Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Fall of the City of Brotherly Love

Jason Gunn

The Fall of The City of Brotherly Love:

The Zombie Chronicles

Sgt. Ramses stood on the ledge on the City Hall building and gazed out over the swarming masses of rotting bodies surging against the perimeter wall. His mind was still reeling from the unthinkable and unbelievable events that he and his small band of survivors had witnessed first hand in the past days. It had all happen so feverishly fast, like a bad dream he couldn’t wake up from. He knew that waiting any longer for survivors would not only put the remaining men’s lives in jeopardy but also the lives of the lucky few that managed to make it into the safe zone before the city collapsed into a chaotic whirlwind of bloody gnashing teeth and the sweet but pungent odor of reanimated dead corpses. Ramses could hear the echoing moans of the dead as they blindly tried to push their way through the perimeter fence. The same companies who produced these same barricades for prisons built the fences. They were tall, sturdy and topped with razor wire to keep unwanted visitors out and keep others in. But now with the number of dead collecting all around City Halls’ defense perimeter the weight of there bodies began to cause notable damage to the fences support posts that eerily began to sway as the undead pushed against the metal meshing. Sergeant Ramses had to do something quick; the situation was already bad and getting worse with each passing minute. He had lost most of his platoon that night and in the previous days and now he was down to just a hand full of tired and scarred soldiers with barely enough ammo to fight back with let alone provide safety for the other twenty-five civilians-men, women and children.

Sgt. Ramses could still remember the final night when everything went to hell, the virus and spread so fast and overrun so many that they did the only thing they could -fall back and dug in. The general alarms were blaring all day and night throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. His unit, along with a collection of police special response teams and any able body left alive or unchanged who could hold a weapon, were staged along Market Street from 15th to 30th Street in a blocking position. They were suppose to form a safe corridor with adequate protection for any remaining survivors to travel along until they made it to City Hall where they were supposed to be evacuated. Unfortunately everything was ill fated and ill planned, no government agency was set up for this kind of disaster and because the virus moved so quickly there was no real way of successfully containing the outbreak. But it was a gamble on hope that the government knew they had to do something (anything) to help any survivors they could. So they chose to use City Hall as the site for a major evacuation point, not considering taking in all the factors that could go array if something went wrong.

The streets were now swarming with “walkers” attacking the fleeing civilians it was up to Sgt Ramses and his tattered remaining men to give whatever helps they could to protect survivors and defend to evacuation route. It was total pandemonium. Market Street became jammed with fleeing people, many carrying small children and whatever language and personal items they could grab. Other people, mostly those taking advantage of the lack of security and police response, carried flat-screen TV’s and other various stolen items. Transportation helicopters were loaded almost to the point where they could barely take-off. Civilians pleading, begging and bribing any aircrew they could to secure a spot in order to get out. His own wife had made it out safely before the panic set it, he had seen to that. Now he was just trying to figure out how he would survive and meet back up with his wife.

“Jesus Christ” he thought to himself as he watched this chaotic scene unfold. He couldn’t warp his head it. Then came the ear splitting screams of terror. Somewhere inside the long flowing columns of refugees, walkers had begun to appear. With so many side streets and avenues unprotected or unsecured there was bound to be breakthroughs and because of the shortage of manpower there was no way to properly defend them all except for deploying Constantia wire and Harsco baskets and pray. Panic began to take over the masses. Hundreds of people all pushing and shoving trying to get out of the corridor to some sort of relative safety. Those who fell down and could not get back up were trampled to death or set upon by these corpses only to reanimate and began to pull other unlucky victims down with them. The panic didn’t stop there, it began to spread to the soldiers and police officers guarding the route and many of them began to open fire with machine guns and assault rifles. The flashes from the weapons muzzles gave a brief illusion of a hellish New Year’s celebration. The calls went out a cross the net, screaming for them to cease-fire. Frantic calls from other positions began reports of walkers attacking in large numbers and breaking through key positions in the corridors defensive perimeter. The people began to go berserk! Ramses’ unit was loosing control. The people began to climb out over the top of the Harsco basket barricades that lined the entire length of the corridor like rampaging ants trying to claw their way out of the death trap that the evacuation corridor had become. He remembered the look on that women’s twisted and frightened face as she desperately tried to climb out. Her eyes were as big as dinner plates capturing the total horror looking for anyway out. She reached out to him, he could see her screaming for help just as something grabbed her arm and began pulling her off the barricade. The pull was so great that she lost footing and slammed her head against the edge of the wall before disappearing. Sgt Ramses prayed that the women had been knocked out so she would not have to be conscious for whatever was about to happen to her. Sgt Ramses could recall how vivid everything was when the perimeter fell. The frantic calls for help, the sounds of screaming and gunfire reverberating off the surrounding buildings only to be muffled by the overwhelming moans and groans of the dead as they feed upon the living. Their writhing bodies highlighted by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles and floodlights.

