Blood on the floor
Author: W. K. Hayes
Blood on the floor: Chapter One
Blood, the essence of life that slow drains from the face of horror. Watch the skin split across the cheeks as bloody-yellow ooze seeped from within and wonder how a person could die in such a manner.
She was barely eighteen and had so much to look forward to when her parents found her lying face down on the middle-class kitchen floor behind the island counter; her hand still gripping the knife stained with dried blood.
Her mother, a middle-aged but very attractive woman, dropped everything and raced to her, “Baby Girl”. Her father, the quintessential middle-aged man with darkened good looks grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1 as he grabbed his wife to pull her to him.
“let go”, she barked as she dropped to the floor to cradle her daughter, but in doing so she made a grisly discovery for as she rolled her daughter over the child’s head stuck to the floor, tearing away the flesh of her face.
Terrified, her mother dropped the girl and back peddled her way to her husband’s legs. “What the hell happened to her”?
“I don’t know he replied and I can’t get a damn soul on the phone…I can’t believe I’m on hold”, he grumbled as he hung up the phone and tried dialing again.
“We never should have went, Mark”, she sobbed as she buried her face in his leg.
“No…don’t put me on hold…DAMMIT”, he exclaimed. He threw the cordless phone down and grabbed his wife by the shoulders. “Let’s go get help”.
“We can’t just leave her here”, she argued vehemently.
Mark walked over to where had thrown the phone and stuck the battery back inside. “Let me try one more time”, he told her and added, while dialing, “If we don’t get through to anyone, we’re going for help”.
Three beeps later, Mark listened as he tried everything not to stare at his daughters mangled and mutated face. In an instant, all he got was a busy signal. “That settles it, let’s go, Karen”, he demanded of her.
“Okay”, she conceded.
He checked his pockets and realized he had left his keys on the floor in the hallway leading back to the front door. Without skipping a step, he bent over and swooped them up while holding onto his wife’s hand to make sure she was right behind him when they heard their daughter’s moans.
“She’s still alive”, Karen announced as she jerked her hand away from Mark and ran back into the kitchen.
Mark spun around and saw the gristly image of his daughter rising from the floor. Her favorite blue shirt and jeans were stained with blood as more of the yellowish-ooze gushed from her mouth.
“Karen, get back here”, Mark barked at her.
“She our daughter”, Karen replied bitterly.
“Listen to me…something isn’t right here”, he told her in a restrained voice.
Karen stayed where she was at the entrance to the kitchen and called to her daughter, “Susie…are you okay”?
Susie looked at her mother with the eyes of the dead and growled like a deranged person while propping herself up on the island counter.
“Karen, get your ass over here, now”, he barked.
For once, she listened as she hurried to get behind Mark and asked, “What’s wrong with her”?
“I don’t know but start making your way for the door”, he told her as Susie started working her way around the counter towards them. Karen hadn’t budged a step so Mark shoved her and yelled, “Move it, dammit”!
Susie growled again and started to lunge towards them when she fell and hit the floor. Mark stepped backwards only to find Karen still standing right behind him.
“Move your ass”, he barked as the old soldier in him rose to the surface.
“Stop yelling at me”, she cried out.
“Screw this”, he replied. Quickly, he slung Karen over his should and ran for the door when someone from the other side kicked it in.
“Whoa”, he yelled out as he dropped Karen to the floor and told her to scramble herself upstairs.
A soldier covered in black armor and Kevlar burst through the door, yelled, “Get down” and fired a single shot past Mark, right into the head of Susie.
“What the hell”, Mark asked.
Karen was halfway up the stairs when she stopped to look back at the soldier. “What did you do”, she cried out.
“I saved your lives”, was his simple reply. “Now, come with me if you want to live”.
Mark took his wife’s hand as she descended back down the stairs. “Come on…let’s go find out what’s going on here”, he promised her.
They followed the soldier back outside when they saw their neighbor, Miss Marble, come running towards them with the same deranged look. The soldier didn’t hesitate to shoot her in the head as Mark guided Karen around him towards the proverbial black SUV.
“Get inside”, the soldier barked to them as two teen boys that lived up the street ran towards them from the opposite direction. The soldier took them down with the same deadly accuracy and quickly made his way to the vehicle where he jumped in behind the wheel, slammed the door to and hit the lock button. “Buckle up folks”, he warned them
Mark sat up front while Karen sat quietly crying in the back seat. “What’s going on”, Mark asked.
“I’ll explain along the way”, the soldier replied as he threw the vehicle into drive and squalled tires while turning them around. Once he had straightened the wheel and they were quickly moving down the street, he asked them, “How in the hell did you people get through the roadblocks”?
“What roadblocks”, Mark asked. “We came in off of Buckner’s Branch…it’s a back road off the highway”.
Without saying anything else to Mark, the soldier grabbed the CB mic and reported in. “Yea, I got the two live ones. They got in from Buckner’s Branch. I thought we had that road sealed off? Do you want me to check on it”?
He let off the button and a crackled reply came back, “No, report to Command Post…I’ll send another team out that way”.
“Yes, sir”, the soldier replied and carelessly hung the mic back on its holder. Then he answered Mark’s question, “About two days ago, we were ordered here to contain the area. Truthfully, I’m not sure what started this but I am certain of one thing, there bastards don’t stay dead and they seem real happy to help the living join them”.
“These bastards”, Mark replied bitterly, “Are our family and friends”.
“See, that’s where you’re wrong”, the soldier replied. “The people you knew are dead…what’s left isn’t human and you’ll be damn wise to remember that. We’ve already love over a dozen of our guys to these bastards, and they were still alive and my friends”.
“I get that soldier…I served in Desert Storm and know we’re you’re at”, Mark replied.
“Welcome aboard then. I’m Sergeant First Class, Middleton”, the sergeant said of himself.
“Retired Captain Mark Sumner, USAF”, Mark replied.
“I won’t hold it against you”, Middleton joked. “That your kid back there”?
“Yea, that was our daughter Susie”, Karen replied from the back seat.
“Sorry, ma’am”, Middleton replied.
“Why did you kill her”, Karen cried out, demanding answers.
“Easy Karen”, Mark told her from the front seat. “Still, I want a better picture of what’s happened here”.
“We all do”, the sergeant replied. “Right now, all I’ve got is rumors but what I do know is that there’s only one way to kill them and that’s by severing the head or putting a bullet through it”, he explained.
“So, there’s no cure or anything that would help these people”, Karen asked as she made some small attempt to calm down.
“I’m afraid not, ma’am! We’re still not sure what started this whole mess and we’re even further away from understanding it. Truth is, I feel like I’m stuck in some cheesy zombie flick”, Middleton replied.
“Yea, except this is real”, Mark agreed. “So, no clues on the source”, he asked as he ran his fingers through his neatly cut dark hair.
“We’ve tested the water. We’ve checked for any reports of incidents in the surrounding areas; nothing. There isn’t any checmical or biological research facilities within two hundred miles. We honestly have no clue”, he replied as he took a left.
As they came around the corner, they spotted a horde of undead clamoring around some woman that was standing on top of a white van and screaming for help.
Middleton grabbed the mic again, and called in, “Hey, I’ve got a lady on top of a van with a bunch of undead trying to get at her…permission to engage”?
“Permission denied. Find an alternate route”, was the reply.
“We can’t just leave her there”, Karen argued.
“Oh yes we can”, Middleton replied. “If they said no it means there’s more of those things on the way”, he explained as he threw the gear shifter into reverse and started backing up to find an alternate route before adding, “Just one drop of their blood is enough to infect a person…speaking of which…you guys didn’t have direct contact with the one at your house, did you”?
“Susie was laying face down when we found her, unconscious. My wife started to turn her over when we realized something was wrong and quickly stepped away. She didn’t actually come to, until a few seconds before you showed up”, Mark replied.
“No cuts or blood, right”, Middleton asked sharply.
“No, we’re clean”, mark replied.
“I want to hear it from you too”, the sergeant told Susie as he looked at her through the review mirror.
“Yea, I’m fine”, Karen replied as she looked herself over.
“Good deal, let’s get you guys somewhere safe”, he promised them.
“So, the people here went nuts or what”, Mark asked.
“No, this isn’t mass hysteria by a long shot…that’s an easy fix. From what I’ve seen, I’d almost swear this was some kind of biological weapon”, Middleton replied.
“That still leads us back to finding the ones responsible for this”, Mark replied.
“Oh, no…The last thing I need right now is a vengeful dad on my hands. Just let us do our job, okay”, the sergeant replied as took a left at the next intersection.
“My daughter’s dead, sergeant”, Mark replied in a solid tone. “I will help find the people that killed her. What you guys do with them after that is up to you…but, I will find them”, Mark swore.
“First things first”, Middleton replied. “We need to get back to the command post and then we’ll worry about the rest after we get there”.
Karen finally found a chance to asked, “Are there any other towns or cities infected”?
“Not so far, God help the world if this does spread”, Middleton replied.
“We should have helped that woman”, Mark said while still feeling the bitter taste of being a coward.
“They would have gotten us too”, Karen told him. “The sergeant here did the right thing”.
“Yea, I’ve seen my fair share of zombie flicks right alongside of you but I can’t help thinking we could have saved her”, Mark argued as he looked out the window and saw another group of undead wandering aimlessly around on the street.
“They look so creepy”, Karen remarked.
“They are creepy and I don’t plan on becoming one of them”, Middleton replied as he took a left and sped away before the zombies could give chase.
“Middleton…you there”, a voice crackled through the radio.
“Go ahead, Hensley”, Middleton replied after snatching the mic off of it’s holder.
“The zombies took over my vehicle while I was checking for survivors. I’m hold up inside a house fourth street with a little girl and her dog”, Hensley explained.
“We’ll be right there…stay in the house and keep the dog quiet”, Middleton told him. Without warning, he spun the vehicle around and headed back to the main intersection while slinging mark and Karen into the windows of the doors. “Sorry about that”, Middleton told them quickly, turned the mic and called out, “Even close to Hensley’s position need to get there pronto”!
“This is Baker, I’ve got Palomino with me and a civilian…we’re on our way coming from Sixth and Elm”, a woman’s voice replied.
“Winehouse and Mackey on the way”, a young man’s voice called out on the radio.
Middleton squeezed the button on the mic and told them, “Try to draw the zombies away from the house and vehicle. Hensley, be ready to run as soon as you see it’s clear. My ETA is three minutes”, the sergeant told his team.
Karen ran her fingers through her hair as she bent over in the back seat and cried for her daughter. Mark was wide-eyed and watching for anything and everything.
Middleton hung a left at the intersection where an old gas station stood. Standing outside was the undead attendant mindlessly washing a windshield as though he was still at work. Mark looked at the old black man and told Sergeant Middleton, “That used to be Barney. He’s been running that gas station ever since I was a little boy”.
“Oh, so you grew up around this part of town”, Middleton asked.
“Yea…I’m going to miss this place”, Mark admitted.
“What do you”, Karen asked him as she leaned around the middle of the front seats to look at him.
“Honey, they’ll have to flatten this place in order to ensure this virus thing doesn’t spread”, Mark told her.
Karen quickly turned to Middleton and asked, “Is that true”?
“I’m afraid so, ma’am”, the soldier replied as they shot through the next intersection. “We have to contain this at all costs…but, that’s what we do”.
“What do you mean”, Mark asked.
“The sole purpose of my team is to deal with crazy stuff like this”, Middleton replied.
“I thought you said this was the first time you’d ever seen anything like this”, Karen questioned.
“And, that’s true”, Middleton replied. “There’s a lot of crazy stuff that goes on in the world but I’ve never seen an entire city go crazy”, he explained while defending himself. “Most people live normal lives without ever knowing what’s really crawling around in the shadows”.
“Okay”, Karen replied with disbelief as she sat back.
“So, we’re talking vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein’s”, Mark joked.
“Look, the reason I’m telling you guys any of this is because we’ve only got two more days here and then they’re dropping the bomb on this town. After that, you guys are homeless and since you served, captain…we could use you”, Middleton replied offering Mark a job and reinstatement into active duty.
“Full rank”, Mark asked.
“Of course…hold on”, he told them as he took a sharp right at corner. “There’s the house”, Mark told him after spotting another black SUV parked up on the grass with a zombie simply sitting behind the wheel staring blankly at the floor of the vehicle.
Mark slowed the vehicle and grabbed his CB. “Hensley, you okay”?
“The zombies just breached the house. I’ve got the kid upstairs but the dog took off after the zombies”, Hensley replied. A little girl was crying in the back ground followed by the sharp, ‘Arp’, of the dog clearly indicating one of the zombies had killed it.
Middleton told him, “We’re approaching your vehicle now. Get the girl and come out a window onto the porch roof”.
“Yes, sir”, Hensley replied.
Middleton gripped the mic hard and asked, “Where the hell, are you guys”?
“Baker here…these damn things are getting smart. They tried to flatten our tires but luckily I spotted the road spikes”, she replied and added, “We’re having to take the scenic route”.
“Same thing”, Winehouse called in. “They’re getting smarter…we actually ran into a road block they made to trap us. They would have had us to”!
Middleton pulled the vehicle over to the left hand side of the road when he spotted the zombie in the car grab the mic. “We will get you”, the zombie declared as it turned its half-eaten head to look right at them.
“Not good”, Middleton replied. He squeezed the mic and told Hensley, “Do what I told you, now”!
In an instant, we saw a soldier and a little girl crawling out of a window and onto the roof over-hanging the porch.
“Hang on”, the sergeant warned them as he hit the gas and drove the vehicle right up to the house and as close to the porch as he could.
All of them heard the crashing noise of someone jumping onto the roof and shuffling around quickly as if they were lying down. “Hit it”, Hensley told them through the mic.
Middleton hit the gas and peeled wheels on the grass as the bounced around until they were back out on the street. Karen watched as the zombies came running out of the house and chased after them.
“Channel Liquid”, Middleton called out over the radio as they sped away. Mark watched as he turned the channel to twenty-four on the CB and hit the mic again, “You still with us Hensley”?
“Yea, and so are they…get us out of here”, Hensley told him.
“Hang on tight then”, Middleton replied.
He dropped the mic and took the first right he came to and floored it until the group had some good distance between themselves and the zombies before slowing to a stop.
Mark jumped out and grabbed the little girl from off the rook and quickly stuffed her into the backseat on Karen’s lap. Then, he quickly jumped back inside and locked the door as Hensley joined Karen in the back seat.
“Glad you make it”, Hensley told Middleton as we turned left and took off down the street past more houses.
“I’ve got them”, Middleton told the others. “Get back to CP right now”, he ordered the others and dropped the mic on his lap so he could use both hands to drive in.
“Yes, sir”, Baker and Winehouse replied, taking turns.
“What’s your name”, Karen asked the little nine-year-old girl.
“Beth”, the little girl replied.
“I’m Karen and that’s my husband, Mark”, she told the little girl.
Beth curled up closely to Hensley who wrapped an arm around her. “We’ll be alright now”, he promised her.
“I don’t think we will”, she replied as she buried her face in his ribs.
Hensley looked up front and asked Middleton, “What’s the plan, now”?
“Won’t know until we get back but we should call in, declare the area as cleared as it’s going to get, evacuate and let them turn this town into a parking lot’, Middleton replied.
An infected dog ran out into the street, glared at their approaching vehicle and charged at them. Middleton sped up and hit the dog causing the SUV to rock around as they ran the dog over.
“There’s one less problem”, Hensley remarked.
“That used to be someone’s pet”, Beth argued as she pulled away from him.
“Hey, I’m sorry, Beth…I didn’t mean it like that”, Hensley promised her as he pulled her back under his arm.
“Who is head over this operation”, Mark asked the sergeant.
“Colonel Anne Garber…and what a…”, he stopped himself when he realized there were girls present. Instead, he simply said, “She’s a mean one”.
“Colonel Garber and the rest of the team are already at the CP. Winehouse and Baker should be getting there soon, too”, Middleton told them.
“How much further”, Mark asked.
“Just a few more blocks from here”, Mark replied.
“Near the High School”, Karen enquired.
“Yea, we’re using the High School as our base”, Hensley replied.
“That can’t be the most secure spot”, Karen argued.
Mark interrupted to explain, “My wife is a teacher there”.
“Oh, well for now, it was the only option we had. We would have preferred using the top floor at the hospital but a gas main blew and all but destroyed it”, Middleton explained.
Karen seemed full of questions as she asked, “So, if everyone’s at the CP, who has the road blocked off”?
Middleton rolled his eyes towards the window and answered her. “The regular army has the place surrounded. Only my team is actually on site and we’re about out of here”, he told her as he pointed at the school.
They could see two more black SUVs pulling into the main gate at the high school. “There’s the others”, Hensley pointed out.
“Colonel, warm up the bird and let’s get out of here”, Middleton said over the CB.
“No can do…we’ve got more heat signatures on the north side of town”, a gruff, woman’s voice replied.
“They’re laying trap”, Middleton argued.
“I’m aware of the situation”, the colonel replied. “Still, we have our orders to clear the area of survivors”, she told him, reminding him of his mission.
“We’ll never make it”, Baker chimed in on the other radio.
Middleton added, “They’re talking, colonel…we don’t stand a chance out here. They’re coordinated and we are way out-numbered. Put in the order for the drop and let’s go”!
“Get in here”, the colonel shot back.
“Oh, hell”, Hensley remarked.
“She’ll get over it but we’re not going back out in this shit”, Middleton said with grievous defiance.
“Since when does a sergeant get to argue with a colonel”, Mark asked bluntly.
“They always argue”, Hensley joked. “The colonel doesn’t take it personal because she knows the Sarge has some keen instincts that’s kept us all alive, ain’t that right Sarge”?
“I’ve saved her butt more times than I should have and she still wants to argue with me”, Middleton grumbled as he turned into the High School. Several soldiers posted at the gate locked it up behind us.
Mark noticed the Humvees sitting nearby pulled in behind the gate to reinforce it. “What’s to keep them from climbing the fence”?
“We’ve electrified the fence making it a human bug-zapper”, Hensley replied.
Middleton didn’t say anything until after the group had parked in front of the main entrance to the school. “Hensley, take them to the cafeteria and have the medic check them over”.
“Will do, Sarge”, Hensley replied. Hensley couldn’t resist but pick at his sergeant, “So, whatcha gunna tell her”?
“If, mind you…but, if I can get a word in edge-wise…that word is going to be, ‘NO’! I promise you that”, Middleton replied.