Derrick Smith - Iron City Paranormal
The air reeked of death. Decomposing bodies littered the streets outside of the safe house. A dark red mist rose from the carcasses as night fell once again. Jason sighed. Only three? He thought. How can there only be three of us? He urgently shook off the thought of self-pity.
“Make sure that door is sealed!” Jason yelled up from the basement.
Those beings broke in through the make-shift barrier earlier that day and they would surely return, especially come nightfall.
Jason limped up the cracked stairwell; a blood-soaked rag was tied around his leg. “You two hear me?” He grunted as he finally stepped up off the stairs onto the shattered remains of the kitchen.
“Yeah,” a woman’s voice echoed from the hall on the second story, “I’m trying to close off the hallway up here!”
Jason glanced through the wood panels out the window. The fallen beasts seemed to cover the ground like a sidewalk from their safe house to the road. At the moment, it appeared as though their small band of survivors had killed all the remaining undead. Maybe the smell of living tissue guided them to Jason and his companions. “Good, just hurry up. Where’s Brad?” Jason leaned against the wall, trying to keep his weight off the injured leg.
The woman hustled down the stairs from the floor above. Her jet-black hair bobbed with her every step. “You need to stop worrying so much. We know how to survive. After all, it’s been what, two months?”
A loud crash boomed from the back porch. Jason jumped from the wall, immediately pointing his Remington pump-action shotgun in that direction. “Brad? Is that you?”
Ali placed a gentle hand on the weapon, “Of course it is.” She stared into Jason’s baby blue eyes. “He’s doing a quick check around the house, remember?”
“Sorry. You know I get a little paranoid at night.” He spun toward the basement entrance.
Without looking at Ali, he quietly corrected her, “And it’s been nearly six months now.” Her cheeks grew cherry red. It was hard keeping track of time, days, months, and eventually years. They had been without power since the backup generator gave way after a week of being hauled up in the grocery store. It was tough at first, making the changes necessary to survive. Eating little, sleeping only three or four hours a night, and constantly jumping from town to town. They must have been in their twentieth safe house by now. Each move was for a different reason, even though most of the time it was because Jason was running out of his medicine.
Brad shoved the mahogany bookshelf in front of the back door upon his return. “I see a few on the horizon, but nothing like earlier,” his voice remained quite calm. “Everything else closed up?”
“Yeah, I finished upstairs, and we never messed with the front.” She moved in close to Brad, “Do you think he’ll be alright? He’s starting to act a little…”
Ali scratched her head, “Yeah, I guess so. He’s acting like he’s never seen these things before. But he still keeps track of the days.”
“I think that slash on his leg has him all shaken up.” Brad reached for the Browning pistol on the end table by the stairwell. “After all, he came that close to becoming one of those things.”
Ali followed Brad down the stairs. She slammed the basement door behind her and then ran a thin strand of fishing wire from the doorknob to the pin of the homemade explosive, which lay under the first step.
Jason collapsed on the couch out of pure exhaustion. He reached in his pack and pulled out a pill bottle. He removed two small, white pills and placed them gently in his mouth. Without even a swig of water, he swallowed them. “I’ve got about two days left here. We’ll need to move soon.”
“We’re running out of food too.” Brad tossed an empty can on the floor. “We should move tomorrow.”
“As long as they don’t swarm like they did this morning,” Jason reminded him.
Ali reached the bottom of the flight of stairs. She reached on her back, unhinged the rusting rifle, and chucked it toward the couch. “I need a new one.” She smirked. “This thing is going to kill me yet.”
“Hey, that’s a classic.” Brad smiled back. We’ll get an early start and find a safe-house and make a supply run tomorrow.”
Jason snored from the couch. “I guess he’ll take the first turn tonight.” Ali walked over to Jason’s pack. She reached inside and grabbed the pill bottle. “What are these any -?”
Jason snatched the pill bottle from her grasp without a sound. “None of your damn business teach.” That was what he called Ali from the time they met. After all, they met during a one-sided firefight against an enormous horde of oncoming undead. He never caught her name until a few hours later. She had a name tag on, one that you would see a teacher wear, which read ‘Hi, I’m Mrs. Newhouse.’ That was the fateful day she lost her son to those creatures.
