"And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts // And I looked, and behold a pale horse // And his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him."
In the historic downtown of Baltham, it was busy as usual for small business owners that managed to stand strong against the Zemreaft Mall and the major retailers. Even know it isn't as popular as the modern downtown, people manage to find themselves in this area. There was the well known Kennedy Square Park with its ironic bronze statue of a lion and lioness. Some of the tourists often visit the park to take pictures of the statue while visiting the old town of Baltham. And there was the classic Sweet Bay Hotel designed to look like it was built in the early 1900s despite being constructed in the early 1980s. There were many more landmarks and areas only known to the locals.
Next was the modern downtown filled with offices, technology companies, and commercial districts that rivaled any city in the West Coast. There was the recently opened boardwalk filled with businesses with the aim of making tourists spend their. Despite the boardwalk being small, it was big enough to fit the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast called Revolution. Meanwhile, one of the ferries entered the terminal filled with people from Seattle. Theodore Ochoa was one of its passengers that developed food poisoning out of the blue and it was weird because he didn't eat much. Regardless, he planned on going back home after a long business trip in Baltham and hoped it would go away after rest.
However, it got worse.
He began to sweat only a few minutes after leave the ferry. Then, the headaches appeared with enough pain to cause him to lose focus. Next, when he pulled up to his driveway, he was weak and felt like passing out at any moment. His wife was gardening outside when she saw her husband nearly falling to the ground. She dropped her tools and caught him in time. She tried to ask if he was feeling alright, but got no response other than coughing. That was when she took him inside immediately and closed the door behind her. A nearby neighbor, Benjamin Dunnings, noticed the whole thing and wondered what was going on. But he decided to go back inside to finish watching his favorite lunch time show.
About fifteen minutes passed before Benjamin heard a blood curdling scream coming next door that caught him off guard. He got up from his recliner and ran outside with a cell phone in hand to call the authorities. Once outside, he saw other neighbors that also heard the screams. Some of them had already called the authorities even know the screams had stopped. Naturally, Benjamin and another neighbor went to the front door and began knocking on it. At first, there wasn't an answer. After a few moments of waiting, Benjamin decided to kick the door open knowing that someone was in danger. He saw a lot of blood on the wooden floor that concerned him and the neighbor. Benjamin decided to investigate the house while the neighbor stayed behind.
Once inside the house, he looked around for the source of the blood and found that the living room couch was covered in blood. A bottle of DayQuil and a broken mug laid on the floor in the living room. Benjamin began to question if he should have come into the house at all until he heard noises coming from the kitchen. He called out with a sample "hello" while approaching the room. No response. Then, he heard chewing sounds as if he was eating something. Benjamin carefully walked into the kitchen and discovered Theodore on the ground eating... his dog. He couldn't believe the sight and felt like throwing up.
It was the same dog that Theodore's wife always talked about ever since adopting her a couple years ago. She loved that dog to death and now her husband was eating him like it was a piece of steak. Eventually, Benjamin had to throw up because of the terrible smell. He saw a trash bin near and threw the lid to the ground before throwing up in it. The sound of the bin hitting the floor caught Theodore's attention almost immediately. And after Benjamin was thrown his guts up, he turned and saw that Theodore was getting up from the floor. He back away for his own safety while Theodore was rising up. Then, he turned to reveal his bloody mouth and it scared Benjamin enough for him to run. He kept on running as fast as he could towards the front door to alert the neighbors of what he saw.
Before he could reach for the handle, Benjamin heard someone coming down the stairs and turned to see that it was Chelsea Ochoa with a massive bite mark on her head. It was big enough that she was missing her left ear. Benjamin couldn't believe what Theodore had done to her and naturally went to her check on her. "Oh my god, are you alright?" Benjamin asked Chelsea, who only responded with a growl.
Outside the Ochoa household, the police officers were talking to neighbors about the situation until the door was kicked open. Benjamin cried out for help as Chelsea was biting on his neck and officers rushed towards his aid. One of them pulled out a baton and started beating her with it while another tried to pull her off of him. She turned towards the officer and tackled him to the ground while Theodore was walking outside for the first time since coming home. Neighbors cried out in horror while some started filming the whole thing with their cell phones. The other officer attempted to get her off of his partner, but the baton proved to be ineffective against her. Then, Theodore fell down and nearly managed to bite the officer in progress.
The other two officers pulled out their pistols and aimed at the couple demanding their surrender. Instead, they stood up and began walking towards them. Six shots rang out and each one of the bullets hit the couple. The crowd freaked out from the gunshots and started running away from the scene. Naturally, getting hit by a bullet meant you were on the ground in pain or dead. But, something strange was happening. Neither Theodore or Chelsea was on the ground and kept marching towards them. The third officer pulled out his pistol, aimed for Chelsea's head, and pulled the trigger. That was finally when she fell to the ground lifeless. The other two officers fired at Theodore's head and watched as he also fell to the ground.
Afterwards, the third officer rushed to check on his partner and the other victim while another officer was calling for backup and medical aid. One of the neighbors had been filming the whole time and decided to post the entire video on their Twitter account. In the matter of minutes, the video blew up and started to spread all over the website. Eventually, it got the media's attention and they began covering the breaking news. And there was still enough time before lunch ended.
"What?" Jake Elliott asked his boss, Bradley Doyle, while finishing the french fries that he brought from the nearby McDonald's during his break. Doyle was a tough boss that kept his short staff in line, but he had a kind heart towards his community. It was the reason why he kept the Goodwill running for twenty-four years with his older son, Wyatt Doyle. Jake entered Doyle's office and found him watching the news on the small tv that he brought used about a year before Elliott came to work here. It was on the news and showing footage of a deadly shooting in a nice looking neighborhood.
"There was a shooting nearby. Two dead and two wounded." Doyle explained to Elliott.
Elliott threw the ironic red fries container away and looked at the screen, trying to listen to what the reporter was saying. Apparently, information regarding the victims is being kept secret until the families are notified and footage of the incident was too graphic to show. That was when his phone went off in his pocket and Elliott went to check. He unlocked it and found a twitter notification regarding an old friend from Denver mentioning him. It was a video of the incident and Elliott hesitated clicking on it until Doyle wondered what the noise was.
"Oh, a friend sent me the video of the shooting." Elliott answered.
"Show it to me."
He handed the phone over to Doyle and stood behind him so Elliott was able to watch the footage. It started off while the two officers rushing towards the man and woman. The woman was still fighting the man, despite being beaten up with a baton and another officer trying to arrest her. Suddenly, she tackled the officer and started fighting him. Then, another man exited out of the house and made his way towards the other officer. After a close call, the officer quickly retreated before two more pulled out their guns and aimed at the woman and man. The officers fired several shots that caused the person filming to run away in panic; however, he managed to capture a bit more footage.
The last few seconds showed the woman still walking towards the officers and then the video ended. Doyle let out another "holy shit" and looked at Elliott to see his reaction to the whole thing. He looked like he was going to throw his lunch up because of the video.
"Goddamn." Elliott said while trying not to throw up. "I wished that I didn't see that video after all."
"You and me both." Doyle agreed and looked up at the clock. It was one o'clock and it meant that it was working time. He got up from his comfortable chair, handed the phone back to Elliott, and said, "I suppose we will get an explanation of the whole thing later. Until then, lets try to clean our minds of that video and get back to work."
"Yes, sir." Elliott lightheartedly saluted while walking back to the counter. Now, it was a matter of waiting until work ended at four o'clock.
While waiting for Jackson to arrive, she'd turned on the TV to check and see what was on. It just happened to be on the news channel, and there was a documentary on what live was like in North Korea which caught her attention, as like many others, she had always wandered what life was really like in the Northern party of Korea. All of a sudden, a line of flashing words appeared on the screen followed by a robotic narration. "We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special report from Channel 5 News."
The flashing lights was then replaced by a scene of a rather familiar-looking home where a deadly shooting had occurred. As more footage of the home was revealed, Ruby realised why she found the house so familiar. It was a five minute walk from her home, and she usually passed by it on the way home each day. Two dead and two wounded. She wondered what had happened. They were in a relatively safe and peaceful neighbourhood that tended towards more of the upper middle to higher wealth class, and so crimes of these sort were definitely not common.
As soon as the news report ended, it was replaced with the same flashing words and robotic narration.
"We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming."
Her phone went off with a ping and she unlocked it to find a twitter notification from one of her followers. It showed the video of the shooting, and had everything the news report on the TV didn't, which was just about everything. The news only had the aftermath, while this was captured live, with the action and all that. It showed two officers fighting with a couple, and how despite all the beating that was done, the fighting did not stop. It was only after the couple was shot in the head, that all the fighting ended with the man and woman dead on the ground.
Checking Twitter, Ruby realised that she wasn't the only one who received the video, and it was not going viral, but it was trending on Twitter right now, gaining more retweets and comments by the minute. The sudden ring of the doorbell gave her a shock, still startled by the violence of the incident that had she'd just seen. Placing a hand over her heart to calm herself, she got up to check who was it at the door. Seeing Jackson's scruffy mug on the screen, she buzzed him open and opened the door for him.
"Jackson! Have you seen the video?!"
"Seen which video? I've been on my bike, not really a good time to be watching any video. Took me to get her longer than it should. Accident a couple of streets away, seems like something big happened."
"That's what I'm referring to! The video of that shooting! It's going viral on Twitter right now!"
Parking his bike. Jackson took out his phone and found the video on Twitter. It was virtually impossible to not find it at this point. It was simply everywhere! Ruby stared at him as he watched the video, wanting to see his reaction towards the shooting. He was just as mortified as she was. "I've never see anyone received such a beating and still continued on fighting like nothing happened. What's going on with our world?"
"Anyway, leave that aside. All the cycling made me really hungry. Let's go up and eat and get ready the stream!"
