Chapter 19: Trapped
Private Sara Locket is watching the world before her eyes swim into and out of focus as if she was looking up from the bottom of a swimming pool. Her body aches somewhere in the distance her name is being shouted over and over. When the monstrous green APC they’d commandeered plowed headlong into the back of a freeway traffic jam. Locket and her teammate Carson were thrown against the rear of the steel box like rag dolls. Locket sits up wavering on her rear end the only functions her body performs are involuntary as the soldier doesn’t even know where she is. There's a very handsome young man in military attire standing before her shaking her by the shoulder in the dimly lit cabin. His nose is cocked at an odd angle and leaking blood down his fatigues. "Locket!" Carson shouts through his damaged nose his voice thick and nasally from the sound pushing its way past clots of blood. "Skip it..." Carson says leaving the browned eyed girl swaying he moves uphill into the front of the vehicle to check on Medina their driver. The girl’s body is slumped awkwardly in the driver's seat. Before her in the windshield there’s a thin hairline crack running left to right blood is smeared just below said crack at about eye level. Carson grimaces through clenched teeth upon deducing the source of the blood smeared across the cracked windshield. He wipes away some of his own blood with the back of his hand. Carson narrowly avoids an oil slick of crimson running back down towards the rear to the cabin… "Medina…” he calls nervously fearing for the worst. The big soldier leans down scooping Medina's body up into his arms. He attempts to stand before being yanked down roughly by the thick seat belt. Turning his back to the windshield Carson reaches across the young ladies crumpled form gently pressing the button freeing his unit mate from the safety restraint. He recoils in shock Medina's forehead has been opened up all the way across just below her hair line. The deep gash gives the appearance of a split jelly doughnut. Private Carson's training takes over as he feels Medina's wrist for a pulse. He relaxes after finding a strong pulse pounding its way up her arm. "Jesus." He mumbles catching a glimpse of Locket comically attempting to stand propping herself against the wall staggering forward slowly. Carson clumsily works his hands underneath Private Medina once he steadies himself he hefts her up against his chest.
Carson makes to maneuver his large body between the front drivers and passenger seats turning sideways. “Well hello handsome.” Carson pivots his head following the voice from outside. On the hood of the APC is a short man coated with blood down the front of his chest. There’s a bloodied bandage covering his right shoulder as he grins manically through the cracked windshield. “Where were you when I needed first aid?” The ghoul with the orange tinted eyes hisses. He lunges at the glass playfully a statuesque Carson yelps “Shit! “ In the same breath Private Carson to throws himself together with the woman he cradles down the center isle. The ghoul on the hood laughs aloud to himself taking great pride in his actions. Carson tumbles behind the second seat rolling in tight with Carlita Medina’s unconscious body. “Locket.” The boy shouts as loud as he dares to. “Locket you need to get down now.” He directs his woozy teammate to seek shelter out of view. “Huh?” is all the slow moving Locket croaks out. “Get behind that damn seat and get down one of those things is on the hood staring at us.” Carson hooks a finger back towards the front of off balanced military transport. “And I think he’s hitting on me too.” The young soldier sports a high red blush in his cheeks and the tips of his ears. Locket drops more out of need than fear directly across from her fellow soldiers. “Now Carson I know I banged my head pretty hard but did you say a zombie thingy is hitting on you?” Locket says from the other side of the isle. “Um I didn’t say thingy.” Carson answers defensively through his clotted busted nose. “But yes you clearly get the gist of what I‘m saying. “ He moves Medina underneath his body pushing her against the wall but being careful not to expose himself to the undead peering into the APC. “Oh well handsome it seems as though you have company.” They hear muffled by the glass from the infected man outside. “Looks like I’ll have to just let myself in maybe then we can talk.” Both Locket and Carson gaze up to the tiny hatch Medina had used to gain access to the APC.
Carson is relived recalling from basic training that the hatch on an APC locks automatically and the latch is on the inside. Locket is under that latch with her knife drawn she flicks the slide open. Her next move is for the large red button on the wall marked “Cabin Light” in green stenciled lettering. The rear of the APC is cast in ink black darkness. “Locket girl have you lost you damn mind.” He leaps to his feet in fear calling for the brown skinned solider stumbling over Private Medina as he moves. “Carson listen to me lure him in. I will grab him from behind and drive my knife into his brain from behind.” Carson hears Locket’s plan but he can’t see where she has moved to in the cabin. Sara Locket‘s voice floats from the dark. “Carson draw your gun but hide it will ya? You need to back me up and we need to shut him up before he attracts more of those damn things.” They hear footsteps echoing through the APC from overheard. The metal hatch pops open with a “clink” Carson glances up and out of round opening. He sees the cascading ribbons of orange flowing like water across the night sky. The sickly pumpkin colored light shines down into the APC cutting through the darkened haze before it’s absorbed. “Awww heeeey no fair.” The zombie whines looking down. “You turned off the lights handsome, but that doesn’t matter I can see in the dark.” Carson stands rigid the pistol in his hand slick with sweat. “I …. I’m down here.” Carson forces the words from his mouth it’s like vomiting acid. He wishes he wasn’t here Carson wants to be back home in his little town full of nobodies in the middle of nowhere. From above the zombie appears over the open hatch blocking out those neon streaks winding their way through the violet night sky. “Name’s Michael …” It says dropping down and disappearing before his eyes. The sounds of combat soon fill the cramped air inside the APC. Carson brings his pistols to bear before being hit hard. He losses the gun in the darkness he hear Locket shriek. “Sara!’ He shouts scrambling to find his footing Carson is aware of a thick gurgling sounds far bay in the armored vehicles bay.
