Last Stand (Part 4 Conclusion)
Updated: Nov 12
Sergeant Williams and Specialist Nisbet dawned their helmets and night vision as they stood at the main entrance to the Capitol. Jacob and James were waiting behind them, strung tight with tension.
“When we move, we move together and we stay tight.” Sergeant Williams explained once more. “Everyone takes commands from me. No talking once we get out these doors.”
With nothing else to say, the men all nodded in understanding.
Jacob raised the shutters and unlocked the doors. The men threw themselves out into their fates.
Officer Jon Tolmich had been at the epicenter as things went from bad, to worse, to totally societal collapse. He had been on duty when the first call came out, in that he was lucky. That was when they truly suspected it was all riots, and to some extent, it was. Mostly, it was people fleeing in terror. As the afternoon heat picked up, so did the violence.
They had rotated them out. They needed to rest, and many of the officers had been injured by the early attackers. Jon had thought it was all bad then, how sorely he would trade those hours for now.
Some of the officers that had been injured had experienced normal wounds. Stabs, bludgeons, a couple of burns. They were fortunate. Their sanity, their human element, remained intact. The less fortunate came in direct contact with the diseased people.
While a defensive perimeter was being established outside on 7th Avenue, the symptoms began to spiral out of control for the wounded it held at the front. One officer had started it all. He began to scream. His gasping breaths only provided more air for screams. The silence only came when he finally tore his vocal cords. By then, the violence had swept the front halls of the Police Department.
The officers that had been at the front desk and near the metal detectors of the main entrance were quickly overwhelmed. Officers had to storm in from outside, but their rush only added more potential victims to infect.
By the time the carnage had ended, their already depleted force was further crippled by what Jon guessed was fifty percent. Jon helped get the new wounded to the conference near the front of the building. Lessons learned, they cuffed the injured this time.
Jon wasn’t sure what could be worse. Looking his friends in the eyes as he cuffed them, leaving them feeling betrayed and trapped, or being tasked with moving the dead out of the building.
But that had all been hours ago, and the day had only gotten worse. With fewer living officers, their perimeter continued to shrink. They had been completely pushed away from Monroe Street, and could barely hold on to the gates that secured the parking lot around the back. They had created a wall of vehicles blocking the intersection of Ponce Way and 7th Avenue. The wall was full of gaps, which they used as firing ports. Since the moon had come out, as far as they could tell, the back of the station that faced Lake Ella Drive had been quiet. They knew that did not mean it was safe. Swift darting figures that were silhouetted by the moonlight indicated it was as treacherous near the lake as it was in the streets.
The officers had barely had time to think or talk through the strategy. They were being pushed, and anytime they adjusted, the infected tried an alternative approach. It was like playing a terrible game of chess where they were trying to keep pieces while their opponent could just refresh their pawns at will.
Jon wasn’t sure how long into the night it was. Then a fireball lit up the night sky. Over their makeshift vehicle wall, it was impossible to tell what it was. They knew it had come from the intersection at 7th and Fernando Drive. A gas leak maybe, but that wasn’t their concern. The moment the explosion went off, a shriek followed through the air. Hooting and howling descended on them. Waves of bodies had come crashing in, gripping their isolated fortress in a vise of flesh.
Somehow they held, and that left them with a handful of officers. Unable to hold the streets any longer, they collapsed into the building itself.
The conference room was out of the question. As they had expected, every officer inside had turned and was tugging at their cuffed wrists. Some had gnawed through flesh and bone to free themselves like wild animals. They chained and locked the doors, trapping the feral officers in their dark room. It didn’t stop them from snarling or howling, though.
That also cut off one of their avenues of escape. Not that Ponce Road was safe, but they no longer had an Eastern exit. The front was out of the question as well, since they had pulled inside. The infected, unlike mindless zombies, had not tried to swarm the building, but they knew they were being watched.
That left them three exits, all of which led to a cage. Their West exit took them to the short end of the parking lot. They could see the back of a gas station there, and it had been a congregating spot for the infected between assaults. The last two exits both went out North into the large section of their parking lot.
With so few of them left standing, they decided to lock and chain the main entrance. No one wanted to stand guard there, anyway. The floor was slick with blood and rubbish from the struggle that had occurred there earlier.
“Anyone seen the Chief?” Jon had asked.
“Yeah, he’s in the conference room howling at the moon.” One of the other officers answered dismissively.
Jon felt the burn despite the happenings of the last 24 hours. It was like every time they asked where someone was, or what their status was, they all knew the answer. It was pointless to ask anymore.
