Friday, June 10, 2016

Dark Winter: Chapter 10

In the early 1920s, school officials decided to construct a new stadium to replace Old College Field. The resulting stadium—the lower half of the current stadium—was ready in the fall of 1923 with a capacity of 14,000. Over the years, the stadium grew. In 1935, the seating capacity increased to 26,000 and the facility was dedicated as Macklin Field. John Macklin, football coach from 1911 to 1915, put Michigan State football on the map with a 29–5 record over five seasons and victories over big name programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. After admittance into the Big Ten in 1948, Michigan State increased stadium capacity to 51,000 and the field was renamed Macklin Stadium. With Spartan football attracting national attention under Clarence "Biggie" Munn and Hugh "Duffy" Daugherty, 9,000 seats were added in 1956. The following season upper decks were added to the east and west sides boosting the capacity to 76,000. That same season Michigan State dropped the name Macklin Stadium in favor of Spartan Stadium.
--Spartan Stadium Wikipedia Entry.

--Spartan Stadium Wikipedia Entry.

Shocker Cahn had one hand firmly gripped around the shoulder of Okasana Kerensky. His own shoulder was planted in the middle of her back.   She was easier to steer that way and it was safer to push with his shoulder then drag her by the wrist.

She would not have permitted him to drag her anywhere, he knew her that well by now.  He had one or two possibilities in mind in which he threw her over his shoulder and ran, but those scenarios were rather extreme.  One of those had him climbing down the outside of the Stadium.  It would be preferable to avoid that.

“Can you tell what the problem is?” She asked a surprisingly sensible question.  No demands for information.  Or wasting his time by giving him ridiculous orders he had no intention of following.

“Something bad is headed our way,” he replied.  “The Old Man didn’t have time to tell me what it was. But I think you can make an educated guess.”

Aux looked down for a moment.  Clearly processing a few things.  Then she picked up her pace and started aggressively shoving her way through the crowd.

Shocker was pleased and changed his own tactics, moving fast and getting in front of the girl.  Not so fast that she would fall behind him, but fast enough.  

A lot of, “hey, watch it assholes,” were left in their wake as Shocker chugged his way up steps to the exit, plowing his way through the crowd like an ice breaker ahead of the girl.  

They were under the overhang and just inside the arch of the seating exit when the first of the screams erupted behind them.

Shocker reached behind him, grabbed Aux by the belt of her Warrior Pack Purse, and started charging in earnest.  In less than a minute, something close to twice the population of East Lansing was going to try to cram itself through every exitway in the stadium all at once. It was going to be a human sausage press.

He wasn’t pulling her along, he was just keeping track of where she was.

Shocker felt long, delicate fingers probe down over his rear beltline and against the small of his back.  Effectively grabbing him by the the butt.  Fair enough, he decided.  In fact, it was preferable.  Since she had ahold of him, he could use both arms to batter the innocent out of his path.

A quick hard press against people who didn’t know they would be in a terrified panic in a minute.   A charge of cocked elbows against a small forest of surprised body parts and they were through.   A couple of people were knocked off their feet at the end, spilling over in a fountain of cola and hot dogs  If they weren’t on their feet in minute, they would probably be dead.  

They were not Shocker Cahn’s problem.  They were acceptable losses.

Three large, overweight men with SECURITY printed across the front of their jackets in important capitalized letters were suddenly bearing down on Shocker and Aux.  These were Shocker’s problem.

Shocker’s mind raced through several possible scenarios.  They were working class Joes who had a job to do on the busiest, craziest day of their year. The crowds were loud, young and jumping up and down in excitement.  A lot of them were drunk before they had walked in the gate.   The entire day was one long gigantic footsore, pain in the ass.  And now some bald guy is knocking people over like they are bowling pins before it’s even half time.

If he had time to explain things...

...He didn’t.  

Shocker pointed to the tunnel he had just come out of wild eyed and panic stricken.  Aux let go of his belt.  He scurried up up to the security guards yelling, “Oh, my gawd!  Oh, my gawd! Oh, my gawd!”

The guards were turning from anger to confusion.  In a moment or two they would flex cuff him anyway, with the view towards sorting it all out later.  Shocker wouldn’t have blamed them for that.  They had a job to do, it was nothing personal.

