Chapter 7: Going In
As he sipped on his mug of coffee, Colonel Ben Valle, acting commanding officer of Fort Bliss, turned to a large monitor that displayed his units locations and status. Bravo 4/1, Delta 1/3 and Golf 3/2 were still operational and on track in their patrol threw the down town and central area, meeting stiff resistence but the lower population easier to control. Golf 3/1 showed signs of casualties with Golf 3/3 being nearly completely eliminated in the North Eastern side of town- the most heavily populated. Several more units showed their varied status as the Colonel reviewed them. Nodding in confirmation, he walked away to the window.
As he overlooked the base and part of the North Eastern part of El Paso from his 7 story high command post, Colonel Valle took in the extreme dire nature of the events unfolding in front of him. The main entrances of the base had been blown up and sealed by a demo crew with new alternative paths of entry and exit quickly erected. Several sand bag fox holes lined much of the surrounding command post and other parts of the base that had not yet been compromised. Helicopters zoomed over head as some were coming and others going. Spot lights shone from guard towers littering the base, the rapid gun fire tearing threw infected who their lights shun on. The metal fence perimeter would not hold forever, a fact the Colonel knew all too well. It's original purpose had been more a deterant rather than actual crowd control- tho it's dexsterity was not in question, the sheer number of infected begining to mass at certain areas of the fence would be its eventual downfall.
The city was a whole other story. Picking up a pair of binoculars on a desk next to him, the Colonel observered the situation from afar. Fire consumed a good deal of certain areas of North East El Paso- others still filling the air with gun fire and screams audible from even the distance that seperated them from the Colonel. Infected could be seen along the high way and neighborhoods, going in mini-swarm to anything that caught its attention.
"Sir, Bravo 4/2 has found a confirmed clean group of survivors. They are requesting permission to take them back here, sir" came a 2nd Lt in BDU's.
"Denied. Tell Bravo 4/2 that the order stands" replied the cold Colonel.
"But sir, these civilians are CONFIRMED clean-"
Colonel Valle turned around very sharply, dropping his binoculars from his eyes, putting them to the 2nd Lt's chest.
"Lt Bow- take a look out there. Would you like to invite THAT shit storm into HERE? We cannot afford to take any risk- clean or not- we have to stop the stem of this virus from spreading further."
Lt. Bow looked down at the binocular's- stepping back with a look of disbelief.
Walking away swiftly, the Lt wanted to scream.
Colonel Valle turned back to the window- again examining the scene below and beyond. Chaos; All that the Colonel could see and all that he cared about stopping- no matter the cost. With a very grim take on the situation, Colonel Valle believed that by sending out "kill squads" to eliminate both infected and non-infected alike- it will somehow stop the number of infected testing their defenses and anihilate the infection completely. The men had been extremely weary of obeying their orders- but Colonel Valle assured them that the orders had came straight from the top. This of course sat in the Colonels mind relentlessly as he knew it was a lie. He swallowed hard as he knew that everything that had happened since the Maj General and everyone else had fallen to the infection, leaving him in charge, was fear ridden reaction. Regardless of his subconcious screaming to stop the maddness- the orders remained solid.
Exsterminate all and any humanoids in the El Paso area.
The fingers moved threw his hair as he felt himself being invaded by a force he didn't know of and didn't welcome. The touch felt of worms and maggots- the utter thought making him shiver. The fingers lead to a hand that is rotted with decay. The hand leads up to the face- crepid and bitter as the rest of the body. The face leads to the eyes- still milky white with the hint of sorrow and despair. The eyes led to the teeth, stained yellow and dark red from victims of its craving. The teeth led to a gateway, opening up to a landscape filled with THEM, a victory of exstermination.
"How?" said the deteriating figure.
"What?" he uttered.
"HOW!?" shouted the figure, appearing suddenly in front of his face, its mouth open for an attack and body in full affect showing its massive damages it had substained.
Paul shook himself awake again- the sun already starting to crest over the mountain. Maria sat on the tailgate, staring towards the ridge.
"Hey you, good morning" said Paul, rubbing his eyes, stretching out.
Maria turned her head to Paul, giving a brief smile, "Good morning- ready to take on this day?"
"Fuck it- why not. Are the young'ins awake yet?" replied Paul with a grin, putting a thumb over his shoulder directed at the cab of the truck.
"Not yet, they slept threw the entire night. We can wake them up- I'm sure its not a problem" replied Maria.
