There was something about Kit that was giving me odd feelings. Not ominous or anything life threatening like that. Just... odd. Maybe it was just that she was a woman, and there’s never been a female on staff that I knew of, but some of the old guys sure were acting strange toward her. I didn’t know what to think of her, what with the different reactions around me. It was like she was some sort of supernatural being that caused pandemonium wherever she went. Trouble was, thought, I couldn’t pin point what being she could be. I needed my Encyclopaedia of the Paranormal, but that was at home. Junior would kill me if I jeopardised the last chance he’d someone managed to get for me by even attempting to bring any of that sort of thing into the building. He checked my car daily to make sure.
I guess I’d just have to puzzle it over in my head until tonight.
Bobby seemed to be buddying up to her, even going so far as to ask her on a dinner date, despite the fact that by all accounts he’d been happily married for something like ten years. That was suspicious behaviour for him, but not necessarily his fault. Kit could be casting some kind of mojo ober him to lure him into her trap and devour him, or his soul... life’s blood? Something.
Cal seemed to be alright with her at first, probably under some kind of spell. He wasn’t enamoured by her presence, but he wasn’t opposed to it either. Until this morning, that is, when he went pawing through her stuff and was outwardly suspicious of her intentions when they first joined me on monitors.
Then Bobby had arrived, all pleasant and seductive as usual, and Cal sort of snapped. I was fully expecting him to, like, throttle her of plug her with a few bullets or something when he dragged her away, but when they returned he’d changed his tune once again. The scowl that had creased he flaming skull tattoo had been replaced with an odd – there’s that word again – sort of smiling twinkle.
Maybe she was a succubus. That could explain these signs... The irresistible allure, the other worldly good looks, the way she exuded sex so effortlessly... Her entire genetic make-up was designed for seducing men and sucking down their life force.
But damn if she didn’t make me want to offer up my own.
Cal suddenly disappeared, dragging Kit with him and I could only assumed she’d worked some kind of mind mojo on him, because they went straight to the bathroom and everyone knew that there was only one think a man and woman did in a bathroom together. Sex. Which would mean Cal was being drained.
Frantically, I tried to recall more information about succubi, but the theories were so vast that I had no way of knowing what was true and what was myth. If Cal gave up his pleasure seed – the male life force – would he be under her enthral completely? Essentially her slave so that she could order her nourishment whenever she wanted, like a human fast food menu? Or would he die? It was possible that if Kit was unable to control her hunger Cal would be forced to offer up every last drop until there was nothing left to keep him alive.
I was torn between allowing Cal to take one for the team, and pounding on the bathroom door in an effort to get her to stop.
Just as my worry was reaching uncontrollable heights, Cal stepped out, making his way back over to us with a smile I’d never before seen on his face. He might be lost to Kit’s succubas pull, but at least he was still alive.
A few moments later, Kit returned as well, settling herself between Cal and Bobby and promptly punching the latter in the arm. When he asked what the violence was for she accused him of not disclosing the fact that he was married, which I totally understood if she was a regular, run of the mill, human female, but why would it matter to a succubus? Unless the presence of a wife meant that his life force was weakened or something...
I really needed my encyclopaedia right now, but in the meantime, I had to make it appear like I wasn’t onto her, so I started defending her honour like she was a normal woman.
Eventually, silence reigned the way it usually did on monitor shifts and I’d managed to just about put the thoughts of Kit being a dangerous predator from my head when Bobby stood and lead Kit away, heading to the break room. My suspicious were sky high again and I was about to confront Cal to see if I could get some kind of confirmation of Kit’s species when he, too, stood and headed in the direction the others had gone.
This did not bode well.
I was alone at the monitors, which meant I couldn’t follow him and rescue my co-workers from the paranormal predator who was probably in the process of molesting them both as I sat here.
Dividing my attention equally between the break room doorway and the screens in front of me, I was constantly scanning my periphery, hoping one of the other men that had been left behind would appear so I could get them to cover monitors for me while I saved Cal and Bobby from the succubus. I was so distracted that it took me longer than I care to admit to notice the zombies staggering into view on Monitor C.
