Posts Tagged ‘Brian’

He glared at Brian, ready to rail at the intruder when he realized he was looking at a stranger. Dixon reached for his handgun in the holster on the floor, but Brian held up his own gun and pointed it at Dixon. He pulled his hand back and straightened on the couch.

“If you reach for the gun again, you’re a dead man,” Brian advised calmly.

“Who are you? What is the military doing in my camp?”

“Who I am, isn’t important. What you have to say in the next few minutes will be critical to your future.”

Billy stepped into view with his own gun drawn. Brian gave him a quick nod toward the front door, and the kid took up a guard position there.

“What in the hell do you mean?”

“You’re holding people hostage. Marshall Law is in effect in Texas which means I get to be judge, jury, and executioner. That’s not good news for you if I decide you’re acting adversely to the common good.”

Dixon leaned back on the couch. “I’m not doing….”

“Shut up!” Brian holstered his handgun and Billy raised his. “I see this is not going to go well for you. Standup asshole!” Brian pulled two zip-ties from his pocket and stepped closer. A loud thud just as Brian pulled Dixon to his feet but he jerked free. Dixon ducked and kicked out with his right foot. The impact knocked Brian against the wall just as the front door swung open kocking Billy to his ass while the new arrival gasped in surprise.

Billy rolled and bounced to his feet pointing the gun at the intruder. The older black woman stood paralyzed half inside the door. She gasped as Billy grabbed her arm and pulled her inside and demanded. “Quiet! Don’t move!”

Brian spun around and laid a round-house on the side of Dixon’s head. The man stumbled, and swung out, failing to connect, causing him to lose his balance. Brian made a quick jab and brought Dixon to his knees. While he was down, Brian stepped around his back and grabbed his left arm. He brought it up to the middle of his back and closed a zip-tie around his wrist. Before Dixon could fight back, Brian pushed his wrists together and secured the second tie. The woman gasped, but Brian turned and ordered. “Don’t start!”

After a moment she found her voice. “What are you doing here?” She looked at Billy still holding the handgun. “You’re the military. Are you going to arrest us?”

Brian turned to face her. “No.”

Dixon tried to stand. “What are you gonna to do with me?”

Brian picked up Dixon’s gun and set it out of reach on the table then walked back to Dixon and searched his pockets. He found a set of keys. “Is the key to the armory on here?” He tossed them to Billy. When Dixon remained silent, Brian continued. “If the key isn’t on there, break the lock. When the men get armed, send a couple men to stand guard down here.”

When Billy disappeared back down the hall, Brian turned back to the woman. “Who are you? Are you going to be a problem for us?”

The thick-bodied, black woman chuckled. “Only, if you leave that piece of crap in charge around here,” She answered then turned to the door. “Now, we have to get those kids outta that shed.”

Brian chuckled. “Soon as I have someone to keep an eye on Dixon.”

“Give me a gun, I’ll do it.” The woman offered.

Dixon interrupted. “Shut up, bitch.” He glared at the woman.

Before anyone could stop her, the woman crossed the room and slapped Dixon. The lightning-fast smack connected with his left cheek. The sound exploded with the crack of a gunshot. She got in Dixon’s reddening face and scolded, “You a disrespectful little shit, and I’m tired of your mouth.”

“Well, maybe you CAN take care of the problem.” Brian laughed. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Bessie Brown. Everyone just calls me, Miss Bessie.”

Well, Miss Bessie, I’ll hog-tie this disrespectful little shit and then I need to go take care of getting some kids outta that shed. Can you tell me about the guard?”

Brian pushed Dixon face down on the floor, pulled a paracord from his pocket and secured Dixon’s legs then pulled the zip-ties down to bind his ankles to his hands. He jerked a sock from Dixon’s bootless foot and stuffed it in his mouth.

“Now, that ought to keep him quiet until I get back, Miss Bessie.” Brian stood and gave her a wink. He passed her Dixon’s weapon. “There will be men coming through the house pretty soon. Billy is back there to let them out and arm them. Just stay here.”

She accepted the revolver, checked the load and snapped the barrel back in place. “Young man, you go take care of business and don’t worry about this bag of dog crap going anywhere.” She walked to the table and picked up a cast iron skillet sitting among the remains of meals. “He moves, and I’ll knock him out.” She hung the holster over her shoulder. “You go on now. We’ll be here waiting.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Brian headed for the door. “Billy will send a couple men to help you watch him in a few minutes but if you need anything just call him.”

Brian stepped outside and looked at a crowd of people circling the front of a building on the opposite side of the camp. He glanced over his shoulder one last time then jogged toward the group. An angry voice rose up protesting the situation.

“I ain’t letting ‘em out. Dixon will have my ass.” A bearded man standing in front of the door yelled at the gathering. “I can’t,” He said less convincingly.