"Yeah, sure. It's all ready. Stream preparation's ready, although I might need to heat up the food first."
It was a normal day for Donny, the poor guy going through the parking lot of Zemreaft Mall. He had found a half-eaten sandwich, promptly eliminating the 'half' before going to a water fountain for a few sips. When he went around with his coffee cup it seemed people were paying far less attention to him than usual and it seemed even the security guards were too busy to tell him to get the fuck out. Odd, really, because he hadn't washed himself in a while and was looking particularly like a hobo today.
Hours passed and his cup barely jingled as he shook it, much to the man's annoyance. It was enough for today but not tomorrow, it meant he'd have to repeat the routine unless some Saint went over to give a bunch of tens. What had people's attention so preoccupied? It was probably school today for the kids and still work time for other folk so naturally those at the mall would only be those with either something important, or nothing better to do. Yet, he had gotten used to that and had long since been accounting for it when choosing where he would make his living today.
Deciding that was enough for today he emptied his cup into a pocket and then went to figure out what the hell was going on, even his usually careless curiosity piqued. He saw a few kids on a bench all looking at one phone. He kept hearing something on the themes of "Wow!" and "Dayum!" and assumed that he had found his mark.
"Skipping school you little pricks?" The veteran demanded, getting behind them quite quietly as creepy old men like him could. They almost scattered until he placed a grimy hand on the shoulder of the two boys on the periphery. "Don't worry, I wouldn't snitch even if I cared for your sorry little asses enough to do so. Now what the hell is everyone freaking out over?" He queried, motioning with his head to the phone. They were quiet for a little until one of them spoke up, probably the unofficial leader of the snot patrol. "Some guys got shot!" He announced excitedly, snatching the phone away and pressing play on the video. A normal little part of town that he had once even been in, so far as he could remember. Two... sickly looking people going at the cops and then they aimed and fired. The Old man shuddered with a look here and there as the sound of firearms came about, to the giggles of the teens. But the first shots didn't so much as stop the two people, which was odd. Donny survived quite a lot more shots back then but he was wearing a damn plate carrier. Ordinary people had no business walking on after eating so many bullets. He didn't really wince after they collapsed when taking a shot to the head, off the top of his head Don could only think of that girl in... Pakistan - if he remembered right - could survive something like that. Jesus.... Alright now scram, go, be the kids your parents want you to be or some shit." After the kids vacated the bench Don sat down on it for a moment, before sprawling across it comfortably. He put a hand under his shirt to feel the old bullet scars, muttering for a moment or two about what the world was coming to before drifting off to sleep.
~a meal to start the end -1:32 PM, Downtown in Ramen Cafe
Famished and dehydrated, Gideon had finally made his way to his seat, after having been in the line for almost half an hour. Lunch hour was in full swing, as the restaurant was packed from wall to wall with patrons, but something felt off for today. Instead of seeing lively faces active in a litany of conversations, many faces were all huddled together, staring into their phone screens. Gideon pulled his out, thinking maybe there’d be an obvious reason, but scrolling through his normal Instagram feed gave him no such answers. All his focus on this topic, however, dissipated when the waitress came to his table, giving him a friendly smile, and sliding a menu in front of him.
Now, to eat…
After another 10 minutes, a group of Gideon’s courier colleagues walked in, spotting him at his table and started coming over. They only glanced up at him once, though, making their way over slowly, all while staring into their phones, same as the rest of the patrons. Gulping down some water, Gideon spoke up as his friends closed the distance.
”Everyone’s glued to their damn phones today, the hell is going on?”
”Oh, that’s right! You don’t use Twitter, huh?” David asked, finally making eye contact as he sat down in the booth with him, along with Carter and Jesus.
David, a 29 year old white man, with long brown hair in a smooth ponytail doing down his back and a scruffy beard, turned his phone towards Gideon. ”This video is being posted all over the place, check it out.”
Looking down at the screen, Gideon watched as two people, covered in blood and with crazed looks in their eyes, attacked and tried to bite or maul a pair of police officers, all the while, a man with a massive wound in his neck was bleeding to death behind them, all for an entire neighborhood to watch. The belligerent woman then turned her attention to a pair of police officers, who responded by pulling guns and shooting her multiple times, to seemingly no effect. Gideon watched on, horrified at how this madwoman had taken and simply ignored multiple rounds. He’d see some disturbing internet videos, witnessed how just one or two bullets could drop even the strongest man like a limp sack of potatoes, but this woman didn’t care. She just kept coming.
Finally, as the police trained their aim on her head, she finally fell limp, the headshot draining her body of all life. Gideon sat back, taking a deep breath and a sip of water.
”Christ, that kinda fucked up my appetite.”
”C’mon, G. We’ve shown you worse than that stuff.” chuckled Carter. Carter, with his very short blonde hair, brown eyes, and red, slightly sunburned pale skin, stretched out in his seat, and began to sip the lemonade the waitress had just placed, as Jesus and David ordered their food.
”I dunno, dude, I’ve never seen someone take bullets like that. Plus, it looked like that one dude got bit or shot in the neck? What the fuck is going on in that clip, dude?!” Gideon chuckled nervously, as he took another sip of his water.
Jesus, an older, early thirties, man of Hispanic descent, with short salt and pepper hair and long, survivalist style beard, spoke up after handing his menu to the waitress.” My wife sent me that video, she said she thinks they have rabies or something.”
”Rabies? Rabies don’t make you eat bullets like that, dude.”
”Can people even get rabies? I thought that was just bats and dogs and shit.”
”Yes, people can get rabies, dude. But usually, it just makes them hydrophobic and all shaky, I’ve never seen rabies do that to someone. That’s freaky dude. Way too fuckin’ freaky.”
As Gideon’s eyes began to wander, he noticed that some of the patrons had asked to change the channel on one of the cafe’s TVs, and turned it to the news. On the channel, a Special Report was airing, covering the same video that Gideon had just watched. Apparently the scene was still hectic, and the police had cordoned off the neighborhood, and residents were on lockdown.
The table of four men had all craned their necks to watch the report, as did most of the patrons in the cafe. Suddenly, Jesus raised a pointed finger, and began speaking to the table,
”Oh, holy shit! I know why I recognize that place! That’s where my sister-in-law lives!” He dropped his pointing hand, and pulled out his phone.
”You’re telling me your wife didn’t notice that the first time around?”
”I guess not, bro. But she just texted me the same thing, I guess she was watching the news too.” He paused, with his eyes scanning over his phone for a second.”She says her sister hasn’t sent her anything yet, but she’s about to call her. That’s crazy shit dude, I wonder if she saw it all.”
”Shiet, dude, you sure that wasn’t the one taking all those shots in that video? David joked.
Jesus gave him a playful punch in the shoulder, which drew a laugh out of David. ”That shit ain’t funny, bro. But no, my wife’s sister is even more Mexican than me, she’s dark skinned. The lady in that video looked white or something. She didn’t look like my sister-in-law.”
Gideon chuckled to himself, but the table’s conversation was cut short by the arrival of their steaming bowls of ramen, which they were more than ready to dig into.
Lunchtime. It was an everyday thing for the kids of the orphanage to eat at a large table in the main dining room, allowing the volunteers to keep track of all of the younger, squirmier kids while the older ones finished their meals and helped clean. Mahrie hadn't been feeling well that day, so after a little bit of bugging, she stayed home from school and joined the rest of the kids at the table. An old, twelve-inch CRT television sat not far away from the large wooden dining table, in view for all of the children to watch cartoons while they ate. Today though, it had been turned to the Channel 5 News. The weather was supposed to be nice this weekend, so the volunteers were planning a trip to the park, but first they needed to make sure the weather would be nice enough.
"We interrupt the weather report to bring you Breaking News."
Many of the younger kids were too busy chatting and playing with their food to notice the television, but many of the older kids and volunteers looked over at the scene change. Mahrie watched the television closely, one hand marking her stopping point in her book and the other holding a spoonful of Campbells Chicken & Stars soup. She put the spoon in her mouth, her eyes glued on the television as the commentator explained details of a deadly shooting in one of the nicer neighborhoods in town. Mahrie recognized the house, the kids usually passed by it during Halloween, or stopped in the neighborhood during Christmas to sing carols.
It didn't take long for one of the volunteers to walk over to the television and turn it off, shaking her head as she walked back to the kitchen.
"People these days. What is the world coming to?" one of the volunteers asked, placing a paper towel and a piece of toast down in front of Mahrie.
"Everything the news has to show is all violence and killing. It's sad."
Mahrie sat silently for a few moments, her finger slipping from her book, as her mind wandered. She thought about the people who had lived in that home, she remembered their faces. She imagined them both gone, nonexistent from the world. What had happened? Were they both dead? The girl was caught up in a self-made trance, a little wistful at the thought of not seeing those people anymore. But before her thoughts got too far, a voice snapped her back into reality.
"Mahrie, dear, eat your soup, before it gets cold."
Mahrie blinked a couple times, looking down at the silver spoon that was resting in her bowl, barely gripped by her fingers. "Oh, sorry. I- I forgot."
"It's alright dear. Just let me know if you want more, but if you're still not feeling well, you don't have to finish it."
The young girl nodded as she glanced back down at her book, searching for her stopping point while taking another spoonful of Chicken & Stars.
The apartment’s curtains remained drawn, and whatever light came from the morning sun was blocked by the artificial night created by blackout curtains and poor living conditions. In the near pitch-blackness of the room, a figure moved, shuffling with meticulous awkwardness towards a shadowy bookstand. Hands raised up to gain balance, and a low utterance of a grunt came out of the man’s chest as he fumbled with a light switch, creating dim light in the room.
