Episode 39: Warning: Graphic Content
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He’ll never get used to that sickly sweet smell of rot infused with burning hair.
Ford doesn’t know why that’s crossing his mind now of all times as he furiously shakes the front gate of the medical centre for a dumbass to let him inside. A large herd of dripping dead ghouls are converging, so he’s got maybe a minute or so before his ass is toast.
Finally, the baby-faced buck Danny scurries out the front door, almost falling on his face, before he stumbles to the gate and lets in the lieutenant, just in the nick of time too.
“Come on, you doorknob, let’s get inside…..just move your ass soldier!” Ford shouts at the youngster when asked what happened to the others.
Ford still has to wrap his head around all this as they enter the disorganized compound, not sure whether to kill Hagstrom now or wait a day. He oddly lost all resentment for the strangers who ambushed him and whacked his two men, but he is kind of miffed about losing the Volare.
Yup, the whole world is upside down on its head. Worst part about all this crap is that it was for nothing. Those eggheads never had a clue what was behind the death bug. Now, well, it's too late for everybody.
Sweating heavily, the seasoned soldier asks Danny where the other scientists, including Hagstrom, are at, but the kid, looking lost as usual, just shrugs his shoulders. Ford knows the boy will never make it on his own once he’s gone.
“This place a mess. God damn, no time to explain. We’re getting some supplies and making a run for it. You can come with me to Arizona, I’ve got a spot. This mission is done….done, kid!”
The three remaining privates then meet them in the hallway, also looking confused.
Danny looks around, inquiring, “So, no more of their experiments? We don’t have to get more people?”
Meanwhile, in another part of the centre, Abhi leads Vance and Bogdan down another hallway that only has a gross yellowish light trickling in from the window blinds. They’re hustling, really hustling, hoping to get the guns before Hagstrom and the others spot them.
“Darn, where’s Kate, she should be here,” Abhi wonders as they get close to the gun room. All that pain and suffering, all that misery he caused with those human experiments, but the failed scientist knows he’s got no time to start dwelling about crimes against humanity stuff right now.
Vance continues to glare at Abhi, prompting a justified jolt of fear that there’s a very real possibility the muscle man will blow his brains out as soon as they get their hands on the weapons. Even if he gets away from this angry Vance guy, where can he go? His family is likely dead while the land is ruined with rot. This place was all Abhi had and now that's about to be lost too.
Out of breath, Abhi, nervously licking his lower lip, looks back at him, pleading, “Hagstrom, he’s the one you want. It’s all him!”
Suddenly, the three are face-to-face with Ford and the other soldiers. Oh boy!
Nobody has a weapon but all carry stupid expressions like they’re looking up to see a grand piano about to fall on their faces. Ford pushes his way in front of his men, like a lioness protecting her cubs, being the first to offer the voice of reason.
“Wait, just hold on a bloody minute….relax, OK? Just back from out there, the city. I decided it's over. It’s over, no need to put up our dukes cuz we’re on the same side, really.”
Abhi is a little dumfounded, not prepared for that response and looking at his guys for guidance.
“Look, I’m done. This is over……..I was about to go find that jackass and kill him myself,” Ford continues. “All right, don’t just stand there, who’s with me?”
Vance, his eyes growing wide, grunts and nods, then bursts ahead to join Ford side-by-side to open up a big can of whoopass. This is going to get nasty!
“OK, OK, then let’s go, hurry…everyone please,” Abhi urges. “Let’s get it over with.”
A brisk jog and the men find themselves outside the locked door of the weapons room. Well, it's a converted storage closet. Even though Ford has the key, Vance kicks open the door and is the first to grab a machine gun and ammo clips. He gives Abhi another scornful gaze but walks away. Now with a broad grin, Ford hands the scientist a pistol, assuming he won’t blow his toes off with a smaller firearm.
“Where do we go from here? Where’s that scientist guy? Where’s that woman too?” an anxious Bogdan asks.
“All righty, we’ll spilt up. You three go down east wing and we’ll head west. He’s probably in one of those labs. Meet here if we can’t find him,” Ford commands.
Seems like a good enough set of instructions but little do they know the game has changed on them. New rules, guys, you’ll find completely unfair.
Hmmmm, someone just started playing Dean Martin's Ain't That A Kick In The Head on the speaker system over and over....at least it's not Andy Williams for a change.
A short while later Abhi, Bogdan and Vance carefully stick together as they go from room to room. They’re not feeling intimidated by Hagstrom physically, but are indeed intimidated by his evil.
