TCRD Act 3 Part 2

“You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.”

E.A. Poe
The horizon was lit with fire as the sun slowly rose turning the cloud cover to blood and gold. A breeze had sprung up over night smelling of rain and earth; it shifted from compass point to compass point, A Harbinger of bad weather approaching.
There was silence around the conference table as the news soaked in. Thousands of zombies were stumbling along the roads from the west, all of them seemingly converging on Great falls and the corporate retreat they had taken shelter in.

Jared had no problems sensing the fear and panic that threatened to overwhelm his people, and really had no clue on how to stem it other than the normal keep them busy and give them hope. They wouldn’t believe it, but they would try.

Before the dead there was little of interest in such a small town, except for scenery and charm. After the dead there was even less, but there was a Coop and a few other places that held supplies or at least should contain supplies and equipment that the convoy could use.

The one thing that it did have were undead, and more particularly undead Clowns from a circus that had been in full swing when the dead had risen. Bets had been taken across the convoy on what exactly Jared was going to do about that. No one doubted he would come up with something to wipe out the floppy shoe wearing, red nosed scourge, the bets were more about what he would do. Steve settled back in his chair, waiting like the others, for Jared to get to his plan.

Finally, Beth broke the silence looking directly at Jared. “ What are we going to do?”

“Run away.” Jared said with a grim humorless chuckle. At least we had three days here.

“I might personally wet myself” Steve added almost grinning.

“Your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries” Ori added.

“Come on enough with the Monty Python moment” Jill said rolling her eyes. “This is serious.”

“ All right you want to know what I think we should do. We go up the road a couple of miles and cross to the east. Blow the hell out of that bridge and keep on running. Ronny has already said that for what ever reason there’s nothing like this mass of zombies to the east across the river.” Jared said, mentally reviewing the map of the area.

“ But there could be” Wendy one of the new arrivals said, Cole shot her a glance but didn’t say anything he wanted to see how Jared handled it.

“ Yes there could, or monkeys could fly out Ronnys ass, or pigs could fly, or Barbara Striesand could have been undead for years. Which would explain a lot. My point is how ever. We can’t promise there wont be and any one that does is a liar. Do you want to stop fighting and killing zombies just because it might be dangerous?” Jared replied.

“ You know what I mean” Wendy replied with a touch of anger.

“yes I do, and we can second guess ourselves into doing nothing because of what if’s.. There are no safe decisions. If we sit still we die.” Jared locked eyes with her. Finally she looked away. “We don’t have time for this. We have the rest of today and maybe up to early evening before the mass of them get here. So lets get the ball rolling.” Jared stated. “I want Teams one and Two ready to roll in twenty minutes. Cole I would like a third team for this composed of your people. That’s assuming you and yours want to stay with us.” Jared said.

Cole looked around at his people considering each one “ Tommy, Frank, Jessica, Ty, Allen, and Conner.” He said then eyed Jared for a second. “ But we will need weapons, we don’t have a lot of fire arms.”

“This is your lucky day” Jared said smiling more naturally then before. “It seems we came across a large number of weapons not long ago.” Jared then turned to Ryan, “ your on Two starting today, as backup. Steve get him that M16 he used a couple of days ago.” When Steve acknowledged the order Jared dismissed everyone and waved at Rob and Ori to follow him
Chris carried his Pack over to Beast one and tossed it into back and watched Jared talk with Rob and Ori over by the airstrip. He had no idea what it was about, but considering those two men were the most devious in the whole bunch and had come up with all sorts of interesting gizmos and do dads. He was pretty sure it had to do with something that Jared wanted made.

Finally they were done and Jared walked back to the assembled teams. Cole looked nervous but ready, Frank looked ticked off which was normal. The woman on his Team was a dark haired cute girl of maybe twenty five, named Jessica, with a pistol on each hip and carried the AR she had been given like she had an idea on how to use it. Chris could definitely see her dressed as Lara croft.

Ty was a handsome, blond 19 year old, who seemed older than his years and acted just as comfortable with his weapon as Jessica did, the odd one out was the nervous looking bald, sallow faced man named Allen, who clutched the M16 he had been given like it was a lifeline. And last was Tommy who seemed less than comfortable with the AR, but at least wasn’t scared of it.

Teams three and four were sent out to fetch a couple of diesel tankers that Ronny had spotted earlier. While Teams one and two would take the local Co op.

The Co Op was not a single building but a multiple buildings. All but one enclosed with in a fence. The single exception was the main store that sat in the center of the front fence line, the main store was Team ones Responsibility to clear. Team two would go thru the gate and secure the yard. Once Team one finished with the store, they would exit out the back into yard clear the warehouse directly behind the store then join team two in securing the yard.
The few zombies in the parking lot of the CoOp were not even a challenge. Beast one dropped Team one off at the main doors then followed Beast two into the fenced in yard. Chad secured the gate behind them so that no zombies could follow them inside.

Jared tried the doors and found them unlocked; he opened the doors and the team slipped inside the Store. Jason the last one through, stopped at the doors and slipped a chain thru the handles and padlocked it closed.

It was dark inside; the only light was from the front doors and plate glass windows.
Shadows lurked between the racks and shelves. They moved slowly down the center aisle, pausing to stuff, shirts, pants, hats, and gloves into sacks. The counters sat in the center of the store where all four main aisles led.

Jason spotted some home made jams and jellies on the consignment rack one aisle up from the counter and walked over to gather them up. As he did so a zombie rose up from behind the counter, in the second the entire team was distracted it managed to grab a handful of Jill’s hair pulling her head towards it mouth. Jill struggled to get away as the men raised their weapons, but she was blocking the shot.

She struggled for a moment then snarling she drew the knife at her side and cut it across her hair severing it. The second she fell forward and out of the line of fire, four rifles barked blowing the zombies head off. “ Hope you like my hair shorter “ she told Jared.

“ guess I need to find another woman till it grows back out “ Jared said with a relieved smile as he looked around but saw no other place for a zombie to hide. “ lets get the medicines out of here, a lot of that stuff can be used on humans. So might as well grab it. Especially the Cipro.” With the essentials gathered they headed out thru the backdoor ready to tackle the warehouse just behind the Main store.
They walked out the rear doors onto a cement loading dock, and then down a set of steps that had weeds growing up through the cracks then across the gravel covered lot to the Warehouse. The looming metal building was maybe a hundred and fifty foot deep and eighty foot across; its tan colored metal walls now faded and in places had green mildew growing on it. Leaves from last fall had piled up against the walls and blown partly into the interior driven by an uncaring wind through open roll up door. An abandoned pallet jack sat loaded with what had once been bags of dog food.

Entering the warehouse, Jared was amazed at the amount of stuff. Pallets of Fertilizer, stacked floor to ceiling, dog food by the pallet, and a ton other items that might prove useful like rolls of chicken wire and water containers enclosed in steel mesh. Some of it the rats had gotten to, but enough was left intact to make the haul worthwhile.
They moved slowly thru the dimly lit interior, keeping a sharp eye out. Ori spotted a dark stain on the floor near the back wall close by the Bathrooms. It looked like dried blood. He pointed it out to Jared who moved to the first door and knocked. Something bumped against the other side of the bathroom door.

Jared stepped to one side and turned the knob and the door flew open from the weight of the zombie pressing against it. Chris fired a single shot and put it down. Jared stepped over the portly body dressed in overalls and knocked on the second door. there was no reaction so he opened it and found a small supply closet that was empty of undead. He keyed his radio. “ All Team one sections clear” he announced.
Chad crouched behind a stack of lumber in the back lot of the co-op, he looked to his right and motioned Ryan to go wide around the pile of pallets and plastic Barrels. To his left John looked nervous but the one handed man had so far done well.

Team one had already secured the interior of the Co Op, both the warehouse and the store itself. Erik was already on his way with the Semi so they could load what they had seized.

We are taking to long Chad told himself as sweat ran down his buzzed scalp. Ryan reached the next point and gave the all clear for his area. Chad led the way, it was nerve wracking winding their way thru the maze of equipment, lumber, and hay bales. Any second they expected to walk right into a zombie.

Reaching the Fence line Chad relaxed a slightly and looked over the truck that was parked beside a stack of landscape timbers. It had once been a Dump truck but the dump bed and Hydraulics for it had been removed. In its place a flat bed with slate sides had been installed. He tapped the sides of the fuel tanks and smiled. “Get her started we can use it to haul some more stuff.” Chad said as men fanned out around the truck. Brian climbed up into the cab and turned the key. In the end it took six tries but they got it started.

Brian drove the truck over to the warehouse, and started loading. Chad jogged up in time to see Jared roll the Fence gates back allowing the tractor Trailer rigs to enter the yard. As soon as the last one passed thru, zombies tried to follow. Several baseball bats later and the zombies were laid out and the gate was closed.

Jared frowned as Stephanie leaped from the back of one of the trailers, and took up a guard position. Now what was she doing here, he wondered tossing a pointed look at Kyle who had been in charge of rounding up the rigs for this run.
Jared walked over to Stephanie, who didn’t look the least bit nervous or guilty at being caught.

“ What are you doing here?” Jared asked calmly. His tone fooled no one he wasn’t thrilled to see the woman.

“ Helping.” She responded almost challengingly. “ Henry helped out, and I damn well will help out” she stated.

“ Henry at least got a bit of training before he came on a run Stephanie, we cant worry about babysitting some one, its dangerous for every one and adds to much time to a job.” Jared tried to explain but she glared at him Defiantly.

“ then train me” she said as if it were that simple.

“ what kind of weapon are you holding” he asked, she looked surprised at the question
“ it’s a big black one with lots of Bullets” she said, Steve who had come up, turned away trying not to laugh.

“ That is an HK 93, it fires 5.56 ammunition Stephanie. And I need to talk to Rob about his letting you into the armory.” Jared said, at least he had kept his face blank unlike Steve who was almost purple from suppressed laughter.
He sighed and then held out a hand. “ give me your weapon” He said. She eyed him carefully; almost afraid that once he had her weapon he would keep it. Finally she handed it over.

“ This is the magazine release” Jared said pointing then popped the mag then cleared the round in the chamber. “ This” he pointed “ is the Safety. When its on you get no bang for your buck.”
He handed the weapon back, after emptying the magazine, and had her eject and insert the magazine and engage and disengage the safety, while they waited.

“whats up?” Jared asked Steve while Stephanie was busy.

“I made sure we had seed stocks and dog food loaded. I also think we should take some feed and incubators with us. Sooner or later we are going to run across chickens.”

At least the puppy Tommy had found wouldn’t be starving to death any time soon, Jared thought.

“Forget the stuff for the chickens for now, lets just stick with the basics we need.” Jared said then licked his lips…”Man I miss Cajun fried Chicken with some dirty rice” he muttered then glanced at his watch. “ Five minutes people” he called out. “ Here put these back in the magazine,” he told Stephanie as he handed her the bullets he had removed from the Magazine. “Then insert the magazine, do it just like you’ve been practicing. And make sure you have the safety on”

He turned and looked through the fence where the parking lot was filling with zombies. There were not enough to pose any problems for the vehicles at least and not one clown in the lot. . “ Mount up and lets blow this taco stand” Jared called out.

“ Stephanie your riding with me” Jared said pointing to the van. She looked back at Kyle who shrugged helplessly. There was no way Kyle was going to try and get between Jared and Stephanie and she knew it.

