Chapter 9

 

“A presence dark invades the fair
And gives the horses ample scare
Chaos rains and panic fills the air
When something wicked this way comes…”
~ R, Bradbury

Jared stepped out of the Rv stretching as he looked around the Drive in. In the dim pre dawn light, it was almost possible imagine that the asphalt of the lot, wasn’t cracked and pitted, and that no weeds grew out of those cracks. It was even hard to see the light layer of dirt that had blown over the place for the last year.
A few lights glimmered in Steve’s RV. Like golden halos in the early morning The building near the gates, where Drake and his people were housed, had a light leaking from the main window.

After a long discussion with Drake, yesterday evening about how over crowded it was getting in the RVs, Drakes crew had bedded down in the old Snackbar and ticket office beside the gate. Some of Drakes people had been a little shocked at how little privacy there was in the RVs and how little Jareds crew cared about it. .

“Coffee” Jill said stepping out of the Rv behind him. She walked up beside him and passed him a cup of precious steaming black goodness.

Jared took it with a smile taking in the smell with a deep breath “thanks, I knew I really loved you.” He said, then took a sip and sighed with pleasure as the hot liquid moved down his throat. The tension he felt over the upcoming trip onto Fort Campbell loosened its grip slightly. We might have to invade Columbia and see if Juan Valdez and his donkey survived and put him back to work picking coffee beans, or I might just take over the world till coffee is restored, Jared thought not quite smiling.

He stood there with his arm around Jill drinking his coffee, watching the sky turn crimson on the horizon, “ Red sky in the morning, Sailor take warning” he said softly, quoting an old saying. Hoping this time it meant only bad weather.

He stayed there with Jill leaning against him as the others woke and went about their morning tasks before gearing up and stared to gather around the now idling vehicles.

“I take it you two are still going with us” Steve asked, from behind them. he looked like shit, not having slept more than a couple of hours after the nightmare. Jared chuckled, as he looked over the assembled group, it was larger than he had really wanted when he had left Sullivan, but if they were going to have a chance to get everything they needed out in one shot , they needed every single person under arms. They left camp five vehicles lit by the blood red light of the rising sun, as they turned towards Fort Campbell.

The drive to the base, was actually shorter than Jared had thought it would be, and with the M88 it only took twenty minutes to hook up and move two of the barricades, to enter the back gate near the airfield.

Once the entire column had passed through the gate, they had moved the barricade back into position, and Jared had left Ramirez and Sinclair at the Gate with the jeep to keep an eye out for undead.

Two minutes after leaving the gate, the airfield came into view, one huge expanse of concrete aprons, crisscrossing runways and taxiways, with islands of grass between them.

Stephanie driving Jared’s van today, drove slowly down an access lane, past the few aircraft still on site, mostly civilian types but there were two C 131’s and a C 17, parked at hardstands. The continental MD80, and the Delta 1011, where parked near the hanger closest to the Control tower, portable Jet ways pushed up against their sides, the hatches still open.

“Why leave those” Jill asked, staring at that huge, to her, Military Air craft.

” Most likely the flight crew never showed up for duty. Probably got caught off base and eaten,” Steve commented.

Ronny was staring at one hanger as they passed by and rubbing his hands on his BDU pants in excitement..

“Once we get the place secured” Jared said absently as he watched Ronny practically dancing in the seat with excitement, ready to jump out and get the OV 20 into the air. .
Jared shook his head forcing away the distracting thoughts of whether he would find Eric hiding on base or a clue as to where his brother had gone,

The Van and Steve’s truck sped up and went around the M88, Daws had his team in Steve’s Truck, would secure the rear of the building operations building, once Jared and his team went in the front, Daws and his team would enter from the rear and the two teams would sweep the first and second floors and secure them before moving up to the Control tower, observation and control room.

They dismounted at the main doors. Every one checking around them in case undead appeared from out of nowhere. Jared turned to Jill and Logan., “ I want you two to bring up the rear just in case who ever it was Ronny saw booby trapped the place, and you two don’t know what to look for and aren’t used to dealing with that kind of threat level. Ori, Your with me, we run point” Jared said not giving Jill a chance to argue that Jared wasn’t the bomb disposal expert either.. “Team Two Go” Jared said over the radio.

The front doors once secured by card readers were easily opened, only sticking for a moment, then swung open silently. Someone had oiled the hinges recently. Jared said nothing but he pointed it out to Ori and both men were far more cautious as they moved into the building. .

The lobby was a small room no bigger than a standard living room, the walls were off white with pictures of the President, and US military air craft decorating it. The floor was a plain white tile. A door that led into the interior lay directly across from the Main Door, they had just entered. a glass and steel stair case ran up to the second floor, some one had dropped file folders on the stair case, and the now yellowing papers had spilled down the steps. .

“ Team two, sweeping and clearing“ Daws reported, as Ori examined the door that led deeper into the first floor for a moment, then nodded to Jared and gave a thumbs up. Jared opened the door, beyond was a long hallway that ran the ran the length of the building, they could see Team Two entering a room at the far end.

Ten minutes later the first floor was cleared, and the two teams moved up the stairs, Ori leading the way trailed by Jared, checking for booby traps.

In the beginning of all this mess, they had been fixated on the checking for undead, and not for things their fellow man might do. At first there had been no reason to worry about their fellow man. But as the situation stabilized, people like Mikhail and roving Militia bands had driven the lesson home that some people, even in a Extinction level event, just couldn’t rise above their petty jealousies, hatreds and desire for power. So old lessons and training were back in vogue.

The second floor was just as empty of life and undead as the first had been, Leaving Daws and his people to hold the lower two floors, Jared and Ori, led the way up the staircase, towards the air controllers room. The stair well was dark; except for where the flash light beams chased the shadows away. It was nerve wracking, especially for Logan and Jill, whose minds kept insisting that any moment now the undead would pour out of the darkness and start ripping and tearing at their flesh.

Halfway up the staircase, Ori held up a clenched fist, stopping Jared in his tracks. Ori knelt, and studied something on a step. It took Jared a moment to catch sight of the thin wire stretched across the step at just about ankle height. One end was anchored to the wall, the other end led to one of the stair rails. Just about where some one had wrapped duct tape around the upright..

“Simple, and easy “Ori said as he cut the wire, then cut the tape and pulled a grenade free, “Grenade, not American though” he said as he pocketed the thing.

“One of the Green Berets maybe, they can use pretty much anything they want” Jared suggested, with a raised light red, almost sandy eyebrow.

“Maybe, I can get the SF using any firearm they want. But grenades, that’s just odd. But I was never SF so who knows” Ori said as he rose and moved even slower up the stairs, where there was one booby trap there might be another.

Reaching the Door to the control tower operations room, Ori ran a light slowly over the door frame and then the door itself and nodded to himself as he used his wire cutters again. “ I have no idea why in the hell some one would booby trap the tower, but they did” He whispered as he slowly opened the door just a hair, so he could peer thru the crack for any other wires, unless who ever it was had used a battery pack and a contact plate wired to a bomb, he was more or less safe. That comforting thought did little to slow down the nervous sweat stain spreading across his back and under his arms. God I hate bombs, at least snipers are fast and you don’t have time to freak out, or sweat like a pig. Ori thought. Could be worse I guess, I could piss my pants.

From what Ori could see, the door was clear, at least of wires, Ori could think of half a dozen ways to detonate a bomb when the door opened with out using wires. This is why you got out of EOD he reminded himself, as he took a deep breath and pushed the door open.

the world didn’t explode, so he was good to go, Jared was already moving thru the door in a crouch, swinging right, and clearing the door way, Ori entered right behind Jared and swung to cover the left side of the room.

The rest of the team entered a second later, they remained in place long enough for Ori to remove the second grenade from where it had been placed.

Jill and Logan remained by the door as the rest swept the room, in case some one was crouching behind a console out of sight, which was the only way they could hide in the empty sunlit room, which reeked of cigarette smoke.

“Clear” Jared said a moment later, Ronny walked over to a set of radar consoles and stood there for a moment looking around, then picked up something from the top of one console and held it up.

“ Serious smoker this one, Galois bonde’s unfiltered” Ronny said displaying the empty soft pack.

Jared frowned, and glanced at Ori. “ Foreign Grenades, French Cigarettes, maybe UN peacekeepers decided the only way to ever take on the US was while zombies were eating every one” Ronny quipped seeing the looks between the two men.

“ well who ever it was, he isn’t here now, which suggests either he left the base, or more likely is hiding somewhere else here on base.” Jared said, as he looked out over the airfield, then turned away from the memories it stirred up.

“Bright side, those are French cigs, so if he or she is French they should surrender the moment we see them.” Ronny said with a grin.

Jared said nothing, it was an old joke. The French military had been competent and professional. On occasion, it had been saddled with less than stellar leadership over the last few decades.

“Lets get out of here, we have a plane to check out, and then DRMO” Jared said, hoping that who ever had been up here hadn’t booby trapped the plane Ronny had been looking at.

The Hanger was damn near empty, making it the easiest Clear they had done. The Chiricahua, already an old aircraft before the dead, sat just inside the large half open doors. It was a sharp nosed single engine craft a bit on the smallish side in Jared’s Opinion, but it looked tough and capable.

Once the Hangar was cleared, Ori checked the aircraft for booby traps before letting Rob and Ronny get to work checking the aircrafts engine over.

Jared was getting impatient to say the least, he needed Ronny on the team, and with a few thousand undead moving towards them he wasn’t in the mood to waste time, Rob was more than capable of getting the thing running if it could be started.

“Hey Jared” Daws called out, as he exited the door in the back of the hanger, his voice echoing slightly in the massive hanger. He held up a sheaf of papers as he walked up.

“You might want to look at this” Daws said, glancing over at Rob who was cussing Ronny for dropping a wrench on his foot . “Damn it Ronny go find something to shoot,” Rob snapped, as Ori started laughing.

“I swear he should have been in the Chair Force” Ori said after a moment.

“I think I have a target in mind right now” Ronny said glaring at Ori then laughed himself.

Rob grumbled and turned his attention back to the Engine, “Make your self useful Ronny and see if this thing has some kind of manual,” Rob called out, eager to get Ronny away from him before he ended up with a serious injury.

“I saw a bunch of manuals in one of the offices” Daws said as he passed the papers he held to Jared who took them, with out comment and started looking them over.

“Jones go with him, we don’t need any one wandering off by themselves” Daws said, The two men headed back to the offices and maintenance cages in the back of the hanger.

“What is all that stuff” Steve asked curiously as Jared read silently.

