Today’s post comes to you via colleendreams. She has a remarkable talent for weaving captivating stories that pull in the reader from the start. Her page may be found here. One of my favorite stories right now is her ongoing work which she has dutifully been posting chapter by chapter on her blog. You may start reading that here.
Originally I asked her to take part in a blog tour but that did not work out, so instead we worked out a guest post where she has created this little gem of a short story. So please, enjoy and read her work when you get the chance. You won’t be disappointed.
Aida blinked, not sure how long she had been staring at the screen. It was friday and all she wanted to do was go home. It had been a hell of a week. The company just lost a major client when they were outbid by some cut-rate foreign factory. There was no accounting for quality anymore.
“You ok, Aida? I thought we’d lost you there for a second.” Matt nudged her.
She shook off the fuzziness, “Yeah, just can’t wait for today to be over.”
“Tell me about it! Hey, you have the budget plan outline ready?”
“It’s on the printer, go ahead a grab it.” She gestured to the machine in the corner.
After collecting the documents he leaned in as if they were conspiring and whispered, “How bad is it?”
Edging away she struggled to keep the irritation out of her voice, “It’s not good obviously, but we can weather it. We only lost one of the five major contracts, so it’ll mean tightening our belts is all.”
She couldn’t understand why he felt the need to be hush-hush, there were four other desks in the office, but everyone else was at lunch.
Matt blew an exaggerated sigh of relief, “Great news. I though I was going to have to work on my resume.” He waved as he walked out.
“You should anyway,” she muttered under her breath, attempting to turn her focus back on the numbers in front of her.
Glancing at the desktop clock Aida noticed that her co-workers were taking an unusually long lunch. Maybe they had gone to the bar to gossip about potential layoffs she mused. She needed more coffee. Walking out the other side of the office she thought whoever had designed the purchasing/accounting office to have it’s own access to the break area was a genius. No one needed to be closer to the caffeine than they did. There was a group sitting at one of the round tables, all leaned in close, speaking frantically, but barely above a whisper. Aida couldn’t wait until the official plan was put out and people could stop speculating and freaking out. Shit happens, you deal with it and move on. Ignoring them she filled her mug.
“Aida!” Carly called out from the group,
Aida braced herself and turned around, “Mr. Turner will make the official announcement as soon as he is ready. Until then, I don’t know any more than anyone else, ok?”
“Geez Aida, a bit touchy?” Carly scoffed. “I wasn’t going to ask about that anyway.”
“Oh,” Adia looked down at the coffee in her mug, embarrassed, “Sorry, I’m a bit touchy I guess. What were you going to say?”
Carly waived it off, “It’s cool. Have you heard about the trouble at the airport? They think it was a terrorist attempt!”
Aida shook her head no, “What happened?” she made her way over to the table and sat down with the group.
Jeffery piped in, “Ah, no one knows for sure yet. No official statements or anything, but they locked the place down and there are guys with hazmat suits going in. We’re thinking it’s anthrax.”
“Not me,” added Javier, “I think it’s bio-terrorism. I heard the guy they have in custody looks really sick.”
Jeffery hit Javier in the arm, “Idiot, chemicals could make him look really sick too!”
“We started a pool, you want in?” Carly asked.
“Um, yeah, put $20 on chemical weapons for me.” Aida answered distractedly, wondering how much of this was hype, she glanced at her watch. “Hey do you guys know where everyone else is? They should be back from lunch by now.”
Everyone at the table looked back and forth between each other, but no one had an answer.
“I’m going to go check the parking lot.” Aida jumped up and took off before anyone could speak.
Aida didn’t carry a purse, they were inconvenient and bulky. She pulled her keys out of one pocket and her cell out of the other. She dialed his number, he picked up on the third ring.
Aida didn’t bother with the formalities, “Is this real?”
“One-hundred percent, I’m knee deep in shit right now.” His voice was rock steady but it sounded like Beirut in the background.
“What are we talking here, chemical, biological, radiological …. or is this really it?”
“It’s the z-word baby.”
“Goddamn.” she uttered under her breath, “We must be outside of the zone I haven’t seen anything yet. Stay safe hon’ and kill some for me.”
“You know it!” as the call cut off she could almost see the grin on his face.