It was almost noon by the time they got back to the lodge and got most of the stuff transferred to other vehicles. Slow building Clouds streaked the blue sky, There was a storm building all right but it was of the undead not the weather.
** ** **
The five shirtless men clustered around the Diesel fuel tanker leaned against the tires exhausted. Piles of AmTrate bags lay near by. Ori stood on top of the tanker trailer holding a gas-powered motor attached to a rod that was essentially a Giant mixer. He was humming happily. Across from Ori, Rob was doing the same thing to another trailer.
On Robs tanker, some one, no one looked to obviously at Jared, had painted Clown killer on the sides of the tank.

“ Are you sure you got the mixture right” Jared asked after a few minutes.

“ Whose the Demolition expert here” Ori asked.

“ Last time I checked, you used to defuse them not make them.” Jared tossed out with a tired smile, handing up fifty pound bags had been tiring. The day, sadly, was not even close to being over.

Across at the hangar a pump was busing transferring the Aviation fuel into a 2500-gallon tanker truck. Once the tanker was full, a detonator would be set on the airfields below ground fuel tanks, when the zombies showed up they would be the guests of honor at a huge BBQ.

“ How long is this going to take?.” Jared asked.

Steve snickered. “ I gotta go” he said with a laugh, Jared grinned back at him.

“ Worse than shopping with women. Which brings up another good point about the end of the world. We no longer have to shop.” Jared commented.

“ That’s you, all ways looking for the silver lining” Steve replied with a matching grin.

“ I try it’s a gift, a rare gift” Jared responded.

Erik finished assembling the detonators and carried the one for the hangar fuel tank over to be installed. Ronny was a bit put out about the idea of blowing the place up, Erik suspected Ronny had plans on coming back here and claiming the place.

At the moment Ronny was examining the Duck checking out hoses and cables. Lubing up anything that even looked like it might need to move. He had topped off the oil as well, and had mentioned to Jared he would like to fly back to the hanger where they had gotten the plane and hit it for spare parts.

Erik hadn’t been there for that conversation but was pretty sure Jared had used a lot of colorful language and used the words Hell and no together multiple times.
It only took a few minutes to install the detonator, and then it was back to finishing the tunes up he could manage in the time they had left. Which was sunset, and then they were leaving.

Allan one of Cole’s men was leaning over the engine of the RV that Erik had been working on before the emergency detonator order had come in. “ Afternoon” Erik said being friendly.

The balding pallid-faced man turned towards Erik and for a split second he saw nothing but disdain. Then Allen smiled normally “ afternoon, just taking a peak, I’ve never seen the engine of a motor home before.” His voice was smooth, to smooth as far as Erik was concerned. there was just something about the man he didn’t like.

“ They are a pain in the ass to work on, I can tell you “ Erik said as he looked over the motor but saw nothing amiss. He had already changed fluids, timing belt, plugs, plug cables and air filters. He just had to put the alternator back on and he was done with this one. After this it was POVs they were easier to work on than an Rv, and basic work took no time at all on regular cars and trucks.

“I’m Erik by the way” Erik said extending his hand. The other mans grip was light, and there were no callus’s.

“ Allen Isles” Allen said, his voice was as warm and friendly making Erik wonder if he might have just imagined the look.

“Is it always this hectic” Allen asked looked at the people milling around the camp, getting ready to head out.

“Has been since we left the Farm” Erik replied, as he got the tools out he would need to replace the alternator.

“What’s the deal with that guy that leads you folks” Allen said

“Jared, man that is one stand up guy. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think most of us would have made it past the first week.” Erik said enthusiastically endorsing Jared.

“Guess he just seems a bit stand offish to me” Allen said almost thoughtfully

“ Naw, he has just been busy since we ran into you folks” Erik said wishing the guy would leave.

“ Funny how the world ends and it’s the blue collar types who end up in charge.” Allen said, with just a trace of bitterness.

“ If you ask Jared he will say he isn’t in charge, and he believes that” Erik said as he picked up a wrench set to work installing the alternator.

Allen didn’t respond to that, he just watched Erik with interest for a moment. “ Well I need to go make sure my stuff is packed and loaded.” Allen said.

“Nice meeting you” Erik said politely as Allen walked away. Odd guy that one he decided still not really liking him.

The sun was starting it slide down to the rim of the world when the first tanker truck pulled out with Beast one riding escort. Heading back into town, the rest of the convoy was reading to depart at a moments notice.

Jared sat up front with Rob driving, he noticed the occasional looks that Rob shot him. “ go ahead and ask” Jared said. He had been getting that look a lot from many others once he had set the location of one of the vehicle bombs.

“ What is your deal with clowns anyway” Rob asked.

“ Why?” Jared asked, looking out the slit that served as a window.

“Well not just every one would have a bomb made just to wipe out a circus tent, and about a block around it. That’s some real clown hate you got” Rob said.

“The bomb is to block the most direct route thru the town, its only happenstance that a traveling circus complete with undead clowns are right next to the best spot to park the tanker.” Jared replied. “ And if a couple of creepy assed, small car driving, horn honking, evil looking clowns get wiped off the face of the planet Im all for it.”

“ Did you have like some horrifying clown at a birthday party when you were eight or something” Rob asked with a laugh.

Jared tossed a glare at him but it had no effect. Rob found this all to amusing. “Look more undead.” He said pointing. Rob swung to the left catching the indicated cluster of undead with the cattle catcher and sending them flying.

“ As soon as we can we need to rig this one up with Hydraulics” Rob commented. “ and maybe mount a clown head to the front. God you must have hated Mcdonalds” he said starting to chuckle all over again. “Everything was going fine Officer till he saw old Ronald sitting on a bench and then it was nothing but flying floppy shoes and cussing.”

“ if your going to keep this up, I’m going to shoot you and drive this thing myself.” Jared stated. Rob laughed for a moment longer then fell silent as they began to hit the steadily thickening crowd of undead.

A block later it was even worse “ mother of God” Rob muttered as he looked at the huge crowd of undead. “ How in the hell is Ori going to get from the Tanker truck to the deuce in this shit” Rob asked.

“ either we pull along side so he can climb out his window and into our cab or we back up against his truck so he can leap into the back with the rest of the team.” Jared said
Rob didn’t respond, he just looked forward driving grimly thru the crowd trying not to notice the sounds of bodies being destroyed.

Rob was the first to see the clown, in all its blood-splattered glory. He glanced at Jared who was gritting his teeth. “ Want me to run it over.” Rob asked. Jared shook his head, as he rolled down the window then unlatched the cover and swung it open. “ just slow down” he said as he slid up till he was half out the window and sitting on the window frame rifle to his shoulder.

Rob heard him mutter something about little car driving freaks and then the clown’s head vanished in a spray of gore. Jared slid back into the Deuce and secured the window once more a grim smile on his face.

Finally, they reached the spot that Jared had picked to park the Tanker, almost directly across the parking lot from where the Traveling circus had been set up. This was part of the historic area of town, old store Facades made of stone, newer buildings scattered amongst the old. Nail salons, books stores, a coffee shop, a five and dime back in the twenties was now a herbal shop. At the turn off to the Fairgrounds an old stone building that had once been an Inn and now, or rather had been a bed and breakfast. The big top loomed over the parking lot, small tattered pennants flapping from the tops of the main poles.

Ori waited till the Deuce swung around and passed him, before he pulled the tanker truck up at an angle across the street and parked. Immediately zombies swarmed the truck. “ Back us up to it.” Jared told Rob put the vehicle in reverse then lined up the bed of the deuce with the cab of the tanker truck and backed up.

The Deuce rocked forward a second later as it impacted the side of the Semi, crushing the zombies that had been standing in its path.. Rob slammed on the brakes and waited for the all-clear signal.

Ori climbed out of the truck, reaching up he turned on the CD player secured to the roof of the Semi and set it to repeat play. Jim Neighbors began to sing Opera, with a grimace of distaste at the music Ori leaped into the back of the deuce and rapped the floorboards with his rifle butt. Instantly the Deuce was in motion away from the tanker truck. Which was now the center of attention for the zombies closet to the tanker. With luck one eye will be in the vicinity when the damn thing goes off. Jared thought.

As the numbers of zombie began to thin the further they got from the Tanker, they sped up till they were in range of the base unit. “ Get them moving Gary. Clown killer is in place” Jared transmitted getting only a terse “ roger and out” Jared didn’t need to be in a plane to know that at this very moment the anticipated horde of undead were converging on the airfield.

They linked up with the Caravan on the old tree lined highway just past the entrance to the Airstrip and the entire group headed for the river. The setting sun glittered on the river, the trees lining the road cast long black shadows across the asphalt. They sped north towards the bridge as if trying to out run the darkness slowly swallowing the land.

In town Jim Neighbors was belting out opera at the top of his electronic lungs. By now many of the zombies that had been heading north were clustering around the truck drawn by the music.

If they had been alive they would have been trying to get to the cd player and shut down the music from hell. As it was, they might only be dimly aware of just how bad the CD was.

Twenty minutes after the Beast had left the area, in the middle of a note Jim Neighbors ushered in a brief moment of hell. The tanker seemed to expand to its limits then exploded, the shock wave racing outwards crushing the undead nearest the tanker truck. Near by buildings shattered and collapsed. The big top was ripped up and swept away, leaving only the now tumbled bleachers behind.

That was just the shockwave, the fire and debris composed of metal fragments from the truck and the buildings, chunks of brick and masonry, and shards of glass ripped thru the undead like an insane Julia Childs armed with a giant cuisinart and flame thrower, shredding them into gooey chunks and charred bone. For miles around the site, windows shattered, buildings shook, smoke and fire billowed upwards from the crater that had been a road.

The convoy approached the bridge already running into the outriders of the advancing horde of Undead. The modified deuces pushed through them. Beast one turned onto the bridge and led the convoy slowly across it shoving the few wrecked or disabled cars out of the way. The supply trucks made it across first, then the RVs and POV’s began to roll across, zombies stumbled alongside the line of vehicles following them across swatting at the sides of the vehicles.

“ We have a stall” Rob said over the Radio. One of the RVs had just died in the middle of the bridge blocking the other vehicles behind it. “ Damn.” Jared said not even caring whose Rv it might be. “ Back us up to it” Jared replied, as he pulled the tow chain from the box under the bench seat.

“ Are you insane” Steve asked staring at Jared.

“ Trust me okay.” Jared said as the truck began to back up when it was four feet from the RV Jared had Rob Stop. “ Jill, Gary get back here. Jill pull the van up on the right side and block the gap between the Beast and the RV. Gary you do the same thing on the other side with Chris’s truck”

There were now seven or so zombies squeezed in between the truck and the Rv trying to reach the men in the back of the deuce. Then Jill pulled the van up blocking one side. a second later Gary pulled up sparks flying as the drivers side rode the rail.

“ You asshole you know I love that truck” Chris muttered. Jared just laughed as he lifted his rifle and shot the undead trapped in the gap between RV and the Duece, quickly and smoothly.

With the undead, permanently dead, Jared dropped to the ground, or more accurately the bodies, in the protected area and had checked to make sure there weren’t any zombies crawling under the deuce. Satisfied that he wasn’t going to be bitten by pus bags under the Deuce for the moment, he had Steve pass him the tow chain and quickly hooked the vehicles together. As soon as he was done He climbed back into the deuce, “ Jill, Gary go ahead and get out now.”

Gary backed out with more sparks as the truck scraped the rail again with a long agonized shriek of metal on metal the truck bouncing and lurched over the undead that had gathered behind it. The van handled it a bit better and still looked mostly shiny. Then it was clear for the Beast to start pulling.

There was a lurch as the chain grew taut, the Beast strained for a moment but nothing seemed to happen and then it started slowly moving ahead dragging the RV behind it. For a moment Jared thought the Corpses might jam up underneath but not this time thank god. He thought as the Rv rolled up over them and kept gaining speed.

