Lost Humanity: Broken Lines

Stephen W. Griffin By Stephen W. Griffin, 24th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

Finally out the door after having been sat on for some time, here is part four of the Lost Humanity series, Broken Lines. I highly advise starting from the beginning, with Lost Humanity: Ground Zero, which can be found through this URL.
http://www.wikinut.com/lost-humanity%3a-ground-zero/qu7yyema/50yz9eq2/

Q-Zone 3, Boston Massachusetts, US 9:00 AM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

"Let us out!"
"We're not infected!"
The mob at the gates of the impromptu quarantine zone railed of insults and complaints at the national guardsmen and police on the other side, to no avail. Greg Jackson couldn't blame them for keeping everyone contained, but it still stung a little to be one of the unlucky few trapped in here with the infected. The diseased. The ones who could keep themselves from becoming like the rest of those things.
A man tried to start climbing the fence, and an officer on the other end touched a pair of jumper cables to the fence. “Fucking bitch!” The man fell on his back, swearing and cursing the people on the other side of the fence. The general sentiment seemed to be that by closing everyone in with the infected, with no police or guardsmen to maintain the law, the authorities were deciding that those in the Q-Zone's would not survive. But Greg was not the type to give up on something as important as survival. No, he would be making it through this, and to be perfectly honest... he was pretty sure he could do this in the Q-Zone. The lack of police may seem a problem at first, but some times survival called for things that went beyond what the police can allow a citizen to do.
Greg watched the crowd from where he sat perched on the roof of his truck for a while longer, until a woman screamed from the back, and there was a visible part in the crowd. Greg smiled to himself, and hopped down from his truck. It was time to go to work.
A young boy, most likely in his early teens, was walking around, an arm outstretched, a pleading look on his face. It was somewhat spoiled by the growths on his mouth, but there were bound to be a few in the crowd who still would be moved by that. Pity is a dangerous thing. “Help me... please, I'm not crazy, I don't want to bite anyone, I'm just sick, I need help...” the boy pleaded miserably, at the verge of tears, as the crowd steered clear of him. As a woman fell over backwards trying to avoid him he stopped, dejected, clearly losing hope. Greg quietly stepped past the line of onlookers and stopped a few feet away from the boy, who's face lit up upon seeing him. “Please, you need to help me, my brother, he and his friends aren't well, and they bit me, I need a doctor, and so do they, can you... ARGH it hurts!” The boy stopped and grabbed his head for a moment, before regaining his posture and stepping towards Greg, hand outstretched once more.
Greg put his hand on the boy's shoulder with one hand, grabbing his outstretched hand with the other. “It's going to be alright. What's your name?”
“B-Brian.”
“Okay Brian, where is your brother and his friends?”
“We... we locked them in our apartment, it's a block away from here, in the blue building, only one on the street, they can't get out, I think, but they need help!”
“Shhh... I'll make sure they get help Brian. Is there anyone else who was bit?”
Brian stopped and thought for a moment, and then spoke again. “Myself, my mom, my dad, but he's in there with them, and my neighbors, the Ptsoviski's.”
Greg smiled. He even saw a few smiling faces in the crowd. Fortunately, most of the faces were still just scared, and those that were smiling were probably just glad to see someone doing something, regardless of whether it was the right thing. Hopefully that worked in both directions.
Hooking Brian's ankle with his own and pulling on the arm while pushing the shoulder, he toppled the young boy, and quickly kicked him in the head several times to discourage moving away. Greg bent over and whispered, “Goodbye Brian”. He then proceeded to begin stomping on the boy's temple with the heel of his boot. Eventually he felt the small head give in to his leg, collapsing under the repetitive blows. The boy had long stopped screaming, but Greg continued to drive down his foot until he was sure the brain itself was destroyed. The last one of these he'd killed hadn't really noticed anything else. Not right away, at least. From the looks of it, the diseased could die from ordinary wounds, but it took them longer than it should. Why that was wasn't Greg's responsibility. He couldn't care less about the science of it, as long as he knew how to take out the threats to his survival.
Greg felt the urge to smile, but that wouldn't look right, not here. Shaking out his leg, he stepped away from what had been Brian's head. There was a lot of blood, more than Greg expected, and a fair amount of it had splashed up onto his pants. Greg didn't feel good about killing the boy, but he felt amazing about having removed the threat that the boy and his disease posed. On a very primal level, Greg felt like he had just climbed a mountain.
It wasn't like there was anything to feel bad about. The boy had already been dead. His heart was still beating, and his lungs still pushing air, but there was nothing there but a time bomb, which Greg had just diffused, before anyone could be hurt. And now he knew where another danger was. But there were too many there, and most of them were already turned, if what the boy said was to be believed. Greg couldn't handle that unarmed, and he couldn't handle that alone.
Greg looked around. There was a lot of silence, that kind of shocked freeze where people don't know how to react. It was the perfect soil, exactly what Greg needed. He needed this crowd, if he wanted to survive, and he needed them to know that the law, the police, weren't coming in here to stop him. Killing a fourteen year old in front of several cop cars and some national guardsmen helped with that. The guardsmen and most of the cops had their guns trained on Greg, but he knew they wouldn't shoot. Each of them knew that if this contagion took over the group of people beyond the fence, they'd need to shoot them all anyway. They know I'm right. The civilians inside the Q-Zone were quiet, and unmoving. A few looked angry, but not enough to be a serious problem. If any of them were a threat, they'd have spoken up by now. No, they would likely as not sit back and watch, then tell the history books later how much they disliked Greg's policies from the start. Greg couldn't have asked for a better audience.
Greg mustered himself and prepared to increase the volume of his voice, “None of those men or women out there past that fence are going to let you out. None of them are going to come in here.” Greg looked around, pausing to check that everyone was still following him. “We're on our own in here, in this little pocket of Boston. Whether you live or die is up to you, not them out there. We're not getting out of this 'Q-Zone', but we can stop the threat in here before it becomes too great. You've seen the solution I offer. This isn't airborne, it only goes to those who've been bit. There's no cure coming for these people, not in the time we need. But there's a cure for this. The cure is you. Together, we can put an end to this, before it even begins. Together we can eliminate-”
A voice from beyond the fence interrupted Greg's speech, “Shut up you sick fuck, everyone disperse, you're not going vigilante.”
Greg pointed his finger skyward, as if to some great image demonstrating his point. “Ha! You see for yourselves that the people assigned to your security before, the ones abandoning you to your own devices now, are unable and unwilling to do what must be done. And so they throw empty words at those who would. They aren't coming in here.” To demonstrate his point, Greg walked towards the fence, and beckoned to who he thought had spoken up. “You stay put, like your orders tell you to, and we'll go solve your problem for you. And I promise you this. Q-Zone 3 will be clear of these walking shells before the day is through, and every other Q-Zone in the city will be over run. And then maybe you'll be standing there, on that side of the fence, demanding to be let past.”
The man scowled, and shouted obscenities, but Greg wasn't paying attention any more. That little show wasn't done for him anyway. “If you want to survive, if you want to end this, come with me. There's a hardware store down the street from here, and from there we have a blue apartment building to visit.”
Greg started to work his way through the crowd, and started walking towards the hardware store he'd passed on the way here. He didn't look back to see if anyone was following. Enough of them would. Enough to begin, at least.

