Archive for October, 2015

Harry looked toward John. “Okay, this is what we do. We stop on the edge of the parking lot…rev engines and it should bring ‘em out or around the building. Then we’ll know if this is more than we can handle. If it doesn’t look too bad, we pick them off one at a time.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Both men slipped their bikes in gear and made their way down to the remote café. They watched the infected cock their heads then turn toward the sounds of the bikes. They rode toward the infected focusing on the pair of machines approaching the parking lot.

As soon as Harry stopped Liz raised her gun and fired. The bullet peeled back the side of the face of a man stumbling toward them. He fell to his knees then got to his feet and continued toward them.

Harry pulled his helmet off and put his hand on Liz’s leg. “Easy, Lizzy. Take your time.”

She took a deep breath then let it out slowly while she pulled the trigger again. The infected man’s head exploding with a spray of red gore that fanned out to shower across two infected following a few feet behind.

Swallowing back the bile, Liz sited on another monster and fired. The woman fell, just as a shot from Harry’s gun took out another man. John took three quick shots and two more bloody corpses fell to the asphalt. A small female with half her face ripped away and two small children with horrific wounds to their arms and legs joined the pack.

Liz stared at the dead children stumbling toward her. Her muscles refused to respond despite the terror that screamed at her to fire. The children had been near her daughter’s age when they died so horribly. She stared as tears filled her eyes. Racking sobs stole her breath. Her hand with the gun still clutched in it hung limply at her side.

John took a shot at another infected adult with gaping abdominal injury. His insides spilled out tripping him from time to time. A bullet hit him in the middle of the face. It tore out the back of his head it sending bone and gore fanning out in a fine mist to paint the vehicle behind him.

Harry fired his handgun and took out a waitress. She slipped to the ground as if a marionette with the strings cut. The children stumbled past the body and headed for Liz and Harry.

Harry yelled. “Fire that damned gun, Lizzy!” He fired at yet another late comer that appeared from the back of an F-150. “Damn-it Lizzy, fire that gun or we’re going to be dead.”

Liz aimed at the young boy and a crimson bloom appeared in the middle of his forehead a split second before he fell. Hesitating only a second, she moved the muzzle to the left and fired again. The young girl collapsed in a heap of legs and arms. Her blonde hair falling over her face hiding the damage done by the bullet.

Silence filled the parking lot. Harry and John surveyed the damage done in less than three minutes.  The bodies of ten adults and two children lay in the parking lot.

Liz stepped from the bike and walked to the bodies of the children. “I can’t do this anymore.” She whispered as she squatted next to the small bodies.

“We don’t have a choice,” Harry whispered. “If we’re going to find your girls, we have to keep on doing what we just done.”

Liz gently wiped the blonde hair from the face of the girl. “She was someone’s daughter. She should be smiling and laughing, not lying in the dirt.”

John rolled his bike to the pump at the end of the island, removed the gas cap, and poked the nozzle in the gas tank. He jammed a credit card in the machine and after completing the required information, he selected unleaded and pressed the handle to start pumping gas.

Harry pulled Liz to her feet. “You’re right, but that isn’t the way the world is now.”

She followed him as he rolled the bike to the second pump and repeated John’s actions. She stood staring blankly as he filled his gas tank.

“Lizzy, the world we live in now sucks…no doubt about it, but that don’t mean we quit. You got your girls to find and protect.” Harry took a deep breath. “John and I are old men. One of these days, we might not be there to protect you. You don’t have the luxury of checking out, again.” He pulled her face up to look at him. “Do you understand me?”

Liz squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. “I got it.” She pulled away. “I’m going to the bathroom.”

Liz walked away feeling both John and Harry’s eyes following her. Harry was right. She had checked out. She walked toward the sign with an arrow pointing toward the restrooms. She stepped to the door and knocked on the barrier.

She listened for a full minute then repeated the knocking only louder. When she heard nothing, she raised her gun and eased the door open to find an open room barely five foot square with a toilet and sink. She did her business and flushed. She stood staring at the paper swirling around the bowl. She hadn’t realized how much she missed using a simple convenience like a toilet.

At the sink, she turned the handle and water spilled from the faucet. She pulled her t-shirt over her head and used paper towels to wash as much exposed skin as possible. She dunked her head under the running water and then squirted hand-soap into her palm. She soaped her hair and then rinsed the suds from her short hair. Her hair would be dry as straw, but it would be clean she decided.

She finger combed her shorn hair and then looked into the mirror. Her face bore fine lines that had not been there a few weeks ago. She looked terrible she decided as she pulled the t-shirt back over her head. Would her husband even recognize her? She refused to think about Brian or his fate. If she thought about Brian, she would give up. She had to concentrate on the girls. They needed her and she needed to find them. With that, she clinched her jaw and jerked the door open with the handgun held up and pointed to the outside.

Harry pushed the barrel of the gun aside. “Damn, Lizzy, you scared the shit out of me. I was about to come in after you, you been in there a long time.”

“Sorry,” Liz answered.

“You look better. Do you feel better?” Harry asked.

“I won’t freeze again,” Liz answered.

The three bike riders looked at the road sign verifying they were fifty miles to Kerrville Texas.

John nodded at the sign and spoke into the helmet mike. “It’s going to be bad going into Kerrville. We need to find a way around it.”

“I think we should just head west on some of the farm-to-market roads,” Harry answered.

Liz interrupted. “We can’t do that.” Harry raised a brow and Liz continued. “We don’t know the roads and if we go that way, there’s a good chance we won’t be able to find more fuel. I’ve flown over it and you can drive hundreds of miles and see no sign of people.” Liz sighed. “When I say nothing, I mean nothing. It’s dry, desolate terrain, with scrub brush and dead end roads. If we break down out there, we die. Between dehydration and the heat, we wouldn’t have a chance of walking out.”

John joined the conversation. “The maps we have won’t include the private roads and trails we could end up on by just heading west. As much as I hate to say it, we could end up running out of gas in a box canyon and be buzzard bait.”

“The alternative is not much better. We’ll be going through the small burgs and suburbs around Kerrville. There’s a good chance it will be crawling with the dead.” Harry advised. “But I don’t see any way around it.”

“Alright, then we take sixteen to the Bandera Highway then skirt around Kerrville on the south side of the Guadalupe River on highway ninety-eight,” John answered.

The riders had been on the narrow country road for four hours before they stopped on a rise overlooking a small rural community. They stepped off the bikes to walk to a trio of roadside tables under a massive live oak tree. The small park overlooked a narrow creek behind developed neighborhood. The water spilling over the rocks in the creek bed was clear and fast moving.

The tranquil scene was a brief respite from the horrors of the open road while they looked across the water toward back yards with swing sets and sandboxes until the infected appeared. One by one men, women, and children, all horribly maimed and injured focused on the trio and stumbled toward the small park.

“I guess we wore out our welcome.” John sighed as they got back on the bikes.

