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    zanoGreen
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WARNING: This story contains graphic content such as sex, violence, death, and derogatory slang.  

Imprisoned - 5. The Ruined City

My alarm woke me up the next morning signaling it was time to get ready.

My mind flashed back to last night and I felt butterflies in my stomach. Ryan and I had sex, but not just ordinary sex. Probably the best sex I've had in years.

I looked over and noticed an empty spot next to me. There was still an indentation from where Ryan had been sleeping, so I know I wasn't dreaming.

I sat up and looked around the room. My bedroom door was open slightly and I could hear a faint voice coming from the main area of the house.

"Where is he?" I thought to myself. I threw the covers back and walked up to my dresser, pulling a fresh pair of underwear out and slipping into them.

I made my way out of my bedroom and stepped out into the hallway, the wood floor felt cool and comfortable under my bare feet. I caught a whiff of the aroma of bacon and coffee, two of my favorite things in the morning. As I crept down the hallway the voice was getting louder and I quickly realized It was coming from the TV.

I stepped out of the hallway and spotted Ryan standing in front of the stove with his back to me. He was wearing a pair of lounge shorts, the legs going down just mid thigh. I recognized them as mine, but I didn’t mind, I liked seeing him in my shorts.

I had never noticed how well defined his back was, or the fact that he had a tattoo on his left shoulder blade. It was a phoenix rising from the ashes, surrounded by flames. It was very well defined, and beautiful.

Watching him cook in my shorts, was definitely something I could get used to waking up to.

"In 2005 the San Antonio Spurs mascot got ejected ref Jess Kersey saying I want the wolf gone!--he's really this creature." A man's voice came from the TV. I looked over and recognized the show as Jeopardy, one of my favorites.

"What is A Coyote." Ryan said, raising his fork slightly in the air.

“What is A Coyote?” The contestant asked.

“That is correct.” The host said.

“Suck it Jeopardy!” Ryan exclaimed, raising both arms slightly. I grinned at him and took a step forward. A floorboard creaked under my foot and Ryan turned his head over his shoulder, he saw me and smiled.

“You know a question about the San Antonio Spurs isn’t exactly fair, seeing as you're from Texas.” I said.

“I’m from Austin, so technically it is fair.” Ryan challenged, he turned around with a mug of coffee and set it on the island for me. I sat down and grabbed the warm mug in my hands. I took a drink of the dark liquid and it warmed my insides.

Ryan sat a plate of bacon down on the counter and grabbed a piece for himself, leaning on the counter with his elbows. I grabbed a piece and took a bite. The seasons exploded in my mouth and I closed my eyes, savoring the bite.

“Damn, that’s good bacon.” I said.

“Thanks.” Ryan responded, smiling between bites.

I took another drink of coffee and looked up at Ryan, who was gazing at me from across the island.

“What?” I blushed slightly.

“Last night was..” Ryan trailed off.

“Amazing?” I finished his sentence.

“Yeah.” Ryan smiled and there was a look of joy in his eyes.

“I agree.” I said smiling at him from above my coffee cup as I took a drink.

There were a lot of feelings that I felt for Ryan, feelings that I hadn’t felt since James was alive. It was nice, and warm feelings that touched my heart and made me feel butterflies all over. I looked at the clock and the LED read “0500”.

“We gotta get ready.” I said standing up and grabbing two slices of bacon and my coffee.

I shoveled the bacon down real quick as I made my way to the bathroom. I stripped off my underwear and tossed them in the clothes hamper. I turned the shower on and stood outside the sliding glass door, waiting for the temperature to warm up. I felt two arms wrap around me, and I could feel the heat from Ryan’s body as he pressed into me slightly.

I leaned my head back into his shoulder and he gave me a kiss on the shoulder before resting his chin there.

I pulled away from him and stepped into the shower, I stepped back to make room for him and he stepped in closing the door behind him.

The shower head spewed hot water out of the faucet, cascading over Ryan’s head and running down his perfect body. I stepped forward and he placed his hands on my lower back pulling me into him slightly and I placed my hands on his shoulders. Our semi erect cocks pressed up against each other and they started becoming hard the moment they made contact.

Ryan kissed me under the waterfall of water, our tongues dancing together in our mouths. I wished we could just stay like this.

I grabbed the shampoo bottle and pumped some shampoo into my hand. I began scrubbing Ryan’s head and he closed his eyes as soapy water ran down his face. I could tell he was enjoying me running my fingers across his scalp, he groaned slightly and hung his head down so I could get to the back.

He rinsed his head off and shook his head slightly, flicking water all over the shower. I chuckled and wiped his face off, he grinned at me and pumped some shampoo into his hand. I hung my head down so he could scrub my hair.

Ryan’s fingers felt so good across my scalp, this must have been what dogs felt like when you scratched them. I closed my eyes as I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair.

Just then I felt something warm and wet wrap around my cock. I let out a sharp moan and looked down to see Ryan working my dick with his mouth and right hand. I grabbed the top of the shower door and placed a hand on Ryan’s head.

“Ry-ryan.” I moaned. “We don’t have t-TIIIME!” Ryan responded to the last sentence by deep throating my cock, sending a wave of pleasure over me that almost made my knees buckle.

Ryan worked my cock with such force and conviction that it didn’t take me long to start reaching my climax. I gripped the glass door door harder and began bucking my hips, forcing my cock in and out of his mouth.

