Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twenty First Entry: Trick or Trick (Part 2)

Unfortunately this was not TV, and we did not get a break to figure out what to do. The undead horde marched forward with only Alex's gun still firing carefully aimed shots at the front of the pack.

“The stairs! Try the stairs!” Yelled Alex, as his gun ran out of ammunition as well. Now we were really screwed; no ammo and no exit if the stairs had been sealed at the same time as the doors behind us.

Mitchell started towards the door to the stairwell, and then stopped. He looked at the oncoming zombies, and shouted,” Lisa? Lisa, no!” Suddenly he grabbed up an empty fire extinguisher from the floor, and charged the crowd of zeds swinging it like a club.

The bright red fire extinguisher hit a dark haired female zombie in the face; she went down and Mitchell went down on top of her. The zombies enveloped them both, and Mitchell disappeared into their writhing mass. Maria told me later that Lisa was Mitchell's ex-wife's name.

Tara broke from our momentary paralysis first, realizing that in another handful of seconds that the zeds would be in front of the door to the stairwell, and that option would be cut off. She yanked on the door, and it opened easily towards her.

“Come on!” Tara yelled.

We ran for the door; Gerry, being the slowest amongst us, ended up bringing up the rear. The zeds were only feet away as he entered the stairs.

“Up or down?” yelled Sharon.

Down would take us to the sublevels; parking, storage, the maintenance workshops, and the various machines and tanks that helped Mallville keeps its illusion of modern civilization. Up would take us farther into admin, and eventually to the nicer apartments on the top floor, like Tara's.

“Down! We could find some tools to use as weapons!” yelled Gerry, pulling the door inwards against the zeds now pulling on its handle from the outside.

“Up! I have more guns in my office,” stated Alex.

“I vote for up,” stated Sharon.

“Seconded,” I added.

“Then go, I'll catch up to you,” said Gerry, sounding very noble.

“Really?” asked Milton.

“No! Run!” said Gerry. He let go of the door, and then dodged past Milton heading up the stairs.

We all followed his example as the zeds pulled open the door from the hallway. Luckily the narrow width of the doorway created a bottleneck, causing the zeds to get stuck as three of them tried to get through at once. It only took them a few seconds to be pushed through by the others though, as I could hear their feet on the stairs below us.

Some of the zeds went down the stairs, but it seemed like most of them were following us, attracted to our smell or something I guess. I didn't realize it at this point, but we had just shown the zeds how to get to every floor in the building, so unless the stairs were sealed off, or the individual sections on each floor had been sealed, they could now spread through the building. Oops.

The door to the third floor hallways was not locked, lucky for us if not for some of the people working up there. We blasted through the door, and into the hallway.

“What's going on?” asked a blonde woman with a stack of cheery paper jack-o-lanterns in her hand, presumably for tonight's planned events, “We heard the alarms, but no one has told us what's going on.”

“Building's breached,” Gasped Alex, breathing heavily, “Zeds right behind us. Evacuate, or fight!”

Without waiting for any sort of response, Alex started moving again, a bit slower now. As thin as he is I kind of thought he would be in better condition than my wheezing self. He led us back to his office, we started hearing screams and yelling coming from the direction of the stairwell as we entered Alex's outer office where Tara's desk sits; the zeds had gotten onto this floor.

Alex went into his office, and over to a large gray metal cabinet that was sitting slightly ajar. I had always thought that this cabinet held office supplies, and files and stuff, but when he flung open the door I saw that he had modified it into a weapon's locker. There were three more M-16s, four Mossbergs, six Berettas, and a whole bunch of ammunition in both boxes and clips. I'm not sure how he got the M-16's (the same way as Kaur, I guess), but from the other stuff, I am guessing he was skimming more than just food off of the scavenging runs.

“Load up!” Alex ordered to all of us.

“Any grenades?” asked Maria.

“I wish.”

Maria traded the Mossberg she was carrying with an M-16. Sharon grabbed an M-16, and Milton tried to, but Alex stopped him, giving gave him a Mossberg instead. We all loaded up as much ammunition as we could carry (this was one of the many times in my life that I was glad I buy pants with big pockets.).