They got it to the other side speeding up to get free of the zombies that had followed it to the other side of the bridge so that the occupants would have time to get out and run to the Next RV and Board. They carried only their packs and a few items they didn’t want to leave, and that was it.

Jared removed the tow chain, passed it up to the men in the back of the Deuce then he leaped up and was hauling himself into the Truck. Only to grunt in surprise as a Zombie who had slipped up unseen grasped his boot. “ Shit.” He yelled as he almost slid off the back of the bed when it pulled on his foot. Steve grabbed him and pulled but the zombie wasn’t going to let go. its mouth was snapping open and closed eager to get to the foot above its head. Then it stopped almost like it was surprised, as a bullet hole appeared like magic between its milky white eyes. Its hand loosened its grip and Jared tumbled into the bed of the Deuce shaking from the Adrenalin pumping thru his system.

“ Damn where did that one come from” He asked, he hadn’t noticed it before. “ Probably came right up the side of the Rv where we couldn’t see.” Steve said.

“ Guess Rob was right about the RV’s needing some major work.” Ori said.

“ Just going to have to find new ones.” Jared replied.

“ Man you gotta see this” Rob said as he moved the deuce away from the stranded RV and then turned and backed up so the men in the back could see the other side of the river.

The sun was setting in a haze of red, casting the land in shadows, and thru the gathering gloom, undead poured towards the bridge. A mass of undead flesh that surged like an obscene tide. The roads were packed with them. They spilled into the woods and a steady stream followed the vehicles across the bridge. like a steady stream of black ants that devoured everything in its path.

Jared eyed the steel beams that formed the arch over the bridge and looked at Ori. “ are you sure that bomb will take out the bridge” He asked.

“ it will work Jared, as long as the detonator fires” Ori assured him. Even stopping this horde didn’t mean another horde wouldn’t show up on this side of the river but that threat was for the future the horde trying to cross the bridge was the threat for the moment.

They watched as the last RV passed over the bridge, then beast two clearing the way for the tanker, which was the last vehicle in the line it bore the message. “ For the Bridge over the river die” on its tank. Jared doubted most of the group got the joke, but oh well.

Jared watched as the tanker came to a stop and beast two backed up, the Driver, he thought it was Daryl from Logan’s group opened the door and started to climb out. But it was far to early for him to get out. Jared was to far to be heard but he tried to shout a warning.

One of the zombies in the crowd around the truck, snagged Daryl’s ankle and pulled. The younger man off balance almost fell but grabbed the door, and dangled off it. Gunfire instantly rang out as Team two in the back of the Deuce poured fire into the zombies below Daryl. Who were going wild trying to snag his legs.

Jared watched sickly as a zombie tore a chunk out of Daryl’s calf. He looked down then lifted his rifle and sighted. Daryl was screaming as another zombie tore a long strip of bloody flesh from his calf. Jared stroked the trigger and Daryl’s head snapped back, his fingers loosened on the door and he fell dead into the undead who had condemned him.

Beasts two stopped reversing, and then pulled ahead to join the column. Logan looked sick as he gazed at Jared then said, “ Thanks, he would have wanted it that way.” Jared nodded wandering if any could see the tears in his eyes. He hoped not.

Beast two passed their position and Jared rapped the floor of the Deuces bed with his rifle to signal Rob to start moving. “ How far away should we be before we set this off” Jared asked.

“ A mile would be good.” Ori stated.

“ I was hoping to watch this one” Jared said as he swept his scope across the undead pouring past the tanker truck. He spotted two clowns in the mess on the bridge and gritted his teeth. He had lost a man and now had to look at Clowns, undead fucking clowns at that.

He lowered the rifle, they would just have to outrun the zombies that made it across, he didn’t want to waste ammo they didn’t need to use. He lifted the detonator switch and looked at Ori. “ ¾ of a mile I cant see it being that bad” he said as he flipped the switch.
The bridge disintegrated in a fireball that swept debris thru the crowd of zombies on both sides of the bridge. The shock wave raced out, those zombies closest to the epicenter would never move again as their bodies were crushed under pressures the human body was never meant deal with.

Jared was almost thrown from the Beast as the shock wave set them rocking. “ Damn I take it back you do know how to cook up a good bomb.” Jared said awed as a hunk of concrete with rebar sticking out of it, landed ten feet behind the Beast. Then an I beam hit the road and penetrated. Jared stared at the quivering piece of eight foot steel that jutted skywards like a finger pointing to the heavens.

“Get us out of here” He told Rob over the Radio. More debris and even some zombies were raining down around them.

“ Next time you say a mile, I will listen” Jared promised Ori, as a zombie struck the top of the beast and then cart wheeled off into the bushes. The beast surged ahead, but the worst was over for the moment.
Mikhail, drove thru Great falls impressed despite himself. the Mass of undead that Jared had seen were now gone. In the headlights Mikhail only saw a few scattered zombies..

The closer he got to the main road, the more damaged buildings he saw. Fires still raged in many of them. Glass littered the road. Turning onto the main road south, he saw overturned cars, a truck stuck in the second floor of a building. A zombie tangled in the wires of the lights over the intersection where it had been blown in the explosion, its legs jerked spastically as it tried to walk on air.

“ They bombed the place” he said aloud as the buildings he passed went from scorched and partially collapsed to nothing but rubble and fires and a crater that blocked the road. He laughed in appreciation. Cleve I will give them that.

“bet you didn’t see this one coming” Mikhail said. “ But the plans still intact, they are on the other side of the river, and they have to go south and I can promise they will hit Ft. Jackson, they have to need more ammo by now, and more equipment and vehicles. Even more vehicles than I first thought if you’re right”

he couldn’t see the nod but he felt the things confidence that its part of the plan would be carried thru.

Mikhail was long past caring about what his partner was, it was enough that it could get Him thru masses of undead, and provide him with information he needed to lay his next ambush. How it had arraigned for the convoy to lose vehicles was beyond him. But as long as it happened it didn’t matter.
The convoy was parked on a road in front of an old Farm house. While they had the chance they were transferring supplies out of the two broken down Rvs, and loading it up onto others. Floodlights drove back the darkness so the teams could keep a good eye out for the undead.

Rob was standing in front of Carols broken down Rv as angry as Jared had ever seen him. Erik was just about as furious. “ I can’t explain it Rob, I tuned it up, changed the fluids, checked the alternator and put it back on, nothing else.”

As Jared walked up Rob, wrench in hand, turned quickly to face him. “ don’t ask, we still don’t know what’s wrong with either one of them.” He said, not adding he had warned Jared that this might happen. To make matters worse, every zombie that had made it across the bridge and not been wiped out by the bomb was no doubt heading towards them at this moment. Luckily it would take them hours to cover the 12 miles.

“ So there’s no chance of getting them running in a short amount of time” Jared said, he wasn’t really asking more talking to himself.

“ Not a chance,” He said then shrugged slightly “with no zombies, a full shop and overtime I could.” Rob said. Jared shook his head slowly. “Do what you can Rob, I’m not expecting miracles.” Jared said then turned away keying his radio. “ Jill get the van up and ready, team one assemble we are going to check out the farmhouse. “

Moments later Jared was sitting in the passenger seat letting Jill drive. The trip up the gravel drive was reasonably short. Stepping out he slipped on the NVG’s and looked around the green tinted world. The Farmhouse sat behind a row of old oaks, the once neat yard was overgrown, and the flowerbeds had spilled past their curbs this year. A Ford f150 was parked under the carport that was next to the two-story farmhouse. A love swing decorated the long front porch. Behind the house and off to the right Jared could see a Barn with its door slightly open, and a what looked like a hen house beside the barn. A tractor was parked in front of the barn its tires now flat.

Jared climbed up onto the porch and knocked loudly at the front door then waited and listened. Hearing nothing, he opened the door stepping back as it swung open but the foyer was empty of any threats. His rifle at high ready he led the way into the house.

The interior was dusty but neat, the living room furniture was cheap but well made, pictures of a man and woman hung on one wall. A bookshelf held actual real books. Jared had thought many times since the power went off if the people who had survived and had spent all that money on electronic books that didn’t exist outside a screen regretted spending the money at all now that there was no power. A large flat screen Tv , and a second shelf filled with DVDs and an entertainment center dominated one wall.

The kitchen was pale blue and white, the windows covered with gingham curtains that lent it an old fashioned appeal. The Table was heavy wood and looked to be an antique.

The pantry in the kitchen still held many jars that the owners had canned. Beans, meat, jellys, sauce’s. the dust had been undisturbed so Jared was sure that no undead roamed the house. but one could be locked in a room. They finished searching the ground floor and found only one room with its door closed.

Jared knocked, and was rewarded by something bumping against the door. He fired thru the door about head high then kicked the flimsy door open. A zombie, female, heavily endowed, wearing a light cotton dress had been flung into the bathtub when Jared kicked the door open and was now trying to get back to its feet. Jared shot her once in the head.

They finished searching the house and found, two shotguns and nine hundred rounds of ammo, upstairs in the bedroom. One of the shotguns was a Spas 12, which Jared was really happy about. He would have been happier if it had been a CAW. But beggars can’t be choosers.

That wasn’t all they found either, he thought Ronny would have loved their closet, what with all the bondage gear inside. Leather chaps, thigh high boots, leather pants and shirts. Straps, gags, and a ton of other things Jared had no idea what they might be.
To bad Ronny was in the plane waiting on a lake ahead of them.

With the house cleared, he decided to turn their attention to the Barn. “Get a team up here to get the supplies,” He radioed as they waded through the high grass behind the house towards the barn.

Peering through the half open door, Jared’s eyebrows raised. If Ronny would have loved the closet he would really love the barn. Salt of the earth my ass Jared thought as he took in all the bondage gear, the entire barn had been set up to play in and it looked like they had been playing when the zombies arrived. A man was strapped naked to what looked like a padded sawhorse, well not quite naked, he wore some kind of skintight hood over his head that was buckled around his neck. Chunks had been taken out of his naked butt, groin, and legs. A whip and other items lay scattered on the floor behind the sawhorse. As if they had been dropped in a hurry.

What a way to die, and be found Jared thought. Noting the Tattoo around the mans thick bicep. He had seen that tat in a few pictures in the house. a mid twenties, barrel chested red headed country boy holding his cute blond wife in a cotton dress at the lake, another picture at their wedding, another on a vacation and more. All the moments of their short life and marriage captured on film and this was what it had boiled down, her dead in a bathtub and he was strapped naked to a sawhorse. This is what Jared and his team would remember and all those who heard the story later.

They didn’t even have names now and that bothered him almost as much as how they had been found.
He looked skyward for a moment, wanting to curse god for letting this kind of shit happen on his watch. But he didn’t, there was no real point. Might be God, for lack of a better name, was already helping him and his ragtag convoy of refugees, as they fled to a promised land with no undead. Way to sound like a crank prophet Jared he chided himself. Next thing you’ll be wearing robes and wanting to build an ark, he snorted a harsh amused laugh then shook his head.

Jared stepped into the barn and shot the zombie strapped to the saw horse in the head. Then the Team got to work clearing the structure in record time. no one really wanted to spend more time than they had to in this place. Thankfully there weren’t many places to hide in the Barn and there were no signs of the zombie or zombies that had killed the man and his wife. It was clear they had been attacked in the barn and the wife had fled to the house and locked herself in the bathroom after being bitten on the arm.

“ Chad get team two up here with a truck we have stuff to take with us.” Jared said over the radio. He turned away from the corpse and walked out of the barn. Wanting to put a lot of distance between the emasculated corpse and himself.

