Archive for November, 2015

Look of Pain

Posted: November 27, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas

They got within a mile of the Bandera Highway interchange on 16 when they stopped to face a complete traffic stoppage. Vehicle after vehicles had lined up only to never move again.

John and Harry passed a scavenged pair of binoculars back and forth examining the continuous obstruction. Traffic had ground to a complete stop at the interchange after an accident involving a panel truck and SUV. From the bodies wondering between the vehicles it looked as if the stalled motorists were then overwhelmed by a horde of the infected. Now the monsters wondered between the lines of vehicles looking for new prey.

John wiped at the moisture on his face. “Well, this sucks.”

Harry agreed. “We won’t be getting through that. Not even on the bikes.”

Harry pulled bottled of water and energy bars from his saddlebags and passed them around.

Liz swallowed down the hint of nausea when the aroma of the warmed oats and raspberry fragrance wafted up from the open wrapper. She set her helmet on the back of the bike. “I guess we have to come up with a Plan-B.”

She folded the wrapper around the granola bar closed and slipped it back in her pocket. She leaned over and fished a map from a side pocket on the saddlebag. She sipped at the water while she studied the map for several minutes.

Frustrated at the breeze fluttering the paper, she spread the map on a nearby hood and used the bottle of water to hold down the map. She turned back to the map using her finger to trace fine lines back and forth. The smell of raspberry made her stomach roll.

Finally, she spoke up. “We’ll have to backtrack and try one of the rural roads to go around. The closest turn off is Ranchero Road. I can see a way to weave around until we get back to 98 North. There will probably be some business and residential areas, but this map doesn’t show many side roads.”

Harry let Liz trace the route for them then stepped onto his bike and buckled his helmet to the side of the bike in front of him. “Could get dicey, so ditch your helmet, John. We need to have a good field of vision.”

“Agreed.” John stowed his helmet.

Liz buckled her helmet to the curve of chrome behind the seat. She pulled a bandana from her pocket and wrapped it around her head and tying it in the back. She settled on the seat and patted Harry’s shoulder. “Ready.”

They dodged around stalled cars until they got to the next exit. They left the road and made their way back to the intersection and the remains of a minor fender bender. Through the open doors, they could see blood smeared on the inside of a Subaru. The back seat held two children’s car seats.

Liz’s hand fisted against Harry’s waist. He pressed his arm against her hand and remarked over his shoulder. “No blood on the car seats. The kids weren’t with the driver.”

Liz relaxed a bit and looked to either side of the intersection. “There’s a gas station. Should we fill up?”

John answered. “I got half a tank, but I think if we can top off.” He rolled forward through the intersection and toward the two-pump island where a small truck was parked. “We could use those gas cans in the back of that truck.”

Harry shrugged. “Let’s clear the place before we get out the hand pump.” He added over his shoulder. “Lizzy, you stay close to the bikes and watch the highway while we’re busy.”

They parked near the ground access docking covers with the bikes facing the road. The trio drew guns. Harry and John walked toward the two vehicles and the building.

Liz stood near the bikes and scanned their surroundings. She noticed a house across the street. A teenage girl stood at the window. She slapped bloodied hands against the glass.

Liz looked closer and saw a ragged bandage hanging from the side of her arm. Liz could hear the muffled thud of flesh against the double paned glass from across the street. It was obvious the teen monster was trapped. No danger, there.

She relaxed a bit and again glanced down the street and saw nothing. It was unbelievably quiet. She watched the two men clear the area and head around the side of the station. Suddenly, she heard a yelp of surprise from Harry. Liz raced toward the shriek, wondering if the two men were under attack.

“Fuck!!” John bellowed. “Who in the fuck….” As Liz rounded the corner of the building, she stopped and she teetered in surprise when she saw what had startled John. Harry stood on the opposite corner of the building staring at the site that had caused the outburst from John.

Liz looked at the monsters inside a chained linked fence enclosure. The trash dumpster had been pulled from the enclosure leaving a concrete prison with a heavy gate at the front the only access. Two infected adults and three young boys hand their fingers laced through the fencing trying to reach out at them.

The duel gates were secured with two padlocked chains. They appeared to be members of a family. A woman, a man and three boys of varying ages from pre-teen to teenager were held inside. All except the male had the same blonde hair as the young girl across the street. The man appeared to have been the most ravaged of the group.

“Who the fuck would do this?”

Liz stepped closer and saw a handwritten note inside a plastic page protector attached to the concrete wall. It read. “Please end this for them, I can’t.” A smear of blood trailed down the side of the plastic.

Tears slipped from Liz’s eyes. She stepped to the gate and raised her gun. She fired. One by one, she shot the monsters inside the enclosure.