“ Orders to bug out, they were supposed to be pulling out to consolidate with other forces at a secure location. But that location isn’t listed in any of this stuff, there’s a whole list of things they didn’t have to take because it already on site.” Jared said, and then passed the papers to Steven who studied them with interest. Jared eyed the map cards for a moment. “Were these with those papers ” Jared asked Daws.

“Right on top of the papers, figured they went with this stuff.” Daws replied.

“Well if they do belong, then this base bugged out to Nevada or Utah.” Jared said, looking thoughtful. Besides the officially non existent Area 51, there were several secret bases Jared knew of out there, and rumors of many more. Most were test sites, listening posts and a other things. But some were supposed to be huge, both above and below ground.

“The world was being eaten and they were still practicing ComSec” Jared muttered. “I wonder how many zombies were listening in while picking out their travel bibs” He said with a smile.

“ hey just had an idea” Ori said suddenly, “ we can go see what DARPA has been playing with, I bet you there’s a ton of cool things just sitting around there waiting for us to pick up”

“Now that is a great idea” Jared replied looking thoughtful. “I remember seeing a show where they were testing out Powered combat armor designs. Now that would be useful against zombies.”

“ till it blows up with you inside it, or the batteries run dead and it opens up and dumps your ass on the ground in the middle of a few hundred zombies” Steve said with a snort.

Jared snorted a laugh, Steve had a real good pointThe only reason he would even bother to go check out DARPA, was he was a gadget guy, he head a weakness for new and cool toys. Which wasn’t the kind of reason to be risking getting eaten by the undead, Jared decided.

“Looks like Ronny found what he was looking for” Steve said a few minutes later, as Ronny and Jones returned carrying several thick binders.

“ Merry Friggen Ho ho Christmas Rob” Ronny said as they sat the binders inside the open main door of the UV.

“Great thanks now get the hell out of here before you break my fingers or toes or something I really want to keep working.” Rob said.

Ronny laughed and strolled over to where Jared stood watching the airfield for the undead. beyond those trees was one of several base housing areas, and more than likely some zombies.

“Ready to go?” Ronny asked, Jared nodded turning to look where Mike and some of his people stood near the M88, Carrie, stood off to one side, looking sullen. But at least quiet with out the angry, challenging looks she was almost famous for now.

Mike seeing Jared looking his way grinned stiffly. “ figure we will stay here and pull guard duty, and Lee is pretty good with mechanical stuff, so he can help Rob.” Mike said,

“thanks” Jared said. Mike had seemed distracted and tense since before they left the camp this morning. Jared wasn’t sure why, but then his gaze shifted back to Carrie, that probably explains it, and Mike doesn’t dare leave her at Camp where she can cause problems.

There were times, Jared thought Steve was right about leaving others to their own devices, Mike’s group had proven helpful and friendly and that guy Lee knew his stuff when it came to Electrical and mechanical work.
Mordicai might not be all that familiar with a lot of modern stuff, like weapons and vehicles, but he had a ton of knowledge when it came to farming, livestock and woodwork. Jared suspected Mordicai would return to his farm, once the obvious danger was past. But Sandy, the Nurse, Mordicai’s Girlfriend might just change his mind.
Any one of Mikes group had a lot to offer, all but Carrie.

There were times Jared suspected Carrie could be very dangerous, she had already been a big enough problem, and would have been a bigger problem if Jared hadn’t set the law down on the Men in the group. No touching, no talking where she was concerned, or he, Jared, would nail their balls to the floor and then make them walk in circles.

There was just something about her, something in her eyes. Every where she went, chaos followed in her wake and she love it, craved it.

Back to the business at hand, Jared told himself, mulling over what might be wasn’t going to change a thing. Even with out Mike and his five people staying here at the plane as guards, Jared had more than enough people to secure what they needed at DRMO, and be out of here by sunset. If worst came to worst, he could bring them all back tomorrow and get the last of the stuff loaded and head out by Noon or one, long before the mass of undead swept over the area. So lets get a move on, its already ten am, Jared told himself.

“ All Right lets mount up, places to go, things to get, and maybe zombies to shoot” Jared called out as he headed for the Van.
The small convoy, made its way through the streets moving slowly, led by the M88. Steger manned the .50 on the Crusher, while Jones manned the SAW on the pintle mount in the Dodge Ram.

The wind kicked up blowing old leaves and fine grained dirt across the deserted streets, the Empty windows of the buildings they passed stared vacantly out onto the desolation. Jared shivered, seeing totally empty streets, was in its way worse than seeing them filled with zombies. It drove home the emptiness of the world, even if ten million people had survived in the US, which was just a few million more than NYC had held, The population of one Pre zombie city, which left the rest of the country totally empty.

The odds were actually good that a few million survived in the US, scattered from one coast to the other. But the odds of ever contacting them, or seeing them were not so good. Pointless to think about, for now Jared decided, not even sure he wanted to keep making contact. How many had set themselves up as warlords, how many Militia units were there like the one last Christmas. How many fucking Mikhail’s were there, still strolling around looking for victims?

All of which brought him right back to the empty wind blown streets of Fort Campbell, that had been teeming with life till Spring, and then gone.

“There it is” Jared said suddenly as he spotted the Barracks Building that Eric had stayed in. The parking lot was more than half full of Personal Owned Vehicles, or POV’s The military had insisted on coming up with labels that could be used as a acronyms for anything. , Jared had always suspected that who ever was in charge of such things was one of those compulsive asshats, that the military had shuffled off to harmless jobs, so the idiot couldn’t get people killed.

Jared climbed out of the van and eyed the beige colored building in front of him, it was one of many Barracks buildings on the road, and just as empty as all the other buildings on this ghost town of a base.

He readied his weapon and led the others towards the doors, crossing the dry grass, that crunched under foot. With trepidation, Jared opened the door with his off hand, and stepped thru into the shadowy interior, to find himself in a large lobby to one side were several couches and chairs arraigned around a large TV.

A hallway bisected the back of the room, Jared could see vending machines and a stair case heading up. Eric’s room had been on the third floor, he cross the room quietly, what little noise he might have made swallowed by the standard brown carpet found in most military buildings.

He shone the light mounted on the tac rail down both ends of the hallway and saw nothing before he cautiously climbed the stairs. He went slowly expecting undead to put in an appearance any moment. Finally he reached the third floor, and saw nothing moving down the dusty dimly lit hallway.

Here and there were items that had been dropped in the rush to bug out, a current paperback there, a playboy here, a picture of a woman in a bikini who was probably dead and walking.

Jared ignored it all, to used to seeing the same scene over and over in a thousand different homes and buildings. Reaching the door to Erics room, he knew ever before he opened the door that the room on the other side was empty. He could feel it in a way that he couldn’t have explained. Doesn’t matter I have to see it, Jared told himself as he turned the handle and pushed.

The door swung open about halfway then stopped as it hit something. Jared slipped through and found that one of the wall lockers had been moved to block the door.

Who ever that some one had been they had moved the locker aside at some point to get out of the room. The base hadn’t been overrun, at least not from what they had seen so far, Jared thought as stood there in the dusty room that had been the home of his little brother. They had Bugged out, so why block the door, he wondered. Unless they’d had some sort of outbreak and then gotten it under control.

Ori, Jill and Steve entered one at a time looking around the room. Jared opened the wall behind the door which still held clothes, mostly civilian, and other items, on the top shelf, he saw an Envelope with his name on it. Taking it down Jared stood there for a moment looking at it. Finally he tore it open and pulled out several pages, written in Eric Stones Neat block handwriting.

Ori walked over to the bed then laughed as he picked up a Large black lace bra and held it up. “ he had company that night at any rate” Ori said tossing the bra on the bed and then picked up the skimpy dress and stiletto shoes that had lain beside the bra. .

Jill eyed the clothes for a moment. “Who ever she was she spent a lot of money on those clothes, those shoes were two hundred dollars, and that dress is designer, easily a grand.” Jill commented as Ori found another pile of woman’s clothing next to the second bed and the wall. They obviously belonged to a second woman, not being as expensive or the same sizes as the other pile of discarded clothes

“My brother in law is a real whore” Jill said with a laugh, being careful not to use past tense.

“What’s the letter say” Steve asked watching Jared’s Face.

“its dated before the undead he never got a chance to mail it, But he added a note to it on the 24th. “Its madness out there Jared, we cleared a hospital this morning and while we were flying back, Stillwell called in Artillery strikes in areas we knew had been overrun. He wanted to give to the last of the Civilians and the guard a chance to fall back onto the base with out being eaten.

The Engineers have been working round the clock to secure every weak point on the base, so we can hold out for the long haul, we almost lost the base when a Continental Plane landed and it had several injured on board, they lied about the injuries, I guess they thought we would just shoot them down. Three of them died while in Transit to the Hospital, killed every one on the ambulances, and when the ambulance wrecked they got out and started attacking people, fuckers almost got onto a school bus full of refugee handicapped kids. But some of the MPs showed up just in time and put them all down hard and fast. It was a real Tango Uniform situation.

Don’t know what’s happening anywhere else, commands tight lipped and even the NCO grapevine is quiet. Don’t even know if Ill ever get to mail this, but knowing you, if I don’t show up, you’ll come looking for me so Ill leave it here if the mail doesn’t start up again. lazy bastards will work thru rain, sleet and hail, but wont deliver mail with zombies around.” Jared finished reading and tucked it back into the envelope.

“So at some point after Eric sent Carl to the camp, they bugged out of the base, I mean that’s good news right” Jill said.

Jared nodded, in agreement; though he wasn’t sure he really believed it. But what ever hope he could get. He had known it was a long shot that Eric might still be on Campbell, he could even have headed for Jared’s house, might even be there now. which was something Jared needed to consider before he gave up or dragged every one else off with him.

There was still Eric’s place off base, to check out. They made their way back down stairs cautiously. All of them were to well aware that not seeing zombies didn’t mean one or more might not have been lurking in a room or building they hadn’t checked and show up suddenly.

As they were crossing the lawn to the van parked at the curb, Jared suddenly stopped and looked into the parking lot “His truck” Jared said pointing to the Charcoal grey, King cab Nissan Titan.

“yeah that’s his truck” Steve agreed, seeing the Sticker with their old business logo on the Rear window.

“if your heading to a waiting vehicle to bug out, and wanted to leave a note, and your already outside, would you run back to the third floor?” Jared said over his shoulder as he started jogging towards the pickup. Steve and Jill went with him, the rest of the team waited at the van keeping watch for any threat.

Jared went around to the drivers side and stopped as he noted two solar panels, one was the size of one of those old side view mirrors that used to be on most trucks, a foot tall and six inches wide, the other panel, a foot by a foot and half, was attached to top of the cab, cables snaked down thru a gap in the window. Jared had seen a set up like that at Lowes, solar powered trickle chargers, about fifty dollars a piece if he remembered right. But this set up was pure military from the look of it.

