Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IN THE FLESH: PART THIRTY
Genre: Horror (Zombies)
Carson Ryder: Former marine/Former police officer/Suffers from retrograde amnesia/ Searching for clues to his past/Lost his wife and daughter
Taryn Mills: Survivor found outside the Starlight Hotel/Lost her boyfriend, George Verdi, to the Biters/Not afraid to use a gun/No known family
Nikki Fox: Former registered nurse/Never married/Lost contact with her family during the first initial weeks of the outbreak
Reggie White: Born and raised in Arkansas/Has never left the state before
Scotty Loomis: Originally from Utah/Friends with Reggie/A perpetual fountain of random facts and useless information
Corey Smith: Doomsday prepper/Lives in a fortified compound with a tremendous arsenal of weapons
Paul Langstrom: Former police officer/Originally from Detroit/Transferred to NYPD in 2008/Worked narcotics
Luke Chen: Runner/Competed in the Olympics/Knows how to use a gun but he prefers a katana
Dominic DeVito: Originally from New York/Not too bright/Afraid to use a gun for fear of shooting himself or someone else
Amy Greene: First survivor who was taken in by Corey/She is a recovering alcoholic
IN THE FLESH
By Daniel Skye
FIGHT TO THE DEATH
Day Three Hundred and Eleven.
They had made it safely down the shaft, all the way past the basement floor. They had discovered the underground lab that Willard Pickman had spoken of. And they had stumbled upon what was left of the cure.
Someone had already beaten them to the punch. And they had smashed every vial. In a matter of seconds, all hope was lost. They weren’t going to be heroes. They weren’t going to save the world. They felt like fools just for thinking they could make a difference.
“I don’t get it…” Corey trailed off. “Who would do this?”
“Eli Carver,” Ryder said. “He’s still out there. I told you we should’ve killed him when we had the chance.”
“You don’t know it was him for sure.”
“The only other people who knew about this place are dead,” Ryder pointed out.
“Ok, maybe it was Eli. It doesn’t make any difference now. We failed.”
“No we didn’t,” Paul said, sifting through the shards of broken glass. In the jagged debris, he found two unscathed vials, still sealed.
* * *
Outside, they scanned the area for Biters. When they were in the clear, they walked towards the pickup and tossed their guns into the bed. “Your turn to ride in the back,” Paul said to Ryder and grinned.
“I don’t think so,” Ryder said.
“Excuse me?” Paul asked, bemused.
“First, there’s something I need to get off my chest. You said you started out as a cop in Detroit. Then you got transferred to a precinct in New York and worked narcotics. Which precinct did they transfer you to?”
“What does it matter?” Paul asked and shrugged his broad shoulders.
“Just answer the question,” Ryder demanded.
“The fourth precinct,” Paul said.
“So you were working on Long Island?” Ryder asked. “Cherrywood to be exact.”
“So, what? What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is I finally remember everything that happened. You and I were partners. We worked narcotics together for years. Officer Friendly, they used to call you that because of your explosive temper. Before all this crazy shit went down, we were set to make a bust. But you got greedy. You double crossed me. Your own partner. Killed the dealers and took their money and their stash. When I refused to play along, you bashed me good with the butt of your gun. More than once. I lost consciousness. Woke up in that hospital where Damien Albright found me. It’s because of you I was in that coma. It’s because of you I got separated from my wife and daughter. It’s because of you they’re dead and not with me. It’s because of you I spent the better half of a year suffering from retrograde amnesia.”
“Hey, I have no clue what you’re talking about, buddy.”
“I’ll give you one chance to confess before I kill you,” Ryder said. “Just man up and tell the truth. Do the honorable thing.”
“Fuck you,” Paul spat. “You don’t scare me. You want a confession? Yeah, I did it. I robbed those junkies and left you for dead in that apartment, made it look like they did it to you and I was just trying to put a stop to it by putting a bullet in them. You were getting soft and I was getting tired of playing by the rules. We could’ve had a good thing going, you and me. But you always wanted to be the hero.”
“You’re fucking dead,” Ryder said frankly.
Paul glanced back towards the bed of the pickup, where they had thrown their guns. “Don’t even think about it,” Ryder shook his head. “You’re a big guy. Fight me like a man. No weapons.”
“You want me?” Paul asked, pounding at his chest like a gorilla. “Come and get me, bitch.”
“Ask and you shall receive,” Ryder said, lunging towards him. He fell back and Ryder landed on top of him, ramming his knee into his gut. Paul grunted as Ryder mounted him and laid into him with punches.