Boston Police Department interrogation room, Boston Massachusetts, US 12:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

“I already told you, I don't know what's happening!” Amelia looked across at the blank expressions facing her. She'd been trying to win some sort of sympathy for hours now, but there'd been nothing. They hadn't even taken her out of the interrogation room to sleep. Apparently the cells were all full with the sick and looters. All that it meant to Amelia was that she had just spent the last eternity in a windowless room, with no way of knowing what time it was. She was scared, she was alone, and worst of all she was starting to feel like maybe she had done something wrong.
Detective Larson, who had so far been the less hostile of the two interrogators, leaned in closer. “So you aren't trying to spread this, and you had no idea what these pills were, or what they would do when consumed?”
“I told you, I'm just trying to sell a product, why would I do this, how does this help me?” Amelia was beginning to come to tears again. The first time she'd done it had been intentional, to try and make them less aggressive, but it hadn't worked then. Genuine tears weren't faring much better. The man scowled and seemed to visibly dismiss her words. So far everything they'd come in to tell Amelia had been awful. People dying in riots, mobs of infected people, Struin carrying the problem over to the UK. Nothing had gone right.
Larson composed himself, and began to speak in a level voice, “So...” he paused, looking Amelia in the eye. Whatever he had to say, it would be better than what his partner, Skezni, typically had to offer. “So you give out 'free samples' to multiple officials in the FDC, as many venture capitalists as would take it, including several in Asia, from your own accounts, you launch an uncharacteristically large test group, no, two uncharacteristically large test groups, with only one control group, which you secretly gave the real drug anyway, you give 'gifts' of this plague to advertisers, retailers, your staff, and pharmaceutical manufacturers, your partner in this business move, Struin, is infected with it, and sent away to the UK, in perfect timing to ensure the virus hits there as well as the US, and you are the only person involved so far who hasn't been infected.” As Larson finished, Skezni smiled, like she always did when Amelia was given bad news, or treated as guilty. Skezni hated her, and while it wasn't the first time Amelia had been hated, this felt new, different, and even a little hurtful.
But both of the detectives looked like they were as tired as Amelia was. This was the third time they'd both been in to talk to her, with each of them occasionally coming in to give her news about some horror or another, or to give her pictures of people who had either taken the pills, or been bitten by someone who had. They had opened this conversation with a picture of a fourteen year old boy with his head crushed on the pavement, taken through a fence at one of the “Q-Zones”. Skezni hadn't given a name to go with the picture, but instead just called him “another one of your victims”.
“This was just business... promotion, we didn't need the testing, Struin- Struin knew it would work, he said there was no chance it would go wrong... he's the one who made this, not me, I-”
Skezni stepped forward and decked Amelia hard enough to knock her off of her seat and onto the floor. “I don't care if this shit is made from his fucking spit, he's not the one who dished it out to everyone he met, he's not the one who intentionally didn't take it when everyone around them did, he's not the one who worked to spread it everywhere possible, he's not the one who wrote the schedule, he's not the one who booked the flight to London, and he isn't the one here, healthy and aware to account for all of this, so you'd better come up with something better than that, cunt!”
Amelia snapped back to herself, and tried to move with as much difficulty as possible when getting back into her seat, which wasn't hard, as Skezni didn't lack for knowing how to punch, and Amelia was tired to begin with. “I want to see your superiors! This has gone on long enough without me being able to see my lawyer, now you add police brutality? I'll see you lose your job, you psychotic bitch, and your backwards department will be compensating me for this. You think the public got mad at Gitmo? You just wait and see what they'll have to say about this!”
Whatever reaction Amelia was expecting, it wasn't what she got out of Skezni. The woman smiled, like a predator over a wounded animal. Suddenly Amelia stopped thinking that the violent out burst was such a good thing. This was real. When Skezni finally spoke, her voice was smooth, sultry, but drenched in what could only be described as cruelty and hate, “Our superiors are busy debating how much lethal force to use on your little sickies. Not 'if', but 'how much'. I really don't think they care at this point if we give a few scuffs to the person responsible for landing that question in their laps, and I'm fairly convinced one or two might ask to come in and give you a lick themselves. If you're that convinced a few black eyes are beneath them at this point, I would advise you to reconsider, unless you'd like me to hit you again. I'd be okay with that.” Skezni paused, to crack her knuckles. “Next to some of the people out there working to stop this, I'm just one big softy.” Skezni leaned in close, teetch bared in a semblance of a grin, “I really don't want people to start thinking I've gone soft though, so I guess we'll have to work to keep up, won't we?”
“Bridget!” Larson grabbed his partner's arm and dragged her back, “what the fuck are you doing? You'll...” he stopped talking and looked at Amelia, who was trembling in terror in her chair. “We'll continue our talk later, miss Tell.” He then walked out the door with Skezni following behind, bristling while she walked out the door, a scowl on her face until it slammed shut... possibly even after too.
Amelia was in trouble. Even if the law showed her some kind of leniency to compensate for all the rules being broken in how the two officers had been handling her and her detainment, which was unlikely if everything she'd been told about the situation outside was true, Skezni wouldn't show that leniency. As it was, the only thing seriously keeping her from snapping Amelia's neck was the quiet and and reserved Larson, who only seemed to be holding her back because that's how they always did things. If things kept getting worse outside, it was unlikely he'd keep a tight leash on his partner, not if the system regulating his actions was going away.
But there wasn't anything Amelia could do. The only thing she could do was to hope things improved outside, while trying to win over Larson. Otherwise she was afraid the angry woman outside that door might kill her.


Larson stalked up and down the hall. “What the hell was that?” Larson glared at his partner, who was standing by the wall, torn between stubborn defiance and sheepish embarrassment. “It's bad enough what they're asking people to do out of necessity, now you start throwing the law aside in a controlled environment with a non-threatening suspect who seems to genuinely not know what it is she's done? What are you thinking?” Larson stopped pacing, and put a hand on Skezni's shoulder. “Bridget, I'm your friend, you can talk to me. I want to know what's going on.”
“Do you? Do you really?” her voice carried an edge, but it wasn't hard. “Remember how my mom needed back surgery?” Larson's heart sank as he realized what was coming. “Well, she was still at Mass General when it became Q-Zone 1. There were no evacuees at Q-Zone 1, no one got out, it was over run too fast. Even if my dad and brother were both there to help her, there's no way they'd have gotten her out, not through that mess. And that stupid bitch in there? She did this. Even if she's telling the truth, even if this is an accident, it is something she did, and yet none of that registers. All she cares about is her own skin. She gushes apology when we press her, but then the moment she thinks she has a chance she goes right back to being queen bitch, like she has all the right in the world to talk down to us, as if she's done nothing wrong. Given the chance she'd sweep all of this behind her. All because she was a greedy whore, people are dying all over the city, the state... hell, the damn world. No one has been able to reach any of the names outside of the country she sent pills to yet, and we've no way of knowing if they've taken them yet. That's ignoring the rumors about what is going on in London right now. So what about that woman is worth protecting, answer me that Rick, why do you care if I hit that bag of shit a few times? She deserves it.”
Larson was quiet, for a time. After which he put his other hand on Skezni's remaining shoulder, and squeezed reassuringly. “There is nothing in that woman worth losing your integrity over either. As for your mother... the Guard is already trying to get into Q-Zones 4 and 17 to get the uninfected out. They'll get to Q-Zone 1, and your mother will be fine....” It sounded hollow, but right now anything was an improvement. Stepping back, Larson began to head down the hall. “Get some shut eye, while you've got the time, I'm going to see what I can find out about what's going on out in the streets.”