Lt. Marcus, Sgt. Ramses platoon leader and close friend who he had served with on three tours in Iraq began making desperate calls up and down the line for anyone still alive to abandon their posts and make it to City Hall-their last line of defense. Lt. Marcus was shouting orders and trying to maintain control as best as possible but from his point of view, it was hopeless. Then the words that still burn in his brain came over the unit’s communications net and seared into his ears like a hot poker and turn his stomach to ice-“ Broken Arrow! Broken Arrow!” This was an emergency code word that meant that army units were being overrun and it was everyman for himself. Lt. Marcus along with Sgt Ramses and a handful of soldiers in the Command and Control room- hastily built inside a PNC bank on 15th Street, began grabbing their weapons and preparing to fight their way to City Hall where hopefully they would be able to catch a ride out of the center of the city. Everyman in the small group was scared shitless, and they had a right to be so. The streets were now full of the undead, some staggering slowly down the streets towards the bright search lights that lined the safe zone of city hall while others bunched into feeding packs as they devoured some poor soul, being bitten and eaten alive. The screams and pleas for help only drowning out in blood chocked gurgles under heaving bodies of ravenous zombies.

He remembered when they made their break for the City Hall entrance. How there was just so many of them. It seemed like the entire city of Philadelphia had turned in just a matter of day’s even hours. The streets were lined with barricades and emergency vehicles with their lights still running-the operators long gone. Even though their location to City Hall was very close, there were just so many obstacles along the way that made it seem a thousand miles away. Walkers were everywhere and now their numbers were beginning to be reinforced by the latest reanimated bodies of victims from the corridor disaster. Sgt. Ramses and his squad stacked up beside the side window of the bank and planned their route. They would follow the length of the building towards the subway entrance and then make their way across “catwalk” scaffolding that had been laid over 15th Street. They could see their fellow soldiers laying down withering support fire but with so many walkers they were barely making a dent and were wasting precious ammunition. Ramses, along with remaining survivors knew that they would have to move fast by covering each other by a bounding support by fire maneuver which meant that the group would split into teams that would leap frog each others positions while providing defensive fire for each moving team.

Sgt. Ramses was the first out of the bank followed by two other soldiers carrying M4 carbines. He and his makeshift fire team began throwing grenades ranging from “flash bangs” to fragmentation knowing that this would only slow the walkers down but not for long. To truly put a walker down they needed to destroy the head or brain with a clean steady shot, a feat that proved very difficult when your fighting for your life. As the grenades from Sgt. Ramses’ fire team burst among the creature, throwing limbs and body parts in every direction with simultaneous burst of blinding light, Lt. Marcus lead his group down the side of the bank stopping behind a police cruiser to set up a firing position with the groups’ only 240 bravo machine gun. The gunner let out a long steady stream of deadly fire that impacted with deadly accuracy in the swarming masses of slowly moving zombies. One zombie, a young man maybe in his early twenties, stepped right into the line of fire and his head burst like an over ripened tomato. Others began to fall as the machine gunner cut a large swath through the street. Sgt Ramses coolly ordered his men to begin to move back towards Lt. Marcus position. He laid his red dot sight right at the forehead of a close zombie a pulled the trigger. The zombies’ head snapped back as the bullet hit the brain and sent out a mist of brackish and congealed blood as it exited out the back of its’ skull and collapsed like a sack of rocks onto the pavement. Ramses gave the order and his fire team lifted the fire and began moving towards the catwalk and the relative safety of City Hall.

