Archive for September, 2016

Doc and Matt spent half an hour collecting jars of home canning, half a dozen rounds of deer sausage and several packages of hard cheddar and gouda cheese.

“This is a hell of a stash,”  Doc commented as he sliced off a chunk of sausage. “You gotta know country folks would have extra food around the house.”

Matt nodded.  “In the morning I want to check for a garden or fruit trees.”

“Sounds like a plan.  With being this far from a major highway, these folks were in pretty good shape.” Doc continued.  “I guess old age is a weakness we all face eventually. They couldn’t do anything about that.”

After spending a few more minutes stacking the food stuff in two wooden boxes, Matt rigged a rope handle on each box then announced.

“Time to get this stuff back down to the store.”

Each man picked up a box and clutched a weapon in their free hand.  They stepped out of the house and headed down the gray shadow that was the lane leading back to the store.  The full moon provided enough light Matt pocketed the small LED light.

“Slow and easy.  I don’t want to break any of these jars.”

“Got it.” Doc answered.

“Where did that bunch pick up you and your people?”  Matt asked.

“My son and his family had a lake house on Medina Lake.  It was only the second day and my wife and I lived far enough out, we didn’t see anything but what was on the television.  My son was heading to his lake house and stopped long enough for me and Helen to load up the car and follow. About eight families made it up there.  Some belonged there, others we settled in the empty houses.  There was a cluster of six houses within sight of each other. We shared what we could.  We had a couple generators, couple boats, and plenty of fishing gear.  It wasn’t bad.  We figured we were pretty safe with only one way in and that was a gravel lane.  Problem was, my son and only three others had firearms with ‘em.”

“Sounds pretty sweet.”  Matt commented. “Except for the lack of firearms.”

“Would have been.”  Doc answered.  “Seems that bunch of rednecks were riding the backroad looking for exactly what we had; lots of women and not enough men or arms to protect ourselves.”

“Sounds like a bad deal.”

“They had to have been watching us for days.  They waited until three of the men were out fishing and used a deer rifle to take them out.  Just like that, my son and two other men were dead.  My daughter-in-law came out of the cabin with a rifle and they dropped her right on the porch in front of the girls.

By then, the rest of the adults including me and Helen were gathered up and on our knees.  They called the kids out telling them they would start killing the parents if they didn’t come out quick enough. The poor girls could barely walk they were so devastated.”

“Poor kids.” Matt mumbled.

Doc stopped and traded the box from his left hand to his right. “There were nearly forty people.  When everyone was present and accounted for, they executed five men and four teen boys.” Doc started walking again.  His voice was barely more than a whisper when he continued. “By then, the rest of us were in shock and so terrified we just did as we were told. They herded the women and children in the trucks. They knew I was a doctor and who my granddaughters were. They told me and Helen to get what we needed for the girls and get in the car.  If we did anything to cross them, they would kill the girls.  We had no choice.” His voice trailed off.

“You did what you had to do to protect the girls.  They had just seen their folks killed.” Matt commented.  “ Let’s get this inside.” Matt knocked on the door.

“Well, you took your sweet time.”  Tate groused.  “I’m getting cleaned up.  The kids are at the back of the store sleeping.  The rest of the women are in the break room.”

“No problem, I’ll keep watch soon as I set this stuff down.”  Matt answered.

“You two might get cleaned up when I’m done.  You both smell like shit.”  She walked away without looking back.

Juan threw the van in reverse and back away from the gathering of destroyed bodies while Billy leaned out doorway waving his arm.

“Gotta go boss!”  He called out.

Juan made a tight U-turn and headed around the circular drive toward the residence.  He clipped two infected sending them away from the front fender of the driver’s side.

Brian glanced at the door one last time then crossed the drive just ahead of the van skidding to a stop in front of him.  He jumped in the vehicle and grabbed at the door, and then changed his mind.  He pulled his handgun and yelled at Juan.

“Push the gate opener on the dash and get us outta here!”

Brian watched the infected stumble toward the van.  One reached out as the van passed by but fell when the prey slipped from its grasp.

“We got a problem!” Shouted Leon.  “The gate is not opening.  The freaks have stuck their arms through the fence and now it’s isn’t moving.”

“Don’t we ever get a break?”  Billy whined.

Juan slowed the van at the entrance, Brian led Billy out of the van calling over his shoulder.  “Leon, cover our six.  Rest of you stay in the van! Juan, be ready to roll when the gate opens.”

