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

Dark Winter – Part 13

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“Stand amongst the ashes of a trillion dead souls and ask the ghosts if honor matters.” – Javik, Mass Effect 3

The helicopter flew low over snow-covered trees. The wake of disturbed air created a white mist behind them, flaring outward in concentric circles before falling to the earth again. The wind was biting cold and the heavy thumping of the rotor blades made the chill air blow strong into uncovered faces.

Six men sat within, the pilot and co-pilot were up front while four others crouched in the loading area. Three were all dressed the same, with black BDUs, bulletproof vests and tactical slings. M4s were stowed between their legs. Unlike the AR-15, the M4s civilian-approved cousin, these guns were military issued and had fully automatic fire. Only these men weren’t military. Not anymore.

The patches on their shoulders read KSF: Kurama Security Forces. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 12

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But all those pretty pictures they just start to fade away
And everything that I believed is getting hard to find
- Goo Goo Dolls, “Caught in the Storm”

Katie was eating cold ravioli from a can when her dad emerged from the radio room. His expression was controlled, but something about his stance told Katie that he was preparing for something mentally. Lindsay saw it too when she looked up from the book she was reading, a dog-eared SciFi paperback from the supply room called Icarus. Licking her lips and dropping her spoon into the half-finished can, Katie regarded him carefully.

“What’s going on, dad?”

He didn’t answer right away but walked to the gun closet and retrieved a gun that Katie rarely saw him use. The SCAR 17 was distinctively different looking than their AR-15s and chambered a bigger round. Katie struggled to remember its exact size, but came up with a blank. She knew they were illegal for civilians to have though. “Stopping power” her dad called it. But if their normal .22LR rounds were good enough for the Infected then… Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 11

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They see you as small and helpless
They see you as just a child
Surprise when they find out that a warrior will soon run wild
- Jeff Williams, “This Will Be the Day”

Katie stared at her dad, unable to process what he just told her. He can stop this? That guy can stop all this? She opened and closed her mouth half a dozen times before she managed to speak.

“How?”

“Katie, it’s a very long story. What’s important is that we ensure his safety.”

Her dad exhaled heavily, his breath misting in the chill air. Katie felt strange, like her whole world wasn’t quite in focus. He knew this the whole time? He knew about the virus too. What else did he know that he wasn’t telling her?

His gaze turned from her, following the direction of the truck. For long moments, silence stretched between them. Katie wanted to ask him why he didn’t tell her this, why he’d keep such a secret from her? Why he kept any secrets from her at all. Didn’t he trust her? Continue reading