Read The Darkest Days (Death & Decay Book 0.5) Online

Authors: R. L. Blalock

Tags: #horror, #apocalypse, #zombie, #zombie action, #apocalyptic, #undead, #postapocalyptic, #walking dead, #infection, #virus aftermath

The Darkest Days (Death & Decay Book 0.5)

BOOK: The Darkest Days (Death & Decay Book 0.5)
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This book is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, and events in this book are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used factiously. Any similarities to real
people, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the
author.
Copyright 2015 by R. L. Blalock
All rights reserved. Neither this book, nor any parts within it may
be sold or reproduced without permission.
Cover Artwork by Biserka
Editing by Scott Alexander Jones
ISBN: 978-1537349473
ASIN: B01L5MTHMI

For all the police officers who leave their
families,
miss special events and holidays,
sacrifice their time, sleep, and sometimes even their lives to
protect the rest of us.
Thank you

Acknowledgments
First and foremost I want to thank Lieutenant Craig Hebrank of the
Cottleville Police Department for his help. Without him to walk me
through a day in the life of a police officer I don’t think I would
have been able to build Wyatt Ward into the amazing character he
is. Thank you for indulging my crazy, hypothetical questions. And
thank you for meeting with me and being so excited about what I was
doing. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me
through this journey. Thank you to my Uncle David for reading and
supporting all my writing, even early on when it was pretty
terrible. Thank you to my sisters, Devonne and Kerrin, who have
always had my back. Thank you, Grandma Lillian and Grandma Doyce
for always listening to me ramble. Thank you to all my friends who
have been so supportive throughout this journey. Your support means
the world to me.

Day 1
2:13 pm

Officer Wyatt Ward wearily trudged away from the
busy fast-food restaurant back to his patrol car. Even slouched as
he was, Wyatt was a tall man with a lean but toned build. The day
had been brutally busy and his twelve-hour shift was only halfway
over. The lunch break had eased away some of the stress but not all
of it. In Cottleville, a miniscule suburb of the greater St. Louis
area, the days were usually filled with minor traffic
violations.

But not today.

The calls had not been abnormal, but today had
been different. Tense. People were argumentative and combative.
Even those who had called for assistance of some sort seemed
unwilling to cooperate.

The sun had already started its descent from
high in the sky as Wyatt dropped into the driver’s seat of his
squad car. For a moment, he simply relaxed against the cloth
seating, his eyes closed in an attempt to shut out the world and
allow the anxiety to drain away.

After a moment, he reluctantly opened one eye to
glance at the clock. His hands combed across the closely cropped,
caramel-colored stubble on his head in a futile attempt to brush
away the last of the stress. Though his head was covered in short
stubble, his face was smooth and clean. A few more minutes were
left before he had to report back to dispatch.

He deftly found the cellphone attached to his
duty belt, which accompanied the polyester, navy-blue uniform he
wore. The dark blue of the uniform gave his usually misty gray eyes
a tint of blue.

Like he did every day, Wyatt pulled out his
phone to call Sarah.

“Hello.” A groggy voice answered after a few
rings.

“Hi, hon. Did I wake you?”

“Yeah. I was just taking a little nap while Ben
is asleep. It’s alright though. I like your calls.” Wyatt smiled.
He liked talking with Sarah on his lunches. Sometimes just the
sound of her voice was enough to ease a stressful day. “How’s the
day been?”

He sighed. “Busy. Nothing major, just a lot of
little calls.”

“Just be safe out there.” She said that phrase
every time he left and every time he called.

“I will.” The exchange was always the same, but
if the few words helped reassure her, he was glad to say them. “How
has your day been?”

“Good. Ben has been running around like a wild
child. I think we’ll go play outside when he wakes up. Hopefully
that will tire him out for tonight.” The three-year-old toddler
with untamable chestnut hair had a seemingly endless supply of
energy. His ear-piercing shrieks would precede him as he ran from
one room to the next through the house. Despite Ben’s boundless
energy, he was a fairly easy child and always happy. Only the
occasional tantrum disrupted his otherwise happy mood.

“I’m sure he’ll love that.”

“Let’s just hope I can get him to come back
inside for dinner.” Her laugh trickled through the phone.

“Speaking of dinner, do you think your parents
could watch Ben for a couple hours on Thursday? I thought maybe we
could go out.” It had been far too long since they had done
anything without Ben.

“I’ll ask but I don’t think they’ll have a
problem with it. Where do you want to go?”

“I figured we could go someplace nice. Someplace
we usually wouldn’t go with Ben.” Their outings always revolved
around the family. When they went out, they went somewhere they
could all go and easily be accommodated. He and Sarah rarely
thought about this as a problem. They loved spending time together
as a family.

“Oh! Let’s go to that Italian restaurant with
the amazing tiramisu!”

“Sounds good to me!” Sarah’s sudden fervor for
the creamy dessert brought a smile to his face.

“I’m going to let you go. I think I hear Ben
stirring. I love you!”

“I love you too. See you tonight.” With that, he
deposited his cell phone in the cup holder.

“Dispatch.” He spoke into the radio transmitter
wired to his car radio. “This is four three one. I’m back in my
car.”

“Clear, four three one.”

