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Prologue – One Shot to Save a Life
Strange things happen, but I don’t think my life will ever get stranger from here. I got an email from the Curaga Company. They wanted my services as a bodyguard and I agreed, but when I met them, they offered me a different kind of bodyguard job.
They told me they wanted me to, “Be part of the security team that’s escorting part of our next big cure.”
The Curaga Company is known for curing most forms of cancer and other life-ending diseases. They apparently have one part of the cure to a disease they couldn’t disclose to me.
After some explaining, they said, “Do this for us and we’ll be able to cure your daughter of her disease that is thought to be incurable.”
My life has been a series of terrible events until it culminated with the disease that put my daughter in the hospital. I’ve just been working guard jobs to keep myself and my daughter alive as long as possible.
“Why would you want to hire a nobody like me?”
“Because we are impressed by your devotion to your job. Let’s go over a few that sparked our interest the most. When you caught a criminal speeding, you knew that that criminal was part of a protected class of people, but you still defended yourself from him, shot him, and arrested him at the cost of your job as a police officer.”
“You find that particular action impressive? What if I find something I don’t like and think I should bring you to justice?”
“We are confident that we do no wrong. We aren’t some comical corporation of villains who conduct human experiments and make bioweapons. Now, the next thing was when you shot and killed various members of the mafia that owned the club you were a guard of. The report gives us the impression that you didn’t know who truly ran the club, so we’ll shrug off the fact that you were working for them.”
“You will? I took a lot of flak from not realizing it for the first week that I worked there.”
“You freed many women from prostitution. We will. The last thing that you may not want to be reminded of is-”
“I’m sorry, but if this is what I think it is…”
“We’ll keep the details to a minimum. You saved dozens upon dozens of people first before you went to save your family. Unfortunately, the only member of your family you saved was your daughter, so everyone else perished.”
“We’re sorry we had to remind you of that but remember the integrity that you have. It’s what makes you an unappreciated hero in the eyes of many and a dedicated worker. Do not think for a moment that you did the wrong thing by saving those other people first. If you just saved your family, so many more people would be dead and I’m sure your family and others would have a negative view of you. What credit is it to you if you love those who love you, am I right?”
“Yeah…I just don’t want to think about it.”
“So, what do you think? Will you accept our offer?”
“Everything you described before makes this job seem dangerous if you’re keeping it a secret. What will you do if I don’t come back?”
“If someone from your team comes back with the cure, we will cure your daughter for you as a sign of respect. If no one comes back with the cure, then we will release your daughter from the vegetative-like state she is in so she will join you in the afterlife. How does that sound?”
“I guess she doesn’t have any other options. I’ll take the job.”
“Very wise choice, Mr. Retto.”
I was then briefed on what we’re going to do, how we are going to do it, and the plans if things go south. I am given a hazmat suit with body armor and a special pistol that has “fire” bullets as they call them. They are better than normal bullets because they can penetrate harder surfaces and cure people who get infected with the cure we’re after. Apparently, when only one half of the cure is used on an animal, it mutates into a flesh-eating beast that can only be killed with fire or these kinds of bullets. I’m also given a heated knife that will burn the infected, I’m not sure if it’ll be too useful. Regular firearms don’t work on an infect animal as the animal will seemingly grow whatever got blown off in a mutated way that makes them more dangerous.
I’ve seen the videos of this, and man were they horrifying. I hope things don’t turn out that way.
“Hey, Mr. Retto,” a man on the helicopter says to me, “You’ve been staring into space for the past hour. You nearly look dead. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Good because we’re almost there so get ready.”
I look at the picture of my daughter one more time before we land.
“Don’t worry, sir. You’ll see her again.”
“I hope so.”
We’ve landed in a large cavern underneath a waterfall. This place must be extremely top secret for them to hide it like this. The inside of the facility looks incredibly slick and futuristic. There are a lot of experimental rooms that don’t look too bad, but there are rooms with dead mutated animals like the ones I saw from the videos. Those things better stay dead.
The people around us don’t look happy. Some are whispering to each other while the others look frightened. In the briefing, I heard that most of these people are just a hired third party with Curaga members mixed in. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk to any of them nor am I allowed to voice my concerns to my teammates. All I can do is just walk a little faster to get this over with quicker.
