Authors: Eli Frost Duham
Tags: #invasion, #post apocalyptic, #sci-fi fantasy, #apocalyptic, #mutation, #Nebraska, #science fiction, #fantasy, #ebooks for kindle, #first contact, #mutants, #apocalyptic post apocalyptic, #sci-fi, #bunker
“Oh, that’s nice Michael, I was thinking of you just earlier today. Are you okay?”
“Of course, Ma.” Michael shook his head in resignation as she went through the usual questions.
“You getting enough sleep? You sound tired. Are you getting enough sleep?”
“Are they feeding you there?”
“Of course, Ma.”
“Did they find a cure?”
“… No… No, Ma. Let’s talk about you. How are you?”
“You talk to your father?”
There was a short pause, “No...” His reply was drawn out and defensive.
“Michael, in a time like this, how can you hold a grudge?”
“It’s not a grudge, Ma. I got nothing to say to him, alright?”
“He called me up just the other day. He called
up, Michael. He says you don’t call.”
This was Michael’s cue to get off the phone, “Ma, we’ve been through this. When he can have an adult conversation, then I’ll talk to him. Always with the insults… he thinks I’m a lap dog… a..a..a butler. I can’t talk to him. If he calls back, send my love. I gotta go, Ma. I love you.”
Michael could hear her protesting even as he hung up the phone. Now that it was done, he could breathe for another month or so. While Michael was on the phone, the line had been moving forward steadily. In a few moments, he would get his lunch tray, sit down, zone out and eat. That’s what most people did in Mess. There wasn’t anything to talk about unless it was a solution to their problem. Some class clowns just couldn’t resist, but the majority of people had nothing to say.
Rosenthird always picked an empty table away from people. He gave the illusion that it more for the bodyguards. No one really bothered him anyways, but people always sought out his advisors and presidential aides in an attempt to get face time. It didn’t bother Michael anymore.
This day, Chris followed Michael to an empty table. They were joined by Anna and Peter of the ABC. After brief pleasantries and even briefer small talk, they ate in silence.
The food came and went fast as it did every meal. The four of them sat around the table and silently contemplated their own thoughts. There was an hour allotted for the daily lunch break and the amount of time left over after eating played tricks on the mind.
Michael waited for either Peter or Anna to make eye contact with him. But they were both engrossed in their own thoughts.
“So, I want to say before you go, that I admire what your coalition has been able to accomplish. It gives us a real chance to restore order.” Michael nodded at them and extended a hand. Chris looked up to watch the show.
Peter shook his hand, “Thanks.”
“Thank you.” Anna also shook it.
“It’s just that there are people that have kind of already written us off… as a country. The truth is, if we don’t get a handle on the situation, someone else might. So, I appreciate what you guys are…”
Michael paused to hear a quiet succession of booms. It didn’t sound like much. It could have been bass from a stereo next door for all he knew.
A few people in the Mess looked around but most didn’t. Michael looked over his shoulder at Rosenthird; he was still there. One of the bodyguards was rubbing his ear. Michael looked at Chris. She had a quizzical look on her face too. He looked at Anna and Peter. Anna gave a quick light shrug and Michael leaned back in his seat and started to relax.
“Yeah, so, I appreciate what you guy are doing down there…”
Three soldiers in full uniform burst in the Mess. People gasped loudly and others stifled a cry. Two soldiers headed straight for President Rosenthird.
“Sir, we need you to come with us.” One of the soldiers said.
“Christine.” Rosenthird looked at her and gave Michael a quick glance and a nod.
The Mess hall clattered with concerned employees scraping and scooting their chairs to stand up. The soldier by the door kept them at bay with a single hand, “Please remain calm. It’s nothing we can’t handle.”
Rosenthird moved quickly and complied. The two bodyguards with Rosenthird never flinched. Two soldiers exited Mess, followed by President Rosenthird and Christine, followed by the two bodyguards who drew their weapons as they exited Mess.
The soldier by the door reached for the walkie clipped to his jacket pocket, “Perks, The package is out. ETA to LOC? ... Over.”
People were clamoring and making a commotion now.
