Dark Winter – Part 21

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“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The helicopter landed gently, Chris hardly feeling the skids touch cement. He likely wouldn’t have noticed anyway, his attention was on his new surroundings. He’d never been here before, but knew of it.

The reports, everything they’d been told, were wrong.

The campus was on several thousand acres of woodland, that much looked to be true, but none of the imaging they’d been given really captured the scope. They’d landed on a helipad next to a long runway. The A-10 Thunderbolt II’s were just now landing, their big turbines roaring as they passed. To the other side was a low, squat building that looked like a bunker. There were other buildings like it, tucked back beneath the trees. Some were open and Chris saw more A-10s and even an F-15C. Those kinds of aircraft simply were not sold to civilians.

What the hell is going on here? Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 20

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I’m gonna use you and abuse you
I’m gonna know what’s inside
Gonna use you and abuse you
I’m gonna know what’s inside you
- Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams”

Katie was starting to regret having trained Jon Petersen how to shoot a gun, and sincerely wishing she’d taught him more. With the barrel of her own gun aimed at her head, Katie saw that he kept his finger on the trigger. Either he’d forgotten the rule about trigger discipline or he meant to shoot her, right then. She swallowed and slowly, very slowly, raised her hands, palms out.

“Jon? What are you doing?” Lindsay said, her voice nearly a shriek. It made Katie jump and she feared Jon would flinch and pull the trigger. He shifted his aim to Lindsay, his eyes wild and scared, but no shot went off. Katie’s heart beat very heavily in her chest.

She thought quickly, trying to remember some lesson her dad gave about a situation like this. They’d talked about survivalists confronting them, about what they might do if they were caught off guard. Escape. Evade. Regroup. That was a fine plan when you didn’t have a gun pointed at you, but didn’t apply here. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 19

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Acting on your best behavior
Turn your back on mother nature
Everybody wants to rule the world
- Tears for Fears, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”

The Infected were right behind them.

Chris took the stairs two at a time, not bothering to look over his shoulder. He could smell them, they were so close. Their screeching howls filled the stairwell as they went up and up. Two floors to go. One floor to go. The heavy metal door stood open, the co-pilot waving them onward.

“Go!” he shouted to the co-pilot as he mounted the last few steps to the doorway. As soon as he was clear of the doorway, Chris pulled the door shut just moments ahead of the horde behind him. The door opened inward, towards the infected but Chris was counting on them taking a few seconds to figure out how to open it. The mass of them shoving against the door might be enough to keep it from opening. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 18

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“The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.” – Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide

Katie felt herself relax. For the first time, she was relieved to see someone’s injury turn out to be a bullet wound. It wasn’t a bite and so he wouldn’t turn. Not that he was out of danger, but a bullet wound they could treat.

“Lindsay,” she said, turning to her wide-eyed friend. “In the back room, get me a first aid kit.”

“It passed clean through,” Mr Petersen said. “I washed it out twice.”

“How did it happen?” Katie said, lowering her weapon and indicating that he should sit down on the couch. He did so with an exhausted grunt. His eyes closed for a moment but opened again and was about to speak when a loud thump came from the door. Then another. And another. Soon, they were rapid and demanding.

The Infected had come down the steps. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 17

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No light, no light in your bright blue eyes. I never knew daylight could be so violent.
– Florence + The Machine, “No Light, No Light”

“Ten seconds!” Turner said, shouting over the screams and howls of the Infected as they poured through the broken doors. Chris’s rifle barked endlessly, the trigger barely having time to reset before it was pulled again and again and again. In the back of his mind, he wondered if he had enough bullets.

We might not have ten seconds, he thought. They could shut the door and barricade it but there was no way out of the vault area once they did. Eventually they’d break it down anyway. This was not a good situation. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 16

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 I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy – Ranger Creed, 5th Stanza

They were screaming.

Katie stood in front of the monitors, watching as the Petersens pounded on the bunker’s steel door. They were silent on the film but she could hear them faintly through the door. Let us in! Let us in! They’re coming, please let us in!

“I can’t,” she whispered, as if they might hear her. If she opened that door, the Infected might come rushing in after them. She could die. Lindsay could die. The thought made her afraid, not of death, but of failing her dad. No matter how much he’d lied about his involvement, he’d taught her to survive. He’d never judged her except on her merits, on her accomplishments, not on what she wasn’t. He’d been as good a dad as he could, she knew that now, in that very moment as she stared out at the desperate family calling for her help.

“I’m sorry,” she said again and raised a shaking hand to turn off the monitors.

“Katie? Katie, what’s that noise? What’s going on?”

Katie’s fingers pressed gently against the monitors’ off switch. She just needed to put a little more pressure on it and the monitors would turn off. Then she would make up a lie, say that they were Infected and they should hide in the living area. Seal themselves off. She could live with that.

Couldn’t she? Continue reading