Run Don’t Walk

Posted: July 27, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas
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Liz dressed quickly, descended the stairs carrying her shoes and the drawn handgun. She saw Harry and John standing at the window looking through the narrow openings between the wood slats on the outside of the glass. She made her way to the parlor and to a worn armchair. There, she sat down and stepped into her shoes.

“What’s going on?” Liz asked as she tied her laces.

Another two shots echoed in the distance. They seemed farther away than the first. John continued to watch the front gate while Harry turned to look in her direction.

“You look better than you did yesterday?” Harry commented then asked. “Are you feeling better?

“Yeah. I felt as bad as I looked.” Liz smoothed her fingers across her shortened hair at the side of her face. “Do you know who’s shooting?”

“Shots came from the other side of that stand of trees across the road.”

“Do we need to go see what it is?” Liz answered.

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know.” He turned back for another look. “I don’t see anything.”

Hazel and Benny came into the room with cups of coffee for each of them. Hazel handed Liz a cup. “You don’t need to worry ‘bout that shootin’. That’s just ol’ Clyde down the road.”

Benny spoke up. “He’s giving peace to those soulless folks coming from the highway down south. That’s why we don’t get many coming up this way. They have to go past Clyde’s and he sits at the window shootin’ anything that walks past his place.” Benny chuckled. “Long as you drive you’re fine. I wouldn’t want to be on foot and walking to slow, though.”

Hazel slapped Benny’s arm. “Now, don’t be scarin’ folks. You know Clyde don’t shoot no one running.”

John chuckled. “In other words, run don’t walk.” He and Harry accepted cups of coffee and settled on two straight-backed chairs.

Benny swigged a mouthful of coffee then settled into his recliner. “You got time for breakfast?”

John answered. “Sure. We don’t have many supplies. Breakfast would be appreciated.”

An hour later, Hazel and Benny stood on the porch waving as the trio pulled away and headed down the driveway.

Liz asked. “Why did you accept all that food? They’ll need it soon enough.”

Harry answered. “No. I doubt it. Benny’s pacemaker battery was scheduled to be changed last week and Hazel is almost out of insulin. It’ll be a toss-up who checks out first.”

“Maybe….” Liz began,

Harry interrupted. “Maybe what? We can’t do anything for either of them. Even if we found insulin, electricity has been off for days. It would be bad. As for Benny, nothing can be done.”

“Liz, we’ll help people that we can, but in this case, we can’t. We leave them in peace. All we can do is hope they’ll die quietly without any help from the rest of the world.” John commented.

Liz sighed as she blinked away tears. They closed the gate and headed down the road toward Clyde’s place.

They rode a mile then saw a well-kept ranch with the house situated a hundred feet from the road. The property was surrounded by a white board fence. A wrought iron gate stood open allowing an old man to drag a body from under a natural rock arched entrance. The man looked up and waved.

“Hello, young fellas.” Clyde dropped the legs in his hands. “My name’s Clyde. Nice day for a ride.”

Harry pulled off his helmet. His gray hair was pulled back from his face with a red bandana around his forehead. He smiled around his grizzled beard. “Not as young as my boyish good looks imply.” He chuckled.

“Well, guess you’re not.” The old man commented. “Excuse me for not shaking hands but got my hands full. World has gone to shit with these dead fucks wandering around.”

John stepped off his bike and kicked the stand in place. He reached down with a gloved hand to grab a handful of pant leg. “I got this ol’ timer.”

He pulled the body off the road and across the asphalt to lie next to two more bodies in the middle of a charred circle. One body was dressed in khakis and a Best Buy shirt and the other in a tattered housedress. All three had grievous wounds beside the holes in their heads.

“Thanks, young fella. Where you boys headed?” Clyde asked.

Liz pulled off her helmet and answered. “We’re looking for my children. They’re with three soldiers in an Army Humvee. Have you seen a military vehicle?”

Clyde looked at Liz. “Guess you ain’t a boy.” He chuckled. “As for your question, only soldiers I seen, blew through here in half a dozen vehicles. Was about three days ago. Had Humvees but they didn’t stop so I couldn’t say nothing ‘bout no kids. Course, I didn’t flag ‘em down, but from what I saw they didn’t look to be the babysittin’ type.”

Harry turned to Liz. “I doubt they would be racing around like that with the kids. I’m sure there’re more military vehicles in this neck of the woods than the Rangers. We’re less than a hundred miles from Sa Antonio.”

Clyde interrupted. “Maybe the military is setting up refugee camps for the people they evacuated from the city.”

“Would they go there? I mean to someplace like that.” Liz asked to no one in particular in a near panic. Her stomach felt queasy at just the thought of her children Wandering around an overcrowded camp without someone to care for them.

Harry answered. “Who knows? But it wouldn’t be my first choice.”

“With communications down now, how would anyone even know where to go?” John answered. “I think our best chance is still our original plan.”

“Those boys are Rangers. They would take it personal and make it their mission to get those kids to family not drop them off in an overcrowded camp. Your older girl knew where you were headed and why, right?” Harry responded.

“Yes,” Liz answered. “She loved visiting my father.”

“They would know as well as we do those camps are a bad idea for a lot of reasons. I still think they’ll head to the Guadalupe Mountains. It makes sense. There’s a place to set up defenses and with the wildlife it includes a way to stay alive.”

Liz nodded. “You may be right, but we still have to keep looking.”

“Well, ol’timer. I guess that means we’re on our way. You take care.” Harry advised.

Clyde laughed. “Hell, you folks are the ones that need to take care. This shit beats all.”

John laughed without much humor. “You’re right about that.” He stepped onto his bike. “You take care.”

Clyde pulled a single shot twenty-two from his belt. “Savin’ one to make sure I don’t end up like these poor bastards.”

Liz frowned. “I hope it never comes to that.”

Clyde shrugged. “I landed on Normandy and survived when a lot better men than me didn’t make it. I spent two years in Korea and a year in Viet Nam with the French. Hell, I’ve been skating on thin ice since I was seventeen. Most likely, I’ll be here when all those poor bastards have rotted to dust.”

Harry laughed. “I wouldn’t be surprised.” He stepped over the seat of the bike and nodded at Liz.

“Goodbye, Clyde. God speed.” Liz called out as she crawled on the seat behind Harry.

“You too, young lady…you too.” Clyde answered.

He picked up a red gas can and walked across the road to the bodies in the blackened circle. He began splashing liquid on the bodies of the dead as they rode away.

Harry called over his shoulder. “Let’s get back to looking for those girls.”

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