Feeling on the floor he gives up his search for his pistol. The Private grabs for the combat knife in strapped to his leg tugging it free. Finding wall opposite where he’d left Medina Carson pulls himself up desperately wanting to flood the APC’s interior with light. He stands slapping the wall several times until he makes contact with the button. The rows of lights flicker then catch Carson sees the ghoul moving for him with outstretched arms. He swings the knife in a high vicious arc missing the zombie completely as it lands in a heap dead at his feet. Locket’s long combat knife is embedded in the base of the dead man’s skull. “Locket dammit I though it got you.” Carson yells in a panic moving towards her. “I’m fine… I’m fine close the damn hatch Carson.” She says pushing up from the rear ramp. Carson stows his knife back in its place then leaps up grasping the edge of the hatch. He uses his brawny arms to pull his head out of the open hatch. Taking a quick survey of the area he observes their surroundings. The immediate area is clear to their right the freeway is packed with wrecked cars and slow moving shadowy figures. Carson wiggles his body back down into the APC’s bay. “We’re clear…” he relays to Locket who is admiring the black blood on the front of her uniform. “I heard you scream out Locket I thought you were a goner.” Carson smirks as he seals the hatch back. “That was my battle cry Carson I was on his ass the second he touched down.” She kneels down next to Medina rolling her over. “Wow back off Locket we don’t want any of that goo on your uni on Medina until I dress her wound.” Private Locket pulls back mildly perturbed. “How is she?” Locket inquires grabbing a white first aid kit from under the seat nearest to her. She tosses it to Carson “She has a good pulse but man did she take a blow when we crashed. I think she might need stitches.” Carson opens the first aid kit pulling a bottle of saline free and throwing it to Locket. “Clean yourself up Locket I might need your help.” Private Locket pours the sterile liquid liberally over her uniform and hands. “Look Carson we need to get Medina ready to go then rest up I don’t think we should move out until daylight.” Carson nods in agreement while dabbing white gauze across Carlita Medina’s lacerated forehead. Locket retrieves the pistol from the floor where Carson had dropped. She moves behind him jabbing the weapon in the boy’s open holster.
Several hours later the sun wakes Privates Locket and Carson from a restless sleep. After some rest the pain from Carson’s nose has set in. He doesn’t know what hurt more breaking it or when Locket used her thumbs to reposition it last night. The thin aluminum splint bridging his nose is kept in place with strips of white tape making it cumbersome to say the least. They had sewn Medina’s forehead back together then passed out sleep facing each other. Carson sits up instantly alert he reaches for Medina checking her pulse. Once he finds it still going strong he calls out to Locket. “Hey ready to go?” He asks. “Yeah I say we load the first aid kit into Carlita’s pack and you carry her. I’ll take point with my M4 you keep your M4 and Medina’s as well.” Carson makes his way over to the switch turning the lights back on. “You got a look last night which way should we go?” Locket asks snapping her pack over her back while diligently checking her assault rifle. “Let’s go toward the highway but over the bridge it leads out of town and away from all these packed sub divisions.” They both stand over Private Medina her forehead visibly swollen and plumb colored beneath a large white patch of gauze. “What are our rules of engagement Locket?” Carson readies his weapon slinging over his shoulder and Medina’s rifle as well. “We don’t engage Carson we move quietly avoiding direct confrontation with the enemy. We only fire our weapons if we are surrounded with no other options. When we can we use our knives to drops the zombies or whatever the hell they are most importantly we look for another mode of transportation.” Carson takes a deep breath leaning across the driver’s seat. “Best we go out this way the roof hatch is to high and the ramp will make entirely too much noise. “Out the way farm boy let me have a look.” Locket and Carson gingerly squeeze past one another swapping places in the APC’s cab. Locket judges the distance down to the ground as the front of the APC has come to rest on the trunk of some crappy hybrid sports sedan. “Ready when you are.” Carson huffs in her ear. Locket turns to Carson realizing he’s draped Medina over his shoulders effortlessly. “Stay close.” Locket replies delicately popping the lock on the wide green door.
She extends one foot gently down on the warped metal of the car before hopping down to the ground. Locket drops to one knee instinctively rifle at the ready scanning the area. Carson drops down with a grunt next to her one hand steadying Medina while the other presses the M4’s to his body to avoid any unnecessary noise. Locket motions to her eyes with two fingers then point along the lanes of smashed vehicles. About two blocks up is a bridge that’s not as cluttered as the highway below. They move low and slow cautiously giving the open car windows a wide berth. From the opposite direct they hear a motor. Carson stands looking over the cars from a side street a white panel van with something stenciled on the side comes into view. “It’s some kind of repair van or something and it‘s headed this way.” He tells Locket squatting besides her. “Well we have to hitch a ride with them or else.” She says to Carson. “Or what Locket.” He whispers as Locket cocks her head back. Carson follows her line of sight his eyes go wide as dozens of zombies are now climbing from the wrecks on the freeway and making their way directly up the embankment. The slow moving ragged horde will overrun them in a quest to seek out the source of the engine noise. “Cause Carson it looks like they heard the van too.”
Welcome back this New Year! The Living Dark is glad to have you back for more. We have found our trip of young soldiers Privates Medina, Carson and Locket. They are trapped and injured in the back of the APC they used to flee the massacre at St. George's Hospital. They have to treat their wounds but first contend with an unwanted undead guest. Having left he safety of the APC the soldiers are trying to find a way out of the city when the spot a familiar white van coming their way. Comeback the week of January 13th to find out if our two groups meet up and survive together.
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