Q-Zone 4, Boston Massachusetts, US 1:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

Julie hid under the desk, holding her little brother, Nathan, close and hoped he would stay quiet. The toddler fought and struggled, and like any toddler in that position, he bit down on her arm as hard as he could, puncturing the skin.
“Stop it Nathan, we're hiding! I'll tell Mommy!” Julie tried her best to scold in a whisper.
Nathan squirmed around to face her and pouted. “My legs hurts! Wanna see Mommy!” He then struggled once more, breaking free this time and rushing off to the living room.
“Come back!” Julie pulled herself out from under the desk and began to chase after him. At six years old she was faster than Nathan, but he had a lead on her, having gotten out sooner, and far smoother than she had. It put a tough gap to close between them, but she had to do it. This was serious. Mommy had said that Daddy was sick, and people were coming to take him to a hospital , but they might get confused and take Nathan and Julian too, even though neither of them were sick, so Julie had to keep Nathan hidden, and like a big girl she accepted the responsibility. But now Nathan was running away, and ruining it all, and Mommy wouldn't take Julie seriously as a big girl, and she'd still be treated like a baby, just because Nathan couldn't stay hidden. It was all his fault, and she hated him for it.
Julie stormed into the living room, ready to tell her parents how bad Nathan was misbehaving, in the hopes they would understand it wasn't her fault he got out, but stopped. Daddy was nowhere in the room, the door was open, and Mommy was standing naked and upright like a “T” while a lady soldier with a mouth mask like doctors wore looked at her. Mommy's face sank as her children entered the room, and Julie couldn't help but feel like she'd failed her. “Nathan, Julie, what are you doing in here?!”
She rushed forward and grabbed her children, one in each arm, and turned to scowl at the lady soldier. Both Julie and her brother began trying to drown each other out with what the other had done wrong, but all of them stopped as the soldier spoke in a stern and unhappy voice, “So the kids are at Grandmas?” The woman pulled out her radio and clicked it on. “We just had the second family in this building to try hiding someone, people are starting to panic, we're going to have to just start searching.” A voice crackled through, but Julie didn't follow what it said, but the soldier just nodded and replied. “We pulled in a Case One, a Case Two, and what looks like two Case Three's with this family. There are still three more apartments on this floor, and then two more floors after that.” The woman put her radio back in its holster and looked at Mommy. “Mrs. Terrace, please redress and head into the hall. Private Owens will escort you out to the door, and from there you'll be taken to the observation point. If you show no signs of infection after two hours, you'll be passed on to the Checkpoint where your children will be located. As soon as we are able, uninfected civilians in the Checkpoint will be led out to a refugee site outside of the Boston area. If you would like you can leave us with information on who to contact in case you are infected, in which case the children will be delivered to them at soonest convenience, otherwise they will fall under guardianship of your next closest family member.”
“What?! You can't take my children away from me!” Mommy stood up and began to shout in the woman's face, while Nathan began wailing. Julie was trying not to cry too, for Mommy's sake.
The soldier shoved Mommy back, and snapped at her. “Ma'am, I'm not sure what you thought you were doing, but you almost successfully left your children alone in what is rapidly becoming a very dangerous place, with no adult supervision, no help, and no police in the area to keep an eye on things or come to the rescue when a pack of Case One's starts pounding down the door. And had you really wanted to seriously be able to stay with them yourself to look after them, perhaps you should have considered that before you started swapping spit with a Case One.”
“He is my husband!”
“And the gland was ruptured. We don't know if that is a guaranteed infection yet, but that's the only reason you even get to go to an observation point, otherwise you'd be in with the other Case One's already.”
“You can't do this, these are my children, you can't take them away from me, I'm their mother!” Mommy moved to shove the woman out the door, her eyes filled with tears, and with a smooth motion the woman stepped around her and brought Mommy's arm around behind her. “Now, you're going to go down to the observation point. You can add to your poor parenting decisions of the day by making me force you out the door naked, or you can get dressed, and say your goodbyes.”
Mommy cried and struggled. “You can't take them from me, I'm their mother... please...” Mommy slumped to the floor as the soldier let go, and made no move to do anything. Julie wanted to go up and hold her, but the soldier was between them, and Julie was scared. Instead she sat down and held Nathan, who was in even worse shape than Mommy.
“Last call... are you going to cooperate?” Julie wanted to tell Mommy to do what the lady said, but she didn't think she could tell her mother what to do. It wasn't right. The soldier sighed, watching the two children with what might be pity from behind her mask. “Owens, we've got a Case Two in here, non-cooperative, bind the wrists and bring her out to the buses.”
Another soldier, this one a man, came through the door and took Mommy's wrists, snapping a little plastic band over them behind her back. Nathan shouted out in frustration and ran forward, kicking the man. Julie ran after him, not sure whether she was trying to stop the soldier or her brother, but before she got there the lady soldier had scooped him up from behind, and took hold of Julie's shoulder. The grip was gentle... but Julie had no delusions of being able to break free of it. Julie and Nathan could only watch in despair as their mother was led, screaming and nude, out of the door, dragged with her feet kicking and flailing behind her. The lady soldier looked down at the two children, and when Julie caught her eye it looked like there was a bit of water there, as if she was about to cry... but if she didn't like this, why would she tell people to do it?
Two more men came in, both soldiers. As the woman handed off Julie and Nathan she said the phrase “Case Three's” again. As they carried Julie and Nathan away, she tried to keep track of her brother, since she was all he had left now. Daddy was sick, and Mommy might be sick to, but either way she'd been taken away. All Nathan had was Julie, and even though he was just a baby he as all she had too, and Julie would need to be a big girl now. Not for Mommy this time, but for Nathan, because he would need that.
As they got out the door there were a few buses and soldiers with their big trucks around them, and Julie could hear the sounds of a crowd past the soldiers. Nathan struggled against the man holding him and began curling into a ball while they went past another family, which only had a single man guarding them, and he wasn't touching any of them. It made Julie angry. That family got to walk to the bus on their own, together, while the Terrace's got split up by the soldiers. Julie and Nathan were led to a bus where the people looked less happy about being there. They must have had family members taken away from them too. Julie turned to check her brother, only to see him quickly straighten his back, spin about, and bite the soldier on the finger. The man cried out and dropped Nathan, rapidly checking his finger, panicked that something might be in the bite, while Nathan ran off into an alley and away from the buses.
Julie tried to break free from her guard, but with no luck, and she was roughly passed into the bus, where she couldn't get out past the soldier by the door. Slowly Julie began to sob, curling into a ball and falling to the floor. Daddy was sick. Mommy was taken away. And now Nathan had run away. Julie was alone.