“ do we take anything from the barn” Steve asked. Jared shook his head.

“ no just haul the woman’s body out there to the barn, and then burn the place down. At least give them that.” Jared said. So at least no one else would ever stumble on their bodies. Give them a bit of dignity in death

An hour later, everything worth taking had been loaded up, Jared had the fifth wheel travel trailer found behind the barn hooked up to the Ford and added to the convoy. It would only help to house a few people but that was better than nothing.

Steve walked up as Jared was pouring over a map in the light of the floodlights that had been set up so that Rob and the others could work. “ we will be ready to go in a few minutes.” Jared nodded and looked towards the farm were smoked was pouring out of the barn door. he nodded in satisfaction, at least those two wouldn’t have to worry about some one later on seeing them the same way. Rest in Peace folks he thought.

“ I think we are going to make a try for Ft. Jackson.” Jared said turning his attention back to Steve and their problem.

“ is that really a smart move” Steve asked.

“ Ammo, vehicles, an a FEMA cache is there. They have all sorts of stuff cached, medicines, Rv’s, food, you name it.” Jared said “ Truth is Steve we need this stuff, and its get it now or later. I prefer now.”

Steve nodded; it made a lot more sense to grab what they needed now, instead of having to head back here when they really needed it. “ and the fact we are down three RV’s means we really need a few more big vehicles, and FEMA has, or rather had RV’s, campers and those MRES vehicles. Plus Semi Trailers built with slide outs, they used for offices that we could easily use for living space.” Jared added.

“ Sounds good as long as there’s not another trap waiting for us.” Steve said.
Jared eyed him for a moment.

“ You’ve noticed it to?” Jared asked. Steve nodded his lips thinning slightly in frustration and anger.

“ Yep, one eye attacks us at the farm, kills a few, gets shot by Kevin. Comes back with the Raiders, and a mass of zombies show up. Attacks us again by killing Billy and then the next time he shows up a mass of zombies show up. Since then we have been hit by the largest band of zombies around. Im thinking that he will ambush us at our next stop. How he knows where that will be is beyond me, but I believe it.” Steve said.

“ Dreams” Jared answered. “We get dreams that help us out, or the occasionally really odd feeling to leave or not go somewhere. Why cant the other side do the same things” he asked softly.

“ Man I don’t even want to think about that.” Steve replied bothered by the very thought.
Jared didn’t like it either but the thought wouldn’t go away.

“ Just consider it like he has spys in the group, a satellite, and a good intelligence team then” Jared said with a strained smile. “ either way that’s what I think is happening.”
“ but didn’t you say your Dad mentioned Rules, wouldn’t that be against the rules” Steve asked gripping his rifle tight enough to make his knuckles white.

“ I doubt it, but I bet they cant be any more helpful than our dreams have been.” Jared said. “ speaking of Kevin, he has been a bit scarce lately.”

“ All I know is that Mattie has been happier than all get out, so Im guessing that he is still alive or he got on her nerves so bad, that she killed him and is happy about it.” Steve replied with the ghost of a grin.

“ We should move on now, find a place to camp far away from here.” Jared said jerking a thumb at the barn. “ the fire might draw them.”

Steve nodded and headed down the line of vehicles getting every one aboard and ready to move. Jared rose and folded the map his mind already considering how to best deal with the possibility of his theory being correct and that somehow the other side was actively helping the one eyed bastard. If Gayle had been correct there were two more people out there helping one eye. What he needed was intelligence and as much as he could get.
The sun rose behind a curtain of rain. A deluge that the for the undead went unnoticed. They stumbled down the roads, water sloshing around their ankles and running down their ruined flesh.
PFC Lance Jones, stared out the window onto the rain swept street below. For the first time in weeks there wasn’t a zombie in sight. He turned back to the room where Spacey and Crippen were cleaning their weapons. “ I think we can make a run for it” he said wishing he could shave his head. His dirty blond hair felt unnaturally long these days.

“I don’t think so, remember the last time we tried to get out of here. Besides, where would we go, Back to Col Parks, that man is nuttier than a fruit cake.” Spacey said, and Jones had to agree Parks was definitely a nut job. Which was why they had gotten ‘lost’ during a patrol one day just to get away from the idiot and his new toys.

“ I think we should try to steal a ride and get the hell out of here.” Crippen said setting aside the M16A3 he had been cleaning. “ I think Parks left a week ago on his little quest to end the rising tide of darkness.”

“Can’t steal what no one owns.” Jones said. “ I hope so, Parks was a real nut job. I just wish half our guys had, had the guts to bail before he gets them all killed.”

Jones dropping into a chair and opening a warm beer and eyeing the poster of a naked woman displaying a rifle. Guess there was no point in wishing to meet her anymore, she’s probably one of the undead by now.

“ They might have, we would have to go look.” Spacey said as he buckled on the pistol belt he had taken off the twice dead corpse of an MP. “I don’t think the rest of the squad would have gone with Parks anyway. It was one thing to sit and listen to the nut job rant on about the holy cleansing fire of god wiping the scourge of the devil from the face of the planet and a whole other thing to head out to do just that.”

“ the Squad, the Company, hell none of them were willing to back us and the Top, against Parks. Hell he shot the Top over dinner, just because he had heard a rumor. And he would have shot us too if he had found out before we made our selves vanish.” Crippen stated angrily.

“ I heard the Top say that some DI had a bunch of Recruits and was holding out in the Training areas.” Spacey threw in. “ Might even be some women.” He said the last with a leer born of months of not even seeing a woman aside from pictures and posters.
Jones held up a hand to get them stopped before they got all worked up again. “ none of that matters one fucking bit anymore. If they left, then we can load up some serious gear, and get the hell off this fucking base.” Jones said then paused as the sound of a motor could be heard. He moved to the window and peered out from the side of the window using it for cover.

“Who is it” Spacey asked.

“ how the hell should I know who it is, its a truck with a police badge on the side, and looks like two dudes. No sorry just one must have been a trick of the light.” Jones said as he watched the truck came to a stop in front of the Base commanders office across the street and a single man stepped out. The stranger pulled out a rifle and slung it over his shoulder. Before drawing what looked like an oversized pistol. The man turned slowly checking out the area, and Jones saw he only had one eye.

“ I don’t know who he is, but that one eyed bastards looks like the toughest prick any of us have ever met” Jones said ducking down out of sight as the stranger holstered the odd looking pistol and lifted his rifle and peered thru the overly large scope.

“ He is looking at the windows” Jones told them. “ Get your shit, we are moving to another room.” They gathered up their gear including the MRE wrappers, not wanting to leave anything to show that any one had sheltered in the room. They headed straight for the Mechanical room.

Jones unlocked the door with the keys they had taken off one of the maintenance zombies and opened the door. This wasn’t the first time they had used the room. it was amazing how few people even thought much about a maintenance mechanical room.

This one had a office and break room, along with a map of the entire building and the old steam tunnels that ran beneath the base. Not that they had any desire to use them, except if the place was being overrun by the undead.

From here, they could access the airshafts, and the passage behind the main walls. It had been made Jones guessed in case at some point in the future they wanted to be able to replace wire or install new wire and so had made sure there was a space between the main walls.

There were times Jones wondered what happened to the Recruits who were training here when the zombies showed up. all he really remembered was manning the gates and lots of movement. A few convoys had left towards the end of the first week, to where he didn’t know. And then just heading into winter, after months of holding the base, some idiot had fallen asleep behind the wheel of a Hemet and drove it thru the fence. And that was all it took for the base to be over run. One minute it was stand the line and shoot anything that looked like it might get over or around the barricades and hunt down split tail when you were off duty, then next it was fight for your very lives.

Parks might have been totally nuts but he had managed to save the company. While other units, or what was left of them loaded up into what every they could get that moved and headed out to god knows where.

At least here they had, had the foresight to stock up the maintenance room with food, ammo, the few extra weapons they had and porn to watch. Not that he was thrilled about watching porn with Spacey and Crippen sitting right there. But it was better than nothing.
He had heard that some women had holed up in one of the buildings just before they had dropped out of the Parks patrol and gone to ground. Might be he needed to go take a look one day soon.

“How did you know there’s a FEMA Cache at Jackson.” Jill asked. Jared was tempted to jack with her and say he was told in a dream but didn’t.

“About two months before everything went to hell, a Friend of mine who was stationed at Jackson called and during a conversation mentioned that FEMA had placed a cache on the base. Even told me where it was on base. Honestly I thought about it yesterday after we crossed the bridge.”

“ Your talking about Morgan aren’t you” Steve asked. Jared nodded, Morgan Templeton of Boise Idaho, Jared had served with him Active duty then a couple of times during Deployment in the Reserve. Morgan was one of those guys that you looked at him and you saw a hard as nails NCO, with cold eyes. In truth he was a damned good man, who was as kind as you could want and a better soldier. Jared wondered if he were still alive.

“ Either way Jared this route will take us into Columbia, and past two major Military bases. There were fifty thousand plus people on Jackson, not counting familys, and I think almost as many on Shaw AFB. Not counting the million in and around Columbia.” Steve pointed out.

“And there might be living people, Military people alive on both. Intact units.” Jared pointed out. Remembering the Chinooks Ronny had spotted last fall. It was possible they could have been from Jackson, and the mysterious radio signals that Gary thought might be Navy but could they have been Air force. Wont know till we check. He decided.

“Is there some way we could cram six men into the duck with gear.” He asked suddenly. Roger thought about it for a moment then nodded. “Barely, that plane will suck fuel like you wouldn’t believe. But you can only take combat load outs, I honestly don’t think it would lift off with every one carrying hundred pound packs.”

“ all right then, here is what we are going to do. Two teams combat load outs, and three flights the third flight brings in gear we think will be critical that we might not be able to get on base.” Jared said. “ Get Gary to call Ronny I need him back here to go with us, and Roger you will be flying the duck.”

“ Team three and Cole’s Team four will stay and defend the convoy. If to many zombies show up, they will take 97 till they reach 151 and go south to 15 to Lee state park, staying as far from this area as possible. If we aren’t back in three days, they can take 341 or 527 south. Mary will be in Charge I cant imaging another woman in this group that has no problems putting a man into his place.” Jared said grinning there were chuckles around the table at that.

“ lets get busy and strip down our packs to nothing but combat essential, two canteens, three MRE’s the works. Logan Ill help you figure it out.” Jared hesitated almost ordering Jill to stay behind. Not wanting to put her into any more danger than possible. But it wouldn’t be fair to her, she had been steady and dependable since this shit started it It would be insulting to leave her behind at this point, just because he wanted to protect her.

“ Ill want our team of drivers standing by in case we need extra hands.” Jared said rising. “ lets get to it.”

They had to wait an entire day for the rain to stop, so Ronny could land on the highway, it was dusk when the plane lined up on the road following the Tiki torches set out so he could see the location and direction of the highway. Steve had to knock loudly on the door to the RV, and grinned when Jared opened the door buttoning up his BDU pants.

“ hate to disturb your R and R but Ronny’s down and wants to talk with you.” Steve said with a look that did nothing to convince Jared that Steve felt any regrets about disturbing him.

“ Send him on over, I know he is pissed about not flying this one. But…” Jared fell silent and shrugged. There was a better than even chance they would all die on this one, and if they did, it might strip the trained guns away from the convoy, but at the same time it increased the amount of food and fuel for them.

The conversation went about the way Jared expected, Ronny shouted, then calmed down when he realized he was going to get to put boots down, especially on a base he had been stationed at for a year. He did understand that Roger being a trained pilot was the better choice for flying the overloaded plane. Assuming they got off the ground in the first place.

