Put Your Skates On!

Episode 27: Warning: Graphic Content

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What's this obsession with Greek music at the mission? Yup, it's playing again downstairs.

At least it gives Leo some normality in a life that has no higher spiritual purpose.

He sips a strong cup of bitter black coffee while standing, looking out his bedroom window at that sweet blue '56 Chevy in the parking lot, hoping he'll get his turn at giving it a spin. The light beige RV has been recovered by the priests and is also in the lot under repair.

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There's busy voices outside and a lot of hammering too. It's been a while since he's seen his friend Big Gregg. Maybe the big guy put his skates on and moved on, which would suck.

 

And the righteous dude doesn't want to think about that shadow thing in the other room - he'll just avoid that part of the building from now on. Hall knocks on the door and lets himself in, seating himself on the chair by the bed to check up on his new friend.

    

"So, my kids and Avril are helping Seth do a little gardening in the greenhouse. Those priests are building another one. Man, they really get a kick out of that guy. Why don't you come down and join us? Hey, you're spending a lot of time up here. Why not come down for a while?"

 

Leo turns and smiles. "I'm hearing you right, dude? This place growin' on ya?"

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Hall shakes his head, "I'm still not sure about this place. Priests with machine guns? That freaky-looking cardinal? I really think that your friend’s island might be a better bet. But we probably won't be welcome unless you come with us, you know. Like, the guy doesn't know us. He's your buddy."

 

The dude sighs and looks out the window again, wondering if adhering his sister's plea for him to stay alive is enough anymore.

 

"I just.....I dunno. Really, dude, I think we should just stick it out here. Let's just wait and see, OK?"

 

Hall nods reluctantly.

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"Besides, I just don't want to be alive hiding somewhere. Maybe we can be part of something new. It can be a really neat community, not just full of priests. We can be a part of something. Ya, they're kind of weird here, but it's something I guess," Leo adds.

 

In a few minutes the hockey star accompanies Leo outside to lend a hand building the new greenhouse. It turned out to be quite therapeutic for the dude who knows he's got a long road ahead. They had to take a break for prayer service...always mandatory, even for Avril and the kids.

Later that evening Hall joins Father Michael back in the guard tower.

The woods once provided a cricket symphony but now there's nothing but silence. The smell of burning wood up their noses sharp as they watch the large orange glow of a wildfire burning on a distant mountainside. How fitting, a rotting plague monster is in the field to add to the scene. No matter, this place saved Michael, he believes. It's a do-over, a path to wipe his waste-ridden slate clean. Before the end of civilization he was reduced to a self-destructive speck, a shard of glass in an ice cube tray ruining everyone around him.  

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You know, blazes around the province are happening more frequently thanks to the tinder dry conditions. No machine gun will stop an inferno that may decide on a spiteful whim to take this place. Looks like even this mission may not be as safe as they thought.

 

Down in an annihilated suburb of Seattle, the burly biker, wearing his usual leather vest, and his teenage son venture a few feet outside an empty house where they've been staying a few days. Some kind of putrid smog seems to have settled everywhere and refuses to go away.

Hungry and tired, the dad, holding his big Smith & Wesson .500, wants the coast clear before risking taking his kid outside.

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The determined pop has lost way too much already and the monsters won't take his boy too, never!

His entire life he couldn't catch a break, never, and he feels a bullseye has always been on his forehead for misfortune. His wife had recently run off with some loser.

Then, he thought things had changed when he won a hundred grand on one of those scratch and win lottery tickets. Of course, the outbreak happened and everyone at the lottery office quickly died on him…typical. 

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Just this once, he'd like a little luck, just a little scrap. Life can't be all unfair, no? It’s weird he’s still alive but that can’t be counted as good luck, can it?

Looks good enough, no one around and nothing but junk and a few decomposing bodies lying about. They get into a newer model SUV crossover and make their way toward the highway. There's supposed to be a safe centre in Blaine. Well, who knows if it's still there?

 

All Jack Burrows knows is that he's got to take his son Eric there, gotta try for at least somewhere, something. This can't be it. Nope, it can't be all over. Are they going to make it? He's forced to stop when a couple of hundred hungry plague monsters block his path.

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He turns around and tries for another street only to be blocked by abandoned vehicles.

They're greeted by even more plague monsters down another road. The son's dismay grows as each option is closed but the dad remains steely-eyed calm. It's all an act, though, as he feels he's on the verge of total incontinence.

   

"Dad, look!" screams young Eric when they encounter what looks like a thousand more on a final possible route.

They can't even make it back to the house and are forced to leave their ride and make a run for it. Boys, better put your skates on! Cutting through a couple of back yards, all they can hear are terrible shrieks and growls of plague monsters giving chase. Exhausted, they somehow end up in front of a Sikh temple on Sixth Street but the ornate blue gate of the walled compound is locked and chained.

