Chapter Eight

GreenBrierWinterz

“Many a voice has cursed the name
Time has into darkness thrust,
Cruelty his only fame
In forgetfulness and dust.

Noble dead that sleep below,
We your valour ne’er forget;
Soft the heroes’ rest who know
Hearts like theirs are beating yet.”
~Alice Macdonnel

Beth sat staring at the grimy wall, trying not to cry. She knew she shouldn’t leave the kids alone for too long but this was the first real moment of privacy she had been allowed since the kidnapping. Her captors knew she wouldn’t try to flee while the kids were out there she was as good as chained to the wall. \

Something creaked behind her and as she turned her head to look, a hand struck her hard on the back of the head sending her sprawling to the floor., she struggled to her feet, trying to pull up her pants with one hand while preparing to ward off another blow. She turned and saw the Creepy blond guy standing there a cruel cold smile on his face.

His hand still raised as if to strike her again. “what’s the matter going to cry?” he sneered. “You American whores always cry and whine and beg. Do you think it affects such as me”

“I think very little affects scum like you” She snapped back, her temper finally getting the better of her as she pulled her pants completely up, and faced the horrible man full on.

“aaah a little fire at last, do you not believe I will kill one of the children” he said his voice dropping low becoming almost husky.

“I do, and I promise you if you do, even if you kill me, when My Husband and his friends Finally catch you, you will die just like that other Russian animal, you will beg for them to finish and kill you.” She snarled surprising herself with the fury that welled up inside her.

he glared at her, his mouth a thin cruel line on his face. But something shifted in his eyes. “he will not kill me again” the words escaped his lips so low he thought she might not have heard. “ He will not kill me, they are too weak to sentimental.” He said louder.
“but you will die at my hands in great pain after I make you watch me kill each child slowly and painfully.” He said slowly with great relish. “I hope you resist, oh I so hope you resist.”

“is this a private party” The Driver of the Van said from the Doorway, a rifle held casually in a manner Beth had Seen both Ori and Jared carry them, no matter how casual it looked they could bring their weapons into play in a heartbeat.

“Yes it is” The blond said harshly.

“To bad, take it up with My boss. If I see you near her or the kids again, I will leave you to rot with the dead. I will not be killed by Kronnen because you cant keep yourself under control.” The Driver said, a dangerous light flickered in his brown eyes.

“you dare talk to me like this” The Blond snarled angrily.

“Ill shoot your ass if you prefer” The driver said as the blond glared at him for a moment then turned and stalked from the small room that had been set aside as a bathroom for Beth and the kids.

“you know he will want to get even” Beth said softly. “why risk it for me.”

“Because I have my orders, and because I do not like that bastard” The driver said. “from now on I will have a guard posted to watch over you and the kids in case he decides to take things into his own hands again”

Beth had no idea what the man meant by again, but it sent a chill through her. had more happened back on the island than she knew of. Oh god I hope not.

“thank you” She said, the Driver only shrugged and stepped outside closing the door behind him.

She sank down on the bucket that had been provided as a toilet and cradled her face in her hands for a moment trying not to cry. Then forced aside her feelings and rose to her feet she had kids out there depending on her they came first, she would grieve later if she found out her worst fears were realized.

Her face set, she straightened her clothes and marched out the door.

************************************

Logan the olive skinned, dark haired, good looking young man had become a capable member of Team one as Jared called it., almost always found beside Jared and Jill in the hottest spots, Jared was more than used to the man being beside him when things were going dow, trusting the former college student as much as he trusted Ori, Ronny or Chris at his side.

Today as the gunfire rolled back off the walls, deafening the combatants. Which was really the only reason for Logan not noticing a door opening as he advanced past it. it was only when hands grasped at him, one grabbing a hold of the barrel of his rifle where flesh sizzled and smoke as it touched bare hot metal. The other grasped him by the shoulder and pulled as its head dipped down, mouthing yawning open to reveal blood stained teeth several of which were broken off.

Suddenly a hand appeared in front of Logan’s face, a hand holding a pistol, said pistol being shoved into the zombies mouth, when Jared pulled the trigger, Logan’s already battered ears protested by ringing loudly and not letting him hear a thing, which was okay since Jared yanked him out of the way tossing him backwards where he hit the wall rather hard.

Jared fired putting down the zombie that was emerging from room, then fired again putting down the next, his pistol locked back as he ran out of ammunition. Of all the damn times, He thought knowing he didn’t have time to reload not with what looked like fifteen to twenty undead in the room trying to get out into the hall way.

He dropped the pistol and grasped his rifle not in the mood to go hand to hand, the HK slid into position and he fired point blank into the third zombies head, almost gagging as a jet of pus shot out of the bullet hole with one of the foulest smells he had ever smelled.

He was in the zone, no moral dilemmas, no saving people or the world just him a weapon and targets. And he serviced those targets with a vengeance, there were far more then the twenty he had thought were in the room, but once he had the area around the doorway clear he was able to pick off the undead stumbling towards the door.

Jill glided past Jared, as he dealt with the undead that had tried to have Logan for lunch. Slinging her rifle across her back then drawing her katana, the zombies coming from the common room could only really come at them three at a time due to the width of the corridor.

Ed shouted something but she ignored him as she darted left katana licking out as light as a feather, the diagonal slash cutting easily through the elbow joint, a twist of her wrist and she brought the blade back edge up and took the other arm.

A quick kick to the side of the knee and the leg broke the zombie went down, she was already moving to the far right of the hall and the zombie there she took its leg with a rising cut as the center zombie lunged at her, she spun in place, sword rising up in a two handed grip then down taking its head from High guard.

More undead came at her, she took an arm here, broke a knee there, thrust the blade into a mouth and up into the brain a twist of the wrist the weapon slid free only to hiss through the air as she spun and lunged taking another head. She was a whirling dervish moving from one side of the hall to the other leaving death in her wake. But the undead just kept coming

Zombies lunged at her, a bullet cracked past her head, so close she could feel the heat, a zombies head exploded, then another, and then Logan and Jared were there pushing the tide backwards the common room.

Then suddenly there were no more undead, they could hear men shouting in the common room, the boom of shotguns and at least two pistols and as Jared retrieved his pistol from the floor, silence fell in the common room.

Jared wiped gore from his face, as he stepped back against the wall of the hallway with out revealing himself to the men in the Common room. “I’m Jared Stone, I would really appreciate it if we can talk with out killing each other.” He called out as he replaced the spent mag in his Mk 23 before holstering his pistol looking around at the corpse’s, some he recognized, most he didn’t.

There slumped against a wall was a woman who had been considered one of the hottest new actress in America, beside her was a man who had been famous in music circles first as a heart throb to teen girls and younger women then later as a heartbreaker when he announced he was gay.

Over there was another Foot ball player, there a fashion designer who had been in the news, sprawled ten feet away was a man who had been slowly gaining ground on Steve Jobs and Bill gates in the computer world as the next revolutionary Programmer.

“how did you get in to the Bunker” a man called back, not bothering to introduce himself.

Jared saw a hand move in the pile of bodies at his feet, and frowned drawing his Khurkri.
“Believe it or not through a door” he called out watching as a Head emerged from the pile, as he spoke it fixed on him its mouth yawning open.

“Not possible, we would know if a door had been opened” The man replied.

Idiot how do you think I got in then Jared thought as he brought the Khurkri down on the skull of the zombie killing it. “all right then Ill play along, how did I get inside” he called back as he wiped the Blade of his weapon clean before sheathing it.

“Never mind, we will just leave you folks alone, enjoy your bunker” Jared called out as he turned to head back down the hall.

“Wait!” the man called out.

Ronny listened to the back and forth conversation that drifted down the hall, he couldn’t make his hands stop shaking. What the hell was wrong with him, he wasn’t on the pills any more, he should be fine. But no matter how much he told himself that, it didn’t stop the flashes of memory of muzzle flashes in the dark searing pain and then more pain as he tumbled down the stairs breaking his leg. he could still see Striders face, hear pappy and the gunfire. And….