“Come on brothers, there’s the off-limit lab we have to check,” Abhi recommends.
Vance grabs him by the collar. “Shut up spud, we aren’t brothers…we’ll never be brothers!”
Bogdan has to separate them again, telling them to calm the hell down and stay focused on the task.
Then, here it comes, a strange gurgling sound begins down a darkened hallway. What?
“W-What’s that? What in the hell is that?” Bogdan shouts.
The three clutch their weapons tight and start moving slowly down the corridor to investigate. The sound stops momentarily…..but then a figure emerges from the dark…….yup….a plague monster! The repulsive thing just stands there, seemingly smiling. Abhi and Bogdan freeze but Vance, as usual, knows what to do, blasting the sucker’s head clean off.
Ford and his men hear the gunfire and do an about-face to sprint toward the party.
Vance keeps his weapon raised as he checks out the putrid dead-for-real thing.
“How…..what? How did it get inside?” asks Abhi, his voice cracking. “What’s happening?”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH……NO!!!” It’s Bogdan screaming behind them. “HELP, HELP!!!”
Abhi turns and is shocked to see a group of plague monsters pile out of a janitor’s closet and onto Bogdan, one biting his cheek completely off while another munches on his plentiful belly, followed by another digging its grey hands into the squishy red mess and pulling out the large intestine.
It’s happening so fast….blood everywhere. The plague monsters growl and shriek……how in the world did they managed to sneak up on the guys?
While the mutilation bonanza takes place, a screaming Vance, not one to go down without a fight, fires his machine gun into the gory orgy, but it’s too late for Bogdan. The deafening gunfire forces Abhi to cover his ears and back up but then he’s suddenly grabbed by several decomposing hands reaching out from a dark room and dragged inside.
He manages to fire a couple of rounds before a hungry plague monster takes a chunk out of the top of his skull.
A royally ticked Vance empties his weapon into the room, failing to notice a slimy ghoul crawling away from the Bogdan lunch and lurch toward him. The thing quickly sinks its teeth into his forearm, promoting the muscle man and smash the butt of his gun into the thing’s head…..thick black and red liquid splashing all over his t-shirt.
A surrounded Vance uses the same technique to smash a couple of more heads before losing his weapon. He pushes one ghoul aside before jumping over a counter and leaping back to the hallway, just past the aggressive monstrosities.
Holding his bleeding, burning arm, he stumbles his way down the hall, suddenly faced by a dozen more dead creepos who try to move in on him. Where’s Ford?
Vance has no choice but to run into an empty room and tries to shut the door, taking advantage of the lack of force pushing from the other side. Unfortunately, there’s too many of them and they begin to get the upper hand, and it doesn’t take long for the slimy biters to push their way in.
Strangely, as soon as the door bursts open, the dead things stop and just stand there. Now this is odd. They’re just starring at Vance who’s still holding his arm. Weird. They’re not even making a peep.
The plague monsters, seemingly under some bizarre form of control, step aside, making room for something even more outlandish to enter. What the hell? It’s Hagstrom, but not the Hagstrom from the last time he saw him. White as a sheet, bald and sporting those crazy blue eyes, the evil man has been transformed into something more terrifying than the undead that roam the streets.
Speechless, Vance just stands there in amazement and can’t help but admire the grotesque sophistication of what he’s seeing.
The new Hagstrom smiles and steps forward. “I am forever……but so….very thirsty……..come to me…”
Vance feels a strange buzz in his head and compelled to step forward. Odd, Hagstrom's breath is minty fresh. Vance closes his eyes, knowing it’ll all be over very soon. A pair of plague monsters grab onto the muscle guy and hold him before Hagstrom’s jaw elongates and swiftly chomps down onto the prey’s neck. The annoying slurping comes next. Once he's had his tasty drink, his dead beasts get to tear away and consume the raw human flesh. Talk about lack of table etiquette!
Not far away, Ford and his four frightened soldiers work their way toward the scene, running down a staircase. By the time they reach the floor where they heard the gunfire, Ford turns to notice the slowest soldier who was trailing behind is missing. What now?
“Gibbons….where the hell is Gibbons? Where does he think he’s going?” Ford barks. Go find him! I’ll go on ahead!”
Danny and the other soldier reluctantly nod, breathing heavily, and head back up. Ford struts down the hallway with his machine gun, eager for a fight if that’s what it will take to earn some peace.
It doesn’t take long for Danny and the other soldier on the upper floor to find the other guy, and are stunned by what they see in the hallway. There’s their comrade, dead as a doornail in a large pool of deep red blood. Danny then notices he just stepped on an eyeball on the floor.
