Fall of the Risen – Week 18 – Clark
“Gun it!” Gianni called.
I hit the gas of the heavy duty pickup truck and barrelled toward the closed gate. The truck hit hard. Hard enough to deploy the airbags and threaten to send me through the windshield. At least the seatbelt worked.
I stepped out of the truck and walked around to the front end. Gianni was already there, shaking his head.
“It’s not looking too good,” he said. “And this gate isn’t as strong as the one in Sisco. It’s not going to work.”
“Dammit,” I said. “Is anything going to work?”
We had been searching for nearly a week. We tested dozens of vehicles, but nothing seemed close to strong enough.
“Ready to give up?” Daffodil said, popping up out of nowhere. He had a bad habit of doing that.
“Have you ever known me to be a quitter?” I asked.
“I barely know you.”
“Dammit, Daff. Do I seem like the type of guy who quits?”
He didn’t respond. Instead, he took a few steps away and folded his arms across his chest.
Each morning I woke up, I expected Daffodil to be gone, but every morning he was still there. So was Gianni. It was more than unexpected that he was still there each morning. It was shocking. The man was basically our prisoner, but he didn’t act like it. I guess we didn’t either.
No one stayed up all night watching him, we didn’t tie him up, and when we spent the day searching I didn’t worry when he wandered out of sight. I found myself damn near trusting the man. That couldn’t happen. For all I knew, that’s what he was waiting for.
“Anything else around here?” I asked.
The truck was in the employee parking lot of an old factory. The place looked like it had been abandoned long before zombies took over the world. It didn’t make sense why a truck that still ran was in the parking lot, but there’s that saying about beggars and choosers.
“Nothing else on the map,” Gianni said, folding up an old paper map of the area. “There’s a town a few miles north of here.”
“Big town, or small?”
“Hard to tell by the map, but—”
“Did you check that vault?”
We both turned and looked at Daffodil.
“What vault?” I asked.
“Near the truck there was a ramp that led underground. There’s a big steel door at the end of it.”
How were things like that so obvious to Daffodil when everyone else missed them?
We drove back to the spot where we had found the truck and, almost magically, I saw a ramp leading down. I drove down and slowly approached the end of the underground tunnel where, just like Daffodil claimed, there was a big steel door that looked like the bank vaults usually shown in movies.
“What do you think is inside?” Gianni asked.
“Could be anything,” I said.
“Probably not a vehicle strong enough to knock down a gate,” Daffodil said from the backseat.
“But maybe there’s ammunition in there. That kind of firepower could give us a new plan.”
We got out of the truck and inspected the large door. It looked even bigger when standing in front of it. If it had been open we could have driven the truck right through it.
A large wheel was offset to one side. I tried to turn it clockwise and then counter-clockwise. It didn’t budge either way. The only other detail that stood out from the door was a small panel with a few buttons and a speaker.
I pushed one of the buttons.
“Hello? Anyone home?”
We waited. I tried again. We waited some more. Just as we were shrugging at each other, and about to get back in the truck, there was a loud metallic click within the door. I tried the wheel again and found it was willing to turn. It was stiff, like it hadn’t moved in years, but it rotated several times and then I felt the door move.
It was the slightest movement, but it gave me the impression it was no longer being held closed. I pulled and the door began to swing open. Gianni rushed over and helped me pull until it open enough for us to walk through.
The sound of our footsteps bounced off the walls and ceiling of the corridor, announcing our presence far before we would be seen.
“You really think someone’s down here?” Gianni asked.
“Someone unlocked the door,” I said.
Lights around us came alive as we walked. With each one that came on, we saw a little more of the corridor. Eventually, we saw an end, capped with a large roll-away door.
“There’s some kind of vehicle behind that,” Gianni said. “I can feel it.”
He ran over to the door and tried to peer in through dark windows that were just a little too high.
On the left side of the corridor was a man door. If I wasn’t standing in a tunnel protected by a large vault door I would have thought it was a door leading to an office building. I almost expected a set of bells to jingle as we opened it.
Daffodil and I stepped into a small foyer not much bigger than a tool shed. The wall opposite from us was all blacked-out glass, with another door in the middle, also made of blacked out glass. I moved to grab the door when a speaker in the room came to life.
“That’s far enough for now,” a man’s gruff voice said. “I don’t need you causing trouble.”
“Sir,” I said. “We’re just looking for some help. No trouble. Can we talk?”
“Get your other friend away from my garage and we’ll talk.”
I opened the door back to the corridor and motioned for Gianni to step inside with us.
“There, now can we—”
The sound of another metallic click cut me off.
I reached out for the inner door of blacked-out glass, expecting it to be unlocked now. It didn’t move.
“Sir?” I asked.
My heart started to pound, and beads of sweat formed across my face.
“Holy hell it’s hot in here,” I said.
Gianni was looking at me. A smile cracked his face and grew. Then he was laughing. “Did you just say holy hell?”
He started laughing all over again, leaning against the wall for balance.
I couldn’t see the humor, but I found myself reaching out for the wall to keep my own balance.
“This is why I don’t like people,” Daffodil said. He was on his hands and knees in the middle of the room.
My brain was foggy. I couldn’t put together what was happening, but I knew I needed out. I lurched toward the door leading to the corridor and fell against it. It didn’t move. We were trapped. The horror of the idea only stayed with me for a few seconds before it was replaced with complete darkness.