Dilemma Part 2

From the Journal of Chris McCaffrey, Hilton head island.

The time here is 0039hrs and I really should be asleep but a nightmare woke me up. Its been four years and some odd months since I had a dream like this and I really don’t know if it means a thing or was it just my mind screwing with me because I am stressed out.

In my dream I was walking through Savannah, with Brian the Priest, or Paladin in my dream. We were walking down Jones street, don’t ask me I don’t know if there is a Jones street or not there, but that was the name of the brick paved street. there were oaks and Magnolias hanging over the street and there were rows of old elegant buildings, town houses and stuff.

It was quiet, not a soul in sight. The place was over grown, it was abandoned like almost everywhere else in the country. Suddenly I hear a creak and I look around finally spotting this emaciated kid on the wrap around porch of a home we were in front of home. the kid comes staggering down, like his limbs werent working right. Head lolling to one side, his mouth yawned open and this swollen black tongue rolls out of his mouth followed by a swarm of flies.

He reaches for me and I see the skin is peeling off his fingers, and I hear Brian say something and I wake up as the kid lunges at me, teeth snapping for my throat.

Maybe its PTSD, Maybe I’m just going nuts. Guess I will lay back down and try to get some more sleep.

June 12th, 2016. a house on Heddy gutter creek.

Chris woke with the dawn, he lay wrapped in his sleeping bag enjoying the that first moment of utter relaxation and peace then with a sigh he unsealed the sleeping bag and climbed out. Anemic early morning light spilled through the gable window into the small attic room that the original owners had probably intended to turn into a studio or home office but had been killed before it had been completed.

He spent a few minutes repacking his gear, it was a habit he had developed years before the dead, so if he had to move fast he wouldn’t have to waste time packing up his camp. The only thing he left in place was the short wave radio and a camp chair.

He was tempted to fix some of the eggs he had recovered from his stash last night, but decided against it and instead chose to use the small bags of dehydrated egg and sausage he carried. Once it was rehydrated and ready to eat, a term he didn’t like to apply to this stuff. He drowned it in Tabasco and Black pepper he had saved from an old MRE.

Even the tiny bottles of Tabasco from an MRE pouch was worth a fortune these days, usually he got a brick of ammo sometimes two for a single two inch bottle. Six months ago a Man in Myrtle beach had offered him his wife for the night for a full bottle of Tabasco and bag of salt.

He had been surely tempted, but had politely turned that offer down, instead asking for two pounds of fresh beans and a jar filled with sugar.

He ate quickly wiped his plate down with a rag he soaked in water from one of his canteens.

Judging by the light streaming though the windows it was time to head out, he thought as he gathered up his pack with the newly added items he thought Erin Brinn might want, he was just starting towards the front door, when a loud electronic wail filled the air. Shit, he thought as he turned and bolted for the back door. making motion sensors and other warning devices that used capacitors or piezo electric power sources was childs play, well after his training it was and the up side was no one really expected them in a world where they were used to no power. The wailing died after a couple of seconds after the power source discharged, but it had accomplished its job.

He was almost to the back door when at least three weapons opened fire at the front of the house. Glass shattered, wood splintered. What the hell, he asked himself. They have ammo to spare if they are wasting that much on my sorry butt. He threw himself onto the floor of the hallway just in time.

Glass shattered in the kitchen, and the bullets that didn’t stop at the glass of the interior wall of the kitchen continued on through the hallway blowing pictures and formerly expensive decorative items off the wall.

Enough, he decided as he slipped the pack off, retrieved a couple of emergency weapons, mostly grenades that he hooked to his old Y Harness and extra magazines for his pistol.

I wonder if this is Brinns people coming to let me know they decided not to pay, he asked himself as the gunfire fell off. It didn’t seem like something she would do, but that didn’t mean that some of her people might have decided taking his stuff was a good idea. He slid up and into a crouch, palmed a grenade, pulled the pin and held the spoon in place.

Eric Stone had insisted on training him to use them, personally Chris hated Grenades, he was always nervous that the fuse might be too short, or a pin might just fall out while he was walking along, or even worse might be defective and blow up in his hand the second he let the spoon fly.

Towards the back of the house in the kitchen, and thank god this wasn’t an open floor plan, he heard a creak that he knew was the back door opening from having used it yesterday.

Law Enforcement training wanted him to react one way, but the harsh, almost sadistic training that Eric and his Special forces buddies had spent almost a year putting him through argued for a different reaction and it won out. There was no shouted warning, no giving away his position.

He saw a shadow fall obliquely across the hall, cast by some one approaching the front door. time to act he told himself, and lobbed the grenade down the hall into the kitchen even as he ran in a crouch towards the living room. The grenade left his hand, the spoon flew striking the wall as the grenade arced through the air and into the kitchen. He liked any plan that put distance between himself and a grenade.

Get the target in your front sight, Chris thought as he burst into the living room, peering over the tritium sights of his Glock, the man at the door had a second to feel surprise and gape slack jawed at Chris, even as the grenade went off in the kitchen. Before the man could shake off the shock and surprise that held him motionless for a heartbeat. Chris fired three rounds. The man reeled back and as he fell away from the door Chris shifted his weapon towards the second figure he could see and fire twice more.

Gunfire roared again, bullets punched holes in the wall letting in shafts of sunlight. What glass remained became just so much shrapnel ripping across the room like a blizzard of sparkling snow. Break contact, fall back gain distance gain distance then re engage your target, the voice of a long dead instructor said in the back of his mind.

Chris rolled towards the dining room, across broken glass and other things even as a hurricane of wooden splinters and glass shrapnel ripped over head. I am not a soldier, he thought, hell I was never really a cop either.

He scrambled across the dining room on his hands and knees slowing only to kick over the dining room table. If this was Brinns people then he was screwed, if it wasn’t then they would hear the gunfire and maybe come to see what was happening. Probably kill me for their effort he thought, worry about that if they how up and kill the men currently trying to kill you. He thought as he pulled his second grenade, he wasn’t thrilled about using it, but with all the crawling and rolling he was doing he didn’t want to get the pin pulled by some kind of debris, or hell a bullet could hit the thing and set it off for all he knew.

He pulled the pin and tossed it out the empty bay window frame and dove as far away from the grenade as he could get slamming his head into a beam or something in the wall, pain and yellow spots flashed like fire behind his eyes.. “SHIT” some one outside, shouted, probably not a former solider who would have yelled grenade then probably followed it with the word shit.

The explosion set his ears to ringing, and even set some of the old leaves and bits of trash on the floor and ground to burning. Unable to really hear he sat there for a moment backed into a corner watching the windows. he was shaking with an adrenalin high, and as the minutes ticked by and the adrenalin faded, he started to notice pain in his hip, left arm and the side of his head. He looked down and saw blood on the floor, oh hell he thought lifting his hand and touching the side of his head and it too came away bloody.

He tried to stand and that’s when the pain really hit him hard and the wound in his hip that had been held mostly closed by his position opened fully and blood gushed down the outside of his leg.

Great I am going to bleed to death in a crappy half destroyed home filled with creepy looking kid statues, he thought dizzyingly as he forced himself to stand and lean against a wall. using the emergency kit on his belt he used surgical tubing to make a tourniquet. With that done, he just leaned there danger forgotten, his head resting against the wall.

Get to your pack, med bag, antibiotics, do not give up you asshole, I am not wasting my time training you to have you give up, Eric Stone bellowed in his ears. Move it, Move your ass. “Yeah, I am moving you sadistic ass.” He said aloud with out realizing it. “did I mention I hate you” he muttered to the unfazed special forces soldier and instructor who wasn’t really there.

He got to his pack where he got out his med bag. Hands shaking, fingers going numb, he got the clotting powder out and poured it on the two wounds he could see. He wasn’t sure if it was the clotting powder or something else but it hurt like hell.

With that done, and while his fingers still worked more or less he got out pressure bandages, hating the thought of having to use them since they were getting harder to find.