“So now what? We ain't gonna go back there, are we?” asked Milton.

“If we let them spread, we're going to lose this place,” explained Gerry, “We have to fight.”

“Yes, we're going back, and we're going to take down as many of those fuckers as possible. If you're too scared feel free to hide under Tara's desk until we come back for you,” offered Alex, “No one's going to think any less of you, even if you are an unbelievable pussy.”

“Of course one of the zeds might come after your scent, and you'd have nowhere else to run,” explained Tara in her absolute coldest voice, “If you bleed on my desk, I'll be very unhappy with you.”

“Fuck! Alright, I'm comin',” replied Milton.

We headed back towards the stairs. I noticed that we were not seeing any security officers up here, which kind of surprised me. The big conference room that was serving as the council's chamber was on this floor, and I thought it odd that no one was up here to protect them.

At the end of the hallway we spotted the first ones; a pair of zeds in grimy clothes shambling down the hallway towards us. Before I could think of anything clever to say, Maria dropped to one knee and expertly put a bullet through each ghouls' heads.

We advanced more; we truly had the upper hand now, at least on this floor. It was bad that they were spreading throughout all of the floors, but spreading out would make it easier to kill them safely so long as nobody did anything stupid like get bit.

Turning the corner back to the stairs revealed where someone had been bit. Bright red fresh blood was spattered across the wall, but there was no body, zed or normal. I don't know whether to hope the wound was fatal or not, I mean all zombie bites are fatal one way or another in the end.

At the end of the hallway was another of the undead heading away from us towards another hallway intersection. Sharon and I both took the shot; one of us hit it in the back of the neck, the other the back of the skull. I think it's possible that either shot would have taken the thing down, but whichever of us got the head shot definitely killed it.

“What do we do now?” asked Gerry, “Try to make sure this floor is clear, or start on the stairs?”

“They're coming from the stairs. That's probably where the bulk of them still are,” offered Maria.

As if Maria's comment summoned him, the door right behind Milton, the one leading to the stairs, swung upon violently, and a zed staggered through. Milton let out a startled shriek as he spun around to look, and then fired his rifle. It was a good shot too, as it demolished the things face, and sent it stumbling to the floor to never rise again.

“Nice,” commented Gerry to Milton.

“We should split up,” decided Alex, “Sharon and Maria come with me to sweep this floor; we need to make sure the council is secure. The rest of you take the stairs.”

Tara nodded, and, practically shoving Milton out of the way, yanked open the door to the stairwell. I think she was angry, but it can be kind of hard to tell the difference between her being angry, and her just being I don't know, stoic? Is that the right word?

Before she was even fully into the stairwell, Tara had started taking aimed shots at the living dead on the landing for this floor. I could see over her shoulder that there were zeds on the stairs going both up and down. We were going to have to deal with them coming from both sides. I guess this was why there were four of us, while only three on Alex's team. Either that or he considers me, Gerry, and Milton to be about equal to Sharon and Maria. That's probably about right actually.

“We go up first,” ordered Tara once she had cleared the landing of zeds,” There's probably less that way. Once we've cleared up to the top floor we can start working our way back down.”

The fight up the stairs was slow and treacherous. Milton and Gerry watched our backs to stop the undead coming up at us while Tara and I took the front. There were not as many of them in the stairwell as I had feared which meant most of them were probably still on the ground floor. That or they had already spread out onto the other floors on the way up.

The dead ghouls made going up the stairs tricky. The stairs are plenty wide enough to allow three people to stand side by side on them, but having to negotiate our way around the bodies slumped on the steps was difficult. We were frankly in more danger of tripping that being bit, as long as the dead zeds were really dead anyway.

The cold terror I had felt when the attack began had been replaced by adrenaline. I would almost say I was having fun at that point, at least until we got to the top floor. Opening the door at the top of the stairs revealed a horrible sight; a small child who was apparently dressed early for trick-or-treating had been caught by two ghouls that had made it all the way up. I guess he was going to be a ghost, as there was a torn and bloody sheet on the ground next to the zeds who were feasting on them.

