Sequel to TRANSMISSION
John had always been impatient. He hated waiting. Not just the “Oh I can’t stand waiting around” type of hate, but the physical, makes you want to punch a wall in anger, hate. He just couldn’t stand the thought of waiting around for anything. If he needed something, it had to be straight away. He would order fast food all the time instead of going to restaurants. It meant he didn’t have to wait for his order to be taken, the food to be cooked and then brought to his table. Also he hated waiters. The name gave it away, WAITers. They wait on you, and John hated waiting. If he had to catch a train he would work out down to the second when he would be able leave his house so as to arrive at the station with a few minutes before the train would leave. Of course this sometimes meant he would be late, miss the train and have to wait for the next one, which he hated.
But that was then, and this is now. John thought back to how he never believed he would be doing what he was doing now. He edged slowly along the side of the building, each footstep taking an age, carefully placed so as to make as little noise as possible. It had taken him nearly ten minutes to walk the twelve-foot from the edge of the building to near the door. For dead things they had amazingly good hearing. In fact, from what he had observed of them, most of their senses were heightened to a point of almost super human ability, especially when it came to locating food. He had taken this on board when they had decided to search the small airfield. The place was only a few hangers, an office, fuelling station and control tower with two runways, but there was a helicopter sat by the fuelling station and that could their ticket to freedom. He had told his wife Amy, and the other three, Matt, Oliver and Kurt, who they had picked up several weeks ago, to wait by the van. This was a one-man job. He was dressed in green army camo gear he had removed from a dead soldier. Oh how he had loved doing that. They had come across the bodies of six dead soldiers a few days ago and raided them for supplies. As well as the clothing they had managed to loot several ration bars, some basic medical supplies, two handguns with a few spare magazines of ammo and three grenades. Of course things weren’t that simple. John had to strip all six bodies in order to find something that fitted and wasn’t to badly torn or caked in dry blood. Then some zombies, possibly the ones who had killed the soldiers, had decided to make an appearance and the group had to use up several rounds of the ammunition in order to escape. But it was a good find in the long run. John was hoping that the camo gear would make him invisible enough that the zombies wouldn’t be able to spot him at a distance. Also he had come to the conclusion that zombies could actually smell the living. He had seen one of them follow him round a house, despite not having any eyes left. He had stood at the back of a room, not moving or making any sound and watched as the zombie first walked pass the door, then stop and move its head from side to side before walking into the room and heading straight for him. The only thing he could conclude, after turning its head into jelly, was it could smell him. Either that or it’s hearing was so good it could detect a heartbeat over at least 20 feet. In order to try and mask his smell John was currently covered in bits of rotting flesh. They had bumped into a roamer as they were checking out the airport from a distance. It had been easily dispatched and John had decided to use the corpse to hopefully disguise his natural smell. He had rubbed the corpses hand over as much of his bare skin as he dared, being careful to avoid any cuts or open wounds that could allow the infection to transfer to him. To add a bit of extra security he had torn off a few strips of the decaying flesh and placed them in all the pockets he had, which being military gear, was a lot.
