Fenrir was scared, being separated from Sergeant Browning, was bad. He worried about him, was he hurt? These new humans seemed friendly. They fed him, and knew his name so they couldn’t be bad right?
The sick ones smelled wrong. The black slime they spit up smelled like death. He had never smelled humans like those before. Regular people smelled like sweat, and the sickly sweet stuff that they smeared on their bodies to try and mask their scent. He never understood why they did that, or bathed so often.
The vagen was moving fast and he needed to see what was going on. The female sitting next to him smelled like fear. Some humans were always afraid around him, but he never understood why. Fenrir loved to play, but some humans didn’t want to play, they wanted to run away and Browning would tell him to chase them. He loved it when he did something that Browning liked, he would get to play with those fuzzy squishy light grey balls. They were fun to chew on, and bounced high.
The two males were talking in the front seat. They weren’t happy; the dog hoped he hadn’t made the humans angry. He liked those meaty things they gave him, and he was still very hungry.
Were these humans guardians too? They had bang sticks that smelled like Browning’s. He stuck his head in-between the front seats and the younger male scratched him behind the ear. “Blah blah, Fenrir, blah blah blah.” He said in a friendly manner. The older one was busy turning the big wheel in the vagen.
He liked it when people talked to him, even though he didn’t understand much of what they said. The vagen slowed down and the dog looked out the window. There was a big burning pile of vagens. Was he going to get out and smell for play bags? Humans were always hiding play bags in the oddest places, under the seats in vagens, in their houses, in pockets. Fenrir liked finding the play bags, whenever he did Browning was happy with him, and he got a snack, or a squishy ball to chew on.
The males were yelling at each other, they smelled scared, and angry. Like the people he chased. What was wrong? Fenrir swiveled his head around looking for the bright grey lights and he listened for the sirens but he didn’t see or hear any of his master’s friend’s vagens.
The younger male, grabbed a short bang stick and rolled down the window. He instantly smelled the sick ones. He flattened his ears and growled. The sick ones were mean, and smelled bad; he needed to protect these humans from them. Protecting was his job, but he would only fass when his master told him to.
A bang stick was fired out the window and Fenrir waited to see if he should jump out the window and fass hard on an arm or leg. But the vagen began moving again and the bang stick was put down, ‘young male’ must have gotten the bad one.
Tonight there were a lot of bang sticks making noise, more than normal. But it was a little cold, not like the night of bang horrors every year when it was hot, and bang sticks were everywhere all night long. He hated that night.
He wanted to go back home, he liked it when little female, and baby male petted him. But he somehow knew that he wasn’t going to see them again. That made Fenrir sad. With the immediate danger over he lay down in the foot area and put his head on the seat.
The dark female pet him on his neck and it felt good, she smelled of fear but not as much as before. Maybe things would be okay. Maybe he would make it home and sleep in his dog bed tonight after all.
The car continued on through the night, dodging wrecked vehicles. On the side of the road infected would look up as they drove by. The virus was spreading like wildfire. Vince hit the power button on his satellite radio receiver.
“…infected individuals, is strongly discouraged. Stay in your homes, lock the doors, and stay away from windows.” The droning newscaster said like he was describing your average flood, or winter storm warning.
Steve groaned, “Stay in your homes? Aren’t they just telling people to make themselves canned meat?”
“Basically.” Vince said. “Shh, let’s listen to the rest of it.”
“Triage centers are being setup by National Guard units in the following cities, “Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington, Las Vegas Nevada, Salt Lake City Utah…” The announcer went on to list off most of the major cities in the United States. “Other triage centers may be established in your local area, check with your local Emergency Services department for more information.”
“How wide spread is this thing?” Tamelle asked, “Are we talking about a worldwide epidemic?”
“Looks like a pandemic. Worse than anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s going to be a game changer.” Vince said as he hit the brakes, and turned down a side street.
“Where do we go from here?” Steve asked.
Vince at Steve, “Step one, get the hell out of the city.”
“Right, where’s this fishing hole of yours?”
“It’s past Redmond on the other side of the Lake Washington via the 520 Bridge. I just hope it’s clear.”
