Ever since I was a very young boy, I’ve been haunted by material success.
My personal demons clutched at me from the corners of my room, in the ceiling. They tore me from my bed scrabbling for the blankets. Yanked from bed and sleep and tossed bodily into the night sky, spinning into forever before I had even seen a picture of the moon.
Or, I thought. It’s possible I had seen a space program that night and my brain made a nightmare where I was tossed into space by the shadow men that whispered from the dark corners of my ceiling.
Years later, I’d find myself in the street outside of my house, somehow curtained with velvet scarlet curtains that stretched impossibly into the night sky above. The street lights lit the curtains, these long wide, but not “curtain” wide strips of soft, red cloth, attached at intervals to the ground forming boundaries that were not walls showing sky and neighborhood around.
There was a pounding from the earth. A slamming sound, from a glowing rectangle in the dirt on the ground.
I looked into it, deep down there was a man tied to a stone table, another man swung a hammer at the writhing man and where the hammer hit, a geyser of gore would erupt like a volcano of the flesh.
The man with the hammer turned and pointed at me, a grin that said “You’ll be here soon!”
Or maybe I saw a Poster for Ozzy Osborne and made a whole scenario up in my head for a nightmare. The guys who tell me stuff in my dreams, they think that’s how it is. I still get uncomfortable when I think about it, I avoided looking at that poster for a decade.
Then one of the guys started showing up in places. He’d be this smiling, silent, mad-eyed Polish Airman. He’d show up every-time I was left alone outside of the house. He wasn’t a threat or something, he just would sorta appear, hang out like “don’t you forget, we’re always here” and then take off.
Or I dunno, I imagined this very detailed idea of a ghost that’s doing some kind of Spiritual Racket on a guy. Who knows.
The Patient Gentleman, he says that it’s never gonna stop being like this until I can pay them off for all they do for me.
The night watch at any old Graveyard is going to be a hairy affair. You’re at the Number 1 spot where “something” is going to happen if the veil gets thin at night. You can walk the whole ‘yard in full Daylight and not see the Sun, so Night Watch? It’s the pits.
Every night you walk the lines, the same lines 1,000 Night Watch have walked before, you check every single line, you step in the footsteps of legends, literally. NEVER walk it backwards, never counter-clockwise. You don’t want to unlock that lock! Graves that have given up a sleeper are marked in lit green, it’s never going to stop glowing as long as you and I are still around.
So the Night Watch? They keep the sleepers safe from the world and the world safe from the sleepers. If they wake up, the Night Watch tries to talk them back to bed. They have rites that they repeat all night long, quiet, like a lullaby for the Ancient Dead. “Go to Sleep, Elder God…” you know, but more Glutteral noises and whoops, like a whale makes.
I hear the Watch in the Desert has it easier, because they only really need to watch when it Rains or Floods, So the rest of the time their Watch have regular lives and they do ritual cleansing to “go in” and “get out” it must sound like Luxury to our Watch here, who are not lifers, but they do months long rotations. When they get off, they spend a week or two getting out of the habit of singing to themselves and a bit more in some salt rooms being blessed and cleaned by guys in robes who’ve been doing it so long.
So yeah, Night Watch. It has to be done, it’s the way we keep the bad old days from coming back.
Being a Public Servant is a Big Job. You are supposed to go out into the world, find what’s broken and fix it within a series of ever-changing rules set alternatively by people who are disinterested and overly concerned. Fred worked as a Bureaucrat at the “pleasure” of a Government Minister, and who his boss is changes from Election to Election (and lately with the wind!) So Fred never knew who he was “Pleasing” these days. He kept his head down and just got on with work. In his current role, he was a Safety Inspector for Public Housing and Private Housing Safety Enforcement.
He spent most days driving out to various places, doing a basic inspection of houses and schools and getting engineers involved if he thought they were needed. The County used Private Engineering firms rather than employing an Engineer full time, so there was never lack of Engineers, but some times the County “got what it paid for” with the Cheaper Services.
