Life isn’t fair. Really it isn’t, Vince thought to himself as he tried to understand why he had been stuck in an elevator for over twelve hours. His stomach rumbled as it reminded him he had no idea when he had eaten last.
Disasters seemed to follow Vince no matter where he went. He had been on vacation in the Bahamas when Hurricane Jezebel hit. No sooner had he boarded the first available plane out of the ravaged island the fates were aligning against him. The business trip to his companies southern Chilean grape plantations put him smack dab in the middle of a massive earthquake.
The more he thought about FEMA and the Red Cross should really just follow his movements to predict the next disaster. Vince was getting sick of it. He really had no idea how he was going to get out of this one. All he had on him was a small pocket knife, and the blue light from his watch and a few dangerously maxed out credit cards. If only the infected reacted to credit cards like his bank accounts.
He wondered if maybe he was just unlucky or maybe there was something to this whole karma thing. He tried to be an honest man, but sometimes, people made it too easy for him to take advantage of them.
He loosened his tie for the thirtieth time and hit the light button on his Rolex. He pressed the emergency call button again almost as a joke. He knew nobody would answer. Then a miracle happened someone actually picked up on the other end.
“Umm… hello?” A stressed and tired male voice answered.
Vince’s throat was so dry he could hardly speak, “Are you actually there? Or have I totally lost it?”
“Option A? Look who are you?”
Vince’s eyes hurt. “The name’s Vince. I’m a McMillan executive, and I happen to be stuck in a blasted elevator. Who are you?”
“I’m Steve and…”
The disembodied voice whispered something to someone else in the room; Vince couldn’t quite make it out. The reply he did hear though, “Ask him if he’s got the keys to the gun lockers.”
“Yeah, umm My friend wants to know…”
“I heard. No I don’t have the keys; but I do have the combination to the safe that has the spare keys.”
There was another muffled exchange, and a new voice picked up the phone, “Hello Mr. Vince, my name is Tamelle, and we’d like that combination now please.”
Vince coughed, “I don’t think so. If I give you that combination what’s to stop you from leaving me here to die?”
Tamelle bit her lip, they really needed the weapons behind that cage, but getting someone out of an elevator when they had a lobby full of zombies wasn’t exactly something she was excited to try. Especially since she only had half a magazine in the Glock that she had picked up from that dead policeman. “Do you know where you are?” She asked.
Now he was getting somewhere, Vince thought, as he hit the light on the Rolex again. “Umm this label here says North West Elevator number three. I was on the top floor just leaving my office. I think the elevator said forty four when it stopped.”
Tamelle choked, “Did you just say forty four?”
Steve hollered from the background. “That’s quite the Stairmaster workout just to get to you.”
“I know, I know.” Vince was experienced with tough negotiations in his line of work. “Look I’ve got something to sweeten the deal.”
Tamelle coughed, “What’s that Mr. CEO?”
Vince rolled his eyes, “I’m not the CEO but that’s not important. I’ve got a Land Rover in the basement garage. It’s full of gas and should be able to run over any infected we come across.”
“Why would you have a truck? Don’t you executive types all drive Beamers?”
“Mercedes actually, but I brought the truck today because I had planned on going fishing after work. Dirt roads would chip the paint on the SLK 350.”
“An exec that goes fishing, umm okay.”
“It’s cheap therapy.”
Tamelle sighed; she was not looking forward to climbing all those stairs twice. “We’ll do it, but we won’t make it up the stairs without more guns. What’s the combination?” Something slammed into the security office door. “Mr. Vince they are trying to break in! We’ve got two pistols and less than fifteen bullets left. If they get in here and chew our faces off who’s going to bust you out of the elevator then huh?”
Vince still wasn’t sure they wouldn’t up and leave but he had little choice now, “Alright bring me an 870 pump, and a few boxes of double ought, when you come up so I’ll have something to fight with.” Vince normally used custom made over under shotguns to bust clay pigeons but there weren’t very many rabid clays out there today.
“Hurry Vince, the combination!” The enraged beasts were thrashing the thin metal door.
Vince read off the combination to the safe and told them where the keys should be. In minutes they had the gun cage open.
Steve grabbed an AR-15, clumsily jammed in a magazine and fumbled with the charging handle. “Dude I’ve always wanted one of these!” He turned to the door and emptied thirty rounds through it. “You want some! Come get some fresh meat you Zombie bitches!”
Tamelle covered her ears during the onslaught. Why was she stuck with this stupid college kid anyway? Oh well at least he gave the zombies someone else to curb stomp, maybe she could make her getaway while they were busy ripping the flesh from his throat?