He tried the handle and found the door unlocked, opening the drivers door, he noted the musty smell, where rain had gotten in thru the cracked window. The cables from the solar chargers had dangled down the inside of the door, but instead of running to the dashboard, they ran under the seat, into the back. Just under the seat, were a set of keys, on top of a folded piece of paper, Jared pulled the piece of paper from under the keys, and shook his head grinning.

“Jared, if you show up and need wheels, here’s the keys to my truck, hopefully it will still start, I know how you drive don’t ding it up. Ps Check the back.” He read aloud.

Jared opened the rear drivers side door and looked in the back of the king cab. There on the rear bench seat sat a Large molly pack, body armor and a few other odds and ends. “ must have thought I might have gotten caught out with out my gear” he muttered as he climbed out, trying not to get emotional at the evidence his little brother was looking out for him.

As he reached for the pack he realized that the cables from the solar panels ran into the top of the pack. Curious he opened the pack and found Eric had hooked the Charger up to a Laptop.

“Lets get those solar panels off truck, we can use them.” Jared said as he disconnected the cable leads, closed the pack and slung it over his shoulder. Underneath the pack was something he had only seen on the military channel and in movies, a sat com system.

Steve who was standing just behind Jared whistled, “Damn, I wonder if the battery is still charged” Steve said, as Jared picked it up.

“ Doubt it, but we might be able to power it up with the solar system, we will figure it out” Jared said, scanning the area, it was still threat free at the moment, Steve and Jill collected the rest of the stuff Eric had put in the back seat and carried it to the van..

Jared moved to the back of the truck and opened the bed cover, “ damn, no wonder he didn’t have time to get back up to his room and leave a note, between hooking the trickle chargers and loading this stuff, he probably didn’t have time to piss before leaving.” Jared said smiling.

Ten minutes later, they had the two cases of 5.56, a case of Fragmentation grenades, four claymores and five cases of MRE’s loaded onto the van. “Your little brother was damn sure looking out for you” Logan said as they pulled away from the Barracks.

Jared smiled sadly. “Yeah, I think he was” Jared said as he opened the laptop and pushed the power button. He was rewarded by a whirr and a green light as the unit began to power up. Jared shut the lid, he would rather wait till they were back and he could plug it into the an outlet in the RV. He re-secured the laptop in its shock proof case, and settled back in his seat watching the buildings slide past the window.

Fort Campbell, Covered 164 square miles, or 105, 068 acres, and had been, and Jared guessed still was one of the largest military bases in the world. He knew roughly some 25,000 soldiers had been stationed here, plus dependents, might actually have been more, Jared wasn’t a fact whore, at least not about base populations.

It was a city in all but name really, right down to its own parks, and hunting areas, a mall of sorts, even a bowling Alley, not that most non military folks considered a bowling alley a way to spend an evening, but to the military mindset, it wasn’t a base with out a bowling alley. He and Eric had bowled at Hoopers a couple of times when Jared came up to visit, at least before the brutal deployment schedules which had kept Eric away for almost a year at a time.

:”I so hate not to hit every where we can, it’s not often we find a place with so few zombies” Ori said as he gazed out the side window thinking of all the possible supplies and equipment that might be inside those buildings just waiting for some one to pick them up.

“no zombies” Logan corrected with a smile.

“no zombies that you see. This base is so big, there could a thousand or so in one of the Housing areas, and you wouldn’t know it on this part of the base till they come around a corner.” Ori said hoping it made Logan just a bit more cautious.
* * * * *

It was growing darker as the cloud cover thickened, the wind was picking up setting the tree tops to swinging. The wind hummed eerily as it gusted between the buildings on Wickham Street. Old leaves and loose debris swirled up into the air with each gust, only to fall back to the ground a moment later. The roar of the M88’s engine echoed off the buildings as it clanked down the road.

:”That’s going to draw down every undead in the area.” Ori commented, Jared nodded, not really concerned, the Engineers had down a fantastic job of blocking off the gates, before the bug out, so only a few undead had actually gotten onto the base, through sections of fence line damaged during the storms of early spring.

The odds were against there being a huge number inside the fence line, but he wasn’t about to believe it with out proof.

“ we only have to worry if that horde reaches the fence before we get done here “ Jared said. which was true, if they had the manpower and weapons that the base had used while they were here, Jared could have thinned out the ranks enough that there would have been no way enough bodies could be piled up to bring down a section of fence.

“Should we hit the Medical library now” Logan asked, as they passed the turn off to the hospital annex.

Jared shook his head, “ not till we secure new vehicles, no need to load, unload and then load it all back up again.” Jared replied, he hated wasting Effort and that would be a colossal waste of time and sweat.

“Don’t forget Maintenance Motor Pool” Ori called out from the back where he was sprawled on the bed, Jill laughed as he waggled his eyebrows at her and leered suggestively while patting the mattress. .

“Probably nothing left there” Jared said, as he glanced back and then shook his head in mock disgust. “by the time all this is over I will have had to kill off every one I know for hitting on my wife.” He said, as Steve chuckled.

“ Don’t look at me, Ill still be standing when the dust clears, being the morally upright person that I am” Steve said, his eyes artfully wide in an oh so innocent look.

“Morally upright, is not what comes to mind when I think of you” Jared shot back. if the laughter that washed around the Van was just this side of

“ if we have enough time, after we hit DRMO the motor pool and the library, maybe we should hit the Px, and the automotive center.” Steve suggested, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of losing his truck, not that Jared blamed he.

Jared was just as attached to his Van as Steve was to his Truck. but like Both of their original Vehicles, the current ones would break down and have to be left behind sooner or later. And Steve’s was on its last leg, just like the Rv back at camp was.

As they rolled down Desert storm Ave, the buildings became less crowded with more space between them, sometimes those spots were filled with huge parking lots, in other places overgrown lawns separated the buildings.

Finally they reached 8th street, and turned. Jared eyed the massive warehouses along the road then finally spotted the sign he was looking for. “Pull around to the back” Jared said with a smile as he pointed to a drive way.

DRMO, has to be the greatest things since sliced bread to any one who likes military surplus. DRMO It had a bit of everything, Stainless kitchen prep tables, industrial mixers, Boots, Trucks, Sleeping systems, anything and every thing that a person might ever want that the military has used at any point in the past.

Jared had been to DRMO a few times years back and had even seen Pallets loaded with cases of C Rats, about half of those had been Korean Era mystery meat. The other half had been Military Fruitcake. Fruit Cake is pretty much universally condemned but most people had know clue that there was Military version that was even worse, some would opine that was just short of Blasphemously bad.

Jared had been surprised that an Artillery battalion, had let go of the fruit cake. Those things could be lethal if launched out of a 105 self propelled Arty piece. There had been rumors NASA had thought of using the Fruit cake to replace the Heat Tiles on the Shuttle, since they were damn near indestructible.
Jared and the others dismounted from their vehicles while Daws stopped long enough to pick up six people and then headed down the road to pick up some of the supply vehicles they had spotted that had been left behind.

DRMO was located on the south side of the base along with other Massive warehouses along the bases rail lines. There were still many civilian vehicles parked around in the large parking areas. All of the long abandoned vehicles covered in a patina of Dirt, dust and leaves.

Jared climbed out of the Van, His commando Center slung, resisting the urge to double check his weapon again, his eyes sweeping the street and the buildings across the way for threats. He still wasn’t used to seeing no zombies. He was pretty sure that wasn’t going to last how ever. Ronny had seen some on his fly overs after all.

“ Well time to earn our pay” Jared said, as he moved into position in front of the Loading bay doors, he didn’t expect any zombies or opposition, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t get any. Life had a funny way about it sometimes.

“we get paid for this?” Ronny asked. “someone owes me a years worth of backpay then.”

“What Mary didn’t tell you, she gets your check” Ori quipped. “boy you are whipped.”

Jared ignored the nervous banter as he gestured at Drake. “ Drake if you would, open the door then you and yours wait out here, and cover the entrance till we clear the interior” Jared said.

Steve’s lip thinned, but he remained silent. He was far less trusting than Jared.

“not a Problem” Drake said. He was more then willing to let some one else clear a building. He reached for the handle and pulled up. The door slid easily up rattling in its track. Drake moved quickly out of the way, before the opening was past his knees.

the moment the door was high enough Jared led Team One into the warehouse
The teams weapon mounted tac lights spearing into the darkness beyond the door, Revealing Rows and Rows of Shelves loaded with items cloaked in shadows.

With the gathering storm clouds, it was even darker in the massive warehouse than it would have been otherwise, the wind hummed over the metal roof, the sound eerie in the almost dark warehouse.

Their boots rang hollowly on the cement floor as they moved cautiously thru the dark building past shelves and bins loaded with goods. Jared saw open ammo boxes fill with P38 can openers, open Crates loaded with Mess kits, E tools, E tool pouches, Muck a luck boots, parka’s, Mummy sleeping bags, harness’s, foam pads, pouches, ponchos, and a thousand and one other items. In the Back they even found two of the Generators that could be pulled behind a Deuce.

Confident the warehouse itself was clear, they moved thru the double doors into the office and auction section of the building, clearing rooms with practiced ease. As they finished sweeping the office area, then returned to the warehouse.
As they strode across the large chamber the rumble of heavy motors could be heard, Daws and the others had returned.
Reaching the Loading door Jared saw Two FMTV Supply trucks with the LSAC armored cabs, still painted desert brown, both had over the cab weapons mounts but only one held a weapon, thankfully it was a SAW, they had plenty of ammo for the SAW at the moment.

Daws had also found two Hemmet cargo trucks, that wouldn’t take long to fill up, considering the amount of gear Jared wanted to haul out, which was at least two of everything for every person in the group. Three of everything when it came to clothing, boots and cold weather gear.

“ what the hell is the Flatbed for” Drake asked, curious as he looked at the M1075A1 Tractor trailer. It looked like a Semi on steroids, which was a pretty accurate description all things considered. Able to haul 80 tons, multi fueled, off road cabable

“to haul the 88, so we reduce wear on parts and save fuel” Jared said, then motioned to the Semi, it was usually called a HET but its official designation was M1070 tractor “ that thing can haul a M1 Abrams, so its more than capable of hauling the 88, when we don’t need it.”

Drake nodded, he was more interested in the Vehicles for his own people, and they would need one to haul supplies, as well, Drake thought. He had no intention of becoming Part of Jareds group until his people decided that’s what they wanted.

Jared turned to the people who had gathered at the Loading bay doors, nervous at being so open and exposed. Jared set guards then turned to the rest of the assembled group.

