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A severely exhausted Michael Hathaway staggered to an empty seat and plopped himself down, placing his luggage next to him. As he rested against the bench, he found that his entire back was soggy with his own sweat, along with his armpits. Shivers ran down his spine like sparks of electricity, immediately bringing him back to the time when he had caught a bad flu bug and had to spend three days shuddering on his living room couch watching the Pats while his wife fixed him spicy chicken soup. He could just smell the aroma from the kitchen, the sound of his wife humming busily as she worked, and the sensation of his sweaty skin and hair against the couch cushions and blankets. He closed his eyes and tried to experience it again, but he couldn't smell anything, for his nose was as stuffed as a big game hunter’s trophy mount. All he could feel was the cold plastic of the bench, and all he could hear were the sounds of hundreds of people, actively going about their affairs, on top of the rolling of the wheels of carry-on luggage.
He put the back of his hand to his damp forehead. Fever. “Shit.” He worked himself out of his suit jacket and placed it next to him. He pulled his BlackBerry out of his pocket and checked the time. Half of the screen was riddled with branching cracks. He had been meaning to get the damn thing a screen protector, but who has the time, right? 9:31 p.m. The taxi arrives at a quarter after ten, he thought to himself. Plenty of time to wait.
He felt a stinging sensation rise up in his throat, but instead of trying to stifle it like he had been doing for the past five hours, he now simply let it out. Three tremendous coughs burst forth, flinging hot breath and viscous saliva and mucous onto his fist. Ever since he had boarded the plane he had began coughing, and now it had become so strong his throat burned. His illness had crept up on him and pounced like a stalking tiger. He had been a very healthy man; had not caught the flu in years. At least, he thought it was the flu. Is it? Does the flu come with numbness and joint pain?
His left arm ached from carrying his luggage through the terminal. He had injured it last night, and now he had gauze wrapped around his upper arm. He scratched it through his shirt sleeve, reminding himself of how it felt to be numb. It was getting infected now; the muscle was almost completely rendered useless. His joints ached, and it felt almost like heaven to be sitting down again. He was completely sure that the injury was the direct cause of his malaise.
He still vividly remembered how he had received it. He remembered the blood and the excruciating pain in his triceps; the agony that shot through his whole arm.
After he had received it, he changed into a suit and left for the airport immediately, feeling that a trip to the hospital was not worth missing his appointment in New York. I should've picked up some antibiotics. Damn that insane Frenchie. What the hell did he do to me?! He began feeling symptoms as soon as he arrived at the terminal that morning, and once he boarded the jet, he coughed all over the flight attendant helping him stuff his carry-on in the overhead compartment. He apologized profusely, but she said it was okay. His arm was in terrible pain from lifting his bag, and he felt the blood vessels there throbbing. Despite offers of in-flight meals and drinks, he refused. The illness had stolen his appetite.
Finally, he requested a Coca-Cola as a pleasure drink to put him in good spirits. As he sipped it, the inside of his nose ruptured in tiny places, releasing bright red droplets into the dark soda without him knowing. He finally felt fatigue well over him, and left the cup half-full on the tray as he turned to face the window, slowly dozing off. He awoke to a tap on his shoulder. The man in the seat next to him asked, “You gonna finish that?”
Hathaway didn't bother to turn his head, for now the joints in his neck felt sore. “No, you can have it.”
“Oh, don’t mind if I do,” the man answered jubilantly.
Hathaway fell back to sleep as the man happily sipped down the last of the drink, with neither of them knowing if his blood had tainted it. There sure wasn’t enough in there to tell.
As the plane landed at dusk, Hathaway awoke and stared into his reflection. He was horrified to find his nosebleed encrusted into his upper lip, and hastily rubbed it off. He felt a little better after his nap, having regained a bit more energy, but his arm was now partially numb and his joints ached more than ever.
