Episode 12 - The Conclusion...
- January 1
The door to our cage had been difficult to hold against the zombies’ continuous efforts to grab and bite us through the bars. Since the light was no longer much of a deterrent, I used my flashlight as a hammer to beat at them while Nick wrapped his belt around the bars to secure the door. Finally, we were able to scoot back enough to be out of reach. We took a moment to catch our breath and enjoy a few minutes of safety before we had to face the hungry horde of zombies once again. The ringing of Nick’s phone was so startling at that moment, you would have thought a zombie had just appeared inside the cage with us.
‘Matthews, big problems here. Where are you and Kincaid?’ I could hear the captain’s booming voice even before Nick switched to speakerphone.
‘With Hamilton, rescuing his wife, Sir, but we could use a little rescuing ourselves at the moment.’
‘I’m at the station, got reports of small groups of zombies all over the city. Two in my own backyard. One tried to eat my neighbor’s cat! I need you on the streets, ALL of you! Hold a sec.’ We could hear talking in the background, too muffled for us to make out. ‘Gotta go, crazy here.’
When my phone rang moments later, I didn’t even bother to glance at the number, assuming Captain McDermott was calling me next.
‘Still alive, I see. How do like my little surprise so far?’ he said, with a laugh. ‘I’m curious, are you helping Mr. Hamilton rescue the lovely Lizzie or did you choose one of my other surprises this evening? You know this is just a taste of what I can do, don’t you?’ He sounded so smug, so satisfied with himself. If his other sites were anything like this one, I knew we had to find him soon before he unleashed the rest of his zombies.
‘Why are you doing this and why ME? You seem to have some sort of personal vendetta against me. Have we met before or do you just think I’m more of a threat to you?’
He laughed. ‘You are such a typical female. Just because you’re attractive, you think everything revolves around you. Always so in control, just like Jeanine. I wasn’t good enough for her anymore, she thought she could just throw me out when it suited her. You women think you’re in control. Well, you aren’t in control anymore, I’m in control now. I’ll show you AND this city, just like I showed Jeanine. You can all bow down to me or you can die.’
‘What about Jamison? Isn’t he really the one in control?’ Yes, I was just baiting him now but I also needed to know how Jamison fit in all of this.
‘Jamison? He thinks he can buy control, buy power. He has some crazy idea about being the big hero and riding that into the governor’s office. I’ll take his money but I’ll never give him control. I wonder just how many people will vote for him if they find out he’s the one who financed me. It’s too bad you aren’t going to be around to see the look on his face when he figures out I was the one who played him for a fool.’ He laughed like the madman he was.
‘How did you do it? How did you raise all those zombies and keep them for so long?’
‘My dear, you are full of questions tonight, aren’t you? It doesn’t matter now that it’s already begun so I’ll tell you. Blood sacrifices and fresh meat. Let’s just say there are a lot less homeless people living on the streets of Memphis and a few select cites in Arkansas these days. I haven’t fed them lately, though. I expect they are getting very hungry. Now, my dear, it’s time for you and your little band of zombie slayers to learn your lesson, just like Jeanine learned hers. Goodbye, Dallis.’
‘Nick, we really do need to get out of here. I’ve got an idea but you probably won’t like it. Do you still have the flame thrower?’
‘Yeah, it’s in the trunk of my car and the keys are right here, in my pocket. I thought we might need it again so I decided to hold onto it for a few days. But it’s out there and we’re in here so how’s it going to do us any good?’
‘I think you and I can get to that door. Will can secure the cage door behind us and stay in here with Lizzie. We can use the flame thrower to hold off the zombies while Will carries Lizzie out. If you’ve got a better idea, I’m listening. We’ve got to try something.’
For lack of a better idea, we followed my plan. Nick grabbed the arms of those reaching into the cage and I cut them off. After the third one, the rest backed away from the cage, giving us the space we needed to get out. With fewer zombies, the two of us had room to maneuver without the fear of hitting each other as we swung our swords again and again. By the time we reached the door, there were no more than a dozen zombies remaining. While Nick went back for Will, I called the Captain to update him on the conversation with Baxter and to find out where he wanted us next.
‘Baxter has already called the mayor’s office. He’s demanding fifty million dollars to remove the zombies that are out there now and says he’ll release twice that many tomorrow night and every night after that until he’s not paid. Jamison is about to hold a press conference. It’s really gonna burst his bubble when he gets arrested instead. It’s crazy out there now, there’s zombies all over the city. People who should be in bed asleep at this hour are hearing all the commotion and going outside to see what’s going on. We’ve got more people on the streets at 2am than we have at noon. I’ve got every available officer out there doing what they can to contain them but I need you three out there. I found out we have two officers who are part of that medieval fighting group and have their own swords so I’ve already sent them out but you probably need to call them. Dispatch will give you their numbers and give you the addresses that
need top priority.’
Frank offered to take care of Lizzie. Will took him up on the offer only because he knew she might not be safe until Baxter was behind bars. We were being sent in three different directions so Nick dropped me off at the station to retrieve my own car.
It was a long night and I was feeling the effects when I finally made it back to the station the next morning. I settled in with a large cup of that heavenly elixir known as coffee while I waited for Nick and Will. Nick walked in looking as tired as I felt, poured himself a coffee and sat next to me with a barely audible grunt. I was about to get another cup of coffee when Will arrived, actually smiling and looking like he’d absorbed the stresses of the night a lot better than we had.
‘Hey, did you hear?’ Will practically beamed with delight. ‘Baxter was picked up an hour ago.’ Well, that certainly explained his enthusiasm. It was good news but I was too tired to show any enthusiasm of my own.
‘C’mon guys, let’s report to the Captain and find out what else has happened while we were out playing with the zombies.’ I walked past them and led the way to the elevator. The Captain was waiting for us. He, too, looked as tired as Nick and I. I wondered how old he was, thinking he looked quite a bit older than he had just a few days ago.
‘Glad you all made it back in one piece. I’ll start with the good news – Jamison was arrested at his own press conference. Of course, the mayor’s office is trying to spin it to his advantage but that’s to be expected. We caught Baxter as he was entering the building in Midtown where he’d been keeping Lizzie. You three still have some work to do clearing out the rest of the zombies he’s got stockpiled but I’ve got people posted at each building. That’ll keep until after you’ve had a chance to rest.’
The next day, Nick and I started zombie disposal. We went to each building with the flame thrower, first burning them and then cutting off the head of each one to be sure they didn’t rise again the next night. I knew Baxter could put all the zombies back into the graves from which he’d pulled them but taking the zombies to the various graveyards and taking Baxter out of jail to put them back to too risky so we did it the quick way, which still took two days.
I went to see Baxter in jail. He had apparently followed me for weeks and had planned my death so it seemed appropriate that we should meet now that he was behind bars. He was insisting Jamison was the mastermind, the one in control of everything while Jamison was still insisting he didn't know anything about zombies. I was looking for answers but he wasn't giving any, he was sticking to his story.
'We're alike, you know' he said as I was leaving.
'Alike? I'm nothing like you'
'The only difference between us is that I've embraced my gift. You have the gift, too. I can feel it but you're still denying it, even to yourself. That's the real reason I went after you the hardest, you know. You could have taken control away from me.' He laughed that crazy laugh again.