DISCLAIMER: Karen Sisco and its all characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Part of the 'Ground Zero' series and Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Ground Zero - Miami, 6.19am
Marley swerved the squad car onto the sidewalk, plowing down three zombie-like creatures that'd appeared in her path. Leaping from the car, she raced up the steps of the federal building, easily knocking the uncoordinated undead heads over heels as they tried to grab hold of her despite their precarious footing on the uneven surface. The detective didn't bother to watch the creatures literally bounce down the concrete steps to land in a crumpled heap near the front of her car.
Firing at the suited zombie blocking the doorway, Marley pushed her way into the building, immediately noting the group of creatures staring at the lights above the elevator as they waited for it to descend. Spying the door marking the stairs, Marley headed away from the elevator, deciding to take her chances in the stairwell instead.
She'd made it to the third level before she encountered any of the undead. It seemed the zombies had a major problem navigating any type of stairway, and Marley smiled as she allowed the creature to advance on her before she kicked it in the center of its chest. She quickly turned and continued on her path to the fourth floor as the thud of the zombie falling from landing to landing echoed loudly in the otherwise quiet stairwell. Spotting her floor, Marley released a grateful sigh and pushed through the door, reflexively pulling the trigger of her gun to blow away yet another creature when it reached clumsily for her.
The report of another's gunfire drew the detective's attention to the corner office, and without hesitation, Marley sprinted to help out her fellow human. Three of the undead turned towards the sound of racing feet, only to have a series of bullets blow pieces of their skulls onto the nearby wall. Marley hurdled over the incapacitated zombies and landed into the room, slamming and locking the door behind her. In the midst of the utter chaos, a familiar voice called out.
"Marley? Is that you?"
"Karen? Where are you?"
A head poked its way over the top of an overturned desk, followed shortly thereafter by a wide grin. "I knew you'd survive."
Marley grinned back. "Yeah, you, too. Now, what do you say we figure out how to get the hell out of here?"
Karen walked around the desk and stood next to the detective. "First things first; I'm going to finally do something I've always dreamed of."
"What? Hunt down Phil and shoot him?"
Marley's smirk was quickly cut off by a pair of soft lips as Karen pulled the detective flush against her. It took Marley a few seconds to recover, but when she did, she grabbed onto the marshal, pouring everything she had into the kiss. Standing in a bullet riddled room and completely surrounded by zombies was not exactly how Marley had envisioned their first kiss, but she was going to take whatever she could get.
Their brief moment of bliss was rudely interrupted by the sounds of moaning filtering through the door. Never turning, Marley fired blindly at the wooden structure until the moans barely trickled through the doorway; however, the bullets had damaged the door, allowing a single greenish-grey hand to reach through and open the deadbolt. A single zombie made his way into the room, turning his head from left to right as he stared at the two women still standing in a close embrace. Phil's confused look suddenly turned sinister, and he took a step closer.
Marley didn't hesitate to raise her gun and fire, knocking the zombie back against the door, but soon, more creatures were stepping over their cohort and heading slowly towards the two women. Marley lifted her weapon to fire once again, but Karen grabbed the detective by the arm and pulled her through a side door, turning the deadbolt with one hand while flipping a wall switch with the other. The light immediately illuminated a narrow staircase which only led downwards to the lower floors.
"Where the hell are we?"
Karen smiled. "Amos had this put into his office as an emergency escape route. It leads to a private garage and can only be accessed from the inside."
"Well, then what are we waiting for?"
Chuckling, Karen tugged Marley down the stairway, flipping another switch once they'd reached the ground floor. Marley whistled in appreciation.
"Whoa. An armored vehicle? I like how Amos thinks."
Karen moved to a side wall and hit another switch. The recessed wall slowly slid to the side, revealing a hidden room, and Marley moved to the entrance, whistling once again.
"Holy shit! Was he expecting World War III?"
Weapons of every shape and size filled the small space as well as ammunition and cases and cases of MREs. The two would have enough firepower and meals to last for months.
"C'mon, Marley. Let's load the truck and get out of here." Marley nodded her approval, and the pair quickly went to work, storing equal amounts of weaponry and food into the rear compartment.
"Okay, I think that's enough." Karen closed the rear doors of the vehicle. "All that's left is to gas it up."
Marley frowned. "You're kidding, right? The city's swarming with those things; we'll never be able to hold them off long enough to fuel."
Karen winked and walked over towards a huge container. Removing a nozzle, she pulled the hose to the side of the truck and topped off the tank.
"Jeez, Amos thought of everything, didn't he?"
The marshal smiled and moved to the other side of the vehicle, removing a second cap.
"What the . . ."
Karen chuckled. "Amos insisted the truck have two tanks. We won't have to refuel for quite awhile."
"Hey, Karen? Where should we go?"
"I have a private cabin in the Smoky Mountains. We'd need to drive up the coast and turn into South Carolina. It's quite a distance so we'd have to take the chance of finding places to gas up along the way."
"Well, we can't stay around here. Besides, following the coastline is a great idea; we're sure to find plenty of deserted gas stations along the way. I wouldn't think the zombies would care too much for the ocean air. It might ruin their complexion."
Karen laughed. "Okay, let's do it."
The two women climbed into the armored vehicle, locked their doors, and fastened their seatbelts. Karen patted Marley's hand, giving it a little squeeze before releasing it and starting the engine. Reaching overhead, the marshal pushed a remote control, and the two women watched silently as the heavy metal door slowly lifted, allowing sunlight into the enclosed space inch by inch and revealing a group of zombies standing on the other side. The grotesque faces peered inside when the door fully opened.
Karen didn't hesitate; she gunned the engine twice and peeled out from the parked position. The creatures never moved as the truck accelerated, flattening them like tin cans on the sidewalk. The armored-plated vehicle flew down the middle of the street, daring the undead to get in the way.
The minute they'd reached the open highway, Karen relaxed and Marley cursed.
"Shit. It happened again."
"What?" Karen asked in confusion, looking around for possible danger.
"Karen, did you happen to notice that Phil was naked?"
"No, I didn't; I was too busy noting the green looking substance oozing from his pores."
"Well, he was. I wonder why?"
"Don't dwell on it, Marley. We'll never know."
"But don't you see the significance?"
"No, should I?"
"He was naked, and then he was dead. Another naked guy died."
"Yeah, oh . . . . . I'm cursed even among the cursed."
Karen paused. "Hey, wait a minute, Marley."
"Phil was already dead, so you aren't responsible for him."
"Hmm, I don't know. He fits all the qualifications, naked and dead."
"But, he was technically dead before he was naked."
"You don't know that. Besides, I don't think any of the undead are flexible enough to strip out of their clothes, so Phil would've had to have been naked before he became a zombie."
"Ew, don't go there." Karen cringed, adding, "That does get you off the hook though."
"Marley, you just said that he was naked and then became a zombie; therefore, he was a naked dead guy before you shot him."
"Great, so now I have a new title. Marley Novak, the naked 'undead' guy killer."
Karen laughed aloud and accelerated down the highway, her confidence in their chances of survival growing with each passing mile. Only briefly did she wonder how the rest of the world was faring.
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