Authors: James Wallace
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
The Culling - Book One
By James Wallace
Dedicated to My wife Julie, and our awesome kids. Thanks for always pushing me to follow my passion. Love you guys!
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Thank you to the following, whom without I would still be on page one. Tanay Williams, my best friend, I can’t live without her. The Allen brother’s Will and M.C., Mike Evans, Ian Smith, Stephen Knight, Kim Leeder, and all the people on Facebook group Committed Authors and Readers only. The people here are life savers and a great source for a new and existing author. To my Beta Reader Leslie Bryant, thank you for all your help, support, and kind words.
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© 2016 James Wallace, All Rights Reserved.
Table of contents
“If you could state your name and occupation for the record please?” asked Detective Reynolds, a 40 something year old black man with a fair amount of salt and pepper peach fuzz on his balding head. He wore small wire framed glasses and a charcoal colored big box store suit with an orange tie resting on the chest of his white starched shirt.
The room was bland; cold grey concrete, two-way mirror and six very uncomfortable folding chairs surrounding a sturdy metal table. It was an interrogation room at the Eddy Street SFPD station, even though it felt more like a meat locker complete with a drain in the floor. I was surrounded by two detectives and two others who had to be lawyers, dressed in grey pin stripe suits and looking like they had no personalities. I fought hard to listen to them even though I was shivering, tired, hungry and a little out of my mind. I needed to get what was in my head out before it could drive me insane.
“Dan Welko, Process Manager for Next Level Analytics.” My voice came out whispery, but I spoke directly into the microphone they had put in front of me.
“Great. Thank you. Where are your offices located?” I could see Reynolds was writing everything down on a yellow legal note pad, he kept on his lap, even though he was recording our entire conversation.
Transamerica Pyramid Building, 600 Montgomery Street, San Fran 42
floor.” I waited a beat then asked “Hey I’m really cold and hungry. Can I please have something hot to drink and maybe something to eat?” I was sitting on this cold chair bare footed, dressed in blood encrusted chinos and what was once a blue polo shirt.
Detective Reynolds looks up at the other detective and pointed at the door. “Faulks can you handle that?” Faulks, a typical detective straight out of a TV cop show, square jawed, blonde flat top and a sour look, un-folded himself from his chair and left the room. He didn’t seem happy being the gopher boy. “So Mr. Welko?”
“Just call me Dan please. I’m too tired for formalities.” I whispered. My head was pounding, my vision was slightly blurred and it tasted like a rat had taken up residence in my mouth. I just wanted water, food, a hot shower and to brush my teeth then maybe a nap for like 3 days.
“Dan then. So tell me what happened. Let’s start from the beginning if you don’t mind. Cause we are really confused with what we found.” He tapped his pen on his notepad.
I cleared my throat and swallowed hard. This was going to be a bitch but it really had to be done. A record had to be made of what we went through. I locked eyes with Reynolds and began my story.
Tuesday morning, I rode the bus into work. Every weekday morning, I would sit in that bus as it crawled through the grid locked traffic concrete jungle, and wonder why I moved here. I refused to listen to news before work, I prefer to start my day with a clear head, opposed to having the light of my soul sucked out and replaced with despair. Instead of turning on that torture device called TV, I would download the nights reports and data from work’s servers to my tablet and go over the data on my way to work. Too many times, I have been ambushed with corrupt reports and data first thing in the morning, I refuse to ever be blindsided again. That morning the bus wasn’t crowded, and thought wow it must be my lucky day – I scored a seat all to myself, which rarely ever happened unless it’s a holiday and 5am in the morning and even then it’s luck. With that small moment bringing a smile to my face I pulled my tablet out and started analyzing the data from the night before. My smile faded, none of what I was reading made sense, but I didn’t have time to ponder long because the bus got me to work in record time for a prime commuting hour. Usually the sidewalk was packed with people hurrying to their jobs, but now I was primarily alone on the sidewalk.
