Authors: Craig A. McDonough
© 2016 by Craig A. McDonough
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
THE AUTHOR WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING;
The author would like to thank the following people, for their assistance during various stages of this book.
Allen and Kat Mewes, Ray Holloway and Editor Linda Seed. Special thanks to my wife Rhue McDonough for her patience.
And of course all my mailing list members at
t had seemed
like a good idea at the time; at least, Elliot thought so. But he hadn’t thought of the consequences. He’d just wanted to save his friends. He’d had no doubt that he could lead the foamers away from the plane, and he could make his way back to the safety of his aunt’s farmhouse later.
His plan would have worked, too, if not for the arrival of the C-17 transport, the veritable wrench thrown into the works.
he Canadian Army
double-cabin M35 cargo truck motored away from the tarmac at Prince George Airport. More importantly, it drew the army of undead foamers away from the Global Express, with Elliot’s close friends and his father inside. He’d spent almost every moment with these people since the crisis started, and he wasn’t about to let harm come to them—not if he could help it.
Which is why he did what he did.
Using sight and sound to attract the foamers, Elliot led them away from the Global Express, the plane’s engine still whining in a steady drone. The sound of the truck’s engine didn't interest the foamers as much as the fire Elliot had started, the gunshots, or his voice. He’d put quite a distance between the Global Express and the foamers that chased him, but when he looked in his rear view mirror to check on their position, he noted that the foamers had stopped. They whirled around in circles and stared into the night sky. Elliot honked the horn several times without result. Eventually, he jumped from the truck. He dared not fire any more rounds from the AR-15 he carried, nor from his Redhawk. He didn’t have an endless supply of ammo with him; he needed to save it all until it was absolutely necessary.
“Come on, you fuckers!” he yelled, without any response.
A moment later, Elliot heard what had grabbed the foamers’ attention.
“It’s a plane …
fucking plane,” he said to himself.
He looked to the end of the runway, the opposite end from where the Express sat, and at about three o’clock he saw the powerful beams from the headlights of a much larger plane as it came in to land. As it came closer, it got louder.
“Shit, that’s a big-ass plane!”
Elliot wondered if his friends could hear it from inside the cabin, and if there was enough room to land. He looked across the field to the foamers, then back to the plane. Even if the area were clear, he doubted he would have time to get back before the other plane landed.
The headlights of the incoming jet lit up the top of the runway, and Elliot knew his friends inside the Express would now be aware. The noise and lights from the aircraft, along with the movement of the Global Express on the tarmac as it taxied off the main runway, got the foamers running in all directions. One group ran for the top of the runway, and the other ran toward the Global Express. Thousands of foamers littered the runway as the big transport came in for a touchdown.
ne of Richard Holmes’s
hand-picked guards rushed from the cockpit and roused his employer from sleep. The guard knew his job: Inform Holmes first, and do not involve Etheridge unless it was an absolute emergency.
“Huh, uh, what… ” Holmes sputtered.
“Sir, the pilot wants to see you, says it’s important,” the guard said after a cursory look around.
Holmes nodded to his aide then got out of his seat and headed to the cockpit, but not before he took a look at Etheridge. The combination of whiskey and sleeping tablets had done its job well.
“What is it?” Holmes asked the crew as he entered the cockpit moments later.
“Mr. Holmes, we’ve got a visual on the landing strip at Prince George, and—”
“And what’s wrong with that? Did you have something of importance to pass on to me?”
The pilot and copilot exchanged looks.
“Well, what is it?” Holmes demanded.
“This runway isn’t long enough for this plane, but in an emergency, I can put it down here. What’s complicated matters further is that there appears to be another plane on the runway, and the only light we have down there is a line of flames running the length of the landing strip on one side.”
“What? How can this—”
The copilot, who surveyed the scene below with binoculars, interrupted. “Sir, look. The other plane is moving!”
The pilot picked up his binoculars and saw the strobe lights activate on the plane that had sat motionless on the tarmac moments before. He breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the plane taxi to one side of the runway.
“We should have the room now,” the copilot did his best to reassure Holmes.
