Episode 11: Warning: Graphic Content
All righty, let's head back in time and get into the story of someone you just know will somehow hook up with good old Leo McGregor later. If you don't like flashback stories....tough noogies, we're doing it anyway!
This show took place just as the pandemic, or whatever you want to call the tragedy that screwed the world, started hitting extra hard and fast - really, really fast.
In his own little world, an obsessed FBI agent Tim White and his partner Rita Fong just arrived on a bureau jet at Sea-Tac Airport to effect the arrest of a suspected prolific serial killer whose arrogance was his undoing.
Some big shot doctor, a real malignant narcissist who recently came here to Seattle, assuming he was safe from the pain-in-the-ass law and probably eager to start another trophy garden.
Sure, the agent has a few peculiarities and peccadillos, and he doesn't always adhere to his own moral compass, but who doesn't? White, a big-time Kojak fan and full of wisecracks, never had a good feeling about the devious snob and a little persistence paid off with the uncovering enough critical evidence to slap the cuffs on the monster.
Yes, their suspect is insane and extremely dangerous.
Usually with a sucker in his mouth to emulate the bald TV cop, agent White, who bends rules on a regular basis, unlike his wonderfully enigmatic partner, was pleased as punch to fly across the country to personally make this arrest - this one especially. Too many people - men, women and even little kids - are notches on his belt.
Problem is (and you knew there's always a wrinkle) they had left a few days ago from Texas but had to be diverted to a small town in the middle of nowhere, where they were held up for a while because the Seattle airport stopped taking incoming flights.
This mystery flu everyone else was talking about, which was supposed to blow over once the proper measures were taken, had gone global and deadly, but agent White was focused solely on catching his predator as if the killer was a big shiny carnival prize.
Step right up folks, catch a killer, win a prize!
White's wife got fed up with all the bull, one case to the next, and left him long ago. He couldn't blame her either...oh well, c'est la vie, baby.
Their jet was the only plane that landed in Seattle and they arrived to a ghost town of an airport, just a few workers and some soldiers wearing surgical masks milling around, overhead screens flashing and the floor littered with garbage.
It was weird, eerie, for sure, but it was even more so outside as the two agents were driven to their hotel by Seattle police deputy sergeant Lopez, the only officer to greet them and the only one assisting in the big arrest.
"So, agent White, yes, ummmmm, we'll get this guy tomorrow? He's at some medical place. I've been assigned to help you guys, my first mass murderer, you know," said an oddly upbeat Lopez as he drove the two in his police cruiser. "So, they didn't give me much details. I mean, is this guy that dangerous? A real freak?"
"He's a suspect, all right. Many deaths. I thought we'd have a team waiting for us, all due respect, sergeant," Fong replied, feeling tired and frustrated, wanting this arrest finally over and done. Carrying a major fetish for integrity, she was also fed up with White, who seemed to have gone off the deep on this one with all his rule-breaking.
"Let's just say a sadist and trophy collector...got to get him off the street," White interjected.
"Ya, well, this disease or whatever is going on. It's worse. Most of the department is sick or assigned to stop the bull going on in the streets. Not watching the news? The army was called in, you know, so I'm all you've got," said an astonished Lopez. "Where have you been, Mars?"
Sitting in the back seat, a sucker in his mouth and arms crossed, an equally exhausted White couldn't help but notice something didn't look right out here, not at all. Cars were abandoned with doors open and debris was everywhere.
There was also a sickly smell of smoke and decay in the air, thick and ominous.
Except for a few military vehicles whizzing by, there was no one out there.
What the hell? Bizarre! This will soon be a world of scarcity and hardship, but the usually bright White remains clueless.
"Actually, sergeant, we were hold up a few days at some nothing little town. Greasy food and lousy phone lines. Guess you can call it Mars but the bureau finally got us here," White explained. "If you're all we've got, that's just fine, we just wanna get this over and get out of here."
Lopez nodded, telling the pair he’d pick them up in the morning. He described the hotel the agents would be staying at as five-star, and that he heard great things about the shrimp. They arrived at a hotel that had guests rapidly checking out.
The restaurant was closed and room service was non-existent, so the two agents helped themselves in the kitchen. Yes, Fong had the shrimp.
"I don't feel good, no, that damn shrimp," Fong complained later. "I feel like I'm going to die. Gotta call it a night. Damn shrimp!"
