Read Apocalypse Empire (Book 1): Apocalypse Origins Online
Authors: R.A. Neely
"I think we should go ahead and make a break for
it," Jackson said.
Shirley nodded. "How do we get past the infected?"
"We'll try to sneak past. If he notices us, I'll take
care of it."
"Okay," Shirley replied and she got up from the floor.
She shook out her jacket to get some wrinkles out and then quickly stopped when
she realized how pointless that was given what had happened today. What was the
point of being wrinkle free when there were people running around trying to
Jackson motioned for her to come closer. "Ready?"
"Alright, stay close."
Jackson quietly turned the handle and opened the door wide
enough for them to slip out. He stealthily made his way out of the
office. Shirley took a moment to remove her heels, then followed after him.
Jackson glanced at the creature and saw that it was still shuffling around the
room. So far so good. They made there way over to the stairway when Shirley
glanced towards the creature and tripped.
She managed to catch herself and prevent a broken nose but
the creature had heard them. It roared and started running towards them.
Jackson helped her to her feet and pushed her behind him. Spying a briefcase,
he picked it up and readied himself to meet the infected's charge. Jackson
stepped to the side as the creature reached him and gave it a solid blow to the
head with the briefcase. The creature was knocked flat on his back and Jackson
moved closer to take advantage.
Shirley watched in awe as Jackson delivered several brutal
blows with the briefcase to the infected's head. After the third blow, it
stopped moving. Jackson dropped the briefcase on the infected and slowly walked
towards Shirley. He appeared hesitant at the look on her face.
"Hope that doesn't bother you, but I've no intention of
dying anytime soon."
Shirley shook her head. "It doesn't bother me. I'm just
amazed you took care of it so easily."
Some of the tension left Jackson's shoulders. "Good.
'Cause it'll probably be some more of that before the day is done. Just so you
know, I'll do the same if anyone attacks us, infected or not. Hope that's okay
"I feel safe with you, Jackson. You do whatever you
need to to protect us. I'm a practical woman. I'm not gonna faint at a little
Jackson nodded. "Alright. Let's get going then."
"Wait," Shirley said, "there's one thing I
can do before we get out here."
"What's that?" Jackson asked.
"I can warn everyone about this."
Jackson looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded.
"Alright. That'll give some people a chance. Let's do it."
It didn't take them long to get everything set up.
Fortunately, the equipment they needed had survived the attack from the
infected. Shirley thought to make herself more presentable but changed her
mind. Better that her viewers saw her as she was so they would take this
seriously. She took her seat at the anchor desk and waited for Jackson to give
her the signal. He counted down from three on his fingers and nodded his head.
"This is Shirley O'Hara, reporting live from
I'm here to deliver a message. If you saw my interview this morning, I want to
let you know that was only part of the story. The truth is that we're facing an
outbreak. Those infected become extremely violent and will attack anyone around
them. I have only barely survived an attack here at the station myself."
Shirley nodded towards Jackson and he took a moment to pan
the camera around the room.
"As you can see, it was a brutal attack. The
infected broke onto the floor and killed everyone. I don't know if anyone
survived. I do not know when or if government authorities will regain control
of the situation. Keep yourself safe. If someone you know is bitten, you
need to get away from them as soon as you can. I've seen firsthand that
the bite spreads the infection. Good luck, Emerald Falls. Be safe."
She nodded again and Jackson cut the camera.
"All good?" he asked.
Shirley nodded. "That gives people a chance. The rest
is up to them."
Jackson nodded in response as she left the anchor desk. He
led her to the stairway and took a moment to listen for infected on the other
side. Hearing nothing, he opened the door and headed down. They reached the
main lobby without incident but they saw the signs of the infected attack here
as well. Bodies were in several places around the room. The receptionist
sat slumped in her chair, not even having a chance to run when she was
Jackson shook his head at the carnage. "Poor bastards.
Never had a chance."
Shirley grimaced. Better them than her she thought. The
infected attacking everything in sight is probably the only thing that let them
survive that initial assault. This was sad sure, but she wouldn't lose any
sleep over it. She'd felt obligated to warn the city about the infection.
People deserved a chance to defend themselves. But form this point on, she
wanted to survive herself. She normally didn't show this side of her to anyone.
It was okay to be ambitious, but if you appeared callous then people would look
down on you. Not that she saw herself as callous, just practical. She felt she
could trust Jackson though. He was the only thing keeping her safe so she had
might as well be herself.
"Better them than us," she replied.
Jackson looked at her thoughtfully for a moment and nodded.
"Fair enough. How do we get to this shelter of yours?"
"It's near city hall."
Jackson snorted. "Fitting. Mayor has to be the first to
get to safety and all."
Shirley smiled. "Fair enough. On the bright side, it's
only a few blocks from here."
Jackson nodded. "Alright. I want to look around first.
See if I can find something to use as a weapon."
Shirley nodded. "What should we look for?"
"Anything really. Scissors, letter openers, a broom
stick if the shaft looks sturdy enough."
Shirley nodded again and they started looking behind the
receptionist's desk. Their search turned up a pair of scissors and a roll of
"Can you do anything with this?" Shirley asked.
Jackson nodded. "I can improvise a knife outta that.
Let's keeping looking though. I don't want to be that close if I don't have to
They extended their search to a few side rooms but didn't
turn up anything else useful. James was disappointed but figured it would have
to do. Motioning for Shirley to follow he lead the way to the rear exit of the
building. Going out the front would be faster but he didn't want to draw
attention from any infected that were out there. That didn't mean the rear exit
would be safe. There could easily be infected milling around out there. But
hopefully there would be less of them.
"You ready?" Jackson asked. At her nod he opened
the door and stepped outside. Fortunately there was no sign of infected.
