And this shall be the plague with which the LORD shall strike all the nations that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. On that day there shall be among them a great tumult from the LORD; every man shall seize the hand of their neighbor, and the hand of each shall be raised against that of his neighbor. Zachariah 14:12-13.
Her clock rang two o'clock in the morning when Christine Hall pulled herself out of bed and looked at the ringing phone with disdain. Why the hell she had forgotten to turn down the ringer at all was a memory lost long ago in a haze of the concert she and her husband had been to just a little less than twenty four hours ago.
Her brother had been kind enough to house and child sit for her and Dwayne for the day and the night, returning back to their childhood home to their parents at six o'clock in the evening. Of course she knew he was more than happy to get away from the crying and younger siblings, a chance at the internet to publish one of his fantasy stories that left her email box so damn full of letters from fans that it nearly boggled her mind. She smirked and imagined herself burying him in a ditch covered with tons of computer paper she used to print out the "fan" mail, and then lifted herself further out of bed to pick up the phone. Slapping him in the back of his head with these pages and charging for free child sitting should do the trick just as well.
"Hello?" there was silence at the other end and Christine could hear herself sigh. If this is a fucking prank call or a telemarketer at this hour, I'll track you down and neuter you. Her brown hair shimmered in the dark light of the bathroom right next door, and her brown eyes seemed to grow that much darker as the silence continued. "Dwayne if this is a joke," she snapped.
Dwayne Hall worked at Fort Kennedy after leaving his long time job at Sampson's Grocery for over twenty years. Normally he would have taken the day off after coming home, but one of his co-workers had gotten some type of flu, and his supervisors had called begging him to come in tonight, promising a big bonus.
Just across from her room were her daughter, Skyler's, and the room before that was her son's Orbert's. For a split second Christine smiled, it had been David who had suggested naming the boy that, which at the time she was dead opposed too, as a joke because they had just won the lottery and David said that the name Orbert meant wealthy. Unfortunately it was one of those cases when there were multiple winner's of the lottery, so all they really won was twenty thousand, which they used to help her mother begin the blue prints to building a house just across the street from theirs. Orbert kept his name because Dwayne's middle name started with it, and he had insisted on not having his son be named after his first name. Christine had wanted him to have something after his father, as he would be the only son Dwayne would have. So much to the boy's chagrin, Orbert was his name.
"I'm not sure what is going on, but it's too late for this, I'm hanging up now."
"Christine, get the kids," Dwayne finally managed to say. There was something about his voice, it was hard and dark. They'd had their fights, but she had never heard her husband like this.
"What?" she asked again, her pulse racing now.
"I really don't know what's going on, but General Lafountaine has just order that all civilian's to bring their families to the Fort, something about an outbreak."
"An outbreak?" Her pulse was now running so fast it was practically leaping her off the bed. "What kind of outbreak?"
"I have no idea, but he's insistent that we get our families to the Fort, in fact you could say he's leaving us very little choice about it." Somewhere in the background she could hear someone order him to hurry it up so that the next person could make their call. "Look their sending a unit to come and pick you and the kids up. They'll bring you to Fort Kennedy where I'm told you will be safe."
"What about my mom and dad?" Christine asked, blinking her brown eyes. "What about your mom and Henry?"
"I don't know," he said, his voice dull and heavy. "Just please, do not answer the door unless the military tell you to once the convoy stops by the house. They say not to open the door for anyone."
She would have asked him what he was talking about, but a harsh voice in the background barked at him to hang up, and then there was silence, leaving the forty two year old woman to sit in the darkness and blink for a while. Her son's dog, Cinnamon stirred a little, the tiny puff of white looking up at her only once before lazily putting his head back on the covers of her bed.
She looked at the clock and thought quickly. Was he in some kind of trouble, were they? Dwayne said that the general wanted every civilian employee to call and ask their families to get read for pick up. An outbreak, were the terrorists involved? Had they spread some kind of virus to attack the population, and if so, why did the general only want the employees' families brought back to the base?
Then there was his statement about not opening the door for anyone unless they were with the transport from the Fort. Before she knew it, Christine was up and beginning to pack her clothes, calling out to her children at the top of her lungs to wake them up.
Finally Skyler walked from the shadows, and brushed her long blonde hair from her fifteen year old face. "What's going on?" she asked.
Christine studied her, to make sure she wasn't sleep walking, as she sometimes did, and when she was sure that she was not, ordered her to get Orbert up and pack up some clothes as fast as she could. "Dad was told to have us ready to get to the Fort," she said quickly. "I think the terrorists have unleashed some kind of virus." Her hand reached over for the phone and began rapidly dialing her mother's phone number, cursing at herself for forgetting that the phone was turned down, and she got the automatic answering machine.
"Mom, when you get this, you have to get out of the house. Dwayne just called and told me there was some kind of outbreak or a virus, and that Fort Kennedy was sending escort services to pick us up and take us there." She hung up the phone and dialed Dwayne's mother's number, and left the same message, before hanging up. By that time both Orbert and Skyler were up and ready, clothes and animals at their hips. "I'm not sure we can take the animals too, you guys."
"I can't leave Coop here without me," Skyler groaned, holding the ever growing black and white bison, shit-zu that was wiggling in her arms. "Or my cat either," she said looking down at the black and white behemoth of a feline meowing with agitation and rubbing against her leg.
"You'll live," Christine said deadpan. She stared at them, and crossed her arms. Matter solved; debate over.
They stared at her for the longest time, before she pushed by them and packed some food for the trip, and a pillow and a few blankets. Now I suggest that you --," she began when the sounds of mortar fire from two blocks down silenced her.