Fred strolled from his car, having finally arrived at Hrenville at the far eastern edge of his usual patch. It smelled of apples and wood-smoke when he walked to the school building, an older structure but built of heavy, post-war materials with none of the retrofits that added Air Conditioning or even a Heating Boiler to the building. It was heated with a series of wood-burning fires around the building, the roof was studded with small chimneys. It was a house of horrors for anyone seeking a more modern life, but it was a haven of “old time” life for the people of Hrenville who kept things like this as a kind of Tourist Trap, much to the chagrin of any new Teacher or Doctor who is unfortunate enough to find themselves assigned here.
Funny enough, they never have trouble getting new Priests into town if one passes on. Fred had been visiting the town for years, and knew who the movers and shakers were in town, but he was never greeted with anything more than indifference, not malice. The people of Hrenville went about their lives, keeping their picturesque corner of the county ready for visitors and hosting various festivals and celebrations and historical re-enactors and the like.
The Town was home to only 2 small Motels, with visitors driving into to town from the more Modern cities just down the road. It was in a vast field bound on all sides by forests and rivers, it was uphill from flood plains and downhill in terms of water flow for the aquifer so it has a great water system and never lacks for farmland around it, but not a single part of the massive flat field is tilled, with the town council insisting that it all be kept flat and green for visitors.
Fred walked around the School, looking for signs of damage, or structural issues. He liked to do this alone, without someone from inside to guide him to or from issues. He took out his flashlight and peered into the shadows around the school buildings structure, looking for reflections in standing water where it shouldn’t be, looking for shadows where there should be solid wood, that kind of thing. Satisfied that from a ground level, the building’s exterior looked okay, Fred dusted himself off, straightened himself and walked into the cool, concrete and wood interior of the Hrenville School.
The halls echoed with the hushed noises of a school in session, teachers and students talking everywhere in the large building. Somewhere in the building children sang a song, but Fred couldn’t pick up the tune or the words, only that children were singing. The Main office was to the left of the main entrance and a brass touchplate next to the door with words inscribed in it (long warn) was smooth and polished from 40+ years of students and teachers tapping it as they passed. Fred, a fan of tradition, tapped the plate as he passed and greeted Mrs. Belen, the school administrator and the power behind the office of the Principal Miss. Belen (he daughter).
Fred! It’s so nice to see you! She smiled and stood up from her desk to greet Fred. She wrapped him up in her arms and kissed him warmly on both cheeks. She had been Principal before and had a habit of treating every adult that came through the doors like lost children of her own.
Fred accepted the warmth and hugged Mrs. Belen back, returning her warmth with his own good nature. Mrs. Belen, I’m here for an inspection of the building, I’ll be wandering around the building looking at the structure and the chimney stacks. I’ll need a ladder to get up on top of the building at some point today and expect to be out of your hair before the school day is out. Will you be coming around with me today?
Mrs. Belen released Fred and walked around the office and swept with her arms to some posters on the wall opposite announcing “Saint Anthony’s Days” bearing a Date range starting today.
I’m sorry, Fred. We’re going to be busy today with the Children’s Saint Anthony’s Days activities. Mrs. Belen loved to come on the inspections, mostly because she had been the Principal for so long that she had a deep love for the building and all the kids that had passed through. But Saint Anthony was the town Patron Saint and around Hrenville was big on celebrating, every year they spent more and more time on the big Festival for their Patron Saint, so Fred wasn’t surprised that he would be working alone today.
Fred tapped the touch-plate as Mrs. Belen waved at his back, leaving the office. He wandered the halls, lighting the corners and the cracks, noting where there were some concerns in his notebooks. Classes let out and Fred stood to the side, waving friendly waves to teachers he recognized and enduring the stares and whispers of curious children. The Hrenvile School only served Kindergarten through Grade 6, the children were all uniformly small children to Fred and they blended into a somewhat dirty mass. As they swarmed out of the building into the air and the grassy fields outside.
