Chapter Twelve

“ The second Death, that never dies,
That cannot die, when time is dead:
Live Death, wherein the lost soul cries,
Eternally uncomforted”
~Lionel Johnson

December 7th 0645hrs.

The dark of night was replaced with the dim light spread by the rising sun behind the slate gray clouds. The snow had stopped sometime during the night, but now a icy fog blanketed the valley, mountain tops jutted up like islands in a sea of white.

Ori sat up in his sleeping bag looking around, slowly he relaxed as he saw no threat. Along the front wall of the room were six foot tall by eight inch wide windows spaced evenly out on either side of the centrally placed double door. Dim light filtered into the building from the outside.

“Que pasa Amigo” Jorge asked from where he lay in a corner.

“Nada” Ori replied. No longer sleepy he rose and walked over quietly to peer carefully out the door.

In the parking lot, a zombie staggered through the snow, falling more often than it managed to take a successful step. It was just after sunrise, he though but couldn’t really be sure, the cloud cover made it hard to guess but he rarely slept past seven no matter what.

Silently he moved back to his gear and pulled on his coat and boots, then slung the quiver of arrows across his back before picking up his bow and walked back to the door. “going out” he told Jorge.

He waited till Jorge joined him at the door, then unlocked the one way deadbolt. “I wont be a minute” he assured Jorge as he opened the door and stepped out into the foot deep snow.

The zombie spotting the movement turned toward and started towards Ori its head lolling from side to side as if it neck were broken, Ori notched an arrow and let the zombie get close before he loosed, the arrow smashed into the bridge of the zombies nose, snapping its head backwards it paused then slowly toppled over into the snow.

Ori glided forward into the fog that seemed to swirl round him grasping the arrow he pulled it from the corpse and examined it for damage then slipped it back into the quiver.

He looked around again to make sure no other zombies were in sight, the only thing he could see were the shadowy blocky shapes of the buildings across the street through the fog or mist what ever you called it in the winter.

He slipped quietly back into the store where the others were up and packing what little gear they had removed from their packs last night.

“Any more” Jorge asked quietly.

“Not a one. But that doesn’t mean a thing there could be a thousand of the things behind the grocery store across the street and in this fog it would be hard to spot them.” Ori said as he returned to his gear and quickly rolled up his sleeping bag and strapped it to his pack.

“Every one ready” Ori asked standing and shrugging on his pack. Every one nodded and fell in as Ori walked over and looked outside. “lets go” he said opening the door and stepping outside again.

As soon as they were all inside the scout he started the vehicle, and let it warm up before putting it in gear. “I see three of them” Jorge said pointing out the shadowy shapes of the undead staggering out of the building next door to the Grocery store across the street.

“Then its time to leave” Ori said putting the scout into gear then drove across the parking lot the snow chains clanking as they turned onto the road. in minutes they were back on 460 heading south.

Half an hour later the fog was thinning rapidly as snow began to fall again which did nothing for visibility that was now less than it had been. Ori had to slow down with visibility now around ten feet, everything beyond that was hidden behind a hazy veil that reduced the world around them to shadows.

Time slide by to the clicking of snow chains and the thunk of wipers till a shape loomed out of the snow and Ori first slowed then stopped.

Through the falling snow he could see the boxy shapes of M113 tracked personnel carriers parked across the road, a gap wide enough for a delivery truck had been left to allow vehicles to pass through to either side of the gap were sand bagged positions.

“What do you think?” Jeb asked.

“I think we should go on foot from here” Ori said looking into the back. “ you two wait here, be ready to come pick us up fast if we call.”

“You got it” Jorge said.

Stepping out into the falling snow and gusting wind, Ori pulled on his pack the added the white poncho.

“You sure this is a good idea” Jeb asked shivering as the wind knifed through him.

“its called scouting on foot,” Ori commented irritated at the delays the weather had imposed. He should have already reached the Tennessee state line, not still be putzing around miles from the line.

But not even his concern, his need to race after Beth, could cause him to hurry and end up stuck in the middle of a horde or driving off a bridge that had collapsed.

They walked slowly up to the line of APC’s, and found a weapons scattered around the sand bagged positions, including a M2 or Ma deuce fifty caliber with a can of ammo sitting beside it, a corpse lay half buried in the snow, the top of its head gone, a pistol still clutched in a rotting hand.

Ori felt for the man but said nothing as he stepped through the gap and found abandoned police and sheriffs cars, a Sagging GP Medium Tent had been set up off to onside behind a line of police cars and a two Deuce and a halfs.

The shifting wind blew through the abandoned vehicles with a mournful sound sending snow swirling around them. Ori checked inside the tent and found overturned tables, communications gear, and maps and papers splattered with dried blood.

Jeb waited nervously outside eyes sweeping the area around him, he wasn’t surprised when a zombie appeared from behind the tent still dressed in ACU’s it staggered towards him. Hefting the ice axe that Ori had given him, he stepped forward meeting the zombie halfway and swung with all his strength burying the pointed blade in the mans head. The zombie just stopped, staring at him, outstretched hands grasping feebly at his shirt. Jeb wrenched the tool free and the zombie fell over into the snow.

He turned to look behind him just as Ori emerged from the tent. “Lets go” Ori said.

Jeb nodded and the two men walked back to the roadway.

Past the roadblock they found vehicles had pulled off the road and parked, leaving the road cleared, many still had luggage and other things strapped to the roofs or in their beds. The two men walked slowly down the road, following the long line of parked vehicles.

As the day began to warm up a little, meaning rising just a hair or two above freezing, the snow fall became lighter and they could see a what looked like an FOB in the distance,

“Lets check it out” Ori said walking faster.

The FOB turned out to be a evacuation center that had done nothing to protect the civilians it had sheltered. Inside the few tents they looked in they found overturned cots, scattered papers, blankets and clothes, and old bloodstains.

Standing in the lane between the rows of Semi Rigid tents, where dead weeds poked up out of the snow. Jeb was feeling nervous with all the lanes and places to hide there could be thousands of undead just out of sight. Ori didn’t seem concerned but he never really did.

“lets go that way” Ori said pointing to some antenna masts that stuck up over the camp

They walked slowly through the snow, winding through the lanes between tents till they reached the parking area for official vehicles. Hummers, police and sheriffs cars, ambulances and other emergency vehicles still sat where they had been abandoned.

Something nearby fell with the sound of metal on metal, Ori and Jeb looked around seeking the source of the noise. Jeb was the one who spotted it first, a zombie was climbing out of one of the ambulances, it moved stiffly its skin covered in blotches of gray mold. The sheriffs uniform it wore was ripped, stained and torn.

Ori knocked an arrow, drew, aimed and then released, sending the arrow hissing across the sixty feet striking the zombie in the eye.

“Keep an eye out” Ori whispered as they moved deeper into the parking area.

Jeb shook his head slowly hoping that wasn’t supposed to be a joke.

They wound their way through the vehicles till they saw up ahead a three Motor homes, on the side of one motor homes was Department of Homeland Security in large white letters, on another was just POLICE, and the third was unmarked but had a five pointed star inside a circle on the side. From the top of all three RVs Telescoping Communications arrays stuck up into the dark gray sky.