Jon was heading back to lock their two southern entrances. None of the infected had scaled the fence yet, but they all knew it was only time before they tried.
As he walked, there came a pounding from a locked door. The room was one of their interrogation rooms.
“Someone! Let me out!”
Jon opened the peep-box on the door. A weathered, gray-haired biker stood on the other side. His dull green eyes backed away at seeing Jon.
“Finally!” the burly leather clad man said. Jon knew the man. Not directly, but from the man’s reputation. Mick Donohue was a leader of a bunch of scoundrels that called themselves Asphalt Renegades. Their small want to be a biker gang wasn’t to be overlooked. Mick was a suspected cop killer. “Let me out of this hole.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Mick came back to the peep-box. He leaned against the door. “Kid, what’s the point? I heard the fightin’ out there.”
“You’re in there for a reason.”
Mick snorted. “Yeah, and I think you can tell this isn’t a jail cell. You’re just keeping me trapped like a rat.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Ok, officer, while you think it over—what corner do you want me to take a piss in?”
Jon licked his lips as he looked away. He knew to a degree the man was right. He wasn’t officially being held, and even if he was, Jon wasn’t sure it made a difference anymore. They needed people, even if they weren’t law abiding officers.
“Why are you in there?” Jon asked.
Mick rested both of his thick, burly arms around the peep-hole. His bandana clad head leaned in. “Because I’m an old man in a lifestyle where men seldomly grow old.” He snorted again. “Listen, kid, if they get into this station, it won’t matter if I’m in here or not. I’d rather not wallow in my filth, starving to death.”
“I’ll let you out, but you stay near me.”
“I’ll be on my best behavior. Scout’s honor.”
Jon released the handle and opened the door. The burly man stepped out into the hall. He looked up and down and saw they were alone.
“Way worse than I thought.”
“You don’t want to go for a late night stroll, that’s for sure.” Jon retorted. “Come with me. We need to lock the back doors.”
They didn’t get far before his radio squawked at him. His heart sank, thinking it was an alert that they had been breached and there was an attack.
“Any units in this station, Officer Matthews, requesting assistance, over.”
That’s James! “James, I read you. What’s your 10-20?”
“Just crossed 5th Avenue, on foot, heading for the station.”
“Ok, we’ll receive you,” Jon broke from the radio. “We’re going to get back to the front and get these guys in.” He said to Mick.
They started towards the front again. Please don’t have a ton of those things out there.
The two soldiers had stopped at the far end of a bank’s parking lot. The bank had been vandalized and not a single window was still intact. The soldiers had chosen to stay up in the hedges along the back fence to watch the area as James made his transmission.
James had to admit, hearing his buddy Jon on the other end was encouraging. He was glad his friend was alive, and that he’d be seeing him soon.
James gave thumbs up to the guys, indicating they could move again.
Sergeant Williams stood first. James and Jacob followed next, and Nick took up the rear, watching for unwanted followers.
The short path took them to a wide opening. A cul-de-sac. In the dark with only the milky moon to give light, James could see the Sergeant hesitate at the wide opening. He took quick steps to lead them further to the left, up against the rear of a long industrial looking building.
James knew only from his time in the city that this long building was the back to several other businesses. A smoke shop, a pool hall, and a nursery that had long been out of business.
Sergeant Williams passed the large air-conditioning units, then came up to an open door on the other side. He crested around slowly, watching through his green tinted world of night vision.
As James came to pass the same door, he saw nothing but darkness from the inside of the pool hall.
Nick closed the distance as the last man. He too slowed and watched the door as the obvious closest danger to them all. James was watching ahead, trying to mimic the Sergeant's movement.
“Contact!” Nick called out just as an inhuman shriek came from the open door. He fired quick successive shots into the dark with his rifle.
The buildings and trees around them erupted in hungry cries.
“Move!” Sergeant Williams called over the shots.
Their small team bolted through the back of the businesses. The Sergeant came to a sliding stop on one of his knees just at the curb of 6th Avenue. From their left, over the cars of Monroe, came bodies seeking them. The Sergeant worked the bolt on his rifle as fast as he could acquire targets.
“Down the road!” Jacob pointed to the right. James and Jacob ran as Nick caught up from the rear. More pursuers coming up along the route they had just vacated.
Nick slapped the Sergeant’s shoulder. “Last man!” He cried out, a signal it was time to move.
“Get out of here.” The Sergeant barked back.