After the dispatcher acknowledged his return to
duty, he pulled out of the parking lot to cruise the streets. Most
of his days were a slow procession of petty calls and minor traffic
violations. While the first half of the day had already been
hectic, the calls were hardly extraordinary.

He rolled the windows down to let in the warm
afternoon air. The steady hum of traffic and the roar of the wind
as it rushed in the window created calming background noise. As he
came to a stop at a red light, the radio crackled to life, the air
of calm instantly broken.

“Four two five, there is major accident with
injury at the intersection of Weiss Road and Cottleville Parkway.
Please respond.”

“Dispatch, this is four two five. Ten
seventy-six.” The return call meant that the responding officer,
Allison Grey, was headed to the scene.

A few minutes later the radio was alive again.
“Four three one, there was a call about a dead body on the side of
the road at eighty-four Upper Dardenne Farms Drive. Please
respond.” For a split second, Wyatt stared dumbly at the radio as
if it were something strange.

“Four two five. Ten seventy-six.” He responded
reluctantly to the dispatcher. He turned to cut through a parking
lot and headed towards the call. For the briefest moment, Wyatt had
allowed himself to hope that when he returned from lunch things may
have cooled off, but the fantasy was not to be realized.

“Four six seven.” Wyatt jumped a bit as the
dispatcher called out again. “A disturbance has been reported at
Francis Howell Central High School…” The calls were getting wilder
by the second. His foot pressed down a bit further on the gas as he
sped towards his call. Not only had the day continued its
unsettling pace, but the calls were also picking up. The department
wouldn’t be able to keep up this pace. Soon they would have to
request help from county.

As he turned down Upper Dardenne Farms Road, his
eyes cautiously scanned the quiet street. Large, leafy trees and
bushes lined the road, partially obscuring the large front lawns
and single-story houses from view. House number eighty-four was
about midway down the long dead-end road.

“Dispatch, this is four three one. I’m on
scene.” His car slowed to a roll as he scanned the road for a body
or anything that might appear to be a body to a nervous
passerby.

“Clear, four three one.”

The radio cut through the silence. “Four six
seven, there is an officer down at the intersection of Weiss Road
and Cottleville Parkway. Nearby patrols please respond.” The radio
erupted in a flurry of calls; each was carefully controlled, but
collectively it was chaos.

Grey was the officer who responded to the
accident. She was the department’s newest member, and though she
lacked experience, she was smart and capable. What had happened?
Had a careless driver hit her? He had to go.

“Dispatch, this is four three one. I’m en route
from Upper Dardenne Road. ETA: three minutes.”

“Four three one, complete your call. Others are
en route.” Wyatt growled as he clutched the radio.

He shook his head and focused on the task at
hand. Despite his concerted attempts to concentrate, his mind kept
returning back to Officer Grey. How injured was she? Was she still
alive? He felt useless.

At the end of the street, he hadn’t seen any
signs that something was amiss. Carefully, he turned around in one
of the driveways and began a slow, steady cruise back down the
street. Shortly before arriving at the address, he parked his car
and strode down the paved sidewalk. As he walked, each step was
deliberate. Though he yearned to move on, to help the others and
find out more about his fallen comrade, he would not allow himself
to be too hasty.

After a while, with no evidence that anything
malicious had occurred, he turned and crossed the road to walk the
other side. As he neared the house marked eighty-four, dark
splotches on the asphalt caught his attention. With a hand on his
weapon, ready to draw it if necessary, he approached the
stains.

“Four three one, there are reports of shots
fired at one zero zero three Castleview Court. Please respond.” The
sound nearly made him jump out of his skin.

“Dispatch this is four three one. I’m still at
Upper Dardenne Farms Road. I’ve found something, but no body.” His
heart raced. “Has county been contacted for backup?”

“No, four three one. Will do.”

Wyatt returned his attention to the smudges. The
glossy, red spots were fresh. With an almost inaudible snap, his
weapon came free of its holster. Cautiously, he followed the
scattered spots as they began to appear more often and larger.
Whoever had left them had been bleeding badly. They trailed into a
trampled patch of grass. Many of the broken and bent blades were
stained with blood.

As he reached for his radio, it crackled once
again. “All officers please be advised. Return to the station
immediately. Repeat. Return to the station immediately. Code three.
All patrols please respond.”

What is happening?
Wyatt’s mind spun. All
officers were to return to the station. All of them.

“Dispatch, please advise those officers out on
calls.” Lieutenant Jamie Carter’s shaky voice broke through the
silence that had suddenly fallen.

“Repeat. All officers are to immediately return
to the station. You are needed here.” The dispatcher broke her
normally stoic demeanor. “Get here safe. God be with you all.”

The hair on the back of Wyatt’s neck rose. The
day had been busy. Suddenly they had become flooded with urgent
calls, many of them still in progress like his own. Something was
wrong. Really wrong.

The entire department had never been called back
to the station, and the dispatcher’s words added a new layer of
tension. The dispatchers were trained to remain calm and detached
from the information they shared and the officers they shared it
with. The lack of composure had set him on edge.

Hastily, Wyatt jogged to his car. As he flung
open the door, movement in the window of a house caught his eye. A
woman peered out at him, her eyes wide as she watched him climb
into his cruiser and pull away.

The seconds that ticked by seemed like hours as
Wyatt flew through the red lights. What had happened?

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