We enter a cold storage room with a few scientists in it.
The team leader steps forward and says, “We’re here to collect the other half of the cure. Give us what you have, and you will receive your agreed upon payment in full.”
There’s an uncomfortable silence in the room.
“We decline your payment. It’s not worth it.”
“Then hand over all the research that you have the cure.”
“I don’t think so.”
The scientists pull out guns, but we shoot them dead. I’m sorry it had to be this way. Why did they resist? I’m sure they were paid well to do something worthwhile.
“Hurry and collect the cure.”
“There’s empty slots over here. Are we expecting a certain amount?”
“No, just whatever they have will be useful.”
We take all the vials of the cure, put them in a box, and leave the room as if nothing happened. An alarm then gets rung as wild animals start devouring people. Damn these people! I guess we know where the other vials went. Why couldn’t they make it easy for us?! We use our special ammo on these creatures to kill them, but we waste a few since they’re so fast. Those who were killed reanimate themselves and become the living dead. What the hell is going on? Why are people becoming zombies?
My team is dying around me and turning. I knew something would go wrong and this job would end up turning on me! It’s just the climax to all the bad things that have been happening to me.
These things hit with the force of a sledgehammer. Oh no…
Uhhh…Something hit me with this claw arms and knocked me into a wall. Wait…I’m still alive? Where is everyone? Where did all those zombies go? This place is a mess with blood everywhere, but no bodies or torn flesh anywhere. They do regenerate flesh, so I guess it just collects goes back where it came from. Those things are bound to be around here somewhere, so maybe there are some notes around here that can help me. Ah, I found them near the testing area.
Okay, so the flesh does form together once it’s broken off while regenerating what was lost. That means a huge monster formed of flesh and dangerous appendages could be made if enough flesh is collected together. That better not have happened yet. Oh, there’s also a note in here that says conscious prey is preferred over unconscious victims by the virus. The other people must’ve gotten out somehow if the zombies just left me.
Oh, damn, I almost forgot the other half of the “cure”. Some of the vials are broken, some are missing, but I do find one that’s still intact. This is my daughter’s ticket to being saved. Now I have to find a way out of here. Thankfully this place is straightforward, but I don’t like how quiet and dark it is. It feels like something will jump at me any second. The random sparks and noises have me on edge.
After following the path forward, I find a large set of stairs near a broken elevator. I guess I have to climb the stairs. It appears that people were fighting and dying as they were trying to escape. Wow, this is a lot of stairs. Where is it taking me…oh no. I’m in a town. This is a town that we passed by on the way here. I didn’t think the facility would have an exit to here. I’m in some kind of mechanic’s shop.
Looking out into the streets, I see that it’s littered with zombies and other mutants who are wandering around looking for their next meal. I have to get through them and find a way out of here. I take out my daughter’s head bow and put it on my arm. One of the last things she did for me while she was still mostly conscious was to give me her favorite head bow as a way of her to always be with me. I only have five bullets left to use with my knife being a somewhat useless backup. Your dad is going to help you and I’m going to do risk everything I have to get this cure to you. I promise. I’m going to need you to help me, sweetie.
Chapter 1 – Five Bullets, Hundreds of Enemies
I need to reach Curaga to let them know I’m still alive and that I have the other half of the cure. The communication device on me is all static so I guess I have to reach a radio tower to enhance the signal. Luckily enough, there’s one in the distance. I just have to get there safely without attracting the attention of the hordes of flesh zombies. The flesh zombies are all congregating in the streets and appear to be combining together just by bumping into one another. This doesn’t appear to be deliberate, but this will be a problem if I don’t get out of here quick.
I look around the mechanic’s shop and find a door to the back alley. It’s empty back here and I find a fire exit above me. I use a nearby garbage can to climb my way up to the rooftops. The situation looks way worse up here with most of the streets crowded with flesh zombies. The town doesn’t look that big from where I am. I wonder if anyone is still alive.
While traveling across the rooftops, I do see people trying to fight. They appear to know that these zombies can regenerate, and that fire is the only way to kill them as they’re using sticks with fire on it. They appear to be holding their own so if I interfere, they will probably die, but I have no idea how they’re going to survive. I’m not even sure if Curaga want them to survive. There’s nothing that connects them to the infection except the hidden lab, but no one is going to find it unless they know where it is and unless they can completely burn this town to ashes.