With the Children out of the way Fred could make a pass of the classrooms looking for obvious issues and trying to find any issues with the fireplaces, thankfully centrally located off the Central Cross of the building. He lingered around the fireplaces, cold in the late spring. He could hear the same singing he heard earlier, the voices sounded bored and distracted now, there was a keening tone under it now that he hadn’t heard at all before.
He played his light along the ceilings as he finished a circuit of the whole cross, looking into each room, listening to the distant sounds of children playing and the singing never seeming to get louder or softer as he went around the building.
The Singing never changed in volume.
He walked the length of the cross two times and never found the singers got closer or further away, nor did the singing stop, it was a constant childish chant of some kind. He strode back into office and found a gaggle of giggling children in the corner of the room, they were pulling ribbons from a sack of some ki…
Mrs Belen was on her back in the corner, he face already slack but stuck with a look of horror and wonder all at once staring up at the ceiling as laughing children with arms streaked in gore pulled at her intestine and slurped from them like mad milkshakes.
Fred dashed right, shouldering the door to Miss Belen’s private office and slamming the door behind him. The Singing had reached new volumes and the keening had become a shrieking that he could feel in his head more than hear anymore, scratching at the inside of his head like a trapped thought with claws.
Miss Belen’s office was empty, she wasn’t in at all. The Children had apparently not even seen Fred dash into the office, consumed as they were with their meal. He could hear children outside, playing some games, he could hear snatches of what was being said now and what he thought was “childish screaming” might have been something much worse. He chanced a look out the window over the grass fields and under a wide banner announcing “Saint Anthony’s Day at Hrenville School” he saw groups of under-12s felling adults in the field and tearing into them, like candy filled Paper models.
The singing had become a somber, atonal drone all around him now, neither rising in volume or pitch. He could feel a hot presence in the school; his back was soaked with sweat from the fear and the blazing heat that had sprung up everywhere. In the distance he could see smoke coming from buildings around town, the chaos in the school field was not just here.
Hrenville was a candy store of gore now. Children skipped trailing lengths of intestine, slurping happily from them as they squeezed every drop from them into their waiting mouths. He watched a small boy, no more than 5 eagerly squeeze a liver and suck at it to drain it into him. He wiped his mouth with a bloody back of his hand and sped off to find a new meal.
Fred couldn’t see his car, he was at the side of the building, away from the entrance. There were kids everywhere and while they hadn’t seen him yet, he had no idea if he could get away without them pulling him down and eating him raw.
Fear pricked him as the wall next to him collapsed and fell away in a cloud of dust and huge arm slid around him and dragged him off his feet and swung him like a ragdoll as he was carried into the rafters of the building to a chapel, hidden between the chimneys, were a group of the older girls circled Miss Belen, who was in a trance of sorts. The large arms let him down and he found himself looking at a massive Man-Shaped thing that was at least 8 feet tall stooped amongst the roof and wood, staring down at him with an amiable look on its face.
Miss Belen looked up, directly into Fred’s eyes and said: ‘Fred. You’re Late this year!”
The Girls tittered to each other and shushed at a gesture from Miss Belen.
Fred, if you had come last week, like you normally would, you’d have missed the whole thing. Miss Belen stood and smoothed her simple back skirt. The Singing and the screaming had all stopped. There was a silence from outside that did nothing to break the tension in the circular chapel.
With a wave, the man-thing was brought to attention and it pinned Fred down between the girls, who looked down at him with undisguised hunger.
It was going to be “Me” as the final “Snack” for today, a final sacrifice for Hrenville to continue, but now, Fred. Fred held up a hand, as if to say “no need to explain”
However, in that hand was a pistol that he had been carrying for years, ever since a helpful mayor had once tried to shake him down.
