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Fiction – Ruth’s Tale Part #18 Going Through Seattle Or What Is Left Of The Emerald City

February 27, 2012

I might run into a clogged roadway here any minute. The GPS system is telling me to go through the express lanes, but there is no way that I am going into a dark underground tunnel.

Going through the spaghetti bowl around the West Seattle Bridge, Spokane Street and South Columbian Way, was a disaster. Several flipped-over tractor trailers (I still want to call them lorrys) blocked several of the off ramps.

A good portion of the flyover for South Columbian was completely destroyed. I managed to squeeze through the wreckage strewn all over the highway, but scraped up my little car. The train tracks down below are a mess of wreckage, with several flame-gutted trains.

I thought about using Airport Way, but I am worried about the surface streets after what the Guardsmen told me. The amount of damage is incredible.

I am staying on the mainline, but I understand that there is a portion of the I5 highway that goes underneath the Seattle Convention Center. Sounds like a good area for an ambush.

The other spaghetti bowl around I90 and Dearborn Street was a dicey mess too. I am greatful for a small car as I was able to slip through many of the choke points, even if I did scratch my car some more. I lost my driver’s side outside mirror when I ripped it off on a flipped SUV.

Saw plenty of wandering zombies in the highway. Thankfully many of the zombies were far enough away that did not get close enough to me to be a problem. Many were still trapped in cars, and even saw a few crispy zombies that flame had kissed but not fully killed. Now those scorched zombies are a gruesome sight!

As I come into Seattle proper, the part I understand they call SoDo (for South of Down town) I am amazed at the amount of damage. FEMA shelters were supposedly set up at both Safeco and Seahawk Fields for emergency services.

This is confirmed as I see two huge signs bearing the FEMA emblem flying over both arenas. So far I have not heard anything about any kind of UN response. I think all the world governments are too busy trying to survive, rather than be able to send troops to some other country.

I am too far away to see clearly but I see a lot of activity down there. Judging by the way the shambling crowds are moving there are literally thousands of zombies pressing against the hasty erected barricades.

Several large tractor trailers also bearing the FEMA emblem are also parked around the arenas. A couple of those trailers are gutted by flame. Several cargo shipping containers, also emblazoned with the FEMA emblem, lie scattered around the arenas.

The poor folks trapped in the arenas turned FEMA shelters, probably lack heavy equipment to erect a proper barricade. I feel for the poor souls trapped in the FEMA shelters. I’ve seen similar camps of misery all around the world in war-torn countries.

Looks like someone managed to move a few jersey barriers and found some construction-grade fencing to attempt some kind of barricade. I wonder how many people are trapped in the FEMA shelters?

I see numerous flashes of gunfire down there too. Out of the corner of my eye I see several burning cars; some appear to be strategically placed to funnel the zombies through the flames. Smart whoever thought of that.

All around the two supposed FEMA shelters, the streets are packed with zombies of every type and imaginable variety. Several of the buildings in the SoDo area are gutted by fire. I see a few buildings still smoldering. Even some of the lofty skyscrapers that grace Seattle’s skyline have not escaped unscathed; several of them are also burning.

If it were not for a steady breeze from the ocean a thick pall would hang over Seattle from all the fires. As I come around the corner near the entrance to the express lanes I notice that the highway is starting to get crowded.

The number of abandoned vehicles begins to rise and I slow down and swerve several times to avoid cars dead in the road. I also pass a few more staggering zombies, but manage to swerve and not hit any more.

I am worried about damage to the front of my car. Thankfully the engine is in the rear, along with the radiator so I do not have to worry about buggering up my radiator, kinda like a demolition race car.

This little Smart Forfour is a great car and gets awesome gas mileage, but it is not exactly a heavy or even an armored car. I cannot abuse it by running over zombies, as much as that sounds like fun.

It is getting late in the afternoon and other than that piece of chocolate I had while still in the airport I have not eaten anything today. I am also desperately thirsty.

I skipped trying to find a rest area coming north because the guardsmen told me they are death traps. Supposedly the rest areas are full of abandoned cars, luggage, and wandering flesh-craving zombies.

I do not know how many times I have driven over some abandoned luggage, but I am worried one of these times it is going to pop a tire. This car is not exactly wearing the heaviest of tires, and they are not designed for this rough use.

As I get closer to the Seattle Convention Center I get more worried. I see above me on one of the overpasses someone has hung a large hand-painted sign warning people that both floating bridges have been sunk by the Coast Guard and Air Force.

Not sure what they mean by floating bridge but my GPS tells me that I could go that way, but a bridge that floats (or used to) sounds like a bad idea right now to me.

I stop in the center of the highway again as it is getting crowded. My speed has been slowly tapering off as I get closer to the Convention Center. Sitting for a moment I use my GPS to try to figure a way around the Convention Center.

There is a lot of smoke ahead of me. Thick billowing clouds of it choke the highway. Does not help that several of the cars I have passed are also gutted by flame, smoldering or are currently still burning. Most horribly, I passed a small flame-gutted minivan, whose charred zombie family of occupants watched me pass by them.

Punching a change of plans into the GPS system I finally get the stupid thing to tell me to take the Seneca exit. It tells me in a nice cheery voice with a British accent to make a legal U-turn. Well fuck that! I shift from park to reverse and do an illegal three point turn around in the center of the highway.

I drive back the way I had come and aim for the Seneca exit. The Seneca exit has a long collector distributor lane, and would also make a good choke point. At the Seneca exit, I stop my car and leaving it idling, grab my POF AR15 and get out looking down the road.