I now had a zombie apocalypse to deal with on top of the succubus sucking the life out of two men down the hall. And I was alone on monitors! As if my day couldn’t get any worse.
I decided that the safety of the world and the company was more important than keeping an eye out for burglars and graffiti artists. First order of business was to incapacitate Kit and save Bobby and Cal. Then with their help – provided they hadn’t been severely weakened by their experience with Kit – I’d put my apocalypse plan into action and save as many innocent lives as I could.
No sooner had I lifted my ass from the seat, than Hal appeared from his cubicle. I was so relieved to see him that I was speechless for a moment, I knew I needed to get the ball rolling, but I couldn’t make my voice work to ask for his help. Finally, I managed to open my mouth, only to be cut off by Hal’s stern reprimand.
“What the hell are you doing?” he demanded.
Glancing around, I had to fumble for words once more. “I... the... Kit... um...”
Hal rolled his eyes, clearly frustrated with my inability to form a full sentence. You’d be flustered too if you’d just witnessed the beginning of the end! “Who’s on monitors?” he tried a different tactic, gesturing to the bank of screens I as attempting to flee.
“I am,” I admitted dejectedly. “But, I...”
He shook his head in the no nonsense way that made me pity his kids. “No buts,” he informed me. “What’s the protocol?”
I was so sick of having protocol shoved down my throat at every turn! It was like nobody every broke a rule around here before me. Sighing, I replied. “At least one person on monitor duty at all times. But -.”
“No. Buts,” Hal bit out, pointing with a stiff finger to the chair I’d just vacated. “Sit there and do your job.”
“Hal,” I tried to gain his attention, gesturing to monitor C. “Just take a look at the freaking screens.”
Hal looked vaguely irritated. “If there’s a problem with the feed call Hank or Hector. They’re the tech guys.”
“I don’t have a tech problem!” I implored. And then, because I had no other option, I said the sentence that would likely have me fired the moment Ranger and/or Tank returned to the building... if they returned... “I have a zombie problem.”
A movement so jerky I briefly feared the usually mild mannered man was going to deck me one, exploded from Hal before he managed to tamp down on his anger. He leaned in close enough that I could feel his breath on my face as he seethed, “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that, but only because I’d hate for Junior’s grovelling to have been in vain. He put his neck on the line to get you this job, so you better drop the zombie business or I’ll be forced to beat it out of your head.”
With that, he turned on his heels and made his way from the control floor. He was right. I had to watch the monitors, or, on the off chance that Ranger and Tank did survive the apocalypse, I’d be in deep shit for leaving my post. I’d have to get in contact with the men on rounds and send them to take out the threat. If they would listen to me once I got the word zombie out... Maybe I should avoid that word at all costs.
As I typed my password into the fleet tracker program, I couldn’t help but wonder how my life had turned into one big cluster fuck.
I followed the prompts on screen and was connected to Vince and Eric who were only three blocks from the outbreak. My heart sang the hallelujah chorus when they answered in fully formed words, rather than the typical moans and groans of zombies. Calm down, Mal. Don’t get too excited. I still had to direct them to the site and guide them through the killing of zombies and detainment of the contamination without, at any point, saying the ‘z’ word.
“Yo,” Vince’s voice came through my ear piece as I glanced over my shoulder to check on the break room doorway.
Stealing a deep breath and letting it out slowly, I began, choosing my words carefully. “There’s a situation three blocks north from you,” I explained the reason for my call. “A... uh... gang outbreak at the jewellery store.”
“How many?” Vince asked efficiently, choosing to ignore my word fumble, thank God.
I took a moment to quickly count the staggering figures on the screen. “Ten,” I said, my eyes widening as I noticed a woman and young girl exiting the jewellery store. “Innocents are on the scene.”
“We’re on our way,” Vince confirmed as I heard the engine gun in the background. “You better contact the PD.” With that said, he hung up, leaving me with the sound of dead air. I hadn’t even gotten a chance to warn or advise them. This could all go horribly wrong if we weren’t careful.