Brian got to the back of the gathering of older men and women paused. He placed his hands on two shoulders and gently pushed them aside. He eased through the crowd until he got to the front and faced two men. Both looked angry, confused and a little terrified.

“I’m in charge now. Dixon has been replaced,” Brian announced facing three men.

“You can’t be. Wilson left Dixon in charge.” Another man protested. “Besides, you’re military. You can’t come in here and order us around. We’re civilians.”

“Wilson won’t be coming back, and Texas is under Marshall Law.” He pulled his handgun and pointed the barrel at the angry man. “That makes me in charge, so either open the door and let the women and kids out, or I’ll end this.”

Brian crept toward the guard practicing the stealth skills his father-in-law had taught him while they hunted. The sentry stood in the shadow of the truck smoking a cigarette. Brian chose to take out that guard since it required the longest approach and he decided he had the skill to accomplish the task. At least, he hoped so.

When the moon slipped from behind a cloud bank, Brian could see the man wore a plaid shirt and sported scruffy hair poking around the bottom of a baseball hat. As Brian drew closer, he caught a whiff of the man’s unwashed body. The amber glow of his cigarette provided a beacon to track his movements as he strolled back and forth, never more than twenty feet from the camp. The scruffy man yawned and rolled his head from side to side, then turned from the dark shadows of the nearby trees and back toward the light of the dying fire. Brian smiled, knowing any chance of retaining night vision disappeared each time he looked into the flame of a lighter. He dropped the cigarette butt on the ground and used his boot to grind it into the dirt. Brian moved forward with the crinkle of cellophane from another cigarette pack being opened. The man still stared at the dying campfire. Brian moved closer. Close enough. He rose up like a dark wraith and drove his military blade into the guard’s kidney. The man gasped. While his hands reached for the cause of such sudden pain, Brian grabbed the man’s forehead, pulled the blade free then slid it from left to the right across his throat, then into the brain. When the body slumped, Brian eased it to the ground without a sound. He looked to his right and saw Billy completing the same maneuver on his assigned guard then gave a thumbs up.

Brion gave a quick prayer that Leon and Juan were taking care of the guards on the opposite side of the camp. He retrieved the guard’s rifle and hat, put the hat on his head, and walked slowly toward the camp full of sleeping men, hoping if anyone noticed his approach they would think he was the guard coming in. Billie disappeared into the shadows of one of the truck.

A minute later, Brian stopped at a second truck and stopped to look inside, no keys in the ignition. He looked at Billy and held out his hand with a thumb pointed down. For a split second, Brian worried about Juan and Leon eliminating their targets but dismissed it. It boiled down to trust. They would do their job. He could do nothing to help them. All he could do was eliminate as many enemies as possible before the shit hit the fan. The more men he and Billy took out, the fewer they would have to deal with when the operation went sideways. Brian stepped around the truck and walked toward a sleeping man. As he drew closer, he heard a deep rattle with each breath. Suddenly the man rolled from his back to his side and coughed. Brian froze. The sleeper took a rattling breath and groaned, then lay still and began snoring softly again. Brian stepped closer and squatted over the prone figure. He tightened the grip on the handle of the blade then drove the steel into the head of the man lying on the musty smelling sleeping bag. He gave the knife a twist then pulled it free from the skull.

Billy appeared out of the shadows and squatted over a prone figure, made a similar move, then rose slowly. He moved toward the next sleeping outlaw ready to take another life.

Brian, Billy, Leon, and Juan walked back into the fueling station gift shop. Margo and Paula had pushed racks and remnants of merchandises into a pile at the back of the store while sorting through the remains of useable supplies. Most of what remained was souvenirs for the traveler; hats, t-shirts, and plethora of knickknacks including a large velvet painting of Elvis that had been leaned against a wall on top of one of the piles as if in a place of honor.

Juan walked to the last standing rack with half a dozen ball caps still clinging to the hooks and pulled one from the stand. He pulled the dirty cap from his head and tossed it to the floor before retrieving a new one and settling it on his skull. He sniffed at his sweat-soaked armpit then moved to a pile of shirts and found a sand colored camouflage pattern T-shirt and headed toward the bathroom. “Gonna get cleaned up.”

Leon followed suit. He sifted through the pile and laid out three or four shirts and began checking sizes.

Margo looked up from a small stack of supplies she was sorting through. “Not a lot left in the larger sizes. Most of the food stores we found were in the office where the manager died.”

Paula appeared from the back office holding up a bottle of Jack Daniel and box of candy bars. “This is the last of it.”

“I’ll take that.” Juan appeared from the bathroom and reached out for the bottle.

Brian pulled Juan’s arm back. “Not so fast. Better keep it for medicinal purposes.”