Harry moaned. “My ass is too old to be riding this hard.” His machine roared to life and he motioned for Liz to climb back on the bike.

Liz climbed up behind Harry. “I don’t know how much longer I can sit on this bike. I’m so tired.”

They tried to stay relatively close to the Interstate, but they were continuously being forced to detour down narrow blacktop roads to avoid large groups of the infected. It was nearly one in the afternoon when they stopped to rest and hydrate under an overpass.

The silence of a world without speeding cars and SUVs or the roar of massive eighteen wheelers climbing the hills of the Hill Country was eerie.  Even the buzz of a mosquito seemed lurid so when they heard the rumbling of engines, it seemed an assault on the hearing.

The trio stood still listening for a moment until John pointed toward a dilapidated shed in the distance. “Let’s get off the road.”

They mounted the bikes and John led the way as they turned off the road and followed a narrow trail to the building. They pushed the bikes through the tall grass to the gloom of the shed.

“You think it’s Ryder?” Liz asked.

Harry answered with a shrug. “It’s hard to know for sure, so for now we avoid contact. Maybe there are friendly survivors, but after Ryder’s gang we’re playing it safe.

While they waited in the shadows of the crumbling shed, John opened a cloth bag and pulled dried beef strips from inside. Liz bit off a piece with a great deal of trepidation. She was never a fan of jerky and the thought of chewing on beef until it was moist enough to swallow was not something she looked forward to eating.

Hazel and Benny had given them dried beef, dry deer sausage, dried apples, bottles of water and a bag of hard flat bread that looked a little like fat tortillas.

John opened a second bag and pulled flat bread from inside. He looked at it somewhat dubiously as he passed one to both Harry and Liz. He settled on a bale of hay with his own.

John spoke around a huge bite of the dried beef. “We ain’t making much headway.”

Harry bit off the end of the bread. “No, but nothing we can do about it.”

“Why haven’t we seen survivors?” Liz asked.

“Cause most of the dumb shits did the same thing they did when that hurricane was predicted to hit the Gulf Coast. In Houston, everyone lined up on the freeways and Interstates…” Harry took a deep breath then continued. “They probably did the same and were overrun by the infected. Now they’re all part of the problem. They wonder off the highway and overrun community after community. Now the countryside is full of dead fucks. All because stupid people headed out of town and when they ran outa gas just sat there waiting for someone to help them.”

John added. “Most of them couldn’t even read a road map much less plan a trip without GPS.” John continued. “All we can do is head northwest and eventually we’ll end up where we want to be.”

Liz complained. “We’re a long ways from Pine Creek.”

Harry shrugged. “We’re thirty miles closer than we were yesterday.”

When the angry growl of the engines disappeared, they left their sanctuary and continued their journey. An hour later, they looked out in the distance at lettering on a roof. It advertised the Hill Top Café. They stopped to watch the parking lot and saw half a dozen infected men and women stumbled around a dozen vehicles in the parking lot and in front of the building.

“I’m getting low on gas,” John announced.

“Same here.” Harry responded.

“The lights are on. Does that mean the pumps are still working?” Liz asked.

“Should be,” John answered. “But the walking corpses are going to be a problem. I doubt they’ll stand back and let us do what we need to do.”

“We have to take ‘em out,” Harry answered.

“Look how many vehicles,” John commented. “Could be more behind the building.”

“Look, we don’t have a choice. We’re almost out of gas. It’s either doing it, or we walk.”

Liz studied the scene below. “We could take one of the vehicles.”

“No way!” John answered. “I’m not leaving my bike.”

Liz chuckled. “Just a thought.” She pulled the handgun from the back of her jeans. “Well, we’re not getting any younger.”

Tate got in the rig and pumped the choke before pushing the starter. The motor roared to life.

“Ready for this?” Tate answered.

Bill nodded with a grin. “Sure thing.”

The gate opened and three pickups rolled through the opening with Doyle’s rig close behind. Tate shifted into first and followed. She glanced in the side mirror and saw the gate sliding back in place just as she made the first curve.

“So, you think we can do all this?” Bill asked.

“I hope so. If the three men in the pick-ups can get the FEMA trailers without a problem and we find semi-trailers at Walmart loaded with canned goods… With us all going to Boerne and not splitting up, we have a real good chance.”

They drove past the cluster of vehicles they had passed when they turned off Highway 16 the day before. The smell of the scorched earth as they passed still hung heavy in the air.

“I’m afraid we need more people,” Tate commented to no one in particular.

“The FEMA trailers are on the edge of town. Walmart is only a mile further down the road so it’s on the edge of town, too.” Bill added.

“RVs would be a lot nicer. Why FEMA trailers. ”

“They include an air conditioner, a furnace, water heater, LP gas supply, water supply and plumbing, appliances, ventilation fans and able to be towed. Besides, no one should be around there. The RV lot is in the middle of town.” Bill chuckled. “That asshole with the teenage boys, Stewart…thought he ought to get the pick of the RV lot. He was all excited about it until Phil told him; he would have to get it himself if he wanted one.”

“At some point, we’re going to have to make a run to a home improvement store for plumbing supplies,” Tate commented.

“We’re gonna need a lot of stuff. Most of it is gonna be dangerous to get, but there’s no way around it.” Bill answered.

“How many acres does Phil have fenced?”

Bill screwed up his face, obviously pondering the question. “Best I can guess fifteen/sixteen acres. There’s deer fence around three sides. Deer fence is taller and sturdier than barbed wire, but a heavy truck or a herd of those monsters could bring it down.”

“Three sides?” Tate asked.

“There’s a two thousand foot drop at the back of the property. It’s why Phil bought the place. Defense. Only problem was when he got hurt. He had back surgery about a month ago, but it didn’t seem to have solved the problem.

“Usually there’s physical therapy involved after something like that.”

“He was supposed to be cleared for the physical therapy, but Beth got caught waiting for us and the world went to shit.” He paused for a minute then spoke softly. “I haven’t really thanked you for saving Ben. He wouldn’t have lasted much longer up there.”

Tate laughed. “I didn’t do much. I drove up, he jumped into that seat. We picked up Doyle and drove up the hill.”

“You took a big chance trying to come after us.”

“Again, we didn’t do much. We blew shit up and now you have Roger and Stewart on Phil’s doorstep. I’m not sure Phil’s real excited about that either.”

“Look.” Bill pointed where the lead truck turned off the highway into a lot with hundreds of white trailers. Rows of trailers were lined up. The man in the lead vehicle ran up to the gate with bolt cutter in hand. A minute later, the three pickups pulled into the parking lot.

Doyle and Tate pulled to the side of the road and waited outside the gate to watch for trouble. John, Roger and the young father ran to the first row of trailers. They did a quick inspection of the trailers including tires and trying the doors. They worked together getting each truck backed up to a trailer and connected to the hitch. Within fifteen minutes, they headed out the gate. Roger jumped out of the last truck and reconnected the chain with the shank of the padlock.