The zombies haven’t noticed me, but I’ve seen them on the rooftops. It looks like they can crawl and climb relatively quickly though I don’t know why I haven’t gotten their attention yet. I know sound and smells have something to do with it. Maybe it’s because they seem to be focused on fusing with one another. They appear to know that fusing makes them stronger. I see two trying to break into a store. They meld together with each other to finally break down the door then turn around to meld with a few others before going into the store. That place better be empty.
Some of the zombies that have noticed me are a pain to deal with since I have so little that’s effective in dealing with them. I throw whatever I find on the roof at them and sometimes light things on fire with the heat from my knife to keep them away. This is already turning into a big problem especially since I’m so close to the radio tower. Hold on. It might not be. I see a bar not too far from here. I quickly get to it and start making as many molotov cocktails as I can. This place looks like it was a hideout before it was overrun. Who would want to make this place their hideout? It looks like they escaped out a secret exit behind the bar, which is where I’m going because the zombies are coming in.
Before leaving, I make sure the bar is set ablaze so the town can catch fire. The zombies won’t react to the fire until they feel its heat and by the time that happens, they all should be spreading the fire to one another. Now that I’m out of the bar, I sparingly use my molotovs on the crowds of zombies around me so they’re pre-occupied as I get to the radio tower. Once I reach the tower, I’ve used up all of my molotovs. I could only make so many in the time that I had. Damn. I can see in the distance that the bar collapsed on itself and some of the zombies are sacrificing themselves to put out the fire. At least there aren’t any zombies around here and I should have enough time to ask questions.
I link up my radio to the radio tower and call to Curaga, “Come in command. This is Retto. I’m-”
“We know you’re still alive, and we’re glad because of it.”
“What? How do you know?”
“The armor and equipment we gave you tell us your status and health. I guess that got brushed over in the briefing.”
“I’m not even going to question how, but what I’m going to need extraction. Several workers of yours didn’t want to give up half of the cure and-”
“We know what happened. The cameras there link directly back to our main headquarters.”
“Why didn’t they want to give us the other half of the cure?”
“It’s because they didn’t like the fact that they could only make it with our funding and that they won’t the major credit. It’s a thing of pride really. We are the leader in medical advances and the biggest in the business for a reason. Most other companies partner up with us nowadays just for a chance to be noticed and profit.”
“Having a monopoly isn’t as fun as it sounds, is it?”
“It’s not our fault most of the customers and governments in the world decided to choose us for all their medical needs. Well, maybe it’s partially our fault. We’re highly charitable to the world and our workers, and it seems that it was our downfall for this event, but you can change that if you bring us the cure. You can still save your daughter. We already have a helicopter going to the roof of the police station, which is the safest part of town that the helicopter can land on. Be quick about getting there. From what we see from our satellites is that the flesh is growing at a rapid rate, despite your efforts, and will soon overtake the town.”
“What about any survivors?”
“If there are any, you must make them escape on their own if you want to save them. They cannot escape with you because they may exaggerate what happened here and put all the blame on us. Finding evidence to prove our innocence will be difficult with how things are. Besides our recording of the recent event, we have no other evidence for our case. The traitors must’ve done all their planning outside of our facilities so that it looks like we are at fault for this outbreak.”
“Are you sure about the survivors? It doesn’t look like there’s any way to escape by vehicle or on foot. Do you really think that they’ll just blame the outbreak on you and not take us on our word?”
“Unfortunately, it’s the way things are going to have to be. This outbreak is the reason their home is destroyed. It is not likely that they will cooperate with us. Mr. Retto, you must be getting to the extraction point now. The helicopter is quickly approaching and once it lands, it cannot wait for long because of the dangers in the town. Good luck and Godspeed.”
I guess that’s the way things are going to have to be. The police station isn’t that far from here but getting there is another story. What am I going to do? What the? An explosion went off on one side of town. It looks like it took half the block with it. There’s my chance to move. I’m hoping what caused the explosion isn’t what I think it was because I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with it. Before going, I take one look at a picture of my daughter to give me strength then head out.
The now barren streets where the zombies once were are covered in blood without one piece of bone or flesh in sight. It looks like the explosion that gathered them together may prove to be a problem. Thankfully I find a nearby gun store. There should be something here I can use to keep the zombies at bay even if it isn’t that effective. Maybe there are some grenades I could use? Please?
