Chapter 4: Day Zero

4 Days Before Initial Infection - Geneva, TX


Castro would find himself awake in a world of visual distortion as his partner shook him from the driver's seat of their SUV, "Stay awake dude, you're concussed, you can't be falling asleep on me."
Night had become day, and Smith maintained his distance between Gonzales' vehicle, which was a barely-visible dot amongst the heat mirage on the horizon.  Castro squinted in an attempt to focus his vision, but it would clear itself up in time for him to make his assessment, "We're running low on fuel, which means that he's running low on fuel.  So I say we whack this motherfucker as soon as he stops for gas,"  Castro rubbed the side of his head in a weak attempt to alleviate the massive amount of pain in which he was suffering. 
"So what do we do, Cas?  Just hop out when he hops out and light him up?"  Smith alternated his alert gaze between his partner and the road before him.



"That's one possibility.  Another possibility would consist of us waiting around to find out why he tried to kill us.  Gonzo fucked us over for a reason.  You don't just kill five of your employees for fun.  My guess is that he took something out of that facility, and leaving us there to die would make us the fall-guys.  I don't know exactly what kind of shit we've gotten ourselves into, but I know that it's big," Castro decided that his statement would suffice, and he decided to light himself a cigarette as Smith responded.
"The way I see it, every second he's alive is just another chance for him to get away.  I think we should pop his ass as soon as he stops then move on with our lives," Smith voice was shaking with frustration as well as fading adrenaline.
"Walt, this ain't the fuckin' desert.  We're not in the Marines anymore, and as far as I can tell, we're not contractors anymore, either.  There are consequences for wasting people now, especially if we don't exactly have proof that he did anything wrong.  The best thing we can do right now is stay focused, watch him, and wait for an opportunity to act.  He's not a smart guy.  If he was, we'd be dead right now.  So we just gotta stay thinking, got it?" His tone was as stern as his stare.  Castro wanted to be absolutely certain that Smith was on his level.
"Felix, you're my brother.  I'll back your plays no matter what.  If you say we wait, then we wait," Smith's attention was immediately diverted forward, which caught Castro's scrutiny as well.  Both men watched with intensity as Gonzales exited the interstate.
"Easy bro," Castro instructed, "keep the distance.  We got the element of surprise on our side, let's keep it that way."

Day Zero - The Wood Country Motel - Geneva, TX

To say that Gonzales was focused would be an understatement.  The motel room he had rented just a few days earlier provided him with the basic essentials of on-the-go-living.  One of these essentials was the office desk before him which acted as his workstation for his most recent improvised explosive.  The weapon had a small explosive charge at the center of a circular collection of glass cola bottles which each contained a portion of the blood samples that he had acquired from the McKay Research Facility just a few days prior.  He was skillful with his soldering iron, and he applied this skill to unite another cellphone to the base charge of the bomb.  Upon completing the last of his tasks, he set the iron on the desk before stretching his arms upward to relieve the stress placed on his back by the inadequate padding of the desk chair.  He stood from his seat after satisfying his strained lumbar and grabbed his own cell phone as he stood.  His thumb found his desired speed-dial option, which would provide him with a dial tone, and an eventual answer.
"It's Gonzo.  The package is ready for delivery.  I'll be expecting the second half of my payment by midnight, tonight.  As long as you keep the fuckin' heat off of me, we're good.  Keep in touch."
His thumb deactivated the call and he tossed the phone onto the hotel bed before letting his weight free fall into the cushioning comfort before him.  He spent no time contemplating the potential repercussions of his actions, as he was morally defunct.  As far as he would allow himself to understand, this was just another job.  His last.

---

"What the fuck is this dude doing?  I bet he's ordered every porno on the fuckin' list," Smith, who was using his fingers to pry open the blinds of the motel room's front window, was agitated by the wait.  Their vehicle, which they had determined to be easily-recognizable to their target, was parked at a grocery store adjacent to the motel.  Their room sat across the motel's courtyard, providing them with the perfect view of their suspect.
It was Smith's turn to watch for activity, which explained Castro's reclined position on the motel room bed in front of the television.  He was unable to pay attention to his friend, as a breaking news report had warranted his fullest attention.  Smith continued vocalizing his annoyance, "I bet this fuckin' guy is jerking it to princess cartoons, dude.  He's probably in there right now, sitting in a pile of jizz towels, crying his fuckin' eyes out because he knows he's about to get dry-fucked.  If we don't pop this fucker first, the cops are gonna fist-fuck this bitch for murder.  I hope he ends up in-" Castro was quick to cut off his partner's rant, as he grew increasingly distressed by the picture on the television.
"Walter, shut the fuck up and look at the T.V."  Smith did as he was told, and he soon felt the fear that had engulfed his friend.
On the television were military photos of both men, topped by a bold font which read, "McKay Research Facility Bombing Suspects".  The picture disappeared in favor of a video displaying the smoldering remains of the facility, which was surrounded by police vehicles, yellow tape, and men in Hazmat suits.  Castro rapidly smashed the television remote to increase the television's volume.  They were greeted by the voice of the generic blond television reporter and her story.
"...We have just received word that the FBI has officially named two suspects in the ongoing investigation of the recent terrorist bombing of the McKay Research Facility in Huntsville, Texas.  Walter Smith and Felix Castro, both formerly of the United States Marine Corps, are now the center of a nationwide manhunt after their alleged involvement in Monday's bombing of a Texas-based chemical research facility.  The bombing attack, which left three facility employees and five private security contractors dead, is being labeled as the worst act of homegrown terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing.  Authorities are asking for your help in reporting these men, but wishes to maintain that they are armed and extremely dangerous.  If you have any tips or information related to these men, you can contact the FBI at-" Castro had heard all he needed to hear.
"Grab everything, we gotta get the fuck out of here, now."