John pulled alongside the rigs. “You’re up. Sure you don’t want us to wait?”

“We’re good,” Doyle answered.

He shifted into first and his truck began to roll forward. Tate waved at John and followed Doyle.  She glanced in the side mirror to see the caravan of white trailers head back to Phil’s compound.

Tate was beginning to grow more and more uncomfortable with the layout of the compound; one way in, one way out.

Trying to shake off the sense of foreboding, she glanced at Bill. “What do you think of all this? I slept through the first twenty-four hours. By the time I figured out something was wrong, the world was a clusterfuck. I feel a step behind of everyone else.”

“What do you mean?” Bill asked.

“Is there any chance this is regional or is the state going to be overrun by the dead?

“Regional or state? I don’t think so.” Bill answered.

What about the rest of the country?” Tate asked.

“We’re all in deep shit. The states around the affected areas won’t be able to close the borders completely. The infected WILL get through or around anything they set up. Maybe isolated towns and communities will be able to wall themselves off, but the states, no. The key is going to be to hold out.”

“For how long?”

“Logic tells me the bodies will eventually rot, but how long it takes is anyone’s guess. We can see it in some of the bodies even now, maggots and decay. But if that’s the case, all we have to do is hunker down and survive. The problem is, there is always fertile ground for additional infection.”

“So the best chance to survive is to find a place to hold out.”

“Yep. That’s all we can do.” Bill commented. “Phil has a pretty good set up. You can stay with our family?”

“I have a family of my own I want to get to.” When this job is over, I’m going to head out west to my cousin, Randy’s place.”

The CB crackled to life. “Tate, got your ears on?”

Tate grabbed the mic. “10-4. Go ahead.”

“Coming up on the Walmart. A few infected stumbling around out front but overall it looks pretty quiet. Stewart says it wasn’t a twenty-four-hour store. There’s a chance it closed before the town got overrun. Follow us around back, but not too close.” Doyle advised.

“Roger…” Tate dropped the mic.

She watched Doyle turned off the highway and follow the drive around the side of the store. She turned the wheel and guided the Bitch around the corner and saw Doyle back under the hitch of a white trailer parked at the back door. A second truck sat to the side still with the cab attached. A quick glance at the back and they saw the security seal was intact.

Tate and Bill jogged over to Doyle just as he walked back from the dock. She pointed with her thumb over her shoulder. “The trailer out by the fence is still loaded. I could see the seal on the back door. We need to take that truck out there. It’s good to go if we can find keys.”

“Are we going to have to go inside?” Bill asked with a frown of concern.

“Not until we check out that rig,” Tate answered. “Both trailers are from the distribution warehouse…Non-perishables for the grocery shelves; probably came in together.”

Doyle chuckled. “The drivers probably left together in the missing rig.”

“If that’s the case, the driver of the rig out there might have left his keys.” Tate added then looked at Bill. “You can drive it, right.” He nodded and she continued. “Look for the keys. If you find them get the rig started and be ready to roll.”

Bill jogged off toward the truck. A moment later, he opened the door and climbed inside.

Tate turned back to Doyle and asked. “Is this one sealed?”

Doyle shrugged. “No. I don’t see the seal.

“Then we go inside the warehouse,” Tate announced. “No point in taking an empty trailer. If it’s been off-loaded, we load it back up.”

Doyle slapped his hand on the cab door. “Hey Stewart, bring your crowbar and get out here, buddy. It’s time to earn a living.”

Stewart climbed out of the truck with the look of a deer in headlights. “I’m not prepared for this.” He whined.

“Let’s get this done,” Doyle announced.

Tae rolled her eyes at Doyle and he only shrugged and walked away.

With machete in hand, Take followed Doyle to the access door at the side of the dock. Stewart followed half a dozen paces behind. His head swiveled from right to left and back again. They climbed the stairs silently until Stewart missed the bottom step and nearly tumbled off the concrete.

“Christ! Get a grip, guy.” Tate snarled.

Doyle laughed. “Don’t be so hard on him. He’s not used to hunting zombies.”

Tate snickered. “Neither am I, come to think of it.” She stepped back with a hint of a grin. “Big strong he-man, by all means go first.”

Doyle flashed a grin over his shoulder. “Eat shit, little girl.”

“You first, old man,” Tate answered. “Smells like plenty around here.”

Doyle raised a hand to the door knob. He rotated his wrist, but the knob didn’t move. “I guess we do it the hard way.” He held out his hand to Stewart. “Crowbar, buddy.”

Stewart looked around, hesitant to pass the metal rod to Doyle. “I won’t have a weapon!”

Doyle scowled. He grabbed the end of the machete he was holding and poked the handle toward Stewart. “Don’t hurt yourself and don’t lose it. I want it back.”

Stewart accepted the machete and passed the crowbar to Doyle.

Doyle shoved the end of the bar into the crack between the jam and the door. He leaned into the bar and they heard the screech of metal against metal. He made a quick pivot and the door latch popped free and the door opened a few inches.

The three stood still listening. Tate could hear Stewart’s breathing as he shifted from foot to foot. Tate waited while Doyle tried to hear sounds from inside. She tried to control the hint of panic she began to feel at Stewart’s agitation.

Doyle opened the door a little wider and sniffed.

“There’s dead in here.” He whispered. “Lights on. Tate move to my right…Stewart kicked the brick against the door to hold it open then follow on the left. Watch your backs.”

Doyle opened the door and fanned his light from left to right and back again. He stepped into the gloom with Tate close on his heels. She scanned the shadows with the beam of light and saw the first infected at the far end of the warehouse. Stewart kicked the brick under the door then stopped at the doorway.

Tate turned at the reduced light. “Get out of the doorway!” She whispered as she realized the trailer had been emptied. Dozens of pallets sat around the warehouse in a semblance of order.

Stewart finally stepped forward. His flashlight jerked from side to side in a nervous attempt to illuminate the dark.

“Calm down folks…” Doyle advised. “I’m going to the overhead door and try to get it open. Cover me and take care of any infected that stumble my way.”

“I got it covered.” Tate said as she moved further into the gloom.

Doyle side stepped to the overhead door and began struggled with the chain.

Facing the shadows moving in the dark, Tate glanced over her shoulder at the bottom of the chain used to raise the door and saw a padlock securing the chain to a hole in the track. Doyle stuck the tire iron in the hasp and began to pry.

The moan of an infected grew louder in the maze of pallets. Tate took a step toward the movement and whispered toward Stewart. “Heads up over there! I can’t tell where it is.”

Tate heard the lock snap just as a man in blue pants and shirt moving into view. One arm hung at his side useless. The other arm and bloodied hand reached out as he stumbled closer. A second moan announced another infected and then a third.

