Chapter nine

“The Winter Wind, the wind of death,
Who knocked upon my door,
Now through the keyhole entereth,
Invisible and hoar:
He breathes around his icy breath
And treads the flickering floor.”
~ Madison Cawein

The storage bays, were nothing more than white and gray painted four feet thick cement walls, yellow lines marked out both the vehicles paths and the rows of stacked cases, boxes and crates.

The first bay or S1 as it was painted on the walls, for storage bay one was the largest and the one that contained food stuffs, MRE’s, freeze dried and canned supplies. Overhead fluorescent lights in grill covered fixtures lit the chamber with brilliant artificial light the men and women for the Bunker were hard at work loading some supplies into the vehicles that had brought Jared and his people to the Cache, the rest of the supplies were organized for quick loading when the convoy arrived, some few doubted they would ever get a chance to leave this hell hole but were very careful not to say as much around Jared, whose own views on the subject were a bit more upbeat.

The S3 or storage bay 3, wasn’t as large as the other two bays, but it was still like a small warehouse and it was hard to believe that somehow the government had built not just the bunker but three huge storage bays with out any one ever noticing, and managed to keep the storage bays concealed long after the existence of the bunker was discovered.

Half of S3 was filled equipment, generators, rescue gear, even vehicles, four black regular humvees, two carrier configured Humvees, and a command Humvee. But it was the other half of S3 that drew the most attention, the Caged section was an armory, with cases of ammunition and weapons packed in cosmoline to keep them from corroding. Packed like they were they would still be useable a hundred years or more from now. There were barrels of powder and primers, brass and reloading gear as well who ever had stocked this place had actually been planning long term, not the normal government half assed planning that was more wasted money than actual use.

While the majority of the Morlocks and Jared’s team were busy sorting food and medical supplies out to be loaded, Jared and the others were cleaning weapons and equipment so they could be used by the mostly unarmed Morlocks.

Ronny opened a case and grinned widely as he pulled out a P90. “ Yes!” he exclaimed “this is perfect for me” he said then hunted around till he located the ammo for the weapon. “Either they ship them like this or some one spent time loading mags” Ronny said pulling out 50 round box magazines and shoving them into his ammo pouches and pack.

“you know how hard its going to be to find ammo for that thing when your out” Jared asked.

“yes I do, but with my leg the way it is, the P90 is light enough and has a low recoil that I can use it. Ill keep the G36 for later” Ronny said. “besides, there has to be ten thousand or more rounds here for the thing”

Jared was pretty sure it was more, considering there were four P90s per case, and there were six cases of the weapons. Ten thousand rounds would come out to 416 rounds (more or less) per weapons, about eight mags per weapon which was slightly more than the average of six mags usually carried by infantry so all told there should be something like 200 magazines stashed away. Probably more since only have eight magazines per weapon didn’t leave a lot of ammo if the fur started flying.

Jared finished filling bandoliers with 40mm antipersonnel rounds and HE’s and added it to the pile of things they were going to take with them when they went top side.

Steger and Ori were stocking up on .308 rounds for their weapons. “this makes more sense” Ori commented suddenly the first time he had spoken in hours. “there had always been questions about why the armory in the bunker was damn near empty. The armory was hidden back here.”

“And that makes more sense how?” Mike asked.

“no weapons to steal from the armory, and I’m betting if something had happened the security teams would have arrived to find the armor had been filled from back here.” Ori replied. Jared shrugged, in a way it made sense. But there was no way they would ever know.

“They were keeping it up to date that’s for sure” Mike commented. Almost, all the weaponry had been made in the last ten to twenty years and was something that security personnel would have needed to defend the bunker, but there were weapons here that were pure combat, like the M32 grenade launchers, or the two Mini guns or three ma deuces. Jared figured the plan had been to have heavy fire power to send out with scout teams who would have been using the Hummers stored here. There was no way in hell he could see heavy weapons being used in here with out doing a lot of damage they couldn’t repair.

“so are we going to use those” Steger asked pointing to the cases.

“I think one mini gun and one .50 would be good, the fifty fires slow enough and is stable enough it can be used for single shot sniping.”Jared said.. “ the mini gun would be able to clear a large area, either crippling or killing the dead in large numbers and that’s what we need.”

“okay explain this plan again, we cant even range on the yard where the tunnel is from the hotel so what is the point of getting up on the roof of this place” Jack asked speaking up for the first time.

“its simple, our convoy will be arriving sometime after dawn. They will wait a few miles down the road while we makes lots of noise to draw a large number of undead towards the hotel, hopefully even out of the yard. When we give them the signal they will bring up our mega IED and park it out there in the front of the hotel in the middle of the crowd then pull pack and get out of range before it detonates.”

“an IED.. you think that’s going to stop dead people” Jack asked.

“its worked before, Jared used one to blow up half a town, and a lot of undead just to get two undead clowns.” Ronny replied. “the other one we used took out a honking big steel bridge with lots of undead on it.”

“Half a town” Jack asked with an arched eyebrow.

“he really hates clowns” Ed supplied. “ Pathologically hates clowns”

Jared frowned but remained silent as he filled the spare mags for his HK. He was actually happy that Ronny was making an effort to act more like himself, but Jared was not going to get into the whole scourge of clowns or Hammer of god to smite mimes conversation.

“How many of your people can use a firearm” Jared asked suddenly taking Jack by surprise.

“About twelve have any kind of skill and knowledge, but I think all of them should be armed, even after Reggie’s melt down” Jack replied.

“ Me too” Jared replied surprising his friends, who knew he had to have some reservations about letting any one who might be under the influence of the dark have weapons. “Ill leave it up to you on who gets what, but I think your folks should take the CAR 15’s and M16’s and the pistols. To bad there’s not a range in here somewhere we could use it.” Jared said.

“your leaving to go up top when” Jack asked.

“around 0330, no later than 0400 I want to be able to take advantage of the dark while we can.” Jared explained.

“I thought the undead didn’t need to see you.” Jack asked surprised.

“well as far as we have seen they are like us, they have to see or hear you. But once they do they don’t stop till one of you is dead.” Jared replied. “ Camouflage works too as long as you don’t move and give away your position or they trip over you”

“You can move slow when your cami’d up” Ori said speaking up. “ really slow” he amended. “and they don’t seem to notice that either.”

Jack looked dubious about that but no one else in the group looked like they disagreed so he just filed the information away for future use.

By 2200hrs, they had every thing they needed for the mission prepped, as much spare ammo as they could load packed into the two hummer transports, and Jack was busy handing out weapons to the people he knew could use them in his own group. The rest would get their weapons in he morning when he could at least run them through the basics.

By 2300hrs Jareds team was racked out, trying to get a few hours of sleep before they headed up top on what most considered a suicide mission.

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

Jared woke with Jill sprawled half across him, he smiled softly wishing he had the time and there were no clothes in the way to really say goodbye properly. He woke her gently, and as her eyes focused he kissed her, cupping the back of her head with strong callused hand. She melted against him for a long moment. with regret he pulled away “ Love you” He whispered as he shifted around freeing himself from her arms and sitting up.

“I think you need to stay down here” Jill said as he dressed and armed himself.

“I Cant, you know that” Jared said.

“No I don’t, Jared I know you can feel it, something’s wrong down here, I think its waiting for you to leave.” Jill said quietly.

“Maybe, but I also know you can deal with anything that comes up.” Jared assured her. “Jill I have never doubted not once that you can handle anything that comes your way no matter what it may be. It’s the only reason I can do what I do, because I never have to worry about your being able to handle yourself and the situation.”

She watched him for a moment not even sure what she was feeling, no man she had ever dated or been interested in before Jared had ever really seen past her looks and her sex, she was always something fragile that they believed they had to protect and for no other reason than she was woman. That she was tougher and better trained had never once impacted their thinking till Jared had come along, he treated her as an equal and she loved him for it, theirs was a relationship built on mutual respect.

In the end she let it drop, she had wanted equality all her life and she had a man who gave it to her, she wasn’t about to start being the whiny type of women who wanted it both ways.

“Ill be back, I promise” Jared assured her.

“I know” she replied

Jared slung his HK center point and strode out to the center of the chamber where the rest of the team was slowly gathering. Ronny was sitting on the hood of the ELSORV, checking and rechecking his P90, his foot moving in a nervous gesture as if he were tapping the air.

“Ronny can I talk to you” Jared said, ignoring the looks from the others.

Ronny frowned, and got that hang dog look that really nailed Jared. But he slid off the hood and followed Jared a short ways away.

