Chapter 21

The coming storm

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!”

~Shakespeare King Lear

Jared gritted his teeth as the aircraft bucked up a few hundred feet then dropped a couple of hundred. I swear if we crash and Ronny survives I’m going to haunt his happy ass, every time he tries to have sex I’m going to appear in the middle of his bed, with a a lot of moaning and chain rattling. No nix the chains the pervert will just get turned on, Jared thought as amused as he could get with his stomach protesting and his muscles almost locked.

“Attention Passengers of Apocalypse air, we are currently experiencing some bumpy air, for those that are scared of crashing, I can only say that I have been text book trained for this kind of weather, and not to fear till you hear me screaming.” Ronnys voice said over the intercom. “Screaming will commence in five mikes”

Jared flipped Ronny the bird as the men around him chuckled. “ on a more serious note, we should be almost on top of Elizabthtown, and the Curtis L. Brown airport. I will be descending rapidly, in two minutes to get below the cloud deck. “

Ronny turned off the intercom, and looked at Mary who didn’t look all that stressed out. “ Radar says, the main storm front is still a ways off, so the wind is all we are going to get for maybe an hour.” She told him.

She had become quite the expert on the Planes systems he thought, constantly reading the manuals that they had snagged at Campbell. He flashed her a smile, He might not talk about his feelings often, but Mary was the best thing that ever happened to him. She had seen through his idiot clown routine, and looked over his, well deserved, Man whore reputation.

“Good, I don’t think it will take them an hour on the ground, Eric said what he needs is located in one hangar, and he seems sure its there. What ever IT, might be” Ronny commented, Eric and his mystery orders were often the topic of private conversation around the semi nomadic group

“I wonder why he is so mysterious about it” Mary said as she activated the thermal camera.

“Orders, he has orders to be mysterious and he has orders to recover something, and what ever it is, is down there at some little county airport. On the bright side, we have the pump on board and can fill our tanks while here, assuming of course there’s not a few hundred zombies with bibs on standing around waiting for the dinner bell to ring.” Ronny said his eyes sweeping the instrument panel.

They had discussed this at length during the planning, the team would secure the hangar, retrieve what ever is was they needed to pick up, then secure the fuel tanks or truck while Ronny landed, they would fill up and attempt to get into position to screw with the Rendezvous. Ronny rather suspected that the weather would put a stop to that part, and even if they did manage to get to the site and get in position for the Rendezvous point, from what Eric had said Simms was no moron, he would suspect after the first ambush, and the IED’s along his route, that somehow Jared had figured out his route and would change it to avoid any unhealthy surprises that were waiting for him.

Which meant that they would have to fall back onto the final ambush area, there were only three roads to the Terminal, one went straight through Wilmington, so they could rule that one out. The other two came in at angles and Merged just outside the Gates of the MOT Access road. IEDs had already been placed on both roads, and positions had been chosen both at the Merge point and the Town of Boiling springs lake..

“look at that” Ronny said as he spotted the county airport.

The airfield was a simple set up, the run way and taxiway ran parallel to each other, connected at both ends forming a box more or less, with a grassy area between the taxiway and the runway, and every where they could see, were planes, of all makes and models, the ramps were full, planes lined both sides of the taxiway, even the east side of the runway had planes parked along it. at the end of the runway between the fence line and the pavement, were the wreckage of two planes, from the looks of it they had collided.

“Well if we need spare parts, there is a lot to choose from” Mary remarked.

“I guess every body and their dog that had a private plane took to the air the first few days, trying to escape. Id bet there’s more airports like this across the country, where planes ended up having to land at or crash into.” Ronny said as he came around and spotted the windsock, tattered though it was there was enough left of it to show him the wind direction. Mary’s eyes swept over the hundreds of abandoned planes, amazed at all the different types, some even looked like old WW2 aircraft, and that one down there by the second hanger looked like an old 1940’s or 50s sea plane. Mary thought as she pointed it out to Ronny, who nodded,

“If we live thru this I want to come back and get that thing, we can set it up as a house and fly to the Bahamas, land, drop an anchor and do some diving and snorkeling right outside our front door.” Ronny said.

“You don’t dive” Mary said shaking her head, then added “ in water”

Ronny grinned but didn’t look at her he was to busy keeping the plane from trying to land with out his help. “ Doesn’t matter I can always learn” he muttered.

A zombie, wearing dark Mechanics coveralls, staggered out of one of the three hangars, and looked around as it heard the drone of a motor, it was puzzled, it could hear noise, but all that was around it was the empty airfield. It was joined a moment later by another zombie, this one a once attractive woman, with a perfect figure, her long blonde, once perfect hair, matted with dried blood, oil and cobwebs. Her heart shaped face, was a ruin, where it had been chewed on and her designer dress gave glimpse of the blue tinged white skinned body underneath through the rips and tears.

The noise became louder, and then a plane dropped down out of the sky lined up on the runway, its flaps extended, its nose swinging up slightly, its airspeed dropping. The two zombies staggered towards the airplane, behind them more zombies emerged from the hangar and the outbuildings and shambled after them.

“Looks like its going to be interesting” Ronnie muttered to Mary who nodded in agreement, as they saw the swarm of undead emerging from the buildings along the flight line. “ Hey Jared, you might want to hurry when your on the ground, it seems theres a lot of stinkys out there” Ronny called into the back.

Jared looking out the window had already spotted the undead, he wasn’t surprised not really. With all the planes parked wingtip to wingtip down there, and the wreckage of two planes a hundred feet off the end of the runway, it would have been a miracle if there hadn’t been zombies.

Jared watched the zombies through the planes window for a moment and estimated at least fifty of the damn things down there, and weapons fire would only draw in more zombies from anywhere close enough to hear it.

“Still want to get out here” Jared asked Eric, who looked thoughtful for a moment then nodded. He hadn’t expected his little brother to quit.

“We stay moving, keep them following us, take out the fastest when they are separated from the group, it shouldn’t be to hard, dangerous yes, hard no.” Eric replied.

Jared nodded in agreement, Ronny needed the fuel, and they needed other gear that should be here. “Okay then it’s a go” he said agreeing.

The plane touched down and slowed as it reached the end of the runway, it came to a stop and the door opened. Jared leaped out followed by Eric and then the rest of the team emerged. Ori wasn’t happy but he wasn’t going to stay behind. He leaped from the Door of the plane, and moved to the others who had gathered near the east edge of the runway by an old red, white and blue beechcraft airplane.

Ori stood there looking around, his foot tapping nervously, a slight frown on his face, as the wind blew around them. Stubbornly he pushed the case of nerves to one side, and put on his game face, he could panic later when he had to change his shorts. Jared glanced at Ori, a slight strained smile on his face, just that silent support was enough for Ori to slam the lid on his perpetual case of nerves.

“Get back up there and keep an eye on the weather and for that damn chopper of Simms, sooner or later he is going to send it looking for us” Jared told Ronny over the radio. “We will call when we are ready for pick up.” Jared said, as the last member of the team climbed out of the Plane, closing the door behind him.

As soon as the planes door was closed and the team jogged out of the way, Ronny had the engine speed up and was turning about. As Jared and the others reached the line of abandoned aircraft along the side of the runway, Ronny shoved the throttle forward and the UV raced down the airstrip, wings flexing for a moment then they caught air and the plane lifted smoothly up and away.

