My mind was racing, parental instincts kicking in to high gear without even thinking about it. All consequences fade when it comes to the people you love. Hearing that boy cry over the phone struck something in me that nearly broke me down into tears myself.
I remember my wife, Rachael, as she lay in a hospital bed of her own a few years back. Wasting away to nothing. Holding her hand was like holding a collection of cobwebs...she was almost ghost-like in the final weeks. But even as the Cancer ate away at the high school sweetheart that I loved with all my heart, she managed to give me that million dollar smile that once captivated me from across that Senior year cafeteria.
I refused to let her accept the fact that she might die. There are miracles that happen every day. Sudden advancements in medicine, sudden remissions, sudden unexplainable events that science doesn't yet have a formula for. Hell, just any stroke of luck would have sufficed. I deserved it, right? I've been a good person, I pay my taxes, I fought for my country, I work to protect these streets...certainly there's somebody up their who would give me a break. I did everything that I was supposed to do. I nurtured the love of my life, and made my son the most important thing in my life. She was supposed to stay with me. She was supposed to be a part of the plan.
But in the days where she realized that it was harder to hold on than it was to let go...she began to look at me with tired eyes. She made peace with the idea, and lightly took a hold of my hand. Saying, "Spencer is going to need you to be there for him, John."
I sat at her bedside and gave her hand a squeeze. "I told you not to talk like that. K?" I was teary eyed as I leaned in to give her kiss on the cheek. "They say that...attitude is the key in beating this thing. I know that you've got a whole hell of a lot of fight left in you. I can remember that one time...you thought that I was going to ask Tina Wheeler to the prom instead of you. Hehehe, you talk about 'fight'! I was sure that you were going to..."
She stopped me. Softly, but sternly. "John...I need you to listen to me, ok? Please?" I didn't want to. If I could have blocked out the sound of her voice entirely, I would have. "I wish that I could be here for all of the wonderful things that I'm sure life is going to bring your way, and see the achievements our son is sure to make in the future. But we both know the odds on this. Don't we?"
I wanted her to stop. PLEASE stop! "Rachael..." I said, doing everything that I could to be strong for her, even as tears welled up in my eyes. "...You need to rest. Ok? I'll call the doctor in and..."
"John..." She asserted herself with that tone of voice, as weak as it may be. "...Out of all the things you've ever done in your life, I can guarantee you that being a parent is the scariest experience of them all. I've never known you to not step up to the task at hand. Promise me...that you'll do all you can for our son. Do whatever it takes to keep him safe. He's so little." She giggled slightly, but it turned into a cough halfway through.
As the first tear dripped from my eye, my throat began to burn as I whimpered, "I don't know, Rachael. Heh...this is the one thing I felt I was never trained for."
"You're his father, John Logan. You'll figure it out."
At that moment, I heard my son cough again, and I was shocked at how much he mirrored his mother's final moments when he did so. The emotion that flooded into my system was so overpowering that I found myself being led into a state of controlled hysteria just like everyone else. I'm his father. He needs me. NOW!
I told him, "Spencer? I need you to get BACK to your hospital room right now! You hear me?"
"I'm all alone, Dad! People are screaming! I can hear them!" He sobbed.
"Don't worry about that. I need you to get back to your room, and push whatever you can against the door so nobody can come in. I know you're not feeling good, but if you can move chairs, the bed, anything that moves...push it in front of that door. And STAY QUIET!"
"Are you gonna come get me?" He asked.
"I'm on my way. Daddy's coming, alright! Just...get away from that desk and stay out of the hallway. Stay away from the windows. DON'T try to leave! No matter what! Not even to call me! I'll be there as soon as I can!"
"...ok..." He whimpered.
"Hang up, and go now!" I told him, and then closed my eyes, praying for him to get back to his rom safely! Room 603, Room 603, Room 603! I remember it well. Ok...alright....this is going to be tricky, but I've got to find a way out of here.
Frye and Sanchez were still talking to one another, and a third officer was telling them, "I've been in the field, and whatever these things are, they don't stop. They refuse to go down! We try to use non-lethal force, but they just keep coming until we hit them with a headshot." The other officer was shaking so badly that he had to sit down to keep from falling over. "I saw their eyes. I've never seen such a blank stare before. They were the kind of eyes that you only see in crime scene photos. It was like...like there was 'nothing' there. It was so chilling."
"You gonna be alright?" Frye asked him.
"I don't think any of us are going to be alright." He said. "The mayor wants us to stand down. He's asking for peaceful resistance..."
