Hammering echoed across the space as Noah and I breathed hard from the fight. I wiped the sweat from my eyes and saw the kid that had opened the door. He was similar in age to Noah and me with black hair and doe brown eyes. He was pretty cute, if not a little dirty. Next to him was a girl, also similar in age to us in dungarees and a fierce look on her face. She also had a crowbar in her hand.
“I’m Alex, and you’ve already met Noah,” I introduced myself.
“I’m Adam,” the boy replied, “This is Rach, erm, Rachel,”
“Thanks for letting us in,”
“Not much of a rescue party,” Rachel looked the pair of us down. I stood up, my back bristling a little.
“We’re not on our own, we’re just the scouts,” I fudged a bit.
“What’s going on? Are you OK?” Mac’s voice sounded over the radio.
“We’re fine, Mac, we’ve found a couple of survivors that have rescued us,” I replied getting strange looks from the pair. I tapped my ear to show them the earpiece I had in.
“Is there anyone else?” Noah asked, and the pair shared a look.
“Look we’re the good guys, we can help you, and we have medical facilities,” I told them trying to gain their trust.
“There are seven of us all together,” Rachel replied. I realised Adam was taking his cues from her, “We moved here about four days ago,”
“Were you at the police station?” Noah asked.
“We were, with a couple of other people,” Rachel replied as she led us through the warehouse of the building then we entered the staff lounge. I immediately noticed a makeshift security centre with some screens showing off the back door and alleyway. Then I noticed the pregnant woman, who looked almost ready to pop.
“What’s going on Rach?” A broad-shouldered football jock demanded.
“We have some visitors,” she smiled broadly at him; I could tell she didn’t like the boy. He reminded me a little of Larry, tall with good looks that he used to his advantage.
“What do you mean visitors?” He growled.
“Stand down, Bastion!” a voice grunted. I looked to one of the sofas and saw a man in military gear. Brown eyes watched the scene shrewdly. I realised he was wearing a pilot’s flight suit, his name Dennison marked on it. My eyes flicked up to the rank slides taking note he was a Flight Lieutenant before seeing the ripped trousers leg and congealed blood around the edge.
“You’re in charge here?” I directed my question to the girl, Rachel, as all the others seemed to defer to her.
“Well, I sort of had to,” she shrugged but didn’t take her eyes off us. A young black woman leaned over the pregnant woman, mopping her brow, and another boy seemed to be hidden behind the computer screen.
“I’m Alex Walker, and this is Noah,” I told them, “We heard a plea from here and came to rescue you. How have you survived the last six months?”
“We’ve been resourceful,” she replied with a hint of a smile, “But we’ve not seen anyone in a long time, how have you survived?”
“We were holed up somewhere,” I answered guardedly then turned to the pilot, “But I thought you were a Staff Sergeant?”
“I wasn’t sure how secure the line was, I got blown out the sky by some Alien motherf-” a pointed glare from Rachel stopped the black man mid-sentence, “I’m Andre Dennison, I’d get up and shake your hand but as you can tell,” he waved his hands in front of his leg.
“I understand that,” I told him nodding, “We also came for supplies, as we’re running a bit low,”
“How do you expect us to get out of here?”
“I’ll find a way out of here,” I told them, thinking the problem through.
“Have you been moving around the last six months?” Noah spoke up, “We didn’t think anyone had survived,”
“People can be quite resourceful; I bet some have bunkered down,” Noah and I heard Mac say over the radio.
“When the invasion began I was in school,” Rachael spoke haltingly, “ There was a group of us, but only my brother and I survived. Then I met with Ashley and Alyssa before Bastion joined us. We had several more with us when we reached a town close by called Davis by its locals. Some of the younger girls were taken, and others were killed,”
“They found me a couple of weeks ago, and we made it to the police station,” Andre added.
“I’ll need to look at his leg, but I think I can heal it,” Mac told me.
“Adam met us there, “she gestured to the black-haired boy, “But we were attacked and lost another three before we made it here. We thought everyone else had been killed.”
