Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fifty-Fifth Entry: And the Skies Wept

September 1st

I'm extremely tired, but this is the first chance I've had to write, and I want to get this down before I go to sleep.

We have been fighting for over a week now. On August 21st the battle for our city, for the future of humanity, began. Doctor Byron's speech on TV was stirring when coupled with the video showing the scythe chariots tearing zeds to pieces. To be fair, she did not show the one that was lost falling over, but that wouldn't make for good propaganda, now would it?. It seemed to work in getting most of Lovelock behind her plan to simply refuse to fall to the zeds though.

Most of the men and a lot of the women turned up for battle. People too old, too young, or unfit for battle for whatever reason are not being forced into battle, but instead are being moved down into the labs now. Even though we fully expect to triumph, there's no point in taking any chances if they do push us back into town. Seeing as we have maybe a day left before we are pushed back to the eastern gate, this is a possibility.

Doctor Byron wasn't kidding when she said that she has been planning for this. She has pulled out all the stops. Aside from having enough weapons to arm a small country she has also provided a number of less conventional things like snowplows and bulldozers, and there is a truck with what looks to be a large bomb on the back. I don't know what it is, but I have heard the term 'Daisy Cutter'.

The side of the bomb has been painted with the words “The Big One”, and the truck it is on is parked right outside the east gate. The plan as I understand it is that if we do get pushed back that far we are going to retreat for the hospital and the labs underneath, and detonate the bomb. The hope is that there will be few enough left that it will finish them off. I hope it doesn't come to that though.

Since our battlefield is only four lanes wide and we are constantly falling back, we have essentially set up shift points. At first each shift consisted of three vehicle mounted weapons, a scythe chariot, and twenty ground troops like me. When the force you are fighting in reaches the next line of soldiers, which are usually about a half a mile behind your starting point your shift is over. You can then fall back to the next base point for food, rest, and resupply.

I think we look pretty fearsome out there all lined up, weapons in hand (I've even gotten to use one of those FN 2000s, and they are awesome) between the truck mounted VRGs, machine guns, and microwave guns. It's too bad that the zeds don't seem to experience fear, or else the battle would have been half won before the first shot was fired.

This system was working really well for the first day and a half. In fact I only know of one fatality that first day, someone moved in front of one of the Vortex Ring Guns before it fired, and was flung into the wall of walking dead. I hope he was dead before he hit them. It was on the second day that things started to go bad.

The first problem was logistical. You see, while people can rest wherever a place to rest is set up (mostly on cots or in the backs of the trucks that are being used to bring supplies out to us) the trucks and scythe chariots have to go all the way back to town to charge up. The one big downside to electric vehicles I guess. The end result of this is that we were ending up with shift points that had no vehicle mounted weapons at all. These lines get pushed back farther faster and this combined with with the second problem is leading to the majority of our losses.

The second problem is fatigue. I imagine that this is what being in a warzone feels like. I am currently running purely on what I am told are caffeine pills (I honestly think they are something more, because as a former energy drink addict I can tell you that they never made me feel like these things do). They have made me jumpy, twitchy, and shaky. When this is all over I think I may just get in bed and sleep forever; I'm frankly unsure how I am still awake now.

As bad as I feel, I'm doing better than some people. Our lines now fall apart within minutes because when it comes down to it we are not trained for this. We are teachers and accountants, retail clerks and truck drivers; we are not soldiers and it shows. Some people getting too close to zeds, and end up being pulled into them. Other people are just getting hit by friendly fire as they stray in front of other fighters. I have heard of a couple of front line suicides too, people who just give up when faced with the sheer number of zeds we are up against.

I can understand how some people are freaking out when faced with this seemingly unending stream of walking corpses. I have personally shot zeds in suits, underwear, pajamas, jeans, leather, and even nothing at all. I have killed zombies that were clearly police, firefighters, soldiers, goths, and children.

The children are the worst, not only are they usually faster than their adult counterparts, but they're fucking kids. I've seen two people get bit because they couldn't bring themselves to shoot kids. I had one charge me while I was reloading, and barely had time to grab my sword (I have been carrying mine and Sharon's with me, they make me feel safer) and hit the little bastard in the side of the head before it got to me.