The nearby Leon pub poured bodies out. Even their military firepower could not slow the horde.
James looked back in time to see the Sergeant had ditched his slow bolt-action rifle. Attempting to transition to his pistol, a clever wielding manic sank the blade into his shoulder. The two went tumbling back as more bodies swarmed him and became a mess of limbs and snapping teeth.
They were coming up on a business flower shop when a wave of bodies came crashing around the road ahead.
Nick pushed James and Jacob to the left. “That way!” Nick planted himself to fire at the nearest attackers.
Jacob led the way up between the flower shop and a pest control agency.
A shrieking woman with matted hair came screaming around the corner.
Jacob cut a lateral from her. He fired his Barretta. The 9mm rounds punched canisters to her chest in quick succession. Still, the woman pursued. The fourth round dropped her just inches from grabbing him.
“Keep going!” Nick screamed as he pulled up next to them.
The trio broke out from the back of the businesses to a short road. At the end, they could see 7th Avenue, and the front of the police station.
With quick feet beating the ground behind them, they had no time to take in the relief.
Jacob stopped to fire at more infected that had slipped over a fence to their right.
Bright flashes were coming out from windows of the police station. Bright orange and red muzzle reports. Two men stood at the front. One firing as another waved the men in.
“Come on!” Nick called back to Jacob. Jacob had slowed to reload. In the short time to get the magazine up, infected had converged on two sides on him.
Nick stopped to fire. Even his rapid shots couldn’t step into the flow that had cut Jacob off. Cut off, Jacob tried to double back only to find the crowd had come pouring in from behind him. He tried to juke, slide, and tumble across the asphalt. Jacob couldn’t scream before the first maw sank in on him.
James was still running as Nick caught him.
From James’s right, over a makeshift barricade of emergency vehicles came a fast runner. Nick had pulled ahead and didn’t see the attacker. James turned, backing up as he fired. The runner went down. Too late, James felt a curb at his heels. He went fumbling back, planting himself hard on his back.
He saw the mindless faces coming. “Fuck.” James felt the pressing coldness in the pit of his bowls.
Before he could comprehend the faces, a thick hand yanked him up.
This is it. I die here.
It was a burly biker of a man instead. They ran back to the station. Jon and Nick stood at the steps, firing as fast as their weapons would allow.
The four piled through the front of the station. Jon worked to slam the door behind them, but a face jammed through the door. The blood-soaked mouth worked like an excavator. Nick jammed his muzzle into the face and fired a string of rounds. The face caved in and the door slammed shut.
Jon locked the door as bodies and instruments beat against the outside.
The halls of the tight building became a drum of violence. The other officers were still under attack from the wave that had followed them.
“We ain’t holding this building.” Mick growled.
“Where can we fall back to?” Nick asked.
“We can try to fall back upstairs.”
“And trap ourselves?” Mick growled. “We need to get out of here. Get to your arms room and pull tear gas out.”
“Tear gas doesn’t stop these freaks.” Jon rejected.
“I’ve seen it. They run right through it.” James confirmed.
“Yeah, kid, but tear gas is combustible. Let these crazies have the building and we blow them out. C’mon we ain’t got time to argue.”
Jon and James exchanged a short glance, and James nodded.
Listen to the fighting, we don’t have time.
“All stations, hold the line, were working to get us out.” Jon transmitted to the other officers that were still firing from various ports around the building.
“We… overwh-” Someone tried to transmit back. They didn’t need to know the entire message. They could hear it. It was breaking in through every window, it was clawing up the walls. It was howling for them in every corner of the dark.
Jon took them back to the weapon’s room. Usually, it was locked up, highly secured, but the last few hours had left it exposed and barren. Jon pulled up several thick black Pelican style cases. Releasing the latches, the insides were lined rows of gas grenades.
The shooting from around the building told them what was happening. The shooting was becoming sparse. The few shooters were becoming more and more rapid, the sound of desperate situations right before death.
“Take them all. We need a lot for it to combust.” Mick said, pulling out several of the canisters and clipped them to his belt.
“Where are we going?” Nick asked.
“Out the garage.” Mick explained.
“The streets are packed.” James stopped.
“Motorcycles. I know you have a fleet of them here. We can weave between them and the cars.”
“This sounds insane.” Nick said flatly.
“You hear that?” Mick pointed out into the air. The shooting was dying down. There were maybe two locations the shots were coming from. “We’re trapped. This is our last chance.” Mick grabbed a shotgun off the rack and began loading it. “It’s time to get out of this death trap.”
