Page Eleven: Reach
PFC Craft had never seen such disfunction in her life before meeting Miss Hindle and accepting the orders to escort her here to the apartment her son lived at. Sgt Nichols had been very clear in delivering the orders, stating that any possible survivors must be rescued before their trek to the coast. It was obvious that he was also attracted to the woman, her strength and determination the strongest contributing factors. Regardless of this respect however, this woman nearly got everyone that was alive in here killed with that bullshit move of stealing her grenade and lobbing it into the courtyard outside, the same courtyard now filling back up with undead from the streets.
"Son of a bitch..." started the kid, Jaxin, looking out of the door at the incoming horde below. "We've got to get the hell out of here." Craft looked back at the drama unfolding between Miss Hindle and who was most obviously her son Aaron, who was holding a drunken woman in his arms. She finally turned to Wheeler with a look of dire concern on her face, "Wheeler, what now?!" she asked. He looked outside himself to see the undead fighting their way into the courtyard and heading for any available space to fill out, including the stairwell. "I'll be damned if I know..."
"The second floor! Where WE came in!" exclaimed Brandi, her sky-blue eyes lighting up like jewels. Autumn pushed away from Aaron, now able to stand on her own feet as she staggered over to the front door. Outside, she leaned over the railing and vomited four stories below onto the heads of the incoming freaks. Aaron finally broke eye contact with his mother and ran to help Autumn but ran into Gary on his way out, obviously trying to do the same thing. "I got her!" said Gary in a demanding way. Aaron pushed him to the wall, jacked him up by his collar and was inches from his face, "Stay the fuck away from her."
"OK, ENOUGH of this bullshit! We've gotta move, NOW! Grab anything you NEED and lets go!" ordered Craft, reloading the M-16 that Private Layne loaned her in place of the draganov. It was definitely faster and more capable in the scenario, whereas the draganov rifle was good for Layne as he protected Nichols in the craft services truck a block away. Now all we do is get back to it and roll the fuck on out of here... she thought. Looking over to the young woman who'd mentioned a window, Craft was ready for any solid idea on how to escape, "Okay lady, what about this window?!"
Brandi began resorting her thoughts as carefully as possible, remembering that on their way up the fire escape in an alley next to the complex, there was another window parallel from the one they entered. "Second floor has a fire escape exit and, and theres a window straight across the alley..." Aaron caught onto this as he aided in Autumn returning to the room and knew exactly what Brandi was talking about. "It goes over to Wesker's, so what?! We'll be stuck in there then---" then it occurred to Aaron, just as Gary began speaking once again, "The paint vans out back of there... we could take one..."
"Well then lets move, we're out of time as it is..." stated Craft before heading out of the door with Wheeler to cover the exit. Aaron went to help Autumn again, but she was already heading for the door herself. As she passed by Moreene, she gave her a look that was more than horrified though Moreene only saw her son. "Aaron... my son..." she began to weep. "Not now mom... we've got to go." he replied. Moreene nodded, turning back to the front door as she wiped a tear from her eye while Aaron began filling a nearby duffel bag with canned food and water bottles from the pantry and refrigerator.
Byron Giles turned to Tess and nodded before catching Jaxin's attention, who had just packed up his shotgun into his all too small pack, the barrel sticking straight out and giving him an extra foot above his usual height. "Jaxin, son..." began Bryon, grabbing the young man's full attention. "Whats up?" Jaxin replied. "Did you, find your father's keys?" Byron inquired. "Yeah dude, but I guess it was kinda pointless seeing as we're gonna steal a paint truck I guess...." Byron reached out and put his hand on Jaxin's shoulder. "We thought it over son... we want to go west, to where our daughter is." he began until Jaxin smiled back at him and stated, "I gotcha sir, here."
As Jaxin handed over the keys to his dad's Avalanche, he was sure the old couple would be fine. The one group would take the stairs while they took the elevator straight to the parking tunnel below the building. They may even beat the deadheads that were certainly hording out front of the comlpex. "And Jaxin," Tess began, a nervous tone in her voice, "You are more than welcome to come with us... if you'd like." The statement caught Jaxin off guard as he thought it through, but time was running out. Byron also made some input as to the subject, "We'd need someone young and fast to watch over us, you know?"
Aaron stopped what he was doing and looked over to Jaxin, whose eyes met with his in the most confused way. All Aaron could do was shrug his shoulders and give Jaxin a look that hopefully gave him comfort in the decision. He finally began to continue packing his bag while Jaxin thought it through, Brandi coming over to help him out with the task as they awaited an answer from the young man. Sure, he was just a teenage punk-ass, but he was more than likely stronger than any of the adults that were in the room. He'd killed to survive and in this new environment, it seemed to be an important trait for one to possess. Just like mom... "If he goes with you, I will too." interjected Moreene. The thought process must've been really tense on the kid as it sure did take him longer to decide than anyone cared to admit. As he finished packing the bag, Aaron picked up the fire-axe he had brought and ran out the front door with Brandi close behind.
