Katie fell down halfway across the street. It took her some time to realize she had fallen over, she was lost in the flood of memories. When she finally came to, she found herself lying in the pouring rain trying to piece together the fragments of her mind. ‘It’s like doing a puzzle during an earthquake. The pieces keep shifting faster than I can get them into place.´ When she came back she found she was crouched over her rifle trying to shield it from the worst of the rain. ‘Old habits die hard. Always protect your gun.’
Randy offered her a hand up, which she accepted and he pulled her to her feet. She looked at her hand for a moment, then at Randy. “What’d I miss?” she asked him as she ran over to, and rolled under, a late model Ford.
“Aubrey went inside with her troops, more zombies are trickling in, but they seem to be ignoring the melee in the warehouse and heading deeper into the building. Look at the doorway, there is where they all went.”
Randy was sitting with his legs crossed in front of the Ford, he was pointing at a ragged hole in the otherwise pristine warehouse wall that their new angle allowed them to see. “That looks new.” Katie said.
Shrugging his shoulders, Randy said, “Yeah, does it matter? Oh, I saw the old guy run around back of the building too. His eyes were closed and he was stopping and going in a strange pattern.”
“Yeah, he would take three steps and stop dead still for a second, then take a few more steps and stop again. Sometimes he’d run twenty or thirty paces before stopping. Sometimes he’d only take a single step. The time he stayed still varied too.”
“I don’t really care about the old coot. I am surprised one of the contestants for ‘best dressed zombie in military garb’ of the year didn’t put a cap in him though.”
“That’s just it; I don’t think anyone saw him. I mean anyone who cared. Team Aubrey wasn’t exactly interested in capping his ass. The others probably would have. I think, but they always seemed to be looking where he wasn’t at.”
“Weird, but it doesn’t matter. How’s our team doing?” Katie took a rag out of her pocket and wiped the scope down, then proceeded to give the gun a quick wipe down as well.
“Down to her and her man Kurt.”
“Kurt? You know his name.”
“Yeah, sure, I went to high school with him.”
Katie grunted, “Small world.”
“I’m just shitting you. I don’t know who he is, I named him Kurt, so I could root for him. He is like, one of the good guys.”
“Asshole.” Katie lined up her rifle and tried to get a bead on one of the men inside the building. The bright lights were a stark contrast against the dim light made from the approaching storm.
After a moment, Randy asked, “You gonna take a shot or what?”
“They’re moving too fast. What’s with all these assholes going into the building, but not fighting?”
“How should I know? Just pick a target, even winging someone will slow them down enough for Kurt or Aubrey to finish them.”
“Good point. I was looking for a head shot.” A split second later Katie’s bullet winged the zombie Aubrey was fighting in the shoulder. Aubrey wasted no time, she swung her fist around to shatter the thing’s skull and moved on to the next opponent.
“Good shot! Were you aiming for him?”
“Quiet, you!” Katie snarled.
“Sure, sure, the rain and the thunder and the grunting and screaming isn’t a problem, but me commending you throws off your aim.”
“Randy….” Katie warned. Her next shot took one of Kurt’s zombies in the ankle, the zombie stumbled and wheeled away from Kurt, whose attempt at a coup de grace missed by millimeters.
“Shit.” Katie chambered another round and missed her target completely.
“That’s one for three. You can do better than this.”
“Better than you could do.” Katie mumbled.
“At this range? Not likely.” retorted Randy.
“With this gun? Very likely. You’d be lucky to get one into the building.” The next bullet struck the only other woman in the hanger right between the breasts. It knocked her backwards from Aubrey, directly in front of Kurt, who slammed the double sided combat knife up under her chin into her brain.
“That was clean. Go Kurt!” Randy cheered.
“Hey, that was me all the way!”
“Six more. Uh-oh, their peeling an ‘A’ lister off of Aubrey for Kurt. Kill that bastard!”
“You in love with Kurt now or what?”
“Two versus six, I gotta love the underdogs!”
Katie fired again, twice in rapid succession, hitting the man once and putting another bullet into the wall behind him. Kurt swung his knife in a vicious arc towards the guy’s head, but the man he was fighting blocked with his wrist. Kurt’s blade severed the wrist easily, but the ‘A’ list fighter hopped back out of the fight to recover.
Katie was reloading and cursed, “Sure the bastard stops now, I totally could have had him myself!”
“You should have reloaded after the first three.”
“Nag, nag, nag.”
As she raised her gun to fire again, Katie stopped completely. A man was coming out of the hallway. One of the many slow, shambling zombies reached towards him and disintegrated as the two touched.
“I think the boss monster has entered the building.” Randy said, “Shoot his ass Katie!”
Katie was looking at him and immediately became cognizant that he was aware of her too. She sighted down the barrel of her gun and fired at the bridge of his nose. The bullet struck true and rocked his head back…before ricocheting into the ceiling. When his head tilted back down his eyes were glowing white with an inner fire.
“What. The. Fuck.” Randy said.