Harry looked at Liz with a quizzical look on her face. “Why did you do that? They were no danger.”

Liz pointed to the girl across the street standing at the picture window. “They were her family. I think the man put the wife and kids inside then got bit himself. Rather than hurt the girl he made her help him go inside. That’s why he looks so bad. He was still alive when he went in there. Anyway, I image she got bit in the process and now she’s trapped in the house.”

Liz walked toward the street, but Harry grabbed her arm. “Where are you going?”

“See that she joins her family,” Liz answered.

“You don’t have to do this,” John announced. “I’ll do it.”

Liz moved her head from left to right. “I have to do this.”

“We’ll go with you,” Harry announced.

“No. I don’t need help.” Liz protested.

She walked away without looking back. She crossed the blacktop. The girl was still standing at the window. It might have been her imagination, but Liz imagined her face sad with longing for her family as she watched Liz’s approach from the gas station.

Harry and John ignored her protest and walked up behind her. Harry asked. “How are WE doing this?”

“Open the door, and lead her across the street. Then shoot her in the head.” Liz added. “When we leave we can burn the bodies.”

They followed a blood trail to the front door of the ranch-style house. The door was streaked with blood. When Harry tested the knob and it turned easily. Harry pushed it open and he called out. “Come on little girl.”

The dead girl stumbled toward the beckoning voice. When she got to the door her eyes locked on Liz.

Liz backed down the steps all the while speaking to the girl. “A few more steps and you’ll be with your mother and father and brothers….” She whispered as tears spilled from her eyes.

Without the gray pallor of death, the girl could have been a county fair queen, cheerleader, or prom date for the star football star. Even with the greasy hair and gray pallor, she was still beautiful. She wore jeans and a tank top with an oversized plaid shirt similar to the man’s. On her feet, she wore pink jogging shoes that were splattered with blood. Everything about her was heartbreakingly sad. Liz wept at the lives lost during and since the attack.

Harry and John accompanied Liz as she led the girl across the parking lot to the back of the station. Despite the gnashing teeth and out stretched arms, Liz spoke to the girl in a voice filled with sorrow and compassion. By the time they stumbled around the corner of the station, Liz was sobbing.

Without a word, Harry stepped up behind the girl and pointed the barrel of his handgun at the base of her skull. He pulled the trigger shattering the afternoon quiet.

Liz collapsed to her knees and slowly brushed the blonde hair from the girl’s face as she sobbed for the lost life.

Windfall – Part 2

Posted: November 22, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas

Jake’s dark face was all grins as he guided the woman to the ground using the brush guard as a ladder. He was acting like she was made of porcelain.

“Now don’t you worry, we’re gonna take real good care of you,” Jake announced.

Shaking his head and grinning, Matt called out. “Anything you want from the cab?”

The woman looked up. “That green bag and there’s a Mossberg somewhere behind the seat. Grab anything else you think might be useful.”

Matt reached inside and found both bag and the rifle. He picked up a few more items, dropped them in the bag then slung it over his shoulder and passed the Mossberg 930 to Jake before he climbed out the door and down the side of the rig.

A few minutes later, Matt handed the woman a bottle of water.  “The big ugly guy is Jake Curtis, I’m Matt Monroe. How are you feeling?” He opened a bottle of water for himself.

The woman took a long drink, belched loudly then took another drink. “Damn. I needed that.” She brought her fingers to the wound on her head. “Is it bad?”

Jake pulled a couple wet wipes from his cargo pants pocket. He passed both to her.

She wiped at her faced, her hands then turned toward the bright chrome of the orange rig’s bumper. She dabbed at the gash at the side of her head. The wound stretched into the hairline.

“My name is Tate Hamilton.” The woman announced as she studied the line of holes across the front of the truck grill. “Look what those assholes did to my rig?” Tate’s face tightened in rage then relaxed. “I guess I should thank you for getting me outa there. I don’t know if that bunch will be coming back, but I know for sure I don’t want to be around if they do.”

Still studying her reflection in the chrome, she pushed at the flesh on either side of the long gash. “I think I’ll need some stitches. You boys got a needle and thread or super glue?”

Matt watched in fascination as the muscles under the tropical colors flexed and rippled. He wondered how much of her body was covered in ink. He looked at her face and suddenly noticed the puzzled looked in her hazel eyes.

“What?” Matt stammered. “No needle and thread.”

Jake laughed. “At camp. We got a mess of medical supplies.” He passed her an oversized Band-Aid.

Matt swallowed a gulp of water. I think your truck is history.”

“No shit Sherlock,” Tate answered. She looked at the crane truck and flat beds and then back at the soldiers.

“You want to head back with us?

“I don’t think I have much choice. What’re you boys up to?”