“Only a few agencies aren’t represented here” Jeb said half amused “I don’t see FBI or the CDC” then pointed to a HET that had a Command trailer attached to it, that sat about eighty feet from three Command RV’s “but there is the national guard.”

“Didn’t do them much good” Ori commented as they moved past the Motor homes then wound their way back through the camp.

Ori started to walk around the Tent into the open then stopped as a gust of wind blew snow and the rank smell of undead to his nose. Signaling for the Jeb to stop Ori dropped to his belly and slid up to look around the edge of the tent.

Just past the tents, between Ori and where he and Jeb had entered the Camp were undead, around fifty he estimated as he pulled his head back. Last winter the undead had been scarce, but not this winter he thought as he pointed back the way he and Jeb had come.

Silently the two men moved quickly down the lane, then Ori consulted a compass then led them down a north bound lane between two Decon and medical tents.

They reached the north end of the Camp and slipped into the woods heading north. Behind them they heard a branch snap. Ori looked at Jeb then west up the slope of the mountain.

Together they made their way slowly up the steep rocky slope, then moved along a bluff line that headed generally north.

They stopped an hour later sheltering behind a rocky outcrop and some scraggly firs. “we need to get down” Jeb said point to the valley floor. Somewhere behind them the heard some rocks slide, and the snapping of branches.

“Am I the only one that thinks those things are far more persistent than they used to be” Jeb muttered.

Ori nodded in agreement as he pulled out his climbing gear, and begin to rig as quickly as he could.

“ see that Road down there” Ori said jerking a thumb towards the road barely visible.

“Yeah” Jeb whispered

“That’s the road we passed on the way to the FOB, the one with the collapsing farm house and that red barn. Call Jorge and Zoe and have them drive over here.” Ori said, “then get your harness on.” He said sliding towards the ring of firs, he could barely hear Jeb whispering into the radio ten feet away so there was no way the undead could hear them.

He lay there watching for a moment looking into the forest that covered the mountains flanks and then saw movement in the woods, a zombie appeared out of the shadows, broad shouldered, thick armed wearing only a pair of shorts, who ever he had been he had worked out hard, Ori thought it hadn’t done him much good, judging by the ragged crescent shaped wound in one thick fore arm.

Another man appeared, rail thin, almost skeletal, wearing Jeans and a Tshirt that were badly ripped, revealing dead white flesh through the holes. A woman, wearing a dirty white dress, stepped out, her head titled down, long dark hair fell past her shoulders, he couldn’t see her face it was covered by her hair, he was glad he couldn’t too, it was the first zombie that really creeped him out. .

Her head came up slowly, and he could see one cloudy eye peering out from gap in her hair. She took a step towards him, her body jerking and twitching with the movement, then another step jerky step. .

Ori couldn’t shake the feeling she was staring right at him, the other undead began to head towards his hiding spot.

Time to go he thought as he slide back and rose to his feet.

he hooked the rope to his rig while backing up to the edge of the Bluff.

Jeb was just finishing when the body builder staggered into the firs snapping branches. “oh shit” Jeb said as he backed up beside Ori, “ready” he called out, as he stepped off.

Ori stepped off after Jeb, just as the zombie in the white dress appeared behind the Body builder, if he had, had a hand free he would have shot her the bird. He plunged down in a controlled fall slowing and landing on a small ledge, one foot slipping on the ice and snow. A zombie plummeted silently past him, its hands reaching for Jeb who stared for a second, then a second zombie fell past them.

“one of them is going to get lucky and land on one of us” Ori said. Jeb nodded in agreement and “I’m taking the fast way.” He said stepping off the ledge, Ori did the same, the rope hissing through his gloved hand as he just fell, his mind racing doing the math, then at the last moment he braked slowing then stopping with his feet just off the ground he released and dropped lightly and as he unhooked something struck the ground sending snow into the air.

The zombie lay still, one arm sticking up out of the snow, its chest and back broken by the rock it had landed on. “shit” Jeb shouted leaping out of the way as another zombie crashed into the ground right where he had been standing.

“I think I would rather have it raining cats and dogs” Ori remarked as he stepped safely away from the impact area, and the zombies that were smashing into the ground the snap of breaking bones loud in the silence.

“Lets go” Ori said turning and heading towards the distant road, Jeb started to follow looking up one last time and saw a zombie standing on the edge of the bluff, the wind up there whipping its dark hair and dress around its slender body. He couldn’t see its face, but he knew in his bones it was watching him. he shuddered and then followed after Ori, and if he was moving a littler faster than he might otherwise have he didn’t care. Behind them the sound of bodies striking the ground and breaking bones followed them.

Two miles later they emerged from the woods and onto a road, the only way they could tell it was the road was because if was clear of trees, had a standard width, and they could feel the asphalt under their boots. Heading east on the road they spotted the Scout a few minutes later, rolling slowly towards them. .

Relieved both men ran to the Scout, tossed their packs inside then climbed in after them, Ori having to wait while Jorge climbed into the back seat, Still creeped out by what he had seen he didn’t even stop to enjoy the heat, he just put the old Scout into Gear and did a tight U turn and headed back to 460.

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

December 8th 0800 hrs.

Major Sarah Connors, who had heard all the jokes, knelt on the floor warming a can of soup over glowing coals in the huge pot she used as a fire pit.

The bag of charcoal, her last bag, was almost empty, and she was down to 12 cans of soup. “if I ever make it back and if the Air Force still exists, I’m going to demand they add how to survive against zombies to our pilot survival training school” she said aloud.

Of course no one had expected any pilot who survived a crash would have to spend over a year surviving by hiding in a Dollar store. Thank god this one had, had plenty of food stuffs or she wouldn’t have lasted this long.

They needed to rethink the items in a survival vest to, she decided for probably the thousandth time since the crash. Luckily one of the flight engineers had stashed a survival pack in the C-5, though he had died in the crash it had damn sure helped her out.

They had at least added M-4s to the survival gear, when hell had broken loose in the US, and that had saved her life.

She hadn’t been the only one that had survived out of the flight crew, to others had survived with her, but as they had at first waited for rescue then later given up and focused on surviving, her surviving crew had died one at a time leaving her alone.

“I am surprised I am still sane” she said aloud, then closed her mouth, sounds carried and even though she hadn’t seen a zombie in over a week, you never knew if one might be around. And if it heard noise it would start looking for a way inside, and then like magic more would appear till the place was surrounded by undead keeping her trapped inside till she died and became on of them.

She had seen it last spring when she had dared to enter the town proper, a young guy hadn’t taken it well when she declined his offer to become his sex kitten, he had taken a shot at her drawing undead down on them. She had managed to give the horde the slip but he had just kept firing as he ran back into the building he had been hiding in when she first encountered him.

She had come back several times over the next month and found the place completely surrounded, she had felt disgusted at how she had been happy about that, because while he had been alive, the undead had kept trying to get at him leaving large areas of the town empty so she could explore and gather things.

Then right around June, she had checked the building and the undead were mostly gone, a few wandered around the streets. Using her binoculars she had looked through the windows and finally saw him staggering around a room as dead as those on the street down below. She had slipped off the roof and returned to the Store and had stayed out of the area after that, instead confining her scavenging to the wreck of the C-5. and the area around the crash.