The lead security guard was shorter than Shocker, potbellied and with a horking big mustache. He was adopting a stone faced professional expression.  One hand reaching for a spray can on his waist, his other hand was raised outstretched in a “stop” gesture.  Professional enough for this kind of work, Shocker estimated with dispassion.

Shocker had a knack for fooling the eye.  He visibly changed his pace and reared backward as if he was putting on the brakes but actually his legs were speeding up.  

The rent-a-cops eyes went wide when he suddenly realized that Cahn wasn’t going to stop at all.  His can of Cap-Stun cleared his holster.  He was bringing it up, just as Shocker attacked him.

Cahn grabbed him by the outstretched arm, twisting and locking it place while he transferred his ferocious momentum into a savage heel-first straight-leg kick into the man’s short ribs.  He felt them crack through his foot and he felt a crunch from the shoulder joint as he continued to torque the arm out its socket.

The first guard’s Cap-Stun went flying as he screamed high in sudden agony.  Shocker’s right hand snatched it out of the air as he danced with precision over the crumpling man.  The second guard had his arms outstretched and was lowering his head for a tackle.  Cahn spun a quarter turn, feinting with his left elbow, inviting the man to turn his head just a little to the left, just enough to get it out of the way, just enough that he wouldn’t detect the brutal crescent kick that Shocker had launched into his face.

With his right hand Shocker was blindly spraying the Cap-Stun in a broad arc, roughly where the face of the third rent-a-cop should be.  He didn’t have to be accurate.

Shocker felt his heel connect with the second guard’s nose with stunning velocity.  He turned his elbow feint into a real strike just behind the man’s ear.  That rent-a-cop collapsed to the ground in a liquid heap.

Shocker turned his attention to the third guard who was now feeling the effects of the Cap-Stun.  He’d taken it a good dose of it in the mouth, nose and eyes.  He was dropping to his knees and starting to howl, “GGaaaaGGRRRRAAAAHHHH.”

All three were out but more would be on them in about fifteen seconds.  Stadium security was very good.  He motioned Kerensky to follow him as he took off at a run.  He slipped the spray can in his coat pocket as he ran. The security guards he had just crushed had been cordoning off a VIP area.   He sprinted down that hall.  Fingers straight, arms chopping the air as he charged ahead.  He shot a quick look behind him.  The Kerensky girl, was doing the same, knees high,  waves of golden blonde hair frantically cascading as she ran behind him.  Good form, Shocker noted quietly to himself from somewhere inside.

The stadium erupted in screams that he was certain had nothing to do with the game, leaving even Cahn feeling chills.

He knew what panic sounded like, but even his lifetime of violence hadn’t prepared him for what he knew was coming.  A human tsunami battering itself to pieces while it tried to flood it’s way out of a city contained in a building.

He couldn’t get the two them out of the stadium in time.  He knew that.  So where could they ride out the storm?

“There!” He heard the Aux  yell.  Cahn glanced behind him and to his fury saw her peeling off and heading toward an elevator whose doors had just opened.

Last damn place he wanted to be.  What really annoyed him, was for a second he thought he could trust the girl.  He was suddenly revisiting the idea of throwing her over his shoulder and climbing down the outside of the building.

It was Aux’s turn to glance behind her at him. She saw his face, made an accurate estimate as to his state of mind and in exasperation yelled, “we need safe room, YES?”

Cahn smoothly shifted a few mental gears as he picked up his speed.  Aux shoved her way into the elevator annoying the alumnists who were staggering their way out. One them turned to snap at her.

“OUT!”  Cahn roared.  The people exiting the elevator quickly remembered some other place they wanted to be. Moments later Cahn skidded to a halt beside Aux who was frantically stabbing the 7th floor button.  

The door were still open, when a small group of people started wandering towards them asking, “up or down?”  

Behind them a second and much larger group of security guards were racing towards them.

The elevator’s bell bonged and doors started to close with heart stopping slowness.  

“The arrow says it going up,” one of the fans said.  “Hey, hold the door a second!” A middle aged man in an expensive suit with a big gold M on his tie blue tack, started dashing for the elevator doors, his hands outstretched about to reach to reach the edge and block the doors back open.

