BIGHORN — AMG Brabus and the Ripsnorters

TAGS: Ripsnorter, AMG Brabus and the Ripsnorters, bighorn, erik eggers

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We’re rapidly winding down this post-apocalyptic-ish tale, and the body count continues to climb, albeit slowly. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first several parts. I know firsthand how challenging it is to find the time to pleasure read, but each time I prioritize my schedule to allow a brief dip into a book, I’m later glad I made the time.

I've introduced a couple new characters in this installment — Alex and Steve, to whom the title references (i.e. the Ripsnorters); I've provided the definition below. I think they are a welcome addition to the rest of the crew and provide a brief respite from the chaos, both inside and around the training facility.

As always, I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

If you haven’t yet read parts 1,2, and 3, I strongly recommend reading in order:

PART 1: The Prowler and the Comanche

PART 2: The Mace and the Jedi

PART 3: Spud Straps and Sledgehammers


This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 *** 

From Dictionary.com:

Ripsnorter

[rip-snawr-ter]

noun, Informal.

  1. something or someone exceedingly strong or violent
  2. something or someone remarkably good or exciting. 

THE JETS KOOZIE

A YETI cooler sat on the passenger seat. Will had forgotten it was there — finally a bit of serendipity after days of dark chaos. His calf throbbed like a toothache, but he’d made it to the truck otherwise unscathed, which was a minor miracle. Once outside the facility, he realized the woods were teaming with bighorns—fifty of them, if not more.

Will reached into the cooler, grabbed a can of Bud Light and began to gulp it down—still cold. When it was half empty, he poured the remaining beer over his head and down the back of his neck.

Fucking Jon.

An idea clawed at the back of his mind, like a rat in a trap, if only for a split second. He thought about jamming the key in the ignition, shifting into drive, and flooring the truck, effectively peeling out of the parking lot — never looking back. Then, as quickly as it appeared, the idea was gone.

That’s not going to happen.

Will pulled the second beer out of the YETI and slapped it into an NFL Jets’ Koozie, worn from hundreds of tailgates in East Rutherford, New Jersey. He’d decided to enjoy this one, as it could be his last. After three gulps he put the key in the ignition and cranked the engine. The truck started dutifully. He opened the driver’s side window a crack and listened. It was strangely quiet.

“More calm before the storm,” he whispered. “I guess I gotta die of something.”

Will flipped the truck into four-wheel drive and put it in reverse. He glanced into the rearview mirror. The backup lighting illuminated a pack of bighorns slowly approaching from a short distance.

They were stalking him.

6 WHEELS / 700 HORSEPOWER 

Steve stood tall in the back seat of the matte black AMG Brabus 700, his upper body protruding from and through the open sunroof. He held an automatic shotgun comfortably in his grip. Alex, long his partner in crime, maneuvered the vehicle and shouted words of encouragement. Alex pinned the fat stub of a cigar in the corner of his mouth, exhaling puffs of smoke like a small steam engine. He wasn’t normally a smoker, but these weren’t normal times. Together, they hunted “bighorns,” although they called them bulls.

“Two o’clock, Steve,” Alex yelled. “Two o’clock HIGH!” Steve heard the booming voice over Rage Against the Machine, which screamed from the vehicle’s unmatched sound system. “There are three big bulls—take out the trash; take them out!”

Accelerator pedal.

Alex adjusted the military-grade Golight, which nested on a short pedestal atop the vehicle. It cut through the darkness with razor precision illuminating the monsters. The Bulls momentarily froze before breaking toward the truck in attack mode.

“Yeah!” Steve screamed. He deftly spun his torso like a gun on a turret and managed to take out all three of them with four shots, sending bits of animal flesh and horn flying through the eerie darkness that cloaked the day.

Alex swerved, jumping over a curb and off the road to avoid a disabled F-250 and the 6X6 quickly powered through the terrain taking-out saplings and large rocks along the way. Steve dropped back into the safety of the backseat to reload while they continued navigating the impromptu detour.

