Read Refuge From The Dead (Book 1): Lockdown Online
Authors: Joseph A. Coley
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
When a group of ex-military men decide to go to Hooters, all bets are off. Many drinks are had, much eating of bad food is in order, and the gratuitous staring of boobs happens. While it may have cost them a large chunk of money, it was most worth it. The four men that sat around a table at Hooters, drinking, eating, and lusting after boobs were feeling especially accomplished. They had finished the DOC academy and were ready to go home.
Michael held up his half-full glass of Bud Light. “I propose a toast. First off, I would like to congratulate all you fuckers for staying the course and finishing the academy with me. Second, I would like to thank Grant for reminding me that I have the most perfect wife on the planet. Last but not least, I would like to thank Officer Helton for keeping us entertained with his neverending babble of Fat Bastard jokes. God knows we needed a mildly retarded sense of humor sometimes.”
Michael held his glass up, as did Grant, Helton, and Poston. They clinked together and each man drained his respective pint. Michael dove back into his plate of hot wings and chili-cheese fries.
“I will have to say, it has been an experience training with you fuckers. I only hope that working at the prison is half as much fun as it has been here,” Helton said.
A former Marine, Ryan Helton was roughly the same age as Michael. Helton was roughly the same size as well, with a small paunch of a beer gut that he fiercely denied. While he was no stranger to making jokes, his best ones were often at his own expense. Being a big guy with a bald head was something easily made fun of, and his friends didn’t let him forget that.
“Well, dealing with a bunch of grown-ass men with inferiority complexes and real short tempers…should be just like having to work with you assholes,” Poston said, giving his co-workers a good-natured ribbing.
A former used car salesman, Harold Poston said that he had gotten tired of working sixty-hour workweeks trying to sell cars in a shitty economy and decided it was time for a career change. While he wasn’t going to be working at Black Mountain, Poston was going to be at Buchanan Correctional Center, just down the road in Buchanan County. While he wasn’t at the same facility, COs from all over the state all trained together at the academy in Richmond.
During their orientation, their Human Resources Officer asked what they had done prior to coming to work for DOC, along with why they chose a career with the Department of Corrections. Most of the answers were “stability” and “good benefits.” The job, in of itself, wasn’t that difficult. When things went smooth, it was babysitting. When the shit hit the fan, it became a free-for-all. A person had to be able to react to a shitty situation in an instant with precision. Too little force, and a person or a co-worker could be hurt or killed. Too much force and it would mean being fired, or worse.
The four men finished their respective plates of high-cholesterol food, ordered another round, and sat back. Unfortunately, there was no game on the oversized TV in front of them at Hooters. Instead, the airwaves were populated with videos coming in from all over the world. Just like the Bird Flu scare, Influenza, or whatever disease of the day was causing panic, the news was having a field day with it. Reports coming in from Israel, Egypt, and several eastern European countries marked the beginning of another travel restriction.
Michael pointed to the screen, beer in hand. “Looks like that vicious strain of herpes that you left in Afghanistan is making its way around the world, Grant.”
Grant sat with his mouth agape. He wanted to come up with some pithy comeback, especially since he had been the unofficial king of insults at the academy, but he had nothing. After a few moments of silence, Helton and Poston guffawed at their cohort. Soon, all four men were laughing their collective asses off at their friend.
Michael leaned over and patted his friend on the back. “Don’t worry, Grant. At least they might find a cure for that shit growing on your dick now. Congratulations, you have officially started the end of the world with a sexually transmitted disease.”
Grant pursed his lips, trying desperately to hold back the unavoidable laugh that was about to burst forth. It didn’t work. He busted out, finally letting himself laugh at his own expense. “All right, all right. You got me, Caine.”
Michael pointed his beer at Grant, a shit-eating grin permeating his face. “I told you I’d tag you back, bitch.”
Helton drained the last of his beer and sat his glass down. “Well boys, I’d say it’s time to head back to the academy. I need to iron my dress blues and shine my boots.”