“Let’s try to do this quiet, Billy.” Brian ran to the fence pulling the machete from its scabbard on his belt.  He raised his arm and slammed the blade through the fence into the head of the first infected.  He kicked out at the same time and body fell back only to be replaced by another.

Billy copied Brian’s actions and dispatched one of the infected himself.  Again the monster was replaced by another infected.  This first had been a woman with most of her face gone, but the second was a child of ten or twelve.  His arm fell to his side. “Ah, man. I can’t do this.”

Brian glanced at Billy “Damn it! Billy, the kid is dead. Do it!”

Billy raised his arm and swung the blade.  The child fell.  A bear of a man in a white shirt stepped on the small tattered body and reached through the bars for Billy.  He stumbled back, tripping over his own feet.  Brian swung out and amputated two of the arms holding the gate closed. The gate began to move turning the body aside as Brian grabbed for the back of Billy’s vest.

“Get up!”  Gotta move, kid.  The gate is opening, they’ll be stumbling in here faster than we can kill em.”

Billy stumbled to his feet.  “Sorry sir.” He raised the blade and charged for the first infected tripping into compound.

One by one, Brian and Billy dispatched seven more undead bodies.  Finally, the gate opened enough to allow the van through.  Brian grabbed the first body and drug in to the side.

“Help me.  We can’t leave the old man with the dead stumbling around here if we can help it.”

Billy grabbed a body and pulled it out of the way.

Juan slipped the van in gear and accelerated toward the gate.  With the last body moved and out of the way he slowed enough for Billy and Brian to jump in the side door then accelerated again.

“Close the gate.”  Brian ordered.

With a press of the button the gate began its slow roll back to the closed position.  Brian glanced out the back window one last time.

“Good luck, old man.”

“Which way Señor Brian?”  Juan asked.

Billy and Leon jogged away from the van toward the back of the chapel.  After a brief hesitation, they disappeared behind the structure.

Juan handed his cases of water and food to Brian.  “What about the priests who live here?”

Brian glanced toward the two-story structure across the yard. “No sign of movement that I can see.” He stacked the bottled water in the back of the van. “Only person I saw was an infected man in the maintenance office. What do you want to do about it?”

Juan glanced over his shoulder.  “We can’t just leave them if they’re still alive. They’re the priests too old or infirmed to serve the church.”

“Damn it!” Brian cursed. “Alright, when Billy and Leon get back, get them in the truck and you drive over to the building.” He tossed Juan the keys.  “Keep your eyes open.”

Brian turned toward the residential building with a sigh of resignation.  He glanced around and realized the beauty of the compound. The rain had given new life to the sun scorched grass and now in the morning light the lawn was a bright green.  The flower beds and blooming gardens around the fountain and at the edge of the adobe walls glistened with renewal the rain had brought.

For a split second Brian wondered if making everyone leave the sanctuary was even wise with all the infected roaming the city.  If the residence was well stocked, he could leave Billy, Leon, and Juan to protect the women and head out alone.  No matter how well stocked the building was, they would eventually run out of food.  Then they would have to scavenge for food and that would get more and more dangerous as time passed.  He couldn’t leave these people behind, they would die.  They had to stay together.  At the General’s he could offer sanctuary.

Brian got to the door at the front of the building.  It was a two story structure with multiple windows on either side of the front door.  Brian walked to the closest window and raised his hand to the side of his face to look inside.

The room was a library or office.  It was dark inside but he could see a massive desk and walls of books.  He moved to the next window and looked through the glass.  The room held a substantial table at least sixteen feet long.  Places for three were set on one end. Brian flicked on his LED light and looked toward a distant opened door.  He could see a metal table and a distant counter with what looked like a sink and window at the back. A second door opened into a darkened hallway beyond.

Brian glanced over his shoulder to see Juan still waiting for Leon and Billy.  He went back to the door and crossed to the windows on the opposite side of the building.  The heavy dark curtains had been pulled closed. He hurried to the second window and again looked inside.  The room had been set up as a sick room. Inside the bed lay a withered body of an old man. A near empty IV bag hung from a pole.

“Shit.” Brian cursed.

He made his way back to the door and tapped lightly on the barrier. He waited, not sure what he would see or hear.

“Hola, un minuto.”  Called an aged voice from inside.

Brian waited a full thirty seconds before he heard shuffling steps approach the door. The door opened and an old man in a pair of rumpled khakis and white shirt opened the door. He nodded at Brian.

“We didn’t know anyone was here.”  Brian began as he noticed a terrible stench wafting from the inside of the house.

“You should not be here?” The old man stated.