Which had worked well till a group of dangerous scavengers came through in august and pretty much took everything they could pick up before the undead had shown up. leaving her with what little was left in the store and still on the ground.

After that she had stayed close to the store, conserving her energy pretty much waiting to die, not daring to go any further into town than she was.

So here she was starving to death, and the way Fate had been screwing her, she would die on Christmas day probably with zombies breaking in the windows to get to her, not that there was much meat left on her bones to chew on.

In fact till yesterday she had begun to think she was the last person left alive, till a red and black Suburban looking vehicle had pulled up by the wreckage, then left again. If it came back she was going to take the risk of being raped or killed and just try to get a ride out of here the risk was worth not being alone any more

She pulled the can off the coals using a pair of pliers, then poured soup into a pink plastic bowl, if I somehow live through this and end up back in some kind of civilized place, I will never touch another bowl of chicken noodle soup again she vowed as she dumped some black pepper in the soup then opened up a pack of crackers.

She finished the soup, and wrapped back up in her blankets eyeing the stack of unread books beside one of the shelves she had used to enclose her sleeping area. There were a few book in that stack she looked forward to reading but the majority of the books in the store were either crappy fiction or worse Romance books. “the last thing I need to read about is some guys throbbing passion python or some dim witted damsels quivering thighs during orgasm. Okay enough, yes you need sex, but your choices of partners is limited to dead people so no luck there.

She reached for the biography of Norman Schwartkopf prepared to settle in and read all about Stormin Normans life when she heard a sound that she couldn’t mistake, she leaped to her feet eyes wide, then scooped up the M4 and ran for the front door, pausing only long enough to check for undead before she threw open the door and ran outside eyes scanning the sky for the plane.

Finally she spotted it coming in low and from the north, it was old plane, she didn’t remember the type, and it had Army markings on the wings and fuselage. She waved, then slung the M-4 and pulled the flare gun out of the thigh pocket of her flight suit.

Her hands were trembling she lifted the flare gun and pulled the trigger and nothing happened, she squeezed the trigger again and again but it refused to fire. She threw the flare gun aside tears tracking down her cheeks as she watched the plane vanish to the south.

She stood there hoping and praying it would return, then a tremulous smile formed as she heard a vehicle motor and shortly after a Red and Black IH Scout came into view.

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

Princeton W.Va 1030hrs

The Rescue convoy came to a stop just past I-77 in front of the Princeton visitor center with its three glass pyramids on the roof. Jared looked out of the windshield at the Foothills, ridges and mountains and was reminded of home. Guards dismounted and swept the immediate area for undead while Jared, Chris and Ed headed to the visitor center where Ori and the scouting party were holed up.

Entering the lobby, Jared looked around with interest. Some one had tried to hole up in here, judging by the furniture, old wood and other crap that had been piled up in front of the windows.

Ori met them in the lobby, “at least you managed to get here a day late” he said.

Jared shrugged “Sorry next time Ill ask Daws to get shot when its convenient for me” Jared said sharply.

“Sorry, Didn’t mean it like that” Ori replied earnestly.

“So what’s the surprise you have for me” Jared asked as they followed Ori into what had been the gift shop. Ori had radioed in a report as the Convoy was heading out but he had been mysterious on the air which had annoyed Jared to no end.

Jorge and Zoe were waiting with their packs, Jeb casually waved at Jared as he sat on the sales counter, watching a woman eat. She was shoveling food from the MRE into her mouth like she was starving and from the looks of her she probably was.

Jared looked at the girl then at Ori, his first temptation was to just leave her but he couldn’t do that not and be able to live himself later and there were no other options at least none he was willing to consider. It was to late to call the supply convoy back to take her to the coast, and Jared wasn’t willing to head back to the Damned bunker to drop her off so unless He wanted to be a asshole and leave her, she was going with them.

“Jared I would like you to meet Major Sarah Connor, not related to the Sarah Connor in the movies” Ori added trying to make a joke. Which was an improvement over his attitude of the last several days. That alone made taking the woman along worth it.

“She was the Pilot of that Crashed C-5 I told you about.” Ori said.

Sarah was about five six, thin from lack of food, with dirty long dark hair. She still wore her flight suit, which was ripped and torn. She had diligently mended each tear and hole over the time she had been stuck here. Under all that grime was an attractive face with classic bone structure.

“This is your leader” Sarah said softly as she sat aside the empty Chili mac pouch looking up at Jared

“ Guilty as charged Major” Jared said. “at least till these idiots figure out they need some one better for the job”

“Don’t hold your breath, we tried no one else is stupid enough to want it” Chris muttered from behind Jared then chuckled softly.

“your buddy there” she said indicating Ori “told me a little about what your doing” Sarah said her eyes drifting to the small Brown MRE package sitting next to Ori’s pack.

“I wouldn’t if I were you” Jared said wryly seeing where she was looking. “ Ori takes his Banana nut bread seriously”

Jeb coughed and turned his face away to keep from laughing at the look that crossed Ori’s face realizing the woman was hungrily eyeing his desert.

“Ori she looks hungry, come on man share with her” Ed urged, trying mostly unsuccessfully to hide his amusement.

“My wife is being held hostage, the world has ended, and I am not giving up my desert.” Ori stated. “she can open another MRE and have what ever desert is in it. unless its more banana nut bread.”

“Ronny is going to love the fact we have another pilot” Jared said changing the subject as the others chuckled. “how did you find her” Jared asked turning his head to look at Ori.

“She was holed up in a Dollar General near the wreckage, when Ronny flew over she came out to look, that’s when I saw her.” Ori replied.

“and she would have gotten away with it if not for you dratted kids” Chris remarked.

“can it Chris” Jared said refusing to laugh, Major Connors was already giving them the polite look usually reserved for idiot savants and the insane.

“I wouldn’t have hung around except I saw his Uniform” Sarah said jerking a thumb at Jeb.

“She’s seen Jeb’s movies too” Jorge supplied helpfully trying not to laugh.

Sarah blushed under the grime, but she looked amused.

“Ah fame,” Chris said then fell silent as Jared shot him a shut the hell up look.

“Lets get her into the Rv, where she can get a shower, a little more food and then we can talk. Consider it a debrief only with out the paperwork and badgering” Jared said. “Unless you’d like to stay here”

“Hell no, I’m ready to put this place behind me.” She said.

She tried to get to her feet, but she was still too weak. After a moment she accepted Eds offer of Help and the large former police officer picker her up like she was a child and carried her out to the Rv.

“Good god, its… “ She said seeing the line of vehicles, she fell silent as she choked up. “Its almost beautiful to see running vehicles and people after so long.” She managed to get out after a moment.

Once inside the warm interior or the Rv, she started crying not only because of the miracle of heat, but the lights, and clean interior, it was really the wave of grief that swept over her as she saw everything she had lost when the world had died and had thought never to see again. Ed passed her off to Jill who helped the woman into the Bathroom.

“Ed, find some clothes for Her to wear,” Jill said shutting the door in his face. Ed nodded and rummaged around for clothes that looked like they might fit the Major. He passed them to Jill then headed to the front as Jared shed his coat and sat down on the leather couch, Ed looked thoughtful for a moment “I wonder how many people truly survived around the world.” he said after a moment

Jared cocked his head for a second hearing the shower come on and could picture the look on Major Connors face as the hot water sluiced over her body. It was a little bit of heaven he thought and something that had been taken for granted before the world had ended.

