9.Sunday.Regimental Command Post, 5th Infantry Regiment.
“Colonel Briggs?” General Ford asked as he climbed out of his Hummer.
“Sir!” Colonel Briggs snapped off a salute before shaking the General's hand, “Nice to see you again, General,” Brigg's smile of greeting faltered a little as he cast a glance towards Sunnydale, “I only wish it could be under better circumstances.”
“Indeed,” agreed General Ford as he returned the colonel's handshake, “tell me what you've done so far.”
“If you'd like to follow me, General?” Briggs led Ford forward to where they could see Sunnydale spread out before them.
The CP was positioned on a low ridge to the north of Sunnydale, standing side by side the two officers could see all of the town right down to the sea.
“I have an inner and outer cordon all around Sunnydale,” Briggs explained, “the Navy is patrolling the coast so no one can get out by sea. The airports been closed and all incoming flights have been redirected.”
“Good,” Ford nodded his head before scanning the town through his binoculars, it was still relatively early for a Sunday so there wasn't much civilian movement, he did however see military vehicles patrolling the streets, “What about inside the town itself?”
“At the moment I have a rifle company in the town supporting the local police,” Briggs hesitated for a moment before adding, “Sir, those Sunnydale PD guys are an incompetent bunch of morons, I'm probably going to have to reinforce the garrison before too long.”
“Whatever you think's best, Colonel,” Ford replied as he lowered his binoculars, “What are things like in the town itself?”
“At first there was some panic and there were a lot of angry, frightened people about,” Briggs explained, “but we seem to have calmed things down...although I'm not sure how long that will last.”
“What do you mean, Bill?” General Ford asked quietly.
“I'm not sure what'll happen if people start to die in large numbers, General,” Briggs explained, “Things could get messy pretty quick if they do.”
“Well Colonel,” Ford sighed heavily, this was an unpleasant situation and not one you could properly train for, “you'll have to deal with it the best way you can. I'm not here to second guess you,” Ford explained, “you're the man on the spot and I'll support any decisions you have to make.”
“Thank-you General,” Colonel Briggs breathed a quiet sigh of relief.0=0=0=0Sunnydale General Hospital.
The end of the morgue, furthest away from the door that led to the rest of the hospital, had been closed off with sheets of heavy duty plastic. There were in fact two sets of plastic walls, an inner and an outer even the ceiling and floor had been covered in plastic, the CDC weren't taking any chances. On trolleys inside the sealed off area were the bodies of Mr and Mrs Levinson covered by white sheets which were already stained with red tinged, yellow fluid from the sores that continued to ooze pus even after the unfortunate couple's deaths. Next to the bodies stood Doctors Lisa Aronson and Julia Ruiz they would be conducting the autopsies on the bodies. The doctors were both dressed in CDC issue isolation suits, both doctors wore two sets of gloves.
“Okay,” Lisa said quietly to her friend and colleague, they were in fact the only people in the morgue who weren't already dead. “Maximum sharps precautions, right?”
Julia nodded her head as she picked up a scalpel and held it above Mr Levinson's chest ready to make the first incision. Her hand shook as she tried to force herself to cut into the body, she'd done this sort of thing hundreds of times before, but this time she just couldn't bring herself to cut into the corpse.
“Here,” Lisa took the scalpel from her friend's trembling hand, “I'll do it.”
Taking a deep breath, Lisa paused before starting to cut. As she made the first incision dark, almost black blood oozed from the wound. That was unusual, she glanced up a Julia, dead bodies didn't normally bleed.
“We're sure he's dead, right?” Lisa asked half jokingly.
“No heart beat, no respiration, no brain activity,” Julia informed Lisa, “unless he's a zombie he's dead.”
The unusual bleeding seemed to lift the atmosphere in the morgue and both Lisa and Julia felt more relaxed.
“Okay,” Lisa sighed, “I'm going in...” she grinned across the body at Julia, “...unless Mr Levinson objects of course.”
As it turned out Mr Levinson didn't object and Lisa was able to cut into his body and open his chest cavity.
“Oh my god!” Lisa looked in horror at the bloody mess that had been Mr Levinsons internal organs, “It looks like a bomb went off in here!”
Julia moved so she could get a better view.
“Just like the victims in Boston,” she observed as she pocked what looked like it might have once been a lung, “it's fairly obvious how they he died, massive organ failure...”
