Fandom: due South
Characters: Thatcher, also Turnbull, Fraser and Kowalski
Warnings: Angst, death.
Original Story: Les Revenants by simplystars.
Summary: Her first inkling that something was wrong came in the form of a wrong number.
It wasn't the screaming that alerted her. Nor the sirens. The distant sound of gunshots elicited a dismayed shake of the head but nothing more. Meg knew such sounds to be part of life in any major American city. She had lived in Chicago nearly three years and had no difficulty ignoring the random sounds of criminal activity unless and until it affected the interests of the sovereign nation of Canada.
No one in Ottawa contacted her. She didn't hear the news reports from the radio playing softly in the parlor downstairs. If the television in her office had been on, she would have seen the broadcasts and known what was coming. She might not have believed it at first. American news tended to be rather sensationalistic. But after the first shaky videos began to appear, she would have prepared herself. Everything would have been different. Perhaps.
Regrettably, she disliked distractions while she worked, and so the television wasn't on to warn her. She didn't know that half the citizens of Chicago were fighting for their lives while the other half were hiding and praying.
Her first inkling that something was wrong came in the form of a wrong number.
"Good afternoon," said Meg. "Canad--"
"Sherri? Sherri, are you there?" said a man's voice. "Are you safe? Sherri? Sherri!"
Disconcerted by his panicked tone, Meg hesitated in responding.
"Sherri," sobbed the man, his voice choked with anguish. "Please say something."
"This is--" she was cut off by the sound of screeching metal and a muffled boom.
"I'm okay! I'm okay. Just--don't move. I'm coming to get you. Just stay there, honey," he said. "Don't let anyone in. Anyone."
"Sir!" she tried again, "You have the wrong num--"
But he had already hung up, and dialing *69 only resulted in a recorded message; the number was private. There was nothing more she could do.
She tried to return her attention to the budget analysis she was preparing, but the wrong number had greatly unnerved her. She went downstairs to the Consulate kitchen to start a fresh pot of coffee then wandered down to the foyer while it brewed. She sighed in irritation when she found the front door open wide and Constable Turnbull not at his desk. He had probably gotten distracted on his way to the washroom again. Undoubtedly, she would find him staring moonily at the Queen's portrait.
She strode forward and closed the door. It popped open again, slamming painfully into her knee and knocking her to the ground. Constable Turnbull burst in carrying a small, screaming child in one arm. His other hand clutched the side of his throat and blood poured through his fingers.
"My God! What happened?" She scrambled up and grabbed the child, setting it roughly on the desk, before helping Turnbull to the sofa in the parlor off the foyer.
"Lie down here. Just hold on. I'm going to call the medics." She tried to leave, but he grabbed her arm. She stared dumbly as blood stained the sleeve of her white blouse, the one she'd purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue when she'd last visited New York City.
"Door," whispered Turnbull. Meg blanched at the ghastly gurgling sound.
"What? I don't understand. The door...? Is that how--"
"Door--shut door," he gasped. He tried to sit up, but Meg held him down.
"No! Just stay there. Don't move. I'll get the door. Keep pressure on the wound."
She ran to the door and slammed it shut, then locked it. She call 911 three times, but got a busy signal every time. The child--a little girl, Meg realized--had stopped screaming. She was now curled into a ball on the floor, whimpering softly.
The next several hours were a blur of blood and activity, tinged with fear and exhaustion. Meg tended to Turnbull's wounds as best she could while also trying to call for help, listening to the radio and dealing with the refugees.
She called 911 dozens of times, but it was always busy. She tried calling the hospitals directly, but the phone just rang and rang. Something had happened--something terrible. The radio broadcasts were strange, telling of people going mad, monsters attacking, speculating on viruses, comets, the Rapture. They advised everyone to lock their doors, barricade them. They kept repeating "Stay inside. Stay Inside. Stay Inside."
It drove Meg crazy not to know what was going on. She was used to being in charge, in control. She tried to gently interrogate the little girl to no avail. The child was too traumatized; she couldn't even tell Meg her name. Meg's heart broke when the little girl crawled under Turnbull's desk and cried for her mother, but she couldn't take the time to comfort the child. She had to help Turnbull.