From what I can see the roadway is clear. I get back in my little car and replace my AR15 back in the passenger seat. Motoring slowly down the roadway I do not encounter any blockages, even though going through the small underpass area makes me nervous.

I make the left over the highway taking the Seneca overpass over I5. As I make an illegal turn and weave through several wrecked abandoned cars in the intersection, I see the Crowne Plaza Hotel is burning ferociously.

As I turn the corner weaving through the wrecked cars, some of whom are fire gutted and contain charred remains I hear screaming behind me. Looking in my rear view mirror, I see several people fall to their death from the upper floors of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

As I make the turn onto the Seneca overpass, I glance in my rear view mirror and happen to see a woman on the top floor of the hotel throw a small child out a window, followed by a baby before leaping to her death as well.

I suppose if given the choice between burning alive or eaten by a zombie, I might choose to leap to my death also. The sound of the bodies striking the pavement is nauseating, and I want to get out of hearing range fast.

With tears streaming down my face I drive quickly onto the overpass, wincing at the sounds of the three bodies striking the pavement. Some tough soldier I am.

As I get over I5 I see the highway is really congested. Southbound is almost completely blocked. Watching the GPS as I am driving along Seneca it tells me to make a left onto Hubbell. The intersection where Hubbell, Seneca and 7th streets all come together is a disaster.

To get around the flipped, burning and abandoned cars blocking the intersection I end driving on the sidewalk and squeezing between the light poles. Lucky I have a small car.

The roads around here are really clogged and I see plenty of zombies trapped in cars and wandering around. As I drive slowly along the street weaving through the cars, I hear the sharp crack of a high power rifle and the head of a zombie to my left suddenly explodes like an overripe melon.

Looking at my GPS, I see that I have driven between Exeter House and the Town Hall. Both buildings appear somewhat worse for wear. Looking at my GPS, I see that ahead of me is the Virginia Mason Medical Center and Hospital.

Oh hell! A hospital is the last place I want to go in a zombie outbreak! I start to look for an alternate route when a couple of rifle shots ring out, echoing between the buildings.

I shift my car into reverse, just as a white male soldier dressed in current-issue digital camo runs up to the passenger side of my car. I stomp on the brake.

The soldier wears an older Load Bearing Vest (LBV) from which the butt of an M9 Beretta juts out on the left side. He is carrying a battered M4 topped with an older, beat-up Trijicon ACOG. I see he has crooked, silver lieutenant bars pinned to his helmet. If he notices the weapons in my passenger seat he gives no indication of it. He motions for me to roll the passenger window down.

I roll the window down enough so that I can hear him. He squats down bringing his dirty, smudged face even with my passenger window.  His bloodshot, dark gray eyes look at me, and I notice the dark rings under his eyes. He needs a shave and a shower, as even from here I can smell him.

“Ma’am you can’t go this way, the area around the hospital is completely lost to the zombies. We’ve called in an airstrike and arty’s been pounding the area. Your best bet is to back up a bit and take a right down 8th until you reach Hubbell. Take a left onto Hubbell and follow it around the Convention Center. Stay outa the Convention Center as it is full of zombies and KCAP-infected cannibals. Stay on Hubbell until you get to Pike, I can’t help you past that. God be with you, because he sure as hell is not with us!”

With that he runs away back around the building and out of my sight. As he disappears from my sight I hear the unmistakable thumping sound of artillery (arty in soldier slang) firing followed quickly by the whistling of shells inbound.

The arty must be really close by for me to hear the shells so soon. Then I remember my time in the IDF, and the basic lessons all Infantry soldiers learn about dealing with artillery. You hear the sound of the artillery firing before the shells hit because the guns fire their shells in an arc. The artillery shells travel up in a rainbow arc while the sound of the gun firing travels straight along the ground.

I take my foot off the brake and mash the accelerator. I need to get out of here now! Just as I weave around a few cars in the intersection of 8th and Hubbell, I hear the first artillery shells impacting. I wonder how long ago the soldiers called in the artillery strike.

Then I remember that the Lieutenant said that artillery had been pounding the area. I wonder how long the artillery has been pounding the hospital. Then I remember the soldier also mentioned KCAP-infected cannibals in the convention center.

KCAP-infected is not a new term but did the soldier mean persons that are infected with the KCAP virus but have not yet turned into a zombie? Does eating KCAP-infected flesh reduce the infection time compared to getting bit?

The explosion of the artillery shells whips my little car around, and shatters all the glass in the buildings in the area. The rear window of my car explodes into the back seat. I cannot help but scream as my little car takes a beating again getting pummeled by debris kicked up the exploding shells.

They must have called those shells in danger close (within 600 meters).

Another wave of shells impacts the area, by the sound the shells are getting closer. It sounds like they are walking the artillery shells on to the target so someone must be spot correcting the artillery. I wonder who the poor bastard is who is stuck as the artillery spotter.

I am surprised that only about a week after the KCAP outbreak, there are still troops trying to contain the spread of infection. From the news reports I saw at the airport, it sounded like all the troops had disbanded. But obviously there are some troops that are attempting to contain the spread of infection.

Indirect fire weapons like artillery have historically killed more people than any other weapon. I remember in basic learning that artillery was called the King of Battle. I wonder how much longer these brave soldiers can hold out.

I finally get my little battered in the sheltered area offered by whatever this building is on the corner of Seneca and 8th Avenue. The smoke and debris from the near continuous artillery strikes on the medical center, starts to rain down on me despite being in the shadow of the buildings.

I put my foot back on the gas and move my little battered car down 8th Avenue heading for Hubbell Place street.

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