Chapter 1 - Fort Douglas
No one I’ve talked to has ever been quite sure on how this all started, there are differing stories of course, terrorist attacks, genetic research gone wrong, disease mutations, mother natures way, some have even gone far enough to claim wrath of god. Before this all started I would have laughed at the thought god caused this. But with everything that’s happened, all of them are just as plausible, if even any. I however didn’t come here to write about theories, I have come to write the truth, and nothing but.
I was finishing buttoning up my jacket as I walked into the kitchen, my wife, Erica, sat reading a book at the kitchen table. She looked up as I walked in.
“Good Morning, how did you sleep last night?” she asked happily as she put down her book. I mumbled something incoherent, still in the process of waking up. She got up from her chair and kissed me on the cheek as she walked into the kitchen to make me some toast. I put the combat boots I had been holding in my hands on the floor as I sat down in the seat she had just left. “I think Bonnie may be getting a promotion today.” She said to me as she put the bread in the toaster.
“Bonnie?” I asked, as I pulled on the first boot.
“You know Bonnie, from work.” She replied to my inquiry as she went over to the fridge to grab some butter.
“Oh yes, well that’s nice.” I told her, still trying to wake up as I began to tie my first boot.
“It most certainly is not.” she told me as she buttered the toast that had just popped up a moment ago. “You know I have been aching for that promotion ever since Susan left last month.” Of course I did remember once she had mentioned it, but my brain was still functioning at around 35% and would be until I ate some food.
“Oh that’s right.” I said with fake enthusiasm, she gave me one of her looks but went back to bringing me out the toast. I finished tying the second boot and looked towards the toast that had just been placed in front of me. “So”, I said trying to change the subject. “I was thinking that maybe we could go out to dinner later tonight.” She grabbed her book and put it on the counter, thinking my request over.
“Perhaps,” she said smiling, “But I faintly remember you saying that you would take me to the new art museum sometime this week.” I did remember saying this, but I hated art and was trying to put it off.
“Well perhaps both?” I said, hoping to make some sort of compromise. She stood staring at me with that smirk she always gave me when she was trying to get into my head. She then pulled a fake sigh and motioned to the clock.
“Oh goodness me, you’ll be late for work, we’ll have to talk about it later.” She smiled as I got up and grabbed the backpack by the door. “I love you.” She said as I opened the door to the garage.
“I love you too.” Little did I know, it was the last time I would see my wife.
The drive into work seemed long, I worked at the newly reopened Fort Douglas Army Reserve base up by the hospital and during the last few weeks, some sort of virus had been ripping across the country, so traffic in and out had been pretty crazy. Luckily it wasn’t near as severe as other places in the country, and for the time being it seemed all it did was give some minor flu symptoms here and there, and occasionally some pretty massive headaches and fatigue. So far no deaths had been reported, but it seemed every one was too cautious when it came to feeling sick.
I approached the parking gate and scanned my card at the booth, I waited patiently as the gate opened for my car. I drove around the lot thinking that I would probably get reservations for some place nice during my lunch, when suddenly a loud horn blasted and I slammed on the breaks. A large transport truck drove in front of me as two more Humvee’s followed behind. I watched them pass thinking it was quite rude of them to be crossing through parking places like that. Then I noticed that through the hatch on the second Humvee one of the soldiers held tight to a mounted machine gun, one with very obvious live ammunition hanging down the side. It was about then that my brain clicked into 100% functionality. I than immediately noticed that the entire base seemed to be active, as if everyone was mobilizing somewhere. I quickly pulled my car out of the way and got out of the drivers seat, I ran to the main complex passing many armed men on the way, it was now very obvious the base was on full alert, but from what I couldn’t say.
“Captain Anderson!” I turned to see a young warrant officer running towards me with a clipboard in hand. He quickly saluted, giving me no time to return it before beginning to speak. “We just got word from Arlington around 10 minutes ago to begin mobilizing an evacuation of the city to refugee centers around the state. Not much more information is being shared than that, but radio chatter has hinted it may have something to do with this virus that’s been going around.” He paused for a moment as I thought of what he had just said.
“I don’t understand, how could a minor flu virus be cause for a full evacuation of a city?” I asked as I grabbed his clipboard out of his hands. I scanned the orders on the page as quickly as I could while he lead me to the command center.
“I’m not sure, it seems your orders however are for you to assist with evacuation measures at the University Hospital into transport vehicles, from there you...”
“I take them to the refugee center being set up currently in Northern Salt Lake, yeah I can read too.” I said handing him back the clipboard. “So why are we heading to command?” I asked. We walked into the main doors of the building and began to walk down the halls.