To be on the safe side, I started going through the process to find the next closest team. It was very likely that Vince and Eric would need backup and the sooner it got there the better. I was put through to Hector and Kristoff this time, and went through the same explanation of the situation, adding that Vince and Eric were arriving on scene, but that they would definitely need backup. They agreed to head over and I managed to warn them to proceed with extreme caution before I was once again hung up on.
No sooner had Zero disconnected than a call came through on the headset. “Rangeman control,” I said, pressing the button on the side of the ear piece to accept the call.
“Not funny, man,” Vince announced loudly in my ear.
“What?” I asked confusion and panic seizing me simultaneously. All the breath left my chest and it felt like there was a vice being tightened around my heart. Is this what a heart attack feels like?
“You know what,” Vince seethed. “Fucking zombies? I don’t know how you managed to get everyone on board with this prank, but you may as well start packing you shit, because the moment Ranger hears of this you’ll be thrown bodily from building.”
“I didn’t... I wouldn’t... I...” I couldn’t find the words to convince him that I was in no way behind this apocalypse. It was REAL and he was accusing me of a prank?!
“Ten Rangemen dressed as zombies. How the fuck did you find ten guys with a big enough death wish to go along with your stupid fantasy land?” Vince questioned.
“I didn’t, man,” I managed to say with a little more conviction this time. The shock was giving way to anger now. “I had nothing to do with this! As far as I know they are real zombies, and that woman and child are in real danger!”
My eyes were glued to monitor c as I watched Eric open the driver side door of the SUV and step out. The sound of zombie moans filled my ears and before I could demand that he get back in the vehicle three zombies were upon him, dragging him down to the ground.
“Vince, close the door,” I said urgently. “Lock yourself in the SUV and listen very closely.”
“The joke’s over,” Vince replied, opening his own door and stepping out. “I’m taking names. You and all your buddies are gonna be fired faster than you can say apocalypse.” He slammed the door shut behind himself but before he could move the massive, animated, unmistakable corpse of Tank loomed over him, slowly reaching for his neck.
“Tank?!” I heard Vince question incredulously. “Unbelievable! I can’t believe you stooped so low after all that talk about... about...” Tank had grabbed Vince’s neck and steadily dragging him closer, his mouth hanging open as saliva dripped down his gaunt face. “Tank? What are you... Mal, I... I think this is real...”
“That’s what I was trying to tell you!” I yelled!
“Don’t get angry at me!” Vince yelled back, leaning as far back from zombie Tank as he could to avoid the probably noxious breath being panted out at him. “Just tell me what to do!”
Finally, my expertise was being called upon, but I couldn’t help but be narky at him. “I’m not supposed to talk about you know what,” I reminded Vince.
“Just give me the fucking stats on these things so I know what I’m up against.”
“Only way to kill it is to shoot it in the head. Or behead it. Don’t bother with any other body part. Aim for the head and keep going until they’re all dead. Hector and Zero are on their way to help.”
“Wait...” Vince said, confusion and panic in his voice. “Kill? But... it’s Tank.”
“It’s not Tank anymore, Vince,” I assured him. “That is the mindless, brain eating corpse of our former second in command. If you want to survive you have to kill it and all the others like it. Once you see a the opportunity, book it. Don’t hang around attempting to save innocents. That area is too far gone. We need to clear the surrounding suburbs and get them to a safe place.”
“What sa-.” His question was cut off as zombie Tank squeezed his neck harder, his mouth finally making contact. I could hear the sickly sound sucking drifting down the phone line.
“Kill the zombies, then we’ll talk.”
At that moment laughter reached my ears. It was surrounding me, in my ears, coming from the break room, the nearby cubicles. I blinked at the screen several times trying to understand what was going on. All the zombies were bent over double, their shoulders shaking.
“Man, they got you so good,” Darren informed me through his own laughter, leaning on the edge of the monitor station.