“Crystal water turns to dark
Where ere it’s presence leaves it’s mark
And boiling currents pound like drums
When something wicked this way comes…
A presence dark invades the fair
And gives the horses ample scare
Chaos rains and panic fills the air
When something wicked this way comes…
Ill winds mark it’s fearsome flight,
And autumn branches creak with fright.
The landscape turns to ashen crumbs,
When something wicked this way comes.”
~Ray Bradbury “ something wicked this way comes”
The rain fell steadily outside, not as heavy as it had been during the night. But it was still a sight-obscuring wall of water. It was a gray day, the sunlight dimmed by the leaden cloud cover. The trees, made shadowy by the rain, whipped from one side to the other driven by an uncaring wind that shifted from point to point. Everywhere one looked nature was washed out, just shades of black and gray.
Jared stepped out of the RV into the rain, enjoying the splash of water on his face. At least the storm if it lasted would cover any sound they made and keep the zombies from seeing them move about. down side, it kept Jared and the rest of the living from seeing or hearing the undead till they were close.
He walked to the Gate where Ben and his people would be arriving any minute. Chad’s team was already in place. Ryan looked nervous as hell but was holding it together. his wounds were healing well all things considered. What they really needed was a break for a few weeks; let every one get healed up. but that just wasn’t going to be possible.
Finally they heard heavy motors and the first Personnel carrier appeared in the rain. Then a second, behind that one, a third. The first two APC’s took positions on either side of the gate as Chad’s men opened the gates at Jared’s signal and stepped back weapons ready as the third M113 clanked into the Lot followed by Two Humvees.
Ben leaped out of the lead Humvee when it came to a stop “ the wounded are in the 113, where do you want them.” He yelled at Jared who pointed to his RV. Ben passed that along to his men then said “ sorry had to add another guy, he got tore up by your one eyed prick yesterday.” Ben said as he walked up to Jared. “ I also notice that you’ve added a few more RV’s to your line up”
“ we thought we had enough, till we went over the numbers. We add only three more of the big ones, which leaves you with something like eighty on the lot, and we took six of the smaller van like ones” Jared said. “ truth is we could use a few more but we don’t have enough people to drive them back. “
“ I know I was being a bitch yesterday, but after considering all the vehicles we have access to already combined with the remaining RVs we should have more than enough for every one still left alive on base,” Ben said shrugging, then got back to business. “The two M113s will come back as soon as you’re at your camp. Sorry we need them here, especially if we end up heading down to meet you on that island.” Jared led him into the RV out of the Rain, where Jill had just finished braiding her hair into a tail when they entered.
Ben smiled at her, “ Never thought you’d end up married,” he said to Jared who grinned. “ Well as married as two people can get with out a living preacher and no license” Jared said with a smile. “ Married is married, never needed a preacher or a piece of paper for that.” Ben said as the door opened and Men began working to get a stretcher inside while others held umbrellas over the wounded man.
“ Jenkins here is 26, and got hurt when some shit fell on him the other day. we’ve done all that first aid and TV show knowledge allowed us to do.” Ben explained. Another man in full uniform limped, with assistance, onto the Rv. He had Dark haired, thick eyebrows, angular jaw and deep eyes. Jill would consider him good looking Jared thought. “ that’s Daws,” Ben said indicating the dark haired man. “ got some shrapnel in his leg yesterday courtesy of your one eyed stalker. The man helping him is Sgt Ashton, and will be going with you as well. Daws is the last man of Asthon’s unit still alive.” Ben said by way of explanation..
Jared watched as Daws lowered himself on to the couch his weapon ready at hand. Ashton, was a solidly built man, brown haired, average looks and hazel eyes with gold and blue flecks with a very non regulation almost red haired mustache and the beginnings of a beard sat in the chair next to the couch, His rifle resting across the arms of his chair.
The last of the wounded were brought aboard, a young blond girl, maybe 18. cute as hell, racked and stacked as Ronny would have said. She smiled weakly at him as she was carried back to the second bed in the RV. “ what happened to her” jared asked.
Ben shrugged. “ she just got sick, constant low grade fever, throwing up, aches and pains.”
“ Linda will do her best Ben, but Im not promising anything.” Jared said.
“ just do what you can for Angela,” Ben said. “life delivers shit sometimes doesn’t it, Fresh out of high school she joins the Army, leaves home for the first time in her life and then the zombies ate everyone. The girl is just 18 Jared. And when the undead hit the base, she volunteered to hold the line and she did it for months. Id just like to see her survive.” Ben said softly.
“ So there is a soft spot in you” Jared joked for a moment.
“ Maybe its her age, makes me feel all father like and protective. “ Ben replied. “ just do what you can for them. That’s all I ask. And we brought you a bit more Ammo. though finding out your taking more vehicles, should make me take it back” He said with a grin
“Id Kiss you but I don’t want you humping my leg, so how about a handshake instead.” Jared said smiling.
“ youd like it if I humped your leg” Ben promised, almost laughing as they shook hands. Then he glanced at jill. “ But then again maybe not” he added grinning. The grin faded slowly “ Be careful Jared, just knowing a few of my friends are still alive, is one hell of a boost in hope these days.”
“ you too Ben, keep your ass down and don’t get it bitten off. and once we leave I don’t think you have to worry about one eye either. But odd things seem to happen these days, so stay low and slow.” Jared said as they stepped back out into the rain and he walked Ben to the humvee.
“ theres five cases of 5.56, three cases of 7.62. I saw the M203’s on some of your boys weapons yesterday so I added 36 rounds of 40mm HE, . Its all loaded into one of the 113’s and its yours. The Ammo not the armor” Ben said as they shook hands once more. “ now give me the spare key to the padlock you installed, get your people out of here, we will lock up after you.”
Five minutes later, they were rolling thru the gate and out into the storm. Headed for Gate five, and then to camp.
Cole watched as Jared stood by the grave, just staring at it. his hands clenching and unclenching. From where Cole stood he could see the muscles in Jareds jaw twitching. He had to admit he had never seen a man more furious and it hadn’t even been one of his group. Or maybe it had.
Maybe Mary had been right when she said that once some one joined up Jared considered them part of his group, or Pack as a few of his friends liked to call it. the fact that it looked like some one in the group, or more than one had committed murder and sabotage only made him more furious at the betrayal.
Finally, he turned away from the grave, and walked to where the rest waited under the awning of the RV. Jared looked at Steve “ get every one ready we are leaving in ten minutes. Pass the word that from now on, no one wanders around by themselves, they can only walk around in groups of three or more.”
He turned to Rob “ I don’t want any one helping with anything until they are cleared by me. And I want to know how many and who helped or were with in spitting distance of those vehicles. And the last thing for now, I want you to come up with some kind of Memorial thing with all the names of the people we have lost along the way, make sure there is space for every name in the group to be added. When this is over, I want who ever comes after us to know, who we were, and what we did.” He turned his head.
“Sgt. Ashton, I want you to come up with a training routine for our people. my, our skills are a bit out of date. But when we stop next I want to run people thru what ever we can come up to give them a more skills and confidence. And starting now your in charge of Team Five. Your taking Jones, Spacey, Crippen, and Daws for now. If the other two pull thru, you’ll get one of them and Ill take the other on Team one. Now lets get this shit packed up and lets get out of here.” Jared said abruptly and headed for his RV. Ashton and the other soldiers were housed in one of the New Rv’s. Jared had plans on adding a couple more Rvs along the way, but not for now. and at least with the new Rvs people were less crammed up for the moment.