“Wow. For an old Marine, you still have that element of surprise, don’t you?” Brad slumped beside him. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. There was one left. “Well, I found something else we need.”
The groaning began like any other gathering of the Burst victims. They echoed from outside, most likely from a group of them. But they stopped. The groans, the footsteps, everything.
“What are they doing?” Ali asked to no one in particular, reaching for her rifle.
Jason jumped to attention. His shotgun aimed toward the door before his legs were securely under him. “Shh.” Brad pointed the Browning in the same direction. He reached into his pack and grabbed a few clips and tossed them in his pocket.
A long, drawn-out rumble ricocheted from the outside. The ground shook, books from the bookcase upstairs flew from their places, the remaining glass in the windows collapsed out of the window seal.
“What the hell?” Brad jumped back. “That’s why they stopped,” Jason pointed a single finger toward the basement door. As far as he was concerned, they needed to defend themselves from whatever was charging at them. There was no other way out. This was it. No turning back.
The basement door flew inward as the large beast slammed into it. It tumbled down the steps, pulling the grenade with it. This wasn’t an ordinary undead abomination.
The “normal” undead ones were exactly that; not living, but not dead. They all smelled of decaying tissue. They all had some sort of battle scar, whether it was a large gash across the stomach, a chunk out of their neck, or a missing limb. There was always some way to tell how they became one of them, one of the infected.
This one, however, was different. It no longer even resembled a human being like the others. Its knees were bent in the opposite direction, almost like a dog’s ankle. The creature’s arms stretched out as long as its legs. The thing’s elbows protruded out of the skin, capable of acting as razor-sharp weapons. Its head transformed in a way that connected the neck to the rear of its head, resembling the head of a shark. The creature’s fingertips had been gnawed back until the flesh revealed pale white bones.
It lay stunned at the bottom of the steps. A loud grunt reverberated from its nostrils as it came to. The mutant pulled itself upwards on its two hind legs. The colossal beast which stood over eight feet tall paused momentarily.
“Brad,” Jason whispered, “backup.”
The creature lurched forward toward Brad with an outstretched, inhuman arm. A growl stunned the already petrified Brad.
Ali pulled the trigger of her hand-me-down rifle. The bullet struck the transformed beast in the shoulder. It only irritated the thing. Without turning its attention from its future meal, the brute charged without warning. Jason fired the pump-action shotgun twice. He thrust hot lead into the creature’s rotten flesh.
Only slightly thrown off balance, the rank monster threw its protracted arm into Brad’s paralyzed body. He crashed against the stone wall below the staircase. His arm twisted around behind his back. Blood poured from the fractured limb.
Ali unloaded her clip into the beast’s head, tearing holes through its skull. Black liquid discharged from the wounds, still unimpaired, the creature stomped forward. Its sight was set on its next victim.
“Jason!” Ali stepped back.
Jason had already taken his advice. His back was against the farthest wall from the giant. His shotgun was already smoking as he drained it once more, ready to pump more lead into the thing’s back. “Get outta the way, teach!”
Ali ducked out of the way of the creature’s swing. She turned away but slipped on Brad’s gun under her.
Another three rounds, four rounds, were shot into the beast’s midsection. Black goo dripped profusely from its head and what should be its abdomen. The wounds did not stop it.
As Ali stumbled to find her balance, a large, cold hand dug its fleshless nails into her shoulder. She let out an ear-piercing shriek as the thing squeezed tight. In the creature’s deadly grasp, Ali could feel herself being raised off the ground a good three feet. Blood soaked from her open wound to her toes.
Jason continued to pour shotgun lead into the creature’s side, still to no avail. It opened its mouth wide to let out a long, mindless groan. It bent its head low and took a chunk of flesh out of Ali’s opposite shoulder with its razor-sharp teeth, spewing blood over itself.
Behind the monster, Brad rolled over. His arm was barely attached to his shoulder as he lay in a pool of his blood. He glanced at the creature, holding Ali in its strong claw. Looking down, Brad noticed his pistol under the creature obviously out of reach.
