Deidre had to use the stairs to get to the basement. She had opted for the elevator at first, but someone had locked off the basement. That in and of itself was enough to set her Deidre-sense off. She pondered whether going below was a good idea, but she went ahead anyway.
As if she needed another clue to stay out, the double doors were barred shut with a 12 gauge riot gun. She pulled the shotgun out from the handles and examined it. It looked functional, but someone had left it for a reason. “I’ll worry about you later,” she muttered, leaning it against the door frame.
Deidre flipped the switch at the head of the stairs. Nothing happened. She flipped it off and on again. No change.
“This is a bad idea, she said, stepping down onto the first step. She switched on the tactical flashlight on the shotguns handguard. The set of winding stairs were lit by emergency lighting that was well on its way to going out. She played her tactical flashlight on a hastily scrawled message. Armory empty. All Dead Below. The three foot tall message was scrawled on a beige painted cinder block wall at the bottom of the first turn of the stairwell. Deidre absentmindedly chambered a round into her own shot gun. The unspent round flew out and tumbled down the stairs.
She turned and put a foot on the step on the step above. She froze, thinking of the unspent round. “Waste not, want not.” The reminder came unwanted even as a voice told her that phrase didn’t necessarily apply to that situation. She walked down anyway.
The hallways were dark and only illuminated by the dying light of the emergency lighting. She cursed the buildings former occupants for destroying the overhead lights.
“We’re underground. No point in killing the lights. Stupid monkeys,” she muttered. She paused at a corner, took a breath and quickly stepped into the intersection. The shotgun’s flashlight illuminated empty hallways. She looked around the walls. There were no signs indicating the armory’s location. Figures, she thought, moving down a hallway picked at random.
Deidre moved cautiously from hallway to hallway, slowly opening doors. She found nothing, but storage spaces, broom closets and assorted offices.
“Where’s the fucking armory,” she said with more bitterness and loudness than she’d wanted. Her mind heard a groan, or she was sure it was her mind.
She spun around, letting the beam of light fill every suspect and non-suspect space it could reach.
She heard the groan again.
This is stupid, her mind said with growing anger. Turn back. You can get the hell out now and you know the way’s clear.
Could be a newly turned zed. I could run into it on the way back, she argued.
“Now I’m arguing with myself,” she hissed moving back down the hall where she’d come.
She took the only turn she hadn’t taken and came across a pock-marked wall facing a hallway with even more bullet holes.
Bodies lay on the floor and congealed blood was pooled everywhere. You’re right, she said to her better sense. This is a bad idea. She went ahead anyway.
Every still body she came across was most certainly dead. And they had been wholly and richly alive when they’d died. Dead bodies don’t bleed, and Deidre was very happy to remember that tidbit. The group she inspected had numbered a dozen, with some police, but mostly civilians in their numbers. It appeared that they had tried to take the armory. It didn’t make sense to Deidre, especially when she saw the woman clutching the months old baby. She was one of only two people who had fallen facing the opposite direction.
She stepped gingerly over the woman and her child. Reflexively, and with no small amount of revulsion, the touched the child. He, or she, was dead. She rose and then a black clad figure stepped from around the corner, startling her. She meant to lean into the shotgun and order the person to back up but she never had a chance. She slipped on the woman and baby’s blood and fell backwards as the figure squeezed the trigger of their MP5 submachine gun. The rounds buzzed madly over her face and Deidre accidently squeezed the trigger of her tactical shotgun.
She swore later that she could see the startled eyes behind the gasmask change to anger right before the 12 gauge slug tore through their head. The SWAT dressed person crumpled, their finger stuck on the trigger firing the weapon once more. The round landed between Deidre’s splayed legs.
Deidre scooted backwards on the bloody floor though not far. Her jeans rubbed against the nearly drying mess as she collided with a wall. The abrupt stop was enough for her to rap her head hard against the gray painted, cemented cinder blocks.
Her heart beat fast and she forced her breathe to a normal pace which also helped slow her heart down. “You tried to kill me,” she said in astonishment. “Why did you try to kill me?”
“What we have, we keep,” wheezed a voice from down the hall. “Goddamned…looter.” The last part was spoken in the middle of a wet cough. The defiance and certainty that the voice’s owner was in charge reignited Deidre’s rage. “You tried to kill me,” she screamed. “Who do you think you are?”
She stood and hoisted the shotgun to her shoulder. She was about to charge around the corner, which led to the armory, but stopped in time, saving herself the hassle of being shot. Chunks of the corner scratched and her face. She closed her eyes in time, avoiding most of the dust.
“What we have, we keep,” said the voice again. This time it sounded weaker and the cough was louder.
Deidre quickly stepped around the corner, taking a fraction of a moment to judge the distance to the speaker. He, she, whatever, wasn’t but sixty feet away and laying on the ground, peeking from behind a barricade of overturned tables adorned with bullet resistant vests. She could see the faceplate of a riot helmet, peeking out from behind the barricade.
The speaker raised their pistol, and squeezed the trigger once more. The shot missed. Deidre swore she could have seen the air part as it passed her. She might have found that interesting if it were on TV, but this little shit heel was trying to kill her in real life. She sprinted down the hall. Two more poorly aimed shots streaked in her general direction. It wasn’t until later that she realized she had pissed herself.
She rounded a corner and discovered another cop propped against a steel door, staring up at her. “You’re fast,” the officer said between gasps. Deidre did a quick assessment. It was a woman, and she was bleeding out from her right armpit behind her body armor. “Stupid asses,” she paused and drew in a sharp breathe. Her voice was muffled through the gasmask she wore. “Stupid asses tried to get in, steal our stash. What’s ours, we keep.” The cop flipped up her face plate, and moved to take her mask off. “Si vis pacem parabellum.” She struggled and then finally pulled it off. The chubby face underneath the mask was sweaty and dirty and her complexion was only five minutes ahead of a zombie’s. She gasped and then chuckled weakly.
