Dark Winter – Part 24


Shadows fall
And hope has fled.
Steel your heart
The dawn will come.
– “The Dawn Will Come”, Dragon Age Inquisition

The corpse of Mrs Petersen lay between them. Katie on one side, leaning against Lindsay’s bedside; Mr Petersen and his son, Jon, on the other. Mr Petersen’s eyes were closed, his head leaning back, his hands folded in his lap. Jon lay on his side, his eyes open and staring at his mother. Both lay against the supply closet wall. No one had spoken since it happened.

Katie didn’t want to talk. She didn’t even want to look at the corpse, its husband or its son. It. Katie made herself think of Mrs Petersen’s dead body as an ‘it.’ Somehow that made it okay. She was Infected. Like Samantha and Tom. No, don’t think about them, she thought, shutting her eyes tight. That was worse. When she shut her eyes, she saw them as they were when they were alive. Then she’d see them dead in the forest or on the steps.

She shook all over for the hundredth time and felt like crying, but no tears came. Sobs rumbled up from her gut but came only as dry, heavy coughs in her chest. They hurt. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 23


“Has to be me. Someone else might get it wrong.” – Mordin, Mass Effect 3

Well, this isn’t good, Chris Fox thought as he looked around the room. It was small, roughly the size of the old barracks room he’d shared at West Point. He didn’t have to share this one, but with the double bed, dresser, desk and closet, it didn’t feel any less cramped. What made it feel claustrophobic wasn’t the size, but that he couldn’t get out.

The door was locked electronically from the security desk at the end of the hall. While Gideon Fitzpatrick didn’t call this a cell, it was, and Chris his prisoner. They all were. Bill and Williams were further down the hall, sitting alone in their own rooms. Bill hadn’t said a word after their first meeting with Gideon, but Chris knew his thoughts all the same. They matched his own.

We need to get out of here, now. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 22


Save me from this wicked person I’ve become
As the world comes crashing
– Fit for Rivals, “Crash”

Katie’s warning was too late. Jon let out a wordless cry and fell back into the room, his mother on top of him, her hands clawing at his cheeks. Long, red stripes were gouged where her nails bit into flesh. The blood splattered across the floor.

Mrs Petersen never looked up. Her eyes were focused on her son, but they did not see him. They were wide, wild and inhuman. Infected. She was gone. The horror of the image before her froze Katie where she stood, unable to raise her weapon.

Unlike the other Infected, Mrs Petersen did not screech or howl. She was silent, dark spittle dripping from her lips. Her teeth were so white, like pearls on dark velvet. Continue reading

Dark Winter – Part 21


“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


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


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


“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