Oh no. A group of four people come into the gun shop. We point our guns at each other.
“Who are you?” a slender man who looks like a gambler says.
“I’m just a survivor like you.”
“Really? Because I’ve never seen anyone wear anything that you do.”
“We don’t have time to interrogate him,” the teenaged girl says, “Are you going to let us take what we need from this shop or not?”
“You can have whatever you want as long as I take what I need.”
I slowly lower my weapon first as the other four lower theirs. They then look through the shop while I go back to looking for explosives.
“What’s your plan, mister?” the teenaged girl asks me.
“I’m going to the police station then getting out of here.”
“Huh. Do you have someone there waiting for you?”
“I’m meeting someone there, so yes.”
“What’s your name?”
“Call me, Mr. Morte.”
“I thought you said we don’t have time to interrogate him.”
“Shut it, Tony. I can talk to him if I want to. Did you find what we need?”
“Then mind your own business. Don’t mind him, Mr. Morte. He hasn’t learned how to listen to his superiors yet because he’s a rookie.”
“You guys are cops?”
“Yeah, and I’m the daughter of the chief of police, so you know I’m tough.”
“I used to be an officer until I did my job as an officer and brought a person of a protected class to justice.”
“If you were an officer here, you wouldn’t have been fired. Heck, I’d say you be promoted to chief of police just for that one act. You can still be since my father recently died and the position’s open.”
“Thank you, but I have to decline. I have to get a job done first.”
“Suit yourself then. We can escort you to the station. Think of it as a favor from one officer to another.”
“I’m fine on my own. You need to get out of town before it’s too late. I’m sure you’ve seen the growing number of flesh zombies that are melding together to form one enormous freak of nature.”
“You call those things flesh zombies? We just call them the flesh.”
“Don’t ignore my point. I’m used to doing jobs on my own. You don’t need to worry about me.”
“Listen, old man. The place we’re going to is past the police station, and we’re going to need more weapons from the armory there, so we’re not bothering you if we tag along.”
She really wants to help even though she doesn’t know me. Her dad must’ve taught her well. I respect that, but I don’t want to be dishonest with her. I’ll have to make sure they leave before I’m picked up.
“If you’re going to be so persistent about it, then I guess I don’t have a choice. You can come along.”
“You got that right.”
Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention. It’s a flesh zombie that’s crawling on the glass outside of the gun store and it’s noticed us.
“Watch out!” I try to say as quickly as possible before the zombie attacks while pulling out a shotgun.
The zombie juts out its sharp bone-like tongue through the head of one of the cops. I shoot the zombie three times along with the other cops until the zombie is paste.
“Damn it!” Tony says as I gather my things.
I take out my knife, burn the remains of their friend, then burn the remains of the zombie.
“What are you doing?”
“These zombies come back to life and tougher if you don’t burn everything. Don’t you know that?”
“No. We’ve been surviving for a while and haven’t figured that out. How did you?”
“I pay more attention.”
Crowds of zombies start appearing around us.
“What the heck?” Clarrisa says as she readies her weapons, “I thought that explosion we made would’ve held their attention for longer.”
“I think we attract them more than sound.”
I take out the grenade launcher I found and start blowing up the nearby cars to start fires in the streets.
“Let’s hurry!” I say as I run through an alley, which is the only area without zombies.
I’m glad and terrified at the same time that I have help with me. What am I going to do to save their lives while also keeping my secret? I’m going to have to come up with an answer soon, and I already know that it’s going to be difficult.
Chapter 2 – A Biohazardous Residence
How many people live in this town? These streets are swarming with flesh zombies. I’ve been following Clarissa to get to the police station, but every place we go seems to be crowded with the undead.
“Let’s take a shortcut through the grand hotel,” Clarissa says as she points at the large hotel in front of us.
Since I don’t know any other better ways, I follow her into the hotel where we sit down and take a breather. This place has been boarded up and reinforced with furniture in certain entrances, so someone was definitely here. The lights aren’t on, so I’m assuming this place doesn’t have any power. There are signs of fighting with blood in certain places but no bodies, which is worrying. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to see dead bodies as much as I wanted to in my life before.
