This is something that's been rattling about in my head for a few weeks now. It started to make sense so I wrote it down. I'm by no means a writer....one semester of "creative writing" in Middle school 30 years ago is it LOL!
Rob AKA "Ontos"
John Aris McClure
Who writes these things any way? Well, apparently I do now. Not a wordsmith am I so please forgive the occasional run on sentence or fumbly wording...not like anyone's gonna read this out loud anyway so why pause for a breath. Hell, I may be lunch for some poor starving “thing” soon. Nothing like being on the menu for a few thousand of your neighbors to give you some clarity on a few things.
Where to begin. Well, may as well start here.
My name is John Aris McClure. I'm 47 Years old, married. Father of 4 and one on the way. My wife of 13 years is Margaret Elliott (she kept her maiden name). Billy is 10, Kathryn is 7, JoAnn is almost 5, Little Barbara just turned a thunderous 2. The one in the oven is due around Christmas time.
If we all live that long. So far, still surviving.
Wednesday, June 23 2010. A date which will live in horror (to loosely borrow from a former president). My wife was off grocery shopping, the three older kids were at Vacation Bible School and I was home with Barbara. We live in a fairly rural area. Our house (manufactured home actually) sits on 2.5 acres of fenced but mostly bare desert outside the town of Indian Wells. It had around 26K souls, Nearby Benton (which we're actually closer to) had 500 or so. Most inhabitants of our little valley worked on the nearby Navy Base. NAS McLean was a Research, Test and Development command. Mostly weapons research. The kind that make really loud noises and can ruin some bad guys day in a sudden way. I worked second shift at one of the aircraft maintenance hangers.
I had just put Barbara down for a nap when the TV let out that screeching BEEEEEEEPPPP! Of the Emergency broadcast signal. Great, another friggin test. Of course, the kid woke up and decided to lodge a protest by screeching louder than the TV. Fumbling for the remote, I muted the idiot box and tended to Barbara. After changing her diaper and getting her settled back down, she fell asleep just as....
The gate alarm went off, I shut the TV off (without looking at it, I should have) and went to help my wife in with the groceries. The kids she had picked up from VBS helped as well. It was 2 PM and I had to run off to work soon.
The usual routine after I leave for work involves getting the kids to do their chores while Mom fixes dinner. Then they all collapse in various bedrooms around the house to watch movies and go to sleep.
I'm the only one who watches boring news programs.......and I missed them that day.
I changed into my work clothes, packed a lunch (well...dinner actually). Filled up my water bottle (a big bladder busting 64 OZ “Shrek” mug my kids didn't want...partly due to it's shear size). Kissed my wife and kids goodbye, jumped in the Focus and off to work I went. Like nothing in the world was wrong. Silly me.
Our house sits on 2-1/2 acres a mile from the nearest paved road. Then it's another mile or so to Highway 178. Turn left, it's about 7 miles to Benton. Turn right and it's about 10 to the front gate of the base. I turned right and headed towards the base. Per my usual habit, I stopped a gas station for a bottle of pop and a box of pop tarts. I usually keep a stash of stuff to nibble on at work and to feed my caffeine addiction. The car still had ½ a tank of gas. Good to go there.
Approaching the main gate, things were looking odd. Must be a drill or something going on I thought. Oh well, proceed as usual but have extra ID ready. Brain in neutral, car in gear, get in line, wait my turn.
At the gate I show my ID, and am informed that there's been another 9/11! um what? Yeah, terrorists are attacking all over the place. Mostly large population centers (wonderful, I have family in Los Angeles. 150 miles to the south and a Sister with her family in Virginia). Aw crap, they haven't locked the base down yet? “no, report to your place of work and wait for instructions. Move along” said with the get the fuck going now if you know what's good for you kinda voice. So I continued on to the hanger where I work. Soon as I got there, I sent a text to my wife telling her what I knew (damn little) and to keep the doors locked and an eye on her surroundings around the house. As I mentioned before, we're off the beaten path....but not far from it.
Work was tense, day shift was nervous as hell, nobody really knew what was going on. The internet was awash with all kinds of stories. Official “word” was still terrorist attack. Incoming night shift was sparse. It seems most of them decided to call in sick (they watched the news that day). 3 PM my shift started, word passed shortly after, that non essential personnel were to leave immediately.
Guess who was essential and had to stay.
It's against company and Navy policy to surf the internet while on a Government computer and at work (I'm a contractor and work for a company that does maintenance on military aircraft used in testing). That policy was largely ignored that day. In between issuing tools to a small number of mechanics trying to get a few more birds “up” and launched...I scanned the news outlets on the net. Random attacks, now it was being called a biological attack as the talking heads fumbled around and looked stressed out. Nothing was making sense. Random camera shots of people stumbling around in a daze. More of people running around in panic.
Then the computer froze up...effing government low bid POS.