Which brought him to this moment, wearing a dead mans clothing, covered in pieces of a dead man and moving as slowly as possible so not to make a noise. Although he couldn’t see anyone, or thing, in the immediate area, that didn’t mean the buildings were clear. And why was the helicopter left abandoned? Maybe the pumps were empty and the pilot, not being able to re-fuel, had just left it to go on on foot. But honestly the helicopter was a bonus, as there was another reason they were here. They had heard a transmission on the vans radio as they were driving. They hadn’t been going anywhere in particular, just looking for a petrol station that wasn’t in a populated area. Matt had been flicking through the static that was on the radio, something that really annoyed Oliver, and had come across a repeating signal, something about a safe location. They had listened to the message over and over, repeating the same coordinates. Then at eleven o’clock an actually message, not a recording. There was someone alive and in a safe location. Apparently there were two ways they could get there, either by road or air, both presented problems. They had the means to drive there, but according to the message they compound was surrounded by hundreds of the undead. They would have to find a way to get past them first. The easy option was to fly in, but where could they get a helicopter, and who would fly it. Oliver had mentioned he could fly if needed, so one thing was sorted, now they just needed to stumble across a means of flying. It seemed to good to be true when after a few more minutes of driving they saw a sign pointing to the small airport only 5 miles away. Maybe someone was looking out for them. They honestly didn’t expect to find a helicopter, they really only wanted to find a radio and let this Marcus person know there were other survivors and that they would try and get to him somehow. So when they saw the machine sat next to fuel pumps the excitement was hard to contain. Of course they airport looked deserted, but after the one zombie attacked them as they were doing their recon, it was a safe bet that there would be more down there somewhere, or even the pilot who could be both hostile and armed an not take too kindly to people stealing his helicopter. It was John who had argued that he would be the one to check it out. He would rather not go down into an unknown area, with who knows how many of the things shuffling around, covered in rotting flesh and only 8 shots to protect him, but it was either that or wait in the van until the all clear was given, and John hated waiting.
The only building left for John to checkout now was the office block. The hangers had been easy to check. They were empty bar a few pallets and empty oil drums and John could see all the way around them by just standing in the entranceway of each one. The control tower had been a bit unnerving, as he had to climb up a thin spiral staircase. He had visions of sticking his head up over the floor at the top of the tower and looking straight into a decaying mouth as it closed in on him, but luckily enough the building was also empty. He did find a few old newspapers dating back to before the event. The front-page headlines were all to do with the prime minister accepting a bribe. Under one of them was a story about a viral out break in Devon, which had already killed over twenty people. If only we’d known, John had thought. He had taken the papers as they were something to read to escape boredom, and also a few still had the crosswords that weren’t filled in. Better not get stuck he’d thought to himself, as there’s no chance of finding the paper with the answers in. The best find in the control tower was a pair of expensive looking binoculars. He’d slipped them over his neck before moving on.
So now it was time to check out the offices. He stood outside the main door, breathing deeply. He had looked through all the windows and could see nothing, but that didn’t mean the building was empty. He couldn’t see every part of the building and he was sure there would be cupboards to hide in and desk to hide under. No point putting it off he thought to himself, and with a solid kick, opened the door. He took a step back and waited for a few minutes, all the time his eyes on the open doorway. After what seemed like an eternity, but was no longer than two minutes he decided he had to go in. He didn’t really want to, but he wasn’t going to wait any longer. He smiled with inner pride that he had been able to stay in the same spot for so long. Holding his gun in his left hand he walked up to the doorway. He reached out with his right hand, grabbed the doorknob and quickly stuck his head in, looked around and pulled it out again. Now he knew the immediate area was empty he took a step in and quickly switched the gun back to his stronger right hand. He remembered how Chris had first shown him how to enter a room his way. Kick the door in, arms straight out in front of you with both hands on the gun, walk in the room and do a quick sweep with the gun in front of you at all times. Chris had died after he started walking into a room, as he always had done, and been bitten on the arm by a zombie that had been to the immediate right of the door. A few seconds later and it might have been behind the door when Chris had kicked it in, and he would still be alive today. As it was Chris had put a bullet in the zombies head and then his own before John had even got close enough to help. From that day on John always used the safest method he could think of. Kick the door and do the horrible act of waiting to see if anything was near the door. Then grab hold of the door handle in order to shut the door if needed and quickly scan the room. Getting in the room was just the first step though. Next he had to check the whole room from top to bottom. It wasn’t unheard of for someone to have been bitten whilst trying to escape by climbing into false ceilings, then dropping down onto people unexpectedly after they had turned. John got down on hands and knees and checked the floor line. Nothing crawling along, and no sign of any legs, so far so good. After about five minutes of checking and double-checking every possible place a body, or half a body, could hide, John came to the conclusion there was nothing and no one in the building. He had however found a few items of interest. A couple of walkie-talkies and a pistol with a few rounds of ammunition in one of the desk draws. The walkie-talkies worked on batteries and still had some use in them. He would worry about replacement batteries when the time came. He also found a radio that was still working. He mad his way back out of the office building and moved into open space so that Amy and the others would be able to see him and waved his right arm in the air three times, the code that would let them know it was all clear and safe. Waving his left arm three times meant there was trouble and to run for it. Confident that the other would be here soon he went and checked out the fuel pumps by the helicopter. He pulled the leaver on the first one and squeezed the handle gently. Fuel started to pump out of the nozzle and he quickly stopped. He tried the other two and the same happened. So there was some fuel at least, and hopefully enough for a few hours flight. He made his way to back to offices and went straight to the radio and switched it on. Checking his watch he saw it was neatly one o’clock. Cutting it close but still on time.
