01 Feb Tales from a Rookie Storm Chaser Part 6
There had to be at least fifty of the bizarre people standing in our way as Natalie and I tried to decide what to do next.
“We should go back to the station,” she muttered. A soft brisk wind was picking up.
“We can do this. Remember we only need one,” I told her as I gestured toward the main thoroughfare and declared, “That path should take you straight through town. The motel has a feed that connects to KTHU. If we can lure one of them there, we can use the signal to paralyze them.“
“You make it sound so easy,” she said dryly as the group of townsfolk began to advance.
“We can do this. Just don’t stop driving,” I told her as I got one of the guns loaded and added, “I’ll watch the back.“
Natalie gripped the steering wheel a little more firmly as the wind picked up and I heard a crackle of thunder cross the sky. Another storm was beginning to brew. We needed to act and act fast.
Shifting back to first gear, the blonde let the tires spin for a second and then accelerated head on to the line of people.
Our speed kept climbing as the line simply stood there, staring oddly at our vehicle like it was something they had never seen before.
Abruptly the crowd began to move as one, pushing their way toward the weather van with their teeth gnashing. Several of them leapt up nearly thirty feet in the air and landed smack on the van’s roof as Natalie plowed into the line.
I cocked the rifle and aimed it toward the roof as the ones that had managed to latch on started to try and claw their way inside. I let he first round out, blasting a bullet straight through an old man’s skull as he shrieked to claw at me. Then Natalie turned a corner and the next two fell off.
It wasn’t over yet though. Not by a long shot. More townsfolk had gathered as we drove down the Main Street toward the motel. It actually surprised me to see so many of them here. Had they all come with the storm?
Several skittered across rooftops and buildings almost like roaches, and I pushed myself up to the roof to take aim and keep the van safe.
Reloading the rifle, I fired another shot as one of the jumpers flew across the town-square.
“We’re coming up on the motel,” Natalie said. There were at least a dozen younger athletic men waiting that stood in our way. A glance at the speedometer told me we had already reached 55mph.. but the way these newcomers were looking, something told me it wouldn’t be enough.
“Give it all she’s got!” I told Natalie as I fired a shot at the closest male. The bullet didn’t even seem to faze him.
75mph. We slammed hard against the row of dangerous townsfolk like they were a brick wall. I fell onto the floor of the van, the rifle sliding out to the parking lot. In a matter of seconds they were on us.
One male reached with his muscular arms and tried to pry the back door open as I stood and kicked him off. Then I grabbed the next gun, and told Natalie. “Stay here!“
I aimed the weapon straight at the next attacker’s skull, his guts splashing everywhere as the blonde shouted for me to stay put. Instead I made a run for it, pushing my way to the motel room I had stayed at a few nights before. They were right behind me, screeching like banshees and clawing at the ground for any chance to hook me.
A second later I turned the tv on, and Channel 46 started working its magic.
But these things, I don’t know why; it didn’t seem to work. They were affected by the strong noise but still kept coming.
I fired at the next one to try and enter the room as Natalie turned the van back around. I only had six bullets left.
I raised my weapon to fire again, and then heard the most peculiar horn in the world. It sounded like a jingle of some kind.
The creatures heard it too and the group moved to see where it originated from. A short second later, a long camper trailer smashed into the dozen and crushed them under its wheels.
I held my gun steady as the camper spun its wheels around and knocked out the other stragglers that were thrashing at the hotel windows. Then from the driver’s door, a familiar face flashed. Caleb.
He hopped out and went to check on the weather van first, grabbing his tow line and muttering under his breath as Natalie tried to apologize.
“You can save it for when we’re back at the station,” he snarled as he checked the tires and then hooked up the cable.
I looked toward the thoroughfare, noticing more of the townsfolk crawling their way out of the abandoned buildings.
“We should… probably get in the camper…” I advised Natalie.
A few moments later the swarm of crazed people were on us, running toward the camper as one. Caleb took out his twin pistols and began to fire as he climbed back into the driver’s seat and shouted, “Hold on to something….”
The long trailer jerked backward, a few of the townsfolk bouncing off the windshield like bugs as we drove in reverse down the highway. The weather van lurched and moaned against the road as it was dragged down the street.
Caleb shouted instructions to us as more of them latched to the side of the trailer, banging repeatedly on the metal.
“The signal! Put it on frequency 10!!” he shouted again.
I didn’t even hesitate. The piercing sound was enough to knock them all off the camper and then as we drove I saw more of them collapse in a state of shock. Caleb shouted excitedly and declared, “Take that ya sons of bitches!!”
I looked toward Natalie and then at the syringe we had somehow managed to keep hold of. I gave her a look, but before she had a chance to guess what I was thinking I opened up the side door to the trailer and jumped to the road.