He jerked as a hand touched his shoulder. “ Ronny concentrate on me, on here and now. Come on buddy you can do it, just focus.” Mike said gently. “ take a deep breath and concentrate”

Ronny took two deep breaths as mike stared into his eyes, the nightmare images fading with each breath. The trembling in his hands was dropping off as well.

“Better?” Mike asked.

“as long as you don’t try to kiss me, yeah I am” Ronny replied.

Mike laughed and took his hands from Ronny’s shoulders. “ don’t worry your not my type”

“Why not, what’s wrong with me” Ronny asked chuckling weakly.

“no boobs for starters.” Mike said with a grin, was the conversation strange, yes it was, but it if helped Ronny move past his moment Mike didn’t mind or care.

“I have pecs” Ronny pointed out.

“You have a wife that would kill me” Mike said, shaking his head and smiling

“she scares off every one that’s interested in me” Ronny complained then laughed sounding natural it faded off after a moment. “what in the hell is wrong with me?” he asked not really expecting answer.

“at a Guess, Id say you have PTSD” Mike said gently. “ not surprising, look at the shit we have all gone through since the dead rose.”

Now that was a understatement, if any one had been crapped on more than any one else since the end of the world it was mike, Ronny thought,. “you have it, how did you get past it” Ronny asked.

“I haven’t, maybe I never will.” Mike said then paused for a moment “ that’s not really true, I’ve moved past the worst of it, but you don’t want to go through the therapy that the Bowler hat wearing shit bag put me through to get past your own problems.

To be honest Ronny I’ve just learned how to deal with it most of the time, I still have moments when I’m alone I just want to howl and fling shit like a rabid monkey or lock myself in a box and die. But at least I don’t have the damn nightmares or flashbacks much anymore. And I don’t freeze up at the thought of having to fight sometimes. Look if you need to talk, just let me know. I’ve been there done that, and got a shitty Tshirt to show for it”

Ronny started to brush him off, he didn’t want to admit to even half of how he felt but if any one could understand the dreams, and how he felt like his mind was being twisted around till he wanted to puke, Mike would, after what Bowler hat had done to Mike and Mikes wife, Mike might be the only one that could understand.

“ I will, and thanks Mike. Just… well I don’t want Jared to know how fucked up I am.” Ronny said almost desperately. “ especially if it might stop me from helping Ori get Beth back.”

“I wont say a word” Mike promised.

Jack stepped over the bodies in the common room, trying to ignore the bullet holes, gore and chunks of Body parts on the walls. He stopped short of the hallway, as the man, Jared Stone said “ tell you what, Ill just show you how we got inside, and then I’m going to make you an offer.”

“What kind of offer” Jack asked curiously as he looked at a pock marked wall where shrapnel from a grenade that had exploded had scarred it. Who the hell were these people he wondered.

“one you may actually like, but till you see how we got in here, I’m not going to give details. Either that or we go back, shut the door and you can sit in here till the power goes off.” Jared replied

“We cant trust them” Parker, his former second in command of the security detail said.

“Your right you cant,” Stone called out, and then to Jacks surprise stepped into the doorway, he was maybe five nine, solid as only a man who worked and played hard could be and golden red hair that shined in the Lights. But was the Intense emerald green eyes that really caught Jacks attention.

Jared gazed calmly at the sandy blond haired man with the wide shoulders and the Beneli over under shotgun, with a Glock in a shoulder holster. The other men with him were spread out in a slight arc with the blond in the center, seemingly unaffected by the bodies and the stench.

Jared knew that once the man, who was obviously the leader, saw the cache one of two things were going to happen, he was going to want it all for his group and would die the moment he said as much or he was going to want to get the hell out of this tomb and out into the world again when he found out about Sullivan. Jared wasn’t willing to bet which way the man would go not even against himself.

“you don’t know us, and I don’t know you either. So there’s no instant trust. So heres the first step to trust” Stone said as he unclipped his rifle, a HK 416 and passed it to Jack. He didn’t offer the pistol or the edged weapons he carried Jack noted. “there you have my rifle.”

“What about the rest of your weapons” Parker asked motioning at Jared with his pistol.

“Have you even had training, don’t point that at someone unless you intend to shoot them” Jared snapped.

“I just might,” Parker said then took a step back at the cold smile that flickered across Stones lips.

“Enough, I’m still in charge here Parker. If the man wants to show us how they got in here, so we can secure it when they are gone fine by me.” Jack said.

Stone only smiled and turned as completely unconcerned that he could be shot in the back. “Wait here Parker just in case something happens,” Jack said and followed the man, pausing only when he saw how many others were in the hallway waiting, every weapon was slung or holstered, but they were armed to the teeth and maybe to their roots of the hair.

Jared walked back down the hallway to the intersection surprised to see Ronny talking to Mike with an intensity that Jared had never really seen out of his friend. Beyond them bodies lay sprawled on the floor of the main hallway.

Ronny fell silent as Jared waved and turned down hallway they had entered through, Jack followed pausing for a second as he saw the wall at the end of the hall standing open light pouring out from a large room beyond.

“What the hell, where.. When..” Jack asked as they passed into the Cache. He starred around at the stacks and stacks of supplies.

“Don’t know the answer to that, I assume sometime around the building of the original bunker. But I don’t know that for a fact. Its part of some kind of COG op, sorry continuity of Government operation called Case Diamond.”

Jack turned to face Jared “how exactly did you find out about all this.”

Jared gave him a grim smile. “ well that’s a lead up to the offer I mentioned . We have set up a Safe zone, civilians and US Army Personnel, a Special forces Unit working with us, had orders to secure the data from a plane that had to make an emergency landing when everything was going to hell, the crew of the plane and the man carrying the data had been killed. and the offer is this, we are stripping this cache and shipping it back to the Safe zone, where we are rebuilding, if you folks want to get out of this hole and go to the safe zone the offer is out there.”

“you and what eight people are rebuilding” Jack asked in disbelief shaking his head.

“no we just came up here to look the place over and see if any one was live in the bunker, the rest of the unit will be arriving to load this stuff up and take it back to the six hundred plus residents of the safe zone.”

“Six hundred plus” Jack said not really believing Jared.

“Survivors keep filtering in, so its hard to say.”

“I could say all this is ours its in the bunker” Jack said suddenly.

“And you would be mistaken” Jared said a warning in his tone.

Jack started to bristle but then calmed himself down if the man wasn’t lying, and was totally serious about taking Jack and the others out of this hell hole, as far as Jack was concerned they could have it all. He looked around again taking it all in. “ all this time, every thing we needed was sitting right here. So many of the dead we both just put down could have survived if we had known.” Jack said sadly.

“Why didn’t you put them down before now.” Jared asked curious.

“We didn’t need to they couldn’t get to us with out beating their way past a solid steel door, so we decided to save the ammo just in case. Instead of opening the damn door and risk them getting onto the first level. Besides every thing we needed was on the first level it just wasn’t worth the risk going down there.” Jack stated. “It would not even have happened if so many people hadn’t gotten sick, and then one of the sick committed suicide that’s before we knew that all you had to do was die. the suicide killed the other sick folk who were too weak to get away and they got up and started killing more. Before the alarm was sounded, eighty were dead, and the rest were trapped with the dead between them and the door out.” Jack said then stopped not wanting to relive the whole thing over again.

Jared didn’t blame him, it must have been bad to realize you were trapped in a cement coffin with undead below and undead outside and no way out.

“Look, if you choose to stay we can leave some stuff, some food, medicine and ammo, but I have to have the rest to many people are counting on this stuff.” Jared said suddenly. “I’m telling you this because I want you to understand this isn’t just I’m some greedy shit head out to screw you kind of guy.”

“I need to talk to the others, and I can tell you right now a few will be all for wanting to keep this for us. For my part and I think most of us, we are tired of being down here no matter how safe it may seem to be.” Jack said handing Jared the HK back.

“go for it, My people should be here soon, so those that want to go need to pack what they want to take so they can hitch a ride.” Jared said, Jack nodded and headed back down the hallway.

“Every one fall back here, and be on your toes just in case. He sounded sincere about wanting to leave but you never know” Jared transmitted to the rest.