Jared spent half the night working with Chad on operational formations, hand signals, and a host of other things. He hoped that in the end team two used to working with Jared and team one would slot in with out a lot of problems. Assuming Murphy didn’t show his ass tomorrow.

The only real problem had been Stephanie she had almost screamed and stomped her feet to be allowed to go. Jared wasn’t sure if he liked the typical sorority girl she had been to the Feisty, pissed off warrior queen she was wanting to become. Revenge for a loved one had driven many a man to change, and Stephanie was determined to out do all of them in sheer speed of her change.

By the time he climbed into bed with Jill on what might well prove to be their last night together, he was exhausted. He wrapped his arms around her and just held her as they both drifted off to sleep.

Jill rode in Jared’s lap, and if any one thought that the two of them might be enjoying themselves, one look at Jared’s face would tell you that he wasn’t enjoying a damn thing on this flight. The three men and one women, boxed in by Packs, in the belly of the plane could only be a little bit closer if they were lovers. The rest of Team One were crammed into the second seat up top. They had just a hair more room, then the other four below.
The Duck bored thru the lead gray sky, bucking with the wind, her top airspeed reduced thanks to the extra weight. Occasionally rain battered at the fuselage. Roger followed the roads, it was the easiest way, which meant it also used more fuel, but he would fly back direct using compass bearings once he took off again.

Finally, they flew over the base. Most of the actual base was on the west side, tan and red bricked buildings sat on tree lines streets and wide yards. At least Roger was pretty certain it was the base, No civilian subdivision, would have artillery ranges, parade grounds and such wide streets. Not to mention Military buildings looked like nothing else in America, but Military buildings.

And of course if pressed the numbers of military vehicles he saw scattered about the streets were one of the biggest clues. As they passed over one area of scattered buildings and concrete pads, he got a bit excited when three men ran onto the roof of one building waving white sheets. He wiggled the wings and passed the info back to Jared via the radio.

“ Can you land anywhere near them” Jared asked. Roger shook his then grinned at himself “ no to many abandoned vehicles. I can land close but not real close.” Roger said. Not really liking the options but there wasn’t much he could do about it.

“ Do what you can but do it fast, we need to be down so you don’t waste more fuel.” Jared said. He wanted to go check out the living, but his mission to secure the FEMA cache should come first.

Roger banked slowly turning towards the spot he had already chosen and began his approach. The plane gracefully descended onto the lake in the middle of the base and touched down in a spray of water. It taxied to the southern end of the lake then shut down its engine, the doors were slid open as gear and men spilled out. Ronny slid back the rear seat canopy and tapped Roger on the shoulder. “ Good luck buddy” he said before jumping to down into the knee deep water.

“ Good luck to you, your going to need it a lot more than I will.” Roger said.
Jared, Steve, Ori, and Chris, splashed thru the water to shore, while the others dragged their packs to shore.

Jared stood at low ready, with Steve to the right and slightly behind, Chris to the left and behind the three men forming a small v. Ori knelt and lifted his Rifle to his shoulder. The rifle Rob had spent two hours threading the barrel for the silencer it now carried. With slow methodical shots, Ori put down all six zombies they could see. The closest was only fifty feet away. There would be more undead soon, they all knew, a lot more.

Jared led the way thru the picnic area along the lake side to the road where he could see a Hummer sitting parking at an angle across the road. Here and there a few weapons lay scattered about. “ Check the hummer see if it starts” Jared told Jason who nodded, Jason wisely checked the back seat before he climbed in and found it empty. Pushing the starter button produced nothing, he tried several more times but it refused to crank. “Well that cuts it, we will have to jog to the Cache” Jared said.

“ What if the FEMA stuff has already been moved.” Jill asked.

“ There’s still vehicles in the motor pool that we can use, and if we hit supply we should be able to get more things we can use.” Jared replied as he pulled out his binoculars and peered west down the road. He could see maybe a few dozen zombies heading towards them but they were a distance away, and no real threat at this point. He turned scanned the buildings across the street but saw nothing outside. Thru the windows he could see a few undead inside one building.

“What about the men Roger spotted” Ori asked.

“We secure what we need first, Vehicles, FEMA supplies then strangers. Unless we have to go near their position on the way to the first two” Jared replied.

“There’s a gate back that away, “ Ronny said jerking a thumb towards the east. “ got to be vehicles there.”

“To far, we have to secure the area for Team two” Jared said. The wait wasn’t as long as they had thought it would be. Roger was skilled enough at flying that he didn’t need to follow the roads now that he had bearings for his take offs and landings, and that shaved off half the time it had taken for Team one to get on site.

Once team two had disembarked and joined up with Team one and Roger had taken to the air once more they moved across the street and made sure the doors to the buildings were secured, wedging things up under the doors too just in case there were crash bars on the inside. No one wanted a zombie to accidentally hit the bar and open the door letting a flood of undead out of a building for them to deal with that would well and truly suck.

“I smell rain” Ori commented looking up at the sky, and spotting the plane on its final. Moments later it was landing on the lake in a spray of water and taxing up to the shore.
They unloaded the gear and hauled it to the shore where it was spread out and packed away in every ones packs, including a few bricks of ammo for each team member.

Regrouping on the road Ori spent a few minutes picking off the zombies he could see.
The base was a bit different than the towns they had passed thru. Not a lot of trash on the ground for one thing, no bodies sprawled out either. No burned out buildings. They jogged down the road in a loose inverted v with Jared running point. As they approached Marion road, zombies began to emerge from buildings around them. Jared spotted what looked like a motor pool down the road and led the way south on Marion.

They came to a stop before a large building. This was definitely not where the FEMA stuff was stashed. “ Better make a decision fast” Chris said watching as zombies entered his threat zone. More than they could take on with just melee weapons. His rifle already held at High ready, he only had to barely raise the weapon, take aim and began to fire slow and steady at the advancing zombies. Jill and Jason began to fire to the rear of the teams as well, they were slowly being surrounded by a large number of undead and more were approaching.

** ** **
Mikhail had heard the plane, coming and going and had sat here full of anticipation at the coming fight. He would give them some time to get their bearing but sooner or later they would show up here.

Now he heard gunfire with in a few blocks of the building he was in. hopefully the undead wouldn’t kill many of them before he got a shot at them. “ Id appreciate it if you could keep your pet zombies from killing the Red head and his woman.” He said aloud.
He didn’t really sense the thing that haunted him. But there were many times he suspected it was close even when he couldn’t feel it.
He looked out over the street, having chosen this spot because he had assumed that the red head and his group would have to pass through the central base area. It was still possible but the longer he sat here the likely it looked.

He rose silently and headed for the door, every sense alert for threats. During times like this when his Guardian, friend what ever you wanted to call it wasn’t around the undead were much more likely to attack him.

He trotted down the dark hall to the stairwell taking the stairs two at a time. Pausing only at the doorway that led into the lobby where he saw nothing. There were zombies out front he could see thru the lobby windows. He could make it to the truck, with out much of a problem which was good. He slung the rifle and drew his machine pistol then sprinted across the lobby throwing the doors open and bolted down the walk to his truck. Instantly the zombies closet to him turned and pursued in their slow lumbering way. .

Mikhail held his fire not wanting to alert Jared and his buddies that he was in the area. he reached the truck, threw open the door and leaped inside even as hands were reaching. He slammed the truck door laughing at the zombies “maybe next time Pizdi”

He started the truck, thinking over the types of places the red head and his people would want to check. Yes the things they would risk their lives for were food, fuel and then medicine. So either the supply buildings or the motor pool he decided and then opted for food. He started the truck and happily rolled over the undead. enjoying the moment since the zombie was a US Soldier.
Jones had heard some one pounding down the stairs a moment ago and crept out into the hallway listening. After a minute or so he heard a vehicle start and then it drove away the sound of the motor fading with distance. He could also hear gunfire to the south, it sounded like some of the Men on base were still alive and kicking. Unless it was a patrol Park had sent out.

At this point Jones was willing to risk about anything to see another face. After spending all winter with his buddies, they were starting rub him the wrong way. “ Lets gear up, there’s shooting outside.” He said slinging on his pack then snagged the map of the tunnels, stuffing it into his pocket. He checked to make sure he had a full supply of magazines and then waited by the door for Spacey and Crippen to get rigged and ready.

“ I don’t think I’m going to like this” Spacey said as they entered the basement. They moved slowly clearing the large room. Jones wanted to hurry, but made himself slow down. Who ever it was would either be alive or dead when they go there. if jones and his buddies rushed they could end up dead and that wasn’t an option.

Satisfied that the basement was clear, Jones moved to a door. Hesitating for a second before he slid a key into the lock and twisted. Spacey and Crippen were instantly ready to fire. If undead began pouring out of the doorway, they would just run upstairs and lock the basement door.

He twisted the knob and opened the door, revealing a staircase that descended to a dark tunnel. They carefully made their way down the stairs and shined their lights down both ways in the tunnel checking for undead, at the moment it looked clear.

Jones took out the map then clicked on the blue lensed light he carried to checked the id markings on the wall then looked for it on the map once he had his bearings he traced out a route to the south . There were a couple of spots along the way where they might be able to pop up and see what was going on so they could see where they might have to head too if they wanted to meet or help who ever was shooting. .

They jogged down the dark passageway, thankful the lights on their rifles still worked. At one point they definitely heard gunfire. Some one was laying down a hell of a lot of lead up there.
** ** **
“ you know now would be a fucking great time to come up with a Captain Kirk defense” Chris called out over the steady fire, as he slapped in a new Magazine. The rain beat down on them as they stood clumped together on the sidewalk in front of a Vehicle maintenance school.

“ See any green skinned women out there” Jared asked, as he looked around. Cant go over the fence into their motor pool because of the concertina wire, cant go thru the door into the School because its locked. Aint this just peachy.

Zombies were the lightest to the west and that was they way they had to go. “ Down to five magazines” Steve said. “ Aint this just one fucked up plan. Almost as bad as the time Ori and Ronny got locked in the whore house.” Jared actually laughed at that, if he had to die, it wasn’t bad group of people to be with.

Jared’s commando jammed, so he dropped to one knee and jacked the slide to eject the round. A moment later he was back in action rocking and rolling from the kneeling position.

Jones peered out the reinforced window at the group in front of the school. Judging by the way some of those men operated they were probably Vets, or had been active duty before the dead.

“well, are we going to help them or not” Crippen asked.

“Not sure” Jones said. “probably.”

“People to talk to” Spacey pointed out.

“people that might kill us in our sleep” Jones said.

“well they are pretty much trapped at this point, so hurry up and make up your mind” Crippen said.

The undead had been lighter on the west side, giving the strangers a way out. Dangerous but it had been possible. But now so many of the undead had gathered that there was no escape, at least not one that Jones could see.

“I say we take a chance and help them” Crippen said.

“Me too,” Spacey seconded. “we can sleep in shifts or something just in case.”

“All right, but they will probably kill us the second they are safe inside.” Jones said reaching for the doorhandle.

Well this just keeps getting better and better, Jared thought as the number of undead grew. There was no real way to escape on foot now unless they went over the fence that surrounded the motorpool or blew the door on that school. either way he was going to lose people.

“ any of you guys feel like getting out of the rain” a Voice yelled out from behind them.

Ori turned and saw the soldier standing in the now open door of the Heavy vehicle maintence school, M16 held at Low Ready. Short, maybe five six, a worried smiled on his face. “ Man you guys are a sigh…..” his voice trailed off for a second as he saw Jill for the first time, his jaw dropped and then he visibly got control over himself. “Sight for sore eyes” he continued. “ Now get inside”

Jared waited till team two and then Jill and Jason were inside then followed, tapping Steve on the way past. Steve followed ten seconds later tapping Chris on the shoulder.