“So are they really Zombies? Or Vampires?” Noah asked, and I forgot he hadn’t heard our conversation with the scientist. Before I could speak, a head popped up from behind the screens.
“Zombies! Like Romero Zombies, but we call them Mouldies or the Boylesque zombies we call Hoodies,” a wild-eyed blond boy spoke excitedly.
“My brother Jamie,” Rachel rolled her eyes.
“No one calls them Hoodies or Mouldies,” Bastion sneered, reminiscent of Draco Malfoy from that old Fantasy film.
“They do too!” Jamie snapped back like a child.
“Cut it out, you two, I’ve had enough of your arguing today,” Rachel snapped at the pair of them and Jamie went back to his screens, while Bastion stalked off.
“Do you mind if we look around?” I asked, getting a sceptical look from Rachel, but then she nodded. Noah and I looked around the storeroom it was half empty, but there were still plenty of canned goods there. We pushed through to the main store itself; it was gloomy as the light came from the shutters at the front. Surprisingly the shop still seemed to be well-stocked after six months.
“What are we going to do about the survivors?” Noah asked me quietly.
“We can’t help them,” Larry’s voice came across the radio.
“I think we need to help them,” Mac argued.
“Are you back home now?” I asked Larry, realising I had begun to think of the Mountain as our home now.
“Yep, with some horses,” he returned, so he must be in the control centre now.
“Why can’t we take them with us?” I asked.
“We’ve barely got enough food for us, and we’ve got 100 more coming in the next few days,” he argued.
“They are seven fucking people, they’ve survived six months, so the least we can do is help them,” Noah answered vehemently. I stared at him; he had never sworn like this before.
“How will you get them back to the mountain?” Larry returned, not backing down.
“Mac, can you switch to the secure line?” I asked, stepping away from Noah.
“I’m on a secure channel and in the Watch Commanders office,” came the reply a few minutes later.
“What’s your opinion on the matter?” I asked my oldest friend.
“That woman looked like she was about to pop, she needs some medical facilities, and the pilot could well have an infection. We’ve got antibiotics here. I could probably help,” she answered hesitantly.
“I think we need to get them back to the Mountain,” I answered, thinking of ways to get them back, “OK switch back to an open channel and let me look around,”
“No problem,” was the reply. I worked my way back to Noah, who looked at me assessing me.
“We’re going to try saving them, but we’re going to need to have a look around for a way out,” I told him and the control centre, “Tobi, I need you to see what the situation is out there,”
“No problem, boss,” I heard the grin in his voice. Noah followed me back to the staff room.
“Rachel, is there a back way out other than the route we come in?” I asked her.
“Sure, on the other side of the building a door exits to another small alleyway, which is fenced in,” she answered, her face looked gaunt after sleeping rough for six months.
“OK. Tobi, Mac, Larry, I need an exit strategy for seven civilians,” I spoke over the comm system.
“Bloody hell, why not try eighteen civilians?” Larry asked sarcastically.
“I would like it to be before nightfall,” I added, looking at my watch and realising it was almost midday already.
“Jesus, you are trying to perform miracles today,” I ignored him, indicating to Noah to follow me. We moved through the warehouse where I took note of a ladder but ignored it passing through a door into what looked like a warren of offices on either side of the corridor. We skipped that though, in favour of the fire exit door, this must be the exit that Rachel meant. I pushed through the door.
I was immediately assaulted by a fat Mouldy, pinning me against the wall. Rotten teeth snapped a few inches from my throat as I fought to get my hands free of the fat body. I could smell the fetid breath as it washed over me, making me gag while I stared directly into his milky-white eyes. I had time to notice dried blood, which coated the lower half of the things face. I managed to get my arm free and shoved it into his throat, preventing him from getting close to my own throat. The man’s weight kept my other arm trapped against my chest so I couldn’t get my gun free. A black object cut across my vision ramming into the creature’s skull.
