Friday, October 26, 2007

"Hunter of the Dead" -- Vikings vs Zombies!!!

Today's post comes once more from the webpages of If - E - Zine(tm) Issue Number 9. I offer you the first two pages of "Hunter of the Dead" in which Urdgar, a Viking, finds himself suddenly thrust into a zombie-filled apocalyptic world! This is part one of two. Watch for part two next Friday! Enjoy!

“Hunter of the Dead”
© 2007 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.

“It was a time of Vikings. The bitter breath of Frost Giants bedeviled the landscape. On the horizon came the shambling hordes of the dead.”
- From the Tales of Ugarth

A quiet snow fell upon the small collection of huts. Haffdann and Ovbjorn, dressed in furs, busily loaded provisions onto the longboat.
“Ya think Ordak will be out soon?” Ovbjorn’s baritone boomed even as a whisper.
“Give him way,” Haffdann said. “His wife has taken ill. Let him tend to her. We can load this alone.”

“We need more hands. Our men number too few. We’ve not even enough men for the oars.”

“With this air? Feel it. A storm comes and Thor rides with it just beyond our range. We’ll not need oars so long as our hempsails hold.”

A figure exited a small hut some distance away.

“Quiet,” said Haffdann. “Ordak comes now.”

Ordak was a tall man, though not taller than the hardy lot of men he called upon for heritage. The snow packed, crunching beneath his massive feet. His mane was long, brown and like a bear’s. Where man ended draped furs began was unclear. His eyes were emeralds and his skin pale leathers. He showed some youth, though the girth of age was filling him at the waist and cheek.

His voice was like a wolf’s, husky and growling. “What’s the wind tell you, Haffdann?”

“Our viking will be met by Thor.”

“We ride with Thor,” Ordak repeated.

“How’s your woman?” Haffdann asked softly.

Ordak eyed him but said nothing.

More figures moved through the shadows of night. At first three, then ten. Ovbjorn saw them first.

“Ya think our lousy oarsmen are comin’ to help?” he asked.

“Maybe Sigurd drank them stupid and has convinced them all to an early start,” Ovbjorn said. Ordak and Haffdann laughed.

A scream came to them as a banshee’s wail in the night.

“Fredierike!” Ordak yelled compulsively. His muscles tensed, launching him from the longboat and onto the soft snowy sands of the shore. His thick thighs contracted and stretched. He ran towards his hut, Ovbjorn and Haffdann trailing behind.

Another scream, this time from another hut and male. Ordak slowed in confusion before pressing on towards his woman.

He called for his wife once more. More screams filled the night.

“Raiders!” called Ovbjorn, but Ordak was as a hawk. No shape, no form, no shadow filled his vision. Only thoughts of his woman remained. His feet dug at the snow. His muscles churned. Death was on the air, in his nose as his world went red with horror and rage.

He plowed into the hut. There he found three men naked and pale as if with illness tearing flesh from his crying, dying mate. She screamed with frenzy and fear.
He paused in horror, cursed, “By the gods!”, then his muscles rippled beneath flesh, springing him through the air. He snatched one of the pale offenders tight by the head with both hands. One hand came away full of wispy, dry hair. Unthinking, he cocked his enemy’s head back with his still clutching hand and delivered a heavy blow with his fist, hair still in his hand. The man’s jaw broke with a snap and Ordak pushed him away.

The other two pale men looked up, blood spilling and spraying from their mouths. Their eyes were pure yellow with mad black tentacles spearing towards a pupilless center. Their flesh hung loosely from their bodies.

“By the gods,” Ordak cursed once more under his breath. “By what madness hast thou spawned?”

They were on him, each grabbing an arm. Dirty, gray nails dug into his forearm. Ordak whipped about until one fell crashing away. Ordak grabbed the other by the chin and forehead, twisting until its neck popped once, twice, thrice before throwing the creature against a wall of the hut.

Ordak stood over his bloody wife. Crimson bubbles gurgled from her mouth and an open wound at her neck. Her breath wheezed once, twice then faded. Ordak felt some sense of her hover in the air nearby. When the feeling faded, something faded from Ordak’s own heart.

A small shuffling of feet whipped Ordak’s head round. The three inhuman yet human-looking creatures were moving to stand once more.

“How is this possible?” Ordak cried. He leapt from bedside to the fire beside which lay his hatchet. He it up and it slipped into a position of comfort on its own as he yelled, “I’ll rend you with my steel!”

He became a dervish of bladed wind, a wintry whorl of biting death. The hatchet, spinning, lopped off a piece of one creature’s skull. It kept coming after Ordak.
Ordak screamed, swinging, cleaving off the arm of another. It kept coming.

Changing tactics, Ordak swung low to cut the leg off the third creature at the knee. It toppled and had to crawl using it’s hand and one remaining leg, but it kept coming.

With a lifting boot, Ordak kicked at the legless one and sent it flying into a wall. The hut shook with the clangor and blast.

Each time Ordak swung he hit.

The creatures barely bled, screamed none and kept coming.

“Demon spawns of Hel!” Ordak screamed and chopped, chopped and screamed until only bits and pieces of fleshy-splattered ichor covered the walls and the floor of the hut.

Watch for Part Two next Friday!

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