and deposited an unhealthy clot of brain matter and bone splinters on the brick wall behind her. The little beast slumped to the wall and then to the ground as Sister Mary stepped around her. She dropped the empty magazine from her rifle and let it slide into her drop pouch for reloading later – after Vespers. She selected another from her belt, kissed it, seated it in the mag well and slammed it home. She slapped the charging handle forward just in time as another small girl, in the familiar pleated plaid skirt appeared, shuffling toward the nun with her arms outstretched. The CETME barked twice and the threat subsided. Sister Mary reverently crossed herself and osculated the upper receiver of her trusty rifle.

Slipping into the convent's main narthex, Sister Mary quickly made her way up a flight of stairs, down a short, dark hallway, and into the first door on the right; the door that led to her chapel-bunker – and relative safety. She threw the bolts on the steel door, flipped on the hallway motion-detectors, and then slid into her chair. She lit a fresh Camel straight, and switched on the reading lamp over her prie-dieu. She pulled the Bishop's letter out of her cincture band, and then deftly unlocked the bayonet from her CETME - this she used to carefully open the letter without disturbing the wax seal. After replacing the bayonet on its lugs she unfolded the letter, and blowing a cloud of pure, unfiltered smoke over the page, began to read. A minute or so passed and Sister Mary Olympia sat upright, dropping the letter to her lap. She picked a bit of tobacco off her tongue and brushed it onto the handkerchief at her waist.

The letter was dated over two months ago – several weeks before the outbreak. Several weeks before young Sister Marguerite fell victim. Several weeks before Sister Mary Olympia had to do the hardest thing she had ever had to do.

Make haste to come to the underground facility beneath the church at Templecombe,” read the Bishop's letter. “And bring your new novice – she has much promise, and her prior training and experience in viral pathology might prove quite useful given the recent developments.”

Chain smoking in a darkened chapel is no way to spend a Holy Day of Obligation, Sister Mary Olympia thought to herself. She stood up, adjusted the Kevlar tunic under her habit, and put the sling of her CETME over her shoulder. She snapped off the reading light and headed out of her bunker. “The schoolyard's dirty,” she said aloud, “and no one can clean house like a frickin' Dominican.”

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