“It would be. I haven’t had a drink since the bar back in San Antonio.” Juan answered.

“But we’re not wasting it.”

“Señor Brian, you are a hard man,” Juan answered as he walked back toward the front of the store.

Brian laughed. “Everyone, get cleaned up and let’s get something to eat before it’s too dark to see what we’re doing. Between the windows and this place sitting on a hill, the light will be visible for miles. So we will be sitting in the dark.”

After a meal of shortbread cookies, canned vegetables, and Raman noodles the group settled down for the evening. Juan stood at the front door watching the parking lot and black ribbon of asphalt beyond. The rest of the group spread out a few shirts and blankets to make beds. Leon lay on his side using an armful of T-shirts as a pillow. Brian had pulled the office chair from the back room. He leaned back in the chair with his feet propped up on the windowsill.

“It doesn’t seem as dark now,” Margo commented to no one in particular.

“Full moon.” Brain answered before taking a sip of the steaming coffee.

He smiled at the thought of the six bags of coffee they had found in a cabinet. Even if they had to throw a handful in a pot of water, they had coffee for the foreseeable future. He wished there was a way to get the big natural gas tank to his father-in-law’s place. Natural gas would be at a premium soon enough.

Brian folded his arms across his chest and let his chin fall to his chest and mumbled. “Wake me at midnight.” He felt himself drift away to the sound of Leon snoring and Margo sniffling.

“Sir? Sir?” Billy shook Brian’s shoulder. “You need to see this.”

She looked at the double doors and saw multiple pairs of feet outside the sliding doors. She took a deep breath and ran for the stall door. She grabbed the door and swung it across the opening. The infected man saw the movement and changed focus and stumbled toward the opening. She slammed the door and drove the latch home and a clank just as the infected man slammed against the wood.

Releasing the door, she reached for the saddle and grabbed the saddle horn and pulled it from the stall rail. She stumbled back, landing on her butt when the saddled fell against her.  She scrambled to her feet as the sliding door parted and the first of several infected fell into the barn.

Della picked up the saddle and turned toward the distant entrance and the ATV. She was shocked at how heavy the saddle was, but she half drug, half carried the saddle away from the sliding door as two more infected stumbled through.

With her breath echoing in her ears she pulled and hurried as the monsters drew closer. Suddenly the weight disappeared and saw a dark shadow at her side. She raised the machete, and a deep voice called out.

“Run, I got this,” Zack ordered. “Get on the ATV and crank it.”

She turned and ran. Zack stayed at her side with the saddle now slung over his shoulder. They got to the ATV, and while she started the engine, Zack threw the saddle of the pile on the rack and used a bungee to secure the cargo of saddles and bridles.

Zack climbed on the machine, kicked down the clutch and shifted into gear. He gunned the engine just hands reached for them. She swung with the machete. Blood a dark, ugly color spirted toward them as she screamed.

“Faster!” Della screamed.

Zack accelerated, and the front end jumped several inches off the ground, he leaned forward and gave the engine more gas and the pulled away leaving the monsters behind. By the time they got to the road, both were laughing.

The next morning Zack used the ATV to carry Millie down to the corral to orchestrate lessons in saddling, bridling and caring for the horses. Each of the adults took turns saddling and riding. With Darlene, it wasn’t pretty, but she did stay on the horse. When they got back to the cabin, a conversation that had started earlier began again.

“We’re safe here. I don’t know why we have to leave.” Darlene protested again.

“I definitely think we’ve outstayed our welcome,” Steve argued.

“Why would you think that?” Darlene protested. “We have everything we need here.”

“The military boys that rolled into Utopia are probably not the only ones out there scooping up everything they can get their hands on. We’re less than fifty miles from Utopia and half a dozen other communities. Any one of them could be building a power base. ”

“What if we run into them?” Darlene asked.

“I’m hoping we don’t. That’s why we’re taking back roads.” Steve answered. “We avoid populated areas as much as possible. Less chance of groups of infected too.”

“Enough of all this gloom and doom talk. It’s time for us to have our biscuits and gravy.” Millie announced. She set a pan of golden brown biscuits on the table with a skillet of light brown gravy mixed with chunks of raccoon meat from the previous night’s meal.

Three days later, Steve watched as Zack finished loading the few supplies they had come with in the back of the truck. He threw a mesh net over the supplies at the front and tied them down. He waved at Steve.

“Good to go.” Zack grinned. “Are you ready?”

Steve looked down at the prosthetics in his lap. The stumps were still tender and slightly swollen, but the open sores had healed. He extended his right leg and held out the prosthetic cuff to slide in the stump.

“No,” Della ordered. “You can keep them in the front seat with you. Something happens you can put them on in the truck.” She nodded toward Zack and held out her hand for the prosthetics.