Get move on if you want to live, Eric said, though oddly Eric was sounding more like Chris did. Times wasting dead man the voice told him.

June 12th, 0800hrs.

Erin usually loved this time of morning, but after the nightmares of last night all she wanted to do was to find something, some kind of work she could dive into and make herself forget. She gazed at the water, where sunlight flashed on the wind birthed ripples wishing she could make a decision.

She closed her eyes and listened to the remained boats in the Marina, rub against their docks. She tried to lose herself in the smell of water and the feel of the wind on her bare arms and the heat of the morning sun.

But in the darkness of her mind, an image swam into view, Her long dead nephew, gaunt with hunger, his face so shrunken his eyes appeared huge and swollen. She shook her head angrily, her eyes snapping open in time to see Mathias Wunderlick approaching. Oh just what I damn well need, she thought then stamped down on her anger bringing it to heel.

“Good morning Erin” Mathias said, the lips under his thick mustache twisted into a permanent frown. She figured he lost a year of life every time he was forced to be polite to her. Aside from the fact he was an obnoxious ass… okay, wait I cant think of a single nice thing to even think about him, she told herself. Mathias was twice her age, and had been a rich and important person in Florida before the dead, as he often mentioned to any one that couldn’t escape him and god did he resent her being picked to lead the Enclave.

If he wasn’t such a mewling coward, and manipulative ass he might have been chosen. He was at least smart, and his getting Cozy with Walter Reynolds her only real opposition was a smart move on his part. It didn’t seem to work as well for Walter how ever but for some reason he continued to accept Mathias’s presence.

“Good morning Mathias, Your looking well today” She replied, hoping that the nicer she was, he would respond in kind, and act as sincere as she was, and hopefully the sheer strain of acting so nice would end up causing him to suffer a heart attack.

“Thank you, I wish I were here to just pass the time of day and enjoy the morning with you, how ever I feel I need to discuss several issues with you.” Mathias said, some how looking almost sincerely regretful at having to ruin the day for her.

“ Go on” she said, trying not to show how pleasant the mental image of using him as bait for shark fishing made her feel.

“Several people have brought the food situation to my attention and as you can imagine they are worried about what is going to happen. with the added complication of children on the way, it seems doubly important that we find a solution as soon as possible.” Mathias said. She managed to throttle back her instant anger at his reference to the abortion issue that she knew he had quietly gotten started. Besides He was a little to calm and reasonable sounding, she thought knowing, not suspecting, that he was up to something. His lips are moving he has to be lying, she thought with dark amusement.

“And do you have a solution to the problem Mathias?,” She asked not a trace of what she was thinking on her face. Which was probably a good thing, she reflected, It would only have added more fuel to the fire and made him even more difficult to deal with.

“At the moment no, but with time spent in careful consideration, I am sure….” He said and as he continued to talk, she had to throttle the impulse to shake her head and punch him. No one really talked the way he did and only a complete tool could miss the slight edge of contempt and dismissal the colored every word. “….. of course the Calls for a town hall meeting to discuss do not mean…’

“The what, for a town hall meeting?” She asked, her eyes hard as she realized his game. He would try to call her out at the meeting and show she had no plan and no way to solve the situation and then trot out some idiot idea and attempt to get the Enclave to remove her and install him in her place. She wondered if Walter was behind this, but she doubted it Walter was to smart to want Mathias in control. Unless he thought he could control Mathias, which was entirely possible she thought.

“I thought you would have heard by now, I’ve only been hearing about since yesterday. Apparently, the people wish to discuss not only the food situation but the raids that Salinger has launched against us. I’m not privy to exactly what people think about the whole thing of course, only that they want a public airing.”

Of course your not privy to it, she thought acidly. You’ve only manipulated the situation so the ‘people’ got angry enough to call for the meeting. And its possible I have completely under estimated you all this time. There is nothing apparently, you wouldn’t do to get control of the Enclave.

But would it be so bad to step down, she asked herself. I could finally head to the mainland and go and see if my family or my husbands fam… Her thoughts veered away from that, even after all this time. The death of her Husband of one week at the outset of the Rising of the dead still hurt so badly. Clay had been a year younger than she had been. And screw what others thought but after Clay no other man would do and Noel had been there for her every step of the way, holding her while she cried herself to sleep every night. Noel had pushed her to keep going, offering sound advice and never letting her quit. She could never pin down exactly when their friendship had become so much more but she was glad that it had.

If they ask me to step down, I wont fight it. I will pack my things and gladly leave, she told her self. Me and Noel against the world.

Sure you will, a small quiet voice whispered, you’ve given to much for these people, you love them and you wont leave them in a lurch even if they vote to let Asshat run the show, now will you. You will stay and do what you can to limit the damage He does.

“I am sure that its nothing more serious than just talking” Mathias said suddenly. She realized she had been standing there for a little to long with out responding. Which meant Mathias believed he had scored a telling point and would probably assume it was because she had been eat up with worry. I hope you choke on the gloating, she thought

she turned away from him and looked back at the water, trying to keep from showing how annoyed she actually was. She was framing a response when she whipped her hand at the sound of distant gunfire, a lot of gunfire from the north.

She took off at a dead run and was halfway to the security center before she realized she had just left Mathias standing there slack jawed. Perfect time for a witty one liner and I blow it, she thought barreled into the building and down the hall.

“What’s going on?” She asked bursting into the room where radios were crackling with life as men and stations around the Enclave reported in. Morgan stood at the table by the radios listening intently.

“We think its Salinger’s people shooting up something on the other side of Heddy gutter, Travis and a security team were already outside waiting for your trader to show up and are scouting the area right now.” Morgan said. “I have all the other teams on alert and checking their areas for threats just in case.”

“How did they cross the Creek with out us seeing them?” Erin asked, the longest expanse of the Enclaves fences and barriers ran along Deer Island road right up to the creek. There were three manned stations along that section two were on the roof of the building along that stretch. “Assuming it is Salinger’s people they would have had to go far out of their way to go around.”

“Not really Erin, They could have snuck past us in the middle of the night,” Morgan said. “Face it, there are so many trees and other things like high weeds, out there beyond the fence it wouldn’t be all that hard. Which is one of the reasons I’ve been wanting to shake loose enough people to cut some of it back.” he explained, with all that she had to do around here, Erin had not spent much time studying maps of the area around the Enclave.

Erin remained silent, she had agreed with his public and privately stated reasons for wanting to clear out the area. How ever too many people in the Enclave had thought it was a waste of time. She suspected most of them didn’t want to waste the time and energy getting dirty. Morgan had even pointed out that three different times Salinger’s raiders had used that cover to sneak up close enough to rush the Gates at the intersection of Deer island and Lighthouse road.

No one had listened, they had been more interested in trying to find a way to continue eating and no doubt avoiding real conflict with Salinger’s group, despite their demands that something be done to end the raids. That would change the moment Salingers people got inside the enclave and killed people other than the volunteer security forces and stole precious food.

0815, Deer Island Road, North of Heddy Gutter Creek.

Travis, a former Reservist felt a bit of pride watching his team work their way down Deer island road after crossing the creek. It wasn’t hard to figure out where the gunfire had come from, since there was a smoke rising up into the flawless blue morning sky.

Through the trees to his right and hidden from view by both trees and new brush, Heddy Gutter snaked north the raiders who ever they were had to have crossed the creek, or more likely went up Stony creek road through the Golf course crossed Briarwood villas then taken Calibogue Cay road then cut down through the woods.

His scout knelt his weapon at High ready and gave a hand sign indicating he had spotted something. Just up ahead Deer Island Road split, or forked really though both forks were named the same as the original road. His team spread out and went to cover instantly. Travis only wished they had enough ammo to give them more than a few bullets to throw before running in case they encountered a real threat and all the gun fire and explosions they had heard sounded like a real threat.