That may be the most horrible thing I've ever seen; I suppose if I were any sort of artist, I could draw it. One of the zeds had pulled off the kid's left arm, and was eating like corn on the cob. The other had torn into the chest, and pulled out his intestines, and was gnawing at them, shaking the length of organ as it tried to rip a piece free in its mouth, spraying droplets of blood around and onto the wall behind it. The smell was that of fresh blood and rotting meat.

I froze at the sight. I couldn't move, shoot, anything. I wasn't in any immediate danger, as the zeds were far too busy with their meal to bother with me. Tara shoved me roughly out of the way, and shot the two zeds in the back of the head. She then shot the child's corpse to make sure it remained a corpse.

Tara turned on me then, grabbing my shirt with her left hand, and pulling my face to hers, “Don't you wuss out on me now!” she growled coldly, and then gave me a quick kiss. It was like being kissed by a complete stranger; there was none of the warmth or love that are usually in her kisses. It was like being kissed by someone who hates you, which is frankly a little unpleasant.

“So should we check this floor, or work out way back down now?” asked Gerry.

“Without splitting up, there's really no way to check the floors out properly. We will have to leave that to security,” said Tara, “We work our way down the stairs, and try to keep anymore of the zeds from spreading into the building.”

“But what about the people on the floors? I mean, most of them ain't gonna have guns with 'em,” said Milton.

“They need to be able to defend themselves,” said Tara coldly, ”If our taking out the bulk of the monsters isn't enough for them to succeed at even the most basic self defense, then maybe they just aren't suited for this world anymore anyway.”

“That's pretty harsh,” commented Gerry.

“Maybe you haven't noticed, Gerry, but the world's a pretty harsh fucking place now,” Commented Tara, as she headed back into the stairwell.

The battle back down the stairs was a lot easier than the battle up, except for the litter of rotting corpses blocking the steps from our travels up. Milton watched out back while Tara, Gerry, and myself tried to maintain a solid wall as much as the detritus on the stairs would allow us,

By the time we got down to the landing halfway between the fifth and sixth floors, which would be about a dozen steps down from the sixth floor, there were already a couple of shamblers trying to climb the stairs from the fifth floor landing.

One was a teenage girl in torn a dirty black tanktop and black shorts with shredded leggings under them, which is actually how they were probably meant to look when she was alive. The other zed may have been one of the first risen, he was wearing the remains of a hospital gown, and still had a piece of rubber tubing dangling off of the IV needle embedded in his left arm.

“Girl!” I called; we were now calling our shots in order to help conserve bullets. The closed-in space of the stairwell created a sort of bottle neck. Sure, we could only stand three abreast at best, but the zeds didn't even have that much ability, as more than two of them on one step, and they would start tripping over each other as well as over the bodies of those we had already put down.

“Patient,” called out Tara.

Gerry held his fire while Tara and I took our shots at the undead now about halfway between the fifth floor and us. I got the girl right through the left eye, and she fell forward onto the steps like a sack of rice. Tara's shot hit the hospital corpse right between the eyes, and sent him stumbling back a step onto this air, where he promptly tipped over and tumbled down the stairs back to the fifth floor landing.

The farther down we went, the more zombies we ran into. There must have still been a lot of them down on the ground floor to still be flooding the stairs like this. It seemed like we had killed so many of them, but they still just kept coming.

“I'm almost out of ammo,” stated Gerry as we rounded the landing between the third and second floors.

“We'll have to fall back to Alex's office then; I'm running low too,” Agreed Tara.

I was also running out of bullets, but even if we hadn't been, even if we had been using the infinite ammo code, we never would have gotten much farther. The stairs leading down from the second floor were a writing wall of undead humanity. I would shoot one of them, and it would just disappear back into the seemingly endless mass. Even if the four of us could somehow have gunned all of them down, the stairs would have been am impassable wall of corpses.

I was just about to announce that I had put in my last clip when we heard something wonderful; automatic gunfire. Someone, a few someones by the actual sound of it, was letting loose down on the first floor in a way that said that they had no fear of running out of ammunition. There was only two groups it could really be, the army, or Kaur's security force, and seeing as I haven't seen the army in Covenant since the whole thing started, not even on TV, my bet was on the security force.