The men were in luck, as the desk clerk was totally oblivious to the breaking news story.  It was upon their jog to their vehicle that the form of Gonzales finally appeared from his room's doorway, duffel bag in hand.  Smith, in his uncontainable frustration drew his pistol, but Castro grabbed his arm.
"No!  He hasn't seen us yet.  Get to the fucking vehicle and chill the fuck out."  Smith was silently livid, but he did as he was told.  The rush to the vehicle was a hectic shuffle, but they managed to make it without detection as they watched Gonzales enter and then exit the motel lobby and enter his own vehicle.
Smith let his rage pour forth, "How the fuck did that motherfucker burn us, dude?!  What the fuck?!  Let me pop this motherfucker!"
Castro's voice boomed in an effort to calm his friend down, "Are we dead?  Are we in handcuffs?  Are the cops right fucking behind us?  No!  Chill the fuck out!"  Castro lowered his voice once Smith's resistance was broken, "When we are dead and in the fucking ground, you can lose your cool, got it?"  Smith shook his head, settled in his seat, and said nothing as they once again began their pursuit of Gonzales.

---

It was the Geneva County Fall Festival in which Gonzales made his stop.  He parallel parked his vehicle at a metered space, but failed to provide any change for the meter.  Smith and Castro followed suit.  Being dressed in newly-purchased generic store-brand clothing, the men blended in nicely with the abundance of festival-goers that littered the downtown area.  The men did their best to keep a close eye on Gonzales, who carried the same duffel bag that he had carried out of the motel.
"There are way too many people here to put a round in him.  We can't risk wasting any civilians,"  Castro scanned over the crowd, ignoring the abundance of Halloween decorations and costume-clad children that surrounded them, "There's at least a couple-hundred people here, we're gonna have to wait."
Smith spotted a nearby bookstore which had an upstairs cafe and patio, and decided that it would be an adequate high-ground for observation, "Yo, Cas.  I'm gonna post up at that cafe so we don't lose him.  Get on the comm, I'll let you know what he's doing."  Castro nodded before inserting his earpiece as he continued his pursuit along main street.
Smith reached his position, earpiece in place, and sent Castro a confirmation that they were online. Castro responded, "We're good.  Keep me posted.  Watch out for cops."
It wasn't long until Gonzales reached the center of Geneva's downtown, which lay before their municipal building.  This would be where the largest crowd was gathered for the Halloween costume contest.  The town's mayor boasted the town's greatness from the stage at the center of the municipal building's courtyard, a stone statue of blind justice being his backdrop.  Gonzales pushed his way to what he considered the center of the crowd before setting the duffel bag down.
"Smith, he just set the bag down, now he's moving away from the crowd.  I don't like this.  I gotta make a move.  I can't let him whack these people.  If the cops grab me, make a mad dash for Mexico.  I'll do everything I can to clear your name with the feds, but I think this shit is waist-deep.  Don't be a fucking hero, bro, just get the fuck out of here."  With that, Castro tossed the earpiece away and moved double-time after Gonzales.  Smith yelled for confirmation into the earpiece microphone, but received nothing.  Upon clearing the stairs of the cafe, he moved in full sprint toward the edge of the crowd.
Gonzales had moved to the outermost edge of the crowd when he removed his cellphone from his pocket.  Castro, who was still several feet behind Gonzales, began forcing his outstretched arms forward in an attempt to move people out of his way.  He desperately needed to close the distance between them.
The very moment that Castro grabbed the back of Gonzales' collar, was the moment that Gonzales pressed the 'send' button of his cell phone.   The call was placed, which activated the vibrating mechanism of the cell phone attached to the bomb.  The vibrating mechanism of the receiving phone emitted its electrical charge which set off the charge of the bomb.  Upon its ignition, the improvised explosive ripped outward, shattering its glass surroundings in all directions.  These shards of glass acted as tiny bits of shrapnel, ripping through the clothing and skin of the people unlucky enough to be in the path of the propelled glass.  Following the glass, were the blood samples infected with the Alpha 27 virus, finding their ways into the cuts and scrapes caused by the initial explosions of glass.
Castro heard the explosion behind him, but suspected the bomb to be a failure due to its lack of volume.  As he turned his head to see the beginnings of panic behind him, Gonzales ceased the moment to throw a hard right hook into his pursuer's jaw.  The blow sent Castro backward, his arms coming up in a late defensive maneuver.  Gonzales turned back around and ran like the devil was chasing him.  Smith was not far behind Gonzales as he made quick right turn into a nearby alley.  As Smith turned the corner blindly to follow, he was greeted by hot rounds being fired at him from Gonzales' waiting pistol.  None of the silenced shots fired met their mark, but they were enough to cause Smith to rethink his pursuit, giving Gonzales the opportunity to leap onto the rails of a building's fire escape.  After hoisting himself up, he began climbing the stairs with as much speed as his fatigue would allow.