Sticking to the heavy brush, and using the abandoned auto’s scattered along the wooded street as cover, Travis moved up till he was just behind the scout. He didn’t have to ask what the scout had seen; he could see it for himself from his new position. A man with a large pack was staggering and stumbling down the road, covering maybe ten to twenty feet at time before stopping and leaning against a tree or vehicle.

“Cover me” Travis said recognizing the man. He didn’t wait for a answer before rising to his feet and jogging towards the wounded trader. His skin rippled in anticipation of being shot, at six foot he was a fairly large target and moving straight down the road made him an even easier target.

McCaffrey was leaning against a tree, his clothes ripped, torn and bloody. His face looked like some one had clawed bloody farrows all over the right side. As Travis reached the trader, McCaffrey opened his eyes and tried to lift the pistol he carried in one hand and dull eyes peered at Travis through a mask of dried blood. his hand wavered unable to level the pistol or bring it inline with Travis. Blood still oozed from the split scalp along the side of his head.

“What happened?” Travis asked his eyes sweeping the woods and weeds for threat. Seeing nothing he signaled his team to move up and cover him and the wounded man.

McCaffrey blinked several times then finally recognized Travis. “Had company, fragged their asses” he said slowly his eyes slowly losing focus..

“Cook, Teimbo, sweep up the road, follow the blood and see if any one is following him.” Travis called out. “ Remo, call this in, see if they cant get a cart out here to help carry this guy back.” he said.

June 12th, 0945 hrs, Harbor Town Enclave Clinic

“ Get him inside” Travis was saying as Erin rushed up. McCaffrey looked bad, she thought seeing how pale he was laying there in the cart. Bob stepped back so as not to get in the way. Morgan as head of the Enclaves Security, stayed close to Erin, a grim look on his face.

“What happened?” She asked while McCaffrey was loaded onto a gurney by two men and wheeled into the clinic that had been set up by the guard back in 2010.

“Looks like Salinger’s people attacked him, and he put up a hell of fight” Travis said, then lifted one of the weapons he had collected out of the cart. “We found five dead, I recognized two of them, Salinger’s men, and each one of them had one of these, an M-4, with two magazines in a pouch and one in the weapon. Just so you know they hold 30 rounds each.”

“Where did Salinger get them, the guns I mean, he didn’t have them last time his people tried hitting us in that ambush.” Erin asked stunned and not a little worried.

“He might have had them and been saving them. I know, I know” Travis said holding up a hand as he gazed at her. She was only a little older than his sister would have been if she had lived, and cute as a button. “Considering how they were just used, its hard to believe that Salinger would have just hung on to them for surprise then revealed them by having his men turn a house into Swiss cheese. But one of the men was Billy Hicks.”

“oh.” Erin said with a grimace of distaste. Billy hicks had been part of the enclave till he was thrown out. During his time in the Enclave he had harbored an intense dislike of Erin, he wasn’t alone in that of course. But he had been a man who took offense easily and was prone to violence. In the end after one fight to many, where he had beaten a man almost to death, Hicks had been forced to leave the Enclave at gun point.

“ I should have had him shot.” She said shaking her head grimly..

“Hind sight is 20/20, you didn’t and he is finally dead.” Bob said trying and failing to head off the self doubt and recrimination. .

“So you’re saying that this trader took out five men, all by himself” Erin asked shaking her head and moving the conversation forward instead of dwelling on what might have been. Oh, McCaffrey was fit enough, she thought, but five to one, “I mean that stuff only happens in movies right?”

“or when you have a bunch of idiots with guns attacking a man who knows a little about what he is doing, and gets lucky by having a couple of hand grenades.” Travis said, his lips twisting into a hard smile.

“Hand grenades?”

“Yeah, he caught two of them in the kitchen with one grenade. Shot and killed another at the front door, and then from the look of it tossed a second grenade through a window taking out two more.” Travis said, he was pretty sure that was exactly what had happened.

Erin tapped her thigh with the palm of one hand thinking. “If Salinger was willing to risk letting us know he has this kind of fire power by attack McCaffrey so close to the Enclave, then he must be about ready to attack us wouldn’t you say Morgan”

“Assuming he even ordered them to go in guns blazing, I think this was Hicks’s doing, if Salinger had, had his way we wouldn’t have know about the weapons and Ammo till they hit us.” Morgan said thoughtfully, as he lifted his closed hand to his chin and tapped softy with his thumb.

“I agree Erin” Travis added, as he slung the M-4 he held across his chest. his dark hair was sweat slicked, and he had a little blood smeared on his cheek from lifting McCaffrey into the cart. She gazed at him for a moment and the weapon he claimed and she almost asked if the old saying that the spoils go to the victor applied and that if it did then the weapons in the cart belonged to McCaffrey, but she didn’t her people needed those weapons badly. If McCaffrey wanted to argue he could consider as the cost for saving his butt and her men risking their lives.

“All right, at least we know about it now. Morgan make what ever plans you have to, we need to keep our people safe.” She said. She turned sharply on her heel, almost military fashion then called over her shoulder “and no one is to open his pack and I want to know when he wakes up.”

1115 hrs, Pulmans Market and Cafe , Glen Eagle Lane.

‘What happened, and the answer had better be good” Salinger said, angrier than any one had ever seen him before. he kicked at a pile of trash and sent it flying into the air.

“I think…” Waters began.

“I didn’t ask you, you were not there. I asked him” Salinger snapped jabbing the knife he held towards Andre Vallian the only survivor of the attempted kidnapping of the Trader.

“It was Hicks, he decided that shooting the place up to intimidate the trader was a good idea.”

“and what gave him the idea that I wanted to warn Harbor town that we have found weapons and ammo by shooting the hell out of the fucking place” Saligner said his voice rising till he was shouting. “if I had wanted Brinn and her people to know we have more firepower, I could have just sent you to shoot up the enclave, or even sent her a note.”

“Jacob, Andre’s weapon was not fired and he still had every round I gave him before they left.” Water said stubbornly.

“I should have shot Hicks a year ago,” Salinger stated, “but the SOB had his uses.” Salinger glared at Andre “go on get out of here before I chance my mind” he said. Andre turned and rushed out of the room before Salinger could change his mind.
Salinger snorted a laugh finding the other mans haste vastly amusing, but he was also easily entertained.

“Well Hicks is dead now, the question is do we stick with the plan or back off.” Waters said once the door was closed. Salinger paced to the dirty window and back to the scarred desk that an office manager had once used, with out answering. The office itself was small, there were only six desks and Waters was pretty sure that it had been either a real estate office or used to rent vacation properties.

“at the moment, I bet the Enclave is on edge and waiting to be attacked, but if we give it time they will relax and we can strike then. The real question is can we afford to wait”

“I don’t know,” Waters said sitting on the edge of the desk. The pangs of hunger were constant companions, what little food he was able to eat each day kept it from getting worse, but the food supply was almost gone. They just couldn’t find oysters and other sea life on a regular basis for it to make a difference.

“If we attack and die we don’t have to worry about eating, and every mouth we lose is more food for those that survive.” Salinger commented coldly.

“What if our friend has been lying to us?” waters asked. “we have to consider that Jacob, we both know he has an agenda and he has used us to his advantage several times already.”

“I have considered that,” Salinger admitted. “but does it matter, they have food and we need it.”

Waters didn’t argue, he couldn’t they did need food. But he couldn’t shake the suspicion that they were being played.

“One week, then we launch the attack just like we planned and you can let our ally know, but don’t give him an exact date, I want him to sweat.”

“You know he will claim that to be able to help us, he has to know details.”

“I’m sure he will, but I’m not interested in his help this time. Our people are going to die if we don’t do something and I don’t plan on sitting back and letting that happen, not with out a fight at any rate.” Salinger said, as he paced back to the window. The Yellowish light that fell through the dirty glass made him look sick and older. “one week Fred, and this will end one way or another.” He said softly.

1030hrs, June 16th, Harbor town Enclave Clinic.

Chris opened his eyes, to see white ceiling tiles. He had swam in and out of sleep or maybe consciousness several times over what he was sure had been a couple of days. but this time felt different, he felt better, more coherent.

