Chapter 34 part two

“Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
~ Robert Laurence Binyon

The Medical shelter was alive with the sounds of Technology, things that people had never really noticed till the power had gone off. the low steady hum of electricity flowing through copper wires, the soft click of micro switches, the familiar smell of ionization in the air, that till now had gone largely unnoticed unless there was a thunderstorm.

Lights winked and flashed, displays showed Jared’s Heart rate, Pulse, oxygen absorption rate in multi colored numbers and graphs. Miracles of the modern world that had been treated as mundane before the end of the world.

Eric, having showered, shaved and eaten an actual meal, not something out of a can or a sealed bag, sat in the Medical Shelter, listening to Blaine and Doc Linda talk, as they ran tests with the limited equipment in the shelter. Linda appeared excited to have Blaine around, with his ER experience and training, he was the closest thing to a surgeon and trauma doctor they had seen.

Jill sat beside him, her eyes red, but she had refused to cry so far. he felt a confused welter of emotions flow over him when he looked at her, not really sure where they had come from or what it might mean. Instead he ignored all that and slipped an arm around her shoulders. “he is going to be okay” he assured her.

“can you promise me that” She asked, turning her head and locked eyes with him. Eyes full of fear she refused to express.

“No, I cant” Eric admitted softly, he hated that he was better at dealing with conflict than he was trying to comfort some one. .

She was silent for a moment then placed a hand over Eric’s hand that rested on her shoulder. “in a movie this would be when he woke up , saw us sitting here like this and then gets up and kills us both , thinking we cheated on him.” she said trying to find some humor in the whole sorry situation.

“naw Jared wouldn’t kill you, just me. then kill me again after I got back up.” Eric said with something that might charitably be called a smile.

“I cant believe he let it get this bad, he can be such an asshat” she muttered, surprising Eric with her language, he smiled again. but his gaze had drifted back to Jared.

“you should have seen him as a teen ager, he broke his forearm at Tournament, didn’t say a word, just wrapped it tightly and went back out and finished the event, placed second I might add. He would have won of if he hadn’t had broken bones. Anyway, our Mom went in to wake him up the next morning and saw his forearm had swollen to three times it normal size, bruised purple, black and Neon green, she called 911, almost Killed Jared for not telling any one.” Eric said softly, his eyes looking far beyond the walls of the medical shelter.

Jill smiled gently, Sadly at Jared that was so like him she thought. just like this, he had been so determined to Gather up the scattered survivors from the Terminal and bringing them home, he had refused to leave and get help for himself not wanting to abandon the people who trusted in him.

“Can I ask you something?” Jill said, not really looking at Eric.

“I don’t see why not” Eric replied.

“what was it that really between you two?, I know what you both said, but I got the impression there was more to your family feud than just the fact you went SF.” Jill said.

Eric sighed, then rubbed his eyes with his free hand. “it was just one stupid argument after another that just built up, till Jared tossed out the Dad would be disappointed card, I said a few things I regret, he said a few more that he regretted and by the time it was over, neither of us could really unsay any of it. he tried, Ill give him that. But I was just a bit stubborn and kept him at a distance. Then the zombies came, and the only thing that kept going through my mind was Jared would come looking for me if he lived, and I really wanted him to live.” Eric said softly. “he saved my life a few times in Afghanistan.” Seeing the question look on Jills face he grinned. “ I was in a few tight spots, and out of no where I would hear Jared’s voice giving me advice. Which pissed me off pretty badly, I wasn’t speaking to him at the time but couldn’t stop even the imaginary Jared from giving me advice, and the worst part was the imaginary Jared was right”

Jill laughed suddenly at that, drawing odd looks from Linda and Blaine, “ I promise Ill never tell him that, he wont let you live it down.” she said, trying hard not to think , if he lives.

Outside, an Air raid siren suddenly began to wail, followed a minute later by an explosion, Linda looked up and turned pale. “we cant move him, not right now” she said suddenly, as she moved to a cabinet and pulled out two large red bags, that looked like oversized gym bags.

“Ill be back, I promise, Blaine you stay with the patient, I have to deliver these to the infirmary.” Linda said, as she headed for the door.

Eric rose to his feet, slinging on his Combat vest, and then picked up his weapons. “ Ill go help, and don’t argue Jill. you stay here with him just in case.” Eric said. “Jared cant go help but I damn sure can.” Eric stated as he turned and followed Linda out into the night.

Jill stood there slender hands clenched into fists, torn, she wanted to defend what they had built here, fight for it, die if necessary. But she couldn’t leave Jared’s side either. she Looked at Blaine, almost as if to ask what he thought, but the SF soldier shook his head and turned away.

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

Bridget had almost pissed herself when some one knocked on the window, only her brief shock kept her from pulling the trigger, a long enough delay for her to see Marys face peering in the window. Pale against the night behind her, the sight reminded Bridget of story’s she had used to read about Vampires, who would appear pallid and wan, scratching at the windows, pleading to be let in because it was so cold outside. Shaking away the thought Bridget had let Mary inside.

With Marys help she had gotten a firing position set up around the window, while Sharon Guarded the bedroom door, Mary had grown nervous, after several gunshots down stairs, at one point it had sounded like at least three different weapons. outside vehicles screeched to a halt.

“Thank god the patrol” Sharon whispered, downstairs they could hear the front door crashed open. Mary stiffened the blood draining from her face, as she heard a man shouting “second floor, hurry got a man down up here” then in the distance an Air Raid siren began to wail.

Mary ran past Sharon and threw open the door, she rushed down the stairs, the light of her flashlight spearing ahead of her, then stopping so suddenly at the sight of the fresh blood and brain matter on the wall, the body that lay below it wasn’t Ronny, she had thought with indescribable relief that was crushed a moment later as she saw , a heavily tattooed man, stripped to the waist, and Justin the Paramedic they had saved in Springfield, knelt beside a familiar figure. Mary felt the world twist around her, she took a stumbling step down the stairs. Ronny’s face was pale and had sheen of sweat under the beam of the flashlights.

She managed another step, stopping then got control of herself when she was able to move and think again, she leaped over the corpse, and landed beside Ronny, startling Justin, who looked up only long enough to see who it was then back to cleaning and binding Ronnys wounds.

Mary stood there, staring down at the ragged holes in Ronnys body, her stomach lurching. His skin looked waxy and cold, as if he were near death.

“Mary please stand back” Justin said gently, looking up at Two of the soldiers, and nodding towards her. “He is alive, and I plan on Keeping him that way” Justin told her with a confidence he didn’t really feel.

Mary knelt and touched Ronny’s shoulder, gently, scared, he looked so still. Lew rose and waved off the soldiers who had started forward to clear Mary away from the wounded man on the floor. . Stepping around Ronny, Lew squatted beside Mary. “ come on, Mary Ill stand with you., Let Justin do his job” he said gently, placing a hand on her shoulder. she shook it off angrily.

“I’m not leaving him” she snapped, Tears glistening at the corners of her eyes. .

“no your not, your going to stand right over here with me, Justin needs room to save him Mary.” Lew urged her as gently as possible debating on just picking her up and carrying her off.

“Please Mary” Justin pleaded as he finished Debriding the worst of the gunshot wounds.

Relenting she let Lew lead her a few feet away, only then noticing the Soldiers who were emerging from bedrooms carrying bodies wrapped in sheets, that they placed in the hall. But it was the body sprawled across the stair case that stunned her the worst. Pappy sloan still lay where he had fallen, his eyes were wide open, and a rare smile still on his face as he gazed out over Eternity. How had pappy gotten up the stairs, what had brought him here. and why was he smiling. She asked her self, worry for Ronny causing her to fixate on anything to help he cope. God Jeff is going to go insane when he hears Mary thought sadly.

Lew saw what she was looking at, and shook his head sadly. “he saved Ronny, he crawled up those stairs and shot the bastard who had shot Ronny. Then told me to make sure Ronny didn’t die, then he smiled and died.” Lew explained.

Mary turned to Lew, “ I’m sorry, I don’t even Remember your name” she apologized.

