Authors: Ricky Cooper
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
A small squeak of alarm left the bundle in her arms as she pushed herself tighter into the corner. Flapping and flailing, Janet reached for anything that she could use. The cold smooth metal settled into her grasp as she pulled it from the shelf, smashing the capped end against the corner of the shelf. She pushed it forwards, her index finger curling tightly over the top of the nozzle as she sprayed her would be attacker. The fine white mist clung to their clothes as she emptied the canister; the thin foam of condensed vapour rolled down their leg. An arm curled over her shoulders and they were pulled forwards. Janet railed and bucked as she smashed the empty container against its head; the dull
of metal bouncing off plastic filled her senses.
'Janet, stop! For crying out loud, Janet, stop for a second and look.'
Kevin's plaintive pleadings bled through the wall of haze surrounding her as she continued the frenzied assault. Her eyes swam with fear and anger as she tried desperately to focus on the shadowed image before her. His hand clutched at her back as the blade fell to the floor. The cloying, viscous remnants of Infected blood smeared over her clothes as he pulled her close.
His voice shattered her resolve, crushing walls and defences beneath a tide of overwhelming fear as she crumbled. Her knees buckled beneath her, and she slid to the floor, her body turning against his as she held Maria against her.
'We have to move. Evac is on the roof; they are holding but can't keep on station for long.'
His words hung harsh and heavy as he pulled Janet's quivering form to her feet. Kevin's fear-struck eyes locked onto his as he watched Derek lift her from the floor. Baker's eye quivered as Kevin filtered through his peripheral vision, his hands wrapped tightly around those of the two children; their frightened whimpering filled the room.
'Come on, you skinny bastard; pick the kids up and fucking move.'
Patterson growled at the red-faced form struggling to pull along the two children. A snarl snatched at his face as he levered Rook into a better position.
'Oh for fuck's sake, Token, take the girl. You, Skinny—whatever your damned name is—pick the boy up and fucking move it.'
Kweku scooped the girl from the floor as he ran; her writhing, screaming form beat its minute fists against his muscular frame as he lifted her free of the bonds that bound her to the floor; her balled fists crashed against his helmeted head as he pulled her tight to his body. He could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she moved against him, her hands searching for any semblance of purchase as she was jostled and bounced by Token's sprinting form.
'Hold on tight, little one; this is going to be very loud and very scary.'
Token swung his weapon up, the stock braced against his upper arm. He gritted his teeth as he struggled to keep the barrel straight. The girl buried her head against him as his rifle chattered, the staccato popping filling her ears. She cried, her stifled sobs rolling through Token as he struggled to keep her from falling free of his grip.
Baker never once let up, his grip chaffing at Janet's skin as she stumbled and tripped along in his wake. Her mind tumbled and reeled as she struggled to fathom the man before her when she compared it to the man she knew as her husband. He pulled her through a turn that would have made a rally driver falter as he skirted the reaching arms of an Infected. Without a second's pause, he aimed and fired, sending the hollow-point round through its skull in a burst of blood and crushed bone.
He jabbed his fingers against the call button of his throat mic, his breath coming in an even, un-faltering wave; his eyes scanned the corridor ahead as he continued to run.
'Kingfisher, you there?'
The line crackled slightly as the connection opened, the static fizzing away as Lincruster's stout Scottish brogue filled his ear.
'Aye that we are, Cherry Pie. On station and ready to exfil; Hawk and the boys are on board and holding the wolves from the door; Echo Ten is pretty battered but he held them off long enough to secure your exit.'
Baker pushed Janet round a corner, his fist flying outwards, slapping an Infected into the opposite wall as it lunged towards her.
'Can the crap. We need a quick kill fire mission on Hawk's last known position before pick up. We are getting fucking swarmed!'
The line went dead as he lifted his pistol once more; the slide clacked back and forth as he drained the magazine. He ejected the magazine and without so much as looking, reloaded the weapon.
The heavy snarling whine was his only warning before the windows splintered, the walls bursting like an overstuffed piecrust as the high-velocity rounds tore through the concrete and plasterboard. Baker snatched a glance to the right as he sprinted forwards, his path cut clear by the scything wall of lead as Hawk unleashed the full fury of the M134 mini gun mounted to the doorframe.
The malicious grin cutting itself across Hawk's face made Baker's stomach clench. He had seen it all too often on the face of other operators—the unbridled need to satiate the clawing seed of vengeance that was eating away at him. Baker pulled Janet to the floor as the rounds arced over their heads, the men behind him falling into a huddled mass. Token's arm snatched out, pulling Kevin to the floor just as the wall around him disintegrated into a cloud of crushed masonry and plaster.
'Fucking twat is going to get us all killed at this rate.' Baker jabbed at the call button once more, his anger bubbling through the calm façade he had built about himself.
'Lincruster, get that trigger-happy prick off the mini-gun, he's almost cut us in half twice.'
The heavy throated whine stuttered to a close as Hawk was pulled away from the weapon. Baker stared around him; the devastation wrought by his manic, unfettered rage was staggering. Derek's mind soaked it all in as his eyes scanned the scene ahead. The walls sagged and slumped as their weight tore them loose. Jagged misshapen holes rent by the sheer weight of the metal cast forth sent arcing shafts of watery noonday sun filtering through the dust as Derek's booted feet pulled him through the human mire beneath them.
Janet's trainer-covered feet sucked and slapped as she was pulled through the ankle high sea of dispossessed flesh. She kept her eyes fixed on the back of the automaton with her husband's face as it pulled her over the ventilated remains of someone she had only hours before been working alongside.