“Hey, man, she’s really mean.” Zack climbed the steps and picked up Steve with a wide grin.

Steve frowned and leaned into Zack’s wide arms.

He settled in the front seat and accepted his running legs. He lay them on the floor while Della, Darlene, Penny climbed in the back seat. Both Della and Darlene struggled to keep tears at bay.

Millie stood next to the truck and watched the travelers get settled. “This is a good place to spend my last days.”

Penny leaned out the window. “Come on Granny. We can make room for you.”

“No child, I’m too old for this life. My bones ache, and I’m tired. I got what I need right here.”

“But….” Darlene interrupted. “We’ll find more pills.”

“And in another month down the road, you’ll be lookin’ again, and it’ll be that way until there isn’t any more. Same end.”

“But you’ll be with us,” Darlene argued.

“That’s the point. I won’t have the child see it.” Millie answered.

Steve raised his hand. “Goodbye, Millie.”

He patted Zack’s shoulder, and Millie stepped away to wave with a sad smile on her dark face.

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.

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.

The roar of the running water grew louder. The flood escaping around the dam created by the tree had grown rougher and more dangerous by the minute. Brian waved everyone onward when he saw Leon sit up and take control of the Jon boat again.

Leon looked over his shoulder and pointed toward the blocked water. He shouted something, but it was lost amid the pelting rain and rushing water. When he drew closer to Brian, he yelled. “When it breaks loose, we need to be outta the water, man!”

Brian waved his understanding and gunned the engine as much as he could. He carefully worked his way to the center of the stream and let the flood water drive them from the danger of the military base.

The light of the burning base faded while the rain swallowed the shores. The further away from the base they got the more muted the sound of the remaining gunfire and the raging water escaping the willow tree and pile up of debris.

Leon guided his boat next to Brian and called over. “It’s gonna bust loose soon. There’s too much water coming through!”

Brain answered. “It won’t be just debris, there’ll be dead bodies and those bastards will still be moving. We sure don’t want to be in the water with ‘em.”

“There’re a couple places a mile down the creek.” Leon answered. “A contractor supply company I know of has a supply yard that backs up to the creek.”

Brian gave a thumb’s up. “Lead the way.”

The tropical storm finally began to wane leaving the trio of boats motoring down the creek shrouded in the darkness. The only sound was the rushing water surrounding them. They moved further and further downstream through residential areas into a commercial section of the city. The water jostled the boats, slamming chunks of debris into the boats. Each slam against the aluminum boats jolted the occupants and causing yelps of surprise and terror.

Leon guided the Jon boat closer to the western shore watching every feature. “Stay close!” He yelled over his shoulder as he looked off into the dark beyond the shoreline. A roar could be heard in the distance.

“Make it quick, Leon. I think we’re running out of time.” Brian called back.

Juan guided his boat closer to Brian. “Is Dale okay? He ain’t moved since we left the truck.”

Suddenly, Leon turned his boat toward the shore and waved excitedly for the others to follow. All they could see was hurricane fencing at the edge of the water.

Leon grabbed the fence, held the boat in place and retrieved a small flashlight from his pocket. He pointed the narrow beam of light into the dark beyond. “Hang on! I think this is it.”

“Well is it or not?” Brian yelled.

A log slammed into the side of Brian’s boat as he held the craft against the fence a few feet down from Leon. “Damned it, Dale. Help me hold this boat.”

Dale shuddered then slowly got to his feet. The boat tilted and swung out with the sudden shift in weight.

“Sit down and grab the fucking fence, Dale!” Brian yelled.

Dale turned and the tarp covering him fell from his shoulders. Leon turned and the beam of his flashlight whipped around to pan across Dale’s face. Brian saw the gray pallor and vacant gaze of his eyes.

“He’s infected!” Paula screamed and released the fence she had been holding.

Dale moved his right leg toward Brian. His foot caught under the front seat. He fell toward the back of the boat, his chest landing on the center seat, his arms still reaching for Brian.

Brian kicked out, lost his grip on the fence and the boat spun out into the torrent. He glanced at the others but could do nothing. He faced a monster. Brian kicked out and struck Dale in the face. The impact barely registered. Dale pulled himself toward Brian all the while his jaws gnashing and his teeth snapping.

The rolling water spun the boat, while debris slammed against the aluminum. Brian pulled a Ka-bar knife from his belt and jabbed at Dale’s face.

The first swipe was deflected when Dale flung his arm out to grab at Brian’s leg. The monster, that had been Dale, opened his mouth and leaned toward Brian’s flesh.

Brian kicked with his free leg into Dale’s forehead. The momentum threw the massive body off balance and it fell to the side of the boat. The boat tipped into the roiling water drawing gallons into the bottom.