“Finally!” exhaled Tara.

“I'm almost out,” announced Gerry.

“Milton, “started Tara, “Go back to Alex's office, and get us more ammunition, and be quick about it. If we need to fall back, it will be up towards you, but don't make us do that, okay?”

“Yeah,” said Milton, and took off up the stairs, the thump of his footfalls echoed through the stairwell.

Suddenly we heard Milton's panicked voice yell, “Oh shit!” followed by a single shot from his rifle, and the sound of a body falling down the stairs. Tara and I exchanged glances, I nodded, and bolted up the stairs.

On the next landing up I found Milton lying there on top of a couple of dead zombies. He was clutching his left arm in his right hand, and his rifle was sitting on the floor next to his. Slithering down the stairs towards him was a zombie in a filthy yellow and red Taco Hut uniform. He was sliding down the stairs because his left leg was missing just above the knee. The wound was fresh and oozing; this was because Milton had panicked as he brought his gun up to fire, pulled the trigger too soon, and shot the thing in the leg.

“Keep it offa me, man!” Milton moaned, clutching his, as it turned out, broken arm.

Not wanting to waste a shot from my M-16 if I did not have to, I grabbed Milton's Mossberg off of the floor, shoved the barrel against the things forehead, and pulled the trigger. The back of the things head burst outwards like a water balloon that had been filled with some foul overcooked gray stew.

The sounds of rapid gunfire echoed up the stairwell along with single shots coming from just below us as I helped Milton to his feet,” Are you okay? Did it bite you?” I asked.

“Naw man, it just came through the door when I opened it. Scared the shit out of me, so I tried to shoot it, and lost my balance,” explained Milton in a less than proud tone, “Think my arm's broke too.”

I handed him back his Mossberg, not that I thought he had much chance of shooting it one handed, and told him to wait there while I went back down to let Tara and Gerry know what happened.

“Take him back to Alex's office then,” ordered Tara, “We need to clear out of here anyway. I do not want to be on this side of Kaur's storm troopers when they start shooting their way up the stairs.”

Milton was able to walk on his own, but he would not have been able to shoot anything if his life depended on it, and it would have. I took the lead while Gerry and Tara covered our rear in case any of the zeds suddenly developed the coordination to cross the obstacle course of corpses (obstacle corpse?). Luckily none of them did.

We made our way onto the third floor without any complications. We could see and smell signs that zeds had been on the floor. Not just the zeds we had killed after first re-arming ourselves, but new ones as well, presumably killed by Alex's squad.

We only ran into one live zed; it was right near Alex's office. The thing was wearing a police officer's uniform with a ragged tear towards the bottom of the right leg; probably the source of the infection. The reason I mention this zed over many of the others we killed today is that it was armed.

Unlike the zombie at the Majestic, this one had a pistol instead of a baseball bat. It was a nine millimeter standard issue sidearm for Covenant police officers. Instead of lunging at us when he, it, saw us, he clumsily aimed the pistol and pulled the trigger as fast as his decaying muscles would allow.

Click, click, click, click, click.

The gun did not fire. Looking at the zombie in disbelief, I noticed that the slide on the pistol was locked back showing that the clip was empty. Apparently the monster still knew somewhere inside how to fire the weapon, but did not know how to reload it from the clips that were surely secured in its gunbelt.

The four of us exchanged glances with each other as if to make sure none of us were injured, and aside from Milton's arm we were all okay. We looked back at the zombie who still stood there, facing off against us in the hallway and pulling the trigger of his dead weapon fruitlessly.

“You motherfucker,” commented Tara calmly. The look in her eyes was calm, but chilling as she calmly raised her M-16, calmly pulled the trigger, and calmly blew the undead cop's brains out. He crumpled like a marionette with its strings cut, his pistol tumbling from his hand, and then calmly lying there on the floor, still and unmoving.

We were in the process of reloading our pockets with ammo from Alex's weapons closet when he entered the room with Maria and Sharon, “Oh good, here you are,” he said upon seeing us, “How did it go?”

“We cleared the stairs up to six, but I don't know how many got out of the stairwell and onto the actual floors. We saw some signs of attacks on the upper floor, and some confirmed fatalities,” reported Tara.

