Debate Exposes Doubt


Title: Debate Exposes Doubt

Summary: Russell Clank and the final days of Ogden Marsh, friendliest place on earth.

Author: Sakura123 (weber_dubois22)

Rating: T+

Characters: Russell Clank, David Dutten, Judy Dutten, Becca Darling

Chapters: 1/1

Word Count: 4880

Written: 10/17/2010

Completed: 10/20/2010

Disclaimer: The Crazies and all things related are property of Overture Films, George A. Romero and Breck Esiner. I own nothing save [the] storyline and original characters.

Author's Note: Presently, I'm in love with this movie and the character deputy Russell Clank (aka "Deputy Ninja") who must be experienced to believe. Originally, this was going to be one of those "five times" stories, but it quickly mutated into something else altogether the more I added to it. Anyways, hope you enjoy it. I had fun writing it. Warning: This story contains repeated use of the F-Bomb and mild violence.


zero.

The phone rings at some ungodly hour of the earliest morning of his life and for once, just once, Russell is tempted to ignore it and go back to sleep. He lets it ring two more times before he sticks his hand out from under the pillow to grab the phone from the cradle. "Sheriff's department," comes out of his mouth before he has time to remember that he is in his own bed and not behind a desk sipping on coffee.

He could use some coffee right now.

"Russ, I need you at the Farnum's. Now."

David. Chief. Mr. Dutten. The person he really wanted to hang up on right now. "Whatsthematter, chief?" He drawls out, lowering his head back onto the pillow.

"Russell, get your ass outta that bed and get out here now."

Chief's tone leaves no room for argument and Russell knows better than to argue with his superior. Muttering something that sounded like an affirmative, he hangs up and rolls out of bed. He sleepwalks into his clothes, dons his cap, climbs into his truck and drives down the road toward the Farnum property. Russell is plotting David's demise as the Farnum's house comes into view, but stops halfway when he really pays attention to his surroundings. The house and the barn is on fire, the property is crawling with firefighter's running back and forth between their engines. Jesus Christ.

Russell is good and awake now. He parks his truck next to Dutten's cruiser and hops out. Bill Farnum is sitting on the back of his truck, handcuffed, whistling with a smile on his face; David is talking to one of the firemen and Judy is standing nearby with tears in her eyes, clearly at the end of a crying fit.

She looks up when Russell approaches them, he tips his hat to her in the usual greeting. "Mrs. Dutton," He mumbled. Judy reaches over and tugs on David's sleeve, he responds with nod. "Mornin', Russ," His tone is anything but kindly as he meets the younger man's gaze. Russell nods in response, his eyes were transfixed on the inferno that was still consuming the farmhouse. "What the fuck happened here, Chief?" He asked.

David shook his head, the shadows on his face accent the underlying anger in his eyes. "Bill killed Deardra and Nicholas. Burnt 'em alive in their house,"

"Fuck, no," The words stem from a gut reaction to the news, he feels sick. Why would Bill kill Deardra and his son? "No," He turns to Judy for confirmation. The tears are on again as she nods and looks away. Her reaction to the situation is more personal than either man seem ready to acknowledge. Russell focused his attention on the man sitting on the back the truck. Bill stares at him with wide eyes, he's not whistling anymore but smile is still on his face. There wasn't a trace of the kindly man left in him, only a self-satisfied madman.

Russell is distraught, he doesn't even argue when David asks him to take Judy home while he deals with everything here. He leads the grieving doctor to the truck and the rest is a fuzzy memory of awkward silence and sobbing. When they arrived at her house, Judy didn't leave the car immediately. She sat there, chewing her lip in hard concentration whenever a tear slipped down her face. Russell looked in every other direction besides hers, unsure how to breach the uncomfortable silence. Finally, Judy raised her head and straightened her posture. "Thank you, Russell, for the ride," She rasped.

