“Well, I hope that isn’t the only report of the evening.” Moria said out loud as the logo flashed on the screen of her laptop. Outside, loud screeches from the zombies sounded everywhere, and Moria wrapped the blanket she had wrapped around her shoulders tighter. Her office temperature was dropping, making her wonder if the building’s temperature control was going to kick in, or if it would just continue to blow no air at all, as it had been doing since the temperatures dropped below 72, the average office temperature. Moria looked to her vents, and tried to remember how the thermostat worked. Moria looked outside, and a dark thought crossed her mind.
“Can we even breath the air?” Moria looked her bite mark, grateful that the necrosis she had seen on all of the zombies in the morgue, hadn’t set in to her own wound. Moria wasn’t sure how it worked, but it seemed that if the skin started dying off, the person was going to turn to a zombie, but some people were perhaps, suspected Moria, immune. Still, Moria found herself wondering if the air was safe at all, or…Her background in science, and with viruses like this, made her head spin with the possibilities of all the ways things could be wrong with this particular outbreak. Moria pulled out her mobile phone and typed out a text to the only person who seemed to respond, Mark the journalist.
“So, uh, air? Water? What caused this?” Moria typed in, all senses of pleasantries failing her.
Moria stood and paced, hoping the movement would warm her body. The residual heat of her office, plus the preserved warmth from blocking off the windows, helped keep the room from freezing low temperatures, but Moria had used her small office microwave to heat up water to warm herself a few times now, and she knew if she couldn’t get the heat on, she would be in trouble.
“Also, can anyone help me with the heat in my office?” She added to her text and sent.
Moria rolled her eyes, annoyed she was even using some journalist to get help. “There should be a hot-line, not a cellphone, a hot-line, and people who have supplies…Like FEMA, or cops, or someone, c’mon!” Moria was now pretty mad. For days, she had been calling 911, and the nonemergency lines, and for days, she had received busy signals, despite the sirens. Moria paced, wondering how she could get warmer, and tried to figure out a way to make a fire inside.
Mark poured himself a strong cup of coffee, and sat down at the kitchenette table in the lobby of the motel. Henry was nearby, eating a burger, Martin had opted for a chicken sandwich. Mark had ended his broadcast, and knew it had been lame. He wasn’t a broadcast reporter, and he hadn’t had time to put together a story. There were no overly government officials on site, and no overly in charge people either. Henry and Martin both seemed to have orders, and a few military people had been around, securing the motel, offering security, but most of them were a mile away, enforcing a limit so no one could get close to the town.
Mark eyed his notebook, trying to figure out what mattered most.
“How to keep people safe: my main goal.” Mark wrote, “Stay inside, don’t mess with zombies…”
“Okay, sure, but what if they need food. Aim for the head, maybe, if they have a gun. Maybe some movies they could watch for tips? Should I watch movies?” Mark looked up, noticing Henry and Martin staring at him.
“I know having a telepath around is scary, but you don’t have to just say whatever you think, he tries to not listen in.” Henry said with a smile. Mark looked at Henry, a fairly tan man with a large amount of gray hairs in a massive beard and very full unruly head of dark colored hair, and considered why he was here. He hardly seemed a tech genius, and yet, here he was, acting as Mark’s tech contact.
“They normally have agencies on this kind of stuff.” Mark said. “So where are the boots on the ground?”
“We are the agency. F Class authorized this mission.”
“F Class isn’t an agency for disaster.” Mark said.
Henry laughed. “No, many would say F class is the agency of disaster, however, you knew that when you signed up, they said that your job was to report to them. They have no information, and no media inside, no one in the tv stations are reporting in, they are all assumed dead.” Stated Henry, before taking a sip of his soda. “So, just do the job, and then we can figure out the rest.”
Mark considered this, and looked to his notebook. “Okay, well, they are going to have a freeze, and a big snow storm, the same one we are all going to get, tonight, for a few days. What all will go down?”
