I feel large and in charge. I feel like a wise and omniscient military commander on the night before a large battle. I feel like General Eisenhower in early June of 1944. So much energy in the air tonight I can hardly breathe. I’m nervous, and excited, and scared, and a whole bundle of emotions I can’t even find the right words for right now.
I also sort of feel like instead of being the toe, I might be the shit circling the drain. It’s hard to tell right now. This is easily our most impressive and dangerous operation to date, and anything ambitious usually costs lives. Ask any military strategist that. Calculating the likely amount of death in any operation is a sad requirement. What’s the return on investment?
My return might be high. I could find Cassie, and get closure, allowing myself to be a normal person again. But at what cost?
He asks no one in particular.
As it turns out, this is indeed a leap year, so we had an extra day, which was last night. I thought it was fitting that we started this operation on a day that occurs once every four years. It’s a rare occurrence on a rare day, and it seemed very fitting to me.
We just returned from two separate trips to our pair of parking garages. We have a small insertion team staged at both the Factory and Spring Meadows, and at roughly the same time, they went into the city to light the fires at the top of the parking garages. We had to time lighting the fires to coincide with nightfall. Otherwise the fires aren’t anywhere nearly visible enough to attract attention. I wasn’t on a team going out today. Kevin and Michelle both thought it was bad karma to participate in lighting the fires for whatever reason. Michelle kept saying she “had a feeling” that if I went into the city so close to heading in to find Cassie something wouldn’t be right.
I’m not going to second guess her. Not so soon after a White Room dream. Not so soon after Gilbert told me to lean on those around me. Not so soon after Otis sent me off with a strange rub of his head on my leg. I can’t say what was strange about it… it was just strange. Like a… I’ll see you soon head butt.
Not that cats can send that much information with a head butt.
At any rate… I cannot say exactly what happened on those trips, because it was all just recanted to me second hand. Kevin led the team into the parking garage at the hospital, and Joel led the team going into the apartment building garage. From what I heard from Joel’s team on return, their garage was a total clusterfuck. Covered from top to bottom in undead already, likely from the noise we’d made the other day. Joel said it was creepy as hell too. Like they were there, waiting for his team. All of them were facing the road, blocking the path in to head up. I guess he had to hit them with the humvee leading, and floor it up to the top floor at top speed.
The side of his humvee got smashed apart as they fishtailed around a bend and collided with a concrete post, but the vehicle survived. At the top, they hit one of the large piles of wood on a vehicle with some of our remaining lighter fluid, and torched the shit out of it. Once the fire had taken and they felt comfortable getting out, they blitzed down to the middle deck, and Blake hit the car he’d set the car alarm up in. Joel said the bastard went off immediately, according to Blake’s plan, and they mounted up, and got the fuck out. I guess they ran over a few dozen more undead on the way out, but the managed to scram with no injuries other than a split ear from the humvee crash.
The second team out, led by Kevin had a fairly similar experience. No humvee crash on this run, but one of our guys, well, gals actually, took a ricochet to the leg. Not sure exactly how it happened, but it seems like a round skipped off a bumper or some of the concrete in the garage, and hit Angela in the calf. Nothing too serious, just some blood, and a shitload of pain. She’ll be limping for weeks while that muscle mends.
Kevin and team made it to the upper level, got their own lighter fluid on the wood, and got their fire going fairly quickly. Things got very hairy for them when they dropped down a level to start the car alarm. Blake wasn’t there to do exactly what was needed, so it fell to Hector and Martin to try and figure the shit out. Hector, despite being Hispanic, is not that experienced with disarming car alarms. (yes, that’s racially insensitive, but he said it to me just a few minutes ago, so I’m repeating it for the sake of history)
Fifteen minutes from what I’m told. Fifteen minutes to get the car alarm to go off. Now the first trip to that garage, we had that place on fucking lockdown while we were working there. Entrances blocked and guarded, plenty of guns in the fight to pull security, all that jazz. This trip out the undead were almost waiting for them, so the ensuing firefight while the two men were getting the car going was by all reports, epic. We sent all shorter vehicles to that garage due to the entrance height, and all the vehicles took up defensive positions on the middle level. They fired over hoods over and over, mowing down targets as fast as they could acquire them. At one point Kevin said a few undead had gotten right on top of them while magazine changes were going down, and he had to draw his handgun to put them down before swapping his magazines.
