First things first, I am behind in my writing thanks to life and Labor day. No I was not in labor, but I labored over a BBq pit which gave birth to a ten pound brisket amongst other food stuffs. Part six, how ever will be up in three days. I am shooting for Saturday evening.
Now then, “the story of Toby Callon” or “the day Charleston died” is a story I had started a while back and was shelved due to writing things like “A storm before Dawn and other assorted stories.” its unfinished, 19 pages, so I thought that I would post what I have so far as a regular post so you folks can read it and then tell me if your interested in seeing it finished. Its like a contest, only with no prize, I know, I know, I am cheap that way. if you really push for a prize I have a shiny rock I found that I can send some one.
So here in all its unfinished glory….
“The Story of Toby Callon”
Toby wiped his mouth and dropped his napkin on the plate. Most people being at work, the Diner was mostly empty, I was at work till that asshole Clive fired me, he thought not even looking at the cute waitress who cleared the debris of his breakfast off the table.
The Diner was the kind of place that smelled of cigarette smoke and fried eggs, with carpet that had seen its glory days in the late fifties. Much like the old faded pictures that decorated the wall space between the large windows that looked out onto the sidewalk and street. the Diner was a local landmark; something from better times before everything had become corporate and filled with plastic and mass-produced decorations that looked cheaper than the jewelry a hooker wore.
“Need anything else?” a woman’s voice said from behind his seat. Toby turned to see the waitress standing there holding the ticket, which truly annoyed him. Most people didn’t seem to know that the reason Restaurants brought a ticket to your table was to speed you on your way out the door, so they could bring in another person and rush them through their meal and speed them out the door several dollars lighter. It was all about maximizing profit not whether customers actually enjoyed their dining experience.
“Not at the moment,” Toby said, as she started to place the ticket on the table, he held up a hand. He had already been pushed to far today, not another inch he vowed. “Im not being a dick, or maybe I am, but if you leave my ticket on the table before Im ready to leave, you wont get a tip. Its insulting to customers to treat them like they are only important for their wallets.” He said calmly. She hesitated then picked the ticket back up and headed back to her wait station.
He sat there for another twenty minutes just to make his point, ordering more coffee and even a cinnamon roll, ignoring the glaring manager who would come out of the back and look at him with disapproval. Well fuck you very much Toby thought amused. It wasn’t like there was a long line of customers waiting for a seat and even if there had been Toby wouldn’t have cared. He was paying for his seat. if restaurants didn’t like it, they should charge a by the hour seating fee.
Finally he called the waitress over, paid his bill and tipped her ten dollars. He couldn’t really afford it, but she had at least done what he asked and held the ticket at her station.
He walked out the door, his shoes clocking hollowly on the sidewalk, not really even paying attention to what was around him. He was to busy brooding to really care.
The Sirens in the distance barely registered as he walked to his truck parked around the side of the diner in the parking lot the diner shared with the used bookstore. A place he had always meant to stop in but never did. Now he had the time but didn’t want to waste any money on something like a book when he didn’t know how long he might be looking for a job.
His truck was a jet black Chevy pick up he had restored in high school with his dad, and the one possession he owned he truly cared about. In the eight years since high school he had added some modern touches like a Radio/CD and MP3 player that was hidden in the glove box so as not to ruin the classic interior.
The one thing not stock, something his dad had wanted, was the two inch lift kit. The brush guard, winch and roll bar were in storage, Toby had never put them on, to be honest he had never wanted to take this truck off road, and once he moved to Charleston, he didn’t have a place to go off road except the beach. And he preferred parking and walking down to the beach.
The truck started easily, the rumble of the motor bouncing off the wall of the diner and filling the area. He smiled despite his troubles, that sound always brought a smile to his face. He pulled out onto the street flipping on the radio.
“…. Im here in Rome where the violence is growing…”
Toby sighed, almost changing the channel, he usually hated the news life could be depressing enough with out the hearing all the other disasters looming on the horizon. As he started to change the channel another report came on causing him to stop and listen
“Reports out of New York are slim, but what is known is that the violence is spiraling out of control on Manhattan Island.” The reporter droned on about Bath salts, or a new designer drug that was suspected to be the cause of all the violence.
The DJ cut in suddenly sounding worried. “ This just in the National Guard is moving into Los Angeles. The violence here in LA hasn’t reached the levels seen in other places and it is hoped that the guards presence will keep things under control, the Mayor praised citizens of LA for their restrained behavior and urged them to stay home and cooperate fully with authorities to end this outbreak quickly.
In other news Authorities in Nashville are at a loss to explain the wave of violence that is sweeping the city today like most of the rest of the world the explosion of violence has taken authorities by surprise. Some experts are saying this is just a natural reaction to the stress that so many people have been under with the failing economies and more restrictive laws they have been living under since 9/11.
