In episode 3, readers voted for Captain Arnold to briefly flame the wrestling group and if the corporal survives, drag him along as they continue onward.
Captain Arnold had to act now. Flamethrower in hand, he burst into the atrium. Complete darkness still surrounded everyone since the lights went out, but through his infrared goggles the captain saw the corporal entangled with an infected on the ground. The only chance the corporal had left was a painful one.
The captain ran up to the wrestling group, aiming his weapon so that the infected took the brunt of the damage, and fired. Flames engulfed the infected as it reeled back with a blood-curdling yell. Pinned no longer, the corporal was freed from his attacker. But the corporal had paid a price, and was severely burned on one side.
The atrium was no longer dark, illuminated by the burning flame’s light. The roving swarm of infected that had been wildly running around in the dark could now clearly see their target and they rushed hard at the captain.
“Captain, run!” The doctor shouted from inside the hallway.
But the corporal had rolled the wrong way as he tried to douse the flames on his body. The captain ran forward, then reached down and dragged the smoldering corporal by his shirt collar, hauling him toward the door.
“Hurry, Captain, you’re not gonna make it!” The doctor’s panicked words echoed the thoughts in the captain’s head.
The captain temporarily let go of the corporal, and cranked the flamethrower up to its fully open setting. Then he aimed the flamer and swept over the room in a quick motion. The flamethrower expelled all its remaining fuel in a stream of molten fire, creating a burning wall of flame that shot up from the ground between the captain and the incoming infected, buying the captain a few more precious seconds.
Dropping the now empty flamethrower, the captain reached down with both hands, hoisted the corporal and ran for the door. Some infected pushed through the wall of flame, ignoring the torture as they ignited and rushed toward the captain. The captain ran with all his strength toward the open door.
“Close the door, Doc! Close the door!” The captain yelled as he dove through the opening. The captain barely cleared the threshold with the corporal when the doctor pushed the close button. The door slammed shut just as the burning infected rammed into it.
“Lock the door,” the captain shouted. Then he immediately flipped the corporal off his shoulders, set him against the wall, and stared him down with the infrared goggles, looking for signs of infection.
“Give me the pistol, Doc,” the captain ordered, and the doctor complied.
The captain pointed the weapon at the injured and burned corporal while he scanned him for the infection.
It was a tense moment for all, until finally the captain breathed a sigh of relief and sheathed the pistol. “Corporal, Doc is gonna fix you and Joseph up once we get to the launch bay. The flames must have burned off the infection before it worked its way under your skin and into your blood.” Then he reached down and picked up the corporal.
The corporal acknowledged the words and weakly spoke, “Thanks, Captain … for hauling around my dead weight.”
The captain nodded. He helped the corporal down the hallway, while the hoard of infected continued wildly banging against the sealed hallway door, trying to pry it open.
“Doc, you drag Joseph. Let’s go.”
“Will the door hold, Captain?” the doctor asked.
“It should. Let’s move.”
The two men moved their two injured comrades down the hall to the launch bay. The further they got from the flames burning in the atrium, the dimmer the light was.
“Follow my voice, Doc. I’ll whisper if I see any infected through my goggles.”
As the group approached the launch bay, the captain said in a hushed tone, “Hold up. I’m picking up a heat signature.”
The captain saw something in the far corner. Was it human? Or infected? It was too far away for the captain to tell. But whatever it was, they were lucky because it was alone. The captain needed to get to the opposite side of the launch bay to pick up the environmental suits and slip them on, before he triggered the code to vent the whole ship of oxygen.
Only one thing kept them from getting to their goal.