“All Right People, lets do this right. Cold weather gear first, Mucks with liners, parka’s and gloves, Then Rucks, Mummy bags, clothing, mess kits…….” Jared ran down the list, then broke them into teams and sent them inside to find floor lifts, forklifts, and dollys. “ Daws spot anything else worth grabbing,” Jared asked once he had every one running.

“lots of things, one of them was an M113 that had National guard markings on it, that looks like it got hit with a javelin.” Daws said glancing towards the warehouse door, where Drake and his people were busy.

“You think our mysterious strangers, nailed his men” Jared asked.

“Damn sure looks that way.” Daws replied, as he pulled off his cover and ran a hand over the stubble on his head. “ I think we should check out the range, too while we are here. Should be ammo there, civilian run you know. The Military most likely wouldn’t have even thought about clearing it, and the Civilians would have been to busy getting the hell out of dodge to do more than grab what they could carry.”

“Kind of out of our way, but we need ammo, how sure are you that it will be there” Jared asked.

“about as sure as I am that there will be Ammo in some of those hummers around the Airfield, and at the gates, and that if we check the Weapons storage bunkers, we will find some as well, not a lot but a little, I would have bet on a lot of 105 rounds too, till I saw how they bombed the shit out of the surrounding area. If theres two shells left in there Id be surprised. Give me a truck and five extra men, and I can hit the Range and the storage centers, check them out, then meet back up with you.” Daws said, as he pulled his cover back on, and then rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. “ slept worth shit last night” he said with a tired grin.

“Lot of that going around” Jared said, as he turned and saw bins full of clothing, boots, and field gear being rolled out, people wrestled them up and into the backs of the waiting Hemmet Cargo trucks. .

“ As soon as we get this stuff loaded, get as many men as you need and go get us some ammo. I need to go see what kind of vehicles are sitting back there in the DRMO yard.” Jared said as he motioned for the rest of his team to follow.

It took two hours to fill the Trucks, and they still hadn’t put a major dent in the warehouse. Drake had his people pick their own packs and load them while they waited for Jared to finish in the Yard.

Drake made sure each of them had a E-tool, and a bayonet attached to their web belts, along with canteens. He had been eyeing the Humvee parked across the street since they arrived, and finally tired of waiting for Jared to finish in the Yard, He walked across the street accompanied by Lany.

He looked inside before opening the door, they had learned that lesson the hard way back when all this had started, Toby Gestner, had jumped into a Chevy Bellaire, with out looking, and the first clue the rest of them had was tobys Screams and blood spraying over the inside of the windows. A damn zombie had been in the backseat just laying there waiting for some one to climb in.

Once Drake was sure there was no undead inside, he opened the doors, and saw a bandolier of 40mm on the passenger seat, and a ammo can of 5.56, it was only half full but any amount was welcome, he thought. There wasn’t much else in the hummer, a playboy, a first aid kit, and two bottles of sun tan lotion.

he had no desire to flip through the pages of the playboy to see women he was pretty sure were half eaten and still walking around out there. Feeling depressed at the thought, he tried to start the Vehicle but got nothing.

“ Lany run over to the tank thing, its supposed to have tools and other stuff, and have them roll on over here and Maybe I can get it running. “

He raised the hood as she jogged across the street, and wandered how he could get her to lose the obvious romantic interest she seemed to have in him, or if he should even try, its not like there were a lot of women left of any age these days.
* * * *

They had swept the enclosed vehicle yard in half an hour, and found one zombie. From clothes and the hair, Jared guess he had been a civilian contractor, and with no visible bite marks or wounds Jared guessed the man had died of a heart attack, but they would never really know.

Jill put the undead down quickly with one clean flowing draw cut, that sent the head tumbling from its shoulders, Logan shook his head, and crushed the skull. “poor bastard” He muttered.

Steve studied the collection of Vehicles, most were vehicles that had been phased out in the mid seventies to mid eighties. A few dated back to the Vietnam and two were from WW2, as much as Steve loved the old wiley jeeps, they were not a vehicle you wanted to be in during the zombie apocalypse.

“ so what do you have in mind,” Steve asked Jared who was looking at the gutted body of a Deuce. About half the vehicles were either cut in half or in process of being stripped for parts.

“ those K5s for starters” Jared said pointing, the K5 was the military version of the Blazer, there were five of them apparently intact, “ and those four M935s,” Jared added, two of the Medium trucks had a box with an Air conditioner, mounted where the cargo bed should be.

“Command vehicles” Steve asked, but didn’t see any place all the aerials would be mounted for a command vehicle.

“ I don’t think so, but maybe” Jared said, as he spotted three old Military VW vans painted OD green, some had called them six packs.

“We go with all diesel the newest models we can find, some might even have been refitted, which means better gas mileage.” The problem was the heavier the vehicle, and the more off road capable the lower the gas mileage, they could do some work to improve that, given time and a safe place, but that could only do so much.

He was seriously considering dumping the FMTVs Daws had rounded up, the armor could only make the motors suck even more fuel. But at the same time they had faced enough scum bags who had shot at them that armor was a plus.

He looked around, if they had time, they could strip off spare parts, tires, and other things they might need, but they had a lot to do before heading back to camp.

“I think we are going to round up a few Hummers too. The multi fuel set up can only help us, I don’t honestly remember, but I think most of the vehicles made or upgraded for the eighties had multi fuel set ups on them. so we check those out first., we need cargo space and people space” Jared said already thinking about the fact they were going to have to haul a Fuel tanker for a aircraft again too. Damn the usefulness of Airplanes he decided with a smile.

:” using the Cargo trucks, we can always build up the beds into a camper, that could hold four to six people, I had toyed with the idea of finding another 1075A with a trailer, strip off the tires, drive train, and engine of the crap RV, use the 88 to lift it up onto the trailer, weld it into place and keep on using it. I’m not sure about that though, but the mileage should be about the same. I think we all need to sit down and discuss this. We need to keep the number of vehicles as low as possible, which keeps down the amount of fuel used. so we need to decide, Personal transport, or Cargo.

As far as Drake and his people are concerned, Ill make recommendations. But they can pick what they want, and fuel it themselves.” Jared said as he walked over to the shell of an M113.

“ I’m surprised your not going all out to help like usual” Steve said, wondering why Jared was so interested in the box body.

“if they stay with us, Ill give a damn, till then they are just here to re equip and then go on their way. I don’t care if they travel with us either, but I expect them to do their own work.” Jared replied.

Once he helped them get set up again, as far as Jared was concerned, from that point on they would be responsible for gathering fuel, food and ammo for their own group. Or do work for his people to get what they needed from Jared’s group.
:”this isn’t going to work” Steve said as they walked amongst the vehicles, parked by type in rows.

“What the vehicles.” Jared asked

“ no this whole thing, we have what fifty three people with us now, Jared, we are crammed into every vehicles we have, our food supplies are going to nose dive in a less than a week, at the least we should look around for food in Clarksville, stock up then send these folks away, to the farm or to Sullivan. Ed was talking about all the food and supplies that are just sitting on the docks in conex’s just waiting to be picked up in Charleston and Ashton could use extra fighters, to secure those supplies.

and now we are trying to strip a warehouse of supplies, with limited numbers of people on a base with so few undead, that it might as well be empty, while part of our group is miles down the road. “ Steve said, with a frustrated shrug.

“So, you think we should set up camp here” Jared asked, not adverse to the idea.

“Right here at the DRMO,” Steve said nodding,

Jared’s eyes narrowed in thought, he was mulling over the digital pictures Ronny had taken in the Ultra light trying to remember how far the broken sections of fence were from this location.

The advantages were, they could send people out to sweep buildings on base for useful items left behind. He knew they wouldn’t find much in the way of food, since the base had bugged out early spring, any food on base would have been rounded up rationed then taken with them. oh they might find the odd case of MRE’s, Ammo, clothes and a thousand and one other things they could use. But not in large enough numbers to be really useful to the group, but every little bit would help..

It also meant, Rob, Ori, Lee and Steve could do some much needed work on the Vehicles they were going to keep, and on the ones they were going to take, as well as he would have time to check diesel tanks on base, and use the pump on the 88 to transfer that fuel to tanker trailers and vehicles.

Disadvantage it put them miles closer to the approaching Horde, and possible observation by who ever it was hiding on base.

“Why didn’t you suggest that yesterday” Jared said after a moment, Steve shrugged.

“To be honest I didn’t think we would find much, and would be moving on by noon.” Steve replied.

“ all right, lets make it happen, Take Logan and you two head back to camp and lead them to the gate we came thru. Make sure its closed up behind you. Stop at the Crusher on your way out and give the camp a heads up using the base unit, so they can get started loading up before you get there” Jared said, nodding in total agreement with the new plan. They were going to have a harder evening than they had thought, but it would hopefully bear fruit and make it worthwhile.

Steven nodded then strode away with Logan at his side, heading for the parking area, leaving Jared to continue to study vehicles that they might use.

* * * * *

“ I think that might do it” Rob said as he stepped back from the Engine, and wiped his hands on his pants, he watched Lee finish tightening the last few bolts. “For a Straight guy your not half bad with engines” Rob said with a grin,

“For a homo, your wrist is surprisingly solid.” Lee said with a laugh.

“it comes from hours of daily self plea….” Rob said only to be cut off before he could finish.

“I really don’t want to hear about your sex life with your hand” Lee said laughing. “Now see if the damn thing starts”

“oh dominate are you” Rob said laughing himself, as he climbed into the cockpit, stopping himself from making a joke out of its name.

Lee, Rob had discovered, for all his imposing physical appearance was a nice man, and truly didn’t give a shit about Rob being gay. He actually liked the Lee, who was just as good at Mechanical stuff as Mike had said.

“Make sure the wheels are chocked” Rob called out. He hadn’t even bothered to look but he was pretty sure they were. Of course that was the surest way to kill himself or others by making an assumption
Mike stood near his bronco watching as the airplane motor coughed a few times then suddenly roared to life. He couldn’t help but smile for a moment at the sound, it reminded him of better times. He glanced at Carrie and his smile faded, she looked angrily at Rob who was climbing out of the Plane giving Lee a Thumbs up. He had no idea what her problem was with Rob, hell with anyone really. Shaking his he walked over to Amy and Mort, Arthur was across the hanger nosing around another plane.

“I never thought the sound of an airplane could make me so damned happy” Mort, said flashing a gap toothed smile at Mike who nodded in agreement.

“I miss the lights and atmosphere of Christmas” Amy said, “and Halloween partys with fake zombies”

“I miss women in spiked heels” Mort added with a grin. He started to ask Mike what he missed, but seeing the look of loss Mike had on his face as he watched Carrie climb into the Bronco, he fell silent. He felt like a total ass for even bringing it up.

