Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Body Farm: Conclusion

Content Advisory: The series contains scenes of zombie horror that some may find disturbing. The series started on 22nd August.

The Body Farm

Eleanor sat on her haunches, her whole body trembling, trying to her catch breath. She glanced over to see Jimmy folded into two, his face in his hand, his shoulders heaving. She reached out and lightly touched his shoulder, making him look up. His face was wet with tears.

“I’ve been bitten,” Jimmy sobbed. “One of the fuckers got me.”

Seeing tears on a grown man unnerved Eleanor, but she rubbed his back, trying to offer some comfort.

None of them spoke about Kyle; the gaping hole that had suddenly appeared between and beneath them. Yet each of them wondered, ‘could they have done anything to save him? Had they made mistakes?’

Eleanor checked Jimmy’s injury. Teeth marks penetrated the flesh of his leg, a chunk of skin hanging like an open door from his calf. She tore off part of her shirt and wrapped his wound.

“It’s okay,” she said. “You’ll live. But we’ve got to keep moving. I don’t know if those things will figure out a way to get in here but I don’t plan on hanging around to find out.”
“She’s right,” said Robert. “We need to get to the roof. We’ll be able to get a better assessment of the situation from there.”

“Assessment of the situation?” Jimmy’s tone was too high. “The situation is we’re surrounded by fucking zombies. That’s the fucking situation!”

“Well we need to do something,” Robert said. “Sitting around in a pipe like a bunch of hamsters in a Rotastak isn’t exactly going to save us.”

“This isn’t helping anyone, gentlemen,” she hissed. “Let’s just move!”

In the confined space, they hunched on their hands and knees, heads lowered. Robert led the way, with Eleanor in the middle and Jimmy bringing up the rear. Being the largest of the depleted group, Robert struggled most, his shoulders almost wedging when they needed to take a turning, the vents crossing in a, ‘t’.

“I’m not feeling well,” Jimmy moaned from behind. Sweat poured from his brow.

“Just keep going, Jimmy,” said Eleanor, trying to sound more confident than she felt. She didn’t like having him crawling along behind her. They had no idea what happened to someone who had been bitten by one of the dead things and the thought of him suddenly attacking her and sinking his own teeth into her leg stayed at the front of her mind. “We can take a look at you as soon as we reach the roof,” she continued. “We’re bound to come across the vent to the outside world soon.”

She was right. Within five minutes they hit a solid silver wall. The only option was to head up the square, vertical shaft. Another grate blocked the way about six feet overhead, but beyond the metal they saw an indigo blue sky with stars that were quickly being put out, one by one.

Eleanor thanked the gods the research center was only single story. If the vent rose up several stories, they’d be fucked.

Relieved she’d thought to pocket the scalpel—it was a weapon after all—she reached into the back pocket of her pants and pulled out the slim, cool metal. She passed the scalpel to Robert, careful to slide between him and the vent, not wanted to accidently cut him in the confined space.

“Here,” she said. “Work your magic.”

Robert took the blade and squeezed himself into the cramped space, wriggling shoulders and arms to reach over his head, standing to his full height. The metal walls pressed in on every side except one and he reached up, up toward the stars, and put the scalpel to work.

The time dragged by painful slowly as Eleanor waited for Robert to loosen the screws and pop the grate. Jimmy’s presence behind her made her whole body tighten with nerves. His heavy breathing filled the tight space and his body odor had taken on the rank, stifling smell of rotting meat.

Finally, the small screws pinged to the bottom of the vent and Robert was able to push the grate out of its home. He hooked his fingers over the edge and hauled himself up and onto the roof. Within moments, his face reappeared, blocking out the sky. Eleanor wriggled herself into the vent—an easier job than Robert had because of her size—and lifted her arms up toward him. He reached down, his warm strong palms catching around both of hers, and he hauled her up.

Eleanor tumbled onto the roof, gasping in a lungful of relatively clean air. To have the new day’s fresh breeze against her face felt better than anything she could remember.

“Guys…” The weak call echoed up the vent and Eleanor and Robert shared a glance.

“Is he okay?” asked Robert under his voice.

“I don’t think so, but we can’t leave him down there.”

Robert nodded and leaned back over the shaft, reaching down to hoist Jimmy up to join them.

The three of them sat on the flat, asphalt roof. Above, the sky was beginning to lighten. Hard to believe they’d been trapped in the building all night. In the increasing light, they saw more of the dead, many of them now seeming to stumble around without purpose, a contrast to the fast, driven creatures they’d witnessed before.

“Why the change?” whispered Eleanor, not wanting to be heard.

“I don’t know,” said Robert, frowning. “Do you think the worms only have a certain life-span? Perhaps they die quickly.”

“Hmmm,” she said, her mind whirring. “The only organisms I know that have such a short life cycle are one’s who’ve spawned.”