In related news escaped Serial killer Jasper Evan Brown is still on the loose. The reports of citizens who claim to have seen the serial killer continue to roll in and Authorities have assured the public they are doing everything possible to recaptured the infamous serial killer even as the violence being reported across the city is on the rise.…” the report droned on till Toby changed channels only to hear more news.
“…sporadic reports are coming in that the Navy has sealed the Houston Ship channel after a tanker plowed into a receiving dock and burst into flames….” Why would the Navy be involved in a tanker crash in the Houston Ship channel, Toby wondered.
“all communications with Detroit have been lost, at this moment the national Guard are mobilizing to enter the city….”
What the hell is going on Toby asked himself, as he stared at the radio, narrowly missing a drunk who stumbled into the road, Toby had time to notice the mans shirt was bloody and the awful glazed eyes before he passed the drunk who beat on the side of his truck with his bare hands. “fuck off” Toby shouted as he sped up and away from the man who stumbled after his truck till Toby took a corner and lost sight of the man. Not willing to stop and be assaulted by a drunk looking for a ride or money and truth to tell seeing all that blood on the mans shirt scared him the bum could be a murderer.
The ride to his apartment was normally short, but this morning there appeared to be a lot of traffic, as well as speeding police cars that roared through intersections with wild abandon, almost causing wrecks.
His apartment building was a four-story building with a carefully crafted façade to blend in with the older buildings around it. Usually it was a sleepy neighborhood, but today half a dozen police cars and two ambulances were parked in front of his building and an officer stood at the entrance to the parking lot, mostly turning away vehicles.
Other officers were gathered round the ambulances, talking quietly, and looking towards the doors to his building. What the hell is going on, Toby asked himself as he turned into the parking lot and stopped as the Officer held up a hand, his other hand rested on his holstered pistol.
The officer brusquely asked for his ID, ignoring Tobys questions, the Officer, Gallagher according to his name tag, cleared Tobys name with some one in the building before returning Toby’s Id and waving him into the lot.
Toby parked and climbed out of his truck already eager to get upstairs and collapse on his couch. As he headed for the front doors a car turned away from the parking area by Officer Gallagher, was rear ended by another vehicle that had been speeding past. Toby took three steps towards the wreck, thinking of offering his help, then saw three police officers that had been around the ambulances run towards the wreck. Id just be in the way anyway he thought as he turned and kept heading for the front door, where he was again asked for his ID, the cops ignoring his questions about what was going on.
“Were you attacked at anytime since yesterday, were you bitten or scratched” an officer at the door asked Toby who shook his head, seeing how the Officers around the door kept their hands very close to their weapons, they seemed filled with an odd singing tension. “no, and no, can I go up to my apartment now.” He asked really just wanting to kick back play some Call of duty and drink a beer, tomorrow he had start job hunting again.
“your in apartment 414 correct.” The officer with his ID asked after consulting a clipboard.
“Look, I lost my job today, Im tired, stressed and just want to kick back and relax so let me have my damn ID so I can go up to my apartment.” Toby said surprising himself at being so bold.
“Your in 414 correct” the Officer asked again.
“Yes, I am in 414, you can arrest me there later.” Toby said getting angry and to be honest with himself, he was more than a little worried, first the news reports and now this.
Radios crackled to life at that moment. “ two infected secured, bring them down now”
The officer holding his ID passed it back to Toby, “ if I were you I would pack some food and clothes and get the hell out here, the sooner the better” The Cop said with a deadly seriousness.
Toby looked at the officers for a moment then turned and entered the building. As he waited at the elevator, he heard some one shouting in what sounded like fear down the hall and then nothing.
The elevator door opened, and Toby had to step aside to let a paramedic push a stretcher out of the elevator, the man strapped to the gurney was struggling against the straps, his teeth snapping together as he tried to lift his head high enough to bite the paramedic.
It wasn’t just the pale, almost fish white skin with its blue tinged lips that got Toby, it was the total silence of the man on the stretcher and the Eyes, the same type of eyes that he had seen on the Drunk back by the diner. Cloudy, faded, lifeless eyes.
“Stand aside,” an Older Cop said stepping out after the paramedic. “Sorry, theres one more coming down.”
Toby nodded silently, swallowing nervously wondering just how bad things really were. It seemed to take forever for the elevator to rise and then return, but finally the door opened once more and another man on a stretcher, his face covered in blood and the sheet over his chest was soaked with blood. Like the man before he was pale, struggling silently against his restraints as he tried to bite the people around him.
Once the paramedic was headed to the front door the officer that had stopped Toby from using the elevator held the door waved him inside. “It’s all yours, and Buddy, if you see one of the infected, run like hell.” The Cop said then turned and followed after the Paramedics.
Toby stepped hurriedly into the elevator and pressed the door closed button, all the cops out front had him worried, what he had just seen worried him, what was wrong with those people, what the hell was going on around here, and why had that Cop told him he should pack up and leave town didn’t they have it under control like the news said.