One minute later Ori was thru the door, and it was shut and secured. The soldier who opened the door, stood near the far doorway, with two other men, whose eyes kept drifting to Jills chest and then back to looking at the rest of the team members.

“ I’m Lance Jones, formerly PFC Lance Jones” the tall brown skinned man said. “ this is all that’s left on base, well I think” Jones said indicating his two companions.

“Actually there looked to be a few men over in the Training barracks” Jared said then introduced his people, subtly adding wife to Jill’s name. She smiled wickedly at him, amused at the protective streak suddenly appearing in him.

“ Um sorry about staring at your wife, its just, well its been a long time since we’ve seen a living woman.” Jones explained his eyes once more drifting to Jill’s chest. Jared shook his head; soldiers were all the same he thought as he glanced at Ronny who grinned at him.

“ guess your stuck here with us now” Jones said. Spacey obviously both liked and disliked the idea. No doubt thinking if Jared wasn’t around then Jill would be single.”

“ no we have to secure some stuff and then we are back on the road again, and thanks for saving our asses” Jared said.

“ What stuff “ Jones asked curious.

“ there’s supposed to be a FEMA cache on base, close to the motor pool. We need the supplies for our people.” Jared explained. “ Vehicles, medical stuff, food, and other stuff.”

“ You have people. you mean more than the 12 of you.” Crippen asked.

“ Around fifty Some women some men and a lot of kids.” Steve threw in getting impatient the number was actually a little higher but these guys didn’t need to know that.

At the word women, the soldiers got really interested. Immediately asking how many there were in the group and were there any single ones.

“ A few” Steve answered not elaborating.

Jared turned as something thumped against the door, and could see zombies pressing up against the re enforced glass doors. “ Lets go somewhere else and talk” he suggested.

“ And reload some magazines” Steve added. “ We used a lot up out there, and a map of the damn base would be a good idea.”

Outside thunder began to rumble and with in moments the rain came lashing down again. “ Follow me I know a place we can stay in that’s pretty safe, at least for now.” Jones said leading them deeper into the building thru a mechanics bay where a trainees had been working on a tank before the world ended. “ to bad we cant take that damn gun with us, talk about a zombie killer” Ronny said as they walked past it.

As they entered the tunnels, Jones was surprised to see Jared, Ori and Steve don NVG units. “Those things work. Hot damn. The batteries died in ours during the winter.” He exclaimed. “ We have a map of the tunnels but haven’t used them till today because we thought there might be zombies in them.” He added.

” Steve take the rear, Jill you and Jason center. Ori you got point, get with Jones and check the map.” Jared said. Jones eyed Jared curiously for a moment. The man suddenly sounded like a sergeant barking Orders and his people didn’t bat an eyelash; they just did as he ordered. in fact it was pretty possible some of them were military or veterans.

Jones unfolded the map and showed the short blond guy, Ori, the route to the hall they had been staying in. Ori studied it for a long moment touching a spot on the north side of the base by the training grounds. A barracks building if Jones remembered right.

“Okay got it.” Ori said, and Jones got the odd feeling that this man had just memorized the entire map. “Move it out Ori, don’t count on the radios working down here” Jared warned. Jones looked at Jared then back at Ori and blinked the man was gone, with out a sound. Already out of flash light range. Jared glanced at this watch and grunted. “ Lets move out, he is far enough ahead by now.” He said.

“Your prior service aren’t you?” Jones asked suddenly.

“More or less” Jared replied then grinned. “Yeah some of us are, most of these people were just civilians doing ordinary jobs before the zombies. but they learned fast after the end of the world.” Jared raised a finger to his lips, and whispered. “The zombies are attracted to sound and movement.” He whispered. Jones nodded and fell silent though there were a thousand questions he wanted to ask.

Like had any one else survived? Had any cities managed to destroy the zombies before they got overwhelmed? Instead he led them down the tunnels moving quickly with Spacey and Crippen to either side.
** ** **
Cole stood in the RV, furious as hell as the rain lashed the Rv. Mary wasn’t any happier. Just an hour ago, some one had stumbled over the body of Clare, who had been strangled then had a knife driven into her skull. There hadn’t been any sign of rape. Which was a blessing in a way. But the fact they had a murderer in their midst. And he or she had killed one of Cole’s people was bad enough.

He at least believed Mary was just as angry as he was. “how exactly are we going to find out who did it” She asked after a minute.

“ I guess talk to every one get statements and then compare. Maybe some one spotted Clare with the killer before hand” Frank replied.

They had chosen this old long abandoned gravel pit to hide in for the night because it was out of the way and less likely to have zombies. But now it seemed like some one liked it because they could kill people easily amidst all the old equipment and buildings that littered the site.

“ I hate to say this Cole, but we’ve never had anything like this happen till you folks linked up with us” Rob said, as Mary shot him a glare. Cole bristled but Rob raised a hand and cut him off. “ I’m not saying it was one of yours Cole, but people are going to notice that point and think that it is. And I think that it’s the same person that sabotaged the RVs and tried to sabotage Steve’s truck.” Rob said glancing around the room at the few people privileged to be asked to attend.

“ What do you mean sabotaged?” Mary asked surprised. This was the first time she had heard about it.

Rob looked down at his hands for a moment and then met Mary’s eyes. “ I haven’t mentioned it before because I wasn’t sure till today.” He looked around for a moment. “ I think that Carols RV the one we lost on the bridge was sabotaged too, it had just been tuned up and the engine was uncovered and unguarded for damn near three hours just like the other two, and Steve’s truck. I looked into it, because Erik had done the work, and I didn’t want Jared to think my boyfriend was a fuck up.” He fell silent gathering his thoughts as the others waited impatiently.

“ any way, at the farm, while every one else was stripping the house bare of anything we could use. Erik and myself stripped parts off the two RVs we left. I mean we need all the spare parts we can get. So today is the first time I’ve had a chance to look them over, wanted to make sure they were worth using on other RVs if we had to, and found that the Carb on one was clogged with something. It reminded me a lot of what happens when sugar gets dumped in a gas tank. Once I cleaned it was okay, but the deal is, Erik cleaned the Carb as part of the tune ups. So what ever was in the fuel wasn’t there before he worked on the Carb but after.
Then I got to looking at other parts and found that the Alternator had been tampered with on the other RV. Some one had set it up so that the diodes would fry and the battery was already half discharged being as old as it is . And then I found that the radiator hose, and the fuel lines on Steve’s truck had been nicked. The first time it was driven after that they would blow, and since it was parked last night and not been moved since, who ever did it, sabotaged that truck last night.” Rob said laying out his case.

“ Why” some one asked aloud. Mary stood up, her eyes flashing. “Because they were asked to.” She said remembering her dreams, and the Dreams that Jill had shared with her. “ As stupid as it sounds, the dark got some one to help it out. and I bet the reason why is so that we are stuck and the zombies can catch up with us.”

“ Your right that sounds paranoid and nuts” Cole said, then grinned as Reba smacked him on the ass. “ Okay maybe not, but you have to admit that your guessing. Some one could have a grudge, some one could be unhappy about being here with the rest of us. Though I admit in that case they could just leave. “

“ So what do we do” Rob asked obviously upset about the whole situation.

“ We lock every one down. No more being able to wander off into the gravel pit. Say we spotted a few zombies and want to keep every one safe.” Mary said. “ and Rob you and Erik check the vehicles that the kids are on. I by god want those kids safe even if we cant do that for everyone else.” Rob nodded in agreement. He would also check over both deuces to lose them would be pretty bad for every one else.

As the others filed out of the RV to spread the word about the lock down and zombies, Cole, Frank and Mary remained. Mary was well aware that Frank wasn’t happy to be here. “ If it is one of my people Mary I want to deal with it” Cole said, as Frank grumped from his chair.

Mary shrugged. “ I don’t care who deals with him or her, as long as it’s dealt with.” she said then turned her attention to Frank. “ And I want to be clear here Frank. Your attitude will make you a suspect to any one that assumes the killer is in your group. I might be wrong but I don’t believe you’re the one. So Id suggest you work at becoming a bit more accepting. In fact Id love to know what your problem is?”

Frank gazed silently at her for a moment then shrugged. Cole finally had, had it and rounded on his friend. “ Frank, drop it already you fucking idiot. These folks saved our lives, gave us weapons, food, and a place to stay. When we had nothing to offer them Frank, nothing.”

Frank stood slowly, and leaned on the table. But it wasn’t in the least threatening. “ I guess, its hard to drop distrust after you’ve had it. I’m ashamed to admit, but what I keep feeling is jealousy and anger. Because we had damn near two hundred people in the beginning, a nice place to stay, crops planted, fresh water and power for the basic things. And its all gone, all but a handful of us Cole. I hate being that petty. But shit every time I look around and see what they have, and have had since the beginning it just grates on my nerves and its like rubbing in how we failed.”

“ Frank we used to have a place that had all the power we could want, heat, food, good location, and we lost it. we started off with only 13 people frank. We’ve lost a few here and there. Good friends every one of them. we have been lucky. You were screwed by that Michael character. That wasn’t your fault, and that one eyed bastard shot several of our people and tortured and killed a eight year old boy just to leave a message.”

Frank looked ill at that last part, killing a child, especially the way Michael had done it was more evil and horrifying than anything that Michael had done at the Complex. He nodded slowly. “ Im working on getting over the stupidity okay” Frank said, and that was as close to an apology as the man was able to get, Cole knew from experience. And Mary was more astute than he had assumed as she realized it as well and accepted it.

“ One last thing, should I brief both teams on what was discussed here,” Cole asked. Mary shook her head.

“ I would like to, but lets be honest here amongst the three of us, who ever this ass hole is, he might be on the teams.” She said and Cole had to agree, he hadn’t really considered it before this moment. He was starting to believe that Jared have been right in putting a Dominatrix in charge. He smiled grimly to himself at that then turned to Frank “ lets see what we can do to find this guy shall we” he said.

Mikhail swore angrily as he watched from his position and saw two humvees pull up to the supply warehouse. The group that dismounted were not part of Jared’s group of that he was certain.

The warehouse was a large structure, with the front ¼ of the building used as three floors of office space. It wouldn’t take these people long to clear the office area or the warehouse section.

The big question was had Jared and his crew been in contact with this group of soldiers which lead to the question had he lost his chance to get Jared and his crew?
Where the hell was the rest of the convoy. He couldn’t kill the kids if he they weren’t here.

Jared wasn’t reacting the way he had assumed he would. In the past Jared had never left the convoy for very long or very far behind him. at the very least he would have secured and area and had the convoy roll in secure the area and set up camp but not this time. Why? Had Jared suspected something, and how could he have gotten suspicious.

He drew a bead on the burly man in the army uniform, with the wide flat brim hat that he had seen Drill instructors wear on movies. Oddly his uniform was spotless and pressed. Bet his damn boots are even polished Mikhail thought as he watched. Suddenly the man looked directly at him and ducked down out of sight behind a Hummer. Obviously shouting an order, to his people.

“ fuck a cow” he muttered, though it didn’t sound as good in English as in Russian. He had heard about some people who had seen intense combat, could seem to sense when a sniper was watching them. This was first time Mikhail had ever been sure that his victim was aware of his presence.

He slung his rifle and ran from the room. Down stairs he could hear the main doors slam open and the pounding of boots across the lobby below. Not a lot of time, he thought.