The third problem, and this is mostly minor, is that some of the zombies are firing back. As I've seen before, some of them remember how to use some weapons and its those ones who are picking up our lost weapons and using them against us. I say this isn't a huge issue only because they are for the most part firing into the zombies in front of them instead of into our forces, and they don't know how to reload. This is of course why I am here in the hospital writing, and not out there fighting right now, but I'll get back to that.

Our biggest obstacle has nothing to do with the zombies at all, but with the weather. Those clouds that were threatening us during the first assault with the scythe wagons made good on their threats the second day of our battle. It was like suddenly the clouds opened up and the skies wept at the horrors occurring under them. Right now is the first time I have been warm and dry in a week.

Aside from the obvious problems of fighting in the rain adding to fatigue, hurting morale, and making the ground a little more slick it is also causing problems with our fancy sci-fi weapons. The water seems to interfere with both the VRGs and the microwave guns, causing them to have less of an effect on the zeds. Did no one think of this ahead of time? I mean I didn't, but then I'm not one of the brains here.

The rain is also doing no favors for the scythe chariots. When I left the front I heard that there were only two left working. The rain did not ruin all of the others though, one was accidentally fried by a microwave gun, two were blown over by badly aimed VRG fire, and one had the misfortune to intersect with a hand grenade. The other four are being blamed on the rain though.

Still, despite all of this, I think we're winning. I think we will be able to pull this off without using The Big One. If that bomb makes as big a boom as I think it does, then it may well seal us off from everything to the east without taking massive detour to the west first. I'm sure it'll take out the zeds, along with the road, and possibly a chunk of the mountainside.

I need to focus. These pills, they say they're caffeine, but I think they're speed, they make it hard to focus now. I'm sure the two or three hours of sleep I have been getting a day are not helping any, but there will be plenty of time to sleep later. I want to get this down on paper now... part of me doesn't think I'll remember it too clearly later.

Of course if none of this makes sense, then what was the point? I need to focus.

So here is an average shift on the front line. I load up on ammo, it won 't be enough, but I can only carry so much at a time, even with the satchel, which I think I will leave here in the hospital. I know I'm not doing my best now, and I'm sure that carrying that heavy-ass thing isn't helping me any, especially when I have to use the swords.

Focus focus focus! Get it together!

So you form a line with however many other people showed up and maybe some of the vehicle mounted weapons like the VRGs or the microwave guns; we ran out of ammunition for the machine guns yesterday, which is a shame because they could cut those bastards in half. Maybe there will be one of the scythe chariots as well, although you can hardly recognize them as the gleaming metal whirlygigs they were; now they are just gore stained monsters in their own right.

I've seen a camera crew from KVMS out on the front line a lot too. They are reporting live a lot of the time for the people down in the labs and at the hospital. I've had it on the TV the whole time I've been here in the waiting room. I saw Toni out there at one of the releif points holding the mic once a couple of days ago. I guess she must not have been on camera at the time since she was talking to Tara. I didn't go say hi.

I assume that while Toni is out there that Bishop is with Pippa. Pippa wanted to fight with us, but Gerry, Beth, and I all forbid it. It's not that I don't think she can handle herself, or that she would have any less a chance of survival than the rest of us, it's just that, for me at least, she is part of what I am fighting for.

“But I have to fight!” she protested when we told her no.

“You need to stay safe,” I said.

“But there are people my age fighting! It's my responsibility as a member of this town!”

“It is your responsibility as a member of this family to stay where you are safe,” answered Gerry.

“Pippa, honey,” said Beth, trying a less overtly protective tactic than Gerry or myself, “You need to stay behind and help watch Bishop and Oliver. Toni is going to be working for the TV station again, and she would really appreciate your help.”

“But I want to fight too!”

I caught on to what Beth was trying to do, “Everyone contributes in their own way. You aren't going to see Doctor Byron out there with a gun shooting zeds. Her contribution will probably be from the hospital, but it will still be a contribution.”

Even though it turned out to be totally untrue, it did seem to satisfy Pippa that she was still helping by not fighting. As for Doctor Byron, she has been out at the front or at the relief point a lot. She's not been shooting zombies or anything, but she has been there with us in the rain and the cold.

