Bewildering Stories

Change the color of the text to:

Change the color of the background to:

A Night on the Town

by Eric S. Brown

Alex rolled over where he lay on the wet grass of the hill and pulled the .45 automatic, which he’d stolen from his father, from his belt. He checked the clip and glanced over at Chuck. “You sure about this?”

Chuck was busy checking out the National Guard armory below through a pair of binoculars. Almost all of the armory personnel had frantically departed now, on their way to try to save the town from the crisis which was engulfing it. “You got a better plan for staying alive?” he answered.

Alex shrugged. He kept peering over his shoulder into the trees because he knew Fairwood Cemetery was less than a mile behind them. Any minute one of those “things” could come lumbering over the hill. If one did it would not only cost them cover but they would very quickly find themselves in a fight that they weren’t ready for yet.

This whole thing had been Chuck’s idea. The pair had been “hanging out” at Alex’s house watching the Sci-Fi network like they did every Friday night when they had heard the news. A military tanker carrying a deadly new virus had crashed just outside the small town that they lived in. Less than an hour later, reports of people who’d been exposed were the top news of every local station and a hell of lot scarier than anything on Sci-Fi.

Those infected by it first were mainly the paramedics, firefighters, and their ilk who had rushed to the crash scene. The virus worked rapidly and turned them into monsters of a sort. It attacked the DNA of its host altering him or her into something no longer human. Victims became insane as the virus made them stronger, faster, and caused their skin to take on a yellowish hue. The original group which was exposed turned upon others who arrived at the scene in a spree of insanity and mass murder then dispersed all over town infecting more and more until the town of Cullowhee found itself fighting for its life.

That wasn’t the only effect of the virus however. The plane had crashed near the town’s main water supply and was even now seeping deeper and deeper into the ground, spreading across the town like a cancer. Soon it was discovered that the virus didn’t need a living host to survive. It could reanimate and reshape dead tissue just as easily and so the dead had began to claw their way free of their graves to help add to the body count of dying innocents.

Alex’s parents had been gone on business for the weekend so the two teenagers were left to fend for themselves. They had locked the doors and broken into Alex’s dad’s bedroom drawer where he kept his .45 but still they hadn’t felt safe. When they heard on the news that the National Guard was being called up that’s when Chuck had gotten his idea.

Alex’s house was within walking distance of the local armory. Chuck figured that the guardsmen would come in, grab what they needed, and haul ass out into town in a semi-organized panic, leaving the armory open to anyone with the nerve to try what he was suggesting.

All the normal laws and rules had been thrown out the window the second that the tanker had went down. A few M-16 rifles would sure help them to stay alive a hell of a lot better than a single handgun and according to the news reports it took that kind of firepower to stop one of the living infected.

So now the boys found themselves laying on their bellies on the hill above the armory as a little drizzle fell around them and it seemed their chance had finally arrived. Chuck looked down at the compound through his binoculars once more. “Looks like they’re all about gone. Most likely this is the best chance we’re going to get. You still with me?”

Alex nodded his agreement.

The pair got to their feet making their way as stealthily as possible down the hillside. Lights were burning all over the base and the parking lot was lit up as if by the noon day sun but no one seemed to be left on the other side of the thick security fence as Chuck hopped onto it and started climbing over. He was extremely careful of the barbed wire which ran across its top. Alex followed right behind him.

Chuck dropped to the asphalt of the lot with a loud splash. He’d landed in a puddle from left from the earlier rain. His eyes darted in every direction, trying to see if he’d been heard but nothing moved throughout the base. On the other side of the lot, he saw that the fence’s main gates were open and he could hear them creaking slowly in the wind.

Chuck and Alex wasted no time. They headed straight for the armory itself only to find a locked door awaiting them. “Jesus!” Alex wailed tugging at the knob. “What do we do now?”

Chuck grabbed the .45 from Alex’s trembling hands and shot the lock, point blank. Alex stared at Chuck in horror as the door swung inward. “Everybody and everything around here probably heard that!”

“Then I guess we’ll have to hurry won’t we?” Chuck grinned.

They made their way inside. The outer offices were trashed. The desks had been shoved around and paper thrown everywhere as the guardsmen had responded to the town’s call. The weapon storage itself was deeper inside the building but the boys found it unlocked and in an equal state of disarray.