The man sighed, rubbing a hand over his face, contorting his skin as he groaned against the light, trying to find something in the mess of his room. Finally, he sat on an old sagging loveseat, covered in old blankets. The flashing red light of an answering machine begged to be checked, and he seemed to agonize for a long time before finally groaning again, making his way towards it, and pressing the “play button.”
“Daaavid!” The prolonged “a” with the almost insufferable nebbish voice made it quite clear who was trying to contact him. “How’s my favorite master of horror? Are you missing Seattle yet? Because I have some grreeat news for you!” more extended vowels and the promise of good news? It was Eddie Howell’s signature pitch; dress up the shitty deal and hope that David was too fucked up on his meds to say no. “A very cute little company out of Vancouver want to adapt The Screamers for a tv mini series! This could really do well on paperback sales of-” Click.
“Message deleted.” The answering machine voice droned on as David Marlowe slumped into a wooden chair at his small kitchen table. Eddie had spent the past two years tryting to get David out of Baltham and back to the “real world”. He always said that hiding out wasn’t the manly thing to do; and that he needed to get back into the public and get another big book published. Besides, the whole “scandal” deal was long forgotten. But he knew it had been forgotten because he had been forgotten. The moment his name was out there again, the faster the shit would hit the fan all over again. The gurgle of the coffee maker caught his ear; that must mean it was almost noon if it was boiling another pot. That meant he needed to start working for today.
“Sorry Eddie,” David muttered to no one in particular, “but there’s no way i’m going back to Seattle. Ever.” He finally forced himself up with a hearty groan, and poured himself a black cup of cheap coffee. He sipped at it, contorting his face with distaste, then carried the steaming mug to a dark writing desk in the corner of the living room. There he looked over the old IBM Lexmark his father had given him when he published his first novel. Still queued up on the page were a few...scribbles and musings, but nothing was solid. David replaced the paper, centered it; and prepared to write.
Fifteen minutes later he stood up, his hands shaking. This had been a common occurrence for the past six months: he would start a paragraph, and suddenly in the middle of it all; simply freeze. But this time had been different: it had been worse. David began to struggle to breathe as he tried to bring his fingers down onto the mechanical keys of the typewriter, and he found himself unable to think at all for a solid minute. Was this it? Was he coming to the end of his career as a writer? Would he die, here in this shitty hovel unable to even finish a goddamn paragraph?
“Fuck it,” He muttered to himself, walking over to his couch. He grabbed the remote to his television, letting the hum of the LCD screen tv flash bright vibrant light into the room. The news was on.
“-horrible accident today as several police officers were involved in a shooting-”
The channel suddenly changed to daytime soaps, then to crappy game shows, and finally to infomercials, until finally David hit the power button again, stood up and made a shocking announcement: “I have to get out of this fucking room.”
He washed, brushed his teeth, fixed his hair and threw on a jacket. For the first time in what felt like a lifetime; David Marlowe was going outside. At lunchtime.
It had been a new day at the office, but even so, her routine remained monotonous.
Ensuring that Lorraine had creme and two sugars in her coffee—she was often a snotty bitch if Noèle forgot—or that her supervisor, Bob Collins, had all his documents ready for his next meeting were but the tip of the iceberg of the same boring work day Noèle had known, yet still she found it hard to press on. Whilst the work she was assigned to were able to be accomplished with little to no difficulty, many of Noèle's associates and colleagues were often a pain to deal with. In truth, had Noèle known so many assholes wanted to sell jet skis and other water sport accessories, she would've likely skipped the application process and looked elsewhere.
But that didn't matter now; only the leftover takeout in front of Noèle, and of course, the person who she was eating with for the next thirty minutes within the bleak office break room did.
"You know," the woman spoke, stabbing a piece of broccoli with a fork, "You should smile more often, Noèle. I mean—it's not like you don't, just that you always seem so... tense. Like that you have a lot on your mind."
"Eh?" Noèle uttered, having been taken back by surprise. Whilst the woman across from her—Olivia—had become a dear friend since Noèle had started working at Wavemaster, such a comment was unexpected. The two of them were working buddies, and had seen a movie or two together in the past, but for all the time Noèle had known Olivia, it was as if she knew more about Noèle than she did herself. "You think so? I had no idea." Noèle continued, giving off an awkward smile.
"Hey, it's what friends do. We have to look after each other, right?" Olivia responded, returning the smile with one of her own. Poking another piece of her lunch with her fork, Olivia turned her head towards the break room windows; the deafening wail of an ambulance echoing off the window panes. It was a sound that the office employees had heard plenty, being that the office building was not that far from the hospital, but something seemed off today. Maybe it was the frequency, brought by some big new health scare that weird health nuts were panicking over.
Regardless, before Noèle had a chance to respond, the break room door flung open, and a nerdy-looking man with glasses flocked to the table the women were sitting at.
"Noèle; Olivia. You two have got to see this." The man announced, fiddling with his smartphone. With a press of a finger, the man turned the phone towards them, showing off the video that was now playing.
What unfolded was unnatural. Impossible. Illogical. Absurd.
"Ugh, Kevin; get that away from me." Olivia remarked, looking away with an almost disgusted look on her face. Her stomach was obviously churning just by watching the video. "You know I don't do well seeing those kind of things."
"W-Well... I obviously know that!" Kevin quickly snapped back, shoving his face back into his phone as he scrolled through the comments. "But the video is breaking headlines all over the place! You have to see it to believe it." He continued, beginning to obliviously spout off various comments left by Twitter users that had seen the video just mere seconds later.
For Noèle, however, the conversation was quickly droned out as she stared absently at the leftovers on the table. Something about that pork udong seemed no longer appetizing.
Fortunately, Kent did not have to rely solely on the colorful commentary provided by his morning crew to keep his day interesting. Shortly after Ray and Jerry had moved on to more menial tasks around the shop, a wealthy family from Texas had wandered in and inquired about his guided fishing excursions. The father quickly explained that the timing had forced him to bring his children along on a business trip and he was looking for a unique activity to ‘atone for his sins.’ While Kent had doubted the man’s motivations, he was not one to turn away a prospective customer, especially during the tourist season; he had booked them for a 10:00 a.m. launch time.
It was now nearly 1:30 p.m.
Aside from a few notable disputes from his pre-teen passengers – which the father had made no attempt to bring under control – the outing had gone relatively well. They didn’t get any major bites, such as a salmon or lingcod, but Kent didn’t really expect them to; they were far too noisy for that. Hell, they were lucky to have snagged a trout or two. And thankfully, that had been enough to appease them – another satisfied customer.
With his boat secured once more in the marina and a decent tip stashed safely in his back pocket, Kent trudged back to his shop, an equipment duffel slung loosely over his right shoulder. The bell above the door jangled when he entered, and his gaze immediately went toward the counter to find Jerry sitting casually in the corner. The other man’s jaw worked slowly as he munched on a bag of potato chips, his eyes fixed on the small television set mounted on the wall. He waved lazily when Kent passed in front of the register and dumped the bag at his feet. Other than that, he barely seemed to notice.
This, of course, roused suspicion.
Leaning forward, Kent tried to get a better view of the TV to determine what had engrossed his friend, but when that gesture still did not generate a response from Jerry, he simply shook his head and sighed. Perhaps it had been a bad idea to install that damned thing in the first place; it always seemed to cause a distraction, particularly when the Seahawks or Mariners were playing. Not that he didn’t like to see the games – it was more about principle. He was trying to run a business here, after all.
Issuing a sigh, Kent parted his lips to confront the other man, but before the words could leave his mouth, the phone in his left breast pocket began to vibrate. With a quiet curse, he fished the iPhone out of his jacket and glanced at the lock screen, noting that it was his wife. Jerry would have to wait; he needed to take this.
Swiping the screen, he pressed the phone to his ear. “Hey,” he answered evenly, shuffling around to the other side of the counter. From this vantage point, he could now see the TV quite clearly. It was tuned to a Channel 5 News report with the ‘Breaking News’ headline scrolling across the bottom.
He frowned slightly. Did that say something about another shooting? Well, he supposed he now knew what was troubling Jerry. If he was being honest, it wasn’t all that surprising for this world, not when it seemed like there was a new shooting every other day. It was easy to grow numb to it all...to feel helpless. Still, he took comfort in hearing Emily’s voice when it finally reached his ear.
“Well, there’s a surprise – I didn’t think you’d pick up,” she replied smartly, her tone holding a certain playful quality. “You usually let it go to voicemail. Slow day?”
“I took the boat out this morning for a family from Houston, so it wasn’t a complete loss.” He shrugged, his eyes still directed at the TV when the camera pulled back to show a wider shot of the scene. It looked…familiar somehow. “I was about to head out and grab a quick lunch, so you caught me at a good time.”
“Don’t eat too much,” she chided softly. “That’s what I’m calling you about – I got those reservations for tonight at McCormick’s.”
“Uh, what?” His attention was divided now, the scene on the television slowly coming into focus – the houses, the streets, the people. He knew that neighborhood; it was right here in Baltham.
“The place on the waterfront,” Emily continued after a moment, somewhat hesitant after his brief lapse. “You know, the one we’ve been talking about since last weekend...the one that was apparently booked solid when I called on Monday. We’re in – tonight at 7:30.”
“Oh, yeah...that--uh, that’s great, honey.”
There was another pause, followed by an audible sigh. “Kent? Are you alright?”
Pursing his lips, Kent shook his head and turned away from the news report, regardless of the fact that she could not see the gesture through the phone. Somehow, knowing that a terrible tragedy had occurred locally gave the issue a lot more weight. Did he know the victims? Would this trickle down to affect others operations throughout the community? There were so many variables to consider.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he breathed in a huff, his voice sounding more gravelly than usual. “I just saw something on TV...it got my attention.”
Kent narrowed his eyes, clenching his jaw slightly at her special kind of intuition. “So, you know.”
