ZIM Day 23

There is a tunnel that leads from the basement of the Grain Exchange to the Minneapolis City Hall building. It across the street diagonally. It is an old building, built in 1888. Its walls are made of granite, which gives in an eerie gray color. It has a clock tower that rises over three hundred feet above the street level. The dials on the face of the clock have stopped since the outbreak, almost as if time has halted as well. Any other day, I would appreciate the architecture, but today it reminds me of a medieval castle. And we were about to enter the castle’s dungeon.

The second point of interest is somewhere below the City Hall. There are many underground sub basements and we have to go to the very bottom. All ten of us rode the elevator to the tunnel entrance in silence. I was worried about taking this tunnel before. Who knows what is down here. If any of the doors were open before, there could be hundreds of ghouls roaming the corridors. All I could hear was nervous breathing and the blood pounding in my ears. The elevator chimed and the doors opened.

There was nothing in the room, but it stunk of death. The retched odor stung my eyes. It smelled like rotting meat and sour milk. They had to be close. We stealthily moved into the first hallway. I carefully peeked around the corner while Chuck unsheathed his blade. There was nothing to the left, but to the right there was a body on the ground. It wasn’t moving. Chuck crushed its skull just in case.

The only light left on in this part of the tunnel was just above us. I couldn’t see more than ten feet in the gloom. There was no sound other than our muffled foot steps. We crept quietly down the hallway. With each step, I was sure to run right into a walking corpse. Jeff and Andrew stayed near the room with the elevators to make sure we wouldn’t get cut off if one of them got into the tunnel. Chuck and I were in the lead, with Ben and Steffanie close behind. ‘On edge’ doesn’t even describe the tension in the room.

I was about halfway through the first corridor when Chuck grabbed my shoulder. I almost screamed, but held my breath before it could escape. I could faintly make out a sound coming from ahead. It sounded like water dripping at first. A wet, disgusting noise; like the sound a dog makes when licking its chops. In the dim light, I could make out a figure up ahead. It was crouched near the floor, facing the other direction. The corpse was eating something on the ground. I didn’t want to know what.

Ben raised his weapon to finish it, but I shook my head and put my hand in front of the barrel of the shotgun. We needed to stay silent as long as possible. It stepped behind it, ready to slice through its head any second. At the same second that I raised the blade, it turned and glared at me over its shoulder. It used to be a man, probably some sort of vice president of a company that didn’t matter any more. You could tell he was well off by his tattered expensive suit, shiny gold watch, and single Italian leather shoe. His lips were gone, making it look like he was grinning. Blood oozed out from his gums as he lunged in my direction. The VP grabbed my arm, but I was faster and decapitated it with one swift motion.

I almost gagged when I realized that his hand was still grasping my wrist. I flinched and stepped back. The rotted arm tore free of the body and came with me as I winced back. Ben grabbed the arm and yanked it free of my wrist. He smiled as I stared in terror at the limp arm he was holding. It wasn’t the arm I was so afraid of; it was what came with it. I lurched forward as the shiny gold watch slipped down the wrist, over the knuckles, and past the fingers. I missed the catch by just inches. It clattered to the ground, breaking the silent tension in the room. I winced as it echoed loudly down the hall.

Nobody moved or breathed. We just stood there in the darkness, waiting and listening. Then I heard it. A snarl or a growl. It was coming from ahead. It was a wet, rasping, breath that cut through the silence like a knife. I didn’t know what else to do. I switched on my flashlight. No point in being sneaky anymore. There were five, ten, maybe twenty ghouls in the corridor. They were all looking at us. The others turned their lights on and turned back the way we came. There were even more at that end. Maybe forty or fifty.

Jeff’s Uzis opened up in a hail of gun fire and they backed into the elevator room. I could hear screams as the dead plowed after them. There were more corpses coming from that direction. I turned back around to face the ones in front of us. There was no going back the way we came.

Chapter 24

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