Katie and Randy spent a reasonably comfortable night in the office. The place was not too cold and nothing tried to break in and kill them. Randy was awakened several times by operators asking him to check in, but they both slept far more than they had thought they would. They eventually awoke and cautiously headed to the showers, which were just as empty as they were the night before.
Randy went first and Katie inspected his wound as he was drying himself off. It was oozing blood and there were red streaks running in all directions from the wound. He looked at her as she examined it, when she was done Randy said, “Infected. Fuck.”
“I wish I could say otherwise,” she whispered, her eyes getting moist.
“Ah, fuck it, it don't mean anything, I'll get medevaced today anyway, after this next little job. Get done cleaning up so we can go back and I can check in.”
Katie undressed thinking of how different things had been the last time she was here. This morning there was absolutely no charge of electricity between the two of them, like something was missing. It was probably the adrenaline high they had been on at the time. This morning was all about surviving again, carrying out whatever mission the powers that be threw their way. She finished and got dressed in the same clothing that smelled of sweat and gunpowder from the day before. Like Randy, she didn't put on her camo suit, the material was thin and didn't weigh much, but it was not gas permeable, it trapped sweat and tended to heat up the wearer rather quickly.
They made it back to the office without seeing anyone and Randy called in to headquarters. The people on the other line were surprised to hear him. They immediately called for him to switch channels and use a different encryption key for the broadcast. The unusual part about this was they called for Randy to use a key that was not as secure as the ones the mission had gone out with, the key was a personal key given to each member of the team in case the general communications network was compromised.
When he re-established communication the first thing, the woman on the other line did was feed him a new encryption string on a different channel. She told him to check back on a third band if he could not establish a secured connection within five minutes. Inputting the key in the field was not difficult, just time consuming, the key consisted of sixty-four random characters used to safeguard communications, one wrong entry and no link would be possible. Randy entered the string into his radio and had Katie double check it for him before attempting to use it. Within moments, they had a line to headquarters that was as secure as they could make it.
Randy's side of the conversation consisted of monosyllable responses, along with much head nodding, plus a few questions, one of which was “So check in every hour until then?”
He didn't mention that he was wounded and needed to be flown out. When he finished his conversation he leaned back in the office chair and said, “Don't.”
Katie had started to ask why he hadn't asked for getting medically evacuated. Instead, she asked, “Why?”
“Right now there is no way for us to get out. The zombies still have the anti-air positions and the Patriot battery. The ships could probably destroy it, but command wants it intact. They are getting a team together to take it by force. The ships are out on lake Michigan waiting for something to change.”
“You're going to die.”
Randy nodded, then shrugged his shoulders, “It looks that way. HQ said there are some people coming into town on the train, running it up from Iowa and he transferred their radio codes to me to contact them when they arrive. We are supposed to go back with them.”
Katie looked at him for a few minutes, he returned her stare, then they both broke out laughing. Finally, Katie asked, “So we're basically fucked then?”
“Well and truly.”
“What are the guys on the train supposed to do?”
“Find the zombie boss and kill him.”
“There is a zombie boss?”
“Yeah, I know. Someone thinks there is. And they sent someone else who is supposed to be able to find him.”
“Find him? How?”
“Do I look like I will laugh?” Katie asked.
“Yeah.” Randy paused, “The guy they are sending can detect zombies.”
Katie laughed, she laughed so hard she had to sit down. Randy joined her after a moment, then said, “It is funny, but not that funny.”
“I just keep thinking that I can detect zombies too. In fact, I can do better than that; if I go out in the street, I attract zombies.”
“This is different, he is supposed to be able to sense the powerful ones, see where they are from up to three or four miles away.”
“So he is a nutjob. Our lives will be thrown away on a hair-brained scheme? Fuck this, we can't do any good here, let's just bug out. Get a car, or truck, and drive away.”
“They are serious, he demonstrated his ability.”
“So what good does that do?”
“They didn't say, exactly. I think the general idea is that they point him out to you and you shoot boss zombie in the head.”
“Same question, what good does that do?”
“The zombies have been massing on the border with Iowa. Massing but not attacking, they are just accumulating there and doing nothing but waiting. They think the zombie here is making them wait until there is enough of them to push across the Mississippi and take them all out quickly. So if we kill the leader the mob will disperse, or so the logic goes.”
“Great. When does this psychic arrive?”
“Today, in a few hours at most.”
“Good. I would hate to wait long, God knows I've lived long enough. We could still get out.”
“Nah.” Randy said, pointing towards his leg wound, “I think I will see this one through.”
Katie nodded her head slowly, “If you're in. I'm in.”