That night, White was trying to enjoy a smoke on his balcony, and relax for a change, but it was difficult with the sound of gunshots, emergency vehicles and helicopters out there. Must be a real crap storm, but, once again, all he cared about was slapping cuffs on his evil doctor. All that other stuff can wait, really.
The phone lines kept cutting in and out, and when they did get through to their field office nobody was answering or returning messages.
Adding to the hassle was Lopez giving the agents a call the next day to inform them the big, headline-making arrest wouldn’t be taking place for a couple of days, leaving them stuck in another hotel with the sounds of doom and gloom and alarming news reports.
Could things really be that bad? It will all straighten out - has to.
A couple of days into their unexpected extended stay, and with Fong still laid up in her room feeling the nauseating effects of the bad shrimp, White decided to have a few cocktails in the lounge.
No bartender but that was no problem for the seasoned agent who helped himself, grabbing a bottle of the good vodka and seating himself at the bar. The joint has a brand new leather couch smell - nice.
Man, too much rushing around - go, go, go, go! He just wanted to take a minute and unwind, relax and get a bit of a buzz going. The agent knew he couldn't keep going a hundred-miles-an-hour, burning himself out, but slowing down is easier said than done. He knew he couldn't keep going the way he was going but just couldn't stop himself. A subconcsious programming for burnout.
The place was dark except for the light pouring from the foyer. Almost all the staff were gone, having hurriedly taken off overnight and making a racket doing it. White didn't pick up their sense of panic but he should have. Outside, things were getting even worse.
The cocky concierge, though, was still on duty and in uniform, joining White at the bar and pouring himself a drink as well.
"Is your friend, that agent lady, feeling any better, sir," the man asked. "That stomach medicine should have worked. I'll see what else is in the infirmary. I can't get a hold of the doctor. Anyways, I'm quitting, leaving in the morning, just so you know."
White blankly looked at the man, trying not to pay notice to his massive underarm sweat stains, while still clueless about the storm outside those hotel walls.
"Where you heading friend, leaving town too? How come? The flu bug?" White inquired.
"Sure, why not? Everyone else is. I got family up in Canada, in Victoria, will try to hook up with them," the man answered. "I heard you're on some big case. Why bother? Why are you trying to help when everyone is out for themselves now?"
Confused, White told the man, whose words were rapidly becoming slurred, "Hmmm, well, it's what I do? It's my thing. Get bad people. Help people by catching all those bad guys."
"Ya, but why bother?" the man repeated wryly. "Why bother helping people now. Didn't someone say once that when you're surrounded by stupidity, self-preservation isn't a sin?"
"Suppose so, but I have a job to do and that's to protect very bad people from hurting people like you. This flu bug, well, won't stop the bad people, so it won't stop me," White responded, pouring another drink into the man's glass. "Besides, that's who I am. I'm not going to change."
They finished off the vodka and broke open the Black Sambuca before a discussion about fate, destiny, free will and history that was startling in its depth.
It was after the man had gone, leaving the agent alone at the empty upscale bar, when White had an epiphany, realizing all he's ever been is what he's chasing.
The last thing he needed, now, is to dwell on a potentially wasted life.
Someone smart once said don't let yesterday use up too much of today. All right, time for some changes when he gets back home. For now, it’s more personal indulgence by getting back behind the bar to grab the whisky.
The following morning the self-possessed concierge followed through on his word and was long gone. What White didn't know, what he couldn't possibly know, was that his drinking buddy that evening would soon be torn to bloody pieces and eaten alive...C'est la vie, baby.
That day the hung over FBI man was getting increasingly annoyed at the delay in police support to arrest his serial killer, but still not perceiving it was the end of the world. He had only occasionally flipped over to the news, more interested in watching the channel broadcasting nothing but Elvis movies.
Finally, spending a few minutes sitting on the edge of his bed, sucker in his mouth, and watching one of the local news channels began to change his perspective.
Holy crap! Yes, this is more serious than he thought. What the hell is going on here? People are rioting. The city is burning. The army is pulling out. People are looting, fighting. And what's this about dead bodies attacking people? Things are happening too fast! How dire. What a gong show!
What’s more, the phone lines aren't working and there’s no one at the front desk. Rita has been in bed for a couple of days and maybe this food poisoning is more serious than first believed. No kidding, genius! Perhaps it was time to take his partner to the hospital, but they were overrun by the infected.