The normally infected monstrosities climbed over one another at the top of the stairs, Jason saw them out of the corner of his eye and knew they were in trouble. This mutated creature must be the leader of the pack. He knew it. He knew the Blast was some sort of terrorist attack, and if that was the case, there was no way the chemicals released would only create mindless cannibals. No, there were leaders. The chemicals altered human DNA and the different strains of this disease would eventually lead to some mutations. This was one of those unusual mutations. It must have been a leader. The normals gathered outside and waited for it to make its move. After it began tearing into the group of survivors, the more common disease made their entrance.
Jason placed a perfectly accurate shot over the monster’s shoulder but hit a charging, more human-looking, undead directly in the knee, destroying what was left of the muscle and bone holding it in place and throwing it down the staircase.
The undead toppled down the stairs and landed right beside Brad. As soon as it landed, Brad began pounding away on it. He threw punches with his one good arm and kicked rapidly. More of those things crept down the basement, practically surrounding Brad. He knew there was only one thing to do. He reached out, holding the creature off with his feet, and grabbed hold of the small metal device still attached to the fishing line.
Ali’s face had turned almost a light bluish color. The brute thrashed her about, draining the blood from her slender body. Her eyes were shut as she had passed out from the blood loss.
Another shotgun blast surged throughout the basement, reverberating off the thick concrete walls. Jason picked off another undead behind the beast flailing Ali. He detected Brad’s movement and panicked. “No! Brad don’t d –”
An enormous explosion threw the crowd of lifeless beings in every direction. They scattered up the stairs, toward the monster, even over it, nearly capsizing Jason. The blast had severed the large creature’s dog-like legs. It released Ali and let out a growl, not of pain, but anger. It clawed its way toward Jason. The black ooze still seeped from its abrasions, leaving a trail from Ali.
More shotgun smoke filled the air around Jason after he placed a few well-aimed buck shots in the monster’s eyes. He completely blinded the thing, even though it still thrashed on the cracked and now charred cement floor. He tightened the blood-soaked rag around his leg then shuffled over to Ali.
She was passed out, too much blood was lost. Jason turned back to the amputated creature; he shot three shells out of his shotgun then shoved the burning hot barrel on Ali’s wounds. He was able to close the wounds quite quickly. The now black and dark red openings puffed up and seeped an ooze of sorts.
Jason tossed her over his shoulder, flinching at the pain shooting up his leg. He picked up her rifle and slung it over his shoulder. He tossed Brad’s pistol in his pocket then reached for a red can sitting under the desk behind the monster. He gave one last glance at Brad’s bloody, dismembered body. “Goodbye old friend. See you soon.”
Trails of gasoline lead from the monster to the back entrance, once guarded by a bookshelf. Jason shot his last slug out of the shotgun at the puddle of gasoline. Sparks shot off the ground as the liquid shot up in flames. The trail quickly followed the spark as the walls of their safe house caught fire. The monster underground moaned and howled as it burned to its final death.
“Time to move, teach.” Jason tossed his shotgun in his backpack beside Ali and turned toward the desolate road, only lit by the jumping flames behind him.
The sunrise was beautiful. Ali opened her eyes at the perfect time, sat up, and stretched her arms out. “What was that thing?” She rolled out of the makeshift tent inside some sort of sporting goods store.
“Some sort of mutation from the disease.” Jason had already been up searching for supplies, but still staying close enough to Ali to see her. He was afraid a bite from that thing would have changed her faster than normal. To this point, there were no signs. “How are you feeling?” He limped back to the tent, the shotgun in hand. “Been better,” she smiled up toward him. She stood using the rifle which lay beside her as a crutch. “Thank you.” A long pause ensued. “You could have left me back there to…to change.” Jason smiled, “I wanted to make sure I at least had a chance to say goodbye.” He reached for his pack. “I’m sorry I can’t say the same for Brad.”
“What happened to him?” “He sacrificed himself for us.” Jason reached for the pistol tucked between his worn jeans and himself. “He killed them all with the explosive.”
