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
Jenna had a soft laugh. The first time Michael had heard it, Jenna realized that she hadn’t heard it in a while either. That twilight, they sat close together on the roof and let the cold evening air whip around them until they had snuggled together. Neither of them moved for a long time but looked up at the stars or looked across the city. Every now and again, they’d see a person darting between buildings or vehicles.
There wasn’t too much worry for outside threats. Their facility had received defensive resources in the form of military reinforcements. Having troops inside changed the feel of the whole place. But then again, having found someone to share himself with changed the feel of the place. Having hope changed the feel of the place. And that night on the roof, Michael was less neurotic than he’d been in a long time. He watched the stars and felt Jenna’s breath alternate his own…
Now, he sat with Peter listening to the story about how he stole two of the first chickens from some farm. It ended with Peter having a huge chunk of his buttocks chomped by some guard dog and Michael gasping for air, out of breath with laughter. Peter was threatening to show off the scar when Anna appeared out of nowhere. She greeted Peter with a hug from behind, resting her hands on his chest. Jenna pulled up a chair next to Michael and gave his hand a light squeeze. He looked over at her smiling. Anna playfully rolled her eyes at their bashfulness.
“What’s the word?” Michael and Peter asked almost in complete unison. They were both eager to hear about what the other department had to say.
Jenna and Anna went from playful to more solemn and serious. Jenna began in a low tone, “Jeff informed us today that he made the decision to notify Lieutenant Vasquez.”
“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.” Peter growled, “How can anyone have that much blind faith?!”
Michael gritted his teeth too. Even after being around high-ranking military officials, and in the White House and spending his days with the
, he couldn’t deny that the reinforcements they received had a much different feel. They felt foreign, apart from. Only a few of the soldiers mingled with the inhabitants of the university if only to get laid.
Anna added quietly, “He also mentioned that he disclosed a few weeks ago.”
Michael’s head snapped back and forth between Anna and Jenna, “And you’re just now finding out?!”
Jenna rubbed his arm and added in a low voice, “I’m positive it was only because Lieutenant Vasquez wanted his soldiers checked. Apparently, he’s had another crew or two taking blood samples and testing it. And, it’s not just the soldiers, but other departments too.”
Michael quietly squawked out, “How long has this been going on?”
Anna spoke in soft voice, “We don’t know. We just found out.”
Peter shook his head in disgust, “Does he think he’ll get brownie points for this crap? It doesn’t even matter what he thinks. Truth is, if we’ve found out, chances are that other facilities have as well. It was only a matter of time.”
The other three sat in silence and in agreement. But, a commotion at the other end of the cafeteria brought them out of their stupor. When they looked up, a soldier was hassling a family and the crowd around them was growing. Peter shot a look of caution at Michael and stood, making his way over to the crowd.
“There’s a list and he’s on it. The kid comes with me.” The mother had him in a bear hug, refusing to let go.
Michael recognized the father. Joseph Stone was one of the scientists and a tough bastard. He had told Michael and Peter once that despite the belly he’d grown, he used to be in the service years ago. Now, he was demanding to speak to the soldier’s superior.
The soldier only repeated his earlier command halfway shouting, “You can take it up with my superior at another time, but right now, he comes with me.” The soldier could have been foaming at the mouth for the way he was acting. His voice carried out the way that a rabid dog looked.
Joe stood between him and his wife, “No. He doesn’t.”
The soldier went to strike Joe and found himself an even match. The crowd involuntarily and partially formed a circle around the two men as they struggled. The soldier was clearly being overwhelmed by sheer weight and determination.
“Enough!” A loud voice reverberated throughout the cafeteria and brought the scuffle to a halt. It had come from Lieutenant Vasquez who, with his piercing eyes, scanned the room. He had gotten everyone’s attention and made his way through the crowd.
“Listen up. I’ve been recently informed that there may be a certain type of contamination… an after-effect of Crop-Dust.”
People not in-the-know gasped and made all sorts of commotions.
