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

Dark Winter – Part 15

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This is the start of the end.
It’s fallen apart, and I won’t give into you.
You break and bend.
This is who you are, and I won’t give into you.
- Atrium, “The End”

Chris Fox held his hands up, palms out and fingers splayed as he stepped back from the counter and away from his SCAR 17 rifle. Beside him, Bill did the same while they both eyed the bearded man as he held a gun to the head of Allan Kirchner. The man’s hand shook and he constantly looked from Chris and Bill to somewhere out of sight. He held Allan hostage behind an open security door that led to the bank’s vault.

Chris needed to get in that vault.

Pressed against the wall on either side of the security door, Williams and Turner waited, unseen by the bearded man and his group. The two KSF agents were like statues of flesh and blood, barely moving, barely even breathing. Only their eyes shifted from the door to Chris and back again, slowly, over and over as they waited for a signal. Chris calculated they could take down the bearded man easily, probably before he shot Kirchner, but there was another two men inside. One of them was out of sight, but sick. Chris had gathered that much. A skinny little man, he was the bearded man’s brother. The other was a tall, blond man with a ponytail. He was the real danger, carrying a rifle that Chris couldn’t quite make out. It was an unknown and Chris did not like unknowns. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 14

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Once for the time you never came
One more time and one for history
Scream hallelujah, scream hallelujah
There’s just no easy way out
- Fit for Rivals, “Hallelujah”

Poveglia was the start of everything.

Katie sat on her cot with the files open in her lap. Her dad’s safe was right where he’d always kept it, hidden behind the freezer storage. The numbers were the same and it opened on the first try. Inside, she’d found hundreds of folders full of papers. She expected to find his financial records and house sale stuff along with what he’d told her to search for. She’d expected to spend hours rooting around, sifting through the data of their past. Maybe she’d find old photos too, ticket stubs when he’d taken her to see Finch in concert.

There was nothing in these files that connected him to her in any way. The entire safe was full of personnel and identity records, transfers from one unrecognizable series of numbers to another. Classified locations, she thought as she’d set them aside. She remembered her dad telling her about scrambled GPS coordinates he’d used as a Ranger.

“The normal person can’t remember more than seven digits easily,” he’d said once when they were camping high in the mountains. She’d been fifteen and complaining about math homework and how numbers were annoying and hard to remember. In the crackling firelight he’d laughed and held up all ten fingers. “So we’d just scramble random numbers, ten of them, for locations. Easiest encryption in the world.” Continue reading