Last Stand (Part 1)
Officer James Matthews stepped into the station, having overlooked the desolate streets of his once proud city. The once vibrant city had turned into a fighting match earlier in the day. Rioters had taken to the town. At least, that’s what the official word was. Reports of strange incidents had flooded the police station, and he knew that chaos was looming. The station had already been short staffed. He had been working doubles for two weeks. Some virus had swept the community, leaving most too sick to respond. It was during the interlude between the nation accepting a pandemic and the riots that he had just started his rest cycle. He had thankfully been off when the first call went out, so when the “all hands” call came, he was fresh. The guys who had been in the streets, armored up and responding to the first riots, were already oddly jaded.
They had been recalled as the mobs began to shift or disperse. It worked like a change shift. James caught Jon Tolmich arriving at the station. Jon had been an eager officer, and an Army veteran to boot. Being a rookie, he had gotten the first call and had spent his day taking the brunt of it.
“It’s bad. I don’t think these are just riots, man.” Jon started the moment James came through the locker room. “They don’t give a damn about the properties. It’s like they are focusing on attacking people. We can’t tell the difference between those who are running and those who are attacking us.”
“I heard the tear gas barely made a difference,” James added as he pulled out his assigned riot gear.
“Nothing made a difference. Have you seen the front of the station?”
James had come in through the back, the primary entrance for officers. “No, I heard they have a couple of wounded guys up there.”
“It’s not a couple of wounded guys, man, it’s dozens. Fuckers came at us with bricks, pipes, and tooth and nail. We actually had to use lethal force several times.”
The front door banged open. Sergeant Hernandez broke through.
“Move, Matthews! We’ve got another 137 in progress.”
“Movin’!” James responded, but Sergeant Hernandez was already gone.
“James!” James glanced back as he was heading out hot on the Sergeant’s heels. “Watch yourself!” Jon said, and James only nodded as he went out the door.
James threw himself down the hall and nearly tripped over the visual assault. Jon hadn’t been exaggerating. They had made the front of the station into a triage center. Dozens of cots had been laid out where EMS medics zipped back and forth between injured officers. The types and extents of injuries that adorn their bodies only matched the variety of officers themselves.
Outside the front of the station, they had arranged a series of vehicles. Some returning, some getting ready to leave. At one of the armored riot vehicles, Sergeant Hernandez was ushering officers to hurry.
“Get it on, get it on!” The Sergeant called. “Pack’em in!”
James hurried at the tail end of the other officers loading up just as Sergeant Hernandez counted the officers onto the truck.
They barely were seated with the door shut as the large armored vehicle lurched and began to move.
As the sun began to set, Officer Matthews could sense a growing tension in the air. The radio crackled to life, and a voice filled the room. “All units, all units. Code 137, shots fired. Emergency in progress.” Sergeant Hernandez lowered the volume on the vehicle to a murmur.
“You hear what happened to Thompson?” One of the other officers chattered. “One of those psychos bit off two of his fingers. Right through his gloves, man.”
No scoffing came. It was a fact. There had been reports of cannibalistic behaviors in some of the riots, and there had been proven true by officers deployed to respond to the violence.
“I hear these aren’t race rioters, that they’re actually the sick people who have snapped.” One masked voice stated.
At the start of it all, weeks back, there had been major riots that started in Los Angeles. Officers had responded to a domestic dispute, and shot an African American man running through an apartment complex. Shaky mobile videos of the event made it appear like excessive force had been used. By the time body camera footage was released, showing the man had murdered his family and was attacking the responding officers, the riots had spread across the country.
Everything had been an upheaval. Between a new pandemic, race riots, and reports that China had closed its borders, it had created panic across the nation. Pundits spun their stories. Some accused China of another pandemic. Others hid behind stories of riots across major US cities. Some had begun to question the rolling blackouts that were happening in the Mid-West. Occasionally, someone would come forward with horror stories from China or Mongolia. Stories of similar rolling blackouts and extreme civil unrest.
“Man, shut up with your right-wing conspiracy theories.” Another retorted.
“Ok, but all I’m saying is, I got a bad feeling about this.”
“You always say that. ‘I got a bad feeling’ it’s always the same with you.” A voice mocked.
“Ok, but when you don’t make it back, I’ll tell your old lady why.” The officer joked back.
Outside the blue hour had set in. The last of the fiery sunlight faded to the soft cool colors of the approaching night.