Turnbull couldn't provide any answers either. His last words before lapsing into unconsciousness were "les revenants." Les revenants? Ghosts? He was in shock. She couldn't expect him to make sense, but still, his words chilled her. She tended his wounds, the most serious of which was a horrific bite wound to his neck. It looked like a human bite mark. Was there a psychopath on the loose? More than one? What was going on?
She called Headquarters in Ottawa. A man whose name she didn't recognize said, "I'm sorry. You're on your own." She called the police station, hoping to reach Constable Fraser. Francesca Vecchio answered. Fraser was out with Detective Vecchio and all the others, she said, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Trying to stop it. She would try to get an ambulance sent to the Consulate. Her voice shook when she said goodbye. The ambulance never arrived.
It wasn't until the first person arrived seeking shelter, that Meg heard the word "zombie." It was Mrs. Stilson, the baker's wife from the shop down the street. She'd been crying and screaming about her dead-but-alive husband and Meg had spent precious moments away from Turnbull and the phone trying to calm her, to find out what happened. She didn't believe the woman. But the dozen others who showed up, Consulate neighbors and several customers and proprietors of nearby shops whose glass windows afforded little protection, had similar stories of being chased and attacked by people--mobs of people with graying skin, ghastly wounds, missing limbs. People who should have been dead.
Mrs. Stilson had arrived hysterical and screaming. She was the only one. The others were quiet. Too quiet. They told their stories in soft, monotone voices. Stories of running from neighbors, of shooting, stabbing, beating family members who attacked them. Meg looked into their dull eyes, saw their hollow expressions and wished they would scream like Mrs. Stilson.
The only time any of them showed any signs of life was when Meg attempted to leave. Turnbull was going to die without help. The phones were useless; Meg had no choice. She had to get help and bring it to him. The refugees, the Americans she had offered asylum to, tried to stop her, physically blocking her from the door. Furious, she ran down the hall to the emergency exit. She shoved aside the chair jamming it shut and burst outside. She was immediately set upon by Mr. LaPierre, the gardener employed by the Consulate. His abdomen was torn open. She could see his spine. He grabbed for her. She ducked and scrambled back inside, heart pounding. Seeing it with her own eyes, she finally accepted it. This was really happening.
Early the next morning, Constable Turnbull died.
Knowing it was coming didn't make it any easier for Meg. She stayed with him hour after hour, as his breathing got increasingly shallow. When it stopped altogether, she covered his body with a sheet then collapsed next to him. For long moments, she stared dully at the carpet. She didn't cry.
Slowly, she rose from the parlor floor and walked listlessly to the washroom. She washed the blood off her hands and arms. Her blouse was ruined. She had a spare in her office, but just the thought of walking upstairs was exhausting. She hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday. She would find something to eat in the kitchen, then change, then gather together the refugees to discuss what to do next. They couldn't stay in the Consulate forever.
As Meg emerged from the washroom, she heard screaming. It was the little girl whose name she still didn't know. She ran towards the screams. They were coming from the parlor. As she rounded the last corner, Meg realized her mistake. Turnbull. Bile rose in throat. She kept going.
The screaming stopped before she arrived. She was too late. Turnbull—sweet, simple Turnbull—held the little girl by her throat. Her head flopped backward at an unnatural angle and blood flowed freely down her pale green dress. Meg retched, reaching for something to support her. Turnbull immediately dropped the little girl's body and went after Meg. She turned to run and crashed into one of the refugees, a tourist named Greg. They both tumbled to the ground.
Meg got up first, grabbing Greg's arm and yelling, "Run!". He froze, uncomprehending, until he saw Turnbull.
"Jesus fuck. They're here. They're inside. Out! Out! Everybody out! They're here!" he yelled.
Suddenly it was chaos. People were scrambling for the door, shoving aside the makeshift barricade and running into the street, away from Turnbull but, Meg realized, towards more of them. Those monstrous, undead things--no, people. There was a horde of them just outside the front door, and they quickly fell upon the refugees. Meg ran the other way, down the hallway, towards the emergency exit. Maybe there was still only one of them out back. She could fight off one of them. It was her only chance.
She grabbed the chair and started shoved the door open, when Turnbull grabbed her from behind. He bit her arm, but she kicked and punched and got away from him. Mr. LaPierre was still out back and had been joined by several others. Meg wanted to scream in frustration. There was no way out.