"No need yet, lets survey the area- are THEY still down there?" asked Paul, now sitting up, putting on his gear.
"Ya- not as many tho. We shouldn't have a problem with getting out of here when we need to. Any idea where we will go?" replied Maria, hoping off the tailgate onto her feet.
"Back to downtown. There are plenty of defendable buildings there that will attract peoples attention and not to much the infected. If we can set it up right, we can hold for long enough to find others and then move out," Paul said, now standing next to Maria, checking his weapons, "Now lets check it out from up here."
The two walked over to the ridge to find a smaller group of infected than the day before. Still, they relentlessly tried climbing the incline, still failing. The city seemed to be settling itself, fires still burning silently, smoke still drifting over the air- but the active chaos of infected hunting people down seemed to of died down considerably. A very strange silence filled the air as Paul and Maria continued to stare.
"Well, streets look clear enough though I am almost positive they are hiding. If we can make it to even the science museum- I think we will be golden" said Paul, eyes fixed on the city.
Maria shutterd at the thought of an infected jumping out of no where at her, "Ya- that is just creepy. So can you guess where we can grab some possible food?"
"Ehhh- look there," said Paul, pointing at a gas station close by, "That Texaco should have just enough to hold us over for a while. Sooner the better I guess. Lets eat first and then head out."
"Mmm damn I am hungry now that I mention it" replied Maria, a hand over her stomach, "I will wake up the others."
Maria walked over to the truck, opening the door, waking up Kelly and Andrew for what would be considered "breakfeast," pulling out her pack to disperse the last of the bread for everyone. The group exchanged good mornings and got ready, Paul discussing what they had in mind. Upon finishing the quick meal, the group mounted up, preparing for the drive to the Texaco gas station. Everyone buckled up as Paul put the truck into drive, beggining the decline down the ridge.
The infected got even more energetic at the sight of the approaching prey, climbing forward only to be met by the crushing weight of the truck speeding over THEM. The truck pulled forward, disabling many of the infected, killing few. The tires streaked blood across the pavement for a few meters before being dry again, taking roughly the reverse path that they had taken the previous day, leading the group straight to the Texaco.
"Alright, again- me and Andrew will go in, you two sit tight and honk if we have company. Easy enough?" said Paul, slowing down the truck as they approached the gas station.
Everyone gave their own sign of acknowledgement, Paul then putting the truck in park as he pulled in close to the gas station, giving Andrew the signal to hop out with him.
Paul and Andrew met at the front of the truck, the area seemingly calm but with signs of previous engagements; blood streaked across part of the wall, a part of the window was cracked and a dismembered remains of a victim lay near the pumps. Andrew swallowed hard, keeping his Glock pointed down as Paul had instructed him to. Paul approached the main entrance to the gas station, motioning for Andrew to stay close. Opening the door, an electronic chime sounded, Paul freezing in place to scan the store front to make sure nothing was alerted to their presense. The area was clear, tho hardly unscathed.
The station looked like the pawn shop had- littered by looters with items scattering the floor. The cash register lay in front of Paul's feet, its mouth open showing it empty.
"Wow. Money still has power over some people. Now THAT'S funny" thought Paul to himself as he lifted his UMP, continuing his scan.
"Move up, lets get some bags from the front counter and load up whatever we can" said Paul, talking over his shoulder.
Andrew gave Paul a thumbs up as he approached the counter, reaching over it, taking a few plastic bags. Paul continued to scan the few ailes, reaching the last one as he saw it too was clear. Turning to face Andrew, Paul lifted his submachine gun quickly, aiming it near Andrew.
"Woooow! What the fuck man!" screeched Andrew, flinching, almost stumbling backwards.
A shot rang out of Paul's weapon as it connected with the infected man's head, seemingly having been hiding behind the counter, about to spring onto Andrew.
"Jesus! Wow! What the fuck?!" gasped Andrew, looking back at the dead infected and then to Paul, "Uh, thanks."
"He wasn't like the other ones. He wasn't a complete animal. Smart infected. Fuckin' great." replied Paul, turning around, keeping his weapon at the ready. "Just grab what you can, quickly please."
Andrew took another sigh of relief, scrambling to pick up varied food items. Beef Jerkey and potatoe chips filled most of the bag with gummy bears and Spam cans not far behind. Much of the alcohol had been looted, leaving behind a decent amount PowerAid, Andrew filling up two bags with them alone as well as a few gallons of water.