“Wait Redmond Washington? You mean Microsoft’s home town?”
“Yes their H.Q. is there why do you ask?”
“Dude Microsoft was already full of Zombies before the outbreak.”
“Very funny, let me guess, you’re an Apple cultist.”
“No way man, Linux! Open source is the future!” He unbuttoned his jean jacket showing a Tux the penguin t-shirt underneath.
“Boys, can you please talk geek later?” Tamelle cringed, 520 Bridge traffic sucked on good days. “Vince, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge is horrible even when not in rush hour. What makes you think it’ll be fine during a zombie outbreak.”
“They’re infected, not zombies. Come on we’ve got to try.”
“Wait a minute guys,” Steve cleared his throat. “Floating bridge? Were the engineers stoned when they designed it?”
“Probably.” Tamelle replied.
Up ahead the bridge was packed with stopped cars, busses and a Package delivery truck that had been dumped on its side. The roll up door had crumpled and cardboard boxes were strewn across the asphalt.
“Vince, slow down man.” Steve said as he checked the chambers on the now ruined double barrel, he popped in two shells to replace the ones he had fired earlier.
“What’s going on up ahead?” Tamelle said as she peered through the windshield from the back seat.
Patrol car lights flashed in between vehicles, piercing the darkness. Vince slowed the truck down as he tried to avoid boxes.
Steve coughed, “We’ll never get through that mess, but look at the oncoming lanes, empty. Vince turn around and let’s go the wrong direction.”
After a hasty three and a half point turn Vince back tracked until he could get on the westbound lanes. There were a couple abandoned vehicles that had crashed into the concrete barriers but it didn’t take much to avoid them.
They went down from the high rise to where the bridge floated on the water. Tamelle never liked that bridge; she tried to avoid it whenever possible. No amount of money could convince her to drive on it during high winds. She looked at the dark sky and just their luck it began raining.
Her gut told her something was wrong, that they were making a big mistake coming this way. She peered through the windshield and could tell something wasn’t right, but it was too far away for her to see what.
A parked car door opened and a man staggered out in the middle of the road. Vince hit the brakes to keep from running him over. A split second later he knew he had made a mistake. The man turned toward them his face contorted into a vicious snarl as he charged their rig. “Hold on!” Vince yelled as he mashed the accelerator to the floor. The infected man bounced off the brush guard and rolled under the tires, pitching the truck wildly.
“Well that’s one way to kill a zombie! Yeah buddy!” Steve said as the tires squealed.
“Are you enjoying this Steve?” Tamelle asked a tinge of disgust in her voice.
He thought about it for a moment. “Well, not really, but man, you’ve got to enjoy the little things in life. I mean when else would we be able to have this experience?”
“I’d be fine if we didn’t.”
“See that’s your problem. You’re a half glass empty kinda gal. You see a street full of zombies, I see Zombie-car bowling!”
“Steve… you’re sick.”
“We’ve established that, what’s your point?”
They neared the halfway mark on the mile and a half behemoth of a bridge. It was then that Tamelle realized what was wrong. The draw span was open.
“Vince! Stop the car!”
“The draw span is open!”
Steve looked ahead in the distance, “What’s a draw span?”
“It’s a removable section of the bridge that allows tall boats to go through.” She explained as Vince slowed the rig down. “I’ve never seen it open before.”
“Steve pointed at the concrete and glass structure to the right. “Hey is that the control tower? Maybe we can get inside and close it.”
Vince stopped the Land Rover a ways back from the raised section of the bridge. Instead of pivoting like a medieval drawbridge, this structure stacked the road on top of itself. No Dukes of Hazard style jumps would be possible.
The coast looked clear of infected. They got out of the truck and made their way toward the control tower. As soon as they climbed up to the level of the stacked road floodlights bathed them in blinding light.
“This area is under quarantine, under orders from the Governor of Washington. No persons are to cross the bridge.” a booming voice said over a loudspeaker. “Lethal force is authorized.” Vince shielded his eyes from the retina searing light.
“Who is it?” Tamelle asked.
“It’s the National Guard.” Vince replied, “But they aren’t here to save us.”
Steve cupped his hands over his mouth and yelled at the top of his lungs. “We’re not infected!”