“Haa-ohhh fuuuck!” I roared as cum began shooting out of my cock and down Ryan’s throat. He swallowed every drop and milked my cock for more until I was done.

He stood up and grinned at me. “Damn, that was quite the load.” He kissed me deeply, I could taste my cum in his mouth as his tongue passed into mine.

I dropped to my knees and immediately began working his cock with my mouth. Ryan moaned and placed both hands on my head. I could taste the pre-cum on the tip of his dick and it tasted amazing, I couldn’t wait to taste his cum.

I stroked my hand up and down his girth and worked the head with my mouth and tongue. I placed my hands on his ass and pulled him into me more, deep throating his cock. Ryan moaned in pleasure and grabbed some of my hair. I took my middle finger and began pressing at the entrance of his hole, he must have liked it because he moaned even louder and began bucking his hips into me.

“Oh shit, mmmm fuck that feels good!” Ryan shouted.

I worked his cock more with my mouth and slid my finger slowly into his hole. At that point Ryan lost it.

“Fuuuuck, I’m gonna cum!” He shouted. Not long after, Ryan’s cock began to pulsate and shoot warm salty cum into the back of my mouth. I savored the flavor of Ryan as I swallowed every last drop, milking his cock for more. His cum tasted magnificent.

Ryan shuddered slightly as I licked the last drop from the tip of his penis and stood up. He wrapped me in an embrace and kissed me.

“We're never gonna be able to take showers together again if we're late.” Ryan laughed. I laughed with him and gave him a quick kiss.

“It’s worth it.” I said.

Ryan and I washed each other down with soap and finished up our shower.

Ryan teased me by whipping a towel at me, just barely enough to miss me.

“I will cut you!” I shouted between laughs. Ryan just laughed and ran after me into the bedroom.

I slid into a fresh pair of underwear and pulled my black tactical pants. They were comfy and had loads of pockets for all my tools and things I would need in the field. I threw on a plain olive green shirt and laced my boots up, my pants tucked inside.

Ryan was wearing the same pants but opted for a black ¾ inch sleeve baseball tee instead. I noticed Ryan wore these a lot, and after what I had discovered last night I now knew why.

We grabbed our gear bags on our way out the front door and headed to his truck. We threw our bags in the back and hopped in the cab. Ryan turned over the engine and we drove off down the road in the direction of the airstrip.

The airstrip wasn’t too far from my house and would only take us close to 10 minutes. Which was a good thing because it was now 0535.

We pulled into the airstrip 10 minutes later and Ryan parked his truck next to the hanger. We hopped out and grabbed our bags out of the bed. We began making our way towards Boomer, Alex, Riley, and another figure. Once we got closer I recognized it as Cody.

“Cody!” I shouted, wrapping him up in a bear hug.

“Can’t. Breath.” Cody gasped. I released Cody from my grip and Ryan shook his hand.

“Showing up in the same car eh?” Riley eyed us suspiciously. “What happened after we left last night?” He prodded, there was a wicked glint in his eye.

“Nothing, mind your own business.” I said.

“Mmhmm.” Riley replied with a grin and a slight chuckle.

“Cody what are you doing here? Did you pass your boards?” I asked.

“What? You didn’t think I would miss out on all the fun did you? I mean, Boomer is bound to blow something up.” Cody explained.

“You know it!” Boomer shouted as he laughed, almost maniacally. I shot a raised eyebrow at him and he quickly became quiet, looking sadly towards the ground.

“I won’t find out the results of my boards till tomorrow. So the General said I could come on the mission.” Cody beamed.

“Well we're glad you're coming.” I said giving him a slap on the back.

Cody smiled and Boomer came over and wrapped an around his neck.

“C’mon kid let's load up.” He said dragging Cody away from the group.

Riley and Alex followed and Ryan and I followed shortly after them.

“So tell me something?” Ryan asked. I looked over at him as he asked his question. “Why is a trauma doctor the leader of the team?” He gave me a perplexed look.

“What? Are you questioning my leadership skills, newbie?” I joked. Ryan laughed.

“No, you know what I mean.” He stated pushing me lightly. I chuckled and began explaining.

“You remember us telling you about Danvers right?” I asked, Ryan nodded his head. “Well after Vegas, they needed someone to help keep the joint free of Ragers, and bandits. So they appointed Danvers to the job, much to Boomers chagrin.”

“Boomer wanted the job?” Ryan asked.

“Yeah he did. But he was offered team leader instead. I don’t know why he turned it down, he would have been perfect for it. Since he rejected the offer they then turned to Riley. But in solidarity for Boomer, Riley rejected the offer as well. The only person left was me.” We reached the plane and Ryan stopped and faced me.

“So why did you take it? Why didn’t you stand in solidarity with Boomer and Riley?” Ryan asked.

I looked up the ramp of the cargo plane and watched as Riley, Alex, Boomer and Cody laughed and carried on, strapping into their seats.

“Because we knew if we all refused then they would throw some outsider into the role, who didn’t know our team, and who wasn’t a part of our family. So with Boomer’s blessing I accepted the position as team leader. I think it secretly annoys the General just a bit, which is funny in itself.” I chuckled, turning and walking up the ramp.

I slammed the button with my hand to raise the ramp as I walked past. Ryan settled into a seat next to Riley, I walked up to the cockpit and knocked on the door. I heard a bolt slide and then the door swung open.

There were two men and the pilot was staring at me, expectantly, waiting for an answer.

