1 Chapter 1 Dead Rising
The car swerved hard and just narrowly avoided the burning vehicle in the middle of the road. The raven haired driver was barely able to spin the steering wheel back and keep the vehicle on the street. The corpses of the dead, torn apart by teeth and bullets bled a burgundy read that blended poorly with the concrete grey sidewalk. He drove like a man possessed. But then again, not everyone had some creature that looked human attached to the car's rear bumper.
He applied the brakes and executed a sharp turn, the force of it pushing him back in to his seat. But the dull sound of bone breaking beneath the tires of his car was reward enough for the moment. The driver's eyes were as dark as his hair and those same eyes shot a glance towards the fuel gauge. The metaphorical glass was half empty, like the gas tank - a clear reflection of how the afternoon had turned out. Sweat beaded and trailed its way down the side of his face as he focused on getting to his apartment and the firearms. He muttered trying to convince himself, "Zombies only exist in fiction. Zombies don't exist in reality!"
He knew that whatever these creatures were their human appearance was pure deception. Almost four days in to the "crisis" or "epidemic" or whatever the various governments of the world were calling it, but he had witnessed the carnage first hand. He had been on his way out of the hotel for a cigarette break when they had swarmed the street and then punched through the plate glass window and doors in to the hotel lobby. The creatures were covered in blood and oozing bite wounds that did nothing to slow them down. Knives of broken glass rained upon the creatures and everyone else, mingled with shouts surprise and shock that quickly turned to those of pain and suffering. He had been standing by the elevator and was lucky. The doors had opened and he'd run inside along with several others as those caught out were consumed as part of an all you can eat buffet. Dumb luck saved his life as the doors closed and dumber luck had his car parked with ten steps of the elevator in the employee parking lot located underground.
Outside, one of the creatures tackled an unfortunate pedestrian. He had a moment to shout in confusion and horror before his throat was ripped open by teeth backed by inhuman strength. The driver's uniform Hawaiian shirt was sweat soaked along the spine and under the arms taking on a dark blue hue. He had come to America to try and start life anew after the disaster of a personal life he had left behind in Europe. The city of Portland in the state of Oregon was supposed to be a second chance.
With no pursuers, he slowed and pulled his cell phone in the hopes of reaching somebody. All he received was the message of aggravation for a third time, "All our operators and networks are currently busy. Please hold the line or try to call again later. We apologize for any inconvenience caused." Not a good sign. America was the land of opportunity and for him; it had meant the possibility to fulfill a lifelong dream, of actually owning a weapon. He had gone beyond simple gun ownership, and was in possession of a small arsenal. All he had to do was get to it. Cautiously, he pulled his car on the sidewalk, until only a three foot gap between his car and the front of his apartment building remained. The shining sun and brightness made things seem marginally better, with nothing and no one but him upon the street.
A hand ran through his close cropped hair as the engine ticked over as he scanned the street in front and behind. Relief rushed through him at the peace and serenity of his surroundings. From beneath the driver's seat rose the over-powerful large bore Israeli patented .50 Caliber Action Desert Eagle. It had been one of the first things he had done once he had arrived and settled in to the apartment that the human resource had arranged for him. He had gotten his gun license and racked up an impressive number of hours with different categories ranging from pistol to shotguns and hunting rifles. A gut instinct told him that his weapon proficiency was to be put to the test.
He worked the action and chambered a round before popping the glove compartment to pull a trio of spare clips that he jammed in to his pocket. He paused and pulled pulled the license and registration in to an opposing pocket, "Just in case," he muttered. A final check of his mirrors and he slid from his car, running towards the door of the building. Sporadic gunfire and the wailing of sirens reached his ears, and he would later swear that there was moaning or groaning coming from very close by as he barreled through the building's front door.
His own footsteps were the loudest thing as he slid across the lobby in to a scene from hell: Blood trailed along the floor with accompanying handprints smearing the walls. The overhead lights threw pools around the mailboxes and the intact, a good sign he supposed. His mouth dried as something pounded hard upon the doors of the elevator, from inside. That gave him pause, especially since you only had to push a button to open the doors. He scanned the narrow corridor like space and dragged the wooden bench across the tiled floor.