Outside, I could hear jets turning up and helicopters launching. The runway is fairly close to the hanger and that was the active that day. I was checking a torque wrench out to one of the ordies (Ordinance loader) when the shrill whine of an approaching helicopter got both our attentions....it was to close.
The hanger shook as something hit the main doors of the west bay. The lights went out almost immediately. The emergency lights flicked on and that combined with the orange glow of a large fire outside my door indicated that things had gone slightly wrong somewhere.
The fire alarm started screeching away and I could hear the deluge system kick on in the west bay. The Ordie ran out the door into the hanger. I followed but stopped at the door to my shop...very glad I did.
The north end of the west bay was a mess. The deluge system did it's job and had the fire mostly out (a bazillion gallons of water shooting out of the ceiling can do a pretty good job on a fire). The remains of one of our SAR Helo's was lying crumpled on top of a Hornet that was on jacks. Survivors were falling out of the wrecked helicopter and the few remaining “essential” mechanics were rushing in to help them.
Shouts for help and the moans of the injured filled what was left of that end of the hanger bay. I ran back inside my shop and grabbed the first aid kit behind my desk. Running back out to the scene of the crash, I wondered why the Fire department wasn't responding. No sirens, no crash trucks. It doesn't take long for them to get here as the firehouse is right across the flightline.
As I approach the accident scene, I hear “stop”.....it was a quiet voice, somewhere in the back of my mind, almost casual but very commanding.
I stood there like a bump on a stump watching the horror unfold in front of me. The “survivors” were clawing at the rescuers that had responded. A mechanic was down on the floor and an aircrewman was chewing on his neck. The poor bastard was struggling and fighting back but he was already doomed. Blood was gushing from the wound on his neck. Two more mechanics were fighting off the other crewman and a heavily bandaged woman in tattered civilian clothes (probably a victim they were evacuating). She had her teeth clamped on the arm of that Ordie that ran out my door, The other mechanic had his hands full with the crewman. He was losing.
That voice again.
My feet unlocked from the floor. As I turned to leave, I noticed both pilots still in their seats. Dead white eyes staring at me with hunger. The few remaining essential mechanics left were nowhere to be seen. They either saw what was happening and left or were under that Hornet when the chopper knocked it off the jacks it was perched on.
I ran back to my shop, about 50 feet away. Once inside I locked both doors. Why did I run back to my shop instead of outside to my car? No fraking clue.
My shop is fairly big, It's a giant cage actually. Full of tools, test equipment and all manner of repair parts for the aforementioned tools and test equipment. It was also dark in there. The emergency lights had crapped out. Outside I could hear more screams. It sounded like the “essential” maintenance lead man and the assistant contract manager just figured out what was going on. A bit too late.
I was safe for the moment. Still no sirens from the Fire Department by the way. I guess they had their own problems. Bzzzt, bzzzt, bzzzt. My cell phone telling me I had a text. It was from Margaret telling me that things were quiet around the house, sirens whailing in the distance. No power at the house, kids all blissfully asleep. Guns loaded and ready. The dogs were nervous and sticking close. The cats were under the bed growling. Even the chickens out back in the coop were quiet. I texted back “on my way home”. The phone then told me I didn't have a signal.
Sitting in the dark, staring at the absence of the “3G” and no bars on my phone I couldn't help but feel very alone at that moment. You take modern conveniences for granted, but take them away and things become quite different. Not being able to communicate with loved ones in a time of crisis ads a whole 'nother level of stress.
I'm totally unprepared for this. What the fuck do I do now? I have to get home. #1 priority. Okay, grab my shit and haul ass. Grabbing my daypack, I stuff the munchies from my desk drawer in it, go back to the fridge and pull the 12 pack of pop out, stuff that in there. It's still pretty dark in there but there's enough light filtering in from the doors (they have security glass inserts about 3 inches wide by a foot or so tall) and one security light getting dimmer by the minute in the rear part of the shop by the fridge.
Scriiiiitch, scriiiitch and a bumping noise. WTF is that. There's a fire escape in the back corner of the shop. It's basically a door made of angle iron and expanded steel mesh. The noise was coming from that door. There are three rows of shelving full of gear between me and that door. It was very dark over there. The main doors leading out into the hanger are straight ahead but farther away. Both are secure, but the noise is all “wrong”.
I headed over to a tool cabinet and grabbed an LED work light off it's charging base. Turning it on, I went back to the fire door. What was on the other side was indescribable horror. Torn flesh, exposed bone and general nastyness stood there bumping and scratching on that steel door. I think it was one of the mechanics. Lack of a face made it a bit hard to tell exactly. I promptly launched everything I had eaten for the last week up and out, all over the wall and door. I think I even tried puke my asshole up. Fortunately, it stopped it's northbound trip and settled back where it belonged.