“Were set.” I said giving them a thumbs up. They gave me a thumbs up and nodded, closing the door and latching it.

I walked back towards the group and took a seat next to Alex, across from Ryan. I strapped myself in and rested my hands on the straps. Ryan gave me a grin and a wink. I flashed him a smile and gave him a wink back.

Riley made eye contact with me and placed his hands over his heart. “Me!” He mouthed, acting flattered. I flipped him off and he laughed.

The engines of the plane fired to life and a voice came over my headset.

"Passenger secure check." A younger male voice rang out in my right ear. The plane began to move as we all responded with a simple "Secure."

"Estimated time to drop zone is one hour." The voice said and then it got quiet.

I looked across the aisle at Ryan and Riley who were talking. Ryan was leaning his ear inward to hear better. I wondered what they were talking about?

"I bet they're talking about you." Alex leaned over and told me.

"Whatever." I said grumpily.

"What? It's good that your beau and your best friend are getting along." Alex smiled.

The plane pitched upward as we began our ascent. I sat back waiting for the inevitable stomach drop that ensued shortly after. I closed my eyes and waited for the plane to stop ascending, so I could get out of my seat and find something to preoccupy myself with. I hated flying, in my opinion people belonged on the ground and gravity didn't like to be challenged. Unfortunately the Army did not agree with that statement.

"Ryan is not my beau, and you know I hate that word." I said annoyingly.

"Well what else would you call someone who slept over at your place and you had sex with?" Alex questioned.

"How do you know we had sex?" I challenged.

Alex gave me an annoyed expression. "Really? It doesn't take a genius to realize the sexual and romantic chemistry the two of you share." Alex explained.

"You know just because you minored in Psychology in college, doesn't mean you know things." I responded.

I unbuckled myself from my seat and grabbed my bag. I sat criss cross on the floor and unzipped the many compartments of the bag and began taking inventory of my supplies. Alex sat down across from me and stared at me.

"What?" I questioned with annoyance.

"What are you so afraid of?" Alex asked.

I looked over at Ryan and Riley who were still talking. Ryan looked over at me and smiled, I smiled back.

"I'm scared Alex." I admitted.

Alex gave me a surprised look. "I've never seen you be scared of anything." She said.

"Yeah, well my feelings for Ryan scare me shitless. I haven't had these feelings for anyone since James." I explained.

"So why don't you tell him that?" She responded. She had the sisterly tone about her.

"When the time is right." I promised. I gave her a slight grin and she smiled back.

"There's never gonna be a right time. But hey it's your life." She said, throwing her hands up. She stood up and turned around to go talk to Cody.

I eyeballed Boomer messing around with a wireless speaker and his wrist computer. Oh god, he wasn't doing what I thought he was doing was he?

Just then Van Halen started blaring over the speaker and Boomer began shaking his head and tapping his foot to Panama.

Don't get me wrong I love Van Halen just as much as the next person, but I wasn't in the Van Halen mood right now.

"Boomer shut it off!" I yelled over the music.

"What?!" Boomer shouted back.

Alex rolled her eyes and walked over turning the speaker down.

"Aw c'mon Ell, it's tradition on our way to every mission." Boomer gave me his best pouty face, but it ended up looking more scary than anything.

“Yeah c’mon Elliott.” Ryan flashed me a smile and his blue eyes glinted. I blushed slightly and looked down at my pack, fumbling with my pre-loaded syringes of Adrenaline.

"Fine, just not so loud, and if you promise to not make that face again." I ordered, pointing at Boomer. Boomer just smiled and turned the speaker up slightly.

The plane pitched slightly and a roll of gauze rolled across the plane and Ryan scooped it up in his hand. He walked over and kneeled down, handing the gauze over.

“Thanks.” I said grabbing the gauze and stuffing it in my bag.

“Whatcha doin here?” He asked, adjusting his baseball cap.

“Eh ya know. Just inventory.” I said. “Pretty boring really.” I laughed shyly.

“What is this?” Ryan asked, he was holding a cylindrical white tube and pulled the cap off.

“Careful with that, unless you want to be injected with .3 milligrams of epinephrine.” I shot him a grin. His eyes got wide and he capped the EpiPen handing it back to me.

“Aaaand I’m done playing with that.” Ryan responded.

I chuckled and shoved the EpiPen back in my bag. “The worst thing that would happen is that your heart rate would elevate and you would probably get heart palpitations.” I explained.

“Is that all?” Ryan grinned.

“Aside from cardiac arrest, yes. But that’s rare.” I reassured him.

“Good to know.” He responded, giving me a grin. He stood up and turned to walk away.

“Hey, Ryan?” I asked standing up.

“Yeah.” He responded turning around, eagerly.

I wanted to tell him how I felt, I wanted to tell him the feelings I was having towards him. Maybe Alex was right, maybe there never was a right time to tell someone how you feel.

Ryan gave me a confused look and took a step forward.

“Is everything okay?” He asked with a hint of concern.

“Yeah, yeah everything’s fine.” I said. “I forgot what I was going to ask you. Must not have been important.” I lied.

Ryan gave me a look like he wasn’t buying it. “Okay.” He responded shortly and turned around walking towards Boomer.

Okay so I chickened out, but can you blame me?

“That was awkward.” Riley said, shooting a quick glance at Ryan’s back.

“Don’t, please.” I said.

“What? I’m not gonna give you a hard time.” Riley defended himself.