Cahn pulled the Cap-Stun out of his pocket and let the man have it right in the face.  The rest of his group reared back from the strange man waving a worryingly silver looking can of clearly weaponized something at them, while a man who appeared to be their boss collapsed on the floor in front of them, screaming and clawing at his face.  

The security team crashed into them just as the doors finally closed.

Okasana Kerensky was already handing Shocker a full-sized leatherman she had dug out of her purse. Shocker looked at it for moment in confusion.

Then he looked at the elevator’s control panel.  No obvious button or switch labeled STOP.  Of course there wouldn’t be.  College kids couldn’t possibly be trusted with one.

The elevator was starting to move upward.

The one marked emergency would probably start a deafening alarm.  There was, however, a keyhole.  Shocker flipped up the flathead screwdriver, took a step, cocked his hip, hammered the screwdriver into the keyhole, and twisted it savagely.

The elevator stopped moving.

And then the lights went out.

A moment later a small pinky sized flashlight appeared out of Aux’s purse.  She flashed it under her own chin in order, Shocker was absolutely certain, to throw her arched eyebrow into sharp relief, when she said, “brilliant.”

Terry Jackson’s chest felt tight as his lungs pumped like a steam powered accordion.  His heart was beating like a terrified rabbit as he ran.

Most of the Zombies had gone after U of M’s band.  They had chased them into the stadium.  Somewhere inside, Terry was scared about that.  He had been the one to lead them into an open entrance, while he himself had ducked hard right before getting out onto the field.  He knew he might be blamed for the whole thing.  They had to blame someone, didn’t they?

It didn’t matter yet.  Not all of the zombies had charged out on to the field.  A whole bunch - maybe ten of them - were hot on his tail.

Terry was desperate enough to try something alien to him.  

I have to think my way out this, he thought to himself.  What do I know about these things?  Small and very rusty gears spun frantically in his mind .  What are their weaknesses?  I know they are dumb.  They can’t use ladders.  They have real trouble going down stairs.  Everybody knows that, too.  So, he more-or-less deduced, there is some advantage to height.  

Stairs, maybe?  No, Zombies could use those, right.  And they might be packed with people.  Now that I think about it, they are going to packed with people.  Public elevators will be, too.  Maybe even too packed to run.  But there is one that one won’t be.

He took a quick look over his shoulder. He was still keeping his distance but he was getting tired.  He was feeling sick from the truck crash and digging deeper didn’t do any good at this point.  There was nothing left to dig up.

Having more or less lived in Spartan Stadium for ten years had it’s advantages. Terry knew where the food service elevator was. And it would take him up right past crowd levels and up to the top floor.  

There was no way the Zombies were getting all the way up there.  They wouldn’t bother, there was too much food to be had lower down.  

Terry had a goal and he was almost there. He tried to put on just a little more speed and just couldn’t.  He had never been a distance runner.  He was out of juice.  They were getting closer.  He knew.  He could hear it and he was still out juice.  Even being panic stricken wasn’t enough.

He looked behind him again.  Oh God, please help they were so close now.

But he was almost there.

He charged through the door, flicking down the door lock. His eyes locked on the elevator's floor lights.  

Hallelujah!  The elevator was on this floor.  He felt the door go wump as the zombies ran into it.  Then it started vibrating as tens of hands started beating on it with hysterical strength.

Terry charged over and pressed the call button.

He heard a metallic shriek from behind him.  The door latch was giving way.  He spun on dime.  The exit bar wouldn’t work for them but the door was already moving.

He looked around for anything that might slow them up.  The bread cart. You wouldn’t think that something that was only loaded with bread could be so damn heavy but he knew from personal experience that the damn lovely thing weighed a ton.  It was better than six feet tall and bread is mostly water.  It weighed about as much a full water heater.

He got behind it and shoved, his running shoes scrambling for traction on the smooth cement floor.  It rolled slowly, ponderously, over to the door that the zombies were beating off its hinges.

*Ding*  He heard the most beautiful sound in the world.  Doors sliding open.

The cart bumped up against the failing door and Terry scrambled up the side of it, jerking and tugging on it, trying to get it to tip over on its side.  He almost couldn’t do it.  He was thinking about just quitting and running for it, when the far side wheels lifted off the ground.  It was going slower than he would like but it was going.  It was just past the halfway point when the door gave and slammed into the cart.  