“What about down?” asked Alex.

“Too many trying to force their way up. We couldn't get any farther than two, and Milton was injured.”

Alex looked to Milton who was trying to look tough, but whose dark skin had paled considerably, “Were you bit? Are you okay?”

“He fell down the stairs after being scared by a zombie,” explained Gerry with a slight snicker.

“Aw fuck you, man!” cried Milton.

“How did things go for you?” asked Tara.

“There were a few of them up here, but we got rid of them,” said Sharon, “I thought that maybe they had just followed our scent up the stairs, but if they are getting onto the other floors too...”

“Were you able to talk to the council, make sure they are okay and all?” asked Tara.

“No, the door to the conference room was locked, and they are at least smart enough not to answer it, but at least that means that they are secure,” said Alex, “It is strange that the guards are gone though; there was no one guarding the door. There should have been a pair of security officers stationed there,”

“Maybe they had gone down to fight the zeds?” I asked.

“Did you see any of them in the stairwell?” asked Maria

“No, but that doesn't mean they didn't take different stairs. They were probably being coordinated by radio,” suggested Gery, “I mean they are fighting the main force down there now.”

“Yes, they are,” agreed Alex, “and seeing as they are probably going to work their way up here eventually, I suggest that we get out of here to make sure we don't accidentally get shot by a little, “he actually did finger quotes here, “ friendly fire.”

“You don't really think that...” Sharon started, but trailed off.

“I think that fucker had us sealed in with that horde with the hopes that we would be killed, “explained Alex, “I'm sure he would have sealed the stairs as well if he had thought that we would use them. I think the only reason he's even directing his forces to attack the zeds now is because we're no longer in any danger of being fucking eaten, and because there is only so long you can wait to mount an attack before you have to explain it to the council.”

“Not to mention that fact that if he lets them spread too much we could lose the whole community to them,” said Tara, “If too many people get infected, Kaur will want to have them destroyed, and too much of that and we'll have a riot on our hands.”

We made our way out of the section unharmed. In fact we saw no security at all until we were out of the administration area and into the neighboring series of private offices (attorneys, accountants, insurance, that sort of stuff). We did find a security presence there, but other than to ask us if anyone needed medical attention, they let us go, telling us to take Milton to the med center for his arm.

Our group split up. Gerry and Maria took Milton to the medical center, while Alex, Tara, Sharon and I headed to my apartment. We didn't talk much, as the adrenaline now draining out of all of our systems left us feeling exhausted.

I did not stay long at my place; I just grabbed some clothes and went with Tara back to her apartment. Sharon and Alex were both still in my apartment when we left. Sharon was in the shower, presumably trying to wash some of the rotten smell of the undead off of her. I wish her luck with that.

“Are you okay?” Tara asked as we entered her apartment, now much softer and warmer than she had been during the fight.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You're just really quiet is all.”

“Well, I don't really want to talk about zeds, and that's pretty much the only thing on my mind right now,” I lied.

“Is it that kid?”


“The kid on six,” Tara said.

“Yeah. I guess it is,” I only partially lied; the kid in the costume certainly bothers me, but it was not what I was really focused on. I know that sounds stupid, and I'll never forget the image of those things devouring a small child, but it was not what was at the front of my mind.

How could I tell Tara that her personality change out there, what? Scared me? I don't know if that's really the right word. Off-putting doesn't really sound right either. I do not know the words to express the feeling.

It was like she was really someone else. Tara's body, Tara's lips, but someone else was behind those icy blue eyes. Maybe it's just the first time I've seen her like that since we've been together. I should admire her ability to put her feelings aside and take charge instead of focusing on one odd kiss.

Maybe I just feel that my masculinity, such as it is, is threatened. Sharon was always kind of bossy, but never in that way. Is that a bad thing though?

Tara and I spent the evening together. We put on a movie, but I couldn't tell you what it was; some “comedy” with Adam Sandler. We just sat there and kind of stared at it, you know? We did not talk about today's festivities at all.