It instantly collapsed, the body sinking to the ground. I had no time to think as I slammed the door closed as I got out my gun, checking the immediate area for any signs of creatures. I quickly roamed through the office but found it all clear. When I returned, Noah was cleaning his Ka-bar.
“It’s quite secure,” I told him sarcastically. We laughed loudly, almost with relief. I looked at Noah, grabbed him, then pulled him to me kissing the other teen. His eyes widened, but he immediately kissed back. I then realised the camera was on so released Noah smiling at him, “I, erm, thanks,”
“Yeah, no problem,”
“Tom thinks he has an idea,” Tobi’s voice interrupted us without emotion in it. I’m going to be in trouble when I returned, as I knew how jealous he could get. I was already in trouble for ignoring him for three months.
“Go ahead, Tom,” I replied casually.
“At the rear of the shop is a loading area, it has a dump. We could bring the Bedford round and get you from the roof,” Tom suggested. I stood in the staff room doorway looking at the pregnant woman; if that ladder was the only access to the roof, she wasn’t getting up it anytime soon.
“Tobi, can you send me a view of the loading area?” I asked. A few minutes later, I had the feed from a camera in the loading bay. It was an enclosed yard with a gate across it and appeared to be free of any zombies. A raised platform allowed the truck to back onto it and push trolleys straight from the truck into the warehouse.
“Are you thinking of using the loading area to get out?” the blond boy, Jamie, peaked over the computer screens.
“I am,” I responded, so he motioned me over. I came around to the jury-rigged screens showing pictures from different cameras, “How did you manage to get electricity?”
“There was a portable generator on the flatbed in the yard, we managed to get it working,” he told me proudly.
“Nerd,” Bastian murmured. I liked this guy less and less.
“If it’s an older model, it would have worked, but I’m only guessing at this point,” Tobi added over my radio.
“There is no electricity to the yard so you would have to open the gate manually,” Jamie explained.
“That’s no problem,” I told him. He looked at me with a worried look, “Tom, bring the Bedford around to the back gate and let me know when you’re here,”
“Bring some Blankets,” Noah added.
“Larry, grab a rifle. I want you in the rear of the truck,” I told him, “Mac, I want all those older than 10, beside you, Nate and Kelly to help with loading the truck up with food,”
“No Problem, Sir,” came the semi-sarcastic reply.
“I want to be there,” Mac suggested.
“I need the three of you to stay and look after the kids. Tobi, I need you to keep monitoring from above,” I told them then turned to look at Noah.
“I want you on overwatch when I go out, but first we’re going to need food,” I told him and looked at Rachel, “Do you want to go somewhere safe?”
“Yes, as long as we don’t have to move every few days,”
“No, you’ll be safe and have food. As long as you can contribute. We’ll have to restrict you to certain places and blindfold you on your way there,”
“I can see no problem in that,” she nodded. Bastion looked like he was going to protest, but Andre gave him a look. I looked over at the two women, the pregnant woman looked tired and several months gone.
“We have a….medical intern where we live that will be able to help,” I told the two women. The black woman straightened up and smiled at me.
“I could use the help, I was a year into my training as a nurse when everything went to hell,” she told me, “My name is Alyssa, but my friends call me Aly, and this is Ashley,”
“Pleased to meet you,” I smiled happily at Alyssa.
“Oh, that will help a whole lot. She’s got more experience than me,” Mac said, which made me grin.
“Mac, our medical intern, knows less than you, she’s fifteen and did a summer program over in the states,” I explained.
“Are there any adults?” Andre asked.
“No, we haven’t seen an adult in six months,” I explained carefully.
“So who’s in charge?”
“I am,” I responded, leaving him in no doubt who had authority. He nodded, and I almost thought he looked at me with new respect.
“We need to get food,” Noah reminded me.
“Can we get some help? We’re going to need to take as much food as possible,” I looked at Rachel.
