Three days of unending torture. Never knowing which day would be our last. Watching friends and loved ones suffer and turn into rotting walking infections. I suppose possibly an alternative way out could be worse. The idea of running into a group of them was so hideous, so frightening that many of my neighbors and friends couldn't handle the reality of the situation. There were fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, siblings taking the life of one another- their children and loved ones who stood no chance of surviving in this world that now existed. I found myself pinching various parts of my own body, several times a day just to see if it was true what they said. That the pain can bring you out of any dream... any nightmare. I felt the pain but the surroundings and the reality never changed. Actually, my self-inflicted pain was at times a Godsend on its own. I'd spend the days frightened by every shadow, every tiny noise, even flinching in fear when my own wife or child would touch me unexpectedly. Pain could not only give you the needed push to move on when you were exhausted. It could also, if intense enough, momentarily distract you from the world that would eventually consume each of us. Two intense pains couldn't be felt at one time and physical always conquered first. Physical pain goes away quicker though. It was the mental pain that stuck with you. The knowledge alone required the pain to fend off the constant day and night terror.
It had been three days since the military busted through our door with gas masks on and guns aimed to kill. We were told an evacuation of our area had been ordered. We were to comply or we would be shot. We were told at any time should an soldier tell us to put our hands behind our head and drop to our knees, those failing to do so would immediately be shot. If we would act in any way that could endanger our group, we would be shot. If we were asked to speak and we didn't we would be shot. Finally, we were told to explain this clearly to our children because if they failed in their response, they would also be shot. People with children not yet talking were told to do something that would cause a coherent human response. Other than the evacuation, nothing else was explained at this time. We weren't even really sure if we were being evacuated or kidnapped at this point. I figured an act of terror had landed smack in the middle of America.
They gave us what seemed to be only minutes to grab a few basic necessities. We could hear other doors in the complex being busted down often followed by the sound of gun shots. Janet, my wife, ran to the bedroom following into the kitchen. Just shoveling stuff into a large carrying bag. I went to the closet to grab jackets, my hiking boots and Janet's running shoes. I grabbed Mag’s school backpack, threw on my shoes and hoodie as I tossed Janet her jacket and shoes. I then ran to our bedroom grabbing my wallet, our first aid kit, money, and my .45 with Ammo just tossing everything into backpack. I doubted the gun was allowed but I had Janet and Mag. Next, into the bathroom grabbing Mag’s inhaler and whatever medicine, toothbrushes, deodorant, anything I thought could be useful.
Suddenly, from the bathroom window, automatic gun fire and screaming began. One of the military men shouted "Now!" I yelled out to Janet to see if she had Mag. She answered "Yes!"
and yelled back to grab Mag’s folded cloths out of the laundry basket. The bedroom was dark and I found myself tripping over the basket. I was grabbing the folded clothes and matched socks When I saw Blu hiding under the bed frightened. I completely forgot about Blu! I yelled out to the voice I heard before, "What about pets?" The voice sternly answered "No pets!" Blu had been with me even before Mag or Janet. He was an aging old mutt. I got him as a pup at the animal shelter 13 years ago. It bites when logic over rules the heart. I reached under the bed and patted him lovingly on the head offering a few reassuring words. "I will see you soon boy! Love you Blu!" He was as frightened and confused as I was. I'm sure more! I've been told every time you leave a dog they think it is for good. I have a faint suspicion, this time, he would be right.
"Now!!!" in a very demanding voice came from behind me! I jumped to my feet and did a quick stretch into the bathroom flushing the toilet. "I don't think the next tenants will care if you flushed the fucking toilet!!" was shouted by the soldier standing behind me. My concerns were Blu. I wanted to make sure Blu was able to drink! He had the habit of drinking from the toilet before. When he becomes thirsty enough, I am sure the habit will come back to him. I grabbed my set of keys off the nightstand, went through the kitchen quickly, slicing open and spilling a 40 pound bag of dog food and opening the refrigerator door. Blu was known for swiping an occasional piece of food from Mag. It didn't bother Mag and it didn't bother me but it pissed of Janet! The old fella would know what to do.
They had already rushed Janet and Mag into the Hallway. The soldiers began pushing me into the hallway but I was able to resist just enough to quickly turn the lock on the door knob and the soldier behind me pulled the door closed. They were leading several other people quickly down the hallway. One of the two soldiers ran towards the front of the group. I heard Keiran, our neighbors son ahead of us protesting loudly that someone would be answering for this. I had golfed with his dad for the past two years. If that is what you would call it! It was really an excuse to get out with a couple of guys on the condo golf course and get drunk.
Keiran often Caddied for us making a couple hundred dollars depending on the size of our group. Nestor, Keiran's Dad, was a good fifteen years older than me but showed the spirit of a teenager himself. Being from a solid Irish family, he had moved his successful business and family to the States when Keiran was about six or seven. "Once a boy, always a boy!" is what he'd say about our adventures on the golf course. His choice of words was a lot different and Keiran learned every one of them! The boy didn't want for much. He was all they had. No brothers or sisters.
