|The Undead Down Below
Author: Cardinal Robbins PM
Who loves zombies? Who loves survival stories in an alternate universe? We do, so that's what's happening here! In the world of Law and Order: SVU, life has diminished to survival of the fittest after a normal case crumbles. A virus begins to spread and affects the brains of those who are bitten by the infected. John Munch and Maria Frank face their darkest fears, trying to surviveRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - J. Munch - Words: 4,584 - Published: 02-11-13 - id: 8999558
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"The Undead Down Below"
By Liz Hinman and Cardinal Robbins
Copyright 2013 Liz Hinman & Cardinal Robbins
Who loves zombies? Who loves survival stories in an alternate universe? Well, hot damn – that's what's happening here! In the world of Law and Order: SVU, life has diminished to sur vival of the fittest after a normal case crumbles. A virus begins to spread and affects the brains of those who are bitten by the infected.
Since we both write John Munch/OFC fics, you'll have an idea of where this fic stands, as well as who's going to die and who isn't. Maria Frank and Ralph are creations of Liz Hinman. (Cardinal's Sarah Zelman OFC chose to sit this one out.) John Munch belongs to Law and Order: SVU.
For those who may see similarities of survival techniques here as well as in "The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor," or any other zombie-related books, shows or movies, rest assured our fic was written without having previously seen that novel. The survival skills and situations in this fic have been developed on our own, with no influence from any other writers. We know what we'd do in the zombie apocalypse!
Cue the fright night music…and thus it begins.
"Let's see, a ten-letter instrument that is round with metal disks." Maria Frank glanced down at the crossword puzzle as they walked along the roof of a building in New York City, a high-powered rifle slung against her shoulder.
John Munch let out a whistle and a large beige dog trotted up behind them, moving ahead of them, over a makeshift bridge that connected the roof of their building to another. "Try tambourine," he suggested, looking down to see a few unknown people slowly walking below them. "Look sharp – four below us."
Frank glanced down as she took a step off the bridge and went back to her puzzle. "Looks like tambourine will work. Thanks, John." She scribbled in the answer, stuffed the puzzle book in her shoulder bag and double checked her rifle. "Are we clothes shopping, checking the garden or getting non-perishable items today?"
"Eh. It's been vegetables for the past three days. I need to get some red meat into me, before I forget what it tastes like." Munch stopped near a roof edge and looked down. "I think it's time to go hunting today. What should we get? Deer, a couple of geese or see if we can get part of a cow?"
"I don't have enough room in my bag for any beef, but we can do that tomorrow or the day after. Maybe a goose or duck?" The female detective gave it some serious thought, since logistics were often a problem. "Going to have to send Ralph out if it lands among the crowds down there. He's faster than they could ever be, probably stronger, too."
Maria looked down over the roof's edge and eyed the walking dead mingling around each other. She was well aware some of them were a lot faster than those who shuffled around aimlessly most of the time. "Oh, shit – look! I think they finally got Mark Evans from Robbery!" A familiar-looking man stumbled toward the group, his clothes smeared with blood and other deep stains, his body the victim of random decay. She grabbed a pair of binoculars and peered through them. "Confirmed. It's Mark all right."
John reached for the pair and looked down to where she was pointing. "Son of a bitch! He was a hell of a good cop, too. You want to take him down or should I?" She waved her hand and he took hold of his rifle, shoving the maple butt of the weapon against his shoulder to ward off the punch of recoil. "All right. Here we go." Taking aim and steadying his hands, Munch blew out a breath and squeezed the trigger. The top of the robbery cop's head exploded, his body crumpled to the ground in a heap. The undead around him barely took notice that one of their number was gone. "There, it's done. Too bad there's nothing we can do to recover him for his family, but I heard they went down in the first wave."
"Yeah. Good shot, John. At least you could give him peace." Frank smirked and looked up when she heard honking from above. "Looks like the geese are migrating today. Best get what we can." They both pointed up and aimed at two different large birds. With two loud shots ringing off, two geese fell, one landing on the building about fourteen feet from them and the other coming to rest on top of the water tower behind them.
Ralph, an Anatolian Shepherd Mastiff mix, instantly took off over the bridge. He loved the thrill of bringing downed game to his masters, the heavily muscled canine seeking the dead bird on the building beside them.
