Max thought 'Hey this ain't too bad.' for a gut shot man walking down the stairs of the apartment building he was doing okay. Then came the shooting, a bullet winged off the metal support pole near Max’s head and sent him ducking to his hands and knees before he quite knew what he was doing. The pain from that maneuver was terrible, he dropped the revolver and saw it clatter down two flights of stairs past Tom, who turned and said, “Did they hit you! Did they hit you?”
“No, no, keep going, just…painful.” Max replied. He pulled himself up to the rail level and slid his legs down the stairs first, it was slow, but the agony was more bearable if he kept his body in more or less a straight line, bending made everything so much worse.'And that was bending forward.' thought Max, 'Stretching up would open the wound more and…' just thinking about it made him nauseous.
Tom had ducked down below the railing too, this left them both partially exposed on the stairs that faced the parking lot, but kept them almost hundred percent obscured at all other parts of the descent. Unfortunately a hundred percent obscured did not mean a hundred percent safe, the thin painted wood of the railing did nothing to stop the bullets from flying through, just made them more inaccurate.
“Speed Tom, you gotta go faster, I gotta go faster or they are gonna put someone at the base of the stairs where we want to drop off. Plus they see us every time we turn towards the parking lot.”
Tom just looked at Max and Max knew the slow pace was on account of his wound. Still Tom went faster and got a stairway ahead of Max. This separated the gun fire into two locations and while Max thought he was in the middle of a gunfight, the reality was that very few bullets were coming their way, just enough to make them keep their heads down and slow their progress. Max did remember to grab the revolver on his way past it, he tucked it into his pocket, figuring even if he could fire it, his hands were shaking so badly and that he probably would not hit anything anyway.
They arrived at near base of the stairs with no more than an extra hole in the front of Tom’s jeans where a bullet had narrowly missed his shin. They finally made it down as far as they could safely go, onto some concrete steps facing the back of the apartment complex. The one final flight of stairs led to the ground, however it was facing the parking lot where all of the bullets had been coming from. Between the flight of stairs they were on and the next there was a landing where Tom intended them to go over the railing and out the ‘back’ way, which bordered on a creek with one of Denver’s many bike paths running along it.
Tom pointed to the railing, “We gotta go over that railing, it is about a five foot drop, the kids hang and drop from it all the time, but the landing is going to be on a hill covered with gravel, probably not good footing. Stay to the right side, it will be harder for anyone to see you if you are there. Ready?”
Max nodded ‘yes’ and Tom pointed to indicate he should go first. As Max slowly went down the stairs feet first he heard Tom scrambling around behind him, and then heard the explosive sound of the shotgun going off. Knowing that was his cue, he moved as quickly as he could to get over the railing, opting for the ‘head first’ method, instead of the much slower ‘climb over, hang and drop’ method. His next thought was ‘Five feet? More like fifteen!’ He hit the ground and blacked out after rolling onto his back.
Tom meanwhile fired several shots into the parking lot at moving men, he did not think he hit anyone, but they kept their heads down, which is all he wanted. He reloaded the shotgun, fired one more round and then slung the gun over his should by the strap and hopped over the fence, he did hang and drop and had to modify his trajectory when he saw Max laying on the ground below him, unmoving. He landed on the slope and rolled to one side, into the foundation of the building, then stopped on his butt, sliding to a stop on the loose gravel next to Max.
He nudged Max, who moaned and said, “C’mon Max we area almost there buddy, get moving!”
Max groaned again, “Five feet! That ain’t five feet Tom!”