Steve would be damn happy to have Carol, Anne, Mai Linn, and Shelby out of his RV. Jared thought, poor bastard, having to live with six women and two of them pregnant. No wonder he had wanted to hit the base. He needed to get his testosterone levels back up.
He sat down in the drivers seat, but Tatiana glared at him with her best you need to rest look till he gave up and let her take his place. Jill gave him a crooked smile as he sat down in the other chair at the table. Logan was sprawled out on the couch already asleep.
“ he is a good looking guy” she said watching Logan for a moment. Jared shrugged if she was trying to get him jealous she would have to work harder than that. then stopped that line of thought. Jill did not play games like that, she was just stating what she thought. no big deal.
“ did you hear that Seth has asked every one to start Calling him Jack” Jill said.
“Why?” Jared asked then yawned.
“When he found out what had happened to Anne and why she reacted to his name every time she heard it, he didn’t want her to have to deal with it so he started asking people to call him Jack.” Jill said .
“ he is a good guy I’m glad we stumbled across both families.” Jared said wondering how she got so much gossip together in the twenty minutes they had been back at Camp. She probably knew who was sleeping with who, what kind of underwear they had switched to, and what kind of porn they were looking at today.
She watched him for a moment, wishing they could go roll in the bed for a while but there were still two sick and injured people in the beds in the back. who couldn’t be moved till they set up a better camp, and could be transferred to the actual medical unit vehicle they had brought back with them. Linda had been ecstatic over that find. Going on and on about what she could do with all the equipment inside.
Pappy had finally been allowed to stay with jeff and his family in their Rv. and had been seen flipping off Linda thru the window. According to rumor, He had tried to moon her too, but had been unable to do it with only one arm. Jeff had wrestled the old farts pants back over his left buttock in full view of half the camp. As furious as he was about the murders, Jared had actually laughed when she told him that one.
Outside the window, the world rolled by covered by rain and lit by lightening. A world of greys, black, and silver. Jared finally fell asleep, before Jill had to slip him a sleeping pill. She should just move his ass to the couch bed with Logan where at least he could be stretched out but she didn’t, even though it might prove entertaining when they woke up. Finally she got up and went and sat with Tatiana, and spent the next two hours enjoying Girl time.
They were now almost at sea level, the mountains and foot hills behind them. Jared already missed the rocky bluffs, the deep forested hollows and the rock strewn river beds of the highlands. The roads of the lowlands crossed numerous creek and rivers, thick forests still crept close to the roads but now there were more farms, though in this county there had never been a large population outside of two towns.
When Jared already awake he rose to his feet and rubbed his back as the RV came to a stop. note to self, never sleep in that damn chair again. he told himself as he rubbed his sore neck and then his back. he could hear people talking outside, grabbing his commando he slung it across his chest and stepped outside.
“ Glad you got some sleep, I need to check your calf out as soon as I get the medical center set up” Linda said the moment she noticed Jared.
. Jill walked over and kissed him then whispered “we get our bed back in an hour, prepare to be molested tonight unless we get attacked.”
Olanta was an out of the way small town, 613 people according to the sign when you entered the town. They could have actually set up in town, with so few zombies, but that would have been about a thousand rounds wasted to kill every zombie in town.
The original planned campsite was a state park, but with the marshes and the heat Steve had thought that possible bug and sickness issue was something to avoid.
The new campsite was perfect really. Ronny had spotted it from the air a few days ago, and Steve had decided while Jared was asleep to utilize the old Drive in theater as a camp. All the poles that had once held speakers had been removed sometime in the past. The snack bar and bathrooms still stood and were placed near the gates. the old movie screen was still in place, though sagging now, ready to come crashing down.
The lot itself had been gravel and asphalt once upon a time, but over the years the gravel had washed away and now a sea of weeds and grass had taken over with asphalt islands scattered around the lot.
For the moment there was no need to hunt for food, water, or fuel or for that matter much of anything else really. They had all that they needed in the way of supplies and then some. Which was a rare event these days.
Steve had already assigned out the new RVs, and it was now looking like one hell of a large convoy. At least people had more room and the tension levels should drop some.
Steve had made a few other changes as well, The Rv had been parked in a different arraignment then normal. They had been broken down into Groups of three, each group was parked in a U shape. With one RV at the bottom and one on each side, doors facing into the center.
Steve had set up it so that the camp was a square, with two U’s of six RV’s to three of the four sides of a Large square, wit the open end closed off by the Medical clinic vehicle, the ambulance and a semi truck and trailer.
The portable walls now filled in the gaps between the ends of the U’s. making the entire interior of the square fairly secure. The rest of the trucks and Personal vehicles were parked around the outside of the actual camp like a wall, with guards now patrolling the path between the vehicles and the camp.
At least One eyed asshat, and his zombie buddies couldn’t just walk up on them now, and Asshat would have to get some serious elevation to shoot at the group inside the center of the camp.
With the Murders, Cole and Mary had basically laid down the law about no one was to leave the Square, unless they were taking out a vehicle on a run, In an attempt to keep the murderer from getting any one alone outside the camp proper.
Leaving Steve and the others to work out the details Jared started walking the camp, stopping to talk to each person he encountered.
Jared grinned hearing Pappy curse heavily, and headed that way. Pappy sat in a chair under the red and white awing of Jeffs travel trailer, a red and white blanket draped across his legs. Pappy was glaring up at Beth who glared right back at him her hands on her hips. “ I wont tell you again you old coot, no cussing in front of the kids. I will not kick or kiss your wrinkled butt, but I will by god duct tape you to that camp chair and then gag you. Am I clear.” Jared hid a smile, this was Beth on a rampage, god help Ori if he ever pissed her off.
“ as clear as a Clap ridden whore quoting prices” Pappy said still glaring.
“ I cant believe you, even trying to be polite your rude as hell.” She snapped as Pappy just grinned.
“ it’s a gift, and I wish to say that you should refrain from talking about my wrinkled ass, hearing a lady talk about it turns me on. So unless your ready to follow the wrinkled road map to pleasure. I wouldn’t mention my ass, besides Even wrinkled snakes lose their wrinkles when stretched out.” Pappy said with a leer.
Beth blinked, and then it registered that the dirty old fart was hitting on her. she stuttered for a moment much to the amusement of pappy. “ you sir are disgusting.” She finally said.
Pappy just grinned back at her. “ Disgusting, dirty, foul mouthed, mean and cantankerous” Jared said stepping up. “ Pappy enough, youll get so excited youll have another stroke.”
“ Now getting her to experience a bit of wrinkled loving might be worth having another stroke, or two or ten. And then having a heart attack.” Pappy said. Jared grinned, as Beth suddenly got exactly what he meant. Deciding she’d had enough she stalked off muttering.
“ You really need to stop baiting her and Linda” Jared said sitting down.
“ To fun, besides the doc now at least cusses on occasion. Im getting to her.” Pappy commented. “ and I hear you have a problem or two. sabotage and Murder.”
“ Yeah, and if I catch the person who did it, Im going to nail their testicles to the floor and then pull them around the room before I finally kick in their ribs then shoot them.” Jared stated.
“Listen to me boy, all bull shit aside, if you catch them, and You know, and I mean know he or she did it. don’t dick around, kill them clean, you don’t want to reach my age and wish like hell you had never tortured someone no matter how much they might have deserved it. and if you do, Ill shoot you in the balls just so you wont forget the lesson the next time it comes up” Pappy said flatly.
