A Border Patrol Agent deals with a zombie outbreak across the southern border.
|It had be a long, slow shift for Border Patrol Agent Mark Holliday. He'd spent the last ten hours patrolling a stretch of desolate desert about 25 miles west of the "oasis" of El Paso, TX and was getting ready to call it a shift. He decided one more pass through his area would suffice until his relief got to him and he was cruising along the border slowly looking for signs in the sand that anyone had passed through here illegally.
It was much to his surprise when he came across some strange marks in the sand that hadn't been here when he'd last cut this area a little more than two hours ago. These weren't the usual tell tale footprints with a deep toe dig that indicated someone was sprinting across the desert, trying to make it to a road where they could be picked up or even further north into a city before he was alerted to their presence. Neither was it the branch marks scraped over the footprints used by some of the more canny smugglers to fool his lazier or less experienced coworkers. What Mark Holliday was looking at appeared to be one person attempting to get away by stepping normally with one foot and dragging his other one horizontally behind it to cover up what would otherwise be very obvious foot prints in the soft sand.
He immediately exited his big, diesel pickup that was so useful for transporting the large groups they caught and grabbed his Colt M4 from the gun rack. He normally left the rifle for situations involving really big groups or drug smugglers, but the type of person who would cross by himself in an area this far from civilization on either side of the border most likely wouldn't come into custody quietly. He quickly relayed to the other units in the area what was going on so they could attempt to pick up the sign north of him and began to follow the footprints at a brisk jog by the light of his Maglite. After moving almost a mile in the pitch black desert with only a flashlight Mark began to think how odd it was that the person he was following was still maintaining this awkward gait in an attempt to avoid detection. Usually any attempts at concealment took place within a few dozen yards of the dirt roads him and other Agents used to cut for sign. Utilizing this method for such a long period of time would be tiring and take up too much time, ensuring apprehension if the attempt failed. Mark decided to push his pace a little more since he didn't think it was likely that this person had gotten too far from the border if he was moving at a speed like this.
He crossed over a well used cattle trail which told him that he'd entered onto Roy Metzgar's cattle ranch and secretly hoped this wouldn't turn into a game of hide and seek at all the barns and storage buildings that were less than a mile away from him now. That's when he heard the loud snap come from the other side of a large sand dune topped with a mesquite bush and he instantly sprang into "hunter" mode. He instantly shut off his light and walkie talkie and dropped to a knee. He silently adjusted his rifle on its sling so that the buttstock was pressed firmly into his shoulder and with one hand on the pistol grip and the other on his flashlight he slowly circled the dune. A slurping noise and some chewing sounds confirmed that his target had indeed stopped to rest for a few minutes and had brought a meal with him, one of the determined ones who would have made the almost 30 mile trip into El Paso if he hadn't been so sloppy with his technique down on the border road.
He could now see the outline of the man's back about 15 yards in front of him and he lit him up with the brightness of his flashlight. Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw when the Maglite's artificial beam illuminated that piece of desert in front of him.
The man in front of him was hunched over what had once been a decent sized coyote. His hands were buried up to the middle of the forearms in the animals guts and his face was smeared with blood and chunks of flesh. Mark took a few steps back through the soft desert sand as the man began to rise.
"Manos Arriba! No se muevan!" Mark commanded the man, but he kept advancing on him. Mark reached back on his duty belt and drew his collapsible steel baton and straightened the device to its full length with the snap of his arm.
Usually the sight of two feet of steel was enough to calm most people down but it seemed to have no effect on the gore covered man. As the man continued to advance on Mark and ignore his repeated commands he instinctively raised the baton and loaded it up for a strike to the meaty section of the mans thigh. The chance for that disabling blow never came as the alien covered the remaining ten feet seperating them terrifyingly fast. Mark quickly found himself crashing into the dune with man on top of his gnashing his teeth and clawing all over his body. Mark was a bigger guy in the 200 plus pound range, hit the gym as regularly as a family man was able to, and had been a fairly successful wrestler in high school. Despite all this he was barely able to keep the much smaller mans teeth away from his face. He was finally able to secure one hand under the mans throat and using all his strength he was able to toss his attacked off to the side and scramble back to his feet.