“You tried to kill me. Fuck those people out there. You tried to kill me.” The baby flashed through Deidre’s mind. She regretted the fuck those people remark instantly. The time to be emotional for others wasn’t then, and she knew it. Dead was dead and she wasn’t.
“Si vis pacem parabellum, bi-”
The female cop didn’t get the opportunity to finish. Deidre raised the shotgun and squeezed the trigger. The face disappeared in gush of skull, teeth, skin, hair and gore.
The shotgun’s magazine had been staggered with buckshot and slugs, and a pellet the size of a .32 caliber round ricocheted into Deidre’s thigh. Her pumping adrenaline allowed her to ignore the pain, but she knew she’d taken a hit.
“If you want peace, prepare for war. But you weren’t prepared for me, were you?”
Deidre turned to the bodies down the hall. “What’s this world coming to?”
The armory was mostly cleaned out of weaponry. The cops that had defended it had stocked up on food and water. They had been smart enough to keep their communications going along with centralizing what ammo and weapons remained. Securing food and water had been paramount to them.
Deidre was inventorying their stores when a noise from the hallway reached her. It could have been a dragging foot or a muted moan. It could have been anything, and anything these days usually entailed trouble.
She ducked into a corner behind a stack of boxes laden with SPAM. She waited and then a dark figure stepped into the room. The figure had a Mossberg police shotgun and it scanned the room before moving toward the dead female cop. The figure kicked the feet, making sure the body was no longer a threat. Nothing happened.
“I know you’re in here,” said a female voice, trying to sound convivial. “I’m not going to hurt you if you give up now.”
“What you have, you keep, right?” responded Deidre.
“Only if you’re male,” answered the female officer.
“And what if you’re an armed woman?” Stop trying to dialogue with them, screamed Deidre’s more cautious mind. They’re only going to kill you anyway.
“I’m not going to kill you, unless you come at me intent on killing me like you did Dalton. No loss though. Marjorie was a pain the ass brown-noser.
Deidre could feel the woman stealthily closing on her position. Before she knew it the woman was almost in front of her. Deidre leapt up and stuck her shotgun in the woman’s jaw. “Don’t,” she said, pressing harder. The new arrival ceased movement.
“You’re not going to shoot,” she said, moving her hand down to her thigh holstered pistol.
Deidre swung the butt of her shotgun into the back of the woman’s head. The cop’s helmet took the brunt of the hit, but she still fell to the floor.
A sound of something soft and heavy hitting something hard and unyielding caused Deidre to look over her shoulder.
The female cop took advantage of Deidre’s lapse in attention and sprang from the floor, grabbing Deidre’s shotgun. Deidre pushed the woman forward and kneed her in the stomach as hard as she could. Her knee connected with the solid flak jacket the female cop wore.
The female cop raised an elbow to bring it down on Deidre’s collar bone, but froze with the elbow raised beside her ear.
“Fuck me,” screamed the cop. Instead of an elbow, the cop kicked Deidre in the crotch. The woman had her pistol raised toward the doorway before Deidre hit the floor.
Shannon stepped further into the room and flung another SWAT garbed figure at the cop. The limp figure collided with the woman sending her tumbling backwards into the reinforced wire cage of the armory.
Shannon was in full werewolf form and on top of the woman before she could recover. Deftly she cut through the chin strap and removed the helmet. “Don’t you know how to treat guests,” raved Shannon as she brought the helmet down against the woman’s head. Three blows and the female cop was unconscious.
She dropped the helmet and moved to Deidre.
“I’m okay,” said Deidre, forcing herself to her feet. “Did you kill her?”
Shannon picked up the shotgun and handed it to Deidre. “She’s alive, but she’ll probably wish she wasn’t come the morning.”
“You should’ve killed her.” Deidre motioned toward the other unconscious officer. “Her friend dead?”
“No,” grunted Shannon. She returned to human. The pain was intense and Deidre looked away. The sound of ripping flesh during the change was what she imagined she’d hear as zombies tore into her. It made her want to cry and then shoot Shannon, or vice versa.
“Can you pick another time to do that other than around me? That’s creepy and not to mention gross.” She gave the naked Shannon a disgusted look. “And you’re naked. Why are you naked?”
“It’s easier to hunt this way sometimes. Plus I was in the shower. They have hot water still.”
“Hate to get you bloody again, but you need to kill them.”
“Really?” Shannon looked quizzically at Diedre. “I mean…really?”
They tried to kill me. They would have tried to kill you too. As well as Kelsey and Rance. If we let them live they’ll just kill the next person that stumbles into here. Heaven forbid they run low on consumables.” Deidre sighed. “Jesus, I can’t believe I’m explaining this to you of all people. Just kill them.”
Shannon smiled, pulled one of the cops up by her throat, and twisted her neck sharply. The sound of the vertebrae giving way made Deidre’s stomach involuntarily clench.
“I totally agree with you. I just was surprised to hear you say it so readily.” Shannon paused halfway down to the next one. “What if they have friends out there?” Shannon said haltingly. “It’s possible.”
“Possible.” Deidre shrugged. “It’s even probable. If anything else we’ll leave them here as a message.”
“I think we need to interrogate this one. Keep her alive for that much anyway.”
Deidre thought it over a moment and then answered in agreement. “Where’s Kelsey and Rance? They good?”
“They’re fine. When do we begin?”
“Right after you get some clothes on.”