A few moments later came the reply. “Sorry, the quarantine must be maintained, no exceptions.”
“I thought the Guard would be the good guys.” Tamelle said.
Steve shook his head. “Bah they’re Government.”
Vince spoke up, “Look they are the good guys, just in a bad situation. Would you want potential Infected anywhere near you?” Vince held his hands up over his head and waved. Then he turned around and headed back to the car. “Come on, I don’t want to get shot.” He pulled on Fenrir’s leash and headed back to the car. He opened the back passenger’s door and the dog jumped back in.
Back in the car they sat in silence for a moment. Vince turned the key and the V8 engine rumbled to life. “If they have this quarantine checkpoint up, It’s a sure bet they’ll have others.”
“I’m sure, but this isn’t an island, it will be a lot harder for them to control all the routes out of the city sprawl.” Tamelle said, “So do we try getting out or find somewhere to hunker down?”
Steve was fixated on the side mirror. “Guys…”
“I guess we’ll just have to drive back into the city, and figure it out as we go.” Vince said as he rubbed his eyes.
“Guys!” Steve said his voice becoming more anxious.
Tamelle yawned, “Well, maybe we can find…”
Steve yelled, “Guys! Zombies! Running zombies!”
Vince cranked the steering wheel and hit the gas. He had just turned the truck around when the first infected hit the side of the vehicle. “Shit!” He yelled as the Land Rover plowed through a massive mob.
Fenrir barked as two of the former humans clung to the speeding vehicle. “Suck on this!” Steve yelled as he pulled the triggers on the twelve gauge dropping one of the beasts.
The remaining zombie clung to the driver’s side mirror and smashed her fist into the window. Before she became infected she was probably some highly paid executive. Vince swerved the rig toward the cement barrier sideswiping the concrete and brushed the side mirror, and the former businesswoman off the car.
“Steve, looks like you’re going to get your Zombie-car bowling after all.” Vince said as he pointed down the bridge. Roughly twenty infected were running toward them, oblivious to the danger the speeding truck would be to them. He hit the gas and held on to the wheel white knuckled.
The truck smashed through the infected tossing their snarling forms like ragdolls, one came up over the hood shattering the windshield. Vince pressed on through the mob, and as soon as they had come they were gone, shattered bones and crushed skulls were left behind.
Tamelle was shaking, “Uhh, Steve?”
“How do you like ‘Zombie-car bowling’ now?”
“Yeah, umm I guess that wasn’t so much fun.”
Browning M2HB heavy machine guns opened up from the other side of the bridge, shooting at the infected that were trying to swim across. Private First Class Pettis swiveled the heavy weapon on its mount, and depressed the thumb trigger. Water shot up in geysers as the large bullets smacked into water and flesh. Pettis had been in the guard for less than a year; he was a 56M, Chaplains Assistant. He knew when he signed up that he would go through Basic Training just like everyone else, throw grenades, shoot rifles and other violent activities. He was alright with that because he knew he wouldn’t actually be in combat in the field.
Well the Zombies shot that plan full of holes; he had been pressed into service on this machinegun when the last gunner had to be… quarantined. His gas mask was uncomfortable and beads of sweat seemed to pool in the worst places, but after seeing what happened to Sampson, Watanabe, Miller and others he didn’t want to chance it.
He wondered about those poor people with the dog that they had just turned back, it didn’t seem right to be turning people away who didn’t look infected. But people could go insane so fast that the commanders had decided to enforce quarantine with no exceptions. The people in the Land Rover had made it through the mob of violent Zulu’s, so perhaps those unfortunate children of God would be alright.
A second wave of Zulu’s dove into the water, Pettis needed strength, so he began to recite the most appropriate prayer he could think of. “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain…” One Zulu had gotten close to their side, but Specialist Jackson stopped him with his M249 SAW.
He continued, “…to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle.” Pettis stopped shooting and loaded another belt of ammo into the weapon; he absently noticed the rain sizzling as it hit the barrel of his machine gun.
“Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”
None of the guardsmen saw the one rogue Zulu who had slipped past their line, until Pettis was knocked over the sandbags into the water.