Before Mark could even get up on one knee the relentless man had crashed into him again, this time raking his nails done the side of Marks face and throat. Mark howled out a curse and crashed his elbow into the mans temple, only to watch him spring right back up to his feet.
"This son of a bitch has to be on meth!" Mark thought to himself as the man employed his bullrush tactic again. Mark had been expecting it again and this time he met him with a nice hip toss that sent the man head over heels at least five feet away. It had been less than a minute but as any cop can tell you a struggle with an individual who's been using Crystal Meth can feel like a five round championship fight very quickly, especially in the soft sand of the desert. Mark was starting to feel the effects of this encounter and knew that he needed to get this guy under control before things took a turn for the worse.
Mark approached the guy as he was regaining his footing and dropped him with a hard right hand to the temple. He knew there was no time to admire his handiwork and reached for his handcuffs so he could finally put an end to this. The clean shot to one of the brains "light switches" had only bought him a few seconds and the man quickly flopped over onto his stomach and inexplicably sunk his teeth into the hard toe cap of Marks boot. Mark lashed out with a quick kick to get the man off of him and lost his balance as he shook the man off of him.
As soon as he crashed to the ground his attacked was on top of him again and Mark knew that things were getting progressively worse. He was reaching extreme fatigue and his assailant just kept coming at a thousand miles per hour. If he let this man knock him out or severely injure him there was a good chance he wasn't going to leave this desert tonight, especially since things had escalated so quickly that he'd never had the chance to radio for backup. Mark planted his left hand underneath the mans Adams apple to hold him off and drew his .40 H&K semi-automatic from his hip holster. The pistol sounded like a cannon from this close as Mark fired three rounds into the mans chest as close to the heart as he could. He shoved the body off of him and scrambled quickly to his feet, horrified at what had just happened. Everyone who puts a badge on his chest and a gun on his hip knows that there's a possibility for a life and death struggle every time he goes to work, but the shock of this brutal struggle and being forced to use his service weapon for the first time off of the range had caused an adrenaline dump that dropped Mark to his knees.
He began to fumble to turn his radio on and relay everything that had just happened when the man he'd just shot three times in the chest from point blank range crashed into him again.
The mans hands crashed into his head and face several times and blood was beginning to obscure his vision on the side of his face where he'd taken his first cut at the outset of the fight. Mark had miraculously held onto his pistol upon impact and he clubbed the man across the mouth with it as his teeth rushed towards his face. With one last gasp of strength he threw his body to the side as violently as he could and knocked the man off of him once again. Mark scrambled to a knee and lined up the tritium night sights on the mans head. He squeezed the trigger twice before the man could rush him again and saw one round take off the bottom of the mans jaw and the other hit him just above the ear.
This time he knew it was over, as the freshly made corpse in front of him slumped over onto its side with its eyes wide open and a skull that now looked like a deflated balloon. Not wanting to take any chances, Mark grabbed his handcuffs and secured the mans wrists behind his back before he finally got to his radio. He took a deep breath to try and regain his composure and then began his transmission.
"Any available agents, I have shots fired at the south end of the Metzgar Ranch, no serious injuries to myself but the subject appears deceased. Requesting immediate backup."
"Hey Mark thats a good copy we're rolling your way, sit tight amigo!"
The voice of his classmate Armando Reyes was extremely comforting and Mark finally let himself relax knowing that it was all over except for the lawyers and the paperwork. As the minutes passed by waiting for backup Mark gathered up his things using the smaller flashlight he kept as a backup on his duty belt. His M4 had landed on top of a mesquite bush during the initial attack and his Maglite was nearly buried in sand from where the scuffle had begun on the ground. No matter how hard Mark tried, he couldn't help but look at what he had done to another human being. The bullets had rendered the man practically unrecognizable from the shoulders up and his chest was concave from what Mark assumed were a pair of collapsed lungs. Any sympathy or regret was pushed out of his mind by the throbbing in his face from the deep cuts the mans nails had made and the swelling all over his face and head from the blows he had absorbed. The man had fought like a mother bear defending her cubs and Mark felt lucky to have survived the encounter.
