secret_history: (NaNoWriMo)
[personal profile] secret_history
It's my day off today, so hopefully there will be a few updates. Bear in mind that I am writing really fast and not editing, so there will be mistakes and poorly-constructed sentences. Bear with me, this is NaNo. ;)

November 15th, 07:32

She led them down the shorter flight of stairs leading to the platform proper. There was no train stopped in this station, but that didn't mean there might not be one only a few yards beyond the mouth of the tunnel. The effects of the disaster were more visible here: there were dried stains on the platform and on the filthy concrete under the electric tracks, and the detritus of previous human presence littered the place: papers, a stray shoe, torn and filthy articles of clothing, a handbag whose contents had spilled all along the platform and over the edge onto the tracks. There was a green leather wallet, receipts held together with a paper clip, a hair brush, and Michaela could see a gold lipstick tube glinting dully in a corner, illuminated by the faint glow of the emergency lights.

She'd been surprised to find that the emergency lights still worked in some sections of the metro. She wasn't sure why that was, but the best theory they had come up with was that there must be back-up generators in some spots. When she'd last been in the metro, all the power had gone out, plunging them into almost complete darkness. It had been a mad scramble to come up with a way to see in the dark. She smiled cynically at the memory. If they'd known what was awaiting them in the gloom ahead, she thought, they might never have left the safety of the metro cars. Not until necessity forced them to it. Of the sixty-odd people who'd been on the metro that day, fewer than ten had made it out alive. Michaela still had nightmares about it; doubtless she would until the end of her life, however long that ended up being.

Jack was lagging behind. Michaela could hear the clomping sound of his boots, uneven and hesitant as he stopped to examine the debris on the platform. She resisted the impulse to snap at him to keep up. They weren't in the tunnel proper yet, and that was where the real danger lay. The platform was free, and zombies couldn't climb. At least, not that she knew of.

“Tu veux-tu que j'check en bas?” Seb asked, motioning with his rifle.

She shook her head. “Not yet. We go down as a team, or not at all. Best way to get killed or at least bitten is to head anywhere alone.

“Hey, check it out!” Jack called. “Some chick left her wallet here!”

“Leave it!” Michaela called out just as Seb yelled out as well.

“Lâche-les!”

Jack dropped the wallet and took on an aggrieved air of personal injury. “What? It's not like she needs it!”

“We don't need it either. Money isn't exactly the priority, here.”

“We'll need it when things get back to normal.”

Michaela fought to keep her temper, which had been a lot shorter than usual. Part of it was the lack of sleep, from the nightmares, from having to stand watch duty every few days, and just from being constantly on edge, even within the barricaded safety of the small farm that was now her home, however temporarily, with about twenty other people.

“Things aren't going back to 'normal,' Jack. Or hadn't you noticed that this damned plague has spread to the far corners of the earth?”

Jack shrugged. “They'll find a cure for it sooner or later. My money's on sooner, since they have to be pretty motivated at this point.”

Seb snorted, but didn't comment. “On y va-tu?”

She nodded. “Yeah, let's go. Don, stick close to Jack.”

She trotted to the end of the platform, then dropped to a crouch, leaned forward and pulled the Maglite from her belt, shining it into the tunnel, squinting a bit in an effort to make sure she didn't miss anything. Sometimes the things could stand still for hours at a time, just swaying back and forth, staring vacantly at nothing, in limbo until something attracted them. They had a very basic and primitive reaction to stimuli, and then only to certain kinds of stimuli: bright lights, loud noises, and movement. Anything else they ignored.

“Tu vois-tu que'qu'chose?”

“No, it's all clear.” She switched off the Maglite. God only knew how long these batteries had to last them before she'd be able to find replacements. If she could find replacements. Suddenly there was a shortage of everything, because acquiring the simplest of things required that you essentially go to war, and sometimes it just wasn't worth it.

She shimmied down the emergency ladder, unslinging her rifles as soon as her feet hit the ground, and dropped to a crouch, covering the tunnel in case of some unwelcome surprise. She heard Seb jump down beside her a moment later, followed by Don and Jack. She counted to three in her mind, and stood.

“Everyone good?”

“Yeah.” To her surprise, it was Don who volunteered the information.

“Good. Let's go.”

The tunnel was much darker than the station, many of the emergency lights having simply burnt out or gotten broken somehow. She didn't want to think too hard about how it might have happened, but she knew that hers hadn't been the only metro car stuck in the tunnels when everything broke down. It was actually kind of surprising that they hadn't seen more evidence of the carnage thus far, but this station was a little off the beaten path, toward the end of the “orange” metro line, and as a result there hadn't been as many people in it when everything had gone to hell. She moved forward as quietly as she could, listening to the jingling of the clips on their webgear, the echoing thuds of their footsteps, amplified by the tunnel, and felt her heart begin to thump faster against her ribs, in spite of the knowledge that such small sounds would surely fail to attract attention. She wiped the palm of one hand against her pants leg, then the other.

