There is no way I can fit all of what I need to write in one sitting. Far too much detail to cover. The question becomes, where do I begin? For starters, the weather held. It was actually fairly nice the entire trip out and back. Solid 45 during the day with sunshine, though it dipped down pretty damn abruptly when the sun settled.
Vehicles on the run to the hospital and their passengers:
HRT: Myself, Caleb, Abby and Hector
Humvee One: Kevin, Amanda, Quan, Ethan
Humvee Two: Martin, Fitz, Angela, Hal
Deuce: Amanda, Mike, Patty
Our plan worked so flawlessly for so long we felt like geniuses. We felt like we had the whole city by the balls. Our first real issue was when we stopped to plant our first noisemaker for our return trip. Remember how I said we’d leave one set up at an intersection to draw zombies off our trail? We’d managed a small posse on our ass by then, so we knew leaving the radio was a good idea. The Deuce was best suited for putting the radios up. The bed in the back was high up, and had space for us, and with a small step ladder we were more than able to get the ropes up around the lights and get the radios hung. Other vehicles pulled security, and everything was fine.
The problem when we hung that radio was not the encroaching of the dead. Kevin called out movement to the south and half of us swung our guns in that direction. I wished I had my ACOG on my weapon at that moment, but I didn’t. The Aimpoint was all I had. Several of the folks with optics said later on that they saw human movement. Faster than the undead, moving from cover to cover, watching us. Kevin said it was two people, one male, and one female. They never did anything threatening to us, and when we felt things were stable, and the radio was playing, we left. We’d adjust our route and plan home on the move.
After that we had smooth sailing for some time. The hospital is right beside the college campus. Same campus that Becca was at when the world shit the bed. The building is shaped more or less like a giant U. Inside the U are the docks we intended to breach at. The ER that we wanted to avoid is on the wing of the hospital, near the large parking garage.
The initial plan was to do a full loop around what amounted to a four block area. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it’d give us a damn better idea as to whether or not getting out of the vehicles was even a good idea. While not the center of the city, we were perhaps ten blocks away from what you’d call the center. Where all the tallest buildings and the financial areas are. Downtown if you will. Downtown is where Cassie worked.
Our drive in and the loops around the hospital showed us it was feasible. Surprisingly the amount of undead around the hospital was very low. Incredibly low in fact. Swerving the HRT back and forth slightly Caleb was able to hit and run over almost every single walker in the streets. That bought us a tremendous amount of time when we hung our perimeter radios.
Because we wanted nothing to see us drive away from the radio hanging, we dismounted from our vehicles, and those of us with suppressed weapons engaged immediately. As I said, there weren’t that many undead. I think at each of our four stops we had to put down less than a dozen walkers, which by my estimation is a motherfucking miracle. We put holes in heads, and rolled out. Nothing new to report there.
The alley/street that the inner portion of the hospital was on was large. During days of regular use, it was where the hospital parked their MRI truck, and where they took deliveries of supplies. We figured the docks would be right near the storage areas of the hospital. It didn’t make sense that they would cart shit all over the place when they had a dock. We were right, for the most part.
On the alley we parked a humvee at each end for security. We put two bodies at each end of the street as shooters. We parked the deuce and the HRT right at the dock, and proceeded to get the operation on.
Five shooters stood in the back of the deuce, pulled away from the dock. Nothing falling out of the dock could land in the truck, and nothing on the ground could reach up and into it. They’d have to climb in, and as we’ve seen over and over, dead folks can’t climb for shit. Martin bored a large hole into the metal dock doors with one of our more industrial drills, and he slipped a steel rod attached to a chain through the hole. The chain was attached to the rear of the HRT, and with a slight push of the gas pedal, the heavy metal dock door came screaming off the tracks. Caleb drove the truck forward, pulling the door well out of our way.
When the door opened, we knew right then and there we were in for a long fucking day. The door blasted away and we saw three undead standing where the door used to be. They must’ve been drawn to the sound of us drilling the hole in the door. I snapped two dead right off the bat, and Ethan put the other down. They fell over the lip of the concrete dock and landed head down on the pavement. Their necks and heads smashed into strange shapes when they landed. There was no time to fix their fallen bodies.
We cleared the door off the chain, picked the chain up, and got the HRT situated out of the way of the humvees should they need to move to either end. We left the deuce right there, away from the dock, the wall, and anything that could touch the bed, and we left Amanda in the back with a suppressed M4 to cover the center of the alley, and the docks should something slip behind us. As I heard once before, if we lost the dock, we were fucked. We’d have to fight our way out the front of the facility, through whatever was out there.
So if you do the math, two shooters at each humvee plus one shooter at the dock left us with ten for the interior. That’s a really large team for any kind of building clear, and at that point we’re looking at friendly fire problems. It’s easy for three people to avoid shooting one another. It’s a lot harder for ten people.
