Archive for November, 2016

Brian glanced right then left.  There were dozens of infected stumbling toward the gate from the right so Brian pointed to the left.

“Left!” Brian ordered.  “Take a right at the next intersection and go south. We need to get out of the area.

Juan guided the van around stalled cars in front of the massive church, then up across the medium in an effort to avoid a cluster of infected in the street.  Slowly, they moved further and further from the massive stone structure in the distance.  After three turns they entered an industrial area with massive buildings behind parking lots littered with cars and trucks. Some of the vehicles were still parked neatly between the lines. Most had attempting to escape the mayhem but ended up stuck behind clusters of vehicles locked together blocking the gated entrance.  Many of the doors were flung open, while other contained the remnants of the occupants.

“I don’t know about this.”  Juan announced.

“Keep going!”  Brian ordered.  “We have to get through here to get to the blacktop heading out of town.”

Juan steered the van through the labyrinth of vehicles abandoned in the streets.  Dozens of infected meandered between the abandoned vehicles until they heard the van, then began moving toward it.

“Get moving, man. The natives are getting restless.”  Leon advised.

Juan scowled. “I can’t go any faster!”

Brian leaned over the seat and pointed to an alley between buildings.  “That way, go down the alley.”

Juan stepped on the gas and dodged the last sedan, taking off the door.  He made a quick right and accelerated.  At the end of the alley, he followed the asphalt to the right between two rows of small warehouse buildings.  The unit included rolling overhead doors and side doors.  At the end of the building, the alley opened onto a narrow street with a grassy median on the far side.

“Jefe?”

“Ease out.  Let’s see what we can see.” When Juan complied, Brian looked to the right and could see a cluster of infected coming their way.  “Well, that’s settled.  Left.”

Juan complied. When he realized the road was fairly open he accelerated and everyone settled back a little more comfortably.

“Keep watch,”  Brian ordered.  He pulled a map from his pocket and scanned the spider web of lines.  “That’s it!”  He announced.  “Head south on Pleasanton Road. When we get there we can head west.”

“Sí señor.”  Juan leaned back in the seat and accelerated. “I hope it’s not far. We only got a quarter tank of gas.”

“As soon as we get out of the city we can stop,”  Brian answered.

Millie handed Penny a fan of cardboard and a wooden handle she had found inside the cabin.  One side was a picture of Jesus and the other the words of the Lord’s Prayer.  She patted the child on the head.  You and Jesus here can watch over our boy while you make a little breeze.

Penny accepted the fan and using both hands, made wide arcs.  Della adjusted her grasp and showed her how to make short even movements. She pulled the netting closed leaving Penny on the outside fanning with a determination that made Della smile.

“Will you stay and watch him?”  Della asked. “I’ll be back soon.”

Della got to her feet and carried the supplies back in the cabin.  Once inside she washed her hands and put all the bottles back in the shoulder bag keeping out the Cipro. She carried the supplies and the medical bag to a corner table and left them.

At the table, she accepted a bottle of cold water and pushed the hair from her face. “I hope this works.  It would have been better for an IV and solution but they had nothing like that.”

Millie turned from cast iron pot on the wood stove. “You’ve done what you can.”  She added the last of the pieces of squirrel into the pot.  “He has a chance.”  She chuckled.  “What’s this I hear about horses?”

Della smiled.  “They followed me home.”

“That might be a good thing. They would present an alternative to the truck.”

Della shrugged.  “None of us ride.”

“Speak for yourself, gal. I ride better’n the Lone Ranger.”

Zack appeared at the back door. “We don’t have saddles. Besides, the only one that acted like he even liked people was the black one.”

Della laughed.  “That was a mare.”

“Whatever. He retorted.

By dusk, Millie had made biscuits and thick gravy.  “It’s cooled off should Zack bring Steve back inside?”

Della sighed.  “I think his temperature has gone down a little.  I hate to move him but it’s just not safe to be outside the cabin at night. If any infected stumbled across him, he’d be defenseless.”

Zack took a few minutes to move Steve back into his bed.  With Della’s help he brought the mattress and bedding inside and restored it to the top of the bunk.

Millie sat the table and readied the table for the evening meal. She turned up the wick in the kerosene lantern.  She called out. “Darlene, come on inside.  We keep an eye out from inside, now.”

Della fixed a small plate with biscuits and gravy.  She walked to the bed where Steve slept.  She pulled a pillow from the bunk overhead and slipped it behind him.  “Steve?  You have to try to eat something.”

Steve groaned. He turned to face Della’s voice.  She scooped a spoon of gravy and biscuit from the plate then brought it to his lips.  He opened his mouth and accepted the first mouthful.

“Not hungry.” He whispered after he swallowed the first bite.

“May be, but you have to eat.  I need to give you more antibiotics and you need food and take in more fluids.