Jared eyed the old man, the right side of his body might not work, giving that side of his face a sagging appearance, but the mind behind that face was a good one. When he wasn’t acting like a cretin. Pappy had a history, and that was about as close as he would ever come to telling any one what it was. it was more than he had ever hinted at before.
“ Got any suggestions on how to catch them or who it might be” jared asked. Pappy shrugged his one working shoulder.
“ Not a clue boy, I don’t get around much these days as you can imagine. I mean lets face it some one had to drag my ass out here and put me in a chair. What really sucks is if you folks ever stumble across a hot old lady I want to ride till she falls down, she will have to do the riding and only in two positions. And personally I like eight of them and I cant do them any more.” Pappy commented, with a lurking grin.
“ that is so disturbing I don’t even want to have that mental image” Jared said after a moment. Wishing he could pulls his brain out and scrub it down. “ god how did Jeff survive child hood”
“ I was a good pa, got him lube and a playboy to celebrate his first pube.” Pappy said smugly. “ I would have gotten him a hooker but my wife, saint that she was put her foot down.”
“ I remember that playboy” Jared said suddenly laughing.
“ that’s better” Pappy told him, then leaned forward as much as he could. “ its alright to be angry, but your leading folks Jared. you have to learn to push that shit back out of sight. Laugh when you can, smile often and then when you catch that asshole put a bullet in his or her head without a qualm. Otherwise that anger, and frustration over the zombies, killers and one eyed, one balled, child murdering bastards, will ruin you. And youll wake up like me one day.
though not able to cuss as well as I can. Now get the hell out of here. I need my prune juice, Vickie My daughter in law thinks I need a more regular bowel movement. A Bowel movement?, people cant even say take a shit any more.”
Jared rose and smiled fondly at the old fart. Then walked away. He had things to do. They were a hundred twenty some odd miles from their goal. And he really expected things to get a lot worse the closer they got.
He spent an hour walking around the camp, talking with people. trying to calm their fears of attack by asshat and being killed by a deranged murderer. The wounded had been transferred to the Mobile medical clinic, MMC for short, so he finally had some privacy again. as long as he didn’t walk in on Logan and Tatiana again, they really needed to stop with the sex at the drop of the hat, on the couch.
He spent half an hour just watching the kids, while Beth taught them their lessons. Noticing that four men were subtly guarding the kids. Jared smiled with approval at that. his smile faded as he remembered Billy Thornton. Just let me figure out where One eye is hiding, and Ill deal with him myself, just like I did with Seth. Jared vowed.
By sunset, the camp was fully set up. people feeling more secure in the lot with its eight foot tall chain and metal wall running its length. They kept the lights down and only used the silent generators to power what they need so as not to draw a crowd of undead.
Jerry sat on the roof of the snack bar sweeping the night vision binoculars over the road. Bored out of his wits. he sat back and looked towards the Rv where Ryan was spending his nights. On he knew that there was no sex going on yet. But he could tell that there would be as soon as that blond hottie was over her loss.
And here Jerry was alone, as usual. Hell even that 15 year kid Ben was getting some with an older woman no less. “ And I get to sit on a roof watching the road for zombies.” he muttered. And when Im not getting to sit on a roof, and not getting to have sex, I get to have nightmares. Aint life just freaking grand.
A soft noise near the gate drew his attention; he looked down but saw nothing there. just nerves. Sitting up here in the dark, with zombies out there is starting to wear on me. He decided. He glanced towards Stephanie’s RV and thought about the one time he had seen her showering. Man that old dude had been a lucky man he thought.
He heard a noise at the gate again, almost like some one lifting the chain that held the gates closed. He looked again but saw nothing, but a cold chill swept up his back.
“ hear something” a voice said behind him. he almost jumped out of his chair. “ shit, man. Do you have to sneak up on me like that” Jerry snapped hating his reaction.
“ sorry kid.” Ashton said as he stood there with his rifle slung across his chest, right hand resting on the receiver.
“ Fuck you I’m not a kid” Jerry replied hotly.
Ashton shook his head as if disappointed. “ so what did you hear” he asked, changing the subject.
Jerry almost didn’t say anything, just to be an asshole about it. “ sounded like some one messing with the chain on the gate, but there’s no one there.”
Ashton stood there for a moment silent as he gazed at the gate. there was enough moonlight that he should have been able to see any zombies or people at the gate.
“ I came up here to relieve you, so you could spend some time with the others.” Ashton said after a moment.
“ to do what, watch every one else make out. I don’t have a woman, and not likely too either.” Jerry said as neutrally as he could. But Ashton could hear the bitterness in the boys voice.
“ I haven’t had a woman since last June, so don’t feel like the lone ranger.” Ashton replied.
“ well I’m younger I got needs, you know we need it more often at my age. Not like … well you know” Jerry said deciding that saying not like you old folks wasn’t a great idea especially since the guy had come up here to let him go do something other than sit on a roof.
Ashton hid a smile, the boy might have needs, but he doubted the kid had ever had that itch scratched. “ well get on down there, have a beer, kick back. The way I understand it you’ve been pulling Guard duty a lot the last month or so.”
“ Thanks” Jerry said meaning it. he stood and slung his rifle and headed off the roof.
Jerry only ended up spending half an hour with the others, before heading to the RV he shared with Chad and the others. stepping inside he saw John cuddling with Wendy, Just cant get away from it he thought angrily as he walked out of the camp and began to pace the lot. he didn’t care they were supposed to stay in the camp. Three men were patrolling around the outside of the camp, and Ashton was on the roof of the snack bar. And if any one tried to attack him, they would have to sneak up on him across a wide open area and he had a Freaking Sub machinegun.
He walked slowly around the lot, long habit had become ingrained and his eyes swept the area around him searching for threats. As he passed the gate for the second time, he heard a stealthy movement. Like shoes scuffing on gravel and was instantly alert. He turned in a circle looking for any one or anything sneaking up on him. seeing nothing he relaxed only slightly. Ashtons up on the roof, so calm down, Jerry told himself.
There’s nothing there, he thought as he headed back to camp tired and not caring who might be making out. a pot of cold water on their asses and he could get some sleep. As he stepped into the circle of Tractor-trailer rigs and cars around the camp, he saw some one standing in the shadows of the trailer closest to him. it was a man he could tell, who was looking at something under the trailer and stood up as soon as he heard Jerry.
“ hey what’s going on.” Jerry said friendly like. Just wanting to get to bed
“ just out taking a breather” the man said not stepping out of the shadows, he sounded familiar.
“ I hear ya, me too.” Jerry said, something about this was bothering him, but he couldn’t figure out what. He glanced towards the camp where a bed was calling him. “ well have a good one Im heading to bed” jerry said as he started to walk away. He distinctly heard a second voice say “ kill him”
Jerry started to turn but heard fast heavy steps, and was only half way around when something struck him in the head. “ kill him, kill the little bastard” the voice was hard, sharp and angry with a touch of accent. Jerry tried to bring the rifle to bear. He managed one strangled shout for help, as something struck him in the head once more. As he fell to the ground he heard some one shouting and the sound of boots running across the lot towards him. and then nothing.
Jared stood there looking down at the teenaged boy’s body, a cold seething hatred boiling thru his system. The only saving grace had been that who ever had killed the kid had struck him in the head so at least there hadn’t been a chance for jerry to come back.
