Home > Creative Writing Exercises, Social Networking, Writing > Three Words Musing 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade – Part IX

Three Words Musing 1: Bacon, Shortage, Blockade – Part IX

The ninth installment of a work in progress, inspired by suggestions on Twitter. All rights reserved.

***

The day Lloyd Porter lost his job had seemed like the end of the world to him. Less than twenty-four hours later, he had a better sense of perspective.

Traffic snarled on Interstate 4. Plumes of greasy black smoke billowed from the skyline of “The City Beautiful.” Mottled green helicopters whup-whupped from the east.

He made his way toward home using side streets and by traversing sidewalks on the main arteries that linked up to the interstate. He tapped the scan button on the factory-issue stereo in the Prius, searching for news. Mostly, he found static and high-pitched Emergency Broadcast System signals.

Lloyd picked up his phone from the passenger seat, tried speed-dialing Angeline again. Still no answer. He thought of calling the Orlando Press bureau in Kissimmee – surely, they’d know something. But he didn’t want to talk to Patrick. Lloyd dialed Amy Dennison’s phone. She might have information, and she also deserved to know that her good friend Diana had turned a hapless assistant into a buffet table. But Amy didn’t answer.

***

Salvation rode shotgun aboard a commandeered tourist helicopter from International Drive.

Her name was Cassie Thayer, and she had worked for the past fifteen years as a research scientist with the Centers for Disease Control. About the time the Monmont Farms cows had been delivered to the University of Florida, Dr. Thayer had been on the ranch with a squad of National Security Agency troopers and Homeland Security investigators.

They found the empty vials and the open metal biohazard briefcase next to the body of a radical militant from Idaho. Records identified him as Morgan Hunt, 36, of Boise. He’d shot himself in the head with a 9mm Beretta after releasing the weaponized virus that his co-conspirators had stolen from a lab outside Las Vegas.

Once Cassie knew what they were dealing with, she could return to the CDC satellite facility in Altamonte Springs and begin processing the antidote. No, they couldn’t save everyone, but they could limit the spread. Control the damage.

She almost hadn’t made it this far. George Monmont, owner of the ranch, was among the dozens of reanimated dead who swarmed the barn while Cassie was inside with her protective detail. The NSA soldiers and Homeland folks died buying her time so that she could sneak away through the woods.

She sank hip deep in a marsh along the way, realizing too late that she had kept her cell phone in the pocket of her pants.

The helicopter belonged to a retired Delta Airlines pilot, Ferdinand Marino, who found himself fending off zombies in garish flowery shirts and Bermuda shorts, wearing black socks with sandals. He used a nine iron to thwack them upside the head while Cassie climbed aboard and followed his shouted instructions to rev up the chopper.

One of the attackers, a wiry little kid in lopsided black mouse ears, bit a hunk out of Marino’s left leg as the pilot scrambled aboard. He winced and gave an anguished grunt, but the whine of the growing rotor noise drowned it out. He said nothing about the injury to his passenger. He just slammed the door shut, watching as the zombie kid pounded on the glass, and lifted off.

Minutes later, salvation slammed through the window of an office on the 31st floor of the SunTrust Bank building in downtown Orlando. It blossomed into a fiery flower that rained twisted metal and glass on the street below.

***

The Prius idled silently in the driveway. Tears streamed down Lloyd’s face. His hands gripped the steering wheel. He had parked in the cul-de-sac, facing the house.

Six pairs of ghastly yellow-green eyes stared at him through the picture window in the living room. Angeline, flanked on either side by the boys, Earl and Lloyd, Jr. Her hands rested gently on their shoulders, but there was nothing gentle about their demeanor. All three bared their teeth as they slowly, softly thumped their foreheads against the glass.

Too late, he thought. They’d been lost to whatever was spreading throughout the city – maybe throughout the world, for all he knew.

The monster’s always hungry. Sometimes, it eats its own.

“I’m sorry!” he shouted.

And then he slid the transmission into drive and slammed on the gas. Tires chewed up turf. Glass shattered. They shrieked as the car plowed into them, gnarled fingers scrabbling at the hood and bumper. But then the Prius pinned them to the entertainment center, which toppled over to finish the job.

“I’m sorry,” he wept.

The lights went out in Angeline’s eyes.

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