Archive for January, 2017

Housekeeping – Part 1

Posted: January 24, 2017 in Book I Terror in Texas

“One down, a dozen to go,”  Billy called out.

Juan hurried toward Leon and began calling to the infected now concentrating on the black man.  “Hey, dead fucks!”

Two of the infected changed directions and headed for Juan.  The huge fat man continued toward Leon.  His folds of flabby flesh swung from side to side with each step.  He lumbered forward but was quickly left behind by a tall thin man with raw open wounds dripping a puss from his face, arms and along one shoulder, the arm hung limp but the infected man still reached with the other while gnashing his teeth.

Leon side stepped and swung the machete.  It entered the side of the man’s head and he fell to the ground in a heap.  The fat man stumbled forward.  He got to the body and both feet caught the man’s legs. He fell forward looking like a beached whale.  Legs extended, knees unable to bend so his feet floundered off the ground. His arms extended in front of him still reaching for Leon.  Leon stepped closer and raised the machete over his head and swung it into the crown of the head splitting the scalp of thinning, greasy, black hair and driving the metal into the skull and brain. The whale’s arms and legs collapsed into stillness.  Leon stood staring at the gouges down the back of the man.

Brian took out two more infected, then walked to Leon’s side.  “You okay, man.”

“Look at him.  Someone did that to him, deliberately.  He was tortured.” Leon observed.

“As time goes by I’m afraid things are going to get a lot worse. Let’s get this nest cleaned out so we can settle down for the night.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

The four men moved forward, taking out the remaining infected one at a time. Paula and Margo followed in the van at a discrete distance.  When they got to the building, Brian walked around to the driver’s door and spoke to Paula.

“Stay here until we clear the place.  The place looks like there might be infected inside.”

Paula sighed.  “It’ll stink.  They always smell up a place.”

Brian laughed as he pointed to the darkening clouds overhead.  “I don’t really want to spend the night in the van.  Maybe we’ll be lucky and it won’t be too bad.”

“Sure.”  Margo groused under her breath. “Been real lucky so far, I started my period today.”

“Yeah, that is really going to suck from now on,”  Paula admitted.

They watched the men enter the building through the gift shop.  The store seemed intact.  No windows were broken and the door opened to the outside.  It explained the infected not being inside. Once they walked out, there was no getting back in.

Brian led the trio inside.  Leon moved to the right and Juan to the left.  Billy followed looking toward the dark corners of the open space now cluttered with overturned displays and racks.  The place had an underlining smell of spoiled food.  Brian glanced toward the eatery at the side of the convenience store.  The sandwich shop was separated from the store by a security gate from the ceiling.  The shop seems to have been empty when it was closed.  As they got deeper into the store the aroma of dead bodies overpowered the aroma of spoiled food.

“They’re in here,”  Billy announced.

Juan grunted.  “Sí.  The back, I think.”  He pointed to a narrow hall obscured in the shadows at the back of the store.

Brian glanced over his shoulder.  “Watch outside, Leon.”

“Sure thing, boss,”  Leon answered as he stepped back outside the gift shop.

Brian turned to Billy.  “Let’s do this.”

Fires in the Night

Posted: January 19, 2017 in Book I Terror in Texas

“His fever broke last night,” Della announced when Millie appeared for breakfast.

“Been three days.  I was getting a little worried.”  The old black woman made her way to the stove and opened the door on the metal door.  She slipped three or four pieces of kindling on the smoldering coals.  “That’s good to hear. We may have to leave soon.”

“What do you mean?  We have plenty of food.  Almost every day Zack brings back meat.”  Della asked.

“My arthritis was botherin’ me, so I came down an’ stood watch for Darlene.  I saw fires in the valley.”  Millie announced.

“What does it matter?  That’s miles away.”  Della asked.

“No way of knowing for sure, but if its people burning bodies, it means a lot more people are out here.  If it’s their campfires, the people are a bunch of fools and will be drawing the infected with fire at night.”