I hit the ground running as I heard Caleb shout another colorful expression and I moved toward one of the shaking townsfolk. Standing right over top of them, I got the syringe ready and plunged it straight into their neck.
Caleb swung the camper back around, the broadcast still causing its lulling affect on the others as the one I had drugged went still.
“What the hell is wrong with you Pruitt?” the hunter snapped as he pulled the camper up alongside me.
“You can berate me later. Right now we need to radio Jim and tell him to set up a transfusion.“
He said a few more cuss words and helped me lift the man into the camper as Natalie got the next syringe ready and injected it in the other side.
“You really think that wasn’t enough?” I said as we drove out of town.
“Better safe than sorry,” she said with a nervous laugh.
We had made it. Now it was just a matter of getting to Martin in time.
Back in the station, I saw Olivia waiting for us as we pulled in and Nat closed the garage.
She walked over and slapped me across the face. Then she turned toward Caleb and said, “Let’s get it on the stretcher.”
I rubbed my cheek softly and followed behind as we carried the unconscious man to the bunker. Martin’s screams of pain filled the air as we got closer.
Inside the closed quarters, Laschar was already setting up another IV as we lugged the man on the bed next to Martin.
“You really got one,” he said, pausing for a moment to marvel at the creature that hid beneath human skin.
“Doc, maybe we could… speed this up?” I suggested. He nodded and got to work, setting up a picc line in the creature’s neck.
Natalie was biting at her nails as Martin kept screaming. Caleb and Olivia lingered near the door, unable to watch.
The cameraman writhed and screamed even louder as the transfusion began, a slow drip of the creature’s blood pumping into his own.
“You really think this will work?” Natalie whispered.
“It has to,” I said taking her hand and squeezing it as Martin kept begging for death.
An agonizing thirteen minutes later, we could see the first signs of success. The strange dark scars near his wound were clearing up. He was calming down. The anti-venom inside the creature was doing the trick.
“I told you, I told you!” I said excitedly and then noticed that Olivia had left the room. Caleb was still there though, looking no more happy than the minute he had met me.
“Congratulations, looks like he’ll live to fight another day,” he said tipping his hat and departing. Was that his way of saying a job well done?
It was another six before Laschar confirmed it. “He’s going to still need some rest, but I think he’ll make it,” he said. Natalie leapt and cried excitedly hugging at me and then rushing to Martin’s side.
I smiled, pleased with the good deed and after another moment let them have their privacy.
I wandered the corridors of the station for a moment, still feeling my heart pumping loudly from the rush we had experienced in town. I wanted to go find Kearny, rub it in his face that I had proved him wrong.
But instead I found myself going to the roof.
The darkness was still casting its shadow over all of Emerald Bay and the storm I had spotted earlier was now getting ready to drop its first bit of rain. The wind picked up and I looked out toward the city, and toward the horizon; still trying to make sense of everything that I had seen since coming here.
Behind me I heard a lurching noise and turned to see Olivia stepping out of the stairwell to join me.
She was smoking one of her father’s cigarettes and letting her long dark hair rustle in the wind as we stood together silently.
“You did good work out there, Pruitt,” she said looking up at me. For a moment our eyes met and then she rubbed her neck uncomfortably and remarked, “Dad said that you should know that.”
“Too stubborn to tell me himself?” I asked.
“He doesn’t want you to get a big head,” Olivia pointed out and then remarked, “By the sound of things it’s probably too late for that though.”
I sighed and remarked, “Look… I’m sorry about what happened with your mom. But that is no reason for you to just give up on people…“
Her soft admiring gaze quickly turned to one of rage.
“What do you know about my mother?” she asked accusingly.
I hesitated, realizing I had struck a nerve and raised my hands defensively. “i know it was hard what you went through… but all I’m saying, is that it may be time for you and your old man to move on. And that’s the truth.“
She dropped the cigarette and pushed herself right up in my face, jabbing a finger at my chest.
“Don’t you ever talk about my mother. And don’t presume to know me. You don’t know what the hell I’ve been through!” she smacked me across the cheek again and then growled, “And if I ever hear you say something about her again, so help me I will make sure Caleb blows your head off.”
She turned away and stood at the opposite corner of the roof as I quietly shuffled my head, embarrassed for being using such poor words.
As we stood there, the rain began to fall and she finished her cigarette before remarking, “Don’t stay out here too much longer or the Storm’ll get you.”
I nodded absently glancing toward Emerald Bay again when something amid the tree lines caught my eye.
“Olivia…” I said catching her attention before she went back inside.
“I think we might have a problem…“
She walked over to where I stood to get a better look, her eyes widening as she the large group of maddened townsfolk bounding through the trees.
Coming straight for the station.