“All right suppressed fire only, we keep moving to keep them spread out, when we have them down to manageable numbers we switch to hand weapons” Eric said as he lifted his silenced M4.

Between the mass of planes along the edge of the runway, and the taxi way, there was maybe fifty yard of overgrown field. By now the zombies on the parking ramp were slowly drawing into a clump as they staggered forward, thankfully the wind pushed the stench if the undead away from the team.

The team jogged across the grassy area stopping just short of the line of aircraft along the Taxiway, wanting to keep the planes between them and the zombies. To break up the mob and thin out the numbers to manageable levels they could deal with. Spotting fuel pumps and what looked like a fuel trunk beyond the planes, Jared pointed them out so no one would accidentally shoot them up in the excitement.

A zombie in a blood splattered yellow dress ripped down the side, staggered out from between a Beechcraft, and a Piper cub. “Contact” Martinez called out as his weapons snapped into position and he put two bullets into her, repainting the fuselage of the Beechcraft with gore. “Clear”

“Contact” Blaine called out from the other end of the line, as he spotted a rail thin balding man, dressed in a ragged suit, the milky white eyes, in the deep sunken sockets swiveled around and fixed on him. He fired three shots calmly, blasting the head apart in a spray of bone, skin and goo. “ Clear”

“eight down, and one to damn many to go” Ori muttered as he spotted two more, a man in shorts and a Nickleback Tshirt, and a topless woman wearing a skirt. “contact” he called out, firing three times, the bodies tumbled to the ground, “Clea… fuck” he snapped as a third zombie emerged from under a plane. Crawling on all fours, like some malignant insect , its lips had been torn away, so there was nothing to hide the gnashing teeth or the cloudy eyes that were fixed on him as it crawled towards him..

Ori shuddered, and put two rounds into it, “clear” he called out as it face planted and lay still, he reached up and rubbed a hand across his blond hair in a nervous reaction he hadn’t been able to shake yet. At least I have my contacts in, He thought as the team moved back to the line of planes along the runway.

The zombies were now spread along the Taxiway, a long ragged line of undead, that were filtering between the line of planes between them and the living, it was time Eric decided. “Lets clear them out” he said taking aim.

The subdued sounds of gunfire rolled across the flight line as zombies fell, each man engaged the zombies in his own fire zone. Jared put down a heavy set man, then turned and saw a blonde in the slinky, designer dress, her left arm had been chewed down to the bone from wrist to elbow, her eyes were sunk deep in her face, and her lips were shredded, but he couldn’t miss the fact she had been a real looker when alive, nor could he forget who she was, Sandra Carter, former Fashion model and rumored Madame, the young wife of Senator Carter (R) Massachusetts, He put two rounds into her forehead, wishing he had never had enough practice to end up shooting this well consistently.

The next zombie to emerge was wearing Mechanics coveralls with the name of the Aviation Company over the left breast, and the name Mark on over the right. Jared didn’t hesitate even as the name sparked a rampage of memories of Mark one of his best friends, that tore at him all over again, he put a round into Marks head, sending the mans body back to death.

Suddenly Parks voice bellowed out. “ Bare ass, behind you”, Bailey started to turn but something grabbed his ruck. Yelling he pulled forward and pivoted on the ball of his left foot, the zombie that had crawled out of the plane behind Bailey, stumbled as it was pulled off balance.

Bailey Rammed the Stock of his HK Mp5sd5 into its jaw shattering it, and sending it falling. “Fuck you fuck you” He was chanting under his breath, shaking with the surge of adrenalin and fear at the close call, the rotting hand slipped off his ruck. The zombie hit the ground its broken jaw hanging, and Bailey slammed a boot down on its neck and put two rounds into its head.

Even as hardened as Baily was, the act still sickened him after all this time. But this was the way the world worked these days, dead wasn’t dead till it had been shot in the head.

Martinez, swore as his SCAR-H jammed, he dropped to one knee, and worked to clear his weapon, Jared, Seeing Martinez kneel, the standard infantry signal of a malfunctioning weapon, stepped closer to cover Martinez.

The red heads weapons tracked from the closest target to the furthest, his shooting was smooth, mechanical really, Martinez noted.

Three more zombies emerged from between two planes, moving at what amounted to a slow Jog, more undead had emerged much further to the north and were heading towards the line of men.

“Here” Jared said extending his HK to Martinez who took it gratefully, his own weapon well and truly jammed. The three zombies were close now, but Jared didn’t seem to be in a rush either, Martinez thought as he took the HK, the crowd to Martinez’s left were bearing down on his position more quickly than he would have thought. Jared drew his pistol, the .45 roared three times, skulls shattered, bodies took a one or two more steps then fell to the ground.

Jared pivoted left, opening his zone even more, as Martinez brought the HK to ready, the suppressed sounds of the HK lost in the noise of the .45. “fall back to Eric’s position” Jared called out. Martinez nodded walking backwards in a crouch, keeping up his fire.

Bodies were falling in job lots, but the wave kept coming with ever diminishing force, Jared ejected a spent magazine, and slapped in another one then resumed firing, each round hit a target exactly where he wanted them to. Body’s tumbled to the grass and lay still, finally at rest but more came in behind them.

It turned out, that there were more than fifty zombies, though no one had seen where the new arrivals had come from, not that it really mattered. Jared inserted his third magazine, he was pretty sure most of the new arrivals had been in the aircraft, climbing out and joining the original swarm.

“Fall back to the runway” Eric called out, the team fell back between the planes, Martinez started to try to clear his CAR again, but Jared shook his head, shrugging off a bandolier containing ten Magazines and handed them to Martinez. “ Use mine till this is over, I have my pistol and my tomahawks when those are gone, Ill be fine.” Martinez slipped the bandolier on, nodding his thanks and then waited.

“Lets thin them out a bit more then at my signal, we turn and run to the end of the runway, cut straight across and then head to the hangars. I doubt there’s many zombies left at the hangars” Eric said as the first of the zombies appeared between the planes.

Shots rang out again, and more bodies fell, “Lets go” Eric called out, almost as one the entire group of men turned and ran, swinging around the last of the planes at the end of the runway, and then across to the taxi way.

Jared pounded along, not even winded, he had spent to many years carrying combat loud outs on long humps, his only regret was not bringing the m32, he could have dropped seven or more at a shot, with that thing if the zombies were close enough, . he charged across the Taxiway onto the ramp, boots pounding, weeds had started to grow out of cracks in the tarmac, here and there he could see dark stains, most likely blood from where someone had died.

They skirted the fuel pumps and came to a stop at the first hangar they reached.
“Blaine cover me” Eric said, waiting till Blaine was in position then pulled the hangar door open. A light touch and the tac light on the rail of his weapon flared to life spearing a beam of brilliant light into the darkness of the hangar. He swept it across the parked and choked planes then pulled the door shut. .

“Next hangar” He said, Ori assumed the lead till they reached the next hangar. Where the team spread in a semi circle before the door, facing out, covering Eric and Blaine as they looked into the half open doorway.

Lightening flickered in the distance and the wind out of the NE now carried the smell of rain. “We need to hurry, Ronny is going to need to get down here in a few” Jared said.