“I am asking you to stay here not telling you too. Something’s off and I would really like it if some one I knew and trusted stayed here with Jill and the others.” Jared said.

Ronny thought that over for a moment knowing Jared as well as he did, he knew Jared wasn’t just saying something was off to make nice and give Ronnys feelings a break.

“Jared… I.. Hell you asshole you know I cant say no to that” Ronny said

“I know” Jared said with a half smile, that did not hide the case of nerves he had. “but I’m serious brother. This has nothing to do with your limp, or whether I think you can hack the trip up top or anything that might have happened in the past. I really do have a feeling something is going to happen and I want you or Ori to stay here. And you know how Ori can be.”

“Especially right now” Ronny said with a glance at Ori was who was about as grim faced as Ronny had ever seen him.

“No, and I cant blame him either” Jared replied.

“You cant, I can.” Ronny said but didn’t elaborate. He frowned for a moment then sighed. “okay Ill stay just to make sure Jill has some back up.” Ronny said praying that if something did happen he didn’t lose it.

“Thanks, I owe you for this Ronny” Jared said.

“Tell me about it” Ronny said, hating the fact he felt relieved that he no longer had to hike through the damn hotel with a bad leg and the ghost of a unborn dead girl haunting him.

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

The hotel once a place of relaxation and peace, was now a nightmare palace of shadows and the dead. An aura of darkness hung over wide hallways a darkness that reeked of rotted meat and corruption.

The place was an imposing structure, and had much in common with the old French palaces. It was decadent in the old style, and if the group had tried to find their own way thru the labyrinth of the Hotel it would have taken days to find where they needed to go.

Which is why they had a guide by the name of Tobias White who had once been a maintenance man for the hotel, who supposedly knew every nook and cranny there was in the old place. Tobias was a quiet man, in his forties but looked like a much older man from the stress induced white hair and lines.

The group moved as silently as they could manage, down the wide arched hallway past several conference rooms then into a hall that looked more like a 16th century movie set than a hotel hallway. Their boots rang softly on the alternating black and white tiles. Paintings shrouded in gloom hung on the soft teal green walls between the arched windows and even now the ornate gilt work on the coping could been seen from the cloud filtered moon light that glowed off the snow that covered the ground outside. Scattered along the hallway were over stuffed chairs grouped in twos before the windows. Side tables that had once held vases full of flowers sat below the paintings.

The windows rattled as a gust of wind shook them and beyond the glass stood the undead shoulder to shoulder on the huge old patio who seemed to be unaware of the living just on the other side of the thin glass. Thankfully it stayed that way as the group moved quietly and quickly down the hall.

Hearing the sound of unsteady footfalls, Jared waved the group into the pools of darkness between the arched windows; sweat slicked hands gripped weapons as the men crouched watching as a small group of zombies appeared from the direction they had come from.

The pallid rotting group, staggered by with out seeming to notice the men who hid in the darkness. The last in the group was a woman wearing a ragged dress dragging a ravaged leg behind her. dirty blood clotted hair dangled in strings around the pallid head, her dead eyes fixed on some point ahead of her.

The group with out realizing it was barely breathing as they watched the undead head down the hall. Tobias crouched trembling beside Jared who placed a calming hand on the mans shoulder.

Jared could feel the trembling of the other man, and hoped like hell he didn’t lose it. he kept his hand on Tobias shoulder as the small group of zombies moved further down the hall finally vanishing from sight. The group of humans waited till the slow steady thump of the deads feet faded into the distance. Jared rose from a crouch and waved the team forward, wondering how many times they were going to have to do this.

Resisting the urge to hurry Jared and his team followed after the undead till they reached an intersection. Tobias who looked terrified silently pointed to the right, Jared nodded and waved the team down the hall, not having to tell them to stay along the walls as much as possible.

This hallway was only half the size of the previous hall, and hiding in the shadows from a group of passing undead was not an option, they filtered down the hall slowly, Jared stopped as something crunched under his boot. The whole group stopped, Damn he thought noting the side table against the wall. At his feet were old dead flowers and the remains of a vase. He backed up to a door he had just passed; in the distance they could hear footfalls drawing closer. The dead had heard the noise.

Cracking the door open, Jared looked in and saw a huge dining room, round tables once neatly set, filled the center of the room where once several hundred people could have sat to eat. To his left the distant wall was curved with arched windows and three sets of French doors that led out to a veranda. On the right wall, between paintings were two sets of double doors, straight across from him stainless steel swinging doors sat centered in the wall, he was sure those doors led to the kitchen. Silently he urged the rest of the team inside then quietly closed the door as the last man entered the room.

This sucks Jared thought as he led them across the room to one of the double doors, he leaned in close to Tobias and whispered into the mans ear “what’s on the other side of those doors” he asked.

“the clock lobby” Tobias whispered, there were actually three lobbys in a row he thought, but essentially it was one large lobby separated by columns and low ornate walls.

Jared waited till his team was gathered around the door, then opened it just a crack and looked out. He quietly closed the door and turned back to his team. “not a good choice” he whispered.

“well any other way out of here, that doesn’t go through the lobby from hell” Jared whispered to Tobias, whose eyes darted towards the swinging doors.

“yes, it might be safer” Tobias replied nervously.

Jared started to ask a question but the sound of the dinning room door rattling changed his mind. Quickly he led them through the swinging doors, the smell of the undead mixed with smell of rotted food struck him in the face warning him before he saw a man in a stained chefs outfit turn away from a door at the back of the kitchen he had been facing and stagger towards them.

Jared drew his tomahawk and stepped around the stainless prep tables, grimacing as the zombies waving arm knocked several pots and pans onto the floor with clatter that could probably be heard on the other side of the resort.

Zombies in general looked worse in the green tinted NVG visions. And this one was no different it was missing an eye and its bottom lip, and at some point in the past some one had buried a cleaver in its left shoulder, the attached arm dangled at its side.

It reached out its good hand with its blackened ragged nails to grasp Jared, its mouth yawning open revealing broken and splintered teeth. Not today, Jared thought as he swung the Tomahawk bringing it smashing down on the things head, the weapon designed to cut metal amongst other things crushed the things skill sending it toppling over to crash into a prep table sending the items on the table falling to the floor with a crash.

Out in the dining room, they heard a door burst open. “in the back there’s a service hall where supplies are delivered, it connects to a maintenance area” Tobias said determined to stick close to Jared. With a nod of thanks Jared led the group quickly to the back making straight for the door that Tobias indicated.

As they passed the open walk in cooler, a female in blood-crusted whites lunged out, grasping Reese by the arm, her head dipping down. Reese didn’t utter a sound he just gripped her by the back of the head holding it away from the arm he proceeded to tear free. With his arm free he butt stroked her knocking her back into the cooler. Where he promptly shut the cooler door.

Jared reached the door, waiting till Ori was in position, then gave the signal. Ori yanked the door open and Jared entered going to the right in a crouch HK up and ready. Ori went left. Jared moved down the plain utilitarian hallway noting the closed doors. But since they all had knobs he wasn’t to worried about any undead that might be inside.

Blood was splattered across the wall beside the door that led to the kitchen and across the legally required this is your rights posters, a body lay against the wall its skull bashed in beside it lay a battered and badly dented time clock that had been ripped from the wall.

“that’s one of the kitchen storage rooms,” Tobias whispered “ and those are the offices for the kitchen.” He said pointing out three more doors. “the break room is just past the offices on the left.” he looked sick and had developed a nervous tic at the corner of his mouth since they had left the bunker.

Jared nodded waiting for the team to shake out, and Ori to spike the kitchen door so the undead in the dining room couldn’t follow them. As soon the kitchen door was sealed, they moved quietly down the hall which ran about eighty feet before the hall turned to the left.

“Where does it go?” he asked Tobias indicating the hallway with a jab of his rifle.

“A Maintenance room and laundry area and a service elevator for the staff” Tobias replied so quietly Jared had trouble hearing him.

Jared considered that for a moment, “that door leads out into one of the main halls just past the clock lobby” Tobias said indicating the door behind Jared with a nod of his head.

Great, Jared thought as he reached for the door handle. “every one ready?” he asked.

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

0500 hrs bay S2.

