Friday 18 – Saturday 19 July 2014
Radio, TV, and Internet media all proclaimed the end of the world, a zombie apocalypse that was spreading like wildfire, and then there was silence. All police and emergency services, National Guard or military announcements had ceased by the time Greg Carter and his two sidekicks, Luke Freeman and Peter Mason, arrived at the military base in Porterville. The airwaves and the Internet were dead.
The Porterville base was an installation in utter ruin. Buildings and vehicles were alight, weapons and carcasses littered the ground, and the stench of decaying flesh was fetid and unmistakable. Carter slowly drove the SUV through the hole in the high military-grade fence where the security gates had once been.
‘Keep your eyes open, boys,’ he instructed Freeman and Mason.
‘You think we should maybe pick up a few of these guns, and see if we can get to the armoury for ammunition?’
‘Not a bad idea, Mason, but I wanna find a safe place to park first.’ Carter’s head swivelled from left to right as he looked out for a secure parking space, and signs that anyone was left alive.
‘Hey, Pete, do you think your brother made it out alive?’
‘I don’t know, Luke. Judging by the carnage here, I’m not really holding out any hope. It’s not what I expected to see, that’s for sure. I figured these army boys would be on top of it, but I guess not. If he’s dead, I sure hope he isn’t one of them now.’ Mason gazed out of the car window at the debris and chaos left in the wake of the horrendous creatures that had overrun the world. ‘Please God, don’t let Gussy be one of them,’ he whispered.
Luke pointed to Carter’s right. ‘Look, there’s a place to park. Good view of what’s around so we can see if anything’s coming. Easy to get in and out of the car, and you can turn the SUV around so we’re ready to roll if we need to get out in a hurry.’
Carter stopped the SUV and sat for a moment, analysing the spot that Luke had pointed out.
‘Seems okay. Mason, what do you think?’ asked Carter. Mason shrugged his shoulders. Parking spots weren’t particularly high on his agenda. He wanted to know what had become of his brother more than anything else.
‘We need to look for jerry cans and a gas supply while we’re here too. This is an army base, surely there’s gotta be a refuelling station on site. Mason, you and I will head in and check out the buildings. Luke, you pick up a bunch of weapons, and look for that refuelling depot.’ Carter barked his orders as he parked the SUV.
* * * * *
Rotting corpses and the newly transformed were infiltrating the building floor by floor. The screams from the floors below the one that Ray Laxton occupied were becoming louder as the creatures devoured their way up. Baker paced the floor between Laxton’s office door and the reception area that opened directly on to the elevators. Despite the elevator to Laxton’s floor needing key access, Mal Baker was expecting the worst.
‘Mal, has Carter been found yet?’ Laxton called from inside his office. He was sprawled out on the Chesterfield sofa positioned in the middle of the room. Baker trudged in to the office.
‘Not that I’m aware of, Ray.’
‘Don’t you think you should find out for certain?’
‘Ray, you were with me when I called Angelo. You heard what happened to him. I really think that your guys are more concerned with surviving the zombie apocalypse than finding Greg Carter for you.’
Laxton seethed. ‘I want Greg Carter found, and I want it to happen now.’
‘With all due respect, Ray, the only way that is going to happen at this point is if you get out there and find him yourself. Because I sure as shit am not going out into that chaos.’
Laxton snapped, ‘You’ll do as I say, Baker.’
Baker stood up straight, the full extent of his height was intimidating, even to Laxton. ‘I don’t think so, Ray. It’s bad enough that we’re stuck in here, and frankly, I believe it’s only a matter of time before they make their way in here and tear us to pieces.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous, Baker. We’re secure in here. There’s no way they can get in . . . no way at all.’
Mal wasn’t convinced that Laxton believed his own words. The look on Ray’s face gave away the sheer terror that he was experiencing. Sounds from the walls, the floor below, and outside were terrifying enough without having to imagine what was actually occurring. But it was the thumping on the elevator doors that grabbed Ray’s attention.
‘What the fuck is that?’ he whispered.
‘They’re trying to find a way in, Ray, that’s what that is.’
Baker, on guard, crept out of Laxton’s office and over to the elevator shaft. The outer office and the rest of the floor appeared deserted. He sidled up to the elevator’s outer doors and carefully put his ear against the metal. Scratching, gurgling, groaning and snarling were coming from somewhere inside either the elevator or the shaft itself. Mal crept back into the office.
‘We’re running out of time, Ray. We need to get out of here, and the only way we can go is up.’
Laxton stood perfectly still and eyeballed Mal. Sweat dripped from Laxton’s forehead.
‘Are you okay, Ray?’ Mal asked. In minute movements, Laxton shook his head from side to side. He was most definitely not okay, and used to hand to point down to his feet. Mal followed the gesture with his eyes.
‘What? Ray, what are you telling me?’
Again, Laxton’s hand pointed to his feet, and this time, Mal was able to see what was wrong with his boss.
A pale and decaying hand had gripped Laxton’s left ankle. Mal stepped closer for a better view. The hand was still perfectly attached to its arm, and Mal could make out a dislocated shoulder beyond the air vent grating.
‘They’ve already found a way in, Mal.’ Laxton began to quiver uncontrollably. The situation in which he currently found himself was only going to play out one way, and the money that Laxton so desperately wanted from Carter was not going to help him now.
Before Baker could do anything to act, Laxton was yanked back towards the air vent, falling face first on to the floor. Blood poured from Laxton’s nose where it had impacted the floor. His grasping at the floor was a futile action, as he was dragged backwards to the wall, his left leg disappearing into the vent. Laxton screamed in agony as the creature gnawed on his leg.
‘Oh, shit,’ Baker gasped as he turned around and found himself face to face with another decaying corpse. The elevator shaft had been breached.
. . . To be continued . . .