Six rounds of 7.62×39, and two of 9×18. Tatania shook her head, that wasn’t much of an arsenal. Somewhere along the way she’d lost her Nepalese Kukri. She liked that big knife, it could easily separate a zombie’s head from its shoulders, and it had.
Looking in the shattered mirror several gray faces stared back at her.
She didn’t feel different, other than the desire to puke every few minutes. Yet she knew they’d treat her like one of them. After being mauled and scratched enough that she knew there was no chance of making it out uninfected she fought her way to the church going hand to hand with the beasts.
She sat huddled in the bathroom crying like a little girl. The barrel of her pistol found her chin as her finger touched the trigger. “Four pounds.” She whispered to herself, knowing how easy it would be to take her life. A bead of sweat rolled down her brow and stung her eye.
Her life hung by a trigger finger for what seemed like an hour. The pounding in her ears was deafening as her heart fought her head for her life.
She put the pistol down and sniffed. “What are you doing Tatania? Are you Spetsnaz or not?”
Something moved outside the door. She leveled the Markarov at the door as the knob turned. “Don’t shoot.” a muffled voice slid under the door.
Tatania took up slack on the trigger, aligning the front and rear sights with the door. Had the ZDF come to finish her off?
“Oh come on I heard you crying.”
Tatania put two rounds through the door.
The owner of the voice, a male, screamed in an undignified manner and fell to the floor. “Stupid crazy bitch! You could have killed me!”
“That’s the idea.”
“Woah hold the phone, we’re on the same side here!”
Tatania holstered the now empty pistol and pointed her rifle at the door.
“Oh come on you’re a carrier just like me. Haven’t you noticed your skin turning gray yet? You’re a zombie… well sorta, but the ZDF sure thinks you’re one.”
“Who are you?”
“You’re the one who shot at us aren’t you?”
There was a long pause, “Yes… you were interfering with my mission.”
“Mission? What mission? You’re a zombie!”
“Carrier. There is a difference. And if you hadn’t noticed so are you.”
Tatania sat quietly for a moment, her finger off the trigger of her Kalashnikov rifle. “What mission?”
“Getting our kind out of Contagion Research.”
“Carriers. You have no idea what those ‘scientists’ have done to us. I need your help, there aren’t many of us Carriers and the ZDF have all the good toys.”
Her curiosity turned to rage when she remembered seeing Guy’s fingers soaked in his own blood. “You shot Guy! Why should I help you?” She asked tucking the AK-47 tighter into her shoulder.
“What? Oh that man who was with you? He was infected. I was doing you a favor.”
“A favor?” Her knuckles turned white on pistol grip of the weapon. “How was shooting him a favor?”
“He was going to turn anyway. He was as good as dead.”
Tatania felt like firing her remaining rounds into this David man’s face. “How could you tell? You shot him from a couple hundred feet away.”
He let out a long sigh, “Look, you don’t know it yet but as a Carrier you’ll be able to smell the infected.”
“Nice story.” The pad of her finger met the metal of the trigger and took up the slack.
“If I was trying to kill you I could have shot you when you went after the corpse. I missed on purpose.”
“Bullshit! I felt the wind from the rounds.”
“I know… I know, you probably don’t believe a thing I’m saying but you’re going to have to trust me.”
“Because if you want to live you have to.” Something metallic hit the floor. “I’ve got a Claymore mine in front to the door. If you put down your weapons and come out slowly I won’t set it off.
“If I decide to stay in here?”
“Well let’s just say you’ll be redecorating the bathroom.”
She hesitated, how could she trust the man who had shot Guy? If it came down to it she was satisfied she could overpower the man and break his neck, or at least choke him to death.
“Alright I’m coming out.” She called through the door, as she hit the mag release rocking the steel magazine forward letting it clatter to the floor. She pulled the charging handle back and the loaded round flew through the air, disappearing amid shattered porcelain and tile.
The Markarov was already empty but she dropped the mag and racked the slide anyway.
“That’s it? Two guns? What no hold-out?”
Tatania rolled her eyes, this David man was getting on her bad nerve. “My hold-out was my knife. But those bastards took it from me when I got swarmed.”
“Since you’re Spetsnaz I’m sure you know what a M18 Claymore does to a person. So don’t do anything stupid.”
The young woman closed her eyes and listened for the mans muffled breathing, or perhaps a uneasy shifting step on broken glass. Nothing. He was a trained killer. Great.
Wait. He was shifting his weight back and forth. Perhaps he was nervous.
Silently she stooped down and grabbed a large chunk of broken tile off the floor. Slipping it up her sleeve she approached the door.
“What are you doing?” He called, obviously annoyed.
She cleared her throat, “Making peace with my god.” Time for you to do the same. Tatania thought.
She opened the door, pulling it back ever so slowly. He wasn’t lying about the anti-personnel mine.
“Step out, hands up.”
She complied, what else could she do? The M4 Carbine barrel leveled at her head made things a bit more difficult.
“Turn around, hands on your head, cross your legs.”
Kneeling on broken tile wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do but she bit her lip and pushed through the pain. A second person was standing nearby, behind her. Damn.
“What are you going to do with me?”