Across the airfield they saw a hummer speeding across the ramp heading towards the distant gate. A moment later Steve’s voice boomed out of the ear bud Mike wore. “You might want to scout out behind the Hangers, I thought I saw some undead, back there as we went by.”

Mike nodded, and then realizing there was no way Steve could see him, smiled wryly at himself. “ no problem Ill go Check it out” He said already walking for the Bronco. Amy and Mort started to follow but mike waved them back. “ stay here and keep an eye on things, Ill be right back.” He called out. Amy gaped at him for a second, before glancing at Mort who shrugged.

As Mike walked around to the drivers side and climbed in Carrie opened the Passenger door and was halfway out of the Bronco when Mike grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her up short.

“Not so fucking fast” He said, almost friendly like.

“let me go” she snapped

“As soon as your ass is in the seat and the door is shut” Mike said almost cheerfully. “You’ve been fucking off since we go there. So your going with me to check out possible zombies”

“To hell I am” She replied angrily.

Mike saw Amy and Mort watching and continued to smile hoping they stayed put. He really didn’t want to make this any more difficult than it needed to be.

Mike could tell Carrie was going to argue all day, and he really didn’t have time or the inclination to deal with it. He yanked her back in the Bronco and drew his pistol.

“Sit your ass down, and do not move” he said so calmly it surprised him.

She stared at the pistol, then smiled coldly. “you wouldn’t shoot me, remember you love me you worthless shit.”

“let me put it this way, I love the woman I married not you, if I suddenly believe she is gone for good, theres no reason in the world I wouldn’t blow away the bitch who took her place. Your choice Hun.. ride with me or test whether Ill shoot you” Mike said with a cold smile.

The mocking smile on Carries face faltered for the first time, hatred burned in her eyes, but she silently shut the door.

“ That’s better” He said as he started the Bronco and pulled out. “ we are going to check out some possible zombies then we are going to check out a couple of other things” he said calmly.

Carrie didn’t respond, she only stared out the window, tapping a nail on the door. “why do you hate me” he asked as he drove past the stacked CONEXs, for ever waiting to carried to their final destination, and onto the grass behind the hanger, heading for the trees beyond.

“why not” she replied. “ your weak, you claim to be my husband, and I don’t like you. Oh your cute enough, but please, oooo I love you so much Ill pull a gun on you, just to have a conversation. Real manly” she said acidly.

“Oh I think its better than punching you in the head till you pass out. Which I seriously considered for a moment” Mike replied, he didn’t add how satisfying that would have felt either.

“Real manly” She said once more than went back to staring out the window.

Mike fell silent, He wasn’t proud of what he had just done, but he had no other choice. Not if he wanted one last chance to get his wife back. He doubted Jared would let him come back after this, either. But even that was worth it, if he got Carrie back, and even if he didn’t, he had tried. There were no other choices in this world, the shrinks and the Doctors were dead.

He ignored the image of Ily that floated up in his mind, shoved it away, if this worked it wouldn’t matter and if it didn’t work, well he doubted she would want anything to do with him now, and he couldn’t blame her not really.

It took him only ten minutes to check the area for undead, if there had been any they weren’t here now. he thought as he turned the radio back on, “ this is Mike, all clear, no sign of undead, Im going to run a patrol, keep your eyes peeled, Ill be back in a bit” He reported over the radio and then turned it off before any one could question him.

“what do you want, a blow job, to see my boobs what?” Carrie asked. a moment later as he drove deeper into the wooded area, hoping he remembered where the hole in the fence was that Jared had pointed out on one of the pictures.

“I want to show you something, after that I don’t care. You can do what you want” he replied.

Ten minutes later he spotted the hole where a tree had come crashing down ripping away fifteen feet of fence, and there were zombies at the gap. Mike gritted his teeth and drove thru them, backing up once to make sure he got the one he missed. When he was satisfied that all ten were down, He drove thru the gap and off base.

Carrie studied him silently as he drove thru the trees, lips pursed as he whistled silently to himself, a nervous habit of his. “there it is” Mike muttered as he spotted a road through the trees. The Hummer pushed out of the woods and Mike turned and started heading south. He had spent hours last night studying Jareds Map, to make sure he remembered the route he needed.

By the time they reached Lafayette Road, he had seen growing numbers of undead, all of them, moving along the fence line as if seeking holes. He frowned for a moment, feeling guilty at leaving the Jared and the others to fend for themselves, after all they had done for he and Carrie, and put up with her, then turned his Radio back on, Jared was on the south side, so Mikes radio should reach him.

“Mike to Jared, there’s a lot of undead on Layfette road and moving along the fence line, you might want to get some one out to block off those holes you know about. Sorry about things man, keep on keeping on. And Good luck.” Mike said then reached for the power button.
“Mike, where the hell are you? Lafayette road, are you outside the Fence line…..” Jared’s voice stopped suddenly as Mike turned off the radio.

“Burning bridges are you” Carrie said a slight smile on her face as they drove into the shelled out ruins of Clarksville, south of Fort Campbell. It was like the surface of the moon, dust and overlapping craters, here and there walls, jutted up, or vehicles half buried in rubble. Limbs stuck out from piles of rubble, arms that waved around grasping at nothing, legs that kicked. It was disturbing, on so many levels. He saw one zombie with only its head and one arm exposed, reaching blindly towards the sound of the bronco.

“I guess I am” Mike admitted, after a moment, wondering when she was going to explode again. almost happy at the thought this was the longest he had been alone with her with out her screaming insults at him. That he had used a weapon to get her to comply was probably a deciding factor in the relative tranquility.

“Stupid of you.” She said an enigmatic smile on her face now. “I am who I am, Mike. And nothing is going to change that.”

“Maybe, but like I said once I show you what I have to show you, you can do what you want, go or stay. I wont argue” Mike said softly with out looking at her. If he had he might have wondered about the gloating looking of triumph on her face that came and went quickly. He didn’t notice, and so he drove deeper into the ruins, heading towards the still standing buildings on the other side of the Red River, and his home beyond. Not even really noticing the undead that struck blindly at the bronco as it passed.
* * * * *

It was only four in the afternoon, when the Truck pulled up and stopped in front of the motor pool, Logan wasn’t sure if it was for the whole base, or one specific unit, Jared had tried to explain it to him, before he left. But Logan didn’t get the whole military thing, all he knew was, they were supposed to check out it, locate two specific vehicles, and then any other vehicle they thought might be worth while. Logan climbed out and readied his weapon. Low ready was what Jared called the position.

Lighting flickered overhead for a moment and Logan felt a few drops of rain strike him in the face, but other than the gusting wind, that was it. Logan wasn’t really sure he liked running patrols and scavenging with Daws and his soldiers, not that he disliked them, they were just a bit to gung ho most of the time.

“Think Jared will find that dumb ass” Jones asked Daws as the two men emerged from the truck and stood there under the dark clouds. Jared and team one had left an hour or so before to find Mike and bring him safely back. No one knew why he had suddenly bailed on the group taking only his wife with him.

“I hope so if only so that Amy chick shuts the hell up” Daws responded, “shes hot, got a great rack, but annoying as hell when she wants her way.”

“ I wouldn’t kick her out of Bed,” Jones said, then shook his head. “actually yes I would, theres more room on the floor” he said laughing at the old joke.

Angela, a soldier, cuter than a button with trim hard body and ample chestyness, and only a year older than Amy glared at the two men. Then at Logan who shrugged and gave her the Im not with those guys look.

“You two Morons realize Im a woman right, and Im armed and its that time of the month right” Angela said, with a hard no nonsense smile.

“ with that rack its hard to miss the fact you’re a woman, and I don’t mind waiting a week or two if you feel like getting Freaky,” Jones said, wiggling his thick eyebrows suggestively.

“Jones the only way I would sleep with you is if you were unconscious and I was severely drunk.” Angela shot back.

“Private, Id drill the boots right off your feet.” Jones said confidently.

“in your dreams mighty mite” Angela retorted with a shake of her blonde head.

Logan remained out of the whole discussion though Angela, was a looker, tight, trim body, shoulder length blond hair, oval face, with large blue eyes, and full kissable lips.

He was more focused on the building they were here to check out, Angela flashed him a smiled. “ Jared showed you what those things look liked right” She asked meaning the vehicles that they were looking for..

Logan nodded, “sure did, seemed almighty eager to get them too, assuming they are still here.”

Once Steve had returned leading the other half of the group to DRMO, Jared had set down and gone thru the lap top that his brother had left. There were a series of Video messages that covered a few months after the Dead had risen.. But from Jared had said, his brother, had spent those months hiding stuff around base, just in case things went to hell and the base fell.

Two of the things he had creatively lost, were vehicles that were being tested by the Military, specifically Erics unit, the Enhanced Logistic Off-Road Vehicle, or ELSORV. According to Eric, the 101st had been testing the prototypes, but the 5th SF had wrangled around and had gotten two for their own use and testing purposes.

To Logan they had looked like jacked up hummers on steroids, supposedly able to do ninety on paved roads, can do approach angles of 90 degrees, and climb 80 degree hills. Jared had given a lot of other details like it was based on a SRAT, which meant nothing to Logan, and that had partial wrapped this, and this kind of transfer case, that kind of clearance, Logan wasn’t a vehicle nut so it mostly went over his head. What he did get was that both Jared and his brother seemed to get massive hard on’s for the things.
Which is what had brought them here, to this motor pool, where Eric had parked both of the vehicles.

“ Ready” Angela asked, winking at him then lifted her weapon to low ready and moved to the gate, Logan eager to get this done before the bottom fell out of the swollen dark clouds above followed her to the gate, momentarily hypnotized by the swing of her hips, which really show cased her, to him, perfect shaped butt.

The large yard inside, was mostly empty, what was left were typical supply trucks, Jared had said something about they had left them behind because where ever they were going, either didn’t have room for every vehicle, and had enough on site to share. Either way, there were a lot of Supply trucks, green cars and vans, and other assorted vehicles, but the heavily armed and armored vehicles were gone.

They moved slowly across the yard, more cautious now than earlier, they had stumbled across almost sixty zombies shambling out of a base housing area. And twenty more down by the hospital when they cleared the Medical Library, proving that the base wasn’t as secure as almost all of them had wanted to believe.

The wind moaned thru the fence, setting Logan’s Teeth on edge, as he moved slowly across the yard peering under and around parked vehicles. “shit look at that” Daws said, pointing into a bay, where bones were scattered, around on the floor, Logan could see at least six human skulls in the outside light that spilled into the bay, illuminating about a third of the bay, but the rest of the bay was covered in clinging darkness.

“Zombies?” Jones asked hesitantly.

“No, they only chew on people till they die,” Angela said seemingly unfazed by the sight.