“We should get moving. Those things will be melding with one another to break down the doors and I don’t want to be around to see that abomination,” I say as I get up.
“He’s right. Let’s move,” Clarrisa says as she follows after me.
“Do you know the way out of here to get to the station?”
“Yeah. It’s a straightforward path.”
“It doesn’t look like it’ll be with all of the junk in the hallways.”
“I can find a way around it. My friends and I always used to play hide and seek in this place when we were kids, so I know this place inside and out. I even know the little secret areas like the ones where the janitors kept their pinups of women. There was one photo that I found that was a ‘questionable’ photo let’s say of one of the employees.”
“That’s good to know.”
“So how did a cop like you get a job that landed you in our humble little town?”
“I got an email then traveled down here for the job. It’s not an exciting story.”
“What job did you get?”
“Why does it matter, and why do you keep asking?”
“There’s no reason to keep quiet because those things know where we are, and I’d like to know more about you since you seem to be an interesting fella.”
We hear noises that sound like walking that makes us jump.
“You two can flirt later. Guns up,” Tony says.
We get closer to the noises until we see what’s causing it. Apparently, someone left a birdcage near a barricade and it’s been knocking down some of the luggage that’s blocking the hallway. We let out a sigh of relief.
“We should take this little guy with us. He could warn us when danger arrives.,” Clarrisa says as she grabs the bird’s cage.
“Why do you even ask when you just do it?” Tony asks.
“Who said I asked?”
We then enter a large dining hall with various kinds of supplies in it. Gas, food, makeshift weapons, and some guns are strewn about everywhere. It looks like the people here left in a hurry and took what they could. They didn’t leave any explosives, but the gas will be useful when the zombies get in. Tony and the other guy are eating what they can while Clarrisa is feeding the bird and herself.
“Do you want something, Mr. Morte? This may be your only chance to eat something,” Clarrisa says to me.
Even though I am hungry, I probably shouldn’t show them my face.
“What? Don’t want to show us your face or are you trying to be a big man?”
“No, I’m just not hungry. Besides, we can’t sit down for long.”
“You can’t take a quick bit of something? Maybe you’re wearing that gas mask for some other reason we don’t know.”
“I don’t know. Do you think the air is infected?”
“I don’t think it is.”
Curaga never mentioned part of the cure affecting the air, so it shouldn’t be airborne in any way. Clarrisa walks over to me and stares me down with a smile.
“Stop messing around,” Tony says.
“Shut up,” Clarrisa commands him.
“If Morte wants to keep his secrets, let him. We’re going to leave him soon anyway.”
“His secrets are why I want to know more about him.” Clarrisa starts to take off my mask, but I grab her hand. She then pulls her pistol on me. “If you don’t let me see your face, then I will show you that the flesh will be the least of your worries.”
Not wanting to cause any trouble, I let her take off my mask. Everyone looks at me, including the bird for some reason.
“Do you know him? Because I sure as hell don’t,” Tony says.
“No, I don’t. He does look handsome for an old man though,” Clarissa says while putting my mask back on.
Thank you, God, no one knows who I am.
“I’m flattered, now can you stop messing around?”
“What? Don’t like a pretty girl getting close to you?”
The bird starts flying around in its cage seconds before a loud bang is made outside the hall. They’re in. Heavy footsteps walk through the hallway and stop outside the hall. We all have our guns up as we stand in the center of the room in case we get flanked from behind. The footsteps then cease for a couple seconds before what’s making them breaks through the wall.
It’s a large zombie with bones around every part of its body except for the bottom part of its face and its chest. We open fire on the creature as it charges at us. Bullets don’t slow it down, and I’ve already run out of grenade launcher ammo, so we dodge out of the way. It appears that it’s down for now as it’s slumped on the corner of the wall. I have to burn this thing somehow before it comes back worse than before.
“It’s not going to be dead for long. Help me burn it. Let’s move!” I say as I quickly run over to it.
First, I try to move the thing so that I can burn its flesh since its bone burns, but the fire isn’t burning through it, and the damn thing is too heavy. Even with the help of the other three, we can’t move the hulking monster.
“There’s only one option if we want to prevent this thing from coming back,” I say to the three, “We have to light up the wall this thing is on with gas, but the fire will probably light the rest of this place, and I doubt the sprinklers are working.”