“Electric, water, easily.” Martin said with a shrug. “I mean, any pipes that aren’t winterized will burst. Some transformers will probably go. If people are all cranking on their heaters for the first time all season, they could also blow their power.”
“And the noise will draw zombies to the area.” Mark added, considering this. “And we don’t have any utility workers reporting in to me yet. We don’t know how many of the screens we are reaching have people in front of them though.”
“Is the water safe?” Martin asked. “I mean, the water won’t be if the pipes burst, contamination, need to boil water at least, but, is the virus communicable via water?”
“I don’t know.” Mark ran his hands through his disheveled hair. “I am no slouch with science, but I am telling you, these terms are Greek to me, it is taking me twenty minutes to get through a sentence. Why were they using such obtuse words?” Mark groaned.
Mark’s phone buzzed. “And we aren’t the only ones realizing I am not qualified,” Mark said, showing Martin and Henry the phone.
“Well, okay, so, does anyone in the city have a background in science?” Asked Martin, knowing the answer.
“Yeah, Moria I guess…She knew to contact the government listserv for outbreaks, so she would know some of the procedures for viral outbreaks.” Mark said, drafting a text in response, not seeing Martin looking at Henry, knowing full well Moria would know more than that. “I need more reporters.” Mark continued” “And they will need supplies soon. Can we get, iuno, like, a plane? Air drop some stuff to em maybe?”
Martin looked at Henry, “I doubt that. Government already put out the no-fly zone once you arrived in.”
“Drones.” Mark said with a snap of the fingers. “You can use them for shopping and delivering packages, you can use them to drop of supplies, right? We can use it for footage too!” Mark was excited, he leapt up and grabbed his notebook and phone, racing back to his room.
“He is gonna need help isn’t he?” Said Henry, wearily rising from his chair.
“Yeah.” Martin said with a sigh. “He’s a good guy though. We should help him.” Martin rose, grabbing his small backpack.
Henry grabbed his work bag, but not before shoving the last of his burger into his mouth and washing it down with his large soda he carried with him.
Together, the two joined Mark in his room, while he unpacked some of the tech that had been delivered to him earlier in the day. As suspected, one was a small drone, capable of carrying a decent camera, but not much else.
“Not heavy duty enough for many supplies, but we could get some footage, let people know what’s happening around them.” Mark said excited as he ripped open the packaging and began charging the battery packs. “How do I get one of those nice government ones?” He asked of Martin, assuming the kid knew how to go about that.
“Uh…” Martin looked to Henry, who had already told Martin telepathically, “Ha, how should we know?”
Henry stammered around. “Yeah, so, normally, uh, with these kind of quarantines, they uh, don’t…Strictly speaking…” Henry looked at Mark, not wanting to disappoint him, but having to confess the truth of it. “They don’t uh, generally, try to get supplies to them.”
Mark stared at the two of them. Carefully, he looked to Martin, and, thinking, but not speaking, said. “Are they listening now?”
Martin looked around, and nodded to Henry, who dug into his bag. From inside, he removed a small black puck shaped disc, with a purple button. Henry pressed the button and held it down, emitting a purple bubble, wrapping the room.
“Well, they aren’t now, are they?” Martin said out loud. “F Class has it’s tricks, we have ours.” He explained.
Mark looked around, wondering if he wanted to ask about the obvious magical tech, but knowing he needed to help people like Moria. “They don’t plan on helping them, do they?”
“Nope. I doubt it.” Henry said. “I mean, this whole thing is basically an F Class humanitarian effort. The government won’t allow dangers like sending things in. Hell, they didn’t destroy the whole city, they feel they are already doing a lot.”
“And we can’t tell the outside world and force accountability.”
Marin laughed, “Oh we really couldn’t now anyway, not with everything with-“
“Martin!” Henry snapped. “We couldn’t anyway, but we really can’t now. Our only chance is to just keep them alive, and maybe figure something out later.”
Mark could feel his blood boiling. Adam had to have known that would be the case. The mission would be keep the people alive, and they would be the audience, but ultimately, Mark’s credentials ended when the city did, and they would bomb the city before letting the info out.
