Mark didn't want to put Rita or Logan in any further danger so he parked the van behind one of their transport trucks. These extended cab F-250s also featured a large steel insert permanently welded into the bed, the cell was capable of holding up to eight people.
"You guys wait in here and I will be back as soon as I clear one of the buildings."
Rita could tell that he wasn't asking and began to get out of the van. Mark quickly exited and made his way to the truck. He lifted the handle and helped Rita into the back of the unit and then quickly passed her their son. He returned to the van one more time and then passed her the pistol.
"Just in case." He said with a wink.
"You be careful, and get back here quick! "
He snapped off a salute as he closed the door with a loud creak. No sooner had he latched it then he heard a snarl come from behind some units several rows away.
"Fuck!" He whispered to himself. He saw Rita's face appear behind the plexiglass/steel barred window in the door to the cell, luckily she was smart enough to stay quiet.
He could hear the thing bouncing off units as it frantically tried to locate its prey and he quickly formulated a plan. Reaching behind the seat of another truck, he pulled a tire iron out and then climbed on top of the unit. He stayed on his stomach and inched towards the rear of the truck. Within seconds he located the zombie and was saddened to see it was one of the newer guys at the station, Ben Castillo. He took a deep breath and did his best to stop thinking about Ben as a person, the eager young guy fresh out of the Army with a wife and a little girl. He knew he had to focus on what Ben had become, a mindless killing machine who would rip him and his family to shreds and forget about it as it was happening.
Mark liked to think of himself as a positive guy, so what happened next is something he decided was a positive. Whether it was the heat, the constantly being moved, hunger, or anything that can make a three year old cranky, finally came to a head. Logan began to melt down in the back of the truck. He could hear Rita trying to calm him down but the damage was already done. The re-animated corpse of Ben Castillo zeroed in on the noise like a bat and beelined into the back of the truck, smashing his hand bloody on the steel door within seconds.
The opportunity was there and Mark didn't hesitate, he quickly pushed himself onto his feet and as he leapt off the back of the cage he turned his body and brought the tire iron down as viciously as his large frame would allow. A sicker individual than he might've thought it was funny the way the skull of his former co-worker just deflated like a balloon. The damage wasn't fully done and Ben slowly rolled over, groaning as he reached for Mark's legs. He jumped back and spun the tire iron over so the pointy side faced downwards, he dodged one of the swipes and then drove the rod as deep into Ben's eye socket as possible, wiggling it around when he could push no further. Satisfied that the dead man was dead again he pulled the tire iron lose with a loud sucking sound and pushed his face up against the steel barred window in the back of the cage.
Logan's meltdown had quieted a bit during the fight outside the cage, and Rita stared back at him.
"I'm gonna keep you guys in there for a minute, just want to make sure the parking lot is clear okay?"
"What are you going to..."
Before she had the chance to finish he was already banging the tire iron against the truck next to the one his family was locked in. He hit it hard enough to dent it and then waited. He was beyond grateful to hear nothing but the familiar desert wind blowing through the parking lot. Soulless killing machines they might be, but the people he'd encounter in these walls would be people he'd once cared enough about to lay his life down for.
He opened the door and Rita looked out the back of the truck at him with their near comatose toddler on her shoulder.
"I'll head over to the training building, it's the smallest one and I can clear it quickly. Then you guys stay there and I head into the main building."
"What do I do if you don't come back, I can't open this damn thing from the inside."
"Well I appreciate the honesty, not so much the sentiment." Rita smiled and shrugged her shoulders "You should probably load back up in the van. If something bad happens to me than you guys are still mobile at least."
He helped her slide out of the truck and fastened the sleeping toddler into his seat in the van. Mark wished he could give her access to something more formidable in the parking lot but that would require clearing the much larger main building with access to the armory where all the keys and longarms were stored.
"Don't worry, this should only take a few minutes." He winked at her and slid the rear door shut.
Mark made sure the safety was off on his AR and within seconds he was in front of the door to the training building. He punched the four digit code into the access panel and swung the door open. Before he had a chance to react a shrieking figure came flying out of the entryway and barrelled into him with the force of a Mack truck. He tumbled over the railing and fell five feet onto the soft desert sand with the creature clawing and snarling at his face.
Check out my book, Zombies Across the Border, in the Fiction section and let me know what you think!