Alex had borrowed the truck from his former client, an individual for whom he’d been providing security services. When the shit went down, and his client out of town, Alex acted fast and commandeered the 6X6. He loaded it with additional munitions and immediately headed to see if Steve was alive.

Bulls had overrun Steve’s home, and upon arrival, Alex found him retreating to the roof for safety. The Predators knew where Steve was hiding, and they were aggressively leaping to snatch him off but hadn’t quite been able to reach the second story. He was out of harm’s way for the near term, but with each attempt, they were getting closer and closer to discerning the path to reach him.

When the Mercedes Benz 6X6 ripped through his front yard, Steve peered over the chimney cap and immediately knew who was driving. Despite his dire circumstances, he allowed a brief smile.

Well, that’s either Alex or Dan Bilzerian, and since this ain’t the Hollywood Hills, my money’s on Alex.

Alex, you beautiful son of a bitch! He’d yelled.

The mystery driver had noted Steve on the roof and had purposefully spun the truck, performing a one-eighty to position the rear bed closer to the house, providing for both another passenger and a subsequent quick escape.

Let’s get out of here; Alex had yelled.

Steve was able to sprint down the roof’s decline, somehow keeping his feet, before finally launching himself toward the vehicle. As soon as he landed, Steve smashed his face into the LINE-X bed but was substantively okay. Alex, in firm command of the 700 horses, blasted them out of harm’s way. 

“Powerful,” Steve said, his mind snapping back to the present. “This thing’s a beast — we lucked out.”

“Yes sir,” Alex responded. “This son of a bitch is certainly a fun toy, and fortunately I’ve driven it before — I’m going to pull over in a little bit so I can get out and stretch. I’m going to head to that Home Depot, up on the ridge. If we park in the middle of the lot, we’ll have a good view of anything coming into our perimeter.”

“Sounds good,” Steve agreed. “I’d like to stretch my legs as well.”

The parking lot was nearly empty. Alex hopped out, his hiking boots striking the cold pavement. He allowed the truck to idle to preserve a quick escape if it became necessary.

“Thanks again for coming to get me,” Steve said. “I don’t think I would’ve lasted much longer up there unarmed. They were starting to close-in when you hit the lawn.

“Of course,” Alex said, as he lit another fat Cuban cigar. The lighter’s glow lit up his thick, black beard and mustache. “So, what’s next?”
“Do you think those guys got trapped in the gym last night?” Steve asked.

“I do,” Alex said.

“Do you think they’re still alive?”

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“They’re fucking resourceful,” Alex said. “I think there’s a good chance we will find them alive — at least some of them.”

“We should go get them. I don’t think the gym will hold up for long. The building’s pretty old.”

“Yeah, me too,” Alex said. “What a mind fuck, right?”

“Yeah,” Steve said. “It’s all so surreal.”

Alex looked off into the distance and saw movement. Steve raised the barrel of his shotgun.

“Not yet,” Alex said. “Those bulls are so fast. We have to be careful not to underestimate how much ground they can cover but let’s hold off on the gunfire for now. I feel more comfortable attacking them on the move. I don’t think they can stop this beast if we’ve got momentum.” He smacked the side of the Brabus.

“Yeah—we should get back in the truck,” Steve agreed. “Six-by-six power!”

“Steve, I’m not sure I should say this.” Alex took a big puff on his last cigar before casting it aside under the shopping carts. Ultimately, it was a distraction he didn’t want. He unconsciously tapped his sidearm to verify it remained in place. “Steve—.”

“I already know — but say it,” Steve interrupted.

“Steve — duck!”

Steve dropped to the asphalt, as Alex unholstered his Glock and fired three shots into the monster that was silently stalking his friend. It fell to the ground with a screech, landing only two feet away from Steve’s head.

“You were saying?”

“We’re probably going to die today.”

HOPE

“Jon?” Mo asked tears streamed from her eyes.

“No,” Chris said. Both of us cast our eyes to the floor.

“Will?”

“We don’t know about Will,” I said. “We think he made it to his truck.”