“he can wait till we have the correct hangar secured” Eric replied as he studied the planes inside, then shrugged.

“No, he cant, if the storm hits before we have the undead cleared out, he will have to head away and he will run out of Fuel. I’m not losing that plane, and I’m damn sure not going to risk losing two Friends because you cant wait a ten minutes.” Jared snapped angrily, “what ever your looking for will still be there when we get rid of the stinkys”

“He has a point Eric, no plane, no fast escape, no reaching the Ambush site before Simms, and we really don’t want Simms to have a few million rounds of ammunition to play with before we get there.” Martinez pointed out.

Ori nodded his agreement with that, he could think of a few ways to use some of that stuff to take out half the yard if given a couple of hours. Nothing but a nice huge smoking hole left behind.

Eric frowned, but pulled the hanger door shut, and turned. “Your right Jared, so let’s do this at a fast pace, we shoot and scoot.”

“Great I get to play tanker with out the Tank” Castor muttered. “give me an extra couple of minutes to find a card board box and I can make a tank to wear.”

“Oh suck it up, you have a nice big weapon in your hands, not that little dinky one you threaten women with.” Blaine called out.

“oh come on give him a break, one day he will hit puberty and that toy will become a real penis” bailey said laughing, that broke the tension of the moment and the rest of the men started to chuckle as they slapped in fresh magazines and then started to move.

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

Ed felt nervous, he couldn’t put a finger on a reason why, but he was, had been for the last three hours. It almost reminded him of the feeling that had gripped him the day all this started. He wasn’t the only one either, he thought as he paced the camp checking the defenses. No one had even suggested setting up a Camp Kitchen, they were using the RV to prepare food in, the group of ten cleaning weapons and reloading magazines were doing their job in the back of a Truck, other then the perimeter patrol and Eric, every one was staying in vehicles or beside their vehicles, every work team was close enough to load up and get moving in moments.

Satisfied at the camp defense’s, Ed walked over to Jill, who had a map spread on the hood of an ELSORV beside the Custom Semi RV. “ Any word from Chad?” he asked. Jill shook her head.

“Not a peep so far, but I’m told that the trees and hills around here, cut down on transmission ranges of hand held units, so its probably not a big deal” She replied, never looking up from the map.

“what’s up?” Ed asked, as she flipped her pony tail over her shoulder to hang down her back.

“I’m thinking that we might not want to stay here for the night” she said absently, tapping the fingernails of her left hand rhythmically on the hood. a nervous habit he had seen her do only a few times. She must really be stressed out he thought.

“Any reason why?” he asked, Jill only shook her head.

“Just a feeling” she explained.

“Join the club, I think every one feels the same way,” he replied.

“I think as soon as Chad gets back we are going to head towards Lumberton, Frankly unless he discovers a couple of hundred Special forces guys around here I don’t see how one to ten more could do a lot to change the odds.” She commented looking at him for the first time, she looked heartbreakingly exhausted Ed thought, She was at the end of her strength, she needed a break.

“Go get a nap Jill, you need the rest, and Ill wake you up if your needed or Chad returns.” Ed said suddenly, She shook her head.

“Cant. to much to do” she replied.

“like what, stand here and look at maps, get your shapely butt inside that RV and get some sleep, between Mai Linn, Daws and myself, we can handle anything that comes up, and Ill wake you up if anything serious happens. “ Ed said sternly.

“shapely butt?” She said with a slight chuckle. “ keep that up and people might start thinking your turning straight.

“I doubt that would happen” Ed said with a matching chuckle. “ now get in bed”

“Okay, okay, damn next you’ll be asking to borrow my leathers, and hanging out with Mary.” Jill said as she folded up the map.

Ed didn’t answer he just crossed his thick arms across his massive chest and watched her suggestively. She stood there for a moment then sighed in exasperation.

“Your not going to let me stand here and talk my way into stalling are you?” she asked with a slight exhausted smile.

“not a chance, and if you don’t start moving, I think Ill pull a Mary and pull your pants down and swat your ass.” Ed warned.

“try it, my husband will get revenge” She warned gathering up the map and shoving it into a pouch.

“I don’t see how his spanking you will be revenge, but we can find out” Ed said smiling, as he slipped an arm around her shoulders and walked her to the door of the Rv.

if there was on thing she could say about Ed, was that she felt as safe wrapped in his arm as she did with Jared, he had that kind of personality, and strength. Safe and warm she thought as they stopped at the door to the RV, she rested her head on his shoulder for a moment feeling the denied sleep hovering at the edges of her mind.

“Your right, I need sleep” she said then yawned heavily.

Ed opened the RV door, and helped her up the steps and inside. “ now get back there and get some sleep.” He said, trying to ignore the case of Nerves that if anything had grown stronger.

“Mai, help her to the bedroom” Ed called out to the Asian woman who was sitting at the fancy oak table eating an MRE, Mai nodded and rose to her feet.

As soon as Jill was on her way to the Bedroom, Ed turned and headed to Robs workshop, he wanted to make sure that those finished camp wall sections were loaded just in case.

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

Landry, stepped out of the military truck he had been riding in, and watched his people as they went about their tasks, his most trusted Aide, Jamie Callaway was shouting angrily at Wilson Paige, their mechanic

Suffer not fools to live Landry thought, the world had been full of fools, but the Lord had allowed the Devil to cull the herd, praise be. He thought watching Calloway for a moment, he trusted the tall dark haired state trooper who had saved his life while the rest of his church had been slaughtered. The day he had watched his Pastor lead the congregation towards the undead holding aloft the good book and a cross, the day his old faith had died, when his church had died.

But it had been a day of miracles as well, his wife’s spirit had come to him, telling him that he had been led to false faiths but spared the punishment of his former Brethren so that he might spread the true word of God to those who survived, she had led him to his first followers, and there Jamie Calloway had shown up just as he had been told, a savoir of man sent by god, a Paladin.

She had told him of the apostasy of men who dared to defy god and not only cling to the old ways but sought to restore them and till they were converted or removed from the world the scourge of the undead would remain. Heathens like this Jared person who had dared to enter the environs of hot springs, the land God had ordained to be free of the undead, and this apostate had lifted weapons against the faithful and slew them. the dead of the faithful had died as martyrs in the cause of god, treachery by those who served evil could not be allowed to go unanswered, god demanded the faithful to wage holy war.

Those who died in the cause of god, would be reborn into a world finally cleansed of evil and the undead.

you must hurry the apostate are almost ready to set back gods work the voice of his wife said softly in his mind. Already they are close to their goal if you can reach the whore of Jared you can end their plans then lead the faithful against the new Babylon they are building on an island they took from Gods Warrior.

“yes’ he said aloud not noticing the puzzled looks his guards gave each other.”Yes, kill the whore and destroy New Babylon” he said, appearing to listen to something no one around him could hear.

“ and the wrath of the lord shall fall upon them as a storm, washing them into the sea where they will join their master to wreath in pain for eternity” Landry said, a slow nasty smile spreading across his face.

Jacob Landry walked to Calloways side, and waited till he had finished dressing down the hapless mechanic, before speaking.

“Brother Calloway” Landry said.

“Prophet” Calloway acknowledged.

“Brother Calloway, you must contact the allies and change our Rendezvous point and time, we have gods work to attend to first, then we can seek out the Heathens and bring them to battle. We must seize the whore of the apostate leader, with her in hand we can bring him to his knees before god” Landry said in a rush, his face beaming with Religious fervor. “ God will tell us how to find her, never fear.”

Calloway nodded understanding that God had spoken to his prophet once more with instructions to the faithful, Calloway wasn’t a firm believer Landry knew this, but he tried, he served god hoping for revelation and redemption.

Calloway watched as Landry walked back to the Command truck he used as his personal transport, the man is completely nuts he decided, but he does have a way of being right more often then being wrong. I just wish he had stayed behind, its always hard to deal with Him and keeping the men motivated and under control.

Calloway turned and eyed the most recent disabled vehicle, Now if we can stop losing vehicles, Calloway thought with a glare tossed towards Paige, so far they had lost one truck and three APCs to mechanical problems, and they were no where near the Rendezvous point.

He should never had insisted on gathering up tracked vehicles, he hadn’t known till today you could, break a track, or throw it as Paige called it. And they didn’t have spares, so even if some one here knew how to change them or fix them they were shit out of luck. And Tracks were slow, to damn slow, he would be impressed if they were hitting actually hitting thirty miles an hour.

“Wilson, Get that antenna mast run up and see if can raise Col Sims and kindly tell him we are going to be delayed.” Calloway said to the short balding man standing on the ramp of his Stryker. Wilson nodded and ducked inside the vehicle to pass on the info. A moment later three men ran out and assembled the long antenna, they had made, and set it up on top of the Stryker.

If Landry was right about knowing how to find Jared’s woman, Calloway couldn’t wait to get his hands on her. he was going to make that Red headed asshole regret ever passing through hot springs.

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

Grimmson, settled the old Huey on the Tarmac not to far from the American C17, he wasn’t actually sure about LeClerics idea, in fact he suspected that Pierre was going to actually use the plane to reach home.

Grimmson didn’t shut down the engine of the old bird, he sat there and stroked the two tails he had braided in his now long beard, he looked more and more like one of his Viking ancestors, that thought pleased him immensely.

“How long is this going to take” He asked Pierre, who shrugged. Gimmson wasn’t thrilled with being off mission, but Pierre had insisted on setting down, to checkout the plane, using the excuse of possible supplies on board and to see if it started so they could use it to transport men and gear to assault the island.

“Depends to be honest, but once we get it clear of any undead, It should only take a half hour or so to find out if its even going to start.” Pierre said in French then jerked his finger at the Marine how sat on the bench behind them. “ he will keep me safe, you stay ready to take us out of here, if we have to run for it”

Grimmson studied him for a moment then placed a hand on Pierre’s knee to delay him from climbing out. “ truth time old friend, your planning on heading home aren’t you” Grimmson asked.

Pierre’s eyes drifted to Grimmson’s holstered pistol then drew a deep breath. “yes, yes I am. It is not that I am not thankful to Adjutant Simms, but I have to see my home, have to find out if my family around Toulouse still lives, Simms is home, I am not.”

Grimmson withdrew his hand, “ I wish to go with you, I would like to see my own country as well. I hate to leave Simms with out pilots, but I do not want to get killed for a private war, I would rather die trying to get to my home.” Grimmson said after a moment. but what of the American” he asked.

“he wishes to find a vehicle and head west, his family lived in Arizona, and he will return there to check on them.” Pierre replied.

“and If this plane will not work” Grimmson asked.

“then I, we will head north seeking one that does, sooner or later we will find one to take us home.” Pierre responded. “ but we must secure supplies, and ammunition before we leave, so we still have a day or two, we will find a fuel truck or two, load them aboard, so we can land almost anywhere, roll a truck out refuel and take off again.” Pierre said, then excited to have a partner began to explain his plans for getting home.

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

By the time they had the bodies removed from the runway, the sky had gone from leaden grey to dark boiling clouds. The wind had grown stronger and the smell of rain was heavy in the air. Ronny put the plane down in record time, and distance, then taxied to the fuel pumps.

As the plane came to a stop at the pumps, Ronny moved to the door, and climbed out as Jared and the others jogged up to the pumps. “ I think, you had better find out, if one of those hangars have enough room for the plane, Mary thinks this storm is going to be intense, and Id like to have the plane safe and secured” Ronny said. “ and theres more behind it” he paused glancing at the plane.

Eric cast Jared a look but only nodded his head. “ Martinez, you and Parks guard the plane, the rest of us will check the last Hanger. Get it fueled up while we are gone,” Eric said as Jared nodded in agreement.

“Hang on” Martinez said, as he handed the HK back to Jared, and then the bandolier of magazines. “thanks for the loan, Ill get one of the Spares out of the plane” he explained as Jared checked his weapon over then slung it across his chest.

“ No problems, I’m better with a pistol than a rifle anyway” Jared said, Martinez didn’t answer but he had no doubts as to the accuracy of that statement. When Eric had told him that his brother Jared was almost terrifying with a pistol, he had thought it was just an exaggeration, till he had seen Jared in action with that Mk 23.

Together the six men jogged across the tarmac, past the dark and silent planes, the, now cold wind whistling thru struts and around the fuselages. Lightening flickered dazzlingly overheard casting long sharp edged shadows on the ground. .

The doors to the last hangar stood open, a black rectangle that revealed nothing of the interior. They approached cautiously the lights on their tac rails coming on as they reached the door. long fingers of bright light swept the dark interior revealing only two planes inside the large building, one was a Sheriffs Department plane, and the other was a Lear Jet, with Military markings on its tail.

The men entered slowly, probing the darkness for any undead, the wind moaned outside. “the only thing to make this worse would be a bunch of undead clowns” Ori commented.

“screw you Ori” Jared muttered.

“what is it with him and clowns, you and Eric both have mentioned it before,”Bailey asked, as they moved deeper into the hangar.

“I have no clue, Steve used to think it was some kind of Horrible Clown experience at a Child hood birthday party.” Ori remarked, as something metal toppled to the ground at the back of the hangar, lights instantly centered where the noise had come from. A large can lay on the ground in front of a rolling tool box, rolling back and forth.

“I have to say though undead clowns could be bad, I mean you open a car door and you never know how may are actually inside the car, one or dozens. Imagine the closet of a plane full of undead clowns” Ori said with a grin, as Jared flipped him off.

“Eric do you know why Jared hates clowns” Ori asked.

“nope no clue, but I don’t know if Id say he hates them” Eric replied, lying he knew the story well but he wasn’t about to tell any one till Jared said it was okay.

Ori laughed, as Jared rolled his eyes knowing what was coming.

“oh he does, trust me, he had me build a huge bomb that leveled three or four blocks of a town, just to kill a couple of clown zombies.” Ori said smugly, then cast a grin at Jared who wasn’t paying him any attention.

Eric laughed, shaking his head. “ that does sound like his intense dislike has grown.”

“bite me, both of you” Jared said as they finished their sweep of the hangar and Eric led them towards the Lear, a rotting corpse lay sprawled across the steps into the fuselage, another body, this one dressed in a ragged, ripped and torn suit that must have cost a thousand or so back in the day, lay half under a wing, a shovel still wedged in its silver haired head.