John climbed up the metal ladders to snag the other bird from the water tower. He tossed it down to Maria, who took them both, wrapped the bodies in plastic bags and strapped them to Ralph's backpack. "I want to double check the generator since we didn't get a chance to do that yesterday." John broke himself away from surveying the horizon and climbed down, as she suggested they head back to their hideout.
Looking in the direction of the sun and glancing down at his watch, Munch huffed softly, as he walked carefully and quickly over a bridge, his two companions mere steps behind. "We might have to make it quick. Dusk is coming and I want to get in before it gets dark. I don't want be left scared out of my mind like we were last week."
"Hey, the watch battery died and neither of us knew," Frank shot back with a frown. "That was both our faults. We had to wait until the next morning before checking out the electronics store to find the right battery or a new watch." She hadn't heard the end of it when it happened, John's not-so-subtle way of tipping his hand. He'd been scared to death they'd be surrounded and jumped before they could get their weapons up.
"Yeah, sure." John sighed, then froze when he heard a sound. Looking around, he quickly saw a group of zombies moving purposefully in the direction of yelling and shots being fired. "Damn it to Hell! Looks like someone's busted!" Ralph began barking loudly, baring his teeth at the zombies below them, his hackles rising in aggression.
"Help me!" The man waved an arm to get their attention as the creatures circled around him, snarling as they began to close in. Shots had been fired from people holed up in a tenement across the wide thoroughfare, but they'd stopped probably in an effort to save their ammunition. "You have to help me! You can't let them eat me alive!" He shrieked in pain as the undead began biting him, ripping jagged chunks of flesh from his arms and neck. "HELP ME!"
Maria shook her head and whispered, "We can't help him. He'll be fucked by the time we get to him."
"Not unless we end it." John readied his 30.06 rifle, checked the scope and took aim. "Sorry, pal. This is the best I can do for you," he half-whispered, genuinely remorseful. Adeptly squeezing the trigger, Munch put the man out of his misery and bowed his head briefly when the man hit the sidewalk. The undead circled tightly around the lost soul to feed; what was left of their decomposing faces quickly wore a glistening sheen of warm, fresh blood.
Maria closed her eyes for a moment and thought back to what had put them in this situation in the first place.
Two years earlier…
"All I'm saying is this case is a win/win situation," Olivia Benson stated during a group meeting over their latest perp. "This guy is twisted. First, he had sex with a dead body he personally dug up from the grave. Then, he went for the next woman he saw once he was done with the first vic's dead body!"
"After that, the woman died over at Bellevue from an infection in her cervix," Elliot Stabler finished, his arms crossed over his chest. "What are the odds of that happening?"
Everyone shared uneasy glances before hearing a scream from the hallway. All reached for their service weapons as three people rushed into the squad room. One had a hand pressed over a bleeding wound and she looked disoriented.
"What happened here?" Cragen demanded as he moved toward the bleeding woman. Don took her gently by the shoulders and turned her to look at him. "What happened? Who did this to you?"
Cragen couldn't help but notice one of the uniformed officers with this woman was badly shaken up, her skin so pale it was almost translucent. Her brass nameplate was printed with L. FERNANDEZ and he recognized her as one of the newer hires assigned to the 16th. Her hand pressed firmly to where her radio would have been, blood seeped freely between her fingers.
"Olivia, come over here and try to get her name. We need to know who she is." Don went quickly to the cabinet which held the coffee-maker, taking a roll of paper towels from the bottom storage area. He passed several to Olivia, who was trying to help the woman, then passed more to the uniformed officer. "She looks like hell!" he continued. "We need to call a bus for you, too – what happened out there? I told you and your partner to go pick her up, before her ex-husband came back to assault her again. This doesn't look like she's been beaten, it looks like someone cut the hell out of her with a broken bottle."
The female cop looked over to her partner, patrol officer Tim Gentry, whose expression was that of fear…fear of both the vic and his partner. He remained silent while she spoke. "I…I don't know. We were bringing her in for questioning – like you asked – and she dropped like she had fainted. We… I mean, Gentry and I picked her up and she didn't say anything, just suddenly fucking turned around and bit me on the shoulder!" She motioned to her partner, who'd taken the strange woman from Benson. He forcefully held her to prevent her from biting anyone else. "After she bit me, before we could question her, we found out she'd been running around biting other people, too. I don't know what the hell is going on with her!"