It's a shame the zeds didn't come a month from now; it will probably be snowing by then, and they'd be even less of a threat. Of course fighting in the snow would present its own difficulties I suppose.

I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open now. I need to finish this.

You form up a line, you and your friends, and neighbors, and complete strangers, and you wait. Maybe there's a friend with you. I've seen Beth, Barbara, Gerry, and Zach out there, and they all look awful. They look like they have seen hell firsthand, and have been sent back to warn the rest of us about it. Do I look like that too? I didn't really pay attention in the bathroom.

I feel stupid for not trying to talk to Tara out there. I almost lost her today, and what would I do if something happens to her and I never got to patch things up? I think I'd go and throw myself into one of the scythe chariots if that happened... I wouldn't be the first.

We're all saying that the people killed by the scythe chariots were accidents, not user error mind you, just accidents. I don't believe it though, even over the constant sound of gunfire it is impossible not to hear one of those things slicing through the air nearby... assuming they're not slicing through flesh and bone which makes them even louder.

I think we've lost something like twenty people out there like that, not all to the scythe chariots of course, but to suicide. Some people just cannot face that and stay sane. These are people who clearly never had to face these monsters; they weren't used to how killing things that were once human makes you feel inside. I don't have that problem though because once you kill the undead body of someone you loved, there's nothing you can't kill. It may still horrify you, but you can do it.

So you're in line, and waiting. You can see the previous front line backing up towards you, hear their guns firing, the explosions of the grenades (at least until we ran out). They get closer and closer to you, and before you know they are right in front of you. They turn and run/limp/hobble/drag themselves away towards where the relief point has been moved to now, and suddenly there is nothing between you and the zeds but a number of yards, and that is shrinking.

You start to pick your targets and fire. There's no point at firing wildly into the zeds, you're just going to exhaust your ammo that much faster without actually taking many of them out of the fight. It was best to leave that sort of tactic to the machine guns.

It doesn't matter how conservative you are with your ammo though, you're still going to run out well before you reach the next line. Every zed that goes down with a new hole in its head is just trampled underfoot by the others in the stream of rotting monsters. The redhead in the pink pajamas goes down, and is instantly replaced by a bald man in a wifebeater. You put a hole in his skull and he's replaced by a small Asian lady who looks to be in her sixties, and after her there's a teenager in black leather, and after him a fat woman in a stained mumu, and after her a soldier.

The soldier, he was a different sort of issue. It's not that I felt any sort of reluctance to shoot a soldier, it's that he was wearing a helmet. It looked like he had been shot in the chest; it could have been friendly fire, or maybe he was shot by another survivor for his weapons. I'll never know why he was killed, only that he managed to die without losing his helmet, and that my bullets were just bouncing off the damned thing, and it was pissing me off.

What I did was stupid, I know that, but I had to do it. I placed my rifle on the ground, pulled my swords, and charged the undead fucker. I swung both blades at this man who probably died trying to protect his country, and they sliced into his upper chest and throat. He fell backwards, landing only feet from the zeds behind him. I should have let him be trampled, or pulled my glock and put a round into his face, but I didn't.

I stomped by booted foot down onto the zed's torso, and black ooze flowed out of the fresh wounds on his neck and chest. He tried to push himself up, but I was able to hold him down, and I brought up one of the swords, Sharon's as it so happened, and I drove it down into the monster's face. The blade punched through the monster's right eye with a crunch as it cracked the bone of the eye socket and pierced the brain. The soldier lay in peace at last.

It's too bad that the same could not be said for his brethren. I was way too close to the zeds, and one, a girl wearing the remnants of an Apollo Coffee barista's apron, reached out and grabbed the sleeve of my soaking wet coat. As I turned to face her, her head snapped back, and she let go, falling away from me.

“What the hell are you doing, man?” yelled a security officer. It took me a minute to realize that it was Kyle. His last name is Yagan, by the way.

He was right to yell at me, it was stupid to get that close to the zeds; that's how people get killed. I am lucky that he had my back. I am doubly lucky that it was him that happened to see me being stupid, had it been Beth I would probably be in a hospital bed of my own.