“Llewellyn, Lew to you, you and Ronny flew me and my” he hesitated for half a heartbeat “wife Katy here to the island after we met you folks in Nashville. Its hard to forget people who took you out of hell”

Suddenly she did remember him, the tattoo’s sparked the memory, he had been with a very pretty, if dirty, woman. She jerked in surprise as a single gunshot rang out from a bedroom. A moment later a soldier emerged with a womans body and placed it in the hall with the others.

“Is he going to be okay” she asked, her gaze fixed on Ronny again.

“He is in shock, has multiple gunshot wounds, a broken leg, and has lost a fair of amount of blood” Justin said. “I cant say for sure yet Mary, but at the moment, it looks good,”

once we can get him back to the Medical shelter, I can run tests and say for certain he thought. “Corporal, make sure that front door is secured, “ Justin said, to the gangling blond Soldier who led the patrol, thinking about the siren, there were undead on the island and till he knew where and how many he wasn’t going to move the patient outside and expose all of them to how ever many undead might be out there. Unless Ronny took a turn for the worst, and then he would take the risk, hopefully if that happened they would know what was going on and where the threat if any was located. But first things first, Justin thought “ Mary do you know what blood type Ronny is?” Justin asked.

Mary started to shake her head then suddenly nodded. “ O positive, I remember seeing it on his dog tags once.” She replied.

“Good thanks,” Justin said and turned to the Corporal “ check your men and see if any of them have O positive blood, and if they are willing to donate a pint or two.” Justin said, nervous about this, but if it was the only way to save Ronny’s life, he was going to try it. “Lew, go see if you can get a door off its hinges, we will use that for a stretcher to get Ronny into a bed”

“is there anything I can do to help” Mary asked, her eyes never leaving Ronny’s pale face.

“you can go find a pot and get some water boiling, then collect wash clothes and towels.” Justin said, then shifted his gaze to the women who had survived the attack, they stood still and silent in the hallway. “you ladies need to get your gear together then go upstairs.” he said gently, thankful when one of the women an older woman whose dark hair was starting to be frosted with silver shook her herself out of her shock and began to get the other women moving.

with that done, Justin started going through his bag setting out the things he would need to do a live transfusion.

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

Outside the Medical shelter, Eric saw people rushing through the square formed by RVs around the Street side of Fort Moultrie. it was a clever idea really using the RVs as a wall, to enclose the area or the Quad as people here called it. even with the Mobile Military shelters set up, there was still plenty of open grassy area for people to enjoy.

People on the edge of panic, flowed through the gap in the RV wall, carrying what ever they could use that would hold their possessions. It reminded Eric of the people who had came to Fort Campbell looking to escape the undead, lines miles long stretching out into the distance. Familys, couples and single people, on foot, in cars and trucks, some even on horseback, holding pets, carrying luggage, sobbing and fearful that the Army would turn them away, and send them back out to die under the teeth of the undead.

He remembered seeing children wandering up and down the line calling out for their parents, a few scared and alone had turned and headed back towards their homes seeking parents who were probably dead. He had never seen those kids again, and tried not to think about what their fate had been.

He reached out and grasped a man loaded down with a pack who was rushing by heading for the main gate, and pulled the man to a stop. “whats going on?” Eric asked, .

“a boat or something wrecked on the beach, it was loaded with undead. they are every where out there,” the panicked man said as he tore away from Eric and raced for the gate into the fortress.

Around him survivors ran past, terrified; the peace they had achieved here on the island, only made the eruption of undead in their midsts that much worse. He saw eight soldiers, by the gap in the RVs that served as an entrance. They looked nervous and not sure what to do. Eric started towards them, only to stop as he heard a heavy motor start up, and then someone shouting his name. he turned and saw a Tricked out off road truck moving towards the entrance, forging through the growing crowd of people like a boat through surf.. Ori stood in the back, with three other men holding onto one of the fog lights mounted on the roll bar.

“Come on Eric, we have to slow them down. draw them away if we can, give the Defense force time to get mobilized” Ori shouted. Eric raced through the crowd, even panicked they moved aside when the large muscle bound Soldier went past.

Reaching the Truck Eric leaped into the bed. “So do we have a plan” He asked Ori, who nodded.

“sure do, annoy the hell out of the undead with music, and kill as many as we can.” Ori replied with a tight nervous smile.

Eric frowned, “ you had better not play Abba, or the village people or I will kill you” he said, sounding so much like Jared that Ori started laughing.

“no Abba, I don’t have any to play, I draw the line there, that’s just cruel. But the village people, whats wrong with the village people?” Ori asked as the truck finally made its way out of the gap and on to Middle street. .

“the only way I can answer that is with a lot of pain on your part, so leave it at, I don’t want to hear them” Eric replied watching as Ori Ran a hand nervously through his hair, and then took off his glasses cleaned them then placed them in a case to protect them. as he did so his face smoothed and became almost expressionless. The nervous gestures vanished and Ori looked and acted every inch the confident soldier.

“there they are” a man not older then nineteen said pointing as the truck turned down Citadel street. behind them a Patrol Hum vee was turning down Florence street. the fog lights and flood light mounted on the drivers side door, bathing the street in bright light.

Eric looked and wished he hadn’t, there were still people fleeing buildings, they had waited to long, not realizing the undead were basically right behind the buildings they were in.

As he looked on the scene, a dark haired man was caught in the splash of the headlights, as the man pushing a woman carrying a baby out of the way of The two zombies who shifted their attention to him, grabbing hold of him they ripped handfuls of flesh out of the mans side and shoulder. teeth bit down, heads snapped back up twisting side to side, ripping away dripping hunks of meat. Even as he screamed “ Run, Baby, Run for gods sake” before his throat was torn out.

The woman screamed like a damned soul as her husband died before her eyes, the zombies closing in around her. if she didn’t move she was dead, Eric saw, three zombies were almost in arms reach,.

She stood there watching her husband die, then like a light went on in her mind, the shock and horror released her, just as a zombie reached for her child, there was no way she could escape.

Ori’s weapon snapped into position, with ease of long practice, he took aim, slowed his breathing felt his heartbeat, and stroked the trigger of his rifle between beats, all in less than half a second. The zombie stumbled and fell as the back of its head exploded outwards.

Eric shot down three that dragged a screaming teen age girl to the ground, he was to slow to save the girl, the third managed to bite the girl before he could shoot it down. he put a bullet into the girls head, Sick at heart for having to do it, but it was better than letter her suffer through the fevers and the pain before she died and came back, besides the six zombies behind the girl, would have fallen on her before she could have gotten to her feet anyway to try to reach the truck. . God he hated this, hated all of it.

The woman with the baby ran forward, zombies falling to either side of her , as Ori and the Teenager beside him cleared a path for her, determined to save her and her baby. The other men in the bed of the truck were doing what they could to slow the horde down, to buy the people fleeing the area time to escape, but it was like plugging a semi truck hole in a dam with a finger.

Eric cursed heavily, seeing the woman was not going to make the truck, he reached his decision in a heartbeat then leaped from the bed of the truck, “oh hell, he is just like his brother” Ori muttered, as he watched Eric charge down the road, clothes lining one zombie, shooting another in the face as he passed. he wove through the undead like he was a foot ball player heading for a touchdown.

A zombie managed to snag the combat Harness he wore, Eric gripped its wrist pivoted, and swung the zombie off its feet like it was a bag of groceries, its hand came loose of the Harness and Eric let it loose to fly into a three other zombies sending them tumbling to the ground.

Then suddenly he was next to the woman, who was stumbling forward sobbing and begging for help. “save my baby, save my baby”.

Eric pushed her lightly towards the truck “ go lady go, I have your back” he said as he planted a boot full in the face of a zombie, that had gotten to close, breaking its jaw, and shattering its teeth before it tumbled backwards onto the street. a bullet hissed past his ear, and something warm splattered against the left side of his face. he didn’t even look, Ori or someone had just saved his life.

