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.

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