Terry lost his footing and fell, landing on his ass and looking up as a wall of dead weight was toppling over to pin him to the ground.  Terry shot himself backwards, sclutting like a turbo charged crab as the cart came down with a dull, solid clang.

He got up and stumblingly raced to the elevator, practically on all fours himself at this point.  The door slammed and beat at the bread cart as they inched their way in.  Hands, and then arms were shoving their way into the room, frantically waiving.  

Terry was in the elevator stabbing the seventh floor button like it was a telegraph key, trying to will the doors to close faster.  

At the sound of sliding elevator doors, Terry slumped down to the floor in relief.  He was completely spent, but he was safe.

The doors were almost closed when grimy, torn hands clamped around the edges and pulled them back open.  The bodies came pouring in.

“NOOOOOOOOOO!” was the last thing he could scream before fingers dug into his mouth and tore his cheeks away from his face.  His entire set of teeth were bared as a fifth of his grey pink skull was exposed to the air, his eyes wide in mindless agony as they stared about the the elevator.  Things went warm, the pain was fading, his eyes were losing focus.  He was aware, but not really feeling his body being jerked from side to side as the last people he would ever know in his life dug furrows in him with their teeth.

The diners aboard did not notice that their dining car was rising toward the rarified heights of the seventh floor of Spartan Stadium, so intent were they upon their meal.  

The muffled screams were getting louder and louder, rising in volume and frequency.  Rent-a-cops were clearly no longer an immediate problem.  The sound was muffled, but close.  Very close.  There was panic and terror in the sound of the cries but also there was also pain. The people who owned those voices were being pressed in tightly, they couldn’t move.  They were trapped and frightened.  And it was getting hard to breathe from the pressure of all those bodies.  Their individual minds fading as their voices became the one incoherent cry of a true mob.

Oksana had placed her Thru-Nite flashlight down, balancing it on it’s pommel, it’ beam providing quite a bit of light.

Shocker walked up next to her.  Well within her personal space.  More or less offering her a shoulder if she wanted one.  She did.  But she wasn’t ready to be weak just yet.  When things...if things ever got calmer again, she would be weak then.  

She looked up at him.  Was this Richard Cahn actually capable of compassion?  She wasn’t quite certain how far up on the Dark Triad he was.  At least he had proven himself a tolerable dinner companion last night.

Aux had been a little annoyed but then Aux was always a little annoyed.

Her extremely unwanted date was in the process of arriving exactly on time.  She would have preferred it if he was fashionably late.  She could have looked down on him for that. Held him in contempt as a ridiculous enjenue but, no, he arrives with German punctuality in a German car.   Well, if a Russian girl can’t look down on a man for that, she can’t look down on him for anything, she thought to herself in considerable self satisfaction.  She was conveniently ignoring the fact that she also drove an Audi.

Aux had ordered Shocker to take her to dinner at the Six One Six in Grand Rapids.  He was not her choice of date and the Six One Six was not her choice of restaurant. That would have been the late and dearly lamented 1913 Room, but that fabled eatery had been transformed by the fall of civilization into a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  The Six One Six would have to stand in for best restaurant in the Michigan.

Having her bodyguard show her a night on the town wasn’t her idea either. It was her father’s.  Things were what they were, SOD was what it was, and the two them had business to discuss.  Her father had insisted.  Aux knew what was coming.  She was one of very few who did.  Arrangements had to be made.  

“We’ll have a couple of drinks someplace,” had been her bodyguard’s somewhat irritated reply.

Aux had sighed in resignation.  Breathed in deeply, what she had to do next went against her nature.  “I apologize,” she had said tersely.  “That wasn’t a shit test.  We really do have things to discuss and I want to do that over a good dinner.  I’ll pay.  No problem.  This is business.”

That had surprised him enough to accept.  

Aux Kerensky was wearing (for this likely to be intensely disagreeable evening) black jeans with a black patent leather narrow belt accessorized with an (illegal in Michigan) Benchmade 3300 Infidel stiletto clipped to the small of her back. A silk print scarf over a form fitting dark claret silk sweater accented with a Glock 26 in a Flashbang holster fastened to her Victoria Secret bra. Over that was her father’s Russian navy pea coat; black, thick wool and double breasted with Aux’s best beloved .357 Chiapa Rhino in a Recluse pocket holster.  She had completed the look with soft, knee-high leather boots.  Just enough heel to let her roll her hips when she walked - not enough to impede her if she chose to run.