Fred didn’t even hesitate, he shot the Man-Thing dead between the eyes and shot up, scattering hungry kids and pushing Miss Belen out of the way. He found the stairs the girls and teacher had used and ran at full speed from the school firing into the faces of the cutest kids he had every seen and diving into his car, slamming it into reverse and fully flattening some kindergartners with his car as he rolled over them and peeled out to the highway. He never looked back, or dropped the pistol.
Once he had driven far enough, he put the pistol down on the passenger seat, pulled over and checked over the car, looking for evidence of the kids bodies and finding only bloody marks, he wiped them with wipes from his car and drove as calmly as possible to the nearest police station in Rempton just 10 minutes away.
A torn “Saint Anthony’s Days” banner hung over the road as he came to town and he slowed down only to see a police officer being set upon by teenagers like a pride of lions.
Oh, he thought, Hrenville Teens go to school at Rempton middle school, don’t they.
He saw a bus on fire in the distance and thought better of stopping anywhere he might find a kid from Hrenville.
I liked Juno and think that Diablo Cody is a talented screenwriter (A la Kevin Smith); so I’m not about to let the negative connotations that some reviewers hold for Ms. Cody’s work turn me away from her new Horror Flick.
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Never mind that Meghan Fox stars as a Demon Possessed High School Teenager, never mind the “clever” dialogue (“They’re boys” Please.) It still looks like a fun horror move, certainly better than the clunkeriffic “Unborn”
Let’s face it, it’s bound to be better than “Transformers”
If that isn’t to your liking, maybe you’d prefer “Orphan”
The building shaddered in time with the sounds that woke the sleeping people huddled throughout the Feldex building. Thumping and bass-rich blows pounded the whole structure. When the people in the shaken offices looked outside, they could see buildings collapsing around them. Skyscrapers that had dominated the skyline were falling all around the Feldex building, scorched buildings gave up their skeletons and fell upon the streets. Dust and debris flowed through the streets now like angry crowds, blanketing them in brown, choking demise.
Janice had found Frank overnight; he was curled up in an empty office and had slept through the horrifying night. The corpses on the balcony had given up slamming themselves into the windows and doors and simply dived off of the edge of the building into the waiting streets.
The office was quiet now save for the noise of the Office buildings of Saint Paul dying as surely has the people that had occupied them had.
Security Chief Mike Pendegras came on to the PA:
“Ladies and Gentlemen; this is the security Chief. Our building is in no danger of falling. We have not suffered the damage that the fallen buildings have. We are intact and remain secure. We caution you again to remain in your offices and to report any activity that seems threatening or dangerous.”
After he clicked off the PA, Mike Pendegrass exhaled and tried to slump into his chair. His teams had swepth the building for any more “Zombies” and locked the main staircase tight. Nothing from the 25th floor or above was going to come down that way again; no one would be going up again either.
Chief Pendegras had received a call from his dead father overnight; he had thought it was a dream at first; but some of his team had received calls from their relatives too. Chief Pendegras wasn’t one to accept the supernatural; but his faith in the solidity of his convictions had been sorely tempted.
“Chief!, Chief! There is an APC outside of the building!” it was one of the new kids up on 13. “Chief, do you get me?”
“I get ya kid, where is it? Over”
“Chief, it’s right outside the front entrance, it’s got a scoop up front like a bulldozer, it pushed through like a snow plow! Chief, there is a sign painted on the top: 555-573-7878”
The Chief recognized a cell-phone number when he heard one; “OKay kid. Keep an eye on it. Chief out”
Chief Pendegrass picked up his cell phone and dialed the number:
“Hello, Disaster recovery. Were are you calling from?”
“This is Security Chief Mike Pendegras. Before I tell you where I am; tell me who you are.”
“Sir, I am a coordinator from a former Fema Unit stationed in Saint Paul. I am tasked with coordinating the APCs we have on hand to retrieve survivors and send them back through to Earth”
“So, the scientist on the phones was real?”
“Yes sir. Where are you?”