“What are we going to do?”

“That place Steve was talking about.  I think as soon as he’s fit to travel, we should head out.”  Millie answered.

“Is that coffee?”  A weak voice called from the bunk bed in the shadows.

Della ran to the bed and fell to her knees.  “Oh, my God.  You’re awake. How are you feeling?” She asked as she laid her hand against is forehead.

“Like shit,”  Steve answered.  “Coffee?”

“No, but you can have some willow bark tea,” Della answered.  “If that stays down, you can have so broth in an hour or so.”

Zack walked into the cabin.  “Hey, did I hear Steve?”

“I told you to take it easy.”  Della scolded Steve as he slid from his bed to the wheelchair.

Zack leaned the rifle against the door jam.  “Is that coffee I smell?”

“I’m fine,”  Steve answered weakly.  “We need to start thinking of getting on the move.”

“Why?”  Darlene asked as she climbed down from the loft with Penny following close behind.  “We’ve had plenty to eat. With Millie, we probably are eating a lot better than most people.”

Steve answered. “Millie is right.  Fire means people.”

Zack poured two cups of coffee and handed one to Steve when he rolled up to the table.  “I heard engines this morning; motorcycles, maybe.”

Millie stirred at a bowl with dough.  She poured the contents out on a floured breadboard.  She folded the dough three or four times then flattened it to a circle about an inch thick.  She picked up a metal can and began cutting biscuits.   “Steve is right.  I heard something big and angry two nights ago.”

“Why didn’t you say something sooner?”  Steve asked.

“What would we have done?  You were sick.”  Millie answered as she slid the pan of biscuits into the oven.  “You are the only one knowing where we’re going.”

“Shit!”  Steve cursed.  “We fix that right now.  He pulled out a map and a brown paper bag then listed the roads he had intended to take to Pine Creek Canyon.  He listed landmarks as he remembered them.  When he was done, he added. “I’ve only been there once so when we get close, we’ll need to be careful.”

“How far are we from the park and Pine Creek Canyon?”   Della asked.

“Less than a hundred miles, if we can stay on the route I’ve outlined,” Steve answered.

Zack grinned.  “So we can be there in one day.”

Steve shrugged.  “We can hope.”

Della interrupted. “We can’t leave until your legs are better. If something happens to the truck and you can’t walk….”

Zack looked at the others.  “What about the horses?”

Della shrugged.  “I’ve been thinking about that. I think we need to make a trip back to horse ranch.  I want to get saddles and all the tack required to ride the horses. They have a trailer that would hold everything we need plus the horses. Millie can tell us what we need.”

“Horses?”  Steve asked.  “What are you talking about?”

Della chimed in.  “They followed me back when I went to the ranch for antibiotics.  We put them in the corral behind the shed.”

“I’ve been feeding them hay from the shed,”  Zack said proudly.  “They like me.”

“We can’t drag a bunch of horses behind the truck.” Steve protested.

“There’s a trailer in the shed,”  Zack added. “We could load them up and take them with us.

“No! Absolutely not.” Steve protested.  “It’s not worth the risk. It will slow us down.”

Millie placed her hand on Steve’s shoulder.  “Young man, the horses will die if they’re left here. The infected will get them, or they’ll starve. Besides, you might find they’re better than walking if anything happens to that fancy truck.”

Steve looked at each of the women, then Zack for some hint of support.  When he saw none, he grunted, grabbed his cup of coffee, and rolled the chair to the porch.

Millie, Della, Zack and Darlene all laughed.

“Now, you two sit down so I can tell you what to look for,”  Millie announced. “Everyone get a turn at saddling and riding a horse when you come back.”

Della climbed on the ATV behind Zack.  The kid that once weighed more than two hundred fifty pounds had lost at least fifty pounds.  His body had hardened and muscled had replaced the softness.  All the walking had made big changes.

“You sure about this?”  Della asked.