He rushed around to the left of the woman, his weapon up and firing cutting down the zombies closest to her, then dropped back and cleared the right side. giving the woman a small safe zone, a hand grasped the back of his head, Eric dropped the rifle to dangle by its sling gripped the wrist, twisted at the hips and sent the zombie flying. Before it had even hit the ground Eric had tucked into a roll to put distance between himself and the zombies behind him.

“Go” he shouted seeing the woman was still to slow, but it was unnecessary he realized, as the truck barreled forward running down the few zombies directly ahead of it, the men in the bed firing into the zombies behind Eric, as the truck came to a stop beside the woman. Eric raced up and easily lifted her up by the waist and passed her still clutching her baby, to the men waiting in the bed, before he leaped straight up and into the bed of the truck, almost falling over the side as the truck surged forward, and turned sharply. Ori grabbed him by the collar, barely keeping the larger man inside the truck as the hands of the dead tried vainly to snatch him out.

Ashton stood in the comm. Shack of the Fort listening to the Reports roll in as his patrols covered the retreat of the civilians who had moved outside the fort. He could have spent an hour wishing he had made every one wait till they got the wall finished that was supposed to run around the edge of the beach, but there had no rush to finish that wall, considering they’d had six undead wash up on the beach and one boat in the time they had been here. a grand total of ten zombies, the boat had been spotted with plenty of time to have men waiting for it. but not this time.

He glanced at a map of the island, there were reports of undead had spread out down W. Atlantic and I’on Atlantic, and were coming up Artillery, Citadel, and Florence, and emerging onto Middle street. There were reports of a few people trapped in the homes. Hiding silently in attics that had been stocked with a few days worth of food and water for just this reason.

“ lets get teams out on the intersection of Station 16 ½ , we will take them there, play music, scream shout what ever, draw them there and hold them, Give the people coming from the other streets outside of the infestation zone time to get into the fort.” He ordered, “ then get that Modified Deuce, with the Cattle Catcher ready to roll, and the MRAP we recovered.”

All around him speakers were alive with reports, it sounded almost like a real command center for a real military he thought, almost smiling.

Colonel, Dean from the Yorktown is offering to fly in a couple of black hawks to help out, if we need them” Gary reported suddenly. The former college student, turned Tech wizard and Radio man was a god send to the Island Ashton thought.

“ tell him thanks and stand by, if we need them we will call.” Ashton said, studying the map and think about the best way to defeat the undead, there had to be a few hundred of them out there, which was bad, but not that bad.

“I want a company out on the quad around the shelters, and as soon as the last of the home owners is inside the fort, shut the gates and close the quad down..”

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

The undead flowed out between homes, and onto Florence street. Devon Clanton stood beside the Humvee, resting his rifle across the hood and firing into the horde. The four men with him were the doing the same, but they couldn’t save every one. People fled, some screaming in panic, which did nothing but draw the attention of the undead.

Over the radio he could hear that two other patrol teams were racing to help, but he doubted they could get here in time. A third was delayed dealing with some kind of problem at Bridget and Sharon’s place.

Thank god only sixty people lived on this street, mostly new arrivals, who had finally been allowed to pick a home and live outside the center, or the fort. He winced as a man raced from his house, leading a young girl and a small boy. The man ran straight into a knot of undead, who dragged him down. the girl back pedaled, sweeping the small boy into her arms, turning to run back into the house. Undead reached for her. Devon shifted his aim, and shot down the closest zombie, as the girl ran back up the steps and into the house slamming the door shut.

He breathed a sigh of relief, at least she and the boy were safe for the moment, he thought as he went back to trying to slow down the advance of the horde that was approaching his position. People should have just locked themselves inside Devon thought, so many of them would have lived if they had.

Paul Gant, rolled down the street, angry and upset, the news that Pappy had been Killed by that bastard Strider, had come over the scanner mounted to his Hover around moments ago. Newton Housman, another member of the patrol had been found stabbed to death outside the reception building, his body tossed into some bushes. Gants grief for his friends was tempered by the fact that Pappy had killed Strider who had been in the processing of killing a house full of women. Who knew why the man had wanted a bunch of women dead, but Pappy had put a stop to it regardless of the reasons

Now with tears streaking down his leathery cheeks, he and the rest of the senior patrol rolled into action. There was no small amount of pride at the sight of his friends beside him, old they may be, but they were still men, and a woman, he corrected himself seeing the Widow striding along beside them, armed to the teeth and ready to fight for Pappy’s Memory. Damn good woman there, he thought at least she and Pappy had a short time together.

The youngsters on the island didn’t understand the patrol. They all thought it was just a way for the old farts to feel useful, and in a way it was. But Pappy had been right when he had talked them all into forming the Patrol, they were old, and could die any time now, till they did die, they were a drag on the community, unless they did something to earn their keep other than sit around and fart and smell funny to the kids.

Well this way, if we die, we die as men doing the only thing worthwhile, saving our friends and families. Pappy had said. We die on our feet, not in our beds one night to rise and possible kill our friends and loved ones when we come back as mindless things. And that was exactly what they planned on doing tonight, Dying for the others.

He smiled grimly, no longer afraid to die, he was tired, they all were. He watched the small groups of people that ran by abandoning the homes they had just moved into, many of them begging Gant and the others to head to the fort. One, a boy about twenty, tried to get them to stop then when that failed he turned and walked beside them, white faced and scared, determined to help them, if they weren’t going to run for safety. Gant liked the boy for that, but wished the boy would turn back and save himself. this was a death ride, not a place for the young.

Al Compton, the youngest member of the Senior militia, at the tender age of 70, began to hum a tune, a smile spread across a few wrinkled faces as they remembered the song and better times. The widow, began to sing, and in moments the rest joined in, Gant smiled the song taking him back to his days in the War to end all wars, faces of long dead friends and family floating through his mind as he sang along as best he could.

“We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

Keep smilin’ through
Just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day”

the undead were in sight now, staggering down the road, Following the people who were fleeing ahead of them. the fools should have stayed where they were at, all they were doing were leading the undead towards the Fort and the other fools running away. The pack of undead were about to over run men around a Hum vee that were trying to hold them back.

Gant looked back and saw that the street behind him still held fleeing survivors. If the zombies lose sight of them they wont follow. And the only way to keep the zombies from following them and keeping them in sight is to delay the undead, and the only way to do that was to keep their attention. well This, he thought was as good a place to make a stand as any, and it will buy those people time, maybe only a few minutes but that gets them closer to the Fort and maybe out of the zombies sight lines. .

“Squad, Halt” Gant said feeling like the Soldier he had once been for the first time in a long time and for the last time in his life. “They aint Jerry’s but they will do”

The twenty something guy, lifted his rifle to his shoulder, “ if you old folks are going to start shooting do it now” he said, and opened fire on the undead closest to the Hummer where two soldiers were trying to get a pregnant woman and two kids into the vehicle as their friends laid down covering fire. The woman had chosen the wrong damn time to bolt out of her house and seek help from the Patrol Gant thought.

Gant could hear motors in the distance, and knew that Relief forces were on the way, but they wouldn’t get here in time to make much of a difference.

“boy when those things get close, I want you to promise me you will run for the fort, run and do not look back. “ Gant asked, poking at the man next to him.

“yeah what ever,” The man replied. still firing into the crowd. None of them could see the huge number staggering along the beach behind the houses, which were now drawn towards the street by the sound of gunfire. A crowd of dead rotting flesh that turned as one and headed straight for where the senior patrol and a twenty something man Named Adam stood their ground.

Gant smiled at the others, sketched a salute and then lifted his rifle and began to fire, the recoil rocking the hover around back, but not over. The widow, let off a full auto burst, blushing furiously with embarrassment as she switched to semi auto, then went back to servicing Targets.

With the woman and kids inside, The Solders piled into the Humvee, two climbed onto the roof and hung on for dear life as the vehicle backed up and away from the group of undead they faced. The undead came on, hands reaching out, mouths silently opening in anticipation of ripping and rending sweet, red meat they craved. . .