“Shit! Doyle. We got a problem.” Tate stepped forward and met the first infect man with a swing of the machete. The blade connected with the side of the man’s head. The man fell to the concrete floor in a heap.

“Shit! Shit! Oh God!” Stewart screamed. “I can’t….” He turned and ran. He disappeared out through the door stumbling over and knocking the brick aside as he passed.

“Fuck!” Tate cursed. “Prick! Doyle, there’s two more in here and the dick head skated. Get that fucking door open NOW!”

“Got it,” Doyle answered.

The overhead door rolled up with a screech of metal wheels on the track. Light spilled around the trailer of the truck.

Tate stepped deeper into the warehouse and swung at the second infected. Doyle spun around and connected with the last monster. He took out the man’s knee, then as the monster struggled to get back on his feet Doyle brought the tire iron down on its head with a bone-shattering blow.

“Damn that prick!” Tate swore. “The bastard left us.”

“I’m getting the second door….we need to get more light in here.”

“Go ahead….I got you covered.”

Doyle crossed to the next door and jammed the tire iron in the padlock. It snapped and he threw the door up toward the ceiling and the warehouse was filled with afternoon light.

Tate studied the warehouse from left to right and back again. She saw a door leading into the front of the store. Two pallets had been parked in front of the swinging doors blocking the entrance to the warehouse. Pallets loaded with soda had been pushed in front of the door and left there. As she looked around she noticed cases of food had been opened and the remnants discarded in a pile near the dock at the far corner.

“Doyle.” She whispered as she pointed toward the door. “What do you think?”

“Infected on the other side.” Doyle looked at the bodies. These three got trapped. “They had food and water. Only problem, one of them got bit. Turned and infected the other two.”

“That must have sucked,” Tate mumbled as the first moans from the store beyond could be heard.

Doyle looked at the back of the truck and with the jerk of his arm, had the door to the trailer open. He turned the beam of his flashlight into the recesses. The trailer was nearly empty.

“Let’s get this done,” Tate added. “I can hear them.”

She walked to an electric pallet jack and pulled it to a wooden platform loaded with cardboard boxes labeled the house grocery brand. Doyle saw a second jack on the opposite side of the warehouse. He made his way to it and slid it under a pallet of bottled water.

“I can run this one, it will be faster,” Tate told Doyle as she rolled the second pallet on the trailer.”

“Fine. Get what we can, then get out of here. I got a bad feeling.”

“Fine, let’s get moving then. Where is that prick, Stewart? We need to get him in here helping us.” Tate complained.

“Leave him out there. I might shoot him, the worthless piece of shit.” Doyle groused.

The sounds of the infected grew louder as they shuffled pallet after pallet onto the truck. When Tate saw a pallet of plastic bins used in the health and beauty section of the store, she slid the jack under it and headed for the truck.

“What are you getting that shit for? We don’t need fucking women’s makeup!”

“Not what it is. Vendors fill those shelves. It’s how they bring in shampoo, toothpaste, soap, over the counter drugs like Tylenol and Cold meds, and feminine products. It includes everything we need to be healthy that doesn’t come from the pharmacy.

“Fucking feminine products…” Doyle carped.

“The blocked doors slammed against the pallet and one of the pallets moved a few inches. Both Doyle and Tate jumped at the sound. The door bounced open and infected got a glimpse of them in the warehouse. They jammed arms through the open door then pulled and pushed at the barrier.

“Natives are getting restless,” Doyle observed wryly.

“Move it old man. Get that last pallet. I think we need to get out of here.”

Doyle pushed the pallet and jack into the truck then grabbed the left door and pulled it closed. He threw a latch then hurried over to close the right door.

Doyle reached for the chain and closed the overhead door. While he pulled at the second chain Tate disappeared into the gloom. A crash and then the sound of tumbling bottles and pallets echoed through the massive warehouse. Bottle caps shattered and the sound of carbonated drinks spewing out muffled the sound of moans.

“Damn it, girlie! Let’s get outa here.”

Tate reappeared with three-liter sized bottles of cola in her arms. Tate and Doyle bolted for the side door. Just then a scream from outside drew them up short. Doyle skidded to a stop, Tate nearly stumbling into him. He peeked out the door.

Outside, Stewart danced around trying to avoid two infected making a real concentrated effort to make him the main course on the lunch menu.

“Help!” Stewart screamed. “You’ve got to help me!”

Tate stepped around Doyle still clutching her prize. “You left us you prick! Why in the hell should we help you now?”

“Please…” He pleaded as he stabbed at the closest of the infected. He stumbled away nearly tripping on his own feet.

Doyle followed Tate through the doorway then turned to wedge it closed while Tate walked to her truck and placed the bottles inside. With machete in hand, she turned to face Stewart’s predicament. Two additional monsters had stumbled forward.

Doyle stepped up to a bloodied man in a t-shirt and shorts. His body was torn and battered. His head tilted at an awkward angle and bobbed with each step. Doyle swung the tire iron and took him out with a blow to the crown of the head.

“Defend yourself, you pussy!” Doyle yelled.

He looked toward Bill who had opened the door ready to help Stewart but with a wave of Doyle’s hand, Bill closed the door and remained in the truck.

Tate walked up and used the blade of her machete to hamstring two of the monsters. She stepped back and sneered. “Take ‘em out now, asshole.”

Stewart’s hair was standing on end while his face glistened with moisture. He raised his arm to swing then again stepped back. “I can’t!” He fell to his knees, sobbing.

Tate stepped up and dispatched both monsters. Doyle was taking out a massive woman in a bloodied house dress. Tate turned to the last with a shrug and swung the machete. She split the teenager’s skull with a solid connect to the back of the head.

The only sound was Stewart whimpering into his hand. Doyle picked up the machete from the ground and pulled the man to his feet.

“You’re going to get someone killed! Tate snarled at Stewart.

Doyle pushed him toward his cab. “Let’s get out of here.”

Doyle backed his rig under the trailer and with Tate’s help, they had the trailer secured and were ready to roll.

When they were done, without saying more, Tate headed to her rig. Her chest ached to scream and yell at the man Doyle was now treating like a child. She fumed as he opened the door for Stewart and helped him into the passenger seat.

She opened the door and climbed in her own rig. She released her breath when she cranked the motor and shifted into gear. She wanted to kill the coward. Not once but twice, he’d put people in danger.

Two hours later she stood in front of Phil. “He’s going to get someone killed.” Tate raged. “Bastard left us to deal with the infected in the warehouse then couldn’t even deal with them when his own skin was on the line outside.

Phil moved his head from left to right. “Some people have a hard time dealing. Afraid he’s one of them.”

“No shit,” Tate fumed.

Doyle reached out to place a hand on her shoulder. “He’ll do better next time.”

“Not with me,” Tate stated. “I’m leaving tomorrow morning. I’ve got family. I’m not hanging around waiting for that bastard to get me killed, because he’s a chicken-shit.”

“You know you can stay. We’d like you to stay.” Phil pleaded.