“Maybe they were put down by a knife or something, and just rotted.” Daws said, as he continued towards the bay with the red x painted on the roll up door.

Daws wasn’t going to tell any one, but he couldn’t wait to get the hell off the base, the last Base he had been on had been Fort Jackson, his Duty station before things went to hell, he had managed to survive along with a few hundred other people after the Day. and then had almost been eaten by that bowler hat thing, and barely escaped a massive horde. And it looked like the same scenario was about to play out here too. And he hoped to get his ass off this base before that bowler hat wearing zombie thing showed its nasty rotting face.

“ Lets hurry this up” Daws called out as he reached the roll up door, and the big pad lock that held it close. He had to resist the urge to tap his foot as Spacey pulled up the torch set they had brought for just such a problem.

Logan turned away from the scattered bones and started to walk towards the two men at the bay they had come to find, when a low growl filled air, its low basso, rumbled thru Logan who turned slowly to see the biggest fucking dog he had ever seen in his life.

“ oh shit,” Angela said, she was about ten feet past the bay and had turned at the sound, only to freeze at the sight of the hound from hell.

“back up slowly” Jones said from just behind Logan. “don’t look it in the eyes, and don’t make any sudden movements” Jones advised him.

Logan took a step back, and the dog advanced two steps, still growling low in its chest, a deep rumbling sound that made the primitive part of his brain long to piss on the civilized pants he wore.

It was a deep black, it looked kind of like a German Shepard, only bigger and blockier. And as it growled again, more growl’s answered it from the darkness of the bay where a pack had obviously take up residence.

“ oh hell,” Jones said softly, and then as if a signal had been given, the big black dog, launched itself at Logan clearing the distance between them in two leaps, more dogs poured out of the bay, Logan saw at least one Rottwieler and a pit bull, but that’s all he had time to see before the massive animal leaped for his throat.

Angela’s weapon roared, quickly joined by Daws own weapon. Jones fired as well, Logan tried and failed to get his weapon into line, but he didn’t have time and he knew it, so instead he shifted it up so that the Dog bit down on the receiver, and the full one hundred sixty pounds of animal took Logan down as it ripped the rifle out of his hands and sent it flying with on savage twist of its head.

He lay there for what seemed like hours, watching as the lips curled back from huge teeth and ropes of saliva dripped from sharp canine teeth. The mouth yawned open, even as he fumbled in slow motion for the large hunting Knife Jared and Ori had insisted he always carry.

His hand closed on the hilt and he drew it knowing he had only one chance, with that thought he rammed his left forearm into its mouth, as it lunged for his throat and almost screamed as teeth clamped down thru flesh and grated on bone, but it had kept the beast from ripping out his throat.

It pulled once, and the pain almost made him pass out. But that was the only chance that animal got, he rammed his knife up to the hilt in its side, once, twice and then a third time. Then like a man possessed he was cursing and screaming at the top of his lungs and stabbing the animal wildly. hot blood cascading down over him, soaking his clothes.

. The dog bit, tore and clawed in pain and desperation, then with no warning it collapsed on top of him. Logan managed to sit up, shoving the dogs corpse aside, trying to staunch the blood flow from the wound in his arm, and became aware of the thunder of firearms, and Jones rolling around on his back, his fist shoved in the maw of a big shaggy dog the size of a small pony. Logan, reached for his pistol, and the pain that flared thru him was so intense he could never have described it, he moaned but forced his hand to draw the Sig, fighting the dizziness, he fired till the weapon was empty, and the dog lay unmoving atop Jones.

Logan looked around in disbelief and saw Ten dogs, none smaller than a Rottweiler, lay scattered around the oil stained and cracked pavement, ripped apart by gunfire. Angela rushed to his side pulling a pressure bandage out from a small pouch on her Combat vest, he started to say something but the world started spinning, the last thing he heard, was Daws screaming into the radio for support and a Medic.
* * * * *
The UV 20a launched itself smoothly after only six hundred feet, climbing rapidly. Ronny whooped trying not to Laugh at the Look on Ryans face, the Teen ager, was not a fan of Flying add in the wind gusts and the occasional lightening, and Ryan should be wearing depends.

The lightening cast the weirdest shadows across the shattered and ruined landscape below. It looked like they had shelled everything down to the river, here and there a building remained, but mostly it was just rubble, craters, and burned out ruins.

The bridge into Clarksville itself was intact but looked damaged from two hundred feet. Part of a road block was still place, just across the river, and to the right of the highway were the remains of a mall, it looked like the majority of the damage had been split between artillery shells and fire. And then half a mile past the river, the shelling had stopped. from the looks of its some one had used heavy weapons and napalm on sections.

At a guess Ronny suspected that the Base had done what they could to cover the last of the Evacuee’s as they escaped the city. But the damage in the city proper was scattered around. a street bombed till it was blocked, another road napalmed, god knows how many of the living were killed during the fight. But if they were trapped with out food and water, surrounded by undead, it wasn’t much of choice.

He checked the instruments and altered course, a moment later they were over the Austin Peavy campus, visibility had dropped, and it was hard to make out any real detail, but the blocks dots on the grounds and road that were moving around had to be zombies. He spiraled outwards keeping his altitude at 150 feet, “ See any lights down there, or vehicles moving” Ronny asked Ryan who was scanning the ground with binoculars.

“ Not a thing” Ryan replied,

“Any military vehicles in a drive way or parked in front of or next to a home” Ronny asked, as he adjusted his course slightly. The wind gusts making it harder than normal.

“Not that I can see” Ryan said. “ if we go lower I might be able to see better”

“ We go lower we might be landing the hard way, the chances of a wind shear are pretty good down there.” Ronny replied, as he keyed his Radio.

“Jared not a thing in the area you wanted me to check out first, and with the amount of undead down there, Eric’s place is going to be dangerous.” Ronny said.

“ Roger that, We should be on site in ten minutes, head south and check out the area down along the River, that’s where Ily says Mike had mentioned having his home, its supposed to be near a golf course,”

Ryan already had a light on and was looking at the road map, they had recovered from an MWR facility. “ theres only one on the map, and its damn near due south of the College” Ryan said after a moment, then turned off the light as he folded the map closed again and shoved it into the bag that he replaced behind his seat.

Ronny brought the plane around in as gentle a turn as he could manage ,checked his bearings and increased power. He wanted to be back in position to watch over Jared, Just in case there was something he could do to help. Surprisingly he had discovered that the UV could be fitted with Floats, which had been stored in the same hangar as the plane. Thank god he had gotten Rob to attach the wheeled floats to the plane. Just one more option in case things went to hell.
Jared turned down a tree lined road just north of the campus and drove slowly, past old homes and block style duplexes, undead flowed out of buildings, most had been college students, what hopes and dreams they might have had were lost, and now only the mangled rotting corpses remained shambling towards the Van as it moved slowly down the road.

“This is not smart” Steve said, trying to count the undead and gave up, “even if you get inside, you wont have time to do much looking around, and even if you are in and out in a minute, there is going to be so many of the things out here in the street we might not be able to push through them with out getting stuck or windows busted out.” Steve recognized the determined look on Jareds face, but he knew Jared wasn’t going to risk everyone’s lives, if he thought it was hopeless.

And they couldn’t just run over every zombie they came across, it caused to much damage, damage that could possibly stop the vehicle. And with this storm rolling in, they would need the headlights that would most likely break if they just plowed thru the crowd..

Stephanie, who was driving this evening, looked nervous and scared. Not that Steve blamed her one bit. Jared finally spotted the old House that Eric had rented for the last five years before the ZA, “over there” he said pointing, it was an early sixties style home, with an off set second story with a deck. The back looked to be fenced in, and was separated from the houses on either side by thick hedges, there were six zombies in the yard

“Jared, we cant do this” Steve said softly knowing Jared was almost desperate to find some clue that Eric was still alive and in the area.

“ Drive slowly to the end of the street, wait for a few minutes then turn left, I want to see if we can lure them away, so that I have five minutes inside” Jared said.

by the time they were on the last leg of rectangular route, Ronny was back overhead, “ its mostly clear along the street, “ He reported.

“get me there” Jared said, Stephanie nodded and speedup leaving the shambling horde behind them.

sure enough, there were maybe forty zombies still on Erics street, scattered from one end to the other. Stephanie side swiped a few and then barreled up onto the lawn stopping near the front door.

“Give me five minutes, that’s it” Jared said as he opened the passenger door

Steven glanced at Jill, shaking his head as he opened the side door and joined Jared, “ your not going alone,” Steve said pointedly. “ ether I go, or Jill will follow you”

Jared frowned but knew that’s exactly what would happen, and he wasn’t about to let Jill get out of the van here, unless they had too. It only took a tenth of a second before Jared nodded. “lets go” He said, as Steve smiled tensely and shut the side door.

They ran across the overgrown lush green grass as lightening flickered over head, Reaching the door, Jared pulled out his keys , “ at least I have a key for this place” he said, as he slipped it into the lock. It took a bit of force but a moment later he had the door unlocked and they slipped into the foyer.

“Eric” Jared called out, Steve really hoped that they didn’t find Eric the zombie inside, that would shatter Jared.

they moved into the living, boots clumping on the hard wood floors, Erics taste in Art was much like Jared’s, landscapes, some in vivid colors, others in black and white adorned the walls in black picture frames, on the Faux fireplace mantle, were framed pictures of men in uniform, in a mountainous desert area.

There was also a picture of Jared in full battle rattle, taken during the stroll into Iraq, during Desert storm. A picture of their deceased parents took center stage, and was the most prominent one.

A bookshelf filled with books, many covering military history, and theory covered one wall. Jared picked up the picture of his parents, and stared at it in the dim light from the window. Then sat it down again.

The rest of the room was tastefully decorated, if Steve hadn’t known better he might have suspected Eric was Gay, the place was so neat and trendy.

“ Basement “ Jared said, as he led the way into a fairly modern Kitchen, weapons ready Just in case. The room was clear, and a quick look in the cabinets and panty showed that someone had stripped out all the food.

They tromped down into the basement tac lights on their rifles showing them the way, Jared pointed to an empty bench that spanned one wall, “all the reloading gear is gone” he said, then walked over to a wooden shelving unit that looked like bookshelves, he pushed on one shelf and there was a slight click. he grabbed the divider and swung it away from the wall, it opened like a door and behind it was a gun safe.

“Damn a secret gunsafe, you two are more alike than I ever gave you credit for, except Eric is a Sci fi nerd. a Deadly, sneaky, man whore, sci fi nerd.” Steve commented as Jared started turning the dial.

“ see if theres sheets or pillow cases over by the washing machine” Jared told him.