They had not gone far before the armored truck came to an abrupt halt.
They could already hear the pandemonium happening before the thick armored door was open.
Sergeant Hernandez led them out. Two white helicopters flew low overhead in the darkening dusk sky. Screams pierced the looming night’s air.
“It’s about damn time you got here!” It was Lieutenant Lanese who greeted them. He stood center of the encirclement made of their patrol vehicles. Officers stood behind the parked makeshift obstacles as people came streaming through.
Lieutenant Lanese hurried them over to his patrol car that was the center of the encirclement. There, he had a map of the city sprawled out.
“Shield walls here, and here have broken.” He motioned to roadways to their East and North-East, respectively. “I’ve ordered this section to fall back, but I haven’t been able to raise them on the net.” The Lieutenant indicated to the Northern most intersection. “SWAT is engaged to the south. There had been a hostage situation earlier in the day and it has escalated, then engulfed into the ongoing situation the rest of the city is facing. I’ve been trying to get officers from that cordon pulled back here, but they’ve been taking fire.”
The Lieutenant eyed them. “Why are you in riot gear? Didn’t dispatch tell you the situation?”
“We’re here to reinforce your walls,” Sergeant Hernandez responded.
The Lieutenant slammed his palm to his car’s hood. “That was hours ago! Damn them!” The Lieutenant wiped his forehead from the drying sweat. “These rioters are coming at us like rabid animals. We’ve had to use lethal force multiple times! The National Guard can’t get to us, their routes have been blocked by people abandoning their vehicles in the roads. It’s just us out here.”
“They’re coming!” An officer screamed over the others from behind his patrol car. They saw where he was pointing. Down the road, it was a flood of bodies coming towards them. The stream of innocents, between them and the wave, were sprinting. The attackers tackled and mauled or beat the stragglers on the spot.
“Damn it!” Lieutenant Lanese turned back to them. “Get behind the cars. We have to hold them!”
James fell in behind a cruiser near another officer with his patrol rifle readied. James had ditched his baton and transitioned to his own pistol. None of the officers that had been there previously were carrying non-lethal. Whatever had happened before James and his section's arrival had not been communicated.
Just as the horde reached the midpoint to them, streaming white arches came in from behind James. Tear gas rolled down the street. The crowd went right through the noxious gas clouds. Bright white and gold sparks popped and banged against asphalt from concussion grenades. Still, the wave of bodies came pouring towards them.
James could see their wild eyes now. Rabid and focus only on their prey. He was looking at thousands of open maws. High-pitched shrieks called up a frenzy.
The officers around James began firing into the crowd. Live rounds, bullets. People dropped. James couldn’t bring himself to fire. Every fiber of his training told him these were people. How could he just indiscriminately fire into a crowd?
He watched as a woman was tackled by one of the pursuers. The wild man tore into her face with his teeth.
“Holy shi-” James leveled his sights on her attacker and fired three shots. His body convulsed with the impacts. He watched as the wiring between the man’s brain and the animalistic carnage could not come to an agreement. Finally, the lights upstairs went out, and he rolled over dead.
It wasn’t fast enough. Three more of the violent attackers converged on the woman. As James shifted his sights over, they had already pulled the woman’s insides out into the street. There was just enough light to see the bright glistening wetness that soaked the road.
“Fire your weapon!” The officer with his rifle screamed at James.
James shook the daze and leveled his pistol again. He too, began firing indiscriminately into the coming mass.
“There’s too many!” A voice screamed. The wave had reached their barricade.
James turned in time to see one jump onto the hood of a cruiser and planted a pipe deep into Sergeant Hernandez’s skull, dropping him instantly.
“Fall back!” Lieutenant Lanese called, but whatever cohesion had existed broke. Officers fled or were pinned down where they stood.
James started back-peddling. An empty magazine flung free from his pistol as he worked to reload.
The officer nearest fired his rifle, but the psychos had breached the center of the encirclement. As he fired over the cruiser two took him from the side. One rammed a blade up under his ribs. His screams were quickly cut off as another sank its teeth into his lower jaw.
A shotgun blast cleared the two off the dying officer. Lieutenant Lanese stood next to James, shotgun pumping out the empty shell.
“Run! South! Run!” Lieutenant Lanese screamed at James.
They ran. The sound of piercing sirens and dying screams behind them.