“It’s really going to be like that, huh?” Tony asks as he flips open his lighter.
“That’s what it’s going to have to be,” Clarrisa says as she pours the gas on the monster.
After Clarrisa is finished pouring the gas, I light it on fire, and I quickly follow her out of the room. More sounds that sound like the zombies breaking in are made around the hotel. I make a short line from the gas can I have to the rest in the hall and light it on fire.
“Move! Move!” I say as the hotel begins to burn.
Clarrisa leads us through the halls of the hotel, some of which are blocked. The zombies start breaking through the ceilings and walls with some of them armored with bone, others have nothing but sharp bones on their bodies, and some are just half heads with mouths for bodies. We shoot these zombies or run away if we can. Suddenly, the hotel shakes as a loud noise is made.
“What was that?!” Tony frantically asks.
“It doesn’t matter. Keep moving!” I say as I keep running.
The zombie horde keeps breaking into the hotel and we keep mowing through them until we reach a dead end.
“This is the only other way out!”
“Maybe there’s another way.”
The wall behind us is broken down by a massive monster made of flesh. It’s a mess of faces, bones, eyes, teeth, mouths, arms, legs, and other body parts are all together in a mesh of horror. Without saying anything, Tony and I start firing at the atrocity with everything we got while Clarrisa and the other guy start taking out the luggage and tables from the barricade. I don’t think my fire bullets will do anything, so my trump card is out the window. Shooting its eyes, inside its mouth, and its appendages slows it down a bit, but it isn’t slowing down as much as I want it to.
Our backs are almost against the wall, so I start helping clear the barricade by throwing the luggage into the atrocity’s mouth, which actually chokes it up a bit. No wonder why it shoved it aside. I didn’t think it mattered, but once all of its mouths are full, it doesn’t matter anymore. Thankfully, the way is clear now to an exit without a door, so we just run through it, but the other guy who I don’t know is taken in by one of its tendrils and eaten whole. We shouldn’t have stopped firing at it. There’s nothing we can do for him, so I push Tony and Clarrisa outside and away from the hotel.
“I’m sorry, but he’s gone,” I say to them.
“It’s still coming after us!” Clarrisa says as she points at it.
That thing is larger than I think because it’s leaking out of all the floors of the hotel. Dammit! Is this thing made of all the zombies in the town?! The three of us shoot at it to slow it down as we back away. The good news is that the building is burning, which is probably one of the reasons why it was coming at us so fast. I look around for something to help us and see a gas station behind us.
I tell the two, “There’s a gas station behind us. We can use the gas there to make the fire spread faster!”
“I’ll get the gas! Hold it off!” Tony says as he runs to the gas station.
Clarrisa and I hold off the atrocity as it tries to stab and grab us with its long tendrils. The fire is making it weaker, but it’s still putting up quite a fight with all the appendages it has. It’s like the hotel itself is the monster. Tony comes back with four canisters of gas, but the atrocity catches him.
“Tony!” Clarissa yells out.
“Don’t worry, chief! I got this!”
Tony pour the gas on the atrocity and himself and lights both of them on fire. Tony is screaming out in agonizing pain, but I can tell he is satisfied with his decision with a small smirk on his burning face. The atrocity doesn’t appear to be dead, but at least it isn’t moving towards us anymore.
Clarrisa is crying for her friend, so I try to comfort her by putting my hand on her shoulder while saying, “He’s a hero, Clarrisa.”
“And I’m proud of him. For a rookie, you knew what to do when faced with a difficult decision. Now…you’re going to take me with you.”
“What? No. You don’t want to be with me. I’ll just be slowing you down since I have to wait at the station.”
“My plan was to escape with those two but you’re the only one I can go with now.”
“I’m not escaping until I need to do what I need to at the police station. Just find a car and escape with it without me. There shouldn’t be many more zombies in the town so you should have a clear shot out of here.”
“I’m not leaving without you. I’m the only cop left in this town and I’m not going to leave another one to die. You’re taking me with you and that’s it.”
“Good. I knew you’d see it my way.”
Clarrisa and I walk to the police station, which I see in the distance. The streets are empty, and the danger appears to have diminished, but what am I going to do with Clarrisa?