Jake answered. “We got a pack of kids to feed at a camp about fifteen miles from here. We figured to take whole containers.”

Tate smiled. “Good idea. Too bad the orange bitch is fried. Hey, you need a driver?”

Matt laughed. “Orange bitch?”

Tate patted the orange painted hood at her side. “She was mine. Still paying on her before the world went to shit.”

“Where were you headed?” Matt asked.

“Northwest. I got a cousin. I’m hoping family from Houston headed that way when the city was evacuated. At least I hope they got evacuated. I was waiting for a load in San Antonio when the shit hit the fan. I got out of town then got trapped on the back roads. I found a tanker this morning and filled the Bitch up and was headed to Randy’s place.”

Jake grinned. “You can come with us until we find you some new wheels.”

Matt nodded. “That is if you don’t mind our doing a little shopping first.”

Tate shrugged. “No problem.”

It took an hour to move the trailer and the two tractors off of the road. The trailer was easy enough since it was empty, but the two cabs were locked together and even with the crane it was a hassle. Once the orange cab was resting in the ditch, Tate stood in the middle of the asphalt staring at the orange pile of twisted metal and chrome lying on its side.

Finally she turned away. “If I get a chance I’m going to flatten those fuckers.”

“Who?” Matt asked.

“Three rednecks with automatic weapons,” Tate answered.

“What about the second rig?”

Tate sighed. “Someone I picked up a few miles back. His name was Jimmy Walker. When he heard the gunfire he put the pedal down and rolled right into the bullshit. By then, the bitch was on the side and sliding and I was out for the count.”

“Sorry. He didn’t make it.”

“I saw the windshield and figured as much.”

Matt pushed the passenger door of the Humvee open. “We gotta get going. I want to get the haul back to the camp before dark.”

Tate slid in the vehicle and leaned her head against the back of the seat. She raised a hand to the side of her bandaged head.

“Hurting?” Matt asked as he eased the Humvee toward the stretch of road next to the stalled train.

“Yeah. Feel kinda sick.”

“You probably got a slight concussion. Try to stay awake and we’ll try to be quick.”

“No problem. I’m just grateful you found me.” Tate answered. “Have you noticed the smell of the infected?” When Matt didn’t answer, she attempted a smile. “I think it’s because they’re all walking around with a load of shit in their pants. That and the heat. Shit and rotting meat. It is so fucking gross.”

“We try not to get close enough to smell ‘em,” Matt answered. “But yeah. They smell.”

Tate fell silent while Matt steered the Humvee past a stand of trees and into view of the full length of the train. A white rig and trailer with the back door hanging open sat next to the train. Dozens of boxes had been stacked inside the trailer while still more lay on the ground at the back.

Half a dozen infected stumbled around an open train car and the back of the truck trailer. Two of the infected had blackened skin, their wounds oozing a pussy looking sludge while the others appeared less decayed. The others, recent turns, appeared to be rough looking men in work clothes. They bore wounds that obviously caused their recent demise. Their skin was the telltale gray of death while their clothes were in reasonably good condition and wore shoes.

Tate commented. “The dead rednecks are the ones that attacked us.”

“We got a problem!” Matt announced into the radio.

Windfall – Part 1

Posted: November 18, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas

Southwest Storage provided a trailer that was not specifically for container transport, but would do with a little bit of redneck ingenuity according to PFC Dreschel. Matt accepted his assurances, he could make it work. Now the caravan of Humvee, crane truck and two big rigs with trailers made their way toward the abandoned train.

Matt’s hands were shaking as he drove the Humvee around half a dozen infected milling around an intersection. He needed a drink. He reached between the seats and spun the cap from a bottle. He tipped up the bottle and took a long pull at the amber liquid. He recapped the bottle and slid it back between the seats. He relaxed as the warmth reached his belly. He wanted more but needed to keep a clear head and that was the only thing that held him back.

He glanced up at the review view mirror and saw Dreschel go out of his way to roll over the dead he’d dodged on the roadway.

“Damned kid acts like it’s a game….” Matt mumbled to himself.

The trip to the train took nearly an hour. Less than a mile from the five-mile stretch of road running parallel to the track they saw a big rig and trailer had jackknifed blocking both lanes of the narrow road. Matt could see the end of the train in the distance. Can’t any of this shit ever be easy? He picked up the mic for the radio.

“There’s a road block ahead,” Matt announced into the radio.

“That wasn’t there before,” Jake’s voice answered.

Matt responded. “Don’t anyone move. I’m gonna check it out.”

He drove closer to the trailer and stopped the Humvee. Opening the door, he stepped out of the vehicle with a quick glance at the neck of the clear bottle.

With a sigh, he reached back inside to grab his rifle before settling a boney hat on his head. He clipped the radio to his waist then pressed the transmit button and ordered. “Stay put until I can figure out what’s going on.”