A form loomed ahead in the gloom, a monolith barely outlined in the flickering glow of what few lights remained. She slowed, tightening her grip on her rifle as she edged forward, trying to make out just how close it was, and how far back it stretched into the tunnel. She held up a hand, hoping the others would be able to make out the movement.

“Metro ahead,” she said succinctly. “Watch out for stragglers.”

Jack popped up behind her, making her jump. “We should go up inside, see what there is in there.”
She shook her head. “No. We keep going, there's likely nothing of value to us inside.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I was in the metro when the city started falling apart. Three things happened to people in the metro that day: either you got out, or you got turned, or you died. The metro cars are more likely to be deserted than anything else, and all the emergency equipment is in the niches in the tunnels, not in the cars themselves.”

Jack snorted. “We won't know unless we check. Look, why don't Don and I check in the metro, and you and Seb take the tracks. We'll meet at the other end of the train.”

“Pas question,” Seb intervened. “We go together, or we don't go at all. You learn that you don't split up the group.”

“Safety in numbers,” Michaela agreed. “If you want to go in that badly, then we'll go, but I'm telling you that at best it's a waste of time.”

Jack was no longer listening. He'd sprinted forward, slinging his rifle over his shoulder by its strap, and was already climbing up one of the emergency ladders to peer inside the conductor's booth.
“No one home here!” he yelled out cheerfully. “I guess the guy got lucky.”

“Or really unlucky,” Michaela muttered to herself, jogging after him and cursing him with every fibre of her being. “Dammit, Jack!” she said, as quietly as she could manage while still loud enough for him to hear. “Stop being so loud! You'll bring the whole city down on us. And wait until we're behind you before opening that door!” she shouldered her rifle and began scrambling up the ladder after him.

Jack ignored her and clambered into the cabin, then opened the connecting door into the first train car. “Anyone home?” he called out, unable to keep the note of amusement from his voice, advancing into the car, his rifle still over his shoulder. Michaela got her feet under her and took off after him, hoping that Don and Seb would be able to keep up.

Almost immediately the sickly-sweet smell of decay assaulted her, making her gag and swallow hard. She found Jack standing stock still perhaps ten feet away, one hand raised in front of his chest in an oddly defensive pose. Following his gaze, her own fell upon a figure, standing at the very far side of the car. It was a woman, barely more than a girl, in stained hip-hugger jeans and wearing a shirt that had been halfway torn from one shoulder, revealing a pretty lace bra beneath the fabric, starkly white against the torn flesh of her torso. Something, or someone, had stripped the flesh from her shoulder and ribcage. Her long blond hair had come mostly free from a hair elastic holding it in place, and was hanging limp and bedraggled about her shoulders. She turned vacant, glassy eyes on them, a low moan beginning in her throat and tearing at her rotting vocal chords.

“Oh my God,” Jack murmured. “Is that... is she...” he didn't finish his question.

The girl began shuffling toward them, arms hanging limply by her sides. That was one thing most of the movies hadn't gotten right: zombies didn't stretch out their arms until they were right on top of you, trying to grab hold of you. Otherwise they just shuffled and stumbled along, tendons and muscles decaying as they went. The girl let out another low, keening, desperate moan, her shoulder knocking against the centre pole as she tried to get to them. Her right side was exposed where her shirt had been torn away, and as she stepped closer Michaela could see the glint of bone near her collarbone and in a few spots between the shredded muscles around her ribs.

“Get down!”

Seb's voice echoed in the almost-empty car, and on reflex both Michaela and Jack dropped flat on the ground, fingers in their ears, just as his pistol echoed above their heads. The bullet caught the girl below her right eye, exploding out the back of her skull in a messy spray. She slid bonelessly to the floor, unmoving, milky eyes still staring sightlessly at nothing.

Jack was still muttering under his breath. “Jesus Christ,” he breathed, as they picked themselves up, ears ringing from the sound of the shot, although the worst of it had been absorbed by the hearing protection. “Jesus Christ. Did you see that?”

Michaela gave him a flat look, her heart still pumping erratically in her chest. “I saw. Do you get it now?”

He blew out a shaky breath of relief, puffing out his cheeks and scrubbing at his forehead with the back of his hand, wiping away the sweat that had formed there.

“Jesus Christ.”
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