Ali grabbed her pack and joined him. “You ready?”
“Yeah, let’s get moving. I’d like to find a pharmacy around here to find more meds.” Speaking of which, Jason reached in his pack and grabbed two more pills. Again, he downed them with a quick gulp.
“Well, okay. But I mean, are you ready to do what’s necessary?” She shrugged her shoulders. “You know, when it’s time.” Jason lowered his head, “Of course. I’ll make it quick.”
“Speaking of those pills,” Ali smiled.
“They’re called Synthroid.” Jason began their hike to another small town, his limp still impairing him. “It’s for my removed Thyroid. I had cancer when I was only seven years old.”
“So, you’re medicine dependent? That’s why we need to keep moving, so you can get your pills.” Ali reached for her burning shoulder and let out a slight groan.
“That, and so we can reach the quarantined area north around New England.” Jason pulled out a map. “It looks like we should follow this interstate until we reach Trenton, and then pick up I-87 North.”
Ali didn’t bother looking at the map, Jason was always best with the directions. “Sounds like a plan. Should we grab a car this time?” Last time, the interstate was crowded with too many cars to even bother getting in one.
“As long as it’s open and we can find one with gas left.” He folded the map and stuffed it in the worn backpack.
Most cars had been depleted of gas from someone driving it then ditching it, or they had been filtered of gas by another group of survivors. Some cars had been tipped or destroyed by packs of the undead. This time, luckily, the two of them found a somewhat open lane and a nice, near-perfect BMW.
The ride was quiet as they took turns. Jason felt comfortable sleeping, even though he knew Ali was going to change. She did not show any signs, not yet at least. From what Jason remembered from his wife, was that it started with a cold sweat, nothing major. Then, after a day or so, the skin turned a greenish tint, as though it began the decomposition process. The veins would sort of puff out to the surface of the person’s skin. The eyes would turn a cherry red, and then very quickly alter to a dark grayish hue. At that point, the victim would still act like a normal person, in pain and extremely uncomfortable, but normal, nonetheless. Their eyesight would begin to blur, then speech begins to slur. The memory would revert to the past, most likely at a good point in their life. Ali’s memory was their honeymoon.
After getting bit by their son, Jason tried to keep her as comfortable as possible. He kept her warm, fed her, and stayed with her. He witnessed the transformation; it was the most painful thing he ever witnessed. He knew what he had to do but couldn’t. He killed their son, their one and only son, but he couldn’t kill his love. Jason tied her down to the bed, in tears the entire time. He kissed her goodbye and sped away in their minivan.
During his drive to nowhere, Jason heard on the emergency frequency that there was a haven east of New York, around the Connecticut area. Supposedly the blast hadn’t spread that far, and the undead did not spread their diseases to anyone past that quarantine zone.
Jason ran out of gas near Raleigh. He took to walking. Aside from burning cars and blowing newspapers, the streets were deserted. No humans – or dead – anywhere in sight. Hunger overtook him, so he made his way to a Food Lion on Western Boulevard. Anything edible, which was practically everything but the building, Jason stuffed in his mouth. It had been almost a full day since he last ate.
Brad was hauled up in the break room with two other employees. The three of them heard Jason scrounging around out in the food store. Just as they exited the break room, a pack of diseased creatures smashed through the front glass behind Jason. They moved faster than anyone could have imagined. They weren’t the typical Romero zombie, slow and brainless. Well, they weren’t intelligent, but not extremely stupid. If they had the capabilities, they could move fast.
The trio darted toward Jason, pulling him back. Brad smashed one of the undead in the temple with a fire extinguisher. It fell back, losing its balance. His friend broke a wooden mop over the back of another one. This one didn’t even falter.
The four men scampered back to the break room. They slammed the door and began to explore the room for another exit. They came across an air duct, just large enough for the grown men to fit in. When they made it to the roof, the group peered over the edge of the building. Their eyes grew wide as they witnessed the horror awaiting them. There had to be nearly two hundred undead circling the building.