Matt stepped away from the vehicle and made a quick scan of the area. To the left, the train track rose above the roadbed covered with a tangle of briars and vines. He looked to the right and noticed an aged tangle of barbed wire fencing separating the roadside from the woods beyond. There wouldn’t be any surprises coming through the woods.

He began walking toward the big rig. As he got closer, he realized he was stepping in a dry trail of fuel from a ruptured gas tank on the big rig. There was a hint of the gasoline smell in the air. He scanned the surrounding area but saw no movement. He walked to the trailer and examined the closed trailer door. He wondered what was inside, but decided against opening a locked door right away.

He stepped around the end of the trailer and saw a second tractor wedged into the apex of the jack-knifed tractor and trailer. He looked in the cab of the jackknifed tractor and saw a body slumped against the windshield.

As he walked away he heard a slap on the glass. He turned back to the cab and realized the sound came from the second tractor resting on its side. Matt walked closer.

The windshield was a spider web of lines. He stepped to the fractured glass and tried to look into the cab, but could see nothing inside. He tapped the glass and a bloodied hand slapped against the inside of the glass. The hand fell back leaving a clear red print. Matt jumped back, his breath drawn up short.

“What the fuck?” He whispered then brought the radio to his face and he pressed the button. “There’s another rig in front of the jackknifed tractor and trailer. Got movement inside”

“Live or dead?” Jake asked. “Want me to come up?”

“Stay put. I’ve got it.” Matt answered. “We’re gonna have to do something to get the rigs and trailer off the road.”

“I can move them out of the way with the crane,” Dreschel announced.

“Give me a minute.” Matt responded. “Let me check this out first.”

“Make it quick or I’m heading up there,” Jake called out.

Matt walked to the front of the bright orange cab and noticed a spray of bullet holes across the front of the grill. The front tires were shredded. He glanced back over his shoulder and saw the glint of bullet casing spread across the asphalt about thirty feet further down the road. It looked like two or three dozen casings. Someone had sprayed the front of both rigs with bullets. The shredded a front tire caused the drivers to lose control.

The second rig must have been moving really fast and when the driver tried to avoid the orange rig in the middle of the road, jack-knifed. He looked over his shoulder again but didn’t see movement in the bullet-riddled, blood-splattered windshield of the second rig.

When he saw nothing to cause immediate concern, he stepped back to the orange cab and propped his rifle against the hood. He used the brush guard to climb up to the side of the cab. He made his way across the hood to the door and sleeper. Once balanced on the door he looked through the closed window. He watched for movement inside the darkened cab. When he could see nothing, he pulled a pin light from his pocket and pointed it into the gloom. He saw a pile of bedding including a foam mattress on the passenger door. He tapped on the window.

Inside, the lump moved and a hand slid from under the clutter. A horse whisper called out. “Don’t shoot….”

“Hang on. We’re gonna help you.” Matt pocketed the pen-light and clicked the radio. “Got a survivor! Jake, come give me a hand,”

A moment later, Jake was climbing to the side of the cab. Matt pulled at the door handle, but it was locked. Jake used a tire iron to the shatter the window. He reached inside and released the lock then pulled the door open.

“How do you know it’s not a deader?” Jake asked.

“The dead people can’t talk,” Matt answered as he lowered his legs into the cab. He stepped on the center console then reached down to pull the foam mat from the pile resting on the door.

“Hey. I’m going to start moving stuff off you. Just hang on.” Matt advised the driver. The only answer was a deep groan.

The response made Matt wonder about the wisdom of crawling into such a tight enclosure and not knowing if the person was dying or not.

“You need to talk to me, so I know you won’t eat my face, dude,” Matt commented.

The weak voice came back. “I don’t kiss on the first date.”

“It’s a fucking woman!” Matt blurted out as he shoved debris back into the void of the big rig’s sleeper. He got his first glimpse of the person crumpled at the bottom.

“Glad you’re smart enough to know the difference,” The voice whispered hoarsely.

Jake roared with laughter from above. “Love it when a woman puts you in your place.”

With the last of the cab’s contents moved, Matt could see the woman with short spiked dark brown hair with orange tips. A stream of blood from a gash in her forehead mingled with clumps of hair plastered against her forehead.

The woman reached out and Matt pulled her to her feet. Matt could see she was nearly as tall as him when she moved to the side in the confines of the cab. She wore a white wife-beater undershirt that displayed a trim and well-muscled body. When she reached out to steady herself, he got his first glimpse of a tattoo peeking over her shoulder.

“Well, soldier, are you going to help me up there or are you just going to stand there gaping?” The woman asked with a hint of annoyance.

