Home > Zombie Mountain (Walking Plague Trilogy #3)(14)

Zombie Mountain (Walking Plague Trilogy #3)(14)
Author: J.R. Rain

She was now a powerless prop of the agent. It took him less than five minutes to tie the cops up, and now he looked at her.

“Please don’t tie me up,” Julie pleaded.

Cole looked at her with dead eyes, but his grin was not as menacing as before. “Come here, darlin’,” he said quietly. He ripped another piece of duct tape.

“Please.” Julie sobbed harder. “I’ll do anything. What are you going to do to me?”

“ I haven’t decided yet, but if you want to live longer than the next few seconds, you’ll do as I ask. Don’t make me hurt you.”

Julie inched toward him, tentatively, eyes wide from fear. Cole yanked her forward. He taped her mouth as he had done with Carla and Mike. Cole drew the knots tight, and Julie whimpered as the cords dug into her skin.

“Shut up,” he told her, after leaning close to her left ear. Then he turned to Carla. “You. You’re coming with me.” Julie admired Carla’s hateful glare that shot venom as he pulled her up by the arm. “I’ve got a fun little job to do, and you’re going to help me.”

Cole shoved Carla out of the bathroom and locked his other two prisoners inside, steeped in impenetrable darkness.

* * *

Joe peered out the front door again. He couldn’t quite see where Julie had taken Carla and Mike, although he knew the restroom she’d mentioned was behind some trees, just out of sight.

He looked at his watch. Thirteen minutes. Either serious medical attention was needed or trouble was brewing. Maybe Carla had been right. One of the things drilled into your head in the military was to always help a woman in need. Maybe he and Mike had jumped the gun.


Joe glanced in Anna’s direction, where she was still sleeping, presumably, in the office. There was no way he could leave his niece.

Suddenly, he remembered the radio, kicking himself for forgetting about it. He ran to the dining area and picked it up. Jack was out of reach, but Carla shouldn’t be. Joe pressed the talk button. “Carla? Joe to Carla, do you read me?”

Silence. But before he pressed the talk button again, a familiar voice erupted from the speaker.

“She can’t talk right now.”

Joe froze.

How? It can’t be....

But there wasn’t time to process it all. Cole spoke again.

“Let me in, or she dies.”

Chapter Twelve

Had Jack known that his brother was letting their nemesis into the building with a gun trained upon Carla’s head, things might have turned out differently. However, all he had to go by was Jared’s increasing unease. Jared wanted to go back, to race back to the observatory. But Jack dismissed the kid’s antsy pacing as just his being spooked by the eerie atmosphere the zoo had taken on.

Meanwhile, Jack debated with Brice about the hazards of freeing dangerous animals. “The cats are deadly,” he told Brice. “Somebody could get killed or badly injured. In fact, I’d bet on it.”

“From what you say, Los Angeles is already overrun with this zombie shit,” Brice replied. “If everyone knows it’s a deadly world out there, surely they’ll be extra careful.”

“I know, but Brice. Those tigers... the lions, even the rhinoceros, no one could be prepared to meet them on the streets of Los Feliz. Not even you or me.”

“Who’s out there roaming the streets and parks?” he countered. “No one but zombies. Maybe the cats will do some good, and kill a few.”


“And what about the orangutans, Jack?,” Brice continued, ignoring Jack’s indignant expression. “Or the apes? We can’t just leave them here alone. That ain’t right. They’ll starve, here, but I’ll bet they’ll find a way to survive out there.”

Jack couldn’t argue that point. Everyone loved them, especially the zoo staff. They all knew their human-like qualities, and held a special affinity for the gentle giants. But they weren’t always gentle. Or slow. If panicked, well, a human could not escape an ape.

“Grizzly bears, too. Problematic.” Jack thought this should end the debate, since clearly the dangers outweighed the benefits. The animals were all better off in the zoo, as long as he and Brice came back regularly to feed them.

Jared, clearly agitated, continued to pace back and forth. He tapped a pencil against the table. Jack still ignored him.

“Look, Jack,” Brice finally said. “The bottom line is this: I know you mean well, but there’s no guarantees we can get back here safely. And, I’m not leaving any of God’s beasts here to starve to death.” Brice sat back and folded his arms defiantly. “That’s my final answer.”

Letting them starve had never been Jack’s intention either. He was about to debate Brice again about coming back to feed them as necessary, but realized how impractical it would be.

“You’re right, as usual,” he finally conceded. “It’s the lesser of two evils.”

Jared sighed impatiently. But Jack ignored him, intent on resolving the disagreement with Brice first.

“Okay, we’ll do it your way,” said Jack, finally. “We will do whatever it takes to get you to come with us.”

“Good.” Brice stood and downed the rest of his coffee. “We’ll take your truck around. Just unlock the cages and gates. Start with the least dangerous. The big cats last. Most of them won’t realize they can get out for a while anyways.”

“I hope you’re right about that.”

Jared reminded Jack about the lava rocks, and they loaded a few fifty-pound sacks into the bed. The truck cab was small, so Brice insisted on sitting in back, armed with a loaded tranquilizer gun in each hand.

“Just in case,” he chuckled.

* * *

The trio started with the smaller species, the monkeys, the chimps. As they made their way around, unlocking cages and gates, some of the animals ventured out. Most, however, were unsure and stayed within their safe homes. The elephants congregated around their open gate, trumpeting. The guys left them to decide on their own, whether to venture forth or not.

Finally, they freed the big cats. Only one of them, a particularly hungry tiger, charged, but Brice was an expert shot. Jack waited for it collapse before re-opening the gate. Knowing the tiger would awaken soon, the guys finished their business at the zoo and got the hell out of there.

By then, Jared was beside himself with worry to get back to Anna. Jack, too, who drove as quickly as possible to reach the observatory.

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