Tom shrugged, “Well I didn’t expect you to go head first off the damn thing! Can you get up? Oh shit you’re bleeding again. Better get your band aid together first.” He leaned over Max and pulled the towel back around his stomach cinching it closed as Max had done before. The bleeding was not stopped, merely staunched for the moment. He was just helping Max to his feet when a voice above them shouted down, “Hold it right there boys or we will shoot!” Max and Tom stopped and slowly half turned around to look up at a man holding a rifle on them, the tentatively raised their hands and the man said, “That’s right, keep em where I can see em…”
His next words were cut off by the sound of a pistol from behind Max and Tom, the man yelled as he was shot in the arm or shoulder, spinning around and falling behind the barricade. Turning back towards the creek Max saw the patrol car on the bike path behind them. Tom wasted no time helping Max down the hill and climbing in after him into the back of the car. Steve, now driving the car, took off down the bike path while Stewart turned to Max and Tom.
“How’d it go?” she asked, as if nothing unusual had happened.
Tom spat out, “I got Max fucking shot! For clothing!” turning to Max he said, “I am sorry Max! I am so sorry!” While saying so he pulled up Max’s shirt to reveal the bloody towel wrapped around his stomach.
Max winced and said, “Yeah, Tom. I am sorry too man.” Then thinking about it he said, “You didn’t know, the same thing could happen when we get to Steve’s sisters or my place, you didn’t know man, you couldn’t have known.”
Stewart was looking at the towel then reached into the glove box and came up with a medical kit, she proceeded to pull out a pair of latex gloves (there was an entire box of them) and told Steve, “Steve, pull over and let me swap with Tom. Tom, you reload the gun and keep your eyes peeled for trouble.”
After a quick stop they were on their way again. Stewart said to Steve, “You know where the state clinic is on a hundred and thirty fourth? No? Well turn right here, then take the second left after this next light and then the first right after that, it is on the left. We’ll see if docs are in. Let me take a look Max.”
Max looked at Stewart and said, “I, I can’t, you do it.”
“Wuss. Move your hands. No, not there, move them out of the way.”
Stewart peeled back the towels, knowing from her training that this is generally the wrong thing to do, you are supposed to let the band aid work by allowing the blood to pool and seal the hole. However she had to know, if it was as bad as it looked she would not place good odds on Max surviving and from what she had heard his death would not be a pleasant one either. She pulled the last of the towel back, starting the blood flowing again and said, “Tom, hand me that bag there in front of your feet, it has gauze in it. Thanks.” She proceeded to clean up the blood so she could see the wound more clearly, there was a lot of blood. She sighed in relief at what she saw, just as they were driving slowly by the clinic.
Tom said, “Stewart! Stewart! Zombies everywhere!”
Sure enough the clinic was surrounded by a mob of thirty or so zombies, none of them looked like what Stewart would classify as ‘beta’ or ‘alpha’ zombies, those that were faster and more aware of their environment, just common ‘zetas’. Zeta for classic zombie, that always brought a smile to her face. Back to the clinic situation, Steve sped the car up as he went by and several members of the mob made lumbering runs after the moving car.
“Steve, slow down a bit, draw more of them away!” commanded Stewart.
Steve slowed, but only three of the zombies continued the pursuit. Shrugging Stewart said, “Go to the end of the block and we'll shoot these three, then circle around and try to get more of them; circle, draw them away, shoot em. Got it?”
Shooting the zombies was like shooting fish in a barrel. The three dropped easily and Steve circled the block and tried to draw more away, the rest of the mob was less inclined to follow this time around and several even ducked for cover among the nearby cars. This was going to be harder than Stewart thought.
“Isn’t there somewhere else?” asked Steve.
“Nowhere close.” replied Stewart bitterly, “Besides we know someone is still in there, otherwise why the mob?”
“So what do I do? Ram some of them? Shoot into them as we drive by?”
“No we gotta come up with something more clever than that. Pull up at the corner of the block and let’s stop and think for a minute.”
Steve pulled the car to a halt at the corner and all of them looked back at the clinic, then to each other, casting guarded glances at Max when they thought he was not looking.