Q-Zone 17, Boston Massachusetts, US 2:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

No one was going to take Tyler Bennet alive, and no one was going to survive anything that did him in. Only the unsurvivable could do him in. So the only obvious thing to take away from all of that was that no one could, or should, survive this strange disease. That didn't just mean the people who caught it, but it meant that everyone must catch this. If Tyler Bennet had it, it was destined that everyone else on the Earth would have it too.
The Army National Guard was coming for him, coming for everyone who had gotten sick with this, probably thinking they were weak, that this disease was claiming the feeble. They were wrong, oh were they ever. This didn't mean they weren't a threat, of course, but none of them knew what they had coming. Tyler looked around him, in the large waiting room of the apartment building. Dennis, Bill, and Carol all stood behind him, armed with assault rifles and a shotgun. Three others who Tyler didn't know were also standing, holding blunt objects. Kneeling on the floor were the assorted residents of the building, those who hadn't been bit when the small pack of people who had fallen sooner hit the building. Whatever the controller of fate was, be it god, chance, or an invisible flying pasta dish, it had seen fit to damn Tyler Bennet to becoming one of those who fell to the plague. That couldn't happen without reason. If he was damned, then the damned were the future. If the Army thought it could stop that, if it thought it could oppress the damned, throw them in pens, lock them up, and keep them from the rest of society, they had another thing coming.
Whatever it was that had been unleashed here, it seemed as though it were a plague fit to test the strong and the weak, but Tyler Bennet had been among the first to succumb to it, and so it instead was a plague fit to end the rein of humanity on the Earth. Whether this was made by man or made by God, it was already clear that as the disease took primacy it did not kill. At least, so far it hadn't. It was clear that the disease wasn't meant to kill the weak, but transform humanity.
There was a humor to it. Tyler and his core three friends were likely the four people in this city most likely to be ready for something like this. This wasn't what they had been prepping for, but then they had been ready for everything.
“Do you feel it? Do you feel what is happening, that itch? Not just the one on your mouth, but the one in your head? It's been an hour, you should be feeling it by now. That desire...” Tyler wiped his finger on the corner of his mouth, where he had cut open his puss gland before it needed to rupture, so as to have it open sooner. He walked forward and smeared the puss into the hair of a redheaded girl on the floor before him. Her father began to protest and stand, but Dennis struck him down with the butt of his gun. “There's no fighting this. Not only with you yourselves, but here, in this city. This strange happening has Damned us all, and whatever you may think, there is no way that something this perfect was an accident. The people out there, the uninfected, they fear what is coming, but you can already feel it. Do you feel like this is something they can stop? There is life past what is happening now, perhaps not the life you thought you'd lead, but life. Only everyone out there is afraid of that life, and is sending their army to kill you. I was the vessel that set you on this path, and by that means you've every right to hate me, I suppose, but there's something you should understand. To every soldier out there, to everyone who you once called neighbor or friend, you are no less an animal to be put down than I am.”
Tyler walked over to the back of the room, away from the exit, and his people followed him. “So it doesn't matter what you choose to do, but you should weigh your options. You can leave, try to run from the inescapable, until you're even more likely to bite than I am now, and you'll either be gunned down like so much trash in the street, or you'll be put in a cage to gnash at the bars until they finally work up the nerve to kill you there. Or, you can fight that, help me bring the rest of the people here into the new destiny for humanity, bring us all to a simpler, more free existence.”
Tyler stood silent for a moment, as the group looked around nervously. “You are free to go, and free to stay, but before you do either, you should know... you're Damned now. There is no choice but one of how long before you are on my side. Will you put yourself in a pen to be timidly watched until someone grows the balls to kill you, or will you fight to survive, uncaged? It's your call...”
Tyler smiled, and watched as the majority left. Two stayed behind, and that would be all he needed. There were more buildings to hit on this block yet, and no one to stop him. The Damned were coming, and there was no stopping this tide.

Q-Zone 3, Boston Massachusetts, US 3:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

Greg stood atop his truck once more, this time in front of a small clinic. Behind him was a large mob, armed with an assortment of small arms, blunt objects, knives, and a fire ax. The Clinic doors and first story windows were barred and boarded, and the second story window showed an angry woman who had moments earlier set about hurling bedpans out at Greg's people when they tried to gain entry. Picking up the bullhorn, Greg tried again to talk to them. He didn't expect it to work, but he had the opinions of his own people to keep in mind. Shakespeare said that all life is a stage. Perhaps there was a point to that, as it certainly seemed like everything important Greg had been doing the whole day had been custom tailored to his audience. “Give it up, this isn't worth your lives. There's only four of them, and none of them will live longer than a day at best, not as real people. If you keep sheltering them they'll turn on you, and then you not only become a threat to yourself, but a threat to us, a threat to innocent bystanders. This is your last chance to let us in to deal with them. These are nothing but casualties. They've already been lost. This is your last chance, what do you say?”
The woman in the second story window fumed, and shouted back to him at a volume that may have rivaled his bullhorn, “I say burn in hell asshole, you aren't touching them!”
Greg looked around, and restrained a smile. He had yet to do anything that was truly anything less than a good idea, but he had successfully presented it in such a way that all of the people who would have been a problem to him down the line, were he to do something more debatable exposed themselves, and stubbornly threw themselves into the path of one gruesome death or another.
All the world is a stage, and some roles are more complicated than others. Right now, he was putting on the face of a bad man playing a good man for the woman in the window, while to the crowd he was playing the last hope of survival, working to keep them safe at all costs. In truth, they were both right.
Greg nodded to a few people who'd proven themselves reliable so far, and raised the bullhorn again. “Burn in Hell? Perhaps one day I will... but until then, you can burn here.”
As he finished four molotov cocktails arced towards the clinic, one hitting the front door, another landing in a boarded up window, one crashing through a second story window, and the fourth flew straight for the woman leaning out defiantly. It wasn't his habit to think like this, but there was an appeal to the thought of the woman becoming engulfed in flame. Too bad it didn't happen.
The woman shouted something, but Greg didn't listen. All he could focus on was her hand, where she had caught the bottle with its flaming wick mid flight. In what would likely be a last gesture of fight before she died in the now burning clinic, she hurled the bottle back down to the truck, where it landed directly under the gas tank.
Greg seemed to be moving through jelly as he leaped off of the roof of the truck and began to run, and he had gotten a fair distance before the gas tank burst, sending a piece of scalding hot shrapnel into the back of his left calf at high speed, burning to the touch and knocking him over.
Greg screamed out in pain, looking around. There was a moment of chaos around his truck, but Greg's followers were getting themselves back into gear, and several of them rushed over to where Greg was lying on his back, howling in pain. Greg could feel the heat from the fires of both his truck and the clinic, and as one of his followers stepped in and began giving orders to the people around to get him out of the area and where to regroup Greg was able to fade out of consciousness. There was nothing he could do here but suffer.

Back Alley, Boston Massachusetts, US 3:30 PM, GMT -5, April 6

Nathan was scared. He'd run through the streets and alleys for a while now, staying hidden when he saw soldiers, but it didn't look like anyone was looking for him. They were all so busy, all distracted. Darting to a shadow where he could look out at the people. They were standing in a little fenced in square, waiting around.
Nathan worked his way through the alley way for a time, until he heard a noise from behind a dumpster he had just passed. Turning around he froze in terror. A short man was curled up in the shadows, his mouth leaking the same puss that Daddy's had before the lady in green came and took him away. Nathan stood stock still, not sure what to do.
The figure continued to sob as he looked up. “Go away kid, you don't want to be here...”
Nathan stood, still not sure what he should do.
“They're looking for me... heh, maybe I should have let them find me, but you, you run, go!”
Nathan stood, unmoving.
“Damnit...” the man stood up, and put on an angry face, snarling. With a jolt Nathan turned and ran as fast as he could, only checking behind him to see if he'd been followed after he had crossed through a big group of people who were standing around behind some police officers, yelling at them. Nathan wasn't sure why they were doing that, because the alleyway he'd taken had brought him past the fence, so these people were on the outside, unlike all the other angry people he'd seen, but maybe people were just angry.
Nathan kept running.