“Sorry.” He stepped out of the way to allow her to step up on the console then pushed her up toward the opened door overhead into Jakes waiting arms.

When she was through the opening and Jake was guiding her to the ground Matt watched through the shattered windshield. The tattoo trailing down her left arm was a brightly colored vine of tropical flowered that ended on her bare shoulder originated somewhere under the back of the undershirt.

The colors of the tattoo included vivid greens, golds, shades blue, and pink that rippled across her flexing bicep. At her shoulder, the head of a black panther peeked from the vines. The green eyes of the cat glowered at Matt when the woman glanced over her shoulder toward the truck.

It was at least a couple hours before dawn when Captain Marcus Griggs made his report.

Major William Bishop glared at him. “What in the fuck do you mean, she’s gone?”

“Hill and all of her squad. Only ones left are those two dick-heads she was bitching about.” Griggs answered.

“So we’re down to eighteen men?” Bishop answered.

“Plus the two idiots from Hill’s squad,” Griggs answered. “What do we going to do, now? We need more men if we’re going to survive this shit storm?”

Bishop turned to look at the remaining men and vehicles he now considered his Army. Finally, he answered. “The country is under martial law. That means the military can requisition assets and that includes men as far as I’m concerned.”

“Time to start recruiting for this man’s army.” Griggs laughed. “About time we quit running.”

“Get me a map of the area,” Bishop ordered.

Two minutes later, Griggs spread a detailed Texas map out on the table. Both men studied the roads and surrounding countryside. “We’re here.” Bishop pointed his finger to an intersection. “We’re here. We’re heading north and connect with 470 then west.”

Griggs nodded. “And then, sir?”

“There’s a little town called Utopia. I was through there once. It only has two ways in or out of town. There’re only a few hundred people and most of them shouldn’t be a problem. We give them a choice, join up or….”

“Meanwhile, I’ll keep an eye out for a few good men.” Griggs laughed.

Bishop scowled. “I want you to take four men and those two dipshits and go after Hill’s squad. I want ‘em dead.” After a moment, he added. “If you have any trouble with those two, morons cut ‘em loose. Permanently.”

“Yes sir,” Griggs gave a careless salute.

“We roll out of here at dawn,” Bishop added. “We’ll leave one of the Strykers so you can follow if you don’t make it back in time.”

Griggs called out to the men that would go with him. He reached in the Stryker and retrieved two radios from the unit. He tossed one to a man after setting the frequency.

“Smith…you stay here and if I call, you bring the Stryker.” He clipped the radio to his belt. “The rest of you, gear up. We got six deserters to take care of.”

One of the two remaining men from Hill’s squad asked. “What about us?”

Griggs glared at the two men. “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.” He pulled rifles and ammo from the Stryker. “Two days rations. Lock and load.”

He didn’t bother to wait for the men scrambling to gather weapons and supplies. He headed out through the trees.

Bishop and the rest of the soldiers prepared to bed down until dawn.

When Smith was left standing alone by the Stryker, he climbed inside the vehicle, closed the door. He wanted nothing to do with Griggs, but he didn’t have the nerve to sneak away like Hill and her bunch. He made a bed of blankets in the back and pulled a magazine from his pack. He’d have to leave the vehicle when it got hot, but for now he thumbed through the glossy pages of the magazine ignoring Bishop and his crazy shit.

Griggs watched the ground for signs. It was easy enough to follow the six deserters where they raced into the woods. They had run single file through the dark. The four men and two women had been desperate to get away from the camp and been careless. There were broken branches and turned stones so tracking was no problem.

The shadows cast by the ridges of the footprints grew long and stood out in the growing light. Griggs set a pace that quickly drew ragged gasps from the men following him. With a grunt of disgust, he finally slowed his pace and continued pursuit at a pace they could manage without falling over.

The sun climbed higher in the sky making shadows shorten. By midday, the footstep no longer created shadows at all. Finally, Griggs called a halt. It had been a quarter mile since the last sign.

It was obvious that since the sun came up, the deserters were actually making an effort to obscure their passing. Between that and the glare of the sun, it was becoming more and more difficult to see where they had passed. He was beginning to wonder if they had veered off and he’d missed the sign.

Griggs stopped to reach in his pack for a bottle of water, one of the men following him bent over breathless while yet another collapsed to the ground, exhausted. The remaining four took the time to hydrate, but overall looked no better than the others.

Griggs capped the bottle then looked off in the distance. Through the trees, he could see bright rays of sun on an asphalt roadway. “Move out.” He ordered.

When the group cleared the tree line, Griggs saw a multitude of footprints alongside the road. Some prints made by shoes, while others by bare feet. He noticed several puddles of a dark oily sludge mixed in the dirt at the edge of the road or on the asphalt. When he stepped closer, he caught a whiff of decay and rot. He felt the bile rise to the back of his throat.