Did anyone have a clue what they were dealing with?
After a shower and shave, White headed down the hall to check up on Rita. No answer. Hmmm, now he's getting concerned. He threw his sucker to the ground and scurried to the lobby after hearing what sounded like moans in her room, but there was nobody around this once immaculate hotel that started looking like a real mess.
Then, surprisingly, an assistant manager wearing way too much Aqua Velva emerged from a back office, looking bewildered. Why was he still here? Turned out he brought his entire family here and they were squirreled away in the locked hotel for safety, hoping to ride out whatever was going on out there.
"My partner, my partner!" yelled White. "Come on, get a room key. Something is wrong with her!"
"Is, is, she sick, does she have the s-sickness," the employee asked sheepishly.
"No god damn it. Now move your ass, get me into that room!" ordered White.
The assistant manager hesitated, hearing his mother yelling from the office to stay downstairs, but he ended up nervously agreeing to accompany the tough-talking federal agent back up to the twenty fourth floor.
He slowly swiped the card lock to open the door and as they stood outside they were greeted by a completely darkened room with an aggressively foul odour.
Suddenly, a figure bolts from the black and into the two men, knocking agent White to the side and landing on top of the stunned assistant manager...."Arrrrrrraagh!!!"
Then, immediately the man screamed, the sound of someone letting the world know he was being taken from this world by terrible force. The wild, screeching woman on top of him bit into his neck and removed his throat...dark red splatter everywhere. Did she really do that? Kill that guy?
White staggered back onto his feet and pulled his gun as the ultra-aggressive attacker also stood.
"My god, Rita! What's wrong with you? Why....what? Hold it right there!"
Her face covered with the man’s blood, Rita turned into a maniac. Her skin pale and eyes covered with a grotesque film, she staggered toward White, ignoring his orders to back off. There was no talking with her, zero reasoning. What's wrong with her? She's crazy! It was obviously not the shrimp that made her sick – well duh! White's seen a lot of crazy sh*t but this is too much!
Crap, Crap and double crap!
His hands trembling, White had no choice but to unload three shots into her chest. She was pushed back but didn’t go down. How in the hell was that even possible? Another shot blew off her jaw but the only effect was to make her gurgle and seemingly more angry.
It was not Rita anymore, how could it be? A monster now that could be contagious, Rita lunged and grabbed her partner just as he managed to take another shot that hit her shoulder. She fell on top of him, forcing the gun to slip from his grip – yikes!
Making unholy groans, and blood dripping on to her partner, she was still trying to bite him despite having no lower mandible. White was in a real pickle here.
The top of her head exploded and thick, chunky tissue covered White, who then pushed her off. He didn’t have time to process this mess. Boy, what a stinky mess!
He turned around to see sergeant Lopez at the end of the hall pointing his gun. Good timing!
"Are you bit, did they bite you?" screamed the panicked cop. "We gotta get outta here!"
White got onto his feet and shook his head, telling Lopez, "I'm fine, good man. What the hell is going on here? What happened to my partner?"
"No time, no time, let's just go. The dead, they're everywhere. Everything is falling apart. It's bad, a slaughter!"
Lopez then pointed to the deceased manager on the floor. "He'll turn too!"
Confused but not overwhelmed, White got the police officer to help him drag the dead man into Fong's room and close the door. Even though it was chaos, White took a moment to catch his breath and head back into his own room to clean up and change, all the while Lopez urged him to hurry the hell up.
White tried the phone, knowing in advance he was out of luck, and then the TV, but everyone is off the air.
Holy cow, was this really happening? The lights then went out in the hotel. No matter, White and Lopez made tracks and got out of there, leaving the assistant manger's weeping family behind.
Driving his police cruiser, Lopez took the FBI guy through Seattle streets that seemed other worldly. Fires were raging, a weird mist with an intense rotten stench hung over everything and military vehicles sat abandoned. The hopeless streets were empty….. but….a few figures could then be seen shuffling in the haze. Maybe the people who were left here on earth were the ones sent to hell, no?
"Gotta wrap my head around this. This epidemic, Rita, what the hell is going on Lopez?" White asked.
"Your partner, that lady, she died. That was her corpse. Dead bodies are rising and attacking people. This plague, it's killing everyone. Had to get you, get out of here. The whole force, it's gone, damn," Lopez told his passenger firmly. "Maybe we can make it to the airport, get that jet of yours?"
