Chapter One: Dead unto the undead
Twilight is coming, the dark of night whether or not this duo wants it. The harsh reality of daylight had exposed the world's festering and dying carcass to the sun's intense rays. Night however, coats it in a humid blanket of moist oxygen rich air. They sleep uneasy, like field mice who hear the round faced owl hooting just outside their burrow. The exception is that the owls who hoot for them are the living dead, and were once human like them. The hoots are howls, moans, wails, and screeches. Their burrow is a dark, dank fourteen story shipping warehouse just south of the Loop in downtown Chicago...
This man and woman whom seventeen days hence were unknown to one another... lives so separate so distant, that even though they lived and worked within feet of one another had never shared the same space at the same time. Now they rest upon a floor littered with shredded cardboard entangled as if the were octopi embraced in courtship. She is Valerie Couts. At twenty eight she was well on her way to begin amongst the elite of Chicago traveling in the same circles as Oprah. Val bore strawberry blonde hair as she sported a figure most women had to slave away in the health club for. Her fiancée', a brilliant corporate lawyer, had recently received his commission for settling a lawsuit on behalf of the city against three of the nations most wealthy gun manufacturers. Seven figures one might add. Stephen Jones was dead now somewhere near the corner of Jackson and Wacker. Her left hand still polished with sixty dollar a bottle nail polish from Marshall Fields & Co. Clutched tightly was a Glock pistol with only six rounds remaining. He was Robert Berry a husky six foot six individual who barely made it through high school and passed his time as a garbage man for the city. Anti-social and reclusive described this Black man, with skin so dark he appeared to be made of onyx. Until that fateful day the only thing white he'd felt comfortable enough to converse with was his computer. Across his lap was a fireman’s axe with which he had literally chopped through dozens of bodies with to sustain his life after being trapped in a crowded train station.
How did they meet? Easy enough. Chicago had some warning as the zombie outbreak began in Pennsylvania working its way west. How did it start? No one knew, and no one would ever know, because before they knew what hit them, their one day grace period was up and Death rode down upon the windy city in the mouth of a thirty-two year old flight attendant name Shelly Willis, who infected most of the first class passengers who in turn unleashed the undead infection upon coach, so, that when Southwest Airlines flight 1028 smashed into the terminal at O’Hare International Airport, the dead poured into the worlds busiest airport with unnatural speed. It spread from there outward. Robert was on the job when his garbage truck was attacked on the cities south side, although his union brothers were not as fortunate. Robert was in the trucks cab and tore ass through the street, in the almost indestructible big blue refuse hauling rig with the mayor's name stenciled on the side. He flipped the truck as he rounded a hairpin turn. For his troubles he received a jagged seven inch long half inch deep wound to his left arm. Robert was never a hero by any stretch of the imagination if he saved someone or something, he did so inadvertently while saving himself. Running to the train station proved to be a horrendous mistake, as the dead invaded the set of a chain reaction. Robert fought shoving grandmothers and pre-schoolers alike with ill regard for anyone. Cresting the stairs he saw a young woman screaming hysterically as her fiancée' was devoured. Robert made a move to avoid the woman who drew the zombies attention as if she wore a sign that read "Look at me I am tastier than everyone else!"
Instead she latched on to him crying for help. He tried to shove her off and when he did, she followed him through the ensuing bedlam of death and destruction. Eventually the garbage man and the college graduate became inseparable. Together they fought these "zombies" as they were being called. Even finding out that destroying the brain of the abomination meant you took it down for good. Even though a hundred more of its kin pursued you relentlessly around every corner. They had met others who'd survived, only to lose them in conflict with the undead, so it always seemed it came back down to the two of them against a city of rampaging soulless demons. They knew not what day it was, nor were they aware of what time it was. All these were as inconsequential as they were to cavemen. It was daytime or night time which brought either another day to scrounge for life begging God for mercy, or at least his favor. The opposite was a night of terror plagued restless sleep if they could only ask God why?
This night had found them trapped in a Fed Ex freight warehouse where they were forced to flee when their car cut a swath through the dead, and gave out in a coughing, sputtering fit as the engine seized. As they fled into the lobby they barely managed to bar the door, which didn't matter. They would get in they always did. The dead never slept. They pounded away like waves upon structures containing the living. Until they broke in like the wind, they were always present massed against whatever they chose to vent their mindless rage upon. They dispatched quite a few of the reanimated Fed Ex dead and wondered if their souls journey to hell was covered by the twenty four hour next day delivery guarantee. Into this cavernous room they plunged out of breath. Val checked the room thoroughly with the gun in hand that they'd picked off a dead cop who wasn't using it. She found one living corpse relieving the wretched woman’s suffering with a bullet. Furiously Rob barricaded the door with large boxes of freight stored high above ground, to aid their transport by helicopter. Once the shadowy room was deemed safe they peered out at the city, bound to each other now by a love of living, not of lust. Chaos was all that they saw in the full three sixty panoramic view. As the city burned all about, many floors below figures did the zombie shuffle as they sought the living to consume. Feeling safe and exhausted, realizing the hopelessness of the situation, because the horde that had chased them into the building had now grown fourteen floors straight down they beat to gain access. Val picked a corner and then settled in to rest up so that they could be fresh for their own demise when it came.
A soft flutter of movement in the room startled Val awake, holding her breath as Rob snored oblivious to anything. "ROB!" she shouted into his solid chest at a whisper "ROB! WAKE UP THERE'S... "Her eyes caught a streak across the room coming for them through the ink of night. Val rolled her athletic frame forward. "ROB!!!!!!!!!!!" she screamed a blonde haired youth pouncing on top of Robert. "WHAT… THE" Rob awoke with fight in his veins, but it was to late. A form that materialized out of the darkness was already feasting on his damaged left arm the suckling sounds echoing into the warehouse. Rob fought to throw the dead man off, even though he knew it was to late to be saved. "You bastard!" screamed Val, walking forward Glock 9mm jutted out. Two bangs and the creature on Robs arm scattered back bullet holes in its head. Clearly visible by moon light the creature panted pressed to the glass. "He got me!" Rob was crying tears rolling down his dirty face. Rob scooped up the axe, bringing it down into the panting and moaning thing's collarbone with a crunch. Its lips coated with Robs blood came the first thump at the blocked door behind them from Lord only knew what.
Terrified now crying herself, Val inched over to Rob's gun. Raised, she'd give him one bullet from the gun and then herself because she had seen what would happen after a person was bitten. In no time at all, they joined the undead flesh quest. Rob beat at his arm in utter panicked terror it bleed hemorrhaging blood dripping onto the floor the creature against the wall moaned. "I don't see a bite mark!" More beating as Rob yelled, slapping blood away in droplets. "Don't lie to me Rob!......" Val came cautiously sobbing to investigate. She could find no bite mark, no torn flesh or any sign of what she thought should be upon the ebony arm of her compatriot. "Why....." Rob motioned to the young man against the window, whose breath came in ragged burst. The axe in his shoulder he pulled free and let flop to the cement floor, which brought a chorus of flesh wails from beyond the door. "Didn't you shoot him in the head?" asked Rob of Val while he clutched his arm that slow began to stop bleeding. "Yeah! YES I DID!" Val shouted in disbelief she moved in for a point blank headshot. The gaunt sickly looking young man began to scream and contort his body twisting and flailing about the floor in agony.