As he sat back in the bench, the memory of the man asking to drink his Coca-Cola felt like a dream, because he had only been awake for a few seconds in the middle of his nap. But now that he thought about it, he really couldn’t remember much of what had happened to him during the past couple days. It was all so hazy. He found it hard to reach into his brain and extract the information. It was also difficult to think hard and concentrate on thoughts, or else his head would feel as if a knife were penetrating it. He had tried to read a brochure about New York City’s famous landmarks he had picked up a kiosk in the airport, but he could not concentrate on the text for too long. At certain times, his vision would become so blurred he had to put the paper right up to his face to make out a word. He eventually gave up and simply sat back in his seat.
“Sir, you don’t look so good.” He heard a tiny voice reach into his empty mind. A small girl with blonde pigtails stood in front of him. He lifted his head from the bench and looked at her with weary eyes. “You should take some night-quill because that’s what my mommy gives me when I have a cold. Do you want the rest of my juice? My mommy says if I share, Jesus will let me join the soccer team.”
“No, that’s okay sweetie.” As he spoke, Hathaway realized his voice had become quite raspy and his throat was in pain. His mouth was aridly dry, so he tried to summon enough saliva to swallow and re-hydrated it.
“But it will make you feel better—“
“Honey, leave the nice man alone,” the girl’s mother said as came her side, luggage in hand with a carry-on bag trailing behind her. She grabbed her hand gently and began pulling her away.
“Mommy, he looks sick!” the girl whined up at her mother.
“Please Cynthia, we’ll be late for our flight,” said the mother, not wavering. She turned to Hathaway and said, “I’m terribly sorry, sir.”
The girl waved back at him as she followed her mother to the terminal.
Hathaway coughed again and felt beads of sweat roll down his face. One hit his lip and he wiped it off, feeling the joints and muscles in his arm groan. He realized he was incredibly thirsty, with half a cup of soda being the only thing he had drank all day.
He picked himself up and shuffled awkwardly to the nearest snack stand. He bumped into a couple of people, aggravating a very uptight businessman. His knees felt incredibly weak, and by the time he reached the stand, his face was flushed, his eyesight had been reduced to about half of its capability, and he was mildly dizzy.
“Sir, you don’t look very good, is it jet lag?” The young woman operating it asked. “Or do you need any medical attention?”
“No…no,” Hathaway tried to reassure her, though it was partly for himself too. Deep in the back of his mind, however, a terrible vibe lurked through. He looked down at her name tag. Hello My Name is Amy. “Amy. I just…I just need some water.”
“You sure? ‘Cause you really don’t sound too good.”
“No, I’m fine. I’m just…thirsty.”
“Well, okay.” Amy wasn't sure whether to believe him or not, but she didn’t want to start anything serious, so she simply complied and placed a bottle of Dasani on the counter.
Hathaway slapped a five dollar bill on the counter, grabbed the water, and left. “Keep the change. Think of it…as a tip.”
He left without letting her finish. By the time he was about several meters from her, her voice was almost indistinguishable from the rest of the crowd. In fact, his hearing became muffled now, with most of the sounds he picked up being his swallowing and the movement of saliva against his own tongue. When he got back to his seat, he held the bottle between his thighs and hastily unscrewed the green cap. The motion made his wrist ache as he began gulping it down. He wasn’t ready for the first mouthful, choking as he tried to swallow. He churned up the liquid all over his chin and collar, then broke out into a full coughing fit. His chest burned as if he had stuck a torch down his windpipe, and his abdominal muscles contracted and relaxed as if he were bursting out in laughter.
As soon as he recovered, he continued gulping down water, drinking half of the bottle before he had to take a breath. The ice-cold liquid felt good on the insides of his cheeks. His heart was slamming against the inside of his chest cavity, feeling as if it were about to burst. The water felt good, hydrating the inside of his mouth and soothing his throat, if only for a few seconds. No amount of water would be able to fully heal his parched throat. He burst out in another coughing session. The pain was unbearable by now, but he just couldn’t stop. He heard a few fain splats on the shiny tile floor in front of him, and looked down, trying to focus his eyes. Many tiny circles of bright red dotted the floor, with some on his shoes as well. They were fresh. He saw that his shirt and pants had spots of red as well. His vision began turning hazy and the area of forehead around his hairline began burning up. He touched his bottom lip, then looked at his fingers. Yep. Blood. Oh God.