At the elevators he inserted a rod with a flared end into the hole at the top right of left elevator door and popped the mechanism. A second later he was inside the shaft half on the Ladder bolted to the shaft wall while he slid the door closed again. with the doors closed he climbed slowly and silently to the top.
If they even thought to check the shaft, he was pretty sure they would look down and not up. Sadly this was one of the newer designs so there wouldn’t be a room at the top to escape onto the roof or to hide in. that would be at the bottom where the Hydraulic lift was. And that would be were any grenades would land if they tossed a few into the shaft. No he would go up and sit on the girders at the top of the shaft frame. If nothing else there were no zombies in here.

** ** **
The mechanical room was actually crowed with all the people crammed into it. Steve sat on a large air handler, idly kicking his feet like a school kid playing hooky at the creek. Jared crouched on the floor studying the Base map.

“ Your sure this is were they stashed the FEMA stuff” Jared asked looking at the map Jones had loaned him.
Crippen who nodded as he tried to ignore Jill who was idly looking through the dvd porn collection and trying not to laugh at his discomfort.
“We ran past it a hundred times if it was once. Hell we even got nailed for singing a Jodie once because some lady working there was offended.”

Jared chuckled, Jodie calls were definitely on the PC ban list. Some of them had to have been written by pappy, being the filthiest things he had ever heard.

“ Anything on that map of the tunnels come close to that area” He asked Ori who shook his head.

“ not a thing, closest approach is three blocks away.” Ori replied. “ But if we hit a motor pool we can take a vehicle or two and get there pretty fast.”

Jared thought about it. if the supplies were already loaded and ready in trailers and the trucks to pull them were there. they could just take that and get the hell out using one of the back gates. But he couldn’t just leave with out checking on the men in the barracks that roger had seen either. Damn this having to ride to the rescue crap. Ori’s is right sooner or later its going to get me killed or I have to say no. but today is not that day.

“ We need more ammo too.” Steve pointed out.

“ shit theres a ton laying all over the place.” Jones said. “ at the gates, and at the rally points they set up when the zombies were overrunning the base. Especially out around Hilton, those choppers were lifting off every ten minutes”
“What choppers” Jared asked.

“The base commander wasn’t a dick after all” Jones said and when that didn’t explain it to the them. “ he had every dependent they could find brought out to the field and choppers were flying them out to some safe location. Even issued orders that no military of any rank excepting flight crews were to be aboard those choppers, unless it was a medic or doctor taking care of some one.
And don’t ask me where, I was never told. All I know is the guys closest to Hilton were under attack by the largest collection of zombies on the base, and those guys held the undead off for a full day. Long enough to get the last choppers off the base. Last thing I heard on the radio was the ones who survived had mounted up on strykers and trucks and hauled ass to the Rally point.
All of us were supposed to go, the rally point was in Florence, a town east of here. but most of us couldn’t make it. To many of the flesh eaters out there.” Jones said. It felt odd after all these months to actually be talking to some one that wasn’t here when the shit went down.

Jared silently wished luck to all those families and the soldiers who had ran for the rally point so many months. They deserved it and he hoped that the base commander earned some special spot in heaven for his actions. When he and his staff could have fled just as easily on a chopper.

“Okay we hit the motor pool, then the FEMA cache. pick up any ammo we stumble across and then haul ass back to the Convoy. Any questions” Jared asked. Ori yawned

“ What do we do after dinner” Chris asked, the tired old line was still worth a chuckle and he got it.

“ All right lets clean our weapons while we have a chance, eat a bite of something we hate and move out.” Jared said.

After their meal they hefted their weapons and made their way downstairs to the steam tunnels. It was no less creepy even with NVG’s, Jared thought as they made their way slowly all to aware that there could be a hundreds of undead down here, just around a corner.

Finally after what seemed all to much like forever down in the darkness they reached the entrance to the Motor pool building and Jones unlocked the door at the head of the stairs. Praying that there was nothing on the other side. he opened the door took one look and slammed the door shut. “ Change of plans” Jones said.

“ That many on the other side.” Jared asked almost laughing at the mans actions.

“ I think Target rich environment comes to mind” Jones said.

“ Well if you can come up with another option to get some vehicles Ill gladly consider it” Jared said as the sound of something striking the door came to them.

“ I know where two hummers are sitting” Crippen said suddenly. Spacey and Jones nodded. “ The MPs sat up a road block near the barracks to try and stop the undead. Their hummers are still there.” He added.

“ Then lead on McDuff” Jared said stepping aside so jones could pass.

“ When this is over I’m moving to Tahiti” Steve muttered.

“ Send me pictures Id love to see Sharon and Bridget in skimpy bikini’s on the beach.” Ronny said with a laugh.

“ Me to” Ori chimed in.

“ Ill try but once I kill you Im not sure you get mail on the other side” Steve replied.

Ten minutes later they were striding up the stairs to the ground floor hallway that would take them to the lobby. The Lobby was just like any other lobby in a military building, Spartan, and lacked the touch of a decent interior decorator.

There were bullet holes in the walls, and the occasional rotting corpse with a hole in its head. Pictures of Army life lay scattered along the floor.

. “all right lets move, keep it quiet.” He said as he started across the lobby and looked out the glass doors.
They could see the Hummers out in the street but no zombies close by. “ ready?” Jared asked. he waited till every one had agreed then threw open the doors and they ran for the hummers. Pounding down the sidewalk and across the grass into the street weapons ready.

The teams up took position around the two HumVee’s, while Jason and Jill checked the interior of the vehicles for undead. Jason looked into the back of one Hummer, then leaped in pressing the ignition button it started on the third try. Jill repeated the procedure of checking the back seat of the second hummer then settled into the drivers seat and got lucky as hers stared right up. The rest of the teams climbed aboard, though it was a tight fit with all of them.

“ How much gas” Jared asked Jill as he tried to get comfortable he had forgotten just how crappy a humvee seat was. “ half a tank” she said.

The hummers moved out, passing the light tan buildings. Jared saw an MWR bus half on a curb, the windows and windshield covered in dried blood. They passed a sand bag position where a fifty was set up and a mostly skeletal body draped over the sand bags.
Further down, a M113 was parked in the trees near the corner. Ori tried to talk Jared into taking it too. But he refused unless Ori was willing to live in the tracked vehicle.

The yard where the FEMA cache was located was a large fenced in area, near base housing. The gates were closed, but a few moments with bolt cutters and the teams were inside. taking only long enough to close and chain the gates again with one of the lengths of chain and a padlock they carried, securing the yard once more.

They drove slowly thru the rows of RV’s, campers, semi Trailers and other vehicles. Jared had Jill drive up to one of the semi Trailers and stop. The Teams dismounted and stood guard while Jared removed the locks on the trailer with bolt cutters and then worked the releases to unlock the doors. Jared swung the double doors of the first trailer open revealing boxes stacked floor to ceiling.

“Chad take team two and get some of those Rigs over here. we hit the mother load.” Jared said. Jones looked around intently, not even sure how he felt now that he was not only outside but possibly leaving

He could tell that Spacey was excited, the way he bounced up and down on the balls of his feet like Cat twitching its tail in anticipation. .

Jill climbed up inside the trailer and walked down the very narrow aisle in the center, using a knife to cut open several of the boxes and grinned. “ Medical supplies” she said as she walked back to the doors and hopped down to stand next Jared a huge smile on her face that damn near gave Jones wood.

They checked each trailer and the three storage buildings, finding Medicine, Food in the form of MRE’s, construction tools and vehicles, generators, fuel, communications and electronics gear and water trucks.

The Medicine was taken out of the building that it had been stored in and loaded where ever they could squeeze it in. Then semi’s were backed into position and the trailers hooked up to them.

“ How much do you think is there” Steve asked Jared how shrugged.

“ More than we need, I can tell you that. but the medical gear and food are the best things in all of it.” Jared said. “ Did you check out the Rv’s”

Steve nodded then said “ there’s also a mobile medical clinic, if your interested.”

“ which means we can transfer all the stuff in Linda’s Clinic RV and free that one up for people to use.” Jared said thoughtfully. “Which cuts us down to needing only three RV’s which allows us…” Jared said then stopped as they heard motors in the distance, growing louder by the moment.
** ** **
Mikhail moved slowly thru the tunnels he had found under the base, damn sure this was how Jared had slipped past the bulk of the undead up top. If they couldn’t be delayed, the undead moving in from Columbia wouldn’t make it here in time.

Behind him, his pursuers were still advancing. They just didn’t give up he thought as he took a turn with no idea where it went. They were most likely annoyed at the six men he had killed so far. He grinned to himself, but as satisfying as it had been he really wanted some private time with them. Some rope, a knife, a car battery and you, he thought with real humor. Now if they would leap to the conclusion that he was with Jared’s group they might just shoot each other on sight.

He slipped thru the dark tunnels silent as a ghost, following the old steam pipes and more modern cable trays. His thoughts turning to his real opponent Jared, that bastard. His enemy was a slippery one.
Part of the problem was trying to set an ambush on such a wide scale. Logistics was the key of course food and water.
But guessing where he would get them had turned into more of a challenge than he had thought. he had been reasonably certain that a Jared would resupply on the base and he had been right and by now Jared had to be at supply, which Mikhail could no longer cover thanks to stirring up the damned military Who would have thought those idiots would still be trying to secure the base so many months after it was all over.

Using the night vision scope he had found a week or so ago in a police office supply room, he spotted a set of steps leading up and bounded up them. The door was unlocked, he opened it up and took a step back as the room full of undead turned to face him, and then they moved for the door as rapidly as they could.

Mikhail grinned tightly and slammed the door. if he knew where an unlocked exit was, he would gladly let the undead into the tunnels to deal with those idiots who were chasing him, or if his friend were handy. But he didn’t and it wasn’t. Mikhail ran back down the stairs and took off down the tunnel, only to hear a shout behind him. “ Halt Or I will use deadly force” a man called out.

Mikhail turned his machine pistol in his hands. “ He has a weapon” another man called out the alarm, Like people being armed these days was a surprise, even surviving liberal anti gun grandmas were packing. Mikhail threw himself out of the line of fire even as he pulled the trigger and swept his weapon from side to side. The sound from his weapon hammered at his own ears in the confines of the tunnel, setting them to ringing.

His fire killed one man outright, and wounded a second, Even as he was hit with two Rounds that tore into his right calf and Left bicep. He gritted his teeth from the pain and pulled himself behind some kind of pump attached to pipes that ran the length of the tunnels. More bullets smacked the concrete and the pump housing as he got to cover.

Three men were still alive and well, a fourth was wounded and the one he had killed had already been shot in the head. So no luck on the newly risen dead helping him out.
He popped out ripping off a burst, sending another man to the ground badly wounded but not dead, then ducked back into cover wondering if he had lost his edge after all as bullets ripped thru the air where he had been a second before.

Mikhail pulled a grenade out of his pocket; he had almost left it in the Humvee when he saw it now he was glad he hadn’t. He pulled the pin and lobbed it down the tunnel.
“ Grenade” some one shouted. The tunnel shook with the explosion, pipes sagged and a cable tray was ripped loose. Mikhail rose and limped further along the tunnel slipping into a side passage and away.

Five minutes later he was standing at an intersection, each of the four passages were blocked by metal doors. In the distance he could hear men shouting, and then gunfire. They must have opened the door at the top of that stairwell he thought with a grin, which faded as he considered being trapped down here with the undead.