“Hello? Is that Marcus?”
The others arrived in the van just as he was hanging up the receiver. He walked out the office to meet them outside.
“Anyone for dinner in a few hours?” he asked with a smile on his face
Amy jumped out the passenger side and ran up to hug him but stopped short.
“If you expect me to go anywhere near you you’d better get rid of that smell.” She said.
John had become so used to it he had forgot the rotting pieces of flesh that occupied his pockets
“So what’s the plan now, mate?” asked Oliver.
“Well,” replied John, “I know there is some fuel in the pumps, so Oliver and Kurt should start filling up and checking the helicopter. Matt if you want to double check the buildings in case I missed anything useful and I’ll get changed into my good clothes.”
“Sir, yes sir!” said Matt as he pulled off a mock army salute.
The three guys went off on their appointed tasks and Amy walked John to the back of the van.
“So you think this could be the solution to our problems?” she asked him
“For a while anyway.” Replied John shedding his camo gear and slipping into a pair of tatty jeans and white shirt. “It’ll be nice to actually rest easily for a few days, but you know I’m not the kind of guy who’s happy to sit around in one place for any length of time.”
“You hate waiting, I know”
“I just think if we end up staying in one place to long we’ll become lazy and lower our guard. In this world you have to be ready at all times. A safe place may keep them out, but it can also keep us prisoner”
“I know, I know. But promise we’ll at least think about staying for longer than a few days.”
“Ok, after we get there and see the place we’ll discus it. For all we know it could just be a cardboard box in field surrounded by barbwire.”
“But you promised dinner.”
“We will be the dinner!” John joked.
“So how come you know how to fly one of these things?” asked Kurt.
“I used to be a member of the coast guard.” Replied Oliver. “I only took a few lessons but it seemed easy enough. I can take off and land well, and once I’m in the air I’ll be able to get us where we need to go, just don’t ask me to dodge any incoming fire, or perform any stunts.”
They reached the helicopter and Oliver went to the pumps.
“What you need me to do?” asked Kurt
“Check inside the bird.” Replied Oliver. “I’m hoping the keys are still inside. If not there’s no reason to start fuelling it as we’ll never get it started.”
Kurt went up to the passenger side door and pulled. The door opened more quickly than he expected causing him to fall backwards, which made it easier for the zombiefied helicopter pilot to land on top of him. Oliver turn round just as the pilot bit a chink out of Kurt’s cheek. Kurt’s scream was more like a gurgle as the blood and saliva filled his mouth and leaked out of the hole in the side of his face. Oliver pulled his gun and aimed at the pilot’s head. There was a chance of hitting Kurt, but Olivier knew there was nothing he could for his friend anymore. He fired of a single shot and looked on in horror as the shot ricocheted off the pilot’s helmet harmlessly. Kurt let out another gurgle scream as the zombie bit off two of his fingers on the hand he was using to push its head away with. The gunshot had brought John and Amy running over. John aimed with his gun and took the shot.