He then continued chugging down the plastic bottle, not stopping until it was completely empty. By now he was utterly exhausted, with literally almost no energy left. His headache had gotten far worse, and every move he made was met with excruciating pain. Paralysis had completely overtaken his left side. He dropped the bottle, then leaned to his shoulder and curled up, wiping his nose and mouth with his sleeve. The thought of ‘Am I going to die?’ stroked his mind for a split second, but he did his best to ward it off. I’ll just get some sleep, maybe I’ll feel better when I wake up. He knew that thought was futile. He drifted off almost immediately.
It was 11:28 p.m. when Michael Hathaway awoke again. He raised himself up and looked around, gazing at all the passersby. He slowly rose, feeling the strong urge to eat. He hadn't eaten in over a day, but he wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t hungry at all, but he needed to eat. The powerful desire overwhelmed him. He took one step, then another, then another, until soon he was shuffling with an awkward gate, even though he couldn't fully walk. There were several people standing in line, one behind the other.
Hathaway approached the young woman last in line, groaning softly. As he came up behind her, she turned to see what he was doing. As she faced him, she was shocked to see a completely pallid, sunken face staring hollowly at her. The eyes were completely blank and expressionless, and the mouth gaped open, dripping with stringy saliva. Hathaway lunged, seizing her shoulders with his rigid hands and sinking his teeth into her carotid. She screamed her lungs out as he clamped down, then ripped out a chunk of her neck. As he chewed on it, massive amounts of bright red blood shot from the gaping wound. She fell backwards to the floor, holding her hemorrhaging wound with both hands. Hathaway followed, swallowing the meat and advancing again.
The people in line, now wrapped up in hysteria, panicked and stampeded in all directions, trying to put as much distance from them and the grisly scene as possible. Screams of alarm now enveloped the lobby of John F. Kennedy airport. Hathaway continued feeding on the woman, tearing out large chunks of flesh and ravenously gobbling them down. As she slowly bled to death, several brave souls dared enter the vacancy Hathaway had created, trying to see what was going on. One man was bumped furiously by the rushing crowd and went staggering towards Hathaway, losing his balance as one foot caught on the limp arm of the woman and the other slipped on her fresh blood.
Hathaway took no hesitance, and clutched the man’s lower leg with both hands. He leaned forward and bit into the calf, using enough force to tear through the jeans and into the soft flesh below. The man howled out, his voice overpowering the panic of the others. Hathaway ripped off the chunk of meat and chewed on it heartily as the man grasped his leg in pure agony. Hathaway stood and stared at the man’s friends as they approached, coming to his aid. One of them, Richie, carried a black, folded umbrella, and delivered a powerful swing to Hathaway’s shoulder. The blow did not stop him. Not at all. In fact, he didn’t even feel it. Richie was in ice-cold shock, partly because his intended target did not react to his attack, and partly because Hathaway’s face and white shirt were now almost completely caked in crimson from his victims.
He lunged swiftly at his attacker, trying desperately to clench his teeth on his sweet neck meat. Richie did not have enough time to use the umbrella to hold back his attacker, so instead he grabbed one arm while blocking the other with the umbrella. The two stayed locked in place for several moments, with both struggling to gain the upper hand. However, Hathaway had been a fairly powerful man, and now began pushing him back. In too much of a panic, Richie didn’t see the body of the woman Hathaway had attacked. He tripped backwards as he hit her, losing his grip to the cannibal. With one hand, Hathaway grabbed Richie’s shoulder, and with the other, he let his talons come down on Richie’s face, painfully tearing away part of the skin on the right side. Richie shrieked as the digits dug into his flesh. Hathaway opened his jaws wide, then came down and clamped his teeth on Richie’s windpipe. He tore it out, hearing the sound of tissue being pulled apart like a raw ham bone being stripped of its meat.
