I’ve been working on creating a starting point for my previously posted horror short story Encircled in Malta and below is the first two short chapters of the story. I have gotten what was an originally about one thousand word short story to near novelette length of eleven thousand words. It’s about time I follow through and post more of it as I had promised. So below is the beginning of how the main character is introduced to the elements of his life that will get him to Malta.
The photo credit belongs to me as it is a photo I took of the Harbor in Malta while touring the Fort several years ago.
Encircled in Malta
***Recalling the Past
I decided starting this journal would help me come to grips with everything, and what my life has become. This is not formal there will be no dates just going to write when I need to unload, and remember. This will be the story of how I got here to this existence I know call my life, and to take breaks from the monotony that has become my existence. I decided it would be easy to start at the beginning of this living nightmare. I’m sure things will “run” together as I put this together, but with so much on my mind it’s not easy to recall things.
I know it’s been such a rush over the past few months. Hell has it even been that long? I don’t really remember too much of my trip to get here as it was a small adventure on its own. I at times still cannot believe I made it as much of Europe was in such turmoil at the start of this disaster. I’ve argued a few times with other survivors about the actual date but I don’t think anyone knows. So what I call months could have been weeks, or even longer. Either way, I’m being nitpicky in a journal of my own creating.
Hell I don’t know if anyone will ever even see this thing to read it. So I might as well start with my story. I got to add if someone does find this and read it you can screw the grammar lessons. You try writing this shit down as the world around you collapses in on itself. So if a grammar cop gets a hold of this, well I suggest you take your opinions and well, yeah. I’ll do one favor and cut out the swearing in case one of the few kids around find it too. I don’t want anyone to say that I’m a vulgar American even in my writing.
The one thing I’m truly hoping for out of this, my great experiment, is I remember those few I met on my way getting here. There where people that I could not help, those I could, and those that were just flashes of my travels. It wasn’t an easy journey and I know from other survivors it wasn’t the most difficult either. I just know it was my journey.
***The Maginot Line
Ok, let me think, I was in France. My wife had died, a year prior, and I decided that I’d take that trip to Europe we had always talked about. In hindsight I’d never have gone if I knew the world would go to shit, but who knew this would happen.
I had stopped at a World War 2 battlefield that offered some tours of the restored site. The location was part of the original Maginot Line. It’s amazing how much the French spent in building this “unbeatable” line of defense and all the Germans had to do was go around the structure. I was thinking about that fact when I stopped my rented car about the same time a big tour bus full of other American’s pulled up. I got to talking to a few of them as they waited for the next tour to start. They were kind enough to have snuck me into their group. I had no problem with this, as it saved me a few Euro and I got to go with others who had an English speaking guide.
We had just started our tour when we heard the sounds of large tires rolling down the road. It reminded me of those heavy tires you hear guys put on trucks they take out mudding. The heavy industrial whir sound that comes from the heavy tracked tires rolling on pavement kept coming in our direction. We could hear the heavy trucks were coming and we turned in several directions to find the source. We saw them coming down the main highway and turn up the sites parking lot driveway. They had French Military markings and I got to say a lot of us began wondering what was going on. On member of their group thought maybe they were adding some realism to the site by having a fake battle.
The trucks rolled in and we all watched in surprise as troops came spilling out the back of the vehicles. Orders were being barked out at them in French, naturally, and the men came running up to our location and went past us in most cases. A few shoved past our wide eyed, opened mouth group taking up positions facing the historical battlefield. I thought to myself during that moment about how I wondered if this is how things happened during World War 2.
It was such a contrast as us tourists were dressed in shorts, khaki’s or jeans. These soldiers were dressed in battle field dress. Their uniforms showed a camo pattern that caused a few who ran into the trees to disappear from sight immediately. Our shirts were a pageant of pastels and bright colors. Hell mine was an off pinkish red that I picked up at a gift store after the cute attendant told me it looked great on me. The things we do when a cute woman gives us an inch of attention.