The Soldier raised his voice loud and spoke clear, “I need you to make a single file line. We’re moving in SIXTY SECONDS!”
That shook the Mess hall out of its stupor. People filed up like they were lining up for lunch seconds. When reinforcements arrived, the soldier by the door started moving people out into the hallway and had cleared Mess in 2 minutes.
Anna was now like a cat, tiptoeing behind the man in front of her, cautious. Peter had the look of a man who did what was necessary. Michael stayed close to them.
The soldiers lead them back upstairs and everyone ducked as they passed windows. Trying to get a glimpse out of every window he passed, Michael only half-ducked as he passed by, but it was too blurry for him to make out anything. He could hear shouting and breaking glass. The only other thing he could tell is where the soldiers were leading them.
They were headed to the secondary secured garage. This one was mainly used for deliveries. But present day, most deliveries were picked up at the checkpoint and delivered by White House couriers. The entrance was not frequently used so, they would have a chance to get a head start.
The soldiers lead them to the fire escape staircase. One soldier entered and took point. Three soldiers rushed people through the door and after the last civilian entered, so did the fifth soldier. It was a quick trip; they only went a floor down. The soldier on point peeked out the door briefly before opening it. He ran to the left of a tiny loading platform. Unwrapping the thick dingy string from around the metal bar and he pulled down hard on it. The gate rose just enough for most people to exit without having to duck and gave access to a ramp leading to the ground. The soldier rewrapped the string around the metal bar, locking it in place and jumped down, facing the exposed side.
People were pouring out of the fire escape and out through the loading dock. For a brief moment, there was relief at just making it outside. The other three soldiers had run down the ramp and were directing people out towards the street.
The soldier facing rear yelled out, “We’ve got hostiles! Speed it up!”
From the other direction, a small group of people emerged. From there they quickly and steadily grew into a mob. The chanting started up. It was loud, aggressive and full of rage.
“YOU EAT; WE BLEED! YOU EAT; WE BLEED!”
The mob started to move forward closing the gap between them and the employees.
The three soldiers that had been directing people out to the street turned around and gave a warning shot of their weapons in the air. This did nothing to slow the mob. They closed in even faster than before. The employees escaping the White House, however,
motivated by the gunfire to redouble their efforts.
The three soldiers yanked free their smoke grenades and pulled the pin. They threw at different lengths. One grenade landed far at the back of the mob; the other two landed in the middle. This was followed up by a round of flash grenades. The soldiers retreated and kept the mob at bay with this strategy. They threw another round of grenades, retreated and then they disappeared. People were running loose in the streets. And, the mob was after anyone they could get.
Michael ran behind both Anna and Peter and yelled out, “Hey! Hey! This way! Follow me!” They turned to run after him.
Michael led them in a half circle, a few blocks away the White House, where they took refuge in an abandoned and looted convenience store. It was the direction the mob most likely came from and most likely wouldn’t pass by again.
Inside the liquor store, the three of them took a moment to catch their breath. Michael had his head between his legs, gasping for air. The other two recovered much quicker.
Peter did a walkthrough of the store, checking behind the counter and the employee room, “It’s clear in here.”
Michael was full of adrenaline and stammering, “That was insane.
That was insane.
What’s the matter with these people?!”
Anna shot Peter a calloused look.
Peter sprung over to Michael and roughly shook him by the shoulders, “Get it together. That mob. IS OUT. FOR. BLOOD.”
As Peter spoke, Michael heard the last few words with reverb.
“They don’t care that you all are in there looking for a solution. They are frantic because they’re desperate. We need to get back to the lab in Nebraska. Our car is in the hot zone and we’re not going back for it. Do you have a vehicle?”
“No, no. They picked some of us up in the morning.” Michael’s shock was still painted on his face.
“Well, we need to find one. Our options are to go now or wait till tonight. I say we go now while they’re gone.”
Anna nodded her head, “I agree. We should leave now. If we wait till tonight, we risk being found out. Michael, do you have a phone?”
Michael reached in his pants pocket and fumbled around. After clumsily patting himself, he pulled the phone from his inner jacket pocket and held it out.
She looked at it and then she looked at him, “Turn it off. Save the battery for when we need to make a call.”