“I have no idea, I would bet there’s a few million scattered around the US, one here, ten there, a hundred forty miles from the last group. Weve driven through some small mountain towns where I know people were watching us, peeking out windows trying to remain unseen.

And with out vehicles or horses, forty miles on foot between groups is a long way to go, especially with the undead wondering around.” Jared said as the door opened and Chris, Ori and the others entered the RV.

“Got the Scout hooked up to a tow bar.” Ori explained as he sat down.

“Any other signs of people” Jared asked as the RV started moving.

“Saw a thin stream of smoke for a little bit like from a campfire or fireplace, we looked around for it, but the smoke vanished before we could locate it.” Ori said ‘some one is out there though.”

“Ronny might spot them from the plane” Jeb said as he kicked off his boots and sighed with pleasure as he curled his toes into the rug.

“Maybe, but we don’t have time to go looking for them,” Jared said, by now it was more than likely that Kronnen’s men had left the Knoxville area, but which way would they be going.. if they were heading to St. Louis, which he doubted, Taking I 40 would be out of the question it was a parking lot till around Oakridge, and then again heading into Nashville.

The kidnappers had been hauling Beth north since the kidnapping, so Kingston was the better bet but that was still just guess work. Darius kept insisting that Kronnen’s men tended to stick to main roads, and the large groups only camped in large towns or cities to strip them of what ever supplies they could find. Like a plaque of locusts crossing the countryside Jared thought.

Main roads made sense only in that they were easy to find, and had signs, and even with the Skills that Bradley had being former SF, using back roads and a compass would still lead to lots of back tracking and dead ends. Unless. “ Jared nodded to himself might as well assume Bradley would be doing about the same thing Jared did hunt down Department of the highway offices and recovering maps. Which left him exactly zip in the way of clues on how to find them.

The bathroom door opened and Jill stepped out, her hair damp. Major Connors followed, still wobbly but with a determined look to do this on her own.

“I think they showered together” Jeb muttered. “that is so hot”

Jared shot him a glare and Jeb’s mouth snapped shut with out another comment. But a wide smile spread across his face.

Sara sat down at the table staring around her at the hard wood floors, leather furniture and modern appliances. She began to cry again as Jared put a bowl of Dinty moore stew in the microwave. Pulling out a steaming bowl of stew a couple of minute later. Jared said “don’t get used to it we don’t live like this all the time” he smiled as she gave him an apologetic look and wiped at her eyes. “a microwave is usually a waste of power” he added

“I’m not normally so emotional, but this….” She said waving weakly at the interior of the RV. “ is like a dream to me”

“It’s a little bit of the old world that’s for sure” Jared said as he placed the bowl and a spoon in front of her. She picked up the spoon then wolfed down the soup and sighed with pure pleasure.

“I was referring to not eating chicken noodle soup” she said between mouthfuls

“so how did you end up here” Jared asked.

“we were supposed to land with relief supplies at the Princeton airport, ended up crashing instead. I’m still not sure what happened, there was a bang, alarms were howling, the bird was going insane and we were far to low.

I don’t even remember crashing, I came to and thank god every one was strapped in, because it saved my life. That’s when I found out that you become one of those things just from dying. My copilot had been killed and was trying to get at me. The only other survivors were the flight engineer and one of the load masters, Booker, the flight engineer died of exposure last winter.” She said. “ Carlisle the loadermaster got killed a few months ago, when we tried to retrieve more supplies from the wreckage. I barely got away. “

“what happened to the rest of the Air Force” Ed asked curious.

“I don’t know, when it first started. Rumors were everywhere, Dependents were brought onto the base, and kept there under guard in case any of them were infected.” She said.
“I don’t know exactly how bad it was in Town the first few days, by the second day, we were flying relief missions almost around the clock dropping supplies and sometimes troops where we were told. By the third day, in between missions, I realized how bad it was getting in the local area, Red bull.. sorry the combat engineers were digging trenches behind the fence line and shove the dirt up against the fence to form a palisade. The Security Force guys were trying to let survivors in and fight off the undead. then the Base commander gave the order to close the gates, a zero entry policy.

By the time I was back in the air, there was talk about orders that had come down to bomb some cities and roads. The way I hear it LA was a big target, so were parts of D.C, New York city, Chicago, Boston.” She paused for a moment “ there were a lot of cities on that list. I even saw a flight of B-2’s heading north of here probably to D.C.

By the fourth day it was pure chaos, some cities like New York, Nashville, Houston and others were gone, off the air at least. A bombing run took out a substation that took out power to a number of states and parts of some states. A lot of the news had come in over the net, and when the power went down in those areas, the news stopped coming. And what we did get from the Government was as confused as you can get.

I heard broadcasts out of Dallas as it was being consumed, in fact the report who stayed on the air till the end died screaming into the microphone as he was torn apart. That was when the Commander ordered a black out, he thought all the horror was bad for morale and it was let me tell. By then the fence line was packed with those things and flight crews couldn’t wait to take off for the safety of forty thousand feet even if only for an hour or two.

When I took off on what turned out to be my last flight, D.C was over run, fighters were grounded since the undead don’t have fighter planes and there was talk of orders that were in the pipe to bug out to some supposedly secure location out west. My orders were to deliver supplies that were critical to an Evacuation center, load up some pregnant women, children and a couple of big wig DHS types and bring them back. which as you know never happened.” Sarah said, wiping at her eyes again. “the one thing I haven’t been able to get past was I failed the civilians who were supposed to leave with me. Stupid I know but that’s the simple truth.”

No one said anything to that, what could you say all of them had at one point or another felt guilty for letting down people since the dead had reason.

“we picked up some survivors a week or more ago, that said something about the Army ran away and left the survivors in Virginia to die” Ori said wanting to know the truth, he had loved the army and didn’t like to think of the Stain that kind of dishonor would leave on the Army.

“It must have happened after we crashed, but you have to understand it was insane around here. I flew six missions into this state and it had gotten worse each time. thousands of the things were pouring out into the country side from D.C, Richmond, Norfolk. I remember flying over a Town that the Army was trying to hold, you could see the ring of undead around the entire town, there were estimated to be two million of the undead in that crowd. It fell half an hour later and that horde moved on.

I remember hearing about a Regular army infantry unit to the west of here, that was ordered to bug out, and they refused, said they were set up nice and were not going to leave the people in their area to be slaughtered I hope those guys made it.” She said wiping at her eyes. “those were some brave men” she added

Jared slowly shook his head, “we didn’t hear much to be honest, the EBS system came on, and then something happened to the power by the second day, we bailed and headed for the camp I had up on the Plateau “

While the convoy rolled down the road, he told her the whole story, when he finished Sarah frowned slightly.

“Sounds like what I’ve gone through was nothing compared to that.

“Different maybe, but you’ve had it worse in my book” Jared replied.

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

The old red truck came to a stop in front of a old country store. The Store, called Cedar brook grocery and gas was the only building at the four way intersection which only had two stop signs. A single gas pump stood under a round antique yellow porcelain Conoco sign, the pump was almost as old as the sign. . Snow had piled up against the above ground tank and the clapboard front wall of the store.

Tyler sat in the truck as the men with him piled out and headed into the store to see if there was anything left inside. Tyler frowned absently what they needed was gas, not munchies. He climbed out pistol in hand and walked over to the four thousand gallon tank and tapped down the side till the sound changed indicating there was still something inside.

While he waited for the idiots to finish, he wondered if Jared had a screaming fit about the deaths and the fact that Tyler and his merry band of cut throats had stolen one of his precious trucks. He pictured the look that had to have been on Jareds face when he heard they had escaped the holding cells, which had turned out to be easier than he had thought, Cliff “Goat” Webster had been very familiar with the type of cell door in the cell block, it was an old style from around the fifties, and during a stint in a Oregon prison with the same type of doors and control mechanisms, he had been friends with a man who had escaped but had passed on the trick to opening those type of doors in case Cliff had wanted to make his own escape later.

He almost felt bad about Daws, who at least had been a tough man not a bleeding heart like Jared. But more and more his mind kept returning to Jareds change in plans, he know originally Jared had planned on Going to D.C. but had seemed to change his mind, then in the last two days had decided to take the convoy all the way into D.C. and then to Norfolk.

He knew about the list of Caches Jared had come into possession of and wondered if there was a Cache in the Capitol Jared was after. Maybe that was what had inspired his little speech about stripping the Smithsonian. He thought about that for a moment remembering a Show on the history channel he had seen about the Smithsonian and the tunnels that connected the various buildings. Was it possible that like the Greenbrier the Government had built a bunker down there that was connected to the tunnels under the Smithsonian and if it were true what could be inside the place that could be so important that Jared would risk entering a city filled with undead.

More weapons and munitions, maybe something else, what was it Reese had said when someone had asked him about how the Mt. Weather Bunker was powered. Ah a portable nuclear reactor, that was something that Jared would be interested in for the island, that and munitions.

He racked his brain for anything he had overheard that might give him a clue, but nothing really came to mind. It could be anything really but he thought he was on the right track with the Bunker Idea.

He walked over to the truck thankful that Jared had insisted all vehicles carry a basic kit, including a small electric pump, hoses and a battery to hook up to the pump. As he was getting the pump set up, the other escapees exited the store carrying bags of stuff.

“The place was about half empty, but there was enough stuff in there” Pat McReady said laughing as he pulled six pack out of his bag, then a penthouse. “found some girly mags under the counter. I guess all those Jesus stickers, crosses and pictures with bible verses was just for show, considering some of the smut under that counter” He said laughing again.

“yeah nothing like drooling over a bunch of women who are probably walking dead these days.” Tyler said dismissively.

“so what, she wasn’t dead when the pictures were taken.” Pat said grinning

“ Man I cant wait to get back to the camp where there are whores just waiting to be used.” Another man nicknamed the frog said with a wide grin and rubbed his hands together.

“if we are lucky we will get a chance to visit the breeders, if we aren’t Kronnen will have us killed.” Goat said giving each man a pointed look.

“What are you saying” Pat asked.

“I’m saying we have orders, and if we don’t do something to follow them, then Kronnen might just decided we failed” Goat man said, running his fingers through his tangled beard.

“I think if I tell Kronnen you guys helped me escape and then acted as my guards to make sure I reached the camp with vital information, it will be enough to get you off the hook.” Tyler said, not really sure that would make any difference to Kronnen, but Tyler had no desire to make this trip alone

“sounds better than tangling with that Stone asshole again” Pat said as the others nodded.

“good then lets get that truck fueled up before any of the dead show up” Tyler said. “we have a long way to go, and lets hope the camp hasn’t moved.”

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

Reese rode in the command seat of the LAV wishing he had access to a stryker, but a LAV is what they had and that’s what he was stuck with.

The Squad Reese had inherited were total clowns most of the time, but he had seen them get down to business and do a hell of a good job. So for now he was just letting them do what they always did crack jokes and rank on each other. Considering what they had all been through, if that’s what it took to keep even semi sane he wasn’t going to screw with what worked.

At least they had a Monty Python fetish and were always quoting the show and the various movies, especially Quest for the Holy grail which seemed to be their favorite movie, but that was so much better than one squad he had worked with, those guys had on more than one occasion started singing Barbie girl and doing it Gungan style. Which really made him want to kill each and every one them, several times over, painfully. But in a strange way it had been funnier than hell to watch a squad singing and dancing in the Sandbox. Especially when Iraqi or Afghani Nationals saw that kind of shit and were both amused and disgusted.

Before they had left the Bunker Reese had taken Spacey to one side, and asked him about the story that Spacey had supposedly passed on leading the team and had suggested Reese instead.

Spacey had been blunt, “ Sarge Ill be honest, I don’t have the training to be an NCO, Jared picked me because of how long I’ve been with him. Your more qualified than I am and you’re a Real NCO, and to be honest Jared needs to pull his head out of his ass and get over the fact that you look like Steve.”

What ever Jared might feel about who Reese resembled, Jared hadn’t hesitated to put Reese in charge of First squad. That might have something to do with his wife, who had gone out of her way to start talking with Reese

Reese could understand how it might bother Jared to see a man who looked like his best friend and brother in all but blood, oddly the entire Dirty Dozen treated each other like that, they were a tight group of friends which is probably how they had survived and pulled all of this off.

After picking up scout team and the wing nut major, the convoy had blasted through Princeton, with the HET leading the way, the new cattle catcher mounted on the front shedding undead to either side of the column.

They had pushed down state 460 passing several towns that lay along the mountain flanks in the river valley before finally stopping at the evacuation center and FOB along the road.

“ Reese first squad has convoy guard duty, Jansen I want second squad to enter the FOB with My team” Jared said over the radio.

The snow fall had become much lighter as the day passed, it just cold enough to snow, but not cold enough for the new snow to stick, but come nightfall the temperature would drove and more ice would form.

They moved quietly and carefully, seeing the tracks in the snow left by the undead that had essentially chased Ori and Jeb out of the FOB, but other than the foot prints there was no sign of the mob that had entered the Evacuation center.

Jared had only one goal here, and that was the command vehicles that Ori had mentioned if they could get one running it would be invaluable.

“There’s at least one pus bag in the DHS vehicle” Ori said as they approached the vehicles.

“Well that narrows it down a lot” Jared remarked” Ed you and I will check the Police Command vehicle. Ori , you logan, Jill check out the Marshals vehicle.” Jared said as he walked up to the Rv he had chosen and knocked on the door. Hearing nothing inside after a moment he opened the door and climbed up inside.

the inside looked like a war zone, consoles had been shot up, bodies lay scattered on the floor in the back they found two bodies, sitting facing each other, pistols in hand. They were badly decomposed but Jared got the impression that the men had put up a hell of a fight, then knowing they couldn’t get out, maybe they had been bitten, they had sat down, maybe smoked a cig, talked for a few minutes then shot each other.

Doesn’t make sense” Ori remarked, “the door was closed, how did twenty some odd undead end up in here”

“maybe the door was open and the wind blew it closed sometime in the last year and some odd months.” Jared said as he opened cabinets and poked around.

“Okay I am officially happy this stop was not wasted time” Jared said pulling out a stack of rolled up Topo maps.. he shoved them in a duffel bag he found and then headed for the door, “ might as well go check out the other RV and see if its worth hauling off with us”

The moment Ori had reported the Communication and Command vehicles with their telescoping antennas; Jared had instantly realized how valuable one of them might be to the convoy besides having the extra room for people to sleep in as well.

They stepped out in to the bitterly cold wind and walked quickly to the US Marshals C and C vehicle. Jared climbed up inside and saw the pile of gear that Ed and Jill had been stacking on the table and realized this was the vehicle he wanted.

“look at this Jared, Sat, phones, Walkies, wireless camera’s that we can place around the camp and watch from these screens, multi band communications systems. You name it its in here.” Ed said obviously excited.

“Nice, what we need now are batteries and chargers for all that stuff.” Jared commented as he looked around. He still had that solar charger that he used for the lap top, and that could easily be hooked up to charge a few devices, and the cameras for the camp was one hell of an idea, it would cut down on the number of people needed to pull guard duty. “put it all back where you got it, Ill have Lee pull up the Semi with the Holmes unit and we will haul this thing up to our camp and work on it there. If lee can get it running great, if not we strip out what we can use and leave the rest.” Jared said as he headed for the door relaying his order to Lee over the radio.

“Jericho Six, Alpha six, you might want to Hurry, there’s a large herd heading this way.”

“Roger Jericho one six, almost to position, standy by, Alpha six out” Jared replied as he sped up to a trot.

“goat boy, what’s your position” Jared asked as they trotted through the lanes back to the column.

“Six miles south, south west of your position,” Ronny replied.

“”We need eyes down, if you don’t mind”

“Roger Alpha six” Ronny replied.

They climbed into the RV and got settled as the mob of maybe a hundred undead surge up and around the vehicles, pawing at the sides of the vehicles slapping weakly at the windows.

Major Conner looked nervous but seeing the quiet confidence of the others she calmed herself down. It was a long ten minutes wait as the Semi with the Holmes package worked into position the hydraulic arm lowered and slid under the front of the RV, finally it was positioned and pulled upwards lifting the front of the RV up off the ground.

“I have the C&C hooked and am pulling out now.” Lee said.

“lets move out” Jared transmitted.

Half the convoy pulled out making room for the Semi pulling the Rv to fall into the middle of the convoy then the back end of the convoy closed the distance, leaving the undead to stagger after them.

They rolled down 460 weaving around numerous wrecks and abandoned vehicles, eventually turning onto Alt 58 heading towards State 23 which was actually part of Virginia, Jared had spent most of the ride studying the Topo maps for the area and as they reached Coeburn and Route 23, he directed them into Jefferson National forest, the road wound through forest on High knob finally emerging 2780 feet above sea level in a camping area that bordered on a reservoir lake. All around the camp were high ridges and mountains whose tree clad slopes were covered in snow. The sign announcing the camp was faded and sagging down on one side, read Bark camp lake.

The parking lot down around the boat ramp was large enough to accommodate every vehicle the only problem were the forty undead that were scattered around the parking lot and that began to stagger towards the vehicles.

“Jericho one dismounting” Reese said over the radio.

“Roger, team one Dismounting, taking left flank” Jared replied as he motioned for his team to join him at the door.

“no firearms, bows and hand weapons” Jared said determined not to draw in any more undead than could be helped.

“You sure you want to use that bow” Ed asked. “I seem to remember that you, SUCK with the thing”

“I’m sure, in fact you can run out in front of me with that axe and ill cover you” Jared replied.

“no thanks” Ed said .

“I thought he liked getting poked in the butt” Ori muttered then gave a sad half smile as the others groaned.

Jared just shook his head, glad that Ori was at least trying to act normal. It beat the hell out of the moody snappish Ori of the last week, not that he blamed Ori one bit in fact he would probably have been worse.. no, not probably he would have been worse.

Jared stepped out into the snow, and led his team around the RV to the left, where the twenty something undead had increased in number as more undead had appeared from the camp ground.

They staggered across the wooded grounds, occasionally slipping in the snow as they entered the parking area, converging on the idling vehicles, pallid and hungry, reaching with grasping hands as they came ever closer.

Jared notched, drew and took careful aim, then loosed. The arrow hissed across the eighty feet and struck the first zombie in the throat.

Ed chuckled from behind Jared, who ignored the mockery and drew another arrow back, adjusted his aim for the wind drift then loosed again, this time the arrow struck the former fisher man in the forehead and dropped him like a rock. The old fashioned cap with lures in it went flying from the things head to land in the snow.

Ori, Garret and Logan, joined in and one by one they put down the zombies. Working quickly they ran out and recovered every arrow, watching the area closely for any more undead but saw nothing under the trees.

With the undead down, Jansen got the vehicles arraigned in a protective camp, while others gathered the bodies of the dead and piled them just inside the woods, leaving them to rot.

Ronny had come down for a landing in a large clearing not far from the camp, and was waiting for some one to pick him and Mary up.

“I’m taking Jeb and going hunting” Ori said walking up to Jared as he helped gather firewood to be burned in the Barrel pits they carried with them in the back of one of the trucks. “ I spotted a lot of deer track when we were hauling bodies, and some cat tracks, looked like bob cat to me. So keep an eye out.”

Jared wasn’t about to argue, if Ori wanted to Hunt, Jared was more then willing to let him go off and bring back deer. “Take NVG’s and Jeb” Jared said.

Ori frowned but didn’t protest. “ sorry” Jared said “you know your stuff, its just habit.” He apologized. Ori only shrugged, he didn’t really have a problem taking Jeb, and it was always better to have two people out than just one.

After Ori left to gather up Jeb, Jared climbed into the RV and sat down rubbing his temples, he had a headache, and his eyes felt itchy. I had better not be coming down with something he thought as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

He woke up half an hour later, to find Ronny deep in conversation with Major Connors, all pilot conversation of course. Seeing Jared was awake, Ronny grinned. “I’m having the amphibious floats put back on as soon as I can. Since it looks like we are back to camping at Parks and such like.”

“Such like?” Jared asked with a smile, his head pounding.

“What ever..” Ronny said turning back to the Major

“I cant believe your using planes” Sarah said probably for the thousandth time. “where are you getting fuel.

“all over mostly the small private strips” Ronny replied. “but Jared there already has a plan to make our own Av gas”

“you plan on making av gas, How?”

“coal” Jared said simply. “Av Gas is kerosene, its made from coal. That and we have a other ways that may work, regular fuel is not going to be a big deal soon we have a way to convert algae into Fuel and it should be producing a lot of fuel in two more years.”

“who the hell are you people” she asked amazed it just seemed, impossible that anyone could pull of something like what he was talking

“No one special” Jared replied quietly. “Some people just picked up information like others memorized sports stats that and there are libraries out there with real books in them with real information, not the drek you could find on the internet where every dumb ass with a keyboard became an expert just because he read an opinion piece or read wikipedia.”

“I doubt we will be able make enough to fuel something like that huge plane you were flying at least not often and not for real far, but for what we are using I estimate we can keep them filled for several flights a month.” Jared said.

“What about maintenance and spare parts” She asked.