“Sure as you are,”  Zack answered as he cranked the engine.  He stepped on the clutch and kicked the four-wheeler in gear.  He pulled away from the shed.  The roar of the engine seemed terribly loud after the quiet of the hunting cabin.

While Zack drove the ATV, Della constantly looked over her shoulder afraid the sound of the engine would cover the sound of someone else approaching.  Noise made her nervous.  After thirty minutes, she directed Zack off road along a white fence.  He dodged around two tree stumps and a fallen branch or two.  They got to the back of the paddock where she had taken the board from the top of the fence.  Zack stopped the machine.

Della looked around.  The infected that had roamed the property seemed to have wandered away. The silence was suddenly overpowering.

“Where to?”  Zack asked.

“The barn.  There’s a tack room.”  Della walked to the fence and began prying at the second cross board.

“You want to drive there?”

“Yes, we get as close as we can, stack saddles, blankets and bridles on back of the machine.  Tie ‘em down, then get the heck outta here.”

Zack walked to the remaining board at the fence, grabbed the pry bar in Della’s hand and gave a quick snap of his thick arms.  With a second shove, the board was loose.  He moved to the other end, did the same then repeated the process to remove the last board.  He tossed it away then pointed at the ATV.

“You drive. I’ll walk ahead.”  Zack announced.

“The long red barn, head down the center. It’s the first room on the right.”  Della said.

Zack headed across the barnyard at a jog.  Della followed a dozen feet behind on the ATV.  He moved his head from left to right and back again.  There was no sign of living or dead.

As Zack neared the opened door of the horse barn, he slowed his steps to a brisk walk.  He held the pry bar in his right hand ready to face attack.  Moisture glistened on his face and arms.  He got to the door and stopped.  He looked into the gloom.  He saw no movement amid the dark shadows.

Della drew closer and he raised his hand and made a circle in the air.  After a moment she understood.  He meant for her to back up to the tack room.  She clutched, slowed and made a wide circle.  When she faced the way they had come, she clutched again and slipped the machine into reverse.  She gave the handle a twist and backed toward the gloom.

“Close enough.  Turn it off so we can hear.”

Della slid off the ATV.  She walked up to the Zack where he stood at the entrance of the barn.   “I can’t imagine all the infected are gone from here.  Let’s be careful.”

Zack held up his pry bar.  “Let me go first.”

Della held out her machete.  “Together.”

Coming Home

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Book I Terror in Texas

John and Cody spent nearly an hour washing the dog.  A closer inspection exposed a fiber collar with a tag identifying the dog as Maxie.

Liz, sitting in the passenger seat, glanced over her shoulder at John and the two kids now brushing the wet dog.  “You think we should have wasted the water like that?”

Harry shrugged from behind the wheel.  “Let them be.  They’ve lost everything they loved.  Let John do what he can to make it better.”

The camper filled with laughter and the sound of John giving the kids advice.  Finally, Maxie had had enough fussing and stepped away from the trio and shook her whole body sending droplets of water all over the trio.

Cody and Trace fell to the floor laughing as John’s hands shot up as if to protect himself from the wet dog smell.  John flopped down at the table laughing.

“I guess that means the whole place will smell like wet dog so I won’t notice it as much.”

The kids brushed and fussed over the dog until the thick hair was nearly dry.  The Aussie walked to the

Liz fought the nausea threatening to tear at her insides again.  Her eyes drifted close as she struggled to stay upright.  Suddenly a hand grasped her shoulder.

“Go lay down. You’ve brought us and the kids to sanctuary.  We can take it from here.  You got that little’un to think about now.”

Liz turned to John squatting at the back of the seat.  “How can I think of that when my girls are out there?  I don’t know if they’re alive or not.  I have no idea if they are being cared for or wondering the city I left them in.”

John chuckled.  “You know that’s not true. You found that message.  The soldiers have the girls and will bring them to you when they can.  In fact, they may be out there in Pine Springs right now…who knows?”

“Do you think?”   Liz asked as tears filled her eyes.

