Authors: Ricky Cooper
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
'Thank you for sharing that with me. I appreciate the words but, alas, it changes nothing.'
He levelled the pistol at the back of Bolton's head.
'And here we have it, Derek, another man's blood on your hands.'
Baker threw himself forwards, black gloved hands pulled at his combat suit, holding him down. He watched, his heart clenching as Ridgmont's finger tightened on the trigger. Bolton looked up into Derek's eyes sensing the sands of his life slipping through the hourglass and smiled.
'Chief, kill this cunt for me.'
His left eye exploded. The 9mm hollow point destroying the left side of his head as it carved its path through his very being.
The echoing crack of the pistol rolled across the empty grounds around them as Bolton's body slumped forwards into a puddle of brain and bone. Baker rocked on his knees as he watched the steaming pool of blood and brain matter slowly ooze forth. Rawlings knelt, his body quivering as he stared at his friend and partner. Tears cascaded down his face and his hands turned blue as he strained to break the reinforced plastic that bound him.
Davies watched as the gun bucked in Ridgmont's hand and Bolton's lifeless body tumbled forwards. He closed his eyes and replayed the scene in his head. Moving his eye back to the scope, he saw Baker slump back, his backside coming to rest on the heels of his boots while Ridgmont sneered; his eyes glazed with a psychotic lust as he stared at the shattered remnants of Bolton's skull.
Shifting his grip, Davies wrapped his index finger around the trigger and squeezed.
Baker hit the floor as Davies' three-click warning buzzed in his ear. The two men either side of Ridgmont dropped; the left side of both their heads vanished in clouds of gore and fragmented Kevlar. Gunfire erupted all around, the hectic staccato chattering of Hamilton's Light Machine Gun ripping the rain-lashed night to shreds as the muted pops of the MP5SDs surrounding him answered the call to war. Baker rolled forwards. Dragging his knees to his chest, he pulled his arms down past his posterior; the flex cuffs scraped over the back of his legs as he pulled them up over his boots. Jumping to his feet, he leapt forwards. Rain pounded into his eyes as he roared, his voice strangled and coarse, reaching out with his bound hands.
Ridgmont curled his fist into the collar of Rawlings' uniform, simultaneously drawing the duel-edged dagger from its sheath on his calf. The seven-inch blade glowed dully in the diffused silver light of the moon. The dagger's pointed blade rose in a slow arc. Baker lunged forwards, his blood running cold as he watched the razor-fine edge scythe its way across the pale skin of Rawlings' throat. The soft, tender flesh parted and blood surged forth, coating his rapidly paling skin in a red sheen as it flowed across his chest, soaking into his tunic.
Baker fell to his knees as Rawlings tipped forwards. Clamping his hands down on Rawlings' neck, Baker could do naught but watch, helpless as his friend's blood seeped through his fingers, the glowering form of Ridgmont towering over them. With the screams of the wounded and dying echoing through his mind, he stared into the darkening eyes of his friend.
Rawlings managed a half smile as he wrapped his hand round the back of Baker's neck and pulled him closer. He shook as he lifted his weakening form from the floor, speaking in a liquid-filled whisper. Flecks of blood speckled Baker's skin as the last words of a dying man met his ear.
Rawlings' slack form weighed heavy in Baker's arms as he slowly lowered him to the cold, wet ground. A burning tear rolled down his cheek as he stared at the sightless eyes, the shine and mirth replaced by the soulless, flat gaze of death.
Baker sprang to his feet, Rawlings' blood still wet on his hand, and snatched his sidearm from the holster on his thigh. The chequered grip squelched against his blood-slicked palm as his head snapped left and right, searching for the man who had callously ripped away the lives of his men.
Baker launched the pistol at the floor, its synthetic grips cracking as it bounced off the unforgiving surface.
'Fucking coward!' he screamed. The chill air was forgotten as he watched the glowing rays of dawn cast their reproachful gaze upon the scene that lay before them.
He bellowed with rage, his voice echoing into the wilderness. As he fell once more to his knees, a deep-seated seed of hatred bloomed within his heart.
February 9, 2013
Poole Harbour, Dorset
A vibration pulsed through Derek's leg as his hand slipped through the flap of his thigh pocket and pulled his mobile free. He stared at the screen, his thumb pressing down on the accept icon so hard that the screen became a multi-coloured pool of flickering pixels.