She asked me to stay the night, but I told her no. She did not seem upset by that or anything, so I don't know if she really wanted me to, or if she was just saying it because she thought it was the right thing to say. I just needed some quiet alone time.

You know, I never went back downstairs to find out what they are doing about that gaping hole in the wall. I hope we don't get attacked in the night. I guess I'll keep my 9mm handy just in case.

I feel exhausted, but not sleepy. It's almost midnight now. Almost November, but there will be no all holiday music stations starting tomorrow. I am sitting here alone at my kitchen table writing about the worst Halloween ever, at least I hope I never have any worse than this.

It is so quiet in here right now. I want some noise, but Sharon is asleep in the bedroom. I have this really odd urge to go turn on the TV and just listen to the static for awhile.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Twenty First Entry: Trick or Trick (Part 1)

October 31st

This may have been the most horrifying Halloween ever, and not for any good reasons. The planned trick or treat event for the kids has been called off after today's events. This was probably the worst day since all of this started.

We had a clean-up scheduled for around midday (we've been waiting all week for a non-rainy day), so I was hanging around Alex's office talking to Tara when it happened. A tremor ran through the whole of Mallville, and emergency alarms sounded.

What happened, from best I can find out, is this; a small car, evidently packed with explosives, came screaming through the parking lot towards the Administration exit. Like the exits to the outside in the shopping area, this is a big wide hallway with three sets of swinging glass doors. The whole thing is more than wide enough to drive a car through once who break through the metal frames of the doors and windows.

The car was not able to get into the hallways though, as the big metal security gate was rolled down. After crashing through the glass, the car rebounded off the gate a few feet and then exploded. The blast is what rocked Mallville enough to be felt up in Alex's outer office.

The explosion not only demolished what was left of the windows, but took out a good portion of the wall on the second floor above the entrance, and turned the gate into so many splinters of metal. The guards stationed at that entrance were probably killed before they even fully realized that something had hit the building.

The fire alarms sprang to life; a recorded voice urged people to evacuate the building in a calm and orderly fashion. Confusion spread as members of the security force tried to explain to people that the recording was incorrect, and that the exits were still sealed. People were told to stay calm, stay where they were, and wait for further information.

“What the fuck was that?” yelled Alex, poking his head out of his office into Tara's area.

“I don't know. It sounds like something blew up,” replied Tara, going to the door to the hallway, and sticking her head out.

People were running out in the hallway. Someone yelled something about an explosion breaching the perimeter. Hearing this, Alex ducked back into his office and Tara followed him.

Moments later they reappeared, armed with M-16s. Tara had one in each hand, she offered me the one in her left hand, holding it by the hand guard.

“You keep guns is your office?” I asked Alex.

“Doesn't everyone? Come on, this sounds like some serious bullshit.”

I took the rifle from Tara, feeling a little queasy as I did, and followed them out into the hallway. Smoke was starting to fill the air from the fires burning downstairs and in some of the outer offices on the second floor.

Tara, Alex, and I took the stairs down to the ground floor, and stepped out into chaos. The main hallway was full of smoke and panicked people. Security force members in their bright white shirts stood out against the smoke, some trying to move towards the fire, and others trying to direct people away.

We fought our way through the panicked crowd, it seemed like there were more people here than there really should have been, but that may have been a result of people first trying to see what happened, and then trying to get away once they did see. Once we arrived at the junction where the main hallway met the entry hall we found a scene of utter destruction.

Where there had once been a gray metal gate in front of a wall of glass and metal was now a ragged burning hole. Water sprayed down from the ceiling, some from the fire sprinklers that had been triggered, but mostly from a spot where the sprinkler pipe had broken in the ceiling; it was just gushing out in a stream from there. Where the car must have been was a small smoking crater in the sidewalk with blackened pieces of metal around it, the car as a whole was gone, as was the metal overhang that had sheilded the glass doors from the hot sun during the summer.

The inside fared no better, the remaining ceiling lights flickered, small chunks of metal and shards of safety glass littered the floor, pieces of what had to be the gate stuck in the walls and ceiling all around us. Anyone actually standing in this hallway would have been torn to shreds by the shrapnel.