Adam stood beside the old guy, almost but not quite laughing at the old man firing a weapon that constantly threatened to send him over onto his ass. he was about to make a comment when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and turned. Not forty feet away undead streamed out from between two houses, hands outstretched, teeth snapping as they bore down on the Line of old men, one woman and Adam. All along the lower end of the street more undead were appearing in clumps and as individuals that merged into a single horde that came forward like the tide, uncaring and unstoppable.

The Hummer passed the Senior militia, slowing as it passed the seniors, the soldiers shouting at them to go, Gant only smiled, as he turned his chair just enough to allow him to switch his fire between the more distant horde and the large number that had appeared from behind the house next to them. “you need to leave Boy” Gant called out “ don’t argue, just do it. I’ve lived through lots of years, to many damn wars, and this is as far as we go. But you have a long life left so leave now”

Adam turned his head. wanting to argue, but didn’t, the hoverarounds were to slow to escape, and they had known that when they had come this way to fight.

“I’m staying till they get closer” Adam said, not wanting to leave these brave old men.

Gant said nothing, just kept firing his chair rocking, another man, in his eighties judging by looks, was firing something that looked like a rifle with a barrel almost the size of Adams first. It made a soft sound almost lost in the sound of combat, but the 40mm grenade that hit the street down range, was not hard to miss, as light and fire bloomed the shrapnel lanced out crippling many, tearing open torsos, removing limbs, but killing few of the undead who staggered onward now focused with deadly intent on the line of senior citizens who stood in their way.

“ Back up boys” Gant called out, the Hover a rounds wheeled in a tight circle and fled back forty feet, leaving Adam and the widow to catch up. At Gants order the seniors turned again and engaged once more.

Adam, who had started with only a few magazines for his rifle, ran out, dropping his M16 to the ground, and drawing the pistol he carried, his last ditch weapon was a double barreled shotgun, and when he was down to that weapon he was going to be moving out down the road, like it or not. And hopefully these brave old folks would be following.

Gone was the stutter that had so often afflicted Gant, gone was the depression that old age had brought to him, he was no longer the old cynical bitter man whose best years lay sixty years behind him. He was full of pride, for the men and one woman beside him, even the youngster who was scared shitless but for some reason determined to stand with the seniors.

“For Pappy, put the bastards down” Gant called out, and fresh gunfire rang out.

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

The undead were every one along a four block area, just to the east of the Fort, as Captain Clay Forrest, Late of the South Carolina National guard, led A company of the Sullivan defense force out of the fort and towards the enemy. it had taken longer to get the force ready to move, but that was the difference between exercises and reality. Shit always happened when it was for real.

Tensions were high, a single glance at the tight, grim faces of the men and women of the company told any one their state of mind. No one knew just how many undead there might be, Ashton had estimated five hundred maybe six hundred, judging by the size of the ferry. It didn’t matter thought Forrest thought, this wasn’t the early days, when no one knew what they faced, or how deadly large numbers of the things could be.

No They had learned how to fight the undead the hard way over the last year, there were no safe zones, no safe rear area unless it was blocked off and cleared before hand, there was no shelter in doorways of buildings that had not been cleared.

The last of the evacuee’s were on middle street, running for their lives to the fort, Forrest watched as they passed the line of vehicles, calling out sightings to the soldiers in an attempt to let them know where the undead were located.

Trucks rumbled forward single file, then spread out into a line across the width of the road as they approached station16 ½ street coming to a stop just before the intersection of 16 ½ and Middle street. Men leaped out of the trucks rushing forward falling into squads that formed square, two lines deep, in the center of Middle street ten feet back from the intersection. the Sniper teams raced to pre planned positions in the buildings to either side of the street, carrying a mix of precision and area effect weapons. .

A truck carrying a generator and a sound system that if turned all the way up could be heard in Charleston, stopped and music began to blare into the night. most didn’t recognize the tune but it had a heavy driving beat that had most of the Soldiers and civilians tapping their feet in time to the music as they waited for the undead.

The second group of vehicles spread out, the men they carried ready to cover the flanks and the rear, there wasn’t much need at this point, but no one was taking any chances that some of the undead might somehow come at them from the sides or rear, behind the second rank of trucks, Two bull dozers waited to grind large groups into paste if need.

Further down Middle Street, a truck erupted from Citadel street, motor howling, sliding as it turned onto Middle street and raced towards the line of soldiers, as if it were a signal the undead appeared spreading out from three of the side streets onto Middle street, a staggering lurching Horde of dead, men, women and children, their whitish blue flesh seemed almost to glow in the moonlight, they shuffled forward, dead eyes fixed on the living who waited for them.

At a signal flood lights mounted on the trucks came to life, bathing the undead in harsh white light, the snipers opened up first with M203’s dropping HE’s across the front, shattering limbs and blowing apart torsos. The horde behind staggered over the ruin of their fellows with out thought. there was a second volley of 203’s and then the snipers switched to their rifles.

As the horde crossed Station 17 and Middle street, the .50 caliber machine guns opened up, raking back and forth across the horde, dropping body’s in widrows, but still the silent dead came, many were now legless but they came on regardless crawling forward, dragging intestines and organs behind them. The silent determination to reach the living was scary as hell, but every single man and woman in the defense force had seen it all before, time and again and they had survived. This was their new home, and not a single one of them was going to give up, and let the dead take it back.

At the third signal to fire the night erupted with light and fire, as the line finally joined the fight, their fire smashed over the undead sweeping away those in the front, . and the carnage grew, covering the street in gore. Those that watched from walls of the fort, the muzzle flashes appeared to strobe like insane firefly’s, and then it stopped. .

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

Kylie, smiled as she heard the defenders of the island fighting for their lives, you are going to have a lot more company here shortly she thought, as she strolled casually towards the Medical shelter.

Strider had thought she was the only one of Kronnens people here on the island, but he had been wrong, there were at least three others that she knew of, though one seemed to be going native. That was a situation she was going to have to take care of before dawn.

She had been here for three months, arriving just as Jared Stone had left with his friends, her entire mission had been to observe, and prepare for the arrival of the others, she was, if she had to use a term, the spy master, and unlike Strider, she didn’t care what Kronnen wanted here, he commanded she obeyed, obeyed happily.

The assault team would be launching their attack just before dawn, which would give these people just a little while to relax and think it was all over and then their barricades would be torn away allowing the thousands of undead on the mainland access.

Who ever had sent that Ferry loaded with undead up onto the beach had helped their plans out immensely, she thought as she reached for the door handle of the shelter. She would be rewarded greatly for finishing off Stone and his wife, she thought as she twisted the handle and stepped inside.

************************.

Private Dale Winn, US Army from Dalton Texas, and probably the only survivor of his family. Stood on the roof top of the strip center, bored, glancing south occasionally where he could hear the stead roar of weapons as the Defenders fought back the undead that had come in with the tide.

When Cross had first told them they were heading to Sullivan Island, leaving the relative safety of their compound on Fort Jackson he had thought it was an insane idea. Till he had arrived finding women, and Fresh sea food. that alone almost made the trip here worthwhile, but behind the barricades on Sullivan, being able to walk outside with out fear of being devoured had been like a gift from God, or what ever might be up there watching.

The trip to Sullivan had been a nightmare journey, not so much for the danger of the undead, which had been great, they had lost twenty people on the way. No it was seeing the towns and cities filled with undead, that had more than anything else driven home the scope of the disaster that had engulfed the world. Winn had till then held out hope that beyond Fort Jackson, there was hope that many town and cities had survived, desperate maybe, barely surviving as they tried to rebuild, but that dream had died at the end of the first week.

He was only 19, and had till last June had the world before him. then every dream of the future had died as the dead rose and began to eat the living. Well if I cant get out of the military and become a Cop, I can still do damn near the same job and protect the community that had sprung to life here, and…… his head whipped around as something exploded across the bridge, that connected the Isle of Pines to the Mainland. The vehicles that had made up the barricade, rose into the sky on a ball of fire, the Bus that had acted as a Gate blocking the gap in the barricade the Islanders used to reach the mainland to scavenge, was on its side, twisted and blackened, fire consuming its interior.