“I saw the report right before I called you. Last I heard, there were two dead, two wounded,” she relayed the information with surprising ease. “No idea about the victims yet, but I’m sure that’ll be released in time. It’s a shame.” She hesitated for a moment, almost as if she knew she was about to tread on dangerous ground. “Maybe I can even call Curt to see if--”
“No, he wouldn’t want to be bothered,” Kent countered quickly, his tone probably coming across more harsh than he intended. Even after all this time, his son remained a sore subject in any conversation. He knew Emily resented that fact, but Kent was a stubborn man; it was something she was going to have to deal with for the time being. The boy had made no effort to reach out to him, so why should he?
Sensing the tension growing between them, Kent inhaled deeply and tried to steer the discussion back on topic. “Anyway, Em, I’ll be home around six. Good job getting that table for tonight...I look forward to it.” He smiled sadly, his gaze drifting back to the television one last time. “I love you.”
In the once quiet neighborhood, news vans lined up on the narrow street while helicopters flew above the crime scene. Most of the neighbors went home in disbelief of what happened to the Ochoas while some stayed either in concerned for Benjamin or to film the whole thing. The police officers kept the press and onlookers from entering the crime scene. While the EMTs was placing the bitten man into one of the two ambulances, Officer Sofia Brown was able to tolerate the pain long enough for the EMTs to care for the critically wounded man. She didn’t believe that a person was capable of biting hard enough. And she was hard on herself for letting her guard down so easily.
Then, Brown watched as the man was being loaded into the ambulance on stretcher. She prayed that he survived the encounter with his neighbor. Some of the EMTs went to check on the officer to see how she was doing. When she pulled back to reveal the bite mark, all three of them heard a gasp coming behind them. It turned out that one of the journalists managed to enter the crime scene undetected with a camera. He managed to take a picture of the bite mark before Officer Aaron Newman spotted him in the distance. Before he could tell him to leave, the journalist was already running away from the officer. Newman ran towards the ambulance to see if his partner and the EMTs were fine.
“Other than feeling like our privacy was violated, we are fine.” Brown said quickly before Newman could ask.
Newman felt horrible for his partner after she was bitten, but relieved that she was doing fine. He wanted to stay beside her, but he had to keep the crime scene safe until forensics arrived. Before he went back to work, the officer approached one of the busy EMTs preparing to leave and asked, “Where are you taking her?”
“Wildflower Memorial Hospital.” the EMT answered. “Given the severity of the bite wound, it might be awhile before you are able to see her.”
And with that, Newman backed away while the EMT closed the door and watched as they drove away to the hospital. The other ambulance already left to a different hospital while he was checking on Brown. He was relieved that his partner was going to be alright and went back to work while the forensics finally showed up.
It was an hour ago since the video of the shooting was posted to social media. Now, they have taken them down since the video clearly violated their community standards regarding graphic content. Of course, users kept on talking about and even reuploading the footage. However, inside of a popular café, customers were glued to the restaurant’s televisions for any new information. One of the customers, a tourist from California, watched the TV while waiting for his friend to come out of the bathroom. He kept watching it until his son finally came out of the restroom, but he looked very weak. The friend was sweating and started to cough loud enough that other customers noticed. “Oh fuck, I don’t feel good.” he coughed.
“Told you that you shouldn’t have ordered that many spicy items.” The tourist responded while getting up from the table and leaving behind a decent tip. And just like that, both left the café while his friend kept on coughing. Before anyone could react to that bizarre moment, the local news cut away to another breaking news. The news anchor explained that there was an off-duty officer shot a woman after she attacked her family at Pacific Place in downtown Seattle. It was a small popular mall in downtown Seattle that people visited often. Now, it was in lockdown mode while the police secured the area.
One of the customers checked her phone regarding the incident and found a twitter thread for an eyewitness. The twitter user, lucyarts, started off with a blurry photo of a woman fighting a teenager boy. In the next post, she explained how the husband had been concerned with how long his wife had been in the bathroom. So, he asked his wife’s mother to see if she was alright. Then, a second later, everyone heard a blood curdling scream coming from the woman’s bathroom. Naturally, it freaked everyone out and nobody knew what to do.
The daughter decided to investigate the scream until the bathroom door opened. It was the mother with her mouth covered in blood. And she started attacking her daughter out of the blue. People in the food court freaked out and started running away. The user's friend managed to snap the photo before she decided to run away. While she was running, she heard shouting and screaming before several shots rang out. The video ended right after and people around the phone were stunned. The customer tried to show the video to their friends, but it was removed for violating the twitter terms.
Wildflower Memorial Hospital was one of five hospitals in both Baltham and Bainbridge capable of containing any emergency from mass shootings to extreme accidents. It was considered one of the best hospitals in the country, according to health experts. Sofia Brown was on a stretcher because she nearly passed out from all of the pain. It was all blurry, but she heard the sliding doors opening followed by overwhelming noises. And it was enough for her to pass out.
Sofia Brown awoke to the sound of tapping nearby and discovered that she was lying on a hospital bed. There were cords all over the place and saw an IV solution above her. Then, she heard tapping and her name being called out. Brown turned slowly and found that a doctor was sitting outside of her room. A portable table with papers and a laptop on it was set up beside him. He called out her name once more and waited for any response.
"Hello." Brown said weakly towards the man.
"Officer Brown, my name is Levell Holmes. I am a doctor." Holmes said while reviewing some papers. He saw that she was in a weak state and asked, "How are you feeling?"
"I feel horrible." Brown answered while trying to stand on the bed but clearly struggled. Then, she looked around and wondered where in the hospital she was located. It wasn't something that she was used to seeing whenever she went to the hospital. She asked the doctor and he hesitated to answer the question. "Where am I, doctor?"
"You are at the isolated ward due to concerns regarding your wound. And we are worried that it will get worse." Holmes responded while taking down some notes on the patient. He looked away from the notepad and said impatiently, "Now, how did you feel right after being bitten?"
"Wait, what do you mean it’s getting wor-"
"Brown, what happened after you were bitten?" Holmes interrupted her before she could finish. He knew that she was going to panic over the news, so he tried to make her focus on the question. "It's important that you answer the question."
"Answer me, goddam-" Brown shouted at the doctor while trying to get off of the bed. That was when she fell to the ground and started to cough blood. Doctor Holmes immediately got up from the chair and began shouting for help. Then, two nurses in hazmat suits came running into the patient's room to help her but it seemed too late. The heart rate monitor began beeping out of control while Officer Brown began having a seizure. Then, she flatlined. The nurses placed her on the bed in an attempt to resurrect her. For a minute, doctors used everything to bring her back to life from the hand pump to the defibrillator.
However, she was gone.
Doctor Holmes returned to the desk and started taking notes regarding Officer Brown coughing blood to her sudden death. Then, he started to pack up his laptop and clean out the table until he noticed something strange. Office Brown was slowly groaning while reaching for one of the nurse's hands. The nurse turned and was shocked to realize that she came back. He went to check on her pulse while the other nurse went to inspect the equipment for any problems. It was when he felt her neck, there was nothing. No pulse.
Before he could tell the other nurse about it, Officer Brown wrapped her arms around him and bit his shoulder. Holmes watched in horror while Brown came back from death and attacked the nurse. Meanwhile, the other nurse called for security using the wall phone in tears. Then, Brown tackled the nurse to the ground and started attacking him. Holmes was still processing what was happening in front of him. In all the years that he studied medicine, it was impossible for people to come back from death.
Doctor Holmes was in the bathroom in a state of shock for what occurred minutes ago. What he saw was difficult to explain. Nothing stopped Officer Brown from biting a security guard before it was shot in the head. The taser that the first security guard used did nothing to her as she bit that security guard's arm, leaving behind a big bite mark. Even bullets didn't stop her until one of the guards aimed for the head and fired two shots.
Suddenly, his cell phone rang out, and Holmes quickly answered. He heard a familiar voice on the line asking what the situation was.
Holmes paused for a moment and responded, "We have a problem."
Hacking and coughing, one of the two men that walked across the floor was hunched over in pain, struggling to keep up with the other as he could barely focus on walking. The pair of patrons had garnered the wary attention of many sets of suspicious looking eyes, but, finally made it out the front door and out of the cafe, and as Gideon rose from his seat, stretching, everyone turned back to the televisions along the wall. Even more news was coming up about more instances of violence around the city. Gideon was immediately drawn to it, but quickly sidestepped out of Jesus’ way, as he and the other two men all exited the booth after leaving their respective bits of tip money on the table. Even with their attention pulled in the way of the televisions, the four men had routes to return to and packages to deliver. After a moment to soak in the sudden rush of breaking news, the four men all made the agreement to leave with a shared nod, and began weaving between and around crowded tables. Everyone craned their neck and moved their heads, and patrons’ eyes looked right through them as if the four weren’t even there. Everyone’s attention was on the news.
Passing through the glass doors, entering back into the relative warmth of the afternoon, Gideon was glad he had forced himself to hold back on ordering desert, as he felt just stuffed enough that it wouldn’t make him sick to cycle around the city for the remainder of the day. His friends had begun to put their protective equipment back on, fastening helmet straps as they talked about the routes they faced for the rest of the day. Carter and David began to have their usual cigarettes, as Jesus sat on his bike making sure the packages in his backpack were well arranged.
”How do you guys do it? One cigarette fucks my whole day up, but you guys just ride around smoking one after the other.”
Carter chuckled, but David simply frowned.
”I’ve been trying to stop, man. Ricky keeps telling me to hurry up and kick this shit so I can help save for our vacation, but it’s so tough. If I try cold turkey, the withdrawal makes me cranky as fuck, and if I try the patches or shit, it just makes me crave having an actual cigarette.” David said, taking the cigarette out of his mouth, taking a look at it, and reluctantly taking another drag.
