Authors: L.C. Mortimer
Lost in the Apocalypse
For my boys
Who can’t wait until they’re old enough
To read zombie novels
Copyright: L.C. Mortimer
Publisher: Amazon Kindle
The right of L. C. Mortimer to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format.
Emily spends two weeks trying to find her sister after the outbreak begins. Another two weeks of trying to get to safety ends with Melanie dead and Emily hopelessly alone. She's not alone for long, though. She returns to her home to find it overtaken by a group of misfits who don't seem to be in any hurry to leave. And when she starts to get to know Neil a little better, she's not so sure that she wants him to.
Neil is a leader, but he’s not the kind of man who gets involved. Not with his pack of ragamuffin survivors, and certainly not with the quirky owner of the cabin he’s currently living in. When Emily tries to kick him and his group out, he gently lets her know who’s boss, and to his surprise, she seems relieved when they stay.
Their safety is short-lived, however. In the zombie apocalypse, nothing lasts forever.
Staff Sergeant Neil Swift stared at the stopwatch in his hand and frowned. He hated running PT. Hated it. Physical training was an important part of military service, but he hated it just the same. Thompson had finished running and was standing off to the side, drinking water. Baker and Allen were still making their way slowly – too slowly – around the track.
“Pick up the pace,” he called out. “Let’s go.” He frowned. He was supposed to be the one pushing them to do better. If they failed their tests, they’d be the one to suffer the consequences, but he’d still get his ass handed to him.
This was already a makeup test. None of them had made it to their originally scheduled test the week prior. Now Neil was stuck, sitting around, counting pushups for people who could barely meet the minimum requirements for staying in the Air Force.
Airman Allen slowly made his way around the track. Allen, who was at least 15 pounds overweight, but somehow still managed to pass his waist measurement every time. Neil glared at the pudgy airman. Allen was nice enough, but he was slow and lazy.
Neil just wanted to go home, shower, and have a cup of coffee before he went to the office. Oh, he’d spend his day doing paperwork, but it was better than being out in the blistering heat timing runs and counting pushups.
“Sorry we’re late.” Neil turned at the sound of voices. Two airmen ran up to him: one male, one female. They were both in PT gear, complete with their reflective belts, so he wouldn’t bitch too much, but they were at least half an hour late.
“Where were you?” He asked, giving them weary looks. He knew them both, but only barely. The male, Airman Peterson, was a strong runner and a hard worker. The female, Airman Albert, had her hair pulled back in a half-assed ponytail. Her makeup wasn’t within regs, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home: not complain about her heavy eyeliner.
“Medical,” Peterson said, slapping the tiny bandage on his shoulder. “Had to get my vaccine this morning.”
“I had to drive him,” Albert added helpfully. The look they exchanged told Neil that she didn’t
to drive him, but rather, he had slept over the night prior and didn’t have his car with him.
It was a bit early for their yearly required flu shot, but there was a new recommended vaccine out that everyone was getting: Artovax. It was supposed to be a two-in-one AIDS and flu shot vaccine.
Neil was skeptical, but rolled his eyes. He was scheduled to get his after lunch. He glanced at his watch again. It was already 0900. He was supposed to be at the office in ten minutes. Apparently, that paperwork was going to have to wait.
Baker and Allen both made it back and picked up their water bottles while Albert and Peterson took off around the track. It was a tiny track overall, but a few laps got the job done. With military budget cuts every year, the base couldn’t afford something nicer. They didn’t need it, though. The track worked well enough.
Neil squinted against the rising sun as he watched his airmen run. The only sounds were the chugging of water and the slapping of rubber against pavement.
Run. Run. Run.
The airmen maintained the same pace during their first lap but broke off during the second. Peterson began to fall behind, much to Neil’s surprise. He was usually ahead of the others. Neil watched as Peterson began to slow, then stopped altogether on the opposite side of the track.
Albert slowed and looked over her shoulder, but didn’t stop. She ran another lap. When she reached Peterson, she stopped and said something to him, then glanced over at Neil.
“What’s the problem?” He shouted across the track. Suddenly Peterson lay down on his stomach. Was he seriously getting sick from the run? He had barely even started to run. Maybe he was coming down with something. Fuck. Maybe he was a diabetic.
“Somebody’s hung over,” Thompson said in a sing-song voice. He finished his water and headed to his car. “I’m out,” he said over his shoulder, and drove away.
“What’s wrong?” Neil yelled again. Peterson still wasn’t up.
Albert looked at him and shrugged, but the casual look on her face quickly turned to horror. Peterson suddenly jumped up and grabbed her, then pushed her to the ground. She cried out and tried to push him away, but Peterson covered her with his body.
“What the fuck?” Neil dropped the stopwatch and ran across the track. He knew Baker and Allen were right alongside him. Neil made it halfway to the couple before he saw what was happening and stopped.
Baker and Allen did not.
Peterson was kneeling over Airman Albert, but she wasn’t screaming. Not anymore. He looked up at the approaching airman, a look of disgusting pleasure on his face. Baker and Allen kept running, but Neil stopped.
There was blood all over Peterson’s face.
He had bitten Albert in the neck, bitten a hole right in her body, and her blood was pouring out onto the pavement.
And it was all over Peterson’s face.
“Stop!” Neil shouted, but the warning came too late. Peterson grabbed Baker’s ankle and bit him – hard – and reached for Allen.
Fat, pudgy Allen tried to turn, but he was tired and too slow. Peterson grabbed his leg and tripped him, then jumped on him. Baker was sitting on the ground, holding his ankle.
He looked to Neil, as if to ask for help, but Neil just shook his silently and backed away. He had seen one too many horror movies for this to feel real, one too many films where the hero dies trying to figure out what’s going on, one too many videos on Friday nights with his older brothers.