“Are you going to live up to our deal? I need fuel and supplies.” Tate answered.

Phil looked stricken. “Of course. We’ll provide as much fuel as you can use and plenty of supplies.”

Alone In The Dark

Posted: October 19, 2015 in Alone in the Dark

dawn escape

Alone In The Dark


C. A. Hoaks

Being alone with her younger sister wasn’t so bad.  At least as far as Ellie was concerned.  Her stepfather was a drunk, while her mother spent most of her time stoned and barely able to walk across the room much less cook a meal.

Ellie wished she and her sister could live with their grandma in the country, but her mother got more welfare with them around so they had to stay.  Plain and simple, they were her mother’s meal ticket.

Ellie had picked up Sissy from the sitter and been home for about an hour when the lights went out.  Ellie figured everything would be back on by the time her mother got home.  Meanwhile, she and her blonde, blue eyed miniature settled on the couch together to read.  Ten-year-old Sissy was a big fan of the vampire series that Ellie had given up when she turned fifteen last year.  They could ride bikes but if they weren’t home when their mother came home she’d be mad.

When the lights were still out at dusk Ellie started looking for a flashlight.  Of course, the batteries in the only flashlight she could find were dead.  At least, she could use the stove.  It was gas, even if the burner wouldn’t light on its own.  They had matches and a few candles.  With all the cigarettes her mother smoked, there were plenty of matches lying around.

Ellie peeked out the window at the sound of neighbors milling around outside bitching and carping about the blackout.  Sissy wanted to go play with Debbie Jackson, but Ellie didn’t want anyone to know they were alone.  Sissy stomped her foot and complained, but finally relented.  Together, they watched the street.

Mr. Goodman was really mad.  He carried a bottle of beer and pointed it at people as he moved through the crowd demanding answers.  The unemployed loafers down the street in the Bradley house spent the night drinking and yelling at anyone naive enough to wonder near the house.

By the fourth night the men from the Bradley house were pounding on doors demanding food and booze.  If anyone didn’t pony up, they got beat up by the men.  They started breaking into houses that afternoon.

They came to her house, but she hurried Sissy upstairs to hide.  Just in case, they came in.  She figured that would happen soon enough.  She began to think it was time to leave.  But where would she go?  To a neighbor?

They all seemed to be in as much trouble as they were.  She heard the neighbors behind the fence start talking about EMPs.  It was some kind of device that took out the power grid.  Gun fire began on the fifth day and that afternoon the military rolled up and down major streets announcing martial law over a loud speaker.

She decided they were all screwed.  Even if her mother came back, she would be no help.  It was time to leave.  It was a hundred miles, but she knew how to get there.

“We’re gonna blow this popsicle stand.”  Ellie told Sissy.

Sissy looked up from her cracker smeared with peanut butter. “What do you mean?”

“We’re going to grandma’s house.”  Ellie handed her bottle of water to Sissy.

Ellie sighed.  “Mom’s not coming back.  Even if she does, she’s gonna be no help.”

Sissy sighed.  “We don’t have a car.”

“We have bikes.”  Ellie answered.  “We’ll ride along the bayou until we get to the highway.  We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

Ellie and Sissy quietly gather the few supplies they had left and moved their bikes to the back of the house behind the overgrown Mexican petunias.

The Bradley bunch began drinking early that afternoon.  Ellie and Sissy watched as they kicked in the doors of the houses on either side of theirs.  Neither house had shown signs of having occupants in the week since the EMP attack.

Jimmy and Logan Bradley came out carrying arm loads of food, water and booze.  When Mr. Jackson walked up to confront them with gun in hand, Jimmy pulled his own gun from his waist and aimed it at the man.  Three more men walked out of the Bradley house to join the fray.

A young woman ran out of  the Jackson house to pull at the man’s arm.  More words were exchanged then pandemonium erupted.  Mr. Jackson pointed his gun.

Someone fired a gun and the Bradley’s and their friends fell upon the man.  The girl was knocked to the ground.  Jimmy grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet and pushed her toward the rent house.  Logan and his friend pounded on the man lying in the street until he lay perfectly still and unmoving.  After a few final kicks to the groan, head and stomach, they picked up the spoils and returned back to the rent house.

Logan held up the man’s gun.  “Anyone else have anything to say?”  He screamed at the top of his voice.  “I didn’t think so.”

Sissy stepped back from the curtain.  “That was Debbie’s father and older sister.”

Ellie nodded.  “I know.  Nothing we can do.  We have to rest if we’re going to leave early in the morning.”

“I’m scared.  We’ll have to ride past that house.”

“I know.  That’s why we have to wait until morning.  They never get up before the middle of the afternoon.  We’ll be going past when they’re all asleep.”

Shouts outside drew them back to the window.  Jimmy, Logan and their friends were rounding people up in the middle of the street.  They had guns pointed at the gathering as they moved from house to house.  Women clutched at their children crying.  The few old men left in the neighborhood were powerless.  Any who moved out of line was slammed with a bat or butt of a gun.  Door after door fell and the occupants pulled from their homes.  No house was spared.

Ellie grabbed Sissy’s hand and drug her to the garage.  She pulled the string on the attic ladder and the door slid down.  She folded the steps down, then ushered Sissy up the stairs.

“Hurry, Ellie.  You have to hurry.  I hear them.  They’re getting close!”  Sissy whispered.

Ellie grabbed a length of twine from the wall and tied one end at the bottom step.  She hurried up the steps then leaned over the opening and pulled at the string.  The bottom half of the steps tilted up and fell against the top half.  The stairs hung half open with no way for Ellie to reach the ladder and pull the door closed.

“Shit!”  Ellie hissed.

“Hold my pants.”  Sissy ordered and she slithered across the decking to reach down.  She scooted lower and lower, until the only thing stopping her from nose diving into concrete below was Ellie clutching at her ankles.

Sissy reached down and her fingers grasped the bottom of the ladder as the sound of the front door splintering filled the garage.  The ladder rose with a jolt and slammed shut.  Ellie pulled Sissy from the opening and untied the length of string.  Together the girls crossed the decking to the open rafters beyond and squatted down in the darkest corner behind the air-conditioning unit.

Voices from below shouted.  “We know you’re here!”

“Come out…come out…wherever you are!”  A second voice called out.

“Dumbass.  They’re long gone.  There ain’t no food.”  A third voice answered.

“Look at the pictures.  I would do them….either one.”

“I’m looking around anyway.”  The first voice answered.

From the attic, the girls heard doors slammed and angry curses called out.  Finally the trio made their way to the garage.

The attic door opened and the girls could hear heavy footsteps climb the ladder as a voice called out.  “You two little pieces of tail up here?”  The speaker laughed.

“Come on ass-hole.  No one’s here.  Let’s see if there’s any booze.”

Steps descended the ladder.  The ladder slammed closed.