"Ok- looks good. Lets roll" said Paul, already in motion towards the entry.
The two walked approached the door as the sound of the truck honking made their hearts sink.
Quickly rushing to the side of the door, Paul peaked to see what the alarm was for. With a quick glance, Paul saw a small group of 7 infected now pounding on both sides of the truck, diverted from the store.
"Oook. Change of plan kid, time to get tactical. You just cover me if they get to close- lets hope Maria and Kelly get the hint" said Paul, looking down at his weapon, taking a quick breath.
"O', uh, what's the plan?" said Andrew, putting down one of the heavy bags of water.
Without warning, Paul swung open the door, taking a knee as he fired three quick burst into the group, aiming low as to hopefully take out their rapid mobility.
4 dropped to their knees, the other 3 quickly taking notice of the more exposed prey, rushing forward to meet Paul head on. Again, Paul let out two controlled burst, taking out 1 more, shutting the door behind him as the last two closed the distance, now pounding on the glass. Paul braced the door with his back from the pounding of the infected, peaking to see if Maria had taken the hint.
"Well whats the plan?!" asked Andrew exitedly.
"Heh" said Paul with a grin, reloading his weapon.
"What does THAT even mean?!" came back Andrew, looking at Paul dramatically.
A few slow rounds came from outside, Paul peaking to see that the infected he had disabled now lay completely still, Maria having excecuted THEM (as he had planned). 1 of the infected diverted his attention back to the truck, the other still intent on killing Paul and Andrew.
"Alright, come here and hold this door closed, boy" said Paul, scooting over to make room for Andrew.
"I am 17- I am not a boy!" said Andrew, coming over to brace the door, bags still in hand.
"Ya- you are right. That makes you a LITTLE boy" said Paul with his shit eating grin, pushing his UMP against the glass door, aiming directly for the infected man's head on the other side, squeezing the trigger as he flew back a few feet. "Ok- lets go now!"
As Andrew got out of the way, picking up all the bags, Paul swung open the door, allowing the infected to focus on him as he sent two rounds into its neck and head, its body slowly drooping to the ground. The two quickly approached the truck, noticing that they had the attention of a few other small groups closing the distance between them.
Without further incident, Paul and Andrew entered the vehicle, the infected greeting the now secure group with pounding on the side of the vehicle. Turning on the engine, Paul sped forward, leaving the small group behind.
"How did you know what to do?!" said Paul with some suprise to Maria, his grip still tight on the steering wheel.
Maria smiled and shrugged, responding with glee "Womans intuition I guess."
"Well shit, I will take that but I bet a week ago, you didn't think you'd be risking your life for some beef jerkey and PowerAid huh?" said Paul, chuckling at the thought.
Everyone laughed, smiling as one, a first for everyone thus far.
The return to downtown El Paso was awkward. So much had been changed in only a matter of days, mainly due to the fires. Infected were scattered with only one significant group whose attention they somehow managed to evade. Swishing threw the still abandoned car ridden roads, the group approached a tall structure with a sign that read "El Paso Science Exhibit." It had thick tinted windows which still held in tact with minimal signs of any activity in the vicinity. Slowly approaching the main entrance, Paul came to a halt within 5 meters of the door.
"Alright. This is it. If we can hold here for just a while- we should be able to gather whatever else we need and gather whoever we can before we bug out of the city completely. So I guess it boils down to what we do now. Ready to clear this out?" said Paul, motivated for the spirit and morale of the others.
"Ok- what do we do?" said Kelly, speaking up for the first time in a bit.
"If you can, you and Andrew just put those packs on your backs and me and Maria will try to do the majority of the clearing. Is that ok with you Maria?" replied Paul, now glancing at Maria.
"Of course, tho I don't know what 'clearing' is- I guess you mean make it safe to stay, ya?" replied Maria, slapping her rifle's side.
"Ha- ya. Alright then, you ok Andrew?"
Andrew seemed to snap back in from being phased out, "Uh, ya- I'm good- just carry the pack. Got it."
Paul stared at him for a second, releasing his gaze as he turned off the truck. "Game time then. Lets move."
Paul led the way, opening the door as the others followed. The four approached the door cautiously, keeping an eye on their surroundings to ensure they wouldn't be snuck up on again. A blood stain here and there showed of infected previously having been near the building, but currently in the mid-morning sun, clear on the outside.