I cocked my eyebrow at him.

“Okay fine, maybe I was going to give you just a little bit of a hard time.” Riley sat in the seat next to where I was sitting on the floor.

“I’m not ready to tell him how I feel yet.” I explained shortly.

“I’m sure he understands that.” Riley responded.

“What were you two talking about?” I asked suspiciously.

“You’re just gonna have to wait for him to tell you.” Riley gave me an evil grin.

“You’re evil.” I said grinning back.

“You’re just now realizing this?” He asked incredulously.

“No, I've always known. Just stating the obvious.” I replied.

I zipped up my bag after making sure everything was in order and stuffed it under my seat. I sat down next to Riley and rested my head back.

“What if he doesn’t feel the same way? Like what if yesterday was just a fling for him?” I asked, staring up at the ceiling of the plane.

“What if he thought the same thing about you?” Riley asked back.

I crinkled my forehead in confusion and turned my head towards Riley.

“Why? What did he say to you?” I asked.

Riley shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. “I don’t know what you mean.” He responded sarcastically.

“C’mon Riley, you’re my best friend. If you know something you have to tell me.” I demanded.

“I can’t man, you need to talk to him.” Riley responded.

That’s one thing I loved and also hated about Riley Monroe. He was a steel trap. You could tell him anything and he wouldn’t say anything to anyone.

Riley noticed the look of frustration on my face and placed a hand on my knee.

“It’s not bad. I’ll tell you that much.” Riley stated. He stood up and walked over towards Ryan and Boomer, who looked to be having a large debate about sports.

I stared back up at the ceiling and began getting lost in my own thoughts.

What if Ryan did feel the same way? What would that mean for the two of us? I hated this feeling of uncertainty, I hated not knowing. I’ll talk to him when we get back to Fort Bakersfield. I decided. Yeah that would be perfect. We could have a picnic under the stars, and I could tell him how I feel. I slowly drifted off to sleep, with the sounds of the plane engines drowning out the debates about sports teams the guys were having.

“Elliott.” I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I opened my eyes to see Ryan standing over me.

“Mmmm?” I mumbled.

“We’re twenty minutes till drop.” Ryan said. His hand slowly slid off my shoulder but I grabbed it. I looked up into his eyes and he looked into mine.

“We need to talk when we get back to Bakersfield.” I said.

He squeezed my hand and smiled at me. “We will.” Ryan responded. I smiled back and I let his hand go.

I stood up and Ryan handed me a parachute. I grabbed his hat off his head and tucked it in my medical bag.

“Wouldn’t want to lose that.” I smiled at him.

“I feel so naked without it.” Ryan rubbed the top of his head.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing that.” I winked at him.

“Quiet you.” Ryan grinned back at me.

I strapped myself into the parachute bag and then picked up my medical bag and strapped it to my front. Ryan walked up to me and checked my straps to make sure they were secure.

“I got it.” I said.

“Peace of mind.” He said shortly. A sheepish grin spread across my face and he grinned back at me, it was nice that he cared.

I grabbed the front straps of his bag and tugged on them, making sure they were snug. Ryan looked over at the others, who were all concerned with their own parachutes, and leaned into me stealing a quick kiss.

“What was that for?” I asked.

“It might be the last time we get to for a little bit.” Ryan admitted.

I looked over at the rest of the group and they quickly averted their eyes, except for Cody, who had a shocked but gleeful expression on his face. Alex grabbed his jaw and pointed his gaze the other direction. Ryan and I both laughed silently.

“Well I guess that cat’s out of the bag.” Ryan said.

“Oh please, Riley and Alex always knew.” I said.

I broke apart from Ryan and walked towards the back of the plane. I turned around to face the team before I spoke.

“Alright guys you know the drill! After two alarms we jump! Remember where the drop point is and there’s thick fog so stay close!” I shouted.

I slammed my hand on the door release button and the ramp began to slowly go down, exposing us to cool air that whipped around us in every different direction. I held onto a strap attached to the wall near the ramp and made eye contact with Ryan who flashed me a confident smile.

One alarm, the team planted their feet to the floor getting ready to run for the opening. I always hated the seconds before the alarms, my chest always pounded like a sledgehammer and it always seemed to last minutes rather than seconds.

Two alarms.

“GO! GO! GO!” I shouted, waving my arm out towards the opening.

One by one they began running and jumping out of the hatch. I could hear Boomer and Riley cheer with glee as they jumped out. Those crazy bastards loved dropping in.

Ryan ran past me and jumped out of the plane, that was my que. I let go of the strap and ran towards the end of the ramp, I felt like my stomach was going to explode with how anxious I was. My feet left the ramp as I jumped into the foggy abyss. I looked around and couldn’t really see anyone as I fell towards the earth.

After what seemed like minutes, the fog slowly began to start clearing and I could start making out buildings, and 5 figures not too far below me. The earth was coming at me, fast and once I knew the time was right I pulled my ripcord and the parachute flew out of my bag. My body jerked vertical and my speed slowed down as I began drifting down towards the earth like a feather. I looked down and could see the others circling like vultures on our drop point. I looked over where downtown San Francisco should be as the fog lifted slightly. The city was practically unrecognizable.

I hadn’t been to San Francisco since before the earthquake, but most of the buildings that were there before were no longer standing. I could recognize the Transamerica Pyramid and the Salesforce Tower, which remained unscathed, the other buildings however were broken and tattered. Some of them reduced to nothing but heaps of metal and stone masonry, others were lopsided, leaning against other buildings for support. There were cranes littered across the skyline from where they tried to repair the city prior to the Clayton Outbreak, but ultimately didn’t succeed.