*************************************

Jill stepped out of the tunnel and into the falling snow, digging her hands into the pockets of her coat. She wasn’t sure what to do, Jared had changed in so many ways, he was harder, colder even. The only reason he had even bothered to look in the Bunker was because of her, before he would have dove in on his white charger danger be damned to do the right thing.

Maybe the changes were for the best, but she didn’t think so. For a little bit back there on the island after seeing the Ghost of Billy Thornton he had seemed more relaxed more centered. But something had changed in him and she had no idea what it was.

Paddy seeing her approach climbed out of the van. “Jared wants one of the motion sensor camera units set up out here, then pull all the vehicles into inside there’s enough room for all of them.”

“no problem” Paddy said, as he pulled his cap down lower to try and keep his head warm. “We are going to need to hook up a cable for it, the wireless isn’t going to be able to transmit into the tunnels.”

“Check and see if we have any,” Jill said looking off across the snow covered grounds, a few zombies had gathered along the fence line, while they had been down below but not a lot. But if the vehicles stayed up top, that would change. And Jared was having to rethink the entire way the operation was supposed to work, now that they knew they couldn’t drive a semi rig down below the tunnel was just to low. Deuce and halfs, FMTVs, and pick ups would work but not the Rigs. The one detail not mentioned in the file according to Jared was the tunnel height.

Which was why Jared had come up here personally twenty minutes ago to call Jansen and Daws and see if they could do some scouting and pick up delivery trucks or something to send in pick up the goods, then transfer it to the Semi’s, it was double the work but the only way to pull this off. Which among other things meant spending more time than had been planned on. And that was why Ori was very ticked off at the moment.

While Paddy set up the security system, Jill got the rest of the Vehicles lined up at the ramp then opened the outer door so they could enter. Opening the door she stepped aside and stood there as the vehicles passed into the tunnel. As soon as Paddy was finished emplacing the pole that held the surveillance gear, he drove the van down and then had go slow just in case the gear strapped to the cargo wrack struck the ceiling, it only just cleared.

Jill waited till the Van had entered the first storage room with the cable it was pulling then closed the outer door and engaged the locks before slowly walking back to the bunker.

She knew Jared was already playing with the idea of posting a team here, the bunker was an incredible find and if they couldn’t get every thing out which she and Jared doubted then a team placed here could guard it.

Entering the Storage areas, She went from chamber to chamber but didn’t see Jared. Spotting Ronny off in a corner talking to Mike she walked up and grew curious as Ronny fell silent. “where did Jared go?” she asked.

“he and that Guy Jack went up to the Comm center, apparently this place has all kinds of Radios and phones, one of the Radios is a Ham unit, Jared was going to talk to Jansen about gathering up a bunch of regular trucks or Hummer trucks, FMTVs’ Dueces, what ever they can find to send down here to pick up the supplies. “ Ronny said

That made sense; at least Thor wouldn’t waste time heading here only to have to go back. Tired of dealing with the moment, she went searching till she found a semi private area amongst cases of equipment, she stripped off her coat and weapons, and began to practice kata’s. it was something that had always calmed her mind and lately she had missed far to many mornings or evenings of practice thanks to the hurried pace that Jared had set.

Slowly her apprehension and fears faded as she glided from one position to the next. Finally she finished only to find she was no longer alone, Reese the Soldier who looked so much like Steve, no lets be honest they could be twins, was standing there watching, a look of approval on his face.

“Am I mistaken or did I see you incorporating a few Krav moves into hopkido” he asked with a smile that almost broke her heart it reminded her of steve so much.

“yes, I take it you’ve studied’ She said buckling on her pistol belt then slid the katana into her belt.

“yes, quite a bit, but not as much as it looks like you have” he said, thinking of what he had seen Jared do to the undead back in the office on Mt. Weather. “I’m betting your husband is as good right?” he asked with a grin.

“I think it’s a draw, he thinks I’m better” She said with a faint smile wondering what he wanted.. “not to be rude but is there something I can help you with” She asked

“I just need to ask you a question really” Reese replied tilting his head so he could look her squarely in her deep blue eyes.

“Sure, anything” she said hoping it wasn’t going to be something like do you have an open marriage sort of thing.

“Every since I met you people I’ve been getting odd looks, surprised looks really. And since I’ve joined up with you, the old timers in this convoy don’t even speak with me. So before I go getting all pissed off or something why?”

She watched him for a moment trying to gather her thoughts, she was surprised that no one had really talked to him, Jared had used to wander around getting to know the people he was traveling with but she knew why he had avoided Reese the same reason she had.

“its not you its us, or rather its who you look like and for that I’m sorry” She said softly “wait here for a moment “ She said, Reese nodded crossing his arms over his chest as she left him waiting for almost five minutes. When She returned she handed him a photo, he looked at it then looked closer “ that…God. That’s incredible” He finally said.

“that’s Steve in the picture he died a couple of months ago, not only was he a really good man, but he was Best friends with Jared, Ori, Ronny and the rest of the dirty dozen. Its just odd when we see you, Jared has almost called you Steve a few times back when we first met.”

“Actually he did once, I didn’t think anything of it at that time” Reese said now completely understanding why it seemed like some of the people were avoiding him.

“Any time you want to talk come see me, and If Jared doesn’t move past it, Ill kick his ass for you.” Jill said with a smile, Jared was both a good and bad influence on her she thought with amusement; back before all this she had never cussed no matter the situation.

“Thanks, I was starting to wonder if this was a mistake, and should I start looking to head out on my own.” Reese said “now at least Ill give you folks a chance, its got to hurt some I guess to keep seeing the face of a man you were really close to and know its not him.”

Jill nodded throttling back the impulse to give him a hug. Not steve she reminded herself and settled for smiling at Reese. If Reese lived to bet back to the island, she had no idea how Shelly and Sharon were going to react. That should be interesting.

********************************

The Snow was falling heavily across the region the sun light already beginning to fade as a lone figure scrambled over a pile of limestone rocks, Reaching the other side of the rocks he slid down into a depression filled with fir trees. The lip of the depression was lined with Rock and denuded trees and brush.

The copse of trees in the depression provided some shelter from the cutting wind, Darius Zane McAllister crouched under the spread limbs of the firs taking some respite from the weather. Reaching into a pocket he pulled out a hand warmer and crushed it, then held it between his hands.

“I hate cold” he muttered his fingertips stinging painfully from the cold. He couched there for five long minutes getting the feeling back in his hands then slid the hand warmer down his pants thankful no one could see him. but damn his boys were cold. The doe skin gloves he wore were great for bull riding but not for scrambling around in cold wet snow and rocks.

“the next time you decided to visit me in my dreams have the damn decency to warn me about the weather” he said to the air then grew still and quiet as he heard something snap near by. Reaching behind him he pulled the butterfly knife out of his back pocket he worked the knife in a rapid series of snaps till a blade glittered in his hand.

He didn’t have a lot of time not that it made any difference at this point, he had only an hour before the sun went down, and then his choices became shelter in place, with no fire and no light or travel in the dark and hope he didn’t run across zombies

He barely saw the shadow in time to prepare as the zombie, a man in ragged shorts and nothing else leaped out, hands hooked like claws as it reached for him, its white blue tinged skin seemed to glow in the light. No matter how many times he had dealt with the undead their total silence was still unnerving. Darius rolled to one side narrowly avoiding the grasping hands and snapping teeth, the zombie landed face first even as Darius whirled around and leaped on its back pinning it in place with his body weight, he brought the knife up then drove it down with every bit of strength he had. Bone cracked, and the knife blade sank into the head. He gagged as foul smelling black gore jetted out splattering his hands and coat sleeves.

“I hate spurters” He muttered as he wiped off the knife blade then closed it with a double flip and slid it into his pocket. “time to move” he told himself glancing up at the cloud cover which was growing darker.

He rose to his feet and moved across the depression and quickly climbed up the other side of the depression wiggling over a flat piece of limestone that jutted a little ways out over the depression. He rolled down the other side, got to his feet and started moving as fast as he dared over the rocky ground, carefully weaving between the leafless trees and the occasional firs as the snow fell around him turning the world into a silent white world. once he would have loved snow, being from Texas. In his part of Texas Snow was a rare thing, they had gotten ice, lots of Ice.