Jack was worried, though he didn’t let it show he felt like something was off. He wasn’t sure exactly what but there was a heavy air hanging over the men and women of the bunker. Every one was awake even though it was barely five in the morning according to the digital clock mounted over the door. Most of them were getting back to work getting things ready for when the vehicles arrived, probably to keep themselves busy he htought

He could see the anxiety on their faces as the contemplated what hopefully would be happening in a few hours. Escape from this hole they had hidden in for so long and out into a world they had no conception of other than what they had been told by Jared and his people.

It was easy to hear that most of the human race was dead, but it still wasn’t real. He had no idea how he was going to deal with it, much less how some one like Olivia Carter or Nelson VanderSood would be able to deal with it. For them, for the morlocks in general, they still believed that things might be bad but there were still cities out there, still people going about their daily lives while the government and the military struggled to protect them and try to retake the areas lost to the infected. And god help them all when the reality finally set in.

Jared’s wife Jill was awake and talking with one of her men, if she was worried about her husband she didn’t show it, which impressed him. Face it jack you’re used to women like Olivia who break down at broken nails or collapse at the sight of a spider not a woman who moves like a predator and is just as dangerous, Jack told himself.

He watched as she mingled with his folks talking quietly, calming some with a touch, encouraging others with a word. Stone was one hell of a lucky man he thought with just a touch of jealousy.

He wasn’t the only one jealous he noted, seeing the venomous looks that Olivia kept giving Jill. He should have expected it, Olivia was vain and used to being one of the best looking women in the room and Jill stone made her look plain.

He watched Olivia walk across the bay, with that sexy little rolling walk she had when she wanted attention she walked past Jill and headed for the Bunker, with the usual arrogant look only she could muster.

Leaving Jill to make her rounds, Jack walked back into the bunker, thankful to be leaving the bunker he wasn’t sure he could take living here with over two hundred bodies piled in an unused room, slowly rotting away with out losing it eventually.

Reaching the first floor, he walked down the hall not really noticing the grey walls or the lack of decoration that had once bothered him almost to the point of distraction. Entering the security room he found Bob Riley manning the console.

Bob looked up from the monitors and gave Jack a nod of greeting, like so many others stress had given the man a lot more silver in his hair than he would normally have had at thirty-two. “Having problems’ Bob asked seeing the look on Jacks face.

“no more than usual,” Jack replied as he pulled up a rolling swivel chair from the fifties and sat down. “Olivia is working up to a bitch storm, a few of the we don’t want to leave folks are going as slow as they can in helping get stuff ready to haul out. I think they believe if they go slow enough we will give up on the idea of leaving.”

“I’m not sure I want to see whats out there myself, but the chance to get out of this place is worth it in my book” Bob said turning back to the monitors.

“I know the feeling” Jack replied. “the problem I have is something is off, I cant place my finger on it, but something is wrong.”

Bob was silent for a moment, he was the last person to want to start crap for other people but like Jack something had him worried, but in case he knew what part of that something was.

Bob took monitor one off of cycling through its camera feeds and then pushed another button calling up a camera that watched over what was supposed to have been a meeting room for senators. Three men sat on the stage at the front of the room talking quietly, Olivia stood off to one side a smile on her face as she examined the M16 she had been given just a couple of hours ago.

“Maybe this is part of whats feeling off” Bob said quietly

Jack leaned closer and frowned seeing Parker, Robert Burns and Steven Gonsal sitting on the stage. That room was one of the few with out microphones in it, originally they had been left out so that no one in security could hear the senators deliberating classified topics and he was damn sure that was why Parker had chosen that room to talk in. that and it was one of the rooms no one used.

“You think they are up to something” Jack asked Bob.

“Knowing Parker, yeah I think they are up to something.” Bob said grimly. “he has never liked being the number two guy, and he doesn’t like the new guy Jared, or the thought of leaving here and …”

“And losing what power he has” Jack said finishing Bobs thoughts.

“What about you Bob, how do you feel about leaving here.” Jack asked.

“Scared shitless Jack, but if this guy, Jared, and his people aren’t lying about that island, Id rather take the risk of leaving here to go someplace where I can stand outside and breath the air and talk to other people, normal people at that, not the once rich and famous who have been isolated down here and still think they are entitled to being treated like royalty. Like this is some sort of long term vacation and when we leave the world will still be a safe place where they are adored and pampered by the masses.” Bob said.

“Me too” Jack said with feeling. “how many people has Parker been talking to.”

“he has met with eight in the room, but who knows how many he has talked to in hall ways, or the showers where there are no cameras or microphones or half a dozen other places where we couldn’t see them”

Jack thought about that for a minute, only 12 people had been against leaving here in the first place and those where the ones Parker would suck up to first then he would have tried to find the people who had voted to leave but were still uncertain it was the right move so he could try for a majority before he pushed the issue and at that point the gloves would come off Parker had always been the type to consider force to be the proper response to most situations and he doubted Parker would change now. No when he was ready he would use weapons to either kill Stone and his people or at the least try to force the rest of the Morlocks back into the bunker and shut the door on Stone. Probably killing me and the men who have supported me as well Jack thought, the new king cant risk having some else around who was a threat to his power now can he.

Jack rose to his feet, he needed to warn Jill that something might be about to happen, and then figure out a way to deal with it before it blew up. “lock the door behind me and don’t open it again with out checking with me. If I get killed well do what you think is best at that point” Jack said as he headed for the door pausing only long enough to take one of the hand held radios from the shelf beside the door and clipping it to his belt. .

“do you really think …” Bob fell silent, he knew Parker just as well as Jack. There had always been a dark side to parker that had seemed to grow stronger the longer they had been here. “no problems hell I’m not exactly on Parkers list of favorite people anyway.” Bob added.

Jack left the Security room shutting the door behind him and making sure it was locked, then headed for the Cache, it was time he had a talk with Jill and her folks just in case things got out of control.

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

Jared led the team down the hall worried that they would encounter undead any second now but the dark hall remained undead free as they passed conference rooms and shops that held every thing from evening gowns and jewelry to novelty gizmos and gadgets.

They eased past the shops, just in case the doors were unlocked and former customers were lurking inside. finally they were past the area and approaching another arch, a brass sign on the wall to the right of the arch announced a Gallery.

This place wasn’t a hotel it was a town, Jared thought as he stepped silently into the arch and looked around thank god for Night Vision goggles Jared thought not quite able to suppress the shiver that raced through him as he saw what waited for them as the rest of the team joined him as silent as the dead that filled the gallery.

The gallery was huge with soaring square pillars, the floor was tiled with 2’x2’ tiles in alternating colors of green and white. The walls were painted a dark color that impossible to determine exactly what color through the NVGs, paintings and even some Photos hung on the walls, neatly arraigned probably using some interior designers rules,

Ornate antique styled chairs and settees were placed around the room, each conversation group placed near a pedestal with sculpture placed on it. Most disturbing of all, undead sat there quietly on the furniture staring blankly into space, as if they had been trapped in discussion about the art around them and had suddenly forgotten what they were saying.

Moldy leathery skin pulled taut over their skulls spread their lips back and away from blood stained teeth making the undead look as if they were grinning insanely. Those grins struck a primal chord deep inside Jared and the others that urged them to run as fast as they could to escape this lunatic asylum of the dead.

One sat ten feet from Jared, one leg crossed at the knee over its other leg, its sunken eyes started right at Jared who could only thank god or who ever that it was pitch black in the gallery and that the group had NVGs from the cache.

They stood there in the darkness, sweaty hands gripping weapons tightly, each second an eternity waiting for the undead to rise and swarm over them. Finally Jared gave the signal to move and led the group towards the arched hallway on the other side of the gallery.

Tension ratcheted up with each footstep, every slight scrape of boot sole or step sounded like it was being broadcast over a loudspeaker, their hearts beat as loud as a drum while the blood thundered in their veins.

Occasionally a zombie would shift or stir turning its gaze towards them, as if it had heard something. Jared was ten feet from the hallway that would take them out of the gallery, when a zombie rose to its feet, its head hanging to one side it turned slowly towards the group and took a step then stopped.

The overwhelming impression that it was sniffing the air came to Jared who had to fight the urge to open fire and run like hell. The zombie just stood there then turned away from the group and stopped facing a painting.

Jared gave a silent sigh of relief and crossed the last ten feet as quiet as a mouse till he felt carpet under his feet. With carpet to muffled their footfalls the group sped up and put some distance between hells gallery and themselves.

Jared was just about to walk past a bank of elevators, when he noticed that the doors to one elevator stood open and a figure stood inside, long lanky hair fell around a ravaged leathery face, half covered in mold, a once expensive dress hung loosely over the skeletal thin body.

Jared was never sure what alerted the thing, but its head suddenly turned its dead eyes fixed on Jared, it lunged rail thin arms extended its blood stained hands with broken nails reaching for him.

He pivoted on his right heel taking himself out of the way of its lunge, drawing his Khurkri at the same time. the woman stumbled to a stop then whirled around, mouth opened in a silent hiss. Holy shit he thought, never having seen one of the dead move so fast. She lunged again this time he was ready, the heavy blade in his hand swept around taking her in the head with a loud crack, she staggered to one side even as Jared followed through with a high kick that took her in the face like a jack hammer sending her falling backwards to the floor.

Far down the hall behind them, something crashed to the ground, Jared knew that the dead in the gallery were on their way to check out the noise.

“need your help” Jared whispered to Tobias who looked like he was about to throw up from the fear that coursed through him. “In there” he said pointing to a door just past the elevators. “inside quick” he whispered. Jared was the first through the door and found a staircase that went up. even the emergency stairs were decorated Mike thought as he stepped inside and almost knocked a vase full of dead flowers off a side table placed against the wall. A Monet reproduction hung above the table.

As soon as the door was shut, Reese and Ed climbed up to the landing to act as guards while those who had been carrying the heavy gear bags took a moment to rest.

“I say the roof is the best bet, screw the second or third floors.” Ori said quietly. “ if the undead come up the stairs to the roof we can rappel down and go through a window, to escape. Instead of being trapped in a couple of rooms.”

“I agree” Jared said then turned to Tobias. “ can we reach the roof from this stairwell.” He asked.

Tobias his face tinged green thanks to the NVG’s frowned slightly as he thought about it. Jared knew the man was wishing he had stayed behind at the bunker. “yes, if you have a way to get past the door, it was locked up and sealed years ago. I don’t have a key. Other wise we have to go around to the maintenance area on the top floor. If we can get to the employee’s area, where the offices, laundry and things are down here , we can go straight up and come out beside the Room you need. “

Jared looked at Ori who shrugged “ I can get us past it, but it will make noise, and we will not be able to shut and lock the door when I’m done.” Ori replied.

“there is now way we are going to be able to work our way round to the back areas now, lets just get upstairs before those things out there reach the door and hear us” Reese whispered down to them.

Jared had to agree, “ wedge that door just in case” he said then started up the stairs, not wanting the rest of them to know just how shaken he had been by the speed of the undead he had just put down. That just wasn’t normal at least not in his experience.

Just as they reached the fourth floor, they could hear something strike the door down at the bottom. Jared ignored it for the moment as he shined the light on the HK tac rail up the final flight of stairs to the door at the very top. Not only had it been padlocked closed, but it had been painted into the doorframe. Not that painting it would stop explosives or his tomahawk from taking the door down. But Ori had a point about not being able to just shut the door behind them.

“Tobias how far to the maintenance room from here”

Tobias was quiet for a moment, then finally he looked at Jared. “ the one that gives access to the roof is in the east wing. Halfway across the hotel from here.”

“just fucking great” Reese muttered.

“we have just one problem, the sun will be up in about 45 minutes” Jared said, even though many places here in the hotel would remain in the dark, they would be completely exposed when traversing the halls with windows and who knew how many undead, when the roof was just beyond that old door up there.

Jared looked back up at the door with a frown, “ Reese, You and go down to the landing below and stand guard. Ori, lets see what we can do about getting this door open with out wrecking the hinges, we can spike and wedge the damn thing closed..” Jared said.

Ori shrugged off his back and began to pull out the tools he was going to need.

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

the air in the bunker was thick with the smell of fear, as the morlocks tried to prepare themselves for a world that they couldn’t really imagine. They had been too sheltered, to isolated and that had helped keep them from experiencing what most of the world had seen first hand.

Each man and woman tried to grapple with the idea of cities full of the walking dead, of hordes of the dead that seemed to roam all over the country as if seeking out the living. They tried to face their fears but with out actually stepping outside they would never be able to grasp the totality of the disaster that had swept the world.

Ronny sat on the hood of the ELSORV with his bad leg stretched out as he watched the tunnel entrance to S2, when Jared had first said something had felt off Ronny had accepted it, but had just passed it off as a suspicion about the Morlocks. But as the hours had slid past, he had begun to feel something himself, a heavy foreboding electric feeling that pressed down on the Cache that set the nerves to jangling.

Well you asked for this, he told himself. You insisted on going along on this to prove yourself to Jared, well so far Buddy you’ve only proven you can act like your better.

If things went south down here, like he was beginning to suspect it might he was going ot have to do a damn sight more than pretend. The real question was could he, the odd spells of waking nightmares still occurred, he still hesitated or froze at the worst times, and the damn hand shaking thing was getting worse not better when he was under stress and oh yes cant forget the constant need for a pill to help him deal with the whole damn thing.

He glanced at the digital clock above the entrance to the tunnel, every doorway had one down here something to do with the psychology of being underground, clocks helped people see the passage of time.

Jared should be almost to the roof by now he thought it was close to daybreak just a little longer and .. four men entering the bay distract him, all four had M16’s slung at their side, but something was off about them.. He recognized one of them, the mans name was Parker, or at least that’s what Ronny thought he had heard.

Jill who was talking with Brock and Randy, while Kent, Jeffery and Willy were busy carrying more cases of food to the vehicles.

They had all wanted to go with Jared but had been left behind to help load and guard the vehicles.

Jill looked up at the approaching men and automatically smiled in greeting, as diplomatic as always.

There was something in Parkers eyes Ronny realized as a alarm bells in his mind began to ring. But it was the figure that glided out of the stacks behind the men that set his mental alarms to shrieking, the pale figure that couldn’t exist looked him in the eye and smiled.

Parker was still smiling as the man beside him threw something underhanded right at Jill, Ronny had half a second to see it was about the shape of a beer can, twice as large and green. There was nothing he could do, other than roll off the hood of the ELSORV, placing it between him and the Flash bang, turn his head away, close his eyes tightly and open his mouth.

The others were not so lucky they were caught flat out by the flash bang that left them disoriented and reeling around.. Parker and his men had turned away from the grenade just in time, between the distance and not looking in the direction of the flash bang they were able to react swiftly rushing up and yanking the weapons away from Jill and the others.

Ronny scrambled to his feet, his stomach churning with fear as he lunged for the back of the ELSORV not even sure what the hell he could do to salvage the situation.

“throw out your weapon Cripple or I shoot the woman” A man called out. At least the effects of the Banger were gone, Ronny thought as humiliation burned in his soul at the insult, but that was nothing compared to the sense of failure that filled him. “I’m not playing games asshole toss it out now I start laying out bodies.”

Reluctantly Ronny unclipped the P90 and slid it out from behind the ELSORV.

“not good enough, I know you have at least one pistol, slide it out here.”

Ronny pulled his pistol, and slid it out to join the P90.

“Now stand up Crip and limp your ass around here to join your friends.” Parker said as two of his men laughed. His blood burned at the humiliation, but it wasn’t enough to dispel the fear or the sense of failure that boiled in him.

The rest of the Group had their hands laced behind their heads, Jill glaring daggers at Parker. As Ronny limped around the vehicle, trying not to look at the figure that stood behind the men, he knew it was a hallucination, but she refused to go away.

“Man look at that, his hands are shaking so bad he wouldn’t have been able to fire anyway” a dark haired, hatchet faced man said laughing.

Parker laughed his rifle centered on Ronny’s face. “ Step right over here by the woman” Parker said smirking, Behind Parker Ronny could see her, the thing, the ghost from his dreams standing there, a hideous smile on her face. “Your all dead father” it said in a cold mocking voice that reverberated deep into Ronny’s bones bring with it a feeling of despair that rocked him to his core.

No one else could hear her, or see her and no matter how much Ronny knew she couldn’t exist, she was as real as the people around him.

“ Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead” She chanted over and over and over, each word rang like a discordant bell that sent slivers of ice through him, causing him to shake with each repetition as if he had touched a live wire.

Jill didn’t know what was going on with Ronny, out of the corner of her eyes she saw him go white, his eyes bulging out a little as he stared at something behind the gunmen.

“What in the hell are you doing Parker?” Jack called out entering the bay and moving behind a vehicle. Alerted by Bob that something was up Jack had raced after Parker, while his own security team was dealing with the handful of Parker’s associates in the bunker who were attempting to hold the power plant.

“stopping these people from getting us all killed” Parker snapped. “they want to haul us out and leave us to the infected so they can move in, and you want to let them do it”

“We took a vote to leave Parker,” Jack replied trying to work his way closer.

“Yeah you took a vote, thinking you could ignore those of us who wanted to stay.” Parker snapped, his rifle swinging away from Ronny.

“you and the people that want to are more than welcome to stay,” Jack replied meaning it, any one that wanted to stay was more than welcome to stay in this hole in his book.

“sure stay in a bunker that your friends have stripped bare of food and water, they are even taking the weapons and ammo so do not stand there and act like these people are our friends Jack.” Parker yelled back.

“If they wanted to stay here, why would they strip the bunker you moron. Think about it man, they could have shot all us when we didn’t have but a few weapons” jack shot back knowing it was hopeless Parker wasn’t going to listen, even if he didn’t believe the crap he was spouting the man was determined to become a leader no matter what he had to do and what lies he had to spread to convince the others to side with him, unless he had really lost it. “Besides they haven’t touched any of the supplies in the Bunker itself, just the stuff here in the bays.”

Parker ignored the logic of course, which Jack had suspected he would. “don’t think we haven’t noticed how you’ve been sucking up to them, just to save your own ass and maybe get a piece of this ones ass” Parker said leering at Jill who throttled back the urge to leap forward and pound the asshole into the ground.

Jill appeared calm, relaxed even waiting for the men who held her and the others at gun point to make a mistake that would give them a chance, but she was also worried about Ronny who stood there swaying slightly his eyes following something only he could see.

She shivered for a moment as the temperature seemed to drop around them, and the faintest hint of death and decay filled the air. Come on Ronny snap out of she thought angrily.

“Jack if you drop your weapon and come on out and join us, I promise there will be a place for you here, but these people, these raiders have to go.” Parker called out the anger on his face fading as a friendly smile replaced it.

Ronny could hear what was being said around him, but it was so hard. She wouldn’t shut up, just kept hounding him, screaming at him as she glided around the men who held them at gunpoint. “they tried to warn you father, tried to warn that fool Jared to stay away from here, but he wouldn’t listen and you helped him. Now look at the danger your in, the danger your friends wife is in all because of Jared Stone. You know the reason You have never told him about attacking your friend was because he would either kill you or leave you on the side of the road, you and mother.” She said as she smiled at him, the flesh on her face melting and flowing till it dripped on the floor at her feet, but that smile never faltered. “ left you to die, do you know how I die. do you?”

Ronny screwed his eyes shut so he wouldn’t have to see it. but her voice whispered in his ear. “you cant run from me father, you failed me”

“shut up” Ronny growled not even noticing the shocked silence that fell over the bay as the gun men looked at Ronny in surprise. “ Just shut the fuck up.” he continued with out realizing the sudden danger he was in.

Parker glared at Ronny, no one talked to him like that, no one. So what if the crippled asshole was nuts it was a matter of respect and this asshole wasn’t showing any. Well lets use him to make my point to Jack.

“do not shoot him” Jill said seeing the fury in Parkers eyes as he lifted his weapon and pointed it right at Ronny, who was rocking back and forth on his heels, eyes tightly closed. “he is sick”

“the fucker is dead” Parker snapped. The hair on Jills neck suddenly stood up, she could feel something there with them, like a dark fetid wind that blew through the room bring the smell of death with it. A dark malignant presence that grew and spread across the bay like a cancer.

She knew that these men were its tools, willing or not they served it as surely as the sun rose every morning and they were not going to let them live no matter what happened.

Parker and his men had moved fast to disarm them after the flash bang, a little to fast really. They had grabbed every weapon being held and that they could see, but that had missed at least one, the pistol Jill wore holstered at the small of her back.

Her hand darted for the pistol, she knew she wasn’t as fast as Jared, knew she probably couldn’t get off a shot, but if it gave Ronny a chance to live and that’s all that mattered.

Jack saw Jared’s wife haul a pistol out from under her coat, distracting a couple of Parkers men, Jack rose to his feet and opened fire, he put two rounds in the man directly in front of Jill, then shifted his aim but Parker had turned as well and snapped off a burst from his M16 trying to score a hit on Jack.

Men were diving out of the line of fire and scrambling for weapons, as bullets skipped and whined around them. Jill shot on man, and saw Ronny was still standing there rocking back and forth trapped in what ever world his mind had created.

Ronny heard the gunshots and the laughter of the unborn ghost that couldn’t exist, he didn’t dare open his eyes and see what he feared had happened, but that didn’t stop the surge of grief and the sense of failure that swept over him knowing he had failed not just Jill but Jared as well.

He could feel that thing that called it self his daughter circling him like a shark checking out its next meal, a cold presence that caused his skin to prickle.

“shes dead, dead father and its your fault” the thing laughed the voice filled with dark amusement. “ now mother will die, just like Jill is dyig, like I will die and its all your fault.”

God no, please do not let her be dead or dying Ronny prayed grief tearing at him, the thought of losing Mary was hellish, he knew that if she were gone he had nothing left to live for. Nothing. it was then that a spot of anger began to burn in his heart and as it grew it changed into a incandescent fury that swept aside his self doubts, that shook him from the shock and fear that had held him still and silent.

“NO” Ronny shouted, the words ripped from his throat his eyes snapped open and he saw Jill on the ground, rolling away from a man with an assault rifle. Nearby lay two dead men. “she’s not dead you fucking bitch. And your not my daughter.” Ronny bellowed as he saw Parker shooting at some one behind the ELSORV, with out a thought he leaped at Parker using an Elbow strike to the head that staggered the former bodyguard. For once he didn’t notice the pain from his crippled leg.

Parker taken by surprise almost dropped his weapon, but then whirled on the cripple he had thought would be no threat only to have the asshole kick him in the side with a knee, pain flashed as a Rib broke. Parker gasped and tried to rabbit punch the short insane asshole with his off hand, he hit the man as hard as he could and was surprised that it didn’t seem to faze the little shit.

The cripple managed to get in two more good strikes before Parker drove the butt of his rifle into the mans face knocking him to the floor, things were happening so fast he wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, Brit Lane one of his supporters was down in a pool of blood, and it looked like another of his men was down and somewhere back in S2 he could hear gunfire.

Jill saw Ronny go down blood flowing from a broken nose and a busted lip Parker standing over him, smiling savagely as he lowered the barrel of his rifle to shoot Ronny, Jill lifted her own pistol and knew she wasn’t going to be in time.

God, its happening all over again, his thoughts flashed through his mind with insane speed as he lay there his head throbbing, crippled on my back about to die just like with Strider. there was a dark Satisfied laughter from all around him that chilled him to the bone and he knew no matter what else might be wrong with him, this thing had played him, messed with his mind all for this moment, the ultimate Déjà vu only this time there is no cranky old man to save him.

Then do it yourself asshole, Ronny thought as he saw the huge dark bore of the weapon centering on his stomach.

Parker smiled, and then his breath exploded out of him with a whoosh as the rifle fell from nerveless fingers, as an indescribable pain roared up from his crotch as a combat boot crushed his testicles. He fell to his knees, no longer even caring about the other gun shots or the fact that Lane was going to rise in a moment, rise and try to feed.

Ronny kicked out again ignoring the reedy mewling scream of pain that escaped Parkers lips. He rolled to his feet, ignoring the pain in his leg an face, and drove a rock hard fist straight into the mans face laying him out. “how’s that for a cripple,” Ronny shouted, as he stepped up and kicked the man in the side again. “ like that asshole.”

Parker was in pain more pain than he could ever remember, and that crippled shit just kept pounding on him. For the first time since he had been a kid, he felt fear, back then he had know that sooner or later the kid beating on him would stop. But this man wanted him dead, and all Parker suddenly wanted was to be able to get his voice to work again so he could beg for the man to stop.

Ronny didn’t notice any of that, he was lost to the rage that filled him and in an entirely other time and place. “shoot me again.. leave me to die.. fuck you fuck you strider, fuck you. You killed a good man that day all because of me… never again.. Never” Ronny was shouting as he battered Parker into a bloody mess.

Things happened fast for Jill, one second Ronny was on the floor about to die, then suddenly he was all over Parker, a dead man on the floor was sitting up, another dead man was crawling towards Ronny, and four people erupted from the tunnel to S2 firing over their shoulders.

She shot the dead man going after Ronny, then shifted position to shoot the zombie just sitting up, when some one slammed into her from the side. Knocking her pistol from her hand. She twisted and rolled with the blow, kicking out as she did and sent her assailant flying. She rocked into a handstand and flipped to her feet then smiled at the man who had attacker her. He glared at her a knife in his hands. “well going to stand there all day or get brave and try to stab me” Jill taunted.

