“Run!” Vince yelled as he turned back toward his companions. The three humans fled narrowly escaping into a conference room. Steve held the door closed as the beasts began thrashing against it.
“Shotgun.” Vince said has he grabbed the barrel of the 870 still on the college students back. The sling catching on his chin as the business man jerked it.
“Choke, choke!” Steve managed to croak out as he struggled to keep the door shut. The door bucked as the infected slammed their bodies into it again.
Vince absently thought as he put his back to the door, that his Italian suit wasn’t going to make it through the night.
The wood splintered as a fire axe smashed into the door. The infected were jamming their tools into the door jamb trying to pry the door open. Tamelle stood shaking; this wasn’t going to end well. Firemen had terrified her as a child after her parents home had burned down in Alabama, killing her mother and sister. The firemen had busted through her door in the same way. She ducked beneath the massive oval table and wished for everything to go away.
The doorframe twisted and wood splintered. The two men couldn’t fire and hold the door shut. Steve saw Tamelle cowering beneath the table. “Tamelle help! Can’t hold…” A steel spike penetrated all the way through the door missing the college kids head by an inch.
Vince grabbed a Glock from Steve’s belt, and fired it backwards one handed through the door. The door bucked again slamming into his elbow launching the pistol across the room and sending fire up his arm. “Arrrgh! Tamelle! Shoot them Tamelle! You can do it.” She crawled out from behind the table, “That’s it, pickup the rifle. Good. Now shoot through the door.”
Tamelle’s heart was thumping, and her vision constricted down to a tunnel, the only thing she could see was the door and the steel tools pushing through it. She pointed the black rifle at the door and held the trigger down. She squeezed it with all her strength but it didn’t go bang. The boys were yelling at her but she couldn’t hear them.
“Why isn’t she shooting?” Steve asked as he kicked with his legs to get more traction on the carpet.
“Safety’s on! Tamelle sweetheart, flip the lever from the shield to the sword.”
Through the fog of battle stress she heard the word sword. She didn’t understand why they were talking about an overgrown knife, she was holding a rifle. She looked up at the man in the suit he was pantomiming turning the rifle over. She looked down at the black aluminum steel and plastic and turned the rifle over. Then she saw it, a little lever by her thumb, it was pointing at a shield, she moved the lever over to the little sword icon, and it clicked into position. She pointed it back at the door and held the trigger down. The weapon made one little pop, and then an annoying “spoing.” Why hadn’t it shot all the bullets? Had it malfunctioned? She let go of the trigger and squeezed it again. All she got was on more pop.
A little light bulb switched on in her head. “Oh… it’s not a machinegun, even though it looks like one.”
Pulling and releasing the trigger she stitched the door full of holes. As her last shot echoed and the rifle made its annoying springing noise she realized after a moment that she was out of ammo. The splintering noises had stopped, and the two men eased away from the door.
Vince had his shotgun ready as he opened the inward swinging door; a former fireman fell into the room, snarling but incapacitated. A shotgun blast shut him up. The remaining infected firemen lay sprawled on the floor, their bodies contorted in strange twisted shapes as they lay dead, blood and goo splattered everywhere.
Steve shook his head. “Hey man, why are these zombies so smart? They’re using tools, zombies don’t use tools!”
Vince sighed as he leaned up against the wall. “They aren’t zombies Steven. Zombies don’t exist.”
“Dude I’m lookin’ at some pretty compelling evidence that they do!”
“Don’t call me dude, boy.” Vince hated that word. “Look, these people are infected by the Mogadishu Virus, or Mog for short. Haven’t you been watching the news?”
“Yes, a little.” Steve replied. “Mogadishu? Isn’t that the place where those helicopters get shot down in that movie?”
Vince nodded, “Blackhawk down. Yes, that’s where the initial outbreak of the virus was recorded. The ‘news media’ kept calling it a regular sickness like Ebola, or the Swine flu. But I got a call last night from a buddy of mine working in Madagascar, at a vanilla plant. He told me about the ‘zombies.’ I hope he made it out alright.”
Steve had a blank look on his face. “Wait a minute, Madagascar? That’s not in Somalia right? So how’d they get it over there? And how’d it get here? Seattle’s just a little ways from Africa.”