Stumbling to his feet, the voice on the phone filled his ear. He pocketed the mobile and sprinted towards his Jeep, the battered vehicle still only a dark spot on the concrete slipway.
'Where the fuck d'ya think you're going, Baker? This ain't finished yet.'
The confused and anger-slashed words of the instructor filled his ears as he ran across the sand, feet slipping through the grains as he struggled to keep his footing.
'My wife's having my kid, Barklay. I don't give two shits if this isn't finished; I'm going.'
The irate instructor threw his fins and mask to the floor. The rest of the team looked on, their faces twisting into amused smirks, watching Barklay begin to turn beetroot red.
'I don't give a flying fuck, Baker; while you're here, you're on my turf and under my rule.'
Baker continued running as Barklay bellowed after him. Derek leapt over the railings and onto the slipway.
'Go fuck yourself.'
Rain lashed the windscreen as Baker roared down the dual carriageway. The lampposts shimmered as he flew past, pushing the already complaining engine further toward death as he stamped the accelerator into the floor.
His mobile danced over the dashboard as he rapidly slew into the outside lane and flew through the exit onto the M27. The signs for London, Southampton, and Winchester snapped past his uncaring eyes as he ploughed ever onwards.
Snatching up his phone, he jabbed at the answer button and set it to speaker. Holding it against the steering wheel and with the windscreen wipers rattling, he strained to hear.
'Cherry, where are you mate? Janet is going nuts here, and they can't delay much longer. This tot is on its way with or without you, man.'
The phone slipped from his grip, bouncing off his knee. He snatched at it as it tumbled away.
'Fuck it all to hell.'
Baker reached fruitlessly for the phone as it slid past his feet. Glancing down, he dove for it, the slim casing slipping in his grasp as he glanced up again, looking through the steering wheel at the set of lights shooting towards him.
Yanking the wheel left with a panicked curse, he slewed across three lanes of traffic before managing to gain control again. Horns blared as Baker's Jeep roared onwards, the phone clutched loosely between his thumb and forefinger.
Janet screamed while nurses hurried around her. Her hair hung lank down her sweat-soaked face as she struggled against the rapidly shortening contractions.
Davies stood with the phone to his ear, unsure of what to do while Anna sat next to Janet's bed.
'Where the bloody hell is he?'
Davies shrugged as he stared at Anna, unsure of what to say.
'About fucking time you sorted that out. What the hell are you doing? That refresher course was supposed to be done at twelve so you were back here in case this actually happened, which it is by the way, and can I say staring at the growler of my boss' wife ain't exactly something I had in mind to do today.'
Baker's harried reply made Davies wince as he pulled the phone away from his ear; his eyes danced between Janet and Anna while a nurse rapidly pulled the thin cotton sheet back over Janet's legs. Her withering glance at Davies made him shrink away slightly as Anna smirked at him.
'Look, buddy, just hurry up, okay...?'
Davies was cut short. Janet screamed as the contractions hit her full force.
Baker tossed the phone back on the dashboard and turned off onto the M25, aiming his violently shaking Jeep at the M4 towards Heathrow Airport.
'Fuck it all. Come on… fucking move, you twat.'
Baker swerved round the truck and veered off onto the M4.
'I'm coming, baby. I'm coming.'
'He's on the M4, so I don't know what else to tell you.'
Janet groaned again, the pain shooting through her as the midwife scribbled on the clipboard in her hands.
Janet's knuckles turned white as she clutched at the railings of her bed, her words muffled as she tried to talk through the Entenox tube in her mouth. The potent mix of gas and air dulled her pain-frazzled senses to the point of uselessness.
A sharp spike of searing pain lanced through her as her contractions flared once more. Tears rolled down Janet's face while she slumped back into the sweat-soaked pillows, sobbing softly to herself.
'I don't know how much more of this I can take; if he doesn't get here soon, I'm going to divorce the bald bastard—baby or not.'
Baker's Jeep tyres squealed against the wet tarmac as he pressed the brake pedal into the floor. His weight and momentum drove him against the seatbelt, causing a vicious red weal to rise from the skin along the side of his neck.
With an energy born of fear and excitement, he dragged the seatbelt from its clip, all but ripping it from its mounts in an overzealous attempt to extricate himself.
The door crashed against the frame as he slammed it shut, and he sprinted through the lightning-streaked deluge. He felt the water seep down his legs, soaking through the heavy woollen socks that clung to his feet like a second skin as they slid along his sole, bunching below the instep of his foot as he skidded over the ridged and buckled paving slabs around the entrance to the hospital.
