“Don't worry about me, us special forces guys eat this shit up.” Despite the brave words, Katie and Randy could see the anxiety on Heath's face.
“You don't have to do this.” Randy said, “We can find some way around.”
Looking out onto the street all three of them saw the mob milling about, there were several super zombies controlling their less thinking buddies. Slowly Heath shook his head. “No. There are two flaws with that plan.” He glanced at his watch, “First I don't have the suits you guys have. Second, we don't have time. Either way I can't make it, but if I double back towards the park, I can distract them away from here and give you a shot at getting to the top of that building. Then you will have a chance to finish our mission.”
Randy nodded once, curtly, then Katie said, “No! There has...”
“Don't make me pull rank on you. Please. Katie, you know we aren't getting out of this, none of us. So.” Heath shrugged his broad shoulders, dropping his pack on the floor behind him, “It’s time to choose how to die. Randy you get those coordinates for the artillery strike written down?”
“Written down? Why? Won't you be there to call them in?” Katie turned worriedly towards Randy.
“Just in case I am not,” he said, pressing a listing of numbers into her hand. “There is a field, the stadium area, this is the art center, and use this last one only when the shit really hits the fan.” As he moved down his list, he pointed to the various coordinates written on the paper.
Katie looked at the paper, then at the building across the street, she frowned, then nodded. “Fuck.”
“No time now, but I will remember your offer for the rest of my life.” Heath quipped.
“In your fucking dreams.”
“I don't think I will be dreaming much more. I promise you; you will have time to reach the other side.” Heath fished around in his pack and produced a small square of plastic.
“Explosives? It is awful small.” Randy ventured.
“Explosives? No, I don't think one man could pack enough explosives to make much of a dent in this crowd. It's my mp3 player. Are you ready to rock?” gathering his pistol, rifle and taking a large kukri style knife from his bag he stood up. He tucked the large knife into his belt at his back and after checking the gun he held out his hand to first Katie and then Randy. While they were shaking his hand, he said, “Good luck. Wait until they leave then make your move. Don't fuck this up. I know you are low on ammo, but if you can and if you see me later, well...dead, put one through my brain, would you? If you can afford the shot?”
Katie nodded, Randy just shook Heath's hand in a wooden manner. Then the special forces operative turned and strode back through the building turning down a corridor that led north, instead of back the way they had come.
“What do you think he is going to do?”
“Create a distraction. I hope it's big.” answered Randy.
Heath headed towards the light at the end of the hallway. The fire escape door was clear glass and he approached it warily. Most of the zombies were in the streets to the west of the building, but enough of them were flocking to the area that they were spilling around to the north side as well.
'Good the crowd is thinner here.' he thought as he walked close enough to the door to see outside. He looked into the crowd for the controlling zombies, the ones everyone called super zombies, Heath didn't see any. Ahead of him the city's open park cut a green swath between him and lake Michigan. The pavilion he was aiming for was about two hundred meters away. Heath had a distinct advantage in Chicago, he knew the city. As a younger man, he had been to many concerts and festivals along Lake Shore Drive in his time and he was familiar with the park ahead of him. The park had its own speaker system, far below the usual standard that musicians used, but adequate to get sounds out to large masses of people in the park when announcements were required. That was the building Heath was aiming himself towards. There were only two hundred or so slow zombies between him and it. 'One per meter.' he told himself, 'I can do this. I was born to do this.' Before exiting the door he went down on his knees, crossed himself and said a brief prayer that ended with “...mom, I will see you soon! Amen.” Heath stood up and slung his rifle over one shoulder, pulling the strap tight so it would not fall off or impede his running. He took his pistol in his off hand and pulled out the kukri with his right. For the close in and dirty fighting, he knew the rifle's power would not be needed, besides he was optimistic he could make it without firing a shot. Heath plotted his course one last time and then pushed through the fire door.