His feet moved slowly, backing away from the scene unfolding before him. Suddenly Airman Albert was sitting up again, her once-beautiful face now distorted and ugly. Blood matted her neck and the bottom of her long ponytail. Peterson chewed on Allen: the poor airman’s screams filled the field, but Neil stood still, blankly staring at them.
This couldn’t be real.
He told himself this couldn’t be real.
Then his training kicked in. Peterson looked up at him just as Neil turned to run. He ran to his car, fumbling for his keys, and climbed in. The beat-up Pontiac had never failed him, not since he marched down to the dealership the day of his first paycheck. He had been proud when he bought it, and excited, but now a growing sense of dread filled him. He stared at the four airmen on the track, watching them stand one at a time.
Even Baker stood, his bloody ankle seemingly forgotten. They turned, as one, toward him. They didn’t run or scream or growl. They just stared, blood and pus pouring from their mouths and noses.
He couldn’t allow the word to form in his mind, couldn’t let himself think, even for a second, that it was real.
His mind screamed the word and he pushed it away. No, there was no such thing. This was either a dream or there was a logical fucking explanation. Only, as he sat in the car, doors locked, staring at the group, he knew it was not a dream.
Sirens sounded on the main road and an announcement came over the loudspeakers situated throughout the base. While the speakers were usually used to play Reveille, they were sometimes used for storm warnings.
Only this was no storm.
He heard screaming from the building next to the track and looked out of his car window in time to see a woman in heels running down the steps. She didn’t stand a chance. The person chasing her jumped and grabbed her. They tumbled in a heap the rest of the way down the stairs until they collided in a pile of blood.
The chaser bit her, looking up, and his eyes met Neil’s.
There was no saving to be done. Every instinct in his body was screaming at him to save her, to do something, to think quickly. He was a problem-solver. It was why he made a good supervisor. It was why he was a good airman.
Not now, though. Not anymore.
There was nothing to be saved, and Neil suddenly realized that he was no hero. He started the engine. Turning back to the field in front of him, he realized the airmen he had been timing during the PT test were almost in front of the car. Their faces were dark: their eyes glazed over, as if in a daze.
He pulled out of the parking lot and started driving down the road. He managed to make out the voice of the announcer. The base was in full lockdown. No one was allowed on or off base. He knew that meant the gates would be closed. Everyone would be scrambling for the CDC to pick up their children or trying to get off base, anyway. There weren’t enough roads to avoid traffic jams at this point.
What the hell was happening?
He turned down a side road, noting the line of cars already waiting to leave base. It didn’t take more than five or ten minutes to create a full-on jam of the roads. Every 4
of July was a nightmare when Forrest Air Force Base did its annual “open-to-the-public fireworks display.” He didn’t even want to think about what happened when someone lost their unruly child at the commissary. The entire base would shutdown, complete with circling helicopters.
The Air Force didn’t mess around with safety.
Only today, he felt staying in a locked-down base full of raging humans was probably not the best idea for anyone.
There would be no way to get out the main or back gates, and if even a quarter of the airmen who had gotten their vaccines that morning were going to turn crazy did so at the same time, there would be no hope.
Three more turns and Neil was home, in his driveway, in his little house. He had managed to get the end home in a row of townhouses despite his single status because his mother was his dependent. She had died a few months ago, but the housing office hadn’t kicked him out yet, though he knew the day was coming.
He hurried inside, not bothering to close the door behind him, and raced upstairs. He threw his PT gear off and slid into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. He considered his ABUs. They would be harder to bite through, he reckoned, if anyone wanted to take a jab at him. They were too hot, though, too restrictive. And they made him stand out like a sore thumb.
If the world was really going mad outside of Forrest AFB, did he really want to look different than anyone else? He grabbed a backpack and shoved in a change of clothes and his Glock. He had a box of ammo, though he regretted not having more on hand. It was expensive these days and hard to get. He kept telling himself he’d buy more, as a treat, when he had saved a little more. His mother’s funeral and burial costs had nearly wiped out his bank account. He couldn’t afford luxuries like ammo to use at the range.
Now, though, he regretted his decision.
He stopped in the kitchen long enough to grab water bottles, a can of soda, and a handful of protein bars. He had cash in the little canning jar in the cupboard, he remembered, so he grabbed the roll of bills and shoved them in his pocket. They wouldn’t do much to protect him if the world was going to hell, but they would have to do. On second thought, he grabbed his hammer from the table. He had been meaning to hang up a picture. It sat forgotten and discarded on the table beside a packet of nails.
Neil shoved his feet in his sneakers and headed outside.
The whole was screaming, it sounded like, and the smell of smoke filled the air. He hurried across the road to a wooded area and slipped inside, unnoticed in the chaos unfolding around him. What were his neighbors doing, he wondered?
Somehow, the idea of staying on base and hiding in his little townhouse never crossed his mind. He could, he supposed, but he could already tell that if he didn’t get out now, he never would. If everyone died, if everyone turned into monsters like Albert and Peterson had, there would be no escape.
He ran through the trees and up a little hill until he got to a barbed wire fence. Everyone had these ideas that military bases were impenetrable, but they weren’t. Sometimes, there were these little spaces, these little fences, these little roads that people just…forgot about.
He had seen this one while on a morning jog, and he used it to his advantage. Neil tossed his backpack over the fence and dropped to his belly. Memories of basic training flashed through his mind as he slithered under the fence, careful to keep his head low. When he stood again, he was unharmed, albeit a bit dirtier than when he’d started.
The fence lined a road, and he looked both ways, but saw nothing. No vehicles, no cars. Still, the sound of death and the smell of smoke overwhelmed him, so he began running, slowly, knowing that everything would be different after this.
Everything would change.