Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2.1.5 Jessup, Maryland

Atticus flew the plane low enough and slow enough for both of them to get a good look at the ground. The devastation and damage was piled on from the start. Flying over Kansas they saw the fleeting masses in cars and on foot. Kansas City was taken by the rioting gangs and the crime lords. The streets of Indianapolis were all but emptied, except for some rebel rogues…having the time of their lives before the end. The entire eastern seaboard was evacuating west or illegally flying out of the continent. 

They crossed over Ohio where people were still stuck in the valley. As they passed over the flotsam towns the outbreak was now crashing down upon them. This long wave of horde over Connecticut, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina was being fueled by the magnitude of people that were not able to get out of the major cities in time. By now over ten million were dead. Most of them did not remain dead. 

The streets were filthy with stains from oil and gas explosions and pillaged stores. The blood-trail from the horde wiped the streets with the elegance of a mad painter’s brushstroke. The highways were desolate parking lots. Homes were burned down, bunkered down, or broken into. Residential America was lost in the east. As the suburban streets got more crowded, they passed over the Beltway; a network of highways circling the nation’s capital.

“We’re here.” 

“I can’t believe this is really happening.” Samuel muttered to himself while he looked out the window as they landed across the street from the house in a school parking lot. 

Suburban towns and neighborhoods as far as the eye can see, vacant of all humanity. There were brushfires and burnt-down houses all around them, all the other houses were ransacked, along with the yards, now junkyards, and the streets. Not a soul in sight, the place had sparse blood on the floor, maybe some in the grass. Samuel could theorize why…

"The amount of zombies that had to have manifested in this area, ground zero, must have licked the place clean first before moving on. How could anyone survive this?" 

 Atticus safely landed the ship, and Samuel tried to exit the aircraft without Atticus.

“Wait a second, Doc” Atticus insisted, “Are you nuts, man? Goin' out there without suiting up first.”
Atticus brought Dr. Chase to the War Bird’s armory. “We have specific gear on-board for dealing with such a threat. We call it Protocol Z.”
Atticus threw Samuel a long sleeve shirt, “What’s this? Under-armor?”
“Not quite, try ripping it.”

Samuel could not rip into the fabric nor tear a seam because there were no seams. the perfect defense for your flesh against bites and scratches. There were also bulletproof vests and combat-pads for their elbows and knees. After the elastic tear-proof under-shirt, the bullet proof vest, their field jackets, pads, gloves, and boots, both of them were completely covered except for their faces. 

The side-arms were already clipped onto ammo-belts. Atticus grabbed a Desert Eagle .50 gun-belt; he also took a second DE out of another belt, sliding the gun onto the belt before clipping it together. Atticus slid both pistols behind him and began putting extra ammo on. 

Samuel grabbed a 9MM pistol. Before he began to decide which rifle to take, Atticus told him to take two pistols. Sporadically, Samuel grabbed a python revolver, before snatching an M4 rifle with an ACOG scope and suppressor attached. He slung it over his shoulder by the strap, while Atticus did the same with a shotgun. He locked and loaded a silenced P90 and approached the door. 

“Why are all the rifles and machine guns silenced?”
“Studies have shown that anything louder than a pistol could potentially attract hundreds of them.”
“The government was prepared for this…the zombie apocalypse?” Samuel was shocked.
“Ever since the first atom was split, measures have been set by the US government and military to be prepared for any scenario. It wasn’t until the days of chemical warfare and weaponized viruses when the potential for a rising dead scenario became fully realized.”

“From what you're saying, I can only derive that the government has also been trying to build such viral weapons.”
“I wouldn't be surprised if they're to blame for all this. More likely than some terrorist cell." Atticus turned to Samuel, "You ready?"

“You got enough guns?” Samuel retorted nervously.
“Can never be too safe. Now Doc, are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“It’s across the street, Captain. I think I can manage.”
“One block can be a long way when it’s crawling with creeps trying to eat you.”
“I’ve seen the news reports. I know what’s waiting for us on the other side of these doors…”
“It’s different when you’re face to face with it. It's still killing a man. Just stay with me, stay close, whatever happens…we stay together…there and back…” 

“Right…okay…I’m ready Captain, open the doors...”

Even though the ground was clear when they landed, when they emerged from the doors cries and moans could be heard not a block away, approaching them. The noises and the winds of the landing must have alerted them to their whereabouts. 