He blinked a few times then turned his head to look and see where he was only to moan as a bolt of pain shot through his skull.

“Not the brightest thing you could have done” a man said from somewhere near the foot of the bed he lay on.

Where am I?” Chris asked, laying till trying to let the pain subside.

“Harbor Town Enclave, some of our security folks found you and brought you in four days ago. You’ve been unconscious for a little while. I’m Sandy Thompson.” The man said stepping into view, he was five ten or so with thin brown hair. his round face might have looked soft if it had not been for the strong jaw and cleft in his chin.

“You’re the doctor here?” Chris asked.

“No, I was a physicians assistant before the dead, so I’m the closest thing to a doctor we have.” Sandy replied, then amusement twinkled in his eyes. “Which means I’m not much help for serious stuff like gunshots. And we don’t have to worry about that today” Sandy said cheerfully. “you had a concussion, a dislocated shoulder, a splinter three inches long lodged in your hip, another, smaller splinter, about an inch and half long in your arm, and enough cuts, bruises and contusions to last you a life time. you were damn lucky that splinter in your hip didn’t do a lot of damage. You lost a lot of blood from that wound,” Sandy said as he examined Chris arm. “when you were first brought in I noticed something in your thigh wound and realized it was clotting agent. Worried about infection and realizing you had to have some kind of first aid gear, I took the liberty of checking you pack, I didn’t have to get inside your pack since your Med bag was strapped to the outside.” Sandy seemed satisfied with what he found and stepped back watching Chris for his reaction. “you can understand I was a bit surprised by what I found inside. we don’t have a lot of medical supplies left here, mostly bandages, band aids and bottles of alcohol and Hydrogen peroxide. So I used this bottle of antibiotics and some of the skin glue I found in your bag.” He said

Chris nodded, he didn’t seem angry to Sandy who had expected him to go off about private property or something like that. “you can keep that bottle of Antibiotics” Chris said surprising Sandy beyond words.

“where did you get all this stuff Mister, I saw things in that bag that could save more than one life around here.” Sandy said recovering from the shock of being given something worth far more than gold.

Chris closed his eyes for a moment, the feeling of relaxation fleeing from him. “last year, I helped a guy build a cabin, clear some land, gathered seeds and tools for him.

Back before the dead He had been a USAF Pararescue guy, so in exchange for my help he put together that bag and taught me some emergency medical stuff that I might need. Sometimes I gather medical supplies to create new bags to trade.” In a way that was the truth, only it hadn’t been a PJ as Blaine called them, but Blaine himself, a SF medic who was almost a real Doctor and Dentist. The training he had put Chris through had been more intensive than first aid and CPR covering as many of the things he might face in the field as Blaine could think of.

He fell silent watching Sandy who didn’t look like he believed Chris’s story but the man didn’t push either. Chris wished he could just tell the man that there was help just north of here, a place with limited power, medical supplies, Doctors, what was left of the Army and more. But he couldn’t, he agreed with the decision to keep that kind of info quiet till there had been time to get to know a group of survivors. No one wanted to risk help a group and telling them all about the Zone only to find out they had just helped another Kronnen who might turn around and attack Sullivan.

And the temptation to ask questions to dig till he got answers had to be incredible for Sandy because inside that Med Bag was a fortune in medical supplies, and if Erin Brinn didn’t know about it yet Sandy would be telling her about it soon enough and Chris couldn’t help but wondered How Brinn would react.

“Thank you,” Sandy said holding tightly to the large bottle of pills, pills that could save a couple of lives.

“Don’t mention it, you helped me so consider that payment.” Chris said then yawned. “and I guess I’m still tired”

“not surprising you lost some blood, and were pummeled pretty hard.” Sandy said this smile returning. “I think you need to rest up another day or two.”

0745, June 18th, Harbor Town Enclave Farm.

Erin walked along the edge of the Farm, some people called it a Garden despite its size. Personally, she didn’t care what it was called as long as it provided food and that was were the problem started. Some of the plants had died, some just refused to grow more than an inch or two high. A few were blooming a minor miracle in her book. But there just isn’t enough to sustain us, She thought.

The Farm had been built on what had been a golf course green that ran along the shoreline south of the Marina, originally the Guard had enclosed this area as a base for themselves. To the east past the thick trees and wild brush, loomed several multi story Building that had once been expensive condo’s now they where empty, the people long dead.

Along the western edge of the old green right off the water were Military base module systems, eight in all, one looked like 45’ shipping container with slide outs on each side that had been a complete repair and fabrication facility, spread out to north and south of the Fab shop was a medical center, two barracks modules with attached gym and laundry sections, and Command module and the crème de la crème a power plant module, she wished the had the fuel to run that massive generator that would have made such a difference. There had also been dozens of modular tents here too but they had been taken down and stored to make room for the farm. Besides with so many of the evacuee’s dead the extra space was unneeded.

She reached the end of the former green near the southern fence that had been strung across the green and sat down on the stump of a tree, resting her chin on her hand as she watched some of the men work hoeing and clearing weeds from between the rows.

She wished she knew how to solve this problem, but lets face it, she told herself, you don’t. she sat there for a moment longer then rose and ran her hands over the seat of her jeans. The almost but not quite threadbare, faded jeans that after so many years fit like a glove. Jeff would have loved them, She told herself then shied away from that though. Time heals all wounds, is what people used to say. I don’t really believe that, its been four years since the dead fell over, and all of us still have nightmares. At least I know he wouldn’t have minded my moving on, especially with Noel not that I had planned it that way. in fact if any one had suggested such a thing before the Dead I would have laughed.

Noel had been a friend of theirs before the dead, living in the same building. She had been one of six friends that had gone on the week long vacation to Hilton head. It was supposed to have been a great week, of sailing, fishing and just kicking back on the beach. Instead it had become a fight for their lives and left them trapped on an island full of the walking dead.

Noel had been there as friend after Jeff had been torn… from her, her mind just refused to even think much about how he had died. She had been a comfort, a shoulder to cry on. She had sat up keeping watch while Erin had ran through the stygian Dark corridors of her nightmares, being chase by the dead, lead by a bloody mangled Jeff. Slowly their friendship had grown, they had shared losses, victories, grief that could never been forgotten, they had fought side by side for each other and their friends, struggled to survive against Mother nature and after two years their friendship had become a relationship and she wouldn’t change it for the world. And screw crap bags like Mathias who try to use the love Noel and I share against us. .

“ you okay” Bob asked from behind her, she jumped at the sound of his voice having been lost in her own thoughts.

She wiped at her eyes and smiled, she didn’t know that smile was full of loss and heartbreak and it hit Bob like a hammer, he loved her like a Daughter and had never been shy about saying so.

Which was another thing that Mathias latched on to frequently, she thought. ‘I know Bob is a good man’ Mathias would say in that calm pretentious tone of his ‘but his feelings for Erin are likely to cloud his judgment so that he with out meaning to tells Erin what she wants to hear, not what she needs to hear’ Bob tried not hate Mathias she knew, but the man made it easy. She wouldn’t be surprised that before was over that Bob didn’t beat the crap out of Mathias.

“I shouldn’t just be standing here, but I thought if I came down and took a look maybe something would jump out at me and present a solution.” She said.

“the only solution I can think of is, that its going to take time to learn how to grow food. We thought it would be easy, and we were wrong.” Bob replied.

“That’s the problem isn’t it. Time, we need to time to Learn, Time to collect food, food only stays good for a short window of time, and we are running out of time. And I don’t know how to fix it, any of it, and I’m afraid even more people are going to die before this is all over with.” She said softly. “and if we had food, I know I could share it with Salinger and the attacks would stop.”

”Maybe Erin, but Salinger isn’t the nicest guy in the world”

“no, he isn’t. Even before the dead rose I’ve heard he was annoying like a used car salesman. Not real likeable, but not really a bad guy either. Hunger and fear is what is driving him to attack us. Why he thinks we still have a lot of food is beyond me Bob. He’s seen us, he cant think we are sitting around eating tons of food.”

