Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2.5.3 Fallout & Walkabout

The sky spun back together into a dark spool, "Did anybody else see that?" before unraveling again.  He remembered it like it was yesterday but he knew this hadn't happened yet. Doctor Samuel Gordon Chase wandered the frozen dark alone.

Or was he just losing his mind?

Samuel was somewhere else the entire ride, when a hiccup of awareness threw him back into reality. It was not until then that he had a look around... and a grave look it was.

What a nightmare everything had become. The faded fray of civilization, haunted and hollowed out homes, ghosts of families, neighbors and strangers all gone, dead or worse... The fallout had a strange effect on the undead, turning them from rabid dogs to the meandering dead and rendering them twice as harmful. Anyone could outrun them but if just one touched you chances are... you’re dead.

Only Atticus and Samuel had guns. This was not what Atticus had in mind when he wondered about the future still piloting safely above the apocalypse in his War Bird, which was also not what Atticus anticipated when they arrived at the wreck.
The entire hull was broken in half, fractured apart and stacked together next to each other. Everything inside the ship was in pieces except for the center console and Samuel’s seat. Atticus had no idea how they survived. Like a detective searching for clues he uncovered an assault rifle, threw it over to Ed and uncovered the center console. Ed examined the assault rifle. It was cracked down the magazine and only had one bullet inside of it. Ed threw the rifle away; it was garbage.
“What is that?” Rebecca asked as Atticus pulled something out.
“You know how every plane has a black box…”
Atticus got up and looked around; there was nothing they could do. Nobody left to report to, no safe ship to fly over the wretched earth, they were finally on their own. He threw the War Bird's black box on the floor.

The first thing they needed to do was start gathering supplies, and prevent themselves from being eaten or caught in the fallout winds. Other than that, Atticus knew they would need an arbitrary reason to keep going, so for now it continued to be getting to Samuel’s house.

“Doctor, let's go find your family.”
“Right, can you take us, Ed?”
“Where are they?”
“Uptown, near the park, off Madison…” Samuel kept forgetting he wasn’t in the city, “You know…in Manhattan…”
“Yeah, I know, hop in.”
“Are you sure you-”   
“Central Park North, right?” Ed said unflatteringly.
“Exactly.” Samuel’s old colors as a detached professor shined for a brief second, glossing over Ed’s contempt and proceeding none-the-wiser, “Atticus!” Samuel yelled from the truck, but when he turned around Atticus was not getting in the truck with them.  “We got a ride!”
“We got one too.” Atticus was already over next to a black mustang under the hood with Frank and Wheeler. He looked back as Wheeler started the car after Atticus hotwired the engine.
Samuel and Rebecca rode in the pick-up with Ed and Nora; and Atticus, Frank, and Wheeler were in the mustang. They moved slowly around all the parked cars, some were empty, some were tombs if they didn’t cruise at a slow enough speed it would cause too much of a stir and the local horde could gather and trap them in.
This was not an easy feat, Atticus was the only one who could navigate and maneuver against the wreckage. And there was some serious wreckage. Entire stores and gas stations, super markets and skyscrapers torn down against the road, against the chaos and the odds, only one was able to guide them.  Just because the War Bird was grounded didn’t mean he couldn’t travel in style anymore. The black mustang led the convoy towards Central Park. Even though Ed knew how to get there and it was Samuel’s home, Atticus was still leading them.
They got well enough through the shattered highways and city streets outside of Manhattan. Until they hit the east side Samuel had no idea where they were; a blasted grey landscape. He couldn’t find anything familiar; his landmarks were either demolished or buried in the ruin. Tight turns wrapping up clustered city parkways made things difficult to maneuver. Atticus was carving a perfect path out of the wreck, never having to turn around, never having to double back or stop…
Samuel knew it, this bridge was too small to be anything else; it was the 3rd Avenue Bridge…and they were almost there. Samuel turned around in his seat, “Only about ten more blocks!” but when they were slowed down almost to a halt around a stubborn Prius sticking out of a coffee shop the doors were opened on Ed, Nora, and Samuel as three hooded guys attacked them inside the truck.

Ed and Samuel were punched in the face repeatedly and Nora was accosted, by the time they found Rebecca and before Nora was forced to do something she'd never be able to come back from the black mustang rolled up on them. Atticus lowered the window with his gun sticking out. He pulled the e-break and whipped the car around so he was face to face with the rioters. They exchanged rounds as most of the hooded hostiles were aiming at the gas tank. Meanwhile only one remained after Atticus picked off both his wing-men and was now hunting the last man on foot.

Frank and Wheeler joined Atticus when he returned from disposal and soon enough the other group, for the cars were packed so tightly together and abandoned there was only one option... Completing the rest of the trip on foot.

"Those guys were assholes."

“Where are all of the zombies?” Nora tried to get her mind off of the attack.

"Are we really using that word now?"
“Whatever we're calling them, the nuclear blast must have driven them out of the city. If it wasn’t for the fallout radiation…Manhattan would probably be the safest place in the world right now.” Ed gave his explanation as he wrapped his wound, tightly stopping the bleeding.
They crossed another street and turned the corner all crouched over and moving gently through the debris. Rebecca followed Samuel with Atticus behind her, Nora behind him, Ed behind her, and Frank and Wheeler bringing up the rear. They got to the other side of the corner and the uptown skyscraper was fractured off its base above them. Its grind echoed through the glass city walls, its whines and moans like a great oak tree.
“We have to run…” Atticus warned them, “We have to run…NOW!”
The fractured skyscraper succumbs to the pressure and finishes cracking through horizontally. The structure slides off the slanted angle; its edge comes barreling towards them. It collides with the row of parked cars running parallel with them as they escape to the park. Just at the corner of Central Park is a circle, beyond that circle is Samuel’s townhouse. He was finally home. Samuel abandoned the group and made a dead sprint for his door. Rebecca screamed and Atticus ran after him.
She screamed as the door opened itself. Atticus had a flash back to Maryland. He stopped running and tried to swallow the lump in his throat, and was caught off-guard by the sight of it. The door opened and there was something standing in the shadow of the house. Samuel went right in and the door slammed shut behind him. Atticus was shaken back to reality as he ran for the door. He saw Ed and Rebecca’s faces and looked behind them. The stone-titan Geronimo…Rebecca’s scream…the slamming door… what could only be next but groans and moans from the subway station entrance...

The zombies still had Manhattan.

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