Infection: Chapter 1.1 – Los Angeles

Los Angeles,
Interstate Route 110
Harbor Freeway and Transit Way
5:00 PM (12:00 midnight, GMT)


Fox Daddy quickly got out of his Cadillac Escalade. He stood up on the hood of the car and looked into the distance. Traffic had suddenly stalled. The tumultuous din of shouts and loud cries coming from the far front of the gridlock had greeted his ears as he opened the car door. Through the flashing tail lights and car lights of the hundreds of vehicles lined up in a jumbled mess, he could see cars have crashed into each other, a couple were burning, and a trailer rig had run up the top of some vehicles. In places, thick smoke was in the air. Sirens were blaring, and car alarms were futilely screaming from wrecked cars. It was not your everyday traffic pileup. It looked worse further down the route. He could smell the acrid fumes and smoke being blown his way.

What the fuck? His shocked mind reeled from the sight. It looked like a Hollywood disaster movie. Unconsciously, he looked around, trying to check if somebody was indeed shooting one along the freeway. Then his keen eyes picked out some strange additions to the apocalyptic scene. In the smoke-shrouded vista, the Fox saw that various groups looked as if they were assaulting drivers and commuters. Some attackers were crashing through windshields and side windows. A mass of people was already running back his way, abandoning their cars.

He quickly jumped down from the hood and went to the backseat of the Escalade. The Fox pulled out the loaded PWS Diablo from the backpack lying there, got the two extra P-Mags, and stuck the polymer magazines in his back pockets. The trusty Beretta 92F, in a De Santis IWB holster with an extra magazine, he tucked in his waist. Glancing at the cars beside him, he could see some drivers had already followed his initial move and also began to survey the scene. The man in the BMW to his left had already pulled out his phone and dialing a number.

Probably 911, he thought as he removed and checked the assault rifle’s magazine. He slammed it back into the magazine well and pulled the charging handle, setting the selector to semi-automatic. He slung the PDW across his body. Well, 911 ain’t gonna solve that nightmare, Armani boy. The National Guard would be a better choice. I don’t know what the shit is happening, but there’s no way I won’t have my babies with me. The Beretta pistol he didn’t bother to check. It was always on Condition One.

As he glanced up after getting his trade tools, he saw that a minivan was to the right of his car. A Latino family was inside, and the husband was arguing with his wife in the front seat. He looked around. At the rear was a Toyota Camry, with a couple in front. The woman was trying to call somebody.

This is a bitch of a situation, he cursed to himself. The Fox had just concluded a business deal netting him a cool twenty thousand dollars. He didn’t even get double-crossed during the cocaine exchange. It was a nice, smooth, and profitable transaction. Especially for an independent operator like him. He maintained good relations with all the major gangs and suppliers and made it a point to stay on their good side – buying from all, ignoring none, and not selling to anybody’s regular clients. He took a bad money hit from time to time, principally from those in the lower rungs of the business. Newbies for the most part. But a word to some long-time friends in the responsible group usually resulted in a return of his lost investment or a better price during his next deal. And he made sure he didn’t deal too much merchandise. That would have attracted police attention and created unwelcome waves in the ranks of the suppliers who might begin to see him as a threat.

The stampede of running people was already in plain sight. He glanced at the man on top of the BMW. The guy looked rich, though he had ditched his suit jacket. But the Fox noticed Mr. Rich Guy was acting weird. The phone was still in his hand and raised to his ear, but he stood stock-still. A mass of gray ooze had run down his arm and was already starting to cover his head and torso fully. A quick look at the car at the rear revealed the couple was also already covered with the same strange goo.

He looked up. The Wilshire Boulevard overpass was just above. An access stair on the side of the highway led up to the thoroughfare. Fox quickly returned to the backseat and picked up the backpack. No way he was going to leave the twenty grand. He locked his car, ran to the side of the road, and bounded up the concrete steps. A chain link fence blocked his way at the top. He quickly rearranging his attire, leather jacket hiding the weapon slung over his body and concealing part of the outline of the PWS Diablo, and then the backpack on top of the coat. Fox swiftly clambered up the rusting obstacle and jumped over.