Ashton had heard the kid shout for help and had leaped off the roof calling for help on the radio and reached jerrys side no more then a minute later. The patrol had been just on the other side of the camp. So who ever had done it, had done it fast and faded from sight.
Ori walked around the spot with a flashlight studying the ground, but said nothing while Jerry’s body was wrapped in a sheet and taken away.
“ we told them not to leave camp, and to stay in groups. And ….” Jared’s voice faltered, his anger was indescribable.
“ it was a man” Ori said now that all but his friends remained, the others had left carrying Jerry’s body. “ he was standing here.” Ori said pointing. “theres a spot in the grass where it looks like who ever it was, was kneeling.” He said getting down on one knee and looking under the trailer. “ and here is a cut brake line.”
Ori rose and began to walk around the area studying the ground, trying to sort out tracks were people had run through to reach the scene. He finally noticed a depression in the grass and gravel, just under one of the Rv’s and a set of distinct tracks that kept to the shadows heading away from the scene. He played his light along the tracks and frowned.
“ so he walked up and saw someone standing here, and was killed so he couldn’t tell any one later he saw who ever standing in the dark next to the trailer.” Jared said, as Ori studied a spot of ground with his flashlight. He could hear Ryan in camp, yelling out threats. “ shit, Keep looking Ori Ill be back” Jared muttered as he strode back into camp, to see Logan and Chad trying to calm Ryan down.
“ Get him in my Rv” Jared said, pointing to Ryan. As Chad and Logan almost carried Ryan into Jareds Rv. Jared looked around at the people who were watching the whole damn thing silent and as angry as he was, and Probably scared to.
Chad and Logan forced a struggling Ryan down on the couch as Jared entered the Rv. Ryan was spitting mad and glared at Jared. “ you should have stopped this” he said almost snarling. “ he didn’t have to die”
“ no he didn’t Ryan, and I couldn’t have stopped what happened, or I would have. so calm you ass down. I promise you I will find who ever did this and I will stop it.” Jared vowed, realizing that to point out Jerry was wandering around alone after every one had been warned to stay in camp or go out in groups.
Jared turned to Jill, “ you’re the best one I know for this, find out who was unaccounted for in the camp. I want to know who stepped out of sight for even a moment to take a pee, go to bed, hell even to jerk off.” he said keeping his anger under control. he was not just going to sit back and let his people, his friends get murdered.
The door opened as Cole entered the RV andwalked up to Jared and met the red heads eyes squarely. “ I want to help, whether the killer is one of mine or not. These people have been through enough with just watching the world get eaten, I refuse to let this crap go on.” He said. Jared nodded, he didn’t suspect Cole but that honestly didn’t matter. At this point any one could be the killer. Jill slipped her katana into her belt then nodded at Cole as she left the RV.
“ Ashton said that just before Jerry walked back towards camp, he heard what sounded like some one messing with the chain that holds the gates closed.” Ronny commented. “ think its connected.
“ you mean, you think it could have been the one eyed asshole” Jared asked, as Ronny nodded. “its possible” Jared admitted. He turned to Rob “ You, Erik, Steve and Logan. Get lights and start checking Every vehicle out there. start with the fuel trucks and then the Rigs, after that the RV’s and get Ori to help you.”
“ why would any one do this though, I mean the world has come unglued and this is a bit of safety, so why just start killing other people” Mary asked.
“ maybe who ever it is, was a serial killer before and cant resist the urge any longer.” He suddenly thought about the Dreams that Jill had, had for so long. “ or maybe they had dreams that …” his voice trailed off, it just sounded preposterous, even with the dreams he’d had.
They buried the body at Dawn, under the clear blue sky, letting Ryan say a few words, because they had been friends for a long time. Ryans voice cracked a few times and tears spilled down his face, but he managed to keep his composure. The whole camp was gathered, which had added a bit of tension since every one knew that who ever killed the teen-ager was standing there with them, gloating and enjoying the spectacle he had caused.
Later of course there were of course lots of comments about how easy it should be to find a killer in such a small group of people. Jared passing a group in conversation and hearing Keith make that comment rounded on him. “ if its so Easy buddy, why don’t you know” he asked, his voice was flat and deadly. Keith stepped back away from Jared looking nervous. His friends looked uncomfortable but no one leaped to his defense “ Maybe I should accuse you, or Her” Jared continued jabbing a finger at Mai Linn. “ Maybe I want to make sure I get the right scum ass to Kill before I just pick the first person who wandered off to go to the bathroom.” Keith nodded nervously gulping, he had never seen Jared this angry.
“ Sorry, I just was venting” Keith finally managed to get out. Jared visibly calmed himself, way to be a great leader of men buddy he chided himself.
“ I know, Im sorry I shouldn’t let my anger get the best of me, Im betting that’s exactly what the person behind this wants. To see us tear our selves apart.” Jared said. And that was it, wasn’t it. who ever, what ever was running loose in the world wanted them to destroy themselves. He wasn’t even sure how he knew it, but it felt right. But if they suddenly went at each other, sooner or later people would fight and die. And it, what ever it was, would just eat it up like candy.
“ Jared a word” Ori said appearing out of nowhere. Keith damn near peed his pants.
“ damn it Ori stop that” Jared replied, angry now at himself for letting the enemy play him. well not again, never again you asshole he vowed. “ what is it?”
Ori just motioned for Jared to follow him, they walked thru the outside ring of vehicles with ori pointing out tracks. Then they were past the vehicles, crossing the lot till they stood by the fence where Ori knelt and pointed out two large depression in the grass. “ there were two people, one came from the camp. I found tracks leading back into the camp. Lost it of course once who ever it was walking into the areas where people have been wandering around. But this second set, this is where our second guy came over the fence, he walked to the tractor trailers, wandered around them with the other person, then headed back to the fence down there in the back corner He must have climbed over the fence there and into the woods on the other side.”
“ one eye was involved then” Jared said, “ but how did he get to know some one in the camp.” Jareds eyes widened. “ son of a bitch it is one of Coles people, he met who ever it was at the Complex, they helped him kill all those folks. And he or she must have made contact with the one eyed bastard sometime in the last couple of days. But it couldn’t have been while we were on the base, One eye was there”
“Id guess it happened sometime before we reached the Base, unless our killer as acting alone till last night. One eye could have tailed us from the base to Camp, spotted his old buddy slipped in and left him a note. But Im betting it was before we entered the base. And remember he got into camp at least once at the farm. and lets be honest till recently our security was geared more towards zombies than people.” Ori pointed out as he took off his glass and cleaned them carefully. “ Ive been sloppy Jared, no excuse. Got too used to dealing with zombies. well not any more. Let me take Jason and I will hunt the bastard down”
“ no Ori, if you go, I go with you. But not just yet, we have to find who ever he was talking with here. and Im betting that he was here for more than cutting a brake line and killing a teen aged boy.” Jared said as he looked up at that clear blue sky. “ at least the damn storms have died off.” he said as he headed back to camp.
Behind them the grass and weeds in the lot swayed gently in the spring breeze, as the sun shone down on the freshly filled grave covered with wild flowers that were already wilting in bright sunshine that should have cheered the soul.
Mikhail, wished they were still in the mountains where he could find a good ridge or two to watch their camp from. Having to find a good tree on a hill that looked down on the camp was a pain in the butt. But found one he had. He had watched the funeral, and then watched Jared and some blonde guy with glasses walk thru the trucks and then around the lot finally stopping about where he had come over the fence.