“because it may not be about food Erin.”

“Bob it is, its not about money, its not about safety, and its not about jewelry or anything else, he has or can get all that with out even messing with us. And the people in his group are not going to be willing to die, or waste time attack us when they could be out scrounging for food, unless they really believe we have the food they are looking for.”

“or, Erin, they have some motive of their own that we haven’t thought about. Please do not fall into the trap of thinking you can read minds or that your opinion of a situation is the reality. I know you don’t most times, but you want to believe that this problem can have a simple fix when all the others you face are so complicated. You might well be right about Salinger’s reasons for attacking us. But remember historically Leaders have taken their people to war for no other reason than they hated another group of people or some idiot ideology.”

“ I know” She said sounding irritated; she turned to look back at the plants and the people working them. “I just think that if we don’t fix that situation that long before these plants start giving us food, Salinger will try to take this from us.”

“Maybe, probably” Bob admitted. “Bright side is at that point Salinger would be saddled with the dilemma that we face.” He said obliquely referring to the whole Pregnant mother situation. The sooner Erin faced the situation and dealt with it, the sooner she and the Enclave could move on and Mathias would lose a little more power.

“Don’t!” Erin said angrily, eyes flashing. “do not bring that up to me again”

“Erin,” Bob said then took a deep calming breath, he didn’t think she realized just how badly this could turn out no matter which way she went with her decision and it had to be dealt with as soon as possible. “I know your thinking about it, and I am pretty sure which way you will decided but we have to face this head on before Mathias can really get things stirred up. Just like he is going to love the fact you came out here and just stood watching the others work ‘like some lady of the Castle, out admiring her lands and serfs’ he will say and you cant deny that it looks that way, or that you weren’t standing out here staring off into space while half naked men work.”

“I have to admit I like that part” She said making light of the situation for a second, she might be living with a woman and have no interest in ever dating a man again but god did she like the way they looked. the smile that lifted the corners of her pert mouth vanished as quick as it came. “But Mathias can kiss my butt.” She said then started walking towards the field calling back over her shoulder. “time to get Dirty, Bob go talk to Morgan have him send Travis over to check on our guest, I will see him around lunch time.”

0800hrs, June 20th, Harbor Town Enclave clinic.

Sunlight slanted in through the window, the slowly drifting dust motes glowed like lazy fireflies.

Chris sat up and swung his powerful legs over the side of the bed, wincing as a bolt of pain shot through his hip from the wound. Sandy, who seemed to have no life outside the clinic appeared in the door ready to help, but Chris waved him off.

“Its been a couple of days, I really need to get my ass out of bed” He grumbled looking around for his pants. Not seeing them he levered himself up and stood there swaying trying to ignore the pain in his arm, leg and his head. At least it was only a dull throbbing pain in the side of his head and arm, which was a blessing considering how it could have turned out, he thought as he carefully made his way across the small room to his pack.

“I’ve got this” He said again as Sandy took a step into the room ready to help. “you would think I had been shot or something.” He muttered as he opened his pack and dug around for a moment till he found the dry bag with his spare clothes.

“Was it necessary to strip me naked, because I charge for cheap thrills” he said as he hauled on a pair of pants.

“Oh how ever will I pay you,” Sandy replied with a laugh. “your clothes were toast, so they were burned. To be honest considering the state of your clothes, and all the blood I was surprised you were not worse off than you turned out to be.”

“Better I lost some clothes than got riddled with bullets” Chris said, then fell silent his face going white from the pain as he bent and tried to pull on socks.

“Here” Sandy said coming to kneel beside Chris. “no sense in you making yourself worse off when you don’t have to.

Chris sat there as Sandy put on his socks and then his boots. As the physicians assistant laced up his boots Chris grinned and looked down at him. “I think I could get used to this,” Chris said.

“I will not hold it and shake for you” Sandy said, Chris laughed remembering the scene from the movie, he couldn’t remember the title, but it had been funny. “there you go” Sandy said rising to his feet and handing Chris his shirt.

“Thanks, I owe you so let me know what you need and if I have it or can get it, I will.” Chris said as he pulled the shirt on covering the rather spectacular number of scrapes, cuts and Technicolor bruises.

“after that bottle of antibiotics, Id say you don’t owe me crap McCaffrey, and you provided your own food and bandages.” Sandy said.

“well all the same I will keep my eyes out for supplies and bring them to you.” Chris stated. “consider it an advance on future services.”

Sandy wanted to protest, they had a ton of bandages and cases of small foil packages of triple bac, alcohol wipes, and all kinds of things that the guard had stocked up the more serious supplies had long since been used and there was no replacing them. But the truth was if Chris was serious there was no way in hell Sandy was going to say no.. “you have a deal,” Sandy said hoping, no praying this man was serious. .

Chris emerged from the clinic into fresh clean air under a deep blue sky. The space the clinic used had once been a restaurant and it was only one of several business fronts in the large multi storied building. Which was something Chris called modern Kitsch, it was that plastic modern attempt to look both old fashioned and up to date and didn’t do either very well in his opinion but he had never been a fan of what passed for architecture in the modern world.

It really didn’t matter anyway, the building needed paint, the awnings over some of the entrances were tattered and faded after five years of constant exposure. The windows were covered in grime, five years of fighting to survive didn’t leave many people with the drive or the will to clean windows apparently.

The building had housed, stores, restaurants, Shops, real estate agencies and even a Yacht charter business but the only business in the thing that depress him, and made him miss the dead world he had grown up in was the store dedicated to Christmas.

Chris stood there for a moment lost in memories then walked down the buildings sidewalk under the trees following it around the building till he reached the walkway that encircled the Marina and gazed out into the glittering water at the docks and slips, mostly empty. There were three sail boats, or rather Sail yachts as Casey called them Apparently there was a difference between sail boats and sail yachts, but Chris was damned if he could remember exactly what the big differences were.

He turned slightly looking west at the hexagonal shaped red and white light house that stood sentinel at the mouth of the marina, and the two story building behind it that was used as the operational center for the Enclave. he had no idea what it had once been, and any signs that might have told him were long gone.

It must have been a nice vibrant place before the dead, he thought looking up to the seagulls that floated over the marina looking for something to eat. People would have been every where, shopping, looking at the yachts and discussing inane pointless things because there hadn’t been much substance in most people lives. And as annoying as the old world had been to Chris, he missed it.

The path around the Marina or Basin curved gently around the eastern end of the basin passing the Condos along its lenght, each building connected to one another by a wall and fence erected by the guard during the final days of civilization.

Chris made his way across the walkway and down a few steps to the dock where long sleek Yacht was tied off.

She was a clean ship, he noted even here at the end of the world the owner maintained her well. a thin balding man in shorts, a Tommy Hilfiger shirt and deck shoes emerged from a hatch.

“Can I help you” He asked gruffly crossing his arms, and giving Chris a flint eyed look.

“I really hope so” Chris said “you see I have a problem and I need the help of some one with a boat. I can offer you a cup of a coffee to listen.”

“Coffee,” the man said something changed in his face. He didn’t seem to doubt Chris had coffee which wasn’t surprising from what Sandy had said the story of Chris sharing coffee with Erin and the others had spread as fast as mono at an orgy.

“a cup of coffee to listen and maybe five pounds of coffee for your help” Chris said watching the mans eyes light up with lust that had nothing to do with women as Chris held up the can for the man to see.

“Come aboard and mind your step, I’m Norman Fendergrass.” The man said with a smile. Gotcha, Chris thought as he climbed onto the deck ignoring the pain in his hip as he moved.

“Chris McCaffrey, and thanks”

“ Coffee first if you don’t mind” Norman said rubbing his hands together in anticipation. “And while your making it you can tell me all about what you need my Yacht for.”

June 20th, 1100hrs, Mathias Wunderlicks condo.

