“and among you shall a prophet come.”
Jacob Landry, his plain face sat in a perpetual frown, sat down at his desk. Then placed his brown lunch bag, the subject of many jokes, into his desk drawer before he turned to his in box where files had piled up over his to short lunch time.
“Mr. Felding needs the paperwork for the Johnson job in an hour, Mr.Landry” Janet Stiles said, with her to sweet southern charm. He looked up, trying not to let the distaste he felt at seeing her. 22, a cute girl next door oval face and full lips, as usual her blouse were to low cut, showing lots of youthful cleavage, and her skirt was to high showing lots of tanned thigh, add in the spiked heel hooker shoes, and she had the appearance of a harlot.
She had been having sex in the stock room with that slacker Bennie Cohen for the last month, and no matter how many times he had expressed his moral outrage to Joseph Felding the owner, she still retained her job, Mr. Felding claimed that they had never been caught having sex, but Landry knew better.
“Thank you, Ms. Stiles, Ill make sure it is completed” Landry said as he found the relevant file and pulled it from the In-box, opening it he faked studying the file so he could ignore her.
After a moment the floozy walked off, leaving only a whiff of too expensive perfume she splashed on like a French prostitute.
After making sure the Johnson paperwork was in order he initialed it and had Margo Cummings deliver it to Mr. Felding and then turned his attention to the other files. It took him a while to become aware of the nervous buzz of conversation through out the work area, he paid no real attention to it, till his coworkers, he used that title lightly, began gathering their personal items and leaving before quitting time.
Many of them were clustered around the harlot’s radio, another thing that was against the rules that she flaunted and got away with. She surfed the net as well for personal use from her work computer, no doubt looking for porn or another man to have sex with, when she got home.
The first thing that really got thru his intense annoyance at the lack of decorum, it was the looks of fear on the faces of the men and woman clustered around the Whore of Babylon’s desk that finally peaked his curiosity. He rose with the report he had just finished and headed for Mr. Felding’s office to deliver it himself, hoping to find out what had every one so on edge that people were leaving work.
He was halfway across the office area when Mr. Felding emerged from his office, two men were with him, one was Mr. James Cotton, one of they main suppliers, and the other was a police officer, Landry’s right eyebrow raised in question. Maybe at last the harlot was going to be fired and arrested for public indecency. He smiled as he held out the file folder but Mr. Felding only waved him to one side as he walked past, asking for every one to gather round.
Landry, smiled in anticipation at what was to come, but his smile faded as Mr. Felding outlined the emergency that was sweeping the city then motioned for the officer to address the employees.
“Ladies and gentleman, I would like you to gather your things and leave now in an orderly manner, for the moment we have the infected in the area isolated, but its to dangerous for you to remain here, so please return to your homes, and keep a radio or the TV on for further instructions.” The officer said, his boyish face was marred by worry and fear.
Infected, riots, was this a joke Landry asked himself, as he walked back to his desk, he had two reports to get done before the end of the work day, and he was going to finish them. He had never left work early a day in his life and wasn’t about to start today.
As every one rushed to their desks and gathered their things, Landry settled into his chair and opened the next file and started to back to work.
He looked up as a shadow fell across his desk, “Jacob, I know it goes against the grain, but you need to leave too. Its bad out there and will probably get worse.” Mr. Felding told him, his thin hair looked like it gained more grey since this morning. There was fear in his eyes too Landry realized.
“I only live three blocks from here Mr. Felding, I’m sure it will be okay if I stay till closing time” Landry replied.
“I’m sorry Jacob, I’m leaving as well, and I have to lock up. Its better to leave now, just … well be careful. If you see one of the infected, run, and stay away from groups of them” Mr. Felding told him, which was about as much information as being reported on the radio. Landry rose shaking his head, he still wasn’t convinced this was anything more than a bunch of rioting Liberal idiots hopped up on some kind of drug, at the worst it was just some kind of protest that had gotten out of hand.