He gaped at the sight for half a second, maybe less, then he saw the undead pouring through the gap, it was a hellish sight, to see the undead lit only by the flames, while dense smoke billowed up into the night, calmly he pushed the button mounted on the pole beside him, and the solar and battery powered alarm system they had installed in the strip center wailed to life. As long as the Barricade on the Breech inlet bridge, hadn’t been booby trapped, Sullivan was safe from anymore undead getting onto the island

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

Jill looked up as the door to the shelter opened, relaxing slightly when she saw a dark haired, very toned, 20 something woman. She had an exotic look that at times could be striking and at other times plain as dirt. The woman smiled at Jill, and something about that smile touched a nerve, Blaine turned as the woman lifted a hand, a hand that held something small and black in it.

There was a snap, as two darts flew out trailing wires, the darts struck Blaine, who began to twitch and Jerk, like a demented Marionette. Jill sprang to her feet

“I wouldn’t honey, not if you want your man child here to live a moment longer” The stranger said indicating Jared who lay still and pale, with the pistol in her other hand.

Blaine collapsed to the floor, still twitching. The woman grinned and gave the fallen man another jolt, laughing as he twitched and jerked again, his heels drumming on the floor.

“that really never gets old” Kylie said, her full attention now on Jill. “Take off the gun belt and drop it on the floor”

Jill slowly unbuckled the web belt, “ who are you?” she asked, calmly, her mind already calculating the distance and how fast she could cover it.

“oh lets not play games, My name is completely unimportant Jill, yours how ever is a very important name around here. just like his” she said gesturing at Jared.
Jill let the web belt fall to the floor with a thump. “now the Sword, just kick it over “ Kylie said indicating the Katana that leaned against the wall close to Jills Right hand. “I’m not stupid, I’ve heard all the stories about you and that sword. Did you know some people think its magic, can you believe that, so stupid.”

“What do you want” Jill asked, playing for time.

The woman shook her head, almost amused. “I would have thought you were smart enough to figure that out, but I guess not, what I want is for you to die” She said leveling the pistol in her hand.

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

Williams stood on the roof of the old hotel, watching the blazing lights a few blocks away, where the defenders of Sullivan fought for their lives. Maybe that was being melodramatic, there couldn’t have been more than five hundred undead or so on the ferry, all the soldiers had to do was fall back to the fort. But they had chosen not to, which made him wonder why. He shrugged and climbed down the ladder to the lower roof, following an urge he didn’t understand. And frankly didn’t care, if it kept his Friend, his master from returning and tormenting or killing him, he was all for urges, dreams, and killing.

He walked across the dark roof top, finally coming to a stop by a tangle of pipes and ducts. His breath caught in his throat as a cloud moved away from the moon and an errant beam of silvery light revealed a Skull sitting on top of a Metal box like structure.
A few feet away, the skeletal remains of a man lay half in the shadows of the pipes and ducts.

The Russian, this is where the Russian had died, he realized. feeling a tingle of fear, at the idea he had been led here. why, what was the purpose he thought as he reached out a trembling hand and touched the skull. A tingle ran through his fingertips, real or imagined didn’t matter he snatched his hand back as if burned.

You know why you were brought here, a small voice said deep in the dark recess’s of his mind. Williams shook his head, his old self was gone, and it was going to stay gone.
Your going to finish what he started, the voice said angry at being ignored for so long.

“No, I’m going to finish what my friend, my only friend wanted done” Williams said aloud stepping away from the skull as if that would distance him from the small part of his old self.

It was never your friend, it was the Master, and it gave you to its favorite tool, you, we have only one chance to end this. Give me my life back the voice urged.

“NO” Williams shouted, he wanted to live, not go back to what he had been, the pacifist liberal do gooder, who was a joke, a fool, a patsy for those with real power, power like he held now. Power given to him by his friend. the friend your terrified of upsetting, but he is dead now, the place in our mind where it lived is empty, we can be free again. the voice whispered.

Williams shook his head, rapidly in denial. But part of him knew it was the truth, had always known the truth. But he couldn’t, he had been promised Lany, and any other woman he wanted, he only had to create chaos and death for Jared Stone and his band of survivors, especially the kids. Hope was to be like ash in their mouths, to gutter out like the illusion it had always been, the Dead ruled this world now.

In the distance of his mind he heard a laugh, and a great rushing noise as if something foul approached. He is coming, Its not to late, give me my life back, the voce pleaded.

Williams grabbed the sides of his head and stumbled away, but there was no escaping the approaching presence. The smell of rotted meat filled the air around him, causing him to gag, out of the corner of his eye he saw a shadow figure that stood there watching him,, cold and with out emotion, it waited for what was to happen.

No, Williams whispered as a dark wind blew through his mind. “ No” he shouted, as ice spread through his veins. “No” he screamed shaking his head in useless denial.

I warned you, the small voice said sadly, but its too late now. the words were shredded and torn away on the wild dark wind, but it didn’t matter Williams could no longer hear it, his world was shrinking into darkness, fading slowly away. The last thing he saw was the tar and gravel roof top and then nothing.

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

the sound of the explosion rolled across the islands, heralding yet another disaster to the already shaken residents of Sullivan island. There were many who were not sure they could take much more, after so many months of peace, of a respite from the harsh, deadly life across the water. And now the hope they had nursed that things might work out was being flogged like a dead horse.

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

“some one blew the Barricade on the Bridge” Gary reported to Ashton who looked exhausted, the defenders had just finished mopping up the Undead that had arrived on the Ferry. Twelve people had lost their lives, so far, they might find a few more once they went and checked the homes that had been recently reoccupied, and did a count of the people who had evacuated to the fort.

“ which Bridge” Ashton asked, if it was the Barricade that covered the approach from the Isle of pines, it would be a disaster. Sullivan was almost free of undead, with that barricade down, the undead from the Isle of Pines would swarm onto Sullivan and undo all the work they had accomplished the last few months.

“it was the Mainland Barricade” Gary replied, Ashton sighed, that wasn’t as bad, in a way. Every time a scavenger Team left Sullivan they had to fight their way across the Breech inlet bridge to the Isle of Pines, and then Cross the Bridge from the Isle of Pines to the Mainland, which mean a lot of Undead on the Isle of Pines had been killed, again Ashton had estimated they had killed almost two thousand over the last month and half , which didn’t leave more than another two thousand at most to deal with on the Isle of pines, but now the numbers would swell with the influx of undead from the mainland. And from had been reported there were several thousand undead on the mainland side of the Bridge, which meant that any future excursions to the mainland were going to be more dangerous than ever.

“Tell Forrest to send half his company to the Barricade Memorial Bridge Barricade at the Breech,” he took a breath, he needed to warn Danvers who was in charge of the Barricade to keep a eye out as well ”Tell Captain Danvers, that who ever blew the one barricade might being about to blow The Breech Barricade as well I want vehicles ready to plug any hole that gets blown in the thing. We cant let the undead back onto Sullivan, not if we are going to survive the next year. “ Ashton said, Gary nodded and relayed the orders while Ashton left the room to and headed up to the Harbor watch control tower. Wondering if this shit was ever going to stop.

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

Kylie was smiling as she pulled the trigger, even if she hadn’t been given orders to kill Jill and the other leaders of this idiot community, she would have anyway, she detested naturally beautiful women like Jill. women like that had always gotten what they wanted from the world, arch their backs to show off the boobs, flash a bit of leg and give a smile hinting they might give a man more , and men scrambled to hand them what ever it was they wanted. Well whore heres a message from the women who had to struggle and were not so popular, she thought acidly pulling the trigger, her smile of victory turned to surprise as she missed.

Jill had waited, every one, whether using firearms, blades or fists gave off a signal, a tell just before they struck, Jill had spent her life training to see those tells, so when Kylie committed to pulling the trigger, Jill reacted. It was a near thing and wouldn’t save her from a second or third shot, but she didn’t need it. she drew the throwing knife sheathed at the inside of her left wrist and sent it flying at the other woman, Jill followed the blade, even as the Fire arm fired twice more, a bullet grazed her side, another hit her left shoulder.