”You didn’t even smoke before the two of you got married, did you?” Carter said, not even bothering to take the cigarette out of his mouth as he spoke. His hands were busy fastening straps on his pads and bike bags as he spoke.
”No, I did, but the stress of the whole wedding made me start just churning through these damn things, and I never have been able to slow down.”
”Good luck with tha-” Jesus had just pushed off the sidewalk on his bike, when a loud yell broke through the usual cacophony of city traffic and chatter, stopping Jesus in his tracks and making everyone’s head turn towards the source of the scream.
Just down the sidewalk, there was a crowd growing around a bit of a developing situation. Spread eagle on the sidewalk was the man from before, who seemed to be in even worse shape than before. His chest was rising up and down rapidly as his friend held onto his hand, begging passersby to help him as he rushed to pull his phone out and get ahold of emergency services. While, many people walked by, unsure how to react, just as many had gathered around the two, with a few good samaritans kneeling by the struggling man, asking him questions or trying to give him water. Jesus had started to slowly move again, staring at the scene as same as everyone else, before he finally took all the way off, eventually disappearing from view amongst parked cars and traffic.
David, Carter and Gideon all shared a bit of a confused glance, as they all stood in one place, trying to get a peek at what going on, not wanting to be nosy enough to walk up and join it. One after the other, David, then Carter secured their packages and rode onto the street, just the same as Jesus did. Carter, who had gone down the street in the same direction as Jesus, noticeably slowed down as he tried to get a better look at the ordeal but the attempt was short lived, and he rode on, leaving just Gideon, alone, to watch from afar.
Giving into temptation, Gideon took his bike, and slowly walked down the sidewalk, towards the frazzled crowd. He knew better, he knew he had a job to be doing, but a few minutes wouldn’t hurt, would they?
Just as Gideon finally got close to the crowd, Gideon could hear a cry pierce the air, and many concerned voices followed it. Gideon froze, and watched in horror as the healthy man began to panic and cry. The sick man seemed to be lifeless now, and was ghost pale, unresponsive to even the violent shakes from his friend. Many of the onlookers had taken out their phones, and were all frantically trying to explain the situation to whatever dispatcher they had been connected to. One of the good samaritans was trying to take a pulse, but appeared to get more frazzled and frightened with every failed attempt.
Finally breaking his gaze and looking away from the rather shocking scene, Gideon realized that there was a pair of prying eyes even in a nearby alleyway. In the alley stood a white bearded man in tattered clothing, who seemed to be watching the ordeal intently, but out of anyone else’s line of sight. Gideon could tell the old man felt the same trepidation he did, not wanting to get involved. But Gideon also felt this tugging sort of guilt for doing nothing for what could be a dying or dead man.
They’re all already calling ambulances for this guy. There’s not much left I could do any way. I’m no life saver. Gideon tried his best to free himself from any sort of guilt or responsibility, was began on his way out of the whole situation.
Giving the old man one last look, Gideon picked up his bike, which he had dropped in surprise when he had noticed the severity of the situation. As Gideon made his quick exit from the whole fiasco, he could hear people get more frantic as it seemed the man was not getting any better, and the pitiful sobs from the man’s friend were getting even more gut wrenchingly audible, even over the city’s worth of noise. Hopping up onto the seat, and setting his legs into the ever familiar motion, Gideon’s bike began to gain some speed, and right before he took the turn to enter the street, he gave one last quick glance back. Through a gap in the crowd surrounding them, he could see that someone had resorted to doing CPR on the fallen man, with his friend watching ever so intently. The man on the sidewalk was a sick, ghostly pale that he’d never seen before. It had to be the color of death.
Gideon felt a chill run up his spine as he quickly turned back around and got onto the road.
That had to be one of the rougher things he’d seen in his time riding around Baltham. Fights, shootings, car wrecks and housefires, Gideon had seen all of it at least once, but it wasn’t every day you see a man drop dead in the streets. Today, the world seemed filled to the brim with a lot of bad news and people dying left and right. Gideon shook his head to himself, trying to shake the thought and focus on the road. Slipping his sunglasses on, Gideon was now onto the afternoon part of his route, and traffic was sure to be as dangerous as ever.
Hope cars don’t come flying at me today. I’m not trying to be on the news anytime soon.
As he turned the corner of the street, and entered one of many busy roads, en route to his next delivery, the situation certainly escalated to a level that he wouldn’t have believed. One deathly white hand rose from the sidewalk, eliciting a gasp from the group of people surrounding the man. Even after seemingly dying, the man had the vigor to sit straight up, and before anyone could react, grabbed his friend and yanking his collar violent towards him. What they thought was going to be a frightened embrace after a brush with death, instead turned into a violent bite, with the sickly man sinking his teeth deep into his shocked friend’s shoulder, dragging a scared scream from the whole crowd that only made it to the end of the block. Past that, no one really seemed to notice what was going on. The rest of the city continued with it’s bustling everyday routine.
A snore. "God damn Sarge and his god damn...." Another snore. "Fucking VA and their penny pinching cunts..." Still, despite his somnolent ramblings Don was actually sleeping quite well. He only had pleasant memories surfacing to make his dreams but this was more a curse than a blessing for once the old man awoke, he would only find his situation far worse by contrast. For many hours the old man stayed on the bench staying neatly near an escalator where security would be unlikely to see him, while shoppers would need too much effort to mosey over and accost him.
In general he was ready to wake up and leave at closing time so that he wouldn't have any nasty exchanges with security but today it seemed this wouldn't be the case. A loud scream made him jerk into an upright position and quickly into a stand. He went around the escalator to happen upon a scene that he wasn't quite ready for. There was some sort of fight with a guy and a woman trying to fight off two other guys. They looked... weird, to say the least. Rabid, almost, their skin's shade was off and even from here despite his age Don could see their eyes were not normal. But with his memory, Donny could not for the life of him remember where he had previously seen such a similar thing. A lot of people were around them, many with phones upraised to record the event. A few more community individuals stepped forth to help the couple against the assaulters but they seemed to have trouble keeping a grip on the people who were really, really relentless.
He watched from his little vantage point how the event was going down and the crowd was growing, not being quite surprised when security came in number to deal with the situation. Burly men in uniform grabbed hold of the freaks while a few more dispersed the crowd — or at least tried to. More or less safe the couple decided to go off from the scene, annoyed at all the publicity. As they left and passed by the old homeless man, he could not help but notice that the young man had a really nasty bit that went through his sleeve....
As the Veteran looked upon the leaving pair he also noticed a security guard coming to him. "You, it's closing time, I know you got nowhere to go and all but we got shit to deal with as you can see. Go on, scram."
"Ah fuck. Alright, yeah-yeah, I'm going." The hobo muttered, recognizing Davis. The security guard wasn't too unkind to him but he frequently interrupted his sleep which annoyed Don. He began to hobble away, until he caught glimpse of someone walking, no shambling towards Davis. "Yo uh..." he began, trying to warn the guy, who turned his attention to Don. "Watch out!" he said, but it was too late as he heard the crunch of teeth piercing clothing and flesh, then the angry yell of Davis. The guard turned bringing his shoulder to the jaw of the girl who bit him. This bought him space so he could get his baton, properly ready to deal with him. "Get the fuck out!" he yelled to Don who promptly did as commanded. The man was old but he knew when it was time to feel youthful in his legs and this was one of them. A lot of people were finishing their last purchases and closing their stores but for some reason the veteran felt that this was not the end of the story at Zemreaft mall.
Going past the sliding doors he shook his head, muttering faintly to himself about what the world was coming to and how it was different back in his day. For now he decided to go to the allies deeper in town, have a talk and maybe a drink or two with the guys. Lord knew he needed it now. A sigh came from the poor guy, sometimes optimism and rose tinted spectacles had their limits.
Pushing a cart around the office hallways, weaving in and between cubicals, Noèle would've preferred to rewind time and not skip lunch. She wasn't keen on wasting food—after all, it was still perfectly good pork udong—but Noèle, or likely anyone else for that matter, found it difficult to eat when her thoughts were filled with the video Kevin showed them. The video was as sickening as much as it was hard to believe, and it was on Noèle's mind constantly. She had seen people die on television shows and in films, but to see someone die on public, live TV was an event the Korean struggled to grasp.
"Watch it!" A voice bellowed, snapping Noèle back into reality. Whilst she had been busy daydreaming, her cart had unknowingly begun to veer into a man carrying a stack of papers.
"Huh? Oh! Sorry." Noèle replied, whipping the cart back in front of her. "Won't happen again."
Ignoring her attempt to apologize, the man simply grumbled under his breath, carrying on his way towards where the office's copier was located to, presumably, make a set of copies.
Watching the man disappear off into the maze of cubicles, Noèle shrugged and decided to think no more of it. Whoever he was, clearly the man was no different than most of the employees at Wavemaster, and asshole employees was just another struggle Noèle had to deal with if she wanted a paycheck.
Pushing the cart further down the row, Noèle continued on with her deliveries, ensuring each and every one had the correct drink. Most of her coworkers had hardly bothered with a thank you, and even less took a second to even spare a glance at Noèle as she handed their beverages their way. Still, Noèle wasn't peeved as much as she dreaded the further she pushed the cart up the row of cubicles; the Korean actively watching Lorraine's cubicle as she approached it. If there was anyone Noèle could say she truly despised in this building, it would've been Lorraine. Many people at Wavemaster were certainly unsavory, but Lorraine was filled with pure toxicity.
"Here's your coffee with creme and two sug—" Noèle spoke, yet she stopped in her tracks upon seeing that the cubicle was empty. It wasn't long before it became apparent to Noèle, however, that Lorraine was recently at her desk, with the computer screen flashing e-mail alerts and her chair imprinted with someone having sat in it.