Felding seemed unnaturally nervous as he waited for Landry to gather his things; the office area was already empty, and silent except for the hum of the light fixtures. He headed for the door, with Mr. Felding following closely turning off lights.
He stepped out onto the stoop, and looked around. Usually he left by way of the side door, which allowed him to avoid those he didn’t wish to rub shoulders with. About half the employees were gone, and the rest were in their cars waiting in line to leave the parking lot.
“Good Luck Jacob” Mr. Felding told Landry as he locked the door behind them, then pulled his hat down and rushed to the parking lot.
Jacob almost yelled I don’t need luck I have god, but resisted the urge, it would sound arrogant at best and that was displeasing to god. Instead he turned and started walking down the block, stopping a half block away he watched as three police cars and a Swat van barreled by lights flashing and sirens wailing. In normal times, people would have cleared the road allowing them to pass, but this was not normal times. People were panicked, they didn’t care if police wanted by, they only knew they wanted to get home, to someplace they considered safe, and as a result there was a traffic snarl where all the vehicles from three parking lots were trying to force their way onto the road.
Maybe the First Patrol car didn’t realize no one was moving out of the way, maybe the driver was on his or her cell phone checking on the family, or maybe it was just fate. What ever the reasons the first patrol car smashed into a Red Mustang, which crashed into a Prius, a smart car went rolling, crushing a woman in the parking lot trying to get into her car. There was a squeal of brakes, as the last patrol car and the swat van came to a stop.
He watched in surprise as the swat team members, leaped from the van and moved thru the accident scene weapons raised. His jaw fell as one of them fired into the drivers seat of the Mustang. They left the prius alone, but gunfire rang out moments later as they shot the woman pinned between the Prius and her own car.
Suddenly it all became real, this was no joke, something was decidedly wrong. Landry turned and started back down the street, wanting to put as much distance as he could between himself and the Policemen, who might start shooting at every one else any moment.
He turned the corner, and saw a city bus, half on the sidewalk, the drivers window smeared with blood. his certainty at the order of the universe was shaken but still intact as he passed the bus, refusing to look inside, He never saw the shadows that moved past the windows.
More cars were spilling from public parking lots and parking garages, creating jams and wrecks, horns were honking, people shouting at each other, their angry yells echoing from the tall buildings that surrounded the area.
Brakes squealed, Landry looked up in time to see, a Truck plow over a young woman dashing across the street, her broken body tumbling to ground and lay still. Landry stared in shock then looked back to see if the police were on their way with their guns.
The Driver of the truck leaped out, a tire Iron in his hands, and approached the girl cautiously. Landy didn’t know what the man thought he was going to do with the tire iron against a dead woman, but there was so much insanity around him, he wouldn’t be surprised at any thing now.
Or maybe he would, he decided as he saw the Girls body, sit upright, one arm was bent backwards, her side was staved in and her head lolled on her left shoulder. He stopped in shock, staring there was no way that woman could be alive, was there, he asked.
Screams ripped thru the area, as those on foot, saw what was going on. “their here” , “Oh my god” were the two most common screams he noted absently as he watched the man step forward quickly, dodging the single outstretched hand, that tried to stop or grasp him. Landry wasn’t sure which. The womans mouth was opening and closing, and then the tire iron smashed into the top of her head with all the weight of the large man behind it. Landry imagined he could hear the bones shatter even here, the woman’s body fell over backwards, and then the man ran back to his truck, a moment later he was doing a U turn and roaring away.
Landry turned and kept walking, more rapidly than before. down the street out of sight he heard gunfire, that intensified. The people on the sidewalks with him, began to run. Landry clutched his briefcase tighter to his chest, and kept on walking, his condo was only a block and half away.
He passed the Diner he ate at every Sunday after Church, the windows were dark, but the door stood open, the hair on the back of his neck stood up, and he hurried past, now able to see the gate to his condo and the Massive Church across the street.