"It was no problem, Judy," He answered. "Get some rest." The sentiment, however peculiar it was coming from him, was clearly appreciated by the doctor. Wiping her face one last time, she climbed out of the car and hurried toward the front door.


.I

Russell could not believe this was happening to him. One moment he's driving his truck, as fast as he can after what he saw in the morgue, straight for Cedar Rapids; the next, he's trying to keep the thing from tumbling like a rock down the stretch of road. The string of profanities that came flying out of his mouth, when the mason jar of contaminated water hits the floor and shatters, would have been comical in any other situation. He could hear the chunks of tattered tire pound the asphalt, the wheel is fighting to spin out of his control. Russell uses all his strength to keep the vehicle under his control. The truck bucks and goes flying off the road into a ditch. The vehicle groans and the headlight's flicker before going out, Russell is staring at the illuminated patch of earth over the steering wheel in alarm.

He doesn't even get a chance to catch his breath when the door swings open and the yelling beings. Russell's first instinct is to go for his gun, but the shadows are quicker. They disarm and haul him from the driver's seat by collar of his jacket, flashing lights into his eyes. "What the fuck? Get off me! Get off me!" He struggles to break free of the hold they have on his arms, but the figures move in closer until one of them had the barrel of a gun on his chest. He stopped struggling long enough to get a look at their faces (or lack thereof). Gas masks with large red lenses, hazmat suits and green fatigues. The fucking military. Amidst the frantic shouts and dizzying commands pounding into his skull, Russell found himself being shoved toward one of the high school's buses. He stumbled up the stairs in shock. The vehicle was half-full of people he knew, scared denizens of the town.

Shit, even his neighbor a couple miles up the road was here. All eyes were on him as he walked down the isle toward an empty seat. Questions like "Deputy Clank, what's going on? Who are these people?" and "What's happening?" Came at him a mile a minute and he couldn't placate them with the typical deputy assurances that everything would be fine if they remained calm and did as they were told. Who was he to lie to them at a time like this?

"I don't know, fellas. I don't know anymore than you do," He said. They fell silent, taken aback by the answer and perhaps the menacing tilt of the head they got from the soldier watching them from the front. Russell sat down next to the window and watched as they left his truck behind. He couldn't believe they spiked his tires. "Assholes," He muttered.


.II

If he hadn't been so upset, Russell would've smiled when he saw David and Judy. As it stood, he could only crack joke lacking the amusement it usually would've in any other situation. He listened as Judy tried to rationalize the situation by throwing out ideas as to what the sudden military presence really meant and David attempted to calm his wife with reassurances that they would "figure this all out". It was an always an interesting dynamic to watch, their relationship, but why Chief chose to lie to the missus was puzzling.

How were they going to figure this out?

They arrived at the high school in an orderly fashion. The view from his window was almost too unreal to be true. The entire town had been rounded up and put behind chain link fences fit for a concentration camp. "Alright, everyone up," The soldier gestured to the exit with his rifle. Everyone did as they were told and left the bus, scared into submission.

Russell followed Judy and David out, watching the every move of the soldiers who ushered them toward the entrance of the large white tent. The amount of activity going on around them made him dizzy, he tried to remain calm as they scanned them with looked like metal detectors. Their proximity unnerved him; he hated how their fingers curled whenever they gave orders to change directions.

He'd been so enamored in the chaos going on around him that he never had a chance to evade the hazmat soldier who appeared beside him. "Sorry, sir, you'll have to come with us," The soldier said as if it was the simplest thing in the world to do. For Russell, however, leaving his friends behind was the last thing he was going to in a situation like this. The second they grabbed him, he resisted, limbs flailing like a jackrabbit caught under the arms.

"Russell!"

"What are you people doing! What is going on here?" David and Judy's shouts of protest teetered off behind him as the soldiers separated him from the married couple. If there was one thing Russell did not like, it was being manhandled; they pushed and jabbed him toward the exit of their pop-tent. It was all Russell could do to resist them. He planted his feet onto the floor, raising one in defense when a solider came at him from the front. He elbowed the two behind him, desperate to remain where he was. "Get off me!"