Mark finally heard the telltale rumbling of diesel engines and he knew the cavalry had finally arrived. Armando was the first to get to him and the short, skinny Hispanic Agent wrapped him in a huge hug before unleashing a barrage of questions, Mark only heard one of them though.
"Do you want me to call Rita for you?"
Throughout the whole ordeal Mark had never thought of his wife or their young son at home. He'd heard stories of cops involved in life or death struggles and images of loved ones being their saving grace but Mark had just thought of surviving, his attackers relentlessness had kept his mind on only him.
"No, no that's ok. I'll call her when we get this wrapped up I think I still need a few minutes to cool off anyway." Mark replied, the truth was that he was afraid he'd break down in front of all the investigators that were surely already on their way if he was too talk to the woman he almost didn't get to go home to tonight.
"Ok, looks like everyone else is getting here anyway. You need to refresh your story at all?"
Mark knew he was only asking because he was a good friend and the last thing you wanted was inconsistencies in all the statements you had to give following a shooting but he felt irrationally angry at him for asking the question nonetheless. The fact that every action he took out here in the desert by himself was about to be picked apart by a bunch of desk riding internal investigators made him even angrier.
"No thanks, I'll give them my initial statement and then I'm not saying anything until my lawyer shows up."
"Smart man you don't want..."
He cut himself off as their radios were suddenly alive with noise.
"Backup needed in Mt. Cristo Rey!!!"
The transmission then disintegrated into the sounds of a heavy struggle, cursing, and an ear splitting shriek.
"Agent down, fucker bit my neck!"
Mark recognized the voice as Eddie Wilkins, a younger guy on the unit but a good worker nonetheless.
"Go man! I can see the other vehicles coming now, I'll get a ride over with one of them!"
"Ok, I'll see you there!"
His classmate was already in his truck and speeding off towards the highway by the time the other vehicles had arrived. The next Agent on scene was one of the unit Supervisors, Jamie Avila. A relic from back when the Border Patrol was nothing but a bunch of cowboys and there was a bit more leeway in the actions you could take.
"Sir, should we get to the mountain? That sounded pretty serious!"
"Hell yeah son! He's not going anywhere is he?" Jamie nodded his head in the direction of the body.
"Negative, make some room on the passengers side!"
They sped off in the senior Supervisors Chevy Tahoe as the radio came alive with sounds of other Agents attempting to locate Eddie. As they got closer to the mountain that towers over the middle of El Paso, the unmistakeable sound of more gunfire cut through the night air over the radio.
"I've got his location I'll be there in a minute! He's over by Ardovinos!" Someone shouted over the radio.
Jamie floored it and began weaving around the late night city traffic trying to get to Ardovinos Desert Crossing Restaraunt as fast as possible. By the time they got there it was all she wrote and at least ten units with their emergency lights running were in the area.
When they walked up on the scene it was painfully obvious why there hadn't been any further traffic on the radio following the last transmission they had heard. Eddie was on his back amidst the rocks at the bottom of the mountain, his throat had been ripped out and what appeared to be his spinal column was visible amidst the flesh and gore. The man who was apparently responsible for the death of the young Agent lay a few feet away from him with bullet wounds to his chest, stomach, and forehead.
Several Agents were crying and one or two looked fit to kill as they saw their fallen comrade and the realization that his death was not a pleasant one dawned on all of them.
Jamie was the first to break the silence. " We need a fucking ambulance to Ardovinos! Wilkins is down, get one here ASAP!" He screamed into the radio at the dispatch office. "Mike grab his legs and I'll get him under the shoulders, let's get him down to the parking lot!"
