Planning Ahead

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Book I Terror in Texas
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At the evening meal the four adults at the Lodge ate without much conversation, each lost in thoughts of family and friends and the struggles they must be facing. Most picked at the food despite Wilma’s abilities in the kitchen.

Finally, Randy announced. “I’ve been monitoring CB radio transmissions. There’re a lot of people moving west and north from San Antonio since the FEMA camp was overrun. That means they’re bringing the infection with them. We have to be careful who we let in.”

“We have room for over a hundred people here.” Wilma protested. “You said so yourself.”

“Shush!” Cassie jerked her head to the side. “Hey, I hear something?”

After a minute the distant rumble of motors fell silent and a distinctive truck horn blared twice. After a brief silence, it blared again one last time.

Will and Randy jumped to their feet and ran to the front porch with the two women close behind. They each picked up rifles, stepped out into the night air and looked toward the raised cattle guard in the distance. Three sets of headlights approached the gully in the distance.

“Who in the hell?” Will whispered.

“I wish it was family, but I think it’s Juan? You asked him to bring help to work at the Lodge.” Randy chuckled.  “I think it’s that sick-assed horn of his on that old beater he drives.”

“Or it could be some asshole who decided this would be a good hidey-hole.” Will growled. “Let’s get on the ATVs and check it out.”

Randy called over his shoulder at Wilma and Cassie. “Get armed, but stay out of sight.”

“We’re fine. Do whatever you need to.” Cassie answered.

Randy and Will climbed on ATVs and disappeared into the dark. Five minutes later, they rolled up to the wide ravine to shine a spotlight toward the trio of vehicles. The first was a rattle trap truck packed with boxes, bags and supplies. Three men stood at the front rack of the second truck shading their eyes from the glare of the light. The driver of the front truck stepped out of the driver’s door and approached the edge of the ditch in front of the cattle guard.

“Hey, Señor Will.” The man called out. “I come to help.”

“Miguel?” Will called out.

“Sí.” Miguel called out. “I bring Elaina and others. You make a few changes.”

“Yeah.” Give us a minute to lower the guard. “Come on across then follow us to the Lodge and park the vehicles in front. We all go inside so we can talk.”

“Señor Will, is something wrong?” Miguel asked.

“Nothing at all. We have to check for the infection before we get everyone settled.” Will responded.

“I understand, but we have women and children.” Miguel answered.

“No problem. We got a couple women to check them.” Will answered. “We do the exam or you can turn around and head back south.”

No, Señor Will, it is little to ask. Is no problema.” Miguel answered.

Will nodded to Randy and he began turning the wheel to lower the cattle guard. A minute later all three trucks were led to the Lodge and parked at the front door. Randy followed after raising the cattle guard again. When the vehicles were parked, Will led seven men, eight women and five children into the Lodge.

When the vehicles were parked and Will led the new arrivals into the lodge, Randy stood at the door still holding his rifle at the ready.

“What is this?” Why are you carrying a gun inside?” Wilma berated the Randy.

“We’re going to do a quick health check.” Will ignored Wilma and announced.

“Ladies, if you will escort the women and children into the kitchen and give them in a once over, Randy and I will check the men. Everyone we bring through the gate will be doing this. No matter who they’re kin to.”

Wilma scowled. “Hmmmm. I suppose it’s necessary.”

When Cassie followed the assemblage of women and children Randy stopped her at the door and stuck a handgun in her hand. She pulled her hand back but Randy leaned close.

“You will always carry when new folks come in to the camp.”  He nodded toward the others.  “One infected and we all pay the price.”

Cassie slid the revolver into the back of her pants and followed the other into the conference room at the front of the hall.

Ten minutes later the women reappeared to see the men sitting around the main room, holding a drink. They were laughing and drinking like long lost friend.

“Señor Will, it is bad in Larado. The muertos came from San Antonio the first day with familia. It’s busy at the check points, but this was loco. They just opened the gate and let people go. The first night the muertos sat up and killed familia and amigos.” Miguel explained.

“We had already begun packing to come up for the job when it happened.  We gathered family and left before dawn.” A short thick man by the name of Pablo added. “The first day was realmente terrible.”

“This is all very interesting, but you men have families to get settled.” Wilma announced.  She turned to Will.  “I’m assuming you have places for these people set up since they were expected.  I would suggest you get the women and children settled then if you men want to sit around swapping lies, you can do it without the children passing out from exhaustion.”

Will looked startled. “Oh. Yes. I guess we should.”

Miguel chuckled. “If I might suggest, my family will return to the staff housing with my brother and his family. There is plenty of room for both and my mother. That leaves two families to provide housing for.”

“Sounds good.” Will answered. “Take them to the cabins closest to the staff housing. You know which ones. Anything they need, make a list. We’ll try to find it. For now, get everyone settled. Don’t forget to turn on the water at the side of the house.  The batteries should be charged enough from the solar panels so lights won’t be a problem.  Give us an hour and we’ll bring a big pot of venison stew to staff housing.”

Miguel and Pablo hustled the crowd back into vehicles and drove around the Lodge to the first of the designated cabins. After leading a family of four inside and turning on a few lights, Miguel went to the side of the cabin to turn the water on.  He reappeared to lead the next vehicle to the second cabin twenty yards away. Again, he took the time to walk the family inside and turn on the water.

He pointed to a larger cabin of similar design closer to the lodge and advised. “We will be there. Clean up and come in an hour for an evening meal.”

The second vehicle was left at the front of the cabin and the family disappeared inside. Miguel and Pablo moved the truck to the front of the staff cabin.

“Wish we hadn’t loss my truck.” Pablo sighed.

“You are here, hermano and the familia is seguro.”

“Safe?  Are you sure? Pablo asked.

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