Q-Zone 4 Checkpoint, Boston Massachusetts, US
4:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6

Julie was glad she'd been found by BB. She hadn't known the nice old woman before, but that hadn't stopped her from coming over and holding the lone child who was crying by the curb. BB said that she had a daughter too, but that her daughter had grown up and lived very far away now. Whatever her reasons, Julie was glad she had someone who was a grown up with her. She wanted to be big so badly, but she couldn't measure up to everything that was happening.
BB was wonderful, but she wasn't Julie's family. Julie wanted her family back, and she wanted to go home. She even wanted to have Nathan back, but no one had brought him in to the fenced off section of street called the “Checkpoint”. Back down the road a ways there was a building that had been taken over by the soldiers, which was called the “Observation Point”. People that they weren't sure would be sick or not, but they thought might be went there. People who they were pretty sure weren't, but still wanted to be sure about, went to the Checkpoint. BB said that Mommy was probably in the Observation Point.
Every now and then the soldiers would walk through, checking people, and twice they had pulled someone back past the building called the Observation Point, into a fenced in area on a parking lot. BB hadn't said much about that, but everyone Julie had seen in it when she went past looked like they were sick, and angry. Julie couldn't know for sure, but she thought that that was where Daddy might be. The soldiers called it “Containment”.
Julie saw a quarter not far from where she sat on BB's lap, and got up to grab it. Julie was probably going to be alone now, and she would need money, so she couldn't pass up the quarter. She crouched down and stretched out her arm to pick it up, her sleeve rolling back.
A man who had been looking around nervously suddenly gasped while looking at her, and pointed, “She's been bit! The girl's arm was bit! There's a bite mark!” The man shouted to the crowd, pointing all the while, as the crowd started to back away terrified. She looked at her forearm, where Nathan had bit her to get free an hour ago. Nathan hadn't been sick, so she knew she was okay, but it was obvious that this man didn't see it that way.
The people gathered around, and one started to wave towards the soldiers, but another man next to him pulled his arm down and told him to shut up. He started hushing the crowd. His clothes were baggy, he had a hat on sideways, and he looked like the kind of person Mommy and Daddy would usually tell Julie to stay away from, but if he was calming everyone down, maybe he was alright.
That hope died quickly.
He started approaching Julie with an angry glare, his hands clenched into fists. Before he could reach Julie, BB stepped in his path. “You'd better think about what you're doing here, before you cross a real serious line.” BB was an old woman, and she looked it, in her dress and slippers, but somehow the way she stood was not frail, or weak. She looked ready to move, where only a moment ago she'd been complaining about her ankles.
“That girl's bit, she's fucked anyway, get out of the way grandma” He took another step forward, this time slower.
“She's been here an hour, and she's a small child, if she had this, she'd be-” the man didn't let her finish, forcibly throwing the old woman aside to the ground, where she let out a pained grunt.
Julie began backing up, and tried to think of someplace she could run, but the crowd was all around them now, and she didn't think they would let her through. The man's face was twisted in an evil grin, and he had a tattoo of thorns running up the side of his neck. The man was thin under all his baggy clothes, but he was still bigger than Julie. There was no where to run, and he wasn't going to stop to words. She wasn't big, but she knew that much. Julie stopped backing up, and stared the man in the eye. She was crying, a little, but she didn't let that stop her from scowling back at the man.
He stopped in front of Julie, and began to bring his arm back for a punch, when the arm was caught and a giant shadow pulled him around. In a blur the man was lifted and thrown forcibly into the curb. A towering dark man in a tan T-shirt stood over the skinny man, and picked him up by the neck with one hand. His voice was deep, and calm as he spoke. “Are you afraid of this little girl here?”
The man he held said nothing, choking and gurgling in the air while his legs flailed uselessly.
The large man just smiled, and dropped the little man to the ground. “If there's a problem, I'll protect you from the innocent little girl, don't you worry.”
At that he turned and walked away, as if there was nothing behind him but an empty curb. The crowd dispersed at his glance, afraid they'd be thrown to the ground too. Julie was partially afraid of the same thing. It had been a bad day, and there was no telling how much worse it could get. But as the giant walked forward, he bent down and helped up BB, and Julie carefully approached.
He knelt in front of Julie, and looked to both her and BB with an expression far softer than what they'd seen when he fought the little man. “Are the two of you alright?”
BB stood hunched over somewhat, and laughed nervously, “I've been through worse in my years, don't worry, nothing but some bruises. This old woman can take it. Thank you so much sir, if there's anything I can do for you, I'd be happy to help. What is your name?”
“Jonas.”
“Well Jonas, I'm Rebecca Burstow, but you can just call me BB, and this here is Julie Terrace. We're just sticking together through this, seeing as each of us is alone. But is there anything we can do for you?” BB looked in earnest, while catching her breath. She hurt, and it showed. Jonas simply offered her his arm for support, and led her to an overturned trashcan set against a wall, and let her sit down. He didn't say anything, but it seemed like he didn't expect anything from BB.
Julie sat down next to BB, and noticed a disturbance in the group of people around them, and a pair of soldiers pushed their way through to the front. “What is going on here?”
The little man who Jonas had thrown to the ground ran up to them, and began shouting, “The little bitch is sick with it, she got bit, and these two retards are protecting her. Do us all a favor and cap the bitch.”
BB stood up stiffly to reply, “The girl is fine. If she were sick it would have shown by now, this cretin is just afraid of everything in the area, and he was trying to kill her only a moment ago.”
“Shut up cunt!”
“Say that again, child!” BB began furiously hobbling towards the man, and Julie honestly believed that she would hit him if she got there.
Seeing the same thing, one of the soldiers interceded, and Jonas took a hold of BB. “Alright, I'm not taking chances, the girl stays over there in that corner” he pointed to an open portion of the site, “for the next hour, and you,” he pointed to BB, “are the only one who'll be allowed there with her. A guard will be appointed. You,” he pointed to the skinny man, “will stay in the corner over there,” he pointed to the opposite end from where Julie was to go, “until I say you can leave.”
His response had seemed fair enough to Julie, but BB still looked angry. Taking Julie's hand she began walking towards the corner. This meant that it would be even longer before Julie or BB could leave the checkpoint, but the buses out were going really slow anyway. Julie prepared to wait, and hoped that Nathan or Mommy would be let into the Checkpoint at some point while she waited. As she sat down on BB's lap Julie noticed Jonas, standing outside the area Julie was confined to, but not straying far from it either.

Q-Zone 17 Checkpoint, Boston Massachusetts, US 5:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