The Lieutenant continued, “We want to figure this thing out as much as you do. But we will need your
cooperation. We’ll need to quarantine those who are contaminated until we can find a cure.”
Joe spoke out, “By FORCE?” The crowd booed. It seemed to have closed in around Joe, the soldier and Lieutenant Vasquez.
Lieutenant Vasquez turned to Joe, “I’m sorry about that. But it does need to happen. We can’t have the infected roaming around. They could potentially spread it.
Joe sneered, shaking his head like a neighing horse, “The infected?”
Then he got angry, shouting “The INFECTED!?” He pointed back at them, “That’s my
. That’s my
Lieutenant Vasquez remained calm, “I understand your concerns…” He was promptly cut off.
A man from the crowd shouted out, “MY ASS! We’ve been around them all this time, and nothing’s happened.”
Someone else shouted out, “Yeah!”
A symphony of voices rose up. The Lieutenant tried to speak once more but was drowned out. Joe looked at him and the soldier. His determination was still on his face.
Peter and Michael looked at each other, thinking the same thing. The slightest contamination from a worker could undo everything in the garden, leaving them at square one without scratch to start from. But there had to be something other than military lock-down.
Lieutenant Vasquez looked at the angry people cheering, booing, and chanting around him. He turned to leave with his soldier.
Anna said from behind Peter and Michael, “It might be time to plan plan B.”
The four spent the rest of the day together and loosely brainstormed contingency plans for different scenarios. They briefly walked around campus squabbling about previous events as they passed by the cafeteria. Almost all the soldiers were in there, eating. The Lieutenant was making quite a bit of noise, but the words were indiscernible. At some point, the two couples went their separate ways.
It was just after 5:30pm when Michael, Jenna, Anna and Peter met up again. The sun was casting a bright golden hue on close to everything in the cafeteria. The aura was rather peaceful, and the cafeteria was filling up. Things had calmed down from earlier and people were going through the line, buying food with their tickets. They were enjoying a stew of rabbit, pork, and wheatgrass heavy bread. It had protein, fat and nutrients and was actually pretty tasty.
The two couples had laughed quite a bit as they ate their meals. It wasn’t any more food than they were used to eating, but some sort of progress was being made daily here and there. Smiling came easier and wasn’t as taboo.
Michael had finished his meal and was watching Jenna as she ate the last of her wheatgrass heavy bread. He leaned over to tell her something sweet when he heard loud scuffling outside the cafeteria.
Peter stood up and looked around. The heavy sound of boots jogging down the hall along with a bit of chanting could be heard. Michael overheard someone mutter something about intimidation.
Suddenly, soldiers were flooding through the doors to the cafeteria. The shouting was deafening as the sound amped up tenfold.
When the last soldier had entered the cafeteria, those standing in line, distributing food, and sitting at tables found their exits blocked off. The soldiers had their weapons which were, at the moment, pointed at the ground. There was that moment when civilians were considering what to do, how to respond, and more importantly, how to get away.
That’s when Lieutenant Vasquez entered. It was more like he sauntered in, holding up his hand to quiet his soldiers. But, the voices of the people rose up.
“What is all this?”
“This is horseshit!”
“You can’t keep us!”
“Actually,” the Lieutenant had a sleazy smile on his face, “I can.” With a triumphant sigh, “And, I will.”
Several shift leaders were brought in, some of them were even dragged.
The Lieutenant brought a folded up piece of paper out of his pocket. The people were still outraged and shouting insults but Vasquez remained focused as he unfolded it and called out,
“Samantha Pierce.” The cafeteria went quiet. People went still and tension could be felt like a frenzy of energy. Everyone was waiting on someone to make the first move.
“Samantha Pierce. You are a carrier. We need to escort you to quarantine. There’s no need for this to be a troublesome process.” The Lieutenant was waving his hands about as though he couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t just
trust the process
He looked over at the line of shift leaders. With a gentle push from her escort, an older woman stepped forward; the soldier hovered close by. She scanned the faces of the cafeteria stopping at another woman. They made eye contact and the younger woman’s face contorted in fear. She began to violently shake her head.