“ so that’s their Tracker. Better than I had thought.” Mikhail said aloud. “ well better hurry boys because if your still here in three days and you haven’t caught me, your going to be getting a visit from a friend of mine, once I open your gates that is.”
He hoped they didn’t find his contact in the camp till then, he hoped the idiot would kill a few more people before the time came. Last nights victim had been both lucky and unlucky. He suspected that they had found the cut brake line but he hadn’t managed to find a vantage point till around dawn. He had seen Men checking the RV’s, so he had to assume that they had found the sabotaged trailers, unless they were just operating on Paranoia. Didn’t really matter, the sabotage even if found would heighten tensions and fears in the little group. And that was just as effective for his final plans as wrecking vehicles and killing people.
He decided to plan on a way to keep them at the camp for the next three days, just to speed things up. he didn’t doubt that some of them, maybe most of them would survive the coming attack. But every death weakened them, and instilled more fear and suspicion. Even if they caught his contact, all he had to do was slip in and kill one or two after that and they would start to believe there were killers scattered all through their little community.
Three days AmErikans, three days and all hell is going to break loose on you, literally he thought with a laugh.
Mary walked up to the group sitting around a table under the Awning of the Soldiers RV. being nice, she had decided to give them a case of Coca cola she had stored away. One of them was talking about a battle in the tunnels chasing one eye. Stepping up with the case she saw it was Daws and gave him a smile. If she didn’t already have Ronny, he would be a fun one she thought. a nice spankable butt that one.
She set the cokes down on the table just as he was describing how the zombies came out of no where and attacked his fire team in the tunnels.
Steve was sitting there and just happened to look up at Mary as Daws described the creepy ass zombie that had killed one of his men and saw Mary Go pale. She stumbled back and almost fell but Jones caught her and looked at her with concern. “ not possible “ she said aloud, Steve heard her clearly over the concerned questions as men tried to make sure she was alright.
“ let me have her” Steve said slipping his arm around her and helping her to a chair. Shocked to be honest at the fear he saw in her eyes. “ whats wrong” he asked once she was seated and some one had opened a coke and passed it to her. she held the can with out drinking.
“ it cant be possible Steve, I saw that same damn zombie on Zday, in the parking garage in Nashville. No damn way could it have gotten to South Carolina, hell they cant even make a mile in less than three hours. Much less end up on a military base in south Carolina.” She said, looking ill.
“ what’s she talking about” Daws asked puzzled.
“ That’s what Id like to Know.” Jared said stepping up with Jill, Spacey had run looking for Ronny when Mary had almost collapsed and told Jared what was going on before he sped off to the plane looking for Ronny.
Mary turned to Daws and began to describe the zombie she had seen in detail. Jill gasped in surprise as Jared looked at her and Daws was saying, “ yeah that’s what he looked like”
“ Jill?” Jared prompted.
“ Ive seen him too. In dreams” she said finally
“ Ive had a few odd nightmares about him since the tunnels” Daws admitted.
Mary nodded emphatically “ Ive had nightmares about him too, off and on since I saw him”
“ what the hell is going on” Steve asked shaken. “how can so many people be dreaming about the same thing. And how could a zombie follow us, more to the point why would a zombie follow us. They usually wander off once they lose track of a person.”
“ I have no clue, but I think its time we started asking around. I’ll start with Logan, remember that zombie he saw down at the Church on Big Cove, that he says was the creepiest zombie he had ever seen. The one he swears hit the plow and pointed at him”
Steve nodded not even sure how he should feel about all this. An enemy, a murderer and now a road tripping zombie, whose description was creepier than hell, and oddly, vaguely familiar to him.
Jared sat down at the table in his RV and glanced at Jill who seemed relieved to have finally gotten the weird zombie dreams off her chest.
It had been a day of news and revelations, one of the bits of news was the list of names of those who had not been with a group of people, that Jill had finally finished gathering. There honestly weren’t as many names as he would have thought. Only eight people had at some point not been seen by anyone for more than three minutes.
He glanced up as Cole entered the RV. Cole nodded to Jill as he sat down across from Jared .
“ Here is the list” Jared said and slid it to Cole who glanced over it, surprised to see more of Jared’s peoples names than his own.
“ you can take Tommy and Ty off the list” He said as he studied it. “ why is that” Jared asked. “ they both were out of sight for more than two hours.”
“ not my place to say exactly where they were and what they were doing, but they were together” Cole said. Jared realized what he meant
“ Are you sure” Jared asked. Cole nodded
“ Damn sure.” Cole replied.
“ Callie, she’s not real sociable, doesn’t know how to unwind with regular folks. She tries but usually flops. So she goes and sits in the bathroom on the RV and Reads books. She is more used to the high society folks. Which is why her and Frank are such an odd couple.”
“ maybe we should get her and Stephanie together as friends. Might help them both out” Jill suggested. Jared nodded absently.
“ now Allen, hard to say. He has never been a really friendly person, oh he trys. Paints on a smile but you can tell half the time he doesn’t mean it. he kept to himself at the complex, except at Dinner time and a work details.”
“ and don’t forget Erik found him looking at the motor of one of the RV’s that turned out to be sabotaged” Jill commented.
“ doesn’t mean he did it” Steve said. “ granted It makes you wonder since he was there and now he is on the list of people that cant be accounted before the murder.” He added.
“ He also lived in building C till the night before the explosion and fire, and Michaels departure. He moved out saying the building creeped him out” Cole said frowning as it occurred to him. was it possible Allen had been behind some of what happened, or helped Michael set it up. but why, why on gods green earth would he do something like that.
Jared made a mental note to talk with Allen, he was one of those people that Jared hadn’t really spoken to. Other than in passing, even with him being on Coles team they hadn’t exchanged more than ten words in a day.
He took the list back from Cole and studied it for a moment.
“ I think we can keep Ben and Meagan off the list” He said after a moment not elaborating. “ Ashton was on the Snack bar roof, but Ill grant he could have killed Jerry and then claimed he ran there to help. But he wasn’t around for the first Murder”
Cole was curious about keeping those two off the list, but didn’t press. If Jared believed they weren’t involved, he would just take his word for it especially since Jared was apparently taking his word about Ty and Tommy.
Jared ran thru the rest of the names and to be honest there was nothing about them that triggered a gut reaction. The only one who might have been able to do it would have been Ashton and he didn’t buy it. the man would have just Killed Jerry and returned to the snack bar roof and waited for the patrol to find the body. And he just didn’t buy there were two or more killers in the group.
“ no as much as I hate to say it the only real viable name on the list is Alan” Cole said. “ But I don’t think we can rule out it might have been somebody else.”he said as Jared nodded in agreement.
the evening sky was a deep aquamarine fading to purples and black, a soft wind stirred the trees outside the drive in. a finger nail of a moon floated over head. Surrounded by a thousand stars that glittered like celestial diamonds set in black velvet. It would in the past, before the zombies, have been an awe inspiring sight. Tonight it was barely noticed and only slightly appreciated by those who took the time to gaze up at the uncaring heavens.
The entire group was subdued, the murder of another person had hit them hard, and the suspicious looks being cast about told Jared that things would get out of control sooner rather than later. the only real change in security was two people were now stationed on top of the snack bar, and a three man patrol walked the fence line. one with NVG’s.
About midnight, Anne unable to sleep, walked outside for some fresh air. looking around she saw only one or two people still up, and one of them was an armed guard in the camp itself. she walked slowly to the Medical center vehicles and said hi to Linda. They talked for five minutes or so, then looking around Anne walked out of the camp into the ring of vehicles around the camp.