Following Shirley's instructions he lead them towards the shelter, sticking to
alleyways and back streets. They managed to reach the shelter without running
into any infected. The shelter was a nondescript building. One would walk past
it without giving it a second glance. They approached the building and met a
sturdy steel door.
Knocking got no response. Just as she was about to yell in
frustration she noticed a scanner of some sort mounted on the wall next to the
door. She tried her hand but that didn't seem to work. She then remembered the
invitation she'd received. She fished in her pocket and breathed a sigh of
relief when she touched it. She then placed the invitation face down on the
scanner and noted a white light move across. There was an audible click and
Shirley was able to open door.
Stepping inside they found themselves in a long hallway.
They were met by a man dressed in black fatigues. He had a rifle slung across
his chest, Shirley wasn't sure what kind as she had little experience with
guns. The guard had a clipboard in hand and asked for her name.
"Shirley O'Hara," she replied.
The guard nodded as he perused the list. "Alright, I've
got you here. And this is?" he asked looking towards Jackson.
"He's my guest," Shirley responded, "you wont
see him on the list."
The guard nodded. "That's fine. Name?"
"Jackson Barnes," Jackson replied.
The guard made a note of some kind and gestured towards the
end of the hallway. There was an elevator flanked by two more guards dressed in
the same way as the one they were speaking to.
"Proceed to the elevator. You'll be directed to a bunk.
Rations are at six tonight."
Shirley nodded and led Jackson towards the elevator. One of
the elevator guards nodded at them and swiped a card which caused the elevator
to open. There was another guard waiting within.
He nodded towards them and hit a button on the panel.
"You folks are lucky. They'll be closing down the facility soon."
"What if you haven't made it yet?" Shirley asked.
The guard shrugged. "Don't know the answer to that.
Just heard we'll be locking down soon."
Any further conversation was interrupted as the elevator
came to a stop. They entered a large room. Shirley looked around and thought it
looked big enough to hold several hundred people. One side of the room
consisted of rows of bunks. There were families milling around having already
staked out space. The middle of the room appeared to be a common area of sorts.
There were several tables with various games ready to be played. The right side
of the room had a number of partitions around maybe seven feet high. Bathing
area maybe? The sound of someone clearing their throat caught Shirley's
attention and she found herself looking at a middle aged woman wearing brown
slacks and a matching shirt.
"Hi there," she said, "I'm Roberta King. I'm
in charge of greeting arrivals."
"Hi," Shirley responded, "I'm Shirley and
this is Jackson."
"A pleasure to meet you. If you'll come with me, I'll
give you a quick tour."
She led them towards the bunks. "There isn't much here
but it's enough to meet our needs for the few days we'll be down here. She led
them towards an unoccupied bunk.
"This will be your bunk. You can decide amongst
yourselves who gets what." She glanced at them for a moment. "If
you're sharing a bunk, let me know. Someone else could use the space."
Shirley blushed bright red. "Oh, it's not li-"
"Not my business," the woman said interrupting.
"If you're sharing, or decide to share let me know as we can use the
space. Some people have brought in more than the alloted amount of dependents.
They've paid enough money to be here that we can't just turn them away so any extra
bunks will be needed." Shirley nodded. The woman motioned for them to
follow and led them to the middle of the room.
"This is the common area. We've got various games to
keep everyone occupied."
Shirley and Jackson looked around at the tables and nodded.
The woman then pointed to the right side of the room. "That's the hygiene
area. You can shower and use the facilities there." The woman glanced at
"Rations won't be for another few hours. I hope you had
something to eat before this all started."
"We'll be alright," Jackson responded.
"Thanks for the tour."
The woman nodded. "Everything will be fine. We'll just
be down here a few days, a week at most. By then, the government will have this
infection under control."
Shirley nodded. The woman smiled and headed off, presumably
to wait for more arrivals. Jackson motioned for her to follow and led the way
back towards their bunk. Once there he leaned forward and whispered in her ear.
"So, which bunk do you want? Or should we do the
selfless thing and share?" He chuckled as she blushed.
"I'll take the top she said."
Jackson smiled. "You sure? Someone might need the extra
"Yes, I'm sure," she said, still blushing.
"Alright. On a serious note though, I want to pick
"Why?" Shirley asked.
"I think this place is a disaster waiting to
Shirley noted that he was still speaking quietly and matched
her voice to his. "How? We've got food, water, and shelter."
"True, but I already saw a huge red flag when we were
on that tour with Roberta."
"She mentioned that they were letting extra people in.
People they didn't plan for. That's why she made the comment about us sharing a
"How is that a problem? A few people will have to
double up at some point. Doesn't seem like that big a deal."
Jackson shook his head. "The bunks aren't the problem
although it doesn't help the situation. Think about it. If they're short on
beds, what else might they be short on?"
Shirley thought for a moment. "The food," she
Jackson nodded. "Exactly. How long are people going to
stay calm if they're not getting enough to eat?"
"What's the worst that can happen?" Shirley asked.
"They'll have to lower the ration amount or something."
"That might work for a bit. But what happens when everyone
realizes the government isn't coming to the rescue?"
"They should get here eventually. They won't be here
today, of course. But a few days? A week? They should be able to get people
here by then."
Jackson shook his head. "I don't think that's going to happen.
Tell me, what's the population of Emerald Falls?"
Shirley shrugged. "I don't know. Around two hundred
thousand or so I think."
"Alright. We've seen firsthand what happens when the infected
attack. Most of the time, they just kill you. But every now and then, someone
survives an attack and becomes one of them. If just a fraction of that two
million becomes infected, how can anyone deal with that? You said yourself that
the police couldn't handle this. How is the military any different?"