Mark poured some of the scotch Adam had sent him, now bitterly angry at the niceness of the gift. “So, anyone inside, isn’t going to get out any damn way?”
“I don’t see how.” Martin replied honestly.
“Then I don’t see why they shouldn’t have the information they need.” Mark said, swallowing his scotch and slamming the glass to his desk. “If either of you want to help me, I need it. But I am going to keep these people alive.”
Moria waited a few minutes, nearly starting to worry that Mark had stopped responding, when her phone buzzed again.
“I am going to be real honest, I am a reporter, not even, I’m a freelance journalist. I don’t know, but I have some information, and if you want to help me, maybe we can work together.”
Moria laughed. “Honesty is the best policy.” She sent by way of response, before opening up her laptop. Mark had agreed to send her documents to review, things from the lab, that may shed some light on the virus.
“So, the research facility.” Moria thought to herself, looking at the first text again. “These reports are coming from there, the lab, meaning that would be ground zero…” Moria looked outside, utilizing a small flap of tarp she had hung on her window. Around 50 zombies milled around, despite it being cold, and becoming dark, there were 50 outside, making Moria think inside the buildings, including her own, zombies were everywhere. “So this isn’t even the worst concentration of zombies then…” Moria thought of the city, and with a piece of printer paper tried to draw from memory main parts of the town and their correlation with her.
While the files Mark was sending were downloading from the file transfer, Moria found a map of the city, and printed it out, finding the buildings she had labeled on her own map on the actual one. Working some math, Moria guessed the area outside, around 1000 square feet altogether, with, modestly, 50 zombies.
“So, if we have this many, and are plausibly the second highest point of infection, because of the hospital and morgue….” Moria looked outside and shuddered.
“Over 100,000 people in the city of Flake. How many have survived this long?”
Mark had mentioned some other survivors, one that knew about heating and water, so he had agreed to ask him about her building, while she looked at the documents.
Down below, in the many zombie infesting floors of the morgue, the funeral services offices, the business administration offices, extra hospital admin offices, the coffee place in the lobby, and the parking garage, zombies all milled. Some moved slower, the cold temperatures chilling their no longer self-heated flesh of the now zombie humans. One, Moria’s boss, absentmindedly struggled with the door to a stairwell. Another, a human resources lady, managed to hit a button to call for the elevator. More zombies followed this noise, leading to a few inside the elevator box, all trying to press buttons, open doors, or do anything that may lead to eating, their carnivorous hunger fueling their every moment of existence.
While Moria downloaded information on the virus, Charlie wondered when the news reports were going to get informed. They had all agreed that this Mark Wasserman fellow was as confused as the rest of them, but, Charlie figured, any person would have more to say about an outbreak.
“I mean, remember when our last president wore a tan suit?” Charlie said scratching the stubble on his chin. “Couldn’t turn the channel for all the talking heads bitching about the color of some guy’s suit. Like it mattered. Now, we can’t get one person wanting to talk about scary movies coming to life?” Asked Charlie to Chloe and Damian.
Chloe was inclined to agree. “Yeah, I’m pretty tired of ‘stay inside, and it’s going to be cold.’”
“This is going to go on for a while” Damian said, looking to the outside. “Any storm that hits will make this worse. It will take them an extra week to get people in to help us, if the storm keeps people from flying in.”
“What do you mean?” Asked Chloe, eyeing the sky.
“When the weather gets bad, planes don’t fly. It’s bad across the country. So, they may not even send help for a few days. If other areas are damaged, they will go there first, because, hey, no zombies.” Explained Damian.
“I don’t know that they plan on getting us help. They did block the communications for a reason.” Stated Charlie simply, approaching the coffee maker.
“Late for coffee, isn’t it?” Asked Damian.
“That snow hits, we won’t get to the store. I’m going. I would like some help.”
“That is insane!” Chloe protested. “At night, it will be riskier!”
“We will also have more protection.” Damian chimed in, standing with Charlie. “Chloe, he’s right. And if, big if, we don’t lose power with this storm, it could be weeks, and by then…a lot can happen.”