People, some with children were streaming into the church, most carried luggage or bags bugling with cans. Landry watched them as he approached his Condo, no one he saw looked crazed, but they all look scared. He could hear the wails of children and the heat breaking sounds of crying from some even across the street. he recognized many of them. Mrs. Bamburg, usually a jovial woman, was crying as she carried her three year old daughter into the church, her clothes spotted with blood.
Mr. and Mrs Cox, they were normally cheerful, even when they were trying to keep their children from mischief, but they both were sobbing, and their children were no where in sight. Mrs. Cox, her blond hair in disarray clutched a bloody looking stuffed rabbit to her chest.
Mr. Linden, one of the Deacons, his shirt bloody, looked dazed and carried one of his children, who was unconscious in his arms, the little girls dress looked bloody, and she had blood soaked shirt tied around her arm. Landry didn’t see Mrs. Linden or the other children.
There were others, many others, and they all looked stunned, shocked or broken. Fear etched in their faces.
What ever was happening, it wasn’t just some doped up liberals run amok, he thought as he turned and entered the building, the doorman was gone, but Jerry DeMarco the Security guard was still on duty, he looked deadly serious, especially with a shotgun slung over his shoulder. Landry was sure it was against the rules, but he wasn’t about to point that out considering what he had already seen.
“afternoon Mr. Demarco” Landry said automatically.
“Sir” DeMarco said by way of acknowledgement, Landry had always loved the Military bearing of the Security Guard, whom he had heard had been in the Army and had served in Afghanistan.
Landry pushed the elevator button, and waited for it to arrive.
“Mr. Landry, Sir,” Landry turned back to DeMarco, who looked Nervously out into the street. “you might want to gather some food and water, and head out of town”
“do you think this will get that bad” Landry asked,
“its already past bad sir, and its going to get worse” DeMarco said, “I’m leaving town as soon as My friends show up.”
“Ill think about Mr. DeMarco, but this is my home” Landry said. he had no real desire to ever leave the place his wife had died in, none at all.
“Well Good luck sir” DeMarco said as the elevator arrived and Landry stepped inside.
Once inside his Apartment he made himself a cup of Tea, his hands trembling. Taking the steaming cup, he walked over to the window and looked down onto the street, there were few vehicles now, and those that did pass, were speeding recklessly down the thoroughfare. He watched a truck smash into a man staggering across the road. the body went flying and crashed down between two parked cars.
It was insanity, total insanity he thought, but the fear finally had gotten to him. He finished his tea and went and gathered pillow cases, then emptied the food in his cabinets into the cases and knotted them closed.
He had no casual clothing, such as Jeans, because he had never participated in anything that could be deemed casual, only the morally bankrupt went casual as far as he was concerned. But now he modified his views, Jeans and other rugged styles of clothing were necessary if one were trying to escape mass hysteria and rioting.
He decided to buy some as soon as he was out of the danger zone downtown, and hopefully would not have to wear them, as this should be contained to this area. He finished adding a few things to his supply of stores then went and retrieved a roll of duct tape and some sheets.
DeMarco was gone by the time Landry returned to the Lobby, normally he would have slandered the man for abandoning his post before his shift was over, but normal didn’t apply now. Landry wouldn’t have considered abandoning the home he and his late wife had shared either, but here he was in the lobby doing just that.
He stepped outside, and could hear sirens in the distance, a pall of smoke hovered over the area. Dear Lord guide my steps Landry prayed as he stepped out onto the sidewalk.
His eyes fell on his Church across the street, that would be the proper place to go, he thought as he looked both ways and froze, there was a crowd coming up the street from the east. A shambling, staggering crowd of blood splattered and wounded people.
Landry, hesitated, could so many be infected with what ever it was, there was no way the Lord would allow so many innocents to die.
Singing rose into the air, Landry looked across the street, to see the churches doors open, and the pastor stepped out carrying his bible, behind him the rest of the congregation followed, singing the saints go marching.