“I’m not sure about all of this; some strange shit is going down here Ma’am. Can you have the APC’s around the city flash some kind of friendly si..”
Outside the building, Mike Pendegras heard the thunder of a belt-fed machine gun firing.
“Chief! The soldiers in the APC, they are shooting at people in the street! Holy Shit! The people, they are getting back up and running at the APC! FUCK! The soldier on the tank blew their heads off.”
“OKay Kid, I got you. Over”
“Listen Fema Lady. What is going on here?”
“I thought that the communication last night was clear. We are on an extrasolar planet and we are sending people home as fast as we can.”
“My phone was OFF when that call came in”
“Sir, If I may be frank. If you don’t think we have the technology to turn phones on remotely, you haven’t been watching enough movies. Let me be clear, a scientist teleported a massive section of Saint Paul to another planet, turning on cell phones remotely is within our scope”
“Fair enough Ma’am. How, precisely do we decide who goes back in that APC outside?”
“You have an APC nearby? Excellent! What number is it”
“Kid, 13. What number is on that APC?”
“Ma’am, the APC outside is labelled NG-101”
“Thank-you Mr. Pendegrass, please send out 10 people to meet the APC and be transported to our holding facility. We will send a bus out for the rest as soon as we have up-armored enough of them for the trip. Send only the people who could defend themselves in a fight sir, they may need to leave the APC and proceed on foot.”
“I’ll send some people out in 30 minutes”
“Thank-you Mr. Pendegrass. Wil you be joining them?”
“No Ma’am, I’ll ride security until we have this building empty.”
“Alright Sir, please keep in mind that we are not sure how long we can keep sending people home”
Mike Pendegrass thought about this for a while before responding.
“You keep the door open; we’ll get people home and I’ll get home in time to complain to your superior about your flippant attitude during a crisis”
Chief Pendegras could feel the woman on the end of the line smile.
“It’s a date sir”
Chief Pendegrass flipped his phone closed and turned on the PA.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I need 10 volunteers who have either combat experience or combat training. Make your presence known to the security team on your floor and we will escort your to the main lobby. Thank-you for your cooperation”
Almost instantaneously, his radio lit up “Chief, what the fuck? Are we recruiting deputies?”
“Guys, this is the chief. We are recruiting some people to run Pony Express, escort people to the main lobby and then return to your posts. We’re going to round up ten people to make a run to the Fema center and head for home; if they make it, we’ll send more. The rest WILL be deputized.”
A chorus of, ‘okay chief, got it’ sounded back. Chief Pendegrass was left to think about the voice on his phone and the prospect of leaving on the APC outside.
Nick Aten ambles over the bloody remains of a boy evicerated by his own mother to eat a burger and shoot the shit with a friend. The next day his younger brother is dead and the adults have taken up the hobby of killing everyone under the age of 20, all adults everywhere. Now Nick has to get away from it all and slip his parents as they hunt him across england.
Blood Crazy is a recounting by Nick Aten of the year that Adult humanity stopped caring for the youth and instead began turning the bodies of the young into massive necropolises and temples of death across the countryside.
Anywhere there were young people, the adults would gather and destroy them.
Nick spends a whole year on the run from place to place; finding his way from callow youth to something else.
Simon Clark does a fantastic job of making the story fast paced enough to keep you reading and 300 pages in I realized I’d read the majority of it in one go. Bravo I strongly recommend Blood Crazy!
My rating: 4.5 stars
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I read this one quickly, I usally only read in small drips and have spent MONTHS not reading a DUNE novel, but I gave this book a minute while I was in disposed and could not stop reading it. It’s not high literature; and once again we have a post-apocalyptic hero that can’t walk 20 yards without tripping over yet anothere willing woman who needs him to make love to her and plant his seed. I wish that I was exaggerating this point.
The “cause” of the adults going crazy is explained; it’s a bit weak. I don’t think it detracts from the book at all, but the explaination is weak.
