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SURVIVE TEXAS DEAD, Book 3 in the “Torn Apart Series” is NOW available on Amazon and Amazon Unlimited. Order and enjoy an undead thrill ride. If you enjoy, please leave a review.
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Survive Texas Dead

Chapter 1

Strength in Numbers

 

Liz Jameson clung to the man from Pine Springs Canyon. “You don’t know how glad I am to see you,” Liz whispered. “My father? Is he alive?”

Randy Matherson laughed. “That old goat is just fine.” He stepped back to get a better look. “You’re skinny as hell, but at least you’re alive! So glad to see you and the girls got off the base. Where are Brian and the munchkins?” He turned to the camper and called out. “Hey, Amy! Don’t I get a hello from my favorite girl?”

Liz leaned into his arms and Randy. “They’re gone!” She sobbed against his chest. “I lost them.” Her knees buckled, and she collapsed. “Brian and the girls are gone.”

Randy reached down to pull Liz into his arms and held her against his chest protectively while he glared at Harry and John. “What in the hell is she talking about? The kids and Brian are GONE? Are they dead? What’s wrong with her?” Randy demanded.

“The kids are not dead. Last time we saw them, they were with three soldiers. It’s a long story. As for Lizzy, we’ve been on the road since the day this shit happened. I think she’s exhausted, she hasn’t been eating, and then add, worrying about her family.” Harry shrugged helplessly. “For now, bring her into the camper then we can talk.”

Randy made a curt nod then followed the two strangers toward the camper. On the way, he nodded at Miguel. “Take the trucks back to that stand of Pin Oaks about ten miles down the road and set up camp. Leave room for the camper to pull along one side. Be sure to use a Dakota Fire. I don’t want the light being seen after dark. That house burning is going to draw enough attention. We don’t know who’s out there looking for survivors.”

“Sí, Senor Randy,” Miguel answered then jogged back to the three men standing at the side of the vehicles. After a brief conversation, they got into the two trucks and left.

John stepped into the camper and called out. “It’s okay kids. Come on out.”

Cody and Trace appeared in the back bedroom doorway looking a little like deer in headlights.

“This is a friend of Ms. Lizzy’s. Come sit down so we can put her in the bedroom. Cody, can you bring a couple wet towels and a bottle of water?” When Cody gave a nod and stepped into the kitchen nook, John led Randy through the camper.

“Is she dead?” Trace asked.

Harry laughed. “No, of course not. She’s just not feeling well and really tired.”

John pulled fluid-stained sheets from the bed and stretched a comforter across the bare mattress before answering. “She’ll be right as rain, soon enough.” Randy deposited Liz in the bed, and he continued. “Why don’t you two sit with her and let us know when she wakes up.”

Trace took the wet towel from her brother and laid it on Liz’s forehead. With big sad eyes, she watched the men walk to the sitting area at the front of the camper. Cody hunkered down on the floor, with his back pressed against the foot of the bed to watch the men in the room.

Harry settled his ample bulk on a bench seat and slid his hand across his thick mustache then down his beard, “My name is Harry Walters, this is John Tilman. Lizzy has had a tough time. She told us about her dad’s place up in the mountains. I take it you know each other pretty well.”

Randy nodded. “Couple years now. What happened to the girls? You said they were with soldiers?” Randy asked.

Harry sighed. “We got no way of knowing. Lizzy had to put them through a fence to protect them and led a bunch of infected away. By the time we met and made our way across a half dozen rooftops to get to the kids, they were picked up by three soldiers. The alley was getting overrun with the infected, men yelling, and then gunfire. There was no way to let them know we were even there. Anyway, we tried to follow, but we lost ‘em. We’ve been trying to find them, but they seem to have disappeared around Kerrville.”

“In other words, they’re probably dead,” Randy answered.

“No. We don’t think so. We saw a message on a trailer. It was something Lizzy recognized.” Harry continued. “Before we could check out the area we got ambushed and had to spend some time in the camper yard recuperating. Then the kids and their father showed up. Things got complicated, and we ended up here. It’s been hell convincing her she can’t keep going on like this. I put a stop to it for the baby’s sake.”

“Baby?”

“Yeah, Lizzy is pregnant.” Harry nodded.

“What about her husband, Brian?” Randy asked.

John folded his arms across his chest. “No idea. She said he warned her. She tried calling him several times when she was leaving San Antonio then they got trapped, and she lost her cell phone. I know from everything we saw on television early on, the base was overrun. We have no idea if he survived.”

“All we know now is we need to get someplace safe. We got an exhausted pregnant woman and two malnourished kids that just lost their dad.” Harry lamented. “And we’re a couple old goats too beat up for this shit.”

Randy nodded. “We’re only sixty miles from the canyon. We’ve been out searching for supplies. Tomorrow we’re making a stop in Van Horn then we’ll be heading back to Pine Springs. If you don’t mind a little side trip, we should be home before dark.”

Harry glanced through the windshield toward the collapsed house and dying fire. It had been a hot fire that burned the dry out wood quickly. “We’d better move out before the smoke draws attention.”

John cranked the engine and slipped the camper engine into gear before commenting. “We got less than half a tank of gas, but I’m pretty sure we can make it sixty miles.”