PFC Daws stepped back firing into the mass of undead coming down the stairs, PFC Shanks was already dead, torn apart in front of him. with the wound from the grenade he was only slightly faster than the undead. “ Come on.” Sgt Ashton said looping an arm around Daws waist. Leading him back towards the tunnels they had entered from.
Private Simms was at the first side tunnel before the staircase, as soon as Daws and Ashton were clear, he began to lay down fire to cover them.

“ Lets go Daniels.” He said as soon as Daws and Ashton had reached the bend, he stepped out into the main tunnel and looked towards Daniels and gagged.

Long spindly arms were wrapped around Daniels waist, blood gushed from the wound in Daniels throat. The Privates Head dangled to one side, his horror filled eyes pleading with Simms for help. A blood smeared Triangular face looked up from Daniels chest, shredded bloody flesh dangled from its sharp pointed teeth. The cloudy milk white eyes stared at him from under the brim of a bowler hat.

He stood there almost entranced and then suddenly tore his eyes away
from the thing only to scream as he realized he had stood there too long, staring at Daniels killer. Dead hands grasped his flesh and began to tear. Teeth ripped into his shoulder, arms, legs, groin. As the pain flared and washed thru him, the zombie that killed Daniels dropped the privates Body and scuttled forward on spindly legs, its head jutted forward over the hunched shoulders, the mottled leathery skin on the skull was stretched tight giving it a skeletal look. An over long arm lifted and shot forward, Simms screamed at the pain a wild undulating sound that was more animal than human and kept screaming till he finally passed out, the last thing he felt were fingers grasping his intestines and pulling. He never saw it start to feast.

Silence fell in the tunnel except for the loud chewing noises and even that stopped as their prey died. Then in the darkness, the soft whisper of movement as the zombies began to wander the dark Tunnels.

Mikhail heard the last scream and grinned to himself as he tried the final door and found it unlocked. He opened it and slipped thru after making sure it was clear on the other side. the door shut with a clang behind him.

He was tired of this damn game, the only sure way to get this asshole in a trap was to locate their camp and stay on their ass. No more trying to cut around and get ahead of them.

** ** **

It was late afternoon and the sunlight was slanting thru the trees. The humidity was higher here than in the mountains. But it wasn’t as hot as Jared had expected. Hot enough that he had stripped off his shirt and put his combat vest back on. Not as hot as The middle east in Full MOP gear at least.

He leaned against a FEMA Dump truck by the gate watching as two hummers and a M113 pulled up to the gate. no doubt they had followed the sounds of the semi trucks to find them. He wanted to be seen immediately that would help diffuse the situation some, at least he hoped. The rest of his team were spread out under cover, and with Ori on top of one of the storage buildings he wasn’t really to worried.

What he wasn’t prepared for, was who climbed from the Hummer, tall wide shouldered, fitted uniform, a drill sergeants hat placed at just the right angle on the shaven head, square jawed, classically good looking.

“ Ben Cross” Jared said standing upright. It shouldn’t have been so surprising. He had at least five friends in every damn state, posted at one base or another. He hadn’t seen Ben since 2001, when he was deployed with the reserves to Fulda. Jared, Ben and the dirty Dozen had wrangled three days of leave to hit Frankfurt, and the partying had been intense, at least for some. Before that Ben had been in the same Fire team with Jared and Brendan, while Jared had been active duty, in the sand box and then in Bosnia.

So tell me again how this kind of thing is Coincidence again, Jared told himself.

“ I be damned Jared Stone.” Ben said hooking his thumbs into his web belt. “ as much as Id like to catch up. Mind explaining why your stealing stuff off my base” Ben said, as two squads of infantry deployed covering the rear against the undead threat.

“ its not stealing, its more of a liberation of Tax payers dollars to make use of it for its intended purpose, disaster relief.” Jared replied. Ben snorted a laugh.

“ I don’t think that would hold up in court. But since all the judges are either deadish or eaten. I don’t think it really matters. What does matter is that I might need this for my people. but open the gate so we can discuss it inside the fence.” Ben said.

“ Chad get the gate open.” Jared said over the radio.

A few minutes later Ben and Jared were shaking hands, and smiling.

“ how in the hell did you survive” Ben asked looking around as Jared’s men gathered out in the open.

“ being in the right place at the right time, and good friends” Jared said truthfully, indicating Steve who approached smiling widely. Motioning to an RV Jared said “ lets get inside and sit down and talk like civilized people scared of the undead.”

Jared took out a flattened teardrop container that fit in his palm and squeezed two drops into a bottle of water. “ what is that” Ben asked curious sitting down at least it was cooler in the RV. “ its something to flavor water, this one is lemon tea.” Jared said.

“Gimme” Ben said holding out a hand, Jared passed him the container and waited till ben had fixed his own bottle of water, Courtesy of FEMA.

“ So what was it like for you out there” Ben said waving a hand. Jared sat back in the bench seat and started talking. An hour later he was pretty much done, leaving out a few things like the dreams.

“Sounds like it’s rough, out there” Ben commented. “ Kids huh, and some nut job bastard trying to kill them. I guess that’s probably the same one-eyed freak we spotted earlier that killed four of my men before disappearing into the old tunnels. Thought he might be with your bunch till I pulled up and recognized you.”

Steve sat upright. “ Damn it, I knew he would be here waiting” Steve said angrily.

“ well we were both right, as much good as its done us or him.” Jared said. “ As long as he doesn’t know where the camp is, I don’t care, we can keep dancing around the asshat. Im also betting he hoped by shooting some of your men you would think he was with us and come in guns blazing.”

“ those are my thoughts as well.” Ben said then sighed getting back to the topic of contention“ I understand why you need this stuff Jared I do, but I have a few hundred people of my own. And this stuff could be of great help. I haven’t touched it yet because there was no need.” Ben said sitting back and crossing his right ankle over his left knee.

“ I really don’t want to get into a shooting match with you Ben, but this stuff is going with us. We have to many people depending on it. There’s plenty left, loads of medical gear and medicines, food, water, fuel, tools, com gear, computers. Plus what’s left in base facilities. What I don’t understand is why your still here.” Jared said

Ben watched Jared, as if Judging how serious Jared was about taking the supplies, he knew that Jared wasn’t bluffing there would be blood spilled if Ben tried to stop him from taking what he needed.

“ I’m still here because my people have nowhere to go” Ben replied after a moment. “honestly Man, one place is just like another out there these days.”

“ Then come with us” Jared said as Steve shot him a look. “Sullivan is a good set up. We could use you and your people.”

“ Even if I was willing to say yes to that and my people say yes, and no I’m not just going to make a decision this important by myself, they all get a say, but even if we wanted to, it would take us a few days just to pack up and load our gear and supplies onto vehicles. Vehicles we have to make sure are running. We have sick, and now that I know there’s medicine here, I think Ill be taking some back with me. But my original question still holds true.”

Jared sat down his water and leaned forward. “ Because its what soldiers do Ben, its what we are supposed to do, help the weak, save and protect the civilians even if we die doing it. Not play politics or kill for political reason. We’ve all marched to that drum, but this time we call the shots, it’s the right thing to do.” He said with intensity that surprised Ben. “ So talk to your people, load up your gear onto these damn vehicles and head south to Ft. Moultrie. Sooner or later all those zombies in Columbia just outside the fence there, will come marching in here and you will be well and truly screwed.” Jared stated.

“ When did you become a philosopher.” Ben asked with a slight smile. “ Its getting towards sundown, we need to resolve this”
“ Ben I’ve told you what I’m going to do, and what my response will be if you try to stop me. I want you on my side not against me. We have few billion dead folks against us. There’s no damn reason to start shooting. Hell there’s more medicine in the Base hospital over there than what’s stored here.”

Ben nodded in agreement, knowing it was pride that was keeping him from backing down. But Jared was right in a lot of ways, human ways. Keeping those people alive was what he and his people were supposed to do. Not shoot every one and any one to stay alive at all costs. There had to be a higher reason, a moral and ethical duty that went beyond just surviving or they were no better than the savages that had roamed the world a few thousand years ago killing for damn near anything.

That was it really, we either stand up for what our society our civilization preached or we fall back on the old ways, the Law of the Sword where Iron masters all and show we were never doing anything but pretending we believed in higher values. And now your getting philosophical he told himself.

“ You have three RVs, three Rigs with trailers, a water Hemet and a Diesel fuel Hemet” Ben said considering how much was still left in the yard. “ Go ahead and take it, for old times sake and for reminding me of my oath and vow.”

“ Damn we need beer to celebrate” Jared said. Steve grinned and pulled out two hip flasks. “ Will shine do, I considered it medicinal so I brought a lot along” he explained as Jared took the flask and downed a shot before passing it to Ben.

“ So here’s the rub Jared.” Ben said passing the flask back. “ Ill send two M113’s along to cover you back to your camp. But you have to wait till tomorrow to leave here. I want your doctor to take care of three of my men. Take them with you, I know you don’t want to risk staying put to long. Meanwhile Ill talk with my platoon leaders and see how the wind blows about joining you down south. Im almost sure they will say yes, but it might be a month or more before we can get there, if we get there. but honestly theres no real reason for us to stay here.”

“ Deal” Jared said as they shook over the table. They talked almost an hour longer about old times, and people they had known. A memorial of sorts really for those they had lost.
Finally Ben rose to his feet and headed to the door, as he stepped out into the early evening he gazed at the sunset and smiled as he turned back to Jared who had followed him out.’

“You know oddly about a month ago I had dream about Brendan, he even mentioned Id be seeing you soon. Damn odd that” Ben said then headed for the hummer.

They had a tense moment when opening the gates to let Ben and his people out. But the zombies that tried to rush the gate were easily dealt with, Then the gates were closed and locked once more.
** ** **

Daws shivered as he looked out the window in to the street below. The sounds of the men in the room with him who were talking quietly about the events of the day faded into silence.

A profound silence, unlike anything he had ever experienced. He turned and could see his friend’s mouths moving but there was no sound. “ Daws” the voice had come from the window. He jerked his head around and stared out onto the dark street below. And stiffened as he saw something step into the square of light spilled out into the night from the window he sat at.

The overlarge head peered up at him, as one wrinkled hand came up and tilted the bowler hat back on its mottled brow. It was more shadow than real, but closer to reality than anything else around him. it smiled up at him “ Daws, I’m coming for you boy. Coming soon. You didn’t escape; I let you go to enjoy the game. I’m going to eat your eyes out of your skull Daws, then I’m going to eat something you really like, gnaw it right off Daws. Gnaw it off like I did to your little brother Daws.”

Daws felt a hand on his shoulder and shot upright in his chair, pain flared in his thigh from the shrapnel wound. “Daws are you Okay?” Sgt Ashton asked as he dragged up a chair. “You were having a hell of night mare from the sound of it.” Ashton said gently.
Daws shook his head trying to clear the fog of sleep from his mind, and hoping the almost crippling fear he felt would go away. He hadn’t had a dream like that one ever, and that bit about his brother, was something he hadn’t dreamed about in a long time. he sat there waiting praying for daylight. “ Im fine , I will be better when the sun comes up and even better when this damn wound heals I want a piece of that shit head who lured us down there.”

“Me too Daws, me too” Ashton said as he propped his feet in a chair and leaned back getting comfortable.
** ** **
The sun when it rose was hidden behind a wall of clouds. The trees all over base, bowed to the wind as it passed thru bringing a blinding rain in its trail. It was already starting to flood in several places. Jared looked out into the rain, and knew he had to hurry. Things were coming to a head, and he could sense Michael the one eyed bastard out there on the base lying in wait.

Thunder rumbled overhead shaking the Rv, Jared couldn’t get rid of the feeling he had to get back to camp as soon as possible.
continue to Act 3 Part 3


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