Ever since Seth, she had a hard time being in a confined space, she didn’t really like to sleep either. But things had been steadily getting better for her. at least till she heard Jill talking to Sharon, mary and several other people about a weird zombie that it seemed like a lot of people had been seeing since June, both in their dreams and in reality. She wasn’t thrilled by that, and for some reason she couldn’t stop thinking it had something to do with Seths special friend. She had finally told Jill about her own dreams. And had felt a bit better knowing she wasn’t alone and wasn’t going insane.
Her mind drifted back to Chad, she wished she could get over her reaction to being touched by men. But it wasn’t happening. It also didn’t stop the way she felt about Chad. She just couldn’t stand to be touched for more than thirty seconds by him or any other guy. She forced those thoughts aside and just tried to enjoy the darkness.
She walked thru the shadowy lane between the vehicles and the Rv’s, nervously looking about. feeling a little safer with the pistol tucked into her belt. As she rounded the corner of the RV’s she heard a slight scuff of leather on gravel, and froze. It wasn’t the patrol they would have called out and escorted her butt right back into camp.
She looked around and saw nothing but shadows and darkness. She steadied her breathing and walked twenty steps past the patch of gravel and onto weed choked ground and stopped, hearing two footfalls distinctly on the ground behind her, not gravel, ground which meant who ever it was with in ten feet of her now. She turned and looked again but couldn’t make out anything. But she could feel some one there
Steeling her nerves she started walking again only this time placing her hand on the pistol shoved into her belt behind the buckle. Fear trickled thru her, but she refused to hurry. then she heard rapid steps as some one closed the distance with her, screaming she threw herself on the ground drawing the pistol Jared had given her. “ Bitch” she heard some one say. Then the night exploded with lights and five sharp gun shots. A moment later Jared was standing by her, rifle in his hands as he eyed her attacker who was rolling on the ground, a coil of rope laying next to him.
“ Good shooting Ori” Jared said as he walked over to Allen who was moaning in pain. “ guess what, I think we just bagged our Killer” he told Allen, as he grinned though there was nothing of humor in his cold eyes. “ thanks for help Anne. Figured the dumb ass would take the bait.” Jared said as Jill appeared out of the shadows and helped Anne to her feet.
Anne was shivering, even though she had known she was being watched there had been a chance that the killer would use something fast and from a distance. Jared kicked Allens shattered knees. “ Guess when I tell Ori to cripple some one he takes it literally, but see Allen it doesn’t matter. You wont need your arms or legs again anyway.” Jared said as Ashton and Spacey appeared out from under one of the trailers and picked up the now crippled man. “ get him to Linda” Jared ordered. Jill gave him an odd look. “ I Promised pappy Id do it right if I caught him and I will. This isn’t that sick fuck Seth, he is almost as bad but not quite.” Jared said as he looked thru a gap between vehicles and across the lot. He had hoped that one eye would show up tonight too. But obviously he wasn’t that stupid.
“ your not seriously going to hold a trial are you” Steve asked as Ori trotted up. “yes and no. I want every one in camp to know we caught him, and I aim to tell them exactly what I plan on doing to him. which is better than what I was originally going to do. Pappy had a point Steve, If I just go apeshit and skin the little shit and leave him for the zombies, then I’m no better than he is or one eye. And maybe that’s the point. Not just to get us scared and destroy our hope, but to make us like them. I’ll shoot him yes, neat and clean. But not till I hear what every one else thinks should happen.”
Allen hung limply between the two hard faced soldiers, men who had tried to joke and laugh with him just a day ago. Spittle still ran down the side of his face where Crippen had spit on him. Ashton didn’t speak, but there was a dangerous light in his eyes, like the light that damn near glowed in Jareds eyes.
He hung there shaking, listening to Jared lay out how they believe Allen had helped Michael poison the people In Building C. how he had moved to a different building the night before the fire in the Administrations building, and how Michael had to have had help to set the bomb, kill several women that Allen had lived next to till his abrupt change of address, and poison the supplies of water in the building. How he had been hanging around one of the RVs that had been sabotaged, several people spoke up at that point about seeing him around the other Rvs that had been sabotaged.
Then in hard flat voice talked of how Allen hadn’t been seen after guard duty the night Chloe was killed, even thought he slept in an RV with several other people. how he had been out of sight again while Jerry was killed only appearing after the fact to run to the scene of the crime, and how Ori had found two sets of prints in the area of the body and how one set had come from and returned to the fence, and finally in Angry clipped words described what had happened tonight. As one person after another glared at him. “ he was friends with the man that shot Henry” Stephanie asked hatred in her eyes.
Jared looked at her “ we don’t know that Steph, what we know for a fact is he attempted to leap on Anne tonight with a piece of rope the same way he took out Chloe. Everything else fits but we have no facts to back it up.”
Allen felt a surge of anger and matched glare for glare. “ I was just going to ask her to go back to camp.” He said, but his voice cracked so instead of sounding angry and innocent he just sounded like a coward.
“ you were about to flip the damn rope over her head when she threw herself down on the ground asshole” Jared said, his hand resting on the butt of the Mk 23 on his thigh. “ this isn’t the old world, were you can lie and obfuscate, or hire a slimy lawyer to get you off on a plea deal. Your scum pure and simple” Jared said. Jill flipped a lock of hair out of her eyes, surprised that jared didn’t kick Allens teeth in, she knew him too well, he was angry, very angry. She felt a surge of pride for Jared for holding it back and trying to do the right thing.
Allen glared at Jared with more hatred than any that Jill had ever seen before. “you fucking dim witted blue collar moron. You don’t deserve to lead these people. You cant even stop Michael from doing what he wants, and you think you can condemn me.”
Jared opened his mouth to respond and the sound of a shot rolled over the camp, as Allen Fell limp in Ashton and Crippens hands. They hastily dropped the corpse, that now had a neat hole its forehead. Ryan standing next to Stephanie, was shaking from anger and adrenalin, a pistol in his hands. A tendril of smoke curled up from the barrel, tears tracked down his face. “ you killed my friend you shit head” he said.
** ** **
oh well Mikhail thought as he saw them drag Allens body out into the lot and dump it over the fence. “ he caused a stir while he could, saves me the effort of having to kill him myself. Or him getting eaten by my partner.” He said. Tomorrow night would be fun for the whole family. Tomorrow night they would face His partner, or one or two of them would. While dealing with the undead that he would be letting inside.
Once every thing was going well tomorrow night, He also planned on Kidnapping Jareds wife, she wasattractive, hot was the common word or had been. But she was nothing more than a piece of meat, a way to get to his opponent. And he planned on using her against that red headed bastards quite often. He smiled to himself as he imagined his hands around her throat chocking the life out of her. Watching the light go out in her eyes as she realized there at the end she was less than nothing. He felt himself getting aroused at the thought, and pushed it away. She wasn’t going to be easy, he had seen her practicing her martial arts, with some of the others. But he wasn’t in experienced in that regard himself.
no mother Russia had insisted men like himself received all the training possible. He could settle for only hurting her, the anger and fear it would engender in Jared would be just as worthwhile as the loss Jared would feel at her death. He smiled; tomorrow would be interesting, one-way or the other.