I landed next to boomer, who was staring in awe at the city he once called home. I released the parachute from my bag and turned my attention towards Boomer, who didn’t even flinch.

“Ya know, this is the first time I’ve stepped foot in this city since before the Clayton Outbreak.” He said mournfully.

I didn’t say anything, and instead placed a hand on his shoulder. He broke his gaze away from the broken skyline and stared at me. His eyes were watery, as if he were about to cry. I had never seen Boomer like that before. I grabbed the back of his head and pressed the top of my forehead to his.

“If you need to let it out, let it out. No one is gonna judge you, and if they do they'll answer to me.” I said in a voice just above a whisper. Boomer grabbed my shoulders and looked at the ground.

“Thanks brother, you're a good friend. But I’ll be okay. I’ll save it till after we're done with the mission.” He replied.

“Okay.” I said pulling him into a hug. He hugged me back, almost squeezing the life out of me. We broke apart and I turned around towards the group who were all staring at us.

“Well? We got a mission to complete, let’s go!” I said, clapping my hands.

Alex and Cody pulled up the map on their wrist computers, Riley began assembling his weapons to his belt, and Ryan began re-packing a parachute. I retrieved Ryan’s hat from my bag and walked over to him. I knelt down to his level and slid the hat on his head, knocking my finger on the bill which made it go down into his eyesight. He pulled it up slightly, smiling.

“Is Boomer okay?” He asked.

“I think so. It’s kind of painful for him to be here, ya know, after all this time.” I responded. Ryan nodded his head in understanding.

“Why are you re-packing this anyways?” I asked.

“You never know when you’ll need a parachute.” Ryan said confidently, tucking the rest of the parachute into the bag.

“Fair enough.” I responded. I stood back up and looked over in Cody and Alex’s direction who were arguing over which direction to head.

“We need to go down Embarcadero and then down Mission.” Alex said.

“It would be quicker to just cut through this plaza and then go down Market.” Cody argued.

“Yeah if you want to make it complicated.” Alex argued back.

“How is that complicated?” Cody replied with an annoyed expression.

I rolled my eyes and walked up to Alex and grabbed her wrist. I pushed a button and the map displayed the best navigation route.

I patted her on the shoulder giving her an amused look. "Lead the way." I said.

Alex sighed and began walking down Embarcadero. Riley, Boomer, and Cody followed and I took up the rear with Ryan.

Ryan looked extremely sexy with his backward facing baseball cap, his stubble that dusted his face, his tight black ¾ inch sleeve baseball tee and bullet proof vest. The strap for his automatic rifle was slung over his shoulder and he held the rifle firmly in his hands which were covered with the fingerless gloves. He looked over and caught me staring, grinning from ear to ear.

"See something you like there?" He asked.

"Maybe." I grinned back.

"I know I do." Ryan replied, giving me a wink.

I chuckled and rolled my eyes. "Have I told you how corny you are sometimes." I said.

"A couple of times. But I know you like it." He said in a sure tone.

"Attractive and delusional, those are excellent qualities." I said sarcastically.

"So are sarcasm and surliness." Ryan shot back.

I laughed and pushed him lightly on the shoulder. "Smart ass." I said and Ryan laughed.

We crossed through an intersection riddled with cars and came upon, what looked like, a park with a pathway trailing through it.

“The GPS is telling us to go this way.” Alex said.

I peered down the path which ended in a pile of rubble, the side of tall building could be seen poking out slightly. I could see a tunnel below it.

“The walking path leads to a tunnel, that’s our way through.” I said.

We made our way down the path to the tunnel at the bottom and stopped at it’s entrance. It was encased in concrete, it was dark, and I couldn’t see a light at the end.

“Sooo, this is creepy as fuck.” Riley said.

“A jack in the box would creep you out.” Alex retorted.

“Hey! Those clowns are scary as shit.” Riley defended. Alex just shook her head and turned her flashlight on, shining it down the long and never ending tunnel.

“Can we just go around?” I asked.

Alex turned her head over her shoulder at me. “This is the quickest way, going around would take too long.” She explained.

“Alright, let’s go.” I said.

We all turned on our flashlights and began making our way down the long, dark tunnel. The darkness slowly enveloped us, the only source of light coming from the tip of our flashlight.

Ryan stayed close behind me, which I didn’t mind, as a matter of fact I found it comforting. I didn’t want to admit it, but going down a dark tunnel into the unknown was creeping me out a bit.

“Shit!” Alex exclaimed in a whisper.

“What is it?” I asked, praying it wasn’t something bad.

“It’s a fucking dead end.” She replied.

“Greaaaat.” I could hear Riley say.

I made my way towards the front to observe for myself and my light shone against a wall of rubble, there was no way through.

“I can’t blast through this.” Boomer spoke up, as if reading my thoughts.

“There’s gotta be another way.” I said looking around at the walls and ceiling of the tunnel. There was nothing but concrete. My light settled on a spot on the floor, where I could make out a hole about the size of a softball. I got on my hands and knees and shined my light inside.

“What have you got Ell?” Boomer asked.

I squinted my eyes to make out what I was seeing, I was moving my flashlight back and forth to try and make something out.

“Ell?” Riley asked. I held a hand up for them to give me a second.

My flashlight caught something metallic, I stopped, then I moved it to the left and caught another metallic object. Train tracks, it was a subway tunnel.

“There’s a subway tunnel down here.” I said.

“The Mewnie.” Boomer said.

“What the hells a Mewnie? That sounds made up.” Riley responded.

“M-U-N-I, short for Municipality. It’s San Francisco’s transit system.” Boomer responded.

“Oh, well of course it is.” Riley responded in a snarky tone.

“Do you know where this leads Boomer?” I asked.

“Well if we're lucky and the tunnel is still intact, then we should be able to get down to Montgomery which will put us right next to Union Square.” He explained.

“This is our way then.” I said standing up. “Do you have a small enough explosive to make a hole big enough for us to climb down?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

A grin broke Boomer’s face before he spoke. “Do you even need to ask?” He set his pack down and opened one of the pockets pulling out a tube. The emblem on the side read “Crest”.

“Toothpaste? You're gonna blast us out with toothpaste?” Ryan asked behind me. I chuckled and Boomer flipped Ryan off.

“It’s an experimental corrosive I’ve been working on. It should eat right through this concrete.” Boomer explained. I gave him a confused look.

“What? I was a Chemistry major in college. Don’t you people ever pay attention? There’s more to me then just blowing shit up.” Boomer had an irritated tone to his voice.

“Well it’s certainly a shock to me.” Riley grinned.

Boomer slowly squirted the paste out of the tube forming a circle big enough for two of us to fit through. We all stood there, waiting for it to suddenly start eating away at the concrete floor.

“Uhh, Boomer?” Cody asked, he had a look of confusion on his face.

“Just, give it a second.” Boomer said holding a hand up.

We waited for a couple more seconds, you could hear a pin drop as we concentrated all of our efforts on this circle of gray paste on the floor.

“BOOM!” Riley shouted, making us all jump. Riley began to laugh.

“Asshole!” Alex exclaimed, punching him in the arm.

“Ow!” Riley exclaimed, rubbing the site where Alex had hit him.

Suddenly the gray paste began to bubble and slowly it started to sink into the floor, eating away at the concrete. The circle in the floor gave away and fell to the ground below with a loud crash that echoed down the subway tunnel.

“It worked!” Boomer exclaimed with a surprised tone. “Umm, I mean of course it does. I’ve tested it several times.” He added with a slight chuckle, seeing our uneasy expressions.

Riley tossed a rope down the hole for us to climb down and secured it to a piece of rubble that looked like a window frame from a building facade.

“Ladies first.” Riley said, glancing over to Alex.

“Well in that case you better go first.” She replied sarcastically.

“Fine, beauty always goes first anyways.” Riley replied, flipping his head as if he had long hair.

“Oh god.” Alex scoffed.

Riley climbed into the hole and and began his descent down into the tunnel. Alex climbed in next, then Cody and then Boomer until Ryan and I were left.

“You go first.” Ryan said.

“No, you first.” I insisted. Ryan listened and climbed into the hole I watched as he descended waiting for him to get to the bottom. Once he reached the bottom I tossed my pack down to him and he caught it with outstretched arms.

I hoisted myself down into the hole and began climbing down, I was about 15 feet from the ground when I felt the rope snap and I began falling backward. My heart dropped and I closed my eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable impact with the ground. I felt a pair of strong arms catch me and we both fell backward onto the gravel covered ground.

“I got ya, I got ya!” I could hear Ryan’s voice in my ear. I exhaled sharply, relaxing into him and patting his arms which were still wrapped around my center.

“What the hell Riley!” April shouted advancing on Riley who had a look of shock on his face.

“That rope was secure!” Riley shouted back.

“It wasn’t Riley’s fault!” Cody shouted.

Ryan and I sat up and we all looked at Cody, who was holding the other end of the rope. It was cleanly cut.

“Someone cut the rope?” Ryan said.

“That’s impossible, there’s no one in this city except for us and those scientists.” Riley said.

“Or so we thought.” I replied.

We all sat in silence for a second before Boomer spoke up.

“It doesn’t matter, let’s just get to the lab and get Dr. Grimm. Then we can get the hell out of here.” Boomer said.

“Agreed.” Riley said.

Ryan looked over at me with a hint of concern. “Are you okay?” He asked.

“Yeah I’m fine, are you okay?” I asked, standing up.

“Yeah I’m fine.” Ryan replied.

I held out a hand and helped him up to his feet.

“I can’t believe you caught me.” I said.

“Of course I did.” Ryan replied. He gave me a grin and we stood there, holding hands for a bit.

“Hey! You guys coming?” Cody called out.

“Yeah, we're coming.” I replied, releasing my hand from Ryan’s. We began following the group down the tunnel, I gave one last glance over my shoulder at the hole we had climbed down from.

“Were there still people here?” I asked myself.

No, that would be impossible. The Republic was told that the people in San Francisco all died. But what if that were a lie?

“What’s on your mind?” Ryan asked, seeing the perplexed look on my face.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. If there were people here, then why would the government just abandon them like that?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” Ryan replied shortly.

We continued walking along the tracks until we came upon a platform. Boomer shined his light on a sign that was hanging haphazardly from the ceiling. Emblazoned on it, in white lettering, were the words “Montgomery Street”.

“This is it.” Boomer said. He hoisted himself up onto the platform and held his hand out for Riley to help him up.