Don watched as both women's eyes began to glaze over, the wounded officer's legs buckling as he grabbed for her, easing her to the floor. "Somebody call a bus!" His attention immediately turned to the cop's partner, "And you, Gentry, get her into a holding cell – NOW!" The blue-top had his hands full all of a sudden, trying not to become another victim of the woman's razor-sharp teeth. They scuffled as the uniform half-dragged, half-shoved their Jane Doe into a place where she could be kept until medical help arrived.
Expressions of disbelief on their faces, the entire squad was baffled; was this crazed female a psych case or giving a bizarre performance with disastrous consequences? Either way, Cragen was worried those who'd been bitten had also been infected with the HIV virus.
Keeping their weapons raised amidst the chaos, Maria loudly gasped as the female officer began to stir then stood up. Before anyone could ask if she was all right, she began snarling, her lips curled to expose now-black gums against her unnaturally sharp teeth . She lunged for Cragen, her nails leaving fresh blood on his cheek and neck before he could dodge out of harm's way. Immediately firing their weapons to protect their captain, a stray shot hit Don in the back and he dropped to the ground taking the living dead officer with him. Oozing blood, a red-rimmed powder burn in the center of her forehead, a nine millimeter slug laid waste to her brain.
As the victim in the holding cell turned, she suffered the same fate before she had the opportunity to bite anyone in the precinct.
"What the fuck was that?" Fin asked, getting only silence as the answer from his stunned co-workers.
Soaking the dead geese in hot water to remove the feathers, John double checked the oven they had gutted out and converted into a wood stove, then poked the fire with a long metal spike. Maria was on the roof with Ralph, feeding the small amount of chickens they had collected from feed stores as chicks. She used corn they had growing on another roof top, no stranger to sustainable living.
The majority of the roof gardens they had taken as their own, to plant vegetables and fruits while depending on the wildlife and now free-roaming livestock for meat and bones for tools. The chickens provided eggs and occasionally meat. Feral cats had become useful in protecting their crops from mice, rats and pigeons. They kept the local vermin from snacking on their valuable small crops.
Various stores had openings cut into the ceilings to enter and ransack for non-perishable goods, clothes, weapons and electronics. Magnetic doors had been placed over the openings to keep any zombies out, in case they found a way into the stores then found the pathways both John and Maria had created. John had laboriously reinforced each door with hasps and padlocks, he and Mar each carrying a set of keys they had thoughtfully color-coded with various nail polish.
Since the virus had spread a little over two years ago, everyone they had known was dead. Various small groups of survivors had spread around the city, but John Munch and Maria Frank kept to themselves, relying only on each other - and Ralph - for survival. They had come across their canine companion during the earliest spread of the deadly virus, snatching him from a burning car driven into a large tree, the driver of the car being mauled by two zombies. Neither of them could save the human being, but they couldn't bear listening to the terrible cries the pup made as he struggled to escape. Ralph had grown into a large, handsome, intelligent dog who'd bonded with both the detectives almost immediately.
Pulling the larger of the two geese out of the pot and tugging on the feathers, John was satisfied when they came off easily. Wiping his hands on a towel, he reached for a handheld radio to call Maria down. "One of the geese is ready for prep."
"I'll be right there. I have three eggs."
"Good." Placing the radio down beside him, he peered through the window shades to watch the sun's rays gradually sink behind the buildings. The door to their hideout was unlocked and he watched Maria walk in with Ralph in front of her, the rifle cradled in the crook of her arm. "How are the chickens doing?"
"Thriving. It looks like that really fat hen has an egg she's sitting on and I'm going to let her keep it. If the chick grows into a plump one like the mother, we can use it later." She placed the eggs in a cold box and closed the lid firmly. They had a type of refrigeration, powered by a car battery. It was enough to hold food at a safe temperature, without having to source gasoline for a proper generator. It was a risky way of doing things, but they had no choice.
John reached into the rinsing pot and pulled out the goose once more, making sure he'd pulled all the pinfeathers out. "That should be worth a shot." He took a large knife and began cutting the neck off, tossing it to Ralph as a treat. "What are the plans for tomorrow?"
Maria shrugged, cleaning up the feathered mess as John butchered the goose's wings. "I can't think of anything right now, so we could have a little shooting competition. How about who can kill the most zombies in five minutes?"