Michael went to comply, but his hands were shaking. Peter turned to look at Anna. Her eyes said ‘No’ and she shook her head, slowly at first, and then vehemently.
Peter gave Anna a stern look.
“No, Peter. He’s a basket case. Look at him.” They turned to look at Michael.
Michael scrunched his eyebrows, “Um, I’m good. I’m not a basket case. I just needed a moment. I got it. Now, I’m good.”
Peter gestured out to Michael but was still looking at Anna, “The man says he’s good.”
“He’ll slow us down.” Anna crossed her arms.
“Anna, he can work.” Peter nodded to himself, “This is good. He helped us get here. He can help us get out.”
“Guys, look. Everything is gone. The White House fell. I can’t do anything more here. At least let me help where I can.” Michael had his hands out.
Anna turned to him. Her voice was hard, “
of the rest of the country is like this. We had to
a way out of Nebraska and leave families alone and hungry on the side of the road. So, if you come with us, you need to understand that we’re doing… what we
to do… it’s necessary.”
Michael didn’t hesitate, “I’m in.”
Before they departed, the trio took the time to gather what they could from the convenience store. There wasn’t much left but they salvaged a small pocket knife, a gas can and some toilet paper. Ready to leave, Peter poked his head out of convenient store entrance. He looked left, right, and up and slinked outside. Before he went any further, he checked around the corners and behind the store. After a getting the signal, one knock on the door, Michael, then Anna, slipped outside. They ran in short bursts from car to car or large structure and kept most of themselves hidden from sight. Peter popped his head up first to quickly survey the area. He gave the other two the go-ahead. Then they would be the look out while Peter moved. It went like this in silence for close to an hour.
Anna finally spoke through gritted teeth, “Just pick one.” She was carrying the scavenged gas can. And about twenty minutes prior, she had snagged a garden hose off a lawn. To get a shorter length, she’d cut away at it with the miniature pocket knife.
Peter pointed to their current cover, “This one. All the other ones were automatic locks. Hand me that screwdriver.”
Michael held out the industrial sized screwdriver that they had recovered from a mechanic shop. Peter wedged it between the glass and the black sealant in the corner of the window. He wiggled it as far down as he could and then hit it some more with the palm of his hand. When the screwdriver would go down no further, Peter looked at Anna and Michael and said, “Pray this works.”
Peter put his full force and weight against the screwdriver and pulled away from the window. Michael was expecting to hear it all shatter and to see the mob suddenly appearing from around the corner. He shut his eyes.
What happened, instead, was a small
and the window popped off its track. The screwdriver was warped but it didn’t matter. There was enough room for it to reach the lever that unlocked the vehicle. That’s what Peter did next.
The car was a little economy-sized blue, metallic Taurus that Peter began to hotwire. Anna crouched outside the car, alert and watching. Michael sat in the back seat. Peter, after yanking almost all the wires from underneath the steering wheel, found the two he needed. He stripped them and then sparked the two wires together repeatedly until the engine turned over. He twisted the wires together, and with a quick shove, he stuffed the wires back underneath the dashboard panel and got upright in the driver seat. Anna got in the passenger side and she and Peter turned to look at Michael.
He got the hint. “The quickest way to the Interstate is to take this road to NW Virginia Ave and hang a right. You can’t miss it.”
The first hour and a half spent in the car was in complete silence. Michael’s mind was racing, replaying the images of lunch hour over and over. President Rosenthird had looked right at him. And, the image of people swarming the White House was etched in his memory. They weren’t zombies or disease-ridden, rabid animals. They were
Michael was looking out the window, but his mind played a time-lapsed reel of civil collapse. Anarchy was all around him, innocent people being struck down mercilessly. Enraged citizens were running at him full force, slow motion, with their guns and melee weapons. Michael was frozen in his waking nightmare. Roaring in his face was the center-most assailant, a veiny, muscular, scary-looking, white male. Sweat, thick and odorous, poured down his face and his hot breath smelled like rotten citrus fruit, sour and putrid. In a deep, gravel-y, murderous voice, he said, “We need to stop and refuel.”