The screaming was cut short now, and Richie’s companions could only stand and watch in ghastly horror as his body was feasted on by a crazed, lunatic man. They witnessed the flesh and cartilage being grotesquely removed from his face and neck piece by piece, with bright red blood still gurgling out of his mess of a mouth. His body was still twitching a bit as Hathaway removed the nose, but it would soon end.
Weaving through the throngs of panicked civilians, two armed security guards rushed to the scene, their hands resting on their holstered duty pistols, ready to draw. It was about damn time. They stopped about ten meters away from Hathaway, but he ignored them and continued greedily consuming chunks of meat.
“FREEZE!” one particularly beefy officer, MacKent, bellowed, drawing his Glock 19. His voice boomed over the panic, echoing throughout the lobby. As powerful and intimidating as his vocals were, Hathaway was not startled. He simply turned his head gradually and cocked it to the side. His movements were in the most crooked manner, with almost no fluidity, as if he were a machine that hadn’t been oiled in years.
Upon seeing the macabre scene Hathaway had created, the second, younger officer felt horrid nausea well up in his throat, and so released his well-digested dinner all over the lobby floor. Hathaway rose from his crouching position over the carcass, and began taking a step toward the two.
“I said freeze!” Officer MacKent repeated, to no avail.
The second officer remained bent over, hyperventilating.
“Hey, Rojas, get it together,” he grunted at him.
After several moments, he raised himself up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. His face was still in a grimace. “I’m sorry, man. I just wasn’t ready for this when I signed up.”
“I know. This isn't just another day at the office.”
By now, a large swell of people had formed a semi-circle around the scene, with some weak-gutted ones grimacing and turning away. They all stared curiously at the cannibalistic man. One of them had the audacity to yell out “Zombie!”
“Now, stand back folks!” MacKent announced, waving his supporting hand to get them to back up. “Keep your distance; don’t want anyone else getting hurt!”
Rojas weakly drew his service handgun and trained it in Hathaway’s direction. Despite having two nine-millimeter handguns with their business ends pointed straight at him, Hathaway was not intimidated.
“Stop, sir! Or I’ll shoot you where you stand!” Rojas ordered, attempting to be more assertive.
To Hathaway, the two only looked like free meal opportunities, in the middle of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Heaven. He did not heed them, but instead continued to advance, taking one awkward step after another.
“Sir, get on the ground, NOW!” Officer MacKent commanded, his voice like a solid wall. Hathaway ignored it. “Alright, Rojas, just take him.”
“You heard me. Get the cuffs. Since this guy doesn't seem to want to cooperate, we’ll just take him into custody anyway.”
“Yes sir,” Rojas said weakly, reluctant on going through with the order. He holstered his Glock and pulled a pair of handcuffs from his belt pouch. Both of them approached Hathaway, with MacKent holstering his handgun as well.
“We’ll grab him and secure him,” said MacKent.
They approached him quickly, but right as they came within a meter, Hathaway groaned from deep in his belly and lunged forward. Caught off guard, MacKent put his left arm up to defend while reaching for his Glock with the right, but he did not have enough time. Hathaway grabbed him with his pale, bony hands and snapped his jaws at him, not coming nearly enough to bite him. The hands on his hand sunk into the flesh on MacKent’s gun arm, making it difficult for him to draw his pistol. Soon, the two were struggling on the ground with Hathaway on top. His blood-diluted saliva dripped onto MacKent’s face and some drops found their way into his mouth.
The crowd gasped in cold horror, and some began running for their lives. “Get this bastard off me!” MacKent cried.
Panicking, Rojas dropped the handcuffs and produced a can of pepper spray from his belt. Being a very peaceful man, he did not enjoy hurting suspects, no matter how vicious they were. He bent down to the two and delivered a long, powerful cloud of vapor to Hathaway’s eyes, then stopped, fearing he would hurt the man too much. To his surprise, Hathaway did not react one bit, and only continued his assault.