Landry couldn’t believe his eyes, then his hopes lifted. Of course, this was the answer, the reason for all this, for god to show his power to the world, the faithful, undaunted would stand their ground for the lord, he would smite the infected from the planet.
He started across the street, intent on joining the members of his church.
The horde of infected, swarmed forward, from a shuffling walk to slow jog, every walk of life and race represented in that crowd, street bums, nurses, doctors, police officers, hookers, single mothers, mechanics, Children. And all of them shared one goal, to feed, they flowed forward a silent hungry crowd.
Landry couldn’t see what was going on at the head of the congregation but there was crys of praise the lord and Amen. He smiled wildly, it was about to end, the lord would come down on the winds, armed with the word and the sword, and lead his people to victory and the apostate would finally see the error of their ways.
He was so caught up in his emotions, it took him a moment to realize that the praises to the lord had turned to screams of pain and fear, it swept back over the congregation like wild fire. People broke and ran, but it was too far to late.
Landry’s faith collapsed, surely the lord wouldn’t abandoned his faithful, he might let the heretics and the apostate fall, but not his chosen ones. they were special, anointed. It couldn’t, shouldn’t happen.
Maybe it was a test and they had failed somehow, surely he could be saved, he was dedicated, a true believer.
He looked back and saw more of the infected coming from the other ways, pouring out of side streets and alleys. He looked around wildly, and then saw a woman by the church doors, waving at him. He gaped for a moment, then ran towards the woman who looked remarkably like his wife.
She stepped through the church doors, and Landry ran after her, this was his sign, god was saving him.
Inside, the church there was screaming, some of the badly wounded had passed, then rose and attacker their mothers, wives, fathers, or who ever happened to be close. Landry ran past Mrs. Bamburgh, who lay sprawled across a pew her Daughter happily eating on her legs.
Mr Linden, was trying to pull his childs teeth from his arm, little pale hands raking at his arms.
Alex Colter was kneeling over his baby boy, pulling organs from the little body, his face smeared with blood.
Landry managed not to puke as he rushed through, following the woman in the sun dress, with the long auburn hair. Hands tried to snag him but he managed to not to be caught, and rushed thru the doors into the hallway that would take him to the classrooms. He saw the woman dart up the stairs that led to the bell tower.
He clambered up the steps, barely able to breath, he could hear some one below him, a slow steady step on the stairs, and a dragging noise.
He reached the room below the bell platform and shut and locked the door. then as an after thought moved some of the boxes of stored items over to block it.
The woman wasn’t in the room, he realized, he sat his bags of supplies down, and walked to the narrow stair case that led to the bell tower and climbed the flight of stairs to the door at the top. It was always locked, but not today, today it stood open. Landry stepped out and could see across a large area of downtown, smoke rose into the sky from various spots, here and there he could see buildings on fire, or cars burning in the middle of pile ups.
He walked around the top of the tower, looking at the destruction that was sweeping over the city. he grew cold as the temperature fell around him, and a breeze that smelled of rotted meat and disease swept thru the tower.
“Your like Ezekiel Jacob, a prophet taken up to see the world ending, so you can spread the true word to those that survive” Landry stopped dead, the voice was hers, he could smell her perfume he turned slowly, his breath sticking in his throat as he saw his wife the way she had been, not the way she had died, shriveled up and eaten alive by cancer.
His sanity finally snapped joining his religion in the dust heap of his past.
“The Lord wants you to bear witness to this moment Jacob, then I will bring to you his true gospel, and you will spread it to all those who survive. And those that wont listen will die before the sword of god.” She told him. Landry ached to hold her in his arms, but he knew there was work to do, the lord’s work. He turned back to look out over the dying city, and smiled.
Evil comes in many forms, and there are times it comes in the form most pleasing to man, Jacob Landry fell into damnation feeling only love.