He burst out of a stand of trees to find a zombie standing five feet from him, near the edge of a drop off, he grinned with real humor as it turned towards him in time to be pushed backwards right off the drop. It vanished silently over the edge still reaching for him. Sucks to be you he thought

He reached the slope down to the fire road just as the light was fading out. Slipping and sliding he made his way down to the road and saw tire tracks. He had gone to far west after all but no big deal. He started walking up the road in the dark, eyes straining to catch sight of any undead that might be on the road.

He had no idea how many minutes later it was, but he saw the dark shape of his Black F350 Crew cab Dually with its Arctic Fox slide in camper he had picked up in Kingston Tennesee a week ago where he had finally dumped the Camper/horse trailer combination he had pulled for so long. He missed that Trailer he and it had seen some good times and good women together.

Reached the door to the camper he knocked twice then opened the door, light spilling out around him smiling he climbed in and shut the door enjoying the warmth.

The camper was actually a fairly large, like a small apartment, in fact it was bigger than the camper portion of his old horse trailer, complete with hard wood floors, slide out sides, a full kitchen and bathroom. Which worked as long as he stopped to pump water out of rivers, creeks or lakes to fill the tanks and currently they were filled. The elevated section that stuck out over the cab held a queen size bed.

Quentin and Nate were not back yet, which was fine with him, he needed some time alone. He stripped off his dirty clothes and shoved them in the bag he kept dirty clothes in. He debated on using some of the water to take a quick hot shower but decided not to waste it. instead he stepped into the cramped shower and wiped himself down with baby wipes before pulling on clean clothes, clean being a subjective word when applied to clothes that had been hand washed in a swift moving creek of ice cold water between snow storms.

Now that he was clean, again subjective, and dressed he fixed a cup of instant coffee, something else he was almost out of and sat at the table and cleaned his weapons carefully checking for any signs of rust.

He suddenly sighed and sat aside the sawed off shotgun, then cradled his face in his hands. I am so tired he thought, just give me one week of nothing, no undead, no traveling, no scrounging for food and Ill be able to keep on moving, but right now all I want is to lay down and sleep for a week.

Of course he wasn’t going to get a week, not even a day at least not till Kronnen was dead and gone and the scum that followed him, were either dead, or scattered to the winds to terrified to attack any one ever again. Good luck with that, he told himself with a frown.

He rose and stepping to the kitchen area where he, almost reverently, took down the jar of instant coffee then set about making himself a cup. As soon as he had the steaming cup of coffee in his hands he went and sat back at the table. Where he turned off the light and then pulled back the black out curtain to stare out at the moonlight snow and the dark woods on the other side of the road.

What was Kronnen planning? He asked himself if he stuck to his normal pattern he would lead his main group down here to seize what ever it was that had caught his interest, and what ever that was Jared Stone was sitting on top of. “ so do I just go down there and introduce myself and then have a long talk with Stone” he said aloud. Kate might be right and the guy wasn’t all that bad since Kronnen hated him and yes Charley might be dead but he seemed to think Stone was good guy and important to ending the ZA. But again Charley was dead and it was a dream, okay charley had never been wrong since he died and came back in his semi rare dream appearances but Darius wasn’t about to just ignore the fact it could be a product of his own imagination this time, because he wanted an ally against Kronnen, one with his own army.

*******************************

rough gray cement walls had been their lives for over a year now, and now their world had expanded, new people, new rooms and new sights. The majority of the Bunker folks, the Morlocks as Jack jokingly called his group, were stunned by the size of the cache that had been hidden under their noses. About half of the survivors were former employees, the other half the rich and not so rich guests and a few bodyguards like Jack.

Jared sat on the running board of the van watching the Morlocks talk with his own people mulling over a few things it was looking more and more like a spy had been responsible for the attack on Lee, the goal was probably to keep Lee from finding sabotaged vehicles later. But they hadn’t tried again which bothered Jared, the last thing he needed was some nut job throwing the doors wide open the undead and it would not be the first time that had happened either. who ever that spy was, Jared suspected them of switching Ronny’s pills as well.

And now their latest problem more and more undead were piling up along the fence line of the maintenance yard, it was one of the reinforced fences designed to stop speeding cars so he suspected it would take a much larger crowd to tear it down it was when the trucks arrived there was going to be a problem. No matter what they did, undead were going to get into the Yard when the gates were opened to admit the trucks unless they cleared them out, yes they had the ammo, but that would put a serious dent in their supply, and he couldn’t see a way to wipe out a large number in one fell swoop outside of a nuclear weapons, which would take care of every zombie in forty miles or so, along with buildings, trees, cars and anything in the area. Oh and you don’t have a nuclear weapon he reminded himself.

And the last of the major problems is standing right over there trying not to look angry Jared though seeing Ori lean against the Van, cleaning his glasses as he watched the new folks. Every day they were delayed here was a day taken away from when they started hunting for Beth. Jared really expected to wake up two mornings from now and find Ori had left in the middle of the night.

“Hey Jared” Paddy said walking towards Jared, “you might want to come over to the van for a minute.”

From his tone it wasn’t gong to be good news Jared thought with a sigh as he rose to his feet and followed the much shorter Red head to the van. Climbing inside he saw the monitor and console for the Security feed they had set up. and instantly saw what had Paddy worried. The ramp and the road between the chillers was full of undead.

“did any one go over and mess with the gate?” Jared asked, he knew the gate had been secured he had secured it himself.

“not that I saw Jared, I cant explain it, unless some one was hiding in the yard and waited till we came inside then cut the chain and lifted the latch so the puss bags could get in.” Paddy said. Jared leaned out the side door and waved Ori over, he showed him the screen and then said. “ take Ronny and Mike and go pull that blast door closed,” Jared said. Ori nodded and headed off to get the job done.

“Do not say a word to anyone, not yet.” Jared said then climbed out of the Van and headed to the ELSORV where he grabbed his laptop and found a quite place to go over the inventory list, particularly the Items that Eric had known he would enjoy.

**************************

it was almost midnight when the scout team sent to locate vehicles they could use returned, with a small crowd of fan boys right behind them. The guards on duty took them down one at a time using suppressed weapons till twenty eight bodies lay sprawled from the gates to the terminal. Daws, Spacey and Cooper met him at the LAV.

“We found some vehicles we can use in Lewisburg, ten of them “ Daws said, “now for the bad news, there’s a horde of undead on the interstate heading east, when I say Horde I mean one, two, damn many.” Daws said shaking his head and leaned against the LAV. “the problem is, we don not have the ammo to deal with that many, not if we expect to have ammo for the return trip.”

“you think we should scrub the op” Jansen asked, rubbing his jaw as he stared out across the snow covered ground that seemed to glow softly from what little moonlight leaked through the cloud cover.

“If we had a choice yes, but we don’t if we want the people on Sullivan to be able to eat.” Daws replied looking upset in the dim light. “ we have to keep noise down, or we are going to end up trapped here. And that means grounding the plane and the helicopter.”

“We need to figure out a way to deal with this, if we had the Beast” Jansen said his voice trailing off as he looked towards one of the buildings along the airstrip. “I seem to remember someone mentioning a snow plow in there. And we have the welder in that Mobile mechanics shop.”

“thinking of Modding the HET are you” Daws asked quietly a grin spreading across his face.

” Don’t really have a choice, we cant take more than a day or two” Jansen said. “once we get loaded up, it will take another four days possibly a week to get back to the coast and load up. then another week and half for this stuff to get to Sullivan. I just wish we could have used that train.” Jansen said then waved at them to follow him inside the terminal where they wouldn’t have to worry about sound traveling and it was warm inside.

They worked all night sketching out designs and talking over what they might need, Lee retrieved the flame thrower that Rob had insisted on sending along, since he could make more while on the island.

By the time they got to sleep the sun was coming up and Lee and his helpers were setting up to do the mods, while others raced to scrounge materials to help modify other vehicles. They finally established contact with Jared by noon and then things went into overdrive.

***********************

the LAV leading five other vehicles moved out just after Noon to retrieve the vehicles they could use to enter the tunnels, they passed through town heading south towards Lewisburg five miles away, men scanning the winter dead woods and fallow fields along 219 for undead.