She ran towards Constable Fraser's office, slammed the door, locked it. She pushed the desk against it, then went for the filing cabinet. It was too heavy to move, so she started grabbing storage boxes and stacking them on the desk. She could hear them outside, staggering down the hall toward her, grunting and moaning. Moments later, they were pounding on the door, trying to get inside. There was too many of them. The door buckled and flew off its hinges. Her desperate attempt at a barricade fell to the side, and they converged on her.
Meg woke up in horrible pain. She was lying on her back, still in Fraser's office. She was alone. She didn't know how long it had been or why they had left her. It was still daylight out. She wondered if it was the same day. Gingerly, she tried to move; the pain was excruciating. She couldn't move her legs or her left arm at all. She fought back the panic and tried to ignore the pain as she lifted her right arm and felt her neck and face where the throbbing was worst. Her fingers skidded across torn flesh, became sticky with blood. She touched something hard and sharp and gasped as fiery pain ripped through her.
For hours, she lay there, unable to move. There was nothing she could do to help herself. There was nothing to do but think. She thought about her life, her family, her career. She thought about regrets and dreams. She had always been a realist. She knew she was going to die. She didn't want to die alone. That was one of her biggest regrets. She had never found someone to share her life with.
She would never have children. She regretted changing her mind, not following through with the adoption. She wondered if her friend Nancy was safe. Her baby was only ten months old. Please let them be safe. And Father. Her father, who doted on her. She hadn't been to visit him in nearly a year. She prayed for him and all her friends and comrades.
Slowly, it got dark. Throughout the long night, she fought to stay awake and stay conscious. To stay alive. She had accepted her death, accepted that no one was coming to help her--that she was beyond help--but she was damned if she'd just leg go and slip peacefully into death to become one of them. She could still hear them, their inhuman moaning. The odd clatter and bang.
Every now and then, she would see one of them pass by the open door to Fraser's office where she lay, helpless. Each time one of them wandered by, she feared it would be the time--the time one of them noticed she wasn't dead and finished her off. A small part of her wanted it, would have welcomed the release from pain without the shame of having given up. But she couldn't bear the thought of becoming one of them, of hurting someone. That innocent little girl. She would hold on as long as she could.
She saw Turnbull drift by several times and Mrs. Stilson and once, a little boy she'd never seen in life. He was wearing a Blackhawks shirt and missing an arm.
Tears sprang to her eyes and slipped silently down the sides of her face.
Meg startled awake to the sound of shouting. Someone--someone alive--was in the Consulate. She tried to call out, but she couldn't make a sound. She could only listen. She heard sounds of a struggle, a frantic thumping and then a man's voice: "Jesus, God."
She recognized the voice. It was Detective Vecchio. Thank God. Thank God. He would find her. She could hear him walking down the hallway toward her. He would end it for her--in such a way as to ensure she wouldn't become one of them. It would be over soon.
"Fraser, stay down!" she heard him shout, then deafening gunshots, one after the other. She felt like laughing. Fraser was with him. Fraser was alive! Of course, he was. Her most troublesome subordinate had proven to her time and again that he was indestructible.
Because of the angle, she couldn't see their faces when they came in. Just their legs, blue jeans and uniform pants, spattered in blood and gore. They rushed to her side immediately. Fraser knelt next to her and looked her in the eyes. Sorrow marked his features and horror at the things he'd seen, but no pity. For that she was grateful. Yes, she had regrets, but she had led an honorable life. Now, she would have an honorable death and for that she required mercy, not pity.
She couldn't speak. Simply breathing had become difficult. She could only look at him, willing him to understand. Imploring him to do one last thing for her. He closed his eyes. Tears fell silently down each cheek. He held out his hand to Detective Vecchio. "Ray, please."
Meg was proud to see his hand, his arm was steady, not shaking.
"Fraser, let me," choked out Detective Vecchio. "Let me do it."
But Fraser shook his head, opened his eyes and quietly repeated his request. "Please, Ray."
Detective Vecchio--Ray, call me Ray.--passed his shotgun to Fraser. Meg turned her head a little, so she could smile her Thank You to Ray. There was no more pain. She used the last of her strength to reach out and touch Fraser. Thank You. Goodbye. Fraser bent down and kissed her cheek, then her temple. She felt his breath warm on her ear as he whispered his last words to her.
Meg closed her eyes and took her last breath.