She had no idea who this nut was, where she had come from or who she followed and to be honest she didn’t care. the pistol was already swinging around to point at Jared, a wild triumphant smile on the face of the other woman. Jill launched into a flying snap kick, which accomplished the one thing she wanted, it kept the stranger from Shooting Jared.

Kylie was surprised at how fast Jill Stone moved, she dropped the pistol to block the kick, reversed the block into a grapple, gripping Jills ankle, she pivoted and swung Jill out and away.

Jill tucked into a ball and hit the floor rolling up onto the balls of her feet. Almost tripping on Blaine. She barely had time to regain her balance before Kylie was on her.

Kylie feinted with a knee strike, rolled with the block and tried a kite strike, that was blocked and reversed, Kylie found herself thrown into a metal table as Jill used a a hip throw. She scrambled to her feet just barely in time to use a fore arm block to keep the round house kick Jill launched, from shattering her jaw.

Kylie knew she was out classed, which surprised her. Kronnen had been warned by his spies that Jill and her Husband were supposed to be good fighters, martial artists of unknown skill. Which was one of the reasons Kylie had been sent, ten years of akido, and Hopkido, where she held two black belts. Kylie had thought she was an expert, but this woman flowed easily from block to attack and back again, and was using combinations from at least five different styles. Kylie concentrated on defense, hoping to draw Jill out till she could find a weakness. Hopefully she wouldn’t run out of time before some one else walked in and put an end to the party by shooting her.

Blaine’s body finally started to respond to his attempts to get it to do something other than twitch and tremble. If Eric found out about this, he would never hear the end of it, he thought as he saw Jill and the women who had tasered him fighting back and forth he turned his head slowly and saw close by Jill’s pistols still holstered, and her Katana, he considered the sword for a moment, then decided he was more likely to cut his own hands off with it than to hurt the Bitch, then he saw a small black device that his assailant had dropped and smiled. Turn about is fair play, he thought as he rolled over and pulled himself close enough till he could grasp the unused Taser Kylie had dropped. Should have figured she had more than one he thought as he rolled onto his back and brought the weapon up.

Jill launched a series of strikes, trying to end the fight fast, but Kylie blocked with fore arms and a shin, leaped over the foot sweep, the woman was avoiding even using basic grapples and throws, just blocks Jill thought, realizing that Kylie was using the time she gained to get a better handle on how Jill fought.

Jill pushed with her will, seeking to dominate the conflict, Kylie resisted as both women attempted to gain height on each other, as they moved back and forth in a flurry of blocks and strikes.

Blaine still didn’t have full control of his facial muscle, the smile that spread on his face would have looked more at home on a constipated possum, but his hand was steady, as Kylie fell back giving ground to Jill, he pulled the trigger.

Kylie was ready, she was sure she had a handle on the best way to Deal with Jill Stone and was eager to cut the other woman down, to pound her into paste, she took a step back drawing the knife she had kept concealed, and a low thrumming pain flowed through her, her muscles locked, her back arched, her teeth were exposed in a rictus grin of pain as she stood on her tip toes. Then it stopped her body twitching and writhing then the clacking noise started again as she fell to the ground.

Jill swept the wires away pulling out the darts, then grasped the twitching woman and rammed a finger down on a pressure point in Kylies neck and held it till the woman passed into unconsciousness.

She rose resisting the urge to kick the crap out of the still twitching woman, “thanks” she told Blaine, who was sitting up now, looking at Jill with new found respect. Jill rummaged in a draw till she found tape and then went and bound the stranger hand to foot before she went and Checked on Jared who was still out to the world. “you had better wake up soon lump, or I’m going to find a second husband who doesn’t do stupid crap and almost kill himself.” she said then kissed him on the forehead.

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

“Did you notice the reloads they Gave us” Mulligan asked, glancing at Simms.

“You mean the fact that they looked brand new, and with out a the stamps for caliber or the maker on them” Simms asked, as he finished loading his last Magazine and slipped it into the waiting ammo pouch.Mulligan nodded lantern light flashing on his bald head.

“exactly” Mulligan replied frowning, he was suspicious of Stones people, not that long ago they were about to shoot each other up, now they were all trying to act buddy buddy.

“I asked about that, and got a tour of Robs mobile shop” Simms said, as he yawned.

“isn’t that the Homosexual” Grimson asked in French.

Simms nodded, “seems the man has a Mini CNC machine in that trailer, he takes all the old worn out brass that cant be reloaded, adds brass stock if needed, melts it down, casts out blocks, then uses the CNC to fabricate new Cartridges.” He smiled at the looks on his mens face’s.

“talk about recycling” Mulligan commented, impressed despite himself.

“oh that’s not all he does, he has used it to fabricate M4 receivers, firing pins, bolts, and parts. And made a pretty simple machine to make replacement springs for some of the weapons they carry.” Simms added just to see the surprised look on their faces. “it would appear that when I thought about setting up a place that was for us, I never thought beyond the very basics, fuel, food and shelter. you would be amazed at what Rob and his nerd crew have come up with.”

“maybe we ought to take him with us” Simms looked up, not sure who had muttered that comment.

“if he asked, we would, but we are not going to turn these folks into enemys, not now. they have to much to offer us.” Simms commented.

“Assuming the undead swarming into the Isle of pines doesn’t find a way through the barricade and onto their Island” Mulligan said.

Simms shrugged, there was nothing he could do about that, he and his men had worked with Chad, Rob and some of the others and set up a plan, when they had first seen the number of undead in Mt. Pleasant, all trying to get through the barricade that blocked them from the Isle of Pines, then two hours ago, there had been an explosion on Sullivan, then an hour later another explosion that had blown apart the Barricade that had had balked the undead. the horde had swept across the bridge and into the Isle of pines, where it became Evident the people of Sullivan had established fortified Redoubts the sound of gunfire had rolled across the water, and the winking of muzzle flashes could be seen.

Simms checked his watch, then curled up in the corner pulling a blanket over himself, determined to get a couple of hours of sleep before they moved out at Dawn.

*********************************
Winn and the other men stationed at the check point on the Isle of Pines side of the bridge, fired into the mass of undead, knowing there was little they could do. They didn’t have enough ammo to put down even a quarter of that horde. After a few minutes they stopped firing, saving what ammo they had, in case the Undead got inside the stores below. .

The horizon was already beginning to glow with fire as the sun started its climb into the sky. Letting them see the horde that filled the streets and was already flowing between and around buildings, seeking the living, but most were heading in the direction of the memorial Bridge on the south side of the Isle of Palms, the only link to Sullivan Island. .

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

Ori sat on the ground his back against the inner wall of the Memorial bridge barricade, his clothes soaked in nervous sweat. Eric stood over him, playing guard, or maybe he was being a guard, Ori thought looking at the six blocks of C4 that he had found hidden in the barricade, and disarmed. No one knew who had planted them there, and to be honest it wasn’t a pressing issue, the few thousand undead that were pouring across the bridge and onto the Isle of Pines were now arriving at the Memorial bridge that connected Sullivan with the Isle of pines and their only safe route off Sullivan, that didn’t involve water or aircraft.

He and Eric had dropped off the woman and kid, at the fort, then returned and help put down the undead. it had been a long brutal fight, brutal on the sense more than physically Ori thought, still seeing the bodies that littered the streets, piled one atop the other, missing limbs, and heads, internal organs an limbs scattered every where.

A little over a year ago he would have been sickened by the sight, but no longer. He had no clue what lesson man was supposed to learn from all this, but the one lesson they were learning was to be hard, Hard as hell when it comes to surviving. The undead left them no other response but to be as brutal as it took to destroy them.

He had actually been overjoyed when he had been pulled out of the sweeping the streets and buildings for undead and survivors to go find bombs and disarm them. he couldn’t take much more of killing the undead and the nightmares it created for him.