Oh God. The fucking dead are fucking walking around. This ain't right maynard. Stumbling back to the front part of the shop, I noticed there wasn't much light coming in from the front doors anymore. Still wiping puke off my face, I look closer at the doors, more dead faces and white eyes peering in at me. Bump, bump, bump against the door. Dry heaves are no fun.
Take a deep breath, count to 10, try to calm the frak down. They can't get in. They can't get in. They can't get in because I locked the doors. I can't get out without going through God knows what that wants to eat me.
Sorry guys, I'm not on the menu.
Okay, I'll admit, I'm not a big horror movie fan. Just not into 'em. I have however, seen a few zombie flicks. Mostly when on the boat during deployment. Movie night is by popular choice. I regret not paying closer attention to them now. So how do you kill something that's already dead! Head shot. That's how they did it in the movies right? Only I ain't got no fraking gun and this ain't no fraking movie!!!
I need a weapon. It's going to get dark soon. I need to get out of here. Any ideas little voice in my head? Silence...gee thanks.
Well, there has to be something in here I can use as a weapon.
There were in fact a lot of things in there I could use as a weapon. I grabbed a crowbar....naw, unwieldy, didn't feel right. But might come in handy so I slipped it in one of the elastic loops sewn into the pack. Breaker bar. Yeah that'll do. Grabbing a ½ inch drive breaker bar from a tool bin (it's an extended length model, about 2 feet long with a hard rubber grip from a bike somebody glued on the end). I don't want to get eaten so I need something to ward off teeth. In one of the lockers I had a supply of helmet parts....lots of foam padding. In another were spare coveralls, rain gear, a few full face respirators for the painters and other miscellaneous crap.
Tape, lots of tape. Not duct tape but sticky wash tape. The wash crews use it to seal up parts of the aircraft that don't like water with it.
I grabbed a set of coveralls, a roll of wash tape and went to work. I put the coveralls on. Started wrapping myself up in tape. Not all the way though, had to leave some wiggle room. Once I was taped up, and could still move. I put a flightdeck helmet on, put my pack on, picked up the breaker bar and a trashcan lid. I was ready.
Those main doors had panic bars on the inside. All anyone had to do is hit 'em and the door swings open right? Well, not so much if there's a dozen dead things pressing against them.
Ramming speed then. A running start, aiming for the left door as there wasn't a face pressed against it at the moment. I kicked it open with my left foot praying that I had enough velocity to knock anything down or away that was on the other side. The door flew open and smacked against something on the other side. It was enough. Hell was waiting for me on the other side. There were about a dozen, all quite dead and all very keen on having me join their ranks. The first one fell backward with a punch to it's ashen face. I kept moving forward, swinging my bar, shoving and bashing with my trashcan lid. I could feel hands trying to grab me. A familiar face appeared in front of me. It was Z-man, a short Philipino guy I knew who worked in Material Control next door to my shop. I caved his head in and he dropped like a wet sack of pudding. I swung again and bashed in that woman's face....or what was left of it. She dropped. Push forward, swing, crunch. Dry heave, fight the urge to panic. I knew I had to put how I felt about killing my co-workers in a compartment and lock it up tight. If I panicked, I would be one of them. Swing crunch, down went one of the aircrew. Swing crunch, swing smash. I can see my escape route ahead. 50 feet away two side doors leading out to the HAZMAT compound. More grasping hands to shake off and another skull to split. I'm glad they're slow. The can lid is useless now, it served it's purpose. I toss it aside and haul ass across the hanger and through the side doors to temporary freedom.
Running past the HAZMAT compound I can see across the flight line to two other hangers. There's a bunch shuffling my way. Some wearing turnout gear. I guess the fire department was a little preoccupied after all. Turning left towards the parking lot (and my car) I see only a few wandering about. One is a cop. Cops have guns. A cruiser is sitting in the parking lot, lights flashing, a small crowd of zombies around it. Must be the lights I thought.
Approaching the dead cop, I took aim and tried to whack him in the forehead. The rubber grip chose that moment to part company with the breaker bar. It sailed across the parking lot and landed with a loud clang 20 feet away. Oh shit. I kicked him in the stomach, he folded up and fell down. Then I stomped on his head until I heard a pop and my foot hit mush instead of bone.
I grabbed his M-9 Baretta and both spare clips from his belt. Running to my car I realized, there's probably an M-4 and/or a shotgun in that cruiser. Nope, to risky. A herd of zombies was approaching and I need to get the frak outta Dodge. I got my keys out (that was a moment of near panic...I taped myself up a little to good and couldn't get them out of my pocket, what a dumb ass.) Tossed my gore covered pack in the back seat, jumped in and started the car.
The drive to the gate was uneventful. Getting past the gate was another story.
A story for later. Everyone is asleep here but me. Got a foraging run in the morning. G'night Journal.