Standing upon her tiptoes, Noèle glanced over the top of the cubicles in an attempt to locate Lorraine, but she seemed to be nowhere in sight. Shrugging to herself, Noèle reached for Lorraine's coffee, placing it down on the desk...
...only to be startled by a sudden, and somewhat familiar scream.
Heads rose from their cubicles, and turned to where the scream had come from. The office—especially Noèle—watched in horror as a pale, ghostly Lorraine leapt from the now opened bathroom, and onto Olivia, who desperately tried to fend off her attacker. Whereas most let fear overcome them, Noèle was quick to realize she couldn't just stand there while someone dear to her was being attacked. Racing to Olivia's side as fast as she could, Noèle would soon be joined by Kevin, who focused on pulling Lorraine away from the women.
"Get her off me!"
"Damn it, Olivia! What do you think I'm trying to do?!"
"What's gotten into her?!"
The four continued to tussle across the ground; each of them desperately trying to break up the fight to no avail. Panicking, Olivia raised her leg upwards, kicking Lorraine in the gut with enough force to send her and Kevin stumbling. "Son of a—" He shouted, trying to regain his footing while the rabid-like woman turned her attention to him with vicious intent. Her constant attempts to bite his flesh were quick to find success, with Lorraine's teeth leaving behind a bloody gash upon Kevin's arm.
"Oh my god!" A feminine voice shouted, and with it, the office broke out into sheer panic.
The old man had been running for the last ten minutes in the hopes of getting help from a friend at the homeless camp. He had been bitten by a man that decided to attack his friend and then processed to attack a young woman. That was what he got from deciding to help out for once. When the police arrived to respond, he fled out of the area in the hopes of avoiding the officers. Now, he needed something to deal with the bite mark on his arm. And the only person with medical experience was located in the homeless camp stationed in a shady alleyway. So, he tried to run there; however, he started to feel tired and weak. If it wasn't for the dog, he wouldn't have made it there.
Charlie started to bark towards him before its owner decided to check it out. Phil saw the old man with a decent bite mark on his arm. He knew him from the camp ever since arriving there about two months ago. So, he ran towards him and offered to help. The old man accepted it and barely made it to the camp. Sean heard his name being called out and immediately ran outside to investigate. He saw the familiar old man with a bite mark looking weak. "Bring him inside my tent." Sean said towards the young man and rushed back inside to gather the essentials in order to treat a bite mark.
Almost an hour ago, Doctor Holmes witnessed something unnatural happened in the isolation ward. Officer Brown coming back from the dead and attacking three people before being killed by a security guard's pistol. All three of the victims were bitten and had to be placed in separated rooms for everyone's safety. Extra security also arrived to prevent another incident from happening. Both of the nurses died due to their wounds and only one of them came back from the dead. It had only been eight minutes since he was placed in that room. And the other nurse was still dead.
Meanwhile, the security guard was asked several questions regarding how he was feeling. Holmes managed to get his answers and wrote down the symptoms. Then, he died in the same fashion that Brown did earlier. Now, he needed to report in. Before he could, his phone rang out and he realized that his sister was calling him. She was spending time in California with her family and away from this mess.
"Are you alright!?" his sister asked.
"Yeah, I am." Holmes responded and then continued. "Why do you ask?"
"I saw reports from Seattle that people have been attacking each other. And I was worried about you." she said to her brother while closing the door. Holmes went on his laptop and searched for the latest new story about it. He found an article and video that was taken in the Pacific Place. However, he saw the breaking news headline and was caught off guard: TWO DEAD AND FIVE WOUNDED IN DOWNTOWN BALTHAM. Before he could watch the live feed, his phone rang once more and it was the number from earlier. He told his sister that he had to answer his work call and said goodbye to her.
He answered and heard the voice saying, "Are you done with the report?"
"I am almost done. Just need to finish typing." Holmes answered and began typing on his laptop. Then, he thought about the new and wondered if he should be concerned or not. "Hey... could you tell me if the inciden-"
"Just submit the report and we will get back to you, Holmes." the voice interrupted and ended the call, leaving the doctor to finish up the report.
School was over for students at Northview High with the bell ringing loud and clear. Joey Riley was one of the students heading towards the parking lot when he saw a strange helicopter heading off somewhere in the west. It wasn't the usual newscopter from one of the few news stations in the area, but his focus was on something else. His car and Courtney Dunlap, her ex girlfriend, was waiting beside it while carrying her textbooks. He knew that something bad was going to happen and approached her. She saw him and said with a hint of sadness, "Hey, there."
"I am just here to give your copy of your house keys to you." Dunlap said before he could speak and reached into her pockets for the keys. "It would be weird if I didn't return them."
Riley grabbed the keys and placed them in his pockets. He thanked her for returning the keys and added, "You will be paid for babysitting my little brother tomorrow. I can't thank you for watching him despite... our situation."
"It isn't a problem." Dunlap responded. "I am always happy to watch him."
Before the two of them could say their goodbyes, both of them heard the radio from a nearby car talking about the protests in Seattle and Olympia in response to the increased of officer-involved shootings. It wasn't a surprise since everybody was glued to their phones during lunch about the Pacific Place shooting and the shooting in the suburbs. He remembered some of the students and even a teacher rushing home to see if their loved ones were alright. Thankfully for the both of them, Dunlap and Riley's families lived near the shoreline and were alright at the moment.
Soon enough, Riley said his goodbyes and got inside his car while he watched Dunlap getting in her jeep. It had only been a month and a half since their breakup and he missed her. But it was the best option given the situation between the two of them. As he was leaving the parking lot, his mother sent out a text about going to tonight's dinner at McCormick’s. He responded with an 'alright' before driving off to grab a quick snack at his favorite sub shop.
Sean tried his hardest to treat the old man, but he was losing too much blood. It had been a hour since he watched as the old man died in front of him. Now, he was trying to wash off the dried blood on his hands with a bucket of water. The group was talking about what they should do with the body. Phil suggested leaving it at a hospital while Antonio said that he should be left at his favorite spot in downtown. While the group was arguing, Phil noticed a quiet moaning sound coming from the tent and realized that the old man was actually alive. He excitedly grabbed the first aid kit and yelled, "He's alive!"
The group turned towards Sean while he was rushing inside the tent. Before everyone at the homeless camp could react, a blood curdling scream was heard inside the tent with biting sounds. Antonio grabbed a wooden baseball bat, used as a form of protection, and stood in front of the group. He called out Sean's name and got a loud cry for help. It was when Antonio decided to see what the hell was going on. He opened the tent up and saw the old man eating a piece of Phil's neck while he was still crying for help. But, he didn't do anything even as the old man was trying to grab him.
Doctor Holmes had been waiting a while for his contract to get back to him after sending his report. During the wait, none of the dead victims came back from the dead until he heard something breaking in one of the rooms. He ran towards the room and saw that one of the nurses had indeed come back from dead. Of course, it caught him off guard and he nearly called for help; however, she was stuck in that room with no means of escape. He tried to talk to her, but she wasn't responding to his questions. Instead, she walked towards the window and tried to break it. Thankfully, the glass was strong enough to withstand the nurse's impacts at full strength.
He decided to leave her alone for the moment and felt sick in the stomach about the whole thing. There wasn't a scientific explanation about people suddenly becoming homicidal enough to eat other humans. He tried to check recent discovered virus to see if they had any connections to this situation but nothing. Then, he heard his phone ranging and answered it without hesitation. He heard the voice on the other side talking to someone before he spoke directly to Holmes, "Your report is a cause of concern and we are planning to send you aid as soon as possible. Until then, do not attempt to leave this hospital. We will call you back as soon as possible."
As the sun began to set on the streets of Baltham, a wider spectrum of lights began to make themselves apparent, bouncing off the glass-sided buildings and puddles leftover from the rain the day before. Headlights, taillights, neon-laden ads, all of them come together to create a loud mishmash of colors, all imbued with a hint of deep pinkish-orange from the dying sun. The air was finally beginning to dry out, and the buzz of bustling evening traffic filled the air, as everyone rushed to get home. There was a sense of mild panic amongst it all, as more and more people began to grow wary of the random attacks that had been happening around the city.
Sitting out on a sidewalk in front of a stripmall in smaller, more isolated street, Gideon was straddling his bike, surfing his phone, sifting through the various headlines and news articles. Amongst the normal headlines and stock market tidbits, there was a string of local headlines detailing the sudden rash attacks dotted around the city. The random acts of violence around Baltham certainly made him feel a little more trepidation than he usually did, but it didn’t seem to be having too much of an effect on plenty of people. There was still plenty of foot traffic flowing out of the Subway in front of him, and the booming and bustling clubs of the nightlife part of the city were still drawing plenty of attention and party-goers.
Downing another mouthful of water, Gideon lifted his t-shirt to wipe the beads of sweat slowly trailing down his forehead towards his eyes. His skin felt warm and tired, and the slight breeze helped thwart the humidity that was slowly dissapaiting. He’d finally finished his route of packages, and was getting ready to make the ride home, which was unfortunately at least a 45 minute ride away, given traffic wasn’t too heavy. Usually, even if he tried to make the last package closest to his house, they were still usually an annoying distance away from his home, but this was the farthest he’d ended his route from home in a while.
Gideon scanned the various headlines a few times more, before locking his phone, putting it and his bottle away. Adjusting his substantially lighter backpack, and giving his legs a quick stretch, he finally started moving again, slowly rolling onto the street when traffic got thin. He had a deecent ride ahead of him, and he’d like to get home sooner rather than later.
