Here's a very brief view of what's to come:
As he’d figured, the rumble of the jet engines had meant that the monsters who stalked out of sight in the wilderness beyond had come calling. The first place they’d been drawn had been the airport, of course. But the staccato rattle of automatic gunfire had erupted from that quarter, followed by the growl of other engines that soon joined the spitting of lead.
Ron had ordered Jean and Oliver to remain indoors while he viewed the action that was, for now, confined to the newly cleared and operational Charlotte-Douglas Airport. Through the powerful lenses of his finest binoculars he was watching the forming battle from the secure perch of their rooftop redoubt.
The first thing he’d noticed in the morning light was that the enormous C5 transport was painted a dull flat green. All markings of the US armed forces—from any of the branches—had either been removed, or had never been present. From what he did know, the only versions of that jet that were operational were all property of one or the other of the branches of the US military. So this one had either been taken from one of those branches, or had been in private hands. Or perhaps it belonged to one of the civilian arms of the government—either the CIA or DIA. Ron pulled the binoculars from his face and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Hell, the ideas and suspicions made it all too bothersome to ponder.
What he needed to do was pay attention to what was going on.
During the night, while men had obviously worked through the dark hours, guided by generated lamps that he could see standing on tripods all over the tarmac, the newly arrived forces had been quite busy. There were armored personnel carriers—three of them—and two giant vehicles that he realized were Abrams tanks. Even those were absent any markings that labeled them as property of the Army or Marines. They were all just painted that same flat desert camouflage. There weren’t even any identifying numerals or letters to differentiate one from the other.
Off to the east of the C5 transport there was a house-sized oblong of what appeared to be something made wholly of steel. Using the figures that he could see scurrying around the thing, it was roughly fifty or sixty feet long and twenty feet wide, perhaps fifteen feet tall. It was on a trailer with stout wheels. Ron could even see a large semi sitting idle nearby, and he didn’t need a rocket scientist to tell him that the heavy truck was going to soon be pulling whatever was on that trailer.
While the men had worked in the temporary electric lamps, the deaders had come filtering out of the wilderness as Ron had known they would. But they’d been prepared for that. Whoever these jokers were, the Colonel had told them what to expect and they had come loaded for bear.
The airport was all but smothered by an army of rot on its north side. And a mindless pincer movement had gone into motion; the classic flanking maneuvers of the dead. Of course there were no tactics involved on behalf of the zombies—they were merely like a river of stinking water that pushed until it met resistance and then parted to flow around the blockage until that poisonous stream met again at some further point. It wasn’t measured and it wasn’t considered, but it was surely effective against the living. Riggs had long since lost count of the number of times he’d seen people overtaken by the mindless simplicity of it.
As he put the lenses back to his face, Ron was glad that he’d talked Jean and Oliver into remaining inside. He wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but he didn’t like what he was witnessing and he didn’t want to them to watch what was going on if it went against those people who were now holding the airport against the dead hordes that had assembled there. Seeing the inexorable tide flow around the major block of buildings to converge on the makeshift strongpoint of the big jet and its disgorged cargo, Ron felt that he could all but hear and smell the stalking mass that heaved itself toward the pristine lines of the winged vehicle.
He feared the worst.
Realizing that the initial reactions had been just preliminary movements by what he now saw were soldiers, Ron went to one of the chairs he kept at his reloading station and pulled it close to the wall that surrounded the roof. Seated, he leaned forward until his elbows were on the concrete parapet and settled in for the show.