-Paul Di Maggio
- Any progress James?- asked him his boss.
- Um, yeah. Yes sir.- replied James Kurtz, closing a YouTube video.
- Good.- said his boss, and he left. 26 year-old James was a videogame programmer. After getting a degree at college, and 27 job interviews, he was able to apply in TriGame, a small-to-medium company. He was lazy at work, but intelligent. He used to distract himself a lot while trying to work in his computer, mostly because of YouTube videos and Facebook chatting, his boss realized about this, and was planning to fire him after the smallest mistake he made. It was time to work now.
His work got interrupted by a noise, unfortunately. A very loud one. James recognized it inmediately, an alarm. He turned off his computer and ran to the stairs. The TV turned on, the President was giving a speech, but James had no time for it. The office tower in which he worked was 52 stories tall, and he worked in the last one. After five minutes of rushing through the stairs, he got to the first floor and then, to the street.
- This is bad man.- said Paul Di Maggio, a friend of his that also worked in TriGame. James opened his mouth to answer but no words came from it. Thousands of people were running and crushing among each other. While some were taking off in their cars, others were just running away or paking everything they could. The alarm was still on, and that was making people even crazier. James Kurtz tried to run, but his legs weren't working, an arm was acrros his chest.
- Calm down man! Seriously!.- he turned his head, Paul was next to him. - Stay calm, it's the only way to think clearly!.- James was breathing heavily and his face was covered in sweat.
Loud quick steps were heard. At every second, they became louder. A Bio Hazard squad was in the street. They were carryng M4 rifles and stun granades, just to prevent panick. Paul approached to one of them.
- What's going on?- he asked the man.
- Can't tell you anything, stay out of the way.- he said, and he pushed him away.
- Hey asshole! Fight like a man, come here! I'm gonna kick...
- Calm down Paul, now it's your turn.- James told him.
- Let's go to my house James, I've been preparing for this.
- Fine.- he said. James got into Paul's car and they drove to his house. By the time they arrived, news about a Bio Weapon attack were on every channel. - Turn off the TV.- Paul told him. - Okay, okay.- James said, trying to calm down his friend.
- Here, help me open this up James.
- Pull this door open at the count of three.- Paul told him. -One, two , three!- The door opened, revealing a huge armory behind it.
- Assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, ammo, grab what you need.- he told him. James was amazed, he had never fired a gun before, but he loved videogames about them. He took a Remington 870 shotgun from the wall, two boxes of rifle ammo, stun granades and a revolver.
- Yeah, I'd grab that too.- said Paul. - Revolvers are easy to clean and lighter to carry, now let's get out of here before dawn.- he was obviously trained for a situation like this, spite being a game designer.
- Okay Paul, let's turn the TV.- James suggested.
He grabbed the remote control and pressed the "power" button. A national broadcast caught their attention. - All citizens of Atlanta and it's surroundings, head to a safe-zone in downtown Atlanta. Repeat, all citizens of Atlanta and it's surroundings.- Paul Di Maggio turned the TV off. -Let's go then.- he said. It was night when they arrived. Soldiers with gas masks were helping people set their tents in the street. There were medical kits and supplies inside sanitary tents in the place. At 22:00 p.m they would close the front gate. James and Paul were lucky. James was holding his shotgun in his back and his revolver was laying in a holster in his right side. His friend had taken an AK-47 rifle and a Glock pistol. He was more trained with guns than James. A soldier approached them.
- Do not move, please. I am looking for signs of the virus.
- Virus? What kind of virus?- James asked him.
- They call it "the rare death". Scientists don't know if it kills you or just makes you a sick cannibal.- he grabbed a flashlight and scanned James and Paul's eyes. - Good, you can stay here. Sign this paper over here and stay at your tent. In there you have everything you need, and rations for six months.
James and Paul signed the paper with a pen that was given by the soldier. - What's your name?.- James asked him. - Staff Sergeant Peter McCoy, leave your weapons in that tent over there.
- Okay.- wanted to say James, when he got interrupted.
- No way! We leave our weapons, we die.- Paul looked at James.