Mathias watched the trader as he walked with a limp around the Marina, favoring his left side. I cant believe Hicks failed, Mathias thought angrily his eyes never leaving the trader. He had wanted the stranger out of the picture just to be on the safe side, not that he truly thought the man could provide anything that would change the situation. But one never knew and at the moment the trader offered hope, and Mathias didn’t need people gaining any hope because frankly that upset his plans, he needed them worried, scared even because that allowed him to pull them away from Erin and into supporting himself for the leader of the Enclave.

Ever since this man had arrived rumors had swirled around, each more fantastic than the last. Killing him might have been a mistake, Mathias thought. all I need to do is discredit him, I need to think on how best to accomplish it, but it shouldn’t be hard to manipulate him into a situation that he can not wiggle out of so the people of the enclave finally have enough of him and run him out of the Enclave. .

Down below the trader had finished talking to the fishermen and was limping away heading back towards the clinic.

Mathias turned away from the window with a smile, heading towards the fully stocked bar in his condo. Its nice to have a few luxuries, he told himself, as he poured himself a little scotch, neat of course, not there was ice if he had wanted any, Then fished a tin of Caviar from the hiding place under the counter and a package of vacuum sealed crackers and went to sit on his couch. It was going to be a fine day, he thought as he opened the tin. Oh yes, fine indeed.

1400 hrs. Harbor town Enclave, Erins Condo

Erin, exhausted and dirty stripped and tossed her ruined clothes into a trash can outside her bathroom. From the balcony came the smell of cooking fish and the sound of Noel muttering about the lack of onions and potatoes.

If people kept ruining clothes, they would all be naked by next summer, She thought as she climbed into the bath tub, hanging from the ceiling was a five gallon bucket with a shower head attached to it, Noel had built it last spring. They had to haul water from one of the nearby ponds, but it beat trying to bathe in salt water.

She turned the valve and let enough water spray out to drench her then turned it off and began to scrub herself down, using as little of the precious soap as possible. Another thing they were going to have to figure out how to make before the supply of soaps and shampoos they had taken from the boutiques and the Sears homestore ran out.

She had gotten good at showering with only five gallons and before the water was completely gone, she was finished. Toweling off quickly she pulled on the pair of shorts and tshirt she wore around the condo, fondly remember a time when she didn’t have to wear the same clothes for two or three days at a time.

Washing clothes currently consisted of soaking them in a bucket of water with as little laundry soap as possible, stomping on them for a few minutes then hanging them out to dry. God she wished they had some way to power a washing machine. For that matter I dread when we run out razors, she thought at least there want be as many pregnancy’s after that she thought, as she mulled over the dilemma. I bet Mathias started that little idea damn him and I bet he made it sound as logical as he could all the while expressing his digust and dismay at even having to suggest it.

She snorted contemptuously, more likely he had one of his cronies suggest it, then egged it on with out being obvious about it, to keep from tainting himself one way or another. That man is as power hungry and slimy as they come.

She walked out to find Noel feeding more wood chips into the grill. Long blond hair fell in waves down her smooth back she turned and smiled at Erin her green eyes sparkling. as usual Noel wore a bikini around the house, she claimed it was to keep from wearing out good clothes Erin doubted that was the real reason, Noel looked good in a bikini, the small top struggled to keep her cleavage spilling out, and the equally small bottom show cased not only her firm rear but long tanned legs. Before the dead, Noel had been a head turner and even now men took long second looks when she passed.

At times Erin felt almost mannish beside her girlfriend though she knew men found her attractive as attractive. But like most women she had body image issues and compared to Noel, her breasts were not as large, the curve of her hips was not as pronounced. She was more athletic looking than her lover. But even with the small amount of food they had to eat Noel still had the curves.

Oh Erin knew it was stupid to feel a twinge of jealousy but there it was and she had to be honest with herself. She had often wondered which of them Clay would have found prettier. Oh she knew that Clay would never have admitted to her if he had found Noel prettier, he wouldn’t have wanted to hurt her feelings or give the impression that he was more attracted to Noel.

She never doubted that he had loved her and found her ‘hot’ as he called it, but he was a man and men had degrees and variations of hotness just like women did. But Men had a completely different way of looking at women than other women did. I suppose it doesn’t matter I find her attractive and I know Clay would have loved to see this. All men seemed obsessed by two men. But lets be honest again, if he hadnt had died then I wouldn’t have ended up with Noel.

“Look in the cabinet” Noel said pointing to a cabinet against the wall of the balcony. Erin crossed to it and opened the door to find two large wine glasses and two unopened bottles of wine. “Travis found a case last week and I talked him into giving me two of them.” Noel said in a voice as soft as satin.

Erin smiled, Travis was always sharing things like this with Her and Noel, he was more like the big brother she had never had and had been a good friend to Clay in the last two months of his life.

She opened the bottle and took a sniff and smiled at the fragrance that filled her nose, she filled their glasses and passed Noel one then took a sip. Sighing with pleasure she sank down onto a chair and tucked her legs up under her.

“its been a long day” She said looking up at the blue sky. “I had wanted to talk to the Trader today, since he was up and moving around, but he left the clinic this morning and the last thing I’ve heard was he left the Enclave for some reason so I sent Travis and his squad after him in case he needed help. I have no idea what he did all day, or is doing outside the Enclave” Erin said sounding irritated

“I saw him on Normans boat this morning,” Noel said.

“Norman left the Marina, his yacht is gone” Erin replied frowning as she considered what if any business McCaffrey would have with Norman. She had noticed the empty slip where Normans boat should be on her way home. these days there were so few boats in the Marina it was hard not to notice when one was missing.

“Well you know Norman, but if your worried go down and talk to Charley, Norman doesn’t leave with out telling Charley.”

Charley was the semi official Marina master, who kept track of the remaining boats and did repairs on them as well as maintained the docks , buoys and what ever else needed to be done. To tell the truth Erin wasn’t exactly sure what all Charley did only that the people who lived on the remaining boats thought he was good at it and they paid Charley in food and other things he needed.

“I will after we eat,” she said half distracted by desire as she watched Noel fold herself into chair beside the grill. Noel’s bronze skin seemed to glow in the sunlight.

“I heard an interesting story today” Noel said, “something about your making a deal with the Trader to supply us with a large amount of food, enough to get us through the winter.”

“Who is spreading that around” she asked, even as the name Mathias sprang to mind. just like him to spread a rumor to get hopes up then crush that hope in an attempt to ruin Me and get himself or Walter elected and I bet that’s exactly what he is doing. I just don’t understand why other people cant seem to see him as clearly as I and those closest to me do.

“I heard it from Carey Middleford, I don’t know where she heard it from. But I told her you have only spoke to him once and no deal had been made for anything other than to talk again and hes been laid up since.”

“That crap bag Mathias again” Erin muttered, then sipped at her wine, her relaxed mood fading.

“Most likely” Noel agreed. “Oh Tessa Fairchild is pregnant”

“Just what we need, another pregnant woman.” Erin said bitterly. She just couldn’t escape the problems the enclave faced no matter how hard she tried.

Noel remained silent letting Erin think, Tessa had been a friend and supporter for the last three years and there was no way Tessa hadn’t heard about the final solution as some were calling it.

Erin gazed at Noel for a long moment, something like betrayal in her eyes. Noel had hit her below the belt with the mention of Tessa being pregnant and it told Erin exactly where Noel stood on the issue, well Erin felt the same way but she was the leader and part of that job meant doing what was best for the group, the Enclave despite her personal opinion on the matter. But how could you separate yourself from something like this. maybe others could do it, but not her. Which is another reason you should step down, she told herself.

“Have you decided what your going to do about it?” Noel asked softly after a moment.

“Castrate the men, or find something to slip into their drinks to make them gay. Failing those two plans.. no.” Erin said trying to joke but her heart wasn’t in it. “honestly I haven’t, and I suspect that’s exactly what Mathias thought would happen when he started this little story.”

“What ever you decide I will back you” Noel said quietly.