Steve nodded and turned, and stopped dead in his tracks, a zombie dressed in ACU’s, skeletal thin, as if had died of hunger, had stepped out of the laundry room at the back of the Basement. We are getting careless Steve thought as he took three steps forward closing the distance and butt stroked it upside the head, it crumbled to the ground, Steve struck it again almost crushing the skull this time and it stopped twitching.

Jared had turned at the sound of the rifle stock striking bone, and stared at the unmoving corpse, then a look of relief washed over his face.

“its not him”Jared said with relief then turned back to the safe and opened it. “probably one of his buddies, who managed to get here and hide, after it had all gone to hell, poor bastard looks like he starved to death”

Steve nodded and stepped over the body, peering carefully ahead just in case there were more, but the laundry room was empty.

By the time Steve returned with sheets and pillow cases, one stuff full of Erics clothes, most uniform stuff. Jared was holding a weapon in his hands. “ HK416, two pistols and a shotgun, that’s it, four mags for the HK, three for each pistol, a can of ammo for the HK, three hundred rounds for each pistol, and a hundred and fifty shotgun shells” Jared said as he took a pillow case and filled it rapidly.

“The rest are missing, a CAR, two AKs, a FN Fal, a CAW and two Tommy guns” Jared commented regretfully. “I really liked the damn Tommy guns”

“ I guess so did Eric” Steve said dryly.

“that’s my little brother, hogging the fun stuff” Jared replied, casting a quick glance around the room. “ lets go,” he said and headed for the stairs.

He stopped in the living again, and took the picture of his parents, and one of he and Eric on a white water trip. And then to Steve’s surprise started strippng books from the shelves.

“Von Clauswitz’s on war, book of Five rings, Sun Tzu’s art of War, Julius Caesars Gallic Campaign, theory and tactics of the Napoleonic wars “ Steve read off titles as books sailed into the pillow case. “ history and the art of Fortification”

“Might come in handy for the future, I don’t see man becoming kinder and gentler after the zombies are gone.” Jared said as he added three more books then closed the pillow case.

“Anything else” Steve asked glancing at his watch, they were just in with in the five minute window.

“Not really, theres probably a few pistols and hidden around upstairs, but not much else” Jared said as he headed for the door. “Erics real stash is in Washington state, he bought a place up in the cascades and was slowly building up a cache there.”

Steve nodded, wondering if Jared was going to try to head to Washington state now, then felt a bit guilty for that, Jared wasn’t the type to just forget everything else. If he Decided to head up there it would be long after he had the other irons in the fire going strong.

Just as they reached the front door, they heard a gunfire and then the Horn. “damn it she is going to draw every stinking corpse for miles” Jared swore as he opened the door carefully and peered out, the way was clear to the van, but the street was filling up fast, Stephanie could be excused for the horn, it looked like almost every zombie for miles was already showing up.
He and Steve rushed down the steps and across the five feet of lawn, Jill throwing the side door open when they were two feet away. They passed in the full pillow cases, then dove inside, Stephanie put the van into gear and was pulling away before the side door was shut.

Seeing the questioning Look on Jills face, Jared shook his head, not mentioning the zombie in the basement and how careless he and Steve had both been.

“ when you reach the corner turn right, drive one block then be prepared to cut across a lawn and onto a side street when I tell you” Ronny said over the Radio.

Stephanie, gripped the steering wheel tightly, staring ahead, trying not to flinch as lightening flickered and thunder rumbled, and the sea of undead closed in on them.
“ all right cut across there” Ronny said, as he turned the plane in a tight circle almost standing it on its left wingtip.

He leveled out and shot ahead of the fleeing van, directing them thru fences, yards, and parking lot to avoid the huge crowd of undead, finally he had them out of the immediate danger zone and heading south, keeping them away from the 41, and from 41a altnerate, and the highways.

“how good are you at flying through storms” Ryan asked.

“Pretty good I guess” Ronny said.

“ you guess?” Ryan exclaimed, looking more nervous.

“ well I usually don’t fly in bad weather, but how hard can it be” Ronny replied with a strained laugh.

“oh god Im going to die” Ryan muttered.

“bright side, you wont have to worry about zombies after that” Ronny commented.

“ your such an optimists, your supposed to assure me that we wont fall screaming from the sky to crash into a building.” Ryan said.

“trust me, most people cant scream when falling, so it will at least be quiet. But theres so many buildings down there, the odds of us crashing into the street, a park or parking lot is slim.” Ronny said, determined to keep up a good front.

“in the words of Achmed, the dead terrorist. ‘shut up, I kill you’” Ryan said, Ronny chuckled.

Ronny kept up a string of directions, guiding Jared and the others around massive clumps of undead, and around intersections blocked by long ago wrecks, so that twenty minutes later, they were finally passing the golf course, on Crossland Ave, where Ronny watched the van weave thru stalled out, traffic, and undead

“ Looks to be more or less clear in that area for now” Ronny said “ your ball now”
“now your sure this is where he said his home was at” Jared asked Ily who sat in the back with Amy and Lee, all three gripping their weapons. Amy looked like she was on the edge of dropping a load in her pants, at the very thought of how many zombies were all around her.

“ he mentioned the golf course being close to his house several times, and the fact that he hated golf.” Ily replied. “ he said he lived along a river on the south side of Clarksville, and once mentioned it was called queens something or other, seemed like he was embarrassed to live there. Guess it was a poor place” Ily said.

Jared didn’t know one way or the other, but the homes were getting progressively more expensive the closer they got to the river, the only road in that area with queen in the name was just off alternate 41, and was called queens bluff.

They turned right onto Colonial ct. that ran past a Lowes, where zombies wandered aimlessly around the mostly empty parking lot. At the sound of the motor they had begun to search for the source of the noise, at the sight of the van, they headed slowly towards the road. Just past the Lowes, Colonial court, became Highland center road, the first drops of rain started to patter down turning the already dim day into gloomy day wrapped in a funeral shroud. The homes along the road, were mid ranged in price or had been, most had probably been kept up nicely. But now, doors stood open allowing wind and water, inside, windows were shattered, tattered drapes snapped in the wind, Here a tree had fallen into the roof of one house, there a fire had gutted one home and partially devoured another. Items littered lawns, dropped by home owners fleeing their attackers

Jared looked out the window, at the mostly single story homes, most with cars and trucks parked in the drives ways. Leaves had piled up on and around the vehicles and homes, it was a heavily wooded area, especially around the Golf course. No one would be getting a mulligan there again he thought.

He turned away from the window, as he saw a brown haired Toddler, wearing only a bloody shirt with a foot ball on it, stumble out of a house, it would fall down then pick itself back up, its little mouth snapping open and closed spastically.

Its little rotting chubby legs working to get it headed towards the road and the fresh meat nearby.

It was scenes like that, that kept Jared from wanting children. It filled him with fury towards god and the universe every time he saw the children. Why any benign god would allow the innocent to die in terror, being attacked by their own mothers, fathers and brothers, confused and not understanding what was happening. Jared didn’t understand and couldn’t forgive, no matter what the cosmic reason might be.

It didn’t stop him from trying to thwart the dark, regardless of his anger and revulsion at what had happened to the kids and truly innocent, his disgust, and hatred of Evil hadn’t died, only grown stronger. Your not a some white knight, Jared told himself, but even with the tarnished armor and the slipping halo, I cant just sit back and let the dark just swallow up what’s left of the human race.

As they crossed Paradise hill road, Highland center turned into Glendale according to the map, and the road sign. Why they had wasted money on some Idiot to rename a road three times, and then waste money on new street signs was beyond him.

To the left beyond the homes, Jared could see what looked like business’s and as they reached Ashland city road, as Alternative 41 was also called, Jared saw they had been paralleling a road full of business’s.

There weren’t as many zombies on the road or in the parking lots to either side of Ashland, not many people would have been making emergency runs to get signs printed, or buy a pool while zombies were eating people.

He did see a sign for a hardware store and a small engine repair and sales shop on the left, just off Vista lane behind the BP, which was a gutted ruin, the twisted blackened wreckage of a semi lay across where the pumps had been.

there was a UPS place up on the right just on Horace crown road, and across Ashland was a large parking lot with a grocery store, a Fenced in Storage center, a place that used to offer Rhino liners.

From what Ronny had said and what little was on the map, Queens bluff was just past the Lot on the right hand side, across the road on a hill top above the trees, was a subdivision, that was surrounded by dense woods to the north and east. Jared spotted the road and Stephanie turned onto the tree lined road.

Between Ashland and Queensbluff were thick trees, from Ashland, one could only see the woods, and maybe a hint of rooftops. But the road shaped like an elongated U, held quarter of a million to possibly a full million dollar prices homes, that gave an incredible view of the Cumberland river on good days.

The home here were sprawling affairs, partially hidden by trees, two and three stories tall with peaked roofs,. Stephanie drove slowly, as Jared scanned the driveways with binoculars. It wasn’t hard to find the right house after all, The bronco parked close to the front doors of what would be one of the smaller but still nice expensive homes, looked completely out of place.

“turn here” Jared said. Stephanie, her hands white knuckled on the wheel turned and drove down the tree lined drive, to park behind the Bronco, at least six zombies had been at the front door and the windows and were now were heading for the van.

“All right melee only, Hard and fast” Jared said as he drew his tomahawks and leaped out of the passenger door.

Ily had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, she knew something was wrong, had known it the moment she had heard Mike had left with Carrie, she was at least grateful that none of the zombies she could see were mike.

Steve, Jared and Jill blew thru the six zombies, with practiced ease, their jobs a little easier with Amy, Lee and Ily’s help. Jared moved past the bodies to the front door, and knocked loudly. “Mike, open the damn door its raining and there are zombies out here. Your neighborhood sucks”

There was only silence from inside, Jared tried the knob and found it locked, he stepped aside. “Steve want to do the honors”. Steve nodded and a second later slammed a size fourteen boot next to the door knob, obviously the dead bolt wasn’t engaged, the door bowed and flexed enough that the latch popped out of the door frame with only minimal damage.

They entered into the large foyer, their footsteps echoing due to the high ceiling, the interior of the house lit crazily with every lighting flash. The brilliant blue tinged light spilled into the house thru high windows, sky lights and the patio doors.

“ Mike” Amy shouted, wincing at how the sound of her voice bounced back at her. The living room had a sunken floor, a popular fashion several years ago, with floor to ceiling windows that looked out over the veranda and the storm lashed river beyond. Steel shutters were partially lowered on three of the six windows.

The furniture was all soft leather, with expensive pointless, and totally non functional art pieces scattered around the room. It was tasteful in its way, Jared thought.