“What?!” Rojas cried. He tried another spray, this one even longer, but the attacker didn't seem to react to it. Angered, he tried another time, but it was futile. He watched in horror as Hathaway eventually won out and was able to bend his head down far enough. He clamped down on MacKent’s cheek, tearing off the soft tissue and covering his face in bright red blood. His cries of unrelenting agony mixed with the screams of the crowd filled the lobby.
Rojas was now completely dumbfounded. He had never seen such savagery in his entire life. His drew his baton and thrust himself forward. He raised the club and slammed it down on Hathaway’s back with all his might. Besides slightly twitching from the blow, Hathaway ignored him, and continued taking large mouthfuls out of the continually weakening airport security officer. Rojas came down again, but instead on Hathaway’s head, causing his forehead to slam into MacKent’s nose. As he was stunned, Rojas continued on his enraged assault, kicking him in the side of the rib cage until he was thrown off of MacKent’s body and sprawling on the floor beside him. Rojas heard several muffled cracks, indicated he had broken a few of Hathaway’s ribs.
Wiping his nose, he watched Hathaway lying there for a few seconds, then dropped his baton and distressfully squatted down to MacKent, who was now barely alive. “Oh my God,” he muttered as he watched him continually churn and gurgle up blood from what he had left for a mouth. His body was still twitching, and his eyes still wide open. He couldn't help but think of the first day he had been on the job—just a few months ago. He had first been intimidated by all the other, more experienced officers, but he got to know them after a while, especially MacKent, and found them all to be wonderful people. He liked MacKent the most. MacKent knew everyone on the job and always gave it his all. He was the most valued officer they had, with the most experience. His wife and kids were some of the kindest people Rojas knew. But now MacKent was dead, and he had no idea how they were going to break it to them. An irreplaceable man—gone.
“Watch out!” a man in what remained of the crowd yelled. Rojas was interrupted in thought, and turned his head to look at Hathaway’s body. Despite the cracked ribs, he was picking himself back up, without so much as a grimace from pain. Rojas’s eyes grew wide. How could anyone do this? Is he high or something?
Rojas got up, watching Hathaway with focused eyes as he too straightened himself and fixed his gaze on him. He thought about his gun, thought about actually shooting him. Would he be able to live with that? He had never had the balls to purposely injure another human being until that day. Seeing as how this man has gained a fairly good headcount in just under ten minutes, why not shoot him? Just end him right there. Rojas looked down at his holstered Glock. He gripped it in and tried to decide.
As he did so, Hathaway continued his advance, tripping over the now-deceased MacKent. Out of control, he fell straight into Rojas, just as he raised his arm and yanked out his Glock on impulse. The spectators screamed again as Hathaway’s bloody jaws seized his bare forearm. “AAAAAAHHHHHH,” he yowled like an injured cat as searing pain raced throughout his arm. In panic, he fired blindly into the air. The bullet traveled right over the crowd, barely missing a young man’s head. People ducked and covered their heads in fear as the gunshot rang out through the lobby, deafening to their inexperienced ears. After he completely removed the flesh, Rojas kicked him away by his crotch. He fell back again and slipped on the massive pools of blood. He lay there, stunned. Immediately, four more guards came, finally working their way through the hysteria.
Rojas dropped his gun and clutched his arm, partly relieved that help had come. “MacKent! He’s, he’s—“
“We know,” said Dannell, nodding somberly.
“Oh Lord Jesus, what the hell happened here?!” Mayfield murmured.
Jackson rushed up to Rojas and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, putting it up to his arm. “Alright, just keep putting pressure on it, okay buddy?” he said.
“Okay.” Rojas nodded, his face stricken with sorrow. He was sweating profusely, with his curly brown hair matted to his forehead.
“Just hang in there, we’ll end this right now.”
“Alright, everyone just get away from here!” Dannel announced. “This is a crime scene!”
Hathaway was now standing again, and gazing at the new officers.
Upon seeing this, they line up and drew their nine-millimeters at him.
“This guy didn't quit when we threatened him,” Rojas croaked.
“He didn't?” Suarez asked.
Rojas shook his head.