Another hellish scene greeted him. To his left, vehicles were crashed into each other at the intersection. Two buses had rammed into cars. Other vehicles had smashed into each other. The intersection was effectively blocked. He could see the headlights of other vehicles at the back of the mess showing that they were turning around. The din of loud car alarms, honking vehicles, shouts of the frightened, police sirens, and similar worrying sounds exacerbated his rising fear. Masses of people were running to and fro. From what he could see, they were being chased by humanoid forms, glinting from the reflected multi-colored illumination coming from the street lights and signs, in addition to the blinking headlights of crashed vehicles. Fox looked at the building in front of him. It seemed like an office building. Most of its lights were off. But the few lit office windows he could see were broken.

Fox Daddy had lived a life of continued danger. Dealing with significant amounts of illegal drugs would do that. But his short stint in the sandbox helped hone his survival instincts and weapon skills. He learned not to trust anybody and how to adjust to the situation facing him quickly. Even the friendly smiling face he cultivated was a front for a hungry and merciless wolf. He had lost count of numbers of huts, rooms, and houses he had tossed grenades into during patrols in T-man country, despite the operational procedure to first check out each area before taking such drastic measures. No way he was going to risk his neck in such operations. Even ten-year-olds knew how to handle an AK or throw a grenade. He didn’t give a shit who was inside the space when he threw the grenade. He intended to survive raghead country.

When out of sight of his platoon leader, he invariably teamed up with his squad leader in doing the explosive clearing. The man was a gang leader from Brooklyn who was drafted into the army by his bosses. Apparently, the military skills and organizational training given by the US Army was a much-sought-after promotion premium in the drug business on the streets of New York. The man did help him start in the trade and guided him through its dangerously lethal beginnings. The Fox moved to LA after getting the needed connections. New York was too cut-throat even for him.

Now, all his survival instincts were screaming at him though the Fox was confused as to who the enemy was even as his adrenaline rushed through his body, elevating his situational awareness. He crouched in the cover afforded by the wall of the building at the back, the PDW at the ready. As he watched the fleeing crowds, Fox Daddy saw those pursuing them jump on the backs of those too slow to keep up with the rest. And where a victim fell to the ground under the weight of the bizarre creatures, two rose and continued the chase.

Fucking zombies? A part of his mind told him. But the rational side of his brain refused to accept the conclusion.

They’re only in the movies, he thought. But they do act like freaking brain eaters. Then he noticed that the pursuers didn’t stop to feed on their victims like in the Hollywood movies. Nor was their trail or the scene littered with half-gnawed human remains or even blood. The blood he could see came from the crashed vehicles. Surprisingly, the humanoid creatures didn’t bother with the dead. Those injured did attract their attention.

What the fuck is going on? He wondered as he assessed his situation. But one thing was clear in his mind – the unfolding crisis before him was definitely not a limited one. The creatures appeared contagious. Very contagious, if he was to go with the speed the victims were being converted. And that means more than half of the city would be infected before any government reaction happened. If the problem was limited to Los Angeles. Somehow, he doubted it.

Then his training kicked in. He considered his options. Assuming it was a zombie or a medical plague, it seemed that he could assume that touch was a primary means of spreading the contagion. Fox knew he could be wrong but that was the best information he could go with as of the moment. Moving across town was a shortcut to suicide. The best bet, he concluded, was to find a place and hunker down until matters could be resolved by the authorities. Hopefully resolved, that’s a laugh, he thought. This seems like a totally SHTF situation.

Fox looked to his right. He could proceed to Bixel Street and avoid the intersection and the teeming humanity and their predators around that area. A grocery outlet and a small convenience store were along that stretch, if he remembered correctly. The drawback would be the locked and barred entrances. He glanced at a mall in the distance. It was a temptation, he admitted. A nearby location with shops and cars in the parking lot, and it can be reached without going through the hell in the intersection. But the ongoing nightmare he could observe dissuaded him. No telling how widespread the problem was in that area. Bixel Street it is, I’ll worry about the locked doors later, the drug dealer said to himself as he turned right, keeping to the shadows.