Ily looked thru an arch into a home office, that was pretty modern and looked like Mike had done most of the decorating in that room. Jared and Steve, led the way into the dining room and the large modern kitchen, Ily stopped squinting, she had seen something standing out there in the rain, a shadow of a man, hunched forward, it had spindly arms and legs, and a strange hat perched on its oddly shaped head, it was gone with the next flash of lightening. She blinked certain she had imagined it.

There was a feeling of stillness in the house, like one feels in a church, that stopped casual conversation, a deep silence, only broken by the drum of rain on the roof and the rumble of thunder. They searched the last four rooms on the ground floor then carefully climbed the stairs to the second floor.

The first four doors were a bathroom, and three guest bedrooms. The last door, at the end of the carpeted hallway, was closed, almost hidden in the darkness at the end of the hallway.

Pictures of family and friends hung on the walls, many of them featured Mike and others, some had Carrie, laughing and smiling with a beaming mike standing next to her. Jared noted all that in passing.

Jared and Steve moved slowly down the last ten feet, weapons at high ready, Jared stepped to the side of the door and grasped the door knob, a glance at Steve to see if he was ready got a nod.

Jared threw open the door, Steve blew into the room, weapon tracking, Jared right on his ass. The rest of the group right behind them, down stairs the front door opened with a boom.

Mike sat on the bed, face in his hands, pictures lay scattered around the room. he didn’t move.

“Mike, Mike” Amy said starting forward, but Jill grabbed her by the arm. Not sure if mike was alive or semi dead.

Jared tapped Steve on the shoulder as he stepped past, “ Take Jill and Go downstairs secure the door” Jared said, as he approached mike.

Jared cautiously knelt on one knee, a short distance from Mike, his weapon at the ready.
“Mike, buddy. If you don’t speak, Im going to have to shoot you, talk to me man” Jared said softly, wanting to reach out and touch Mike, lend him some support, give him some human contact. But he didn’t dare,

Ily realizing that this could be a dangerous moment, held on to Amys arm, “ stay back, just in case girl” Ily said, her Puerto Rican accent thicker than normal from the tension.

“Mike, I understand why you did this, but we don’t have a lot of time, come on man.” Jared said knowing he was going to have to make a decision in a minute, shoot, subdue, or leave him.

“where’s Carrie?” Jared asked, he saw no signs of violence other than the pictures that had been thrown around, but no pools of blood anywhere.

“ okay Mike I’ve tried to be supportive and calm. NOW Get you ass up and Moving Soldier.” He barked. “We don’t have time for this shit”

mike still didn’t respond, Jared shook his head, he felt sorry for the guy, but he was getting angry, a lot had to do with the rising tension levels at the passing of time.

Fuck this Jared thought and reached out and grasped one of mikes wrists in an iron grip and pulled the hand away. Jared half expected to see either milky white eyes, or a bullet hole in the mans forehead, there was neither. Mike just sat there his eyes looking past the floor, to another place and time.

Jared had seen men like this before, it wasn’t good, and it wasn’t normally fatal, but normally when a person shut down they didn’t have to worry about zombies eating them.

“Ily, get over here, just keep an eye on him. I think I need to check the bath room out” Jared said as he flowed to his feet in a single fluid movement. Ily always thought of a large predatory cat when she saw him move like that.

Jared waited till Ily knelt beside Mike, placing a hand on his knee, talking softly to him in Spanish. “ Amy, I know you want to help him, so help him by watching the door and hallway okay. I have a damn bad feeling.” Jared said, Amy nodded, not happy but knew it was important to watch their way out.

Jared moved across the deep beige carpet to the door to the master bathroom, and with out hesitation tossed it open. It was a large bathroom, with a sunken tub, a glass walled Circular shower, a Vanity big enough for eight. And a hell of a view of the river beyond. Otherwise it was empty.

Something had happened here, something that had hit mike hard enough to shut him down. but Jared had no clue what it might have been. He opened the only other door and found a walk in closet that could pass for another bedroom. It was only half full of clothes. He stepped back into the bedroom, puzzled.

He didn’t have time to think about it how ever, Ronnys voice full of panic erupted from his ear bud, then was run over by Steve’s voice.

“ don’t know how they got so close……

“ Jared we have problems man big problems” Steve was saying.

“ one at a time” Jared snapped, already moving towards the bedroom door, and a bed room that looked out towards the road.

Steve was more important at the moment, what ever he could see was outside the house. “ go Steve, Report” Jared said, sliding straight into Sergeant mode.

“ Zombies every where, just inside the tree line, brother all I can see down the drive way are heads and arms, way to many to drive thru.” Steve said, no sign of panic in his voice.

“Ronny, go and make it good fucking news” Jared snapped as he rushed into the bedroom and looked out the window. His stomach dropped, Steve was right, there had to be almost a hundred just on the drive way shoulder to shoulder, just standing there in the rain. What little he could see of the road looked packed too.

“ Jared I don’t know where in the hell they all came from, its rough up here so its hard to circle, but one moment it looked clear then suddenly they were everywhere, pouring out of homes, business, the woods, Almost like they were waiting for you.” Ronny said anxiously.

“ they were” Jared said certain of it, and they were waiting for something else too, that’s why they were just standing there. And Steve was right, there were way to many to drive thru.

“Steve, can you get to the van?” Jared asked.

“ Sure can” Steve said.

“Good get the stuff we left in there, just the stuff in the one pillow cases, and the packs, then get your asses back inside, Im on my way down.” Jared said, as he turned and ran for the stairwell.

“ Amy you two get Mike up and moving downstairs, not sure what the hell we are going to do but what ever it is, we have to do it fast.” Jared called out as he bounded down the stairs, leaping over the rail halfway down to land bent kneed on the ground floor then sprinted out the front door.

The wind tore at his clothes, the rain stung as it struck bare flesh, and the eerie sight of the dead standing there with lightening flickering overhead, just watching was more horrifying then he would have thought.

Jill was running back to the house with her pack on and another one in her arms, Stephanie just behind her, wearing one pack and carrying another.

Jared rushed up to Steve’s side, “ lets hurry it up brother,” Jared said as he grabbed his own pack and slipped it on. Steve pulled on his own pak then grabbed the weapons bag, as Jared grabbed the ruck with MRE’s and the pillow case that held the weapons from Erics house.

Together the two men rushed back into the house, as soon as they had the door shut, the women were ready and pushed furniture in front of the door, of course with all the glass it was almost pointless. Mike was on his feet, and where Ily led he followed, but he just wasn’t there.

“whats wrong with him?” Jill asked quietly. She had her fear under control, but Jared could see it hiding in her eyes. If I have to die at least it with her beside me, he thought.

“Mike is where ever, some shit happened that he cant shake.” Jared said knowing that didn’t make much sense. “ I guess you could call it a flash back, something happened that triggered it, but we wont know till he comes out of it. assuming he gets the chance” Jared said knowing their odds of surviving were slim.

“What are they doing” Jared asked Steve as he jogged towards the living room where he could look out into the back.

“Still just standing there” Steve said, feeling creeped out. Zombies that didn’t act like zombies were a lot more menacing then zombies that just wandered around and attacked on sight.

Out in the back, beyond the veranda, Jared could see a gravel path that led down to the river, there was a building down there, by the water. Maybe a boat house, he thought, encouraged that there were no zombies in the back, but that would change and soon he was damn sure of it. Speaking of, he thought as he saw a small group enter the back yard, from the neighboring yard to the west.

“Every body kit up, and get back here” Jared said, eyeing the river. “Ronny you got the floats attached right”

“sure do Jared, but I cant land on the river in this shit, Im just not that good of a pilot, Im barely keeping her in the air as is.” Ronny replied, for him to drop all bravado, and be that brutally honest about his skills and the situation told Jared just how bad Ronny thought it was. At least he hadn’t dragged Ori into this shit.

He turned to see the group assembled behind him, Amy looked scared shitless, her eyes wide, but she was holding her self together. “you can do this Amy, you did it once before in a storm. We only have to go fifty feet to that boat house”

She nodded, but said nothing to scared to even try to speak, Jared looked at each one of them, and smiled. That smile didn’t touch his eyes, he hugged Jill for a second then led them to the doors that let out onto the veranda. Throwing them open he moved out onto the rain slicked flagstones, more undead were appearing from both neighboring yards now.

“ Lets go” Jared said, this group wasn’t stopping to stare like the ones out front he noted as he began to fire, slow and carefully while he had the chance, His people moved as fast as they could down the path, Ily leading Mike by the arm. Steve was on the right, picking off targets on that side, Jill and Stephanie, the two warrior goddesses led the way.

Ronny circled helplessly overhead, saw the wink of muzzle flashes in the darkness, and saw the horde in the front of the house flow forward, spreading out to go around the house like horns of a bull. He wanted to beat on something, but there was nothing he could do, not with this storm, it was already dropping in intensity but not fast enough.

“ hang on Ryan” Ronny said as he fought the wind and altered course, he could at least try to get setup for a landing if Jared and the others made it, and the storm lessened. At his side Ryan was praying softly under his breath.
* * * * * * *

Cal Simms sat in the passenger seat of the HumVee, watching the storm drenched fields slide past as they headed towards a town on the outskirts of Nashville. Williams had proven to a be a font of information, some of which his dreams confirmed. Assuming of course he wasn’t going totally insane. He had almost stayed on the base, but there had been little there of interest for him and his, aside from what they had collected.

He knew from his dreams, if they were correct, that there would be some allies waiting for him. And when his scouts had reported the huge mass of undead moving into the area, that had just been icing on the cake, they had left an hour later.

And after Nashville, well, he would have to see. Much would depend on what kind of Resources and training this Jared Stone had. He had at least on competent pilot, but so did Cal. He did have more people, but that would change and soon.

It wasn’t even a matter of hatred, or dislike. Cal had plans, and Jared stone and his people were taking resources he would need. It might be possible to work something out, and Cal wasn’t adverse to that, no matter what the thing in his dreams wanted.

At the moment there was no real point in needless deaths and battles, if you could get what you wanted by hook or crook. But no matter what he thought, he couldn’t shake the feeling that things were going to spiral totally out of control and soon. And that didn’t bother him either, Fighting and Killing was something he was very good at.
* * * * * * *

Across the rain drenched city, water ran thru the streets, buildings already weakened by neglect and winter storm damage collapsed, here and there wind blown debris smashed thru windows. But already the storm was blowing its self out, the rain wasn’t as heavy, the gusting wind wasn’t as strong. But under the boiling black clouds, the first of the horde entered St. Bethlehem, wave after staggering wave, of undead splashed thru the wet streets, all fixed on some invisible goal as if guided. They flowed around the wrecks and the dead vehicles, past burned out buildings, the dead city was alive with movement, and the horde of the undead were drawing ever closer to Fort Campbell, and the people who sheltered there.

 

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