Tate watched as Phil studied George’s oldest son. Finally he turned back at his father. “What’s wrong with him? He’s sweating like a pig.”

“Nothing!” George answered. “He’s tired, and hot. We all are.”

John walked up to the gate and studied the young man as he swayed on his feet. He turned back to Phil and whispered. “He’s bit. Look at his right leg.”

Phil took a closer look and he saw dark threads stretching up one leg from the waistband hanging at the top of his boots. “He can’t come in.”

The young man turned to his father with a questioning look on his face.

“You and the boy can come in, but he’s bit. He’ll turn.” Phil stated.

George dropped to his knees. “I can’t leave him.” After a sob, he added. “Just take Jason.”

“Dad?” The younger boy called out. “I want to go with you and Dell.”

“I can’t leave your brother. You’ll be safe here.”

John opened the gate wide enough for the boy to walk through.  When Jason didn’t move, John looked to George and he nodded.

John took Jason by the arm and led him through the barrier. “Come on boy.”

Jason and John walked through the opening and the gate closed behind them with a loud clank as the security latches engaged. George got to his feet and together with his son pulled his clothes back on.

Jason walked up to the gate and wrapped both hands around the wrought iron. “Dad? Please. Let me come with you.”

George pushed his older son toward the truck then turned back to Phil. “Take care of my boy. When this is over, I’ll be back. Jason better be here.”

“He will be…unless we’re all gone.”

The F-150 pulled away amid a spray of gravel. The truck fishtailed until George eased off the gas and righted the vehicle. It headed back down the narrow road toward the highway. John led Jason away while Bill, Doyle and Tate walked up to Phil.

Bill continued to stare at the gate. “I don’t like the prick, but I wouldn’t wish that on even him.”

“Nothing else to be done. I am not about to let someone that is infected in here.” Phil spun the chair around and headed toward the house and called out. “Ben.”

The boy ran up to him. “Yes, Uncle Phil.”

“Get up to the roost. Keep an eye on the road and Bandera Falls. I want to know if anything moves toward us. Walking or riding.”

“Yes, sir. Can I take Jason with me?” Ben asked.

Phil nodded. “Do that and try to keep him from worrying too much about what’s going on.”

Ben disappeared into the house with Jason in tow.

Tate looked toward the new arrivals that stood in front of their vehicles. Beth came rushing from the house with a tray of sandwiches and plastic bottles of water. She herded the people to a couple picnic tables with several benches. When they were settled and eating Phil rolled up with his entourage.

“I know some of you, the rest I’ll get to know soon enough. We don’t have room for any more people in the house, but with your help I think we can make arrangements that will be tolerable. In the meantime, everyone will be expected to help keep the place secure and feed everyone. Meanwhile, just remember, you’re on my property so what I say goes.”

Phil turned around and motioned for his brother-in-laws, Doyle and Tate to follow. When they got to the house he led them into a back room with a large desk. He rolled to his position behind the desk and motioned the others to find seating.

Phil propped his elbows on the desk and rubbed at his temples.

John sighed. “What in the fuck are we going to do with all these people?”

Phil slammed his hands against the desk. “What we have to do.”

Tate and the men spent the next hour making lists and prioritizing jobs. It was decided the three car garage would be cleaned out and the space used as living quarters until something better could be arranged. Sanitation issues were not an immediate problem since a fully functional apartment had been built at one end when Phil and Beth first moved to the bluff before the big house was built. The apartment would provide a full bathroom with shower and a functional kitchen with a gas stove so cooking.

“The FEMA trailers are going to be even more important now. People are going to get real tired of staying in the garage.” Tate commented. “Until the last week, when the electricity went down, we all enjoyed air conditioning. It’s going to be a hot summer and people will be getting pretty tired of the heat inside that metal building.”

“I know,” Phil answered. “We got a lot of shit to worry about.”

John nodded. “We need to trim back the brush around the fence.”

“I agree,” Phil answered. “But we have to get those trailers and more supplies in here first. We don’t have enough to feed all these people for very long.”

“The food situation is the priority. Is there a big box store anywhere close?” Tate asked.

“There’s a discount store outside Bandera.” John answered.

“Alright. We settle them in and then head out tomorrow.” Bill announced.

It was a long day settling the new arrivals into the garage. There was plenty of spacee, but in the end, it took an executive decision to decide who would take the two bedrooms in the garage apartment. Phil announced the older couple got one bedroom and the second would be used by the young couple with two young children.

When a middle-aged man tried to protest, Phil pointed at the gate and the man quietly accepted the bedding and army cot Phil had pulled from a storage closet. His wife and two teen sons accepted their bedding and quietly set up cots in the corner next to him. The woman sat down on the cot as if waiting to be served.

Ben and Jason set up cinder blocks and one by eight-inch boards to make shelving around the side and back walls and half a dozen plastic tarps over ropes created private enclosures. By the time everyone was assigned sleeping quarters and fed an evening meal, they were more than ready to go to bed.

The next morning Tate rolled off the couch at the first gurgle of the coffee maker. She got in and out of the bathroom right after Beth and ahead of the men. The older couple, Iris and Roger Spencer had volunteered to cook for the second group out in the garage so Beth and her sisters were only cooking for the family household.

Tate picked up a cup of coffee. “You know, Doyle and I could have slept on cots outside with Roger’s group.

“Nonsense. You and Doyle are family now. You saved our Ben. You put yourselves in danger to come after the rest of us.”

Ben’s mother, Janice nodded quickly and added. “You saved my son. Bill and I can never do enough to repay you.”

Tate squirmed at the praise so she changed the subject. “It’s hard to imagine you walked all that way. That’s a pretty long trek for the kids.”

Beth sighed. “For a while, I didn’t think we would make it. We took turns carrying the little ones, but we had no choice.” Beth looked embarrassed. “They followed Bill and Janice when they drove in. John, Mary and I had been shooting at the monsters and killed my SUV the day before. When Bill and Janice drove in, we just kept firing. They got inside, but we hit the radiator of the van. We were just so scared. It took a while to figure out only head shots. Then we started running low on ammunition.”

“I can understand that, but there was the explosion.” Doyle responded.

“Oh, that was Bill. He decided he could slow them down so we could get out the back door, over the fence, and up to the ridge. He opened the valve on a small propane tank and taped a wood match to the door resting against a striker. He figured he had a few minutes before they could push the door open, but he barely got out the back door.” Janice chuckled. “Wish you could have seen his face. His eyes were big as saucers by the time he scampered up the ridge.”

Tate chuckled and Janice continued. “We knew we were in a terrible situation and still in danger, but we stood on that ridge just laughing.”

“I’m glad he’s going with me. He sounds like a man who can think on his feet.” Tate laughed.

The men wondered into the kitchen to grab cups of coffee while Phil rolled up to his spot at the end of the table. He looked around the large table. Beth set a cup of coffee in front of him.