“Holy shit,” Chuck breathed as he looked at the weapons on the walls and scattered over the floor like a kid in a candy store. “I don’t think the packs we brought are going to be enough to carry all this.”

“Don’t get greedy!” Alex snapped, grabbing up an M-16. He rammed a clip into it and pulled back its readying mechanism. “Let’s just grab what we can and go!”

In less than a couple of minutes, the boys were loaded with full backpacks and armed to the teeth. As the pair started to leave, Chuck yelled, “Wait!” and darted over to rack of keys behind one of the desks in the main office. “No reason we shouldn’t bum a ride too.” Alex shook his head as Chuck grabbed a set of keys for one of the few remaining transport trucks left outside. “Okay, man,” Alex pleaded, “Can we just go now?”

Once outside, Alex started to climb into the truck’s passenger seat but Chuck caught him by the arm. “No, you drive,” Chuck ordered pressing the keys into Alex’s palm. “We aren’t going home yet!”

Confused and in a daze, Alex wandered around the truck and took the driver’s seat. Beside him Chuck was busy arranging his new toys. He broke open a grenade launcher and slide a live round into its chamber.

“Just where the hell do you think we are going?” Alex asked.

“Into town, my man. We can be heroes tonight!”

“Aren’t you forgetting we just stole all this shit? What if we get caught?”

“Man, you worry too much. We’ve got enough shit that ain’t nobody gonna mess with us!”

“But. . .”

“Drive, Alex!” Chuck yelled reaching over to turn the keys in the ignition. The transport roared to life, its wheels smoking on the pavement of the lot, as it tore through the armory’s half open gates.

As the truck bounced out onto the main road, a man came running towards it. His eyes glowed yellow against the blackness of the night like twin suns.

Chuck leaned out his window, opening up with his M-16 on full auto. Alex flinched as the weapons horribly loud chattering echoed in the cab of the truck.

The man was knocked from his feet, flying backwards as the bullets nearly cut him in half. Chuck cried out lost in some kind of blood lust rapture. “We got the bastard! Holy shit, we got him!”

Alex looked back in his sidemirror at the body twitching on the roadside as they sped on towards town, suddenly wondering if he wanted any part of Chuck’s grand adventure.

Alex’s eyes jerked back to the road ahead of them. Dozens upon dozens of the creatures were sprinting down the road towards them. Chuck was watching their approach with a smile of gleeful madness stretched across his face. “Run’em down!” he shouted. Alex yanked the wheel hard to the right and the truck slide sideways towards the mob as he tried to brake in time.

“What the hell are you doing?” Chuck wailed as the closest creature leapt up on the side of the truck grasping for his face through the open window. Alex floored the gas, turning the truck away from the mob and raced back down the deserted road the way they had came.

Chuck was too shaken up to curse.

“We’re going home, Chuck,” Alex whispered quietly. “We’re going to pray that we survive this mess and those things don’t follow us back to the house.”

“Screw you!” Chuck grabbed the wheel sending the right tires of the truck off the road. Alex lost control as Chuck continued to fight to turn the truck around. The truck careened off the road smashing head on into a tree. Chuck was thrown through the windshield. He lay bleeding in the grass when Alex finally managed to get his seatbelt undone and stagger out after him.

Alex dropped to his knees beside Chuck. He could hear the mob howling in the distance as they grew closer. He felt Chuck’s wrist for a pulse then dropped the limp hand to the ground beside the rest of Chuck’s sprawling corpse. Alex’s eyes burned as tears welled up inside of them and streaked down his cheeks.

As Alex got to his feet, the first members of the mob came bounding over the hill towards him. For a second, he considered trying to run but realized just how easily they would over take him. His chest felt like it was on fire. “Broken ribs,” he guessed, picking up Chuck’s M-16 which had been hurled out of the truck with him.

Flames danced around the transport truck. It was only a matter of time until the tank went up. Alex leveled the M-16 at the coming mob and held down the trigger. The men and women who led the pack were torn to shreds as the rifle spat death but still the mob rushed onwards.

The rifle clicked empty just as a man wearing a ragged and blood stained business suit knocked it from Alex’s grasp. Then they were on him, clawing, biting, ripping him to pieces with their bare hands and teeth. The last thing Alex saw was a brilliant flash of light as the exploding truck lit up the night.


Copyright © 2002 by Eric S. Brown