The Damned that had been Tyler Bennet was somewhere in the back of one of the trucks Shawn was leading forward. It was something of an honor, but it was one he'd claimed, being the new leader of the Damned as Bennet lost himself to the plague. At first Bennet had preached survival, but what Shawn saw was punishment. Humanity had come too far from its animal roots, and now they were being struck back down. Humanity as a whole was Damned. Why else would the infection leave the victim alive, but in an animal like state of mind, if not to bring them to the purity that is animal life? Human beings had become a mockery of life, feasting on synthetic meals, living in large, unwieldy structures, traveled on flat, black tar that smothered the Earth. Whatever else this did, it would end that. Humans would roam as scavengers, predators, grazers, and once again the world would work the way it was supposed to.
But the beast that was constructed by man wouldn't give up easily. It had guns, it had planes, it had trucks, like the one Shawn drove now, where the Pure Damned had only teeth. It was for this reason that those who had only been bitten once took so long to turn, Shawn knew it. So that they could guide the Pure Damned to those who served the Beast, and use the Beast's tools to tear it down. Some of the others had stayed behind, including Dennis, one of Bennet's original followers. They would ensure that this 'Q-Zone' was entirely turned, and it was Shawn's job to be sure that the Damned made it past that, and into the world beyond. The Checkpoint was crowded on both sides of the fence, and there had been a lot of confusion about handling. There also had been a riot on the other side of the fence. Whether they wanted to see the people inside let free, or executed for their safety, was unimportant, the masses would delay reinforcements, and provide ample targets to turn.
Which brings me to the case at hand. Shawn himself was driving the plow in the lead. This would likely kill some of the people who would better serve as additional Damned, but there was always a price to be paid when you were doing the right thing. Checking one last time that everything was in order, Shawn accelerated, followed by the large freight truck and two small moving trucks, each packed with Pure Damned, while a pair of vans loaded with Damned who carried firearms moved up to take positions where they could pick off any soldiers who started firing on the Damned. There were already two people with hunting rifles in position to drop machine gunners and officers.
It was a good day for this. It was a good day for a number of things, but nothing was more important than this. Barely a cloud in the sky as he drove on, the Faithful Damned behind him, and a huddled mass of Faithless Damned further back, as of yet unwilling to accept what was coming. Not that it would matter. They would come around in mere hours.
In the distance Shawn could see a trail of smoke, billowing upwards. Someone was starting fires. Good for them, burning down the marks of the Beast upon the Earth would have to happen eventually. Shawn would need to remember to start some fires himself after the Checkpoint was broken.
People began to scream as they saw the oncoming convoy, and run off the street into side buildings. Behind them was the pen filled with Damned, and past that was a small caged in area filled with rapidly panicking people. Q-Zone 17 had been filled with the word and rumor of the Damned. The soldiers were unable to fire on the oncoming convoy, with the mob of civilians between them and the oncoming plow and trucks.
Finally Shawn was able to hit the fence holding in the Damned, releasing them to run free, and the screams doubled. At that the gunfire started, mostly panicked and wild. In the distance he could hear the snipers picking off targets, and the three machine guns set up facing down the street were notably quiet. Rushing onwards Shawn and his plow drove through the next section of fence, where the people waiting to be let out were. A soldier inside the area fired a couple of shots before being run over by the plow, screaming and crunching as he went under. Shawn veered to the side and took out the corner of the fence to the outside, hopping out of the plow as numerous gunmen turned their weapons on it.
Meanwhile the trucks had unloaded their cargo, which was now running free. Soldiers were running about in a panic, confused. Some shot wildly, others didn't want to shoot at all. In one corner there started to form a pocket of organized resistance, but within moments two of them were dropped by the sniper, and then they came under fire from one of the teams in the van. Shawn popped up to take a few shots himself, and was hit in the forearm. Crap.
One of the van crews had gotten in amongst the crowd, and was shooting people every now and then, but mostly just pulling aside civilians and biting them. A large pack of Damned was running through the crowd and towards the remaining soldiers as well, while a few ran into side buildings to chase the people who had gone in to hid there. In moments it had turned into a rout, with police, guardsmen, and civilians all fleeing as fast as they could. Behind them Damned chased and bit onto anyone they could catch, and a small number of those who had been bitten stood, scared, lost, and confused. He would give them direction soon enough. One of the soldiers had dropped a megaphone.
We are the damnation that will strike through the heart of the Beast, freeing humanity from its clutch. We are the future. We are Damnation.