She picked up a black pump shotgun labeled Remington 870 Express Tactical. It didn’t look much like the wood stocked shotguns her father and brothers owned but she figured it had to be similar. She found boxes labeled “Premium 00 Buckshot” and loaded it with shaky fingers. Six shells filled the tube so she tried pumping the fore end but it wouldn’t budge.
“What’s wrong with this stupid thing?” She asked but Steve was still mostly deaf from shooting the rifle without earplugs. She went back to the phone. “Vince? This shotgun doesn’t work. I can’t get this slider thingy to move back, it’s stuck.”
Vince put his head in his hands. “Did you figure out how to load it?” He asked apprehensively.
“Umm yes, I put six shotgun bullets into the tube thing, it won’t hold any more.”
“Shells… shotgun shells.” He mumbled under his breath, “Good, okay do you know the big three firearm safety rules?” he asked.
Tamelle thought long and hard, when she was a little girl her dad had taken her shooting. “Umm don’t point the gun at people?”
Vince was surprised; she seemed to know a little, “Yes good, don’t point the weapon at anything you don’t want to destroy. What’s the second one?”
Her memories were fuzzy but it was slowly coming back to her. “Umm, yeah, my dad told me ‘Keep your booger hook off the bang switch.’ Is that right?”
Vince chuckled, “Yes that’s perfect. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Okay and the last big rule?”
Tamelle was drawing a blank, “Umm don’t drink and shoot?”
“Good rule, but this one is even more important, all guns are always loaded. Got it?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“One more think Tamelle, bring up a Halligan so we can get the doors open.”
“What’s a Halligan?”
“It’s a pry bar that firemen use, it looks like a crowbar with more points on it. There should be one with the rest of the equipment.”
Vince instructed Tamelle how to use the action release and she got the pump working. After another ten minutes or so of instruction and ammo and gathering they were almost ready to head out. Steve volunteered to carry an extra shotgun that he slung over his shoulder, and an extra Glock that he stuffed in his bulging school bag.
Thankfully the security manager had sprung for expensive Surefire earplugs that allowed for close to normal hearing while still protecting from gunshots.
Tamelle peeked through the bullet ridden door, she didn’t see anything moving. Slowly she opened the door a crack and popped her head out. A couple of the infected were milling around the elevators a few feet away. One of them vomited, sticky black liquid splashed onto the tile and mahogany trim.
Tamelle raised the shotgun and lined up the ghost ring sites like Vince had told her. Her hands were shaking and the heavy weapon was hard for her to keep steady. One of the infected turned and looked at her, he had been a bicycle courier before he got sick. Their eyes locked for a moment, madness was all she saw behind those eyes. The infected man screamed and took a step forward. Tamelle jerked the trigger sending the load of buckshot wide, hitting him in the arm. The zombie stumbled but didn’t slow down.
Tamelle jerked the trigger again but nothing happened. “What’s wrong now!” she exclaimed as Steve pulled her back through the door. The Zombie courier smashed into the door shutting it.
“You’ve got to pump it!” Steve yelled, as he fired a few rounds through the door.
Tamelle pumped the fore end and pulled the trigger again sending a load of double ought buck through the door, dropping the beast. It was then that she realized her shoulder felt like it was on fire. Tamelle lied about her real weight but in truth she was only 135 pounds soaking wet.
“Steve, does your rifle kick?” She asked.
“Nah, hardly at all.”
“Can you trade me guns? This thing hurts too much.”
Steve looked like he had just been told that his puppy had been run over by the neighbor’s car. “Fine, ya big baby.”
It took a couple minutes to trade weapons and ammo. Tamelle had a messenger bag that she used to hold extra AR-15 magazines.
They had to force the door open, since there were bodies blocking it. They sprinted across the lobby to the stairwell. The infected were slow to react and they were able to close the door behind them with no problem. It was dark in the stairwell, the emergency lights had been on for hours now and the light they cast was a deep yellow.
Fortunately both of their weapons had been outfitted with tactical lights. The survivors clicked them on. Tamelle went first, and Steve admired the view, sure she was quite a bit older than him, and he hadn’t ever dated a black woman before, but maybe…
“Steve, are you staring at my butt?” She asked.
He blushed, “I, uhh, no. I wouldn’t think… okay you caught me. Hey you’ve got a nice one.”
Tamelle rolled her eyes. “Look college boy, I only date men who can grow beards, understand?
Steve was crushed, sure he was a bit scrawny, and yes he didn’t shave regularly but that shot was a bit below the belt. “Sorry.”
She smiled, “But look on the bright side Steve, I’m sure there’s plenty of Zombie girls out there dying to get a piece of you.”
Steve didn’t laugh, “Very funny.”