My thoughts were broken when I heard the tour guide arguing with a soldier. They had quite the conversation going in French and the group just stood slack jawed staring around wondering what the hell was going on. I swear birds and bugs could have come down and made a nest in the many open mouths.
The guide finally raised a yellow flag he was carrying to get our attention.
“Mesames et messieurs. The Lieutenant here has informed me we must get back on the bus for our own protection. A member of his team will join us to explain the situation.” I heard grumbles and an older man wearing of all things a Hawain shirt yelled at the guide. “I will not get on any bus till I know what is happening this moment. I came here to see this field not some frog military exercise.”
The use of frog startled me. I had not heard that references used for the French in a long time. My father in-law would say it when he talked about WW2 but I cannot recall any time before that moment. This of course got the officers attention and he turned toward us red faced and anger showing on his face.
“Monsieur! This is no exercise you are to get back on that bus NOW or I shall have you escorted by some of my men!” I was a bit surprised on how well the man spoke English and wondered why he didn’t tell us himself, but Iwas too busy following the group toward their bus to ask. No one seemed to want to enrage the French soldier any more than was already done.
We got to the bus and I wanted to know what was happening so I joined the group on the bus. No one in the group took a seat but instead went to the nearest window to watch the impending action. I took a spot near the doors since I wasn’t part of their group, officialy. I felt that if the shit hit the fan I wanted to be able to get to my car and be in a smaller target than this bus. A soldier with a rifle took a place just outside the door and I hoped he was there as our protector and not a guard.
It didn’t take long before things began to happen. The mouthy guy, I found out his name was Jim and he was from Oregon I guess he was ex-military and was confirmed when he stated he had served in the Gulf War. “The Frenchies are doing a weapons check and locking and loading for action.” I looked out after his announcement and did see a few of the men check their weapons and take a fighting stance.
Then it happened. A shot rang out from somewhere to the left of the bus. Another followed it a moment later this time from the right. Not one of us could see what they were shooting at. The gun fire started to come more frequent and a mass started to show up on the far side of the short field.
The mass moved slowly toward our old position, the one the troops now stood upon. Jim again decided to share his redneck knowledge with the rest of us. I say redneck cause the man had a sunburn that looked painful over his neck and he was an ass. He was the typical ugly American that makes vacations like this painful for the rest of us.
“I don’t know what’s comin’ our way but I hope the frogs do a better job here than they did in Nam, or standing their ground in W-W-2.”
“MONSIEUR, I do NOT like your use of that WORD to describe my countrymen. If you MUST continue I will ask a soldier to come here and escort you off this bus!”
The outburst from the tour guide seemed to shock all on the bus. A few clapped and Jim actually looked as if he had eaten a shoe off of us right foot. He wasn’t going to open his mouth up again after that outburst and risk his other shoe.
The bus remained silent as no one wanted to be the next to say something that could bring the wrath of the tour guide. This little French man, he was maybe five foot three, had earned the respect of all on board by just sticking up for his country. Any American can understand that pride and it wasn’t till a woman on the bus looked and screamed. We all turned to the woman and followed her arm to where she pointed.
There were at least a hundred of them arms dangling at the sides walking methodically toward the troops. Their mouths opening and closing as if chewing unseen food flesh a grey murky white and most of all you could tell they were dead. At least I hoped they were considering their shape. They moved slowly almost stumbling over each other as those who were shot fell before those still moving. The problem, those shot were still moving, trying to crawl forward. The only exceptions were those who took a head shot and were finally dead.
We all watched in horror as the mob kept coming and coming. The troops kept firing and you could finally see their efforts were having an impact. The sound of the repeated gunfire brought hands over many ears, but me I just watched unsure of what was happening. The mobs began to thin and less and less were coming in our direction. We could see the sweat gather on the troops and at one time we offered to help get the men water but were told, NO! and ordered to stay on the bus. It was then I saw for the first time what these creatures were after.