“Infected. Must be twenty or thirty of ‘em.” Griggs commented.

The corner of his mouth tilted up in a malicious grin. If they had a herd of the infected after them, this was going to be good.

“Double time. We got a show to witness…” Griggs announced.

The first shots could be heard less than an hour later. Griggs forced the team into double time despite the hardship being caused by the harsh pace. Heavy boots echoed on the asphalt as they chased the shimmering waves of heat. The sun glared off the blacktop, making the soldiers squint against the brightness. The road made a sharp curve to the left and disappeared behind a stand of trees.

The gunfire rose in volume then fell silent. Orders were being shouted by a gravelly voice that was obviously not military. Griggs and the team drew up short when they rounded the corner and saw a dozen men surrounded by at least two dozen of the infected.

The men fighting the infected were dressed in assorted versions of motorcycle garb. Black leather, patch adorned jackets, and chains spoke volumes. They used machetes and a variety of handheld weapons to kill the infected one at a time.

“Well, well, well…” Griggs shouted. “You boys seem to be in a pickle.”

“Fuck you!” The gravelly voice answered as he swung a tire iron into an infected man’s head. The blow was glancing and slid off the side of his head taking a patch of scalp with it. He stumbled then righted himself and reached for the man again.

“We could give you boys a hand….or we could just stand here and watch. Up to you.” Griggs answered.

“Come on, man. We’re out of ammo.” The man answered.

“This man’s army is looking for new recruits. You boys interested in signing up?”

The bikers were outnumbered and the infected pressed their advantage and grabbed at one of the bikers that took a step too far from his comrades. He stumbled and two monsters grabbed his arm. He was pulled from the group and disappeared into a clutch of half a dozen flesh eaters. His screams lasted at least one full minute before he fell silent.

The leader shouted in rage. “Fuck! Yes, damn it. Whatever! Kill these fuckers before I lose any more men!”

Griggs laughed and shouted above the din. “All you boys signing up?”

With a shout to the affirmative, Griggs turned to his men. “Handguns. Let’s clean house.”

Without hesitation, the six men walked toward the cluster of infected. They each took aim and six infected fell. They repeated the process again and six more fell leaving only four more facing the bikers.

The bikers attacked the remaining infected then walked to their recently deceased companion and drove a tire iron through his left eyes. When only bikers and soldiers remained, they turned to stare at each other.

Will Ryder stepped to the front of the bikers and laughed. “So we joined this man’s army?”

Griggs held the handgun loosely, but still out of the holster. You boys wouldn’t be considering reneging on your recruitment package, would you?”

“Hell no. You boys got ammo and probably have access to a lot more.” Ryder laughed. “Just know we ain’t the marching type.”

Griggs laughed again. He walked up to Ryder and stuck out his hand. “Neither is this man’s Army.”

Ryder laughed and slapped the back of the biker standing next to him. “My boys need a little R & R. We’ve been kicking ass and pissing on the nameless…” He walked to a black bike and opened the saddlebag. He drug out a strip of dried beef and tore a mouthful off.

“Have you boys seen any more soldiers? We’re looking for half a dozen deserters.”

Ryder looked at his men then laughed. “If they were anywhere ahead of us, they may be walking, but they’re not still alive. We ran into the main body about half a mile up.” He pointed at two of the dead laying on the ground. Two were in remnants of military garb matching that of the men in front of him. Both were so badly mangled on their faces to make a visual identification. “These buddies of yours.”

Griggs walked over to the bodies and kicked the first to its back. He looked down and studied the body. It was hard to find facial features in the mass of torn flesh. The camo t-shirt bore no name and since no roster had been taken of the survivors at the roadside park. It was impossible to tell by just looking at the body.

One of the men stepped up to Griggs side and pointed to the second body. “This one could be Bailey. It’s about the right size, but the face is so chewed up…. Dog tags are gone so can’t be sure.”

Griggs turned to the man. “Hicks, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Hicks answered.

“You better be right.” Griggs grinned. He pulled the radio from his belt and spoke into it briefly. Then he turned to Ryder. “We’re resting here while our ride comes up.”

Griggs walked back around the curve in the road and out of site of the pile of bodies. He made his way across a shallow ditch to a stand of trees. He dropped his pack from his back and settled on a stump amid the new growth of trees. His men followed suit.

Hicks sat down a few feet from Griggs. “You think they’ll come?”

Griggs shrugged. “They’re out of ammo. No skin off my nose, either way. It was worth figuring out Hall’s team is dead bait.” He laughed. “Only regret, I didn’t get a piece of ass off that bitch.”

Ryder and his men stood amid the bodies and watched the soldiers walk away.