The hallway on his floor was empty thankfully. He wasn’t in the mood to chat with anyone at the moment unless it was the cute chick down in 423. scratch that she wasn’t going to want to go out with a guy who had just lost his job.
He opened his door, and stepped inside with a feeling of relief, what ever was going on downstairs had nothing to do with him and would be over soon. He refused to even consider the possibility that the police, the government would fail to keep the people safe.
He walked into the living room and picked up his remote flipping on the TV, only to see news, he called up the menu, picked a movie and found that the channel was temporarily off the air.
Consulting the menu once more, he tried again and found yet more news, the reporter was standing in a street in what appeared to be London, fires raged in the distance and he could hear sirens. No news I am depressed enough, he thought as he flipped through channels and found oddly that many were off the air. Stupid cable company he thought, it had to be a problem on their end.
He ignored the blinking light on his answering machine, almost certain that it was his former boss Clive calling to tell him to return any company property he might have taken home over the last year. He had heard stories for a while about how Clive loved to call fired Employees demanding files and office supplies they may have taken home. He got his kicks like that, it was his way of rubbing it in their faces that he, Clive had fired them. It was amazing really no one had snapped and shot the prick in the parking lot one day.
I ought to send the bastard a thank you note for all the paperclips. Toby thought, wishing he had actually brought home office supplies and stuff at least then he could gloat a little bit.
Stripping down to his boxers, he changed channels to the input channel and turned on his PS3. Time to lose himself in Call of duty for a while. He thought, only to stop and glare at the front door where some one was knocking. A hard heavy knock like the kind cops use. Maybe they are going to arrest me after all, he thought as he rose and walked to the door.
He opened the door to find an older police officer standing there, his salt and pepper hair cut into a high and tight. Piercing sky blue eyes locked with Tobys own hazel eyes. “I am Officer Jim Halloran, Im sorry to bother you, but I need to ask you a few questions”
“All right, I’ve only been home for five minutes, but if I can help I will.” Toby said as he held the door open and let the cop inside. Suddenly remembering his state of undress he excused himself and went and pulled on a pair of jeans. “Sorry about that, I hope it didn’t bother you”
Halloran shook his head, then consulted a small note book. “ Do you know Jim and Stacey Cravitts”
“yes, are they okay” Toby asked, he and James weren’t best friends but they did hang out a few times a week and play a few games, hold BBq’s when the weather was nice, and occasionally an adult evening or two.
“No I’m sorry they aren’t. They are infected.” Halloran replied usually he wouldn’t have said that much but with the way things were going it was better to be open with people, “. Your friends were infected this morning some time.” Toby looked sick at the news, he couldn’t, didn’t want to picture James or Stacey like the two men he had seen on the stretcher being taken out of the elevator.
Halloran watched the younger man carefully, out of habit not suspicion. Toby Callon was about 5’10, with short dark hair that could barely be called straight. A strong angular Jaw covered in fashionable stubble. A small scar bisected his upper lip on the left side.
It was pretty apparent that Callon didn’t want to talk, and as little as Callon wanted to deal with Halloran and questions, Halloran would rather be returning to the station to be as much help as he could. The Department was short on manpower with the current Crisis and needed every officer, but the CDC had asked the Captian to have at least one officer on scene gather as much information as possible about attacks and infection time lines thinking it might help them combat the spread of the infection. The Captains orders had flowed down hill and Halloran for his sins had been tasked with going door to door on scene to ask the questions the CDC had wanted asked.
So far few of the residents were answering whether they were at work or just not wanting to get involved Halloran didn’t know. Two of the people who had answered their had been bitten and looked sick as hell, he had urged them to go the hospital then notified the command center of their location so another ambulance could be dispatched to pick them up.
And now Halloran found himself here, watching a man who seemed to have no real clue that the city and probably the world was tumbling down around him.
“I get up early for work, so I was out of here before most people were leaving.” Toby said as he pulled on a tshirt, he saw Halloran glance at his side and knew the officer had seen the scar that every one asked about when they saw it. “I got that a week after moving to Charleston, some asshole held up a convenience store I was in. The robber was shaking so bad he accidentally shot me then ran like hell out the store and down the street.” Toby explained with a shrug.
“crappy way to start a new life” Halloran observed.
“you could say that” Toby said by way of agreement, then got back on the subject that had him worried. “ What little Ive heard on the news talked about Drugs, a new Bird flu, and mass hysteria but nothing really about an infection, how do you get it, have I been exposed since Ive hung around them” he had done a bit more than hang around them two nights ago. But he saw no reason to share that nights adventures either.
Halloran wasn’t really surprised at the lack of knowledge, the Media had at first been to worried about sensationalism and beating their competition to the scoops to dig much, now they were probably peddling softer reports at the urging of Mayors, governors and the White House.
Toby listened intently as Halloran explained what he had been told, no one really seemed to know much, other than if you were bitten, you came down with the virus or what ever it was.