** *** **
a wind blew softly thru the dark woods, and the dead town nearby. The sounds of cracking limbs, and rustling leaves could be heard clearly as zombies shambled towards their destination. One walked slowly in their midst, its cold milky white eyes fixed on where it knew that people were camped. It seemed eager to get there, though any one living would not have believed it. zombies felt nothing, thought of nothing beyond feeding. It seemed to grin suddenly and then started walking again. Vanishing into the forest like it had been swallowed by the night.
** ** **
Jared woke and slid out of bed, pulling on a pair of cargo pants and his combat boots he buckled on his web belt and strapped the tac holster to his thigh before heading for the door to step outside and take in the early morning.
Between catching the killer, the revelation that several people had seen or dreamed of the same zombie in multiple locations, culminating in Ryan shooting Allen. Jared was just ready to move on. He hoped that Ryan would get over what he had done, but the kid had only shot zombies and men who were attacking them. he had never shot a man in cold blood. And no matter how justified it might have been or deserved Ryan was going to have to live with it, and that sometimes was hard for people.
Stephanie had promised to set up with him, just in case. But Jared thought the kid would pull thru. He took a deep breath of the early morning air and smelled coffee. looking around he saw Ori sitting in front of his Rv holding a steaming cup.
“ Morning” Jared said walking up.
“ Morning, and yes you can have a cup. Why I hoard for myself and end sharing is beyond me.” Ori said, looking a bit odd to Jared, then he realized Ori wasn’t wearing his glasses. “ Contacts today” Ori said realizing what Jared was looking at.
Jared stepped inside and tried not to smile as he saw kids curled up hugging each other on the fold out beds or on mats on the floor. He poured himself a cup and stepped back outside. taking a sip he sighed deeply with pleasure. “Damn that’s good” he said squatting next to Ori and watching him.
“ I want you to promise me something” Jared said suddenly.
“depends on what it is “ Ori said curious.
“ don’t take any unnecessary risks, okay. I want you to think about Beth and those kids, before you think about doing something stupid like trying to save me or any one else” Jared replied.
“ don’t put me in that position Jared, you know me.” Ori replied.
“ I know that’s why I want your promise. I want to know that if something happens to me your going to be there to take care of them and defend them Ori, you and Steve” Jared said softly. “ I want you at my back, believe me. But the thought of those kids losing some one else they have grown to love is just a bit to much for me”
“ I’ll promise not to be stupid Jared and to be careful, but that’s all your going to get out of me. If I fail you or the others, then I’ve failed myself. You know how it is” Ori said then took a drink of his coffee. “ as the saying goes, to thine own self be true” he added setting down his cup.
Jared only nodded, he had expected that answer. Not that it made him happy to hear. They sat there in silence drinking their coffee. when Jared was finished he sat the cup down in the dirty dish bucket by the door, excused himself and headed back to his own Home. Home, he thought with a laugh. Home is where the motor runs.
The camp was busy all day, as people went over their vehicles Rvs and Personal transportation both. No one wanted to risk sabotage. The duck was fueled up and ready to take off, Roger thought that the take off was going to be tight, and wanted to be behind the stick this flight. Ronny didn’t argue, he wasn’t keen about crashing his plane or getting killed. Rob spent two hours going over the plane looking for any tinkering that might have occurred but couldn’t find anything.
Jared made sure that every one knew that the next leg of the trip was going to be fast and short only fifty miles. After that they were going to have to go east and then south to avoid the densely populated areas heading into Charleston, hopefully they could make it in one long trip with out stopping. He really wanted to reach Sullivan Island in the next week, to week and half. A lot less if he could swing it. but the next destination was a camp down on Lake Moultrie in Berkeley county. It was close to Russelville, a large town, in some peoples books but it was the best location he could come up with. after that he wanted to to haul ass to the island, so they wouldn’t have to worry about any more long hauls and using lots of fuel for traveling, or even the plane.
Mary and Sharon distributed food supplies from the Semi. So if something happened ever one would have a weeks worth of food stored in the RV. Every one with a weapon cleaned them and made sure they had plenty of ammo and full magazines.
By night fall, they were as prepared as they were going to get. Camp was pretty much broken down, everything packed up and ready so they couldleave in the morning with the exception of a some camp chairs and lanterns.
Jones lay on the roof of the snack bar watching the road and the tree line across the road but saw nothing from his position. It was only ten and his duty wasn’t over till midnight. Crippen lay on his back watching the stars. Probably dreaming of that Girl Anne, who they had been threatened with death if they messed with her. Jones had heard the storys and didn’t blame Jared and the others for being protective but that didn’t stop them from fantasizing, she was a hot woman. And what a pair of legs. Damn.
Hearing a rattle of chain he looked down and saw nothing at the gate. “ Crippen,did you hear that” He asked. “ uh huh. See anything” Crippen asked rolling over and climbing to his feet. “ not a thing” Jones replied. He scanned the road again but still saw nothing. But a smell was growing , and it was a smell all the survivors were familiar with.
“ this is Gate post, heard a noise at the gate, and smelling stinkys but don’t see anything” he reported over the radio. He crouched with his rifle ready and looked at the gate again, now a man stood there head cocked as he stared at the gate. Jones lifted his rifle ready to fire when another, then another zombie appeared from the left side of the gate.
“ I think they are coming along the fence line where I cant see them, I have four, no five. Shit more and more at the gate” he said. They all just stood there, staring at the gate.
“ Crippen pull that ladder up onto the roof, just in case.” Jones whispered. From the camp he could hear doors opening and muted anxious conversations.
The ladder scrapped up the wall, and every zombie at the gate stared up at Jones. This was to damn creepy he thought. as the crowd of undead grew and grew and then one stepped forward and bumped against the gate , and to his horror it swung open. “ they are inside, they are inside” he shouted over the radio and began to fire into the river of undead that were now pouring into the lot.
Jared scrambled into his gear and out the door before Jones had fired a fifth shot. Jill right behind him. he wasn’t worried about the patrols they had been ordered to retreat to the cabs or tops of a Semi if any undead managed to get inside the perimeter.
“ Rob Get to Beast one, Team two cover his ass an then get in the damn truck with him.” jared shouted. Rob nodded and bolted for the Deuce Chad right on his heels bellowing for Team two to follow him. “ everyone not on a team, stay in the RV’s and shoot from the windows, pick your shots, and shoot slow and camly” Jared yelled.
Jill bound her hair back into a pony tail with a quick twist and a rubber band, then slung on her Leather jacket. She hadn’t had time to get into her leather pants and was still wearing Jeans, but at least had her motorcycle boots on. She loosened the Katana in its sheath and grinned sickly at him as she jacked the charging handle on her AR. “ god your hot” he said as the rest of the team joined them.
“ Jones, where are they?” Jared asked.
“ heading your way, maybe thirty yards from the ring of semi’s” Jones replied. “ Roger that, keep safe out” Jared said as he led the team out of the camp and past the semi’s.
Once in the clear the team spread out and began to fire, taking their time using the zombies natural slowness against them. zombies were falling in droves. Jared heard the distinctive sound of a M203 and a second later a grenade detonated in the middle of the crowd. It exploded flinging bodies out from the center. Some got back to their feet and continued on towards the camp. Others never moved again.
“ Ori get up on that trailer.” Jared ordered. Like it or not he was going to get Ori up and out of the way. Ori nodded and in moments had scrambled up on top of the trailer and began punching out rounds into the undead.
Ashton led his team in from the side taking the zombies in the flank catching the mob in a withering crossfire.