Keeping his weapon at the ready, Paul motioned for Kelly to open the door to the Science Exhibit- the door coming open quickly as Paul and Maria rushed in (Paul impressed with her ability to adapt so quickly). Checking left and right, the darkness of the interior made it difficult to see anything.
"Andrew, grab that flashlight out of that pack- the side pouch" said Paul in a low tone, eyes still fixed on the front.
Fumbling a little bit, Andrew presented Paul with the flashlight, quickly turning it on and scanning the area. The dark tint of the exterior windows did not allow much sunlight to penetrate the interior, the flashlight being the only real source of light. Scanning the area, Paul saw signs of disturbance and previous violence randomly on the floor of the building; blood pools and dragging marks that led to other darkened places.
"Paul. PAUL. There is a light switch here, want me to hit it?" said Kelly, trying to keep her voice low.
"Before you do, all of yall get ready for a fight" said Paul, taking a knee, still scanning the area intently.
Maria too took a knee, keeping her eyes trained on the interior as Paul had. Andrew stayed close to Kelly, his pistol drawn and scanning the darkness. With a quick breath, Kelly hit the switches- illuminating the main hall of the building. The interior was a very large place; random exhibits filled the center and walls of the area, the right side having a counter area spanning for about 4 meters and a door on the other side. In the upper left and right sides of the building were cooridors leading to other exhibits. One emergency exit sat inbetween the counter and the cooridor on the right side, untouched and still closed.
Seconds of silence passed as they were quickly broken by the growls of the infected. Over a dozen infected roared into visibility, beggining to close the varied distances that held THEM apart. With no hesitation, Paul began his fire, trying to disable as many as he could before having to go for kill shots. Maria took her careful first shot, dropping a close by infected with a crisp round to the temple, quickly engaging her next target. Andrew and Kelly took their shots, a few missing before connecting with body shots, Andrew managing to land a head shot. Still, the remaining infected were consumed with their relentless attack.
Out of immediate ammo for his UMP, Paul drew his Glock, shooting out the knee caps of an infected as he put three rounds into another, on the third, landing a head shot. Maria took aim to the disabled, putting rounds to their wiggling heads. Paul stood up, seeing that the infected were dealt with, aiming his pistol down at the infected whose knees he had shot out, ending it with a mercy shot to the head.
"Reload. That can't be all of them. I don't trust it yet. Those Smart ones are too fuckin' creepy for me to call it a day just yet" said Paul, holstering his pistol as he reloaded his UMP.
Everyone followed suite- Kelly fumbling with her magazine with the prospect of dealing with a smart infected.
"Alright, yall fan to the left, I will go right. We don't know how smart these infected can be, so lets make sure they are infected before we pull the trigger" said Paul, now standing and moving to the right side of the interior.
The group scanned the rest of the immediate area, showing it to be clear, meeting up at the far side of the entire exhibit area past the coordior. After confirming that no infected were hiding, they met up at a metal double door labeled "Employee Only."
"What do you think is in there?" asked Andrew quietly.
"I don't know. I've never been an employee here" replied Paul jokingly.
"O stop it," said Maria, punching Paul on the arm, "Lets just check it out so we can try to sleep tonight."
With that, Maria opened the door that exposed to a darker area that was seemingly a place of storage. Paul took out his flashlight, shining it inside to see boxes and crates littering the area, tho in an organized fashion. Two steel shutter doors sat closed on the far side of the what seemed to be a cargo loading and unloading area.
"Alright, just cover me, I'm going in" said Paul, already moving forward.
"Are you crazy?! Get back here!" exclaimed Maria in a loud whisper.
Paul continued forward, scanning the area with his weapon, again finding a light switch to his left.
"Get ready," stage whispered Paul to the others, "Here goes nothing."
Flipping the switch, the room lit up, exposing the rest of the cargo area. No movement disturbed the area or any signs of infected present at all.
"Well holy shit, did our luck just get a little better or what?" said Maria, giving out a sigh of relief.
"Does this mean we are safe?" said Kelly, seeing that no threat laid in place waiting in the darkness.
"It means we need to secure the entry points to the building and hope that they still don't manage a way in" replied Paul firmly, "Lets get to work."
With that, the group started their fortifications of their new temporary home. Little did they know tho that the place of safety was all but a false sense of security.
Stay tuned next week for Them and They: The Zombie Apocalypse Chapter 8!
Thanks for reading!