Monday, May 19, 2008

Brutes and Ladders

The threat of injury means nothing to the undead. If I were surrounded by normal people a feint with my paper-cutter/machete would make them back away or flinch. These creatures pour on, climbing over one another in the vein hope of a meal only to be struck and killed. They have no regard for one another and treat each other as inanimate objects. If one is to slow the others surge past, when one falls the others stomp right over the top of the fallen. They make little sound. They occasionally let out a moan, or rub up against one another. The damp cloth scrapes together as does their flesh so they sound like a box of worms.

I back up away from the fallen cart. I am surprisingly calm, my brain picks out target areas on the creatures. The only parts I can hit are the head and the base of the neck, the knee and the wrist. I try to make sure everything is a headshot, but have to resort to a few knees, when the creatures fall, several others topple over them and I gather some much needed breathing room. I keep walking backward as I lead the conga line of undead in a circle, slowly backing away while I check behind me, and clubbing anything that cones near. I fight for possibly a minute to a minute and a half when I hear a loud crash.

I look over to the scaffold and see the men have lowered a large aluminum ladder. They scream for me to make my way to it. It’s not very difficult right now to do so; I cut a few down on the legs and sprint. The moment I touch it one of them screams, “Don’t climb it, just hold on!” As I grasp it the creatures are ten feet away. The urge to climb is great, but I see that four large men are pulling up the ladder and I rung by rung. This quickly makes sense, I might be shaken from the ladder or it may fall if I was left to climb it, they just took us both out of the street at the same time.

They pull me over the side and I am out of breath, the wound on my side has opened up again and it is bleeding through the shirt. “Wish I could offer you some water,” Mike says smiling. I start to get up and he tells me to rest, that the scaffolding is perfectly safe and that they are getting the first aid box to look at my side. I start to protest, I say it is fine, but he assures me that we should look at it.

The guy who comes down says that he is a paramedic, someone who came here looking for solace in the first few hours of the crisis. I tell him not to worry, I didn’t get bit, and he shrugs, “it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’d be infected if you had been bit.” He uses a pretty comprehensive medical kit to bandage my side. They help me stand and we look over the edge of the scaffold and see the creatures reaching up, all of them still with an undying relentlessness to capture a meal.

I ask the paramedic what he means; everyone I’ve watched get bit has turned pretty quickly. Mike is standing nearby and responds, “We had 4 people come in on the second day of the whole mess. They came running by and asked to be let up. It was a police officer and three civilians. He had brought them up from the subway, where they had been chased out of. They all got attacked in the stairwell to the subway and every one of them was bitten at least once. We told them that we would let them stay but they had to be quarantined until we made sure they would be fine. They all agreed. We locked them in a room with a couple of hammers and left that floor for four days. When we came back down and Rick the police officer was the only one left alive. The others all had obviously turned and then quickly dispatched. Our medic here checked him over and found four bites that punctured the skin, all of them infected, but he was fine.”

“I’d like to think I’m still fine. I got a little sick, but never changed into anything like that.” One of the men who helped pull me up says as he points out to the street.

“That turns everything around for me. I had thought it was highly contagious,” I respond.

“We aren’t quite sure why he hasn’t been affected,” the medic replies, “There are a lot of possibilities, and this isn’t my area of expertise. He could be immune, he could have been bitten by someone who has had the virus mutate inside of them, or there may be a period of time in which the virus is contagious in a victim, and he got lucky enough to get bit an infected victim that was no longer contagious.”

“Well getting that water aught to be pretty easy then…” I say with a smile.

“Yeah. Fuck that” Rick chuckles.

“I have a plan for that,” Mike cuts in,” we just need to keep these creatures away long enough and we can build the scaffold out over the water, then we can use plywood to cordon off that area, pull up the floor here and gather the water. We just need a way to get them off the water.”

“Well if you build it up around some of them, the ones that are left inside should be easy pickings.” I say.

“How! You going to climb down into a tiny area and whack them to death with your makeshift sword?”

“Fuck that,” I say looking at Rick. “All we need to do is get something to stab them from up here; can we sharpen any metal poles? We can make pikes and just kill them easily from up here.”

Another member of Mike’s crew pipes in, “Hey foreman, we got that 12 foot rebar upstairs, I can possibly sharpen up that and that should be long enough to hit from up here.”

“Good idea, get Dave and Joey and get to work on that.” Mike says snapping into foreman mode, “Let’s get Robby, Tony, Mac and T.J. down here right away to help me set up the scaffold. If we hurry we can get that water up here by nightfall.”

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