There were now a half dozen of the dead who longed to get in, moaning for an orgy of fresh flesh. Rob and Val backed into each others arms as the young blond creatures skin began to close, mending itself where the axe had stuck. First one, then the other of Val’s lead slugs were expelled by the boys head as the wounds healed. Fully reformed, the pale skinned sickly figure drug himself to the warm puddle of blood on the floor left by Rob. Greedily he began to lap it up like a thirsty human dog. Rob and a slack jawed Val stood frozen. The sloppy sounds done, the boy looked up face bearing more color looking healthier. His eyes in the thin shaft moonlight now the color of chipped granite, he look to be a man of about twenty, with flawless skin not handsome but almost a glowing radiant beauty. Mouth ringed in crimson blood looking like a little girl who'd tried on mommy's lip stick all by herself. It stood shakily on its feet "My......name!" Val shook her head unbelievingly side to side at the tone of the melodic angelic voice. The man thing wiped his mouth upon what appeared to be a tailor made expensive shirt. "My name tis Trevor and I beg of you to help me!" the young man implored. "Without you my family will die a wretched death.........I can surely save and protect you. If you refuse we all shall perish both my race and your species!" For emphasis, zombies hit the door, and it gave a fraction as the wooden create scrapped the floor.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Val blubbered as Rob went to check the door. "What are you?!? Who are you???" The exasperated man boy strode past Val who all though she held the gun had no energy to pull the trigger. Rob ran wide around the figure that had just drank his blood back to Val’s side. The impressive figure in the expensive well crafted clothes, with some effort pushed the boxes that Rob had spent all day stacking back to the door. Returning, his bare feet not making a sound, Trevor spoke again. "I am Trevor Clevatnes Lord Prince of the Vampire Clan Enoch, and my father is Arthur Clevantnes." "The computer chip billionaire ........... Vampires ......zombies you have got to be fucking kidding me! Who turned the world into a Darkhorse comic?" Rob stuttered. More dead hounded at the door, as unknown to the three, the flood gates of the damned had burst below them. Thousands of the living dead poured into the building and headed up to greet them. "I do not jest!" Trevor spoke urgently "With the undead about, my family will starve. If humanity dies then so shall we. The blood of the dead is as lethal to us as arsenic is to you. For the......" The door came free. Trevor spun jamming the barricade back pining a screeching dead child in the door half in and half out. Over the wails of hunger Trevor implored on... "COME WITH ME HELP, ME AND I WILL OFFER YOU FOOD SHELTER AND PROTECTION!" Val almost vomited, gagging deeply. "Become your food or theirs!" Rob shouted angrily "What’s it matter to us! We're dead either way!" The boy vampire strained against innumerable dead foes. The cement around his feet cracking as he planted them pressing back with all his supernatural strength.
Hundreds fought to get at their flesh, as just one sought to protect their precious blood. "I assure you my friend, whatever you may think but one cup of your blood a day will sustain my family's thirst. Can...... You......say the same of the.......them!" The dead were winning. Rob and Val backed to the window fourteen floors above ground. Rob took his axe up. They would fight to the end no matter how painful. They locked eyes. Trevor released the crates, letting them slide backwards, allowing the dead in for their feast. Val and Rob were ready as Trevor came sprinting for them in advance of the dead. In slowed time, seconds seeming to drag on for hours. Trevor Clevantes, who appeared twenty five and in actuality was over two hundred years old, dove onto a defeated Rob and Val. Driving them and himself through the thick glass, shattering outward, and raining razor sharp shards on the unsuspecting dead below who simply looked up as they came. They fell bound together in mass, twisting through the rushing air.
Like lemmings or blind sheep the zombies poured from the window, determined to taste human meat. Silently the trio swooped up on a humid thermal of hot lake water infused air. They were upright nestled in Trevor’s strong arms carried them aloft on a set of black leathery wings that beat hard to keep the weight of three in flight. Behind them, the undead impacted the ground like rotted watermelons, body bits strewn about and still they fell. As Trevor with much effort sought a perch on which to land, for even he was not yet strong enough, weakened by near starvation to carry such weight. "I AWAIT YOUR ANSWER!" He shouted above the wind as they flew. "MY OFFER OF SAFETY OR THE OFFER OF CONCRETE AND DEATH BELOW?"