Paul managed to roll him off and get back to his fight. Ryder took a swing, but Paul ducked and his fist went around him. It left his midsection exposed and Paul took advantage of the opportunity, landing one punch to the gut and ramming the other fist into his side.
Ryder was wobbly, but he refused to go down as Paul’s massive fist collided with his face, re-breaking his nose.
Blood trickled down his nostrils as he staggered back against the side of the pickup. Paul went to connect with his face again, but he ducked the blow this time and Paul’s fist shattered the passenger side window.
Corey made no attempt to break them apart. He watched it all unfold with unblinking eyes and never uttered a word. Not even when they busted his window.
Ryder caught him with an uppercut to the jaw and Langstrom staggered back, leaving himself open for a barrage of knee strikes to the chest. Ryder was certain he’d heard something snap, but Paul just kept coming.
He tackled Ryder and they rolled across the hot, sticky asphalt, throwing jabs and knees; some landing, others missing.
Ryder was able to get the advantage and apply a chokehold on Paul, and it was all elementary from there. Ryder used just the right amount of force and pressure, and snapped his neck like a giant twig.
The boom of the shotgun nearly blew his eardrums out. He thought Corey had shot at him for a second until he looked up and saw the Biter tumble to the asphalt, its head split open.
“Hurry up,” Corey said. “More are coming.” They hopped into the pickup and Corey floored it out of there as a colony of rotting, shambling Biters staggered across the asphalt, slowly pursuing them.
They’d be across state lines by the time those Biters made it to the next town.
On the road, Corey tried to process what he’d seen as they drove in silence. Up until that point, he didn’t view Carson as a threat. Just an ally. But now he’d seen firsthand what Ryder was capable of. And he had to admit, he was kind of scared of him.
“I know what I did back there goes against your whole set of rules,” Ryder said, breaking the silence. “And for that I apologize. But that son of a bitch had it coming. Believe me when I say I don’t mean you or your people anymore harm. It’s just Paul I had a beef with. And now that’s been rectified.”
“You killed a man,” Corey said. “Snapped his neck like it was nothing.”
“That man put me in a coma,” Ryder said, trying to justify his actions. “He’s the reason I’ll never see my wife and daughter again.”
“When you put it that way, it’s hard to side against you,” Corey said. “I guess if I had a wife or a child, I’d understand better. But I don’t. Still, I understand what it’s like to lose a family member. So I can empathize with you. If some bastard did that to me, I guess I’d want to kill him to. I’m not saying you did the right thing. I’m just saying I understand.”
“I don’t want this to change our relationship,” Ryder said. “I’m here to help in any way that I can.”
“I know,” Corey said. “And that’s why I want you to stay. Even after what you did. But I need you to do me a favor.”
“Name it,” Ryder said.
“Don’t tell anyone what really happened. If anyone asks, we lost Paul on the road. The zombies got him. That’s it. Nothing more.”
“Deal,” Ryder said, nodding.
“Shit,” Corey said, punching the steering wheel. “We forget the vials. Paul had them in his jacket.”
Ryder held out the two vials, still intact. “I’ve got them,” Ryder said. “I’m not sure how this stuff works. But we’ll figure it out. Until we do though, we need to keep it in a safe place.”
“Why? You don’t trust the group?”
“It’s not the group I don’t trust. It’s Eli Carver. If he’s still out there, there’s no telling if he’ll return.”
* * *
Day Three Hundred and Twelve.
Ryder and Smith returned to the compound safely. The same could not be said for Paul Langstrom. Everyone knew what his absence meant. They didn’t have to inquire to figure it out. But they did anyway. And Ryder and Smith stuck to their story. The Biters got Paul on the road.
Scotty Loomis was keeping watch and there to let them in at the gate. Corey parked his pickup and went inside his manor to be alone for a while.
When he came out, he had just one question for Luke Chen.
“Why does my room smell like sex?” Corey Smith inquired.
Nikki Fox could see something was bugging him. So she approached him when they had a moment alone.
“Is there something you want to talk about?” she asked.
“I remember everything,” Ryder told her. “The blow to the head. Waking up in that hospital. Caroline and Charlotte and all my buddies in the four precinct. My mom and dad. My grandparents. My buddy, Joe. He was Charlotte’s godfather. It’s just…I don’t know…overwhelming.”
“It’ll pass,” she assured him. “And I’m sorry to hear about Paul.”
“Don’t be,” Ryder said. “His death was not in vain.” He showed her the glass vials. “There’s hope for the future after all.”
To Be Continued With Part Thirty One: THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN