In episode 5 readers voted for Captain Arnold to send one last intercom announcement to see if anyone responds this time.
Captain Arnold knew he couldn’t chance leaving the launch bay to search for survivors. He could only risk waiting for a minute. “I’m going to send out a ship-wide call, Velasquez. If any of your squad mates are still alive out there, this’ll give them a chance.”
The soldier nodded.
Then the captain pushed a button on the control panel. “This is Captain Arnold. I’m in the launch bay, if anybody is out there, you have one minute to respond.”
The captain anxiously waited while a minute slowly ticked away. Just before the time was up, a crackly voice broke the silence, “Captain? It’s Lieutenant Nelson. Thank God you’re alive, Sir.”
A smile filled the captain’s face, and Velasquez let out a sigh of relief. “Lieutenant. It’s good to hear your voice! How many are with you?”
“Just me and Private Donnelly.”
“Lieutenant, can you make it to the launch bay?”
“Negative, Sir. We’re in the dark here.”
The captain thought for a second, and then responded, “I’ll turn the ship’s lights back on, we’ll all be at risk then. You need to run for the launch bay as fast as you can, we’ll be guarding the door.”
Pressing buttons on the ship’s computer, the captain powered on the lights.
The captain turned to the doctor and handed him the pistol. “Stay here, Doc, and take this. You might need it. If we get swarmed after opening the door, it’s up to you to vent the ship.”
Then he looked at Velasquez. “Take your pulse rifle, Soldier, and follow me.”
At the door, Velasquez raised her rifle and covered the entrance. The captain, seeing her in place, prepared for an onslaught. He breathed in deeply then pressed the button. The door slid open. Velasquez was ready, she swept the hall scanning for enemy targets—but the hall was empty.
The captain let out an exhale, then whispered to himself, “Here’s your chance, Nelson. Hurry!”
The captain stared down the hallway, waiting. Far in the distance he could hear the pounding of feet, as it grew louder, he knew they were drawing close.
“Get ready, Velasquez.”
Rounding the corner were the two people the captain hoped to see—Lieutenant Nelson and Private Donnelly. But soon the unwelcome sound of screaming followed. The infected were running after them.
The two crewmen only made it halfway down the hallway before the pursuing pack of rabid infected roared into the hallway.
Velasquez took aim, but her shot line was blocked by the Lieutenant who was running down the middle of the hallway. “Move!” she shouted. “You’re in my shot!”
The lieutenant looked behind him to see the pack gaining on him, then he darted to the edge of the hallway while he kept running. Velasquez fired, and a pulse blast ripped through the air.
The two crewmen were running as fast as they could, legs churning, lungs gasping for breath. The captain could see Donnelly starting to sag. His body was doing everything it could to keep up, but the infected were closing rapidly.
Velasquez aimed her rifle, but Donnelly was in the way. “I can’t get a good shot!”
The captain bellowed urgently, “Take it! You have to take the shot!”
“DUCK!” Velasquez yelled, then she pulled the trigger.
The private ducked just in time, as one of the infected dove for him. The shot from Velasquez’s pulse rifle hit the infected squarely in mid-air, obliterating it.
But the rest of the pack pursuing him was unfazed. She knew the private was done for, unless she acted now. Releasing the safety controls on the pulse rifle, she fired one round after another down the hallway at a pace faster than the rifle normally allowed, until finally the weapon overheated and burnt out.
Most of the shots hit their mark. Fallen infected filled the hallway, but not all of them were put down. Many had received glancing blows, or were just disoriented in the barrage. But their focus soon returned, and they rushed their prey with renewed vigor.
“Run, Donnelly, Run!” the captain shouted.
Lieutenant Nelson was way ahead of Donnelly, and he had already reached the door. Donnelly ran with all his strength toward the door, but the pack of infected closed with inhuman speed.
The captain kept his finger on the door button. He was going to push it as soon as Donnelly was in. But just as Donnelly reached the threshold, an infected grabbed him.
The captain couldn’t wait any longer, the whole pack of trailing infected were nearly upon them. He pressed the button, the door slid closed, but it didn’t close fully because an infected was in the way, jamming it. Although pinned in the door, the infected wasn’t dead, it was just trapped and very much alive, its hands grasping onto Donnelly’s waist. Then the rest of the pursuing pack of infected slammed hard against the door, and started reaching their hands through the narrow opening, feeling for some prey to sink their claws into. It looked like the infected were trying to pry the door open.
Lieutenant Nelson rushed toward Donnelly to help him.
The captain yelled out …