“This is it.” Atticus pushed the Doctor forward towards the street as he kept his head on a swivel, checking both sides of them and their “six” continuously. The cries were now loud enough to see the ones responsible for them. They came dragging their limbs down the street, not running but not walking. 

Samuel would always remember the first time he saw one face to face. 

It was the eyes. 

An image of two vacant pupils staring back at him that would burn into his memory forever. A woman with long blonde hair clumped together by dried blood. Covered in mostly dirt and guts both others and her own, her body was slowly deteriorating through her clothes. Soon the flesh on her elbows, toes, nose, and fingertips would be withered down to the bone. She couldn’t have been older than twenty-five. 

Her eyes were grey and her skin was so pale. From the neck down she looked normal, a girl out for a run. She might have even been beautiful before she was bit. Samuel could tell because besides her empty eyes and pale skin the only other dead give-away was the bite on her face. 

Half of her top lip was missing and the little piece left dangling off her nose was just about ready to rot away. Her bloodstained teeth showed through all the way to the gums even though she would never smile again. The dead girl moaned and drooled uncontrollably, slowly making her way towards Samuel. He could no longer bear to look at her. 

“Shoot them now so they don’t have a chance to surround us.”
“...Oh man...” The Doctor exhaled.
“SAFETIES OFF!” Atticus screamed as he began to fire his P90. 

He fired in bursts. Each burst dragged into the head of the attacking undead. Man, woman, and child came at them, screaming, trailing blood and dead flesh, trying to bite at them, trying to contaminate them, devour them. Atticus showed no mercy. Samuel still had not fired a single shot. 

He looked at the death all around him, and how Atticus had just jumped right in. This was all too much to bear. His family had to be dead. He knew New York would be just as bad as this. Atticus finished his clip and reloaded, keeping the undead all around them from getting too close. Samuel was barely able to walk. 

They slowly crossed the street towards the house. Atticus knew Samuel was in shock, he steered him straight with his hand on his shoulder, swinging his SMG across both sides of Samuel's head, firing on zombie after zombie trying to flank them, all the while yelling out, “Just cover the front door to the house!” as he pointed him to the white-shingled house ahead of them. 

The objective brought Samuel into focus and he could finally step into the moment, rather than merely viewing from the safe distance of the sky. He aimed through his ACOG scope on the M4 Carbine and kept the front door in his cross-hairs. After a few seconds of watching it through the scope, the door opened and he saw a woman trying to break out of her own barricaded house.

 Pulling plank after plank off the doorway something was driving her out to the street, and it couldn’t just be the sight of them coming to rescue her. They must be in the house. She runs through the mess, praying to God her bare ankles aren’t nipped by some undead carcass on her stoop. She fights and she fights to break free from the debris, her drive compels Samuel to act. She gets to the street and gasping for air, she crashes into Samuel and Atticus’ arms.    

Samuel grabs the hysterical woman and Atticus covers them. In the middle of the crowded zombie street, they start backpedalling to the ship in the parking lot. Samuel takes his sights off the front and turns around to get inside the ship. Atticus is still firing his P90. The ghouls have gotten in between them and the ship. They are not panicking though. 

In order to remain calm, Atticus tells himself, the mission has advanced to the next objective after search and rescue…extraction. 

Now with the woman’s safety in mind, Samuel needed to help. He fired his rifle and Atticus finished off the rounds in his P90 before switching to his duel pistols and clearing the zombies that were now approaching the ship from behind them. Atticus blew a grapefruit size hole in each one's head that tried to get close while watching his underrated partner accurately use his rifle both in aim and strategy. Samuel was a marksman.

“They just keep coming.”
“It’s impossible to hold down a front.”
“We have to get inside the ship!” 

Atticus plugs in his code on the side of the War Bird and the door to the ship pops open. Samuel pivots in with his rifle and the girl, Atticus covers them and puts down a few more before closing the door safely. He takes his equipment off and jumps into the pilot seat. “We’re getting the hell out of here!”

“I think we stirred up a hornet’s nest.”

“They’ve been here for days…” the woman whispers in Samuel’s arms on the bench. 

“Nothing we can't handle...” he says back; after getting her to smile Samuel knows she is okay, so he confirms, “Are you Rebecca Pratt?”

“Yes…yes I am, and I can tell you how this all happened...”

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