They climbed to the tenth floor without incident, Tamelle sat down on the steps her chest heaving. She didn’t normally work out while carrying a rifle and a bag full of ammo. She wasn’t in bad shape but she didn’t hit the gym as often as her New Years resolution said she would.
Steve’s calves ached, sitting in class all day and slamming beers at night hadn’t been the best way to prepare for the Zombie apocalypse. At first everyone thought it was just another outbreak, like the swine flu, bird flu, or some other flu. But last week when air travel outside the US was quarantined he knew something was wrong. He should have booked a flight back to South Dakota to go home and be with his parents but by the time he tried all flights everywhere had been canceled. He had gone to the car rental place but every last car was gone.
If things ever got back to normal he wondered what his genetics and biology classes would say about the outbreak. He had just gotten into some of the more interesting classes after getting the boring core classes out of the way. The University of Washington was a big change from what he was used to in Rapid City, but he still held out hope that he would be able to see his parents and siblings again.
“Ready to go?” She asked.
Steve felt like he had just sat down. “Ugg, yeah I guess.”
By the time they reached the thirtieth floor they were stopping every three floors to rest. Thankfully the stairwells had been empty. As the college kid staggered to his feet he head the thirty ninth door open. A man wearing a blood stained white shirt and tie staggered through the door.
“Oh thank goodness, someone else is alive!” The bloodied man said as he staggered into the stairwell.
Tamelle shrieked and pointed her black rifle at the man, Steve covered him with his Remington.
The office worker raised his hands. “Hey don’t shoot! I’m not one of them!” He said as he turned to look at the woman.
Steve saw the man’s face had been ripped open, he was covered in the tar like vomit, and was missing a big chunk of his throat. “Don’t come any closer!” He yelled with a nervous tremble in his voice.
“I’m not a zombie!” The man insisted, and he reached out his hands, which were missing a couple of fingers.
“You will be soon.” Tamelle said. “Go back inside and sit down.”
“No it’s not true; I just slipped and hit my head. I’ll be fine.” The former accountant took another step forward and Steve was forced to back down a couple of steps.
“Help me please.” The man whimpered as he held his head in his hands. “I don’t know what to do. It hurts so bad.” He slumped against the wall and cried.
Tamelle looked at Steve unsure of what to do. He looked back at her and shrugged, “What if he’s immune to the strain of the infection?”
The man’s sobs grew louder, until he began coughing uncontrollably. Black vomit escaped what was left of his lips and splashed on the floor. Steve had to jump back to avoid being covered in goo.
“Nope, he’s got it alright.” She said as she covered her mouth with the back of a hand.
Steve tried to slip past the dying man, but as he stepped in front of him the man reached out and grabbed him by the jeans. “You’ve got to help me!” He yelled. “Don’t leave me here to die!”
Steve butt stroked the infected man in the face with his shotgun knocking him to the floor. “I’m sorry but you’re already dead… you just don’t know it yet.”
The young college kid backed up the stairs and pulled the trigger, ending the man’s torment. After chambering another shell and shoving an extra one through the loading port. He began to shake. Steve had just killed a man.
“Tamelle, I… I killed him. He wasn’t…”
She put a hand on his shoulder, “You didn’t kill him the infection did. Come on; let’s bust this guy Vince out.”
The last flight of stairs was murder. Every muscle in her legs ached. If they got out of this alive the first thing she was going to do was find a Jacuzzi, and stay in it for a week.
Steve leaned up against the door. “Forty four. Finally we made it!” He looked through the small glass window but it was dark inside.
He opened the door and they took the short walk to the elevators. There were three on each side of the hallway, “Let’s try door number one!” He exclaimed as he knocked three times, and waited, nothing. Finally after knocking on the last one he got three taps back.
It took a while but they figured out how to pry open the elevator doors. When the inner car door opened Vince stood up blinking. He could hardly believe it. He had almost resigned himself to making the elevator his permanent residence. Unfortunately the car wasn’t at the proper height. The top of the car only gave an eighteen inch gap for Vince to wriggle through.
“I didn’t think you were coming. Thanks.”
Tamelle shined a hand held light down into Vince’s face. “We ran into a half zombie in the stairwell a few floors down. Oh and you’re welcome.”
With the two of them extending hands they were able to help Vince up and out of his tomb. He lay on the carpet for a few moments panting. He really needed a drink. A nearby water cooler became his holy grail and he stumbled toward it. Two steps away from the oasis of life giving water the stairwell door slammed open. It was the fire department; unfortunately they were infected, wielding axes, Halligans and pikes covered in blood.
“If you’re here about the stuck elevator you’re too late.” Vince said as the lead zombie charged. He never imagined he’d rather be back in the elevator, he was wrong.