|Posted on May 29, 2011 at 9:35 PM|
Liz & Mike sat slumped on two of the plastic tangerine-colored Break Room chairs, sweat pouring down their faces & silently casting glances over to the makeshift barricade they'd hastily built against the Break Room door. Mike had shut the lights off in the hopes that would cloak their presence better from those THINGS. The only light that shone was from the window above the pop machine. It was early evening and the light was fading fast.
Listening in silence, they heard nothing on the other side of the door so Mike took the opportunity to kick the glass on one of the vending machines. It immediately spider-webbed with cracks & he wrapped his meaty first in his sweatshirt & punched a formidable sized hole through the glass. He grabbed a bag of Doritos & a Payday bar which he threw to Liz. She looked up and said, "it's only been a few hours & my BOSS has become a criminal" & at that they both burst out in nervous laughter. Liz said, "if I'm going to partake in theft, I'm going to grab what I want" & with a huge grin, walked over to the machine, stuck her arm into it, & fished around til she could grab a bag of pretzels & a granola bar. Looking at Mike as she ripped the pretzels open she said, "gotta watch the girlish figure" & winked.
As they sat somberly eating their goodies, Mike dialed his house for the fifth time since this started & again got no answer. As he looked at Liz she could clearly see the despair & fear in his eyes, wondering if his family was ok. Liz said nothing, her own family were strangers to her, but she was upset because her own Rottweiler Sadie was at home, probably staring sadly at the front door, head down next to her food bowl, anxiously awaiting Liz's arrival.
Liz broke the silence, cleared her throat, & got up to turn the tv on that was mounted on the wall. The end result was shocking. Every other channel was either a blank screen with the Emergency Broadcast message displayed on it or panic-stricken reporters hurriedly making reports of chaos & anarchy in the streets.
Liz stopped flipping through the channels as she recognized Tom, their local news reporter, trying to calmly broadcast what was going on & what procedures to take right now. They could see his eyes dart elsewhere periodically & could hear screams in the background that couldn't be edited out because it was a live broadcast.
"This is Tom Hendricks with Channel 27 News, outside of our own broadcast station to show any people just tuning in what the severity of the events going on right now are. With me is Jack, one of our best cameramen at the station, who will remain with me until our last broadcast is possible. Behind me is what remains of Brooklyn's police force along with the rest of the fire department crew. They have worked fast & efficiently, setting up the barricade you see in the backdrop to protect against, for lack of better words right now, the infected. Jack, please show our viewers what we're currently dealing with."
With that, the camera panned outwards & Liz gasped at what she saw as Mike dropped his bag of Doritos onto the ground. Behind Tom was a makeshift barricade of fire trucks, police vehicles, & a line of men & women in combat uniforms who carried riot shields, night sticks, & an array of guns kept at their sides. Three of the firemen were equipped with fire hoses & viewers watched as four of the people from the crowd clambered over a police interceptor & one of the firemen turned his hose onto them to use the force of the water to push them back.
The cameraman focused the camera back onto Tom & he said, "the crowd of people who can be seen behind the barricade seem to be unresponsive, very volatile, & relentless as they continue their attack for no apparent reason. It is unclear right now & unconfirmed but we have heard reports that there may be some possible cannibalism involved but again, that is speculation right now. Armed forces have successfully sectioned off the area right now but as you can see, I'd be hesitant to tell any of you viewers to attempt to make your way here as the streets around are too dangerous & there's no telling how long this will hold. To the left of us, the Chief of Police & Mayor are meeting with a few other faces we have yet to identify & there's talk of forming a safe house or a city-wide evacuation but due to the size of the populace I myself don't see that as an option. Right now, I have been told to recommend to viewers to find a secure location & if possible, hang a sheet or some form of article outside a window to act as a signal that there are people healthy & alive inside. It is currently unclear if this is a viral occurrence so do not attempt to make physical contact with anyone unfamiliar or outside of your current location, family included, until there's more of an explanation found."
The camera suddenly panned to Tom's left as there was a startled shout & a stern warning given. "Sir, do NOT come any closer or we WILL shoot!" It looked like a police woman in her twenties, probably a rookie but her nervousness, was addressing an obese man in his late forties as he had successfully scrambled over the police car & was ignoring the high-pressured stream of water coming from the fireman's hose. As they watched in horror, the fireman adjusted the water pressure to a higher point & when the hose was pointed at him again, the pressure of the water ripped half of his face nearly off & his skin flapped in the stream of water like a flag caught in a violent windstorm. One of the firemen instantly yelled, "turn the water of Joe," & immediately the hose was shut off. The cameraman must've started shaking at the sight of what was going on a bit because the camera picture wavered a bit but the picture was still clear enough that when the water stopped, the viewers could see the man drag himself up again, while ignoring his ruined face, & continue to advance to the line of officers. He seemed oblivious to what had just happened. His white "wife-beater" was now pink from gore & blood that had sprayed out from his mangled face & yet he showed no fear, no pain, no surprise. He raised his left arm up already grasping for the officer still ten feet away. She brought her riot shield up as he moaned & stumbled face-first into it. She fell backwards under his weight & immediately the officer to her right reached out to steady her. The obese man seemed to lunge for his arm & savagely bite down onto the beefy part of his forearm. The police officer let out a blood-curdling screech as a chunk of uniform & flesh were savagely ripped away. When the obese man brought his head back from the officer to happily chew the morsel, a short asian officer quickly fired a shotgun round into the obese man cleanly removing the top of his bald head. For a few brief seconds, the man remained upright still chewing, but then suddenly he dropped to the ground falling sideways like a felled tree as his brain leaked from his cracked open skull. He then lay there twitching but made no further move to rise up again.
It seemed unclear what set the crowd off, either the fact that one of their own had just been shot & killed, or perhaps the fact that the obese man's biting & ripping into the police officer body had sent a smell of untainted blood into the air which whipped the crowd into a frenzy, but instantaneously they moved forward in a wave. The camera panned back to Tom as he started speaking & his voice wavered as he said, "what we just witnessed confirms the speculation on cannibalism & I am unable to comment any further right now. Please stay tuned to any breaking news." With that, he stopped speaking & the broadcast ended as moaning drowned out anything else he could've attempted to say.
Liz waited a few seconds, looked at Mike, & turned the tv off. They sat in silence for a few moments & Mike quietly said, "Liz...I gotta go home. MY wife, my six month old daughter, my LIFE is there..what kind of man am I sitting here huddling in the coming dark hiding out in our Break Room? I don't care what Tom said, I have to leave, have to try, or else I am nothing."
Liz said nothing, thought about what he'd said, then slowly raised her eyes to meet his. She begrudgingly said, "if you're gonna do this, you're DEFINITELY gonna need a zombie expert & guide to help you right? Well here's your lucky day boss man, I am one. I have one condition, when we get in & drive off in your Lowrider out back, we stop by my house on the way to get my baby Sadie. Believe me, you'll be happy we do." Mike looked at her, gratitude he didn't have to do this alone written all over his face, & said one word..."agreed."
Categories: Chapter 17