I got a chance to even things out with Kyle a short while later. He was trying to put a new clip of ammo into his rifle, and he stepped into a pothole. He cried out as he went down, and the clip, his last apparently, fell out of his hand and bounced along the road surface away from him.

As if sensing his weakness (maybe we put off some sort of smell?), three zeds broke from the pack, a man in a western outfit that was probably hideous even before he died, a woman in the remains of a coral colored business suit, and a little girl in a gray school uniform, she had one ragged pigtail, the probable other having fallen out long ago. They seemed to be aiming straight for Kylr who was trying to scramble for the lost clip.

I opened fire, and sent the little girl, who was in the lead, sprawling onto her side in front of the cowboy, who tripped over her and fell on his face. I fired again, hitting the business suit lady in the side of the neck, and then the side of the head, and she too crumpled.

I moved to where the cowboy was trying to crawl at Kyle, who had managed to grab the clip, but was fumbling with trying to get it into his gun (he had it backwards, but was panicking). I stomped hard on the cowboy's back, and fired two rounds into the back of his skull. He stopped his struggling.

“Hey, thanks, man,” Kyle said.

I extended my hand to him to help him up, and pulled him roughly to his feet, “I had to return the favor,” I said, trying to sound cool despite the battle raging around us.

Kyle winced as he tried to put weight on his left foot, “Shit!” he cursed.

I fired at a couple of zeds who were also starting to pull away from the front of the tide, which itself was getting dangerously close now, “Is it broken?” I asked.

“I don't think so; hurts though.”

I ended up helping him back to the next relief point, which was about a mile away at that point. It would probably be moving again in another hour or two as the front line moved closer. I saw him later hobbling over towards the back of a truck where other people with minor debilitating injuries were reloading the empty clips brought back from the line. His ankle wasn't broken, but it's going to be a few days before he can walk on it normally again, so he is effectively out of the fight.

That's what I forgot! I mentioned that I always run out of ammo before the shift change. To remedy this there is one person out with us with a cart, kind of like the one Pippa was pushing in my dream. It has two baskets. The lower one starts out empty, and is filled with empty clips that the person pushing the basket retrieves from the ground before they get lost under the feet of the zeds. The top basket starts out full with full clips to be handed out as needed. When the top basket is empty, the person runs it back towards the relief point and hopefully meets up with someone pushing a full basket back. They trade baskets, and we at the front line get more lead to throw at the zeds.

Doctor Byron is being interviewed on the TV by Toni right now, even though it is so late. She doesn't look good, I mean she always looks pale, but now she just looks like she's sick. Maybe she is, she has been out there in the rain with us a lot, and don't albinos have weaker immune systems, or something?

Toni doesn't look too good either. I hope Pippa is taking good care of Bishop. I should go down into the labs and look for them and say hi before I head back tomorrow. I miss the little brat, I haven't seen her since this all started.

Doctor Byron is saying, “At this time, we are still viewing the use of what has been dubbed 'The Big One' as a last resort, but I will not hesitate to order its detonation if it comes to it.”

“And do you think we will need to?” Toni asked.

“I really cannot say at this time. We are unable to make a reliable estimate as to how many of the animated corpses remain. If they do reach the Eastern gate, I will order all remaining forces to retreat into the labs, and the device will be activated.”

“And what will the effects of that be?”

“The BLU-82 has a blast radius of up to three hundred meters, so any of the corpses within that area should be destroyed. We do expect that the road will also be destroyed which will be a hindrance to our future acquisition efforts, and there may be some damage to above ground buildings from the shockwave but I feel that saving our town is the utmost importance; we can make repairs as we need to later.”

“Now isn't 'The Big One' designed to be dropped from an aircraft?”

“Yes, Toni, but we have altered this one to allow it to be detonated by remote so that no one needs to put themselves at risk to do so. Unfortunately dropping the device from the air is not at option for us. If it becomes necessary we will make sure that everyone is at a safe distance before we activate it.”

