White Horse - Chapter 21
Sarah ran to the railing of the observatory’s overlook and glanced toward the main entrance. “Those spider things are trying to break in and the kids are downstairs,” she shouted as she began running down the stairway. She stopped abruptly halfway down the spiral steps when the front door glass broke, shattering fragments across the lobby floor.
“Hurry, everyone in here,” Professor Dillon said, directing everyone into the dome’s small meeting room.
Sarah saw the spider drones entering through the broken glass door. “Willis, Georgie hide!” she yelled. Realizing she had no time to make it to the breakroom, she ran back up the stairs to where everyone was cramming into the safe room. Max was still at the computer.
“Max, let’s go,” Jack said, following Sarah inside the room. “Hurry, they’re coming.”
“I can’t, I almost have this figured out,” Max said, tapping keys and scribbling notes.
Jack saw the spider drones floating up into the dome, hovering a few feet from Max. Just before a spider touched Jack, he slammed the door shut and locked it.
Dawn was in tears. “Max, why didn’t Max come in? And what about Willis and Georgie?”
Clare went to Dawn and held her tight. “It’ll be all right,” she whispered softly.
Worried about her sons, Sarah was almost in tears, too. She looked around the tight quarters. Computer terminals lined one wall, gray metal file cabinets lined another. From a small window on the back wall, light spilled onto a small table with chairs around it in the center of the space.
“Max, are you all right?” Jack shouted through the door.
There was no answer.
“Max, talk to me,” Jack said again.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Max said, in a tone more suited to annoyance rather than a drone attack.
The professor stood next to Jack at the door. “Max, what’s going on?”
“They’re just looking at me,” Max said. “They seem to be looking me over like they are curious about me.”
“Can you come to the door?” the professor asked.
“I don’t know. I can’t tell if they’re dangerous or not. I’m afraid to move.”
“Can you communicate with them?” the professor asked.
“Communicate? What do you think I am, a damned robot?” A pen could be heard slamming onto the notepad. Max looked at two of the spiders who were directly in front of him while the others circled him and floated around the room. He held out his trembling hand. “Hi, my name is Max.”
“What’s going on now?” the professor asked.
“Nothing, they’re still just looking at me. Well, at least I think they’re looking at me. I don’t see any eyes.”
“Try and stand,” the professor spoke again through the door.
“I’m kind of afraid to,” Max said. “But before I stand and get torn apart by these things I think I did find a clue.”
“What did you find?” the professor asked, his voice less tense.
“It appears that the alien craft has been to Earth before. The data is similar to data collected during the Roswell UFO crash in 1947. I don’t have the foggiest idea why they’re here now, though.”
Sarah approached the door, squeezing between the professor and Jack. “Max, if you can stand and they won’t harm you, can you go check on Willis and Georgie?”
“Sure, I’ll do that,” Max said, his voice cracked. “I’m going to stand now.”
Max slowly stood, pushing his chair back. “They’re still just looking at me. I’m going to move toward the steps.”
There was silence as Max slowly walked toward the stairway. One of his shoes squeaked on the tiles, probably from the professor’s blood that they had not cleaned as well as they should have. One light foot after another, he began to descend the spiral staircase. Then he suddenly stopped. “Oh my God,” Max said, his voice quivering.
“What?” the professor asked, his anxiety returning.
“I saw something move outside, and it wasn’t a spider, it looked human.”
“Was it a zombie?” Sarah asked as tears began to stream down her face.
“If it’s a zombie, I’m joining you guys,” Max said, continuing down the steps. “I don’t see it now.”
A few of the spider drones surrounded Max while a few stayed in the dome just outside the locked room. Other drones were floating around the lobby, close to the closed breakroom door.
Max was just about to take a shaky final step onto the lobby floor when he saw a zombie standing just outside the broken glass of the front door. At first, it did not notice Max and seemed a little confused. But when another zombie came up behind the first, they both stepped through the opening, onto shards of glass.
“They’re zombies!” Max yelled, turning to go back up the stairway. His legs were so wobbly he thought they would not support his weight, and that he would collapse helplessly in front of the zombies, leaving a bag of bones for them to gnaw on. “Boys, stay hidden, there are zombies in the building,” he yelled.
Jack opened the door and ran down the steps to help Max, who was shaking uncontrollably as he climbed the metal risers on his hands and knees. Jack got under his arm and began pulling him up the flight of stairs. Max’s work boots kept catching on the lips of the steps. “Max, lift your feet,” Jack shouted.
The two zombies, no longer confused, were heading straight for Max and Jack. Tony was now coming down the steps with his rifle in hand. He stopped midway, aimed at the lumbering bodies, and fired. One shot to each forehead dropped them like a naive student passing out from guzzling too much hard liquor. Tony took Max’s other arm and together he and Jack had Max back up into the dome and then into the security of the crowded room while the spider drones roamed the observatory, and another set of crazed people staggered through the front door.