They made it almost to Lewisburg before slowing then stopping in the middle of the road about two hundred yards away from a group of undead .

“tell me that’s not weird” Cooper said sliding out of the command seat and onto the Bench in the Back of the LAV, Daws only nodded as he resumed his seat.

“it is weird” Daws said as he glanced again at the screen where twenty zombies just stood in the middle of the road watching the LAV with out moving. Behind the undead they could see the overpass where 64 crossed over the 219, and the snow covered humps that cocooned the vehicles that had been abandoned there.

Yesterday there had been a steady stream of undead heading east down the interstate, a ceaseless tide of undead. Today only that weird group of zombies remained. Just beyond the interstate was Lewisburg West Virginia, not an overly large town, but for their purposes it was large enough.

The undead stood in a cluster that covered the road about ten feet away from an old Little Debbie delivery van that sat on four flats and looked shot to shit even from here.

“Okay so now what” Spacey asked.

“We plow the road” Daws replied, leaning forward to Give the order to Angela.

“Hang on Sergeant, I got a bad feeling about that” Spacey said.

“We have to go through them to get over there and retrieve the package vans and trucks we need.” Daws pointed out.

“go around them, I’m telling you I got a bad feeling about it.” Spacey said.

Daws started to ignore Spacey, but the man had never voiced an objection before especially one based on a feeling and the undead were acting odd. Keying the radio he said “ I want every one to follow me, do not drive through the undead.” Daws said.

Popping the hatch he stuck his head out, enjoying the bite of the wind, as he gazed at the trees to the right side of the road through the falling snow, the field behind the trees still had the tops of dried, dead weeds sticking up out of the snow.

“Angela take us as close to the tree line as you can get” Daws called down as he took hold of the Ma Deuce on the pintle. The LAV lurched as it turned and rolled off the road, all six tires digging in for traction, the Hemmit carrying the Mobile Mechanic shop followed with about a LAV sized space between them. The four other vehicles moved into line and followed the Hemmit.

As they drew even with the Undead all but one finally reacted it was that one that scared the hell out of Daws, it just turned and stood there watching as the LAV passed, while its brethren ran at the military vehicle.

Daws swung the Ma Deuce around, but didn’t fire. His attention stayed fixed on the zombie, a man in some kind of work uniform, average build, not counting what had rotted off. Its arms dangled at its side, the lips had rotted away revealing a hideous smile under the flat milky looking eyes that almost seemed to sparkle with intelligence.

It was impossible of course, the undead were dumb, damned and doomed, only slightly smarter than the average toaster. Yet where the undead had been clustered Daws saw a spike strip that had been spread across the road. it had been hidden by the group of undead who had just stood there presenting a nice fat target to be run down like Daws and the others usually did. Was it possible they were regaining some of their intelligence, god he hoped not, next thing you know undead pilots would be flying overhead dropping bombs on them. Maybe Zombies running Humans as cattle on ranches.

He didn’t even waste ammo, he just told Angela to speed up, the other men and women in the following vehicles didn’t hold their fire, they mowed the undead down, till nothing moved on the gore blackened snow.

Idiots all we had to do was just speed up, Daws thought, not waste ammo putting down undead that we could ignore. He sighed and rubbed his eyes for a moment like the rest he needed a break.

They worked their way under the overpass, and onto the other side, where a bonanzas of scrounging awaited them if they had the time, which they didn’t..

There were two hotels on the left that could be seen from the road, then a super Wal-Mart, with very few cars in the parking lot. Who knew if it was stocked or not. But that was also their first stop. Usually he would have sent in a team to check out the place and scrouge, but they had a huge cache to secure that had far more in the way of supplies than they would be able to pull out of even a fully stocked Wal-Mart, and with far less chance of dying to recover it.

After Super Wal-Mart would be a big box store Hardware and lumber place, the sign was gone, but it might have been a Lowes. There were two Trucks over there that were the required height.

They rolled through the parking lot of Wally world past, the few dead cars and one truck till the reached the back where the delivery area was located, as well as eight Conexs that held god knows what.

It didn’t take long for Lee to get the truck started, it didn’t run smooth but it ran. They moved on to hardware box store across the street for two more vehicles, a Box truck and a flatbed delivery truck.

Daws should have seen it coming things were going to smoothly from avoiding the trap on the road to the lack of undead in the area, but like the others he was burning out and saw what he wanted a chance to take a breather.

A sudden scream of pain filled the air, Daws turned in the hatch in time to see, Mark one of the drivers going down in a spray of blood, the second thing Daws saw was the door in the wall that led into the Big Box store was open and undead were pouring out.

One of the Drivers, Mark, had been standing with his back to the door looking off into the woods behind the store and the low hill with the big church on it when the dead had stepped out drawn by the sound of the motors.

Mark was being pulled into the small crowd who were tearing into him, even as Daws watched an arm was ripped free. Daws fumbled for his pistol but some one else put mark out of his misery. The LAVs turret was already cranking around, as the mob of undead advanced new met by gunfire, a few of the dead were to close and men met them on the ground with hand weapons.

“weapons free” Daws called out as he started to sweep the Ma Deuce around and rocked the butterfly trigger, the sound of a .50 and a 25mm was brutally to the ears but it was even more brutal to the undead as the bullets hammered into them, bodies jerking and twitching, the Bullets energy still not spent the rounds struck the cinderblock wall, blowing holes in the cement..

A man went down a haze of red mist around his ruined head, then another man went down this time shot in the leg. Daws let off the .50 and looked around some one else was taking advantage of the moment and shooting his men. Two of his men grabbed the leg shot driver and dragged him away from the undead.

“get back in you vehicles” he shouted “ move it, we have a sniper”

Suddenly he saw stars, pain flared as his chin slammed into the hatch coaming and hen found himself inside the LAV. “you okay sarge” Angela asked from the drivers seat.

Daws reached out and removed his helmet and ran a hand over his head and found nothing but sweat and hair, but there was a nice gouge in his helmet and a lump coming up on his jaw where it had struck the coaming. The Bushmaster was still firing but now in bursts as Private Jones started aiming, that could only mean the large crowd of undead was down to manageable levels.

Still shaken he rotated the camera on the top of the LAV and only by luck saw a flash from the church steeple. “bastards hiding in a church” He raved as he climbed back up and grabbed the fifty swinging it around.

Only an idiot engages some one with a Bushmaster and a ma deuce at two hundred yards.
The Ma Deuce, Daws favorite weapon, had an effective range of 1,830 meters or two thousand yards, firing six hundred rounds per minute with a velocity of 2,910 feet per second it was by far the nastiest weapon on any battlefield. And only pre dead writers and idiots thought a Ma Deuce was ineffectual against the undead as the undead had found out even a graze was crippling and idiots like this sniper found out that hiding behind a thin wooden wall was about as effective as Dancing naked in the middle of an undead swarm.

He sighted more out of instinct than anything and sent fire screaming up the hill into the steeple adjusting his fire as he watched the Tracers. He walked his fire up and down the steeple, wood shattering under the pounding. The structure sagged to one side, and then at least from here with his ringing ears, tore silently free and plunged to the ground.

He lowered his fire and raked it along the side of the church blowing out windows, the thumb sized bullets tearing large holes in the walls of the church. If he felt any guilt for blowing apart a church it didn’t show on his face, the only thing on his face was a savage satisfied smile as he demolished the hiding place of who ever it had been that had killed two or more of his men.

“status of the new truck” he asked over the radio as he stopped firing, all the undead were down, but he could see some coming around the end of the building. They were to far to be any risk.

“Starting it now” Lee replied, the clock ticked on and then there was a rumble as the Delivery truck started.

“Move out to the next location” Daws said, hate filled eyes fixed on the demolished church.

*******************************

Jansen hung on for dear life as the helicopter roared up over the mountain, he could swear he felt tree’s brushing the bottom. Harald, taking advantage of so much fuel at the Airport had talked him into scouting the area in the helicopter. Never, ever, ever let a Norwegian pilot who looks like a demented Viking fly you anywhere Jansen told himself.

Down there according to the maps was the Greenbrier State forest, it covered the mountain below them and extended east to kates mountain. The Resort grounds sprawled over into the State forest.

