Chapter 08: Terminus

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"I hate my job," Mike muttered as they lingered.

"Don't we all?" Dallas replied. "Come on. Only way to do it is to do it."

He started walking. Mike and Laura moved after him, weapons at ready. They were at what might be the end. She had to keep focused. How fucking stupid would it be to run the marathon and trip at the finish line? They flicked on their flashlights, all three of them sporting assault rifles now, as soon as they moved past the thin light of day. At least there wasn't any water leaking in here. Their flashlights revealed the pallid, black-veined faces of a few dozen zombies strung out along the length of the descending tunnel, coming for them now.

Laura aimed and fired, aimed and fired. Watched these former people, these human beings who had once been parents or children or office workers or criminals or any one of a thousand things. Watched them all stare at her with the same empty gaze, with eyes that held not even a shred of humanity. They were vessels, huge versions of diseased cells. Trying to spread the sickness. It was their only goal.

They were horror incarnate.

She gladly put them down, punching holes in skulls or turning eyes into empty, black sockets and seeing them crash to the rocky ground in an instant. The zombies went down quickly enough, and when no more came to investigate the noise, the trio split up and began their search. The initial cavern looked like it had been in the process of being renovated, turned into something with walls and a floor and a ceiling, an area with structures. As it was now, there was just some half-finished metal plating, support struts, and some prefabricated structures.

They checked each of just over a dozen of the trailer-like buildings, finding no survivors and nothing of use until they gathered in the largest of the structures. Mike found what seemed to be the foreman's office and settled into a computer chair behind the workstation. He booted it up, muttering to himself as he began working the keyboard, the pale light from the screen playing across his haggard features.

Laura moved to the door that looked out into the rest of the structure, where Dallas was, pacing and keeping watch.

"Oh shit," Mike said.

"What?" both of them replied at once.

"We might just have a shot at this. There's a huge driller they have here in the mines. If it's intact, it should have the part we need. I can uninstall it without too much trouble, pack it in a hardcase and then we can get the fuck out of here," he explained.

"Where is it?" Laura asked.

"It's, uh..." he studied then screen, then sighed heavily. "It's at the bottom of this tunnel. About a hundred meters down."

"Of course it is," Dallas muttered. "I don't suppose you have any kind of access to the security network or lighting?"

"I...might," Mike replied, continuing to work the controls. "Security no, but I have brought every last light on that I could manage to. So hopefully that helps."

"Do you have everything you need?" Laura asked as he stood up.

"I should, hold on," he replied, taking his toolkit off of his belt and cracking it open, then laying it down on a nearby desk. He poked through it proficiently, studying several tools, then nodded tightly to himself, closed it with a snap and reattached it to his belt. "Yes, I have everything I'll need to extract the part."

"Then let's fucking do this," Dallas said, turning and leaving the foreman's office.

Laura and Mike hurried after him. So close.

They were so close.

Just one more battle. There were definitely more lights on in the primary tunnel, but it only seemed to define the darkness that lurked in a variety of side passages, and shadows appeared to be gathering along the edges of the tunnel itself. And, farther on, near the end, near where they had to go, there was nothing but darkness.

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