“ Senator Carter I presume,”Jared said earning a look of surprise from Eric. “I recognized his wife earlier,” Jared explained. “he also flew around on military jets, because of his position on the intelligence committees, and military oversight. ” Jared said, he had paid a lot more attention to politics and things that impacted the military than his friends and family had realized.

Jared wondered what could be so important that the surviving Military command structure would send an SF Team to a small airport in the middle of nowhere to retrieve it. it damn sure wasn’t a secret weapon that would kill the zombies en mass.

Eric only nodded, as he scanned the area for something that he obviously didn’t see near the body. He approached the steps of the plane Cautiously, just because the body hadn’t sat up yet didn’t mean a damn thing in his book, he poked the corpse with is rifle barrel, relieved when it didn’t move, he grasped it by the ankles and pulled it off the steps and to one side of the plane.
.
“Blaine get out there and tell them to get that UV in here as soon as they have it refueled. Brightside is that wind will keep more distant zombies from hearing the engine and showing up for dinner. “Blaine nodded and jogged out of the hangar to deliver the message.

“the rest of you keep watch, Ill be right back” Eric said as he climbed the steps and squeezed thru the open hatch. Jared looked around and then followed his brother.

The inside of the plane was luxurious, golden oak stained paneling, swivel chairs with small desks mounted on a swivel arm, a bar in the back but a door, that Jared bet would led to another office or bedroom. A swatch of blood stained fabric,that matched the dress the Former Mrs. Carter had worn, lay on the cabin floor, a Marine lay slumped against the wall of the aircraft, a pistol still clutched in his hand. His leg had been torn open.
Another corpse lay at his feet, a Kbar stuck thru the side of its head.

Eric was almost at the door in the rear of the craft and turned hearing Jared. “thought I told you to keep watch” he said levelly.

“not in your Chain of command, sorry, and I don’t do requests” Jared replied as he knelt just out of reach and examined the Marines rotting corpse, it was obvious on closer inspection the man had shot himself,. “ Poor bastard” Jared muttered. “ simper Fi buddy, rest in peace”

“Jared I really need you to wait outside.” Eric said, not moving an inch.

“No, so lets get this done, or you will have to come back with just your team later. Its not smart to do anything alone, you know that” Jared commented.

Eric watched his brother for a long moment, and Jared wondered if Eric would get annoyed enough to try to force him out of the plane. Eric knew what would happen then and both of them were heavily trained and experienced enough that when the fight was over, they both would be screwed up badly.

“you haven’t changed, still as stubborn as a damn mule” Eric said. “ you realize, no one is supposed to see this.” He said as he opened the door, revealing a bedroom office combination beyond the door.

“wow a classified office” Jared said sarcastically, then grinned. “the Government will slap a classified label on anything these days.”

Eric ignored him and stepped into the small cabin and studied a black case on the desk top, that reminded Jared of the nuclear football, that was always with the president, which held the nuclear launch codes.

“tell me that’s not what it looks like, and that the presidents body isn’t walking around here somewhere” Jared said.

“no its not the football, in a way it’s a hell of lot more important.” Eric said as he pulled a small clear waterproof pouch from his pocket and looked at the piece of paper inside. After a second he punched a code into the small code panel on the top of the case. a light flashed twice and the locks sprang open.

“besides Air force one, Sat down at a secure location in Nevada, when the President left DC.” Eric said as he opened the case. “don’t know what happened to him since then, out of the communications loop these days.”

Jared looked over Eric’s shoulder and saw a laptop built into the case, memory sticks embedded in a foam bed for transport, and a file folder..

“I think its time you told me what your orders are,” Jared said, for military command to send a SF team into no mans land to retrieve this, it must contain some real serious information. “and no more of the Classified bullshit Eric, you need my peoples help, and they need to know that you and yours can be trusted, and as long as they think your holding something back, they wont trust you fully. Tell me and that’s as far as it goes, my folks will believe me when I tell them I know and I’m all for helping. Assuming I agree and decide to help”

Eric leaned against the desk, as the sound of the UV reached them as it pulled into the hangar. He had been torn for days now whether to tell his brother his mission. The truth was, no matter how seriously he took his orders, and followed SOP. Jared wasn’t just any one, and he knew Jared had never once let slip a single classified thing from his own days in uniform, if he couldn’t trust Jared, he couldn’t trust anyone.

“All right, but only because you’re my brother, I know you can keep classified shit secret and because your right I need your groups help.” He tapped the case lightly. “ the senator, was carrying classified materials of secret Government supply caches, and secret bases and Locations scattered across the country originally set up as part of the continuity of government in case of nuclear war.

The Senator had all this because originally he was being escorted by the Army chief of staff, and a marine Detail who were bringing the materials to NORAD, the presidents original destination, so that we could set up a orderly evacuation of Civilians and military personnel instead of the cluster fuck it ended up becoming when the Senators plane had to set down here on an emergency, the airport was overrun while a transport was enroute to pick him up and take him the rest of the way.”

“that idiot was tasked with that kind of vital information, the guy who was implicated in more orgies than Caligula.” Jared asked in Disbelief.

“no, look Jared, from what I was told, it was on its way to the President when he was forced to evacuate the white house command bunker, the chief of Staff, was in possession of it when they left the Pentagon, he continued under orders to try and get it to the president, but most of his damn detail was wiped out, on the way to Andrews,” he said then explained “ their transport got T-boned by a large truck and the while the marines were trying to secure another transport, a horde of those things showed up, by the time the remaining Marines, all two of them got the Senator and his wife, and the case to Andrews, this plane was the only one left for the senator, really it was the only one he would take that befitted his position as a Senior Senator. The idiot, it was still there because it was having problems, and the ground crew didn’t want to argue with him or they would miss their own Evacuation plane. So off he went with is wife and ended up here to die.”

Jared nodded in understanding about the importance of the case, he felt sorry for the marines and the senators wife, but he had never liked the man, and is demanding a nice little lear and pulling his position was just like him too, even with the world dying around him, he wanted to be pampered.

Eric knew what his brother was thinking, Jared hadn’t been there, the senator might have been an ass up to the very end, but so many hadn’t been. He hated the idea that so many of those men and women who had stayed to the very end fighting and trying to save as many as they could, and when this all ended he wanted, no, needed to know that others would know that some clung to Duty, Honor, till the last to protect those they were sworn to defend.

“at the end, there were a lot of hero’s Jared, so many men and women stayed at their posts, trying to stem the tide, get some control back, they spent weeks holed up in a command bunker, directing efforts to retake areas, and to bomb the undead. Watching city after city get overrun, and the rural areas around those cities were swallowed up.

But no one really understood the threat Jared, they tried to fight like they were fighting other humans, even though all the evidence told us that these were not sick people. Troops were sent down streets in skirmish lines, not realizing there were no safe areas, that the buildings around them were filled with the dead, no non combatants in this war. And they died, surrounded and buried from all sides by the dead.

Hell they sent naval taskforces to try to pick up American forces in the middle east, the forces in Afghanistan that could make it out, fought their way out thru Iran to the Gulf to be picked up the Enterprise and her escorts.

It was pure chaos, everywhere,” Eric said his voice heavy as he sat down on the desk.