“I think it’s possible but if they aren’t there, it means nothing except they aren’t there YET.”  John rose.  “Now, get up and go to the bedroom and lay down for a bit.  On your way back don’t wake up the kids.  The girl is sleeping with the dog on the bottom bunk.”

Liz rose and stumbled to the back of the camper.  She clutched at the furniture as she moved past the table, kitchen the closet and bathroom.  By the time she got to the bed, she was stumbling and weak in the knees.

A couple hours later the kids got up from their naps just as Randy stopped for a break.  They brushed on the dog, fed her treats and rolled on the floor between the table and small couch.

According to Harry’s calculations, they were less than fifty miles from the lodge.  He was beginning to worry.  Liz wasn’t acting right.  She had lost all color in her face and she seemed weaker by the hour.  She had refused food since the night before.

Randy parked the pickup in the shade of a sprawling oak tree.  He got out of the cab, stretched and walked back to the camper.

“Well, folks, you getting tired of riding?”  Randy looked around and gave a puzzled look. “Where is she?”

“Hasn’t been feeling worth a shit since we wrecked the bikes.”

“I want to eat and take a few minutes.  We have one back place to get through then we turn of the major road.  Problem is it’s the only way back.  It was Harry the last time through and it might be a lot worse.”  Randy announced.

Harry nodded as he put the camper in park and turned off the key.  He got to his feet and followed John and the kids out to the shady spot bringing a case of water and several bags of snack foods and jerky.

“I’d sure like something besides this shit.  Probably half of Lizzy’s problem.  We’ve eaten nothing but crap like this for the last ten days.”  Harry commented as he set the bottles on the hood of the truck.

The six men milled around with water and jerky while Randy describe the small community they would be passing through.  “When we get there, don’t slow down.  We cleared the vehicles as best we could the first time through.  Hopefully, no asshole has come through and screwed the pooch.”

“No problem.  Tires on the camper are pretty big and have deep treads.  It’d take a hell of a mess to slow us down.”

“I hope so.”  Randy looked toward the camper.  Liz had not appeared to eat with the group. “I’m beginning to worry.”

Harry nodded.  “So am I young man. So am I.”

“About twenty miles past the place I told you about we may be picking up a group of folks.  It shouldn’t be more than a quick meat and great, then they’ll either be ready to fall in line or wave us on.”

“Sounds good. Let’s load up.”

The trio of vehicles pulled out.  Randy pulled back out on the highway and accelerated.  He steered the loaded pick up around stalled vehicles, passed stumbling infected as he neared a cluster of dwellings in the distance.

“Fuck!”  Randy cursed.  “Something isn’t right.”

Miguel sighed. “Dios bueno. Where did they come from?”

Randy stared at more than a dozen vehicles slammed together in a massive pileup wedged between a massive metal building on the left and a sandstone structure on the right.

“That is really bad.”  He raised his foot from the gas.

“What now?” Miguel asked. “Look at all the infected.”

Randy stared as a few of the infected had noticed the sound of the truck in the distanced.  They turned and began shambling toward the trio of vehicles. Harry pulled up alongside the pickup on the left.

“I take it this is not what you expected.”  John called out.

“We took out a few infected yesterday and moved half a dozen vehicles out of the way. Someone has pulled those cars back across the street. It looks open, but once we get committed all they would have to do and close off that narrowing at the far end.”

“You think it’s a trap for you?”  John asked.

“I think someone is hoping and got these folks.  Look at all the damage and all the doors and trunks are open.”

Miguel pointed.  “They even killed kids.  Look at the little monsters.”

“Do you think they could still be here?”

“Good chance since they reopened the trap.”

“Can we get around it?” Miguel asked.

Randy gave him a worried look.  “We have to. I’ve got the cattle guard, so I’ll lead out.” He stepped out the door and called back a few instructions to Pablo then called back to Harry. “Leave enough room so if I have to change directions you’re not crawling up my ass.” He turned to Miguel.  “Let’s do this.”