"Do no try to resist us! Get outside now! Outside!" Their arms looped under his and hauled him forward, tossing him outside into the chilly atmosphere of the night. Russell hit the ground with a cry. The soldiers were at his side in an instant, pulling him back to his feet. The barrel of a gun pressed into the center of his back and pushed him closer to the crow being ushered down the narrow gated paths. He stumbled forward with a curse, but caught himself. Russell cast a look over his shoulder, the soldiers crowded the tent entrance and made an insulting gesture with their guns. "Get moving," One of them shouted.

Reluctantly, Russell fell into the shuffling crowd, folding his arms across his chest. The further he went, the worse the situation unfolding around him seemed to become. People were herded like cattle through a file of soldiers toward different paths. Families were being separated from each other against their will. He watched as a mother of two girls was dragged away kicking and screaming from her daughters. They tried to reach her but their path was blocked. Two soldiers were insistent on checking for what looked like an ear infection. The thermometer beeped once and they were sent off to the left, their tears ignored by their captors.

"Russ? Russell, is that you man?" The tremor of fear in the slightly elevated voice caught him off guard. Russell turned toward the origin of the voice and nearly breathed a sigh of relief. Frank Dunham, owner of the local bar, stood next to him wearing an equally relieved expression. "Dunham, hey, man," They shook hands briefly, happy to see a familiar face. Dunham looked about the caged area, suspicious of everything and everyone. "Got any idea why the army is here, Russell?" He asked.

"Shit, your guess is as good as mine, Dun," Russell quipped, watching a woman shimmy past him. He had an idea, all right, but there was no point in freaking out an already paranoid member of the community. Especially one who believed crop circles were a sign of the apocalypse. "Fuckers came outta nowhere and spiked my tires." Dunham scoffed in disbelief at the indignation in the deputy's tone. "Count yourself lucky it was just your tires, friend," Dun grumbled.

"Why's that?"

"'Cause they're shootin' anyone who tries to escape 'em," Dunham clarified. "You know Becca Darling's folks? Well, they were gunned down trying to get their girl outta town. Poor thing's an orphan now." Russell regarded the bartender with unbridled shock. The military was shooting people, unarmed civilians. Motherfuckers. Russell leveled his glare on a soldier who motioned for them to step toward him.

Both he and Dunham stepped forward and watched as one of the hazmated soldiers raised thermometer to Dun's ear. Dunham got one mild beep, resulting in a collective sigh from everyone. "Alright, this way, sir," Dunham followed the soldiers to the left, looking more relieved than he should've. They moved to test Russell next. The change in their behavior did not go unnoticed by the deputy. They placed the thermometer inside his ear, it went off like an alarm signaling cardiac arrest.

"We got a contaminant! Sir!" The soldiers next to him leveled their guns on him, Russell watched in stunned realization as Dunham was spirited away where the children were only moments ago. They surrounded him like wranglers and hurried him down the path on the right. Unreasonable, sudden fear seized him; they thought he was sick. They were separating people because they thought they were sick like Rory and Bill. They were going to shoot him like a dog. "Wait! Wait, I'm not-!" Russell was thrown against the fence. They twisted his arm behind his back into an awkward position, causing his body to lock up in reaction to the pain. Russell strangled cry of pain died in his throat when he saw a pair of lights in the distance.

The all too familiar gleam of a red truck that belonged to Tom Ellis was speeding toward the crowd of civilians on the other side of the fence, horn blaring like a siren, stirred up a hornet's nest of panic.

In the blink of an eye, everything went to hell. The fences went down in a single plow, Tom and several others climbed out of the car and the military began to open fire. The crowd went mad with fear and panic. Some went running blindly in every other direction away from danger, others assisted Tom in the assault on the soldiers who were quickly becoming outnumbered. Russell watched the event unfold in utter disbelief before realizing the soldiers that had apprehended him were no longer there.

He was alone.

Pushing away from the fence, Russell broke into a run, making a mad dash for the unguarded entrance he came from. The screams and gunfire were the ultimate motivation to keep him moving.


.III

"Did Peter call?"

The balance of power has always been a tricky tightrope between himself and David. Granted, Russell can say he never tried to challenge the chief for his position, he was comfortable playing sidekick (for now, anyway), but he couldn't say he was a easy person to work with in his first years as the deputy. Thinking back on it now, Russell felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment at his overeager and short-tempered demeanor. How David had put up with him would forever be a mystery.

"Did Peter call?"

Whatever the Chief said was law and law decreed that the deputy wasn't going to get sick like everyone else in town, despite his proximity to the Farnum property. Russell, forgetting for a moment, the events that occurred earlier at the school and his batshit crazy uncle Willard (presently nice and cozy in a retirement home in Utah), allowed himself to believe David's earnest sentiment.

He wasn't gonna go mad. He'd make it through the night, get them all to Quick Phil's without serious injury then go off on his own. Russell would fall off the face of the earth. Lay low for a while before resurfacing to visit the Dutten's, their baby and Becca for a check up. Everything would be fine.

"Did Peter call?"

Fixing his gaze on the mindless old woman searching for "Peter" in the crowd of fallen bodies, Russell bit the inside his mouth in frustration.

He wasn't sick.


.IV

Giving Becca his jacket had been reflexive. There was no thinking involved, just a case of catching her rubbing her arms at the right moment. The words "You cold?" echoed in the virtually deserted road into town, catching the teenage girl off guard. Becca didn't hesitate to answer in the affirmative despite her obvious guilt over it. Russell never lost a beat in his stride as he slipped out of his jacket and draped it over her shoulders.

Becca did the rest herself, her fingers played with the frayed ends of the cuffs before raising her head to regard his profile. "Thank you," Her gratitude registered at the last second; when he turned to acknowledge her thanks, she was already moving back to the motherly embrace of Judy. Resisting the urge to scratch his mustache, Russell refocused his attention on the situation at hand, but kept a close eye on Becca.

The natural instinct to want to protect her wasn't one he could easily resist. It was why he was where he was in his life. (That and he wasn't one to deny a lady in distress much needed aid.) When she lost Scotty, he never thought twice about her weight throwing him off kilter as they left the barn. He listened to cry, did nothing to console her, he just held her. The arm that held her itched to cradle the shotgun again. He ignored it for as long as he could, knowing she needed his arm a little more than the weapon did.

Becca remained close to him until they reached the Dutten residence, then wandered back somewhere between David and Judy, allowing him to take the lead again. When the couple left to gather supplies from the house, Russell kept himself busy with reattaching the wheels to Dutten senior's beat-up cruiser, humming "walk this way" quietly to himself.

It must have piqued Becca's interest as the next words out of her mouth were, "Scotty loved Aerosmith." He paused long enough to consider the meaning behind her words, then shrugged. He never stopped to think how the reaction would look in her eyes. "Who doesn't?" Was his reply. And honestly, who didn't love Aerosmith? Becca nodded knowingly as she handed him another bolt. "I don't," She said after a moment.

Whatever Russell had intended to say was lost to the sound of the Chief's revolver going off in the distance. Snatching the shotgun and rifle off the ground, he motioned for Becca to follow as he dashed off.

What followed after in the wake of dispatching the last of the Hamill's left him on the defensive and highly aware of Judy's doubt in his sanity. He did not intend for his inquiry in regards to Becca's welfare to turn out like it did, but Judy's heated "She's fine" pissed him off. So much in fact that Becca's attempt to refute the obvious made him go for the scare tactics, which in hindsight, only made the situation worse. Where did Chief get off telling him "not loose his head"? He was not going crazy, why the conspiring couple even tried to imply he was angered him.

Nevertheless, it would become a moot point. As soon as the helicopter forced them to duck for cover in the godforsaken car wash, it was situation normal again. The crazies fucked around with them, sending him over the edge of calm and his reaction cost him the shotgun and his arm - almost. It wasn't until the deranged car wash employees smashed their way inside the cruiser that he reclaimed his composure.

Shoving the hysterical Becca onto the floor, Russell fought the man off with at least seven punches to the face and throat until he vanished from sight. Judy screamed and the car leapt into action, tires screeching across the wet concrete. Becca emerged from her hiding place with a look of immense relief on her flushed face. They shared a brief look of elation before he turned his attention to the front.

However, that proved to be a fatal mistake.

Before he knew it, Becca was screaming and waving her hands about in a panic. He turned around in time to see the hose tight around her neck and yank from the car. "No!" He reacted too late, her pant leg glided out of his grasp, he felt his heart stop at the abrupt end of her screaming fit and snap that followed. "Stop the fucking car! Stop the car!" Russell bolted from seat before the vehicle came to a full stop, but Judy was faster. She rushed past him as the crazies were regrouping. Left with no one but her to protect, he dispatched the crazy gunning for her with little trouble.

He was too frozen to do anything except watch as David and Judy pull Becca down from the makeshift noose. Becca folded like a rag doll when she was finally brought to the ground, Russell felt his insides collapse. Husband and wife mourned over the shell of the girl he vowed to protect and get out alive. Her face was devoid of all life, she stared up at nothing, not even at him. Disbelief and shock settled into his bones. Everything, except the cruiser erupting into a ball of flames and the helicopter zooming by overhead, became background noise. The memory of watching Becca fall into a sinkhole full of contaminated water on the way to the McGregor's filled his head like a fog.

She wept brokenly as he pulled her out of the hole. "I'm gonna die, aren't I?"

"No, 'cause I'm making it my duty to get you outta here."

His own words echoed vacant space that was becoming his memory and he couldn't do anything except laugh at the irony of it all. David's dumbstruck expression meant little to him as he sauntered off to the side the carwash to watch the wreckage burn, his chuckle sputtered as he fought back his anger.

"I'm gonna die, aren't I?"


.V

Somewhere between the Dutten residence and Becca's death, David stopped trusting him. He knew Judy was responsible for the rift between them, she practically convinced the Chief to stay on at the McGregor's farm for the stupid kid. That nearly got them killed. So when he popped the man responsible for their present predicament and David went off on him like a man about to cry havoc, it was no great lost on Russell's end. They talked, now the man was dead. The bastard probably would have lead them straight into the line of a firing squad if he'd been allowed to live. They did not need his kind of help. Russell had done them a favor by killing him.

Now, if he had been as smart about the rifle, they probably wouldn't be where they were now.

It was insulting, to say the least, that David even tried to play him for a fool with a smile on his face. You do not spend eight years at someone's side and not know when they're being less than honest with you. Stupid motherfucker, he thought as he secured the rifle and revolver. "Russell, we're on your side," Judy attempted to placate him with no real concern for anything save herself and David. Russell scowled at her but kept his gun on the Chief, knowing he was the real threat. "My side? Shit, I didn't even know there were sides," He snarled, hooking the strap of the rifle back onto his shoulder. Judy knew he had her there. "There aren't, I just- I meant-" Judy's words teetered off into a stammer that did nothing except make him angrier.

He leveled the gun on her forehead, eyebrow twitching with rage. "Shut the fuck up."

"Russell, don't do this. Russell-!"

"Judy-," David began nervously, eyes never leaving Russell's.

"Russell, no!" Judy shouted as loud as she could, her face red with panic. He turned the gun back on David, the last reserves of his self-control were slipping by the second. "Shut her up, or I'll kill her. You understand me?" He threatened. David nodded numbly, raising his hand to Judy who looked paler than Becca when she died.