“NO!” Oliver shouted, a fraction to late.
Again the bullet ricocheted off the pilot’s helmet but this time, instead of harmlessly bouncing away, it went straight into Kurt’s eye. There was still enough velocity behind the bullet to drive it though the back of his eye and into his brain. The zombie carried on eating its no longer struggling meal, ripping a huge chunk of flesh from Kurt’s shoulder. Whilst its mouth was full Oliver ran over to it and pulled the helmet off. The zombie didn’t seem bothered about Oliver or its helmet and went back for another bite of Kurt.
“God damn son of a bitch!” growled Oliver and he kicked the zombie in the face with his borrowed, size nine army boots. The zombie rolled off Kurt and landed on its back a few feet away. Almost as soon as it had stopped rolling it sat up. Its nose was just a crumpled ruin in the middle of its face, and broken yellow teeth fell from its rotten gums.
Oliver screamed something neither John or Amy could understand, ran towards the sitting zombie and aimed another kick right at its head. His foot connected just under the creatures chin sending more teeth flying and causing its head to slam back onto the concrete landing strip. Thick black liquid started to leak from the back of the zombies cracked skull. Oliver stood over it and positioned his boot in the air above its head. He paused a second, breathing heavily, before lower his foot back to the ground.
“No.” he said. “I’m not going to dirty my boots with filth like this.”
He walked over to where he had dropped the pilot’s helmet, picked it up and walked back to the twitching zombie.
“I really hope you things feel pain.” He said as he brought the helmet down with all his might. There was the sound of metal hitting bone and more black liquid splattered the surrounding area. Amy turned away, hiding her face in John chest as Oliver kept bringing the helmet down on the zombie’s head, over and over. After John had heard metal hit concrete three times he walked over to Oliver and grabbed his arm in mid swing. Oliver looked at John, angry tears in his eyes and sweat dripping of his forehead. John just shook his head and felt Oliver’s arm relax. The helmet hit the concrete one last time as Oliver released his grip. There was almost nothing left of the zombies head.
“You missed a first aid kit.” Said Matt, walking up to the others, with no idea what had just transpired. “Not like you at all John…. Oh”
Matt stared down first at the remains of the zombie, then his eyes moved across to Kurt.
“Is he?” he asked.
“Yep.” Replied John.
There was silence for a few seconds
“Well it means the fuel will go further now there is less weight in the helicopter.” Said Matt
“Let’s fuel up and get out of here then.” Said Oliver, now he had got his breathing down to a regular pace.
And that was it. The period of mourning was over. They had all seen it. If you dwell too much on fallen comrades you were likely to join them soon. It was a harsh fact to learn, but one you had to learn if you wanted to survive in the modern world. Each of them would pay their respects to Kurt in their own way later, when they were safe. Amy would cry in John’s arms and John would comfort her, letting his grief out through the act of hugging her. Every time Oliver killed a zombie, Kurt’s name would be on his lips. And Matt would carry on as if nothing had happened. He had lost a lot of people in the nine months since the initial outbreak, and knew he would probably lose a lot more in the future. Maybe when, or if, it was all over he would sit down and take time to grieve, but for now he had to keep his mind sharp.
Before fuelling Oliver checked the helicopter, but there were no keys in the ignition. Could Kurt’s death have been for nothing? He went over and checked the pockets on the pilots flight suit, finding the keys in the trouser pockets. At least some things were going right.
“All aboard.” Oliver said after finishing fuelling, and the remaining four survivors climbed into the helicopter.
“About time.” Muttered John. “We’ve been waiting here far too long and….”
“You hate waiting.” The other three said together. John just grunted his response.
As the helicopter took off, Oliver looked out of the window at the two bodies on the runway.
Goodbye my friend, he thought, staring down at Kurt.
The helicopter flew off towards the promise of safety and food, although not one of the people on the helicopter could possible know exactly what that meant.