Chapter 3 – Chekhov’s Gun
We’re almost to the police station and there hasn’t been one single flesh zombie in sight. This feels so wrong compared to before where I couldn’t look in a single direction without seeing one of those things, but the town seems completely empty now. It makes sense because of what we just fought though it feels like there should be more. This makes things difficult for me in how I need to get rid of her. I’m hoping that either the people in the helicopter or in Curaga will change their mind if I can convince them that she can come with me. They must have seen what happened. They must know that she can be useful.
She’s sticking close to me while looking around and looking down at the ground every few seconds. Poor girl just lost her home and everyone she knew. There has to be something I can do.
“We’re here,” Clarrisa says as we arrive at the front of the police station.
This place isn’t heavily barricaded so it’s easy to slip into. The inside of the station barely has any blood in it and the place is mostly clean with a few things lying around as if someone was trying to leave after a normal Friday and they just wanted to go home. We pass by the armory and find that most of the guns are gone, but we do find some ammo and leftover grenades.
“We should take these just in case,” I say.
“You don’t think there are more out there, do you?”
“Better to be safe than sorry.”
“My dad always said that. He always warned me not to get into danger unless I knew I could get out.”
“He’s a smart man. I told my own daughter something similar.”
“You have a daughter?”
“Yeah. She has an incurable disease.”
“Is this job to help her?”
“Yes, it is.”
“I have a feeling you know more about this outbreak of flesh zombies than you let on. Is it true?”
Why does she really have to ask me this now?
She continues, “I know you’re an experienced officer, so you must be trained in knowing when someone’s lying, but that also must mean you know how to lie. You’ve been leaving just enough details in what you say and enough honesty in your voice to convince me that you’re an honest man, so be honest with me.”
“Your dad taught you how to be a good cop. I’m sure he’s proud of you.”
“Dad didn’t raise his daughter to be an airhead. Give me an honest answer.”
“The honest truth is that I was sent here to retrieve part of a cure that caused this outbreak, but the people who worked with us rebelled because they wanted the credit and fame for themselves. The cure itself can cure millions of people including my daughter, but when it’s separate, it’s deadly. Don’t blame the cure makers. Just blame the selfish pricks who didn’t want to cooperate because they weren’t going to get the credit they wanted.”
“Can you tell me who you work for?”
“You can figure that out on your own. A helicopter is coming here to pick me up with half the cure, but they don’t want anyone coming with me because they don’t trust you. That’s why you have to escape on your own.”
“They’re not much of a company that wants to help people if they want to leave me for dead.”
“They don’t want you dead. They just would rather you didn’t know who they were because you might not understand that it wasn’t their fault.”
“If that’s the way it’s going to be, then I will figure it out on my own.”
“I know you will. Now, go get a vehicle and leave.”
Clarrisa leaves with her weapons. She’s going to find the answers she wants or Curaga is going to find her. I just know it. I hope they don’t do anything bad…oh no.
A large tendril is about to hit Clarrisa through a window, so I push her out of the way before it hits her.
“Get out of here! Hurry!”
“How about you follow your own advice, old man?!”
Right. I head up the stairs as tendrils begin to pierce through them. Is that atrocity from before still alive or is this a different one? Whatever the answer is, I’m sure I’ll find out soon. When I get up to the roof, I look into the distance to see my helicopter, but when I look off one ledge I almost get hit with a tendril. I throw a few grenades I have off the ledge and after they all blow up, I slowly approach the ledge and look down to see a mess of burnt flesh, body parts, faces, and mouths. It’s definitely the same atrocity as before, but it’s smaller now and looks as if it cut off part of itself. Maybe it knew to do that so it could survive. There’s some kind of heart or core in the center of the mess that has veins connecting it together. I shoot at it and nothing happens. Even my last couple grenades don’t do anything.
Suddenly, I hear my helicopter and before I know it, it’s landing on the roof. When I look back down, I see that the atrocity is regenerating. My fire bullets are probably the only good weapon I can use. I then see a police car driving away. She finally gets out, but the atrocity gets up and runs with its many legs after Clarrisa. My normal bullets don’t do anything on the charred legs and body, and it’s already too far for my pistol shots to hit it. Damn it!
“Get in the chopper already!” I hear someone from the helicopter say.