"Judy, shut up. Let him think about what he's doing." Judy did as she was told, but it did little appease Russell's anger. The gun wavered slightly in his hand when David stated that he needed to think about what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing and if they behaved, he wouldn't shoot them for the outright disrespect thrown in his direction. If it weren't for him, they would be dead and buried somewhere on their property. If it weren't for them, Becca would still be alive, he found himself thinking. He nodded toward the stretch road ahead of them. "Go on. Walk on out where I can see you," Russell commanded. "Move!"

They did as they were told, but not before Judy looked him straight in the eyes and said, "You're not well, Russell." If the words had meant anything to him, Russell would've argued with her. Instead, he just frowned and fired a round off to the side. Judy jumped, stumbling back into David's arms. The sheriff pulled her away, one hand in raised in surrender. The couple walked on in silence, Russell holstered his glock, brought the rifle to the front and followed them.

He wasn't sick, he wasn't sick. He was just wounded from the knife in his back, put there by the only two people he thought he could trust. It was only natural to be angry.


VI.

The blinding clarity of his situation came crashing down on him the moment he remembered the catfish. Lying there on the ground, listening to himself recount the details and David humor him with answers, all he saw the big sucker wriggling on his hook as he hauled it onto the boat. Suddenly he realized that all he was was a victim of circumstance, not a survivor. He was a memory of last summer, just like the catfish.

He would never live to see the next five years, celebrate his 33d birthday. The blood that continued to drizzle from his nose onto his mustached lip scared him senseless. No amount of denial was going to keep him from coming to the end that the entire town suffered. The thought of "Trixie" running through his system made him want to pull the trigger on himself.

Yet, the prospect of doing himself in was even more repulsive than going insane. He was afraid of being remembered for nothing except the cowardly bastard who threatened his friends with a promise of death. So, he asked if he could tag along with David and Judy awhile longer, while he still had complete control of his mental facilities. "Please?" Don't make me beg, Chief.

David helped him to his feet and took the revolver from his waistband. "Think you can keep up?" David asked, genuinely concerned. Russell nodded, perhaps a little too eagerly. David grinned at him as if he were still the rookie from '03, unsure of where to begin in the station. Ignoring the suspicious gaze of his wife, David motioned for Russell to follow and they were off across the green terrain.

Russell kept his distance and jogged after the couple. As the sun set on them, Russell could feel his stamina failing him, his head was pounding and his breath was shortening. Every step he took felt like he was wearing led boots. He prayed the end would leave him oblivious to his own murderous actions if the virus got the better of him. It would certainly make it easier for David when he had to pull the trigger on him.

Or would Judy do it? He wondered.

By nightfall, they were at the halfway point. Quick Phil's was only a hop and a skip away, yet they wouldn't make it with the army looking out for all three of them. Only two of them could leave this place and Russell knew he wasn't one of them. So, he volunteered to be the distraction. What else could he do? David was against it, it was written all over his face, but the time for fooling was over. "Come on, Chief, I'm done. I'm gonna die here no matter what. So let it mean something, huh? Let it mean that you two made it out. Give me that," He pleaded. Don't deny a dead man his final wish. There was a moment of prolonged hesitation before David finally handed him the gun. The weapon was heavy in his hands, he welcomed the certainty within and accepted his role in their situation.

"Hoo-fuckin'-yah," The words came easily to him as the only way he could say goodbye to his best friend. David, thankfully, said nothing in return. A smile, as sad as it was, was all he needed for a farewell. Clearing his throat, Russell stashed the gun behind him and hurried out into the line of sight, yelling as loud as he could. There was no one lefy now except him, God and the fucking military.

He wasn't sick, he wasn't a crazy. His name was Russell Clank, deputy of the Pierce Country sheriff's department. He would die with his identity intact and sanity maintained.


END.