“We have a aircraft mechanic named Tucker, and as far as parts, we have Laser scanners, CNC machines and 3d Printers. At least when we can spare the power to run them, and soon that wont be a problem either.” Jared said, then smiled at the look on her face that was a mixture of shock, awe, and disbelief.

“one of our guys is working on various ways to solve the power problem and work crews are getting salvaged solar arrays set up for the buildings we are using.” Jared said turning as the door to the RV opened and Jansen entered.

“I have 1st squad patrolling on foot up the road we used to come down here. Just to see if any of the undead are following us. I have the a truck on standby so if they spot a horde, they can fall back and be picked up.” Jansen said dropping onto the couch and yawning and only then realized he was sitting beside Jill.

“Sounds like a plan, now the real question of the hour, with the amphibious floats on that plane can you still take off” Jared asked Ronny.

“Its flat no rocks, or anything else. so yeah I think so” Ronny replied.

“Good, first light I want you up and heading for Kingston, then fly a search pattern see if you can spot tire tracks, moving vehicles or any thing else that might indicate some on is down there. “ Jared said.

Ronny nodded turning his attention back to Major Connors. “how would you like to fly again” he asked. “ we need more pilots and we really need some one to help teach the younger folks how to fly.”

“point me to a plane that’s fueled up and ready and I will gladly spend my time up top” She said with a smile. “I don’t even mind teaching others.”

“good Id like you to go with me and my wife tomorrow give me pointers. To be honest I’m not a pilot I’ve been faking this entire time.” Ronny said. Jared tuned out the conversation as Ronny began to explain the whole situation.

“I think if no hordes show up, we might want to spend a couple of days here, we can run scouting trips up to Kingston, which is not all that far. Once we know how safe it is, and if there is no sign of Beth’s kidnappers we can head on towards Knoxville.” Jared said.

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

“Nice view” Bradley said, watching Beth who stood near the edge of the roof. The unfinished building sat on section of the south waterfront. They had a great view of the stadium from here.

He had chosen this area because large sections of the construction area along the water front was fenced in which would baring any intervention from that bastard Williams, should keep the undead out.

“It would be nicer if I were not being held as a hostage and the city wasn’t filled with the undead” Beth said trying to sound angry, but the truth was she was scared and tired. She had never been this tired before.

“Sorry, you are married to the wrong guy at the wrong time” Bradley said.

“oh he is the right man, you will find that out soon and god Help you if something has happened to me or the kids when he gets here.” Beth said with so much Conviction that Bradley’s good mood evaporated.

“I wouldn’t count on that, I will be handing you over to Kronnen in a few days after that, your husband and his friends will not want to risk what will happen if they try to free you”Bradley said.

“You don’t want to hand us over to your boss do you” Beth asked turning to face her captor.

“I have my orders” Bradley said his voice firm.

“what ever happened to having a duty to disregard Illegal and immoral orders” Beth asked, pushing.

“Lady this isn’t the US Army, there is no UCMJ running things. Its only those who can survive and those who cant and Kronnen is a survivor.”

“De Oppresso liber” Beth said suddenly seeing Bradleys lips twitch. “isn’t that the Motto of the Special Forces, you were special forces weren’t you”

Bradley watched her for a moment the muscles in his jaw jumping, then he shook his head. “Your good Ill give you that. tough, pretty and smart but it wont work with me.”

“I know you like kids, so why are you doing this to them” Beth said.

“Orders” Bradley said refusing to discuss his life or anything else with the prisoner.

Beth shook her head. “you know my husband wont be coming alone don’t you, Jared and the others will be with him, and Jareds Brother Eric and his Special forces team.”

“I’m well aware of who might be coming to call on us, and I am not worried Lady. Now shut up before you piss me off and I have you secured and gagged for the rest of our time here.” Bradley said angrily.

“Ill only say two more things, Call Jared and let him have the kids and I will go with you willingly, and two if you secure and gag me who is going to keep the kids quiet and behaved” Beth said then turned her back to the man trembling with fear and anger. She only relaxed when he left the roof.

She had a plan, and she was going to stick to it. no matter what happened to her Kronnen was not going to get his hands on the kids, not if she could help it.

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

Brian Sullivan Stepped out into the snow that blanketed the area, his faded green eye’s shifting from point to point seeking threats. A gust of send sent his leather duster snapping around his legs. A little over thirty, he already had a touch of crows feet at the corners of his eyes but other than that his face was unlined.

“Come on” He whispered tapping his thigh with his free hand. Two dogs trotted out of the store he had been staying in. he refused to think of it as hiding. The beagle ran up and stood on his back paws, placing his front paws on Brian’s let. Smiling slightly he rubbed the dogs head, the other dog, Eddie as he called it, was jet black with brown around the eyes, whimpered softly probably smelling the undead that had to be somewhere nearby.

“you just stay close old man” Brian whispered to the beagle, who if he had been human could be said to have salt and pepper hair.

“We need to find a vehicle then you will be safe again for a little bit” he said as he started walking the two dogs trailing behind him.

Both dogs had survived Darwin’s school of hard knocks learning to be as silent as possible, which he was thankful for, he had found them last fall when he had left the protection of rather large group of Survivors holed up in a Renaissance fair. Most had been members of some kind of re-enactors group, the SCA he thought he remembered.

If he had still believed in God, he would have thought that God had sent them to his aid right when he needed it.

An hour later he found himself down near a wide river, he had no idea what River it was, he wasn’t even sure where he was at, the signs outside of town were gone and it didn’t really matter it wasn’t like he could just look on a map and see “people here, life normal” and go there. It had been just one lone series of dead towns and cities, the Ren fair being the only exception. He should have stayed, but in the end something had driven him back on the road.

He crossed the road that and entered the public park. Here and there he could see a skull grinning up out of the snow, or a skeletal arm. Who ever they were they had been killed before they turned which was a mercy.

Under the ice laden trees, were picnic tables and bbq pits, off to the left was equipment rental place, the doors and long rental window were still open after that last summer of humanity.

Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats still sat where they had been placed that long ago summer day, now covered in snow.

He looked back the way he had come and saw a few undead had appeared from somewhere and were slowly heading his way. Just four I can handle that man easily he thought as he walked over and examined the canoes, it had been years since he had used a canoe, was it even worth it he asked himself. Okay pro, they don’t use fuel, con they can capsize, second con they only follow the river. Pro they are silent. Both pros are major pluses, and you cant get lost on a river, well maybe not. He thought as he walked over and looked into the rental place.

He was just leaning in the window when a face rose from behind the counter, not even a foot away, pale arms reached for him. Brian threw himself backwards out of its reach, then angry and embarrassed at being scared and finding himself sitting in the snow, he got back to his feet, slinging the rifle he drew the sword he carried and headed for the open door to the rental place.

He reached the door just as the zombie was staggering out, he let it get two steps past the door then rammed the point of his blade into its mouth and pushed it back against the wall pinning it against the wall. With a twist of his wrist, he pulled the blade free then smashed the blade of the hand a half war sword down the things head busting the skull open.

He stepped back checking the undead on the street but they were still sixty yards or more away and no real threat, he turned back to the door and knocked on the doorframe, smiling as the two dogs came to stand by him now that the zombie was down.

