June 14th, 2008
Machine Shop Entrance Ramp
Peace fumbled with the keys, trying desperately to find a match for the dual locks keeping them from the Purdue Machine Shop. T.Rex, Rubble, Kamikaze, Cowboy, and Beard stood guard at the top of the ramp, ready to try and defend the entrance from the approaching horde. An occasional clatter sounded from the door, reminding the Fools of Angel Hair's efforts inside the darkened building to find something to get them inside.
"Go ahead and ready the ranged weapons," Beard called out, a half a second before Peace mentioned them.
This sent T.Rex's mind racing. With the exception of Rubble's bow, the firearms at their disposal would make a significantly larger amount of noise than the screaming or combat of late had. This would of course attract even more zombies to their position.
Moreover, ammo was incredibly scarce. The bow had the least amount of ammunition, then the pistol, then the rifle. Each weapon had a maximum and effective range, depending on which Fool was firing. The pistol had the shortest overall range, then the bow, and then the rifle. In a sense, the firing rate, range, total ammo count, and noise gave each bullet or arrow a "value" that needed to be considered for them to effectively manage their weapons.
Ryan rapidly considered the likely outcomes, very unhappy with the turn their rescue had taken.
Option one: we unload everything we have on these guys in front of us and somehow get into the Machine Shop. Having cut into their numbers, we take out the rest of the zeds with our melee weapons. Then we escape and press on. Later, sometime when we really need a gun, we don't have enough ammo, and we all die.
Option two: we squeeze off a few rounds here but conserve ammo, and barely dent the numbers. We somehow get into the Machine Shop, exhaust ourselves fighting the horde close up and get trapped in the building, and we all die.
Option three: we never make it into the Machine Shop. We pull Angel Hair out and try to fight our way through the crowd. We take out a respectable number of zeds...before we all die.
Ryan's mind screamed at him to save each precious bullet. He couldn't shake the feeling that they would very much need the ammo later at some crucial moment. His heart, however, said rather convincingly that maybe dying later was much better than probably dying now. Even probably dying later was better than probably dying now.
The zeds drew nearer. "Fire when ready! Make every shot count!" T.Rex commanded, drawing his neighbor's hunting rifle from the case. "Go for the closest, obviously, but if you can, hit the bigger ones. If the ammo runs out we want to fight the smaller ones!"
Beard took careful aim, legs spread shoulder width apart. The closest zed to his side of the ramp was about 45 feet away and closing, staggering from around the West side of the building. It was a beefy figure with a ripped polo shirt and chunks of short hair missing. Rubble, facing the opposite side, nocked an arrow and drew back the bowstring with massive arms, searching for his own target.
With a two handed grip and arms pointed straight out, Beard fired the first shot and drilled the frat looking character in the skull. It immediately dropped to the ground, tripping another zombie in the process. Beard grimaced and took aim once more, firing with calculated malice. He dropped a female zed, destroying the enormous sunglasses stuck on its face in the process. He aimed. Fired again. A large black zed absorbed the bullet and slowed, but continued. Beard fired once more with a snarl, and the hulking beast slumped forward.
Meanwhile, Rubble's first arrow leaped into night with a twang of bowstring. The zeds were so close, the arrow flew nearly horizontal. The fletching made it easy to track, and it embedded into the chest of a skinny zed with a solid thump. Cursing, Rubble adjusted his aim and readied a fresh arrow, sending it flying. When it connected with the eye socket, half of the arrow disappeared into the zed's skull.
A jingle of keys behind them joined Peace's triumphant cry. "The keys worked!" he yelled, before lowering his voice slightly. "Sort of."
"What do you mean, 'sort of?'" Cowboy said, readying another molotov.
Peace talked almost too fast to understand. "The keys Angel Hair found worked on one of the locks. It opened the internal lock, the one that braces the door against the frame. There's still another heavy grade padlock keeping the door anchored to the ground, there at the bottom," he said, pointing.
"Can we break it?" Kamikaze asked, studying the obstruction. The aluminum door was anchored to a brace in the ground with a thick chain.
Ryan passed his loaded rifle to a surprised Kamikaze. He trusted her marksmanship, having witnessed firsthand her accuracy visiting her farm the previous summer. "Hold them off! I'm going in with Angel Hair to find something to fix this."
Leaving the rest of the Fools to deal with the horde, T.Rex climbed headfirst into the oval hole in the Machine Shop door. He trusted the group implicitly; he was also glad his size was a help for once, and not a hindrance. As Ryan wriggled through the door he flailed his arms, reaching out for something to grab onto.
There was nothing, and Ryan flopped onto the floor. His eyes struggled to adjust to the dim light of the workshop, and when Angel Hair's flashlight beam crossed over his face it only made things worse. The moans of the undead trickled into the Machine Shop.
"Hey T.Rex," Angel Hair greeted, in his normal laid-back tone. It was as if nothing was amiss.
A series of rapid pistol shots sounded just a few feet away and echoed inside the shop. "Whaddya got for me?" T.Rex asked, hopeful but expecting bad news.
The crack of a rifle sounded, and some muffled Fools cheered. "I need your help moving something heavy," Angel Hair said. "I think there's something behind it that can help us unlock the door." He waved his light towards the rear of the room. "Watch for the tables there," he pointed with the beam, "and there."
Together they hustled to the back of the room. A large box labeled "Warehouse A" blocked a tall blue cabinet. Angel Hair rested the beaming flashlight on a nearby workbench to illuminate the area. "This is surprisingly heavy," Angel Hair warned as he put his shoulder against the box.
Another crack of the rifle sounded and Ryan rushed to join his fellow Fool. Together they heaved, slowly inching the box aside. It scraped across the floor loudly, obscuring for a few moments the sounds of battle just outside.
Box aside, Angel Hair and T.Rex sized up the cabinet. It looked like a gigantic 50's refrigerator, with smooth edges and faded paint. Angel Hair tried the handle and it gave slightly before squeaking.
The doors flew open, exposing the contents to the beam of flashlight. Inside the cabinet hung over two thousand keys of varying shapes, colors, and sizes.
Current Word Count: 33,069