The interior of the dock was a receiving area still largely filled with pallets. A quick check told us the pallet contents were useless. Inside that and to the right side was what I’d call a dirty warehouse, and then a clean warehouse. The dirty warehouse stored linens, bed sheets, uniforms, etc. The clean warehouse on the other hand… was a goldmine. It was far enough inside like the medical warehouse that the temperatures stayed stable. The doors were also heavily locked, and we needed to use halligans and a lot of muscle power to get the doors open. There were clear signs that someone had tried to get into the rooms too. Scratch marks on the metal frames, hack marks in the door itself, and smashed knobs. Lucky for us, their patience ran out before the doors gave up the ghost.
We almost filled the entire deuce in the first hour we were there. IV bags by the case, boxes and boxes of medication, and highly valuable hospital supplies of every sort. I cannot emphasize how large a haul that secure storage area was. We should’ve stopped there, but we were so prepared to go deeper into the building, and we had another area to check out.
Right outside the “dirty” warehouse was the main hospital corridor. Sitting on the inside of that door listening for movement was the closest thing to being on a landing boat during D-Day I can imagine. The moment right before everyone leapt up out of the trenches to charge the enemy back in WW1. Impending doom just inches away, and the only keeping you from it was a moment of courage.
We opened the door once we were sure there was nothing on the other side. Well, nothing standing right on the other side. Ethan tugged the door open slowly with Martin as muscle behind him should we need to slam it shut fast. The dark hallway beyond the door was cavernous. Kevin and I were in the space of the doorway with barrels up, waiting for anything to come into view. Nothing did, so we cracked chemlights and threw them down the hallway in each direction like light grenades. One went about ten feet and stopped, the other skidded for quite some time. I poked my head around into the hall and surveyed the scene.
The shorter chemlight direction had about five undead moving our way. I barked out contact as fast as I could and got my weapon up. The first two or three rounds shot true, hitting faces and heads, but my next few sailed. I stepped into the hallway further when I saw Hal and Abby moving to cover my back, and once I was in the clear in the hall, I put the others down. Further down the hall in my direction I saw more targets, and I opened up on them as best I could. Behind me as I engaged targets I heard Hal and Abby open up with their weapons. Fortunately we were all equipped with suppressed guns, and our hearing wasn’t utterly demolished by firing in such a confined space.
I turned to cover them and simply watched as they shot down body after body. I think our headcount in that hallway alone was fifteen.
From there we had maps, and we knew where we were going. Our main goal was the cafeteria. We felt there had to be food inside it.
The cafeteria was on the second floor, fortunately away from the wing of the hospital that had the ER area. Judging from the appearance of the crashed cars and ambulances on the ER side when we were doing our perimeter sweep, we KNEW that side of the hospital was going to be bad news.
The corridor ended in a set of double doors, turned right after that set of doors, and proceeded down the radiology department to a large emergency stairwell at the end of the building. In all, it was maybe fifty yards of walk. Not that far, but in a zombie infested building, you might as well be running a fucking marathon.
Doors doing in directions we were not heading were sealed with either chain and a padlock, or a special iron bar/hook that Martin made up for us. It slipped through the handles on double doors preventing them from opening, yet could be removed easily by us when we needed to get through that door. We barred all of the doors going away from us, and shut every other door that would stay shut without a human trying to open it. That allowed us to move further into the hospital as a team, posting less sentries along the way.
The second corridor after the double door was better than the first. I think our headcount in that area was maybe a dozen, and the hallway was longer so they were more spread out. By this point in the operation we were starting to get a good feeling. I know that’s just stupid. Literally giving the Jinx Fairy a plate at the dinner table, but dammit it felt good. Our plan was going more or less flawlessly.
That’s when we got radio contact from the humvees. Caleb was the voice, “we’ve got live targets moving on us. We’re taking sporadic inaccurate fire. We might need an additional body out here if they get closer.”
We stopped, evaluated where we were and how we were doing, and decided to send Hal out to support them. He was a good shot, and quite frankly, inaccurate fire can kill you just as easily as accurate fire. Hal left us and went out to cover Caleb and Hector.
Inside, we moved on. The bottom floor was cleared by us in twenty minutes. We secured the doors and entered the stairwell heading up to the cafeteria on the second floor. The stairwell was empty of everything, so that went quickly. A huge feather in our cap as we were about to enter the second floor hallway was the small window looking in. It allowed us to see some of the action on the other side in the hall. I smashed out the small window and that drew the attention of the walkers on the other side. Kevin’s M4 had a flashlight on it, and he held his over mine, illuminating the shuffling dead. The trick was that the door was an emergency bar door, so once they started pushing on it, the door would open. We put two solid feet on the door, and started firing fast.
It was mathematics at that point. I went through a magazine and a half putting headshots through the window, never even opening the door. Once we were reasonably sure the vast majority of the zombies were dead, we opened the door (or more accurately, let the dead bodies stacked up against the door push it open for us) and we were in the corridor that led to the cafeteria.
Martin didn’t have to seal that doorway to the hallway. There were stacks and stacks of tables and chairs blocking it off already. It looked like a pretty classic last stand barricade. There were three or four mangled zombies unable to walk, and we put them down with melee weapons. Fortunately the cafeteria had a ton of floor to ceiling windows, spanning almost the entire room, and the natural light streaming in meant we saved batteries and chemlights. The kitchen was wide open, and after a sweep to clear the space, we checked the kitchen and the stockroom.
