This is Issue #26 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled See You Soon. This is the second issue in Volume 5.
Issue 26 - See You SoonEdit
Chloe Connors stands in front of one of the infected a few of the soldiers working for the facility caught earlier that day. She looks at it through her transparent protective visor and grimaces. Its rotten neck, arms, and legs are clamped against a steel wall, but she can’t help be feel uneasy at its snapping jaws.
She knows what she’s supposed to be doing: finding out which part of the brain is most sensitive. Does hitting one in the frontal lobe kill it faster? Or maybe in the back, where the parietal lobe is located? Does severing the brain stem render them useless?
Chloe sighs and stares at the infected with pity. It was once a female with brown hair, but that hair has now fallen out, leaving ugly bald patches. The grey skin on its face, arms, and chest is peeling off, and its rancid mouth is a pit of rotten, corroded teeth and black gums. But its eyes are the most interesting to Chloe. The irises are grey, like the rest of the infected, and the area around them is an ugly green. But even as it snaps at her, wanting nothing more than to eat her flesh, Chloe thinks she can see...something. Life. She wants to believe there’s something in there, a remnant of the infected’s past self.
Perhaps it’s just a delusion to think the infected have even a sliver of their past in them. She’s brought it up with Dr. Stowe and Dr. Choi, but they pretty much blew off her suggestion. They harshly told her to focus on the task at hand--finding a cure or a vaccine.
Chloe grabs a pair of gloves from the table next to her and slips them on. An assortment of sharp weapons lie on the table, and she picks up a KA-BAR fighting knife. She grips the leather handle tightly and aims for the infected’s forehead.
She hates this part. She hates everything about it. The sound the knife makes when it enters the skull, the infected letting out one last breath before it dies, the feeling of killing something that once was a person. Chloe takes a deep breath and jabs the knife into the corpse’s forehead. Its snapping jaws stop for a moment and it stares at her. It lets out one last pathetic groan, and then its head hangs forward, lifeless. Chloe pulls the knife out and sets it back on the table.
It reacted just as the last two she tested did when she tested injuring the frontal lobe: they don’t immediately die when stabbed. She pulls off her gloves and is writing a few notes down when she hears a knock at the door. She turns and sees Dr. Stowe peeking through the window. Chloe waves her in.
“How’s everything here?” Stowe asks as she closes the door behind her.
“Great,” Chloe says flatly. “The highlight of my day.” She pulls off her protective visor and turns to Dr. Stowe.
“I know, it’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it has to be done. And maybe you need to get your hands dirty a little.”
Chloe doesn’t respond for a few seconds, but instead builds up the courage to ask the question she’s been thinking about since the human subjects were brought in. “Dr. Stowe, I have a question.”
“What exactly are you planning to do to those people Reese brought in?”
“I was planning on having a briefing on that later today,” Dr. Stowe replies.
“Yes, I understand. I’d just like to know because I wouldn’t want to be a part of anything...unethical.”
“Ethics are not in the question when dealing with an outbreak like this, Chloe. It’s for the good of everyone we do what’s necessary.”
“It’s not good for the people you’re planning to test on.” Chloe immediately regrets her remark as soon as she says it.
Dr. Stowe’s face is as hard as stone. “You need to understand that this is not some disease that’s going to go away on its own. Either ignore whatever morals you may have and proceed with any experiments or tests that are necessary, or you’re not welcome to continue working here.” She softens her tone. “That’s the last thing I’d want to do. I see amazing promise in you, and I know how much you contribute to our research. Don’t let your beliefs get in the way of that. Understood?”
Chloe swallows hard. “Of course, Dr. Stowe.”
Chloe enters Billie’s room and takes a seat on the chair near the desk, a good distance away from where Billie sits on the bed. Behind Chloe is Corporal Ackerman, in case the subject becomes violent or uncooperative. “I just want to ask you some questions,” Chloe says. The first time she tried, Billie gave her the silent treatment and didn’t even look her way. It looks like she’ll have the same reaction now. Billie doesn’t even move, acting as if they haven’t even entered the room.