At long last, Jaxin gave his answer, "Ah, I can't. I at least wanna see the beach one more time before the military scoops us up and plops wherever the hell we don't wanna go, you know?" Byron and Tess Giles smiled at the young man with sincerity, understanding he'd rather be on the move with the others. "We understand."
"Everyone ready?! LETS GO!!" ordered Wheeler, watching as everyone cleared the room while Craft took point down the breezeway to the stairwell. As the elderly couple left last, Wheeler followed behind and the crowd moved as one. If they could get to this paint shop in one piece, steal a van and ride back 'round to the other block where Sarge and Layne were, they could easily escape town with everyone at once. Finally at the stairwell, Wheeler watched as Jaxin hugged goodbye to the elderly couple who instead of following the group went on their own down the elevator across from them. Wheeler followed Jaxin down the stairs as the old couple waited for their elevator.
The undead began their ascent of the stairwell, slowly clambering up each and every stair as they began to reach the second floor. Craft and Moreene took out the initial undead with their weapons, allowing Aaron, Autumn, Gary, Jaxin and Brandi down the second floor breezeway. Wheeler brought up the rear and took Moreene and Craft's position as the back of the group. Craft ran back to catch up with the crowd as Wheeler and Moreene picked up behind her. Finally, Aaron found the room that he and Brandi had entered from the fire escape, opening the door and running inside first with everyone piling in behind them. Wheeler turned back as Moreene and Craft entered before him and noticed that the undead were now definitely on their heels, packing the breezeway shoulder to shoulder quickly closing in the gap between them and the survivors.
Once inside the door, Wheeler slammed it shut and locked the deadbolt before following the group into the back bedroom. Craft ran inside behind the rest with Moreene and Wheeler, finally seeing the window that Aaron had mentioned earlier. As everyone crowded it, she could see the window across the alley way and was relieved that the distance between it and the fire escape was not so bad.
"One at a time everyone!" said Aaron, pulling Jaxin ahead and heading outside. Once again on the shoddy fire escape, Aaron looked down to see that the alley had become overrun with biters, attempting to claw their way at the survivors dangling above them between the brick walls. Aaron realized the window across the way was shut and probably locked, also fearing that because the building was once an old warehouse that there may be a descent sized drop once inside. "HURRY THE FUCK UP!" shouted Gary from inside the room, his voice matching the volume of a thousand moans emitting from the walking corpses below.
Jaxin stepped onto the shaky railing, grabbing the metal grate above him as he lifted himself up and out enough to kick for the window to the paint shop. "Be careful!" shouted Aaron, grasping for the young man's arm as he reached further and further to the window ledge. Making a full split across the alley, Jaxin looked down at the deadheads reaching up for his dangling body. He pulled his skateboard out from his backpack and slung it into the window, shattering it into a million pieces. He leapt across in one motion, going straight inside of the building.
Brandi hurried ahead to make sure that Jaxin had made it, fighting her way between Autumn and Gary to see out of the window. Finally, Jaxin reappeared in the opposite window and turned on a nearby light, revealing room they were going into was some kind of office. Aaron turned back and helped up Autumn and then Gary, who jumped across next into the window. Jaxin helped Aaron with Autumn and then with Brandi before Aaron went inside himself. The room was a dull and iffy office space filled with clutter and paint cans, some empty, some unopened and most of them dusty. Brandi turned back as Aaron climbed inside before turning to help the others inside while Jaxin lead Autumn and Gary ran into the nearby hallway to check if the coast was clear.
Moreene climbed onto the fire escape with Craft, who handed over her machine gun to Aaron who then handed it to Brandi before helping her across. Moreene turned back to Wheeler who was watching their back as the front door to the apartment was giving weigh to the undead outside. "JUST GO!" he shouted at them. Moreene handed Aaron her shotgun as she was helped across the shaky fire escape by him and Craft. Once inside of the office, they turned back to help Wheeler as he stepped onto the fire escape and handed Craft his rifle before finally stepping onto the railing and stepping across to the window seal. Suddenly, something went horribly wrong as the railing made a series of jarring snaps, metal crushed beneath the weight of the heavier soldier who reacted with a jerking motion, his foot slipping as he fell spread eagle onto the railing.
"REACH, WHEELER! REACH!" called Craft from the window, Wheeler wincing in pain as his crotch met with the rusted and metal railing, causing his thoughts to become overrun with pain and heartache before toppling over into the alley below. Craft, Moreene, Aaron and Brandi all reached out to grab for him, but to no avail. His body landed head first into the crowd below, all of them now reaching down for his body which had most certainly suffered a broken neck. Craft screamed for him as if it would help, being pulled away from the window by the others in an attempt to save her from watching the massacre below the last she saw of Wheeler was his intestines being dragged across the horde who feasted on it.