“No…” She dropped her tray, stumbling backwards. She screamed, “NO! My babies! NOOO!”
The backpedal became quicker and she turned to get away, right into the arms of a soldier.
“We’ve got’cha. It’s gonna be alright.” The soldier wasn’t rough with her, but he certainly wasn’t letting go as he led her to another area.
The woman fell to pieces sobbing and shrieking.
Peter glanced from Michael to Jenna. They lightly nodded at him as did Anna.
The older woman who had given up Samantha winced at the shrieking. The crowd was now standing. A few people rushed to the doors and tried to push their way past soldiers, only to be forcefully pushed back. There was outrage and there was crying. It didn’t stop what was happening, though.
“Naomi Benson!” Vasquez called out.
This time, the woman was quickly named, identified, and seized. The man who pointed her out made no fuss about it. But the crowd roared in disapproval.
Lieutenant Vasquez called out another name, “Jared Stewart.” After a brief moment, he looked to his right again.
A middle aged man stepped forward.
A woman’s voice rose over the commotion “DON’T!”
The crowd settled down just enough to hear her, “Please, don’t do this. I know you don’t want to do this.” Many voices joined hers, taking up her plea.
The man was clearly already conflicted. With zero credibility or tone, he said, “I don’t see him.”
Lieutenant Vasquez made a motion with his mouth as though he had something stuck in his teeth, “You don’t see him?”
Vasquez raised his voice, shouting, “Does anyone else see him?”
Another man in the line pointed diagonal towards the corner, “There in the red shirt. Jared was completely still as soldiers pounced on him, leading him out of the cafeteria.”
The crowd broke for the exits. They ran against the soldiers trying to push through. Peter grabbed Anna who grabbed Jenna. Jenna reached for Michael and missed by a hair. Michael ran after the other three, trying to avoid tables, chairs, and other people. The largest crowd was at the double door entrance where soldiers had already begun hitting people with the butts of their guns.
As Michael neared the double doors, running after Peter, Anna, and Jenna,
POP! POP! POP!
rang out toward the ceiling. From another door, smoke grenades, and flash grenades were launched into the cafeteria, exploding when their time was up. Everyone was trying to get out and not get trampled, or flashbanged, or shot, or taken. The crowd at the double doors was growing and the line between soldiers and civilians was blurred. The next shots were fired directly into the crowd. Lieutenant Vasquez was no longer at the table and could barely be heard screaming for a cease fire.
The soldiers at the main entrance were overrun and civilians poured out like ant pile that had just been disturbed. Peter, Anna, and Jenna slipped out just in time. The soldiers immediately went back to work blocking the exit, sticking their guns in the face of the closest people to them.
Those people stopped just short of the barrels, scared, with their hands up, squealing, “Don’t shoot.”
The crowd behind them pressed on, though, violently pushing them forward anyhow, like human riot shields. The soldiers held the door only briefly until, an outward blast of people came flying, falling, crawling, running and sprinting from the cafeteria. Michael could see Anna and Jenna’s head in the crowd slowly disappearing. Jenna was looking back for him,
“Michael! Hurry, Michael!”
Michael gave his all to catch up as they tried an exit. It was chained closed with a thick padlock on it. Peter saw Michael, “Good. Now, keep up.”
The four took off running again. People were trying to break the thick glass windows of the university to no avail. They turned to go down another corridor but as they rounded the corner, two soldiers stood guard. Neither Michael nor Peter hesitated. They continued to rush forward with a crowd at their backs. The guards yelled
to no avail. Upon contact, gunfire added to the chaos, the shouting, and the thunder of footsteps pounding down the hallway. Anna and Jenna rushed the backside of the soldiers. More people came running towards them. The soldiers were taken down with the sheer force of the crew as people screamed past.
Peter sat on one, wrestling his gun, “Anna, get his hand gun!”