Their silence was deafening. “Where do you get all your toys?”
“There’s a National Guard Armory in the Dead Zone, not far from here.” This David man said looking through an Aimpoint, the red dot centered on her head no doubt.
The second stood behind her, maybe she could swing around and brain him with the bit of rubble before…
Burlap and rope.
“Коза Насильник!” She screamed, reverting to her native tongue.
A hard kick to the ribs.
After regaining her breath she laughed, “You kick like a pussy!” She said from behind the potato sack.
“Dave! Jim! What are you doing?” A feminine voice called from across the church.
Whispered voices spoke in muffled tones. Tatania was content to lie on the pile of rubble for now as her captors fought amongst themselves.
“She’s ZDF! I don’t care if she’s a carrier like us…”
The woman fired back, “She WAS ZDF, but they don’t make exceptions for our kind. They… hold on.” A single nine millimeter shot rang out. The casing hit Tatania on the head. A body hit the floor. “I didn’t like the way that one was looking at me.”
“Sue, those stupid pricks are all brainwashed. A zombie is a zombie to them.”
“We’re not zombies!” Tatania was beginning to like this woman whoever she was. “Sure we’re carriers, but last I checked we’re human.”
The other male… Jim coughed, “Let’s get outta here. I’d imagine the Zed heads will want to flatten this place.”
David said, “Well pick her up and let’s fall back to the shelter.”
“Screw that noise. I’m gonna get a Berserker to do that. Hold on.” He said as he crawled over a bit of rubble.
Tatania’s throat was dry. A Berserker? How was he going to get one? The man returned a couple minutes later with a beast with heavy footsteps.
“Hey Crapsack pick her up!” Jim yelled at the infected monster. Surprisingly it obeyed.
It grunted again, hairy arms roughly grabbed her. I’m dead… this is it. It’s going to tear my throat out. She thought as it lifted her effortlessly into the air.
For some reason it didn’t kill her. But she wasn’t so sure her captors would be so merciful.
Kate stared at the hypodermic needle and the two burly orderlies standing next to the “doctor.”
“Now, now my dear, you just got infected. It happens.” He grinned again, “The Dead Zone wins again.”
She had always hated that saying. It was defeatist and stupid. Safe Zone had held out for three years.
Kate’s jaw clenched as her fingernails dug into her palms. This is it. Fight or die. She said to herself as the first orderly pushed his way into the cell.
Her fingers found his eyes, as she screamed and clawed. The orderly fell back and grabbed his face. The second one grabbed her wrist; his fingers were like iron as they crushed her skin.
The Doctor closed the distance as her other arm was grabbed and wrenched back. Dr. Pasteur shoved the needle forward like a knife. Kate lashed out with her foot, barely connecting with his thumb. Undaunted the doctor continued his “procedure.”
Into the forearm of the orderly.
Releasing his iron grip to pull the hypodermic out the broad shouldered man gasped as he realized he’d just become infected. While the first man got up off the floor.
Kate punched the doctor in the throat before leaping for the open cell door. She was glad for the ZDF basic training the school district had forced her to take.
Freedom was right there! Just a few more steps and she would… hit the concrete floor hard.
The first orderly had managed to grab her bad leg. Kate found his nose with her foot, it made a satisfying crunch as it broke. Scrambling to her feet she made it out of the cell.
Full throttle she ran down the hallway of the “quarantine ward.” A startled ZDF trooper with wide eyes holding a food tray yelped as her shoulder hit him in the gut. Applesauce and baked beans decorated the walls.
“Stop her! She’s infected!” The doctor yelled, his high pitched voice echoing off the concrete.
Kate didn’t look back as she ran through the gate and headed for the fire exit.
A high pitched little voice stopped her cold.
“Hola Mrs. Morris!”
She turned and faced the bars, a young boy stood wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt two sizes too large. His gray skin made him appear at first glance to be a zombie. But he was smiling at her.
“Si soy yo.”
“But… but they told me you were dead.” Tears welled up in the corner of her eyes, “They said I…”
“But I’ve got to save you… again.”
The first grader shook his head, “I’m okay. They say they want me for bio… logical research. I even get toys. And when I’m good a Super Game System and everything.”
“Bye!” He said before turning back to his toys.
Alarms began blaring as she made it out into the cool night air.
She raced up the stairs, out into the courtyard, toward the gate. Her feeling of exhilaration turned to shock as something hard hit her in the stomach. She fell, clutching her gut, unable to breathe. Looking up from the ground a weapon with a blaze orange stock and for end was pointed at her. The wielder looked blurry as involuntary tears clouded her vision.
The unmistakable sound of a Remington 870 shotgun being racked made her blood run cold. She would have given anything to not be shot with another beanbag. The lead shot encased in a cloth pouch could take the fight out of a large drunken man.
Writhing on the ground in pain rough hands grabbed her. Hoisted to her feet Dr. Pasteur showed up moments later. She wanted to kick him but her feet wouldn’t obey. She wanted to spit in his face but her mouth was dry. She wanted to scream and yell but she could hardly breathe.
So she did the only thing she could do.
Kate smiled knowing he couldn’t stick her in front of the ZDF troops.