“What now?” Mo asked. “What do we do now? Just wait and hope that Will comes back to get us? Just wait for those things to get in here and tear us apart?”

I hid my face in cupped hands and rubbed vigorously in an attempt to wipe away the fear and confusion. The Spud Straps were still draped around my neck. I didn’t realize they were still there.

I grabbed Mo firmly by the shoulders and looked her dead in the eyes. “I think we give him a few more minutes, and then we devise a backup plan. I’m not sure what else we can do. We just have to keep fighting and hope for the best.”

“But, Jon,” she stammered. “Jeff — Owen — Jon; and now Will is out there alone. How can he survive alone with those things?”

“Judith?” I asked. “Where’s Judith?”

Before his passing, Jon had whispered, ‘be leery of Judith.’ Then he was gone. My friend’s last advice on this earth — don’t trust Judith.

“She’s holed herself up in the back,” Mo said. “She’s been acting strange, and I don’t want her near me. I don’t want her near us.”

“You hear that?” Chris asked.

“I do hear that,” I said. It was the raspy sound of Will’s truck starting, but it was still way off in the distance and barely audible.

“That crazy son of a bitch got to the truck,” Chris said.

“Thank God,” Mo said. Her lower jaw quivered with excitement. “He’s going to make it.”

For a split second, I felt an emotion that had become foreign over the last several days — hope.

That hope was violently extinguished seconds later.

There was a loud rattle as Judith pried open the rear overhead door, the only entrance to the backend of the facility. The door that, up until that point, had remained undiscovered and untested.

We were exposed.

***

Will shifted the truck into park and pulled his rifle out of its casing. He leaned it against his front leg, in the ready position. He’d also grabbed one of his hunting knives and wedged the sheath under his front leg for easy access.

“Here we go,” he whispered. One last gulp of beer and he slammed the worn koozie into the cup holder. He threw his right arm over the passenger seat and turned, craning his thick neck to look through the rear window of the pickup.

“You guys ready to party,” He screamed. “You fucking ready?! Huh?!!!”

Will floored the truck in reverse, heading toward both the gym and the bighorns that seemingly intentionally blocked his path.

***

Alex relaxed behind the wheel of the 6x6. There was nary a bead of sweat on his forehead as he rammed through a small herd of bulls. Two or three of them were no match for the vehicle, but he worried if it could handle impact with a big pack and if the windows, bullet-proof for certain, were resilient enough to sustain the impact of multiple charges.

Those horns are no joke — these animals were incredibly athletic.

Steve periodically poked through the sunroof and used heavy shotgun fire to dissipate their numbers. His aim was proficient, and he was anxious to get to the gym, hoping they would find others alive.

“We’re about two miles out, buddy,” Alex said. “As long as the road is clear, we’ll be there in no time.”

Alex slowly pulled around a stalled Toyota Prius when he saw a bull stalking from the left side, of the vehicle. He grabbed a short-barreled shotgun, powered down the driver’s side window, extended his muscular arm and eliminated his predator with a one-handed shot, while never slowing the vehicle.

“Money,” Steve yelled. “Yahoooooooooo!”

***

Judith stood face to snout with a larger bighorn. Instead of aggressively attacking, this one had slowly approached through the rear of the facility. Another followed about ten steps behind; it moved deliberately, but with caution.

“They’re in there,” she said, subtly motioning to the three of us at the front of the facility. “They are the ones you want — the ones you’ve come for.”

The closest creature slowly turned its head from side to side. It inhaled deeply—its pheromone-drenched snout came in full contact with Judith’s face.

She could smell its rancid breath. “They’re over there,” she repeated, suddenly unsure of herself. “I’m not with them. I’m not one of them.”

Without warning, it lunged and engulfed her head in its rancid maw. The bighorn nearly decapitated her with a violent jerk of its powerful jaws and neck, but at first, her spine held.

Judith’s vertebrae eventually cracked, and her body went limp. The bighorn irreverently allowed her body to fall in a heap at its feet.

It stepped on her back to move further into the facility — closer to where we stood.

TO BE CONTINUED

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