Ori tiled his head back and gazed up a the stars what were slowly fading as the sun inched up over the horizon, casting beams of red and orange light up into the sky lighting the clouds with glory. He was so exhausted he wanted to just lay down and sleep for a week,

Behind him he could hear the defenders of the Barricade firing down into the ever growing mass of undead, He could hear Danvers yelling at his men not to waste Ammunition, the undead were no threat, unless they got through the barricade and that wasn’t going to happen now Ori thought, then grimaced, unless I missed a bomb or two he amended.

“ Any news on Jared or Ronny” Ori asked as he finally rose to his feet, he had heard the news about Ronny over the radio a couple of hours earlier.

“Nothing new no” Eric replied, part of him regretting leaving his brothers side to help out, but Jared would have done the same thing and he knew it.

“ well no news is good news right” Ori said as he placed the C4 into a pack, and carried it over and placed it in the truck.

“Lets get ready to head back to the fort. Even if this Barricade comes down, theres still two more separating the island. We can do with out half the island if we have too” Ori said, having spoken more tonight than Eric ever remembered Ori having spoken before.

Eric nodded in agreement ready to get back to Jared and Jills side, he was half way to the truck when the Radios came to life “ , you are not going to believe this shit” some one said over the speakers of every radio set to the Defense channel.

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

“your not going to believe this shit” Winn muttered as he stood on the roof staring along with the rest of the men, as fire bloomed on the far end of the bridge. Then a Semi truck emerged from the flames, shedding smoke as it rolled over the undead. fingers of fire lancing out washing over the undead ahead of it. behind it another Semi truck pulling another tanker appeared, then another, then Hemmits appeared, then PLC’s, Hum Vee’s, and a slew of other military vehicles, including a a Stryker, behind that were RVs, and Civilian vehicles. He could see undead clinging to the sides of some of the vehicles. As the Column drew close enough to pick out details in the steadily growing light, Win saw weapons nests mounted on the tops of the semi tanker trailers, where men on stationary flame throwers were burning down the undead, while men and women with fire arms fired into the crowd.

The first semi rolled off the bridge draw even with the strip center, and the flame throwers reached out sweeping side to side, the second semi cleared the bridge finally engaged with the weapons they had been fitted with. A jet of white fog erupted from the nozzles what Winn had thought were flame throwers, sweeping over the crowds of undead that had escaped the flame throwers of the leading truck, the crowds vanished momentarily in white clouds. “oh that’s to funny” a soldier beside Winn said laughing and pointing to the tanker. Winn started to laugh himself as he saw the sign with the legend “liquid Nitrogen”

The smoke blew away on the wind, revealing zombies that had been flash frozen, some, those closest to the truck were completely frozen, but those further back had only frozen legs, or arms, or even heads.. he didn’t get to see if they broke when they fell, the third tanker was another fuel tanker with flame throwers mounted on it, and they were hosing the undead with abandon.

Chad stood on the top of the M88, the last vehicle in the column, his teeth were clenched at the sound of metal dragging on asphalt. He watched as the two trailers that were being pulled behind the M88 finally jammed up on the bridge, wedged against the some of the wreckage and the sides of the bridge, completely sealing it off from the mainland. The tow chains went taut. He looked to around making sure that the bridge was clear of moving undead, and saw nothing but a carpet of crushed and burned unmoving bodies. “all right lets recover the chain” he yelled out, waiting till Rob, Mulligan, Garret and three others joined him, before he climbed down and together they unhooked the massive chains and carried them back to the m88 to be stowed away. A moment later they were back aboard and the M88 was racing to catch up with the convoy that was loitering at the main intersection drawing in the undead and burning them down.

Chad had to admit that Rob had been right, the accelerant they had added to the fuel, burned hot enough that the undead were cooked almost instantly. The bad news he thought as the M88 caught up, was it set pretty much everything on fire he thought, seeing the burning trees, brush and even a few buildings, a donut shop was damn near burned to the ground and, a cell phone store was being consumed rapidly, and the stench of burned meat filled the air. Like every one else he hated the idea of wasting gasoline but, the sight of the god knew how many blackened and ruptured bodies littering the area made it worth while. As long as they could keep this up, no one would have to dismount and fight the damn things hand to hand.

He waved to the soldiers on top of the Strip center, the same one that had been manned the last time he had shown up unannounced, only last time it had been wanna be gang bangers up there.

“almost home” Rob shouted up at him from inside. Home, a word Chad hadn’t used in a long time now. He smiled slowly, Rob was right, they were home.

Ori climbed up onto the Barricade with every one else, watching as the convoy swept down the street towards the bridge to Sullivan, leaving buildings and bodys burning in tis wake. He didn’t cheer like every one else, but he did find it almost uplifting, especially when he looked through binoculars and recognized several of the people atop the tankers and driving. Chad had not only gotten every one home, but he had come armed for bear and was kicking ass. the lead RV stopped and the home made flame throwers scoured the bridge clean of undead, the line of fire sweeping back and forth till the asphalt bubbled and hissed.

“oops “ some one said over the radio as the flame throwers shut down, even Ori laughed at that, for the next hour the only weapons used were fire arms to take down the odd undead or small groups that showed up, till the asphalt was cool enough to drive over.

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

a week later things had calmed down, the People of the Island knew that Strider and an accomplice had for what ever reason booby trapped the Barricades. Strider had died trying to kill a group of women in what was generally considered a terror attack, his accomplice was in a jail cell, a jail cell in the cleared areas, not in the occupied section of the island. She had one guard, and knew she would be left to die of starvation if she didn’t cooperate.

The final death toll of that night, was thirty three people, not including Pappy and the women killed at Bridget and Sharons home. Pappys Senior militia had been decimated; the last two members had been saved by a man named Adam, who had Carried Pappys Girlfriend, the widow Barns, to safety while Tobias a Korean war veteran had covered them. Adam had carried the widow inside a house then returned and pulled Tobias out of his hover around and into the house and slammed the door in the faces of the undead who had almost caught them both. Tobias was in critical condition having suffered a heart attack, and wasn’t expected to live.

Jared woke slowly, confused at the sight of lights and computer screens, he turned his head and saw Jill, who stared at him incredulously, then she was at his side kissing him on the forehead.

“what happened” He asked, the last thing he remembered was being in a garden, and then somewhere else.

“you almost died you asshole” Jill said. “your leg wound and one of the knife cuts in your arm became infected.”

“aah, well… sorry” he said softly touching her hip, then reached up and cupped the back of her head and pulled her down. their lips met, and she was surprised as he kissed her passionately, then she melted against him. clung to him savoring his touch, wanting to drown in his presence, They lost track of time, till a rude cough interrupted.

“if you two could stop tongue wrestling, we would appreciate it” Ori commented, as someone else laughed.

She pulled away but not far and looked into Jared’s Emerald green eyes, and smiled a silent promise to continue this later. “ you look so hot with a black eye” Jared said suddenly. “did you piss off Mary?”

“there was jello involved too” Ori tossed in.

Jill sent a look at Ori that shushed him up. “ it’s a long story and Ill tell it to you in a little bit, but theres some one that I think you need to talk to first” she said, motioning to someone behind Jared.

Cal Simms looked older, and no less a hard case, he might smile a bit more, but being on Sullivan had that effect. Being free of the undead to live outside, had that effect.

He wore a flannel work shirt, and jeans, but there was Foreign Legion badge pinned to his shirt pocket.

“Glad to see your alive” Simms said, sounding like he meant it.

“he got our people back home Jared” Jill said wanting to get straight to the point, before either man could say or do something that ruined the moment. “ all of them, He found Chad and others, rounded up the few scattered survivors he could find and then he and Chad led them all back here,” She saw the look both men gave her and smiled “ don’t even look at me like that, you both were going to beat around the bush till one of you said something that annoyed the other one, then you both would argue, and by the time we got to the important part, you both would be back to thinking the other one is a lying shit bag. So I thought lets start at the good part, then you two can devolve into insults and distrust”

“they are throwing him a party too” Ori said helpfully. “ a good party”

Jared sat up slowly, amazed that he didn’t ache much, “how long was I out” he asked as he swung his legs over the side of the bed ignoring Linda’s protest. “ I feel fine shut it” Jared said smiling as he thought about pappy.