A calming breath later, he slapped the button and scrambled back over his barricade. The doors chimed and slid apart smoothly, even as he adopted a standard firing stance that would have made his instructor proud, right hand supported by the left, barrel straight and level, allowing him to aim down the crude sights. The occupants of this particular corner of hell emerged, the man dressed in business attire and sported a jagged wound that ran from one shoulder through clothing and flesh, terminating where the heart should be with his throat destroyed. Its female counterpart was in jeans and a formerly pristine, skin tight pale blue halter top soaked with blood from a massive stomach wound that dripped half congealed blood and a torn out neck. Ungodly demonic sounds emerged from their damaged vocal cords as they charged. Their forward momentum was broken as they ploughed hips first in to the bench, the creature simple minds unable to process the "how" of clambering or pushing the obstacle out of their path.
Many are terrified of the noise made by any firearm or had never trained with a weapon. But when it came to large bore hand guns like the famous Desert Eagle, its trademark roar meant that people flinched as they squeezed the trigger. This caused even the most carefully aimed shots to go wide of their intended target and was commonly referred to as the "Magnum Flinch." Fortunately, he had spent more than enough time to correct this defect, firing three shots in to the wall of semi-living flesh.
The gunfire was near deafening, the first bullet smashed in to the woman, ripping through her right shoulder as the second smashed in to her neck and out the back tearing through the spinal column before the third exploded her skull. She fell and he shifted his aim, like a tank turret, his hearing half gone, but his hands steadier as he planted two bullets high in its chest, knocking it back in to the elevator. It bounced off the far wall of the elevator, its chest fully ventilated to the environment as it surged forward yet again. This time, his bullet found its mark, blowing the creature's face and the top three inches of its head across the walls.
The inside of the elevator was coated in a mix of blood and grey matter, and he surveyed the carnage with a grim smile as he pushed the thoughts about the residents of the building lying at his feet. He hadn't known them personally which admittedly, made it easier. Killing someone you know is infinitely harder than killing a stranger, even if that stranger was human and its current interests only involve dining on ones entrails.
He agonized for a few moments, taking the time to swap out his near empty clip for a fresh clip, the spent clip going in to his back pocket. Twenty-one bullets, four floors of hell and he opted for the elevator in spite of its recent interior redesign. He pushed the bench to the side, mindful to avoid getting blood and offal on his hands before stepping over the bullet ridden corpses. Punching the button for the fourth floor, he held his breath against the stench of death and the coppery tang of blood.
After what seemed like an eternity, the doors chimed and opened. Nervous, he leapt in to the hallway scanned left and then right and exhaled with a sigh of relief. Quiet and peaceful with no blood upon the whitewashed walls or corpses upon the carpeted floor as he ran to apartment number forty-one at the end of the hall. The keys slid from sweat soaked fingers and it took him a moment longer than it should have to retrieve the keys and even longer to unlock the door with trembling fingers. Finally he slammed the door behind him, engaging both deadbolt locks. Casting a critical eye over the door, he jammed a chair beneath the door knob and took a breath, only then realizing that he'd been holding his breath for at least a minute.
He needed a drink, and the only thing apart from water was American beer that was pretty close to water but still ice cold. What he needed the most was ice cold to calm down and rest. Popping off the cap with his teeth, he took a long pull as he made his way through the living room, pausing only long enough to grab the remote control of the arm of the sofa.
The television would hopefully give some reasonable answers but the news proved to be less than encouraging. All the local channels were displaying the beginnings of a press conference at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. They had no explanations but plenty of theory and unsubstantiated conjecture about recent events taking place the world over. He flicked the channel in contempt, only to find a press conference from the White House with the video having been spliced showing images of the same situations throughout the world, in China, Russia, even Australia. It seemed that all of the worlds politicians, doctors and scientists its seemed, would be unable to put the world back together again, "Nobody knows what the fuck is going on, or what to do," he thought even as he continued to channel surf until finally he found some answers on a local channel, showing a Gill Grissom lookalike demonstrating how to kill the creatures, now semi officially tagged as "zombies," "walking dead" or simply "undead." A gunshot echoed from the television, "They do not feel pain and will keep coming at you. Shoot them in the leg and they slow down," On screen, the figure turned towards a second zombie, "Shooting any zombie in the torso will knock it back," clearly demonstrated as two bullets punched in to the creatures chest, sending it sprawl. Gill paused, turning his attention back to the first zombie, that moaned and clawed its way across the ground towards him, its knees caps destroyed, "The only way to kill these things is to destroy the brain," he fired twice in to the face of the creature and it stopped squirming. "Shoot them in the torso to knock them off balance. A leg shot will slow them but the only way to kill them is the head. Always aim for the head. Anywhere else and it's your own ass."