“I know I was in the middle of it, Nashville never even got the Guard activated to try to control the streets, Eric, it was all Police officers and volunteers, they got eaten alive at their posts, trying to by time for the State and city government to do something but it was to late by the end of the second day, and I think I know why, but I don’t have facts to support it. so yeah I know about the chaos, most all of us do.”

“I guess you do, no one that’s survived didn’t experience it, I know officers and some enlisted that killed themselves, because they failed to protect the People, it was hard to see footage or hear reports of people in rooftops, waving sheets, or writing messages like “Alive inside” and know there wasn’t a damn thing you could do to save them.” Eric said, his shoulders sagging, as he finally started to unload the emotions he had carried for so long. “I, we saved some the first few days, took them out by chopper when we could, then the flights were grounded to save fuel. But it wasn’t enough, and since then, god seeing all the dead towns and cities, trying to find survivors eats at your soul.” Eric said.

Jared resisted hugging his brother Eric had never been really touchy feely, but Jared really wanted to give his brother some comfort. Eric had bottled it up to long, not able to show his feelings to his men, because it would have weakend the team, caused doubts, impacted discipline.

“you did what you could, Eric, we all have.” Jared told him. “ and we found each other.”

Eric snorted a harsh laugh, “ your group and my team might have done all they could, but theres to many Simms out there, some religious like that nut job in Hot springs, some just because they have the power now.

you wouldn’t believe some of the things going on out there. Luckily most of it is further west.” Eric paused then looked Jared in the Eye, “ I found out about you, because one of the primary places Command wants to take back first is Charlotte Jared, when these orders were passed to me, by the senior spook, the man knew who you were, Knew you were on Sullivan and picked me and My half of the ODA because of that. he was doing me a favor I know, but they think that if and when this shit ends, you will help them clear and hold Charlotte, since you will have a secured island for them to base out of .”

Jared shook his head slowly, no way in hell was he going to allow them to overrun the island and strain what food supplies they had already. And they probably had the farm on their list of places to garrison, Llyod might like that, but he couldn’t see John Graham being thrilled with it. no if they really wanted his help, they would stay some where else, and there would be a lot of negotiations, Jared would be damned before he allowed the same old parasitical Political hacks to make a come back. The world had changed, and they would to or he would give them the bird and send them packing.

“how did they find out I was there”Jared asked,

“I don’t really know, Lancaster, the spook seemed to know a lot, I suspect Satellites and communication intercepts, there is or was a naval presence just off the coast.

Anyway since we were already tasked with search and aid in Tennessee and North Carolina, he picked my half of the ODA for this little job. I didn’t know exactly where you were at, other than you were supposed to be back in Tennessee, and then we intercepted some of your transmissions. The rest you know” Eric said.

Jared couldn’t say he was thrilled with the news that some one had been watching them with a satellite, and Eric couldn’t have really told him about it from the start, with out letting slip some of the so called Classified mission.

“hey you two all right in here” Ori called from the hatch.

“Yeah we are great, Eric just came out of the closet and wants to be your lover, I’m talking him down” Jared called back, breaking the serious mood on purpose. Eric smiled in relief; the last thing he had wanted to do was alienate his brother.

“Roger that, one set of steel undies coming up” Ori replied.

Turning back to Eric, Jared pointed at the case, “ that thing could have saved a lot of lives, still can I guess. So lets get it packed up safely on the UV, Ronny wont touch it and you know it, when this is all over with you can deliver it to where ever you need to.” Jared said.

“assuming there is still somewhere to send it to” Eric replied, as he scratched his scalp for a moment, “ I wasn’t lying about not being in communication with Command, we have only been able to raise our FOB, so in the end, I might just open those files up and your people can use them to try to get things back on track. Trust me, there is more stashed in those supply dumps, than in the Terminal. Some are in old salt mines, and other types of mines too, those locations were leaked out years ago, but the more recent stuff, has been one hell of a closely guarded secret according to Lancaster at any rate.” Eric said, as he closed the case. “ think about it Jared, the means to rebuild the world is right here in this case.”

or the means for some one else to destroy whats left Jared thought, thinking of Nuts like Landry and men like Simms and his companions. But if the Trinity had access to all this Jared thought, he still had no clue who they were or where they were at, but he believed he and his group might just be here for that very reason. He would have to think about it and wait and see if Eric re established contact with Command, things would change. But till then, his plan would be protect this data no matter what developed.

The storm had swept over the area with a vengeance by the time the two men stepped out of the Lear. Eric carried the case over to the UV and strapped it in ignoring the curious looks on the others faces.

Mary sat on the edge of the Door of the UV kicking her legs like a little girl as she watched the SF men collect water in Buckets then strip down and bath, she hid a smile as the men preened for her, well all but Jared and Ori, the two sticks in the mud. Sam sat quietly, watching, taking it all in. but aside from flirting with her, was pretty quiet at the moment.

Outside the hangar the storm was raging, a real tropical storm this time She decided, debris kept slapping the front and side of the hangar.

The groaning of fatigued metal was starting to get on every ones nerves too she thought.

“Enjoying the show are you” Jared asked coming to stand beside her, as he toweled off.

“Always, you know me, bit of a whore and all that” she said with a grin.

“Bullshit Mary, but I wont tell any one your actually a decent person” Jared assured her with a matching smile. “ Besides Ori used to date the whores” Jared said grinning.

Mary gave him a smile then grew serious for a moment, “ Ronny and I are going to try to have a kid” she whispered to him. Jared’s eyes grew wide, and darted to Ronny who was eating from an MRE Pouch, he paused with a spork full of Spanish rice halfway to his mouth seeing Jared look at him.

“what?” Ronny asked loudly.

“Nothing, Mary was just telling me about your, um.. man problem. I’m really sorry Ronny, it happens sometimes to some guys, but youll get it up, I mean, over it soon” Jared said as Eric and his men laughed.

Ronny fumed for a moment then laughed “ asshole” he called out as he went back to eating.

“Oh hell Jared don’t get him riled up, I barely have him trained to behave these days,” Mary said punching him in the shoulder. Jared had to admit she had a hell of a punch on her. “ amd we wont be trying till we get back, so you keep him safe and sound if you can, I want his child even if I have to spank it out of him” Mary said, Jared burst out laughing

“we also want you to be the Godparent.” Mary said softly, she had asked Ronny to let her bring it up with Jared, and Ronny had agreed, not that she had ever doubted he would. She really did wear the pants in their relationship, figuratively speaking.

Others might find their type of relationship odd, but she had never cared, what others thought, Ronny loved her and was happy with it, and that was all that mattered. And Jared and the rest of the dirty dozen had laughed about it good naturally but had never once slammed hers and Ronny’s lifestyle. Which Mary had always been overjoyed about, to have close non-judgmental friends had been a blessing.

She watched Jared for a moment amazed at the range of emotions that played across his face for a moment as he stood there silently. Then he took her hand for a second looking in her eyes. “ Id be honored Mary,” He said then kissed her on the forehead, drawing a few odd looks from the SF guys, but they didn’t say anything. Even Ori decided against making a joke.

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

Williams, stood next to the Jeep wrangler he had found, his face upturned to the fat drops of rain that fell around him, a precursor to the storm that was coming. he felt cold with his newly close cropped hair cut. He smiled, almost cruelly as he ran a hand over his head, there was little left of the peaceful, life loving hippy that he had once been.