Ryan climbed up onto the platform and held a hand out for me. I planted my boot on a small concrete lip and grabbed his hand. I grabbed the edge of the platform with my free hand and helped Ryan hoist me off the tracks.

Boomer walked up to a gate and opened it, the old rusty hinges squealed at the years of neglect and Boomer passed through the gate, making his way up the stairs towards the sunlight that was pouring in. We all followed him and made our way up to the street, letting our eyes adjust to the sudden brightness.

There was a derailed streetcar poking out of a building across the street, stone and brick were laying in the road and on the sidewalks below the buildings they once belonged to. Below my boot there was a newspaper clipping. I bent down and picked it up recognizing it as the San Francisco Chronicle.

“San Francisco to Begin Rebuilding After Devastating Earthquake” The headline read.

April looked at her GPS and began looking around pointing her body in the direction the GPS was telling her to go.

“This way.” She said, jerking her head sideways to the west.

I tucked the newspaper into the front pouch on my vest, and began following the rest of the team.

We passed by a building with a car halfway out of the glass storefront and Ryan stopped.

“No way!” He exclaimed and jogged towards the store.

“What? What is it?” I asked in a panicked tone.

“It’s a sports memorabilia store!” Ryan shouted from inside the store.

“Oh no way!” Boomer exclaimed joining Ryan.

“C’mon guys, we don’t have time for this!” I called after them.

“Speak for yourself I need, a new hat.” Riley said joining them. I threw my arms up in defeat.

“Fine, I guess we could use a break.” I said, sitting on an overturned mailbox. I set my pack on the ground. Alex and Cody came over, Alex took a seat next to me.

“What’s the matter?” She asked.

“Something’s bothering me about the rope.” I started.

“Don’t.” Alex interrupted me. “You’re gonna spiral until you obsess.” She added.

“But what if there are people still here?” I asked.

“I doubt it.” Cody said. “I read up on the Clayton Outbreak and the odds of survival are slim to none.”

“Then where’s all the bodies, the bones?” I demanded.

They both gave me a perplexed look, they didn’t have an answer to that question.

“San Francisco had a population of just over six hundred thousand after the earthquake. All of those people crammed onto an island of around fifty square miles, and you're telling me there's not a single body, a bone, something to come across?” I questioned.

I could see the wheels start to turn in their heads as they began to consider what I was telling them.

"Not to mention, the additional fifty thousand that were never recovered or went missing. Something doesn't add up." I added.

Riley, Boomer and Ryan began to walk back towards us. Riley was wearing a Philadelphia Flyers hat. Boomer and Ryan were empty handed.

“Didn’t find what you were looking for?” I asked.

“Nope.” Ryan replied shortly, but I could tell he was hiding something. Even behind that tough Army Rangers facade, he didn’t have the best poker face. I gave him a knowing look and he turned his attention towards Alex.

“How far are we from the objective?” Ryan asked. He was obviously avoiding something.

“Not too far, maybe a few more blocks.” Alex replied, looking at her GPS.

“Let’s get going then.” I said standing up and putting my pack on.

After about twenty minutes we made it to Union Square. It was a large and sunken plaza, what used to be an obelisk in the center was partially gone, the broken remnants scattered next to it. There was a 6 story tall glass building on the northside of the plaza that Alex pointed to.

“That’s it, over there.” She proclaimed.

“Jeeze, could they have made it more obvious?” Riley asked.

“What would you suppose they do?” Alex asked, a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“I don’t know. Maybe an underground bunker?” Riley responded sarcastically.

We began walking across the plaza towards the building. Ryan surveyed the landscape, looking around at all the collapsed and lopsided buildings.

“How could one earthquake do all this?” He asked, flabbergasted. Boomer shot him a stern look.

“It wasn’t just any earthquake, it was THE earthquake.” Boomer explained.

“It was the largest earthquake in US history, a 9.7.” Cody added.

“They don’t have the news in Texas?” Riley asked sarcastically.

“They do. But I was overseas when it happened.” Ryan responded. Riley looked away embarrassingly, due to his sarcastic remark.

We reached the glass doors to the building that housed the lab. Boomer stuck his fingers in the slit between the glass panes and tried to pry them apart, but the doors didn’t budge.

“Any ideas?” Cody asked.

Riley looked around and picked up a piece of rubble off the ground and threw it like a baseball at the window. It bounced off and fell to the ground not leaving so much as a scratch.

“Well that sucked.” Riley said in a defeated tone.

Alex looked closely at the faceplate that contained the locking mechanism. Alex began digging through her bag for her tools. “I could see if I could bypass the security, but it’s voice activated and it might take me awhile-”

“Riboviria.” I interrupted. There was a beep that emitted from the faceplate and the doors slid apart. Everyone turned to look at me, my face flushing slightly. “It’s the Realm for the viral classification for H2N4.” I explained.

“That means absolutely nothing to me.” Riley said.

“H2N4, the Northern Flu.” I said.

“Whatever nerd.” Riley said, flashing him a grin.

“How did you know that would work?” Alex asked. They walked inside the building and the doors closed behind them with a silent mechanical sound.

“I didn’t, I just guessed.” I chuckled.

The building was quiet, the only sound came from our boots as they echoed and reverberated off the cold and tiled walls. There was a bank of elevators straight ahead and Boomer pressed the button to call one.

“Isn’t it weird that we’re standing in the very place that caused the Clayton Outbreak?” Riley asked. I shot him a glare and Riley retreated slightly. I looked over at Boomer whose head was hung slightly.