Harry chuckled. “Yeah. This is a gas guzzling bitch for sure, but easier on my ass than my bike.”

“It’s settled then.” Randy directed John almost ten miles down the highway to a dirt path heading back into a thick a stand of Pin Oak, briars and scrub grass. They drove half a mile from the highway then turned sharply, into an open camp area. Randy pointed to an opening between the two vehicles. John parked the camper and turned off the engine. Randy opened the side door to the waning light of late spring. The cooling breeze was a welcome relief to the afternoon heat of the stuffy camper. Harry waved at John as he headed to the rear of the camper. “I’ll be out after I check on Liz and the kids.”

John glanced around. “Looks like a pretty good place. No main roads just through those trees I take it.” Randy looked confused, and John laughed.

Harry walked up and answered. “Inside joke. We stopped and parked in a bunch of trees one night. Figured we were good.  Far enough off the road and all. The next morning our truck was surrounded by dead fucks.”

“Not something to worry about here.” Randy slapped his hands together. “I’d like to hear more about your trip, but for now let’s get busy. My guys will set up some traps at the perimeter. If you two don’t mind, we’ll split the watch three shifts, two each for four hours.”

Harry nodded in agreement. “Sounds like a plan. We can take care of that while Lizzy and the kids get a good night’s sleep. When we hit that town tomorrow, we’ll check to see if we can get filled up while you get your supplies. Might be better for Lizzy and the kids to have the air conditioning when we head out.”

Liz stood in the doorway watching the two men frowning. “So, I guess you have it all worked out?” She said crossly.

Both men turned, and Harry began. “Now, Lizzy. We’re just….”

“I know what you’re doing. You’ve decided I don’t get a say in anything that happens. When did I suddenly become a helpless female?” She railed. “This is not circling the wagons protecting the women and children time.”

“Now Lizzy. You’re in the family way and….” Harry began then grew quiet when he saw the scowl on her face.

“I think it’s time I see to making the camp.” Randy escaped with a quick nod to Liz.

John looked at Harry, then Liz and quickly followed. “Wait up I’ll help.”

Harry started to speak, but Liz held up her hand. She turned and walked back into the camp and dropped to the seat next to the table. She felt tears threatening and bit her bottom lip. The ache for her children was overwhelming.

“Ms. Liz. What’s wrong?” Trace asked sadly.

Liz took a shallow breath and squared her shoulders. “Nothing. Let’s see if I can get you a couple clean shirts and boxers. You can get cleaned up, and I’ll get your clothes washed. They’ll be dry by morning.”

An hour later Liz and the kids were clean. The water was fast moving and clear in the small creek. Using a bar of soap, clothes Liz washed shirts while John and Harry set up camp with Randy’s men. Afterward, the men sat around a small campfire getting to know each other.

“Spyders?” Randy asked. “You got that far on tricycles?”

“Fuck you, asshole.” Harry laughed. “We did alright until some assholes waylaid us on the outskirts of Odessa.”

John poked at the dying fire. “They blocked off streets, kinda random like. It looked like accidents, abandoned vehicles. Not really suspicious like. We didn’t suspect a thing. I hit the cable then it was too late. They strung a steel cable across the road and when I hit it caught between my wheel and handlebars. I think it was supposed to catch up in the wheels of a vehicle and stop it. Instead, it threw us for a loop. We managed to pick up rifles and packs from the bikes and crawl off. We made it to the edge of town and hid out in a camper lot until the kids, and their dad broke into the office. Who knows, the gang chasing them could have been the same men that attacked us.”

John looked at the camper then continued. “There was a dead fuck in the cashier’s booth with a case of water and a few candy bars laying on the counter. The kids hadn’t eaten in a couple days and were hungry. The father broke in and got bit.”

“That’s tough,” Randy answered as he rose. “Well folks, let’s get some rest, we got a big day tomorrow.”

The next morning Randy led the caravan of three vehicles to the hill overlooking Van Horn. It wasn’t much of a town. Main Street was six blocks long. At one end of the small cluster of buildings were the school, a drug store and Quick Stop while at the other was a veterinary clinic, a single island gas station and Rosita’s Cafe advertising fry bread and taquitos. Several buildings in between were empty storefronts. Clustered around the retail center were several dozen houses and a few large metal buildings.

Vehicles were stopped haphazardly up and down the streets. In the distance the Randy could see, a heavy-duty truck had been driven up the two steps into the glass front of the school entrance. There were neither people or infected on the streets. The small town was eerily quiet.

Randy, Harry, and Miguel met in front of Randy’s truck. “Where is everyone?” Harry asked in a hushed whisper.

“I don’t see a soul. This can’t be good.” John added.

“I don’t know if we’re lucky or not with the vet and gas station across from each other,” Harry commented.

“We’ll go to the veterinary office while you gas up that gas guzzler first. You roll into the station and with your crew. Pablo and his son will keep watch.” Randy announced.

“Sounds good. We have a dry lift siphon pump we found in the camper garage. It’s not fast but works with the ground storage. After we fill up, we’ll get inside the store and see what we can salvage.” Harry added.