Smith had once again drawn his pistol, his back placed firmly against the wall, out of Gonzales' sight.  Castro had made a full recovery from the punch and soon found himself next to his partner.
"I think his bomb was a dud.  There are a few people hurt, but I don't think anyone is dead.  Where's Gonzo?" Smith used his head to motion toward the corner to his right.
"I think he's waiting for me to stick my head around, dude."  Smith's breathing was heavy due to both his adrenaline and the running it required to catch up to Gonzales.
"Fuck this motherfucker," Castro had reached the limit of his patience.  He turned the corner with his pistol raised, doing a quick scan of the narrow alley.  He caught a glimpse of Gonzales as he reached the top of the roof-access fire escape.  Castro didn't hesitate.  He fired three shots; the first would impact against the brick structure of the building, the second emitted a spark and metallic thump as it smashed into a rail belonging to the fire escape, and the third caught Gonzales in the lower back.  Gonzales arched forward before disappearing onto the building's rooftop, out of Castro's view.
Smith quickly joined up with his partner, and they both took their turns climbing the fire escape with their pistols drawn, awaiting an ambush.  Castro was the first to poke his head above the roof's ledge.  He spotted Gonzales face-down, crawling toward the rooftop access door of the building, a trail of blood smearing behind him.  Castro lifted his weight upward, and onto the roof, Smith following close behind.   The men were careful to avoid the blood trail provided by Gonzales' wound, as they followed his crawling form.
"Hey buddy!  Where the fuck are you going?" Smith exclaimed as he launched the steel toe of his boot into Gonzales' rib cage.  Gonzales answered with an anguished yelp, which was muffled by the screams of the frightened townsfolk below them.
"How many times did this little bitch try to kill us, Felix?  Let's see, there was the Research office," Smith kicked his downed opponent once again, and was greeted another scream, "then you tried to run the both of us over in the research facility parking lot," another kick, another scream followed by whimpering, "and then you tried to shoot me a minute ago, you fucking piece of shit."  Smith continued his spewing of obscenities as he threw a flurry of feet into Gonzales' ribcage.
When Smith ceased his onslaught, Gonzales attempted to appeal to their senses of monetary reason, speaking through bloodied teeth, "Please.  Don't fuckin' kill me,"  Gonzales began to pant as he spoke, sheer panic taking control of him.  This was understandable, as Castro had his pistol level with Gonzales' head, "Seriously, don't.  Think about it, how much do you think I'm being paid for all of this?  Imagine a fucking number, okay?  Imagine this number can can erase all of your bills, all of your debts, all your other financial bullshit, and put you on a pretty fuckin' leg to stand on.  Now take that number and double it.  That's what I'll give you.  All you have to do is take me to the fuckin' hospital.  I'll tell them I got popped in the confusion, I'll clear your names, I'll do everything, just please don't kill me."  His eyes were as wide as the physical limitations of his face would allow.  He did not believe that his lifespan was any longer than his plea.
Smith observed Castro's demeanor, and he could sense his deterrence from the original idea to put Gonzales out of his misery, "Come the fuck on, dude.  You can't be serious.  Waste this motherfucker!  You think you're gonna see a fuckin' dime once he's sitting in his comfy hospital bed with nurse tits, morphine, and jell-o to ease his pain?  Kill this bitch."  Smith jerked his pointer finger forward with each pronunciation in an attempt to show Castro his level of seriousness.
"Walt, shut up, and help me carry him," Castro's statement ushered a repeated vocalization of gratitude from Gonzo and arguments of disbelief from his partner, but he shunned them both.  Greeted by yelps of pain from Gonzales and angry muttering from Smith, Castro hoisted their injured target onto his shoulders and proceeded to carry him down the steps of the fire escape's metal staircase.
Their path would lead them through the chaos created by Gonzo's bomb.  The streets were alive with unrelenting panic, cries, and confusion.  Parents inspected their children for wounds while police officers and other city officials did their best to contain the mayhem.
"Do you see what you did?  Look at this shit, motherfucker.  You did this," Smith reveled in the harassment of his incapacitated assailant, "I hope when they're cutting out that bullet, the surgeon slips and slices of your dick, too."  Despite the seriousness of the situation, Castro was still able to smile.

6 comments:

  1. Cool story, bro!
    Following your blog

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  2. Well, seeing as the last comment was made November of 2010 and it's now August 2011, I guess this is the end of the story...too bad, I wonder where it was going. I'll check back once in a while to see if it gets picked up.

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  3. Just found this story I hope you intend to finis at some point it is an amazing piece of ZPAW fiction loved every word

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