This book does the oppostite of “Graceling” when it comes to travel, the travel portions are either mad dashes from blood-crazed adults or treks across wastelands that are leading urgently to somewhere; not detracting from the pace or the action. It was a relief when a character found a safe place to sleep; I cared that they got to sleep comfortably.
Nick Aten; the main character is somewhat stereotypical lead character. He’s smart, but not an intellectual, strong, but not too tough. Cocky but not cock-sure… I could go on. He’s not so generic as to be an everyman, but he’s no stand-out.
The “Bully” character which serves as the human plot point for most of the story has a back story that I think that Simon Clark almost maliciously leaves off, going so far as to cut the character off when he attempts to vocalize his perceived injustice with Nick. I was most frustrted with this; Tug Slatter is a bully and a thug, but he is certainly more than that and we are NOT given more than a glance at whatever motivates him and his misanthropy.
All in all; I will recommend this one to fans of Post-Apocalyptic survival novels. It was a good quick read and worth picking up.
The office shuddered with the impacts of sodden arms and bodies. Fleshy demons slammed against the glassy doors and windows that led to the balcony. Men and women franticly piled as much office furniture and cube building material against as they could, attempting to blockade the office against the bloody fiends outside. Panic and fear cemented into determination and bravery.
“Folks; as long as we keep watch and fortify the windows and doors, those things aren’t getting in!” in the gloom, no one knew for sure who was speaking. “We keep them out there until morning and then, when we can see, we figure out how to deal with them, alright?”
Mutters of agreement came from the people near the window. Deeper in the gloom of the office people were milling around each other, unsure what to do next.
All through the night, the thudding continued, slowly becoming more urgent and frightening as the ghouls wore away the flesh from their bones, slamming themselves into goo on the windows, smearing their humanity into nothing. For hours they fell upon the glassy facade of the office, never ceasing, never taking a break.
The people in the office alternated between hugging each other for comfort and steely resolve against the unknown terrors outside.
In offices around the building, fires had broken out and more of the monsters that were thrashing themselves upon the Fledex building could be seen roaming the offices and streets in the smoky gloom below. The people who now huddled in the Feldex building looked out into an alien world with a small chunk of Minnesota slammed into it waiting for an alien sky to light the dawn.
At approximately 3 am some of the phones in the building began to light up and ring; as if by magic.
Janice’s phone rang with the familiar tone for her mother; “Janice! Janice! My God! I can’t believe that you are alright! Where have you been? I’ve been calling for hours!”
“Mom? Oh my God. Mom, Don’t hang up!”
The celebrations inside of the office whipped the ghouls on the balcony into a frenzy, they surged as one at the window bone slamming glass and metal as one mass, a crack began to form in the glass of one of the doors. The hideous tattoo of bone on glass was finally moving the glass.
“Mom, please. Just tell me what is going on in Saint. Paul?”
“Janice, they are saying that there was some kind of explosion or something, it turned some of Saint Paul into dirt and sand! Janice, where are you?”
“Mom, I’m at work. All of us are. We’re not in Saint Paul anymore. We don’t know where we are. It’s night and we’re scared. The phones stopped working hours ago and now they are working again. If I get cut off again, I want to tell you that I love you mom, tell Dad that I love him too, okay?” Janice sniffed, she could hear the same sort of affirmations going on all around her, people whispering and yelling their love to people at the other end of what was an infinite gulf. “Mom, I love you.”
“IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, SAY YES” a voice boomed from every cell phone in the office. “PLEASE, IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, SAY YES”
A scattered few yelled yes into their phones.