“Everyone knows their job, right. I wish I were going with you.” Phil complained.

Bill held up his hand. “We’ve had this discussion. You need to get the yard ready for the trailers. Everyone left here will need to work together and you’re the only one that knows what should be done.”

Beth sat biscuits and homemade apple butter on the table then passed around bowls of grits. Everyone settled down to eat without further discussion. After a final cup of coffee, everyone got up and drifted toward the door.

Beth stood at the door and handed each a bag. “It’s only a sandwich and an apple and two bottles of water. Bring the bottles with lids back, please. We need to recycle.”

Tate accepted a bag and headed to the Bitch with Bill close on her heels. He carried his own bag and a rifle and wore a handgun in a holster at his waist.

“You ready for this?” Bill asked.

Thank you for reading the first three chapters of “DEAD TEXAS ROADS”, Book 2 in the “Torn Apart Series”.
I hope you have enjoyed it.  The book RELEASE DATE IS APRIL 17, 2017.  Available in ebook and paperback.
Check out Amazon:

Dead Tex Rds frt cover

Thanks again for your interest.
Leave a review if you’ve enjoyed my efforts.

C. A. Hoaks

Larry Benson, one of the soldiers protecting the Kerrville camp of survivors, heard someone screaming his name above the chaos of several teens racing toward the main buildings, as they had been trained to do during a time of danger. All available defenders sprinted toward Carl.

“Help! Mr. Larry!” Carl, the eighteen-year-old with Downs Syndrome, loped toward Larry as he called out, “Soldiers!” He waved his arms over his head, desperate to attract attention. “Soldiers in trouble.”

Larry was first to get to Carl with three soldiers from the on-grounds protection team close behind. “What is it?” he held Carl by his shoulders, “Calm down, Carl. Tell me what’s wrong.”

Carl pulled free and grabbed Larry’s sleeve to pull him back the way he had come, “Soldiers down under, and the monsters gonna get ‘em!”

Still confused, Larry answered. “Show us.”

Carl stumbled around to run back toward the barn and livestock pens. Larry and the soldiers followed Carl past the main building and food truck, down a narrow path past the garden to the wooden fence at the edge of the barnyard. Beyond the wall was a steep drop-off overlooking a country fire road. Larry climbed over the rough-hewn rails. Still gasping for breath, he looked down at the scene below. A rope tied to the nearby fence post hung halfway down the face of the bluff.

Below, six individuals in military gear were perched on a cluster of boulders about forty feet below. The soldiers were barely balanced on the highest, a dome-shaped rock and struggling to maintain their perch while a dozen dead infected reached for them. The soldiers were trapped with no place to go. When a reaching hand got too close, a soldier slammed the butt of his rifle on fingers.

Mark, one of the teens rescued by Larry and the soldiers in the camp, explained breathlessly, “They heard us and started calling for help. Carl heard ‘em, and we tried, but the rope wasn’t long enough.”

Larry answered. “You did fine. Now let’s see what we can do to help them.” He leaned over and called out. “Yo, soldiers!”

The yelling suddenly stopped, and faces looked up. “We need help.” A female voice answered. “We’re outta ammunition.”

Larry called back. “Stay frosty for another five. We’re gonna help.”

“Yes, sir,” answered a female voice.

Larry gave his men instructions. Two headed to the barn, one loosened the rope tied to the post while he jogged to the pasture. At the fence, Larry whistled once. Bessie, a large-boned, chestnut mare with a gentle temperament, strolled across the paddock to stand. Larry pulled a bridle from a fence post and slid it on Bessie’s head. He led the horse to the barn just in time to see one of the soldiers step out with a harness in hand.

The soldier slipped the harness over Bessie’s neck and buckled the leather traces in place. A second soldier brought another coil of rope from the tack room and hurried to the fence where Mark had pulled up his twenty foot of line. Larry backed Bessie close to the rail fencing, then tied the rope to the harness. He used a square knot to add the second length to the first and tied a loop at the bottom.

Stepping over the fence, Larry walked to the edge of the overhang and called out before tossing the coil of the rope toward the soldiers below. The first attempt fell short. One of the men reached out and would have slipped from the boulder if not for his fellow soldiers. Larry yelled. “Wait for it!”

A female voice below echoed. “You heard the man! Bailey, do the catching. We’ve come too far to screw up now.”

Larry pulled the rope back up and coiled the end again. He made another toss, but still, it fell short. Larry cursed under his breath, looped the rope, and the coil arched away from the cliff and dropped toward the soldiers. Larry held his breath as the line fell and one of the soldiers reached up and caught the loop. He called down, “One at a time. Put the loop under your arms, and when the rope gets tight, I’ll give the word, and we’ll pull fast, so you swing up and clear of the infected. Use your legs to catch yourself to walk up the rock-face, or it’s going to be a rough trip.”

Larry watched as a female soldier slipped the loop over her head and settled it under her arms. She slung her rifle rifle and pack over her back and grasped the rope in one hand and gave Larry a quick thumbs-up.

“Remember what we talked about, Carl. Fast, then slow.”

Carl nodded then graced Larry with a broad smile and grabbed the bridle. “Bessie and Carl gonna do a good job!”

“Now!” Larry waved Carl into action.

Carl jerked the bridle and pulled Bessie into action as he ordered. “Run, Bessie!”

The rope grew taut, and the female soldier was jerked off of the rock and swung toward the rock face of the cliff. She hit the dirt and rock and bounced hard, but well above the infected’s reach.

Larry called out, “Easy now, Carl.”

“Woh, Bessie.” Carl pulled back on the bridle, and the mares slowed to a sedate walk.

The soldier swung out, and her’s boots hit the loose caliche and scrub grass. She walked her way up the bluff, crested the rim, and Larry reached out to pull her to solid ground. He called back over his shoulder, “ Got it, Carl. Back up now.”

Carl pulled the bridle, and Bessie stopped. With a big smile plastered across his face, Carl pushed against the big mare and ordered. “Back Bessie. Good Bessie. Gotta go back now.”

One by one, the next three soldiers made their way up the bluff. When Larry tossed the rope again, the two remaining soldiers began passing the line back and forth. A discussion ensued that none of those on the bluff could hear.

The infected stumbled and reached up while the last two soldiers continued their heated discussion. The female soldier used the butt of her rifle to smash in the head of an infected that got too close then pushed the rope at the male soldier again. The infected had grown more and more agitated as they watched their prey escape. The monsters clambered and climbed over each other trying to get at the remaining soldiers.

Suddenly a shot rang out when one of the infected grabbed the leg of the female soldier.

Larry glared down at the pair and yelled, “Leader, get your soldier on the rope, or I’ll leave you both down there for the night.”

“Yes, sir,” Answered the female soldier.

“Bailey, now. That’s an order!”

Bailey stepped into the circle, and the rope jerked from the boulder. He slammed against the rock face and was pulled upward, scrapping his way up the rocks, against the dirt and scrub grass. When Bailey was halfway up the bluff, another shot rang out Baily looked down.

