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Approx. 1700 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ

The Zone:



written by  SJ



    The room Lana had woken up in earlier was indeed a recovery room, with a medical procedure room directly across from it. Immediately to the right, two steps down the hallway, was a door that led to the showers and bathrooms. To the left, traveling down the hallway, there were two doors on the right that led to a large laboratory, a place the scientists were using to remotely study the Mont’ka, a place were the main Facility’s back up files had been stored. Beyond that, on the right, was a door to a storage room, and another door further down to an office with a window, a place were supplies could be handed out when the place wasn’t being used to live in during an emergency. Down the hallway on the left were three doors, each leading to three living quarters, each with two double bunk beds, lockers, tables, and chairs. The last door on the left, led to a storage closet. The door at the end of the hallway led out into a kind of ready room with a couple more lockers and tables; from there was a short hallway with a sturdy metal door, which led outside the emergency lab facility, which had been built underground into the side of the hill Lana had spotted to the south of the hill she had passed out on.

    Lana sat at a large table inside the laboratory with Byran, Dave, Ira, Ho’sarn, and Berry, all of them wearing lab coats, except for Berry, who was wearing civilian clothes. After they had called her Lieutenant LaFong several times, she told them to call her Lana. The scientists then began by trying to tell her their theories about what they thought had gone wrong with the Mont’ka; the only thing she understood was something about a strange pulse they got from the geothermic energy they used to power the device, and, if they had do to it again, would use a more stable fusion power. But, even with all the high-tech language, it seemed they were still only guessing...mainly because they no longer had direct access to the Mont’ka to experiment on.
    When it came time to tell Lana about her mission, they were hesitant. Emotionally, they did want her to go...feeling like they were doing nothing more than sending a nice, pretty, girl off to die. However, turning off the Mont’ka had to be their primary concern, something that would solve all their problems, permanently.
    They began by showing her a map of the Facility, pointing out the two MAIN, round, three-story, Tau buildings, and then another very flat structure in between them, something that looked like a Tau roof, but was flush on the ground, several antennae-like devices on top of it; they said the Mont’ka was in a circular underground room below that. In that room, they said there were two walkways that traveled over the top of the actual device itself and met in the center of the room; that’s where the manual controls were at. She was to simply open a cabinet below the controls and pull the largest lever down. That would turn off the Mont’ka. Next, to be sure, they wanted her to go to the back side of the room and turn off the power. They also said, they would direct her along the way.
    Earlier, they had borrowed her communicator, fixing it so it would work in and around the Facility, saying they had aligned it to some of the other communication devices already inside so they could talk to her while she was there. Handing it back to her, she attached it back on her belt in its proper place...afterwards, telling her to just leave it on; they would be able to hear each other, and that this would allow her hands to be free.
    She was going to borrow a shirt to wear so she could hook the communicator on a top pocket. But, they told her inside the buildings the air conditioning was no longer working; it would be very hot. Her tank top would be best to wear.
    Berry sat at one side of the table and started to ask, “are you going to tell her--”
    Dave held up his hand and silenced him. “We are getting to that.” He looked at Lana, then pointed at the map. “The way we have planned for you to get to the Mont’ka is when you leave this building is, head to the road, then follow it north...enter the Facility through the south gate. Proceed past the storage building, then though the parking lot and go directly to the east MAIN building. Turn left inside, then find the stairs down and follow the underground passageway to the Mont’ka room. Turn off the device, turn off the that order, then return the same way you got in.” He smiled. “Come back here when your done.”
    Berry was frowning, waiting for Dave to continue.
    Bryan decided to explain from there. “Lana, we want you to be careful. There will be many fio’kuls around.”
    “You mean those turtle-like scavengers I saw?” Lana assumed.
    “Are they dangerous, like the kod’gels?”
    Bryan and Dave looked at each other, then Dave answered. “We don’t know if they will attack a living creature. But...because of how the kod’gels are acting--you should be careful. Stay away from them. They are not very fast, but can move quickly for short distances.” He sighed. “Just stay away from them. If they are aggressive, you should be able to out run them.”
    Finally, Berry could no longer stand it; he had to make sure she knew. “Are you going to tell her about the zombies?”
    Bryan and Dave sighed.
    It was Bryan who decided to tell the story. “Zombies. That’s a Terran word. I do not like to use it. Let me explain from the beginning.” He took a deep breath and sighed. “When the Mont’ka started malfunctioning, we all became busy trying to fix the problem. However, Dave and myself were sent here as a precaution. Ho’sarn and Berry were already here. We began monitoring the problem from our location...then soon, all we could do was monitor the video cameras, up until the time THEY stopped working.” He sighed again. “At first, everyone continued to work, doing their jobs. Then the men began wandering around like they were lost...” he glanced at Berry, “like zombies. Some of them became violent, attacking the women that tried to help them, since, apparently, they didn’t seem as affected in the same way as they men. Of course, it was logical to assume the women were able to get away since the men, like zombies, were slow; at least, we can hope. The last thing we were able to see were bodies, both men and women; but, we don’t know if they were injured or simply passed out, like what happened to you.” He paused, then concluded. “There are some emergency underground shelters over there with protected shielding; but, we don’t know if they’re any good against the Mont’ka...and we don’t know how many people were able to get into them. At this point, we don’t know if the unconscious men and women ever woke up.”
    “But we don’t think you were as badly affected by the device.” Ira mentioned, explaining. “For some reason, I think, even if we hadn’t found you, YOU would’ve woke up on your own eventually.”
    “That’s why we think you are the best person for this job.” Dave commented. “But, we should give you an injection to make sure you don’t pass out again...just as a precaution.”
    Bryan decided to continue. “If the men woke up, then we assume they are still acting like zombies, and...we assume, still hostile. And, since they seemed to attack women--that could put you in extra danger.” He shrugged. “But, it’s been about a month, and we don’t know how many of them are still alive. We think they’ve been staying alive by finding things to eat: like tearing apart vending machines, or raiding the cafeteria.” He sighed. “Maybe even eating the people they killed...but, I don’t think so. We figure by now, any normal people inside the Facility have already died.” He gestured to Lana. “That is until you go in.”
    She nodded, understanding, but then mentioned. “When I was overlooking the Facility, I didn’t see any people moving around.”
    “We have a camera over on that hill we found you on. Normally, we use it to look at the Facility. Occasionally we see movement near some of the buildings. So...again, we have to tell you to be careful. If there are any zombies left,” Bryan frowned, “they’re probably all hiding in the buildings. What we worry about the most, is that you’ll get inside a building and get trapped, zombies on all sides.”
    “We’re assuming you are good with those pistols of yours.” Ho’sarn complimented.
    “Do not be reluctant to use them.” Bryan added. “Whoever you find over there might not be people anymore.”
    “I still wish you weren’t going.” Berry had to say.
    The others looked at him and sighed, knowing what the young man really wanted Lana to do. Eventually, when it looked like she didn’t have anymore questions, they told her to rest up for today and get ready to leave in the morning.
    Berry eyes lit up as he mentioned. “Hey, she can sleep in my room. I have an extra bunk.”
    The others shook their heads, Ho’sarn telling him he’d have to sleep in the same room as himself and Ira. Lana would need all the SLEEP she could get.





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