Keiran was carrying on something awful. I have heard his ramblings before but this was definitely top shelf material! "Me folks isn't home you bunch of nob polishers! What is going on!? Me Pop is going to have a Foking Aneurysm if I don't at ring him!! I'd hate to be the wanker to answer for this! You bloody rat bastards!" I yelled ahead for him and he with a friend, another boy his age slowly fell back towards us. "Mr. H! They got you in this biggest dick contest too, I see!!" Keiran stated with no hesitation. He looks up at one of the soldiers directly behind us and starts to lift Mag up to him. "Hey. Pudwhacker! Be a Gent and carry the tike for the lady!" Janet, irritated, pulled Mag back into her arms just as guns began blazing in the front of the group.
"Turn back! Go the other direction! Now!" was ordered from the front of the group. Keiran's smug appearance quickly turned as two soldiers’s quickly pushed by us knocking Keiran to the ground with a thud! Keiran's friend and I quickly grabbed him up by his shoulders as the group, now frightened and scared, pushed harder and faster back towards our direction. Janet shout's back, "Sam! Keep with us! Keiran, are you okay?" Keiran replied, "Drinking dreams like the Irish streams, Mrs. H! Foking big ass OGRE! Thank you Mr. H! Thank you Trenton! Hey you! Try that again ass munch!" I was glad the soldier's interest seemed to be more for our welfare than Keiran's badgering. Trenton finally even had enough tossing out, "Shut up Keiran before I throw you back down on that floor!" Keiran quickly snapped back with, "Oh, Johnny! I love it when you treat me like a fragile lil' tulip! Would you marry? We could strike up a clan of six toed Lassie's and a slew of pencil dick Rogue's!" Trenton rolled his eyes in disgust and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "There's nothing I can do with him!"
With guns continuing to fire behind us, our pace continued to increase until I saw the fire exit sign up ahead for the emergency staircase. I alerted the soldiers in front of us. One of them yelled out, "Private! Run up and Check it out!" Immediately one of them went running ahead. By the time we reached the door he swung out saying, "Clear, Sir!" No sooner had he started to turn back around than someone- something reached out from within the dark threshold and sank its teeth into the neck of the soldier! Blood began spewing violently as we stood frozen in unbelievable horror from what we just witnessed!
We stood there. Even the soldiers were in shock. It continued biting out hunks of flesh. The soldier was fighting with all he had but could not gain a strong hold because of the way he- it latched on to his body. It just kept ripping away. It slowly managed to pull the soldier's mask off as whatever it was attempted to keep pulling the man's head back. The Soldier looked around at all of us. You could see it in his eyes he knew he was done for. He looked directly at me and mouthed help as blood started pouring from the mouth. "Holy Mother of Jesus! Shoot the foking thing!!" Keiran shouted. The blood soaked soldier began falling to the floor in small convulsions as that thing continued to take bites out of him. Keiran jumped forward, grabbed the automatic weapon belonging to the dying soldier, put the barrell of the gun directly to the heart of the creature and fired.
The creature fell back into the dark shadow of the doorway from the force of the discharge. Keiran had fired several shots directly into that things heart. Everyone at our end of the group remained quiet. I couldn't make sense of it. It was human. At least it looked human! Was it mad? Was it biological warfare? Perhaps something a terrorist group released in the air. We drink purified water only. Perhaps it was put in our water system! Keiran didn't touch water period! Soda, sports drinks, and fruit flavored bottled waters was the only liquids to ever entered his body.
After a couple seconds, Janet handed Mag over to Trenton and ran to the bloody soldier's side. She reached back to her bag to pull out a towel to try and stop the soldier's bleeding. As if nothing had happened, this man- thing reappeared as it grabbed Janet by the hair. It began pulling her into the dark staircase. You could see the bullet holes in it's chest but there wasn't any real blood to speak of. Janet was screaming! Mag started screaming in terror. I pulled back and threw myself elbow first, into the face of this thing trying to get him to release his grip on my wife. The force was directly to the nose! You could hear facial bones shatter! Yet, it had no effect on this monster! "Not another one, you foking assmunch!" Keiran calmly said. He began firing at the creatures head! I dropped to the ground to avoid being shot and to hold onto and shield my wife.
The other two soldiers’ on our end joined him as he blasted away chunk by chunk, round after round, of its face and head. The gun fire continued until nothing but an unrecognizable piece of meat fell to the ground. The soldiers stopped firing but Keiran just moved down into the torso until he exhausted his ammunition. He stood there continuing to squeeze the trigger with an out of control look of rage on his face. The soldier's quickly turned their guns his direction.