There was just some yelling down the hall. Someone who was badly injured with multiple zed bites just reanimated and had to be put down. I thought they were already destroying the brains of people who didn't make it. The zed, a security officer who looked like she was missing most of her right arm, was already out down before I got there.

I'm just glad it's not Tara, she's still asleep in her bed.

I mentioned earlier about the zeds picking up fallen weapons. That's what happened to Tara. It was two or three shifts after Jacob got hurt, I can't really remember right now. I didn't even realize that she was so close to me until I heard her cry out.

The rain was pouring down on us, and it was already dark despite the fact that it was still the middle of the afternoon. I never heard the shots, or at least not in a way that I could distinguish from our own gunfire. It wasn't until I felt a burning sensation on my right ear that I realized I'd been hit. Burning sensation is actually too weak a term, it felt like my ear was on fire.

The bullet took off the top of my ear, and they've given me some painkillers to take for it, but I know they'll knock me out as soon as I take them, so I am waiting until I am done with this. Doctor Rossi tells me that I'll be fine as long as it doesn't get infected, but I may notice some hearing loss as a result. Something about that part of the ear funneling sound to the ear drum or something.

I heard Tara scream out just fine though. I looked over to my right when she yelled, not realizing it was her at first. I was just in time to see her stagger backwards and fall down. She was clutching her left shoulder with her right hand, her rifle lay on the wet ground next to her.

“Tara!” I called, and ran to her, the pain in my own head momentarily forgotten even as the warm blood mixed with the cold rainwater on my neck.

I don't know if it is a result of everything she's been through, or just a result of the stresses that this fight has put us all under, but the woman sitting on the wet road with blood flowing over the front of her coat around her fingers was not the Tara I've known. She was not angry, or even strong then; she was scared.

She looked up at me, and said my name, but she looked dazed and out of it. Too many of those “caffeine” pills I imagine, “Help me!” she said. I'm not making a judgment of her here; just an observation.

I panicked. The expression on her face will be one of those things that is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. She looked terrified; she looked like someone was else inside the body of this woman that I love. In that moment she was little more herself than Sharon was when....

Just as they had with Kyle, the zeds seemed to somehow know she was injured, and some started to pull out of the pack and come towards us. I fired into them a little more wildly than I normally would as I fought back my own panic. Not only was I injured, but so was Tara, and probably quite badly; I didn't know just how badly yet.

If it were just the two of us out there, I would not be writing this now, but some of the others noticed what was happened, and closed in to defend us. Most of the zeds away from the front of the pack fell in a hail of gunfire from both sides of me, but one, a woman in surgical scrubs, was right in front of me. I suppose no one took the shot for fear of hitting me, or maybe they figured I had since I was right there.

Unfortunately for me, my gun was empty, and it was the last of my ammo. I could see Stan, the guy who was pushing the ammo cart, coming my way, but there wouldn't be enough time. I could pull my Glock, but instead dropped my rifle to the ground, and pulled the two swords out of their sheathes which were criss-crossed over the back of my coat.

As the undead medical professional charged me, I held out Sharon's blade in my left hand and it impaled itself on it, slowing its progress towards me. It opened its mouth wide in a silent roar, or at least not one that I could hear over the gunfire as it slid along the blade. I swung my own sword with my right hand, and sliced into the zed's neck, but not hard enough to decapitate it.

I swung again, and even though I still failed to actually cut her head off, I must have severed the spine, because the zed sagged , pulling the sword in my left hand downward as she slid off of it.

“What happened?” yelled a woman with frizzy brown hair to my left.

“I think she's been shot,” I called back.

“Looks like you have been too,“ called a man with long blond hair matted to his head by the rain. He was on my left, and was grabbing full clips out of Stan's basket while Stan retrieved a couple of empty clips off of the ground. I could feel the warmth of my blood mixing with the cold rain on the side of my face.

“Get her out of here!” yelled the brown haired woman, before shooting another pair of zeds that were pulling away from the shambling wall death moving towards us.

In another couple of minutes, the main force would be on us. I had to move her now. Stan was coming my way, and I handed him my rifle, and picked up Tara. There was no way I would be able to carry her and the gun at the same time, and even if I could I would have no need for it while running away.

