I resisted the urge to shoot Jack as he charged through the diner, and signalled to Robin to get the door. I’d met Robin back at the base, this shy little mess of dark hair and dark skin. He’d been hiding out under one of the bunks since whatever these things were had hit the base, and he’d been about to shoot me when he heard me walking around. According to him, we were the only ones left. “They even got the Commander” he’d told me, panicked and hyperventilating. I managed to calm him down, and he told me his name was Private Robin Bishop. We’d headed straight for the munitions stores, gathering as much as we could before heading for the motorpool. We were lucky, and it’d been a straight shot, so we made a couple trips, stocking up on ammo and a few extra guns before gunning it out of there. We were on our way back to the diner when we saw the commotion at the hospital, and I was hoping I wouldn’t grow to regret my decision to have Robin stop.
I glanced back at Robin, who was standing near that Riley guy, before walking beside Jack cautiously. There were more bloodstains on the floor than there were people in the place, from what I remembered. The lights flickered on and off above our heads, and the place was eerily still, though there was nothing to suggest there’d been any forced entry. None of the windows were smashed, and the door hadn’t been forced open. I could only assume they’d let someone in, against my orders. Jack and I carried on through the diner, and I glanced back at the other two, seeing Riley clinging onto Robin’s arm.
“I guess they got them first. I’ll check to see if there are any survivors I can treat” Jack said.
“Hold on a minute, we don’t know if there are any of them in here” I frowned.
Jack flashed a grin at us. “It’s perfectly fine. With this much blood there’s no way they’d be able to walk, let alone attack us”
I bit back a comment on how much of an ass I thought he was, signalling for Robin to keep an eye on him while I checked the other half of the diner. I saw Jack head for the kitchen, though Robin nodded to say he could still see him. I made my way towards the back of the diner, hitting a dead end when I reached a locked door marked ‘Staff Only’. I looked around as I heard Riley call out Jack’s name, rushing away from Robin’s side. Which was when we all heard Jack scream. Robin rushed over, and I heard him fire a few shots before I kicked into gear, running over and seeing the waitress busy gnawing on Jack’s face, pulling strips of skin from his cheeks as he yelled at Riley to get out.
I saw Jack’s eyes roll back in his head, and the waitress pulled some more flesh from his face, apparently not noticing us yet. The other… people, who I recognised as the customers that had stayed behind, however, were very aware of us. Robin fired at a few more, aiming for their legs to try and slow them down instead of just shooting to kill. He still had a firm grip on Riley, who was struggling to get free.
“No! Get off me! Jack!” he yelled.
“Forget it, he’s gone!” Robin said, and Riley slapped him, crying like a girl would.
“No! Get off me! Don’t touch me! No!” he wailed, still trying to break free.
So Robin did what any soldier would do; he lifted Riley up and threw him over his shoulder. I shot at a few of the others, getting close enough to Jack to see if he was still alive. He seemed it, for the most part, until his eyes snapped open, his pupils dull and glazed over, before trying to take a bite out of my leg. My boot collided harshly with his face, and I heard the sickening snap of his nose breaking as he fell back, stunned.
“Jack! Look! It’s Jack!” I heard Riley yelling, but Robin ignored him.
“Col, we gotta go”
I backed away from Jack and the others, as did Robin, and with a few more shots fired, we were speeding away in the Hummer. I could hear Riley sobbing in the back, and neither of us really knew what to do. Robin and I had been taught to fight, not how to console the newly widowed. I clambered into the back with Riley, noticing he wouldn’t look at me as I apologised.
“Y’know, we’ve been together for three years” he said quietly. “And I knew him since I was twelve”
I didn’t know what to say to that. What could I say to that? The three of us sat in an awkward silence for a while, with Riley looking at out the destruction that had already occurred in the city. It couldn’t have been more than a few hours since the attacks had happened, how had it gotten that bad already? Windows were smashed, doors hung off their hinges, empty cars littered the streets. Robin was having a tough time weaving in and out of the cars, but thankfully the streets we were driving through weren’t too crowded. I wouldn’t like to comment on the roads leading out of the city.
“Where are we going…?” Riley asked eventually.
“We’re gonna try and find some more survivors, then find somewhere to stay” I said and Riley laughed dryly, wiping away tears, this stony expression on his face. “Where do you live?”
“Upper Moore Town” he said. I didn’t know my way around that neighbourhood too well, but apparently Robin knew where it was, as he switched direction.
“What kind of building?” I asked.
“We lived in an apartment block”
I thought about it for a while. Apartment blocks only tended to have a few exits, which would mean less to barricade and less to guard. We could block up the windows of the first couple floors just as a precaution, and then house any survivors on the floors above. Plus there stood a chance that it might have some kind of CCTV so we could keep an eye on things outside without having to get too close.
“That’s perfect. Robin-”
“Already on it, Col” Robin interrupted.
“What? I don’t want to go home! Get me as far away from here as possible!” Riley yelled.
“Riley, we need somewhere that can be easily defended. An apartment block’s perfect, plus there’ll be plenty of supplies from each apartment”
Riley nodded quietly, tears escaping from him again. I put an arm around his shoulders, not really knowing what else to do, but he pulled away from me, sniffling. I kept quiet til we arrived, and Riley slipped out of the Hummer as if he were heading towards his execution or something.
“Riley, we need your help here. You know this building better than us. We need to know where the exits are so we can barricade them”
Riley nodded, heading inside with him. Robin set to work on barricading the front entrance once we were inside, dragging a few of the sofas from the lobby over to it and getting help from me to turn them on their sides and so on. Once we were done, I turned to face Riley, who was sat down on one of the sofas we hadn’t used, his head in his hands, while his body visibly shook, silent sobs wracking through him. I almost felt bad for expecting so much of him given what’d just happened, but we needed to get the exits blocked off before focusing on anything else.
“Just around the back of the block, there’s an outside stairwell which runs from the top to the bottom…” he said softly.
We took him with us to barricade the stairwell entrance on that floor, scoping out the rest of the floor as we did it. As far as we could tell, the lobby was clear. The back entrance was just a fire escape door, which worked in our favour, but we still barricaded it as if it were an open door. Riley kept his head down the whole time, not saying anything. I didn’t blame him.
“I’m going to my flat now” he said once we were done with the door.
“Wait, we better check the place is safe, first” Robin said.
“How many floors are there?” I asked.
“Five. I’m fine. It’s only Jack… It was only Jack and me living on the fifth floor, anyway. It had just been built recently…”
“I’ll go with him and work my way down” Robin said and I nodded, watching as the two of them went off.
Well done, Colligan, you went and blew it already.