I walked into the lobby and up to the security checkpoint. The buildings security guards were clustered behind the counter talking amongst themselves. I caught the eye of the head guard, Ryan, he recognized me and pushed the button behind the counter that allowed me to push through the small gates blocking passage to the elevators. He said what I took was a good morning but my mind was a million miles away pondering the reports I skimmed over on the bus. I waved over my shoulder at him and jumped onto an elevator before its doors could close. I rode it up to my floor and got off. I cannot remember if I shared that ride with anyone, I really was in my own little world of data and numbers.
I said hello to Stacey, our receptionist, a young lady who copies her looks and style from Emma Watson, but she was pre occupied with something on her phone. I walked down the hall of cubes headed toward my office. Checking out the floor, as I do every morning. I was flabbergasted at the emptiness of the cubes; it was as if half the floor decided not to show up today. That pissed me off. We had a critical check on a procedural milestone within our latest project, and without key staff being here we were going to be fucked. I needed to get to the bottom of this and fast.
I threw open my office door, tossed my bag onto the corner of my desk, and sat down heavily in my chair. On the window ledge behind my chair was my only religious idol, my personal coffee maker. Everyone on the floor knew I had my own machine, I always told them it was because I was a slave to my desk, but the real reason is, I am a coffee snob. I even have a special grind I get from a little farm in Colombia. I got my brew going and turned on my desktop workstation. I typed in my password at the prompt, and was greeted with my email box showing two hundred and fifty-two new messages. I cracked my neck and back and tilted back in my chair.
Oh crap—what happened last night?
“Sarah get in here!” I yelled from my office. Sarah, is a short elfish looking woman, who is my right hand woman. She runs the early morning team and doesn’t leave until after our morning meeting at ten am. I sat there for a minute but no Sarah. I got up poured my mug of life saving coffee and headed to her cube. It was empty, and her workstation was a mess. Which was weird cause she was an OCD kind of person. Everything was usually in its place and tidy all the time. Her workstation monitor was still on, so she couldn’t have left more than ten minutes ago. The screen saver pops up and the system locks itself after ten minutes of inactivity.
I looked around for Matt, Sarah’s 2
in charge. at least he was at his desk. He was reading something on his phone, something that had him looking very unsettled. He jumped when I put my hand on his shoulder, and I took a step back surprised by the reaction.
“Woah, take it easy, buddy. Where the Hell is Sarah?”
Matt looked up at me with hollowed eyes. I looked him over, a little surprised to find him dressed in wrinkled tan jeans, blue company polo shirt and zip up hoodie. His long hair was hanging down unbrushed and stringy. Matt was usually put together much better then he looked today.
“Oh … hey, Dan, Sorry, you scared me. Yeah, Sarah, she went home. Said she had an emergency…” His voice trailed off as he went back to looking at his phone.
I shook his shoulder amazed he would go back to his phone and just ignore me. “Matt, what’s going on? What kind of emergency? What’s so important on your phone?” I was starting to become a little frustrated.
Matt looked up from his phone. “Sorry, Dan. Uhm, her wife called, saying she and their daughter were sick. Hey wait, you haven’t heard the news have you?” He dropped his phone and finally looked at me, cocking his head to the side like a dog hearing a far off sound.
“Heard what Matt? All I know is I have a shit ton of emails and it looks like none of last night’s projects were run or reports updated.”
My story was interrupted when Faulks came in carrying a large coffee and a bag of food. He put it in front of me and then excused himself and left. He had a look of someone who had seen something they couldn’t understand. Reynolds motioned toward the food. “Dan, eat please, you look like you might need it. By the way what is Sarah’s last name? I think I might want to get in touch with her.”
I was already pulling the sandwich and soup from the bag having my eyes set to devour it all. “Uhm Sarah Ruiz. She lives in Redwood City.” I un-wrapped the sandwich and took a giant bite. At this point I didn’t care what is was made of, could’ve been dog food for all I cared. I hadn’t eaten much real food in a couple of days. I had all my attention on devouring the food and coffee so that I hadn’t noticed that the two lawyers had left, leaving Reynolds and I alone. He had his attention divided between his notepad and laptop as I ate.