“What the fuck is that?” The pilot sounded alarmed.
“What, what is it?”
“There are people on the runway. Well … I
“What do you mean, you
Gimme that.” Holmes lurched forward, snatched the binoculars from the pilot, and then looked down. He immediately understood the pilot’s trepidation.
“Land. Land on top of them if you have to, but just fucking land!”
“I can’t do that! They’ll—”
Holmes pulled a 9mm pistol and placed the muzzle to the pilot’s forehead. “We don’t have time for a discussion. Land the plane! I have others back there who’ll do as I say without question, and I’d rather not waste this bullet. You decide.”
The pilot showed no further interest in challenging his orders.
Holmes went aft and briefly evaluated the men in military fatigues.
Jesus, I hope these soldier boys have enough ammo
“Get your men ready, Colonel Rummett, we’re about to land, and we have a runway full of hostiles.”
“Yes, sir.” The colonel stood. “We’ll be ready, sir.”
of the Express got the plane off the tarmac and now had it at a right angle to the runway. Everyone on board could see the runway, the foamers, and the headlights of the incoming plane.
“Holy shit, it’s gonna come down on top of them,” Allan cried out.
“That’s what it looks like, son,” Mulhaven answered in the dark. The lights inside the cabin were off, so they could better see out.
“Where’s Elliot? Where is he?”
“Easy, Cindy, easy.” The Tall Man tried to calm her, not easy when he couldn’t even see her. “Look. The foamers aren’t chasing him anymore, if that’s any consolation. He should be okay now.”
“Yes, Cindy. Look for yourself.”
The Tall Man caught a flash of Cindy’s profile as she rushed toward the window. She looked to see where Elliot was, as did James. The Tall Man felt a tug on his arm.
“We need to have a talk.” It was Mulhaven.
“Okay, what have we got?” The Tall Man followed Mulhaven back to the small galley on the Express. With a small overhead light on, the Tall Man could see the faces of the president, Tom Transky, and two Secret Service agents.
“Let’s make this brief,” Mulhaven said against the background noise of the other jet. “We have very little ammunition with us, so we can’t fight the foamers. We have no idea at this stage who might be on this plane, and we can’t afford to risk our lives to help them. You know that, don’t you?”
“What’s with the funny looks?” The Tall Man said.
“I’ve come to know you pretty well, cowboy, and you’re just the type to try to rescue whoever is on this plane from the foamers, singlehandedly. Well, it’s not about to happen, understand?”
The Tall Man rocked back with a silent laugh; he and Mulhaven had developed a strong camaraderie.
“Then our plan is to be?” Tom asked.
“Well, if I may be so bold as to add my humble opinion.” The president came forward.
“Of course you may, sir, but make it
and bold, if you could.”
Mulhaven shook his head. Only Chuck would speak to the president like that. Only Chuck.
“Thank you,” the president began. “First, they have to land the plane. Second, we have to hope they’re not so stupid as to get off the plane. Third, have we established communications with them? Planes have radios, do they not?”
Damn good question. Everyone had been so concerned with Elliot’s escape, the approaching plane, and getting
plane off the runway that no one had thought to check with the pilot to see if there had been any contact with the other plane.
“Send someone to the cockpit and find out. No point in all of us going, we’ll likely do ourselves an injury in this dark,” Mulhaven suggested.
“Okay, I’ll go, you—”
Tom Transky interrupted the Tall Man. “No, you’re needed here. I’ll go. You probably won’t fit inside the cockpit anyway.”
Tom switched off the light before pulling the galley curtain back and felt his way along the aisle toward the cockpit. The others went back to the windows to watch the incoming plane.
“Damn, there are more foamers on the runway now,” Mulhaven commented.
“Do you think they’ll try to land?” James Goodwin called from the dark.
“Maybe they don’t have a choice—like us, they need the fuel,” the president answered.
This man might be a politician, the Tall Man reasoned, but he had already showed he was prepared to risk his life for others, who he knew about as well as Moses, and he had a pragmatic outlook on the situation. The Tall Man could see that the president would be more of a bonus to them than a hindrance. He thought the same of the pilots, the Secret Service agents, and Tom Transky. It was their families he wasn’t all that thrilled about. They would mean more to move, more to keep an eye on, and more to worry about. A bigger group would be harder to conceal, and they had to move in daylight—there was no choice.
