Long Wait – Part 1

Posted: January 27, 2016 in Book 1 TERROR IN TEXAS
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Will Edmonds sipped from a cup of steaming coffee as he looked over the pine and oak forested valley stretching out before him.  “How’s your family settling in, Randy?”

Randy shrugged.  “Cassie hasn’t moved the boxes of books from the door. Aunt Wilma is worried sick about my cousin.  The last time she talked to Tate she was in San Antonio waiting for a load.”

“She’s in the middle of the shit storm, right along with my daughter and her family.” He sighed then continued.  “All we can do is pray they got out in time and are now headed this way.”

“Tate’s tough.”  Randy chuckled.  “She used to kick my ass, when I was a kid.  Last time I saw her, I told her if the shit-hits-the-fan, head this way. I tried to tell her what happen on that last mission, but I just couldn’t talk about it back then.  I was pretty messed up and those quacks at the VA didn’t help by telling me I was crazy and throwing pills at me.”

Will laid his hand on Randy’s shoulder.  “I know.  No one would believe anyone would want to reanimate the dead a few days ago, much less three years ago.”

“Well, they fucking believe me now.”  Randy railed. “I told ‘em.  My team ended up like those walking dead fuckers. I had to put five men down.” His breath caught and his hands began to shake.

“Let it go Randy. Being angry now won’t make a difference and we got family to protect.  My daughter and her family and your cousin will get here and we have to be ready.  With a little luck more of our friends will arrive soon. We need to be ready.”

“Yeah.  You’re right.  Gotta let it go.”  Randy closed his eyes then took a deep cleansing breath. When he opened his eyes, his hands had grown steady again and face relaxed.

“Will your cousin know to come here?” Will asked.

Randy shrugged. “I think so, but really I don’t know.  She would want to find her mother and sister. I think she would come if she knew about Houston. What about your daughter. It would be a hard trek for a woman and two kids.”

“I know, but I’m hoping Brian is with them or maybe even other soldiers from the base to help protect them coming west.” Will sighed.  “Let’s get the day started.  You want some coffee.”

“I’m good, thanks. Aunt Wilma made me breakfast, this morning. Said a man ain’t worth much without a good breakfast.” Randy laughed.  “Cassie offered to help me work on the drawbridge. Sure could use Juan’s help. When do you expect him and Elaina to roll in?”

Will shrugged.  “Who knows? I’m going to use the small front end loader to extend the last hundred yards of the gully back to the south wall of the canyon.  With that done, the cattle guard will be the only access across the gap. I figure we can start unrolling the barbed wire on this side of the ravine then.”

“With the cattle guard rigged as a drawbridge it’ll limit access to this side of the canyon.  I need to get back to it this morning.  I’m going to take the welder down to the crossing and finish assembling the counter-weight system.”  Randy laughed.  “A ten year old will be able to raise and lower the gate when I get done.”

“I’m lucky to have you here Randy.  We’ll have to worry about looters when supplies run low for the folks leaving the cities.” Will stated.

“Hopefully, won’t be many people come up this way.  Not many people even know about this place.  It was abandoned for years before you came out here.”

Will shrugged.  “True, but when people start looking for a safe place to hide out, a few hunter types is bound to remember an isolated hunting lodge like this.  We can support a small community but I would like to have a say in who that includes.  With all the Juniper and Ponderosa Pine on the high ridges we could eventually build even more than the twelve cabins to house families.”

“Creating those watering holes up in the hills a few years back sure has increased the wild life around here.  I even saw a few wild horses the other day.” Randy commented.

“Yeah.  Maybe we’ll run across some stray cattle if we get a chance to search some of the open range. For now, our focus is security and that means digging the trench and getting the bridge operational.”

Randy shrugged.  “Well, I’m going to get another cup of coffee then Cassie and I’ll head out.  I did ask Aunt Wilma if she’d go to the lodge and fix our dinner and she said she would.  We still have some venison from the deer we killed yesterday.”

“I’ve been thinking.  I know the cabin you’re living in is big enough, but I’d like to have you move up to the lodge.  It doesn’t have to be today, but in the next couple days.  It’ll be safer for everyone.”

“You’ll want your family to live there when they get here.” Randy protested.

“Yeah, but when they do show up there’ll still be plenty of room and I don’t fancy strangers in the lodge with me and mine.  Besides, I’d like the guns in one place.”

“I guess you’re right.” Randy answered.  “I’ll talk to them, but I don’t see a problem.”

“Well, for now we got a lot to do to protect this place.”  Will mumbled as he walked away. “Be sure to pick up the two-way radio on the front desk.”

Wilma Hamilton stepped into the Lodge and glanced around.  So now the lodge was going to be their home.  They were safe, because of Randy and this strange man but she wasn’t sure she liked the new living arrangements.

That night both she and her daughter, Cassie, had watched the horror of the attacks at the military base unfold on the television.  The news programs grew more and more frightening.  She and Cassie discussed loading up the car and leaving, but after spending hours trapped in traffic before Hurricane Rita, they were afraid it would more of the same. People died trying to escape a hurricane that didn’t even show up. Wilma was afraid they would get trapped and overtaken in Cassie’s little Prius.

Randy had arrived like a storm at midnight.  He told them they had twenty minutes to pack whatever they wanted to take because they wouldn’t be coming back.  He backed up his big truck and loaded whatever Wilma or Cassie could carry out of the house.

Wilma insisted on her portable sewing machine, trunks of fabric and sewing supplies.  When Randy announced enough, she packed two bags of clothes.  With the time left, she emptied canned goods from the kitchen into a laundry basket and grabbed a large blue enamel pot with all her canning supplies.  She hurried to the garage and retrieved six boxes of assorted sizes of canning jars.

Cassie spent her time packing up her laptop, printer and paper supplies.  She pulled quilts from the beds and linens from the hall closet.  It took a bit of convincing to get Randy to load the massive cedar chest from Cassie’s room, but with it headed for the truck she packed her own clothes then cleared the bathrooms and cabinets of shampoos and OTC medications.

When Randy ushered them out of the small house in West Houston, it looked like a storm had hit the inside.  They got in the truck and Randy cranked the diesel engine.  He headed west on the back streets and ended on the narrow two-lane blacktop roads that wound through country roads through southwest Texas.  Randy drove finally stopped in Dryden at a fast food place that still had Internet access.

Cassie sent an email to her sister then used the computer to pull up news programs and social media to see accounts of attacks that began on the southeast side of Houston and rolled over the city like a wave.  She tried calling and texting her sister but cell service was sketchy at best this far from the big city.

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