“Bastion, I want you in the storeroom gathering what you can onto pallets,” She looked at the strong youth, “Adam and I will come out into the shop, Jamie I want you to monitor the cameras,”
“Are the freezer’s still working?” I asked Jamie.
“No, the power was down a long time before we arrived, so the meat is wasted,” he replied.
“OK, let’s get on with it,” Everyone went about their assigned tasks. Noah and I split up in the main shop, taking a trolley each. Though some of the food had been taken, there was still a lot left. I found a quiet corner when everyone was busy.
“Daisy, have you got footage of the survivors?”
“I have,” was the smooth reply.
“Can you get any information on them, any background etc.?” I asked.
“I should be able to get facial recognition and find some information out,” she replied.
“Do that and send it to Nate, save the information to my personal hard drive,” I told her.
Twenty minutes later, we were filling up the storeroom by the big metal doors with trolleys and several pallets, when I got the call; the truck was five minutes away. I shared a look with Noah. He had soon scaled the ladder like a monkey.
“Rachel, can you get the Flight Lewie and Ashley ready to go?” I asked her, “If Jamie can dismantle the electrics in five minutes that’ll be great,”
“No problem,” she said, knowing what I meant by Flight Lewie. I went to the small door beside the big warehouse doors. I looked over at Bastion, who was stood by one of the pallets.
“Can you get that door open?” I nodded to the large metal shutters. He gave me a look but eventually started cranking on the manual override. I put a new magazine in the handgun then unlocked the door heading out into the yard. Outside, the sound of the truck rumbling up the road was even more defined, then the sound of reversing beeps could be heard. Seconds later, I heard the loud pops of several guns going off.
“We’ve got Mouldies and Hoodies gathering around us,” Tom told me over the gunshot. Obviously, he had heard our conversation with the survivors and taken to the slang.
“You’ve got a rather large crowd,” Noah said from the roof. I looked out of the gate seeing the creatures on either side of the hard-backed truck. On one side Larry was leaning out a window firing with a rifle and on the other side, surprisingly, was Simon shooting a gun, “Open the gates, now,”
I cracked open the box and began winding the mechanism around. Sweat dripped down my back, but I heard the gate squeaking open. The truck went past me next thing, so I stopped though I was immediately attacked by a zombie. I pushed the creature away from me, shooting it point-blank through the head. Stumbling back I turned clambering up the delivery bay.
“Nice day for a fight,” Larry said with a feral look on his face. The rear doors were thrown open. The interior was bare except for benches on either side. Already our group were beginning to load the truck up with the food. I saw Matty and Izzy pushing a trolley each into the truck starting to unload the boxes. Simon and Larry had taken a position on either side of the truck, attempting to stop any zombies from getting too close. The shooting wasn’t accurate, but they were hitting targets and occasionally getting headshots. The next ten minutes were a blur as I joined Larry shooting the zombies.
“That’s it, the food is loaded, and the survivors are in,” Izzy shouted at me.
“Larry, Simon, close the doors and give me covering fire,” I told them, “Noah, get your arse down here,”
“Yes, boss,” The engine rumbled back to life as the two boys shut the door tight, taking up positions in the windows again, giving me cover. I kept firing as well, changing the magazine as Noah come alongside me, breathing heavily. We jumped down the left side of the truck, Simon continuing to provide cover. Noah was the first to the cab of the truck, he scrambled up the stairs throwing himself in, I followed him. Something grabbed my leg, looking down I saw a half-naked teen drooling all over me trying to bite my thick boots. I slammed my foot down on his head. The creature soon fell away. Scrambling into the cab, I slammed the door closed.
“Go,” Tom immediately put the truck into gear and moved out of the yard, turning left out of the gate, “Larry, is everyone OK back there?”
“Everyone is accounted for, we have three pallets of food and a ton of other stuff,” Larry replied.
“Are the survivors secured?”
“Yes,” he answered. I settled in the cabin, feeling relief wash over me. No one had been killed, and we had the supplies. All of a sudden, I felt exhausted.