He shrugged and changed the channel again. Even in the cool air of his apartment, he found himself shaking slightly. He had done the right thing, killing those two things downstairs but he still grimaced at the memory from hell, and knew that it would be difficult getting sleep in the next few weeks or months. Sleep was not something that came to him easily anyway. A government official came on screen and he paused in his channel surfing, "…cal rescue centers and gathering points have been established by police and the National Guard. For the downtown district of Portland, the closest center is Pioneer Place Mall…."
"Shit, I drove past that place to get home!" he laughed, although it was a dry humorless laugh with a tinge of insanity. He brushed off his clothes and went in to his bedroom, pulling out several different cases, numerous holsters and slings and a large backpack. Opening them revealed a lethal plethora of weaponry, that he took the time to clean and check, "It's party time!" he was talking to himself, the first sign of madness but personal madness would probably help cope with the insanity plaguing the city, and the rest of the world.
He took his time, double checking every weapon and chambering a round and then adding another round to the clip to give him an extra bullet. In to the backpack went spare ammunition, two changes of clothes, a few devices for picking locks that he had bought over the internet and the small but well stocked first aid kit from his living room. A fridge full of condiments but no food could have been embarrassing if he had ever had company. He stuck two half liter bottles of water in the bag as well. Hefting it, he was satisfied that he could move and shoot pretty well with it as he double checked his wallet, staring at the picture there for a moment, from a happier time and carelessly stuffed his wallet in to his back pocket, ready to confront the outside world.
He stood at the door of his apartment, looked out through the peephole, and found it to be clear and as quiet as when he had first arrived. He stood, taller than most people at just over six foot two inches in height, in reasonable physical shape considering his job as assistant executive housekeeper at a four star business property kept him running all day.
Pulling the door open, he closed it and locked it shut behind him. That gave him a momentary pause… it was a habitual thing and who knows? He might come back here someday. The echo of engines came from the street and he risked a quick glance out the window. It was a military convoy; a national guard composed of a single truck sandwiched between a pair of humvees with men at the roof mounted fifty caliber machine guns, with several men aiming out the back of the truck as well. The convoy had attracted some attention, but it was a fairly controlled situation as the guardsmen had no problem applying extreme prejudice as the running zombie horde was merciless executed by machine guns fire, leaving a wake of fragmented corpses. Voices reached him and he spun with ease even in steel toe-capped caterpillar boots as his hands flashed to his thighs and rose up with a matching pair of matte black Glock 18C with high capacity magazines thirty round magazines attached to them.
It was almost cinematic as farther down the corridor; locks were undone and thee door swung open. Two individuals stepped in to the hallway. The gentleman was clad in a well fitting business suit and the woman. She was dressed for the occasion in comfortable clothing with flat shoes, cradling a shotgun with the pommel of a katana possibly was visible over her right shoulder. They didn't moan, or shamble towards him and it dawned quickly that they were human. The National Guard had departed and apart from the now corpse strewn street his car was still parked down below, "It is going to be an interesting ride," he mused to himself.
Cautiously he lowered his guns, and she did likewise as they exchanged brief nods before the best dressed amongst their group spoke up, "I saw the armed forces outside! They're here to save us! If you people want to play hero, don't get me killed. I'm going to join up with the military that are trained to handle such a situation!"
He turned and bolted for the elevator as the rest of them, fell instep behind him. It seemed as if she was about to lead the way outside when he called them back, "It was a drive through, not a rescue convoy. We're on our own for the time being."
The distinguished looking gentleman was obviously rich, and also very conscious of the fact that his sheer wealth had allowed him to make powerful friends. He looked over the pair of them, and realized that they were not exactly his friends. "Well then, if the army has gone, we should do exactly as we have been instructed and proceed immediately to the shopping mall Pioneer Place as it is the closest evacuation gathering point." He looked at the two of them and like a leach, lunged on to her arm. "You've got to come with me. You got to keep me safe," he looked over at the raven haired man, "I know that you both can do that. I don't want to die."