“Guten Abend, mein herr,” she called out.

“Dobryy vechert,” Cahn replied as he stepped out of his car, lisping the Rs and aping a Ukrainian accent. Her date was dressed as an actual Marine tonight.  A Midnight blue form-fitting tunic, broad in the shoulders and tight in the waist with two long rows of overlapping anodized medals on his chest and one large un-anodized star hanging from an anchor attached to a blue bit of cloth clipped to his stiff collar.  Oksana Kerensky unconsciously stood straighter the moment she saw it.  As for the rest, white gloves and white barracks cover, bright navy blue slacks with a bright red stripe down the seam.  Somewhat unusual was the fact that he was wearing a dress cape.  Odd enough in this day and age for an officer let alone a Staff NCO. A boat cloak was legal but expensive and...rather different.

The decade-and-a-half old luxury car he arrived in was almost, but not quite, typical for a career enlisted man. It was a gleaming, jet black 2001 Audi S8.  

This car, Aux thought to herself, has been restored and sweetly so.  Perhaps more than just restored.  Audi engines of that day and age started graveling and gurgling the moment they were broken in, no matter how well they were maintained. This one was purring like a rare breed of large kitten.  The body had also had a first rate respray.  Plus fresh headlights.  Original wheels carefully restored with new and expensive Bridgestone Blizzak tires.  All for a car that would draw maybe six thousand, (if that) on the open market today.

Interesting, Aux thought to herself.  The car is rather low key but very high powered.  Much like it’s driver.  The older Audi design was quite restrained, which had made them very popular in conservative, heavily dutch, West Michigan.  It was stylish without needing to shout.  It wouldn’t stand out in a crowd but it could get away from one in a damn hurry. Quattro drivetrain, of course.  Not an ATV, by any means, but given the variety of roads it could handle, it was the ideal getaway car.  And that was before any tuning that might have been.... had been done to the engine.

Aux stepped over to the passenger door and pointedly, waited.

Shocked smiled confidently, got back in and started the motor.

Aux continued to wait.

After a moment the passenger window  slid down, “it’s unlocked.”  The window went back up again with a smooth hum.

Aux considered waiting some more but it was clearly going to be pointless.  She opened the door and slithered with elegant grace into the rear passenger seat.

Shocker snapped the key,  killing the engine.  Got out and stalked briskly around to her side.  Opened the door and offered her his hand up.  Which she accepted, rising with graceful elegance and stepping back out of the car.

He closed the door and appeared to be strongly weighing the merits of just getting back in and driving the hell off.

Her point made, Aux opened the front passenger door herself and stepped in.

Shocker rolled his eyes, before getting back in himself and firing up the rebuilt, expensively customized and barely-able-to-fit-under-the-hood, V-10.  

Order were orders.  Look after the girl tonight and keep her at least five hundred miles away from Detroit. Stay by her side and make yourself visible in the process. Orders don’t have to make sense, he didn’t even try to remind himself after all these years.

“What was that about?” he inquired acidly.

“Just sticking chivalry with a fork.  Yes,” Aux sighed with regret, “seeing if it’s done,”

“You should have just asked me,” Shocker chuckled.  “I’d have told you it was,” he said with a warm reassuring voice..

“Why is it that a man like you has abandoned it?” Aux seemed genuinely curious.

He lifted his eyebrows. Given how third wave feminism has destroyed me, you can really ask that? “The collection of nineteenth century manners that we call chivalry had obligatory requirements for both men and women,” he said, leaving a few things unsaid.

“And women abandoned theirs you mean? Yes?  Men are no longer obligated in consequence, yes?”

He looked glanced over at her non-committally.

“I suppose you are right, Sergeant Major,” Aux granted sadly.   “I was just hoping it still meant something to military men like yourself.”

Shocker laughed richly, in deep appreciation.  Not a bad line of attack.  Not bad in the least.  “You aren’t boring.”

Aux lifted one eyebrow.  “At least, I’m not boring.”

Aux was jerked back to the present by the sound of scraping metal outside the the elevator.  “Are they opening the outer elevator door?

“I believe so,”  said Shocker.

In moments they were likely to be crushed to death by a human wave.

No comments: