Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Walking Death, Chapter 13

     Frieda searched through the pockets of the unconscious scientists. On each of them she found a small bottle of pills and a phial of liquid. She turned to one of the newly released men of the resistance.

     “You,” she said, as she removed the cap from the bottle and swallowed a pill.

     “Call me Cross,” he said.

     “Right, take one of these pills, and pass the rest around to the other men.”

     “What are they?”

     “Prophylactic counteragent for the Ambulamort.”

     “Pardon me?”

     “She means,” said Rachel, returning with a rifle under each arm and a pair of gun belts resting on her hips, “that those pills will keep you safe from the gas. So do what the doctor says and pass them around.”

     “That is correct.” Frieda pocketed the second bottle of pills. Those pills would be the seeds for Resistance labs to mass-produce the antidote.

     The freed Resistance men took up the weapons.

     “There are offices to the far side of the laboratory,” said Cross. “I’ll take some men and clear them out.”

     “The cavalry is on its way,” said Rachel, “so don’t take too many risks.”

     Cross turned back to the succubus with an answer on his lips when a bloom of fire flashed behind him. He fell with an astonished look.

     The women and men took cover behind the wall of the test pen. Another ray gun blast sizzled the corner over Cross’s fallen form.

     A man’s voice called out from beyond the pen.

     “That was your warning. I have enough Ambulamort to destroy all of Long Island. You have the choice, and that same ultimatum applies to whoever is coming for you.”

     Frieda knew that voice. It was Dr. Felson, the scientist who created the Ambulamort. It was in his files that she learned of that abomination of science.

     She moved herself down to the corner of the pen. With the aid of one of the men, she thought that his name was Philly, she pulled Cross back under cover. He was alive, but barely.

     The voice continued.

     “I want to see your weapons out in the open or else I release the contents of every last canister in this facility.”

     Frieda risked a glance around the corner. She saw Felson behind a hand truck laden with pressurized tanks. Stenciled warnings of Danger and Poison stood out against the green tanks.

     Looking back to the Resistance members with her, she asked, “You have taken the antidote?”

     The others nodded.


     Before any of the others could say anything, she spun around the corner and fired her ray gun. The blast struck her target cleanly: directly below the pressure valve of the center tank. The ruptured tank took out its neighbors, and a noxious green cloud spread though the room.

     “Are you insane?” cried Rachel.

     “I know what I am doing. You and you,” indicating Rachel and Philly, “get outside and make sure the assault team stays clear. I will take care of Dr. Felson.”

     Rachel waited for Philly and another Resistance man to heft the unconscious Cross and then lead them to the front.

     Frieda cleared the corner and approached the position Dr. Felson had taken cover behind. She knew from the files that the Ambulamort couldn’t possibly spread as far as Felson had threatened. The gas was too heavy and became inert too quickly. The gas should not spread much farther than the confines of the warehouse laboratory. One tank had completely lost its top in jagged teeth. The neighbor canisters had ruptured in the explosion. She approached the newly emptied hand cart; both hands on her gun. Green mist swirled heavily on the ground. Through it she could just make out the prone form of Dr. Felson.

     He was laid flat out; his hand stretched out to his errant ray gun yet did not move. She knelt down to check for a pulse, but the deep crimson stain just below his ribs put paid to her worries.

     She looked about for the utility lines. The files had also showed that Ambulamort was combustible at high concentrations. Add in a little natural gas, such as carried in the line she identified, and the dire weapon would be neutralized. Frieda took up Felson’s ray gun, bypassed the capacitor safeties, and wedged it behind the natural gas lines as a detonator. Then she ran.

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