Up near the hole that let out into the gray daylight were people, a scattering of people, some members of the security force, some not, were trying to extinguish the fires not being put out by the weakened spray of the fire sprinklers with bright red fire extinguishers.

Alex pushed his way towards the gate, Tara and myself in tow, his feet squishing and crunching on the soggy carpets and bits of glass and metal,” What the fuck happened?” he demanded of a young member of the security force. When ?I say young, I mean that the guy was sixteen if he was a day, with a bright red afro trying to put out a burning chair with his extinguisher.

“We were attacked! Someone set off a bomb or something. I was around the corner when it happened, or I'd be dead like Stewie and Teebow (T-bo?). They were, like, right fucking here man, and then they were gone.”

“Shit!” cursed Alex. He turned to me and Tara, “We need to get these fires out, and get this area secured. This repair shit is going to fall on me, you know?”

As if on cue, someone somewhere finally figured out how to turn off the alarm, and suddenly the only noises around us were the whooshing bursts of fire extinguishers, the sound of running water, and the ringing in my ears.

“Alex!” a familiar voice called.

Security had managed to clear out a number of the people not actively trying to put out fires, and Sharon was able to move through the couple of dozen remaining people towards us easily.

“Are you okay?” Sharon yelled over the din of the alarms once she got to us.

“Yes. What are you doing here? This isn't safe, we don't know how stable this area is now. There may be serious structural damage.”

“You weren't in your office; I was worried,” Sharon explained, seemingly unaware that Tara and I were even there.

“Oh shit! Incoming!” yelled a voice. It was Milton, he was standing by the ragged hole in the wall. Through the hole I could see three large trucks, I'm talking bigs rigs, not any little U-Move trucks this time. They were the flat-fronted kind, what do they call them, “cab over”? Anyway, it was the kind that looked like the real Optimus Prime, one was even red. The other two were black,

The two black trucks stopped a hundred yards or so from the building while the red one pulled up in front of them so that the side of the trailer faced the building. In large painted letters on the side of the truck was the following message:


After sitting there for maybe a minute, the truck started rolling again; it drove around the other two trucks, and pulled up parallel with them. After a few seconds, all three trucks started rolling towards us again.

“Oh Shit! Pull back!” Yelled Alex, “Get back, everyone get back!”

It was a good thing that a lot of people had already been cleared out of the hallway, because everyone left ran for the end of the hallway at the same time. Tara grabbed my arm, and yanked me after her as she ran. We made it to the end of the hall, and got around the corner, unrealistically hoping to be shielded from the coming explosion that would likely demolish this portion of Mallville At least this far in the fire sprinklers hadn't been triggered, so there wasn't water pouring down on us.

The hard thuds of the trucks hitting the side of the building ran through the walls and into us, but the explosions never came. Silence overtook us for a second, broken only by the sound of running water.

“We are so fucked,” came a soft voice from next to me. I turned to see Mitchell Malloy standing there. I don't know if that was directed at me, or just him thinking aloud though. We haven't really spoken in the last couple of months, not since he told me to get out of his apartment.

After a few more seconds of no explosion, Alex, who positioned himself nearest the corner at the intersection of the entry hall and the main hallway that we had sought cover in, stuck his head around the corner.

“Oh shit! Call for backup!” Alex yelled, presumably at the security force officers. He looked even more pale than usual, terrified in fact.

Being both stupid and curious, a bunch of us, myself, Sharon, and Tara included, moved up to where Alex was, and saw what had so freaked him out. The smell hit us, overpowering the smell of smoke and burnt building, before our eyes registered what they were seeing. Crowding through the gaping hole was an army of the undead; there must have been at least a hundred of them. Somehow the Hell's Postmen (I assume) managed to corral a hundred zombies into the backs of trucks? How?

The four security officers present were all calling into their radios for help, but there is no way help could get here fast enough. We were on our own.

“Like I said, we are so fucked,” commented Mitchell absently, shaking his head as if refusing the believe what he was seeing. I turned to look at him, but his eyes were fixed on the slowly approaching wave of zombies. It was then that I realized what was going on; this was my dream, the one I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. We weren't in the shopping area, and there was no gate to roll down to contain the zeds, but this was it. Everyone was here except for Gerry.