We found nothing. The place had been emptied. Every single last bit of food had been eaten by the people in there. It looked an awful lot like the people in the hospital had fallen back to the cafeteria, blocked off the entrances to the area, and lasted as long as they could. Clearly the majority of them didn’t make it. Some of them could’ve escaped from the stairwell we came up in, but there’s no way of knowing how many did. Sadly, the vast majority of these people died right here. Trapped in a hospital.
That’s when things started going south rapidly. Fitz was searching the body of a cop that had died in the cafeteria, taking his service pistol, handcuffs, pepper spray and all that jazz, when gunfire spidered several of the windows of the cafeteria.
Fitz was crouched down, emptying the stuff into a small black duffel when he got broadsided by the gunfire. He was right next to the windows, and the shooters outside must’ve seen him. Kevin started screaming in anger, and the rest of either dived for cover, or went to the windows to find the shooter. Ethan, Kevin, Quan and myself all moved fast into shooting positions, and we saw the shooter within seconds.
I cannot stress to you how nasty we got. All four of us dropped our sights on some motherfucker crouching down behind the trunk of a black Impala and went cyclic. No mercy. The suppressed weapons made no noise, but the bullets smashing through the glass made a racket. I can’t say for certain how many rounds we sent into that car and the prick trying to hide behind it, but I know I swapped mags once and I was half out at the time, so at least 15 rounds from me. More from the rest of the guys.
Protip #1: trunks do not stop 5.56.
Protip #2: no trunk in the world can stop that much 5.56.
The man dropped to the ground bleeding out. Ethan dragged Fitz into the middle of the cafeteria and started to administer first aid while we searched for more targets. We were perfectly facing the area of the city where Caleb’s living targets were, and from the second floor, we had an excellent elevated vantage point to fire accurately on them.
I know I put down three. I watched my little red dot walk across their center mass, and I felt the recoil, and I watched them fall. I know three went to the great beyond using a ticket I punched. I am fairly sure Quan and Kevin put one more down each, likely more.
I called out to Quan and Kevin to go help Ethan and I pulled overwatch through the windows. From the ground I worked with Caleb, and had them move out to check bodies and finish off the wounded as needed. We took no more fire from living targets that day.
Ethan, Quan and Kevin were unable to save Fitz. He took a large caliber round straight through his liver. We can’t put a band aid on that kind of injury. It fucking blows to lose a good person, especially for no good goddamn reason.
No survivors on the street level.
We managed to accumulate a rather large collection of good weapons and ammunition from the attackers though. Still not sure why they attacked us. If we head back into the city again, we’ll be damned sure to be very careful. These people had decent guns. They weren’t that good with them, but beneficial accidents happen.
We got the fuck out. Searching the rest of the hospital was pointless. We wanted to get Fitz’s body back home, and get back to sort through all of our shit. Plus, time was a factor, and the longer we were there, the worse it would be for us trying to leave. It didn’t help either that the locals shot the joint up and made a fucking ton of noise.
The road back to Bastion was flush with the undead. Caleb driving the HRT helped. He’s played an awful lot of Grand Theft Auto, so he’s really good at hitting things with a car. We completely avoided the radio we set up on the return trip. We saw more living folks there earlier in the day, and we felt that might have been a precursor to the attacks later in the day. Ergo, we said fuck it, and made a wide berth around that area. In fact, with little to no snow left on the ground we even avoided the trip past the Factory, and drove straight here.
Our first order of business was putting Fitz on the fire. Not a good scene in the least. I won’t go into how the guys all reacted to it. How we all reacted to it. Michelle said some very nice words as Fitz went up in smoke. I know this sounds bad, but she really looked beautiful as she spoke. Just beautiful.
Fitz will be missed by all.
I already said the shit was a haul. Meds, blah fucking blah blah.
Kevin’s been incognito and under the radar since the trip. We’re all giving him space. Emotionally we’re all fucking wrecked right now. Ever since the damn clinic night we’re all beaten up, now even Kevin moreso. It blows.
We’ve withdrawn quite a bit. Laying low, sorting our shit and trying to be supportive of one another. Focus has shifted back to the school and helping Michelle. Hector, Martin and Blake are doing oil changes on our vehicles, and assessing our fuel supplies. Low on gasoline, if you’re keeping track Mr. Journal. We looked at some gas stations we drove by on the way in the other day and all the lids were off the tanks. Not a good sign at all.
With the relative success we had the other day, I think we’re able to mount a small unit insertion into the city. Deep into the city. I don’t think I can do it alone though. I will need some help setting up distractions. I think I’m getting close to closure. I think I can finally do this. I think I can get over Cassie if I can just find her body, and put it to rest.
In the cafeteria, on the table next to where Fitz died was a small single stem vase. It had a cheap silk rose in it. I snagged it for whatever reason at the time when we were clearing out. I put it on Michelle’s desk this morning. It’s not the best gift, but it’s something.
It’s Valentine’s Day after all.