They jumped about fifteen feet off the roof on top of cars parked in the lot until they reached Brad’s truck. At that point, Brad and one of his friends got in the cab while Jason and the other friend sat in the bed. As they pulled away, Jason and the other friend fended the creatures off from climbing up onto the truck.
They headed north toward Washington, D.C.
“We’re here,” Ali murmured. Her voice appeared to be getting weaker. “Trenton, New Jersey. Should we get your pills?”
Jason was still a little groggy from his long nap but was ready to go at a moment's notice. He reached for the shotgun, and then pulled up Brad’s pistol from the floor. “Yeah, let’s find a CVS Pharmacy or whatever they have here. We should get gas too.”
The two slowly drove down the street, keeping an ever-vigilant eye out. The night was soon to fall. They needed to find a safe house. Jason knew that he needed Ali’s help before she…changed.
After about fifteen minutes into their search, and only about thirty minutes to go before nightfall, they came across a large CVS along Olden Avenue.
“Okay, let’s hurry in there.” Jason jumped out of the classy car. “We should get in there and hold it up for the night.”
Ali followed his lead and ran toward the already vandalized pharmacy. She followed him through a broken pane of glass into the dark medicine store. “Should we get back there in the manager’s office?” Ali pointed to the back corner of the store.
Jason thought for a moment. “Yeah, why not? Go ahead and check it out. I’ll grab my Synthroid before it gets too dark to see.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Ali hustled to the back room, rifle off her shoulder and ready. “Grab me some pain killers, would you?” She screamed aloud. He didn’t answer but did reach for a large bottle of Advil. He pocketed it then moved toward the pharmacy in the opposite corner.
When he reached the pharmacy, he noticed dried blood streaks that lead from the counter to down an aisle of acne medications. Jason’s shotgun was aimed, ready for anything and everything. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed something shuffling by him. He spun around; the shotgun still aimed.
“Hurry up!” Ali shouted from the manager’s office. “It’s clear!”
I must be seeing things now! Jason told himself. He shook off that thought. You can’t ever be sure, especially now.
A sole creature leaped on top of him, its tongue waving in the air, aiming for his face. Black slime dripped from the oversized muscle. The slime splashed on his arm, eating away at his flesh. His arm instinctively flinched and allowed the being’s hungry mouth all the closer to his neck.
One-shot rang out. The mutated undead flew from him and crashed against the pharmacy counter. The rifle smoked from beside him from Ali’s hands.
“You don’t know how to ask for help, do you?” A smirk grew from cheek to cheek. “Come on,” she offered her hand. “The sun’s going down.”
Jason was still in shock as he was pulled up from the tiled floor. He wiped his arm clean from the ooze that dripped from the beast’s tongue. “Another mutated one.”
“Why, after six months of seeing none of those things, are we seeing them left and right?” Ali asked, her voice cracking.
Jason shook his head and jumped behind the counter and reached for the shelf containing his medicine. He unzipped his pack and held it open under the shelf. “I’ll sort them later. Let’s just get to the office for now.”
They spent the entire night without an incident and sped off as soon as the sun rose from the east side of Trenton. This time, Jason drove. He now needed to keep an eye on Ali. During the night, she began sweating, then growing cold again. The next step was the change of her skin color. He needed to be sure he could finish the job that the enormous creature started in the basement.
But could he? After the time they spent together, and the number of times she saved his life, like last night, how could he? He loved her; he was fairly sure at least. Not like a spouse, no one could take her place. But like a sister. How can you kill your sister?
Nearly five months ago, when Jason’s group of four survivors reached the capital, the schoolhouse had been severely ravaged. None of them thought a single soul could have survived an undead attack like that. Cars had been overturned, set on fire even. Papers flew around in the dry air. Bodies were scattered across the streets. Some wore army apparel. Some were children.
The group heard one solitary scream, a woman. It sounded like it came from the elementary school about a hundred yards away. The school was half torn down. There were holes blown in the brick siding, most likely from the soldiers using their heavy weapons.
They pulled up in the truck to a large, gaping hole in the side of the school to find a woman. She was still wearing her name tag, Hi, I’m Mrs. Newhouse,’ it read. She must have been a teacher. She was cradling a child in her arms; he was bitten in his ankle. Blood still poured from the injury. She was surrounded. There were twenty infected closing in on her.