The man was actually starting to ramble and Cameron turned away from him for a moment, frowning in disgust, "You have any weapons with you? Or any idea as to how you are going to get there? Call me crazy because I think walking would be a bad idea" he growled.
"The Morrison Bridge is a couple of blocks away. Once we cross that, it's a straight road to the mall," her voice was calm and controlled, and judging by the blood upon the sword she carried, she had already done the necessary to survive, "But we should get acquainted first."
"Cameron," he replied, leaning against the wall, holstering the weapons as leaned against the wall and crossed his arms, "Cameron Hunter." He looked out the window again, and dropped away from it quickly, "Company! Stay down and shut up!" he hissed.
She moved over to the window and risked a glance out, "At least twenty of those things out there. Name is Jaira, Jaira Coltquist," she ducked away from the window, offering him an outstretched hand. He gave it a quick shake, "Got a plan?" she asked, almost whispered to him, nervous about the undead horde moaning its way as it passed along the road outside.
"Stay alive," he replied, even as the second Glock reappeared is his left hand, "We wait for those bastards out there to move along before we make our downstairs and out to my car. Then we can worry about how to get over that bridge, if we can keep ourselves safe for the time being, we can worry about getting to the mall later." He turned to the last member of their group, "Got a name?"
"Sir Steven James Rehnquist," he paused to catch his breath, "I am a Professor of Political Science and a visiting scholar from Oxford, currently giving guest lectures at Portland State University. I demand that you take me with you and get me away from here," he finished the opening lines of his speech.
Cameron cut him off before he could carry on with the rest of his obviously prepared and rehearsed speech, "Shut up!" he snapped, "Get your shit wired or else you are going to wind up worse than dead!" snapped Cameron. They watched, carefully, making sure to only leave themselves exposed for several seconds as the procession of undead make their way down the street, turning a corner and then vanishing, "Now that we don't have to worry about them, my car is parked next to the door downstairs," he answered the obvious question, "Keys are in the ignition." He changed the subject, "You know how to use that?"
She gave an evil looking smile, "Yeah. I know how to use this katana," it gave a clean hiss as it left the scabbard, "Thing was just a display piece until I managed to sharpen up the edge."
Cameron had noticed the dried blood upon the blade but had kept silent about when a fist descended upon the fire escape door that lead up to their floor, accompanied by a mix of moans and groans. The sound of broken glass was accompanied by that of splintering wood as a trio of the undead spilled out in to the narrow corridor. Steven was terrified as he turned tail and attempted to run, nearly falling over his own feet as he did so.
Jaira tensed for a moment and dropped in to a defensive stance, the blade held horizontal over her head, one arm outstretched in front of her. Cameron eyes, if anyone bothered to look, would have betrayed a momentary fear, before his hands flashed to his hips and rose with a gun in each hand, aimed down the length of the corridor, as the frail door finally splintered and gave way under the barrage of blows. She snapped her head towards him, and hissed, "No! You'll attract more of these bastards!"
He gave her a look that she would come to know well, a mix of irritation and infuriation as he snapped on the safety and slid them smoothly back in to their holsters. From an inside jacket pocket, he pulled a pair of gloves on to his hands before drawing the dagger from its sheath at his waist. Jaira charged forward as she ducked below the outstretched arms of the first zombie, the business end of her blade stabbed in to the throat of the second in the narrow confines of the corridor as she twisted her wrist. By extension, the blade also turned and ripped through the side of its neck, semi dry blood oozing like drool for a moment before the creature toppled. She spun the blade and stabbed downwards through its head before squaring off against the third.
Cameron sidestepped the clumsily aimed blows, and grabbed an outstretched forearm throwing the creature off balance, his free hand lunged forward, the knife tip plunging through the skull. The creature's face went slack and he pulled the blade and kicked the corpse against the wall.
He turned to find Jaira wiping off her blade, having decapitated the last of their opponents, "Let's get in to cover in case more of those things decide to show up." She bent and wiped down her blade upon the ruined shirt of her most recent kill, taking care to get as much off the blade before she returned it to its sheath, "Steven," she said with a sigh, "Get off the floor."