Q-Zone 7, Lowell Massachusetts, US 6:00 PM, GMT -5, April 2009

“Ah fuck, looks like someone already hit this block.” Windows were shattered up and down the street, and there were alarms going off from both stores and cars. No people were in sight.
Christy shrugged it off, while wearing a mountain of necklaces and a pair of expensive sunglasses. “The van's almost full Ricky, we're loaded down pretty well. I really don't think it is that big a loss, we're pretty much set if we can get all this stuff home. We just need a way out past the stupid fences that they put up.” Christy continued to drive at a slow pace, while Ricky and Scott kept their eyes on the sides of the road. All three of them were decked out in designer clothing, high end jewelery, and had enough cash to buy a car or two.
Scott shifted the bag of phones that was on his lap, eventually setting it on top of a stack of laptops in the seat next to him. “Yeah, but how do we get out? They aren't letting anyone through.”
“I don't think they'd smile at a van full of electronics, clothes, booze, money, jewelry, and perfumes if they were letting people out. We need to think of something else.” The perfumes had surprised Ricky, but when you took into account their high price and small size they were the perfect item to steal. The idea had been Christy's. We can't get out with the stuff, but we've both seen places where they have all kinds of holes in their line that they just didn't know to watch, so we can get out by foot. We'll stash the stuff in a place that no one will care about, since the van would likely get jacked, and then come back in a new truck that we purchase with the money we've got. Done deal.”
“Where do we stash it that no one will look?”
“See that laundromat? I doubt anyone is going to try and steal a three by four washing machine wall.” Of course, there was no knowing with some people. It may be unlikely that people would go so far as to steal everything up to and including the stuff that was bolted down, but Ricky wasn't one to put faith in his fellow man.
They pulled up and set about unloading everything into the back of the store, where they helped themselves to some cardboard boxes to store the smaller items. Once they had emptied the van of everything they smashed the windows to the laundromat, partly to add reason not to look into the store for any other looters, and partly for the thrill of it. They finished up and got back in the van, driving it far enough away from the laundromat as to not cause suspicion. Once they got out it would be a few blocks on foot before they reached one of the places that Ricky felt they could walk past the Q-Zone border.
Christy sighed, swaying her hips a bit as she walked, “I'm pretty hungry, care to hit that food mart across the street?”
Scott grunted, “Sounds good to me.”
“Yeah, we could use a bite. Lead the way.”
They broke open the door and started meandering through the isles, picking and choosing from the food there. Scott had himself a bag of beef jerky, and Ricky was already in the process of opening up a pop tart. From the back of the store Christy let out a cheer. Christy was a smart girl, and pretty, and fun... and sometimes, a bit of a drunk. It wasn't that she went about her day looking for something to drink, but if you put anything with alcohol in front of her and she would drink it. And drink. And drink, and drink, and drink...
“All right! Let's celebrate!” She walked up, two bottles held in her right hand while in the left was a case of beers. Scott grabbed the case, and loosed a drink for himself.
Ricky stood for a bit, contemplating just how bad an idea this had to be, but in the end decided to let it slide. As much as their minds had been elsewhere, the whole plague thing was still scary. Ricky still remembered the look of the woman he'd shot, and how she had kept coming. He remembered leaving Scott's cousins and Carl behind too. But everything they'd heard told him he made the right call, and that he shouldn't feel guilty about it. A part of him still did. “Alright, we deserve a bit of a celebration, pass me something.” Christy passed him a bottle of rum. I said a bit of celebration... oh fuck it.
They drank and talked, getting rowdier by the minute. They were under a lot of stress, and given the chance to unwind, each of them lost track of time. Christy was the furthest down the hatch, and had numerous times tried and failed to climb on top of a fruit stand. At one point Scott had begun to talk about his cousins, and it had almost looked like he might cry, but the moment passed.
Hours of this had slipped by, and Ricky tried to stay focused on the pile of bottles in the middle of their little circle. Or perhaps triangle was a better word. It was a shape. Scott had gotten up to relieve himself outside, and came rushing back in. “Some people out there driving around, a lot of 'em.”
Ricky struggled to remember why that was bad, and fuzzily ran through who it might be. The police weren't in the Q-Zone, unless they'd gotten control sooner than he expected. The sick people weren't able to drive, not that anyone could tell. That left other looters, but those wouldn't travel in a large group. Ricky could hear the cars, there were a lot of them. Splitting loot between that many people just wasn't as nice as the take for a small gang, and there was too much risk of someone talking. There was a reason there was just three in Ricky's van.
Ricky tried to stand up, and toppled over. Fuck-damn, why do I let you talk me into this? He nudged Christy with his foot, but she didn't respond. She was out cold, and probably would stay that way for a while. Damn it. Ricky braced himself against the counter behind him as he stood this time, taking more care in how he moved. He weaved his way over to where Scott was standing by the door, and looked out. A large group of vans and trucks was starting and stopping as a group down the street, pausing to hit up selective stores. Ricky watched as a group went into a sporting goods shop. A truck was staying at the front of the group, with a man holding a rifle like he meant business sitting on the roof. Ricky swore and started moving back. “C'mon, lets hide Christy, and then hide with her, hopefully they'll pass us by.”
“Why do you think there's so many of them?”
“Fuck if I know, just stay quiet and low.”
They all squeezed in behind the counter, and waited. It seemed to go forever, and between the fear and the booze Ricky thought he might puke, but right when he thought it was all clear, he heard the door to the food mart jingle as it was opened. Ricky did his best to stay frozen. The bottles on the floor, and broken door, would obviously show that someone had been in here, but that didn't mean these people would look for anyone. There were a few voices, all talking softly, but none of them sounded like they were coming straight for the counter.
Then Christy snored. It was a snarling nasal grunt, which she released before smiling in her sleep and rolling over. The people in the building all started yelling, and from the sounds of it they were convinced they'd found infected. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!
Ricky started to panic, and did the one thing he could think to do. “Oh please don't shoot me!” He pleaded the words that were really the only thing he cared about right now, and stood up, trying to keep his hands above his head without falling down. The voices argued quietly for a moment before one voice spoke up. It was a stern one, coming from an old man. “Come out and forward. How many of there are you, are you armed, and are you infected?”
“What... I- I'm not infected, none of us, there's three, I mean, there's two and me, one's not awake, she can't stand up right now, but there's three, I- none of us are infected- oh shit! I have a gun, I wasn't hiding that, don't shoot me, my hands are up!” Ricky was tripping over his tongue trying not to anger them, and barely keeping his one arm over his head. He thought the other arm was up with it, but it was actually drifting about to the side. Scott followed him, but Christy remained where she was.
The man who'd spoken was there, wearing a windbreaker and holding out a large pistol. He had a bit of a gut. Ricky could take him... maybe. Maybe sober anyway. Behind him, also holding a pistol, was a thin kid who looked like he'd blow over in a stiff breeze, and then apologize to the ground when he hit it. Ricky could definitely take him. There was family resemblance there between him and Gut though. There was a heavily tanned athletic looking girl with a golf club, a middle aged Hispanic woman was standing behind a cart that was partly loaded with boxes of oranges with what was probably her daughter hiding behind her. You could never tell with children that small, but the pink shit meant either a girl, or a very open minded family. There was a bulky guy with a buzz cut and a metal bat in one of the aisles, and another youth, this one a girl, probably 16, carrying... what the fuck, is that a ninja sword?
“I'm not... none of us are bit... fuck... that... just don't... I don't want to be shot. Or beheaded. Okay?”
The old man seemed to relax, and he looked like he found something funny. If Ricky were sober he wouldn't be laughing, not on his ass he wouldn't. “Are you drunk?”
Something about the tone made Ricky think of a cop, and so he instinctively lied. “No.” It wasn't likely to stick, but admitting to it only made things worse. Scott belched. “Well, I'm sure that you meant to finish that with saying 'No sir, I'm past being drunk and on to being piss drunk.” He then laughed, as if he'd said something funny. He hadn't. Ricky scowled, and then stumbled, at which the thin kid laughed, until Ricky shot him a glare and he shut up. That's right. “Listen, there's a pretty big group of infected coming behind us, and drunk or not we're trying to get as many people safe as we can. Someone aught to, after all.”
Ricky spat on the floor. “We don't need shit.” Actually, Ricky needed a number of things, including about ten hours of rest, a piss, and perhaps some mouth wash.
The old man just laughed again, “Kid, there's a mob out there that outnumbers our bullets, but if you feel like you three can take them, be my guest. I'd just prefer not to find that the mob behind us just got bigger by three.
Ricky had been ready to tell the old man to fuck himself, but then he flashed back to the woman in the alleyway. He'd shot her, and it hadn't done a thing. A whole horde of those was coming, and Ricky was drunk to boot. Ricky thought about running away, but he'd need to carry Christy, and neither he nor Scott could go far right about then. There was the van. I would just drive real slow... really, really, really slow. Then it would hurt less when we crashed. Damn it. “Yeah, fine... we'll go with you guys. Just know I'm not doing shit you tell me to, old man.”
The old man just smiled, and pointed out to the door. “I'm so glad to hear you'll be joining us. Since you aren't drunk, I'm sure they'll be really happy to have a helping hand. My name's Harris, you can tell them I gave you the okay.”
“Others?”
“You didn't think we were the only people from all those cars did you? We've got a good seventy people in this convoy, all heading out to keep ahead of the infected.”
Ricky grunted in surprise, then went to go try and wake Christy. As he struggled to shake her awake, not eager to carry her out the door in his current state, the man with the bat walked past. There was blood on that bat.

Q-Zone 4 Checkpoint, Boston Massachusetts, US 9:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