Suarez turned back to Hathaway and yelled, “Stay back! Stay back or we’ll shoot!”
“It’s useless. It looks like he’s on some type of drug. I broke his ribs, I heard them snap, but he’s still coming.”
“Well, we’ll see about that,” Dannell said. “Mayfield, put one in his leg.”
“Done, sir,” he complied, lining up his sights on Hathaway’s right knee. As he pulled the trigger, the Glock 19 barked, sending a red-hot 9mm round into the bony patella. The shot caused Hathaway’s leg to jerk back, oozing crimson, and he collapsed onto his belly with a groan.
Mayfield lowered his gun and said, “I think that did it, sir.”
“Great job,” said Dannell, patting him on his back.
“Alright, the New York City police department should be here any time now, we’re taking this guy in,” said Suarez.
“He’s getting back up!” A high voice pierced across the lobby. By now, most of the people in the airport had run for their lives, with only about a dozen onlookers still present, keeping their distance, adamant about witnessing the resolution with their own eyes.
“What?!” said Dannell, whirling around to face Hathaway. His jaw gaped open in awe. Hathaway was pushing himself back up, with seemingly no pain from his leg injury. Never in all his years of experience on the force had Dannell seen someone take a gunshot and continue like it was just any other day. Hathaway did not scream or grab his leg in pain. He didn't so much as wince from the pain.
“I don’t fucking believe it,” said Jackson, as Hathaway stood and yet again resumed his advance.
“What’s this guy on?” Suarez asked. “LSD’s? Bath salts?”
“He must be on one hell of a rush right now,” said Mayfield.
“Not anymore,” muttered Dannell. He raised his Glock and without hesitation put a bullet into Hathaway’s chest. This pushed his upper body back a bit, but he simply shrugged it off, as if he were hit with a rubber band. “What the fuck? That went right through his heart!”
“I don’t think he really cares,” Mayfield said fearfully, watching as Hathaway continued his awkward gate.
“He’s got to be wearing body armor!” Jackson suggested.
“Once you find a bulletproof vest that’s that thin, give me a call,” Dannell replied.
“I’m ending this.” Suarez held his Glock in a teacup grip as he put two more rounds into Hathaway’s chest and shoulder, causing short fountains of red to spew forth. “You want some more, huh?!” He fired three more shots, the jacketed hollow-point bullets ripping into Hathaway’s abdomen. Echoes filled the lobby, making the spectators curl up and cover their ears. The shots made his body jerk back and forth, but he seemed to be a juggernaut.
“He’s the devil!” a woman exclaimed, breaking into tears.
The word “zombie” popped up in Rojas’s mind as he watched Hathaway taking bullets as if they were rubber bands, but he thought such an idea was too ridiculous.
“Holy shit,” said Mayfield. “Even if he was wearing a vest, it’d be useless now!”
“Alright boys, just unload on him, I don’t care!” said Dannell.
“Yes sir!” the other three yelled in agreement.
As they opened fire, the airport’s acoustics circulated the noise of gunfire thoroughly, almost deafening the civilians. It was like a chorus of handguns, each one adding to the harmony as the clinking of spent shells made up the rhythm. They backed up slowly as they fired, keeping their distance from him. As bullets tore through Hathaway’s torso, he jerked back from the force, but felt no pain. They did nothing to stop him, only causing him to create a trail of his own blood behind him. His arms flew back a bit whenever they were struck, but they will still be able to hold the officers in place as he feasted on them. One round tore off a piece of his cheek, and another went through his ear. The sight of a sickly pale, blood-soaked man riddled with bullets and slowly advancing through a hail of lead, undeterred by the fire he was taking, was unnerving to say the least. A cloud of gun smoke hung about them, slowly growing as it was fed by the constant discharge of the pistols. Some rounds fired did not hit home and instead found themselves lodged into the opposite wall; into a Starbucks.
By now, Hathaway was completely drenched in his own blood, with more oozing out of his several dozen bullet wounds. His neck now had less mass than it used too, as several rounds had struck there and taken off chunks of flesh.