She staggered her hands, clawing at the back of her husband's vest as her feet became ensnared in the thick, rubbery coils of intestine and bowel. They wormed their way around her as they tried to pull her under, their coiled lengths reaching up from the abyss below. The roiling core of hot, steaming, foetid foulness pawed and grasped at her legs as they tugged at her skin in their urgent need for her living warmth.
Blood soaked into the heavy suede of her trainers, its viscous warmth sliding between her toes as she kicked and slid through what was left of patients and staff alike. The conglomerate of people no longer separated by the barriers that held apart the living, they twisted and boiled in the unbridled unification brought upon them by one man and the weapon he had wielded.
Janet's feet once more left the floor as Derek pushed her through the stairway door; Maria's plaintive wailing echoed off the flat, featureless walls. Janet turned her hands, smoothing the downy hair of her daughter's head as she looked back at the man she thought was her husband. His crouched form rifled through the crumpled ball of webbing and mesh; its matte-black form shuffled and twisted as he spoke.
'Patterson, take the package to the roof; I'll hold the door and work my way back.' He shoved Rook's now empty vest into the man's chest as he reloaded the few remaining speed loaders for his shotgun, the pouches on his hips weighing heavy with the weight of Rook's unspent ammunition. 'Take care of this next time; we can't afford to replace them or you.'
Rook grunted as the harness pressed painfully against his chest, the heavy plastic and steel buckles digging into his bruised flesh. Token slipped past, the girl still clutched tightly to his chest as his feet pounded against the concrete steps of the stairwell. The child's eyes locked onto Derek's so briefly that he barely registered the glance, her bright blue orbs bleeding into his mind as he watched them filter past one by one. His shoulder burnt with the exertion as he unloaded his weapon, sending a wall of swirling pellets into the stumbling enraged mass as they bore down on the doorway. The heat rushed towards him as the snarling, snapping wall of limbs and teeth hurled themselves forwards.
Baker stepped backwards, his feet kicking free the small wooden chock that had held the door open; his ears pricked as the rolling echo of metal on concrete wormed its way up to him. Dancing shadows slid over the walls around him, the dull yellow light of the setting sun streaming in through the still open door one floor below. Baker turned, his feet thumping against the plastic-edged steps as he threw himself up the twisting lengths of the staircase.
The Infected's breathing fell in long, smooth pulls as he slammed through the door, weapons trained on his sprinting form, their aim unwavering. As he headed for the helicopter, the hot and heavy impact to his chest was something he had never felt before. A snarling growl left him as he cursed, his voice hoarse as it left his mouth. Blood welled in his throat, pouring over his lips as he continued to run. An unintelligible stream of blood-flecked curses left his lips as his fingers closed over the body in his path. His fist rose, slamming into Baker's back; they staggered, Baker's feet skipping as they fell forwards, hands scrabbling at the gravel beneath them as he continued forwards on all fours.
The Infected bucked, his body going numb as another hot stream ran through him. Sparks flew through his eyes as a dozen more passed through his fragile form, sending sizzling bolts of white-hot energy lancing through his mind.
He watched, hands clawing at the grit-laden surface as Baker leapt forwards, his feet thumping against the sheet steel. A wall of darkness ate away at the edges of his vision before blessedly consuming him completely.
Baker turned his hand slipping into the Cordura loop besides the door. His eyes watched as the body fell, blood pooling beneath it. He stepped up from the skid of the rapidly rising helicopter as the roof was slowly consumed by the baying hoard of Infected. Weapons chattered beside him as they leapt, fingers clawing at the skids, curling over the smooth powder-coated surface before being torn free under their own weight. Their bodies tumbled free, falling back into the uncaring arms of gravity, its pull enveloping them completely as they hit the concrete below.
'Lincruster, let's get out of here. I have had enough of this place.'
Derek dropped into one of the canvas-webbed seats, the frame groaning slightly under the sudden weight. With slow infinite care, Derek peeled the blood-drenched gloves from his hands, pulling them inside out as he crushed them within his fist.
Staring out the doorway at the crimson halo slowly seeping along the gravelled roof, Derek sent the heavy gore-laden lumps of Cordura and Kevlar spinning through the air, landing with a silent thump on the corpses of the Infected below.
Janet watched him from the corner of her eye, the lines of his face deepening as he sagged in the chair beneath him. Each deep line weighed heavily on her as she saw the strain on him for what it really was; slowly, she edged her hand forwards, her fingers tracing over his as she edged it ever forwards.
Without so much as a sideways glance, Derek curled his fingers through hers as he clasped her hand tightly within his. The look that ghosted within his eyes made her pause, her hand tightening within his as she edged herself closer. Janet moved against Derek as she let her head slowly fall sideways, her blonde hair tumbling in waves over his form.
She sat in complete silence, resting against his shoulder; her breathing was slow and even as the torrent of fatigue she had held at bay collapsed over her, drowning her in its all-encompassing blanket of muscle-draining weight. Derek's eyes flickered down to his daughter, her small, fragile form cradled against her mother's chest. Her pale blue eyes travelled over his worn and weary face, from the coarse, black curls of his bearded chin to the strained and tired ghosts behind his eyes.
Her hand reached out to him as he leant forward, the slim stubs of her fingers trailing their way through his beard as Janet sat up slightly; her fingers twisted and wound their way through the briar that clung to his skin, the heavy, coarse hairs making her eyes widen slightly at the next sensation. Derek smiled slightly as he watched her face fill with an inquisitive light as he let her hands explore this newfound thing before her.
Lifting his daughter from Janet's diminishing sleep-soaked grasp, he set her gently in the crook of his arm as she continued to tug and grasp at the mane of coarse black hair surrounding his lower jaw.