“This is Mark Altman here on the Jersey Shore, in the small resort town of Smuggler’s Bay, in the midst of two strong weather fronts culminating in what is becoming Superstorm Rodney.”
The cameraman followed him up a wooden ramp. As the camera jostled around a bit, Mark Altman’s hat blew off his head, and his raincoat and hair flapped madly in the wind.
“As you can see, we are now up on the Smuggler’s Bay boardwalk, and—right behind me (the camera pans and zooms past Mark’s shoulder)—you can see the surf encroaching up the beach, practically to the boardwalk.”
The sky was a dark gray, and the clouds raced by as if something chased them. The ocean surged up the beach, the sand no longer visible under the churning surf.
“Pretty soon the water will be washing up onto the boardwalk and eventually into the residential community behind it.”
Shouts came from behind the cameraman. A few police officers emerged into view.
“We have now with us members of the local law enforcement.”
One officer stepped in front of the camera and addressed Mark directly. “You can’t be out here right now,” he shouted over the howling winds, the boom microphone bouncing off of his blue cap. “It’s too dangerous!”
Everybody ducked and flinched as a wall of water hit the public restroom behind them, off to the right, splashing vertically into the air, sending foam and spray across the boardwalk.
“See what I mean?” shouted the Chief into Mark’s face.
The camera panned right, zooming down the boardwalk. Water surged over the edge of the boardwalk, through the green chain linked fence, and around potted palm trees and wooden benches. The sky ride chairs swung in the high winds.
“What’s that?” asked the cameraman, lowering the camera and pointing.
In the distance, figures shambled down the boardwalk. There were about a dozen of them, spread apart.
“Those…those are people,” said Mark in astonishment. “There are people walking down the boardwalk?”
“Jesus Christ,” said the Chief. He turned to Mark. “Get off this boardwalk, now!” He motioned to his officers, and they took off down the boardwalk toward the walkers.
Mark Altman didn’t miss a beat. “There you have it from Chief Holbrook, the boardwalk is no longer a safe place to be. The various businesses and shops are all boarded-up, sandbags forming what will likely be a futile barrier against the relentless surf now encroaching on the boardwalk.”
The camera was still focused on the police officers as they splashed their way toward the oblivious pedestrians.
Mark continued his commentary off camera. “They’re walking erratically…they appear to be…intoxicated. Don’t you worry, the Chief will make sure they’re escorted off the boardwalk to safety…excuse me.”
The camera wheeled back around to find Mark with his back turned toward a couple more walkers, a man and a woman, closing in on them.
“Excuse me,” Mark shouted at them over the howling wind, rain battering his face and fogging up his glasses. “It’s not safe on the boardwalk.”
The man and woman either were unable to hear him, or they just ignored him, and kept walking toward Mark, the rain and the camera lens fogging up, blurring their features.
“Mark, there’s something wrong with them,” said the cameraman.
Now only fifty or so feet away, the walkers’ features came into view. They both had dark circles around their eyes and a strange pallor to their skin. The girl walked as if her feet were shackled, and the man was dragging his right foot sideways on its ankle behind him.
“They don’t look so good,” said Mark to the cameraman. Then to the walkers, “Are you hurt? Do you need assistance? Larry, wait here. I’ll go get the Chief.”
“Okay,” answered the cameraman nervously.
Mark handed Larry his microphone and took off down the boardwalk toward the Chief and his men. The camera wheeled around again, the features of the closing walkers becoming more distinct. The man’s lip was curled up in a sneer, his eyes wide. The girl was…grinning, her eyes wild. They were reaching out for the camera.
The cameraman started to back away from them, the camera half-pointed downward, filming the walkers’ feet. A bone jutted out of the side of the man’s ankle, its sharp end scraping the wood of the boardwalk planks. It stuck out farther every time the man put weight on it, while the foot flopped around on the boardwalk, splashing in the water.
“Mark! Oh, Jesus…Mark!”
Suddenly, the camera jerked up as the cameraman collided with something behind him. Hands reached around, forearms blocking the view of the camera as the cameraman screamed into the howling wind.
There were wet ripping and growling sounds as the man and woman caught up, their faces popping in and out of view as the camera swung back and forth.
There was a loud crashing sound as water came rushing into frame, covering the cameraman’s feet. The camera dropped to the ground, and the picture went black.
The network cut the audio when the cameraman’s screams died down into gurgling and the growls turned into ravenous chomping.