The buses kept driving people out to the Refugee Camps, but more people kept coming in to the checkpoint. Things had gone better in Q-Zone 4 than most. There had been holes in the line, like everywhere else, but they had been plugged before they became a major problem, and for the most part the people inside had been cooperative. The same couldn't be said for any of the other Q-Zones, or the sections of Massachusetts where stray cases were popping up. No one from up the chain of command had said anything, but Private Ferros had heard rumors, both from fellow soldiers and from civilians.
There were cases as far away as southern Connecticut, and one person had told him that there was an outbreak in Europe somewhere, but it had sounded too vague to really take to heart. Everyone was scared, and no one was sure what to do. Each Q-Zone had been handled differently, falling under the control of local command, and in once case two Q-Zones wound up overlapping. At some point word had gotten out that they were killing people in the Q-Zones, and ever since there had been protesters outside each of them, and in a few cases they had turned into violent riots.
Everyone was on edge, and the fact that all of the sand bags and machine guns were positioned to watch the inside of the Q-Zone was putting people on edge.
Ferros was stationed watching over the Case One lot, which had become increasingly full as time went on. Before long they would need to set up another section, as putting new Case Ones in was getting harder and harder. The Case Ones themselves were becoming more unnerving. There were all of the ones who had reached the final stage, and had begun howling and rushing the fences every time they saw someone, but beyond that there were the ones who had yet to lose the ability to speak. For the longest time they had only pleaded and begged to be let out, or to be killed, or any number of other things. It didn't leave anyone feeling right, but there wasn't anything that people could do to help them. But in the past hour they had started taking in some who were different. Unlike the others before them, they didn't beg. They preached. The first to do that had come from outside the Q-Zone, a fact that was horrifying all on its own. But the others in the pen had begun taking up the same jeers and ravings, until finally there was a chorus of chanting about 'Damnation', with the howls and snarls of the Case Ones who had already lost it behind them.
Nothing was going right in Boston. There was a fire raging in the distance, and putting it out while evacuating people and controlling the riots was getting to be too much. On top of that, people were going off the grid. There had been reinforcements on their way to the Checkpoint an hour ago, but they never arrived. It didn't help that the constantly shifting command structure led the policy on who could be treated as hostile to change regularly. No one was sure whether to shoot on site, or shoot within a certain range, or whether they were allowed to fire at all. They would fire their weapons if pressed, regardless.
Ferros couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. Q-Zone 4 had probably been the only place not to get hit with some disaster so far, so they were about due.
Looking around, Ferros spotted movement in a window, as it was slowly opened. Ferros stayed still as he watched to see if it was as bad as he thought. As soon as he saw the muzzle start to stick out he shouted out a warning and dove down. Sergeant MacMallin rushed over and took position next to Ferros as the sniper took a shot, missing by a wide margin. “Where is he?”
“Down the road, at the T intersection, red building, third story, corner window on the right.” There was another shot, this one missing as well.
“At least he's a shit shot.” The sergeant un-holstered his radio. “This is Q-Zone 4 Checkpoint, we are under fire, request permission to return fire, over.”
The sniper missed once again as the radio cleared Q-Zone 4 Checkpoint to open fire on armed hostiles. In moments there were dozens of rounds from multiple people sent down range to the window in question. After a few moments of silence, everyone shifted to take up positions watching down the road leading deeper into Q-Zone 4, ready in case the gunman decided to not die, or if he had friends.
“We need to start getting ready for-” the sergeant was interrupted as a loud crack came from behind them, in the Case One pen. MacMallan and Ferros turned to try and discern the cause of the sound, quickly spotting what had happened. There was a spray of red gore from the gate of the pen, and the gate had been blown open. One of the Case Ones had to have somehow smuggled in a bomb, and detonated it by hand to take out the gate. “Son of a bitch! Don't let them out!”
Before everyone could recover the Case Ones were rushing through the open gate, mobbing the closest soldiers and rushing to mix in with the crowd of civilians. Ferros began to fire into the pack of Case Ones, without thinking. He could hear gunfire all around. He stopped firing to look to Sergeant MacMallin, only to see that the man was down on the ground, his throat gushing blood. Looking around Ferros saw that three more windows had opened up in the red building, and they had begun firing. “Snipers!”
Ferros set down to begin firing back, when he heard the sound of screeching tires and screaming beyond the fence, outside the Q-Zone, followed by additional gunfire. Ferros kept firing on the windows, and he was fairly certain he'd hit one of them when a bullet crunched into his shoulder. The pain was so extreme that he felt nothing else, and it almost seemed like there was nothing there at all until he moved his arm again, at which point he nearly blacked out. Ferros dropped his weapon and braced his arm to keep it immobile, trying to regain his senses. Ferros looked around for help, but the attack had been so sudden and so fast that it had wiped out a large number of the guardsmen before they even knew what was happening, and the whole time the Case Ones from the pen were running free, and the civilians were getting in the way of everything. Ferros watched a man drop, coughing up blood and holding his chest.
That was the last guardsman who Ferros could see standing. A few others were down with wounds. Walking among them were several armed men and women in civilian garb, along with one in a fireman's jacket.
“We've got another live one here!” Ferros tried to stay still as they came closer, in the hopes they hadn't meant him, but it was clear they were coming that way. As the woman towards the front who had spoken reached him, she crouched down over Ferros and laughed, taking his pistol from its holster and examining it. She reeked of the foul puss that all of the Case Ones leaked from their mouths. “What's your name soldier boy?”
Ferros groaned, and spat in her face. “Fuck off.”
She laughed again, and spat back at him, the saliva mixing with puss. “Well, Fuckoff, welcome to Damnation.”

Q-Zone 3, Boston Massachusetts, US 10:00 PM, GMT -5, April 6, 2009

Nathan huddled under a pickup truck watching as people bustled about in front of him. They were moving things and setting up little half walls around the large building in the center of a large clear space, with no buildings abutting it. They were carrying boxes of food out of an eighteen wheeler and into the building, and a large team of men was shifting some big generators and bringing them to the building as well. There were a couple of soldiers in with them, and a few police officers, but for the most part they were dressed normally. The fire had burned close to here, but hadn't actually gotten within the distance to threaten them. Nathan had had to crawl through the wet remains of a burnt building, and had scraped his arm on some glass in the rubble, and his body was covered in soot.
Every now and then he would cough, and his whole body ached. The cut, along with a number of smaller scrapes, burned and stung. Every time he cried the soot had filled his eyes, and it had caused a large amount of pain, so Nathan had stopped crying all together. As he lay under the truck, he wasn't sure he could get up. He was thirsty, and he was tired. His throat was too hoarse to call out.
A small group was going around the building, watching the work. They were a few men and women, all clustered around a man who was limping heavily and using a crutch. His injury was recent. They paused next to the truck where Nathan was hiding. The man with the crutch was reassuring the woman to his left of something. Whatever it was, she nodded and walked off, with one of the men in the group going with her. The man with the crutch exchanged a word with one of the men following him, who shortly walked off to trail behind the couple which had left before. It didn't matter to Nathan.
He began pulling himself forward, wheezing, trying to reach the man with the crutch. As he emerged from under the truck the followers all backed away in shock, and one of them drew a gun, but the man with the crutch just turned and watched. Nathan tried to speak, but he couldn't. He tried to get closer, but he couldn't. He tried to stay awake, but he couldn't.


Greg looked down at the charred form beneath him as it fell flat on the pavement. There was still breathing, but it was weak. He looked over to McLannis, the man who had carried him out of the fire back when the truck blew up. It was through him that he had been running his orders while he recovered. The man was a marine himself, home between tours. He was a strictly results oriented man, and Greg took to him quite well. Both of them knew what needed to be done, and how to work together to do it. Where Greg had the ability to lead the crowd into a frenzy, McLannis had the ability to take command of them once the action got going. Having him around was a huge boon, and Greg had been delighted when he showed the same concern to the doubts of the young couple as to not staying in contact with the national guard forces.
Greg and McLannis both knew that whatever the situation was outside of Q-Zone 3, it was worse than inside. Things were falling apart, and falling under the direction of whoever was commanding the situation so far would only put them in the awkward position of either following bad orders, or making a direct confrontation with the National Guard in what was probably a time of Martial Law. If things got under control around them, they would be here, waiting. But it didn't look like that was where things were headed, and so they would instead prepare themselves to defend their ground in Q-Zone 3.
“He isn't going to be hurting anything, sick or not. Flip him over and check the mouth, see if there are any signs of the growths.”
McLannis lowered his gun and rolled the child over. He was covered in cuts and scrapes, all filled with soot, with shards of glass visible in one of his arms. But the mouth, dirty as it was, had now swelling to note. There was no way someone of this side would have been able to last long without turning after being bit, and the soot was largely undisturbed on him. Where ever the boy had come from, he had pulled himself through a hell that had claimed a number of lives, not stopping until he landed here, at the feet of the only two men who knew how to survive in all of Boston. That wasn't chance.
“Take him to the man who fixed up my leg, and get him washed up. And tell me when he's awake.” Whatever it was about this child that guided him through to survive, he had done it, at what had to be no older than four, at best. Greg could respect that, and an inspirational adopted child made a good humanizing feature. It hadn't come up yet, but there was the risk someone would see him as being cold, and adopting this boy would help that.
Being cold wasn't a bad thing. Being seen as cold could cause problems. It was nice to have something to address that.

Tags

Apocalypse, Apocalyptic, Duncreek, Fiction, Lost Humanity, Stories, Story, Zombie, Zombies

Meet the author

author avatar Stephen W. Griffin
Hello, the name is Stephen and I write what would mostly be classed as horror for the entertainment. I wouldn't advice it for children, but it is fun stuff all the same.

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