Brian stabbed the knife into Dale’s head and gave the massive body one last shove. Throwing his weight against the opposite side of the boat, Brian shoved into the thick body one last time. The massive girth rolled over the side of the boat and disappeared but not before scooping up even more water into the boat.

When the body slipped from the boat, the craft popped back to the opposite side and Brian was almost thrown head over heels into the water on the opposite side. He righted himself, and straightened the boat with into the current. Suddenly Leon and Juan appeared on either side of his boat.

“You okay, man?” Juan asked as both he and Billy steadied Brian’s boat.

“Yeah. Asshole died and turned.” Brian answered. He pulled his camo tarp back into the boat and stuffed it under the seat.

“We have to get outta the creek. It’s higher than I’ve ever seen it.” Leon announced. “All the pumps have shut down and all that shit in the creeks is going to be real trouble.”

Brian waved to Billy. “Step over here.”

Billy clutched at the Jon boat and pulled the two crafts closer. He stepped into Brian’s boat.

“Stay close and the first place we can get the boats out of the water. Stay close to the west bank!” Brian led out, the other staying close behind. He yelled at Billy. “Use that spotlight to find a place to land.”

Leon yelped. “There!” He pointed toward a sandstone mission tower silhouetted against the sky in the distance. “Around the bend! I know that place.”

Brian slipped in behind Leon’s boat and motioned Juan to follow. The roar of the water grew louder while the swirling torrent climbed higher and higher up the bank. Large chunks of debris floated by at a terrifying speed.

The three boats made it around the bend and what had once been a tranquil garden came into view. Now ornamental trees and shrubs had been uprooted and ripped from the shoreline leaving long angry gouges in the landscaping.

Leon ran his boat into the ragged slopping bank. Margo jumped out of the boat and pulled at the aluminum craft until it scraped at the gravel underfoot. Leon joined her and began pulling and tugging the aluminum over the ragged ground.

Brian drove the bow of his boat a few feet further downstream into gravel and sand. Billy jumped out and tugged the boat up the grassy slope. Brian jumped out and together the two men wrestled to move the water laddered craft.  Leon rushed to help.

The roar of the flowing water suddenly grew louder. Amid the sound of the rushing water was the noise of breaking branches and collapsing structures.

Juan drove his boat into the grass another twenty feet further down the bank.  The craft began to drift back into the water before anyone could get out and begin pulling it onto the bank. The trolling motor was losing the battle against the current that now raced past the shore.

Billy dropped the front of the Brian’s boat and ran to Juan’s boat. He jerked at the bow of the boat. He pulled Margo from the boat and screamed. “Help me!”

He grabbed her hand and slammed it onto the side of the boat. Juan jumped at the bank and slipped under the rushing water. His head bobbed back up and Brian arrived just in time to pull Juan to the shore alongside the boat.

Juan climbed up the bank and joined Billy and Margo pulling the boat into the grass.

Brian led the two men back to retrieve his boat. They quickly off loaded the supplies and tipped the boat to be rid on the water, once and for all.

“Pick up the boats!” Get them as far up from shore as we can!” Brian yelled.

With two bodies on each boat they stumbled, tripped and man-handled the boats across the garden to a rock faced terrace. They hauled the boats up the rise then flopped down on the wet grass. Everyone sat there for a full minute exhausted.

They watched as a massive floating trash pile rolled and churned amid the wall of water. The torrent rose up the bank spreading toward terrace where they rested.

Brian stood and reached for the boat, but Leon raised his hand.

“No need.” Leon said. “Look, the water is going down already.”

Still a little unsure, Brian watched through the darkness as more trash and bodies floated by amid the rolling water. “Let’s find some shelter.”

He looked toward the structure behind the garden. It was dark. No sights shown through the windows. The grounds appeared to be surrounded by a stone wall about eight feet tall. Brian turned to Billy. “Come with me.” He glanced toward Leon, Juan and the women. “Stay put. We’re going to check the place out. Watch for trouble. If you hear anything, get two of the boats back in the water and get the hell outta here. We’ll follow if we can.”

Leon and Juan nodded grimly. The two women looked near drowned and shell shocked. Both shivered uncontrollably.

“Get a couple of Mylar blankets out for the women.” Brain added as he walked away.

Ten minutes later after gathering packs, Brian led the foursome into the structure. They were safe….

 

The End

At dusk, the trio of boats neared the air force base still being pelted by rain. Brian slowed the trolling motor and waited for the other two boats to catch up. They pulled alongside and the occupants in the boats reached out to hold their boats against Brian’s.

Water pushed the boats downstream while mucky water splashed over the occupants from time to time. The roar of the rushing water muffled the sound of metal slapping against metal.

