Episode 36: Warning: Graphic Content
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Hey peeps, it’s been a while since we last visited our survivors down in the ruined suburbs of Seattle. So, let’s take a quick peak at the troubles in that neck of the woods.
As you recall, the sharp-tounged and cynical Jack Burrows and his teen son Eric had been saved just in the nick of time, having avoided a bleak and shockingly violent climax to their story, for now anyway. They've joined a group of refugees holding up in a Sikh temple. Included in the group within the walled compound is Keron as well as FBI man Tim White, their leader.
These survivors have been keeping their distance, quite wisely, from the soldiers they have seen driving around and rescuing, but in some cases snatching, people and bringing them back to a medical centre north of town.
Everything about these soldiers is suspicious and White’s instincts prove correct when he brings Keron and Jack to a construction site that has a deep pit where a building was to have gone up. The soldiers have been coming here, dumping something in the hole. White quietly watched.
What he discovered was a horror too unbelievable to grasp – bodies, twisted mutilated and discolored corpses….lots of them. What in the hell were they doing to the people in there?
It’s best to stay hidden from these soldiers, White assessed, but the terrifying possibility of the temple sanctuary being discovered means there’s no other alternative but to take the soldiers, as well as everyone associated with that building, out.
“My god, god….look at it. All those people, the smell….” says a despondent Keron, looking down into the pit. “What happened to them? How can people do this? What are they doing to them?”
“This is sick,” cries Jack disapprovingly. “We’re not safe just sitting and waiting for them to find us. What the hell we doin’ standin’ around like a bunch of chumps? I say, let’s get the hell out of here, maybe up to Blaine or into Canada, Vancouver. Let’s just go!”
Agent White turns and shakes his head. Not exactly a big fan of Jack, one minute put off by his arrogance, and in the next seeing a different, softer side of the man, the FBI man explains, again, that it’s far too dangerous to travel very far.
Who knows what’s out there and whether they’d be able to find another safe enough compound to keep the ravenous corpses out.
Also, White is feeling a higher obligation whereby whatever is happening at the facility must be stopped. There’s not too many people left out here and those still around need to be saved from whatever atrocities are occurring in that damned place. They must be stopped, somehow. This group will have a bloody fight on its hands.
“Well, you going to be the leader or what? We leaving or what?” Jack adds.
“I think you know the answer to that, Jack, so don’t keep pushing my buttons, all right? Whatever they’re doing, we’ve got to put a stop to this. It’s the same troops I’ve seen going out, so there’s probably not too many of them. I think we can take them all out with one surprise attack. We’ll need more guns, though, but we can do this thing.”
Jack flips White the bird and heads back to their vehicle. “Not our problem, White. You’re going to get us all killed, and for what?”
Keron turns, his voice quivering, “No, Jack, you’re all wrong about these. Tim maybe is right. We’ve got to do something, stop these guys. This is, it’s murder. We’ve got to help people. I believe in our community and I think we’ve got to help others. That’s what we’re all about, has to be. If we’re not, then the world really is all over. But, maybe there’s another way instead of killing.”
White pats Keron on the back before the three take off. Jack will do anything to keep his son alive but reluctantly goes along with the plan to kill the soldiers. If the local police station hasn’t been cleaned out, there should be some weapons waiting for them there. Sure enough there’s plenty. There’s also a gun store that appears to have been looted but a hidden storage area will reveal a nice enough cache.
A few days later, as several members of the sanctuary check over the automatic weapons, White sits next to Keron in the temple gymnasium. Keron looks worried, starring at a box of ammo on the table, and clearly is in need of some reassurance. People are going to die on both sides soon and it sickens him.
“You know, what you said the other day, about this community, you’re totally right. I mean it. These people, they all care. They’re trying to help each other rather than acting like savages, like animals. We’re going to have to do what we need to keep these people safe, but that doesn’t make us savages,” White explains. “We’re in this thing together. We’ll stop them from killing and bring more people here. It’ll work out.”
“I just don’t know… going out and assassinating people. Is that what we’re all about?” Keron asks. “Maybe we can find out what they’re up to, reason with them. Talk to them. Show them that there’s another way. There might be another…”
“Too much of a risk, way too much,” White interrupts. “Anyone who can do those things to others, these aren’t reasonable people. They’re dangerous. They don’t know we’re here, so giving up our tactical advantage will be a big mistake, one we’ll regret, I believe it. I wish there was another way out of this. Even Jack is coming around. This is the only way.”