The men jumped out of the truck and scooped up any weapons they could find. Jason grabbed a shotgun from a fallen soldier. Brad pulled a pistol out from the same army man’s holster. The two others grabbed a pair of chairs that were strewn across the classroom.
Jason jumped in first and blasted away at two of them using the pump-action shotgun. Their blood spewed all over the woman and her child. Brad placed perfect shots in five living dead, emptying his round. The two others swung the chairs wildly at the other pack of them. They knocked at least ten of them away from the woman. One was overtaken by them and torn to bits on the spot. Jason pumped the shotgun and unloaded five more slugs into the walking dead, blowing them to pieces.
The three remaining men helped Ali and her child, Drew, up into the bed of the truck. During the ride out of D.C., the child’s skin began to change color. Jason knew from past experiences that her son was changing. They stayed at a hotel that night.
As the sun rose, the group was astonished to find the child squirming and writhing in pain on a bed in the next room. Jason had convinced Ali to keep him there for the night. As they loaded up their truck once more, Drew stopped breathing. Ali was in shambles and rocked him as if he would wake up…he did.
The supposedly dead Drew thrashed about and jumped to its feet. With a limp, it charged at Brad’s remaining friend and tore open a large gash in his stomach, spreading the disease into his bloodstream. It turned toward Ali and just as it was in an arm’s reach, Jason fired the reloaded shotgun. As the smoke cleared, Drew’s body lay finally dead on the floor. Ali was in tears as the trio pulled away, only to find that the truck’s tank was empty. They could not find any gasoline, so they took to foot, grabbing supplies and finding safe houses along the way to Baltimore where a military base was supposed to be quarantined. It wasn’t.
Jason and Ali finally reached the Connecticut border. They were greeted by a sign that read ‘Connecticut Welcomes You.’ Hopefully, they would find their safe haven there. Thank God, no undead, that sounded like something that came from a Living Dead movie.
“Teach, we’re –” His stomach dropped. Ali’s skin was a bluish tint. Her veins puffed outward through her skin. Her eyes, black as the pistol he reached for. “Ali.” He shook her. “Ali, we’re here. It’s Connecticut.”
She rolled over. “Drew…Drew, is that you?” her voice is calm but unsettling.
“Yeah,” a tear rolled down Jason’s cheek. “It’s me.” He raised Brad’s pistol to her temple. “I’m sorry.”
A loud boom echoed from the BMW. Brain matter was sprayed across the window. Jason reached for the door handle and pulled hard. The door popped open and saying the last goodbye, Jason shoved her out the opening of the car.
He stepped on the gas; Jason wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there. He drove and drove and drove. “Where the hell is the safe zone?” He slammed the steering wheel.
Finally, a sign appeared, ‘Hartford 5 Miles Left Lane Only.’ “This must be it,” he thought. “Hartford, the safe haven of Hartford.” He let out a long sigh of relief.
The Blast occurred suddenly, without warning. Jason had a perfect view of it. The bomb, or whatever it was, blew up only twenty miles from his home in Columbia, South Carolina. The news said the nuke never actually went off, but eventually, they admitted that it wasn’t a bomb meant to blow up. It was meant to distribute biochemical weapons.
All that he could see out of his window was a bright light that shot out like a bullet. The sheer force of the light knocked him backward. Little did he know that he and everyone in the eastern United States was just contaminated with a chemical called Velodrome. Initially, Velodrome was a chemical used to reduce the size of cancerous sores. After months of testing, it was shown to have horrific effects on the human body. None of the patients ever died, but their blood cells began dying and spread to their skin, killing it over time. They decomposed while still alive. Before anyone knew exactly what it was, the Russian spies stole the newfound chemical and began experimenting with it. They found that if the effects could be increased, they could reanimate the dead cells.
The “V-Bomb,” as it was nicknamed, was never assessed. However, it was sold to North Korea before it was deactivated. After the blast, no one knew where it had come from or how to stop it. All that was known was that if anyone who had any open wounds came into contact with Velodrome, their cell count would significantly drop, and their bodies would begin to shut down.