“bitch” the man shouted as he lunged at her, she rose fluidly grasping his wrist, twisting and pulling him past her, even as she rammed an open palm againt the outside of his elbow shattering it. before she torqued into a hip throw and smashed the man against the side of the van. Somewhere along the way he had dropped the knife and didn’t really know when.

The man somehow got to his feet again and threw himself at her, enraged at being tossed around like a rag doll in the hands of a woman only to be knocked back against the van as she put him down with a spinning snap kick that knocked out some of his teeth. She flowed into a snapped kick that planted a motorcycle boot into the mans head that knocked him out even as a shadow fell over her.

Ronny stood over Parker, hand drawn back to punch the man in the face again, and stopped shaking from head to toe, he no longer saw Strider there in the darkness of the hallway, no longer felt his life pouring out of him as he lay there waiting to die and terrified Mary was going to die because he had failed. Now he saw the terror filled eyes of a man who had moments ago been ready to kill Jill and any one else in his way, in that moment Ronny was connected to the man through a fear they both shared.

Ronny lowered his fist and turned away from Parker feeling ashamed for what he had just done, even though the man had been intent on killing. Taking a man down fast and clean was one thing, this, this was something different and it was wrong. Ronny’s thoughts slithered to a stop as he saw a zombie get to its feet, and lunge at Jill who had her back turned to it.

It was fast Ronny saw, maybe it was so fast because it was fresh, maybe for some other reason, not that he took the time to think about it, he throw himself at the zombie knocking it off its feet, gasping from the pain he rolled to his feet and kicked the zombie in the head. “rotten, stinky, shit bag” Ronny swore as he kicked it again and again till bones broke and it collapsed unmoving. He scooped up the P90 and turned back to Parker and saw the thing that had never been born standing over the fallen man.

“this is humanity, this is what you are, and why all of you will perish” it said in a cold emotionless voice.

“Fuck you” Ronny said, ignoring the fear the ever present damn fear that threatened to bring him to his knees. He didn’t know what the thing was but he knew this thing had been what had set Bowler hat loose on the world, the thing that sent Mikhail, Sheamus and Williams after them and set Simms on a collision course with them.

It watched him for a heartbeat, cold black eyes boring into his soul then it was gone leaving only the smell of rotting meat and old blood to linger in the room.

Jack was just standing fully upright, when Olivia ran into the bay with a rifle, her long legs flashing, she saw the downed men and Jill who stood over them and shrieked in anger. She lifted her rifle aiming at Jill.

Jack’s pistol came up with regret, he pulled the trigger, even as another weapon barked on the other side of the ELSORV.

Olivia had never been a smart women, she had used her looks and mens lust to get what she had wanted in life, working her way through relationships like they were jobs, leaving one for another that provided more money and power. The end of the world hadn’t really affected her here in the bunker.

She had men here who fell all over themselves just to talk her, they had given her extra food, and anything else she had wanted, and she played them against each other in the only game she had ever enjoyed. And then had come the strangers, and that woman who was every thing Olivia wasn’t. Driven by the dreams of her mother, her anger, hate and jealousy had been twisted leading her to this moment, a moment that should have resulted in triumph for her, instead she fell into darkness knowing at last she wasn’t the star of her own movie.

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

0545 Green Brier hotel

Jared stepped out onto the roof of the hotel shivering under the cold wind that blew in off the mountain, the sun was just rising lighting the horizon with pinks, reds and orange as it slowly rose beams of rose colored light set the side of Greenbrier mountain aflame in color.

It took only moments to get all the gear bags out onto the Roof and get the door closed and hopefully secured in case the undead came up the stairs. Which they probably would Jared thought smiling grimly as he turned and saw Ori setting up a claymore to cover the door.

Mike got the radio and the antenna aerials set up, while Reese, Ed and Steger got the heavy weapons set up.

Jared walked to the edge of the roof and looked down on the undead watching as they milled around in the snow so far below. He wandered why some would just stand around staring while others seemed to be constantly on the move even if it was only walking in a circle.

“Got Jansen on the Horn” Mike called out from the radio.

Jared walked over and knelt beside Mike taking the offered head set and slipping it on.

“go ahead” Jared said.

“good to hear your voice again” Jansen said instantly with a touch of worry to his tone. “we are positioned about three miles from the entrance, when ever your ready we are set to roll:”

“any company” Jared asked.

“ there were maybe five or six that showed up when we got here, but nothing since.” Jansen said. “ after what we saw heading down the interstate yesterday I expected a lot more.”

“lucky you, they are all out in the front yard.” Jared replied. “time to get to work, stand by for the call.”

“Roger, Echo one six out”

“Echo one out” Jared said then pulled off the head set and placed on top of the radio.

“lets get this show on the road” Jared said walking over to the CD player that Ori had set on the roof and punched play.

As Ozzy Osburnes Crazy train roared from the speakers, the undead below turned almost as one and headed for the front wall of the hotel.

Unlike the movies fighting zombies became routine after a while, unless of course you were alone and on the ground surrounded by a horde and no real escape. But for the most part with a good position, weapons and men it was literally like shooting fish in a barrel and today the fish were dying in droves.

From all over the grounds the undead came, pouring into the killing ground mindlessly trying to reach the humans that the sound promised where there. They staggered over the gore blackened snow and stumbled over the steadily growing pile of bodies that carpeted the ground.

Mike armed with nothing but a HK stood by the radio pulling guard duty with Tobias and waiting by the radio. The thunder of gunfire and music had long ago become a comfortable companion soothing in its own way and today was no different.

Could they all end up dead eventually swept away by a rising sea of the undead yes, but that thunder behind him was a defiant middle finger at the what ever was force was behind the undead, and that there was a force behind was beyond doubt, he had felt it, seen it, it had taken his wife and sent Jasper Brown out into the world to destroy.

“Give them the signal” Jared called out as he reloaded the M32 Grenade launcher.

Mike smiled and knelt at the radio pulling on the headset.

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

Three vehicles rolled down route 60, gaining speed and pushing past wreckage and the steadily growing number of undead. The HET led the way, smashing through knots of zombies with ease, the sound of popping skulls and breaking bones drowned by the roar of the heavy engine of the Military semi Tractor.

“up there turn” Jansen said spotting the entrance sign for the Resort. His driver a 32 year old man named marcus who had once been a in the Guard smiled tightly as he turned the wheel and took the turn almost to sharp, the HET Rocked once and felt like it was about to go over then it was racing up the snow covered road followed by the semi pulling the tanker and another Semi tractor gun truck.

“let them know we are coming “ Jansen said, Marcus reached up and pulled the cord and let the air horn wail for a moment.

The vehicles roared down the snow covered road under the skeletal limbs of the trees that lined the road. through the gaps they could see the hotel and the once luxurious landscaped gardens that were now filled with undead.

Jansen could see explosions in the middle of the horde and the wink of muzzle flashes from the roof as they turned onto the main drive.

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

“let her rip Reese” Jared said as he stepped back from the edge of the roof, smiling at the sound of the Air horn. Reese nodded and brought the M134D six barreled mini gun up to full speed, the whine of the electric motor filled the air. The second it reached maximum velocity Reese pulled the trigger..

The weapons fired so fast that the tracers appeared to be a solid bar of light, that he swept back and forth across the undead carving a path of ruin through the horde below. When Jared had first insisted on hauling along the damn thing and two 3000 round ammo containers he had thought the man was stupid. Especially since he was the one that was going to have to haul the thing. Others had hauled the ammo containers. At least this model was lighter than the older versions weighing at 47 pounds as opposed to 85 pounds, it essentially weighed about the same as the Ma Deuce, with a variable rate of fire between 2000 rounds to 6000 rounds per minute with range of 3,280 feet.

It was the belt ammo containers that really added to the weight of the system, which is why mini guns were mostly used on Vehicles and aircraft that could carry large amounts of ammo.

There was something almost god like about firing the weapon and the damage it wrought on the undead was unbelievably spectacular. No matter what the movies might have shown about how ineffectual military weapons were against zombies the reality was far different and it showed as the others stopped firing to gape at the carnage on the hotels lawn.

The roar of the weapon stopped as he ran out of ammo, and left off the trigger and went to work loading the second belt, music blaring and the steady thump of the Ma deuce started again.