"Peaceful resistance???" Sanchez asked. "How the hell are we supposed to do that?"
"That's what the order is! We're killing people in the streets. In case you haven't noticed, Chicago PD hasn't been the best slide under the microscope over the past few years..."
"You mean to tell me that they want to play politics during a fucking zombie apocalypse???" Frye scoffed.
Sanchez reminded him, "It's NOT a zombie apocalypse!" Adding, "And YOU can tell the mayor to go fuck himself in whatever heavily guarded, padded room, shelter he's gotten himself all boxed up in while the rest of us deal with the real shit going down in the streets right now!"
At that moment, I started letting the spontaneous thoughts in my head build up into enough of a concrete jumble to put a plan together. So I walked right between the officers in front of me with a sense of urgency, walking back towards the locker rooms. Everybody throughout the entire precinct was either super busy, super confused, or merely absent...that I was sure that I'd be able to get away with much more than I could any other time. The world was falling apart, I was hardly a priority.
Sanchez saw me pass them all up. "Ummm...where are you going?" I just kept walking. "Logan? Logan? What the...?"
Both Sanchez and Frye followed me into the back of the station. The first thing I did was fill my pockets with my personal items. Then I put on a bulletproof vest and started tightening up to my fit.
Frye asked me, "You playing dress up, or what?"
I said, "I need to go. I'm leaving."
They both looked at one another and said, "Leaving?" Simultaneously.
I took my sidearm out and packed it into my belt, but I had a feeling that I was going to need more firepower than that to get through the city. The hospital was on the other side of the downtown area, and that's where a majority of the disturbance is. I'm going to need some heavy metal to bully my way through the masses.
"What are you doing?" Sanchez asked me.
"Spencer's in trouble. The hospital is being overrun. I need to go and get him." I told him, and went to the weapons rack to see how many loaded firearms I could carry. With all that's going on, I doubt that I'm going to have to sign for anything when I walk them right out the front door.
Frye said, "Look, I know you want to look out for your baby bird, Logan. I get it. But everybody here has got family that they want to look out for. But we're in crisis mode right now. You can't just run out on the whole city like this."
"I told Rachael that I was going to look after him, and that's exactly what I'm going to do!" I said, and started loading up with as much guns and ammo as I possibly could. Guns big enough to do some real DAMAGE if needed!
"Jesus..." Frye mumbled to himself.
"How do you plan to get out of here with everything that's going on? People are fleeing the city in droves. We're not just talking average Chicago rush hour traffic here." Sanchez asked.
"I don't know. But I've got to try. I'm out."
"You can't just bypass the city of Chicago, John! It's a pretty big city!"
"Then I'll just blaze right through it!" I said.
"How do plan on doing that?"
"I'm taking one of the cop cars out of the lot. Pulling to the side for a siren is a brainwashed automatic response for most people. It might save me some time." I told him, still trying to grab just ONE more gun or clip of ammunition to take with me.
They looked at each other again. Sanchez said, "So you're STEALING a squad car now? Is that what you're telling me?"
"It'll be one of the undercover cop cars. One of the all black ones with the lights in the back window."
Sanchez said, "OH! Well, it's an undercover cop car! That's MUCH better than just...WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT????"
Frye said, "I know you're hurting right now, and you've got every right to be concerned about your boy...but we can't let you do this, man. We just can't."
Feeling the pain in my heart, the sense of duty, the idea of honor for my job, and the dignity of wearing the badge...when I thought about my lost wife, and the danger my son was in at that very moment...my chances of losing him too increasing with every second of hesitation...I simply abandoned it all and fought for the courage to do what had to be done.
I turned to them and said, "I'm going to get my son. I'm not asking you to help me. I'm only asking you to stand aside."
Sanchez told me, "By doing that...you compromise all three of us. You know that right?"
There was a brief silence between us. I said, "Just eight months ago, you both came to my son's 12th birthday party, and I gave you one of the BEST strawberry, vanilla frosted, angel food birthday cakes in existence! You remember that? You want him to have another birthday, don't you?"
I said, "I'm just asking you to step aside. Nothing else."
After biting his lip, Sanchez turned to Frye and said, "I wonder where Officer Logan ran off to. I haven't seen him all day, have you?"
Frye smiled. "That was some bomb ass vanilla cake. For another slice of that...he can stay gone."
They didn't exactly say anything verbally to give consent to my actions of theft or abandonment of my position on the force, but they both turned their backs on me to let me know that they weren't going to stand in my way. That was all the permission I needed.
Don't worry, Spencer! Daddy's coming!
Daddy's on his way!
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