Smiling and arranging the finished goose into its roasting pan, he said, "Game on. What are the prizes, though?" He raised one brow and Maria tossed her head back and laughed. "Well?"
"All right. If I win, I get whatever I want. If you win, you get whatever you want." She crossed her legs under her body and grinned. "Work for you?"
Later that evening, using a lantern to get some light, John counted the casings they had in a tin box before setting it aside where their rifles sat. The window was slightly open to allow a cool breeze in, as well as to hear if anything disturbed the cannibals during the night. Maria sat on the mattress, sorting out clothes that were to be burned and those worth saving for washing. She held up a light colored shirt with a huge dark bloodstain on it. It was related to when the watch they'd been using died and they'd gotten stuck past dark in the open. "Is this a scratch from concrete?"
"God, I hope so, Mar." For a long moment, he wasn't sure. Then he remembered. "Yes. Want to see where I got too close to the wall?"
"Did you use antibiotic ointment on it?" she asked, hoping the virus had already died on the hard surface, not wanting to contemplate the reality otherwise. "If you did, I don't need to see it. I think we've both seen enough blood today."
"It's fine then." John had been quick to clean the area extremely well, liberally rubbing in Neosporin to prevent an infection…of any type, he'd hoped.
Newspaper clippings, photos from and of people who were probably no longer alive, and magazine articles covered almost every inch of the walls. Finished puzzle books sat stacked up against one wall to be burned as fuel later. Ralph kept his ears on alert as he took a quick nap in the corner. As a breeze blew through the window, all three of them were disturbed to hear gunfire and a rare, single zombie screech in the distance.
John glanced in Maria's direction as she lunged forward and dimmed the lantern immediately. Having no way of seeing in the dark except for the night vision sight on Munch's rifle, the last thing they needed was a lone survivor noticing the dim lighting and disturbing their already troubled lives. There was safety in numbers, but the three of them fared well enough. They held their collective breath as they listened. The cacophony drew louder and more gunshots rang out in the night. When Ralph began growling, Maria placed a hand on his back and he went silent, but he bolted to attention. Munch reached a hand out and grasped Maria's other hand firmly as they listened to their own hearts pounding.
Olivia Benson gripped her Beretta in her hands as she peered through a hole in the door. It was Day Four of another phase of the deadly virus spreading. John and Maria could always tell when another wave of the infection had begun. Hysterical crying, piercing screams and panicked gun shots always increased exponentially, as did the number of people trying to move through their section of Manhattan in an effort to find any sort of safe zone. Nowhere was safe now, especially with new phases of the pandemic flourishing about every three weeks. The toll was high and climbing more with every passing day.
Don Cragen was gone. George Huang was gone. Elliot Stabler had lost his life trying to save his already destroyed family, shot out of mercy by Fin when El had been bitten by his youngest son, Eli, who had turned. No one had any idea where Doc Warner was or even if Casey Novak or Alex Cabot were alive. Rations were running low with the few of them trying to stay secure in a couple rooms of the precinct building. The Sixteenth had provided shelter and safety over the past seven decades, but had the tired old structure finally given up for good this time?
John was sitting in the corner with his suit jacket over him like a blanket, trying to get whatever rest he could. His favorite work tie had long since been discarded days ago when Huang had been attacked without warning. He had been on his way in, slowly, carefully entering the precinct as Benson and Stabler stood guard. They had tried their level best to save him, but everything had happened too fast. They were outnumbered as they tried to get him to a patrol car. The FBI agent had grasped John's tie in his already blood soaked hand before Munch was grabbed and yanked back into the building, as George disappeared under a crowd of the undead. He couldn't bear having the tie from his friend's dying grasp hanging over his own heart.
Dried blood was smeared along Maria's cheek, her work shirt soaked in blood. She was utterly exhausted as she attempted to try and grab whatever sleep she could before anything else happened.
Fin was desperately trying to get a hold of his son, Ken, and was quickly losing his cool. "Damn. I can't get him." He shook his head and began trying another number on his phone. "C'mon, man. Where are you?"
A shriek erupted from outside and they jumped up to peer out the emergency door window. They heard screaming coming from a little girl who was being pursued by four zombies. "No!" Benson scrambled to get the door unlocked before it was too late to save the child. "I can't get this fucking door open!" She struggled with the lock, but it was no use.
