Book: Crucifixion

Previous: Chapter 7
Next: Chapter 9

 

Flight operations was a couple of hundred yards from the flight line and as I ran an additional rifle on full auto sounded.  Damn it.  Didn’t the Air Force train their personnel not to waste ammo?  Regardless of popular conception based on movies full auto is not the way to go.  The rifle is hard as hell to hold on your target and you will wind up spraying bullets uselessly all over the place, hitting nothing.  These guys needed to be using semi-auto or burst mode and picking their targets.

Pounding across the pavement towards the building I angled towards a steel access door set in the wall facing me, bringing my rifle to the ready position as I closed inside 50 yards.  As I approached the door slammed open and two figures tumbled through it and fell to the ground.  They were both dressed in AF uniforms, and I had to close within a few feet before I could tell which was the infected and which wasn’t.  They rolled over and the infected wound up on top, grasping its victim and struggling to reach his throat.  I stepped in and kicked the infected in the side of the head.  I was wearing steel toed combat boots and if I had been an NFL kicker would have just made a field goal from the 50 yard line. 

The infected’s head caved in and the body went limp.  I reached down and grabbed the back of its belt and hauled the dead body off the struggling man.  Tossing the infected aside I reached a hand down and was surprised when I pulled Captain Roach to his feet.  Roach was in the Air Force Security Force – the AF version of an MP – and I’d had a run in with the officious little prick when we had landed the previous night.  I’d won the battle and we’d not parted as friends.  Fortunately my newly minted Oak Leaf carried more authority than his Captain’s bars so it looked like I had won the war as well.

“You’re on me,” I told him, yanked the door to flight ops open and stepped inside.

I found myself in a lighted hallway lined with offices and the sounds of a firefight were louder and coming from the far end of the building.  Rifle at my shoulder I started advancing down the hall, not waiting to see if Roach was following.  I bypassed closed doors.  I had yet to encounter an infected that could work a door knob.  Open doors however slowed me down as I had to clear each room before proceeding, not willing to risk leaving an infected to my rear.  I thought about just closing the doors and moving on, but opted for clearing each unsecured room as I went.  The first two rooms I cleared were empty of personnel, but the third was occupied.

A female clerk huddled behind an overturned conference table as an infected male officer leaned over the edge of the table and tried to reach her.  He was snarling and waving his arms in frustration, but didn’t have enough mental faculties remaining to just pull the table out of his way.  Conserving ammo I drew the Kukri and buried half the blade in the back of his neck, severing his spinal column.  He dropped without a sound and I motioned the girl, an Air Force Airman, to stay put.  Exiting the office I closed the door behind me to keep her safe and was pleasantly surprised to see Roach standing in the hall with his pistol in hand at low ready, scanning back and forth for any threats.  He was still a prick.

Moving on down the hall I cleared two more rooms, both empty, and started up the stairs to the second floor where the large flight operations center was located.  The firing had stopped and that was either a good thing – all of the infected had been put down, or a bad thing – the infected had won the battle.  The stairs were two half flights with a landing in the middle that forced a 180 degree turn to continue up.  Rifle raised to engage any targets on the stairs above I stepped onto the landing and swiveled to cover the upper flight of stairs.  An infected female screamed and launched herself down the stairs when she saw me.  I pulled the trigger and the rifle spat out a three round burst that stitched across her chest and head.  All animation left the body and its momentum carried it down the stairs to crash into the wall next to me.

Stepping over the body I slowly climbed the upper flight and paused at the top.  Hundreds of spent shell casings lay on the shiny floor, the walls and ceiling ripped apart presumably by the inaccurate full auto firing I had heard.  Three dead infected lay in the hall, pools of blood looking even redder against the polished linoleum.  The double doors that led into the operations center were closed and also showed damage from multiple bullet strikes.  Moving to the left side of the double doors I motioned Roach to take up position on the right.  I listened for a moment and could hear movement from inside the ops center, but couldn’t tell if it was survivors or infected.

Meeting Roach’s eyes with mine I gave hand signals to indicate I heard movement and was going to open the door.  He pushed his shoulder into the wall, adjusted his grip on his pistol and nodded.  Using the barrel of my rifle I gently pushed on the door and it started to swing in.  Immediately full auto fire blasted through the wood, showering the hall as well as Roach and me with splinters.

“Cease fire!  Friendlies coming in,” I shouted.  Roach started to step in front of the door but I stopped him.  Just because I had yelled out didn’t mean whoever was firing that rifle wasn’t still so freaked out they wouldn’t open up on anything that moved.  After a moment a female voice I recognized as Major Masuka called out for us to come ahead.  Stepping in front of the door I pushed it open with my left elbow as I kept my rifle up and ready.  The rifle’s muzzle was the first thing to enter the room then I pushed the door all the way open and stepped fully into the opening.

Bodies were everywhere in the room and it stunk of blood, bowels and gun powder.  Most of the flat panel displays that were mounted on the walls were shattered and the entire bank of windows that faced the flight line had been blown out by gunfire.  I just had time to take this all in before my legs were nearly taken out from under me.  Dog, frantically happy to see me, forgot that he weighed over 100 pounds and wouldn’t stop jumping against me until I leaned over, hugged him with one arm and scratched his belly with my free hand.  Straightening up I came face to face with Rachel who wrapped her arms around me for a quick hug then stepped back and punched my chest.  Hard.

“That’s for going off without us,” she said and went back across the room where she had been giving first aid to the injured.  I heard a snort from Roach behind me and I thought about turning around and breaking his nose for him.  Fortunately for him Masuka walked over to me just then.

“Your heads up saved a lot of people,” she said, holding a compress to her arm.

“What happened to you?”  I asked, gesturing at the bandage.

“Stray round,” she replied.  “It happens.”  She tried to shrug it off.  I looked around the room and spotted two Airmen in full battle rattle, rifles held across their chests, standing at the far end of the room.

“Yours?”  I asked, turning to Roach.

He nodded his head.  Turning to the two MPs I whistled to get their attention and waved them over to where I was standing.  They glanced at each other then walked timidly across the room, stepping over bodies, and came to attention in front of me.  I told them to stand at ease.

“Were you two the ones doing all the firing on full auto?” I asked. 

The Senior Airman, senior of the two, swallowed audibly before answering, “Yes, Sir.”

“Good work keeping these people safe,” I said.  “But, I want you to put those rifles in semi mode and practice some fire discipline.  If you get caught out in the open and go rock ‘n roll you’ll burn through your ammo too fast and wind up somebody’s lunch.  Understand?”

They both acknowledged and stepped away when Captain Roach motioned them to follow him out to the hall.  When they moved away I went over to Masuka.

“Did you get word to Colonel Crawford?”  I asked.

“Yes.  A Black Hawk out of Fort Campbell picked him up a while ago and I got word to him over the radio.”

“Did he make it to Fort Campbell?”

“Don’t know, and haven’t had time to check.  We’ve got two Globemasters orbiting while we dealt with this, whatever the hell this is, and…”

A massive explosion from the far end of the flight line cut off whatever it was she was about to say. 

Previous: Chapter 7
Next: Chapter 9