"This is nuts. No, no, no way. Got to get a hold of the bureau. Got get a working phone," said White, the reality of all this crap starting to sink in nicely.
"Nooooooo!" shouted Lopez, a group of growling infected, crazed people suddenly appeared ahead of them. The cop steered sharply to the right but lost control. White let out perfectly timed gasp as the police car slid sideways and slammed into the back of an unoccupied tank. Lovely, just bloody lovely.
After a moment or two of disorientation, the rattled agent looked to his left to see a mangled and bleeding Lopez struggling for breath, chest heaving rapidly. He's done and both knew it.
"W-W-W-White, n-no, you go now.....uuuuh....just go," the cop told the agent in a fading, sad voice. "You gotta, gotta shoot them in the-the head. They're all dead. Gotta sh-shoot them in the head.......go."
Breathing fast, the dazed White acknowledged the advice and took off, followed by slow moving sickos. He didn’t want to leave Lopez but maybe, just maybe, he could find some help, while his own survival was acutely uncertain.
White ran through the mist, hearing those bizarre growls and helicopters overhead. Then, a woman's awful scream was close. He ran to investigate only to see a horror show. It' was a woman all right, on her back in a huge dark red pool with a monstrous-looking man kneeling over and disemboweling her. He was eating her guts! This couldn’t be real. It was a nightmare and all nightmares end, no?
A shocked White backed up and then ran the other way, having no idea where to go. He had to find help, but where?
He heard a vehicle approach - thank god!!! It was a dirty old pickup truck with two men inside. There was also a crying kid, a boy, between them. Unfortunately, they sped by the desperate agent despite his arm waving and pleas to stop. Jackasses! This was insane. Now he's found himself in the middle of a What Happened Boulevard and How Did I Get Here Avenue. The theme from The Benny Hill Shows dances through his mind.
Wake up, just wake up from this!
The fun wasn’t over just yet as the agent ran around a corner only to encounter a large group of insane, blood thirsty monsters. Were they really dead? Frantic, White pulled his weapon and fired a couple of rounds into one of them. The third was an excellent head shot that brought it down. He was getting the hang of this.
Too bad he didn’t have enough ammo to bring down the rest. No choice, turn around and keep running, White, just keep moving!
This was nuts, an apocalyptic wasteland, a ruined city, just like every cliché drawn into those sci fi comics - how could they allow things to get this far?
Running past several shredded cadavers on the ground, the hunted agent then encountered another group of vicious monsters that were also contributing low guttural sounds of hostility.
His eyes bulging and underwear wet with warm pee, White pointed his gun in all directions - who/what to shoot first? They had him surrounded, forcing him to back up against a wall. Some of these sick maniacs were plodding toward him but others appeared to be running, swaying side-to-side while grunting. So, he was going to die, never having had that chance to change his life. Ya, just bloody great! This was too far-fetched to be real.
"Hey, hey you....get over hear, hurry, hurry!!!" a voice bellowed from nearby.
The agent turned to see a man waving his arms behind a heavy metal gate, urging White to get inside. The gate clanked and White sprinted - just in the nick of time too. As the door slammed shut, a dozen discolored hands reached in, some with skin already peeling, wanting to feast. Damn, that was close.
Well look at this: a Sikh temple, a big one with an ornate, colourful exterior. White was out of breath and had no time to thank his savior, a short Indo-American gentleman who informed White of the utmost importance of getting inside and out of view.
The crowd outside became louder, a real silly sympathy of horror. The savior then took the agent into the temple’s gymnasium where several dozen morbid faces greeted him.
"It's bad out there. We are waiting for the army to come get us. You shouldn't be out there. Stay, stay here as long as you want. We’ll wait for the authorities," the man said assuredly. The man got excited after learning White was with the FBI.
"Look, I don't know what the hell is going on. Thanks for letting me in but, I mean, nobody from the agency is coming to get us, get me. I have to figure this all out," White said.
His little rescuer then smiled, telling White, "It's all right Mister White. You're here now. Everything has a reason. Everything happens for a reason."
Still holding his handgun, White had no idea what to do, nor what was in store for them. The only thing clear was that in a few days he'd be running this place. Everyone seemed distraught, overwhelmed by how everything fell apart so quickly. Most of the people here had lost many family and friends to the mystery plague. Yup, c'est la vie, baby!
Story by Sandor Gyarmati
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