After a day or so of being infected with the chemical, the infected would finally die. But they would come to life once more after only a few hours of their hearts stopping. When they finally came back to life, they would not have a pulse nor a heartbeat. Their brain functions would slow dramaticAli, shutting off most intelligence and all memories. All they knew was survival - survival by eating human tissue.
Now, only months after the blast spread across the east coast, the chemical has begun to evolve, expand, and ultimately transform the infected into something more, something unstoppable, something that only knew human destruction.
The thick concrete wall stood at least twelve feet tall, outfitted with strands of barbed wire above it. No one…or well, nothing would get past that. Plus, every few hundred feet stood an even taller guard post housing two soldiers, each of whom controlled a mounted machine gun.
There was a single doorway with a decontamination room attached to it halfway down the hall. There were no lines of survivors waiting to get in. But there were soldiers that lined the doorway. They each wore white hazardous materials and carried an M-60 machine gun, capable of mowing down hundreds of undead opposition in just seconds.
Jason pulled around to the entrance and waited for some sort of instruction. His spirits were finally raised, there was hope at last. If only Ali were here. If only Brad were here. If only…Ali was here.
He looked out the opposite side of the car. “Ali?” Jason threw open the dented door of the BMW. She must have followed me! He thought as he jumped out of the car. “Help!” he motioned to the soldiers. “That’s my wife! Help her!”
Jason ran up to the soldiers, “Please! Please! There’s a cure! There’s got to be a cure!”
The soldier grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the entrance. “There is no cure.” He said very calmly as if it were rehearsed. “Please, enter the decontamination zone.”
Jason pulled away. “No! I need my wife!” He ran toward Ali. “Ali! It’s okay baby. You’re going to be o…kay…?”
Ali, or what was left of her, pulled her arms out from her sides. A thin piece of skin had grown between her spine and each of her arms. She began flapping her arms and ran hastily. Suddenly, she took flight. As she “flew” closer, Jason could see how the disease changed her.
She had evolved. Her head mutated outward, and almost grew a beak of sorts. Ali’s teeth protruded both upwards and down outside of the “beak.”
One of the soldiers ran out toward Jason and opened fire on the creature. “See, that thing is no longer your wife.”
Jason shoved him down; the gun flew from his hands. “No! She is my wife! She will always be my wife!”
The creature swooped, quite gracefully for an undead monster, and grabbed the fallen soldier with its beak. Blood immediately discharged from the laceration made by the razor-sharp teeth.
As the monstrosity turned upward toward the sky, the army opened fire. It fell violently back toward Earth. A disheartening thud accompanied a bloodcurdling scream as the creature finally hit the soil.
“No!” Jason screamed as he fell to his knees.
“Ali…” he murmured. Tears again trickled down his cheeks. He was hauled back to the entrance by two soldiers. He didn’t fight them. He knew he had to get to safety, Ali would have wanted that.
“Sir,” the soldier stood erect. “The reanimated have taken to the sky. We just shot one down.”
An older man behind a desk stood, limped over to a monitor. “I knew this would happen. They are evolving. They will all be changing soon. We need to prepare the forces, build up the exterior wall more. Assign more troops to the towers.”
“Yes sir,” the soldier saluted him.
“And would you please prepare that damn nuke?
We need to launch it by nightfall.” He sat back down in his leather chair.
“What about any other survivors?” The soldier asked as concern radiated from his shaky tone.
“These things will not stop. We need to destroy everything…and everyone if necessary.”
Jason was stripped down to his gray boxers. Multiple guns were pointed at him from every angle. A long and frigid air blew all over his body, followed by a burst of what felt like water, but smelled like vomit. They yanked him out of the plastic chamber, and he slammed to the ground.
Jason hunched his back and fell onto his knees. His eyes began to itch. His skin began to burn. He reached for his arm; it still blistered from that creature’s tongue. He raised his head, “No,” he murmured.
“Look…his eyes…” The closest soldier to him shouted.
“He’s infected!” The soldiers circled him. “Open fire!”