Her hatchback popped open with the press of a button. She pulled away the carpeting and unlocked the compartment underneath. A kevlar vest, that went on first. Two 9mm in a shoulder holster, she threw it on next. The belt held extra magazines and rounds, she clicked that into place last. She slung the shotgun strap over neck and let it hang. The first one was quiet. She almost didn’t hear him coming. No moaning, or guttural noises. It was the scrapping of his broken foot as he dragged it along behind him that caught her attention. The handgun was out, safety off, as she whipped around to face the noise. With a pop his head exploded. She wondered if they could move faster without a bad leg. That’s when the screaming started. Carly and Javier stood in the doorway yelling their heads off. Aida wasn’t sure who was more shrill. She rushed over, shoving them back into the office.
“Shut up!” Aida commanded.
The two trailed off into whimpers.
“What the hell just happened?” Jeffery demanded, “And what is all that?” he gestured at Aida’s gear.
“I don’t have time for this.” Aida stated. “I’m getting out of here. I have enough room in the forester to get you guys out of here too if you want to go, but I highly recommend you take something with you to defend yourself with.”
Carly took a knife from the kitchen and Javier came back with a mop from the janitor’s closet.
Jeffery took a fire extinguisher off the wall, “How’s this?”
“It’s something, just be sure to hit them in the head.” Aida answered.
“What am I hitting in the head?”
Aida put her face in her hands and took a deep breath, “Anything that doesn’t look like a normal healthy person.”
“It is a virus! I knew it!” Javier exclaimed.
“We don’t know what it is,” Aida countered, “Only that those non-human people out there will try to kill you, so don’t let them.”
“How do you know that??” Carly shrieked.
“I have a trusted source. Now, let’s go before this place is surrounded.”
Aida went first, popping two more in the head, but the noise from earlier must have attracted attention because there was a mob coming their way. The one’s that were less injured could run like normal, others were dragging themselves along. One swung around the corner of the building, full speed, taking Carly to the ground, the knife knocked out of her hand. Jeffery beat it on the head with the fire extinguisher until there was nothing but pulp. Aida put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. He pulled the body off of Carly and helped her to her feet. The girl was wide-eyed, deathly pale under the blood splatter. They pushed through, Aida taking many of them down, Jeffery and Javier beating off more of them. Aida, Carly, and Jeffery piled into the car, but before Javier could get the door shut three pairs of hands grabbed him, dragging him away from the car. Aida couldn’t get a clear shot from the driver’s seat Carly was screaming again. Jeffery leaned over her and shut the car door. Aida backed up, the car thumping over at least one. Aida hit the gas. Jeffery pulled Carly’s face into his chest so she wouldn’t see Javier being torn apart, turned into a buffet of organs. There were obstacles everywhere, cars crashed or overturned, people fleeing. Aida ran over one chewing on a body in the middle of the road.
“Alright,” she looked into the rearview mirror at the backseat, “Where can I drop you guys off?”
“Um, I should really check on my sister and her kids.” Jeffery mumbled.
Carly’s face was still half-hurried in his chest, “Can I come with you?”
“Sure.” He rubbed her shoulder, finding strength for her.
Aida smiled, “Ok, where to?”
“On the west side of town, by the big golf course.”
The further they drove the less of them they saw.
Aida pulled into the driveway. “It looks like you guys might have a little time before they reach you. So board the place up, find some weapons, or get the hell out together, but whatever you do, do it quick!”
Jeffery got out, still holding onto Carly, “Where are you going?”
Aida smirked, “Don’t worry about me.”
“How did you know … where did you have all that stuff … when …” He didn’t know what else to ask.
“Just think of me as a boy scout, always prepared. Good luck!” She called out as she drove away.
The car rolled on as the sun began to dip below the horizon. She pulled up to the house as the last light faded from the sky. Light spilled out of the open doorway. She got out of the car and ran, jumping into his arms.
“You made it.” He smiled.
“You doubted me?” She arched an eyebrow.
“Only for a minute.” He winked, pushing the door shut. He swung the two-by-four down into its metal brackets to keep anything from coming through the solid oak door.
“I guess this is it, huh? The beginning.” She said solemnly.
He pulled her in and kissed her, “Only the beginning.” He whispered into her ear.