“Airplanes. All it takes is one sick person on an aircraft, to infect the other passengers, and it will spread like wild fire, and become a worldwide pandemic.”
Tamelle asked, “Wait but why aren’t we infected? If it was getting people sick on planes?”
Vince shook his head “I don’t know.”
“I think I remember something about this from a biology class last semester.” Steve said. “Viruses can mutate, and change their… infection, err vector?”
Tamelle looked at Vince, “If you knew all this why did you come into work?”
He shrugged, “McMillan had an emergency continuity of operations meeting this morning. I tried splitting right after the meeting. That’s when I got stuck in that blasted box all those hours ago. How bad is it on the streets?”
Tamelle shuddered, “Utter pandemonium.”
Steve spoke up, “Guys, what do we do now? Shouldn’t we be finding your truck?”
“Yes but first I’m starving.” Vince said, “Let’s find a break room.”
Using weapon lights and hand held flashlights they found the typical office break room. It held a couple vending machines and a communal fridge. Steve channeled his inner vandal and broke the glass on the vending machine and began snacking on chips and candy bars.
Tamelle opened the fridge; it was full of low paid workers lunches. Nothing had turned moldy yet but the smell wasn’t pleasant. She found a few pieces of fruit and washed them off in the sink. “Hey the water is still on.”
“I wonder for how long?” Vince asked, and filled up a water bottle.
In a few moments they were back by the elevators. Steve looked out the window across the city, some areas had power, and others didn’t. “What caused the power outage?” He asked.
“I don’t know downed lines maybe?” he said as he hit the stairwell door.
Down the steps they went, stepping lightly around the body on the thirty ninth floor. Steve didn’t look at him, as they passed. Vince paused a moment half expecting him to rise and try to bite him, but the body didn’t stir.
Down the seemly endless stairs they went. Boring cinderblock walls thirteen steps, turn and thirteen more. Tamelle didn’t like the number thirteen, some people said superstitions weren’t real, but she knew better. Today was Friday the thirteenth. Her fiancée had died in a horrible car wreck on the thirteenth of November last year. She knew there was something very real with that unholy number.
Today had been normal before the outbreak. Sure the Mogadishu virus had been in the news, and there was the air travel scare, but everything had been fairly normal up until a little after ten that morning. She had the regular customers coming in to buy breakfast and coffee. Nobody seemed on edge more than usual.
Steve had come in to get something to eat as college kids regularly frequented the restaurant. She had no idea when she was busy selling doughnuts that soon she would be running for her life being chased by man eating zombies. Then it happened, her co worker Julie had been taken down by a rather fat infected man and he bit her nose off. Tamelle just stood there stunned as Julie screamed for as her skull had been bashed up against the display case.
If Steve hadn’t grabbed her and pulled her in the fridge she would probably have been killed too. They ended up staying inside as long as they could possibly stand the cold. When they were forced to leave, the old Sunrise Restaurant that she had worked at for over seven years had been all but destroyed. A police officer had tried to hide inside the restaurant to take cover from a mob, but he had been overwhelmed and killed. She took his pistol and they made their way through the city, until they ended up ducking in the McMillan building.
Eventually they made it to the last floor. Vincent’s knees were killing him. Wingtips were definitely not athletic shoes. Thankfully he had a bunch of gear in his truck, including some more appropriate shoes.
“Kids, let’s rest for a bit first, we won’t know if we need to run once we open that door.”
They camped out on the stairs for a few moments. Catching their breath and listening to the oppressive silence in the stairwell. Having time to sit and think about the situation could be worse than fighting.
Steve spoke up breaking the silence, “Hey Vince, how do we know you won’t ditch us as soon as it’s convenient now that you’re out of the elevator?”
The businessman was taken aback; he had no intention of ditching them. He figured it was time for some humor. “My grandpa always told me, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘When you’re camping, always use the buddy system, that way you don’t have to outrun the bear.’ Come on. We’re in this together right, we need as many eyes and hands as we can get right?”
He wasn’t sure if they were satisfied by that or not but he got up and cracked the door open. Nothing but bodies so far, he eased the door open and looked out. The moonlight streamed in through the windows casting an eerie glow on the bloodstained tile.