“Hold on,” Lisa stood back as she looked down at the body, “something's not right here.”
“What?” Julia gave her friend a concerned look.
“Think about,” Lisa said slowly, “with this much organ damage the patient should have died long before it got this bad.”
“So you're saying...” Julia froze as the full horror of the situation percolated through her mind.
“The virus, or whatever it is,” Lisa pointed out, “must have remained active for a considerable time after the patient died.”
“But that's impossible,” Julia gasped, “the virus in Cleveland died not long after the host died.”
“I think we've found something new, here,” Lisa stepped well away from the corpse.
“This means we're going to have to be very careful disposing of the bodies,” Julia said slowly, “if this virus can live on after the host has died and it gets into the soil...”
“Right,” Lisa agreed, “so no burials all bodies to be burnt,” Lisa thought for a moment trying to decide what the best course of action should be. “Okay, I'll report to Bobbie while you stay here and supervise the disposal of the bodies, I expect the hospital has an incinerator to burn hospital waste, you better use that.”
“Okay,” Julia nodded.
“Once you've done make sure you and everyone else is properly decontaminated, right?” Lisa ordered.
“Don't worry,” Julia started to clear up the few instruments they'd used, they'd all have to be sterilised two maybe three times as long as normal, “I'll make sure everything is scrubbed clean.”0=0=0=0Revelo Drive.
Unable to sleep much after the sun had risen, Buffy had climbed out of bed being careful not to disturb Willow as she did so. Having spent most of the night sitting with Xander, Willow hadn't gone to bed until Joyce had more or less ordered her to. Now she slept the sleep of the physically and emotionally exhausted.
Slipping her robe on over her PJs, Buffy shuffled off down stairs to the kitchen and started to make the early morning coffee. As she ran the water into the jug she found herself staring out of the window; she didn't know why, perhaps it was all something to do with her being the slayer. But, she knew that Xander wouldn't get well again, that he was as good as dead only he didn't know it yet. As the coffee jug overflowed, Buffy found herself crying as she fumbled to turn off the tap. Putting the glass jug down she stumbled over to one of the kitchen stools and sat down.
Sobbing quietly so as not to disturb her mom and Willow, Buffy thought back on all the times Willow, Xander and herself had faced danger together, had cut class together, how they'd spent their free evening in the Bronze or in the library researching the latest threat to humankind. Now none of that would ever happen again, at best there would only be Willow and herself to help Giles.
“Who'll get the doughnuts now?” Buffy asked herself tearfully.
Wiping her eyes on a couple of sheets of kitchen towel, Buffy blew her nose and pulled herself together; she needed to be strong and not fall apart when the inevitable happened, she needed to be strong for Willow. After putting the coffee on, she made her way into the family room where she switched on the TV and sat down. Using the remote control she flicked through the channels until she came to the local news channel that was reporting on what was happening in Sunnydale.
A young woman in a smart blue suit was doing a piece to camera as behind her soldiers moved back and forth doing soldier-like things that Buffy had seen soldiers do before.
“The US Army and the CDC report,” the young woman explained to the camera, “that the virus which has struck this quiet Californian town has been contained as they search for answers.”
“Well that's good to know,” Buffy told herself as the woman on screen turned to point out the soldiers and the town in the distance, “I'd hate to think everyone was ignoring us.”
“A tight quarantine has been established to protect neighbouring communities and extends down to the Pacific Ocean where the US Navy and Coast Guard are patrolling the waters just off shore from Sunnydale.” the sound of helicopter engines intruded into the woman's report and she had to pause to let the sound of the engines fade a little before continuing with her report, “As you can no doubt hear there is also a no-fly zone over Sunnydale with helicopter gunships patrolling at low level while USAF fighter jets patrol higher up.”
“Anything on the news, honey?” Joyce asked as she walked into the family room.
“Sorry did I wake you?” Buffy turned to look up at her mother.
“No dear,” Joyce smiled, “the news?”
“Nothing much,” Buffy admitted, “but I hope you weren't expecting to go out of town today.”
Joyce gave her daughter a quizzical look.
