John Wheeler is a little edgy tonight. He attributes that to his new gig as the night guard in a warehouse on the former military installation. The doorway still proclaims this building as supply department. He maneuvers his manual wheelchair around a stack of pallets and finally spots his co-worker Bill Spelling.
Bill works the evening watch and John will man the midnight to eight watch.
The new job is a long way from when he was warehouse manager of this very building with 19 employees working to download cargo and supplies for what was once a master jet base. Most deliveries were mundane, toiletries, paper supplies, etc. Sometimes though some military shipments were delivered and stored here. M-50 rounds, gas masks and thousands of MREs. (Meals ready to eat). John always wondered who used so many of these on a base with two chow halls and several snack bars and even Mickey Ds. Not enough to ask anyone though.
“Evening and welcome aboard,” calls Bill. “And happy Halloween.” It crossed John’s mind that his Nov 1, watch would actually begin on Oct 31, but not being superstitious, he discounted any problems on the sleepy former base.
Besides, who hires a wheelchair guard in a mostly darkened warehouse and arms him with only a flashlight and a radio if trouble is likely? He was told his job is primarily acting as a fire watch, for insurance purposes.
Add the proximity of the veteran’s cemetery and it would be easy to let the imagination run wild. But that is not John. He earned his wheels by doing one too many “hog hops” over 12 buses. He came up two buses short and plowed right through the tin rooftop landing upside down with the heavy bike digging into his knees ripping tendons, muscle and bone into a soupy, boney mess.
“Well, you know the job,” said Bill as he made his way rather quickly toward the loading ramp. “Don’t sleep on the job,” he smiled a rather evil toothless grin, “like that would be possible in this place; the screeching you hear is cats making new cats somewhere in the dark.” There is a sudden blast. “Was that a gun?” “Nah, damn roof is falling in.” With that, John is alone.
About 3 a.m. John sits near the abandoned single wide. The door is on one hinge and squeaks as the light breeze stirs the dust and the door. A faded sign says office, knock before entry. Another piece of the roof falls and John hopes it killed those screaming cats.
The night is boring and long but it will pay for a new power chair someday. So John will keep his goal in sight.
Something catches his eye and he turns toward the sound of something moving across the darkened floor. It is an unmistakable sound – something scraping across the darkened warehouse.
Before he can make out who is there, he instinctively knows it is more than one. Then he realizes something is coming at him from more than one direction.
He wheels quickly toward an open cardboard box and grabs for a weapon, but finds only a wet roll of paper towels and so continues to search for a defensive weapon. He finds a stack of wooden broom handles. He tries desperately to break one to make a spear but to no avail.
He turns and swings wildly at bodies; well they used to be bodies, now they are contorted and nasty. The stench fills John’s nostrils and he wants to vomit. John grabs a stack of aluminum trash cans and tosses them into the dark as a distraction. As fast as he can he wheels toward a ramp used by forklifts. If he can hit that ramp, he will be outside where he might hide.
But he is no challenge for the zombies, perhaps as many as 30 are converging on his tiny body trying to sink deeper into the chair. The zombies can be confused by John’s high intensity flashlight and John remembers he has the radio. He pulls it to his face and one zombie smashes him in the face so hard his nose splits down the middle.
Another foe reaches in and tries to tear open John’s face. Then John is pushed rapidly into the dark warehouse. He is slammed up against a crate filled with 10 pound sledge hammers. Instinctively, he draws back and smashes in the head of one close to him.
One down, 29 to go. Another zombie falls forward and John misses him but notices a bag of Bic lighters on the floor. He lights one and sets the zombie’s hair on fire.
If he could find a flamethrower, he could really go to town. But alas no flamethrower. John is bumped from behind as a falling female slams hard to the floor in front of him. John slowly rolls the wheel chair across her face easily crushing her rotted brain.
Two more approach him and knock headlong into each other. John obliges their head knocking exercise by pinging their heads together multiple times. Brain matter is all over him but he is still alive.
John finds a case of Clorox next and liberally splashes two or three more directly in their eyes and open facial wounds. They fall as maggots spread across the floor. Disgusting.
Then John realizes these Zombies are actually looking for a particular item. They are looking for the damned MREs. He remembers rumors of a lab working to create super soldiers and surmises the MREs were the primary means of feeding and medicating these people.
Obviously the experiment only succeeded in killing the body; but not the brain. John is scooting along in the dark. They have lost him for now so he desperately wheels toward the MRE locker. As if fate is on his side, he discovers C-4 explosives (plastic bonded explosives). He pulls as many packets onto his chair as he can. Rolls to the MRE locker; quickly sets the charges and heads rapidly down the first ramp. As he wheels away, he hears the dragging of a zombie.
Fortunately he found a toilet plunger and carried it out with him. He slammed it into the zombie’s soft tissue on top of his head sucked his brain right out of his skull; the MRE locker explodes and all is calm. Without their precious MREs even those who survived will soon die.