While Stan retrieved Tara's fallen rifle, I retrieved Tara. She shrieked as I picked her up; I'm sure pieces of ruined bone in her shoulder were scraping together, but she was already too weak to walk. Weariness, pain, shock, and blood loss had taken all of the fight out of her, leaving behind only fear.

I tried to run back to the relief point with Tara, but after a couple of minutes I started to get dizzy. I don't think Tara was the only one suffering from exhaustion and blood loss. I ended up in sort of a middle speed jog because if I passed out then there was no hope at all for Tara.

“I'm shot!” Tara exclaimed as I carried her; she grimaced with each step, as the impact traveled up my body and into her.

“I know, but you'll be okay. We just need to get you to a doctor.”

“I don't want to die. Not now, not like this!” she said, the panic plain in her voice.

“You're not going to die. You can't yet; we have unfinished business,” I was trying to sound calm myself, but I don't think my panting from the exertion was helping much there. I could feel the warmth of her blood soaking through my clothes and to my skin. She was bleeding so much.

“You're hurt!” Tara observed.

“I'm fine,” I answered, “It's just a flesh wound.”

Tara made a sound that was sort of like a laugh and sort of like a groan; I don't know if this was in response to my joke, or just caused by pain.

“I'm scared,“ Tara said in a voice that I could barely hear over the sounds of the storm and the pounding of my own heart in my ears.

“Everything it going to be fine, just try to stay calm. We'll be there soon,” I lied, not knowing how far it really was to the next relief point.

“I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything,” Tara said, almost babbling now.

“You don't have anything to be sorry for.”

“I do! There's so much I want to tell you before I die! There's so much you need to see!”

“Stop it! You're not going to die!” I practically yelled, and then caught myself, ”We'll have plenty of time to talk things through when this is all over, but you need to try and calm down now,” I urged, thinking that her panicked state might be causing her to lose blood faster.

“But you need to know,” she said, her voice getting weaker, “You need to know that I....” her voice trailed off, and she went limp in my arms. I looked down and saw that he eyes were closed. She had passed out; I knew this because I could still see her chest rising and falling as she breathed,

I felt relief when I saw light up the road ahead of us, but then quickly realized that it was only the next shift line, and not the relief point. I heard someone call my name as I came into the light, and saw a woman break from the line and run towards me; it was Beth.

“What the fuck happened?” she asked. She looked awful, there were deep circles under her eyes, and her hair gave her the appearance of a kitten who had been dunked in a bucket of water.

“One of the zeds got a gun and shot her,” I said, not stopping. I needed to get her to safety, and I was starting to feel dizzy even without running.

Beth's eyes widened more as she looked me in the face, “Is that a bite?” she asked, looking at the remains of my right ear.

“What? No! I was shot too, but we need to get Tara help,”

“Gerry!” Beth yelled, and before I knew it, Gerry was walking alongside us.

“Oh shit!” Gerry exclaimed, seeing Tara lying limply in may arms when he approached, ”is she...?”

“She's fine!” I snarled, “She just needs a doctor!”

“Let me carry her, man,” Gerry said to me. He looked like someone had tried to drown him too, but he still looked better than I must have.

“I've got her,” I insisted, “how much farther to the relief point?”

“They were just moving it again when we left,” Beth explained, “I don't know how far they moved.”

“You look like you're going to collapse, just let me carry her for awhile,” Gerry insisted.

“I'm fine,” I insisted, as much to myself as the Gerry, “I just need to get her some help.”

“Give Tara to Gerry, or I will kick your ass!” Beth ordered me.

Even in that state, I knew there was no point in arguing with Beth. I stopped walking, and gently transferred Tara into Gerry's arms. He took her, and looked sadly down into her wet pale face. He put his ear as close to her mouth as possible to check that she was still breathing. Part of me was mad, but I realize now that he just didn't want her reanimating in his arms if she had died. The condition I was in, I really can't blame him for doubting my judgment.

Dizziness overtook me, and I dropped to one knee in a cold puddle. Beth knelt down next to me, “Get her to the relief station. We'll catch up,” Beth told Gerry, and he took off at a fast jog through the line of my fellow townsfolk who were waiting their turn to face off against the living dead again.