"Don't! If you go out there, they'll kill you!" Maria grabbed her roughly and shoved her aside. "If you even try to save her, they will get you, Liv!"
"I can't let those bastards kill that little girl!"
"You have to!" Maria snapped. "We're running low on ammo, we're all exhausted and there will be no way we'd be able to get back in here without those things getting us! Do you want to become one of them? Do you want to risk all of us? I can't let you do that!"
Liv turned her head and watched in horror as they began to overtake the child. "I'm still trying!" With one more slam at the door, it banged open and she scrambled down the fire escape steps.
Stumbling to his feet and grabbing Maria's arms, Munch kept her from following her colleague as they watched Olivia aim and fire at the approaching zombies. "She's really doing it, isn't she? You said everything you could, Mar…she didn't want to hear you."
"You knew she was going to. It's too late for that kid anyway." Maria sighed, keeping her finger firmly on her Glock's trigger. "C'mon, Liv! Get your ass back here!" she yelled, knowing it was no use. She and John looked at each other helplessly.
Reaching for the weak child's hand, Benson kicked one cannibal away. By the time she had the child to her feet, it was too late. The little girl raised her head to Benson and snarled, leaping up to dig her teeth deep into Liv's neck. Letting out a bone chilling scream, Benson fell to the ground from the pain and attempted to push her off. Somehow, Liv managed to get to her feet, the undead all around her, pulling at her clothes and skin as they held her upright to rip chunks of flesh from her shoulders, neck and arms with their sharp teeth.
"You're an idiot, Olivia," Maria muttered, lifting her pistol quickly and taking aim at Liv's head. Biting down on her bottom lip, she squeezed the trigger and Benson's body dropped from their grasp to the ground, blood pooling beneath her skull, her fight finally over.
It felt like the gunshots and commotion of zombies had been going on for hours. Holding their rifles close and holding each other's hands firmly, the pounding in their chests hadn't eased since it started. Someone was out there - a survivor - and neither one of them wanted to risk saving someone who would add to their already dire situation. Weapons at the ready still couldn't ease their sense of helplessness as they heard the sounds of conflict outside.
Squeezing her eyes shut, pressing her face into John's chest, Frank finally heard what they knew was going to happen. The chilling scream of pain and agony echoed out into the night, the victorious screeches from the zombies rang in their ears. Whoever the poor soul was, they were now one of those compelled to roam the bloodstained streets seeking the next lone survivor.
Wrapping an arm firmly around Maria's shoulders to let her know it was all right, Munch turned his head to glance out the window. He could faintly see dark figures slowly moving around. The undead were almost silent now except for the occasional low moan. "I can keep watch first, so you can get some rest," he offered in a whisper. Two years of trying to survive hadn't diminished John Munch's caring nature as he tried to keep Maria comfortable. Despite their straits, he had somehow managed to thrive, helped by disposable razors to keep his face clean-shaven, heavy leather boots to keep good traction, clothes from department stores they raided, and books they found in abandoned apartments or stores.
His high-powered rifle and two Glocks - one in his shoulder holster and a backup piece at his ankle - were always kept in perfect condition and well-oiled, with a knife like those carried by Navy SEALS kept hidden in a sheath on his belt. Heated rainwater helped with bathing, bottled water they raided helped them stay hydrated and attend to basic hygiene. They were adapting to what was the New World Order.
Pulling away and removing her glasses, Maria was thriving as much as he was. Her shoulder length hair was tied back with yarn, a backpack held plastic bags in which to transport raw food, she'd tucked in puzzle books to pass the time. They had full ammo boxes, bandage wraps, rubbing alcohol, leather gloves, fingerless gloves and plenty of rope. Her belt held a hunting knife and her Glock. They both slept in their clothes in case of an emergency. "Want to wake me in a few hours, then?" She leaned against the pillows and scratched Ralph's ears as he settled down.
"Yeah, I will." He kept his dark gaze glued to the outside world, watching for anything out of what passed these days as ordinary, his hearing on alert. Their stomachs didn't growl out of hunger anymore, sleep deprivation didn't bother them at this point. They had grown accustomed to the smell of decomposing flesh. Anything that was out of line during the night was an instant threat until it was sorted out. "Just get some sleep while you can. Everything will be all right."
As she drifted off to sleep, the sound of John's steady breathing calmed her; she knew if it could ever be 'all right,' he'd be the one to make it so.
To be continued...