What the hell use were news reports if they didn’t actually report the news Toby asked himself silently stunned at what the news wasn’t reporting. “James normally leaves for work around seven or so, Stacey got laid off about a month ago so she is home all day.” Toby said after moment. “is there any hope they will get better” Toby asked.
Halloran started to lie, then decided the truth was better. “ The CDC is hard at work on it, which is one of the Reasons Im going around asking questions” Halloran said as he finished jotting down notes. Yes, asking questions instead of being out there helping people who need it, he thought. “The truth Mr. Callon is no one knows if a cure is possible. But the people you knew are gone Mr. Callon once the infection takes over they are mindless, remembering nothing and will attack anyone they see, and if you get bitten that’s what will happen to you. So avoid any one affected. To be honest if I were you I would pack up some clothes, what ever weapon you own and all the food in your apartment and get out of town.”
Toby didn’t know what to say, hearing the same thing from a second cop chilled him to the bone.
“thank you for your cooperation Mr. Callon” Officer Halloran said as he rose and headed for the door trailed by Toby. There wasn’t much Callon could tell him that would be of help, might as well move on and see if any one had talked to the Cavitts after they had been attacked.
“is it really that bad out there?” Toby asked as he opened the door.
Halloran stopped in the doorway and looked at Toby for a moment. “at the moment, yes its bad but you still have a chance to get out of town. But by the end of today, or tomorrow morning its going to be a lot worse.” Halloran said then turned and headed to the next apartment leaving a very shaken Toby.
Halloran heard Callons door close as he lifted his hand to knock on the next door, and then stopped wondering why he was bothering. He wasn’t lying to Callon, this shit was happening so fast, god knew how many people had been bitten and went on to work, or home before the full infection hit. The calls were piling up faster and faster, and there were not enough units to respond.
There had been five calls from this building alone and he had seen two more people with bite marks, how many apartments where no one had answered the door might contain the infected.
Downstairs the ambulances were leaving, one paramedic had been bitten while securing a patient to a stretcher, and they were heading back to a hospital where hundreds of infected were being held, and over a thousand people that had been bitten waited for treatment that didn’t exist. How long before the infected rolled over the hospital and spilled out the doors into the surrounding area. How long before neighborhoods had more infected than the non infected.
Downstairs he heard gunfire, and the sudden chatter on the radio. “ get in the building, get in the damn building.”
“hang on Gallagher, Im on the way.”
“where are they coming from” some one shouted over the radio.
Halloran felt his blood run cold, he turned and ran for the stairwell determined to help his fellow officers.
Toby sat on the couch after Halloran had left, the TV on CNN, he was stunned at the breadth of the disaster rolling across the world. The footage of a Mushroom cloud rising up from where Beijing had once been was almost mind numbing. The EMP burst had knocked out the Satellites overhead and the spy plane that had taken the footage being used by CNN and the other news channels.
Picking up his cell phone he tried calling his folks, but only got a message about all circuits being busy. The local news was trying to put a nice spin on the infected in the local area, claiming the police had things under control and people should return home and wait for further instructions. Well that’s not the opinion of the cops Toby thought, as he finally rose and headed into his bedroom to pack a few things. He never heard the sound of gunfire over the TV.
He finished packing his stuff, and carried the duffel bag and small daypack into the living room and dumped them on the couch, he was scared to leave, but he was even more scared to stay.
Alicea, he thought suddenly, he had, had a crush on her since she had moved in. should he go check on her, tell her what the cops said. The Officer that had talked to him, would eventually talk to her, but if that cop was right. The sooner people got ready and got out the better it would be.
Would she even listen to him, oh sure they had talked in the hallway, and down at the pool. They had even spent time together talking at a party held by mutual friends in the building, but that was far different than listening to him tell her the world might be ending and the cops were suggesting people get out of town, especially when the news was saying something totally different.
It wasn’t a hard choice not really, he liked her and had to at least make the attempt. Gathering up his courage he opened his door and started down the hall, pausing halfway to Alicea’s apartment when he heard gunfire that sounded as if it were coming from outside.
He looked around, not sure what he should do. That cop, Halloran had gone to the apartment next door to mine, maybe I should get him. Toby thought and quickly put thoughts to action.
He headed back to his place stopping in front of Carrie and Michael Stringfellows door, and knocked. He waited for a moment then knocked again. Maybe they have the TV up or something and cant hear me, he thought as he automatically tried the knob. It turned easily in his hand.
He opened the door just enough to poke his head inside “Officer Halloran?” he called out, but saw no one in the living room. Maybe he moved on to the next apartment Toby thought, then the smell hit him. like meat that had been left out for a month, a rancid smell that turned his stomach and underlying that was the hot coppery smell of blood.
Okay if this was a horror movie Id step in side and be killed by some nut job. its not a horror movie its real life and Im not that stupid, Toby decided as he pulled his head back and shut the door quietly. He stood there for a moment, hearing more gun fire, then turned and started for the next apartment. The door was answered on the first knock and he found himself facing, a good looking blond woman, in running pants and sports bra. He could forgive himself for not noticing how good looking she was because the shotgun she held that was pointed directly at him some what diverted his gaze from the chest and legs that would normally have occupied his attention for at least a few minutes.
“Um.. Im looking for Officer Halloran” Toby managed to get out, proud of the fact he hadn’t pissed himself yet.
“if there was a cop here, do you think I would have answered the door with a shot gun” she asked.
“Probably not, but there’s shooting downstairs and he was supposed to be going door to door taking statements.” Toby said. “ I was going to go tell Alicia what the Cop, Halloran had told me, then I hear gun shots and thought I should find the Him.” he said his voice trailing off knowing he sounded like an idiot.
“No cop here, just me and my shotgun.” She replied. “I know Alicia by the way, she went out of town with her boyfriend yesterday.” She said then cocked her head to one side looking at him “your Toby Callon aren’t you” she said suddenly. “Your friends with Bill and Freddie.”
“yeah, that’s me.” Toby said not recognizing her. Alicia had a boyfriend, he thought well at least I didn’t make a fool out of myself by hitting on her, he decided.
“I’m Sophia Steger.” She replied slowly lowering the shotgun. “ we met at Billys Christmas party.”
“Uh, sorry I don’t remember you” he said feeling like a total ass. His only defense was he had been drinking.
“You probably wouldn’t I weighed about thirty pounds more then and I had my hair dyed jet black.” She said, the frowned hearing the gunshots for herself. “ your really looking for a Police officer?”
He nodded “ yeah what else would I be looking for,” he paused as common sense kicked in. “ oh.. Yeah sorry, riots and stuff there are probably rapists running lose too.”
“Not probably there are rapists running around, rapes are up five percent in just a day. At least they were when people were still calling in reports about rape, now its all about people being eaten alive and being bitten.” She said looking nervous.
“Eaten alive?,” Toby asked incredulously.
“Yeah its not something the media was reporting” She said grimly “the infected aren’t just biting, they are ripping into people and eating them.”
“how do you know that all that, I haven’t heard that on the news.” He asked, or from that cop either.
“My uncle is on the SWAT team, he called me earlier to check on me, but I haven’t heard a thing from him since then.” She said then grimaced as the more gunfire broke out then silence fell again.
Toby looked around for a moment, “sorry I really need to find that cop.” He said, then turned as the door to the apartment next door swung open, I must have forgotten to close it all the way he thought as someone stepped out into the hallway. A strong smell of rotting meat reached his nose.
Halloran crouched in the doorway of the apartment building, his pistol up as he steadily fired into the small crowd of infected that were trying to reach Gallagher and Smeha who were retrieving the gear bags from the Three patrol cars. Gallagher popped his own trunk, pulled out a black gear bag and a pack, then turned to cover Smeha who retrieved his own gear bag, then headed over to Halloran’s Patrol car and retrieved the Large gear back inside.
Both men turned and ran back for the entrance to the apartment building, Smeha moving slower burdened down with all the gear he carried. Halloran put down the two closest infected and stepped outside letting Gallagher rush past him into the lobby where he dropped his gear and joined Halloran in keeping the infected off Smeha who reached the doors twenty seconds later as Halloran put down the last infected in the parking lot.
All three knew that there were more infected, they didn’t have to see them to know, you could smell them out there and all the gun fire had to have drawn them straight to the building.
They stepped inside and Halloran shut the door and secured the door before any more infected arrived while Smeha and Gallagher got heavier weapons out of their gear bags.
He no sooner had the door shut when he spotted more infected staggering down the street out side. As long as they didn’t see any one at the door, they shouldn’t mob the door Halloran thought, remember a report he had heard from SWAT about how a mob had reacted during a clean and sweep early this morning.
“all we have to do is wait till the Guard shows up and they will come and get us out” Gallagher said as he checked his M-4,
Smeha shook his head slowly, “not going to happen Gallagher, this city is on the ropes” the older cop said slowly. “ We’ve lost twenty seven officers since last night, half the paramedics are down, and the guard is going to arrive to late, because the politicians didn’t want to upset the population by calling them in when they might have done some good.”
“and the hospitals are filled with the infected and their victims. Sooner or later they are going to make mistakes, a victim will be missed and turn and start killing, a nurse will be bitten and hide it, what ever. But it will happen.” Harmon said thinking of some of the stuff the CDC rep had told him earlier. “Detroit is gone, hasn’t made the news yet, but the guard went in and didn’t come back out.”
“That’s insane, they have tanks and stuff.” Gallagher said to loudly, frowning as the other officers shushed him.
“no its not, the local politicians and the state governor didn’t want to upset the city residents with armored vehicles rolling through the streets, so they sent in trucks and started dropping men off at intersections and in neighborhoods to check on the residents. They were overwhelmed. Right now its being called a communications problem.” Halloran stated. Gallagher fell silent, then pointed at the Parking lot where another band of infected stumbled through the parked cars, heading deeper into the city drawn by the sirens in the distance.
“If we still had control bands of those things wouldn’t be wandering around like that. Lets get upstairs and out of sight.” Smeha said softly watching the infected stagger past.
“Where upstairs?” Gallagher asked
“Fourth floor then find away onto the roof, where we might be able to radio a police Chopper, I’m friends with couple of pilots who would probably fly over here and pick our butts up.”
Gallagher nodded in agreement, at this point he would agree to riding in a clown car if it meant getting the hell out of here.
Halloran smiled his thanks as Smeha handed Halloran his own gear bag, “ might as well kit up, no telling how many infected are already in this building.” Hallorans weary smiled vanished.
“two bite victims that I know of, I reported them but Central never sent any one to pick them up. probably already fully infected by now.” Halloran said as he pulled out one of the two serious weapons in his gear bag. Halloran was old school, he loved his pump action shotgun
Smeha preferred a fully tricked out M-4, but Halloran knew there was a shot gun in the other cops bag as well, as a M24 sniper rifle. Of course Smeha hadn’t ever thought he would have to carry his bag at a run much less a second bag or he might not have loaded down his own gear bag.
Halloran shouldered his bag and the three men headed for the elevator anxious to get upstairs before some freak accident killed the power and trapped them in the Elevator. The emergency stairs were out, the entrance on the ground floor couldn’t be opened from inside the lobby with out a key and if you got that door open, the stairwell door to each floor couldn’t be opened from inside the stairwell as a safety feature, to keep thieves from sneaking from floor to floor with out being seen by camera’s on the elevators.
They rode up in silence wrapped in their own fears and worries, and failure. Failure to protect the people of this city, to some officers this was a job, maybe even to most Halloran thought, but to Smeha and Halloran they believed it, took it seriously and knowing that people were dying out there and they were helpless to stop it tore at them. Halloran had no idea what Gallagher thought, the man was new to the force with only two years under his belt.
Gallagher was not the type of Cop Halloran hung out with. Not that he was a bad man, but there was just nothing he had in common with the man other than the force.
Halloran was lucky to be where he was at, he was still fit enough and just young enough to still be doing the job. Far to many of his friends had either tired of the revolving arrest door and quit or finally gotten to old and retired.
The few friends he still had on the force were all on the fast track to retire as well and with rare exception were marking time riding a desk or working in the cage instead of being out here doing the job, Halloran loved. But lets be honest here, you don’t fit in with the younger officers. Different mindsets, different ways of approaching a situation.
He was still thinking about getting older and not fitting in, when the elevator doors slid open and he heard a woman yelling at some one to hold something still.
Halloran stepped out and saw a man rolling on the floor trying to keep a naked woman from taking a bite out of him. Another woman, dressed in skin tight running pants and sports bra had a shotgun to her shoulder and was ready to shoot the naked Female on top of the man the instant she got a clear shot.
Halloran ran forward pretty quietly for a man his size, his shotgun ready, as he passed an open apartment door, a infected male lunged out at him fingers barely missing getting a grip on his shirt.
Halloran butt stroked the infected man sending him crashing to the ground, knowing that Smeha would take care of him. Reaching the man, whom he realized was Callon from 414, Halloran kicked the nude women in the side of the head which didn’t have the effect Halloran had hoped it would. Callon was grunting in desperation as he struggled with the infected woman, barely keeping her snapping teeth from ripping his throat out.
With his left hand Halloran drew the collapsible baton he carried on his belt, or ASP as it was called, and extended it with a flick of his wrist. He swung the ASP at her head, putting as much of his 250 pounds behind it as he could.
There was crack of breaking bone, then blood and gore splattered the guy she was straddling. The corpse went limp and with a convulsive heave Callon sent the corpse tumbling to the side then rolled over on his hand and knees gagging and shaking.
“you know….” Callon gasped, “ I thought losing my job was the worst thing that could happen today, I was wrong”
“did she bite you” Halloran asked ready to shoot the poor bastard right then and there if the answer was yes.
“no, thank god no” Callon said.
“Take your shirt off and show me” Halloran ordered. Callon didn’t hesitate he stripped off the bloody shirt he wore and tossed it to the ground.
Halloran had him turn in a 360 then nodded. “your good, what in the hell are you doing out of your apartment with out a weapon” Halloran asked.
“Because I don’t have one in my Apartment, I was worried some one would break in and steal the damn thing so I left my guns at my folks house till I could afford a gun safe.” Toby said angrily wiping at his face trying to get the gore off. The woman slung her shotgun and stepped inside her apartment reappearing a moment later and tossed Toby a towel.
“Thanks” he muttered as he wiped furiously at his face feeling like the biggest idiot of all time, way to impress a lady, he thought, getting taken down by a naked 115 pound woman is a great start.