“Are you even sure this will work?” Jon asked as he clipped the last of the cannisters to his own belt.
“It’ll work, I’ve seen it.” Mick reassured.
As they started out into the hall, the worst case happened to them. They realized they could not hear anymore shooting. The sound of bodies beating against walls and soft shoes and feet plotted against the tiles of the interior.
“Come on, we need to hurry.” Jon started forward towards one of their garage.
Rounding a corner, a flash of flesh and gnashing teeth seized Jon with clawed hands. They couldn’t get a shot that wouldn’t endanger Jon, as his screams matched the tearing of flesh. Mick snatched the infected up by the collar and tossed the crazed man. Nick fired booming, deafening shots in the short hall.
Jon twitched on the ground, but they weren’t twitches of the living. A large section of his throat was missing as blood pooled, slicking the tiles.
“Where’s the garage?” Mick yelled. The sound of more infected could be heard storming the halls.
“Follow me!” James darted ahead.
A boom from the shotgun behind him could be felt in his sinuses.
James held the door open to the garage. A squad car and two bikes were lined up on the inside still. The garage shutter doors were still open.
“Keys are in the control station!” James pointed Mick in the direction as he pushed past him.
Nick popped the first gas grenade into the hall. Just as the noxious fumes started to rise, more faces came into the hall, hunting for them.
Nick raised his rifle and began to fire. The mound of dead quickly piled up.
“Hurry!” Nick said over the screeches as he recharged his rifle.
James pulled the pins on the on grenades as fast as he could and rolled them into the hall.
Nick was getting pressed back by the infected. Nick kept firing, kept recharging his weapon. “Last mag!” He called out. Now against the cold door of the garage, neither of them saw the individuals in the oncoming mob but only the faceless, amorphous mass of sickening human flesh.
James had used the last of his grenades as Nick ran empty on his rifle. The last dead came pushing him back. James went tumbling back down the steps into the garage. Nick tried to transition to his pistol. His back hit the ground. His head and neck pressed up against the door, propping it open. The fumes of the tear gas was seeping out, choking him under the weight of the corpse on top of him.
He felt someone on top of him, but he couldn’t see past the awkward angle he was at. He pressed his pistol into what he thought was his attacker’s chin and fired. A spray of blood and brain matter coated him and the body slumped over, pinning him down as more began to trample up on them.
Mick had started the two bikes and rushed to help. James clambered back to his feet. Together, the two men stormed up the few steps. Nick screamed. An infected woman was slashing at his exposed stomach with a long blade.
James fired his pistol into the woman, curving her backwards. He grabbed onto Nick’s gear and tried to tug him out from under the bodies.
Mick pressed back and stuck his shotgun through the door. The fumes from the gas was burning their eyes. They all began choking coughs that squeezed their chests.
Mick let loose with the shotgun that ripped apart an attacker’s arm, nearly shearing the arm off completely. With the blast came a soaring heat. The gas ignited from the blast.
Ungodly cries of animalistic pain rose with the roaring fire. James nearly lost his grip on Nick as he went flying back down the stairs again. His own weight had luckily dragged Nick with him.
Mick went tumbling down, patting out a flame that clung to his jeans.
The door into the station was an inferno. Trying to look at it was worse than opening a blazing oven.
James dragged Nick out into the garage and propped him against the building. Deep lacerations stained his uniform a dark, almost black, red.
“I-it-it’s bad.” Nick mumbled over his wound. A shiver rocked his body.
“Yeah, yeah it is.” James didn’t know what else to say.
“They’re coming!” Mick pointed out the garage to the West fence. They were finally trying to climb over.
“Go.” Nick tried to reason.
“I’ll get you on the bike.”
“N-no. G-go.” Nick pushed away James’s hands.
“Kid, we gotta’ go!” Mick called over the roar of the motorcycle’s engine as he revved.
Nick did a brass check on his pistol, and nodded to James.
“Good luck, man.”
“Just, get.” He mumbled.
James mounted his own bike. The two men peeled out of the garage and roared for the East gate. They stopped short so James could open the gate.
He tried not to look back. He could hear Nick’s pistol firing. He could hear demonic shrieks between the shots.
As he pulled open the gate, he was aware the shots had stopped. He remounted the motorcycle. Mick pulled out on his first.
James followed, cutting a hard left, weaving between cars.
It was impossible not to see the swarm that had taken over the parking lot. The blaze that had started to consume the station cast the formless mob into a dark silhouette as the two men raced away into the night.