The lobby was devoid of life. The executive made his way to the security office. He grabbed more ammo, and an ASP collapsible baton. “Alright, through that door is the basement, he said pointing to a nondescript steel door in the security office. As long as the roll up doors stayed down it should be safe.”
Tamelle stood by the battered and Swiss cheese door. “What if the doors are up?”
“Well that means the basement would be open to the street, and anything wandering by.”
Steve shrugged, “Okay, let’s hope they’re closed then. Ready?”
Steve opened the door and Vince went through first. “Clear!” He said and the others followed him.
A few moments later walking through the overpriced cars Vince spotted what he feared. One of the security gates was up. He slowly approached the ramp. A delivery truck had gone down it and crashed into one of the concrete barriers. They wouldn’t be able to move it. He half expected to hear moaning or growling, but nothing approached from the shadows.
“Vince, dude how are we going to get out with that box van jammed in the way?”
“There’s a gate on the other side we can use.” He said as he walked toward his personal parking space, the four-door Land Rover Defender looked alright.
Steve an amateur gear head, was impressed, “Dude, how’d you get a Defender?”
Vince shook his head, and did his best imitation of a stoned surfer, “Dude, that’s totally gnarly man!” he coughed and cleared his throat, “Dude, it’s not important right now how I got it, oh and dude, stop saying dude! Alright dude?”
Steve bit his lip, “Fine, whatever.” He wondered what the suit’s smarmy face would look like with his fist smashed in it. Probably a lot better.
Tamelle rolled her eyes, “Boys, we’re in the middle of the Zombie apocalypse and all you can think to do is argue over the word dude?” She didn’t understand men sometimes, why were they always acting so stupid over the dumbest things?
Vince hit the unlock button on his key fob, and the car chirped. Something in the darkness moved. “Did you see that?” He asked his companions.
“Where?” Tamelle asked fear in her voice.
“Under the Lexus.”
“Which one? There’s like fifty of them!”
The black shape growled deep and low. Vince raised the twelve gauge to his shoulder bathing the car with light. He couldn’t get a clear shot; the infected was crouched behind the tires.
“Hey guys hold your fire.” Steve said. “If that was a zombie it would have charged us by now.”
“How do you know? Stay back.” Vince said.
The young man ignored him and walked up to the luxury car and leaned down. Vince just knew he’d end up shooting them both, whatever was under that car would tear his face off and…
“Here boy! It’s alright, we’re not gonna’ hurt you.” Steve said in a cheerful voice. The dog wimpered.
Vince raised the shotgun till it was pointing at the roof. “A dog? Can they get infected?”
“Vince got anything to feed the dog in your rig?”
“Uhh let me see.” He opened the back of the Defender; he had packed it tight with what he thought would help him survive for the next few months. He fished around until he found a can of starvation food, Vienna sausages. Vince might have eaten them if the alternative was gnawing his arm off. He opened the can and handed the putrid pink ‘meat’ to the kid.
The dog was hesitant at first but he ravenously devoured the nasty pink sausages like he was starving. “Come on out.” Steve said but the dog didn’t move. Then he noticed the tag, SPD K-9.
“Hey guys he’s a police dog. Anyone know Dutch, or German, or whatever?”
Vince was intrigued; a police dog could be useful. At first he had been planning on telling the college kid to ditch the mutt, but a police dog, might come in handy. “Hierr, hierr!” The business man said and the dog crawled out from under the car. He was dirty but didn’t look infected, his coat was golden brown with a black back, he was some kind of German Shepherd. “Bravy, bravy, hund.”
Tamelle shrugged, “How do you know German?”
“We have wholly owned subsidiaries all over Europe, business trips.” He said as he grabbed the dog tag and flipped it over. “What’s your name doggie, Fenrir… why is that name familiar?”
“He’s the dog of the Norse god Loki.” Steve said as the others stared at him, “What? I took a class on European Mythology last semester, I needed the credits.”
“Guys can we get out of here?” Tamelle asked.
“Right, let’s get the gate open.” Vince said as he grabbed a nylon tie down strap and cut it to length with his Spyderco pocket knife. In moments he had a makeshift leash attached to the dog’s collar.
