The Short Bus

Posted: July 17, 2016 in Book I Terror in Texas

Brian hustled the civilians deeper into the chapel, and Billy closed the door. He used a candle stand to secure the doors. The place was dark.  Billy gathered half a dozen votive candles from the back wall and followed the others to the front of the chapel.  They settle on the cold stone flooring behind the altar and lit two of the candles.

“I’m freezing,” Margo whispered.

Brian hurried to Margo. “Billy, get food and water out. We need to get her warm. She’s going into shock.” He turned to Paula. “Get over her and get her in dry clothes.”

Billy returned with bags. “This is her bag.

Two hours later the rain had almost quit.  The two women sat huddled together resting on the vestments from the church altar.  At first, both were reluctant by then he pointed out the fact there was probably never going to be another service in this church or any other in town. Leon and Juan were both resting with their backs against the altar.

Brian led Billy to the door. “Now that the rain’s stopped I need to figure out how to get outta here.”

“The boats?” Billy asked.

Brian shrugged.  “Until I look around, I hate to commit to the boats. The flooding is pretty bad. Could be a lot of debris piled up downstream and we’d have no way of know until we ended up on top of a bunch of infected.”

“Shit. I hadn’t thought of that.”  Billy answered.

“I hope we’re far enough south to be able to drive out of the city,” Brian added. “Get everyone up and moving. I’m hoping there will be vehicles still around the monastery, a maintenance truck or something. It’s getting light. Keep everyone inside until I come back.”

“Got it.” Bill gave him a quick nod. “We’ll be ready.”

Brian stepped through the door out into the morning gloom.  A hint of light could be seen on eastern horizon amid the trees and distant office buildings.  He looked around. The grounds were damp and glistening from the cleansing rain.

The property was surrounded by a ten-foot tall concrete wall on three sides.  From the chapel, Brian could see several gravel paths leading through the garden.  To the left was a gazebo. To the right were two buildings, one appearing to be a windowed office.  In front of the chapel over a hundred yards away was a fountain. To the left at the front of the compound, was the residence building, a huge affair with dozens of windows at the front of the building.

Brian jogged through the garden stepping around broken branches and storm debris to the front gate. Once he was sure it was secured, he made his way back to the maintenance shed.  He dodged around the shrubs surrounding the drive connecting the residence to the garage and maintenance shed. A white transport van sat in front of the maintenance shed.  An old Ford Ranger had been left near the gate, with the door still standing open. The Ranger was useless, too many people and too little protection.

“Great.  A short bus.” Brian whispered under his breath. “Figures.”

He looked through the window of the maintenance office and took a deep breath. The glass was smeared with blood as was the outside of the door and door knob. He saw a dead Hispanic man slamming his hands against the glass. His khaki shirt and pants were soaked in blood from gaping wounds on his thin arms.  Seeing the man explained the truck being left in the drive with the door open. He knew he had to protect the residents of the monastery.

Brian glanced toward the gate and saw a solar panel above the gate motor.  He made his way to the front of the bus and peeked in the driver’s side window.  He could see a remote on the sun visor but no keys in the ignition. The keys were probably in the office or maintenance garage.

He pulled the machete from his belt and hurried to the door of the room. He swung the rifle around to his back and reached out for the gore covered doorknob with his left hand.  He turned his hand, but the knob moved ann only fraction of an inch then froze. Locked.

“Smart. Wish you had made it old timer.” Brian whispered.

Brian returned his machete to the scabbard and pulled his rifle free. He raised the butt of the gun and slammed it down on the cheap doorknob. He made a quick second blow, and the knob fell down the three concrete steps. Brian returned the rifle to rest of his back and grabbed the machete.

At the sound of the first blow, the infected man inside turned and stumbled toward the door. By the second blow, he was pressing his gnashing teeth against the glass of the door.

Brian placed his shoulder on the door and slammed against the wood.  The infected man fell back, and Brian stepped inside the office.  He slammed the machete into the old man’s head, and he lay still.

“Sorry, old guy,”  Brian whispered.

He glanced around the office quickly to ensure himself he was alone then began searching the room for keys.  He checked desk drawers, cabinets, even the old man’s pockets but found nothing.  He glanced around the room and noticed two doors on the side wall.

He crossed the room, knocked on the first door and pressed his ear to the wood.  He heard nothing so he slowly turned the knob. It was a bathroom.  He stepped inside, opened a bathroom cabinet and grinned.  He found boxes of individual packets of aspirin, eye drops, Tylenol, Ibuprofen. He stuffed the side pockets of his cargo pants with his find.  He pulled the door closed and went to the second door.

Brian looked through the glass and saw a row of nails on the wall with keys hanging from each.  “Bingo.”

He looked into the dark recesses of the maintenance shed.  From the light from two head-high windows across the back of the room he could see lawn equipment, and a variety of yard tools hung on the back wall.  He thought about tapping on the glass but decided a quick grab was better than taking a chance attracting attention.

He studied the keys.  There were three small keys with tags, mowers probably.  The last two were vehicle keys.  He decided to take them both. One would be the spare for the truck, he imagined. The pair of keys should be the short bus.

With the machete in hand, he toed open the door and grabbed.  He placed his finger through the ring of the single key then reached out for the last two keys.  Before his fingers found the keyrings a crash at the back of the shed shattered the silence.

Brian froze for a fraction of a second, zeroing in on the source of the sound.  Suddenly there was a brush against his leg.  He jumped, dropping the key in his hand and knocking the last two keys from the nail to skitter across the floor.

He looked down to see a black and white cat sliding against his leg.  At a mewing from the cat, there were at least two weak answers from kittens.  The mother cat wandered back into the gloom.

“Well, mama, I wish you luck, but I got shit to do.”

He fell to his knees and swept his hands from left to right searching for the keys on the cold concrete.  Finally, he found one, then another. He dismissed the last key, got to his feet, and pulled the door closed.

He went to the door and pressed the lock on one of the key ring.  The parking lights blinked on the van.  Brian hurried around the side of the van and pointed his LED light at the chapel. The door opened, and Billy led the two men and two women across the garden path to the van.  Each of the five survivors carried, cases of water or containers of food.

With the side door open, Brian opened the back of the van to start accepting supplies. When Paula went to hand him her pack, he shoved it back in her hands.

“Keep it with you, always.”

Billy and Leon handed him cases of water and a buckets food. “Leon and I are gonna go back for the last two cases of water.”

“Be quick,” Brian answered as he stacked the second case of water in the van.

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