Leon yelled. “It’s getting rough out here.”

“The base is coming up.” Brian yelled back. “Stay close.”

“Wish we had a bigger boat. The runoff is filling the bayou and it’s getting deep and fast.” Miguel shouted. “A lot of debris is washing downstream.”

Brian yelled back. “Overpasses ahead so watch for the infected overhead and stay low. It’s going to be dangerous.” The boats banged and rocked against each other and Brian continued. “It’s going to be like running a gauntlet so watch it.  Let’s go!”

Everyone release the Jon boat and Brian made a slight adjustment to guide the craft to the center of the fast running water. He glanced over his shoulder to verify the others followed then focused on obstacles ahead.

Willow trees hung over the banks into the raging torrent. Ahead an overpass loomed as a dark shadow against the assaulting rain and fading light.

Brian ignored the huddled figure in the front of the boat. Dale had clutched the tarp over his head and around his shoulders and not moved after Brian’s last berating. He sat motionless as the boat slipped through the rushing water.

The flow of flood waters grew more violent with the narrowing of the. Brian looked toward the base and saw a burning plane at the end of the runway. Dozens of people ran toward a massive helicopter where the motor fought to turn the rotor blades faster and faster.

Men and women dodged slow lumbering infected as they ran toward the aircraft. A horde of infected stumbled through a breach in the hurricane fencing toward the last aircraft. Flashes of gunfire silhouetted soldiers protecting the loading ramp at the back of the massive machine. The whine of the rotors grew louder and more resolute. A group of civilians including women and children and soldier’s protecting them raced up the ramp with the last of the soldiers backing toward the incline.

By then gunfire was fully automatic with the flashes of lighting up the night. Soldiers fired into the horde as the ramp began to rise. The last three figures jumped to the incline but two lost their footing and fell to the tarmac. Before they could get to their feet, they were quickly overpowered by the horde.

The whine of the rotors grew in volume and became deafening. The helicopter began to rise as the horde swarmed the machine to cling to the wheel mounts and any part of the craft they could get a grip on. The craft rose a few feet, wobbled, leveled off then began to rise once more.

The infected clutched at the wheels, the rising ramp and anything else they could lay their hands on. The helicopter rose with dozens of bodies hanging from the underside. The craft tilted dragging the bodies clinging to the wheels across the fence.  Bodies fell from one side. The helicopter tilted then just as it raced toward a flood light lost more bodies from the opposite side and straightened. The craft rose higher and the moved across the tarmac with bodies falling as it sped away.

Brian watched as lights on the underside of the escaping aircraft illuminated the air strip. Screams of pain and terror could be heard beyond the fencing despite the pouring rain. People ran from the infected only to be surrounded and consumed. More of the horde spilled into the base from the breach in the fencing.

Slowly the Jon boats drifted by as the helicopter made a valiant upsurge to over a hundred feet then stalled and dove for the ground. The huge machine slammed into the tarmac. A massive explosion lit up the entire airfield. Flames blossomed into the air and a scorching wind ignited the clothes of the infected around the impact. The fire roared while metal shards rained down all around the base. Remains of the helicopter splashed into the bayou.

With each splash of debris in the water near the boats yelps of surprise could be heard from the occupants. Amid all the burning fuel beyond the fencing and the screams of the terrified dying, the infected ignored the drifting boats.

“Oh my God.” A female voice whimpered from the boat behind Brian.

He turned and called out. “Don’t look. Pay attention to the debris in the water. It’s getting narrow and there’s trouble ahead.”

The overpass Brian could see in the distance was built long before the current height guidelines. He could see the stumbling infected crossing the bridge that was going to provide less than six feet of clearance. The side rails were barely knee high. They stumbled toward the flames at the base ignoring the rapid flow of the creek. Suddenly a body stumbling close to the rail got jostled and tumbled over the edge into the water. The monster bobbed twice then sunk.

More and more of the infected stumbled onto the bridge only to be stopped by the mass of bodies pressed against the road block at the base entrance. More and more bodies pushed against the ones facing the pile of concrete barriers.

The pushing and jockeying of the infected to get into the base, resulted in more and more bodies tumbling over the side. One after another of the infected fell from the overpass. Some landed on the bank to roll down the bank while others struggled to their feet only to slip and fall again. Some slid down the steep bank and slipped into the fast flowing water.

The trio of boats continued their journey toward the overpass as more and more bodies stumbled toward the base. More bodies were knocked from the bridge. A few of the infected on the shore noticed the moving voices in the boats. They began reaching out ignoring the rising water at their feet.

Suddenly a loud crack behind the boats made Brian look over his shoulder. He turned in time to see a willow slowly dip and lean into the rushing water. The reedy flowing branches with their narrow leave were dragged further and further into the rushing water. Another crack of splintering wood and the tree collapsed into the torrent of storm water.