He had made it over a hundred meters before he made his first kill. The zombies saw him, but Health was in the prime of his life, he ran five miles a day carrying a heavy pack and now he didn’t even have that with him. The zed who had gotten too close was brought down by a single sharp blow from the twisting, curved blade. Twirling away from the blow, Heath spun away from the zombie's companions and kept running for his objective. The zombies were not as densely packed in the park and, as he had hoped, he did not have to fire a single shot to reach the stage where he had once assisted a band in setting up their music system. The door was padlocked from the outside, without hesitation Heath pounded the kukri into the door, then barreled into it with the side of his body. The door and lock gave away too easily and he sprawled onto the floor of the room beyond. 'Fuck! Look at mister special forces now!' he thought while getting up. He kicked the door shut behind him with one foot and secured his pistol back in its holster. Holding the door with one hand he opened the fuse box next to it and flipped all the breakers to 'on', which powered up the room he was in, he hoped. Nothing came on or hummed to life when he flipped the switches, but there was not much in this room either. He closed the fuse box and pulled a ratty t-shirt off of a shelf near the door. Heath draped the shirt over the box to hide it from casual view. Still holding the door closed he flipped on the industrial light switch on the other side, the light went on just as a zombie tried to push into the room. He was shoved back, but not far enough for anyone to get inside the room. Looking at the shelves, he thought he could pull one set down in front of the door, with his gun hand free he pulled on them experimentally. They didn't budge. The shelves were mostly empty, there were a few other ragged shirts on them, left over from some concert or another and a cardboard box that displayed the size of the cups within on its side. The shelf was wood with a metal frame, giving Heath an idea, he punched upwards from below it and sure enough the wood popped off and clattered sideways at an angle, he caught it before it fell to the ground. Holding the door with his back he maneuvered the piece of wood between the door knob and the floor, it would not hold the zombies for long, but what he was after was not in this room.
After he had the door wedged shut he cautiously took his weight off of it and stepped back. The zombies outside pounded on it and the board bent alarmingly but held. Heath turned and fled the length of the room towards the two doors located there. He choose the one on the right hand side and to his relief found that it was not locked. Once inside he shut it and twisted the deadbolt to lock the door behind him. The short passage he was in led to a set of concrete steps that ended in a small, glass-enclosed office filled with electronic equipment, Heath punched buttons and turned on everything he could, then looked at the large directional button that was mounted to the wall. Outside of the glass booth he could see the stage, for concerts the massive doors would be lifted up, this was what the buttons were for, to raise and lower the doors.
Heath pulled a cable free from an ancient compact disc player that was covered in decals and sticky with spilled drinks and dust. Taking out his mp3 player he plugged the cable in, turning on his device he scrolled down the list of music, “What is the best music to die to?” he said out loud. A crash sounded from the room beyond as the zombies made it through the door. In no hurry he frowned, then said, “No, what is the best music to save the world to?” then repeated 'no' to himself several times as the zombies started pounding on the door to the room he was in. “Fuck it, when in doubt go hard or go home. But don't go home hard.” smiling he thought of his friends and him coming up with that line at one of many of the parties he had been to. Setting his mp3 player on the stereo he pressed pause, then hit the button to open the stage doors. He had to hold the button for the doors to go up if he were to let off of it the door would stop. Slowly the park was revealed, there were a smattering of zombies milling about a few of whom looked towards the stage at the movement of the doors.
Grabbing the well used and old fashioned looking microphone Heath pressed the button down and was rewarded with a clicking noise from all the speakers of the park.
“Hello? Is this thing on? Well ladies and gentlemen and zombies. I would like to welcome you to the park today to celebrate...to just celebrate life. That is what we are celebrating; living here in Chicago on a sunny day in July. These songs go out to my good friends Katie and Randy; I sure hope they are safe and making progress in their lives. I didn't know you long, but I think I knew you well.” The door was up and the zombies were starting to head towards the stage. 'Almost like an ordinary concert.' he thought. Heath made sure the volume was turned up as high as it would go. Behind him, the door started to buckle.
“It is just about time for the stage show. Enjoy it folks.” Pressing play on his mp3 player Heath readied his rifle and stepped out of the booth. He then walked the short distance to center stage and went down on one knee. His first shot took out a zombie near the middle of the street where he had come from. The shot, through a fluke, training or luck, struck true and the zombie's head exploded into bloody fragments. The first song, “Iowa," played until Heath ran out of rifle ammo, as the song came to an end he tossed the rifle down and drew his pistol and knife. The zombies were crawling onto the stage now as the next random track began to play, laughing Heath threw himself into the fight as 'Let the Bodies Hit the Floor' played throughout the park.