They are so fucking lucky no one died. It sounds like they were minutes or even just seconds away from a complete wipe. I was getting sweaty just listening to them tell me the story.
Anyway, that was earlier this afternoon/evening. Both teams made it out okay, with just minor injuries that are pretty normal for combat situations. Pinched skin, small cuts and abrasions, burns from flying brass, that kind of bullshit.
It was actually sort of funny to hear the AAR from those guys with Michelle and the Spring Meadows people right there. They were HORRIFIED to hear how dicey it was. I think after the story the Spring Meadows people thought we were super heroes. I think they thought we could accomplish anything, anywhere, anytime.
I hope they’re closer to right than wrong.
We’ve got the fires set up to cascade into a second pile of wood on top of an adjacent car. The fires *should* work out that way. We’ve also got the fires set up to torch the interior of the car, and we’ve got some gasoline in the tanks that should blow as well, helping to set the second car off. Now when the second car catches, the same process should happen again. In theory, if we’ve done our jobs right, we’ll have almost 24 hours of fire and smoke, as well as maybe 6-8 hours of car alarm going off too. If the fires take properly, and burn out for a good long time, when we roll into the city to try and hit Cassie’s work, both parking garages will be absolutely full of the dead.
Now as far as blowing the explosives go… We need to get closer than where we are right now. Our detonators don’t have the range to go off from here (part of the problem of dealing with stolen shit, as opposed to proper load outs of new gear), so we can’t blow them until we’re within a half mile or so. This is what I’m told.
So we will depart, then when we are in range to make the Semtex blow up, we’ll hit the detonators. We have to be in two teams again to do this. Kevin, Michelle, Abby, Hal, and myself will take the detonator for the hospital. Joel will send another team into the area of the other parking garage, and at roughly the same time, we’ll all hit the switches, and if Quan did his job, the garages will explode and collapse, hopefully killing all the undead meandering about inside them.
As long as the explosives blow, we should be okay. The loud noise, dust and debris, and collateral damage of the Semtex going off should create such a diversion that even if there are no kills as a result, we’ll benefit.
From there on… we head into the center of the office buildings, and straight to her office on the sixth floor. With any luck, we’ll see her car outside on the street, and her body will be there in it.
We both know Mr. Journal that is not what will happen.
I can say with certainty this is likely to be the most difficult thing I have ever done, in a life filled with difficult experiences.
One way or the other, I plan on this trip being the end of my journey. Either I return a better man, able to move on, and start anew for real, or I don’t return at all. All in, is the expression.
I’m hoping for the first option, but let’s be honest… it isn’t up to me.
The people that are going with me to the city have been amazing. Abby and Hal are very supportive, positive, and reassuring. Hal’s wisdom is deeper than his years would indicate, much like Abby. The two of them are a cute couple. I’m glad they’re going with me, with us. Just having Abby’s face in the mix here has helped me stay calm.
Michelle has been no more than ten feet from me since we arrived here. She’s always watching my face and my body language to see how I’m doing. She is constantly putting a soft hand on my shoulder, or my arm to let me know she is here for me. I want to stand up and put my arms around her, pulling her close when she does these things, but it wouldn’t be right. Not just yet. Kevin is Kevin. Stoic, resolute, focused on the job at hand. When he senses I’m nervous, he picks on me, or cracks a joke, reminding me of who I am, and where I’m from. He keeps me grounded.
I’m a very fortunate person to have the friends I have.
We’re heading out under the cover of darkness on the morning of the 3rd. Hopefully the fires and car alarms have attracted enough attention that this will work. Otherwise, we’ll be making a very short, and very horrifying trip into the city.
If this trip ends with me dead, then let this be my farewell. Abby has instructions to take over for me should this happen and she survive. If we both die... then Mallory knows the password, and even with just one hand she can see to who becomes the next Scribe.
Wish me luck.
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