Jared watched as the HET entered the circular drive plowing through the undead, Jared looked closer and smiled seeing the cattle catcher that had been mounted on the front and the side spikes his smile grew larger as he saw the large metal box that had been added just behind the winches on the HET, Jansen had turned the HET into a gun truck that mounted a .50 and had four other men with assault weapons firing from the box down onto the undead.

Behind the HET came a Semi pulling a fuel tanker, that drove directly into the middle of the space in the center of the Huge circular drive, crushing undead under its wheels the entire way. It came to a stop the undead beating and pawing at the sides of the Semi trying to reach the driver far above them.

The Hemmitt fitted with a Personnel carrier came to a stop at the entrance to the circular drive men firing from the windows of the carrier while the HET turned and drove into the undead surrounding the Semi, before finally pulling up along side the semi tractor, where a board with rope loops down the center was run out from the Gunbox into the passenger window of the semi. The driver of the semi climbed out using the loops to pull himself up the board till the men in the gun box could help him climb inside then the HET pulled away.

Reese charged the Mini gun and opened fire again between the mini gun and the Ma deuce they cleared a long stretch of ground below them. When the Mini gun ran dry a second time, Jared gave the signal and the men on the roof grabbed their gear and retreated to the far side of the hotel roof as they could get from the IED about to go off.
Jared drew the flare gun he had brought and fired.

The two vehicles had retreated halfway back the way they had come when Benton in the gun box transmitted. “there it is Sarge”

Jansen climbed up into the gunners position in the Cab of the HET and looked up to see a glowing red flare arcing across the sky. Dropping back inside, he picked up the black box with two switches he armed the device then lifted the plastic shield over the large red push button. He didn’t hesitate his finger came down and hell broke loose.

One minute the undead were either streaming towards the hotel, or trying to get inside the now abandoned semi, and another long line was staggering after the two retreating vehicles. The next moment, the trailer behind the semi bulged then disintegrated sending a shock wave out that smashed the undead around like a giant fist, behind the shock wave came hundreds of thousand of shards of metal and burning fuel like the outriders of a hell storm that washed over the undead. The shrapnel ripped through the undead for three hundred yards, shredding undead flesh, trees, flower beds, and the front wall and windows of the hotel and shaking the building to its core. The snow vaporized creating a band of steam that rapidly dissipated as the lawn and many of the corpses burned.

One minute Jared was on his feet, the next he was laying face down, feeling the grit of dirt and small rocks on his face. He rolled over and sat up, seeing Ori sitting against an AC unit with a stunned look on his face. Flame wracked smoke rose from the front lawn of the hotel. “holy shit” Ori muttered shaking his head. “they got the mixture wrong”

“well we lived that’s all I care about at the moment.” Jared said climbing to his feet and picking crap off his face, his nose wrinkling at the smell of burning flesh.

Ed sat up shaking his head slowly “I feel like I have just been gang raped.” He muttered.

“did you get kissed” Ori asked as he stood .

“Hell no”Ed muttered

as the team recovered, Jared and Ori walked back to the front of the hotel and looked down. Every where were piles of bodies many were burning, shattered burning tree stumps, smoking holes where flower beds had once been, and shattered windows and broken siding. One of the pillars on the front porch had broken and the rest were blackened from the fire pile.

“I think next time, we find a way to get you back to camp to make the bombs” Jared said awe struck at the devastation. It was clear that all the undead were down, across the lawn some were standing up and starting towards the hotel, or the sound of rapidly approaching truck motors. But where they had been shoulder to shoulder before, the undead were now scattered around in clumps.

More were appearing from all over the resort, but now were in manageable numbers.
Jansen’s Guntrucks returned and began rolling through the grounds intent on putting down the remaining undead before the rest of the convoy reached the resort.

“lets help them finish this “ Jared said as he lifted his rifle to his shoulder.

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

Ronny stood off to one side watching as Jill talked quietly with Jack, as the last of the bodies from the abortive coup was carried into the bay and place with the others. There had been forty survivors in the bunker when they had first arrived, now there were only twenty two left.

Two of the men that had been with Jill and Ronny had been killed, and three wounded but that was it out of the men that had come with Jared. Parker and his people hadn’t been able to get past the gaurds Jared had left to guard the armory or it might have turned out differently.

What had actually drove the man to fight, would probably never be known and Parker probably wasn’t going to live much longer. Ronny felt bad about that in a way, no that wasn’t true, he did feel bad about it, he had lost control and when he saw the look in the other mans eyes, and saw the same fear and terror there that Ronny had felt since Strider he had felt dirty.

Jacks man in the com center had already radio’d the camp and Justin was going to be flown in by Harald as soon as things were under control up top to see if there was anything he could do for Parker. That’s where Ronnys feelings got confusing, he regretted losing control, but the man had been trying to kill Jill and the others and he wasn’t sure he wanted the man to live and possible try it again.

He shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets to hide the tremor that set them to shaking. “all right folks get read to open it up” Jack called out as he got the signal from the Com center. The man had shoved his anger and grief deep inside to get on with business, now more determined than ever to leave this place behind.

Men rushed to the blast door, while others manned the Ma Deuce or readied personal weapons. They all waited a very tense twenty minutes then Jack gave the order to open the blast door. Once it was opened, Ronny and Brock headed down the tunnel and after a moments hesitation opened the large steel door that opened up onto the entry ramp.

The smell was incredible Ronny thought as he saw the pile of bodies that littered the ramp, many were just charred husks probably from the flame thrower, but he could see at least two up at the top of the ramp that a soft white light spilled from every hole in their bodies and that was from white phosphorus slowly burning through them.

Men in gas masks and wearing thick gloves were walking amongst the dead putting down the crippled ones and clearing the bodies. A Delivery truck waited to come down the ramp.

Once the way was clear enough the delivery truck started down the ramp, bouncing over the bodies that remained. While Brock returned to the bay, Ronny stepped out and to the side letting the first truck pass into the tunnel. As the second truck appeared at the top of the Ramp, Ronny saw Jared and Ori start down after the truck.

They were covered in soot and dirt and looked tired as hell Ronny thought as he impulsively hugged both men who were surprised Ronny was not usually the touchy feely type.

“good to see you too” Jared said, his eyes narrowing slightly in suspicion as he saw Ronny’s broken and swollen nose and busted lip. “what happened.”

“nothing good, and Jill is all right” Ronny said.

“Did she do that” Ori asked pointing at Ronny’s face.

“no, that guy named Parker did that.” Ronny replied, then told them the whole story as they walked down the tunnel behind the second truck, with a third truck coming up behind them.

“damn” Jared said as they entered S1 and he saw the line of body bags against the outer wall, then Jill walked up and he swept her up in his arms and hugged her.

“Glad to see your all right” Jared said.

“if it wasn’t for Ronny I wouldn’t be” Jill replied. “ he saved my butt Jared”

Ori cast a sidelong look at Ronny but said nothing, the frown on his face never even wavered.

“it’s a nice butt I didn’t want it wasted” Ronny said trying to Joke, as Jared turned towards him, emotions flickering in his emerald eyes.

“thank you Ronny, I, we owe you” Jared said then stepped forward and wrapped an arm around Ronny’s shoulders and squeezed. “Now I guess I need to go talk to Jack, and see what he wants to do.” He walked off with Jill by his side, Jill looked back and flashed him a smile.

“well I guess your back on his good side” Ori remarked. “glad your getting past your problems” he added almost grudgingly.

“thanks,” Ronny said, Ori nodded and started to walk away but Ronny caught him by the shoulder. “Ori, I’m sorry about Beth, I really am. Ill do what ever it takes to get her back, we all will.”

Ori turned and looked at Ronny for a second. “ I know you will Ronny, I just hope its not already too late.” Ori said softly.

“its not Ori, if something had happened to her, you would know.” Ronny said. And Ronny knew exactly how the thought of losing Beth must feel to Ori, he felt the same way about Mary.

“yeah, I probably would. But there’s more that can happen to her than just dying.” Ori replied then turned and walked away leaving Ronny to stand there alone as the next truck rumbled into the bay.

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

Jansen climbed down from the HET, watching as the next vehicle pulled into the kill box that had been created at the gate by parking two semis outside the gate, creating a narrow lane for the delivery trucks to reach the gate, which kept the number of undead directly outside the gate down to a small number, that could be dealt with easily either by being run down by the trucks entering or exiting or by the men who stood atop the semi trailers who could shoot down into the undead with out fear.