“Its not my decision Noel, no leader has the right to make this kind of decision, and who in the hell is wise enough or smart enough to do it in the first place. Solomon maybe but I am not Solomon and no matter what I decide it wont change the fact that the crops will either be enough or fail and there’s nothing I can do to control that in the first place. even if I order this… thing to happen” she said unable to actually say the word she hated. “will that change reality and somehow give us more than enough food to make it through the winter.”

“Then what’s the answer Erin, your smart you have to have some idea outside of smart ass answers.”

“That’s the problem Noel I don’t, or rather I do just no one has a clue how to make them happen.”

Noel flowed to her feet and turned the fish over while Erin looked out over the Marina and chewed on her bottom lip. Yes, she had been avoiding the whole issue because she had no desire to deal with it. She knew she had to but part of her kept hoping that something would happen and she wouldn’t be saddled with the responsibility.

Because no matter which side she came down on and her reasons for doing so, the other side would scream and howl, and frankly the mothers to be had every right to scream and want to kill someone who thought they had the right to make the decision that their children had to die. Was saving the lives of as many people in the Enclave as possible worth the death of children? and probably their mothers. Part of me says yes it is, the other part of me cant stomach the idea. And any one that could make this decision easily was some one she would love to put down.

God what a mess, I wish I could just walk away and let Mathias have the job, he wants it bad enough anyway. Noel and I could head to the Bahamas, maybe to St. Kitts or beyond, anywhere where I don’t have to deal with the stupidity of people in general. Silently she poured herself another glass of wine hoping that maybe if she got drunk she wouldn’t see the faces of the dead children from her nightmare.

From the journal of Chris McCaffrey.

Let me start by saying, the delay in providing entries was due to my being incapacitated from an attack. I’m fine, stands to reason since I’m writing this. Any way my injuries were painful but not all that bad. mostly cuts and scrapes not to mention lot of bruises and some really large splinters all from flying debris as the idiots unloaded on the house. But enough of that its old news. I spent most of this morning talking with Norman and three other sail boat owners who live on their boats in the marina and gained a lot of knowledge about Hilton head, the surrounding islands and Savannah. Apparently there are two other significant Enclaves here on Hilton head, one is in the Waymar Resort, or Waymar Enclave located in the Port Royal Plantation area. Its near the Islands Airport and is run by a Greg Staton.

The second Enclave is located around in or around the Sea pines resort and is run by two men, a Kyle Tucker and a Malcolm Chapman. According to Norman, they have some power and more food than any one else. Tucker supposedly drives around in an electric car he built and rumor has it Tucker builds his own batteries if that’s true we need to do business with them. I plan on checking them out when I finish here.

After I finished talking with Norman and his buddies I spent a couple of hour talking with a guy named Buddy. I don’t think he is all there in a lot of ways, but he is sharp where it counts. To be honest he reminded me of that character that goes nuts for Twinkies in that zombie movie a few years back. if he had shears in the back of his pants and carried a Banjo I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Anyway Buddy helped me scrounge up the parts of the cart I’m using, which is really nothing more than one of those lawn carts people could pull behind a riding lawn mower, I added two long poles to the sides to pull the thing and a new axel that I mounted bicycle tires to. God I miss the Duece, but with the bridge blocked I couldn’t get it here anyway, at least not with out a lot of work. Okay so point is, in exchange for helping me, I showed buddy how to build a bicycle charger, and gave him a supercap. I’m betting there will be one room in the Enclave tonight that might have a light burning. If it works out, and assuming Erin hasn’t had some one working on it already, the idea will spread through the enclave like wildfire.

I also mentioned to Norman and his friends that one of the places I’ve been to they were using the salt water reverse osmosis plants from ships to get drinking water, at least I thought that’s what they were called. What ever they are called he knew what I was talking about and seemed excited by the idea, even mentioning to one of his friends he had an idea on where to get a smaller one so there’s another seed planted.

Finally: I think we can work with Brinn, she is smart and tough. Ill write up some of the stories I was told today, in a way she reminds me of Jared’s wife. That’s assuming of course she remains in control, there’s a man, Mathias who is doing his best to work a smear campaign against her so he can take over. I know that killing off people we don’t like isn’t the way to do things, but from what I have heard about him he needs a bullet right between the eyes then buried face down in a sewage retention pond. I have a plan to help Brinn with out being obvious but I am winging it so who knows if it will work out.

1930 hrs, Deer island road, Heddy Gutter Creek.

It was quiet out beyond the enclave where the darkness lay under the trees. Chris didn’t need light, at least not while the batteries lasted in the NVG goggles he had retrieved from his cache before he loaded the cart.

Seeing the house, had really been a shock to him. the bodies still lay sprawled on the fire blackened porch, and in the kitchen. He didn’t remember any fires but there had been one. The front walls were riddled with bullet holes and not a piece of glass remained in the window frames.

Oh he had fought in couple of battles over the last few years, Mount weather, D.C, the myrtle beach Massacre. He wasn’t a soldier not by a long shot, and he didn’t like it. But this had been the first time he had been alone in what amounted to a real attack.

This wasn’t the casual hold ups one experienced off and on, on the mainland roads or the occasional shots some people took at any one passing through the land they claimed. Well I made it through and that’s what a pathfinder was supposed to do, he told himself. He pulled the straps on over his shoulders then grabbed the poles leaning forward and began to walk.

At least it was cool, almost cold he decided as he pulled the cart down Deer Island road. The wind had been gentle while he had been loading the cart, but it had been steadily growing over the last hour.

Storms a coming, he thought as the wind began to gust and the trees around him swung from side to side under the winds lash. he was close to the bridge that would take him across the creek where the road ran along the Enclaves wall.

Overhead lightening flickered and then thunder crashed over the area shaking the very air. He stopped long enough to get his poncho out. He didn’t want to be scrambling for it when the rain began to fall. Being wet for any length of time especially when it was as chilly as it was now could lead to exposure. He hooked himself back up to the cart and started to walk again, his shoulders beginning to hurt.

Figures, Chris thought as the first raindrops fell on him, the drops became rain and the rain turned into wall of water that pounded the area. It was insane he thought trying to see through the rain and trees to find any kind of shelter. The NVG’s were not doing much, he thought remembering Eric Stone telling him that the devices were not perfect and that bad weather could degrade their usefulness, and this was bad. I hope that it’s not a hurricane, he told himself. Its probably just a regular thunderstorm and will blow over in a few minutes, at least he hoped it would.

The world around him vanished suddenly swallowed by green light that washed out all other images as lightening struck nearby, the thunder that accompanied it almost hammered him to his knees. Just reach the bridge, he told himself. No, you know the rules find some shelter and don’t risk injury. Any one who had spent time in the backcountry knew you didn’t wander around in bad weather, the chances of injury went up and hypothermia and possible exposure risks were greater.

Sight returned as the NVG’s cleared, he froze in place. In the middle of the road maybe twenty feet away, a man shaped shadow stood seemingly oblivious to the storm. It gestured towards the side of the road then ran into the trees where he had pointed and vanished.

Eric felt the hairs on the back of his neck go up as a heavy electric feeling swept over him, then light flashed behind him and a the sound of thunder beat him like a massive fist. I have weapons, he reminded himself as he headed for where the figure had entered the woods.

1945hrs, Sea pines Epicurean Market.

Salinger water streaming off his rain coat raced into the old building and slammed the door behind him the glass in the windows vibrated with the thunder.

“Damn this a bad one” He said shining his flashlight around the room to make sure every one that had been with him was there. he quickly counted and came up with twenty heads, so all accounted for.

“I aint a quitter boss, but I say we call this attack off, its to damned rough out there. ” Toby Watson said, pulling the hat off his head and wringing the water from it. his brown hair was plastered to his head.

Nineteen sets of eyes fixed on Salinger waiting to see if he exploded or not. “I think your right” He told Toby in a mild tone of voice. “even though Brinn’s people probably wouldn’t expect us, its just to damn bad out there.”