“I HEARD YOUR REPLY, THANK YOU. I AM BROADCASTING USING THIS CELL TOWER THAT I HAVE HOOKED UP AND POWERED UP. MY NAME IS NOT IMPORTANT. PLEASE DON’T TRY TO SPEAK OVER ME, IT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR ME TO TELL YOU THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION. WE ARE NOT ON EARTH, WE ARE ON A PLANET SOMEWHERE REMOVED FROM EARTH. OUR BEST UNDERSTANDING OF THE STARS THAT ARE VISIBLE PUTS US SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE MILKY WAY AS WE CAN OBSERVE THE MILKY WAY IN ITS ENTIRETY THE SOUTHERN SKY. WE HAVE OPENED LINES OF COMMUNICATION WITH THE EARTH VIA THE SAME TECHNOLOGY THAT HAS TAKEN A PORTION OF SAINT PAUL TO THIS PLANET. AS LONG AS WE HAVE THE MEANS TO POWER IT, WE CAN SPEAK WITH PEOPLE ON EARTH. THE GATE REMAINS OPEN. WE WILL BE SENDING PEOPLE IN SMALL GROUPS BACK THROUGH THE GATE FOR AS LONG AS WE CAN ALONG WITH AN UPLOAD OF ALL OUR NOTES AND RESEARCH SUCH THAT PERSONS ON EARTH COULD ATTEMPT TO REPRODUCE OUR EXPERIMENT AND RETURN SAINT PAUL. PLEASE DON’T INTERRUPT! I AM NOT FINISHED. NO WE CANNOT RETRIEVE ITEMS FROM EARTH, WE CANNOT DETERMINE WHY ENERGY IS ABLE TO CROSS IN BOTH DIRECTIONS BUT NOT MATTER. ATTEMPTS TO CROSS THE GATE FROM EARTH HAVE BEEN MET WITH FAILURE AND NO FURTHER ATTEMPTS WILL BE MADE. PLEASE APPOINT A SPOKESPERSON FROM EACH GROUP AND COMMUNICATE THEIR NAME AND CELL NUMBER VIA TEXT MESSAGE TO THIS NUMBER 444-231-8899. WE HAVE AN ARMORED VEHICLE AS WELL AS SECURITY PERSONNEL WAITING TO RETRIEVE YOU. DO NOT LEAVE ANY SECURED AREA AS THE REVENANTS OUTSIDE WILL ATTEMPT TO DEVOUR OR KILL YOU. THERE ALSO APPEAR TO BE NATIVES MASSING AT THE EDGE OF THE TRANSPORT ZONE WE DO NOT KNOW THEIR INTENT AND WOULD RECOMMEND THAT ANY CONTACT BE AVOIDED. WE WILL AWAIT COMMUNICATION FROM YOU. THAT IS ALL”
“Janice… Janice, are you there?” Janice’s mother was there again.
“Mom, I think we were caught in some sort of experiment gone wrong, from the sounds of things it was a military thing.”
“Janice, what are you talking about?”
“Mom, there was a voice, it told us to sit tight and that we would be picked up by an armored vehicle”
“Janice, you’re in Hell”
“Hell Janice. You’re being punished for your wicked ways. You lost your virginity and now God wants you dead Janice.”
“Mom, what are you saying?” Janice sobbed, “why are you doing this?”
“Wake up and smell the roses Janice. You’re damned for all eternity!”
The phone went dead again and Janie slumped against a wall and slid down, crying into the crook of her arm. People all over the office were wailing and screaming at the phones.
All of the phones in the office leapt to life at once, ringing with the same tone. People tossed them away as if they were on fire.
The pounding and cracking noises from the balcony filled the darkness as the phones died again.
“What just happened?” someone asked into the dark, “did everyone just have the same phone call? Did your boyfriends just tell you that you were going to hell?”
“Yeah, my Dad just called me a slut and told me that I was gonna burn forever” a voice near the door replied.
“Fuck me, my Grandma just called me a sinner and told me that the devil was going to eat my eyes, I’ve just realized, she’s been dead for 15 years!”
Janice stood up and turned her phone back on. It had been off the whole time.