A trooper got zealous and walked forward firing his rifle at the mob. He was a good shot hitting many in the head. The problem was he wasn’t watching the ground in front of him. One crawled toward him I tried to yell out, pushed past the guard at the door screaming. I guess he couldn’t hear me over the gun fire but the crawling thing grabbed him at the ankles. The soldier fell to the ground in shock. The beast open and closed its maw as the man struggled to get away. He started to scream and his Lieutenant ran out to the scene putting two shots the beasts head. The problem was we all saw the thing take a bite out of the man’s leg. His teeth ripped through his uniforms fabric and we could see the blood on the ground.
The Lieutenant saw the gaping wound and instead took his side arm and pumped two shots into the man’s head. We were stunned he just shot his own man and killed him. The Lieutenant turned and started walking back to the defense line. He looked our way and you could see the sorrow and concern on his face. He must have ordered his men to walk out and repeat his action of two shots into the head as a line of men went out and did just that, after they had stopped the mob.
The Lieutenant than came our way with his gun still out, in hand, and finger on the trigger. I got to tell you we were all scared not sure what was going to happen. He walked up to the bus, gun still out, and I swear there were small red droplets on its black finish. The blood having sprayed from the head of his man when he shot him in the head close up. I was not the only one to see this as I saw a few others stare at the small handgun. It was that or they wondered how he may use it now.
“Mesames et messieurs,” is how he started to address the bus. All were quiet waiting for him to speak. He looked in my direction as I held my spot near the door and I looked down at his gun. He than just realized he still had the gun out in his hand and slipped it back into the holster. You could almost hear an audible sigh from the relaxation of tension when that gun was put away. Of course it was Jim to first speak up.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING SHOOTING YOUR OWN MAN WHEN DOWN,” was the question Jim screamed at the Lieutenant. “During my years of service I have never seen a man turn his weapon on a fellow soldier. I don’t care how bad he’s wounded you call for the fucking”, that’s as far as Jim got as the Lieutenant drew his pistol and offered it to the nearest person.
“Messieur, if you please take this from me and repeat the actions you saw on the field,” looking at Jim he continued. “Sir, the duty I just performed is the saddest thing I’ve done in my career. As soon as the monsters teeth broke the skin, Private LeDair was dead. The disease travels through the, how you say, spit.”
“Uhm pardon me, but I have to ask what disease? Can you tell us what just happened,” came from a sheepish voice no one saw the owner of, at first. We looked around and saw it belong to a very petite woman. She was the only one sitting at the time and held her purse in her lap in front of her. I swear I thought of those old women from television shows that were always mousy looking but real spitfires. This woman was not that type she was just scared. She looked pale and her hands were on the purse strap so tightly her fingers were white. If the purse had made of a bamboo type of material I think I’d have laughed if not so tense.
The Lieutenant seeing the woman looked down with a grim face but slowly smiled when he saw the obvious fear on her face. This was the moment I was waiting for, and this was when I realized I had to get the hell out of France.
After closing his eyes and placing his gun back in its holster, again, the Lieutenant cleared his throat and sighed. “It is my severe displeasure that I must share this with you all. It is something a diplomat should be telling you but as you are here and saw.” He paused at that moment and I thought for sure the man was going to just leave not wanting to tell us, but he continued. “You saw what happened. Those monsters were all like you at one time. They were vacationers, town people, parents, and children. There is some type of disease traveling through Europe turning those bitten into the walking horde you saw. It is if those monster movies have come to life. It is an infestation were the living are being hunted.”
I heard a whispered, “What the fuck, is this the Night of the Living Dead for real,” come from the back of the bus. I was wondering the same question as it was asked but kept quiet.
So that’s how I found out about the infestation. I remember the yelling and cursing that came next on the bus. People blaming the French for this disaster while others questioned how do they get home. It was a mess and I was able to talk my way off the bus after showing the Lieutenant the documents for the rental car. A few others wanted to go with me but the Lieutenant pointed out that the United States Consulate needed people to stay with their groups for ease of contact.
This is all I will share at this time. but in the future there is more to come. This work is fictional and comes from the mind of Shawn J. Micallef, aka Knightmist. If you enjoy the work and wish to talk to me about republishing or other use please contact me via information on my about me page.