He flew through the hospital's doors, his feet sliding under him as he slammed into the reception desk. He dragged himself from the floor, pulled his hand over his bald scalp and forehead, and wiped the rainwater from his eyes then looked at the bewildered girl in front of him.
'My baby's having a wife.'
His words tumbled in a sodden stream of babbled confusion as he tried to drag his thoughts into order. His mind sagged into a pile of wet mush when the girl in front of him giggled.
'Sorry, my wife is having our baby.'
The receptionist smiled, tapping at her keyboard while glancing up at Derek's wide, over excited eyes.
'What's her name?' Derek frowned, unable to recall the name of the woman with whom he had shared his entire world; finally, after a frantic bundle of seconds he spoke.
'Janet, Janet Baker.' For an eternity, Derek waited as she tapped at the computer keyboard.
Derek scowled at the overtly obvious statement.
'Floor two, room 631.'
Before the words had fully left her mouth, Derek was sprinting towards the stairs. He ploughed into the doors, sending their heavy, fire-resistant panels slamming back into the concrete walls.
Janet watched through bleary, pain-filled eyes as her husband staggered into the room. His sodden and strung-out form filled the room as he strode towards Janet's bed, the soles of his boots squeaking on the linoleum-covered floor.
A weary, pain-stretched smile filled Janet's face as she slowly reached towards Derek, curling his fingers through hers. Baker dropped into the vacant seat at her elbow.
With careful, almost delicate slowness, Derek lifted the slim, clear oxygen tube from the bedside and set it out of reach as he leant against the rubberised mattress.
'I got here as quickly as I could. I... I'm sorry I wasn't here.'
Janet winced as she tried not to laugh; Derek's rain-drenched beard teased at her skin as he kissed her hand. Sorrow and elation danced in his eyes in a swirling vortex of indecisive emotion. Janet slowly eased her fingers from his hand, running her slim, slightly shaking digits over his cheek as she spoke.
Her breathing was shallow and tenuous. She shifted her head, trying to set the two nasal vents in a more comfortable position.
Derek leant in carefully, lifting the pipes from behind Janet's ears, which allowed her to position her head more comfortably before setting the tubes back.
'Thanks, and don't feel bad; I wasn't alone. Besides, there is little to stop a Baker when they want out of somewhere.'
Derek couldn't help but chuckle; his lips brushed Janet's pale skin as a small, almost gentle tapping filled the room.
Looking up, they smiled at the dark-skinned nurse who walked in. The stark-white bundle in her arms glowed in the light streaming through the doorway.
'You must be Derek?'
Baker nodded. Her flat-soled shoes whispered as she walked. Passing the baby to Janet, she turned toward the new father.
'This young lady gave us quite a fright; thought for a while there we were going to have a few problems.'
Seeing the look of worry and fear that crawled over Derek's face, the nurse smiled. Patting his forearm, she moved by to check on Janet's vitals.
'Don't look so scared. It was nothing we weren't prepared for… just a few opening night jitters. Janet's blood pressure dropped a bit and the little one there needed a bit of a hand coming into the world. As I say, nothing to worry about. We will be keeping them both here for a week or so to make sure nothing else happens.'
She glanced at Janet and winked, drawing another weary smile from the new mother.
Shanice smiled as she reached the doorway. Her hand closing over the frame, she looked over her shoulder at the new trio.
'No worries, love; give us as shout if you need anything or hit the buzzer there. I am just down the hall and will be here in a jiffy.'
With that, she was gone, leaving the newly minted parents with the one person they never thought they would be holding. Derek's eyes burned with the question that he wanted to ask.
'It's a girl.'
His face burst into a cheesy grin as he reached out, and Janet slipped their daughter into his hands for the first time.
'She's beautiful, just like her mother.'
Janet snorted as she watched him peer closer at the sleeping form in his arms. Glancing up, he smiled, the condescension in his wife's eyes making him chuckle as he gently bounced his daughter.
'Derek, I look like I've just gone thirty rounds with a rabid chimpanzee and have been molested by a gang of drunken Polish dockers. So please do not call me beautiful right now, or so help me, I will pull your bollocks off.'
Derek all but choked on his laughter as he stared at Janet supine on the hospital bed.
'Whatever you say, gorgeous. Whatever you say.'