Crap! They're surrounded!                         

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He doesn’t want to die, let alone be eaten alive by reanimated corpses, but the tough dad instructs his boy to go for an opening between the clusters, please stay alive!

 

The kid refuses, maybe delirious but certainly ticked off more than scared, perhaps realizing he will die soon enough anyway. It’s funny how being on the verge of certain unpleasant death changes attitudes. The dad has no time to tell off the defiant, axe-wielding kid and blows half the head off one of the approaching monsters, then another, but he won't have enough bullets for what's coming.

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Suddenly, luck. Finally! It's about bloody time! Why does god work in such a messed up way?

 

"Hey, get in here. Hurry!" It's a frantic voice behind them, a voice within the temple compound. Then the sound of a heavy chain clanking.

 

Biker Jack and young Eric turn to see someone opening the gate and waste no time getting inside the sprawling property. The rescuer manages to relock the heavy gate just as a hundred or so rotting and hostile grey hands reach for them between the bars. Turns out the man who just let them in is Keron.

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Running to join them are three Indo American men holding machine guns, urging the newcomers to get inside. Sounds like there's a thousand plague monsters clawing at the gate as well as that fancy wall with its decorative gold panels. Time to leave the horror show and adjourn to the temple. Still don't think you can trust anyone, Jack? Inside the dimly lit facility they're greeted by a dozen more people.

 

Just under half the refugees here are Canadians who found this place after Blaine fell. Food and water are running low but they have enough to hold out for a little while longer.

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"This place is awesome!" raves young Eric. Jack still can't get over the fact he finally caught a break.

 

"Good to know you Jack. You and your boy, stay here as long as you want. You ain't bit or sick though, are you?" Keron asks.

 

Keron seems in amazingly good spirts, especially after everything he’s gone through. Maybe it’s this place, these people convincing him that hope is a good thing. Jack shakes his head.

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"Thanks. No, we aren’t sick or bitten or anything like that. A lot of people I know died. You guy's going to wait it out until they get a handle on this thing?"

 

One of the other men, an older fellow named Sammy, interjects. "Nobody out there is getting back in control.”

He adds, warmly, “It's all up to us now, Mister Burrows, this community it’s all there is. We can rid ourselves of old jealousies, prejudices and hatreds here, start new.”

 

Is he kidding? What planet is he from? This is all happening a bit fast and is a bit much for Jack. He's just trying to stay alive from one day to the next and now he's being offered a chance to be part of something?

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Appreciating being welcomed with open arms but having doubts this group can stay alive, Jack agrees to stick around and help out, knowing options outside the temple walls are few and far between, if any. On an outside wall, the all-positive word “sanctuary” is painted in big white letters. There were more at this place but several had ventured out hoping to bring back friends and family, only to never return.

That’s not going to be the case for Jack, since he has no one else left other than his son. Yes, he caught a break.

 

A couple of hours later, they open the gates for a jeep whose occupants had been out on a supply mission. The driver is also the leader of this rag tag group.

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Yup, you guessed it, it’s FBI man Tim White. Yes, he has a sucker in his mouth, having found a big stash on one of his supply runs. He’s pleased to meet Jack but doesn’t have time for pleasantries, instead passing some troubling news about what he discovered outside.  

 

As far as the research facility, Hagstrom is spending more time off on his own in a separate lab. It’s in a part of the building no one, not even Ford, is allowed to enter. Bizarre, huh? After checking up on Kate's progress on the postmortem on Vance's daughter, the sleazy head scientist heads back to his quarters. There on the table are photos of Vance's wife in various stages of distress.

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He sips another lovely glass of red wine as he looks closely at each photo…..so thrilling, he can taste her death. He wants to be there, the very moment she passes.

 

Later that night, while the others are sleeping, Hagstrom creeps into an observation room where another woman is strapped to a bed. She looks jaundice thanks to all the poison they were pumping into her veins. Her head has a hole drilled into it with a tube stuck inside.

Hagstrom, who didn't bother putting on a bio suit, puts his face close to his victim's, wanting to see her desperate eyes before snapping a few pics.

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What a rush! He’s addicted to this feeling. He then checks a chart at the end of her bed is surprised at what he reads. No, it can't be........not yet! Seems Kate and her colleague may have stumbled upon something promising.

He has no choice but to reach into his lab coat pocket and take out a syringe filled with thallium for the half-conscious, half-dead woman. Yes, for her it'll all be over very soon.

 

And yes, all these characters will be heading for a rather big collision course.

 

 

6

Story by Sandor Gyarmati

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