“Couldn’t tell you, but Commander Wallace wanted to see you as soon as you arrived at Fort Douglas.” We continued down the hall passing hurried soldiers struggling to get on gear as they head off to rendezvous with other squad members. The warrant officer opened the door at the end of the hall into the busy command center, tech members furiously working on radios and at computers. Commander Wallace spotted me come in and rushed over to my side, unlike the warrant officer, I skipped the formalities and went right into my questions.
“What’s the scoop?” I asked. He hurried me back to the large screen at the front of the room where maps and mission logs flashed back and forth on and off the screen. He nodded to one of the tech officers and the university hospital floor plan appeared on the large monitor.
“I don’t know too much more than you probably do, Arlington's called for a full evacuation of the largest populated areas in each state, Specifically any major medical facility that has been, or currently is, treating patients with symptoms related to the mysterious virus that has been sweeping over the nation.”
“How are these connected? I thought there haven’t been any deaths.” I said, confused as Wallace continued.
“There haven’t, not technically anyways.” He paused for a moment, picking his next words carefully. “It seems that this virus is causing some sort of extreme rage in patients infected. From what we’ve gathered here from radio chatter, The CDC in Atlanta had some sort of complication while examining a patient infected, it seemed as if for 6 minutes he, well he died.”
“You mean he died in 6 minutes?” I asked, even though I knew where this was going, I felt I needed to confirm it anyways.
“No, He died for 6 minutes, then he came back. But the patient had changed, he attacked one of the doctors, ripping out his throat with his teeth, but not before he bit off the fingers of another doctor attempting to hold him down.” It hit me instantly what he was trying to say.
“So...” I paused, also trying to be careful in my words. “This virus, causes the dead, to become, undead?” He nodded slowly. He then turned my attention back to the floor plan of the hospital, another tech officer handed me the layout on paper as well. “Let me guess, both doctors also...” He interrupted me.
“Came back to life? Yes. Now, as you have probably figured, it is contagious, by what we have seen, it is no longer contagious by air, if you don’t have it already, you don’t have it at all. Only way now is by saliva, or blood.” I nodded, understanding his words. I solemnly looked back up at the screen realizing what I was about to be asked to do.
“So you want me to go in there with my squad, and kill everyone infected?” He shook his head. For a moment I was relieved until he said,
“No, that’s Jennings job, you will still evacuate all those uninfected to a refugee point, then Jennings crew,” He motioned to a silent ranger in the corner wearing urban camouflage and carrying a black, silenced MP5, “will put down any one left.” I let his words sink in before nodding. I saluted and headed towards my barracks, where I knew my squad would already be waiting for my arrival.
After a short walk across the still chaotic lot, I entered my squads barracks, Sgt. Mason and Lt. Gordon were already working on getting the rest of the squad suited up. Mason was checking the vest on one of the reserves while Gordon was finishing up the equipment checklist, he turned and saw me approaching. He stood and saluted.
“none of that please Jacob, this is a matter of national defense, we have no time for petty formalities.” He nodded and showed me the checklist. Jacob Gordon was one of the fresh ROTC graduates I was given at the start of the month, he was good at what he did but sometimes he was a little too formal.
“It seems we are all about ready to head out, I’ve already sent corporal Maxwell into the lot to start up our first truck, I hear it’s complete chaos.” I nodded as I gave him back the clipboard. I looked around the room for a moment until I spotted lance corporal Mitchell filling medical supply bags up. He was one of the reserves taking advantage of the medical tuition offered for military members at the University, his plan was to finish college, serve his time, and resign a very happy, very rich man from the army to work as a doctor at the University.
“Mitchell!” I yelled across the room. He turned and waved me over, a slightly worried look on his face. I pushed through the bustle of squad members still loading guns and packing gear. “What’s up?” I said, the same look now on my face.
“This won’t work out, I’ve reviewed the records, out of the 423 patients, 7 are considered to be in very critical condition, from that bus crash last week, that’s not including the current occupants of the ICU, the 2 on life support and the other 3 with severe nerve injuries. There’s no way we can get them out of there with the supplies we have. We just don’t have the equipment.” I thought it over for a moment trying to understand our now more immediate predicament. “These are people's lives we’re talking about here. We need to come to a decision very fast.” I quickly counted the bags and did a mental check of what I know would be in the trucks. He was right, we wouldn’t have what we needed, we would be 3 short. I sighed and considered the options. I looked out the barracks window for a moment and noticed that one of the life flight helicopters was still perched on the roof of the hospital.
“What about that chopper? Could we pull supplies from it? Hook them into one of the trucks?” Mitchell shrugged.
“Worth a try I suppose, if we’re wrong we could lose the life’s of 3 people. I hate to say it, but we need to choose carefully on who we put in that place.” I nodded in agreement.