Not a man there had the courage to tell the old cowboy that Wilkins' watch had ended and they let him and Mike Arnott pick him up and begin to carry him the short distance to the restaraunt parking lot.
Mark had never seen a night like this at his usually calm station and the adrenaline spikes and dumps had left him drained. He slumped against the side of a large boulder and stared up at the sky wondering how it had gotten so fucked up. He'd barely had the time to catch his breath when he looked up at the sound of Jamie screaming and saw what appeared to be Eddie's body tumbling down the side of the mountain with Mike.
"He fucking bit me! He tore my fucking wrist off!" Jamie shrieked.
"Eddie what are you doing? We're here to help you!" Mike screamed from just below them.
All of the Agents on scene sprinted in one of their partners directions, Mark happened to pick Mike's.
It only took him a few seconds to get there along with two other Agents. Mike had his pistol at his side and was backpedalling as Eddie backed him down and swiped at him.
"Guys something is seriously fucked up here! Eddie isn't right!" Mike shouted to them.
"Eddie what are you doing? We're here to help!" Mark screamed at the younger mans back. When he did that he turned face Mark and that's when he saw his face. The blood caked around his mouth, the glazed over eyes, and Eddie felt like he was back on the Metzgar Ranch all over again.
"How the fuck is he still standing? Look at his neck!" Someone screamed from next to him.
"I don't think that's our Eddie! Something's seriously wrong with him." Mark replied as he drew his pistol.
Eddie snarled and rushed Mark who'd been preparing himself for this, he hooked an arm underneath Eddie's and tossed him straight into the boulder he'd been standing in front of. The sickening crunch and the way Eddies body jerked and came to a complete stop told everybody that his watch had come to an end for what appeared to be a second time.
"What the fuck did you do to him?!" One of the other Agents yelled.
"That wasn't Eddie! Whoever did that to his throat gave him rabies or something!" Mark replied.
In the distance they heard more sirens coming their way and they realized it was the ambulance that had been called for by Jamie, who would know be its occupant. The Agents who hadn't gone to his aid just looked down at the still body of their fellow Agent and tried to wrap their heads around what was happening tonight. A shout from the group that had gone to help Jamie stirred them.
"Guys get up here! We need to carry Jamie down to the parking lot and he's lost a lot of blood!"
They all quickly scrambled up the rocks to aid their Supervisor and when Mark caught a glimpse of Jamie's arm he could see why he had lost so much blood. Eddie had torn a chunk of flesh out of his wrist right where all the arteries and veins met and Jamie had turned a ghostly shade of white. They lifted him up and began carrying the bigger man down the mountain as his head lolled to the side and he mumbled incoherently.
"Mark what the fuck is going on?" Armando asked his classmate from the other side of Jamie's body.
"I don't know...I tell you what though, Eddie looked and sounded a lot like that guy out there on the ranch tonight."
Armando just shook his head and stared at the parking lot that had just filled up with the flashing sirens of the ambulance. They met the EMT's halfway and transferred Jamie onto the stretcher, by now he was unconscious and his wound wasn't pumping blood the way it had been.
"Ok quickly now fellas what happened?" One of the EMT's asked.
"We were carrying another Agent who'd been wounded and he just turned his head and bit Jamie...for no reason..." Mike Arnott said the words like he didn't believe them himself.
"Where's the other Agent? Is he still hurt?"
"He tried to attack me...he's dead." Mark said the words and realized what they meant. Not only had he been involved in a shooting that he'd barely begun the process of being investigated for...but he was directly responsible for the death of another Agent, even if it had been an accident of sorts. The weight of that hit him like a ton of bricks and all the strength went out of his legs. Armando held him up as he went down and helped sit him down gently.
"It's okay buddy, we saw what happened. You didn't have a choice."
Sobs racked Marks body and all he could do was mod along with what his friend was telling him.