Robert rolled his eyes, “Great.”

Jimmy’s face was white, a sheen of sweat coating his skin. “I don’t feel well,” he said again, only this time his voice was faint.

Eleanor and Robert exchanged a worried glance.
Past the stumbling dead rose the high, solid metal security gates, allowing access to and from the facility. Beyond the high, barbed wire tipped walls, beyond the locked gates, was freedom.

Jimmy twisted to all fours and vomited on the asphalt roofing, his whole body straining like a cat with a fur ball. As he sat up, he began to cry again.

“I kicked him off me,” he said. “Kyle was only a kid and he begged for my help and I just kicked him off.”

Eleanor and Robert shared another glance. Eleanor patted Jimmy’s shoulder, trying not to grimace at feel of his cold, sweat-soaked clothing. The stench coming off him now was almost unbearable, making her want to cover her face with her hand.

“It’s not your fault,” she said. “The only things to blame are those fucking things down there.”

“I should have let him go first. He’d have been faster than me. He would have got up without being bitten.”

“You don’t know that.”

“He was young. He had his whole life ahead of him. Now both of us are goners.”

“You’ll be fine,” Eleanor said. “We just need to get you some medical attention.”

Jimmy gave a sound half-way between and cry and a laugh. “I don’t think there are many medics up here.”

“We’ll figure out a way to get down. All we’ve got to do is create some kind of distraction, get the dead things away from the main gates, and then we make a run for it.”

Her comment hung over them like a cloud. They knew Jimmy wasn’t running anywhere.

The dead milled around below them, as yet unaware of the live humans above. The gates seemed so far away; an almost impossible distance.

Jimmy climbed to his feet. “I think I’ve got an idea for a distraction,” he said, his voice grating and weak. “You two take care of each other.” And with that, he broke into a run, heading to the back of the roof.

“Jimmy!” Eleanor yelled, but he’d caught them by surprise and before they’d even managed to leap to their feet, Jimmy plummeted off the edge.

Eleanor and Robert stared after him in shock.

The feasting below began, a shrieking of both rage and pleasure. As far as they could see, all of the dead ran toward the sound, fleeing from the space between the roof and freedom.

Robert seized their chance. “Go!” he yelled, pushing Eleanor toward the edge. The drop looked like a frighteningly long way, but they had no choice. Robert went first, backing off the side until he hung by his fingers, and then dropped the rest of the way as silently as possible.

“Come on,” he hissed. “I’ll catch you.”

Eleanor copied Robert’s actions, skirting backward until her feet hung over the edge. With her heart pounding, she hooked her fingers onto the edge of the flat roof. The muscles in her back and arms trembled as they took her body weight and she dangled in mid-air.

“Let go!” Robert hissed.

Eleanor took a deep breath, released her grip and dropped into his arms. Pressed against his chest, she looked up at him. Their eyes locked for the briefest of seconds before they remembered where they were.

He grabbed her hand and they took off toward the gates, Robert pulling her along.

Behind them came the sound of pounding feet, followed by more screams.

The dead were coming.

The scientists’ feet hit the ground, breath gasping in and out of their lungs. They hit the big metal gates at a run, slamming up against them. The same card pinned to their belts allowed access to and from the facility.

Eleanor swiped her card. The dead were getting closer—things with decayed faces and rotten fingers, reaching for them. She tried to swipe the gate, her fingers fumbling the card, almost dropping it. Too fast, she tried again, and the lock didn’t register.

“Hurry,” urged Robert.

“God damn it,” she swore, but tried again and the gates buzzed green.

Eleanor and Robert burst from the facility, out into the real world. They slammed the gate behind them and the barrier automatically locked, the light showing red. Bodies hit the other side like flies hitting a windshield, their groans and screeches filling the early morning. Eleanor wondered if Jimmy was among them.

Robert’s hand found Eleanor’s, their fingers entwining.

“What now?” he said, as they stood on the side of a deserted, narrow road.

“I don’t know. But whatever this thing is, I think the authorities will need my help. There are only thirty forensic entomologists in the whole of the United States and I’m one of them.”

Robert set his jaw. “I’d better do my best to make sure you don’t get killed then.”

Eleanor smiled and squeezed his hand.

For the moment, the area they were in remained quiet but they had no idea what to expect as they headed toward the city. The horrifying world they’d found themselves in contained unimaginable terrors but they’d found a new strength.

Each other.


Like what you've read? Marissa Farrar's short story collection, Where the Dead Live, is available to buy from Amazon for only $0.99.

If you would like to catch up on any of our posts or get a preview of the rest of this month's stories, you can purchase the eBook, Digital Digest, Volume 1, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only $0.99!

Marissa Farrar
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Copyright © 2011 Marissa Farrar. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

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