“How could this guy still be walking?” Mayfield asked, breathing heavily.
“I don’t know,” Suarez replied. “Most of his body mass is lead.” He fired two subsequent shots, then the slide on his gun locked back and remained there. “Shit!”
Jackson also went empty at about the same time. “Damn, cover us!”
Mayfield knew it was only a matter of time before he too would have to reload. His arms were tired now from holding the piece out for such a long time, and his aiming became shakier. He had not been shooting for as long as the other officers have, and had only arrived at the job just six months before Rojas did. After each shot, he arms felt weaker and weaker. He tried aiming high this time, picking a new spot to shoot at. As he fired, the round flew into Hathaway’s gaping, blood-smeared mouth and penetrated the other side of his head, sending blood and bits of flesh and bone and gooey grey jelly spraying out the back of his head. He shot violently snapped his head back, causing him to glance at the ceiling for a split second. His head then rested back into position, showing that his eyes no longer held a cold, fixed glare, but instead stared into blankness.
Mayfield went empty after that shot. Hathaway stopped his advance, causing Dannell to cease fire. Everyone stared at Hathaway as he dropped onto his knees, creating a sharp thump on the floor. He then collapsed onto the floor, slamming his face onto the ground. He was dead. This time for good. Staring horror, the officers lowered their guns and holstered them. Dannell did not and continued to hold his Glock—in one hand this time—just in case. Soaking in sweat, the officers stood keeping their eyes glued onto the corpse lying on the floor.
Dannell approached Hathaway slowly, keeping the Glock’s tritium night sights trained on him. He did not seem to be moving anymore. He stayed still, like a dead body should. Hathaway had left a massive trail of red splatters in his wake.
“Is he…is he dead?” a woman asked, taking her palms off of her ears.
Dannell kicked Hathaway’s head with the toe of his boot. After a few seconds, he replied, “Looks like it.”
She sighed in relief. The cannibalistic murderer was finally dead. Police sirens came into earshot; faint at first, but growing ever so rapidly.
“About damn time!” Suarez groaned. “How do you think he died?”
“Probably took so many rounds, he finally bled to death,” Jackson deduced.
“But…how is it that he was still going even when all the organs in his body were turned to Swiss cheese?” Mayfield asked.
“I really don’t know. And I really don’t want to find out.”
“This was definitely not from drugs,” said Dannell, turning Hathaway’s limp corpse over, revealing numerous puncture wounds. There must have been a few dozen rounds burrowed into him, covering his entire front side in blood. An autopsy later revealed that there were 43 lodged in his body, on top of the rounds that had penetrated the soft tissue on his arms and neck; including the one that shaved his cheek. “What are you?” Dannell muttered.
Red and blue lights pulsated through the blackness outside. Five police cruisers and two ambulances had arrived, sending law enforcement and paramedics hastily bursting through the doors.
“Dannell, what the hell happened here?” Officer Glaston asked, not knowing what to make of the situation. “We heard gunfire for miles! People are sending in complaints as we speak. And not to mention all the traffic! There must have been hundreds of people driving in the opposite direction of this place.”
“Shit went down, sir,” answered Dannell. “All I can tell you right now is shit went down!”
Glaston turned to Suarez, gripping his shoulders. “Now, you tell me, and you give it to me straight. What is he talking about?!”
Suarez began perspiring, his forehead growing warm. He was at a loss for words, not knowing how he could possibly explain this to him.
Rojas broke in. “I can tell you.”
Glaston looked over to him, letting go of Suarez. “Then you go.”
Rojas paused for a minute, swallowing hard, trying to put together his words. His face had been completely drained of its color, and now dull, throbbing pain infested his forearm, accompanied by occasional sharp stings.
“Well, spit it out, boy!”
He swallowed a lump in his throat, then spoke up. “We heard screams. Coming from this area. Me and MacKent.” He pointed to the large man sprawled on the floor with blood masking his face.
Glaston looked over at him, and his eyes grew wide in horror. “Oh Lord, that’s him?!” The others nodded despairingly. “My God, who could do this?”