Keron stands and puts his hands in his pockets, shaking his head as he walks away, still troubled, leaving White alone at the table.
Another member of their group, an elderly Punjabi woman, son sits with the FBI guy and smiles, handing him a cup of coffee. White smiles back and reaches into his jacket pocket for a grape flavoured sucker. “I’m sorry, the coffee might be a bit cold,” the lady apologizes in a thick accent. White leans back and tells her “c'est la vie, baby” before putting the sucker in his mouth.
Meanwhile, back at the research complex the sense of dread intensifies with each passing day, one day after another filled with failed human experiments. Things are a mess around here and nobody bothers to clean up. Dr. Hagstrom spends most of his time doing god knows what in another part of the building while Ford and his soldiers keep mainly to themselves.
This is the end, if not tomorrow, then soon, predicts Kate as she putters away in one of the labs. She’s going to hell anyway, so what does it matter how long it takes. She’s also wondering more and more what Leo is up to, not sure why he keeps crossing her mind.
Suddenly, she feels odd, as if a high-pitched ring is drilling into her head, forcing her to drop her chart and start walking toward the caged animal test subjects. Why can’t she stop?
Why is she doing this? There, among all the mutated lab rats that are growing more bizarre each day, one with flaming red eyes seems fixated on her, controlling her, directing her to open its cage. What? How? She’s in a trance, losing all control.
“Hey what’s going on?” a rescuing voice emerges from the hallway. It’s Abhi, looking tired and disheveled, having not shaven in days. The weird spell that animal had over Kate is broken and she shakes her head, feeling an intense migraine begin. What just happened? How did it do that? Are they developing some kind of telepathic ability? That’s craziness!
“W-wh-what’s going on? I-I don’t know….I feel strange, Abhi”
Confused, Abhi asks if she’s feeling sick…perhaps some rest is needed.
“We’re all working our asses off and I’m so tired?” he asks. “We’ve got to take a kidney sample and spinal fluid from that man they brought in the other day….you know, the one we injected serum twenty into the other day. Hagstrom says he needs reports on his desk right away, bastard.”
“W-Wait, Abhi, something just happened…weird…..no, I’m not crazy,” says Kate. She looks at the rodent again but her thoughts drift to another issue. “You think we’re all condemned? We going to hell? Maybe we should call it a day and get out of here.”
Incensed, Abhi counters, “What do you mean? Where did all this talk come from? Now you’re feeling guilty after everything we did? Don’t give me that, not now!”
He continues, “We’ve gone too far. Now we have to finish what we started. I’m not wasting everything we did because you have stupid regrets, not me. We’re finishing what we started. I don’t like Hagstrom either but we are not stopping now!”
He storms out of the lab, his response having rattled Kate. She turns to look at the rat which controlled her momentarily and forced her to fixate on its eyes. No, can’t be real. Maybe all she needs is sleep. But they're still going to be no closer to figuring out this disease than when they started.
“Kate my dear, Abhi, come at once to the third floor reception. We have new guests” a pleased as punch voice summons from the intercom. It’s Hagstrom. Seems Ford and his boys just picked up a couple of newcomers who came all the way from Canada. Mustn’t keep their guest waiting.
A few minutes later Kate arrives to see Abhi and Hagstrom already welcoming the new arrivals, while Ford and a couple of other soldiers who were patrolling in the Volare stand to the side, holding machine guns.
“Aaaaah, Kate my sweet doctor, I want you to meet our guests. Ford rescued them from those nasty streets. They’ll be safe here, I told them, hmmmm?” the smug Hagstrom proclaims. “We’ll show them to their rooms now. I want you to me Lillian and Bogdan, they came all the way from Canada, you know.”
WTF! Yes, it’s them, who had so ruthlessly taken what they wanted in the lawless suburbs of Greater Vancouver. They left that part out of their story. They look worn out and clearly relieved to be rescued. During their retrieval, the beleaguered woman dropped a bag of supplies, smashing several jars of orange marmalade. Damn, that was an especially frustrating sight for Ford.
“We were on our way to find her relatives who live down here, but their place is overrun by those dead things. We had nowhere else to go but you guys found us. Thanks you, thank you!” says Bogdan. "The dead, they're after us. Nowhere to hide!"
Lillian grins and with arms crossed looks around, assuming that within a week she’ll be running this place. Not so fast, lady!