“Who are you?” Halloran asked the woman who smiled weakly at him, she was still shocked by the attack. Then his eyes widened as he recognized her. “Sophia, I haven’t seen you since you were 13 years old” Halloran said, noticing the hungry look Gallagher was giving the girl.
“Something like that and I was pretty chubby back then” Sophia said
“That’s Stegers Niece” Smeha asked incredulously.
“Whose Steger” Gallagher asked.
“ Steger is SWAT Gallagher and an old buddy of mine.” Halloran said not bothering to elaborate further.
“Does he know you’re here” Halloran asked, Sophia nodded
“ he called me earlier to warn me to be ready to bug out, but I haven’t been able to get through to him since lunch time.” She said.
“SWAT was up on the north side last I heard, under some pretty heavy shit” Halloran replied.
“Is this guy a friend of yours?” Halloran asked motioning towards Toby.
“Yes, we met last year” She said suspecting if she said no, they had only really just met, Halloran and the others might not want to trust Toby and leave him behind, and they had a plan to get out of here of that she was certain and Toby deserved a chance to get out as much as she did.
Halloran’s gaze slid from Sophia to Toby and back then he shrugged. “Mr. Callon, if I were you I would go get a shower while the water and power is still on, get what might be your last shower and then change into clean clothes. Sophia do you know how to get onto the roof.” Halloran asked.
“Not really no, I assume theres some kind of maintenance room or something, probably on the other side of the building since I haven’t seen it on this side.” Sophia replied.
“okay, you go back inside while we check it out. If we can get to the roof we might be able to get a helicopter to come and pick us up. All of us” Halloran said.
“That includes Toby right” Sophia said, “it wouldn’t be right to leave him behind”
“Why not take the whole damn building along?” Gallagher said shaking his head.
“ We will take out as many as we can, including Toby.” Halloran promised, though how he was going to keep that promise he didn’t know. If the powers that be wouldn’t let the choppers evac the people in this building he didn’t know how he could keep his promise unless one of the pilots went rogue and helped out. Being fired was probably not going to matter much after today.
Sophia watched the three officers head off down the hall, frowning slightly she knew as well as they did, the chances of the city using helicopters to evacuate one building were slim to nil, political considerations alone would cause them to say no. If she had learned anything from her Uncle, politics played a far larger role in anything city and state officials did than anything else, it was always a constant consideration of how many votes they might win or lose with their actions.
She retrieved her keys, and then walked to Toby’s apartment, really wanting to be around another person, especially with two dead bodies lying in the hallway.
Toby had just pulled off his jeans when he heard some knocking on the front door, sighing in frustration, and worried it might be the cops about to leave or something equally bad he pulled his jeans back on and headed for the door, taking his baseball bat out of the closet just in case it was one of the infected, after the woman that had attacked him, he doubted they were smart enough to knock, but why take the chance.
He opened the door cautiously to see the Shotgun toting Sophia, “ I thought I would come over while you took a shower so you don’t have to worry about something getting in while your in the shower” she said. Not wanting to say the real reason which was simply she didn’t like the idea of sitting alone in her own apartment with two dead bodies in the hall outside and who knew how many more infected in the building.
He opened the door wide to let her inside, and grimaced feeling like an idiot again as she saw the bat and smiled. “Good call, a bat’s quiet to.” She said with approval that made him feel a little better.
“Come on in, Ill try not to take to long in the shower. I cant even wrap my mind around it might be my last shower for a while if everything goes down” he said. Sophia shook her head unhappily.
“I hadn’t even thought about that, god I hope I can still get showers later.” She said as she stepped inside, Toby closed the door behind her.
“ There’s all kinds of food in the fridge help yourself, if what Halloran said is true and the power goes out, I think it will take longer than three or four days to come back on. So might as well eat what we can so it doesn’t go bad.” Toby said motioning towards the kitchen.
“Thanks I will” she said realizing she hadn’t even eaten lunch yet. she headed into the kitchen as Toby headed for the bathroom.
Toby stepped out of the shower, feeling human again and quickly dressed, gone were the city clothes. he had dragged out the faded jeans, Tshirts and work shirts from his days back home including his old steel toed work boots. He had spent longer in the shower than he had planned, but he wanted to enjoy it in case it was his last shower for a while.
He walked back into the living room, where Sophia was sitting watching the news and eating left over Chinese food. Her long legs on his couch crossed at the ankles. Her shot gun lay across her lap ready to be picked up and used. His duffel bag and Day pack were on the floor beside her.
“I see you were getting ready to leave already” She said motioning to his bags.
“That Cop Halloran suggested I should think about it, then there was all the shooting downstairs, I packed up in case I had too get out.” He replied as he headed into the Kitchen and pulled out the half pizza still in its box, he almost grabbed a beer, then decided this was not the time to even risk getting a buzz.