I looked into Beth's weary face, “Why does everyone I love leave me?”

Beth put her arms around me awkwardly as we both knelt there in the rain, “Tara's going to be fine, just like you said, and not everyone who loves you leaves. I love you, Pippa loves you, Gerry loves you; none of us are going anywhere.”

Beth let go of me, and then got back to her feet. She took my right hand, and pulled me up, “Come on, we need to get that ear looked at. It looks like you're out of this fight too.”

By the time Beth got me to the relief point, Tara was already loaded in the back of an ambulance. I found enough energy to jog at that point, and made it to the back of the ambulance before they could shut the doors.

“We'll come visit you guys when this is over,” Gerry told me as the medic allowed me up into the back of the ambulance.”

“I'll be back as soon as I'm sure Tara's going to be okay,” I said.

“You'll do whatever the doctors tell you to do,” Beth corrected me.

The whole way to the hospital the medic, who had a handgun holstered on his hip, kept checking on Tara's vital signs. He gave me a few gauze pads, and told me to hold them against my ear. The pressure hurt, but it also cleared my head a little I think.

Once at the hospital Tara was rushed into surgery, and disappeared into the bustle of the hospital. It looked like anyone with any amount of medical knowledge had been put to work dealing with the flow of gunshot wounds, cuts, broken bones, and bites that had been coming in from the front line.

I tried to follow Tara's gurney as they rushed away, but a pair of nurses in blood speckled scrubs stopped me. I would have just pushed past them, but one of them looked more like a linebacker than a nurse, so I felt it wise to take a seat in the waiting room with a fresh set of gauze pads for my ear.

It seemed like forever before Doctor Rossi came and got me, but my injuries are minor compared to the other stuff they are dealing with, so I tried not to be impatient. I really wanted to know how Tara was doing more than I wanted any attention for my ear.

“Miss Lafferty is in surgery now, I stopped in there on my way to get you,” he said as he led me deeper into the hospital to an empty room to treat my ear, “She's lost a lot of blood, but Doctor Lester thinks she's going to pull through okay. I'm not going to lie to you though, the bullet did a lot of damager to her shoulder, so things are going to be hard for awhile. You're her boyfriend, right?”

“I think so,” I said.

Doctor Rossi gave me a puzzled look, “Well, things could be hard on her while she gets used to whatever limitations this injury imposes on her, so she's going to need a lot of support from anyone close to her.”

I'm not sure what all Doctor Rossi actually did to my ear, but it hurt like hell, and he shaved off some of the hair on that side of my head to do it. When he was done I had a fat bandage wrapped around my head with a big bunch of gauze packed over my ear.

“I'd like to admit you to the hospital for the night,” the doctor told me, “You are suffering from exhaustion and malnutrition and I'd like to take a look at that ear again in the morning.”

I reluctantly agreed, and that brings me to where I am now. Part of me wants to rush back out there right now and rejoin the fight, but I know I'll be a lot more useful after a decent night's sleep, so

Doctor Lester just came in; he looks to be in his mid forties, and has about three days worth of salt and pepper beard growth. He told me that Tara is out of surgery, and she's stable. I should be able to see her in the morning, but that she may still be unconscious. I thanked him for the news, and he rushed away before I could ask any questions. He looks like he could use a good night of sleep too.

I just took the pills they gave me for my ear, and it feels like they are working already; I'm feeling impossibly groggy now. It's probably just a placebo effect though, there's no way they are kicking in this fast. Still, I'd better stop, I only have like two blank pages left in here anyway.

When the fight is over, I'll get a new journal, and let you know how it turned out. Whatever happens I'm going to be 100% honest with Tara; tonight I came just too close to losing her again. I spent all those years just taking Sharon's presence for granted; believing that there would always be a tomorrow, and I could always tell her how I felt when I was ready. I was wrong, and I squandered so much time with her. That's not going to happen with Tara.


Hopefully we'll all live happily ever after; me and my family. Tara, Beth, Pippa, Gerry, Toni, Bishop; I love all of you guys. Oliver... well, we'll see.

And Pippa, I'm standing right behind you, put the journal down!

Made you look!

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