“I’m going to go a long way around so close your eyes, I’ll wake you if we have an issue,” Tom told me.
A loud rumbling woke me up, making me blink the sleep out of my eyes. We were back at the Mountain. Tom pulled the truck to a stop. Opening the door, I stepped down the ladder, walking around to the rear where Mac met me. She smiled at me as she hugged me.
“You gave us a bit of a fright,” she squeezed me then whispered in my ear, “Kelly has been hidden away since you got into town,”
“Can you help with the lady?” Larry asked. I gave Mac a quick nod, but she gave me a look back. Mac and I helped Ashley down the steps then the rest of the survivors. They were all blindfolded, so none of them knew where they were.
“We’ll take them up to medical then assign them to a single room,”
“Right this way,” Mac and everyone else except Matty, Izzy and Tom led the survivors towards the elevator and up the stairs.
“Do you think we got some good supplies?”
“Should be, we’ll get the Winter’s to help unload the food, but the other stuff is good too,” Izzy answered as she got a confirming nod from Matty.
“Thank’s Tom,” I slapped his shoulder, getting a salute in return. I went straight to the armoury, where I found Noah putting weapons back.
“The others have all given me their weapons and taken the survivors upstairs,” he told me quietly.
“Good, are you OK if I leave the weapons with you?” I asked.
“No problem,” I handed him the extra gun over and the machete, the bow was put on the table. However, I kept the Colt 1911 strapped to my thigh handing over the glasses and flak jacket. I bid him goodbye then took the stairs several at a time until I reached the medical unit. I heard voices coming from the medical ward, so I walked in.
Andre Dennison and the pregnant woman Ashley were seated on beds while the others stood around them. I passed Nate, who was standing guard at the door.
“Welcome to Fort Walker,” I greeted them, “We’re going to restrict you to Levels Four and five for the moment,”
“This is a military facility?” Rachel asked.
“Yes, the rest of our residents are currently on the sixth level. However we don’t have showers working, so we’ll come down to your level when we need showers,” I explained, “Level Five is the accommodation level, where we have seven single rooms and fours dorms,”
“We’d like the single rooms,” Bastion spoke for the first time since arriving.
“I’m sure that can be arranged,” I told them, “If you give me five minutes, I’ll take you up to your quarters, we’ll arrange for some clothes to be sent to you then after dinner, I’ll give you a tour of Levels Four and Five,”
“You’ll find a phone in each of your rooms, dial 1 for the operating board. At this moment no one is operating it, so if you dial 1113, you’ll get through to me or 1112 to get through to Alex,” Nate detailed how to contact someone. I looked at him in surprise; even I didn’t know that. I let them talk amongst themselves as I pulled Mac aside.
“How’s it looking, Doc?” I smiled at her.
“With Alyssa’s help, I’ve discovered Ashley is eight months pregnant, so for the moment, we’ll keep her up here. I’m going to move down to the Ward Nurses room and keep an eye on her and the officer,” Mac and I both looked at Ashley and Alyssa.
“Sounds good, will you be alright with Flight Lieutenant Dennison?” I asked.
“Yes, I think he needs a course of antibiotics, but Daisy and Alyssa says he’ll heal fine maybe with a bit of a limp,”
“All doors are secure, access is now via keycard except level four and five,” Tobi’s voice made me jump. I had forgotten I still had my radio earpiece in.
“Nate, Sarah, can you take them up to their rooms?” I asked the pair who nodded, then I looked at the new group, “We’ll let you get settled in then we’ll introduce you to everyone at dinner this evening,”
“Thank you, Alex,” Rachel smiled, changing her face completely. I could see she was pretty through the dirt.
As Sarah and Nate led them out explaining things, I walked back down the stairs to the command level as I heard the elevator. Simon and his brother were probably moving the food and supplies. I stepped off the steps letting myself through the doors. A couple of minutes later, I pushed through to the operations room. Tobi hadn’t heard me enter, so I watched him for a few minutes; he was watching the large screens with a tablet in hand, wearing a set of headphones with a mic on it. He was wearing his usual pair of Timberland boots with the laces trailing on the floor, and a pair of overalls hung over one shoulder. I could see a black and red t-shirt underneath the overalls.