“About a week” Linda supplied, jared looked surprised then shrugged, not much he could do about it now.

“ A party huh” Jared said changing the subject and eyeing Simms, remember the Promise he had given Jill where Simms was concerned. He held out his hand to Simms, “ thank you for getting my people home.” Simms nodded and the two men shook. “Your more than welcome to stay, I cant promise Ill trust you completely, but Ill by god give it try.” Jared said, ignoring the smile that swept across Jills face, a smile that lit up his world.

“I think my men and I would like to stay for a week or two, then we might head back out. but the decision will be theirs. I know one of mine will be more than happy to spend the rest of his life here.” Simms said, a smile flashed across his face at that last part.

“Lany, you remember Lany the teen aged Amazon with the bow” Ori asked stepping forward, “ well she went and got a Norwegian Viking looking helicopter pilot to fall in love with her.”

Jared shook his head slowly, “ I pass out for while and you people go nuts” he muttered.

Jill stepped back and let Eric and the others close in, smiling broadly in pure pleasure listen to them talk. Her smile faded as they told him about all that had happened, Jared looked pained at the news that pappy was Dead, and that Ronny had been shot up, he looked angry hearing about Strider and Kylie, and what they had done. The news that Ronny would recover but walk with a limp for the rest of his life didn’t send Jared into a dark place of guilt like it would have before. in fact the more attention she paid to Jared and his reactions the more she realized that the dark guilt and blame he had carried since Billy Thornton seemed to be missing. He actually engaged in a long conversation with Simms about his plans and expressed an Interest in what Simms was looking to accomplish.

For the first time in a week she left her husband when Linda chased every one out, she had an RV to get ready for Jared. Bridget and Sharon had insisted that Jill and Jared take possession of it, since they had no other place on the island other than Jared’s Van.

Pappy was buried near the grave of Chief Osceola who had died of Malaria at the Fort back in 1938. Pappy had not been well liked by most people which was not a surprise, but almost the entire population showed up to say goodbye to the Crusty old man who had vowed to protect the Island and its people, and even crippled had climbed a staircase on his belly to live and die for that vow.

Jeff Sloan sat silently his eyes red, then when it was time, told every one about the man his father had been while his mother had been alive, a man who had loved hard and long and never got over his wifes death, it was a side of pappy that most did not know, Jared, dressed in a Full US Army uniform, spoke for Pappy, as did Ronny, but more surprisingly several people who had Met Pappy on Sullivan had risen to speak on the old mans Behalf.

In the crowd of soldiers that had arrive with Cross several had been at one time or another in a military band, with scavenged instruments they did the honors, Drums began to Roll, as the hastily assembled honor guard fired off 21 shots in Salute to a man who had fought for his nation and for his people. As the last gunshot faded into silence a lone bugle sounded Taps.

Jared Snapped to attention and Saluted the Grave as the last note sounded, in the silence his clear voice rose to the sky

“When the final taps is sounded and we lay aside life’s cares,
And we do the last and glories parade, on Heaven’s shining stairs,
And the angels bid us welcome and the harps begin to play,
We can draw a million canteen checks and spend them in a day,
To Saint Peter we will tell:
Another Marine reporting , Sir;
I’ve served my time in Hell!”

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

They lay tangled in the bed, Jills head on Jared’s chest, enjoying the sound of his heart beat in her ears. Finally she stirred “ there’s a couple of things I’ve wanted to ask you since you woke up”. his hand slid over and cupper her breast, she slapped it away “ not that you dolt. “

Jared laughed for a moment “ cant blame a guy for trying, what is you want to know?”

“you seem different since you woke up in the medical shelter, why?” She asked.

Jared was quiet for a moment , then placed a hand gently on her head, “ Dreams can bring you freedom as well as revelations” he said quietly.

“ You saw him didn’t you, Billy, I mean” She asked, feeling a surge of emotion.

“Yes, it was different than the other dreams, but…” his voice trailed off, really it didn’t matter if the dream had been a fever induced hallucination, or a visit from the other side. he had finally spent time with Billy in the one place that Billy had come to love so much. And Jared really never wanted to know the truth of the matter, that he had experienced it was all he needed and wanted to know. “ what’s your other question?” he asked changing the subject before she could start digging.

“What do you think happened to that Williams guy?, the one that served Jasper Brown, every one is sure that he was the one that beached the Ferry, but he had nothing to do with Kylie and Striders actions, so where did he go, or is he still here hiding waiting to strike?” she asked.

Lany and the others who had personally met Williams had spent a few days wandering around looking for the man, but no sign of him had been found. Well not entirely true, Jared thought After the Funeral Jared had taken a quick trip after slipping away from Jill and the other watch dogs, he hadn’t gone far, only a short ways really. He had walked up onto the roof of the hotel where Mikhail had died, the Russians Body had been left to rot where it had fallen, Jared had refused to let the murdering scum be buried where he could soil the earth with his presence.

The body, rapidly decaying, lay where it had fallen, but some one had picked up the head, now mostly a skull where the birds had been picking at it, and set it on a Compressor unit. Beside it sat a Bullet, a Russian round for a Draganov sniper rifle. The same rifle that was no longer with the corpse.

“ I don’t know where he is now, other than he isn’t on the Island. I think he left, it’s a gut feeling, but I think for some reason he was called away to do something else. The dark isn’t interested in as us as much as it was, who knows why. But I’m not going to bitch if its wanting to make some one else’s life a real pain and leave us alone” Jared said.

“which means sooner or later you going to head out and try to find the Poor bastard and help” Jill said, with a sigh.

Jared was quiet for a moment then shrugged. “Maybe” he admitted.

“don’t Maybe me, you and that damn white knight complex, well it had better not be a damsel in distress or Ill get with Mary and find a chastity belt for you” She said with mock anger, but he knew she was frustrated at the thought he would head out and put himself back in the thick of danger again.

“I meant Maybe, I have you here, and the kids, Steve’s, Ori are soon to be delivered, and I hear Mary is pregnant too.” Jared said, “but what ever I decided it’s a few months away, for now I want to stay here, with you and the others. get this place up and running, then Ill decided.” Jared said, then pulled her up to sprawl over his chest and kissed her

“But if what the Nut job Kylie has been Telling Ashton is true, we might end up with some one knocking on our front door.” Jared added quietly as he broke the kiss.

he would worry about all that tomorrow when he had the big Meeting with Simms, Ashton and a few others. for now… his hands began to slide over her silky skin, daring to go lower, this time she didn’t stop him.

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

Carl Moss, turned his head to study the man who rode in the back of the boat. hard dead eyes turned and fixed on Carl who refused to look away. To be honest the stranger had saved them from being discovered by a random patrol on that damned island, by that time Carl was sure that Kylie was either dead or captured and was determined to get back to Kronnen and report what they had learned about Sullivan island and its defenders.

His team had been all for getting off Sullivan Island, there were enough people on that island to make staying hidden a hard task. Add in the ferry that had crashed into the island with a shit pot of undead moving around was not the brightest of ideas.

what his team were not happy campers about was the passenger, who had returned to staring out the window towards the mainland, not a flicker of emotion on his face.

“once we dock, there will be two trucks waiting for us, from there we head to a small airport where a plane will be waiting, after that it’s a short flight and you will get to meet Kronnen.” If Carl was expecting his passenger to act shocked or surprised at the use of vehicles and planes, he was disappointed. No real surprise there, the stranger had been on Sullivan after all, where they also used vehicles and aircraft.

The man only muttered something in a foreign language, then gave Carl a smile that chilled him to the bone. “ Good, I have many things to do after I meet your leader, things that will keep me busy for a little while. But after that bit of business is concluded, well I will be free to pursue my own little project” the heavy accent made him hard to understand, but the look his passenger gave the Island just over the horizon was one that did not mean good news for the people who lived there.

The Passenger didn’t say another word, in fact he wasn’t even seeing the inter coastal, he was miles away and years back, standing under a star strewn sky on the Veranda of a mansion over looking the Black sea, and enjoying life while it lasted.

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