As his Gideon zipped and glided through out the city, he had passed at least 4 groups of cop cars, blaring their sirens and flashing their lights. More than before, it seemed that all the streets Gideon rode through or past were either completely free of activity, or full of people rushing back to their homes, all of them carrying looks of worry or nervousness on their faces. Of course, the city wasn’t in a full blown panic, looting stores or burning buildings or anything of that sort, but there was certainly a creeping discomfort seeping through the streets. Stationary groups of people kept their heads on a swivel, suspicious eyes darting back and forth. Dark, abandoned alleyways carried an even more foreboding aura than before, as everyone treated the others on the streets as possible assailants.
Feeling the wind stream across his face and skin, Gideon was gliding along in relative comfort, but he still didn’t waste time trying to get across the city. Even for night time, the traffic was heavy, and he had trouble making it through a few intersections without getting stuck at multiple lights, even riding a bike. Despite the lonely desolation of some streets, the ones lined with bars and clubs were still very much alive, but just more, stifled, perhaps. People stuck to their groups more than they would move around freely, and many found a bar to run into and elected to stay inside rather than out in the open. Cutting through the streets that had been blocked from vehicle traffic helped cut a few minutes off his route, and it was made even easier that he had less pedestrians to dodge around.
The Police were out in even more force, though. Along with the usual police that patrolled the party streets, there were plenty of pairs of them dotted around various street corners and intersections. They usually just gave Gideon a passing glance, and the few he waved to simply ignored him, choosing to continue their scan of the streets around them. The city’s mood seemed to stiffen and become more stern, as the sidewalks emptied, and peering sets of eyes set to watching the streets from above, through the windows in their apartments, high above the ground.
The halls of Gideon’s apartment building seemed scarce of people, and those few that remained outside their rooms were huddled in whispered conversation, and didn’t display their usual warmth or welcoming to him. Locking his bike at the entrance hall, Gideon made his way to the staircase, trotting past a pair of people who were leaned against the front desk, looking rather comfortable, despite the widespread trepidation.
”You two seem pretty comfortable, considering everyone else seems to be scared shitless.”
”Yeeaahh, I dunno. This place is usually pretty quiet, but it’s even the quiet parts of town that been having those little spats today.”
”Right? I dunno, you should see the streets right now. Cops all over the place, and parts of the city are fuckin’ dead.”
”Oh yeah? Crazy shit, dude, crazy shit.”
Gideon chuckled, and gave a bit of a wave to end the conversation, which the pair of men returned, and resumed their own conversation.
Gideon began his ascent up the stairs, and before he knew it, was unlocking his door, tossing his backpack and bike gear aside, slowly sliding down his couch and taking a deep breath. He was exhausted, as usual, but glad to be home. After a few moments of laying on the couch with his eyes closed, he finally found the will to get back up to make the short trip to his kitchen. After pouring himself a bowl of cereal, he went to searching the living room for his remote, before turning the television to the news, and opening his blinds to see the street below his apartment. As the reporter droned on about the attacks, Gideon munched away, watching as a few people dotted the sidewalks, briskly making their way to where they needed to be, leaving the street bare of any life after a short time.
Kitsap County Sheriff Deputies Eliza Kurtz & Sara Clark
Tucked away in the dense evergreens alongside the cracked stretch of asphalt that made up Blakley Avenue, one of Bainbridge island's most traveled roads, was the pine green Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser used by Kitsap Counties Sheriffs Department. Inside it was an exhausted junior deputy. Eliza was coming to the end of her twelve hour shift but the last few hours were always the slowest; especially when she was on a speed trap. Her car hadn't moved since she parked it six hours ago, and aside from the hourly check-ins and the company of her partner, Eliza hadn’t had much contact with anyone. So between the two of them they’ve spent the majority of their shift downing water to stay awake, enduring Eliza’s awkward attempts at conversation, and occasionally being interrupted by nature's call causing them to dart off into the trees to relieve themselves.
Just as things started to feel like they were never going to pick up, a call came over the radio from the station’s dispatch: a rather strange call for officers to respond to a resident’s home after their neighbors reported the sounds of an altercation. It didn’t sound too alarming to the two bored deputies but the stark, professional tone of the dispatch operator never really gave much for them to go off of.
“10-4 dispatch, 2034 in route to disturbance.” Clark, Eliza’s partner let off the handset and fastened it back onto the dashboard right as Eliza settled herself back into the driver's seat. She was out of the vehicle when the call came in so she needed to get caught up.“What’s the call?” Eliza started the car up and waited for directions. “10-41 on West Park, just take a right heading out of here and it’s pretty much a straight shot.”
“About time something eventful happened today.” Eliza shifted the cruiser into gear and sped off down the road, lights and sirens piercing through the quiet evergreen forest. At the speed they were traveling it took no more than 20 minutes for them to get there, as they pulled up the gravel driveway into the residence things seemed pretty normal at first glance. “2034 to dispatch, we’re 10-75 at 173 West Park.” Clark took over the handset again as Eliza parked in front of the home, now with only the lights of the cruiser violently illuminating the surrounding area.
Eliza and Clark dismounted their vehicle and proceeded towards the front door of the home. As they headed up the stairs leading onto the front porch they could see the front door left open with bloody footprints streaked out of the home and off over the railing at the opposite side of the porch. Both of the junior officers looked at each other in disbelief before they drew their handguns. It seemed like they’d have to start taking this call a lot more seriously. “Eliza you head inside I’m going to see if whoever left those is still alive.” Being the senior of the two and the most experienced Clark instinctively took control of the situation, although Eliza wasn’t confident that splitting up was a good idea, but she didn’t want to waste time asking questions. So with a brief hesitation Eliza slowly opened the door leading into the home while her partner split off to investigate the trail of gore.
“County Sheriff! Is anyone in here….” Eliza made her way into the home following the bloody trail into the kitchen. Water had started flooding the rest of the home from the kitchen sink. Apparently the homeowners were in the middle of doing dishes, some of the dishes were left in or around the sink while others were scattered across the room. A drawer of utensils was pulled out from its slot in the counter as if someone was searching for something in a panic. As Eliza carefully made her way across the water and blood soaked tile she noticed that a knife was missing from its place in the drawer with bloody handprints all around it. Eliza acted like she was much more courageous than she actually was to the rest of the department but now she was starting to get nervous. Instinct told her to run out and find her partner but she was afraid of looking weak, especially in front of Clark. So even though her heart was beating its way up into her throat Eliza mustered the courage to press on.
Hoping that they had arrived in time to help whomever was the source of all this blood. With every step out of the kitchen Eliza felt off, she had never seen anything even closely resembling this before. It was a horror show cast upon a seemingly innocent home. Maybe that’s why it was all so jarring. No one ever expects something like this will actually happen, especially not within an hours drive of your home. Now entering the living room she started to feel like something was horribly wrong as she spotted two bodies, an older man presumably in his mid to late 40’s and a young woman that couldn’t be any older than Eliza herself. They both appeared to be dead but the woman was hunched over the man tearing at his guts like a savage beast.
Eliza started to tremble in fear, something was definitely off with this call and she quickly started to lose her composure. “Clark! Clark!” Eliza desperately screamed for her partner so she didn’t have to witness this alone. As she called out the woman spun around, her pale lifeless face soaked in blood with her mouth hung open revealing cracked, chipped teeth presumably from rending flesh. “Ma’am stay where you are!” Eliza leveled her handgun at the woman, her hands were trembling over her handgun and she started to feel a stream of urine run down her legs. Her body was telling her to either run or fight but she was paralyzed with fear. “Clark! Get the fuck in here!” As she screamed the woman let out a hiss that sounded like she was expelling all the air from her lungs before she lunged towards Eliza. In a panic Eliza let two wild shots off into the woman's chest before the two became entwined with each other. Eliza started to scream in terror as the woman's face came within inches of her own. Her eyes were foggy like those of a corpse, and her breath reeked of bile and gore. She snapped her teeth in an attempt to bite at Eliza’s face, it took everything Eliza had in her to keep the woman's putrid maw face away from face.
In the panic Clark came rushing into the room and without taking the time to think swiftly booted the woman off of Eliza and fired three more shoots into her decrepit body. This time it seemed to do the trick as the woman's body became a motionless slump at the base of the family’s sofa. With the threat neutralized Clark’s attention immediately turned to her partner. She chose to ignore the smell of urine that now permeated the room while she frantically searched Eliza for gunshot wounds, but despite the blood soaked on Eliza’s uniform she couldn’t find any. “Liz, did you get shot?” In between gasps for breath and hysterics Eliza managed to get out a response.
“No...those were mine.” Clark was confused for a second until she realized that it took five shots to kill a woman that more closely resembled an exhumed corpse than a human that was now lying with her head busted open just a few feet away from them. It still didn’t make any sense but her focus was better served on her partner. Clark helped Eliza onto her feet and walked her out of the home. She could tell that her legs were struggling to hold her up but Eliza was trying her best to hold herself together.
Clark sat her partner down in the front passenger seat of the squad car and then knelt down in front of her. Eliza’s eyes were piercing, her pupils were dilated and it felt like she wasn’t even cognizant to her surroundings. Clark knew better than to ask if she was alright but she didn’t really know what else to say. “Liz are you good?” She didn’t get a response, at least not a verbal one. Eliza just looked at Clark in confusion, almost as if it were the first time the two of them had met. Clark wiped a streak of the woman’s blood from Eliza’s cheek, and met her look with a half smile. “I’m going to get on the radio, alright?” Eliza managed to sneak out an “okay” while Clark went around to the driver’s seat and grabbed the handset from over the center console.
“2034 to dispatch, requesting 10-52, with additional units.”
After a few seconds dispatch chimed over the radio with their response. “Understood 2034, 10-52 inroute.”
“10-4 dispatch.” As soon as Clark came off the radio she could hear dispatch come over the radio again requesting additional units for her and Eliza. It would be a few minutes until help showed up and the outside lights of the home had just started to flicker on. It was starting to get dark as the sun slipped below the treeline and the two of them could probably think of a hundred better places they would rather be at than here when it got dark out.