“Here is the thing, we have to get Max in as quick as we can, the ‘golden’ hour rule still applies even in this prolonged emergency. Max, you are not going to die, it looks to me like the bullet just skimmed across the front of your abdomen and is not inside of you, but we still need to get you stitched up and probably on anti-biotics or something, the doctor or nurse will know what to do. I think we could probably rush the zombies in the parking lot, I think they are smart enough to duck down for cover, but I didn’t see any ‘alpha’ zombies no real bad guys, right?”
“So, let me get this straight, you are thinking that we should bum-rush thirty zombies to get to the front door?” asked Steve.
“I dunno Stewart there are a lot of zombies around the building...” Tom said tentatively.
“No! No bum rushing Steve, c’mon! I mean we pull up twenty feet away and blast a bunch of them, Tom and I will sit on this side and just fire out the windows, we will drive them off and then make a break for the doors.”
“We don’t even know the doors are unlocked, I don’t think they are, otherwise there wouldn’t be anyone inside, right? So how do we let them know we need in?” asked Steve.
“Steve, use your head, the gunfire should do that, right? Any other additions or better ideas? Max? You alright, try to stay with us here buddy, we can’t have you going into shock on us okay, you are probably going to have to walk when we get to the front doors.”
“No, no ideas Stewart.” said Tom, Steve just nodded and said, “Okay let’s do it.”
Steve pulled the car around the block yet again and then onto the other side of the street as far away from the clinic doors as they could get and still be on the street. Stewart and Tom each took careful aim and brought down a couple of the zombies, the rest turned towards them slowly and again they fired, neither were accurate enough to bring another zombie down, but both hit their targets. After a third volley and one more head shot, the rest of the zombies fled around the corner or ducked behind the cars along that side of the road.
“Shit!” swore Stewart, “This sucks, we are going to use a lot of ammo to clean this group out! Hey Steve look at the door!”
Sure enough a man in a rumpled shirt with a traditional doctors coat was at the front glass doors waving frantically at them.
“I guess there are people alive in there. You're a lucky man Max.” said Steve, “Let me pull the car up and I bet you guys can get a couple more once the angle changes.”
Steve pulled the car up and while they did hit a couple more zombies they did not bring any down.
“This ain’t working Stewart!” said Tom as Steve backed the car up to try and get them a different shooting angle.
“I know, I can see that, they are smarter than they looked. Hey Steve can you back us up on the sidewalk in front of the clinic? We could get a shot or two off there, maybe get a couple of them.”
Steve did this and Tom and Stewart let loose another volley of shots hitting several of the undead, but only bringing two more down. Max let out a yell when two zombies, one carrying a cinder block slammed into his side of the car, the side window, amazingly did not shatter inward, but did break into a million starred pieces. Max’s yell startled Tom and as he pulled around to see what Max was yelling about he fired a round off, shattering the heavy glass in the front door of the clinic and narrowly missing the physician’s leg.
The doctor yelled something that sounded like, “Oo-oh shit you fucking douche bag!” and retreated into the clinic out of sight, several zombies made for the front door, Stewart shot them both in the head as they made no effort to dodge or hide.
Tom screamed at Steve, “Get us out of here! They are going to break through!” While Max fumbled with the revolver he had picked up earlier trying to point it at the zombies outside the window.
“Ma-ax! Don’t shoot through the window!” yelled Stewart, “Steve pull ahead a few feet, but don’t take me out of sight of the front door, if the zombies get through there we won’t have a doctor anymore!”
Steve pulled the car forward about ten feet, the zombies clambered up onto the back of the squad car, Steve reversed, catching one of them under the car and running it over, the other one started smashing at the rear window with one fist while hanging on to the antenna with the other.
In half a second everything changed, Stewart opened her side door and got a bead on the zombie riding on the trunk, she shot him once in the neck and then capped him in the head as he fell off behind the car. She was then grabbed by her feet by a hand reaching out from under the cruiser. Tom screamed and hopped out of the car after her, at the same time several of the hiding zombies made a rush for both the car and the clinic door.