A medic called from across the lobby, “These three are dead! Get the body bags.”
“Get a stretcher for this one,” another said. “He’s losing blood from his leg fast!” They were wrapping the injured man’s leg in a tourniquet as he lay there against the wall, his friends huddled around him.
Rojas continued with his voice wavering and his face drenched in sweat. “When we got here, it was horrible, sir. That guy”—he pointed to Hathaway’s corpse—“He was eating two people! And there was another one with a bite taken out of his leg—there”—he pointed to the man—“MacKent and I were aiming at him, telling him to stop, but he just kept walking at us. It looked like he had something wrong with his legs.”
“What did you do?” Glaston asked, intrigued.
“We tried to cuff him, but just lunged at MacKent and wrestled him to the ground. I tried everything, sir! The pepper spray, the baton. He just didn’t budge. He started eating MacKent, sir. He was eating him!”
“Good God.” Glaston’s face drooped in solemnity.
“He took bites out of his face and neck!”
“Okay, okay, calm down, boy.”
By now Rojas had tears welling up in his eyes. “Don’t tell me to calm down! Not after what fucking happened!”
“Hey, you don’t talk to me that way, you hear?!” Glaston growled, taking an aggressive stomp forward.
Suarez and Mayfield grabbed Glaston and held him back. “No no just let him talk, sir!” said Suarez.
Begrudgingly, Glaston eased up with a grunt. Suarez and Mayfield loosened their grip as well. “But if I hear you say something like that one more time—“
“Alright, alright, just let him speak,” said Mayfield.
“I kicked him off, and I heard his ribs cracking,” Rojas persisted. “I swear, I heard his ribs cracking. But he just got right up again, and he bit me on my arm, here! Took off a good chunk of it!”
“Then what happened?” Glaston asked.
“Then, they came.” He pointed to the other four officers.
Dannell explained, “We all aimed and him and threatened to shoot him, but it was like he was high or something. He wasn't afraid at all. Mayfield put a round in his knee, and he fell. We actually believed he was down for good after that, I mean, anyone would be.” Dannell’s face twisted in dread. “But he just got right up, sir! He just picked himself right up as if he just tripped over a rock or something. Suarez shot him five times, but it was like he was bulletproof, and he just didn't feel them. I swear, at least one of them must have punctured his lung or his heart.”
“So? He was wearing a vest!” Glaston scoffed.
“No sir,” Dannel denied, his voice wavering. “His shirt had some slack. If he were wearing one, we would've seen it. After that, we just cut loose on him. I swear, we pumped him up with enough brass fit for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, but he just kept coming. It was unreal, like something in a terrible monster movie.”
“You’re shittin’ me,” Glaston stammered, his hands on his hips.
“Take a look for yourself!” Dannell exclaimed, pointing at Hathaway’s body. Two paramedics had gathered around it, examining the wounds. Glaston trotted over to them, keeping his eyes glued to the corpse.
“Let me see,” he muttered.
“It’s no joke, sir,” one of them said. “The hemorrhaging indicates his heart was still beating when he sustained three-fourths of these gunshot wounds.”
“That’s impossible!” Glaston growled. “He should've died after only three.”
“I told you,” Dannell said.
“Then how do you explain this?”
“I don’t know,” said the medic. “We’ll have to send him in and have an autopsy.”
“Think you can ride in the ambulance with him?” Dannell asked Rojas, pointing at the man with the leg wound. “We can take it from here.”
“Alright, get these people out of here!” Glaston ordered. The spectators still stood against the walls, frozen in shock. “Get ‘em out, NOW!”
Suddenly, a throng of at least half a dozen men and women barged in, with some wearing cleanly pressed suits and carrying large microphones while others dressed casually and carried cumbersome video cameras on their shoulders. They eagerly rushed to the scene like famished vultures to a fresh kill in the African Serengeti.
“Jesus fucking Christ, how did the shitty press get wind of this so fast?!” Glaston gripped his head in frustration. “Vic! Get me my damn cigarette!”