Chloe sighed, wanting to argue. “But, we have a generator.”
Charlie turned on the coffee maker. “We do. But, we also have survivors in the city. Mark is asking me to help people with heaters, which means transformers will blow, which means even with my maintenance of this building, we could lose power. The generator runs on gas, and we don’t have much. Those survivors may come here, needing shelter, which makes the power go faster. Chloe, we need supplies. Those same survivors may also take shelter in places, and we will have to contend with them to get supplies. I don’t mind shooting these zombies, but I know how hard it is to kill a human.”
Damian paled. “And I know I don’t want to kill a human. And when it snows, I can imagine plenty of people with ruined homes who see a sporting goods store as a great chance to ride out the zombies and bad weather.”
“Then I can come too, to help. Extra eyes, extra hands. I am pretty damn good with my gun.” Chloe said, already mentally considering which layers would help her stay warmest.
“Absolutely not.” Charlie said firmly. Damian looked to him, silently.
“Excuse me?” Asked Chloe, standing tall to her full, admittedly small frame, willing herself to seem bigger and stronger than a 5’4 petite young woman of 22.
“It isn’t safe.” Stated Charlie simply.
“Which is precisely why I should go with you!” Chloe protested, “To ya know, minimize the damage done by having an extra set of eyes to watching for danger, hands for carrying things…”
Damian sighed and pulled up his sleeve, and yanked off his bandaging. Charlie did the same. Both of their wounds were tender, recent, yet well treated wounds, with no necrosis of the skin.
“Okay, no infection what’s the problem?”
“They think some people are immune. If we are immune, that great.” Damian said, pulling his sleeve down. “But, it means some people, like those zombies out there, aren’t immune. And we don’t know which you are, Chloe.”
Chloe sank back into her chair, realizing she hadn’t been outside since the outbreak. “But we know you two are safe.” Chloe finished lamely.
“We have to keep everyone safe. This way, you can watch the news, text us any new information.” Damian offered.
“I can try and figure out which buildings will lose power, and get that information to Mark, if you tell me what to look for?” Chloe suggested, looking to Charlie.
Charlie nodded. “Damian, you get us some bags ready, I’m going to go over some tell-tale signs with Chloe.” Damian quickly got to work packing rope and bullets into duffle bags, spreading them out among bags. Charlie jotted a few notes down, and gave Chloe some websites to look at on her laptop, and then joined Damian to dress for the trip. Chloe hated the idea of them doing this, but she found some hand warmers for each of them, and offered them her ax from her bag.
“If we don’t come back you won’t have an ax.” Charlie said, urging her to keep it.
“Then you have to come back I guess.” Chloe said with a challenge to her voice. “Otherwise I’ll be tempted to come save you. So, come back.” Chloe tried to not let the fear of being trapped alone in her apartment without any company creep into her voice as the two bundled up and planned out the trip to the nearest store.
“This one is the best bet. The website said they had all the supplies we want to get, and they are the closest. The biggest danger, is here,” Damian said, gesturing to a space between buildings. “The ladder we have that acts as our bridge, the gap is one foot less than the full length of the ladder, which means barely six inches on either side for anchoring. That isn’t great.”
“Bridge will be too weak for our weight too, those ladders aren’t actually meant for weight like that, could warp and break at any point.” Charlie said dryly. “But, they have a fire escape, we can go down, cross, and climb up the fire escape here-“ Charlie pointed to the east side of the building, the shortest distance, “and climb up, very little time on the ground, and then we can enter the sporting goods store from upstairs.”
“It’s not great, but we don’t have much of a choice.” Damian finally said after much consideration.
“I hate all of this. We don’t need supplies bad enough. We have my pots and pans, and the rack in the oven, we could cook on that. I don’t care. We don’t need to take this risk for some camp gear.” Chloe let her thoughts burst forth, not caring that they needed the supplies.