The helicopter swept past two burned out wrecks on a road halfway up the mountains flames still flickered in the wreckage, then they were racing down the slope out of the snow and dark woods, Jansen finally saw the Resort looming up out of the dark trees. Mary was right he thought, it does look like the Overlook hotel.

“look at that” Lany shouted from the back, contrary to movies, helicopters were loud, very loud, and flimsy too, which was another reason he was beginning to hate Helicopters.

Harald brought the helicopter to a stop and hovered there over the grounds of the resort, through the snow Jansen could see undead every where, all of them heading to the same spot, there had to be a thousand of them down there. Many were now looking up, and he had the sudden nightmare image of having engine trouble and having to set down in the middle of all that.

Harald slid the helicopter across the grounds in the same direction the undead were heading and saw the Maintenance yard, the gates stood open and it was packed shoulder to shoulder with undead, even the ramp that Jansen assumed led to the bunker was filled.

“do you think we could drop bombs out of this thing” He asked Harald

“I would prefer not, in case some one drops one inside the helicopter. But yes it could be done” Harald replied.

Jansen looked thoughtful for a moment, “ go ahead and fly us around the place, maybe we can find something to help.” he said, then regretted it as the helicopter shot up leaving his stomach behind for a moment.\

“look I know it’s the end of the world and all, and we are lucky to have a helicopter and a pilot, but could you, I don’t know go slow or something” Jansen asked.

Harald started laughing as he stopped the helicopter as close to the hotel as he could get, then made the chopper slide to the right along the building so they could look in to the windows.

There were not as many undead appearing at the windows as Jansen would have thought was it possible they could enter the hotel and then enter the bunker from inside. or at least get every one out that way, lifting them out using the chopper. But that, he thought wouldn’t get them any closer to removing the cache. And it could be weeks before the undead gave up and went where ever they went when not swarming up the groups ass.

“all right take us back, I need to see if we can raise Jared on the Radio again and tell him what I have planned, what weve seen, and if he has any suggestions. “ Jansen said almost sighing with relief as Harald gently and slowly took the helicopter higher then began the flight back to the airport.

To be more than completely honest Jansen couldn’t see a way to get in or out with out using almost every bit of ammunition they had. Unless they find a way to make a super bomb like Ori had done a couple of times, maybe Lee would have some idea how to do it, or Ori could tell him over the radio.

The flight back took longer of course then the fight out there, but when they landed there were already six new trucks parked at the airport and he could see flickering light coming from the hangar where Lee was welding additions onto the HET and a few other big vehicles.

There were more bodies scattered along the fence line of the airport, more undead that had wandered up and been put down by the guards. In another day or two it would be a flood of undead out there along the fence pushing and pulling. They had to be done and out of here in a new camp before that happened. Not seeing the LAV or any of the other trucks being used for the vehicle run Daws must have already left again and each trip back would draw in more undead just like the chopper flying around.

Hurry up Daws we only need five more Jansen thought as he headed into the terminal and the HAM radio that waited.

***************************

The Hotel only a few blocks south of the Wally world, like most modern buildings, sat in the middle of a Parking lot with the combination decorative landscaped street curbs. Only a few decorative trees were scattered along the front of the building in the once landscaped beds.

The group recovering vehicles had pulled in and dismounted around a truck, ready to get to work when gun fire erupted from the top floor of the hotel. Men and woman scattered some blindly returning fire as they raced back for the questionable safety of their vehicles.

“Hurry it up” Daws shouted at his squad as they raced up the troop ramp and into the LAV. Gun fire struck the LAV but it did no damage.

As two of his men ran for the safety of one of the groups trucks something was thrown from the window of the Hotel, it fell towards the ground a tai of fire streaming from it, it landed on the hood of the truck Lee had abandoned work on, glass shattered and with a whoosh of air, the fuel that had been contained in the bottle burst into flames splattering over the hood and cab of the delivery truck, running down the sides in fiery rivulets.

Another Molotov cocktail tumbled out the window and struck a winter bare tree at the base of the building, flaming gasoline poured down the trunk, till the tree was a huge burning torch. He could hear men shouting in the hotel, and more gunfire that sparked and spanged off the armor of the LAV.

Spacey leaned out along the side of the LAV and sighted in on one of the windows just as a man appeared with another Molotov Cocktail, Spacey grinned and fired twice, the man fell back into the room. A second later there were screams of alarm and flames leaping around in front of window.

“What the hell is it with this town” Cooper asked as he dropped onto the bench seat in the back of the LAV. “Every fucking band of survivors we stumble across starts shooting at us.”

“Maybe they just don’t like visitors,” Jones called out, as he crouched by the ramp and pulled out his canteen and took a swig of water.

More gunfire rang aimed at the civilian vehicles in the recovery as they group backed up, then turned and raced from the parking lot turning down the street to put buildings between them and the gun fire. The last vehicle, to leave the parking lot, suddenly swerved to the left, the wheel turning sharply too sharply really the truck flipped, shedding parts as it rolled to a stop against the wall of a Cell phone store across the street..

The Gun truck raced back and forth in the parking lot waiting for a order and order would do. “That does it” Daws said, he had been about to pull back and let these folks have their hotel, but they had just killed or badly injured one of his men and that he couldn’t let pass.

“Stand by, we are going to clear that fucking building” Daws said angrily as he popped the hatch and rose up grasping the .50’s spade handles he tripped the trigger and walked fire across a line of rooms on the fourth floor that the attackers had been firing from. The fire inside the one room looked like it was spreading as thick black smoke poured out of three broken windows now.

“Angela, take us up to the lobby” Daws ordered then Transmitted to the Gun truck. “cover us I’m dropping the squad at the lobby to go clear that floor out assuming there are no undead down here, you keep their heads down.”

“Roger” came the reply as the Gun truck added its fire to Daws own weapon fire..

The LAV roared forward, and as it drew close to the doors, Daws could see that someone had fortified the lobby, piling up crap in front of the windows and the door to keep the undead from getting inside if the glass broke. “ To damn bade for you” he grated as he ripped a line of fire across the lobby, glass shattered, wood splintered, papers and other trash were sent spinning up into the air as he blew part the front desk and couch.

“drop the squad” Daws ordered as he ceased fire instead of wasting ammo. Angela spun the LAV on a dime then slammed on the brake as the Troop ramp opened. Spacey first in the stack sent a 40mm from the 203 on his M-4 into the lobby. It was followed by Cooper tossing a satchel charge that blew out the last of the glass and wiping away the barricade even before the debris had fallen back to the ground the Squad was charging into the lobby, shouting US Army out of habit more than anything else.

“Lobby secured” Spacey reported a moment later, “ there is a bank of elevators and a stairwell in the center of the buildings, advancing up the stairwell now”

Daws felt his stomach tighten imagining the narrow confines of the dark stairwell lit only by the few lights working lights on his mens weapons. He heard the crump of a frag grenade followed by a flash bang. Then gunfire.

“ three tangos down, proceeding” Spacey reported.

The fire from the gun truck was sporadic, only firing when a target presented itself, which wasn’t often now.

The squad bounded up the stairs, not really even noticing the smell of hot coppery blood from the dead men down below. Reaching the first landing, Spacey slammed a wedge under the bottom of the second floor stair well door to keep it from being opened. From the lay out of the fire escape plan he knew there were no other stairwell in the building so any aggressors would have to either go down the elevator shaft to the lobby where the LAV was waiting or try the stair well and go past the squad neither outcome was going to be a fun experience for the assholes.

The squad raced up to the third floor, shadows dancing around them as their lights bounced around, where Spacey repeated the process of wedging the door then led the squad to the fourth floor.

“Cooper” Spacey said stepping back and letting Cooper move up, Coop still had his two flash bangs. Cooper removed his grenade from a pouch and nodded at Spacey who yanked the door open just wide enough so Coop could toss his grenade into the hallway, smoke poured into the stairwell and the sound of coughing came with it..

Slamming the door shut, Spacey waited till the grenade went off then yanked the door open and his squad entered shouting US Army. Hoping the shock of hearing that would give his squad an extra second or two before any hostiles reacted. .