"Sir, talk to us!" ordered the tallest Soldier. Keiran’s look seemed to be frozen as he continued squeezing the trigger. "Sir, you have until the count of three before we cut you up like you did that thing!" Keiran's look of rage quickly contorted forcefully to a smile. He lowered his gun and looked around for a brief second. Keiran's response seemed to come without thought, "Not sure the condo committee is going to like the improvements I made. My mam always said they should be a bit more selective about who they let in this place!" Concerned, but knowing Keiran was out of ammo, the soldiers moved forward into the staircase.
One soldier took the lead and quickly but carefully descended the staircase. "Let’s move!!" he shouted up. The soldier on the ground couldn't have been anymore than 19 years old. Janet in her normal motherly fashion asked, "What about this guy! We can't leave him here!" The tall soldier looked back at Janet and pulled his mask up onto his head. "Lady, Private Vilinski is already dead. Shortly, you will not want to know Private Vilinski." The ripped apart and blood soaked soldier looked up with a tear of realization in his eye. Unable to speak, he seemed to except his fate and motioned for us with his hand to move on. The soldier reached down and pulled the Private's side arm out and put it in Vilinski's hand. "You'll need this Andy. It was an honor, Private Vilinski."
For the first time, it seemed we were in the hands of individuals who were interested in our well being. "I am relying on you to save the last bullet for yourself. Can you do this Private?" the tall soldier asked bluntly. "What! You can’t leave him!" shouted Janet! The tall man moved back to the soldier mode and replied in a loud intimidating voice to everyone, "Move it UNLESS one of you plan on joining the Private!!" I rethought my assumption as we began to move into the staircase descending down. Janet looked to me with tears streaming down her face as if to ask if this was the right thing to do. Unable to console her or offer her any idea as to whether what we were doing was the right thing, I grabbed Mag back from Trenton, pulled her head into my chest and stared down at the ground as we proceeded.
I kept Mag’s head buried in my chest as we moved by what was left of the thing that attacked us. The smell was hideous. Almost like my parents deep freeze was when it went out one summer in the barn. We didn’t discover it for two or three days and it was a slushy thick maggot stew by the time we smelled it. This thing had the same smell. Many of us gagged. Trenton managed to lose his last meal plus some.
The sound of the gun fire had almost ceased. Occasionally, we would hear a muffled shot or two. The emergency exit was made of all steel and concrete. No windows or other out lets for the sound to make it through. We made it down to the final level and the tall soldier told us that there was a large covered military truck outside. That is where we were heading quickly and very quietly. He explained there was a temporary base in the large secured federal building downtown with escape subway car’s underneath. Once there, more would be explained to us. “Sure Petal!” Keiran replied. “And we’ll join up with the Elf’s and the Hobbit’s and the other garden fairy’s so they can sprinkle some foking fairy dust on our DeLorean so we can jet back and fix the past! We’re not foking idiots!”
You could see the irritation build in the tall soldier. He wasn’t going to tolerate much more from Keiran. He turned to address Keiran and Trenton added, “I only live a couple of houses down the street. My mom is going to be worried sick! I’m just going to head over to the house if you don’t…” The Soldier interrupted, “You’re mother won’t be there! You won’t find ANY of your neighbors’ home kid! Let’s just say you beat the odds and make it out of the parking lot. I can guarantee you will not make it home. Again, let’s say you still beat the odds! I can promise you won’t like what you find!! These things are everywhere! They’re almost impossible to kill and all they want to do is eat you. That soldier upstairs gave his life to get you safely out with probably dozens of others. You will not stand there and tell me it was all in vain! When I open this door, my job along with the other men here is going to be making sure we get to that truck. If your agenda is different and you choose to go another way, may God have mercy on you! Not because of anything we would do to you but because of what they will do to you.” The tall soldier turns to address Keiran, “As for you, you little fowl mouthed piss ant! I HOPE you run another direction so I can later hunt your stupid scrawny little…” Keiran opens his mouth as to interrupt. “SHUT UP! You either nod you understand me or so God I will shoot you where you stand!! Do you understand!?” he screams as the tall soldier positions himself in an uncomfortable close proximity to the young man. Keiran snickers and turns away from the tall soldier. “I said, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?” the tall soldier shouted even louder as he puts the gun barrel directly to the back of Keiran’s head and pulls back the slide to load the chamber. Not a word came from Keiran’s mouth as he turned pale. He put his arms up to indicate he agreed.
Everybody going up two flights witnessed quietly as Keiran’s out of control spirit was quickly put into check. The soldier lowered his weapon and went over to talk with the other soldier. I grabbed Keiran by the neck and yanked him back towards me. “I know I am nothing more than a neighbor to you. However, I will beat the shit out of you with your Dad’s full permission I guarantee if you ever do that again.” I whispered. I let go of his neck just as Janet caught the back of his head with her hand abruptly and gave him a look of anger. Not two seconds had she moved her hand and Trenton smacked him in the back of the head. “What the fok! Anybody else? Go ahead and do it before I suffer brain damage and don’t feel anything?” Keiran replied in a soft whisper this time.
Copyright©2011 by K. R. Rose
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