He had a job to do and was eager to get about it, things were going better than he expected though it had taken longer to get here than he had first thought. But his time was now and oh how he looked forward to meeting Jared again.

Sheamus watched Williams from his Command vehicle, there was something different about the man since his return, he seemed harder, colder, it was in the set of his shoulders, the way he stood, and the way his eyes held a glacial stare that made even Sheamus take moment to think before talking to him. And that annoyed the hell out of Sheamus.

Every thing was going wrong with his new unit, all his Dreams and plans for the future were staked on this unit, and now there were nightmares, people seeing shadows of monsters that weren’t there. Two men had committed suicide half an hour apart. And it all had all started when Williams returned.

Which was another question, how did he knew where Sheamus was, and Maggie hadn’t seem the least bit surprised to see the Williams appear out in their midst, that bothered Sheamus as well. in fact everything was starting to bother him.

He didn’t regret bucking Simms, but he had always respected and in some ways Resented Simms easy mastery of commanding men, in Combat Simms was Cold, and calculating, he didn’t shirk from doing what needed doing, until it crossed some hard to define moral line, slaughter to make a point, not Simms.

Burn a village that had harbored insurgents or guerillas in the congo, hell no. not once the fighting was over, he insisted on medical treatement. His Reputation as a Mean as hell, Ice cold soldier, was well deserved, but no one talked about what he did after the fighting.

Well Sheamus wasn’t like that, you killed enemies and made a lesson out of those that sheltered them. let them die of infection, or bleed out it was what they deserved for standing against he an his men. there were enough empty towns in the world now, burning down a thousand didn’t matter, there were always more for people to settle.

But all that was in jeopardy, his unit, was falling apart and there didn’t seem to be anything he could do about it.

He turned to Danny his new second in command, the skinny, undernourished Floridian with thinning brown hair, “ get every one packed up, we are going to head straight to the Terminal, no more screwing around, we know where they are heading to, so we will get there and wait for them.” He said.

Danny nodded in acknowledgement, glad to have a real destination, instead of running around trying to catch up with a group that seemed more like ghosts than people.

While Danny got on the CB and passed along the new orders, Sheamus climbed into the back, where Maggie sat cleaning a weapon, she smiled at him, but there was something cold and dark in that smile, and Sheamus couldn’t help but to shiver. He only hoped that things would return to something close to normal soon.

Simms doesn’t seem to be bothered by the world as it is, the thought came unbidden and Sheamus couldn’t lie to himself, it was true Simms always managed to roll with a situation and find a way to deal with it. well so would he from now on, Sheamus thought almost angrily.

He settled himself into the command seat, as the engine turned over. He closed his eyes, there was little else to do, none of the electronics in the damn thing worked, he was just a passenger for now.

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

“Tell them to change the Rendezvous point to Garland Harrells” Simms told Mulligan, he had hoped that they could all have loaded up on the train and chugged right into the Terminal. But that option it seemed was now out of the picture.

Jared Stone seemed to have secured his route, probably one of the maps he had left with the Unit he had left behind to watch over Malones newly seized compound. That was the only thing that made sense, Hanson had lost two vehicles pulling Recon on their route when IED’s had gone off. So the only thing Simms could do was to change routes.

But there were only a few ways to approach the Terminal, and he had a bet with himself that Jared and his people had already been busy setting up traps on all three. Which could also mean the red head already had men in the terminal. And that could be a problem. He hoped not, that would only make taking the place more difficult.

“you will have to deal with Sheamus soon” Ivan said from behind him, speaking for the first time in a few hours.

“Hopefully he will come to his senses, and I wont have to” Simms commented, Ivan snorted and muttered something in Russian.

“you can only dream such things” Ivan said in French. “nothing is turning out like it was supposed to Adjutant Simms, I do not understand why that is, but it is true. Sheamus was never truly loyal to you or the brotherhood”

Simms eyed the Russian for a moment, Ivan had talked more just now than the last few weeks, “ maybe not Ivan, but I will give him the same chance I would give any of my men, and then shoot his ass if I have too.” Simms stated.

Ivan shrugged, he would follow orders, but he kept his thoughts on the subject to himself now, he had said what he needed to. he wasn’t about to explain to Adjutant Simms about his dreams, or the fact that he had over heard Williams talking to himself in fluent Russian, in a voice that wasn’t his own. And how Ivan had recognized that voice, which was flatly impossible, there was no Way that Murderous KGB bastard could be alive and here in the US of A. but the voice had sounded Exactly like Mikaels and Williams had been alone to boot. No Ivan wasn’t going to admit to insane thoughts, or the unsettling thoughts that had filled his mind since that night or of the thing he had seen out of the corners of his eye, till Maggie, Williams and Sheamus had left the Militia units.

The world was insane enough with the undead, it didn’t need Demons in odd hats and disembodied KGB assassins added to the mix he thought. Nor did he want to admit he might be going insane himself. No, better to remain silent and let things fall where they may, as long as he was alert and Protected his Adjutant, he would die doing his duty and that was all He had ever wanted, Duty.

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

Shadows lay thick across the street, as Jill walked thru the debris that stirred uneasily in the wind from the approaching storm. Around her loomed the buildings of the dead, the windows blank soulless eyes that that gazed piteously out over the desolation where people had once hurried to complete tasks that were pointless in the scheme of things.

Lightening flickered in the distance, lighting the sky in a latticework of fire. Jill, reached for her weapon, any weapon but found she was unarmed. She looked around in the darkness, hearing only the wind, which would cover the all but the loudest of noises a zombie might make as it crept up on her.

Something banged up ahead, a metal on metal noise, that set the hair on the back of her neck to standing straight up, and her skin to pucker in painful goose bumps. In the next flash of lightening she looked for anything she could use as a weapon but saw nothing but trash swirling between the dead vehicles that were scattered along the road. another bang, just up ahead sent black birds spiraling into the leaden sky.

She walked forward slowly, refusing to let her fear get the best of her, she knew this was a dream, no matter how real it seemed to her.

As the lightening flashed once more, she saw a man standing in the middle of the street, his back turned to her, she started to shout, but it died strangled in her throat as she saw the bowler hat on its head.

Ducking down she moved away, dream it might be, but she had no desire to see that thing again. Edging past a minivan, she saw the double doors of an apartment building in another flash of light, and ran for them. inside, it stank of death, the reek of rotted meat almost enough to make her gag. Her boots rang hollowly on the tiled floor as she made her way to the staircase.

She climbed slowly, trying to be silent, below the lobby lit up as lightening ripped the sky apart again, and the stark shadow of a man wearing a hat stretched across the lobby floor. Oh hell no she muttered and began to move as fast as she could, even as the wind picked up outside, moaning thru the streets and between buildings.

Once past the second floor landing it was pitch black, she moved with a hand on a wall following the staircase up. She only wanted to get away, below she heard the sound of the wind grow louder and a gust of cool air flowed past her for a moment. then the sound dropped off once more. She knew that the front door had been opened, he was inside with her.

“Jillllllllll, I can hear you” a sibilant voice called out. “I can smell your fear.”

She didn’t responded, she concentrated on using all her senses hoping to detect anything around her that might be a threat or save her. the sound of tapping could be heard from the downstairs. Like a long hard fingernail, tapping against tile in short sharp jabs.