I can’t do anything to help her now. Unless…
I get into the helicopter and tell the pilot, “Chase after that police car! That officer needs help!”
“Okay, but we aren’t stopping. Use the turret if you really want to do some real damage.”
I quickly get to the turret and unload whatever I can as we fly over Clarrisa, but I can only land so many shots that slow the atrocity down by a little. If only I had used my fire bullets on the core when I had the shot, then she wouldn’t have had any trouble escaping. It sounds like she’s taking sharp turns as she tries to dodge the atrocity. It’s on her tail. Come on Clarrisa…
“You still have half the cure, right?” the pilot asks.
“I got it.”
“It’s amazing that you survived. I heard that it was Hell on earth down there.”
“It was. I got out by the skin of my teeth thanks to a group of cops.”
“Is that who was in that car?”
“Yeah. There’s only one of them that survived.”
“That’s tough. They’re going to have a slim chance of survival especially with what’s coming next.”
“What do you mean?”
“They didn’t tell you? Here, use this comm device to ask them.”
The pilot gives me a communication device and I say into it, “This is Retto. I’m aboard the helicopter a-”
“We’re so glad you escaped, Mr. Retto. We knew we could rely on you. You’re just in time as well.”
“In time for what?”
“We were going to tell you, but we thought you already had so much rushing you that we thought it was better not to tell you about the nuke coming in.”
“That’s the only way to truly clean the city. Any other way would just risk another outbreak.”
“Delay it! I rescued an officer who is trying to avoid an abomination of flesh while trying to escape.”
“Then we can only pray and hope that the officer escapes. We cannot call off the nuke especially since we’ve already pulled so many strings to get it deployed in the first place.”
I hit the side of the helicopter.
“Damn it! I should’ve brought her with me. If you only let me bring her with me-”
“Then you would’ve been in greater danger. We don’t believe in the exchange of lives, but you must think about the lives that will be saved with what you have. Don’t worry about the woman. If you think she is capable, she will escape.”
“We will be seeing you soon with your reward, Mr. Retto, and don’t look directly into the explosion of the nuke, otherwise, you’ll be blinded.”
“Thanks for the tip.”
About thirty seconds pass before the town is nuked. I look at the aftermath and see that everything around the town is destroyed too. I guess the explosion had to be massive in order to destroy any infected creatures that might’ve wandered out of the town. Clarrisa is a smart girl, but I don’t know if she made it. If she did die…I don’t know. I can’t let myself worry about it now.
In the following days, my daughter is cured and is now perfectly healthy along with millions of other people. Even though I didn’t help in making the cure, my name is included with the others who did make it, which has given me some fame in the industry and government. I’m also set for life with the amount of money that Curaga has given me along with free healthcare, which is a nice bonus, however, I can’t get the events I went through out of my head.
My daughter and I now live in a nice small house for the two of us filled with all the things she wants. Pictures of my family, accomplishments, and all her toys and dolls in shelves for everyone to see. I don’t care for the look of the house, but I put my foot down when she suggests things such as putting up purple, red, and pink curtains all over the house to make it look fancier. My daughter goes to a special school to catch up on what she missed, and she’s doing well. I didn’t expect anything less from my daughter.
Speaking about daughters, Clarrisa is still on my mind. My daughter keeps reminding me of her because she wants to be an officer like me and acts tough and asks questions like how Clarrisa did. It may just be me being too hard on myself, but I could’ve saved more people if I actually used my fire bullets. I didn’t because I was afraid of exposing myself and risking my daughter’s life. Sure, the lives of millions of others were at stake, but in my mind, if I can’t save a single life, then I can’t save anyone. I’ve talked to psychiatrists at Curaga and they’ve told me to be easier on myself and the priests I see tell me the same. I guess I should just let it go, but I feel like I’m turning my back on my calling since I do nothing nowadays besides reading theology and philosophy books, instead of looking for guard jobs or at least trying to get back into law enforcement.
On one normal day, I get a knock at the door. A man dressed in a casual suit greets me and says, “We at Curaga have uses for your skills again if you wish to aid in the saving of more lives. What do you say, Mr. Retto?”
We talk about the pay and who will take care of my daughter then I say, “I accept, but please, call me Mr. Morte.”
A Catholic self-published author that writes to entertain and teach. Writes mostly horror, fantasy, and short story fiction.
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