Janice got up from her chair sometime later and wandered back out to the veranda and looked down into the sooty streets. Screams had become moans and the sounds of fighting below had become the thudding of the crowds on random cars. Janice wasn’t paying attention to that anymore, she was looking up at the sky and seeing the stars. She couldn’t see a single constellation she recognized and as she strained to do so she didn’t notice that she wasn’t alone on the the deck.
The gravel stopped crunching and Patrick thought, for a moment, that he was alone on the roof. The flopping monsters that had poured from the door had been dispatched like his former partner and he had pitched the majority into the flaming street below; crossing himself when he could for whatever passed for souls in their grotesque corpses.
Jacks corpse had stood again, stretched and began to lope at Patrick again, his face an obscene smile with mouth agape and askew.
“Jack, shit.” Patrick ran towards his partner and kicked hm in the chest, toppling the bloody thing over the side of the roof and sailing to the street below.
The roof was quiet and empty of danger now, Patrick walked with all due care to the roof door and looked down the staircase for any evidence of more monsters waiting in the dark. Finding none he turned his radio on and called out for the chief.
“Chief, it’s 13. I’m 5 by 5 here.”
“Pat? Good. We’ve just shut the tenants on 25 in the security office, join me in the main stairwell.”
“Got ya Chief. 13 coming in”
Patrick Farrel had never once killed a man in anger; not in the line of duty either. His tour in Iraq had been a relativley short one, with a leg injury getting him an early reprieve from the desert. Security work paid a bit better and couldn’t normally involve much actual fighting. The busiest days for Patrick had been chasing kids out of the stairwell after sneaking in after-hours. He hadn’t known Jack long enough for his death to really hurt, but the fight had left him like the long-termers at the VA, lost in the moment, staring into the distance for the next encounter.
He met the guys from Unit 11 as they trotted towards the main stairwell doors, they were smiling and chatting about the tenants.
“Did you see what they were doing in the one office? I think they were trying to film their own little porno in there or something… hey Pat. What the fuck was going on up top?” Patrick knew the smaller one; Henry “Hank” Jacobs. Young, former cop, fired for some kind of harassment issue.
“Yeah, they were naked, all of them, one dude had a camera and they were in a pile in the middle of the office, like 20 people all getting it on!” The bigger one had just kept on about the discovery in the office. Patrick just walked on to the door and knocked. Chief Pendegrass opened up and held the door for the Security Guards to walk out. He gave Patrick as much space as possible, given the gore that coated his uniform.
“Chief, we got some shit up here like you wouldn’t believe. Fucking Zombies or some shit. I fought about 6 of them, Jack included. I pitched them off of the roof as they came at me, I fucking shot two of them in the chest and they got right up, Jack too.” Patrick found his tongue and wouldn’t let go “Chief, Man. They kept on coming, like they was gonna tear me up like Jack. I hadda kill them.”
Patrick could feel himself losing it. He caught himself and led the walk down to the 24rth and down, sealing the doors as he went. He described the whole fight to the Chief, who remained quiet and offered no judgment or comment. When they had finished the sweep to the ground floor, Patrick had told his story a few times and the guys from Unit 11 had simply gone silent and stopped meeting Patrick’s eyes.
Chief Pendegrass put his hand on PAtrick’s should and led him to the Security offices and offered him a seat and a drink.
“Pat, I believe you. I’ve looked outside, I can hear that stuff out there. Something has happened to Saint Paul and I’m not clear as to what. There were two suns out there today, things have changed in a big way. Find yourself a clean set of clothes and dump that shit you’re wearing in a bag, tie it off and dump it deep in a dumpster or down the chute. Go nowhere alone and keep your radio on from now on.” The Chief stood up to his full height and looked deep in thought.
Patrick got up, went to his locker and stripped off his gore covered clothes, dumping them like requested. He cleaned himself up as best he could in the showers and found a new uniform and some of the tactical gear the other guys had on. When he caught his face in the mirror, he was sure that it was still him looking out, but there was a small strangeness in his eyes, like when he first stepped off of the plane at Rammstein in Germany. He had been through something and come back broken.