“Here they come!” James yelled.
The headlights of the other jet illuminated the runway as thousands of foamers ran or jiggled their way toward the incoming plane.
Tom Transky came back from the cockpit as the big bird was about to land. “The pilot hasn’t been able to make any contact with the other—holy shit!”
“Cindy, get away from the window. Don’t look, don’t—” the Tall Man warned, too late.
he red overhead
light flashed several times, and the crew of the C-17 Globemaster transport braced themselves for an emergency landing; it would be far from smooth.
“Emergency landing, emergency landing,” one of the crewmen called. “Fasten your seat belts!”
Holmes burst into the cockpit. “What’s the fucking—?”
His chin dropped when he looked to the tarmac below, now visible in the Globemaster’s lights and only feet away. The nose of the C-17 didn’t rise as much as other jets, and he could clearly see the mass of foamers through the large side window.
“On the floor! Get on the floor!” the copilot yelled.
The last thing Holmes saw before he dove forward was thousands of red-eyed beasts swarming underneath the heavy transport. The C-17 could land in some rugged conditions; on top of thousands of former humans wasn’t one of them.
h my God
!” Cindy screamed when she saw the wheels on the C-17’s undercarriage slam into the first group of foamers. Heads, arms, legs, and other body parts bounced along the tarmac in all directions. The speed of the transport was what saved most of the onlookers in the Global Express from the horrific sight of mutilated bodies, even if they were foamers. The glare of the huge headlights hid the carnage behind. Spared from the gory sight, they weren't so lucky with the sound. They could hear thuds, yelps, and strange howls above the whine of the Pratt & Whitney engines.
The wheels of the transport touched down as the onlookers in the Global Express held their breath.
“He’s holding it,” the Tall Man remarked on the performance of the pilot.
“Yeah, he seems to—” the president began. “Oh shit!”
From the windows of the Global Express, they saw the headlights of the transport give off a shudder. A loud screech was followed by an explosion as one of the tires blew.
The plane dropped onto one side, and a wave of sparks erupted as the Pratt & Whitney engine dragged along the tarmac. The tip of the wing scraped the dirt that paralleled the runway. Sparks stretched out almost as long as the craft itself. An explosion would occur; that was a gimme. Foamers that hadn’t had the life—or
—squashed or knocked out of them by the massive wheels, and that hadn’t been barbecued by the heatwave from the rear of the engines, now caught fire and staggered off in all directions to burn. Whether they were capable of feeling pain, no one knew—and no one cared. The engine scraped along the tarmac and acted as a ram, taking scores of foamers along for the ride. Many foamers were sucked inside by the huge fans and were ground up like poor cuts of beef and spat out the back in a spray of green foam. The engine coughed, spluttered, and clanked. The witnesses could only hope the pilot had thought fast enough and turned the fuel lines off.
“I hope they’re out of fuel, because those sparks are gonna start a fireball, and we’re too close!” Mulhaven voiced everyone’s thoughts.
The one benefit of the engine dragging along the runway was that, like an anchor, it brought the plane to a halt. With the thousands of foamers on the runway as soft barriers, the plane managed to stop short of the Global Express, now off to one side of the main runway.
“Wait a minute, just wait!” the Express pilot warned, well aware that many an explosion took place just after a plane had come to a halt.
Some on board expected an explosion, while others expected the foamers to clamber all over the stricken craft. No one expected what happened next.
OCK AND LOAD
, LOCK AND LOAD!” Colonel Rummett told the two dozen soldiers gathered at the rear access ramp.
Etheridge, who was now awake after the seat-of-the-pants landing, swigged openly from his flask of whiskey. “What’s happening, Holmes? What are those soldiers doing?”
Holmes didn’t address his question, but cautioned him on his liquor intake. “Sir, perhaps you should go easy on that for a while. You’ll be no good to us if we have to move fast.”