Chapter 11: Meanwhile at St. George’s
"PFC Lockett" a large square jawed man in a dusty desert camouflage patterned uniform bellows. In a blur the young private appears before her commanding officer. In the grand military tradition the young woman was almost indistinguishable as a female in her gear. "Sir Yes Staff Sergeant Sir!" she responds as she had been trained standing bolt upright saluting the large man with the brown buzz cut hair. "You, Carson and Medina report to Bunker Two STAT! Relive that team and have them report back to the command tent." The girl snaps her salute back up "Sir Yes Sir!" Turning Private First Class Sara Lockett hustles double time past two soldiers flanking her. A large well built young man whose eyes are so grey they almost appear to sparkle in the mid day sunlight. His name tag reads "Carson" in black letters. The last of the trio is a short stocky Hispanic soldier with "Medina" emblazoned on her gear. They both fall in line behind Lockett keeping pace with her. They move in well rehearsed patterns through the haphazardly placed obstacles. In the act unfolding around them they are but bit players. This would appear odd at best in the days before the sun lashed the earth knocking out all the running electric. St. George's Hospital dominates the landscape a sprawling cinderblock grey building. Which stands three stories high and runs on for almost a full square city block and right now the Army controls every aspect of it. Large armored personnel carriers sit strategically parked between sandbagged bunkers most of which sport heavy mounted belt fed machine guns. Hastily erected fences cordoned off areas blocking access points that are monitored by well armed soldiers.
Sara Lockett dodges around people as she goes her unit mates tight on her heels. There were long lines of people waiting to go through the various field triages the military had put in place. Only the most serious of cases are allowed into the hospital which was running on minimal power provided by several huge generators affixed to guarded military flatbed trucks.
Sara dips to her left deftly avoiding a blonde man wearing jogging attire nursing a wounded arm wrapped in a bed sheet. Carson however wasn't as quick on his feet he was more of a bulldozer plowing headlong into the man. The smaller man bounces off Carson stumbling right into Medina who catches him keeping the smaller man from landing face first on the concrete. "Sir you ok?" She asks the man steadying him with her free arm as she keeps her Black M4 pointed at the ground with her free hand. "Yes..." the man answers in a daze. “I ... I just need to see a doctor." he holds his arm up as if to bolster his claim. Medina glances to Lockett who steps forward. "Sir is that your only injury?" "Yes it is." he replies she then takes him firmly by his uninjured elbow guiding him to a long line of people awaiting treatment. Locket places the man at the end of the line. "Sir this is where you need to wait for treatment for non life threatening injuries." The man peers down the long line before returning his gaze to the brown skinned female soldier. "This is a long line Ma'am." he tells her. Lockett turns scanning up and down the line seeing approximately two hundred people in similar condition. "Yes it is Sir it is a very long line." she relays flatly to the man. Turning on her combat boot covered heels "Carson, Medina on me let’s move double time!” As they trot away from the man Carson calls to Lockett. "When did you get to be all business Lockett?" Approaching their destination "I've always been all business Carson. It's just never been any your business." She yells over her shoulder. The trio chuckles for a second but snap back to the task at hand as they reach Bunker Two.
They find themselves relieving another trio of soldiers possibly no older than they are. “Staff Sergeant wants you back at Command STAT…….” Looking down at her fellow soldiers name tag “…Angelo. “ Sara tells the young man leaning on the mounted machine gun in the nest of sandbags. Upon hearing the command the other to men in the bunker hastily grab their gear and muster up behind the lanky solider. “I need a status report.” Lockett tells Angelo. Speaking with a decidedly thick New York accent Angelo appears to teeter under the weight of his pack smirking. “Nothing for me to tell you Lockett when you watch the dead makes it for a slow ass day.” He begins pointing to his left all heads pivot. “This here is our makeshift morgue.” In the fenced area there are rows of neatly arraigned plump cocoon like white bio-hazard body bags bearing the CDC logo. “The white body bags with the CDC logo are not to be contacted by anyone not bearing authorization from command. They’ll be by to get those in the morning.” He leaps over the four foot high sand bag wall standing before a locked gate. “Nobody gets in or out of here without hospital authorization. We aren’t turning any remains over to any family members or funeral homes. All remains not designated for the CDC will be locked in one of the refrigerated semi trailers all the way in the rear.” Sara Lockett cranes her neck in the extreme rear of the guarded area she sees a row of about fifteen trailers. “Lockett you guys sole responsibility is control of the morgue area. Bunker One ….” Angelo motions with a slender finger directly across from Bunker Two at the hub of activity. They all have to step to the left to peer around a huge olive green armored personnel carrier. Bunker One is a hive of activity easily ten times the size of the meager accommodations Lockett and her compatriots were responsible for. “Bravo Company is responsible for everything else guys so stay out of their way. They are focused on peace keeping and controlling the flow of civvies in and out of the area and its nuts I tell ya!” Sara turns looking over the well organized Company of soldiers “How many?” She inquires hooking a thumb in Bunker One’s general direction. Angelo hunches his thin shoulders. “Roughly two hundred at last count” A bald husky soldier interjects from behind Angelo. “Well we’ll see you in twelve hours.” Angelo says as he and his troop double time it back to Command.
