October 13. Thirteen. It even sounds scary. In my day job – nursing- we have many superstitions. Full moons – bring out craziness, speaking the word 'quiet'- causes it to be anything but, never passing up the chance to eat a snack -because you may never get a chance to eat again.
Do I actually believe these things?
What happens when you comment on how quiet the department is when you forget your lunch one Friday the 13th midnight shift with a full moon? Well let's see – killer pimp, lice epidemic, three cardiac arrests and someone who actually chewed through a restraint.
Now do you believe?
“Welcome Spring Green." Tony wiped his face with both hands, pushing his trademark hat off kilter. "Have we enlarged our ranks?” The entire Underground was anxious for Mary to be delivered. The Underground had yet to log a successful birth, but there was always hope.
“No, just us four at present. But Deb says tomorrow will be the big day. What’s the word on burn-out?” Dave leaned closer to the screen.
“Bad man. Let’s leave it at that.” Tony looked around, distracted. “Keep a weather eye man. They’ll be coming your way tonight.” Noises could now be heard off camera. Hammering.
“We’re ready. Generator is fueled up, windows wired, wine chilled.” Jake squeezed his face closer to Dave, into the webcam's view.“What’s going on over there Tony? Sounds like you guys are rebuilding already.”
“What? Oh, that’s nothing.” Tony looked over his shoulder and then back at the camera. “Shit’s A-okay here boss.” He leaned into the camera and smiled. Both Dave and Jake leaned closer. There was something not quite right in the way his pupils were dilated. His mouth twitched just barely, at the lower lip.
“You sure things are fine?” Dave put his hand up to the screen, as though Tony could feel his touch and Tony placed his left palm to Dave’s in response.
“No man, its not."He looked away from the screen for a second. "Give the newest member a kiss on the noggin’ for me boys.” Palm still on the screen he raised a bottle of whiskey and toasted the camera before draining the bottle dry. “My time is up.” Tony pulled his hand away, dropped the whiskey bottle to the ground and turned his back on the camera. The pounding had grown louder and more frantic. In the background of the camera’s shot a window blew out and three grey arms in tattered clothing reached through. The leading arm snagged on the jagged glass leaving a bit of fabric and a chunk of oozing flesh. Dave and Jake leaned back and gasped. And then they watched as, in slow motion, Tony lifted his arm and raised a pistol.
The blast was amplified by the microphone clipped to his shirt. It took less than a second for the fedora to flip backwards and cover the screen, stopping all but a thin slip of blood from hitting the screen.
“Oh!” Debra cried out and buried her face in her hands. Both men looked from the television to each other in disbelief.
“Deb, can I eat? All at once, I am starving.” Mary waddled into the kitchen, her voice loosening the grasp death had on the others in the room. “Did I just miss something?”
“No, nothing. Madison is having trouble signing in. Are you okay to be down here?” Jake didn’t move from his place in front of the screen but it was clear that his concern had shifted across the room to his wife and unborn child.
“I’m fine. Let’s fix spaghetti. Deb? You sure everything’s okay?” Mary placed a hand on the counter to steady herself as she looked out the kitchen window.“Still snowing a ... Hey!" Her shout made everyone jump. "Something is out there."
Everyone scrambled. Jake began flipping switches on a control panel on the interior wall of the kitchen. Electricity hummed through the wired window frames. The system was set to pulsate every ten seconds through windows both upstairs and down in a random sequence. A large spot light flooded the area outside the kitchen window. Dave grabbed the shotgun beside the door and Deb lifted the one lying on the island. Mary remained at the window. "Oh wait, I think it was just that stupid bush." She turned to see her three friends freeze mid movement, glancing warily at one another.
"That does it. I am cutting that stupid shrubbery down first thing tomorrow." Jake deflated with a heavy sigh.
"Not the ...shrubbery!" Mary said in her best falsetto, English voice. When no one laughed she gave Jake a questioning look and he crossed the kitchen in three large steps, wrapping his wife in flannel clad arms.
"Madison had some trouble." His voice caught in his throat. There was no mention of Tony. Too many gone. It just wasn't done.
The room was silent save for the alternating hum of electrons and the rapid sequence of city names logging through the television. Each face that appeared gave a sign – crossed fingers or hearts, peace signs, open palm to the screen – in acknowledgment of the red light on Spring Green’s screen, the light which indicated a possible attack.
“There, beside the garage…” Dave’s whisper spread through the room. “Footprints.”