“Hi guys, thanks for coming,” a soft, haunting female voice behind them offers.
About to pee their pants, the soldiers don’t have time to process all this. They turn around to see Kate, her lab coat soaked in blood, standing there, having the same freakish look as Hagstrom. She quickly steps into a room before Danny has a chance to aim his gun.
“What’s that? Is that Kate? Can’t be…what’s going on?”
The two bucks look at each other, preferring to run away but decide to follow. It’s dark in there and there’s dead silence (excuse the pun).
The dumbasses stand in the hallway pointing their machine guns but don’t shoot, not sure how to react, and that moment of hesitancy costs them when a dozen plague monsters storm out, literally tackling the bewildered young men to the ground. Hmmm, tricked again.
Danny, half his face having been peeled off, manages to stagger onto his feet and lets off a couple of futile shots before being pulled down into the mayhem once again. Looks like he isn’t going to Arizona after all.
"I've got sunshine enough to spread
It's just like the fella said
Tell me quick ain't love like a kick in the head?"
Ford stops and gasps, looking up when he hears the gunfire. He just knows they’re dead. Dr. Abhi and those other guys are probably goners too, he assesses, slowly backing away from a deep growling noise at the end of the hall.
Strange, Ford hears footsteps coming toward him from the black, but just one. Sounds like an expensive pair of dress shoes. The albino figure that emerges is Hagstrom, his mouth covered in Vance’s precious blood, with what looks like dozens of obedient plague monsters behind him. Ya, he’s still as cocky as ever.
“Ah, yes, this is wonderful. Ford, I shall enjoy you being the last….don’t you agree?”
“Yes, I want him too. He doesn’t look so strong…..” answers a familiar female voice behind the tired soldier. He turns around to see Kate, who’s also looking like a twisted freak. She also has what looks like a couple of dozen foul smelling undead behind her, and several quickly step out in front to act as a shield. A few do the same for Hagstrom.
Kate doesn’t look so hot now. Someone’s got to throw some shade on her, concludes Ford while wiping off some brain matter from his khakis. Their smugness is only exasperating this insanity.
“Where’s Danny? What are you doing? What happened to you?” yells Ford, knowing asking them anything is stupid.
The only illumination is that gross natural light from the large window in the hallway, and luckily the military man is standing next to it. Acting slow will get you killed. That’s probably what happened to Abhi and the others, but Ford is a different breed. He turns to his right and begins blasting, shattering the heavy widow just enough so that he can jump through and run.
The plague monsters get noisy as they begin pursuit but before they can get close Ford has already made his way to the motor pool. A working old school 70s van with keys in the ignition is just the ticket as he gets in and speeds away, busting through the front gate and knocking over a couple of plague monsters on his trip out of there.
Ford looks at his side mirror as he heads off to see an army of monsters now taking over the facility.
Lucky bugger! He only survived because the fire inside him burns brighter than the fire around him.
Now what? “Man, what do I do? Where do I go now?” he wonders. It’s soon clear to the Wile E. Coyote the risk he’s going to have to take if he’s got any chance now. Except for a few shuffling plague monsters and abandoned vehicles, there’s not much slowing him down as he heads for his new place….yup, the temple.
About an hour later, Ford, feeling numb, slowly approaches the ornate front gate of the place of worship, leaving the engine running and his machine gun in the van as he steps out with his hands up.
The inviting word “Sanctuary” is still painted on the side wall. Weird they never found this place, and thank god. It then dawns on Ford that in his haste to get here he may have led the plague monsters and their new masters to this place as well. Now everyone is in danger. They’d probably find it sooner or later. No matter, he’ll deal with that little wrinkle later.
“Don’t you move you mother, you stay right there or I’ll shoot! Don’t you move!” and angry voice shouts from the roof. It’s Jack Burrows and his son Eric, both pointing hunting rifles. Ford just nods and keeps his hands way up.
Less than a minute later, a surprised Tim White and two others approach the gate. White can’t believe what he’s seeing but will be thankful Ford showed up once the soldier provides the disturbing story.
“Look, I’m willing to forget what you pulled on me….but we need to talk, right away. You people, aren’t safe, not here anymore,” warns Ford.
The hosts do a double take when the newcomer asks is if they have any marmalade. He's still out of luck with that one.
Not long after White agrees to let the persuasive combat veteran inside, a large group of plague monsters swaying from side to side slowly shuffle past the gate. An arm drips off from one of them and onto the ground but the corpse thing doesn’t take notice.
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