“She deaf? What's wrong with her?” Ackerman says.
“Dylan. Shut up, and let me handle it.” She turns back to Billie. “Would you mind if I ask you some questions, ma’am?”
“I’m not gonna answer your fucking questions,” Billie snaps at her.
“It’s just simple stuff: your name, your birthday, medical history.” She doesn’t respond, and Chloe sighs. “Hey, Dylan. Could you leave for a minute?”
“Why?” Ackerman asks.
“Because I asked you to. Do I need to tell Reese that you were interfering with procedure?”
“Okay, okay,” Ackerman says quickly. “I’ll leave.” He exits and paces up and down the corridor.
“It’ll be a lot easier if you just answer the questions now,” Chloe says. “Not complying would mean having to get someone else to ask, and most of the people here aren’t as...patient as me, I guess you could say. So please. It’s for your own good.”
Billie is silent for a long time. This lady sounds sincere, but she can’t be sure. You can never be sure. Billie suddenly asks, “Is everyone else okay?”
“...For the most part.”
Billie snaps her head around to look at her. “‘For the most part?’ What’s that mean?”
“That young skinny guy. The tall one, with the cut on his face?”
“One of the soldiers got a bit frustrated with him. He’s not seriously injured of anything, but...but he’s hurt.” She’s not supposed to be saying this, but it spills out of her mouth anyway. “And Pruitt had to be detained. But your friends are okay. Don’t worry.”
“Are you...are you going to do weird shit to us?” Billie asks.
Chloe swallows, suddenly nervous. “I wouldn’t be the appropriate person to ask that question. I’m not the head scientist here.” There’s a pause. “I’m sorry, but we should really continue with procedure.” She pulls out the same recording device Dr. Stowe had and turns it on. “Have you changed your mind?”
Billie sighs. “Just...hurry up and ask what you need to.”
A few hours after Dr. Stowe left, a private came into Cole’s room and released him from the leather straps. Cole now paces around the room, rubbing his sore wrists. His anxiety continues to build the longer he’s trapped in the room. All he wants are answers, which no one seems to want to give him.
He rubs his sore neck where Corporal Hall injected the needle and hopes no one else got the same harsh treatment he did. If they’re alive, that is. This frustrates Cole so much, not knowing whether everyone else is okay, that he punches the wall a few times. He leans his forehead against the wall as his eyes start to sting.
“Cole?” The voice comes from the other side of the wall, from the room next to him. His eyes go wide. Are these walls really that thin?
“Hannah?” Cole feels a rush of happiness. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. They just took my blood and asked me a bunch of questions,” she says, her voice slightly muffled because of the wall between them. She feels a sharp pain in her jaw at every word, even though being hit with Corporal Ackerman’s gun didn’t cause any serious injuries.
“Some doctor did the same to me. Did you see anyone else?”
“No, only Finn. I think he’s in the room across from me.” There’s a short silence. “Cole, I’m scared.”
“Me too. But we’ll be okay.” Cole wishes he could be on the other side of that wall. He wishes he could just kiss her and hug her or do something to comfort her.
“What do you think they’re gonna do to us?” Hannah says, her voice shaking slightly.
Cole sighs, and an assortment of different possibilities appear in his head about what they might do, but he doesn’t voice them. Doing so would just make her more scared. “I don’t know. Maybe...maybe they’ll let us out soon, or they have a whole town of survivors run by the military.”
He hears Hannah sniffle on the other side. Then, she hears footsteps coming down the corridor. “I think I hear someone coming.”
“I’ll see you soon,” he hopes aloud. “I love you, okay? You’ll be fine.”
“I love you too, Cole.” The footsteps get louder until a man named Dr. James Choi enters Hannah’s room, or subject zero-zero-six as he knows her.