On the rooftop Katie and Randy were able to watch the man fighting on the stage, the building was high enough to give them a perfect view over the trees and of all their objectives.
“It isn't real. No one can fight like that. No one...” Katie said.
“Unbelievable. Only in movies...” Randy said, then stopped, “Katie, get your rifle ready. I wouldn't want to be eaten alive. It's the least we can do.”
“Got it,” she quickly set up her rifle, muttering, “Hold on, hold on, just a few more seconds...okay, I got him. He is moving too fast. Christ!”
Randy looked pale in the afternoon sunlight, “Well you don't want to shoot him yet, this is...this is art. Wait until they catch him. If they can.”
Heath's movements on the stage sprang closer when Katie put her eye to the rifle's sights. The zombies could not touch him, the mob was too slow. Heath's pistol was empty, but he used the weapon as a club swinging it around to crush in the skulls and throats of the zombies that reached for him. He never stayed in one place for more than a moment and Katie saw the sheen of sweat on his face as he danced his last moves for the crowd of undead. He screamed something, but they could not hear it over the blaring music. Amazingly the zombies stopped attacking and formed a circle around him, a circle that parted to let three super zombies move to the edges.
“You seeing this? Are you getting this?” Katie asked.
“Yeah, same as you,” said Randy, who was using his spotter's scope to keep track of the action. Both of them intently watched the show as they crouched down behind the parapet of the building.
Heath stood up straight and Katie almost shot him then, she had a clear line to him and he would have died instantly. But Heath clearly mouthed 'Not yet.' very slowly. The super zombies in front of him didn't seem to notice, but he had followed up his overly slow, exaggerated words for Katie with some conversation she could not catch, it seemed to include a lot of swearing, from what she could tell. Quick as a flash the three super zombies attacked Heath, he avoided one zombie altogether, brought his knife down on another one's arm, severing it between the elbow and shoulder and was hit fully by the third. Heath's knife fell from his hand to the ground, but he brought his gun up and slammed it into the side of the zombie's head as they tumbled to the ground. The zombie, an obese Caucasian, who looked to be in his mid-twenties, was not killed, but released his grip on Heath's knife arm to clutch at its head. Rolling and standing Heath swept the feet out from under the zombie with the severed arm. The third, zombie an African American woman with tight, curly hair and ivory teeth charged Heath, but it was a feint and when he reacted to her charge, she ducked sideways and rolled to the ground beyond him, clutching her prize in one hand; Heath's dropped kukri. The head-injured zombie was on its feet again, forcing Heath to act, he launched a kick with a heavy boot at the already injured head. He followed it up with a quick spinning backhand with his pistol that caved in the heavyset man's forehead. The zombie fell backwards and didn't move again.
“He put that pistol through the guy's skull. I know he is strong, but that is that is just not possible.” Randy said.
“I know, and he looks like he is on fast forward, he is matching them in speed, I don't know how long he can keep that up.”
The answer was not long at all. The one-armed zombie tackled Heath from the side as he was spinning to face the woman with his knife. They were both pushed towards the front of the stage by the blow, but neither fell. Heath used the opportunity to smash directly down onto the top of the grappling zombie's head, which took it out of the fight almost immediately. His victory over the second zombie was short lived when a metal blade appeared, as if by magic, cutting through his right side, just under his rib cage. The blade passed through his flesh and abdomen almost to his spine and he immediately sagged downward. The woman caught him by the neck from behind and supported him with one hand. Letting go of the knife she spun him around and held him up in front of her. Heath's head slumped to one side, bringing his face into Katie's view, a bubble of blood formed on his lips.
“Do it.” Randy said gruffly.
Katie looked at her lover, he was a pale gray now, sweating profusely from the exertion of climbing the stairs while wearing his camo suit. His breathing was still ragged, while hers had slowed down to normal after the long climb up. She nodded and sighted down her rifle, looking towards the strip of green between them and the waterfront. A moment later a single shot rang out and both he and Katie slumped quickly behind the parapet of the building out of sight.