Ch. 6

Running never felt this fun.

As soon as I landed on the building, my feet scrambled for purchase on the slick wall. I heard Alex slide down to meet me.

"Grab hold of the wall," he called out. Still sliding down it, I dug my nails in and slid to the stop. Even though I was hanging by my nails I had finally stopped. Heaving a grateful sigh, I drew up my legs and placed them between me and the building and got a better grip.

Alex hung right up above me. I looked up and saw that he was hanging backwards with his hands and feet behind him. "How're you doing that?" I asked.

"I've a little more practice than you've had," he said simply, "Come on." He nodded his head upward.

"Uh, how do I do that?"

"Just jump up." Suddenly, he jumped and was thirty feet above me. Grumbling, I situated myself and prepared to jump when I heard a helicopter's engine behind me. Fearing what I would see, I turned around and came face to face with two pilots who were staring awestruck at me.

"Oh hell," I muttered and scrambled to jump. I saw one of the pilots raise a COM device to his mouth and I jumped up. I flew up and started running as soon as I caught up with Alex.

"Run!" I yelled. We hurried up over the building as the helicopter followed us. I followed Alex as we jumped from building to building. Adrenaline kept me going. We soon found ourselves in Central Park.

"Told ya we'd come here," Alex called out to me over his shoulder as we ran through the park. We heard several people scream in surprise. The helicopter was still hot on our trail and started firing on us.

"What the hell?" I yelled, "There's people here! They're gonna kill them!"

"They don't give a rat's ass who lives or dies as long as they kill us," Alex said as we dodged as many bullets as we could. We sprinted through the park and into the street. We ran into the street, jumping over cars until Alex pulled me into an alleyway. We hunkered down as the helicopter passed over us.

It hovered just above the apartment, its pilots searching in vain. It left after a few more seconds. We waited a little while before coming out.

I backed up against the wall; Alex had a hand on my shoulder and leaned out from behind the wall. He quickly pulled back and silenced my questions with a finger. Several pairs of boots pounded by our hiding place.

"Damn," he muttered, "They're all over the place."

We remained hidden for a moment longer before Alex spoke again. "Do you remember how to change?" he asked me.

"Um, kinda. Yeah," I replied uneasily, "Why?"

"There's too many of them for us to outrun unless you want to risk getting shot at. We have to blend in."

I knew where this was going and I wasn't going to like it. Alex took a step back and his form shifted until a Blackwatch member stood in his place. No matter how many times I watched him do that, it still freaked me out.

He waited until I had changed. I shuddered as I took on the new form. "God, this is beyond freaky," I said.

"Come on," Alex said and as we were about to walk out, a phone started ringing. Loud. It was mine.

Alex spun around as I frantically searched for it. I found it in one of many pockets on the uniform and was going to answer it when I realized I was still in my man-form. I shifted back quickly and answered the phone. Alex motioned for me to hurry. There were marine personnel who had heard the phone.

I nodded. "Hello?" I asked.

"Kenzie!" a girl's voice shrieked with gleam. I held the phone two inches from my ear. It was Kate.

"Oh god! Kenzie! I'm so glad I could finally get a hold of you!" she shrieked again.

"Uh, yeah," I said uneasily.

"Wait, Kens. Are you alright?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Remember what happened the night before you left? How everybody was all over our apartment? Certain people may be tapping into the cell phone lines…" I trailed off. She got the general idea.

"Oh, right. Sorry. Forgot about that."

"No it's okay. Where are you anyway?"

"Just outside of Georgia. Staying with my grandparents."

"Okay, that's good." I nodded absentmindedly.

"Oh, Kenzie?"

"Yeah?"

"You remember that guy who kicked that other guy's ass before I left?"

"Yeeeeah?"

"You're not with him are you?" I gulped. Sudden laughter greeted my ear.

"Oh my god! I knew it! You guys are probably on the run and are gonna fall in loooove! O-M-G! Kens! I can't believe this!" She burst into another bout of laughter. I looked over at Alex who was dragging his hand across his neck. I needed to get off the phone now.

"Oh, hey Kate? I need to go. I just forgot I had to run some errands. I'll call you back later," I lied.

"Uh huh. Right, some 'errands'," she replied. I could practically hear those quotation marks.

"Dammit Kate!" I yelled.

"Buh bye, Kenzie," she said and hung up. I pressed the power button and placed my phone in my jeans' pocket. Alex walked over to me.

"How long were you planning on talking?" he shot at me.

I was taken aback. "Well, sorry," I replied. Alex looked around. "Crap," he muttered as we heard the marines' footsteps come closer.

"We don't have much time and you won't be able to change without being seen," he said softly.

"What do you want to do?" I asked him.

"Try to change your facial features, maybe even your hair. Pull your hood up and just keep quiet," he explained and walked over to me. He pulled the mask off a little above his nose. My face reddened when I watched him do it.

I pulled away as he came closer. "McKenzie, come on," he muttered and moved to stop me. I froze when I heard a splash behind us. Alex took my shoulders and bent his head into the crook of my neck. I couldn't move.

Oh hell! I thought.

"Just relax," Alex whispered. His breath brushed up against my skin. "I don't feel like fighting these guys right now," he continued softly.

The footsteps stopped just behind Alex. He drew back when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He situated me so the marines couldn't get a clear look at me.

"What seems to be the problem, sir?" Alex asked pulling the mask back over his face. The marine who seemed to be the commanding officer leaned around Alex to look at me. Alex moved with the officer. He stopped and looked up at Alex.

"I thought you Blackwatch guys weren't gift-happy," he said gesturing at me. I inched a little more behind Alex. Alex laughed.

"Ah? This? She's my girlfriend. Been well over six months since I last saw her. Damn captain's been working me and my men to death. Haven't had shore leave in a long ass time. Got transferred here a couple days ago to learn that she was here. We have a lot of catching up to do. Don't we?" Alex looked down at me.

I realized that he wanted me to do something. Well, he said not to talk, soooo, I thought and just nodded shyly.

The man laughed. Alex joined him before saying, "You mind not telling my XO right now?"

"Ha ha, don't worry. I'll try to buy you fifteen minutes," the man said and winked at me. "Careful with her. I think she's fragile," he said before he and the other two marines left us.

I made to move out from under Alex but he stayed in my way. I glared at him as he pulled the gas mask off his face. He smirked. "Just stay where you are until they're out of sight," he said simply.

I grumbled but stayed where I was until Alex moved out of my way. "Okay, change now and we can get out of here," he said.

I scrunched up my face and thought of changing. My form contorted until I was a man… again. This was not what I had in mind when I wanted to spend my summer vacation in New York.

Taking me by the elbow, Alex led me down another alleyway before we were street level again. People passed by the entrance to the alleyway before we joined it. "Just act natural," Alex muttered to me as we walked with the crowd.

It seemed like we were going to get out of here quite easily until we passed by a group of Blackwatch men. I saw one do a double take when he passed by us.

"What the hell-?" I heard him say. Alex stepped up his pace. Guns clicked behind us. "I heard Daniels was killed back at Gentek," one of the men said.

"If he was dead, then what the fuck is he doing walking around out here?" another asked.

"That's because one of the damned shape shifters is wearing his skin. Take 'em down."

"But sir, there're civilians."

"I don't give a fuck. Shoot when I tell you to shoot. These people will be dead within the week. May as well put them out their misery now."

As soon as the order to shoot us was given, Alex and I were already running down the street. We had shed our disguises and ran like hell. A few stray bullets streaked past us, but we were running too fast for any of them to hit us even if they wanted to.

"You had to pick that guy, didn't you?" Alex yelled at me as he vaulted over an SUV.

"Excuse me? How the hell was I supposed to know this guy had friends?" I retorted

Alex didn't reply. We ran in silence, jumping over swerving cars until we turned down one street and up a building. We kept running for a good fifteen minutes till we lost them by vaulting over a building.

It was close to one in the afternoon when my stomach growled. I needed food. Alex stopped by a nearby vender and snagged a couple of bagels when the cashier's back was turned.

We climbed up the back of a building and soon found ourselves on top of the Empire State building. "I've always wanted to come here," I said after swallowing my second bagel.

Alex was still on his first. I withdrew my hand from the box of bagels. I didn't want to look like a pig. We sat on companionable silence for a moment. The sun rose high and warmed us.

"How many people have you killed?" I asked him suddenly.

Alex turned his head slightly but didn't look at me. He didn't answer for a while. Then, "I don't know," he muttered. He sounded exhausted.

I didn't push the subject. "You're not a monster, Alex," I told him.

"Then what am I?"

I thought for a moment. "You're just a person who's had too many bad things happen to him." I gave him a soft smile.

"Me and Dana both will help you get through this," I said.

It was silent for a little while longer, then Alex stood up. "Head back over to Dana's. I'll be home soon. Don't worry about me," he said. I pursed my lips.

"I just need to be alone for a little while. Just need time to think," he continued.

"Fine," I grumbled.

"Besides, you need time to work on your part of the bargain. Getting into Gentek's databases."

Oh hell! I nearly forgot. And it must have shown on my face for Alex said, "Better get going then." I hopped off the Empire State building and glided and jumped my way to Dana's house.

I knocked and Dana let me in. After closing the door behind me, I flopped onto the couch and closed my eyes. I hadn't realized I had fallen asleep until a clock tower chimed nearby. I jumped out of my sleep and looked around groggily.

I listened to the chimes to find out what time it was. It was midnight. "Man, I slept the day away," I muttered and yawned. I pulled my arms back over my head and listened to the joints pop back into place. I looked around till I found my laptop and turned it on. The screen remained black.

I had forgotten to charge it. I found my bag and dug around till I found the charger and plugged my laptop into an outlet. God, I was tired. It was only day five. Fug! I thought. I didn't bother with my laptop till the next day. I got up for little while at midnight of the sixth day but then I curled back up on the couch and slept till 8:30.

I woke to the sound of someone typing on the computer. I got up, yawned, and rolled over to see who was making all that noise. It was Alex. He was hunched over Dana's computer looking for something or someone. I got up and stretched.

"Morning," I mumbled.

"Morning," Alex replied.

"Where's Dana?"

"Asleep. She's been working all night."

"Oh." I got up from the couch and walked over to see what he was doing. "You looking for someone?" I asked.

"An ex-girlfriend. Karen Parker. Dana says she'll be able to help combat the virus, maybe even produce a cure. Blackwatch hasn't been to her apartment but I don't know how long she'll remain hidden. I need to leave now. I'll probably be back in a couple of hours." Alex consulted the map on the computer's screen once more before taking off.

About two hours after Alex left, my phone rang. I checked the caller I.D. It was Kate. I groaned and stepped outside and away from Dana's safe house to answer it.

I stood on top of a building and answered the phone. "Hello?"

"Hey Kenzie!"

"Hey Kate. What's up?"

"Nothing really. Man, have you seen the news reports lately?"

"No."

"Every news media station is covering New York! They've even shot some footage of the zombies. Everyone looks horrible! Bastards even cancelled some of my favorite shows just to cover the NYC virus. Constant updates. They keep mentioning that Mercer guy and some girl they've nicknamed 'Light'. They haven't released her name yet. I wonder who she is," Kate sang.

"Hah, me too," I replied.

"So, how have you been?"

"Okay."

"Can you get out of New York?"

"Hah," I laughed, "I think it's a little too late for that. They've quarantined the whole island of Manhattan three days ago. Nobody gets in or out. They've even brought in Special Forces guys along with the regular marines. These guys don't screw around."

"Damn," was all Kate said.

"Yeah. Hell, Kate, I don't know what I've gotten myself into by staying here. Shit's been hitting the fan all over."

"Just hang in there. I know you can beat this thing."

"Thanks," I smiled, " Hoodie"- my nickname for Mercer-" has a friend who thinks may be able to cure this virus. I hope she can."

"You sure she can be trusted?" Kate asked suddenly.

"I've never met her." I shrugged, "But if he trusts her enough, I'm sure she's okay."

"Just be careful, Kens."

"I will. Talk to you later."

"Bye." We hung up and I pocketed my phone. I stood there for a little while longer before something caught my eye. It was pink, huge, and fugly as hell. "Oh shit!" I yelped and took off over the rooftops with the Hunter right on my heels.

"You've got to be kidding me!" I shrieked as I led the Hunter back over into the infected areas. I dropped back on the streets and ran as fast as I could. After a moment, I looked over my shoulder and laughed as the Hunter took rocket to the face.

"Hah!" I yelled and turned around-

To run smack-dab into a tank. I hit the APC full throttle and nearly toppled it. I bounced back and landed on my ass. "Okay, that really hurt," I said as I got up and rubbed my stinging face. I looked up and saw that I was looking down the barrel of the tank.

"Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I said, holding up my hands. I heard something click inside the tank and dropped to the ground fast as the missile flew over my head.

I got back up quickly and took off down the street with bullets flying in my wake. "Screw this!" I said and vaulted up a nearby building. I hid for a few seconds and watched as helicopters flew over the city, destroying hives and zombies alike.

I decided to head back to Midtown West and check out what Gentek was doing.

I got home within five minutes and immediately turned on my computer. I began to search for anything of value but someone on their end must've found out an unauthorized person, such as myself, had gotten in here and they were purging the system or transferring files to safer networks as fast as they could.

I got to work.

My recovery efforts were futile. I couldn't find anything. "Damn it!" I yelled and nearly threw my computer across the room.