“If the storm is as bad as my leg is making me think it will be, we need the supplies.” Charlie said softly. “We need ways to purify water, we need more dried foods if they have them…Chloe we don’t know if or when we will get help. In good times, a snow storm can bury this city for two weeks.”
Chloe knew this was true. And, even with many of the people turned to zombies, the stores wouldn’t stay well stocked for long.
“I won’t sleep until your back. So, come back quick.” Chloe finally said, knowing she couldn’t fight them.
Damian and Charlie had backpacks on their backs, with duffle bags shoved into them with other supplies to save space. Damian carried hand gun and a baseball bat, with the axe tucked safely onto his back where he could grab it quickly. Charlie had his side arm and his own rifle, which, after many years of practice and years of experience, had been equipped with a pretty adequate suppressor and a great scope. With the pain in his joints from the oncoming storm, Charlie was already uncertain of his ability to swing his piece of metal pipe for long, so he hoped his rifle would offset this.
“If only this had happened in summer.” Charlie thought to himself, looking to Chloe. He knew she was already terrified about them leaving, but they would need more supplies if they were going to keep her alive. Charlie knew his body would ache less in the summer, and make him more able to kill the zombies- the smell that had already begun down stairs made him grateful for the cold weather.
Chloe hugged them both, and bid them both good luck, and they stepped out into the hallways of the apartments. The hallway was still clear, the elevator unable to run, and the staircase doorway secured. Charlie open the door to the stairwell, and stood aside so Damian could swing his baseball bat at the head. A massive hit, chunks flew, and the body stopped.
“Head shots!” Damian yelled back to Chloe who stood watching in the door. “If anything happens, head shots seems to work. Tell Mark!” Damian stepped into the stairwell, with Charlie following behind, blocking the door off behind him. Chloe had given her key to Damian, just in case anything happened, both of them would be able to get into her apartment. Chloe had every intention of keeping the deadbolt and chain on, but the gestured mattered, and if anything happened, she would be glad that she could undo the door and allow them to let themselves in if anything were to happen.
Originally, Chloe wanted to leave the deadbolt and chain off, so they could get back, but Charlie, fearing people raiding, wanted her to have an extra line of defense against people trying to attack her for their supplies. Finally, Chloe had agreed to keep the bolt and chain on, knowing she could check the peephole easily to know if she needed to unlock it for someone. Charlie and Damian both urge her to not open the door for anyone, so she finally, she opted to lock up tight, and stand guard all night, until they returned.
After locking up, Chloe checked over her apartment once more, checking the fortifications they had made, making sure supplies were stashed and hidden away, with healthy amounts in the bathroom if she had to retreat into that room. Chloe sent her update to Mark, letting him know she was going through books of information on heating, and that she would be able to help the person he mentioned being trapped in the morgue building.
Moria shivered again, the office now noticeably cold enough to see her own breath, and checked her phone. Mark had sent her number to someone inside the city who was going to try and help her turn on the heat in the room.
“Hi, I’m Chloe, I’m going to try and talk you through this. Mark mentioned you were trying to stay quiet though.” Came the text. Moria responded.
“Yeah, they notice noise. Being quiet has kept them from trying to get into my office.”
“That’s smart. So, is there a thermostat in your office?” Was the response.
“Thanks. Yeah, it’s one of the little dial ones.”
“Okay. So, it’s a temperature control unit, like in most the buildings?”
“Yeah, same kind of knobs in most the offices, and downstairs in the morgue. Normally I just turn the knob to warm it up.”
The was a pause in the typing icon on the phone while Chloe checked her notes and the webpage Charlie had given her. The main issue would be if there were other people in the building, too many people running the power could blow a transformer, even cause a fire, which was why they were using the fireplace to keep Chloe’s apartment warm.
“Are you the only survivor in the building?”
Moria thought about this, wondering if anyone could be left, since she fled the two other survivors, George and Lissa,when they were seperated in the morgue. She knew no one was on her floor, and the morgue and first floor were overrunning with zombies when she ran up here, she hadn’t even been able to get to the door, because of how many zombies had already been down there. Windows had been smashed in, making people in offices likely to have been attacked. Much of the second floor had been pretty bad, and the third had been mostly closed down for renovations.