“Bully,”  Steve whispered as he opened his mouth to accept another mouthful of food.

Della raised a cup of water to Steve’s lips. “Drink.”

After three more spoonfuls of dinner, he slumped back and sighed.  “No more.”

“You have to take the Cipro.”  She held out two pills and he reached for the willow tea.

He slipped the pills into his mouth and took two long drinks of the tea to wash them down. “You know, that tea tastes terrible.”

Della shrugged.  “Sorry, horses don’t take aspirin.”

He forced a smile and laid back.  Della sat and watched until his breathing grew slow and steady. He was sleeping. She walked to the kitchen table and added more biscuit, meat, and gravy to her plate.  She ate quietly then helped Millie clean up the remains.

“He’s better,”  Millie asked as she sipped willow tea. Della raised a brow.  “My arthritis.”

“I think so. I’m sorry I didn’t find anything you can take for it.”  Della responded.

Millie chuckled. “You don’t need to worry ‘bout me.”

The ATV purred right along with Zack driving and Della clinging to his wide back.  Zack turned around and asked.

“Did you find what you needed at the Ranch?” Zack asked.

“I guess I got more than I bargained for.” Della sighed.

“Was it bad?”

“The crash out front left a dozen infected attacking the horses in the front paddock.  It was terrible.  The surviving horses were so frightened I just couldn’t leave them so I opened a gate to let them out.  The infected would have killed them all eventually.  When I was trying to lock the gate, the black actually took out an infected that got too close.” She continued.

“What are we going to do with five horses? It just makes another responsibility.”

Della remained quiet as they passed the narrow wash finally, she answered.  “I don’t know. Let them lose when we leave.  At least they would have a chance.”

Zack stopped the ATV at the front of the cabin. “You had no business doing that all by yourself.”  He slipped the ATV back in gear and drove away toward the shed leaving Della standing on the steps with the bags sitting next to her.

Millie appeared at the doorway. “I hope you got what you needed.  He’s not doing good at all.”

Della picked up the bags and walked up the steps.  The cabin was beyond hot.  After the ride on the ATV with the wind drying moisture on her face it felt stifling.  She walked to the table and dumped the bag of meds.  She examined half a dozen bottles until she found a name she recognized.  She opened the Ciprofloxacin and dumped out two tablets.

Matt stood wringing her hands.  “He can’t swallow those big ol’ pills.  He can barely swallow a couple teaspoons of the willow tea.”

Della glanced toward the kitchen. “We have to find a way or he’ll die. Millie find a way.”

Zack appeared at the back door and Della looked up.  Carry a mattress to the back porch.  It’s too hot in here.  We have to move Steve out there then get him cooled off.

Della looked to Millie where she was mashing the pills into a fine dust. “The honey.  Mix it with a bit of honey.”

Five minutes later, Zack picked up Steve and carried him to the mattress on the back porch.  He had hung a mosquito net over the mattress and tucked the netting in on both ends and the back side.  Bending down he lowered Steve onto the mattress through the opening in the netting.

“Get his shirt off.” Della ordered.  “His pants too. Then get a bucket of cold water and start laying wet rags on him. We have to get his temperature down.”

Zack did as he was told.

Millie appeared with a cup of willow tea and a teaspoon of honey with the crushed up pill mixed in it.

“Set him up Zack.” Della said.  When Steve was slumped against Zack wide chest, Della tilted his head up and whispered.

“Steve?”  She held his face up and pressed the spoon to his lips.  “You have to swallow this.”

He opened his mouth and Della slid the spoon between his lips. She tilted up the spoon and slid the thick golden liquid from the spoon against his lip. She tilted his head up and began massaging his throat.

“Swallow, now Steve.”

Steve worked his mouth and tried to cough but Della held his head up.  Millie handed her the cup of willow tea.  Della pressed the cup to his lips.  He swallowed and slumped forward.

“One more drink, Steve.  You’re going to feel better soon. I promise.”

Steve looked up and accepted the cup and allowed another mouthful of tea to pass his lips.  Della nodded to Zack and he eased Steve back to the mattress.

Millie stood up and brought a box of gauze and tapes from the cabin.  “I be fixing some supper if that boy will clean those two squirrels.”

Della nodded.  “I need to change the dressings then I’ll come in and help.”

Darlene stepped out on the back porch. “Anything you want me to do?”

Della looked up to see Penny peaking from behind her mother.  “Just keep watch.  If Penny doesn’t mind, she can sit and help me keep Steve cool.”

Penny hurried to Della.  “Will Mister Steve be better soon?”

“I hope so.”  She answered.

Della changed the dressings on both Steve’s legs.  She used the antibacterial soap and an antiseptic ointment on the open wounds then wrapped them in a light dressing.  She used fresh water to wipe Steve’s face and torso. She left cool damp clothes behind his neck and on his forehead. She pushed away and stood just as Millie appeared.