Poor Boomer, I couldn’t imagine what he was going through. Losing his whole family in the blink of an eye.

Ding ding!

One of the elevator doors sprang open and we all piled inside, Alex and Cody being squished into a corner as our wide frames took up most of the space. The elevator began to move upward and my heart began to skip beats.

This is it. In all of my years as a physician I had been waiting for the day that medical science found a cure for cancer, and now he was going to meet the doctor who was on a breakthrough. The doors slid open and we were greeted by a long plain hallway, lined with doors and windows. We all stepped out of the elevator and I began walking down the hallway, looking through the large windows as I passed.

They were all labs, but they were all empty. Something didn’t make sense, where were all the scientists?

“Are we on the wrong floor?” Ryan asked, he approached me with a look of confusion.

“No, the elevator only had one floor button and this was it.” Boomer stated.

I opened a door that had the words “BSL-1” above them. Ryan grabbed my arm with a look of concern on his face.

“You can’t go in there.” He said.

I smiled at him. “It’s fine, it’s a BSL-1 lab, you don’t need a hazmat suit.” I explained and continued through the door. Ryan followed close behind me which made me grin to myself. It was cute how he cared for me.

I looked around, and made my way over to a desk at the back of the room. There were papers and files nestled in perfect order and placement. A computer screen was sitting on the corner of the desk, the words “Clayton Labs” with the company’s emblem bounced around the screen. I woke the computer up by moving the mouse gently and another screen popped up, it was a user interface login.

Ryan was walking around the lab, peeking in the glass cases. “Somethings not right.” Ryan said.

“I know. I don’t have a good feeling about this.” I responded.

I began peeking through the files on the desk, it was Dr. Grimm’s research notes.

“Just grab the files and let’s go.” Ryan urged. I began picking the files up and stuffing them in my pack. We walked out of the lab and joined the rest of the group, who were talking amongst themselves in what looked like a living room setup.

“Something’s not right.” Riley said as they walked up.

“That’s what we were just saying.” Ryan responded. “Even if the scientists aren’t here there should still be armed guards. They were working on some pretty classified stuff here.” He added.

“We just need to find Dr. Grimm and get out of here.” Cody stated with a hint of worry.

“Agreed.” I responded shortly.

“I saw another door that led down a hallway. There might be private quarters back there or something.” Boomer said.

“Let’s go check it out, and everyone stay close.” Ryan said.

We all headed out into the hallway and towards a door at the opposite end from the elevator doors. Riley pushed the door open and we were greeted by another hallway, but this one had no windows, and doors made of solid oak in a modern design. I approached one of the doors and there was a silver name plate hanging on it. Emblazoned on it in black letters read the name “Dr. Jason Grimm, MD”.

I turned the smooth, cold handle and pushed the door open, stepping inside. The room had plain white walls, and gray pergo laminate floors. There was a large window on the opposite side of the room that gave a view of the bay, amidst a ruined city. There was a desk against the wall to my left and a full sized bed to my right. I looked around at the walls that contained photographs, some of prominent San Francisco Landmarks, some of what I assumed to be Dr. Grimm’s family. I approached a bookshelf and began scanning the books. There were lots of medical journals, medical textbooks and a book on genetics. With the stuff contained in this man’s room, he reminded me of myself.

I walked over to the desk and picked up a tablet, the screen woke up. A message flashed across the screen. “Hello Dr. Grimm”. I swiped the screen but it wanted me to input a pin, I sighed in defeat and set the tablet down.

I heard a gun cock behind me and my heart dropped. I stuck my hands up slightly, there was someone behind me.

“Who are you?” I heard a male british voice say.

I swallowed hard, my training was running me through a hundred different scenarios on how to turn the tables on my opponent. Where was my team?

I decided to go with the truth. “Dr. Elliott Pierce with the Pacific Republic Army.”

“Okay Dr. Pierce. Where are your credentials?” The man asked further.

“Here, in my vest pocket.” I pointed to my right side. I felt a hand slowly approach the pouch and I acted quickly. I trapped the gun against my left side and bicep and twisted slightly thrusting my elbow backward into the man's gut.

“Unf!” He groaned. To finish him off I turned slightly and kicked him square in the chest which sent him flying backwards onto the floor. I turned his gun on him as he curled up in the fetal position on the floor, moaning in pain.

“Now it’s your turn to answer the questions! Who are you?” I shouted. The rest of the team came piling in, Riley and Ryan were first, aiming their guns around the room. I raised an eyebrows at them.

“How nice of you to join.” I said snarkily.

I turned my attention back on the man.

“I’m gonna ask you one more time. Who are you?” I asked more sternly.

“Dr. Jason Grimm!” The man shouted. “And I need your help!”

Copyright © 2020 zanoGreen; All Rights Reserved.

Thank you for reading! Please comment below and let me know where you would like to see the story go or what your favorite parts are so far. Please note that this story does not revolve around a killer virus, that's just what sets up the events that lead to the story.

If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

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Chapter Comments

Another well written chapter, but the pacing seemed a little off on this one, not sure why.  This group works well together; but Eli is right; if that many people died there, the skeletal remains would be all over the place; plus who cut the rope?  Even without Dr. Grimm's reaction, common sense would say that there are others in the city.  The question is are they sane?  Are they from there or did the Eastern Army send them?  Who do they see their allegiance belonging to?

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