The zombies fighting Aubrey stopped when the man came into the hanger, and Aubrey made quick work of two of them, sending one’s head rolling, before smashing in another with nothing more than her fist.
“That’s the guy who did all this shit. That’s the one who started this!” said Randy as he pointed at the man.
“Yeah, thanks Captain Obvious. Like the pictures at his house weren’t enough of a clue. I think his name is…” Katie concentrated, trying to recover a fragment of her lost memory. “Thomas Sentry.”
Upon saying his name she felt pulled forward. This was not an urge to move forward, Katie was literally dragged across the pavement out from under the car towards Sentry, many of the zombies in the hanger suffered from the same violation. When she stopped Katie did feel an immense compulsion to move towards the Doctor again. Dropping her rifle she stood up and walked into the warehouse, her duffle bag still hanging from her shoulder.
Sentry stepped towards Aubrey, the sole fighter who hadn’t been pulled towards him. “So, this is all you’ve got? A common shooter and jumped up fighter who isn’t even as good as half of my body guards?”
“It got me this far.” Aubrey said between gritted teeth.
Sentry gestured at ‘Kurt’ and the zombie fell over, clutching his stomach, which started to smolder, a moment later he screamed in agony as his abdomen burned white, then burst into flame. In seconds he was a torch, with flames shooting out of his body as he curled into a ball on the ground. The concrete beneath him blackened and cracked from the heat and nearby bodies began to start smoking.
“And her? She isn’t even half as powerful as he was.” Sentry gestured again towards Katie. Randy stepped in front of her and absorbed the wave of energy that was released. Katie wanted to cry out, but she was held steady and unable to do so. “Well, isn’t that interesting.” Sentry said. He seemed almost as surprised as Aubrey, who looked at Katie with wide eyes.
Randy was undaunted by the attack and turned to give Katie a quick thumbs up, though she noticed he was sweating profusely. She had not seen him sweat since he came back from the dead to haunt her. “Shrug it off, babe. I can’t do this all day.”
While Sentry continued to stare at Katie with a puzzled look in his eye, Aubrey launched an attack. Her left hand knocked into his jaw at an inhuman speed, followed by an overhand knife thrust towards his ear. Sentry barely seemed to move as he caught Aubrey’s wrist in his hand with the knife point pressing into his cheek.
“You have to realize I am beyond such physical concerns now. Even if your knife had thrust into my head, it would have been just as ineffective as your sniper’s bullet.” He threw Aubrey backwards into the hanger door, bringing it down in a crumpled heap out in the parking lot with the woman wrapped in the middle of it. Sentry stalked forward towards the door, which now resembled a crumpled piece of paper. As he walked Sentry cast a sideways glance at Katie, who continued to stand and stare blankly ahead, trying to regain control.
The crumpled ball of light metal crackled above even the sound of the pouring rain as Aubrey struggled free. Sentry picked the edge of the door up and spun around to toss it across the parking lot towards some distant houses. He watched in satisfaction as the whole mess hit the ground over three football fields. Aubrey still stood where she had been before he threw the door, she shook a piece of the door from one of her legs and smiled at Sentry’s surprised look.
“I guess I have a few surprises too.”
“I doubt you have anything more to amaze me with. You were a bit player when I sent you to Chicago and we know how poorly you did there. I should have sent Heather, she’d have that Iowa problem resolved by now and would have been back here to help oversee the next stage.”
“The next stage?” Aubrey asked circling around until she was inside the building once more, leaving Sentry to stand in the pouring rain.
“Of human evolution. I suppose your incompetence will give me more subjects to work with.” Sentry again stepped towards Aubrey, this time focusing on her, attempting to overwhelm her defenses and seize control of her mind.
Aubrey stepped further back into the building under the assault, using everything she had learned to keep him out. She almost failed under his initial attack, but slowly she adapted to his mental pressure, deflecting and rebuffing his attempts on her mind. Just when she thought he was about to give up, she counter attacked and launched a probe at Sentry. This caught him by surprise, but he deflected her blow as an adult might swat down a child’s fist.
Sentry turned his head back and laughed, “You’ve been studying. I have to tell you I am impressed, but I am not worried. You might hold me off for a moment, but only just. You lack the skill, your attempts are childish and it’s obvious you haven’t been at this very long. I’ll give you her.” Sentry nodded at the still rigid Katie, “She is a piece of art that I look forward to examining. But you are simply not much at all.” Again he assaulted her mind and again Aubrey stepped back physically from him.
Slowly Sentry walked towards Aubrey, she stopped moving backwards when she reached the center of the building. When he was close enough Sentry’s hands shot out and he grabbed both of Aubrey’s wrists, she continued to stare at him, trying to keep him from pouring into her. He bent her backward, until she eventually went down on her knees, and finally onto her back with her legs folded under her.
Sentry felt her defenses begin to crumple, just in his moment of victory, when he was going to find out all that she had been up to after he thought she had died, he heard the voices. Lifting his head he saw Max and Stewart step into the warehouse.