“Actually, I may be the only one. Certainly, not many, and I haven’t had any signs of any living person.” Moria said, figuring George and Lissa were likely dead, or fled, and if they hadn’t, she didn’t need to give their location away.
“Okay. Well, all my reading says you should be fine. You should be able to turn it on, start low, so it doesn’t overpower the system- You want to get it warmed up before the building freezes though, or you could be in a bigger problem, rather fast.”
Moria quickly crossed to her thermostat, and turned it to warm, the first tick in the “Heat” section. The air started to blow faintly, before stuttering faintly, and stopping.
“It stopped. Came on, and stopped.”
The blinking icon that showed Chloe typing seemed to go on forever, before finally sending a response.
“You have a utility closet on that floor, right?”
“I am so sorry, but you have to go out there. The info I’m reading says if that happens it means the utilities worker hasn’t switched this little switch in the climate control. It happens with early onset cold fronts like this.”
Moria was annoyed. The building had exceptional cleaning staff, but the people in charge of actually fixing and maintaining the building, notoriously, didn’t. Moria looked out her small window, thankful that the hallway still looked empty.
Moria looked at the pages Chloe was sending her, pictures of her laptop opened to informative webpages online.
“You know no more than I do about this at all, do you?”
“I have some notes from someone who does, and a few webpages.”
“Where is the person that does know more.”
“Out doing very risky stupid runs for supplies.”
Moria stopped and considered this. Other people were in the same boat of being pinned down, and needing to go out. Sighing, Moria quietly pushed her desk out of the way, moving most of her barricades except for the pipe under the doorknob. Moria double checked the window, and pulled the pipe out, quietly, peacefully, without making much noise due to careful consideration, the door opened. Moria held her pipe and silently walked down the hallway, keeping her eye open for any stray zombies. The utility closet was still open in the break room, so Moria moved quickly to the box, using her phone as a flashlight to find the heat control toggle on the floors climate control. The unit whirred to life, the sound scaring Moria, causing her to leap back towards the door. Moria smiled, proud of how quickly she had done that.
A familiar “ding!” Of the elevator startled Moria further however, as she held onto the door to stabilize herself from the shock of the unit whirring to life. The next few moments passed in a weird slow motion that also felt sped up. Moria held her piece of metal piping in her right hand, her left on the door frame, when the “Ding!” of the elevator announced the arrival of what in the next moment, Moria knew, to be several zombies from down below. Moria’s phone vibrated against the carpet, and out of reflex, she grabbed it. In the first buzz, she grabbed it, in the second, stashed it in her pocket. Four seconds of time, and three zombies were visible from the door of the elevator. The elevator was closer to her then her office, but stood between Moria and her office.
“Shut the door and hide!” Screamed one half of her brain.
Moria thought of the supplies she had taken from this room, and in the fifth second after the “Ding!” Moria tightened her grip on her pipe, and charged from the break room, the other half of her brain saying, “Nope, gotta go!”
The first zombie clawed clumsily at her, Moria swung the pipe at it, but realized quickly the importance of picking your enemies, when the second one lashed out at her, and she had to kick at it while pulling the pipe free. “Ugh” She moaned, disgusted at the blood on her weapon, and ducked away from another zombie. With a look, Moria realized a few more zombies had ridden the elevator up with the nurse who was attacking her, so she leapt over what looked to be the top half of the very maintenance man who was responsible for her being out in the hallway in the first place, and ran as fast as her adrenaline shaking legs would carry her, to the relative safety of her office.