The trio made there way through the basement garage to the second gate. It was down and secured with a couple of heavy duty padlocks. “Locked? The guards must have put the building into lockdown. Maybe we can find the keys in the security office.”
“Or we could just shoot them off.” Steve said as he drew his Glock 22, and aimed it at the lock.
“No wait don’t!” Vince yelled as Steve pulled the trigger. The jacketed hollow point smashed into the tempered steel lock, causing the lead to splatter and send fragments of the copper jacket into the young man’s leg.
“Owww! Why didn’t you warn me you guys had bulletproof padlocks! Damn that stings.” The college kid fished his Multi tool out of his pocket and managed to pull a piece of copper jacket out of his leg.
“I did you goofball. Did you expect the lock to explode?”
“Umm yeah, why?”
“Well take a look doofus; all you did was dent it a little. All locks are ‘bulletproof’ against handgun rounds.”
“Tamelle, take the dog and put a bandage on our super trooper’s cut, be careful to not get any of that black goo in the wound. I’ll take care of the locks.”
“Vince who died and made you king?” She said with a sneer on her lips.
“If you’d rather go it alone I’ll leave and you can chance it with wonder boy here.” Vince knew he was the Alpha in this group, he just needed to get the others to understand that and things would go much smoother. The world was full of managers who had no idea how small group dynamics actually worked. Vince hadn’t made it this far without learning how to work with groups of self important people.
They went back to the car, and the business man found a box of twelve gauge slugs. Instead of firing a bunch of little pellets, slugs were one massive chunk of lead. They were perfect for bear protection, or shooting locks. He went back to the gate and put the muzzle of the shotgun on the top of the lock, looking down from the hasp, not straight on like the dumb college kid had, who apparently had seen too many action movies.
He fired the slug, the massive one ounce lead projectile smashed into the top of the lock, snapping the hasp and sending pieces of the lock flying into tail light of a black Mercedes, shattering the plastic. Vince smiled, it was Freddy, Farnsworth’s car, he hated the lazy sleaze ball. He had groped a cute young intern at the Virginia offices, but the company didn’t have the balls to fire him, so they transferred him to Vince’s division to sweep the problem under the rug, his rug. Moments later he shot the other lock off and forced the gate up soon they would be on the road.
He made his way back to his rig, the cramped quarters of the truck wouldn’t allow the use of long guns. He traded the borrowed security Glock for his Stainless Les Baer custom 1911.
He knew they would need something with a little more power than just pistols. In the back of the vehicle was his rifle case. He slid it out and unlocked it. Inside was his wood stocked M14 rifle, and his Westley Richards, color case hardened, master engraved double barreled shotgun. The wood was a glossy deep red walnut, with gorgeous swirling grain patterns. The man who made this stock had done so by hand, lovingly rubbing in the stain and oil.
“Man when you go fishing you don’t screw around!” Steve said as he drooled over the little arsenal “Hey what’s the hacksaw for?”
Vince wasn’t a religious man, but he knew he was about to commit an unpardonable sin. He was about to ruin one of the most beautiful shotguns he had ever seen. It was his favorite shotgun for shooting skeet; he never imagined that some day he would have even thought about taking a hacksaw to it.
He put the saw up to the barrel then realized his hands were shaking. A thirty thousand dollar shotgun wasn’t something he could just destroy. “I… I can’t do it.” The beautiful scrollwork, swirling leaves wrapped around in gentle curls on the metal told him to stop.
“Give it here.” Steve said and Vince numbly let the hand crafted firearm go.
Moments later the end of the barrels fell to the ground with a mighty clang, Vince couldn’t watch, he knew he was going to a special level of hell for what he had done. A hell so bad that it was reserved for murderers and people who stopped on yellow lights. Next the young man cut through the wood until the walnut fell to the ground chipping on the concrete.
“There see that wasn’t so bad.” Steve said as he handed the weapon back to its owner. Where a once beautiful shotgun had been, was now an abomination it’s grip wrapped in duct tape.
After some creative repacking they were able to fit all four of them in the Land Rover, they headed up the ramp and drove out to the street.