“Move it!” Brian yelled. “We have to get past the underpass before that branch or we’re trapped.”

Brian willed the trolling motor to accelerate but instead the boats were trapped in the sluggish water at the edge of the creek. He glanced over his shoulder and saw both Jon boats were plodding along at the same speed. The huge branch floated into the rushing torrent of water and raced toward of the boats.

A branch slammed into the Jon boat being run by Leon. Paula yelped and Leon reached out with the paddle and shoved the jagged truck of the tree away from the boat. The spreading limbs rolled and tossed in the rushing water.

The tree rolled again just as it got parallel to Juan and Billy’s boat. The toss of the limb sent a broken branch up and over catching the back of the boat and ripping the tarp covering Juan. He barked and pulled against the tarp but it was drawn from his grasp.

The tarp ballooned with rushing water and carried the tree down the creek past Brian and Dale. The trunk hit the center two supports, slid through half way and caught. Water rushed around on either side higher on the banks.

“The side! Go to the left.” Brian yelled over the raging torrent.

All three men guided the boats toward the far bank.  The small motors fought the current to push them from center of the rushing water way. Finally, they broke free and drifted toward the shore.

Brian pointed to the left of the branch blocking the main passageway. More and more trash caught in the branches and ballooning tarp caught under the overpass.

At the last minute, Brian guided the Jon boat at the left bank, letting the current push through the opening. There was enough room for the boat to slip under the overpass between the massive support and the grassy bank. He leaned into the boat as he realized just how close they would be to the concrete road support overhead. The boat made it under the overpass passing through an opening less than eight feet wide and barely four foot high.

“Watch out!” Brian yelled back at the others as a body fell from the overpass barely missing the back of his boat. He tried to hold the Jon boat in place to watch the others pass between the overpass supports and the shore but the current took him back toward the fast moving water.

Juan struggled to guide his boat with Billy and Margo toward the opening. From the front of the boat Billy scanned the infected. The infected on the shore turned and stumbled toward the incline at the sight of Juan. A massive monster stumbled down the bank and ended within a few feet of Margo.

Billy fired and the infected man’s head exploded. Billy dove for the bottom of the boat just in time to miss being brained by the concrete support under the road. The boat spilled through the opening.

Leon fought to maintain control of the boat as the rushing water pushed him back toward the middle of the creek. The tree was now a dam as it collected more and more debris. Water rushing around the blockage grew more turbulent and splashed over the sides of the boat. Paula huddled in the bottom of the boat whimpering.

Leon fell to his knees and aimed the boat for the narrowing gap. The craft slid under the overpass and cleared the concrete supports only to be clipped on the side by a falling body. The boat tilted and scooped water. While Paula fell forward over her pack, Leon face-planted against the middle seat nearly tipping the boat over. He lay still for a full minute while the boat drifted toward the center of the creek.

“Leon!” Juan yelled. “Get up!”

There was no way Brian or Juan could maneuver their boats to intercept Leon.

“Help! He’s dead!”

Paula sat up and began screaming. She began thrashing about and struggling to turn around as the boat drifted toward the shore.

Leon raised his head and shook it. He took a full three seconds to realize the fix they were in and pushed back into the seat and grabbed the control. He shoved the control to the side and boat pivoted back toward the center of the creek. He aimed for the other two boats.

Brian glanced toward Billy “You ready for this?”

Billy chuckled. “Do we have a choice?” He checked the load in his weapon for the third time.

“Everyone hang on back there!” Brian called out.

Leon tapped on the top of the truck cab. “We’re good. Let’s get on the road. I see some of those bastards coming this way.”

Brian slammed the truck in gear and accelerated. The pickup pulled out onto the street and headed toward the city park they had decided would be the best place to put the Jon boats into Leon Creek. Brian looked up at the darkening skies.

Paula pointed to the ominous clouds rolling toward the city. “It looks like it might rain.”

“Great.” Billy moaned. “Just one more fucked up thing we don’t need.”

“No, maybe it’ll be a good thing.” Brian answered. “We get to the launch site, get the boats in the water and it starts raining, the shallow area of Leon Creek will be flooded and we’ll float right by the base and infected won’t be any wiser.”

The first drops of rain splattered on the windshield as they back down a narrow incline to the edge of the creek. They were south of the River Walk but north of Concepcion Mission. It was a spot alongside the creek that was less steep than most of the creek banks and the water was a little over fifteen feet wide.

“Billy, watch our six. The rest of you, let’s get this done. Ladies, carry supplies to the water’s edge. Men, grab a Jon boat. Get ‘em in the water.” Brian ordered. “We load up all three boats and use the tarps to hide under when we get moving.”

