a tale of Hub City
Carol, I have been on the road for several weeks after leaving Buffalo. I tried to go toward New York but the flood of refugees tell me that it is only a matter of time before New York is under water. I am glad I listened to you when you suggested we move to Buffalo. I am following what’s left of Highway 80. The road is in bad shape and only the specialized tractor trucks with their tank tread modifications can make the trip between the large transit hubs. Good portions of the road are impassible to cars anymore.
I see more people on the road daily. I heard that an evacuation of several coastal cities started a few months ago and some of the ones with less effective water management systems have begun to flood. A lot of the people are sick. They are staggering down the road, feverish and barely mobile. Most are showing signs of AB432 infections. This means few of the countermeasures that were talked about late last year are working.
I want you to make sure the farm security is running and that Stan and Marian are keeping up with their gun training like we talked about. I even want Freddy to be able to shoot by the time I send for you. Yes, I know he’s eight. I think the road is going to be even more dangerous by that time. I have still been uploading photography along the route to the video promotion agency who has continued to pay me in Calories. I have been transmitting all but the tiniest ration to you and the group and trading them when I find a few Outliers who might need some corporate script to supplement their farming income. To be honest, I have seen most of these farms, they are barely sustainable even with the hard labor being poured into them by the state sponsored shareholders.
Speaking of the State, I ran into a patrol two nights ago. They scared the hell out of me. I was sitting down with my covered fire, barely visible from the road. I was looking through the vid-feed trying to decide which shots would have the most market value. I never heard anything, they were just there, pulse guns flashing, and prowlers who were all around me, about to attack were lit up by their flares. I didn’t know what to do, so I ducked for cover and filmed the entire thing. Except for the one time when a prowler managed to get a drop on one of the State Patrol boys. He went down hard. I never realized how dangerous the prowlers were. The media stories don’t do them justice.
They were all fangs and claws and eyes that look like something straight out of hell. After ripping out the throat of the Patrolman, he looked at me and I dropped my camera. You’ll know the spot, I didn’t want to try and edit it here with my PADD so I sent the entire feed to you. I pulled out my MP-40 pistol and armed it. The pistol’s arming sound seemed to take forever as the prowler turned toward me and crouched down for a sprinting run.
I had not even thought about the MP-40 since I left the farm. For the first time since I left home, I wondered, would the damn thing even fire? I kept it sealed as Stan told me and when I activated it, I could feel the seals folding back and the gun priming itself. I admit two strange thoughts went through my mind as I pointed the fired .40 at a living thing. I remember what Stan told me when he gave it to me. “We don’t hunt with this weapon. It only has one purpose. To kill people. Can you do that? Because if you can’t, there is no point in giving it to you.”
I remember the damage the weapon made when it struck a tree and hoped I would never have to shoot anyone. I didn’t think I could look at anyone after they had been literally blown apart. I had never seen a prowler until now. All I could feel now was an overwhelming urge to shoot until the .40 was empty. The prowler could see my hand shaking and its predator’s grin grew wide, showing off its horrifying array of spiked teeth. I am not proud. I think I wet myself. With less than twenty yards between us he ran at me, screaming that sound they all seem to make when they attack.
“Armed,” the .40 chimed as the charge was stabilized. I waited just like Stan said. “Out there, you are only going to get one shot. Breathe. Hold for it. Look at my neck. You see these scars. I rushed. I fired too early and a prowler nearly took my head off. I was on patrol and I had help. You’ll be alone. You can’t afford the luxury of missing. They will come right for you. Wait for it.”
I could see you Carol. And Freddy. As the prowler ran toward me screaming, I screamed back because all I could see was you and how much I wanted to get back to you. He jumped, my god they can jump, and as he came out of the darkness, I pulled the trigger. His claw raked across my forehead just over my right eye. The .40 boomed directly into his chest, tearing a hole I could see stars through. He hung there in slow motion to me, our screams both cut short by the echo of the .40. The recoil knocked me back. I realized I hadn’t braced myself properly. The Patrollers had backed up to each other and waved to me. I ran to them and we waited together. I emptied the .40. All sixty rounds of it. The video quality is poor because I switched to a button cam but you can see just how fast and dangerous prowlers really are. Once I ran out of ammo, I switched back to my hand-cam. You will have to edit and correct once you get it.
Of the sixteen State patrollers only four survived the night. One died the next day. I filmed all of it. Come dawn we counted over eighty of the prowlers. One still had clothing on. They had never been seen to wear clothing. They ran an RFID scan and tracked it back to a medical patient in Virginia. No one was sure how prowlers came into being until now. I think prowlers are recipients of the first serum used to cure AB432! Don’t repeat that. I am not getting sued.
The first serum was suspected of having a genetic side-effect. The claim was “undesired sterility.” You remember our report early last year. It was the serum they abandoned after its efficacy was questioned. We thought it was over until we were reviewing some secured police records when the feed was interrupted. One of the Patrol said he was receiving IFF telemetry from an unidentified heavy drone on the scanner, likely a military one. One look to each other and my news-sense kicked in. Without a word, we ran back to the patrol cars and took off.
In our rear views we recorded all the bodies being vaporized by what appeared to be a long range missile strike, right where we were. I caught everything on film in HD. Less than two minutes later we ditched the vehicles and hid as other armed drones blew up our cars with cruise missiles. We stayed under cover until dawn and the drones had to pull away to refuel. It was hotter than hell today and we didn’t cover much ground. We were also forced to spend a lot of time dodging unmarked drones. Our only saving grace was our electronic jammer that kept them from getting satellite locks on us.
I am sending this video feed to you via our encrypted drops. Use the anonymous drop and release only the clips up to me embarrassing myself. Edit, correct and caption everything else. Store and hide the rest. Scrub any payments for backtracing and take only properly anonymous payments. I will head directly to Hub City, yes the first one, and find the Herald Tribute data feed. Once I am on the payroll, I will find a way to get you here.
I do not want you or the family to be walking now. Something is wrong and no one is telling us. I trust Stan to be brilliant and shoot straight but this is something completely different. Its not just about prowlers anymore. Someone is making money on this. And they are not delivering the cure we were promised. You all stay safe. Keep the kids away from people and keep this feed safe. We will be in touch soon. I promise.
Freelance Investigative Reporter ID #NY3296-173
Hub City Blues © Thaddeus Howze 2012, All Rights Reserved
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