“So what’s the plan?” One of the men asked in a deep whisper. “Kill ém.”

Safety – Part 2

Posted: November 10, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas

“You folks pull right up there.” Ollie pointed to the corner unit of a double story motel then stepped from the running board and called back. “I’ll get the keys and then see if we can locate a chair for you, son.”

Della spoke up. “Thank you. He needs to stay on his butt for at least a week.”

Zack looked around. “Is this for real?”

Steve shrugged. “Appears to be. I got a feeling they’re going to want a lot more information about Baker.”

Ollie reappeared two minutes later. “You folks go on inside. I got you two rooms. They aren’t adjoining, but they are next to each other. You folks can get cleaned up and I’ll see you get some food.”

He opened the door of the first room and stepped inside. He opened the curtains and the windows. When he reappeared, he commented. “Sorry. No electricity but we do have water. Just be quick in the showers. We’re trying to conserve since we have to run a generator to fill the water tower.” He disappeared into the second room and did the same then stepped into the afternoon sun.

“Go to the office if you need clean clothes. Got a bunch of stuff in there. Most people show up with just the clothes on their backs.”

Zack pulled the keys from the truck and pocketed them. He stepped from the truck and twisted his back spreading his arms. “God, I’m tired of sitting in that truck.”

Della and Sandy opened doors and stepped from the cab. Steve reached for his prosthetics, but Della slapped his hands away. “Zack! You need to get Steve in the room, please.” She picked up the blades and slid them under her arms, then grabbed two backpacks and marched toward one of the rooms. “I’ll go to the office and see what I can find in the way of clothes.”

Zack walked around to the passenger door and shrugged. “Sorry, man. She scares me.” He backed up to the opened door.

“Me too,” Steve laughed. “Let’s get this done. Just take me straight to the bathroom.”

“Got it man.”

Zack squatted and Steve leaned over to wrap his arms around Zack’s neck. He accepted Steve’s weight and straightened up as if the one hundred and sixty pounds were nothing. Zack clasped his hands around Steve’s legs and walked into the last door. He walked into the bathroom and bent his knees to deposit Steve on the toilet lid.

“Need anything else?” Zack asked.

“No, I got this. See if you can get my blades back from the wicked witch of the west.” He chuckled.

“Uh huh. Not me, man. She’s got that look in her eye.”

Steve shrugged. “Pansy.”

Zack pulled the door closed. He walked outside to sit at a picnic table under a spreading oak tree. He opened a bottle of water he had found inside the room and took a long gulp.

A little girl of about four or five walked up to Zack. “Hi.”

He turned and saw a little girl with blonde hair and huge blue eyes. “Hi.” He smiled back.

“Do you want some soda water?” She held out the red can in her hand.

“I don’t think so, little un. What I really want is a big juicy hamburger or Kentucky Fried Chicken.” He answered with a grin.

“My name is Penny.” She took a sip of the drink then added. “My mommy goes to the clinic and works. We’re going to get a house with Mrs. Jackson. I stay with Ms. Jackson when my mommy is working.”

“Penny? Where are you, child?” A wizen old black woman barely five-foot-tall stepped from a nearby room and looked around. “Oh. Well, hi there, young man. Now, Penny, don’t you be bothering that nice young man.”

“I’m not. I’m sharing.” Penny answered in her little girl voice.

“Child, that young man needs more than a swallow of soda.” She disappeared into the room and came back with a bright red can. She passed it to Zack with a grin.

“Thank you, mam.” He answered. “That’s really nice of you.”

“You and your friends have been out there. Outside the walls?”

“Yes mam,”

“I’m Millie Jackson and this little minx is Penny Crawford.  Her mother Darlene works at the medical clinic.

Ollie walked up to the picnic table pushing a wheelchair. “Got this for your buddy, big guy. The person who used it didn’t make it so your friend can have it.”

Della and Sandy both stepped from their room in fresh clothes. They walked up to Ollie and Della stuck out her hand. “I’m Della Marshall. This is Sandy Thompson, and you’ve met Zack Davis, here.”

Ollie nodded to each of them.

“You’ve sorta met Steve Benton. We’re really grateful for a place to rest. Steve really needs some down time. He’s done a lot to keep us alive.”

Zack reached for the chair. “I’m gonna take this to Steve and then get cleaned up.”

Ollie laughed. “Good idea. No offense big guy, but you all were more than a little ripe.”

Zack laughed. “No offense taken.”

“Don’t take too long. I have food coming for you folks since we’ve all eaten our dinner this evening.”

Zack disappeared into the room and Steve rolled out in the wheelchair. He maneuvered the chair around the parking barriers and crossed the lot to the green space in two strong pushes of the large wheels. He made a three sixty turn and then rocked back onto two wheels.

