27. Misplaced Trust

Previous Story: 26. Strange Packfellows

‘Don’t worry, miss, I can help.’

The cop looked no more than twenty-five. He appeared from between two cars and crouched beside Gudu. She looked at his name tag: Robinson. Every item of his kit was polished to a shine. Despite his confident words, he looked nervous.

‘You, okay, miss?’

‘Good as can be, I guess.’

They were stuck in the middle of an enormous parking lot close to San Lazaro Port. Gudu had been on her way to oversee a covert delivery but the shortcut had proved a mistake. Halfway across she’d realized there were dozens of Crazies lurking here. She had tried to sneak past them through the endless rows of Takemoto sedans and SUVs but she kept running into trouble. She had already knifed one with her karambit and she now adjusted her baggy shirt so the cop wouldn’t see the sheathe attached to her belt.

The two of them sat there by the rear bumper of a grey car, watching a Crazy amble past.

‘How did you end up in here?’ asked Robinson.

‘Hiding from them. You?’

‘We had a report of a theft nearby. I saw what I thought was a perp but it turned out to be one of these … things. Knocked it out with my nightstick.’

‘No partner?’

Robinson shook his head. ‘We’re spread thin. I radioed for help but god knows when it will come – or if.’

‘Where’s your car?’

The young cop pointed towards the distant road that ran into the center of the port. Gudu could see the patrol car; it was at least two hundred yards away.

‘How’d you end up all the way over here?’

Robinson shrugged, his face flushing slightly.

‘Got ammo, right?’

‘Yeah but I’m all out of non-lethal. Only bullets left.’

‘Good. We can shoot our way out.’

Robinson didn’t reply. He avoided Gudu’s gaze and continued to look around.

‘Well? Why not?’ Gudu reckoned this cop might be her ticket out of the parking lot. Given all the strange events in the city at the moment, she didn’t want to be stuck out here when night fell. The sky was already growing dark.

‘We can’t do that,’ said Robinson, wiping a hand across his clammy cheek. ‘We can’t just kill them.’

‘Those things aren’t human any more,’ replied Gudu. ‘Anyone can see that.’

‘Not true. They’re working on a cure. We’ve been told to use non-lethal force where possible.’

‘And in this case, it’s not possible – so you can use your gun.’

‘Sorry, miss. That’s not going to happen.’

Hearing footsteps, they both spun around.

Behind them were two tall men wearing overalls and hi-vis vests. They looked like dock-workers and both were striding towards Gudu and Robinson.

‘Come on!’ She was first up, backing between cars with her hand ready to draw the karambit if necessary.

Robinson stayed between her and them, his nightstick at the ready.        

The Crazies came closer, their eyes bloodshot and unblinking.

Gudu kept glancing over her shoulder as they withdrew. She called out instructions to Robinson, directing them away from other nearby Crazies.

Suddenly the first of the men made a grab for Robinson. The cop swung his nightstick. He connected but was then unbalanced and unable to evade the second man, who clutched his wrist. Gudu slid sideways between the cop and the nearest car and aimed a kick at the Crazy’s arm. She hit him hard enough to loosen his grip. Another swing from Robinson covered them as they retreated.

‘Thanks.’

Gudu didn’t have time to reply. She heard shuffling feet behind them and saw that the encounter had drawn more Crazies. In moments, they would be surrounded.

‘You have to use your gun. It’s the only way.’

‘I can’t. Follow me.’ Robinson rushed past her towards the nearest Crazy. It was a middle-aged woman wearing a conservative dress and shawl but she grinned manically when her eyes locked on Robinson. As he pushed her aside, her handbag fell from her shoulder and he somehow tripped over the strap.

A nearby Crazy – another big man in overalls – pounced. Slobbering like a dog, he grabbed Robinson’s head with both hands as if he wanted to pull it off.

‘Help! Help me!’

Gudu could hear movement directly behind her. She knew she had to act quickly. Keeping well clear of the Crazy, she undid Robinson’s holster and pulled out his automatic. Then she grabbed the magazine of lethal ammo. The counter told her there were only six bullets left. It would have to be enough.

As she turned around, one of the dock-workers went for Robinson, grabbing his leg and now tussling with the other Crazy for their human prey.

‘Help me!’ yelled Robinson. ‘Please, miss! Please!’

Gudu needed the bullets for herself. Two were required for the second of the pursuers and one more for the woman. Bullets four and five enabled her to reach the wide avenue that ran the full length of the parking lot.

Bullet six hit a Crazy waitress named Gina. Unfortunately, Gina got up, despite the blood pouring from her chest wound. Gudu was about to hit her with the gun when she remembered the three paku she was carrying. Two of the well-aimed throwing stars was enough to finally account for the resilient waitress.

Gudu at last reached the exit. She tucked the gun into her waistband and climbed over the barrier. In the distance, Officer Robinson was still screaming.