Caine finished his beer and sat it down. “Same here, brother. I’m just about packed up and ready to get the hell out of Richmond.”
Poston handed his credit card to a beautiful, well-endowed waitress. The cute brunette smiled and took the rest of the guys’ cards. She turned and walked away, a very beautiful sight to the four men staring at her skin-tight shorts.
Poston chuckled. “I don’t know. Scenery is nice.”
* * *
The next day, Michael Caine graduated from the DOC academy. After the graduation ceremony - including a speech by the director, Major, and several wardens throughout Virginia - Caine said goodbye to several friends that he had met throughout the academy. One of those good friends was Richard Poston. Poston was going to be nearby, just about an hour down the road at Buchanan Correctional Facility. Poston was a good CO, and Michael hated that he wouldn’t get to work with him at Black Mountain.
During the ride home, all that Michael Caine could think about was getting to see his wife and daughter again. They were his life, and he hadn’t seen them nearly enough over the last six weeks. While he tried to listen to music on his cellphone, it just wasn’t passing the time fast enough. Michael pulled the earbuds out of his ears and sat forward.
“Are we there yet?”
“Don’t make me come back there and punch you in the dick, Caine,” Helton answered. Helton had drawn the short straw of the first leg of driving.
“Just trying to pass the time, brother. I fucking hate this damn drive. It doesn’t get any shorter, does it?”
“No it sure as hell does not. Let’s see if there’s anything on the radio,” Helton said, reaching down and turning the stereo on.
“There have been isolated reports in the United States, but experts are saying that the cases being handled are in no way a danger to the American public. Several news outlets stated that patients were treated overseas before being shipped to the United States, adding to the speculation that there could be a very serious issue. The CDC in Atlanta is sending several teams to the African continent, as well as Russia and Eastern Europe.”
“More flu bullshit. At least at the prison we won’t have to worry about the inmates bringing shit in, and we get enough sick time to not worry about calling in. I pray to God that Anna doesn’t get sick again. I don’t think I can handle any more trips down to Johnson City,” Michael said, leaning back.
“Well, it seems like the media is having a field day with it. You know how they like to blow things out of proportion. Probably just some new strain or something. It’ll blow over soon enough,” Helton replied.
“Yeah, you’re right dude. It’s probably nothing.”
Five and a half boring hours later, Michael was finally on his way to his home in Bishop Valley, Virginia. After leaving the prison, it would normally take him around thirty minutes to get home, but today he was in a much bigger hurry. The curves were straightened, the hills were flattened, and Michael had a blast driving the familiar path home. There wasn’t much to look at on the drive. A post office here, a random gas station there, it was the idyllic country setting, and he loved living there. As he barreled down the road, enjoying the drive, he couldn’t get home fast enough.
Michael slept in the next day for the first time in nearly two months. As he lay in bed the next morning, he finally had a chance to relax. A weekend off. God it felt good. During the academy, Michael had spent Saturdays at home, often spending the day sleeping, trying desperately to get his body some much-needed rest. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t. Anna and Lindsey had a way of keeping him going, even if his body had told him
Spending time with them was the best therapy he could ask for, both mental and physical.
Anna had started to stand up on her own in the last week, and Michael was desperately afraid that he would miss her taking her first steps. That wasn’t the case. After getting out of bed and enjoying some breakfast, he needed to spend some quality time with his daughter.
“Come on baby girl! Walk to daddy!” Michael pleaded, holding his hands out and trying to coax his daughter to walk to him.
Anna smiled a one-toothed grin. She stood for a moment, unsure how to continue. She held her hands out and giggled. Then, one small step at a time, she began to walk forward. She made it four steps before stumbling. Michael reached out and caught her. Anna giggled with delight as she cuddled with her daddy.
“Yay! Way to go, Anna bug!” Lindsey squealed.
Michael kissed his daughter on the cheek. She responded by laying her head into his shoulder and cuddling. Michael gave her a hearty hug. There was nothing more in life that he loved more than Anna. The love he had for her was immeasurable. When his first marriage fell apart three years ago, he abandoned any thought of having any children of his own. When he met Lindsey, she immediately expressed her desire for having children. She was 24 when they met. He was 32. While Michael felt he might have been outside the age for being a father, Lindsey quickly convinced him otherwise, and a little over a year after they married, she was pregnant with Anna.
Life couldn’t have been better.
“I think she’s a daddy’s girl. Don’t you, babe?” Lindsey asked.
Michael let Anna down to play and sat on the couch with his wife. “Oh, I have no doubt she is, Lin. Daddy’s gonna have to clean his shotgun when she gets older, though.”
“Oh, Michael. She’s going to get her heart broken, and you’re just going to have to be there for her. She will break your heart one day too. When she gets married and leaves, you’re going to be devastated. Aren’t you?”
Michael looked down to his infant daughter and smiled. “Probably. We have a while before that becomes a problem. Don’t we baby girl?”
As if to punctuate his words, Anna turned and smiled.
Michael pulled his wife close and kissed her on the head. “Let’s go out tonight, Lin.”
“Well, my mom can babysit. Let me call her and…”
“No. let’s take Anna with us. We can go to Bob Evans, get something to eat, and hang out for a while.”
Lindsey sat up. “Great! I’ll get her ready and we can go have dinner.”
* * *
Michael drove down Route 460 towards Bluefield. Anna had fallen asleep almost immediately once they hit the road. Lindsey sat in the passenger’s seat, flipping through radio stations. Most of them were going on about the recent viral outbreak in New York City.
The virus had first been reported in a Manhattan hospital, with several others reporting cases. While details were scarce, the President had been on the air, vehemently denying that the virus had anything to do with terrorism. He stated while the NYPD was handling an investigation into the virus’ origin, federal agencies were assisting. Security had been upped at LaGuardia and JFK airports. The name of the virus had been released as well.
Mortui was the name of the virus that would end humanity.
Lindsey turned the volume down on the stereo. “This is getting out of hand, babe. Do you think we should go out with all this? Keep this between you and me, but they’ve had several cases at Bluefield already. We’re not releasing anything to the press just yet, though.”
“I don’t know, babe. Let’s go eat and head home. We won’t hang out any longer than we have to. I don’t want Anna being exposed to …whatever it is.”
* * *
Anna loved biscuits and gravy. Bob Evans had long been famous for their version of the classic southern breakfast dish, and she gave it an overwhelming stamp of approval. Lindsey could barely keep up with her daughter’s insatiable hunger for it, shoveling spoonfuls as quickly as she could.
“I guess she’s not going to be eating baby food then, huh?” Michael observed, grinning.
Lindsey wiped Anna’s face. “I guess not! She’s eating like a champ, that’s for sure!”
Michael stabbed another bite of his steak and eggs. For the first time in a while, he relaxed. Between the academy, starting a new job, trying to keep the bills paid, and keeping his own sanity in line the last year, specifically the last few months, had been very difficult. Things were finally starting to smooth out to his liking. While the last year had felt like one disaster after another, now it was finally starting to come together. He could see himself making a career of the DOC. After the first year, he would get a 10% raise, after that, it would only be promotions that would give him the big raises he desired. Maybe a sergeant’s position, maybe a lieutenant. There was a bright future for him.
Commotion interrupted him. A few tables over from him, an elderly man suddenly jumped up from his table, clutching his chest. The man’s wife jumped up and tried to assist him with whatever was ailing him, to no avail. The more she tried to help, the more he fought against her. He stumbled forward, knocking over a busboy’s pan of dishes, the dirty plates and cups smashing on the floor.
Lindsey got up, trying to get a better look at what was going on. Being an RN and having a husband as a combat medic, they were privy to helping out in such situations. It wasn’t the first time that it had happened, and it wouldn’t be the last. Lindsey was very good at her job and knew that such situations were part of everyday life. She didn’t like going out in public as much as she used to. Helping a man who had fallen at Wal-Mart and doing the Heimlich on a woman choking at Applebee’s had been some of her previous misadventures.
This was no different.
“Babe, watch Anna!” Lindsey said, jumping into action.
The man fell to the floor, still clutching his chest.
“He’s not breathing! Someone help him!” The man’s wife exclaimed.
Lindsey rounded a couple tables and got to the man and his wife. “What was he doing?” she asked.
The woman wiped away tears. “I don’t know! He was just eating and fell over!”
Lindsey saw the man was most definitely not breathing. After being an RN for the last five years, she could look at a person for about five seconds and tell what was wrong with them. She checked his pulse – none. She checked his breathing – also nil. Lindsey situated herself at the man’s head, opening his mouth and checking his airway. It was clear. She put her hands on his sternum and began CPR, still asking questions and trying to figure out what was wrong with him.
“Did he choke?”
“Does he have any allergies? Food allergies, specifically?”
“What was he doing when this started? Has he been sick any lately?”
“He’s been sick with a cold lately, but that’s it! He was just sitting there and jumped up saying his chest was hurting!”
Lindsey looked to the crowd that had gathered around her. “Did anyone call 911?”
A young waitress knelt down to speak to Lindsey. “Yeah, I called just a few minutes ago. Do I need to call them back?”
“Yes, please do,” Lindsey said, still pumping away on the man’s chest. “Tell the dispatcher that you have a full code, CPR in progress. That should help speed up the response some.”
“Okay! I’ll call right now!” the waitress said. She pulled out her cellphone and dialed 911 again, repeating the instructions that she had been told. “The dispatcher said they should be here in a minute or two.”
Less than two minutes later, the rescue squad arrived. Lindsey briefly brought them up to speed about what had happened, as well as the relevant information that she had gathered. She felt sorry for the man’s wife. The poor woman had been sitting in the booth, a blank expression on her face. She was in shock, unable to process what was going on with her husband.
“Hey! I think we got something!” One of the medics exclaimed. He motioned to his partner to stop CPR for a moment and let the AED analyze. While there was no rhythm on the monitor, the first medic looked down to the man and saw some movement.
“Must be a short in the leads. Let’s get him to the truck and get to BRMC.”
The second medic thanked Lindsey for helping and assured her that they would do everything they could to help him out. He ushered the man’s wife out to the truck, assuring her that they were doing everything they could.
Lindsey stood for a moment. Her face was sweaty; the neck of her shirt was as well. Blood rushed to her face, and she began to feel flush. The adrenaline of the situation was starting to wear off. Being a nurse was just like breathing to her, it was part of life. She was an adrenaline junkie, pure and simple.
Lindsey walked back over to her table, where Michael and Anna had been watching the whole thing. She brushed hair away from her eyes and wiped sweat from her brow. Michael had never been more proud of his wife.
“Wow, babe. I’ve never seen you do anything like that before. Good job, honey.”
Lindsey couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks, baby. I kinda go on autopilot when things like that start happening.”
Michael reached over and hugged his wife close. “What was wrong with him? I heard one of the medics say that they didn’t have anything on the monitor, but the guy was moving anyway. Kinda weird, don’t you think?”
“I don’t know. He seemed like he was having an MI. The only symptom he had was chest pain, so a heart attack seems like the most logical thing,” Lindsey looked back towards the now-departing ambulance. “Poor woman. I hope they do all right. I’ll call the ER later and see what happened to him.”
“All right, then. Let’s get our leftovers and head back home. Daddy is just about ready to make Anna a baby brother or sister.”
Lindsey laughed. “Mommy taking charge turning daddy on?”
“Maybe…” Michael laughed. “I don’t think we are done with our excitement for the night just yet…”
A short while later, they were on their way home. The news broadcasts over the radio were slowly changing from “be prepared” to “there is no reason to be alarmed.” That phrase in of itself should have been a good indicator about what was happening, but no one noticed