“We’re trying to get out of the city.” Brian stepped away from the smell of drifting from the interior of the house. “Do you need help? Is there bodies inside?”

“I need nothing.” The old man pushed back on the door but Brian pushed it back open with his hand. “There is only two of us left.  They others are all at peace.”

The pressure against the door relaxed and Brian dropped his hand to his side. “We’ll take you with us.”

“I cannot leave Father Gabriel and he is too sick to leave his bed.  Take what you need and close the gate when you leave.” He pushed the door close and latched it from the inside.

“But….”  Brian protested.

“Go with God.” The old man called out from behind the door. “I will pray for you.”

“Señor Brian!”  A gravelly voice called out. “We have to go. NOW!”

Brian turned to see Leon jump into the passenger door of the van and slam the door.  Juan had crawled behind the wheel and cranked the engine.

Billy hung out the side door aiming his weapon at half a dozen infected stumbling from around the chapel.  The infected were in terrible shape.  They had been caught in the flooding and crawled from the creek.  Limbs where torn and broken, yet they stumbled toward the sound of the van’s revving engine.

Feces covered the floor along with the remains of several empty dog food bags. Metal cans, probably dog food littered the room. There were signs of the dog’s attempts at opening the cans.  A couple punctures at one end were too small to get more than a bit of juice.

“Start looking in the cabinet over there.  Put everything that even looks slightly medical.  Be sure to get the thing that looks like a microwave, it’s an autoclave. I’ll help as soon as I get one of these cans opened.” Randy announced.

Miguel flicked his light to the back of the room and saw the cart.  He rolled it to the medical cabinets and immediately unplugged the autoclave and put it on the top of the cart.  He opened cabinets and piled full boxes of supplies on the cart.

Randy used his knife to open a can of some wet food and dumped it into a shinny metal bowl.  He walked to the cage and set the bowl at the door.  In a second bowl, he dumped a bottle of water from his pack.

He turned and crossed the room a stack of plastic tubs that contained towels. He found a box of trash bags and dumped the contents into the bag.  He passed the tub with it’s lid to Miguel to put supplies in. He repeated the process and then tied end of both bags. He set the second tub on the floor in front of him and began emptying the drug cabinet.  He grabbed everything in the cabinet.  He opened drawers and found prepared and sealed surgical trays. Those went in the tub as well.  The last of the tubs was used for odds and end from the examination rooms.

Randy glanced around the room one last time. “Let’s go.”

He tossed two of the bags on top of the cart and Miguel opened the door to the front of the office.  Randy turned at the sound of soft foot fall behind him.  He turned to see a dark shadow following him.

“Shit.”  Randy sighed. “Keep going.  I gotta do something about the fucking dog.”

Randy stopped and held out his hand and the shadow slowly approached.  When the damp nose nuzzled his hand he sighed.  “I guess you’re coming with us.”

The animal seemed to make a decision too and walked closer.  Randy saw a gray merle Australian Shepard. The poor animal was a mess.  The hair was matted, the feet covered in muck.

“Stay.”

Randy returned to the back room, found a box and picked up the whole cans he could find, a couple leashes, a brush, comb, nail clippers and a ball.  He hurried after Miguel in time to see the last of the supplies being loaded into his truck.

When he stepped into the sunlight he realized everyone was looking at him.  He shrugged.  “What?”  He growled.  “I couldn’t leave the mutt.”

Liz turned at the sound of the kids running from the camper.

Trace squealed. “Can we keep her?”

“We know how to take care of her.  We had a dog.” Cody added.

Randy threw the end of the leash to Liz.  “You’re good at taking in strays.  Here’s another one.”

Liz started to protest but the kids and swooped in and began petty the dog.

Harry cleared his throat.  “Hate to break this up, but we need to get moving here.”

“Everything gassed up?”  Randy asked as he helped Miguel throw a net over the supplies in the back of his truck. “Let’s move out. We go to the drugstore then head out.  We gotta meet the old man and his family this afternoon.”

“We can’t take the dog.” John protested.  “It stinks like shit.”

Randy laughed.  “Yeah.  You can tell the kids that.” He dropped the box in John’s arms.

“Son-of-bitch.” John growled as he followed the kids, dog, Liz and Harry into the camper.

“We can give her a bath….”  Trace began.

Liz covered her face with her hand.  “Not right now.”

Harry cranks the engine and called over his shoulder.  “Open the windows until you get the shit cleaned off that dog.”

Liz complied with a chuckle while she directed the kids to the table to sit down.  “Stay where you are until we get outta the town.”