He heated the pizza up in the microwave and then carried it into the living room and sat on the floor beside the coffee table offering her a piece before he started eating.
She watched him for a moment, thinking how different he looked dressed like that, he actually looked more like a blue collar guy, instead of a smarmy office worker. His short dark hair had a slight curl to it, between the hair and his angular jaw, he was pretty cute in an Alex O’laughlin sort of way she decided.
Toby realized she was staring at him and managed not to blush, instead he just powered through his pizza, then went and grabbed a can of coke to wash it down with.
He was just finishing up when he heard the now familiar pounding on his door. He rose and opened the door to find, all three cops, and a couple he had seen around the building outside his door.
I think I am staring to realize how Bilbo felt with dwarves just piling into his house, Toby thought thankful he hadn’t said that out loud, that was the nerdiest thing he could have said at any time in his life.
“Come on in” he said stepping aside and letting every one inside.
Halloran looked upset, and the other two offices didn’t look any happier. Halloran looked slightly less upset when he saw Sophia. The couple with them just looked scared, the dark haired plain looking woman clung to her far to skinny boyfriend or husband like he was a life raft.
“we tried your place first, figured you were here when you didn’t answer” Halloran told Sophia with a slight glance towards Toby who looked like he had recovered from the attack. “This is Emma Watts and Tab Pourchot” Halloran said as the couple entered the apartment. “ They live on the other side of the building”
Toby greeted the couple, but got no response other than nods, they looked like they were in shock or something and were just barely functioning. Not that he blamed them he was surprised he wasn’t a total wreck. Nothing in his life had prepared him for what was going on, or what he was beginning to suspect was happening around him.
“What’s wrong?” Sophia asked Halloran as she rose and helped the Emma to the couch where she sat clutching Tads hand, her eyes darting about the room looking for threats.
“No help is coming” Halloran said almost spitting the words, “ we were ordered to leave here if we can get out safely and report to the new Command post. Where the Mayor will be coordinating with the National guard commander as to the best way to deal with this crisis.”
“What about us?” Toby asked.
“You and all the other civilians are supposed to wait here till order has been restored.” Smeha said, looking almost as angry as Halloran. “I got through to a friend of mine and found out they yanked all the cops out of the outlying areas and are pulling them back to more critical areas in and around downtown. Just to make things more interesting I found out the Navy ships are heading out to sea.
What’s left of the ground based Navy personnel, the Army and probably even the boy scouts are heading out of the city proper. In other words, the city is lost just no one wants to say it.” Halloran said. “there are to many in the parking lot so reaching a vehicle is out of the question with out a lot of planning at any rate and I doubt that traveling through Charleston is going to be easy.”
Toby stood there, not sure what he should feel or how to act. Oh he had watched end of the world movies, and alien invasion movies but never had he thought he might actually face something like this, and to hear that the Politicians were giving up and not even trying to protect people, to protect him made him both furious and depressed.
“So what do we do now” Sophia asked looking around frowning and trying hard not to cry.
“Go door to door and find out who is home and alive. Then strip all the food out of the apartments were no one is home.” Toby said not even noticing the surprised looks the others gave him. “if your right and things are going to get worse, we need food lots of it and water. We need to concentrate on leftovers and stuff in freezers to feed us for the next few days and leave the canned and packaged stuff alone so if and when the power goes out we have stuff to eat.”
“Callon has a point” Halloran said nodding with approval. “And we might want to post a look out down in the lobby. If some one manages to get home, we need to open the door for them. I don’t like the thought of leaving them out there to be attacked by the infected.” And Im the one that secured the front door that’s going to keep them out there with the infected Halloran thought
“Ill go play guard in the lobby for now” Smeha said rising to his feet. “till we can work up some kind of Guard shift.”
“Thanks” Halloran said “ and be careful.” Halloran added, Smeha nodded and headed for the door. “Callon, you and Gallagher can go with me to check all the apartments on this floor.”
“I don’t have a gun” Toby pointed out and I didn’t do so well against a little wild woman either he thought.
“You have a bat and for now that’s better than a firearm.” Halloran said. “ Noise draws the infected, things like gunfire, talking, sirens its like ringing Pavlovs bell. A Bat is quiet and less likely to draw a bunch of them to you”
“Great its like the Simpson’s episode where the alien invasion is stopped by a board with a nail in it.” Toby muttered.
Gallagher surprised Toby by laughing. “if you have any nails to put in that thing it might help” Halloran said thinking about.
“No sorry all out of Nails and other construction materials” Toby said, as he walked over to his duffle bag and dug out the hunting knife his grandfather had given him. “this might help” he said, assuming I have the nerve to stab some one with it he thought.
“Sophia if you could stay and keep Emma and Tab company” Halloran said as he headed for the door.
“No problem,” She replied as she turned and knelt beside Emma. “Would you two like something to eat or drink?” she asked the couple as Toby followed the two officers into the hallway.