"Hey Gerry get over here we're losing him!" The EMT from inside the ambulance called over to his friend.
"Ah fuck! Not again!" Mike yelled out. They were all still in shock from Eddie's death and the loss of another Agent would be unbearable.
The paramedics went to work in the rear bay and pulled the doors shut. The ambulance's engine roared as it peeled out of the parking lot and the Agents quickly piled into vehicles to follow them to the hospital.
Mark found himself in the same truck as Armando and mercifully in the passenger seat. The next few minutes dragged by as he stated out over the city and thought about what had easily been the worst night of his life. Before he knew it that were just a few blocks away from the hospital and before he got there he had one thing to take care of. He knew his wife and son would be asleep but he had a strong urge to reach out to them in some way so he hammered out a text message on his phone.
"I love you both, this shift can't end soon enough. Can't wait to see you in the morning."
He slid his phone back into his breast pocket and exited the truck as Armando pulled in behind the other units in the entryway to the Emergency Room. The ambulance was already empty and the Border Patrol Agents were all gathered in the waiting area.
"Said there wasn't enough room back there, they'll come tell us as soon as they know something though." Mike told the rest of the Agents.
They all nodded and found places to sit, most of them still of fully accepting of the chaos that had taken place earlier. After a half hour or so all the supervisors and higher ups on shift had filled the waiting room and the two highest ranking had pulled Mark aside to get his account of the two fatalities he'd been involved in. He was just about to describe the scene when he originally came upon the alien in the desert when a series of screams and shouts started from behind the closed double doors. Before any of them could react the doors flew open and several hospital staffers ran right past the Agents and out into the night. They were followed by Jamie who's face and torso were covered with blood. His eyes found Mike Arnott and in a flash the two of them were tumbling to the ground with Jamie's teeth tearing into his former friends throat. Two other Agents lunged to his rescue as Mike screamed for help and tried to push his Supervisor's considerable bulk off of him. As those two attempted to help Jamie, Gerry the paramedic came flying through the double doors and sent all of them scattering like bowling pins across the waiting room floor. He and Jamie were the first to recover and in a flash they were savaging the bewildered Agents. Armando was the first to react, he drew his pistol, took aim and put three rounds center of mass on Gerry the paramedic. The force of the bullets knocked him on his back but within seconds he was on his feet and all of his attention had turned to Armando Reyes. His charge didn't last long, within two steps the mans face vanished as Mark sent two rounds into it. Armando turned and took aim at Jamie who was still ravaging Mike Arnott's now silent body.
"God forgive me..."He muttered and then sent a .40 bullet through his crazed Supervisor's skull.
There was no time to gather their thoughts and no respite. The sound of snarling humans and screams of pain began to echo from behind the double doors and Mike Arnott appeared to be standing back up despite not having a throat or much of a face left.
"Mando let's get the fuck out of here." Mark said to his friend.
"I hear you there."
The two men took off at a sprint out of the hospital and need looked back. As soon as they closed their respective doors Mike Arnott's fist slammed through the window directly behind Mark's head and both men screamed out in terror as their coworker scratched and clawed at the air around them, paying no attention to the cuts that the broken glass had dug into his arms. Armando turned the key and the big Powerstroke rumbled to life, a half second later and they were flying out of the hospital's parking lot and moving westbound on Interstate 10.
"Mark what the fuck is going on?"
Mark sat there and pondered that question for a minute, struggling with his answer before finally giving in and deciding to tell his friend what he was truly thinking.
"It's like a fucking zombie movie man." Was as eloquently as he could put it.
Armando Reyes stated out the windshield of the truck for a moment before shaking his head side to side and giggling.
"It sounds absolutely batshit crazy but I think you might be on the right track."
"Believe me I know how nuts it sounds, but that guy on the Metzgar Ranch was acting the same way and he was munching down on a wild coyote when I found him."
"That's some fucked up shit."
"No kidding, we need to figure out how far this has spread. I gotta get home to my family."