“How do we do this?” Leon asked.

“We have to distribute the weight so Billy and Juan can take Margo. Leon, you take Paula. I’ll take Dale. Leon and I can carry more supplies. We split them up between the two-man boats. Everyone keeps a pack with them, just in case.”

Leon and Juan carried the first boat to the shore. They shoved the end down in the water and suddenly realized the bank was still too steep to extend the boat out and opted for resting the boats parallel with the edge of the water. Margo and Paula were pressed into holding the boats against the bank.

Once all the boats were sitting at water’s edge, Brian started pointing at boats and directing the loading of supplies.

“Put a case of water, in each boat. Everyone hang on to your pack. Extra foods get put in the front and back boats.” Brian looked beyond the truck toward the freeway a few blocks away and added. “Let’s get moving folks.”

Billy suddenly called out. “Company’s coming.”

“Load up.” Brian called out as he picked up the trolling motors. He passed one to Leon and one to Juan. He walked to the front boat and began mounting the trolling motor to the back of the boat. “Get in the boat, Dale.”

Gentle rain turned into a torrential down pour as the group hurried toward the boats. Rain pelted the small group making the grassy bank slick and treacherous to navigate.

Dale pulled up his sagging pants and stepped out across the edge of the water into the boat Brian held against the bank. The huge man stumbled into the boat headfirst with one foot still planted on the bank. The shallow aluminum craft tilt and begin taking on water.

“Get in and sit down and don’t move!” Brian yelled as he jerked Dale to into the shallow seat.

Billy fired twice then slid down the embankment. “Time to go.”

Leon help Paula into the boat then left her to settle on the seat while he helped Billy, Margo, and Juan into the middle boat and gave them a push away from the bank. He rushed back to the boat with Paula clinging to a small scrub.

Billy fired at the approaching infected while Juan mounted the trolling motor and connected the battery. He turned on the engine and guided the boat toward the middle of the stream.

Billy continued to face the shore and fired twice more. He yelled. “Gotta move now!”

Leon returned to the boat where Paula waited and pushed the shallow craft away from the shore and picked up the trolling motor at his feet. He dipped the propeller end in the water and attached the motor to the flat back end of the boat. He connected wires to the battery and pushed the button and nothing happened. The boat continued to drift back toward the shore.

“Hurry! They’re coming!” Paula yelled as she picked up a paddle and began paddling away from the shore in the rising water. The Jon boat began turned in a circle.

Leon glanced at the motor than back at the battery. It took five seconds to switch the connections then pushed the button and the trolling motor vibrated under his hand. He turned the handle and the Jon boat headed into open water.

Billy fired a short burst. A body rolled down the incline where one boat remained. “Hurry up, sir.” Brian pushed Dale into the boat and growled. “Don’t move!”

Brian pushed his Jon boat away from the shore and stepped into the back of the boat. When the flat bottomed boat wobbled under the shifting of Brian’s weight, Dale yelped and tried to stand.

“Sit down or I’m going to shoot you!” Brian yelled as the boat drifted into the current.  He picked up the motor and mounted it to the back of the boat. “Get to paddling unless you want us to drift back on shore!”

Dale picked up a paddle and began paddling like a wild man. He did little to move the boat into the current so it drifted a mere six feet from shore.

Brian looked under the seat for the battery. “Where is the battery?”

Dale put down the paddle and reached under his seat. “This?”

“Toss it back here.” Brian ordered.

After a half-assed pitch and Brian forced to fall forward to catch it, he pushed his way back to the rear of the boat and sat down again. “Paddle!”

Juan maneuvered his boat to the side of Brian’s boat. Juan and Billy grasped the side of the boat and Juan accelerated. The single trolling motor had just enough power to pull the Jon boat further from the shore and away from the growing cluster of infected now standing on the bank reaching toward them.

Brian hooked the battery to the motor and pressed the button. The vibration of the propeller turn verified power. He gave Billy a quick thumbs-up and both men released their grip on the boat. Quietly, the power of the small propeller pushed the flat bottom boat forward and toward the middle of the creek.

“Move out. Single file. Break out the tarps and covered up.” Brian called out above the sound of the storm.

Brian accelerated and moved his boat to the lead. When he got his knee under the handle, he broke out the tarp at his feet. “Dale, get under that tarp and do it now.”

“Ass-hole.” Dale mumbled.

“That’s Ass-hole, Sir, to you.” Answered Brian as he pulled the tarp over his head and tented the plastic around his face leaving just enough of an opening to see where he was directing the Jon boat.

Rain pelted the survivors. As the storm raged over the next hour the rainwaters made its way from storm drains into bayous then into larger waterways including Leon Creek. The levels rose and the rushing water grew swifter and swifter.