At least the numbers of undead were low now, not like the horde that had been here this morning, the undead that roamed around and ended up at the Maintenance yard were either new arrivals of the undead that had been behind the hotel or farther away on the grounds.

A fortified position had been set up inside the gate, with a Ma Deuce and six men just in case some undead managed to get through the gate and into the maintenance yard.

“Keep a good watch I’m heading down” Jansen told Benton who nodded slowly, understanding exactly why Jansen was heading down into the Cache.

“No problem Sarge, we got it up here” Benton replied waving a hand towards the ramp as if shooing Jansen away.

Jansen slung his rifle and headed down to the ramp passing the now battered Tacoma gun truck that was parked off one side to help cover the gate. The bodies had finally been removed from the ramp and piled off to the side by the fence where they had been set on fire. The stench was bad, but by the time he entered the tunnel it wasn’t as thick in the air.

The lighted tunnel and the light pouring from the open Bay at the end of the tunnel seemed so out of place that it stirred a strong sense of nostalgia for the world that was lost.

He passed the three men standing Guard at the blast door with a nod then entered the bay where men and women were busying loading the line of trucks. The place was huge he thought looking around, there was no way they could take all this in the time they had.

“Hey” Mike called out spotting Jansen walking across the chamber. “that was on hell of a IED you boys cooked up” Mike said as he stepped out of the way of the forklift that was heading for one of the trucks a pallet loaded with cases on its forks.

“yeah it made a little larger boom than we expected “ Jansen said looking around for Jared. “wheres Jared?” He asked.

“in the conference room, Ill show you where it is” Mike said as he walked over to Jansen.
If Jansen had thought the First bay was impressive, he was equally surprised to see the size of the Second bay as mike led him to the door into the bunker. “you should see S3, it’s the armory and materials bay” Mike said as he led Jansen down a hallway painted in government grey, the smell of blood and undead lingered in the air around them.

The conference room on the first floor of the bunker was huge made to hold several hundred not the thirty men and women who had gathered inside. Jared sat on the edge of a table talking quietly to the ragged looking shell shocked group. Who from what little Jansen had heard at last almost half their number since Jared arrived. Damn tough break that.

Seeing Jill sitting at the Table Jared was half sitting on he smiled warmly happy to see she was okay. Jared waved him over and introduced him to the group of survivors.

“ most of these folks will be going back to the island” Jared said.

“most?” Jansen asked.

“a few have volunteered to stay here with the team I’m leaving to guard the place.”

“a team” Jansen repeated then nodded it made a lot of sense to him.

“yeah, we should have all the supplies we need loaded up by tomorrow and the convoy can start back to the coast. So I thought leaving a team to guard whats left and guard the servers in here would be the here would be best.” Jared said.

“Okay lets cut this to the chase Jared” Thor said with a twist of his lips that might have been an amused smile. “ whats on the servers”

“the internet” Jared replied with a grin.” Apparently a few years ago, the Government got together with a few of the big firms and placed these servers here to back up the net and some companies in case of a catastrophe, most of the information we had at our fingertips before Jun 23rd is sitting just down the hall waiting to be accessed.”

“you know about this before we even left Sullivan didn’t you.” Jansen asked.

Jared nodded “ why do you think Gary was constantly coming up with plans on setting up some kind of limited internet using those satellite packet router things from the FEMA dump” he said calmly. “most of what we need to rebuild is either on those servers, or in the Cases of Cds and thumb Drives out in S3.”

“and just think of all the porn we will now have access to again, and for free this time” Ronny said from beside Jill. He was grinning widely. He sounded so normal so much like his old self that Jansen started laughing.

“if we can survive long enough we finally have a real shot at rebuilding” Jared said

“okay so whats your plan then” Jansen said pulling up a chair and sitting down.

“first the men who volunteered to stay here with the team are the men who were in charge of maintaining the servers, and the cache. They know the bunker and the Bays like the back of their hands and were responsible for keeping the whole thing running all the while keeping the bays hidden from the public. We only need ten to twenty men to stay here for a couple of months till the supplies can reach Sullivan and Ashton can send a larger force out here to secure it and set it up as a forward base of operations. The cache was set up to feed and treat several thousand people for over a two year period of time, plus provide materials, tools and equipment to rebuild in the local area.

If we can get one doctor or even a paramedic like Justin and a nurse or two we can get the hospital up and running and then we can start searching out survivors and using this place as a rally point for those interested in rebuilding, they don’t have to have to know about the cache, only that there’s a secure place that they can come to for help.” Jared said. Jill smiled at his enthusiasm, like Ronny, Jared for at least the moment had shaken off the dark mood that had seemed to weight him down

Jansen listened to Jared talk about the amount of medical supplies, the size of the hospital in the bunker, the comm. center and all the other goodies that excited Jansen as much as it did Jared.

In less than five minutes he was deep in conversation with Jared and several others over the best way to handle the operation. But the entire time he had a feeling there was something else that Jared knew about that he was holding back.

By the time they had finished hashing out the details and deciding on who would stay till the relief force arrived, it was going on six in the evening and the sun had gone down.

Since noon, trucks had been coming and going carrying loads of supplies back to the waiting semis at the Airport camp. The activity had of course drawn the attention of the undead but not in the numbers that had been previously seen.

By dawn, the convoy would be leaving the camp to head to the resort to finish the last of the loading and allow any of the survivors they had picked up along the way to spend some time in a secure facility instead of being jammed into a single small building or the Rv’s before heading to the coast the day after.

The only part of the plan that Jansen wasn’t sure he liked was Jared had announced he and this team would be heading out from here to start the search for Beth instead of going with the convoy to the coast then working their way back. how they planned on finding one woman and eight children in the area of three states was beyond Jansen but he had already made up his mind that he and his squad would be going with them and he was sure a few more people would want to go along to, Ori and Beth were well liked and every one here owed their lives to Ori and the rest and would want to pay it back if they could.

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

Benton stood in the shelter of one of the chillers letting it block the cold wind that was blowing over the grounds eager for his guard shift to be over so he could finally enter the Bunker and see it for himself.

Rumors were flying about some of the survivors down in the bunker supposedly, according to the Twins, Sinclair and Baker, one of them was a hottie who had been a maxim model and supposedly in playboy. As excited as they were about it, it was probably true.

All he really wanted to know was what Jared was planning for the next move, but the Sarge, Jared, and several others were talking over options and making plans so he had no idea what was going to come down the pike as far as orders tomorrow.

“incoming” Some one called out. Benton stepped out from behind the chiller and saw headlights sweeping through the tree’s, then the occasional gun shot. finally the vehicle turned down the road leading to the maintenance yard, the beams of light revealing the gathering undead in the road, that the truck ran down while someone fired from the passenger window.

“lights” Benton called out as he strode towards the gate, the spotlight at the gate came to life revealing a black Ford F350 four door with a some kind of huge slide in camper in the bed, and it wasn’t one of theirs Benton thought as the truck slowed as it passed between the two semis and entered the kill box before the gates.

“open it up, but be prepared to blow the shit out of them” Benton hollered.

The gates were hauled open letting in a few of the undead that had been waiting, they lasted only a few steps into the yard before being put down, and then the truck rolled into the yard and stopped. The gate was quickly closed, the guards only having to put down five more zombies and then the yard was secured once more.

“you might want to climb on out of that truck real slowly if you don’t want to be shot up” Benton called out he could see two men in the cab from the spot lights that had been turned on around the yard.

The drivers door opened and a man slowly stepped out and pulled a cowboy hat on before stepping clear of the door his arms up and away from this sides. He wasn’t all that tall but he looked stout as hell, and was dressed in a fleece lined jean jacket and blue jeans, with work boots. A custom leather holster on his right thigh held a sawed off shot gun and there was a pistol holstered on his belt and what looked like a bowie knife hanging off his belt on the left side, the scabbard tied down just above his knee.

“who are you” Benton asked his weapon in his hands held at high ready.

the stranger tilted his hat back revealing a chiseled face with thick eyebrows. “I’m Darius Zane McAllister, and I’m here to see Jared Stone. I hear he has problems with a man named Kronnen, I think I can help with that.” the man said with a thick Texas Drawl.

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Chapter nine

  1. Amazing epic, it has kept me waiting for more the whole time ive been reading it, what will i do with my life when it is over?

    Like

    • thanks Joshua. I am glad your enjoying it.

      I guess when its over you can reread LOL. I know I plan on doing a lot of four wheeling and camping. then hopefully start a new project but that is a ways into the future.

      thanks again for reading.

      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