After a brief game of paper rock scissors Carson draws first watch. Lockett sits at his side her helmet off enjoying the early afternoon sunlight resting on the horseshoe shaped ring of sandbags. Medina is snoring softly her helmet over her eyes. She rests peacefully her back against the brick that forms the outer wall of the massive hospital. Carson stands with his rifle slug across his broad chest. Sara notices how imposing the boy’s physique is as he cast a shadow over her. “Hey Carson….” she gets his attention. He looks down to her. “How’d you come from Sheep Skin Montana to the military?” His smile is almost as obvious as the cherry red blush on his cheeks. “Lockett come on why you gotta bust my ass like that?” He chuckles before correcting her “It’s Sheep Creek Montana.” The pair of young soldiers gazes back out across the organized chaos surrounding them. “I tell you Lockett there aint much to do else in a town of three hundred forty two people after high school. I guess I just wanted to go some place I’d never been and see some folks I didn’t know.” He peaks back at Lockett noticing how pretty she is even in unisex Army fatigues. Smiling back at him “You just wanted to kiss some girls that weren’t your cousins.” She jabs at him playfully. They both giggle “and you?” Carson asks. Sara Lockett stares of at the cloudless sky past Carson. “Same as you I guess…” a smile touches the corners of her mouth. “…eeeeeeeexcept the part about kissing cousins.” Carson raises a playful eyebrow in her direction. “I come from a rather rough part of the south side of Chicago. When you’re a teen life has a pretty simple pattern where I’m from. If you’re a guy it’s join a gang, make a few babies, go to jail and or get murdered. Now girls on the other hand it goes bad relationship, pregnancy, drop out of school rinse and repeat then rinse and repeat.” Her stare comes back down to Carson only find out he is regarding her with a flirtatious eye. They pass the next few hours chatting then changing out post positions.
Lockett finds herself nodding peacefully in the bunkers rear. Medina takes point while Carson props his big feet up on the sandbag wall.
“Lockett ……” she becomes vaguely aware of her name being shouted repeatedly. She stirs hoping to fall back asleep. “Lockett …” she is violently jerked from her sleep. “Whaa …” she mummers groggily to herself mistakenly believing her dad is attempting to wake her for school. “Lockett get up now have got a real problem!” Carson yells pulling her up. Lockett’s helmet falls from her face and clangs to the ground. She notices it is now night twilight to be exact. The sky has a fading line of sun at the horizon and vivid orange bands of Aurora twist across the sky like colored smoke. Blocking the rest of her view is Carson. His eyes are so wide they appear round like a Japanese cartoon characters. He’s panicking his skin is almost devoid of any color. “Get up Lockett!” he shouts pulling her to her feet. The image that greets Lockett’s eyes shocks her awake on this mild night like a slap to the face. Everyone is still as if the world is holding its collective breath. For so many people to go suddenly silent is biblically unnerving. She scans the scene there are people laying everywhere as if they dropped where they stood. Medical and hospital staff along with hundreds of soldiers and uninjured civilians mill about dumbfounded. Almost every person in line to be treated or who had some type of wound where blood had been drawn lay where they fell. Dead people litter the ground their eyes open reflecting the eerie glow of orange cascading across the sky. Medics and hospital staff alike attempt to rouse the stricken victims around them to no avail. A loud clap startles everyone as the exterior mounted generators kick on and bathe the surreal scene in an artificial white light. PFC Sara Lockett catches movement out of the corner of her eye. At first she just thinks its Medina shivering uncontrollably to her right but it’s not. Lockett pushes past her comrade in arms stepping between the girl and the mounted machine gun. She begins to shake now slowly placing a trembling hand on Carson’s broad shoulder. She turns his head with her left hand to the right afraid to speak but then utters the only words that come mind. “Jesus Christ…” disbelief isn’t an adequate enough word to describe the sight they behold. Carson falls backwards tripping over his own feet and scrambles back up right. The once still morgue area is a sea of movement and noise. Inside the packed trailers “bangs and booms” echo like bottled thunder. From one end of the fenced in “morgue” to the other white sterile body bags ungulate across the pavement like giant maggots rolling about. Every single one shows signs of something clumsily attempting to free itself from within.
Chapter 11 is now a reality. We find ourselves meeting a new groups of chracters in The Living Dark universe. Three young soldiers Sara Lockett, Colt Carson and Carlita Medina. They are down at St. George's hospital and they even bump into an old friend of the James Family Carl Fullerton. The trio is guarding the morgue when night falls. Suddenly things don't look so goo for them. Come back the week of October 28th to see
what happens to "new recurits."
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The Living Dark