Zombies, it seemed to Moria, could move as fast as the human it had been, depending on injuries. The top half of the pale greasy haired maintenance worker, for example, had been crawling using its arms, but one of the intake nurses, had nearly been on top of Moria when she shut the door to her office, locking herself inside once more. The intake nurse zombie moaned patient growls outside the door, scaring Moria, who had grown nearly used to the screeching sound they had been making. Nonetheless, Moria shoved the pipe back into place under the locked door, grateful the tarp was still attached to the window, and quickly, not overly quietly, shoved her desk into place in front of the door. The zombie seemed unable to work the doorknob, and the doors were thick, but Moria wanted every possible element of safety. Panting, Moria sat for a long minute trying to catch her breath, and trusting herself to stand again. The nurse continued to claw at the outside, which made Moria even more on edge, when a screeching alarm sounded from far north in the city.
The nurse ran away, toward the stairs. When she couldn’t work the door, she ran to the elevator, jabbing at the wall clumsily until she either landed on the button by luck or memory, calling the still working elevator.
Moria watched, having moved the tarp when the alarm sounded to watch the events unfold. The nurse, with one other zombie, what looked like an already pretty sick patient, in the elevator with her. Moria kept quiet, watching as the remaining zombies tried to get out, seeming to be desperate to get towards the sound of the screeching alarm. Moria hated the sound, but hoped, passively, that it lasted for a while, long enough for the zombies to find their way out of the hall way, and far away.
Moria washed off her hands and face, and sent Chloe a message, telling her a very brief short version of what happened, mentioning the alarm that saved her life.
“Yeah, I’m worried that was Charlie and Damian, my friends. It sounds like it’s coming from the same direction they are, and I just watched tons of zombies run in the same direction they went.”
“Yeah. Look.” Moria turned on the video recorder on her phone and pointed the lens towards the hallway- showing the zombies frantically trying to get out of the hallway.
Moria kept recording, turning around, “And look, they aren’t trying to go towards just the sound, they are trying to find ways out, using doors and elevators, yet they seem to struggle with door knobs.” She said out loud to the recording. Moria pushed the tarp from the window and focused the camera out, showing hordes of zombies running in the darkness and in the remaining street lights, towards the sound of the alarm.
Moria hit send, and then called Mark.
“Hello?” Came a sleepy sounding voice, that quickly sounded more alarmed. “What’s going on?” Mark said into the phone.
“Oh, the usual. Just another day in paradise really.” Moria snapped. “Chloe thinks her friends are the ones who are triggering this alarm. We need to see what’s going on.”
Mark was quiet for a moment. “Uh, okay uh, I don’t have cameras inside.”
“What do you mean you don’t have cameras inside? You are the only contact we have!”
“I.. I” Mark stammered, before turning to Martin and Henry. He put the phone on speaker, the alarm sounding loud through the phone. “We are trying to figure out how to get some, but we don’t have any yet.”
“Jesus, Mark, we need more then promises that we aren’t alone. We need to not be alone.”
Mark sat quiet for a moment, before Henry handed him the drone. “It’s charged. I can…I think I can send some eyes in that direction.”
“Okay. Okay, Moria, we are going to get eyes up, what can you tell us, which direction should we send this drone?”
“Drone, gotta be fucking…” Moria muttered before coughing to clear her throat. “North. Let me ask Chloe which store they were headed towards.”
Moria sent the text to Chloe, Henry, Martin and Mark listening to the clacks of her rapid texting. “What now?” She asked of the group.
Henry raced towards the outside, Martin and Mark following in hot pursuit. “We are gonna follow Henry with the drone” Mark said into the phone, grabbing his backpack and one of the cameras on the way out. Martin had dug his keys out and was diving into the driver seat when Mark jumped into the back. Henry was inputting target coordinates into the software he had on his tablet, to try and get the drone in the air as soon as they arrived to the barricade of the bridge. Martin drove up as close as he could get to the bridge entry point and Henry jumped out, carefully eyeing the sky.
“It’s fine!” Martin yelled, and Henry set the drone on the top of the SUV and tapped onto the tablet.
Within a minute, the drone had sped off into the night, darting across the uncross able waters leading to Flake City. Henry watched the camera of the drone, in a small corner in the top right of the tablet screen, and guided the drone on the map readout of the tablet. Martin dug out Henry’s laptop and set it up for him, while Mark unpacked the video camera to get footage.