“Can I see the patient list?” He handed me one of his clipboards, I searched down the page until I found the two life support patients. “Do you have the monitor records for...” I read the names. “Julian Wilcox and Veronica Peterson?” He searched through more of his files and then read from the paper, knowing where I was going with it.
“Ms. Peterson’s family have been debating to pull the plug for the past few weeks, and Julian isn’t expected to come out of the coma.” Knowing what I was going to ask next, he took out a file that read ‘Neuro-Patient Records’. “Jeremy Henson, he’s one of the nerve injury patients. He’s doing much better than any of the other patients and his records show that he was to be moved to general patient housing tomorrow.”
“Alright, so unless you have any objections, I think we should move on.” He nodded and went back to filling bags. I walked over to Sgt. Mason, he saw me coming and threw me a vest. I caught it and strapped it on. I secured the Kevlar into the pockets. Mason threw me a couple of magazines already filled with M4 ammunition. I fit the magazines into the other pockets on the vest and was then handed two thigh guards with a knife already strapped into the left side. I was still in my hurrying mode and checked my watch. I remember seeing it had only been 10 minutes since I got out of my car.
I finished securing the rest of my body armor as Mason double checked the rest of the squad, I recognized a few faces, but most of them were fairly new, reserves who stayed for only a few weeks before being transferred other places in the country.
“Hey Listen up!” I yelled. The commotion stopped for a moment as I walked to the middle of the room. “Gather up guys, few things to talk about, then we’re heading out.” The group gathered around me as they whispered to themselves, worried glances were exchanged, most of them still had little to no idea the severity of what was happening in the building across the block.
“Hey, listen to Anderson, this is important, everybody be quiet for a sec so he can explain what's going on.” Mason yelled. Everyone went silent.
“Thanks Jack,” I said. “Alright listen up, hopefully most of you have been informed of the mission, but for those who haven’t, we have some pretty serious problems going on here, I can’t discuss too much, mostly because it hasn’t been discussed with me. But we are heading up the block and evacuating patients from the hospital and taking them up North to a refugee center that’s being set up by Williams squad right now.” I took a deep breath choosing the words carefully like Wallace had earlier. I opened my mouth to speak when one of the reserves said,
“What do we do with the zombies?” Immediately the commotion started again, worried voices echoed through the old wooden barracks.
“Hey,” I said, attempting to get order back. “HEY!” I was yelling again, they continued to talk however, I continued to yell, Jacob yelled as well. I was just about to give up when Mason turned to me with a modestly sized revolver,
“You forgot this on the desk by the way.” I took it from him and was just about to put it in my holster when I got an idea. I pointed the colt-python, (A gift from my brother) into the air and fired a shot. It was probably a waste of the precious 357 ammo, but it definitely shut everyone up, I’d also have to explain the bullet hole I just made in the newly finished ceiling, (Fort Douglas had just recently been reopened as a reserve base, all of the buildings had been restored and updated.) but it was worth it.
“Listen Up!” I yelled. I gave them all a look, the heavy revolver still in my hands. I had their attention once again. “I will not have that word used in this squad, and to answer your question, the ‘patients’ who are infected with this virus will not be dealt with by us. Ranger Jennings and his Crew will be dealing with cleanup after we evacuate the rest of the patients.” I started to calm down one another reserve sarcastically said.
“Oh, thank goodness we’re not killing the innocent civilians, that’s the Rangers job.” A couple stifled laughs were heard through the room. I kept a straight face and walked up to the reserve, I emphasized the presence of the gun by checking the ammo count. I didn’t plan on doing anything but I was tired of his arguments.
“You have something to say soldier?” I said looking him in the eye. He stared back at me and then looked at his feet. “That’s what I thought.” I looked back towards the group and went on saying “These people are no longer human, they are no longer there, even though they have not yet ‘turned’ that does not mean they still can be saved. I hope as much as anyone we may be able to find a cure, but for the time being there is no other way.” Many of the squad nodded in agreement, but most of them kept silent.
A truck honked its horn outside the barracks. I looked out the window and saw Maxwell and a few more soldiers jumping out of about a half dozen transport trucks.
“Alright, button up, we’re heading out.” I holstered my revolver and checked the clip in my M4 out of habit, I hopefully wouldn’t need it, but my tour in Syria had taught me to always be ready. We loaded up in the trucks while Mitchell made sure the medical gear made it into the correct trucks. He double checked assignments with Gordon and then he turned to me and held up three fingers, a silent reminder of what I needed to do. I looked towards the hospital and could just barely see the choppers blades as it sat atop the building. I jumped into the passenger seat of the lead truck.
“Lead on.” I told Maxwell.
“Sir yes Sir,” he said with an unsure laugh and a slight nervous shake of the head. “Just hold on, alright?" He said a few things on the radio and then we moved on to start one of the craziest days I ever had.
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