The MAC Corporate building was built in the early nineteen eighties, from the outside looked like four stories of steel and reflective blue glass. The structure had very little to offer from an architectural viewpoint. No fancy atrium, no grand entrances or spectacular artwork adorned either the outside nor inside of this relatively plain, rectangular building. When compared to the neighbors around it, the MAC Co. building was average at best.
After the September eleventh, terrorist attacks upper management decided to invest in added security and emergency equipment. Every entrance got modified and now required a card key to gain access. When the card was swiped past the reader a security system would record the identity of the card owner, check to make sure that the person was allowed in that section of the building, and if approved, the system would then release a magnetic lock at the top of the door. Most employees seemed to think the security system was just another way for management to keep tabs on them. Take too many long lunches or multiple cigarette breaks and you might find yourself looking for a new job.
Another change that resulted from the increased security was the installation of a large generator on the south side of the building. Should MAC Co. lose power the generator would automatically turn on and supply emergency power to the building’s main systems; security, telephones, and designated lighting.
“How many entrances does this place have?” Stewart inquired.
Looking at Steve for confirmation Max responded, “One main entrance and three side ones. There’s one on each side of the building.” Steve thought for a moment mentally counting to himself and then nodded his approval of Max’s answer.
“Is that the main security desk that I passed?” Officer Stewart did not wait for an answer, made her way to the desk and plopped down into the empty chair behind it. There was also a computer monitor showing shots of the cameras located by the building doors and, of course, a computer. The computer was mostly used by the security guard to play solitaire but it also served the intended purpose of displaying the key card information when an employee entered or exited the building.
“It has been nice hanging out with you guys and Officer, I appreciate what you did for me, but I have a family that needs me so I’ll be leaving now.” Max announced.
“You’re welcome. Good luck getting past them.” Stewart said pointing at the television screen. The north camera that provided the best view of the parking structure showed somewhere in the neighborhood of five or six figures milling about.
“You don’t understand. I have a wife and kids that need me.”
“I’d bet that they need you alive more than dead.” Steve added.
“You know what? Fuck you Steve. What do you have? A stupid cat waiting for you? Bite me, asshole.”
“Hey man, go for it; don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.”
Max looked at Stewart and studied her face trying to determine what her opinion was. Unfortunately, he saw that she agreed with Steve.
“Don’t look at me,” Stewart said, “the most significant relationship I’ve had over the past year was a one night stand with some jackass I met after a Broncos game.” From the look on Steve’s face, that was the best news he had heard all morning.
“You think the army or National Guard will be called in?” Max asked, hoping.
“I’d say that the current situation justifies it but who knows? It is not good out there and I think it is just going to get worse, much worse. If I can’t even raise anyone at HQ, well, that tells you something too.”
“Not to change the subject, but I will. Since it sounds like we are planning on staying, no one without a key card will be able to get in, right?” Steve asked.
“Not unless you move that, Steve-o.” Stewart said, pointing at the trashcan propping the door open.
Steve dragged the trashcan back into the building and tested to door to make sure that the lock activated.
Stewart managed to pull up the security log on the computer. “As of right now I see twenty entries of people who should be in this building. That leaves twenty unaccounted for.”
“No, no eighteen, no wait, two guys in the bathroom, that’s sixteen left unaccounted for. Let us see that list; Bob - dead, Fred –undead and ditto for Nancy. I think that guy in the bathroom was named Rod, not sure, but there is a Rod Uberton on the list so that was probably him. Plus the guy on the toilet, I didn’t look, but I’m sure he was hamburger meat, anyway Rod, undead and dead again.”
“Hey, is there a function that allows you to deny all access? If there is, we could lock up the building so that no one else gets in or out.”
“I don’t know, Steve, if I want to be locked in here,” Max offered, “and what if someone who isn’t…isn’t one of them wants to get in and needs our help, what then?”
“Fuck 'em. It’s not our problem. Let them find their own building I say.”
“What do you think?” Max said, looking at Stewart for support.
“I don’t know if I want to be locked in either. I highly doubt that our friends, the undead, are smart enough to break in and if I were on my way to work and found myself being chased by a few of those things and expected my card key to work, only to find my ass hanging in the wind I’d be pretty pissed off. Before we let anyone else in, we need to make damn sure that they are not going to want a bite out of us, agreed?”
“No shit?” Steve said, sarcastically.
“No shit. Alright, let’s all go check the remaining doors and then figure out where’s the best place to hold up and defend if need be.” Stewart announced standing up from behind the desk.
Max could not believe that he was trapped and unable to reach his family. It made him impatient; really impatient, as if each minute that slipped by put one more zombie between him and his family. He was convinced so easily to stay put and for that, he felt guilty. Was he being selfish, putting his own safety before that of his family? Max forced himself not to think about it, there was nothing he could do now other than make sure that he survived long enough to give himself a chance to see his family again. That is all he wanted, a chance.
As the three of them began their check of the building, the security log registered a twenty-fourth entry. Nancy Wieden, Director of Marketing Department, seven thirteen, East Door Interior Card Reader, Approved. Nancy was hungry and somewhere in the back of her mind, she remembered leaving the building when she ate, clients. The blood and flesh she was able to consume from Bob had partially restored her. It had given her a portion of her memory back and allowed her to think in a slow, sluggish way. She recalled having breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with clients, new and old. That is what someone in marketing does. Yes, and she had been damn good at her job. She needed to find a client in the worst way and fast. She could already feel Bob’s energy slipping away. With one high heel missing and Max’s favorite shirt covered in drying blood, Nancy started her lopsided walk across the parking lot.
The search for new clients had begun.