“Dispatch 2041 on scene with EMS.” An ominous cloud seemed to hang over the scene as the other officers made their way up the dusty gravel driveway with the ambulance following closely behind them. Their lights and sirens gave their arrival away miles before they actually arrived which served to put the two deputies at some semblance of ease. Under the stark gray sky everything started to feel like a threat, the wind, the trees, even just the silence stood to betray their sense of safety. Every moment of silence since the incident gave an opportunity for them to rerun it in their heads.
Eliza could still barely move let alone speak. At times Clark thought she had passed out but every time she checked on her she was still just staring off into the forest as if she expected something to pierce it’s veil and reveal its wicked self to them. Clark felt a horrible guilt over the whole incident, the fact that she split them up, and that she didn’t respond fast enough when Eliza called out to her. It was bad enough that Eliza ended up in the state she’s in now but Clark nearly got her killed. Had she had taken just a few more seconds to get there she would’ve been holding her partners corpse as the other officers pulled onto the scene. Pulling herself out of the driver's seat Clark made her way to the other side of the vehicle to retrieve Eliza. “Let’s go get you checked out Liz.” Clark extended her hand towards her partner who met it with a cold, weak grasp. She pulled Eliza out of her seat being certain not to pull her out too fast and once she was one her feet she wrapped her arm around Eliza’s waist to help her stay up right. As they made their way closer to the other officers a team of EMTs ran out from the ambulance towards them. Clark let them carry Eliza off to the ambulance while she continued on to the other officer’s patrol car.
They had already gotten out and were just as puzzled as her and Eliza were when they arrived. “What the hell happened Clark?” One of the officers said with a little more than a tinge of concern in her voice. Clark tried to keep it together in her response, it wasn’t time for her to fall apart but having some more familiar faces on the scene helped calm her down.
“There’s two dead inside, one male, one female there’s signs of a struggle.... well I guess more than that, the male was dead when we got here. From what little I was able to get out of El..Kurtz the girl was, um eating his guts. Kurtz tried to apprehend her but she was attacked by the woman. When I came in to help the woman wouldn’t respond to any commands so I shot and killed her.”
“You weren’t in the house when she got attacked?” The other officer chimed in. Clark knew him but not very well. She was like Eliza, she kept to herself and only really spoke with people at work when it was relevant. Still she didn’t like how critical his tone was, but she would’ve acted the same so she let it slip.
“No. There’s a set of footprints that head out of the house and into the treeline. I was following them when I heard Kurtz fire two shots, after that I ran inside to see that she was being attacked so I acted in her best interest.”
Since all the officers involved weren’t in any place of authority they didn’t dwell on how the protocol said things should’ve been handled. Their department was small, really small. Kitsap County only has 20 officers on the island with the rest of their force on the mainland. Making it to where everyone knows each other back at the station, so while Eliza stays pretty quiet almost everyone likes her. So seeing her like they just did made it hard for the other officers to not feel concerned for their sister.
“Sara, is she holding up okay? I mean I know that’s a stupid question. I’m just worried about her. She’s a good boot after all.” His voice had shifted away from being critical, and sounded more concerned than anything else.
“I don’t know Pat. She’s pretty shook up, but she’s tough you know?” Clark didn’t sound confident, but she honestly just wanted this whole thing to go away. Part of her still refused to admit that any of it was real, and she hoped that she would just wake up alongside the road on that boring speed trap with Eliza trying her best to keep a conversation going. Before she could dwell on it too much the female officer spoke up and pulled her off to the side.
“Sara how are you holding up? This has to be rough for you, but you need to stay out of your head right now. Just because you’re her field training officer, doesn’t mean that you need to beat yourself up over it.” Her tone was compassionate but it wasn’t what she needed to here. She was the one put incharge of mentoring after the new kid, and she fucked up. As far as she was concerned this all fell on her.
“I appreciate it but I don’t really want to think about myself right now.” Clark did her best to detach herself from the conversation without being rude but either way it wasn’t one that she wanted to be a part of. So she left the two officers and headed to check on Eliza.
They had her wrapped in a blanket while she sat on a gurney inside the ambulance as they took her vitals and cleaned her up as best that they could. Her khaki blouse was tossed to the side, the blood stains so dark that they almost matched the dark brown of her trousers. “How are you holding up Liz?” She didn’t say anything back, sending a sharp chill down Clark’s spine. One of the medics finished cleaning Eliza up and hopped out of the ambulance next to Clark. He kept his voice down and gestured for her follow him along the side of the ambulance.
“I heard you talking to the other officers. That woman isn’t the first.”
“What are you talking about?” Clark was caught off guard by all of this.
“We’ve gotten a few calls about similar incidences. Didn’t you hear about the shooting in Baltham?”
“No we’ve been on shift all day.”
“Well, pretty much the same scenario went down in the city. Police shot up these noncompliant, hostile pedestrians.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Clark raised her brow in confusion. Despite everything that had happened today things just kept getting stranger.
“I’m not too big into conspiracies and all that shit but all I’m saying is that something’s going down, and you all need to keep an eye out for each other.” Just as he finished his sentence the other officers came around the corner of the ambulance, and the medic left Clark as he went back to his patient. As he left Clark felt her stomach sink, like that feeling she’d get when her friends would tell scary stories around the campfire growing up. She didn’t want to be at this house anymore.
“Sara we’re going to take over for you two. There’s another unit heading out this way and we called up the coroner. Things are pretty slow back at the station so if you want to head back and file your reports you shouldn’t get too much trouble.”
“I appreciate it.” Clark didn’t hang on her words. She wasn’t going to give the situation anytime to change and trap the two of them there. She headed around the back of the ambulance to get Eliza who was still wrapped in the drab blue blanket given to her by the medics. “Is she going to be okay to head back to the station?” The medics were jostling around the ambulance as they put their equipment away when Clark called out to them so it took a moment for them to respond. “I mean there isn’t really anything we can do for her. I’d suggest keeping someone with her for the next few days though. It’s better to have someone there during things like this.”
“You ready then Liz?” Clark offered her hand to her partner in order to give her an easier time getting down from the back of the ambulance. Eliza still didn’t feel like her shy, goofy self but she was becoming more responsive. She took Clark’s hand and with the help from the medics she climbed out of the ambulance. Clark adjusted the strap on her tank top, while also making sure the blanket was wrapped snugly around her shoulders before she grabbed her blouse and started walking her back to their patrol car. As they passed, the other officers tried not to look concerned for her in hopes that some friendly faces would set her mind at ease, but Eliza was still zoned out for the most part and didn’t notice them.
“Hey I appreciate you two!” Clark called out to them, thanking them one final time before she loaded Eliza back into the front passenger seat of their vehicle. As she settled into the driver's seat Clark let out a sigh as she realized that this wasn’t all just a bad dream. Starting the car up and shifting it into gear Clark turned around and headed out of the driveway, hoping that this would be the last time they ever saw this place again.
The elderly man walked along the street, muttering to himself. What the fuck was going on these days. People going around biting each other like they were lunch, what the hell could it be? Don felt he had a pretty safe wager it was some sort of drug making people like this. Kids were snorting all sorts of shit these days, and while he appreciated a bit of irony himself it seemed that they worshipped it nowadays. He heard from a worker at one of the shelters that for a joke kids were snorting condoms. Now that did sound like something that people his age made up to be pretentious to young folk but the more he saw the new generations the more he felt like joining in the pretentiousness. There was also that drug, what was it now... it made you eat people or something like that. Kids, eh?
As he walked along he nearly tripped on a pair of street urchins. Wait, what the fuck? This was twenty-first century America, street urchins don't exist! Donny looked down at the offending kids and sighed in recognition. The Chalky boys, they ran away from home and miraculously managed to both avoid getting taken back, and dying in an alley to someone not quite right in the head.
"Jesus Christ kid! Watch where you're going."
"Not our fault you're a blind old fag!"
Don's arm shot out at the neck of the younger of the two, quite tight on his shoulder.
"You're asking for an ass whooping, children. I'm going to give you three seconds to apologize before I give you a spanking TV shows give the eighteen-plus for violence label for. Then I'll give you to the cops so you can get back to whatever the hell it is you ran away from."
Vague mutterings with the idea of an apology came but he felt like he deserved more.
"What was that? Speak up, louder if you please."
"Sorry." Came the response from both boys.
"Well how about that. Now why the hell is there blood on you, you've been hanging out with the rest of the bums right?"
"Some old guy got bit!" One of the kids shouted, to the anger of his brother. He was about to silence his sibling until Don gave him quite the nasty stare. Assured internally he wouldn't be interrupted, Don looked back to the Chalky that spoke with an encouraging nod.
"I... I don't know much more than that. He had a dog and he looked fucked up. Got bit or something, maybe his dog got in a fight with another dog. I don't know. He's with that doctor guy now but he got blood everywhere."
"Fuck." Was all that Sebastian Barretto could muster. An old guy with a dog? Maybe this was one of his older friends Patrick. He hadn't seen him around lately but if that was him it would be shit to see him die to a bite. A lot of homeless folks had dogs, they helped fight off some fucker who thought he had a claim on the bottles you gathered for one, and they were like portable radiators when you came right down to it. Besides, as a homeless gentleman you didn't have to clean up their turds. Nobody talked about it, but you could always eat the poor things.
Still, now was not the time to think about the hobo economy: now was the time to see what the fuck was up. The old vet sprinted as best he could which was admittedly not very well until he reached the camp. He stood for a minute or so catching his breath but his respite was cut short — somebody had started screaming. Again he took to his feet, hearing the all too familiar squelching noise of tooth upon flesh. "Do something you prick!" He shouted to Sean, running over to shove the old man away for at least a little safe room to be made.