She heard a chuckle drift up the stairs, “ its been so long for me Jill, my mind wasn’t really clear till recently. Youll make such a work of art, to rival all those that came before you.”

Up ahead the darkness grew a bit lighter Jill saw, just light enough for her to make out the hallway that let out onto the staircase. She ducked into the hall and followed it twenty feet before it turned right and ended ten feet later.

She started feeling for a doorknob, and finally found one. Turning it, she thanked god or who ever when the door sprang open. She slipped inside and quietly shut the door.

The living room of the apartment looked like a fight had occurred inside, overturned furniture, a discarded shoe, and dark stains, on the carpet and couch, barely seen even with the lightening that came thru the shattered balcony doors.

She stopped dead in her tracks as she saw a woman standing in the hallway that led to the bedroom and bathroom. The face familiar, to familiar, her breath caught in her throat, she shook her head as if to dismiss the image, which refused to go away.

“I smell you Jill, I know your nearby” the distant voice of Bowler hat came to her, reptilian and repulsive. She could hear the worn heels of his boots on the steps as he climbed up after her.

The woman in the hall, stepped into the bedroom, and jill found herself approaching the door, so full of apprehension that she thought her chest would burst open.

She forced herself to look inside, even as she heard a clicking noise coming from the hallway outside the apartment, like claws on tile, or the snicking of scissor blades as some one opens and closes them.

Inside she saw a cramped bedroom, pictures on the wall hung at angles where they had been knocked during a fight. The woman stood on a balcony, staring out over the storm wracked city.

Jill stepped inside the bedroom, and took one step away from the door, which closed behind her. she ignored it, and walked slowly towards the woman, her hands shaking.

“Jill, we don’t have a lot of time” the woman said, turning slowly to face Jill who had stopped at the open balcony doors. “ I cant keep him out for long,”

Jills breath caught in her throat as she saw her sisters face clearly for the first time, she felt her emotions trying to get away from her, as her sister smiled at her. “I’m sorry, god I’m sorry Kylie.” Jill said after a moment, as she stared at her sister tears in her eyes.

“it wasn’t your fault Jill, you did what you had to, I still love you. but I’m sorry we don’t have time, Kiddo, you have to for wake up now, and get this convoy moving. But you and a few others need to get to him as soon as possible. I promise Ill come back and say goodbye properly, but you don’t have time, wake up now”

Jill whirled around as something crashed into the front door of the apartment, and the sound of splintering wood filled the air. “I cant leave you here alone” Jill said.

“Nothing you can do to stop him, but he can do alot to you Kiddo, this is his place, Nightmares and shadows,” Kylie told her softly.

Jill shook her head, “my mind, not his “she insisted angrily.

“Jill, please….” Kylie fell silent her face twisted in pain as if she were straining against something. In the hall Jill could hear slow steady footfalls. “ I cant hold him for long Jill”

“aaah company, I so love company, to bad its not your husband” Boweler hat laughed from the beyond the door. “in the old days, I would have slit his throat and castrated him as he died. it’s the little detail that’s are so satisfying”

“Screw you, you undead, twisted runt of a bitch.” Jill snarled, as the bedroom door bulged inwards, as if reaching towards her, then it shrank back into place, then again it bulged inwards,. it was like it was breathing she thought watching it.

she readied her self, not even sure that she could fight this thing, but she wasn’t going to let it win with out a fight, the room grew cooler, then a comforting familiar presence filled the space. And the door stopped its movement.

“wake up” a familiar voice said.

“I’m coming for you woman, and this time you wont escape me” the cold, reptilian voice hissed in her mind. “coming with my knives and my teeth”

the room swirled around her, melting flowing together into a mass of swirling colors, a nightmare kaleidoscope. Then it shrank to a black dot and vanished.

“get to Jared, he is going to need your help, your going to need his Jill.” Steve’s voice said out of the darkness.

Jill woke a shouting and thrashing, something held her ankle, her clothes were soaked in sweat, and she was breathing heavily. She realized Ed, Daws, Logan and as many others as could fit in the room were staring at her. Ed was kneeling by her side, Nibbler stood on the bed her hackles up and the deep basso growl that had gathered her friends faded away into silence then Nibbler leaped on her licking her face wildly.

“you okay” Ed asked concerned as she pushed the dog away, and got hit in the face with a wagging tail.

“Fine, is chad Back” She asked as she leaped from the bed, and stripped off her sweat soaked clothing, and changed into dry clothes.

“ he just got back and then we heard that dog going nuts in here, she was trying to drag you off the bed and was staring at the wall growling.” Ed told her. “ he only found one guy, but theres supposed to be more”

“we don’t have time, get every one ready to move out as soon as we can,”Jill replied, as she strapped on her pistols and then picked up her Katana.

Ed nodded, they had all had enough experience with the odd dreams these days not to even bat an eyelash at the event.

“Ed,” Jill said as placing a hand on his arm to stop him as the others left the bedroom of the motorhome. “Jasper Brown is coming, you need to be ready” she said, no way was she going to let him get sideswiped like the last time

“this time Ill pull his oversized head, right off his rotting shoulders” Ed promised. “this time that Evil little bastards goes down for good.”

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

the storm raged, but it was nothing to what was coming, rain fell in sheets, undead staggered and stumbled thru the rain, fighting against the wind. Their cloudys eyes fixed on a distant point, Driven on by one goal, the death of those who could alter the plans of the Dark, the living who supported the Trinity, with them swept aside, the dark could concentrate on the others in more distant places, and isolate the Trinity from those who would if they lived support the Trinity.

One zombie stood in the road, as its undead brethren surged around it, its clothes plastered to its thin frame, fire danced in its milky eyes, with each flash of lightening, a long curved knife held in its leathery skeletal like hand. A smile spread slowly across its face, a quivering hungry smile of anticipation. Its manipulation of the players was finally coming to the end game. it had taken more time than it like to manipulate them to where it wanted them at, but things were coming together nicely.

Simms, even for his reluctance had played his part well, he had only to get his people to the terminal and kill Jared, if he survived and attacked the Island then its secondary goal of destroying those it hated the most, the children and the hope they gave would be fulfilled as well.

The Religious fool and his people, would do their jobs as fodder, and if they survived they would be of much help to Simms who would unknowingly serve its desires, the fool thought he could deal with the deal and walk away.

Williams was in place, and the ruination of that ones soul had been sweet, and Maggie, oh Maggie, you shall become my masterpiece, not a work of flesh but a work of spirit, and you will be allowed revenge on the man you hate, and then you will be mine forever, it thought, and started walking again oblivious to the storm that raged around it, even when lighting struck killing dozens of its fellows. Leaving Charred and blackened corpses littering the side of the road.

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

Destiny was indeed bearing down on the final confrontation, Irene, loomed behind the bands of tropical storms, her fury whipping the waters to angry white waves, her winds howled over the decks of dead ships, some foundered under the furious wind and waves, sinking beneath the waves with their cargo of undead.

in another 36 hours, she would make landfall and change the face of the land and the face of the battle between Light and Dark. Destiny could be a real bitch and she was coming.

Flight of the Paladin, a side story

2 thoughts on “Chapter 21

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