Knowing the dogs would alert him he stepped into the cold dimly lit interior, he gathered up paddles, life vests and after some searching found a key ring that hopefully would unlock the cable that held the canoes to the rack.

He slid everything but the keys out the window to land near the canoes, then stepped out the door, and saw the dogs had backed away from the door and were facing the street, Old man was growling so softly it was just barely a audible.

Eddie looked like he was about to bolt but to his credit was trying to stay by his human to protect him or at least Brian hoped was the case. Eddie was half the again as Big as old man, but not half as brave as the little Beagle.

“so where did come from” Brian said spotting the zombie, dressed in a business suit, that was no more than twenty feet from the rental building. He lifted his sword resting the blade on his shoulder as he strode towards the zombie. the time he had spent with the Ren Faire crowd had been worth it, he brought sword down twisting his wrist and smashing the blade into the knee of the zombie, even as it started to topple he had snapped the blade up and around smashing it into the side of the zombies head, the rotting flesh split, and bone cracked.

He looked around the zombies on the street were closer but not that close, he followed business guys foot steps in the snow and saw they came from a hole in the snow near a tree. “isn’t that something “he muttered the zombie had been sitting there covered in snow, which was pretty scary when he thought about it, how many had he passed that might have been sitting or laying there covered in snow and unseen.
It didn’t take him long to get the cable undone, the lock was stiff but it still worked. He dragged the sixteen and half foot canoe down to the river then went back for the paddles and life vests.

He place his pack into the canoe then called the dogs to his side, they were not happy about having a life vest strapped to them, but they didn’t struggle much either. He got them into the canoe with some work, and then pushed the canoe into the water hoping the dogs didn’t jump into the river. He looked back and saw the locals had reached the edge of the park. Picking up a paddle he put it into the water and headed down river.

By sunset he was tired, he had gone past two towns and several homes along the river, but had seen no undead. there is a con I didn’t consider he thought, its very cold on the water.

An hour later he saw a boats radio mast sticking up out of the water, he paddled up to it and tied off. The dogs nervous about the canoes movements slithered up beside his legs and curled up.

“you two need to lay still tonight, no running around or we all end up in the water” he whispered to the dogs then rubbed each one behind the ears, before digging into his pack and pulling out a bag of dog treats and fed them. It wasn’t much but it kept them from starving till he could find a place to get both a truck and some dog food.

He pulled out a tarp and covered himself and the dogs with it, then settled down beside the dogs and fell asleep.

It was warm, he thought opening his eyes and found himself sitting against a car, confused he rose to his feet and looked around. He was on an interstate in the distance he saw a skyscrapers rising above the green tree’s and scattered buildings.

This was a dream, he knew it, but he could smell the flowers and the trees, hearing the droning of insects. Other wise it was quiet.

A man stepped out from between two cars, and out of long habit Brian’s reached for a weapon that he no longer had. There was something familiar about the man but Brian couldn’t place him.

He was as old as Brian, maybe a little older, his dark hair was close cropped and he walked like a soldier confident and self assured.

“save them Brian” the man said, pointing towards the city.

Brian woke with a start, setting the canoe to rocking “save who?” he asked aloud, worried he was finally going insane.

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

Kronnen stepped out of his Rv and gazed up at the stars, the snow had finally stopped and the clouds had cleared. Cold no longer bothered him, which he was glad of, he had always hated the cold.

He walked slowly around the quiet camp, not caring if the guards saw him or not. Let them think what they would he didn’t care, rumors already were passed quietly, increasing the fear most felt for Kronnen and that was good it helped keep them in line.

In other two days, he would be at the Rendezvous point and then the fun would begin. Jared Stones life was going to implode, and when he was at his lowest point, Kronnen would destroy the island and take his life.

“do not think he will be so easily destroyed” a voice said from the darkness, Kronnen turned and saw a shape in the shadows, he felt a shiver writhe up his spine but did not let it show on his face, as the man stepped from the shadows, the exposed skin of his face and hands were so white they almost glowed in the moonlight, but his eyes were dark pits, cold with out emotion, a sharks eyes, a predator of man.

“easily no, but he will die” Kronnen stated.

“it must happen soon, things are in motion and he must be stopped before all the pieces come together” the man said, his voice totally devoid of any emotion.

“And if he doesn’t,” Kronnen asked

“Then you will have failed.” It replied.

“you expect miracles with out giving me details to make better plans, even if this attempt fails, I will keep trying for my own reasons as well as yours” Kronnen stated as he wondered when things like this had become normal for him.

“yes, your desire for power it was one reason you were chosen” the man said stepped forward and laying a hand on Kronnen’s chest, a cold swept through him like frigid wave, he shuddered and gasped in pain.

“Never forget who you serve in the end” it whispered.

“I’ve always served you, even before the dead rose” Kronnen said still shuddering as it pulled its hand away and his heart stopped its double stutter. He believed it, and even if this things plans failed and the world of man persisted, Kronnen would still serve as its agent of chaos and corruption, even then the dark would still strive to drag man back to the edge of destruction so the war could come back out in the open and man would have the chance once more to fall into extinction and vanish for ever from the world.

he looked up as a shadow swept over the camp, bring with it a numbing cold even to him, and the smell of corrupted flesh and rotting blood. in a heartbeat it was gone as was the man. All around the camp, lights came on, as people awoke feeling scared for no reason.

People were opening windows and asking the guards if every thing was all right, trying to make sense of the fear they had felt in their sleep, trying to understand the shadows that had crawled and writhed like maggots through a night mare that for a short time they had been trapped in. little lingered of the nightmare but the fear and by morning even that would be a memory that haunted them like a noisome ghost around their necks.

He listened for a moment enjoying the fear, then headed back to his Rv he needed some relief and she was waiting for him, she was always waiting for him. if only women had been this obedient before the dead had risen but society hadn’t approved, a society that was now consigned to the dust bin of history where it belonged, the sheep no longer made the rules.

For too long he had been bound by those rules he hated, but he had played the game like a consummate actor so the sheep of the world would not ever realize he was a wolf that walked amongst them. This was his time now, and come what may he would never hide amongst the sheep again. he was what he was born to be and some day soon, man would realize that Reality had changed fare more than just the dead having risen and he couldn’t wait to show them just how much things had changed.

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

Something dark moved across the land, and where its shadow fell the living trembled in fear. It was old, older then man and it hated. Some would call it the Devil, Satan, Shaitan, Tiamat, the Mad God, it had been called many things over the centuries, it was more than man knew and yet bound by rules as old as time itself, Its time was here at last and those who stood against it would die, they would not be allowed to aid the Trinity any longer.

This time the Battle it sought would be won, and Mankind would be wiped away as if it had never existed.

10 thoughts on “Chapter Twelve

  1. I have been so worried about the children and Beth. Ori and Jared are taking too long. Thank you for sending Brian. (I really hope you’re sending Brian.)

    As far as Sarah Connors (haha) goes, I am happy to see another pilot. She’s even a real one! Seeing Ronny interact with her a little makes me feel good about him. I want him to keep healing.

    Like

  2. I think, i’ve ready everything you’ve wrote, while i’m at work. Unfortunately i’m caught up and i need another fix! Hopefully chapter 13 will be up soon!

    Like

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