Aaron turned to see Jaxin had returned in the doorway with Gary and Autumn behind him, oblivious to the loss they had just suffered. He held a pair of keys in his hands, hopefully the ones to a paint truck in the warehouse below. "GO START IT!" Aaron shouted blindly, nodding at Brandi and Moreene to follow him. Moreene stared at her son for a minute longer before he repeated the command as he chose to help Craft. Finally, Moreene left as well leaving her son behind to help Jaxin and the others.
Craft pushed away from Aaron, going to the corner of the office to lean her head into wall. "Come on," he said to her, "I'm so sorry this happened to you, but we NEED you now!" Craft tuned him out and tried to rationalize what she had just witnessed. Because of this asshole's mother, she'd lost another commrade and was stuck with this group of civilians all alone. She wanted to stay behind, "Go. Just get the fuck on." Aaron put down his fire ax and slowly approached her, "He wouldn't have wanted you to stay behind, I'm sure of it." he said to her in a soft, overly calm tone. "Oh yeah?" she replied, turning to face him, "How the fuck would YOU know anything about HIM?!"
Aaron looked into her tired and angry eyes, searching for the words to explain a reason he did not understand himself. Finally, he said, "Well, no, I didn't know him at all, but, he did want you to go first. That says he wanted you to be alive before him, right?"
A tense, almost maddening silence followed as in the distance, beyond the moans of the undead an engine began to turn over from downstairs somewhere inside the building. Aaron picked up the M-16 and handed it back to Craft who took another moment before grabbing it. At least this guy was trying, she told told herself before wiping away the tears that she wept and standing up to him. "Thank you," he said, "Thank you so much..." Craft responded by withdrawing her sidearm, a beretta M-92F, and hand it over to him. Aaron looked to it and smiled as he shook his head, "No, m'am, I'm sorry... I'd get someone else killed" This made Craft chuckle some despite the saddness she'd just witnessed, as she never liked the idea of formalities because of her status as a soldier. He reached down and picked up the axe as out of nowhere, Gary's sweaty hand appeared between them and snatched the pistol from her instead. "Fuck it, I'LL take it! Now lets GO you two!!!"
As Gary ran back outside Aaron and Craft began to follow. "Hey," she called to Aaron, who turned around to listen "Don't call me m'am, please..." Aaron smiled at her as he jogged backwards, following Gary to the end of the hallway where a ladder would lead them down to the warehouse. Gary went down first of course, struggling to keep his grip on the firearm as he clambered down it while Aaron turned back to the soldier. "What should I call you then?" he asked her as he began climbing down next, tossing his axe below as Gary made his way for the white Wesker's paint truck.
"Holly," Craft responded, "Name's Holly Craft." Aaron smiled as he reached the bottom of the ladder and reached up to catch her rifle as she began climbing down next.
Jaxin, who had reclaimed his skateboard back into his backpack, helped Brandi tend to the shutter-doors blocking the van from leaving the garage-like room while Gary, Aaron and finally Holly climbed into the van where Moreene sat across from a delirious Autumn in the back. As the garage-doors slid open far enough for the van to pass under, Jaxin ran back to the drivers door of the van and climbed inside as Brandi turned back to get inside of the passenger seat when out of nowhere, a deadhead wearing paint-splattered overralls appeared from nowhere and tackled the young woman to the ground, it's rotten teeth digging deep into her forehead and pulling back flesh as she screamed in death's known agony.
Aaron leapt out of the van as quick as possible, running over to save her with his axe that he used to bury deep into the back of the biters spine. This did nothing to stop him until Aaron pulled the axe back and with it came the attached biter who looked as if he had been hooked by a fisherman. Unable to remove the axe, he forced the creature into back of the garage where he was ready to kill it when a hand touched him gently from behind. "Aaron..." said his mother to him, "It's too late..." Aaron whirled around to see that Brandi was dead, blood rapidly pooling around her body as a chunk of her brain showed through the exposed skull and flesh.
Tears welled in Aaron's eyes as Holly came to help Moreene get him into the back of the van. Once inside, Holly went onto shut the back doors and call to Jaxin who put the pedal to the metal, driving the van out of Wesker's and onto the streets behind the buildings, as Brandi's dead body began twitching on the floor behind.
"Go one block over from the front of the apartments." called out the soldier to Jaxin, "We can meet up with the rest of my team." Jaxin wasn't sure, but he believed that there was at least two others with them before. Not only did that sexy pornstar just get the big chomp, but so did the soldier lady's buddy. He had missed the latter.
As he drove onto Belmont street, he finally began to slow his thoughts down enough to rationalize everything he'd just done. After all that he had seen in the day time and the night that followed, he was just glad that he was now free of that damned apartment and the history it held inside.
Aaron leaned into his mothers shoulder, shocked at the sight of Brandi's demise. The entire escape caused everyone to ride in silence as they were sure that nothing could get any worse than this.
- End Of Page Eleven. To Be Continued.