“Nice, chair.” Steve grinned at Ollie.

“Glad it suits,” Ollie answered. “There’re a couple candles in the rooms, but use ‘em sparingly.” He looked up toward an approaching hand-cart being pushed by a bearded man in a white apron.

Safety – Part 1

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas

The road sign said Utopia. The road had been cleared and the only evidence of infected in the area were massive pyres every few miles. They crested a ridge and stopped to look down on the town. It looked quiet. Two side streets had been blocked and just past the intersection was a bridge that had massive metal sheets on hinges welded to the sides. On each side of the bridge was a fifteen-foot high guard tower with two men visible on each. The covered security platforms looked well-constructed and the men seemed to be alert and paying attention.

Houses on the side streets had been razed to ensure good line of site views from the road leading up to the river approach.

“It looks safe,” Della commented. “They have the town barricaded.”

“Yeah. But will they let people in is the big question.” Steve answered.

“How can we tell?” Zack asked.

Steve chuckled. “They can see us and haven’t started shooting so put this thing in gear and let’s head down there. Keep it slow.”

They rolled up to a makeshift gate made of massive plates a steel. The men standing on the platforms straightened up and studied the approaching vehicle. When Zack stopped in front of the gate, one of the men called out. “Far enough. What do you want?”

Steve leaned out the passenger window and waved. “A little bit of comfort and joy,” Steve answered with a grin.

“Okay, smart ass. I know the owner of that truck and you’re not him. If you don’t have a pretty good explanation, we’re gonna start shooting.”

Steve raised both hands. “We had some trouble. Three people at a small corner store about thirty miles from here were killed by a group of men in two big-ass trucks. The man who owned this truck was one of the people killed.”

Zack added. “The old man called one of the men Willie Baker.”

“God damned Baker boys.” The guard commented with a scowl. “I guess we’ll have to hunt those shit-heads down.”

Steve answered. “No, that won’t be necessary.”

“What do you mean?” The man asked.

“They killed one of our people so we took care of ‘em. They won’t be hurting anyone else.” Steve answered.

“Well, shit. You, folks, have saved us a lot of trouble, if what you’re saying is true. You can come in and rest a while?”

“It’s what we’ve been hoping.” Steve answered. “Can you make arrangement for a burial?”

“You’re welcome, but we do have a few rules you’ll have to follow….” A big man wearing a sweat stained brown shirt announced. “Gotta be checked for bites and scratches.” He picked up a radio and talked into the mic then waved to two men to open the gate.  “We’ll make arrangement to bury your man, no worries there.”

The iron gate opened and Zack drove the pickup across the bridge. Once on the bridge the metal gate closed behind them and the man directed them to park near a tent.

“You folks sit tight. We got someone coming to examine you, ladies.”

An ATV pulled up and a young woman wearing scrubs got off and walked to the tent. She stepped inside the tent and the glow of lighting could be seen when she came out wearing a white jacket. She gave the t-shirted man a nod.

He walked up to the truck. “My name’s Ollie Ford. Before you can go any further folks, we got to make sure you ain’t infected. One at a time get out of the truck and go inside the tent. Either me or that young little lady will take a good look at you. If that don’t suit, you turn around and head back out the way you came.”

Steve shrugged. “Sounds reasonable. Any chance you can come out here?”

Ollie grinned. “If you boys don’t mind stripping down out here, I ain’t got no problems. The ladies can go inside the tent.”

Sandy and Della stepped out of the truck and disappeared into the tent. The young woman followed. Zack stood at the side of the truck and pulled his shirt off. He did a three-sixty, then dropped his pants and did the same thing.

Ollie grinned. “You’re fine son. Now, you.”

Steve opened the door and Ollie noticed Steve’s missing limbs. “Well, son-of-bitch. You took out the Baker bunch and you ain’t got no legs?”

Steve pointed to the fiberglass blades on the floor. “Got legs. Just been using them a bit much, lately. Need to rest.”

Still in the seat, Steve shrugged out of his shirt and then pulled up his short’s pant legs to expose the pale unblemished flesh of his upper legs. The bandage on one stump caused Ollie to frown.

Steve raised his hand palm outward. “Pressure sore from these.” He held up a prosthetic. Steve pulled the bandage from the stump.

Ollie sighed. “That looks like it hurts.”

Steve laughed. “Only when I breath.”

“I’ll bet. We got a doctor, maybe he can give you something.”

Ollie waved as Della and Sandy approached. The young woman was all smiles. She called out. “They’re fine.”

Sandy and Della got in the truck and Ollie stepped to the running board on the driver’s side to direct Zack toward a building in the distance. That’s the local motel. We’ve been putting folks up there until we either find a place for them or they move on.”