“Two days until the group from Kelvedon turn up with so much to do,” Tobi was muttering to himself as he watched the screens.
“How is it going?” I startled him when I finally decided to speak.
“Just creep up on me will you,” he held his hand to his heart trying to glare at me, but I laughed, and he could not help smiling widely.
“You should be, I’m still annoyed at you.”
“I know I should not have ignored you, but I did have evidence you were a saboteur,” I told him.
“But you’ve known me my whole life?”
“How’re things been going here? Mac told me Kelly’s been out of view since we got into town,” I changed the subject uncomfortably, “any trouble?”
“No, she’s not accessed any computer apart from setting up a film for the kids, but I’ve been watching her on a monitor, and she’s just played with the kids,”
“Great, we’ll have to keep an eye on her,”
“You never did tell me why you wanted to watch her; Mac just said you were interested in keeping an eye on her activities,”
“I probably should not tell you, as I don’t want everyone knowing, but Mac, Nate and I think she is the Saboteur,”
“Really?” his eyes went wild.
“Yes, so we need to keep an eye on her and makes sure she doesn’t do anything silly,”
“Will do, boss,” he saluted me.
“Tobi, are you in here?” a voice called out, making me jump, and Tobi laughed his head off.
“Karma is such a bitch,” Tobi whispered.
“Oh hey, Alex, I didn’t realise you were down here,” Nate said, “I thought you would be up showering by now,”
“I come to ask Tobi about Kelly and how everything’s been going?” I replied.
“Well, I’m here to take over the watch,” the boy shrugged.
“No problem, make sure you’re back up in an hour for dinner,” I reminded him, “We’re going to be in the canteen in the Arcade to introduce ourselves to our new friends,”
“Great,” He smiled, so I left him to it.
Twenty minutes later, I emerged from my room, dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a grey camo Oakley Hoodie. I swiped my card to get out of level six following the stairs back down to the fifth level. Nate had told me where everyone had set up in the single rooms, so I knocked on the last door on the right. Rachel emerged looking fresher wearing a pair of jeans and a white tee. She had flawless skin, and her blonde hair was beautiful, I’m lucky I didn’t like girls that way or Noah would be getting jealous.
“Hi Rachel, how are you getting on?”
“I feel so much better. It’s nice to have a shower as I was getting water wherever I could,” she replied.
“It must have been hard,” I sympathised.
“It was, so what’s the story with this place?” she asked.
“Come on, I’ll show you around,” I told her taking her around the base explaining what had happened and how we had ended up down here. I didn’t reveal certain things to her as I led her into my office, “This is my office, at the moment I am the base commander and what I say goes, will you be OK with that?”
“You’ve offered us food and shelter, we couldn’t be more thankful, but I will look after my people,”
“I will never intentionally put you in harm’s way, but we have to work together and learn to trust each other in this new world,”
“I agree, so do you know what’s going on out there?” she generally gestured to the outside.
“I know Aliens invaded us, but I’ve not seen the effects on people,”
“It was horrible, I was at school at the time, but I managed to escape as they were beginning to round people up. But I’ve heard stories of camps, like internment camps, where they take young people. I know they have killed adults on sight, I’ve witnessed that,” I looked at her with horror.
“I really can’t imagine what you’ve been through,”
“So what are you going to have us do?”
“Well for the moment I’m going to restrict you all to Levels Four and Five. But I and my head of security will interview you in the next couple of days and try fit you into jobs,” I explained, “We’ve got a new group of survivors arriving in a couple of days. I want to work out jobs and schedules for everyone,”
“Survivors from where?” she asked excitedly.
“Somewhere like this,”
“Dinner is ready,” my radio squawked.
“Let me introduce you to everyone, and hopefully we’ll get on famously,”