Just outside the door, was a man on the floor blood coming from his ears. Johnson flipped the man over and zip tied his hands. Smoke flowed along the ceiling curling and crawling down the hallway like some monstrous tentacled creature seeking out the living. A hellish orange light flickered into the hallway from an open door down the hallway and multiple holes along the Hallway wall where the fifty had punched straight through.

A figure stepped out of the open doorway, flames crawling over its body, it turned towards them and started coming down the hall, its burning boots melting the carpet as it came, the snap and crackle of cooking fat made Spacey want to barf. He fired twice, blowing its head apart, the burning body fell against the wall and slid down, a second later the beige carpet began to bubble and melt from the burning body, even as the wall paper began to blacken and curl on the wall.

“Coop, and Jones with me.” Spacey said. “ Cole, Perry and Dixon sweep the other end of the hallway,

“What about him” Cole asked looking down at the prisoner who was in no shape at the moment to give them information..

“he will be okay. Lets hurry this up, any one alive that doesn’t shoot at us we take out, any one that shoots put them down.” Spacey said, wishing Daws was up here running the squad like he used to. Coop grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the zombie in the hallway, he liberally doused the carpet around the zombie that was finally starting to burn. Putting that fire out here in the hall was only going to buy them a few more minutes, the fire in the rooms was spreading further eating its way into more rooms, and the smoke was getting thicker the heat more oppressive.

Spacey didn’t really care about the people up here, they had chosen to attack his people for no other reason than they felt like it. His mission was to clear shooters that was it if he could stop them from burning to death great, it was a shitty way to go, but he wasn’t going to risk the squad for assholes.

Shadows danced and twisted on the walls, smoke swirled around them as they moved quickly down the hall using the holes the Ma deuce had left to check room with out opening doors. They had only checked four rooms when another burning zombie staggered out of the room ahead, and stumbled towards them reaching out hands grasping.

“shit I hate flamers” Jones complained as he put the thing down.

Spacey nodded in agreement coughing at the acrid smoke that was now staring to fill the hallway. “ forget it” Spacey said turning around “ lets go, I don’t hear any one and no one is running out of rooms so either they are stupid or they are dead.” He said just as gun fire broke out from the other end of the hallway.

Then a scream ripped the air “ oh hell that sounded like Perry” Jones said as they ran through the smoke past the prisoner who had inched up and put his back to the door, panic filled eyes staring up at them as they appeared out of the smoke. .

“you cant leave me here” the man cried as they ran past with out stopping.

There was more gunfire, and then a frag went off. A second later there was laughter; Dixon, Perry and Cole appeared out of the smoke. Cole and Dixon Still laughing at Perry who was white faced and his pants were soaking wet on as he used one hand to cover his crotch..

“what the hell happened” Spacey asked.

“Two hostiles tried to get the drop on us, we exchanged fire and as Perry there moved up one side of the hallway, a puss bag reached out of a hole in the wall and grabbed Perry by the nuts. he screamed and peed his pants.” Cole replied.

“it fucking hurt assholes” Perry snapped then turned to Daws “ he cut the things hand off, almost got me at the same time”

“I wasn’t even close to that tiny thing you are so proud of.” Cole laughed.

“you can tell us the rest when we get to the LAV” Spacey said laughing himself. “lets go before we get trapped up here.”

Reaching the stairwell door, Cooper grabbed the prisoner and tossed him over his shoulder. Something crashed down into a room, and Spacey finally heard the fire roar, flames rushed out of hole in the wall and almost literally crawled up towards the ceiling with a hissing and crackling noise. A wave of heat washed over them as Spacey pulled open the stair well door, the squad rushed into the cool darkness and as they made their way down they heard someone pounding on the stairwell door on the third floor.

“leave them or let them out” Coop asked.

“I’m not leaving any one to burn to death, not even assholes.” Spacey said as he stopped at the door. “ this is Sergeant Spacey, US Army stand away from the door, and sling your weapons. I will open the door and allow you to leave, but if we see one weapon in your hands your dead.” Spacey said, grinning at the promotion he had given himself.

“its just a couple of wounded men and five women” The prisoner said, as Jones sat him on the floor.

“any kids” Spacey asked.

“no, every one here lost their kids to the dead back at the beginning.” the man said sullenly.

Spacey knelt and removed the wedge then stepped back. “ you can open the door now” he shouted the smell of smoke was much stronger in the stairwell now. The door opened and a woman with blond hair, wearing ski pants and a coat with a rifle across her back stepped out, she wasn’t bad looking he thought. “cut the prisoner loose and let him leave with his buddies” Spacey said. “ you folks will just have to wait here till we reach the ground floor. Then you can go where you want to go.”

“we don’t have a place to now, this was our place, all our supplies are here” The woman said bitterly.

“not my fucking problem” Spacey snapped. “ you shouldn’t have just started shooting” He said as he signaled the squad to start down the stairs. “ next time either stay hidden or try talking before you start killing people”

“We will be killed before we can find another place” the woman shouted as Spacey followed his men down the stairs waiting for some one up there to start shooting at him but they didn’t.

“Don’t Care” Spacey yelled back.

“Coming out, stand by” Spacey reported As they reached the lobby door. Who knows maybe if those folks grab every fire extinguisher they can find they might be able to put out the fire he thought then shook his head, not a chance in hell.

They boarded the LAV quickly, and as the ramp came up the LAV was already pulling away. Spacey quickly told Daws what had happened half expecting Daws to pull a Jared and go back and offer the folks a ride. But he didn’t, okay Jared might not have either, but there were times like that whole thing with Sims that Jared seemed to take a lot of risks to be nice. Daws didn’t suffer from that problem.

“I’m betting the whole town is Balkanized, fighting over supplies and stuff.” Spacey said after a moment. .Daws absently nodded, maybe he was brooding about leaving the folks there.

“Do you even know what Balkanized means” Angela asked from the Drivers seat.

“Are your boobs even real” Spacey shot back.

“you will never know” She replied with a laugh as she ran a hand through her long blond hair, that was far and away out of regs.

“can it both of you” Daws said sternly as he considered what to do about the situation, “okay so what are we going to do” Spacey asked, “ we still need an extra truck and we need to avoid any more survivors in this shit hole town”

“Perhaps if we ran away more it would confuse them into making a mistake.” Johnson said

“obtenir La vache” Angela called out. Cooper looked puzzled.

“what?” Cooper asked,

Daws burst out laughing as his old squad chorused as one, “ Get the cow” Cooper laughed at the monty python joke along with the others.

As they pulled out of the parking lot, the entire fourth floor was on fire and smoke was curling up towards the lead gray, both a beacon to the undead, who would be swarming the hotel soon.

***********************************

Jared sitting in front of the radio in the comm room, rubbed his temples with out really seeing the equipment around him. Jansen’s message wasn’t encouraging, he thought looking up at Jack who just stood there. To have freedom so close and then snatched away was a hard thing to bear Jared thought.

And how was Ori going to take it when he found out they were trapped in here, what ever he did it wasn’t going to be fun Jared thought.

“ so that’s it, we just get a few more rooms to move around in, no getting out of here after all” Jack said.

“no we are gong to get out, there’s a way, there’s always a way” Jared said refusing to give up. he leaned back in the chair and stared up at the lights. Jack stood there watching Jared for a moment then shrugged.

“we have lived here this long, with all that stuff in there we can live here a while longer now I guess” he said, turning as a gunshot rang out, then another. Jared flew out of the chair a pistol appearing in his hand like magic, Jack didn’t have time to wonder about that, he was to busy racing after Jared into the corridor. There was shouting then more gunfire.

“the Cafeteria” Jack shouted at Jared who nodded, slowing enough to let Jack to past to and take the lead. They pounded down the corridor other men and women joining them, as they reached the door to the Cafeteria, there was another shot. Jared and Jack burst through the double doors to see, a corpse sitting up on the tiled floor, another corpse lay beside a dropped tray next to a table.

A man stood over a woman with porn star cleavage he held a pistol pointed at her face.

“Reggie put it down” Jack said quietly, he had never liked the man not really but this wasn’t something he had ever expected.