"What was that?" Skyler asked, running down the hall and into the living room. Her mother batted her back into the hallway as the sounds of gunfire and grenades exploding grew louder, and wilder, and the screeches of tires on pavements could be heard racing up their street.
Christine edged away from the living room window, and back into the kitchen, looking at the clock. From the time she had hung up the phone on her mother-in-law's answering machine, to this very moment, it had seemed like time had stood still. The clock; however, had other plans. It was nearly an hour later, almost three o'clock.
"Is it gang fire do you think?" Skyler asked from the hall, holding on to her seven year old brother. Christine shook her head; could this be what they were being warned about? Was the convoy to the Fort too late in getting to them?
The windows shook as louder explosions could be both seen and heard from the front window, and Christine huddled on the kitchen floor. "I don't know, but stay away from the windows and the doors," she called out.
As they waited the screaming wheels rolled into their drive way, and a horn honked loud and desperate to be heard. "Mrs. Hall, if you are home, please come through the front door, and enter the vehicle ASAP. I repeat, if you can hear me, Mrs. Hall, please quickly leave your home and enter the vehicle for your own protection. This is an emergency evacuation maneuver for your family's safety."
Christine listened to the explosions, to the words and looked at her children. "Wait there," she roared as they moved to the front door.
"Mrs. Hall, you were instructed to be ready for evacuation an hour ago by your husband; I suggest that you take advantage of our hospitality and get in this damn vehicle now. You now have two minutes to make your decision, and then we are leaving."
Those words forced her to slip near the front window and peer out, her eyes peeling back as a massive military vehicle she had ever seen was waiting by her house. It was obviously military, no doubt of that at all, but there was a bit of foreboding that she had never felt before. Still two minutes…
Christine turned to her children and called them forward, "Hurry up and do what they say," she barked.
The children rushed forward and pulled open the door, rushing out of the house, followed by the two dogs, and the cat, which was followed by the outdoor cat, a much more massive feline who resembled Garfield and went by the name of Marmelade. Christine watched the children and the animals scamper into the vehicle, and then rushed out herself, feeling bad that she didn't take the two guinea pigs and the hamster, but they were animals after all,
The woman rushed to the battle machine, shrinking away as its powerful guns roared at something in the distance, something covered by blackness and the wailing of the wind. Christine pulled herself up into the vehicle, helped by two armed men, and leapt as Bayou, her husband's large Siberian Husky leapt at her.
"Orbert opened the gate and let him out," Skyler said.
Christine turned an angry gaze on the boy and then sighed, resting in the chair and glaring at half a dozen people, all who were frightened and confused. "Anyone know what's going on?" she asked.
"You will all be debriefed as soon as we reach Fort Kennedy," a tall football shaped male sniped, staring anyone who dared question his words down. "This everyone of your family, Mrs. Hall?"
"Except for my parents and their children, and my husband's mother and brother," she said with a nod of her head.
"Well don't expect us to go all over Waterman for expendable personal," he growled.
"Expendable?" Christine was a small woman, she always had been, but that didn't mean that this five foot tall female was weak, far from it. Then again she wasn't tough enough to take on half a dozen armed soldiers and walk away either. Her chest rose and fell as she dropped to her seat. The kids, remember the kids. For their sake I've got to go along with this.
"Mrs. Hall we are at war now," he growled at her, as if daring her to stand back to her feet. And not against some fanatics who use God as their excuse to kill people…,"
"Then against who," an elderly man snapped, his gray eyes widening with anger as he looked at the man. His muscles stiffened as the vehicle pulled away from Christine's house, and tore down the road, ignoring the cries of a few of her neighbors for help.
"Everything will be answered at the debriefing at the Fort," the large man barked, not used to his commands being challenged.
"There's another one just up the path," the gunner cried in alarm, and began blasting. When she was sure no one was looking, Christine inched near a slit in the armored vehicle, and watched the guns down what looked like a homeless man, holding something in his hand.
"What the hell is going on?!" she shrieked.
"That was fucking murder, he wasn't doing anything to you," another woman cried out.
"Think so?" the commander of the vehicle asked with a raised eyebrow. His question was met with dogged silence. He looked up and pounded at the gunner's station, "You hit him in the heart?"
"Couldn't even get a bead on his chest, the way he was convulsing," the gunner called back. "Got a good click at his head though."
"You sick fuck," Christine snapped silently. The commander's head swirled toward her and he narrowed his eyes.
"If it hadn't been for this sick fuck, you might have ended up just like that 'poor' man," the commander said. "Stop the vehicle, let them see what we've rescued them from," he barked.
It took a couple of seconds, as if the driver thought his commander was completely out of his mind, but he finally complied, and stopped. The commander smiled with satisfaction and jutted out a finger at the rear of the armored transport. "Now, take a real good look, but look fast, because there's a lot more of those freaks out there than just him, and I'd rather not get boxed in before we make it back to the Fort."
The vehicle flashed its lights on the body laying in the road, and as the citizens watched, it twitched and throbbed before slowly pulling itself to its knees, its head half blown off.
"Sweet Jesus," somebody cried.
"Fire, and keep in mind where to hit him this time," the commander snapped. The gunner took careful aim at the growling hump of flesh, and centered right at his chest. A few seconds later, the body flopped to the ground, and did not get up again.
"Congratulations, you've just met the enemy," the commander said. "Lucky you." He turned to the driver and ordered him to take them out of there as fast as he could. With a jerk the vehicle roared back into motion, and Christine Hall felt her world fall apart.
Okay I just wanted you all to know that I had gotten a cold earlier this month, and now my monitor is really nasty, it looks like it is going to fall right off, and the computer repair guy simply made things worse. I'll try to update as soon as possible, maybe in May, but do not hold me to that, as my time is not my own in updates. I just promise to do the best that I can.