Karen Hill was kicking against a rotted hand clutching her ankle.

“Down!” Bailey called out, “Put me down!” He continued to rise, despite yelling at the men saving him. He got to the rim and pulled himself over the edge and freed his foot from the rope loop. “Give me ammo!”

Larry ordered calmly, “Someone kill that shitbag!”

A shot rang out but missed the infected clinging to Hill’s boot. She was pulled off her feet and she fell to her knees where she struggled to maintain her hold on the rock.

Larry snarled,” Kill that fuck!”

The man fired again, and the infected fell to the ground.

“Watch it, Hill,” Bailey called out.

Hill got to her feet and yelled, “Toss the rope! Time to get the hell outta here!” She kicked at another monster trying to reach up to her boot.

Larry tossed the rope and Hill caught it. She slid the loop over her head and settled it under her arms when suddenly another shot rang out. An infected woman’s head exploded sending a spray of blood and brains out in an arch of gore. Hill jumped back and a second infected climbed over the bodies of the dead and grabbed Hill’s leg.

The sudden shift of weight threw Hill off balance. She stumbled over the edge of the boulder. The rope scraped against her face as she grabbed for it with both hands.

Bailey pulled his rifle from his shoulder and yelled, “Ammo, I need ammo!”

A magazine sailed in his direction, and he caught it mid-air. He pulled the empty magazine from the weapon and slapped the load in place. He took aim and fired. The hand clinging to Hill’s ankle fell away, and she slammed against the wall of rocks and clay.

Larry called out to Carl, “Forward, Carl. Fast!” Then he turned back to see the last soldier clinging to the face of the bluff, within easy reach of the monsters. “Hang on, don’t let go.”

Carl panicked at the yelling and jerked at the bridle, spurring Bessie into a quick trot forgetting to slow after the initial rush.

Hill faceplanted into the dirt and scraped against the rock as she rose toward the overhang at a harried rate. She bounced against gravel and dirt, unable to get her feet in front of her as she rose toward the rim of the bluff.

“Easy, Carl. Slow down,” Larry called over his shoulder.

When Hill got to the rim, Larry grabbed the shoulder strap of her pack and pulled her to safety, then turned back to the others. “Kill the rest of them, then burn the bodies.”

Hill pulled the rope over her head and pulled herself into a solute. “Squad Leader Karen Hill reporting, sir.”

“You’re a disgusting pig!” The female soldier snarled as she struggled against the zip ties being put on her wrists.

“You made a big mistake, Hill.” Major William Bishop jammed his sidearm back in the holster at his side. He clutched at the secured cuffs and slammed his fist into the young woman’s face.

Karen Hill fell to the canvas floor of the tent, her lip split, and nose gushing blood. Bright red spilled down her face when she looked up with a defiant set to her jaw. She glared at the officer and snarled “Fuck you!”

Wiping the streak of blood from the side of his face where Hill had scratched him, Bishop cursed. “You fucking bitch! It’s a new world, and as far as you and everyone else under my command is concerned, my word is law.”

Bishop grabbed the zip ties holding Hill’s hands together and pulled her to her feet. He jerked the door flap aside and threw Hill from the tent to the trampled grass at the feet of Captain Marcus Griggs. He kicked her clothes through the open flap into the grass as he growled an order. “Tie her to the back of the supply truck. Anyone wants a piece of ass can have it since she thinks she’s too good to fuck an officer.”

Griggs, a big, angry, black man, grabbed her by the hair and led her to the tailgate of the canvas-covered truck. He hooked the cuffs with a third zip tie to the bumper, then turned to walk away. He stopped and turned back. “I’ll be back, girlie. Keep it warm for me,” Griggs pulled his knife from its scabbard and slit the sides of Hill’s underwear, then walked away laughing.

Twenty feet away, two young privates stepped back from the front of the truck pushing their three companions into the brush at the side of the road. When Griggs disappeared back into the Major’s tent at the center of the camp, one of the young men turned to the others.

“We have to get out of here.” Corporal Bailey whispered to the four soldiers behind him.

“Not without Hill!” A female voice answered from the shadows.

“We get Hill first,” Baily whispered. “Jones, get her clothes from the ditch. Be back here in three minutes. The rest of you get weapons and packs for the six of us. And for Christ sake, don’t get caught.”

“Bailey, we can’t do this. It’s desertion.”

“You want to be in this kind of army? Hill’s our squad leader.”

“Hell, no! You’re right. Bishop and Griggs are crazy.” He turned to the others. “I can get extra ammo. What about the rest of the squad?”

“You want to bring those two meat-heads with us. They were the reason Hill ended up in the major’s tent. Fuck ém,” the soldier snarled.

Bailey added, “Watch out for the guards.”

Seven minutes later, four men and one woman met at the front of the truck. Bailey walked deeper into the brush to make his way to the back of the vehicle with a multi-tool in his hand. He stopped at the back wheel well and listened for a minute before stepping around the tailgate.

Only able to see the shadow of a man coming toward her, Hill jumped to her feet and kicked out. “Get out of here, you asshole!” she cursed.

“Shush…Hill. It’s me, Bailey. We’re getting you out of here.” He cut the zip ties at her wrists. He set her boots on the ground. He held out cotton underwear, cargo pants, and a t-shirt. Hill jerked the shirt from his hands and pulled it over her head. She stepped into the underwear and reached out for the pants. Once she was covered, he held out socks. When she stepped into her boots, Baily dropped to one knee to tighten the laces on her shoes and tied knots.

“Gotta move. Griggs is planning on coming back. We have to be long gone when they figure out we’re not here,” Baily whispered.

“I’m good,” Hill announced.

They moved into the shadows, and a pale, slender hand gave Hill a damp towel. She wiped at her face. “Thanks.”

Bailey looked up. “I should have come with you.”

Through the towel, she whispered, “It wasn’t your fault, and if you’d come along you’d be dead. You did the right thing by not getting involved.” Hill dropped the towel, squared her shoulders, and reached for the extra pack on Bailey’s shoulder, “Let’s move out.”

Bailey nodded and smiled. “Glad to have you back, ma’am.”

“Wait,” another voice whispered. “I got these. Thought they might come in handy.” He passed each person a pair of night vision goggles and held up a bag of batteries. “What I left won’t do much good without these.”

Hill adjusted her pack and reached for a gun belt from another soldier. She buckled the sidearm on her hip. Grinning around her swollen lip, she put on the night vision goggles and headed toward the gloom of the woods. “Move out.”

Thank you for reading the first three chapters of “TERROR IN TEXAS”, Book 1 in the “Torn Apart Series”.
I hope you have enjoyed it.  The book is available in ebook and paperback.
Check out Amazon:
Thanks again for your interest.
Leave a review if you’ve enjoyed my efforts.

C. A. Hoaks