At all happened so fast that Sgt. Ramses was still trying to piece together what had happened to them after they got to the catwalk. What he could remember was a sea of outstretched, bloody hands clawing and him and his men as they made their way up and across the catwalk in a mad dash to get to the enclosed perimeter of City Hall and the loss of Lt. Marcus as he sacrificed himself and stayed behind to provide covering fire as the men began to climb the ladder to the catwalk. His death was not glorious and he died alone and very painfully and what hurt the most about the loss of the groups platoon leader was the fact that he would reanimate and was now among the dead trying to break down the security fence. His heart was beating faster and faster. It felt like it would explode in his chest. He began to sit and tremble and his knees began to buckle underneath him. His head was whirling now and he felt sick to the point where he was going to vomit. Everything was starting to cave in around him. He had no idea what he was doing. The world as far as he knew was over. Would he ever get to see and hold his wife ever again? Mankind was lost.

Fires were burning, unchecked, throughout the city, their long black pillars on smoke rising above the city and blackening out the sky. Sgt Ramses slammed his fist against the stone outcropping he was perching on and gathered himself together. He had to make some tough decisions now. Would he stay and fight and hope to be rescued or take their chances in what vehicles they had and move themselves and what civilians they had managed to save and drive out of the city. These were both very dangerous decisions because each one had there own peril. If they stayed they risked being totally cut off with no help. By the looks of what was going on all along the perimeter fence they would not stand a chance. If they left there was no way of telling where they could go. If Philadelphia had fallen, what about all the other major cities? Before the collapse of the Market Street corridor they still had communications with other cities but now, even the emergency broadcast system was offline. Plus to add to the burden they had twenty-five civilians to carry along the way with no supplies or ammunition. It would be a dangerous trip indeed. What Sgt. Ramses did know, is that staying here was not an option and his best move was to cut and run. They had one two ton truck and an armored humvee that they could use but because they had so many people to move, any extra supplies that they could take with them would have to make way for personnel.

Suddenly there was a terrible sound of twisting metal as the zombie horde on the outside finally forced a large section of the fence. Dead, rotting corpse spilled through the gap like fish begin dumped onto a table at a market. Soldiers on the ground level shouted up to him as he got to his feet. He and what little men he had left would fight to get these people out of this hell or die trying. Sgt. Ramses leaned over the side of the roof and yelled down to his men.

“Get the civilians out of here! Head north towards Ft. Drum!” Sgt. Ramses pulled a small picture of his he kept in his breast pocket and kissed it one last time before he pulled the charging handle on his rifle and began making his way towards the courtyard. Small caliber gunshots began to ring out and the screams of the survivors swept over him like a wave. A section of the security fencing gave way and came crashing down. The dead began to pour through it like bloody, bloated worms. He sighted his weapon on a walker who was beginning to pick itself up and fired. The first round hit it in the shoulder, which it didn’t even notice but the second shot it the eye and exploded inside the skull. It slumped over in a pile of congealed blackish ooze, brain matter and skull bits. He followed up with two more bursts and dropped two more undead before a hummer pulled up next to him and the door flung open. The soldiers inside screaming for him to move his ass! Ramses fired until he spent his magazine and quickly drew his pistol and fired off a volley of rounds before cursing loudly and jumping to the truck.

City Hall had fallen and the dead know owned the city. As the ragtag convoy departed under a hail of heavy caliber and small arms fire, Sergeant Ramses could only sit back and watch. He felt so hopeless and disconnected. So many uncertainties and doubt filled his mind that it felt like a storm inside his mind. He had no idea what to do other then keep moving and pray that someone had the answers. Now he had to keep his men and the other survivors safe. He would worry about his wife later but for know he had to survive himself. The though of reunion with his wife sparked something inside of himself that brushed everything out of his mind. Like jumping into a pool of cold water. Refreshing, rejuvenating, alive! This was going to be one hell of a long day

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my older pieces that I dug up and revamped a little. This isn't set in stone and is no where near complete but would love to get any and all feedback I can