The dead man had gotten to his feet, and was heading towards the small group of people clustered at the back of the huge room. They didn’t have time to talk the idiot with the gun down Jared thought seeing the second corpse sit up.

“cant Jack, no one is going to live through this, I’m only doing what god wants,” Reggie said.

Jared tensed slightly something dark hovered in that room the reek of rotting blood and flesh hovered close around it, it was something he had felt before. By the way Jack had paled Jared thought the man sensed it as well.

He touched Jack on the arm then stepped into the room. “I’m the one you want shit bag, I’m right here go for it” he said watching out of the corner of his eye the undead in the room stumbled towards the knot of living who were trying to keep tables between them and the newly risen dead.

Reggie didn’t look at Jared, he just kept focusing on the sobbing woman he stood over. “your Dead Jared, like your parents, like your friends, like your friends wife, you just don’t know it yet.” His head cranked around slowly, revealing a cold mocking smile under jet black cold in human eyes. Jared could act as brave as he wanted, but the truth was he was scared shitless, and those eyes struck a primal part of him that urged him to run to flee while he had the chance. “your trapped down here with me Jared Stone, your hell is just starting.”

Jared took an involuntary step backwards, then something clicked in him. his pistol rose smooth and fast, the .45 roared twice, knocking the man away from the woman, he shifted and put three rounds into the zombie closest to the living at the back, then two more rounds into the second zombie, then turned and strode across the room firing into Reggies body and head till the slide locked back on his pistol.

“fuck you, your going to lose no matter what happens to me, you dark stinking piece of shit” Jared snarled at the corpse with the shattered head. He turned to Jack who looked stunned, the whole thing had taken less than two minutes to play out though it had seemed much longer while he stood there in the doorway. “Jack we need to talk, the rest of you stay in groups and calm down, things are going to be fine, just get on out of here go back to the cache and wait there.” He said waving them away. Reluctantly the crowd in the hallway turned and moved away helping the survivors of the shooting.

Jared replaced the spent mag in his pistol with a fresh one, thankful there were some ammo stocks in the cache. “ is there any one who knows this bunker inside and out” Jared asked.

“yes, a guy named Tom Weiss, he worked here as a tour guide” Jack said. “what the hell was that Jared, I’ used to work for Reggie, that wasn’t him, and there was something…..” He fell silent not really wanting to step into the madness he had felt in that room.

Jared sighed. “ there’s more going on than just some kind of virus, I’m sure you folks have figured that part out, no matter how much you try to tell yourself its something natural you cant get past the fact those things are dead.

Well the dead are the least of your problems, all our lives we’ve heard about, even laughed and made jokes about the battle between good and evil, the dark and the light. Some would say God and the Devil but that’s to simplistic really. But it is a a war and what you just saw was the Dark using that man, it comes in dreams and warps and twists, creating despair, hopelessness, even hate so that we prey on each other.

All I know is one side offers hope, and life, the other offers extinction. So we either stand against it, or we die. and personally I’m tired of people dying for no damn good reason, so Go get Tom and lets see if we can come up with a way to get our happy asses out of here.” Jared said stepping into the hallway and closing the door of the Cafeteria

Jack wanted to ask questions but he could tell Jared wasn’t in the mood to answer them, so he filed them away for later and left the Red head standing there while he went looking for Tom.

But he had to wonder how many others might go nuts, or get possessed or what ever it was that had just happened. He hoped he would never know the answer to that question

***************************

it was summer, and the sun shone brightly overhead, the light had that golden almost surreal quality that brought to mind summers as a kid, the endless hours of dreaming about what the future would bring, when every thing had seemed possible.

Beth sat on a towel at the beach watching the waves roll in onto the sparkling sands of the Hawaiian beach, only slightly confused to find her self in Hawaii she looked up as a shadow fell across her and saw her ex boyfriend Jordan. He was just the way she remembered him, golden brown from the sun wearing a pair of board shorts. He held two margarita glasses and held out one to her, he had always loved getting her drinks with little umbrellas in them.

Had she dreamed the whole end of the world and if she had what did that say about her state of mind. Jordan smiled at her as she took the drink “ you didn’t dream it” he said gently as he sat down beside her. “this is the dream or maybe it’s the reality that should have been” he added.

“Your dead” she said suddenly thinking of the dreams that she had heard so many talk about.

“In a way” he said cryptically then laughed. “ drink your drink Beth, and I need to tell you a few things so you might as well enjoy something in this dream”

She took a sip and wanted to moan in pleasure, it tasted exactly how she remembered it. Jordan smiled again “ I always loved the way you looked when you really enjoyed something” he said.

“you should have told me stuff like that when we were together” she replied, then took another sip.

“true, and in this case better late than never isn’t a good thing. But you have a good man now, and as much as I hate to admit it, he loves you as much if not more than I ever did.” Jordan said shaking his head at lost opportunities. “your in a tough spot Beth, and its going to get worse before it gets better. But I swear to you, you can handle it. but you have to suck up to the leader of this little group, his Name is Steve Bradley, do it what ever it takes to keep him on your side, because he is the only one that can keep you safe from the other one till your husband and his friends can show up. “

“I will not sleep with him” Beth stated flatly.

“I’m not saying that Hun, I’m not, but the other man is …” he stopped speaking for a moment . ‘the other man isn’t really a man, at least not the man he used to be, that man is dead and so is the man he is now”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean” Beth asked.

“it means he is some one your Husband and Jared Stone killed” Jordan said. Beths eyes widened as that sank in, Williams was Russian which had really struck her as Odd since Williams was not a Russian name, but if this wasn’t a hallucination then what Jordan had just said meant that the man in the van with her was Mikhail.

“Oh my god” she whispered the name sending a shock wave through her.

“Exactly, “ Jordan said then leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “now you understand, Suck up to Bradley for yours and the kids sake Beth.”

Beth woke in the van a child in each arm, she looked up to see the Blond , no his name was Mikhail she corrected her self, watching her with a cruel smile on his face. She shivered now knowing exactly the danger she was in, She didn’t understand how it was possible, but that it was true she did not doubt. And she knew if he suspected she knew who he was he could kill her out of hand.

**************************

Something dark roamed the newly fallen night, unseen but felt as it passed over the snow covered landscape , and where it moved the dead followed in its wake lured by the promise of fresh red bloody meat just waiting to be stripped from the bone.

They came from miles around, shuffling, limping and crawling through the snow, the cold slowing them only a little. They were of every race, every color and walk of life. A corrupted twisted version of humanity, shells of rotting flesh devoid of personality, they remembered no love, no mercy or hope. They felt no hate only a craving that could never be satisfied.

It knew that the dead could only slow this troublesome band, possibly even kill some of them, and that’s all it desired for now, its servants were approaching and would be here soon and when Jared stone and his people died, the hope they spread would die with them. And then the Scribe would finally stand alone, alone and vulnerable and the battle that had raged since man had first walked the earth would end with its extinction.

*****************************

Jansen sat on the roof of the terminal with the guards, watching the undead stagger up in ones and twos, sometimes in small groups. They were put down quickly but would keep coming drawn by the noise of the last minute preparations that were being made for tomorrows fight.

His blood sang with tension as he contemplated what was coming at Dawn, tomorrow would decided the fate of the men and women on Sullivan island it was he thought the most important fight he would ever wage. He looked up at the clouds that glowed from the moon behind them and felt falling snow touch his face. Keep her safe that’s all I ask, her and Jared, he prayed silently keep them all safe till we can get there.
Dawn was going to be a long time coming.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Chapter Eight

  1. Finally finished! I hate having to read such short bits at a time, it seems like I never get caught up. But it’s better than not reading at all I suppose. And now that I’m caught up I’m wishing I’d read slower.

    This chapter makes me wonder about the changes to Jared. It also makes me wonder what will end up happening with Steve’s look a like Reese. It will be hard to find a place among the survivors looking like that.

    Thanks O’Kelly. I’m looking forward to nine 🙂

    Like

    • thanks Fort, time will tell about Jared, Reese isnt steve and they will eventually remember that.

      and as a side note.. Chapter Nine will be up today or tomorrow. sorry about the delay.

      Like

thanks for reading please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s