“What are we waiting for? We need to stop them before they get inside!” yelled Maria, who I had not even noticed was there. She was holding a Mossberg rifle, and did not hesitate to move to the center of the hallway's intersection, and start firing.

I guess we were all waiting for someone to give the order, as soon as Maria started shooting, Alex, Tara, me, and the security officer present flanked her and started firing into the zombies. My insides were like ice, it's not just that I was terrified at the prospect of the zeds destroying our little sanctuary, I don't think I ever really believed that could happen, but that I was scared of my dream coming true. I was terrified of losing Tara, and Sharon, and even Alex.

The zombies started dropping in waves as a hail of bullets tore into the front of the group, but the overall effect was like pissing on a house fire. Sure, we were having an effect, but it was going to take a lot more than our pitiful stream to keep this fire from spreading.

I kept firing until I heard the click of my gun announcing that it had run out of ammunition. About the same time Tara's gun made a similar click, followed by Alex's, and then Maria's Mossberg ran dry as well.

“I'm out of bullets. I need ammo!” I cried.

“Same here!” stated Tara.

“Yeah, me too. We need to fall back,” shouted Alex over the sounds of the security officers still shooting at the zeds, who were getting closer.

“You didn't bring any extras?” I asked Alex incredulously.

“Do you see any?” he asked, sounding annoyed.

Three more security officers came running down the hall towards us along with Gerry McElroy; all were carrying M-16s. I realized at this point that pretty much everyone else had fled except those of us who were armed, Milton, Sharon, and Mitchell. I also realized that now everyone from my dream was there.

“Please tell me you brought extra clips,” Tara practically plead.

“A couple,” replied Gerry.

The three members of the security force joined the line at the end of the entry hall, and started firing. The zeds were still getting closer as they stumbled over the dead bodies that fell before them.

“Share!” ordered Alex.

From the waistband at the back of his pants Gerry produced a clip of ammo, and tossed it to Alex, he then pulled out another and tossed it to Tara, “Sorry, man,” he said to me, “that's all I grabbed.”

So there I stood holding a useless rifle as the undead drew ever closer.

“Fall back, don't let them get close enough to grab you!” yelled Alex. He started backing up down the left hand branch of the hallways, away from the central entry hall. He was conserving his ammo this time, picking his shots carefully, but still his ammo ran out quickly.

Sharon, Mitchell, Milton, Gerry, Maria, Tara, and I all backed down the left side, while the security officers backed down the right. The zombies seemed to divide pretty evenly as they split to follow us. I couldn't tell you how many of them were left, the whole hallway seemed to be one big writhing mass of them.

“Fuck! The door's locked!” cried Milton, who had retreated to the row of wooden double doors connecting this hallway to the next. He was moving from door to door, shoving on the crash bars, trying to get the doors to open, “We still in here, you stupid muthafuckas! Let us out!”

Sharon was standing next to me, and when I looked over at her, I saw she was looking at me. She looked scared, I think even more so than when we were captured by the Hell's Postmen themselves. This was the first time she had looked me in the eye since our fight. I hoped it would not be the last.

We both broke for the doors at the same time, crashing into them, trying to force them open. I tried kicking one of the doors, but they are solid wood in heavy metal frames, built with the intent of keeping people out, and I am not John McClane. The door did not budge, but pain did shoot up my leg, and into my hip.

Gerry's gun clicked on empty, then Tara's, and there was still an army of the undead approaching us.

Maria snarled at the doors, and the hurled herself at one with a running start. She leapt at the door, hitting it hard enough with her shoulder to rattle it in its frame, but not hard enough to break it open. She rebounded off of the door, and landed on the floor on her ass.

So there we were, a wall of locked doors behind us, an army of the living dead in front of us wanting to invite us for lunch, and not even enough ammunition left to kill ourselves to make sure that the zeds didn't get the pleasure. As Mitchell said, we were fucked.

You know what I thought during that moment? What could easily have been my last conscious thought as we faced certain death? Priceless is one word to describe it, retarded would be another.

I thought, “If this were a TV show, this is where they would put the commercial.”