“Quarantine,” Buffy explained, “looks like we're surrounded by the army, navy and airforce, I expect the Marines will storm ashore later.” Buffy sighed, “No one's going anywhere today.”0=0=0=0
Driving along the highway towards the edge of town, Dave Conroy and his family found themselves stopped by yet another army road block. What the hell was going on here? This was supposed to be America not Russia, all he wanted to do was to get his family somewhere safe. They weren't infected by this virus (that the government were no doubt testing on SunnyD and they probably had the antidote for), he had no intention of letting himself and his family become victims of some government screw-up; he'd seen the black helicopters himself so it had to all be the government's fault. As he sat in the driving seat with his wife and children beside him, Dave saw Bob Drake's pick-up come towards him, it looked like Bob had been turned back. As he watched, Bob slowed down next to Dave's vehicle and called out of the window to him.
“Follow me, if ya wanna get outta here,” called Bob just before he drove on down the road.
Heaving on the steering wheel, Dave pulled his jeep out of line and followed Bob's vehicle. They soon got off the main road and headed down some minor roads towards the edge of town. Here the army cordon was thinner and the troops were relying more on patrols mounted in Hummers than actual lines of troops. They had, however managed to put up a significant barrier of barbed wire, certainly enough to stop someone on foot and seriously damage any car that might try to force the fence. Glancing out of the jeep's rear window, Dave saw they'd picked up a tail, two Hummers with machine-guns mounted on top. As he pressed down on the accelerator, Dave really hoped that Bob knew what he was doing.
Up ahead of Dave's jeep, Bob steered his pick-up towards an old wooden warehouse that had been used to form part of the army's perimeter. Bob knew the building as he often used it to store stuff that he'd rather Sunnydale PD didn't know about. He knew that the building's wooden walls were rotten and it wouldn't take much for him to drive right on through. Driving into the warehouse, Bob's pick-up burst out of the back wall almost immediately, Bob and his buddies Steve and Jeb were home free, if they could get to the woods that were only a couple of hundred yards away. They'd only crossed half the distance to the woods when a helicopter gunship came and hovered between Bob's pick-up and the woods.
“Halt your vehicles,” came a voice like god's from the helicopter's PA system, “and dismount.”
“Shit,” cursed Jeb as he clutched his hunting rifle across his chest.
“They're bluffing,” Steve called, “Keep going, keep going!”
“You have entered a restricted area,” the helicopter pilot explained over the PA, “We will fire...this is your last warning.”
The vehicles kept heading for the woods and the pilot had no choice but to fire warning shots that chewed up the ground in front of the lead vehicle.
“Damn!” Bob cried as the earth exploded all around him, desperately he turned the wheel to try to get around the gunship. Of course his futile manoeuvrings were pointless as the chopper pilot turned to keep his guns fixed on their target. Inside the pick-up, Jeb pointed his rifle at the helicopter and fired off a couple of shots. By some miracle one round hit the bullet resistant canopy of the chopper.
“What the fuck are these assholes doing?” the pilot asked his weapons operator, his orders were clear, in the event of being fired on he was to use deadly force. “Okay,” sighed the pilot sadly, “light 'em up.”
The stream of twenty millimetre cannon shells intersected with the lead vehicle, a pick up, and tore it to flaming pieces. Thankfully the second vehicle stopped and the passengers were captured by the crews of the following Hummers.0=0=0=0Revelo Drive.
As the morning progressed, Buffy had started to feel more and more like a third wheel. Her mom and Willow where still trying to help Xander, a project Buffy now felt was pointless. They might as well just keep him as comfortable as they could until he died and not hold on to any hopes that he might get better. It was times like these Buffy hated being the slayer. As there was nothing new on the news, she got up, changed into some old clothes and went outside. Connecting up the garden hose she started to wash the mud and dust from her mom's car.
As she worked she heard a loud voice drifting across the neat suburban lawns towards her, Switching off the hose she walked down to the road to see what was going on. Movving slowly down Revelo Drive towards her was a military jeep with a couple of loud speakers on the roof. The loud speakers were giving the same message over and over again.
“If you are feeling sick in any way,” came the disembodied voice, “you should hang a pillow case or any piece of white cloth on your front door. Soldiers will take you into a testing facility and you'll know the result in a few hours. Early stages of the virus resemble the flu with coughing and a high fever. Anyone showing these symptoms should report them immediately. Doctors have the situation well in hand and are working day and night to find a cure.”
Watching as the jeep drove slowly by, Buffy got the feeling that things were a lot more serious than just an outbreak of flu.
“Now why,” Buffy asked herself, “don't I believe you?”0=0=0=0