- You don't need them, you're safe here. Get some rest now, you look tired.
They left their weapons in the box and entered the tent, as the gates saying "Safe-Zone 1B" started to close
James and Paul woke up inside their tents. The sun was high in the sky. They looked up while trying to cover their eyes from the light, two sentinel towers were in front of them. There was a soldier and a machine gun in each one. Every two hours, there was a changing of the guards. James saw a known face among the people in the place.
- Hi!- said James.
- I'm busy at the moment, I may talk to you later.- said Staff Sergeant Peter McCoy.
- Wait, I didn't tell you my name. My name is James, James Kurtz.- he told the soldier, who just kept walking in the same direction. Other soldiers were stacking boxes with supplies and loading them in trucks, to give help to other people outside the safe-zone. The city looked like hell. There was nobody in the streets, no cars and even no birds. Inside the buildings nearby there were no lights turned on. James came to a soldier.
- Hi. May I ask you a question?
- Go ahead.-the soldier replied.
- What does the virus do exactly?- James Kurtz asked him.
- Well, it's hard to explain but um..I guess it's like this.- he took a breath.
- First they bite you.
- Who?.- James interrupted him.
- The infected, people who are no longer people. They are cannibals, and have very powerful jaws.
- Damn! Well, you were explaining me about the virus right?
- Yes. Then, the fever comes and you die from it. After the fever kills you, you come back as one of them.
James couldn't believe it, a real global pandemia was taking place, and if it had hit Atlanta, it could have done it in every big city in the world. Soon he heard a soldier shouting something. The soldier next to him ran to his defense position. Peter McCoy climbed the tower and aimed the machine gun at the street. Some metres ahead, a man was walking slowly at the place.
- Taking him out mayor.- Peter said to a soldier, and the soldier nodded.
- Wait! Are you crazy? It's just a drunk man!.- he told them.
- You have no idea of what that man is.- Peter said, and he fired one loud shot. The man's head exploded in blood as his body dropped to the ground.
- No!.- James shouted, shocked. He had never seen a man die before.
- It wasn't a man, okay? It was an infected, a biter, one of them.- Peter McCoy told him.
James calmed down and he asked himself how many people were infected. He worried about his family and his girlfriend. Could they survive? Did they had the time to get to a safe zone?
After helping out the people in the camp for quite some time, night had come again.
- Excuse me! Could you help me putting this boxes inside this tent over here?.- James turned back, a mother and his son were having problems holding two big boxes of food.
- Of course.- James helped the woman with the boxes, they were heavy but he was able to do the job with some of his strengh.
- Thanks.- said the woman. - My name is Nancy Jefferson, and this is my boy, Tommy.- the kid was shy, but he managed to say hi. - I am a nurse and I work in that tent over there.
- Well, if you need some help again call me. I am James Kurtz.- James shook her hand and the family walked away to help other people. Paul walked out of his tent.
- Hi James!.- he said.
- Hi Paul.It's a quiet night.- James kept looking at the dark streets. His calm was interrupted by a very loud sound.
- What the hell? Gunfire! That's gunfire!.- Paul told his friend.
The shots came from the streets. They were able to see a man in the darkness. He was running from something, while firing his pistol at the opposite direction. The man turned back and he ran to the base. A group of biters were after him. They were dozens and he had ran out of ammunition.
- Oh shit, Paul! He is going to get surrounded!.- James shouted Paul.
- Sorry James, there is nothing we can do.
The light of the moon iluminated the horrible scene. The creatures were taking chunks out of the man and were eating him alive. Soon, more of them came from everywhere, just to join the feast. James was paralized. He wasn't ready for this new world, none of them were. Peter McCoy brought them back to reality.
- All that gunfire must have attracted more of them! Get ready!.- the Sergeant took hold of the machine gun and aimed at the streets. People inside the place started to panick as the monsters slowly walked at the place. Slowly, but at a constant pace. Peter McCoy opened fire. The noise was very loud. Large caliber bullets were impacting the creatures, but they just seemed to drop them to the ground instead of killing them. One of them was hit in one leg, it's limb flew up and the creature started to crawl, unable to walk. James turned to Paul.
- Bullets ain't working!.- he yelled. Staff Sergeant McCoy was still firing at them. They were only a few metres away. He had to say something he prayed to never had to say it.
- Everyone get the hell out of here! B1 isn't safe anymore! Get out!- Peter managed to take some of them out, but the creatures were now crushing the gates, they only had some seconds left. Nancy Jefferson and his son approached them.
- What are we gonna do?.- she asked desperately.
- Follow me, and don't let the infected bite you!.- Paul had an idea. They followed him to a Hum-Vee next a wall, luckily for them, it was open.
- Come on! Look for the keys!.- Paul told them.
- Here!.- Nancy said. Paul grabbed them and started the vehicle. The engine roared and he stepped in the gas pedal.
- We are gonna crash! Stop!.- James told Paul, but his friend didn't move his foot from the pedal.
- We are going to crash through the gate! Hang on!
The Hum-Vee teared the back gate appart and crashed through it like if nothing had happened. They went down a street, trampling some biters on the way. James looked back with his mirror and he saw the place fall to them. The safe-zone was no more.
- Is everybody okay?.- Paul asked desperately.
- Yeah, I think so.- James answered.
- Nancy, Tommy?.- Paul asked again.
- Yes, we are fine.
- Glad to hear that, we almost died over there.
Everyone inside the car heard a noise.
- I think that's the radio!.- Nancy told them.
Suddenly, the noises ended and a man was sending a message.
- Bravo One! Bravo One! Are you still there?.- Paul wasn't going to answer, he thought it wouldn't be okay if they knew they weren't soldiers.
- Every safe-zone in Atlanta is down, the infected took over! Repeat my last, every safe-zone in Atlanta is down!
James felt sick, he wanted to throw up. Fear was the only emotion in the air. The man on the radio spoke again.
- I can see you from the air Bravo One.- in that second, James saw an helicopter flying at his right, above the buildings.
- The damn infected are near your position, they are closing in!- Paul turned the corner on his right, the road ahead was blocked by a barricade. Right after he turned, his face went pale, and so did James. A massive group of creatures were blocking the road.
- Holy shit Paul! Turn back!.- James yelled in fear.
- I can't! The damn things are on our back!
Paul stepped on the gas pedal and the Hum-Vee was launched like a missile to the infected herd, trampling the most of them, and pushing others away. But they were too many and some of them were under the vehicle. It lost traction and unable to speed up, the truck stopped. The angry things rushed at their non-moving victims.
- Everybody out!.- yelled Paul
As they opened the doors, the creatures got hugrier. Nancy Jefferson grabbed Tommy's hand and they ran to their right side, there was a dark alley there. James couldn't go with Paul, instead, he followed the Jefferson's way. They climbed trash container and then balcony.
- I think we lost them! We are safe!.- Tommy said.
- Wait! Where is Paul?.- James asked, petrified.
- I don't know, I thought he was following you!.- Nancy answered.
It was too late to save him. The three survivors heard loud screams from the road. Screams of pain and agony. Nancy covered Tommy's eyes while James was standing still in horror. Paul had given his life for them to escape. The radio kept asking.
- Bravo One! Answer me! Are you still there?.- the radio stopped, maybe the pilot's hope vanished he saw the creatures enjoy theirselves.
James wasn't able to sleep that night. He and Tommy were staying in an abandoned diner in the suburbs. Nancy wasn't among them, she had left to look out for supplies, out in the west part of the city.
The only light came from the moon, it was the darkest night she had ever seen. But she had things to do, she wouldn't waste her time watching the abominations eat people in the dark. Her only equipment were a pistol and a flashlight. She turned right when she heard a noise coming from an abandoned house. "This ain't a place I want to enter", she thought, as she kept walking down the lonely street. Another house was on the other side, this one had a light turned on.
She crouched and poked her head out of the window. Barricades had been built, she thought there would be survivors in there. The backdoor would be enough for a silent entrance. A walker was patrolling the area. She grabbed it by the neck and hit him twice in the head with the barrel of her pistol, that would be more than enough to kill it.
Slowly, Nancy opened the door. She turned on her flashlight for a second, just to see a living room full of walkers. She crouched again, and avoided them. The mysterious room was just ahead. A shot was heard, and the door exploded near her arm, wounding it. She was able to see a man with a shotgun. The man cocked it and fired again this time, shooting Nancy's right foot.
Nancy screamed in pain. "So you were scavenging my house uh? Fucking bitch!" he yelled. The walkers spotted her and smelled her blood. She tried to run. "Left" she thought while she saw a door. It was locked. Nancy pulled out her gun and shot the lock, managing to open it. She saw the stairs and ran for the basement. Darkness hit her again. Nancy turned on her flashlight again, pistol in her right hand. There were no walkers in there. She turned on her walkie-talkie.
- James! Can you hear me? James!- she said.
James jumped from his chair.
- Yes! Yes I can!
- I think I found a safe place, time to start looking out for things.- she turned her head to the right.
The flashlight met the face of a walker. Nancy yelled and shot him, shocked. Another one was behind her, she turned and shot him but the walker managed to scratch her. She felt pain in her right shoulder, she had been bit by another one. Nancy shot him in the eye. Two more walkers emerged from the darkness and then one more she shot the first one, and aimed for the second's head. She pulled the trigger, but no bullet was fired. Panick was seen in her face just when another walker bited her in the neck. She dropped to the ground, while the other walkers pulled chunks out of her.
James was shocked, his hand dropped the walkie to the ground, batteries went flying. Tommy woke up.
- Are you okay?- he asked with no answer. Tears came out of his eyes. - Is my mum okay?
Three days later, Tommy would not speak to the young man. "It's all your fault" he would say when James tried to talk to him.
They had stolen a Prius from the diner's parking lot. James turned on the radio just to listen to something else than just to the kid's insults. No music, just another recorded message. They were driving to the Motor Speedway, a place which was supposed to be a survivor camp, guarded by military men. Maybe, this place was their last chance.
Lights aimed at him while he was driving, they blinded him. The speakers roared. "Hey you, driver turn right and proceed to medical tests."
-Whoa! We are here Tommy!.- again, he did not say a word.
After being approved by the doctors, they entered the place, and they were assigned a tent. A soldier greeted them with a smile, James was stunned.
- McCoy! I thought you were dead! How the hell did you get out from there?
- I still don't know!- he laughed.
- Well, looks like this place is safe.- Peter nodded.
- Yes it is. We got the finest in here. People live in the tents and soldiers in those small aluminium quarters. We got meds, weapons and food.
- McCoy I am very tired, would you mind I get some rest?
- No, course not! You're home here.
The bed was nice. He instantly fell asleep. Tommy was in the bed next to him. He heard gunfire from outside the Speedway. Then, he saw smoke from more than a mile away. He didn't care, he prayed for everyone to be dead, for smiling McCoy, for the doctors, the other survivors, but more specially, for James Kurtz, the man who was responsible for letting her mum go scavenging.
The radio next to him turned on. James was still sleeping. "Atention! Atention! Base Charlie A-1 has been compromised" a woman said. Tommy heard her repeat the sentence. "Base Delta A-6 has been compromised too", a man was yelling. The woman spoke again. "Base Charlie B-5! What's your status?" Tommy took that as an oportunity.
- Base is compromised.- he told her trying to make a grown up voice. The woman took a breath and spoke again.
- Beggining napalm strikes on compromised bases.- she said.
Tommy's smile was full of evil. "Die fucking scums". He said, when he saw the planes drop fire on a street far away. He looked at the planes and then to his right, something was wrong. He saw the letters painted on a wall. James woke up by the sound of the planes.
- Striking Base Charlie B-5.- he said.
- What the hell is going on?- James asked Tommy.- the kid started to cry.
The planes roared above them.
James looked at Tommy.
- What did you do?
The napalm struck the stadium. A giant wall of fire struck the tents. Finally, they saw Atlanta burn.