“So, this is our view.” Mark said from behind the camera. “I’m sorry we can’t get closer, but, we sent a drone in.” Mark zoomed, able to see some of the still on lights from the city. “We can hear an alarm going off in the distance, and have reason to believe two of our survivors are in danger. We are trying to get visuals to know for sure.” Mark stopped for a moment, wondering if they would be able to live broadcast the drone footage any time soon.
“Be patient dude, I’m trying.” Came Martin’s response, making Mark a familiar blend of grateful for the time saving, creeped out by the mind reading feeling that went with being around Martin, and he continued recording.
“…West, they were going to Klondike and Upper West Blvd.” Came the voice from the phone, Moria.
“Copy that.” Henry said into the phone, and guided the remarkably fast drone towards the address.
Before the alarm went off, Chloe had been watching one of the trending zombie flicks on her laptop, with the news station playing in the background, blinking its annoying weather reminders. The news had spliced in some cold weather tips, like running water at night to prevent the water from freezing or pipes bursting, the importance of not driving in inclement weather, etc. Chloe had texted the number for Mark Wassermann, semi-sarcastically that they should update it for Flake City with tips like “If you haven’t wrapped your pipes, doing so will probably get you killed, so stock up on water now!” and been told he was trying to do just that, so she wanted to see it happen, and also hoped for tips from the zombie movies.
“Let’s see…” Chloe tapped her pen against her chin, reading over one of the how to guides, trying to figure out how to help other places around town. Moria had already left to turn the toggle, and Chloe was mostly trying to distract herself from worrying about Moria turning on the heater in her building, and Charlie and Damian getting hurt on the turning icy rooftops, when her ears started to pop, and a shrill noise carried through the air. Chloe leapt up, her phone flying to the floor. She grabbed it, and raced to the balcony door. She could nearly see the sporting goods store from the edge of the balcony, but more importantly, she could see all the zombies from the yard, and that had been hiding in the building down below, running toward the building. She texted with Moria, who finally called Mark, to try and get eyes on the problem. Chloe sent another text to Moria.
“What’s happening? Anything?”
“They sent a drone. It couldn’t possibly be there yet. Is there any chance they would know how to shut off the alarm?”
Chloe considered this, and her panic grew more. Charlie had installed part of the building, she was certain he had mentioned that, meaning he would have known how to turn it off. Why would the alarm still be going on? Chloe looked at her clock, it had been minutes since her first text about the alarm with Moria, and the alarm still went on. Chloe listened, trying to hear other sounds, not just the alarms. She tried Chloe’s phone buzzed in her hand. “Drone three minutes away. Trying to get a live feed for you to see.”
Chloe tried to avoid pacing, she checked her gun, added a warm jacket and scarf, and went outside. Chloe closed her eyes again, and was able to hear several of the zombies that were shrieking as they ran towards the sound of the alarm. Chloe watched the videos Moria sent, and with her inspiration, turned on her own video recorder and recorded the images of the zombies running towards the sound. “Has to be hundreds. From all over the city. This is not good.” She said before hitting send, sending the video the both Mark and Moria, and recording some more. Mark replied back with “Yes! The more you guys send the better!” And she fought the urge to scream.
“My only friends in the city are being surrounded by those zombies, I don’t get a damn about your fucking stories.” She typed with the next video she sent begrudgingly, this one showing some zombies in doctor’s coats, making Chloe think they had traveled quickly in the nearly ten minutes the alarm had been on.”
The alarm continued, before finally, after nearly thirty minutes, as Chloe started to lose hope that her friends had survived, the alarm cut off with a sharp stop.
“It didn’t fade. That’s good.” Chloe told herself as she went back to her balcony. Her ears continued to ring from the sound, but now she was able to listen, and hear the large roar of sound from so many zombies that must have surrounded whichever building had the alarm go off in it.
The drone images were not up on the TV, so Chloe had no idea if they were okay, so she hunkered down for an evening of waiting.
Thanks for reading!