His stomach rumbled hungrily but he ignored it. yes they needed the food, but getting hurt or killed trying to slog through this storm just hoping they could get into the Enclave and steal a can of beans wasn’t the best plan.

“lets get a lantern lit” He called out, not wanting to waste the batteries in the flashlight. They were rare enough these day. He kept the light on long enough for Waters to get out the small old fashioned oil lantern, add oil and touch a match to the cotton wick.

With the feeble light from the lantern to keep them company, he turned off the flashlight and sat down with his back against shelving unit. Outside the wind had gone from a whistle to a wail and the rain was pounding the roof sounding like the undead beating down the walls.

He eyed the windows for a moment, feeling uneasy and exposed. “okay folks, lets get the old shelving units and push them against the windows and the door, just in case.” He said gesturing at the lines of empty grocery shelves, if something got blown through a window he wanted some kind of protection in place to stop the glass from flying all over them and he hoped the shelves might stay up right and keep the majority of the rain outside if a window got broke.

It took half an hour to get the windows protected and Salinger had actually expected the storm to have blown over before they finished, not only had it not ended it seemed like it had increased in intensity. The wailing of the wind had become a howl.

With the shelves in front of the windows, he stepped back and studied them then turned and looked around the old grocery store, “all right lets get a few more and make a square for us to sit inside for some added protection.” He said.

There were some complaints but the truth was the activity kept them from thinking to much about being hungry. Of course it was a waste of energy as well, but he had a feeling this storm was going to last for a while, and the old store, well most of the buildings on this island had sat unattended for several years now and were not in the best of shape.

As they rearranged shelves, the building began to creak around them. Then abruptly glass shattered in one of the window frames along the front wall. “lets hurry this up” Salinger shouted as the wind howled into the store carrying rain with it as it flowed over the shelf in its way sending trash and dirt flying around the store.

They had enough shelves in place to form a U with the open side facing the back wall, it would have to do, Salinger thought “Get in there!” he yelled, “GO!” he started pushing people into what he hoped was a shelter.

Waters and Jamie Vickers were wrestling another shelf into place to try an close off as much of the open end as possible. “Get in there” Salinger shouted grabbing Jamie and almost tossing him into the enclosed area.

“Give me a moment” Waters shouted over the wind.

“You’re a Damned Fool” Salinger shouted back, grabbing the shelf and heaving with all his strength. The shelf slid a foot and, encouraged, the two men pushed and pulled the thing over to the opening in a attempt to half seal off the makeshift shelter.

As the shelf slid into place, over the sound of the wind and rain, Salinger heard a ripping noise and then debris and rain began to strike him as the ceiling lifted up and a long section tore free. Suddenly he was flying through the as Waters tossed him into the make shift shelter. The wind screamed as it entered the hole in the roof, and lightening tore the sky apart in a web of dazzling light..

2000hrs, Harbor town Enclave, The lighthouse..

The wind howled around the lighthouse, setting the structure to vibrating as Morgan bounded up the final flight of stairs to the light room. Garret Wayne, stood near the head of the stairs, ready to bolt if the glass should shatter under the winds assault.

“Jesus” Morgan muttered as he saw one of the boats in the Marina smash against the dock, rolling over far enough that its mast smashed into the boat moored next door to it, shattering windows. He knew the people that lived there, and hoped they made it through the storm.

Out of Habit he checked the wind gauge, part of the weather monitoring station that had been installed here years back and saw the wind was strong over sixty eight miles an hour but not hurricane strength, or at least he didn’t think it was. Then his eyes were drawn north, where a hellish glow could be seen spreading in the storm-wracked night. it was a fire a large one by the look of it.

Even as he stood there gaping, another flash of light announced the arrival of three bolts of lightening that struck on the south side of the Marina. Garrett pointed at the three glows to the east of the Marina, where more fires raged. Storm related fires were becoming more common due to aging, storm damaged buildings couple that with no fire department and fire had become again the scourge of man. Undoing in a few hours what had taken man months or even a year to erect.

He looked south towards the farm but the heavy rain blocked his view, god let our farm be there when this is over he prayed silently hoping that god had started listening again now that the dead were gone. He wasn’t going to hold his breath for answer this time either but it never hurt to ask.

“Mother of god” Garrett half shouted pointing out into the Intercoastal.

Morgan turned to look automatically lifting his binoculars and straining to see into the darkness, and then fingers of light crawled across the sky once more, and his dark eyes widened. Out there riding the white crested waves was a yacht, her masts were broken, her hull gouged and scared. She forged west as if under control, waves washing over her deck and then she was swallowed by darkness again.

Garret’s lips moved silently and then he crossed himself. No one liked to see a ghost ship, Morgan thought, it’s a bad omen and one seen far to often since the world had died.

2010hrs, Erin and Noels.

Erin almost had to drag Noel into the hallway to get her away from the windows. The hallways would be the safest place to ride out the storm and like most people after the Dead, they kept gear packed and ready to go just in case. Leaving Noel to wait in the hall Erin raced back into the bedroom and grabbed their packs and hauled both into the hallway, then returned to the bedroom one last time to retrieve clothes for them to change into.

The two women dressed quickly, casting nervous glances first towards the living room and then back towards the bedroom there were a lot of windows in both rooms.

Noel sat with her arms around Erin, silently holding her tightly trying to stay calm as the windows moved back and forth in their frames like the building was breathing.

Down stairs somewhere something crashed and the building shook, Noel clung to Erin, shivering with barely suppressed fear as the building itself groaned around them. “its going to be okay” Erin assured her. Noel only squeezed, her breath warm on the back of Erin’s neck.

`”it will pass soon” Erin said leaning back against Noel. As light strobed through the windows, causing shadows to twist and flow like black fingers reaching towards them, spreading like a malignant vine only to vanish with another flash of light.

“Erin” Noel said, her attention fixed on the end of the hallway where it opened to the living room. “there’s some one in the living room”

Erin’s blood froze as she gazed down the hallway, and saw a head slowly emerge as if some one was standing just to the side of the door and was slowly sticking their head out inch by inch. It was a deliberate movement, meant to scare them and it was working Erin thought as she reached for her pistol.

2015hrs, Heddy Gutter Creek, Deer Island road.

Travis, rain coat snapping in the wind, trudge forward hoping his men were still with him, the storm was so bad he couldn’t really see more than a few feet to either side. He wouldn’t even be out here but for the fact that he wanted to find McCaffrey. The temperature had fallen

Erin was on a warpath about the man just up and leaving, he knew she was worried that the trader had played them. And She had seemed some what relieved when Travis had told her that McCaffrey had found him around three this afternoon to let him know he was heading out to pick up some supplies he had stashed.

To make Erin happy, Travis had promised to go check out the house that Chris had been staying in before he had been attacked, after Travis had finished his normal patrol. Which is how he and his men found themselves out here in the middle of the worst storm in four years, getting soaked to the skin by the cold stinging rain.

He moved through the mud along the side of the road, using the trees for cover, not that it did much good against the weather and might even be more dangerous if one of the trees came down. with every step the mud and water oozed up and over his boots, wet leaves slapped at his face, and through it all the wind lashed at him stinging his skin.

Lightening flashed and flickered branching across the sky as shadows danced and thunder boomed for a moment drowning out the scream of the wind. And in that wild light show, Travis saw two men, crouched at the beginning of a drive way facing a dark house, with something in their hands that might have been weapons. They were no more than thirty feet away.

He dropped into a crouch lifting the M-4 he carried and flipped the safety off then set the weapon to 3 round burst. Who ever they were they were facing a house set back in the trees, I bet McCaffrey is inside taking shelter from the storm he thought.

Trusting that his men were in position and not lost out there in the storm, he brought his weapon up and squeezed the trigger and all hell broke loose.

Dilemma Part 3

3 thoughts on “Dilemma Part 2

  1. This is gonna be good!
    Great characters and story line. Politics, power grabs, and the Abortion issue.
    Some things will never change.

    I love it.
    Thanks again

    Like

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