The extra drivers helped speed up construction of the wall, but not by as much as I’d hoped. Their inexperience with the sheer size and weight of the loads they were handling slowed them down. One of them managed to lose a container off his forks as he was driving to the wall and precious time was wasted getting the obstruction out of the road so the work could proceed. Despite the issues, 12 drivers still got more containers from point A to point B in the same amount of time and the wall quickly started growing to 30 feet from the far edges in. The infected kept pushing forward and piling up on top of the bodies of the ones we were killing as well as crushing other living infected under them in their frantic desire to reach us.
The second fire truck’s pump failed, most likely due to running something as highly corrosive as gasoline through it. We were now limited to filling jugs with our home made napalm and dumping it over the wall on the heads of the infected. This helped, but we no longer had a way to knock down any of the bodies farther out that were pressing in. As the wall rose and moved in I had the NCOs start pulling their shooter off and back to ground level. Ammunition was collected and redistributed to those that were still on the wall fighting. The shooters that came off the wall took the opportunity to drink water and eat some food that had been scavenged from a large grocery store a couple of blocks down the road behind us.
The forklifts finished placing another section of wall and roared off to bring more containers. We now had a 30 foot wall running in from each edge, but the center section was still 20 container lengths short of being raised. 800 feet of only 20 feet of wall. I stepped in between two shooters and could see the grasping hands of the infected only a foot below the edge. We weren’t going to make it. I had halted the napalm. It had become ineffective as we could only burn the infected closest to the wall and the herd had now piled up to the point that it seemed we were just making an easier path for those in the rear to climb forward on top of the burned bodies. I grabbed the police radio from Rachel and called Jackson to check on the status of the evacuation.
“One train is gone, Major.” We’re loading the second one. Had a problem when some people resisted being loaded into livestock cars, but I got them in and we’re loading up the last of the hospital right now. Ten minutes at the most.”
“Copy. I want you and everyone else on that train when it pulls out. If the last one is ready I’ve got one last trick to delay the infected so all the defenders can make a run for it and get out. Do you have an engineer that will be waiting with that third train for us?”
“10-4, I do. Rick Simmons is already in the engine and waiting. There’s half a dozen livestock cars hooked up, doors open and waiting for you.”
“Copy that. Thank you. Call when your train is pulling out.”
Handing the radio back to Rachel I looked around for the forklifts but they weren’t back yet. Glancing back to the front I saw fingertips brushing the top edge. We were in a bad spot now. If we didn’t shoot then the infected would grab on to the top edge of the containers and start climbing up into the midst of the shooters. If we kept shooting them we were just creating another layer of the pile for the ones in back to climb on and get closer to us. Not shooting just wasn’t in my DNA. Raising the radio I called for a couple of the units that had already come off the wall to come back up and fill in the open space between the shooters that were still fighting. They came running, and started plugging themselves into the line. The volume of firing increased and the infected were beaten back a few inches. Not much, but every inch we won was more time for our escape.
Horns sounded behind me as a convoy of forklifts rolled up. Another 12 containers arrived, ready to go into the wall. The NCOs coordinated moving their shooters out of the way as each new container went into place, but it was a slow process. We had a lot of shooters in a shrinking area, but the NCOs did a good job and in only a few minutes the 800 foot gap had been reduced to 320 feet. I watched with satisfaction as the containers thumped into place, several infected females that had made the leap onto the top of the wall when the shooters pulled back crushed under the massive steel boxes. That satisfaction quickly went away as I started hearing voices calling out that they were out of ammo.
Running up and down the remaining gap in the wall I started pulling the ones out of ammo off the wall and sending them to the train station. If they didn’t have any more bullets there wasn’t anything to be gained by keeping them here. Rachel was circulating through the volunteers on the ground below and sending everyone that was not actively involved in the defense to the train as well. Dog was still on the wall with me, shadowing my footsteps as I ran back and forth. Grabbing one of the shooters that was out of ammo and on his way to a ladder I sent Dog with him to get carried down. Dog was talented and a hell of a fighter, but as good as he was there was no way he could climb down a 20 foot ladder. He gave me a hurt look but allowed the man, with some help, to lift him up on his shoulders and secure him in place with a donated shirt that tied him to the man’s body. The guy probably thought I was a moron for having let Dog come up on the wall in the first place, but he scampered down the ladder without complaint, Dog tied to him and looking at me with hurt eyes that I was sending him away.
The infected kept pressing forward, and they now seemed to be surging like the tide. One moment hands would be over the edge and trying to grab on, the next they would disappear below. Like ‘the tide’ was a good analogy as the hands always came back and were a little higher each time. The shooters had slowed their firing and were now only shooting infected that made a successful grab onto the edge of the container. Unfortunately the number of them that were doing this was increasing and the number of defenders laying down their rifles when they fired their last round was also increasing. We needed five more minutes, but we weren’t going to get it. Two partial crates of grenades were sitting on the top of the wall and I started pulling pins and tossing them over the edge, hoping to disrupt the push against the wall even for a few moments. The effort was partially successful and we gained probably another 30 seconds. The damn things flowed into and over any space created by the explosions so quickly that the hundreds killed by my efforts weren’t even significant.
Out of grenades I did a quick count and saw that we were down to about 100 shooters that still had ammo. This was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. The distribution of ammo had been fairly equal and these last 100 defenders had been shooters that picked their targets and made their shots count. They hadn’t wasted ammo on body shots that did little to slow or stop the infected, they had aimed and made every round count. I was willing to bet every single one of them was either ex-Army or ex-Marine. We had momentarily settled into a static battle, the defenders shooting the infected that were in position to breach our defenses as fast as they arrived. If only we had a few thousand more rounds of ammo we could hold static for a few minutes, but wishing wouldn’t get me anything.
A forklift horn sounded from the rear again and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I turned to look. That sigh turned into a scream of warning that no one could hear. A large pack of infected females was racing down Forrest Avenue from the east, heading directly towards the lead forklift driven by Jim Roberts.