“ Cole, I want your team to get to Beast Two.” Jared ordered as he ejected a magazine, replaced it in a pouch and then slapped in a new one. He pulled the charging handle and let it snap back then started firing again.
“ This is Rob beast one is ready to roll” the report crackled over the radio. “ Get her rolling Come in from the left of the gate. I want you to block that damn gate off. if we can get that done, we can handle whats in the lot.” Jared said. Behind the camp he could hear the Deuces motor rev and then change in pitch as it started to roll.
The zombies were spreading out now, shambling forward, most where headed straight for team one. The rest, well there was nothing they could do about it.
When the mob was thirty feet away, team one retreated into the ring of vehicles, keeping the opening to the camp at their backs. The Medical center to their left the Ambulance to the right. Zombies entered the gap between the two semi’s and Team one piled them up. Spent brass ringing as it rained from their weapons.
Ronny had a jam and knelt, so that every one would know he had a malfunction, he cleared it easily and started firing again from the kneeling position.
“ Chris, fire left” Jared called out as he saw several zombies heading their way out of the corner of his eye. Chris instantly turned and laid down some serious 5.56 lead love.
Jared a fierce grin on his face, locked in the moment. Shouted out over the sound of the weapons fire. “ Up jumped the monkey Mother fuckers” Steve grinned mirthlessly and all of them but Jill belted out the Jodie, like it was a war cry.
“Up jumped the monkey from the coconut grove
he was a mean mother fucker, you could tell by his clothes.
He wore a two button ditty, and a three button stitch
he was a loud mouth-mother fuckin, son of a bitch!
He lined a hundred women, up against the wall
and bet anyone, he could fuck them all.
He fucked 98 till his balls turn blue,
Then he backed off, jacked off, and fucked the other two!!!”
the people sheltering and fighting in the RVs, grinned themselves as they heard five Deep voices shouting out the jody over the rattle of gunfire, some shook their heads at the insanity of it, pappy laying in Bed, holding a pistol ready to do what he could. Started laughing and chanting it right along with them. Jeff his son only shook his head, hoping his kids didn’t hear Pappy and prayed if they did they wouldn’t end up warped..
Bill had been caught outside in the ring when the Attack began, knees shaking he fired at the zombies while crouched under a trailer. when they were twenty feet away he took off running for his truck parked just down the ring. He could smell them, hear the slap of feet on the ground and gravel as the zombies gave chase. He spotted his truck, parked in shadows next to one of the Semi’s and grinned madly he was going to make it. he yanked open the door, and dove inside slamming the door and breathing heavily as the crowd of zombies reached the truck. some one in an RV across from where he was parked began to fire into the mass of undead.
The zombies, pawed at the windows dragging their hands down the glass smearing it with dirt and goo. His breathing eased and he began to calm down. He took a deep breath and then froze, as a smell filled the truck cab. He sat there, knowing someone, no something was sitting in the seat next to him. the child in him insisted if he didn’t look he would live. but fear and morbid curiosity wouldn’t allow him to not look, almost against his will he turned his head slowly. It sat there staring at him, its dead white eyes, staring at him from under the brim of its odd looking hat. The skin was mottled and leathery pulled tight across the triangular skull. Wispy white tendrils of hair floated around its face and then it grinned.
Bill Screamed, as a bony hand gripped his shoulder and its mouth opened slowly revealing jagged pointed teeth. Some still bore file marks. Bill Screamed again as all sanity left him, he fumbled for the door handle forgetting what lay outside, fully in the grips of profound fear and panic that made him only want to get away. He managed to pull the handle and kicked the door open, trying to slide out. and then pain, as those teeth ripped the meat out of his shoulder. And then hands were grabbing his legs, and he realized he was dead and started to scream as the undead fed.
The gunfire intensified as the zombies entered the ring and the people in the Rvs opened up from the windows of their vehicles safely up and away from the zombies. “ Back into the camp entrance” Jared said as he changed mags once more. They retreated into the entrance of the camp. And the zombies poured thru the gap.
Mary crouched at the window, looking into the ring. Gasping as she saw it was full of zombies. Many of them were now pawing on the walls of her RV. she wished Ronny was here with her, but he was with Jared.
“ Coming to get you, coming real soon” a voice whispered behind her. she whirled and saw nothing. Her heart beating a mile a minute in her chest. She turned back to the window and saw her nightmare made flesh, staring back at her. Cold white eyes full of hellish mirth as it grinned at her then stepped out of sight. She could hear it dragging its nails along the wall of the RV. she fumbled her pistol out, and sat shivering on the floor of the RV.
Beast one ripped around from the back of the camp and aimed for the gates. The cattle catcher mounted to the front of the old deuce sending the zombies in the trucks path flying. The knee cappers on each side of the Deuce ripped and tore undead limbs free toppling undead to the ground no longer able to walk.
Rob was hunched over the wheel and peering out the louvers when something exploded just to the left of the Deuce. “what the hell” He muttered as he yanked the wheel. “ Ryan stop with the grenades” he yelled over the radio as another explosion occurred right in front of the Deuce, he yanked the wheel as dirt flew up obscuring his view, he felt the beast shudder as it plowed thru the undead, and then heard Jones. “ Hit the brakes, hit the damn brakes.”
Rob didn’t question didn’t hesitate. He slammed the brakes all the way down and the deuce slide forward and then hit something solid. But not very hard thank god. Then it hit him, Ryan was in the Back of the truck he couldn’t have been shooting grenades ahead of the truck, not with the canvas top still on.
Jones breathed a sigh of relief as the deuce hit the wall below him, but slow enough that it didn’t blow thru the wall. He stood there for a moment looking out over the lot, which was rapidly filling with Undead. There had to be a three or four hundred out there and more coming in.
Hearing the deuce rev its motor Jones moved to the center of the roof, just in case and began to fire at the zombies he could see that were trying to break past Sgt Ashton. Daws had set up the m249, and wounded or not was laying down some serious fire into the crowd. As long as they were crippled they were slowed down and easier to deal with.
“ Sarge, you have leakers coming out from the semis behind you. Get your ass into the snack bar its better than nothing” Jones said over the radio. “ roger moving now” Ashton said “ me and Crippen will cover out” Jones said as he and Crippen shifted their fire to the zombies who had come out of the ring of trucks further back behind Ashtons Team.
Daws with Ashtons help limped towards the Snack bar, Spacey kept up his fire towards the group of undead near the gate, till all three of them tumbled into the Snack bar and slammed the old door shut.
Down below Jones heard the deuce reverse and finally got into place blocking the gate, and the zombies still out side.
Rob scooted over to the passenger side opened the firing slit and began firing his pistol into the crowd inside the lot, while Team two fired from the back of the deuce trying to clear the zombies behind the Truck.
“ Back into the camp” Jared said, knowing that with the support of those inside the RV’s they could slaughter every zombie that entered the camp. Which meant that only the RVs at the bottom of each U could bring their weapons fully into play. While those on the sides of the U could only fire at angles into the zombies but with that much massed firepower they could finish them off.
Beth and Mattie tried to calm the kids, who kept screaming, drawing the attention of the undead who mobbed the far side of the RV. she could hear them pawing at the walls, and the eerie click of their teeth between screams. Beth flashed back to the School, and the sounds of the undead pawing at the doors and windows trying to get inside and wanted to puke and cry. She wasn’t as strong as Ori thought, she wasn’t. Then little Sally latched onto her arm, shivering uncontrollably. Beth drew strength from that trust, and confidence.
“ oh mother of god” Mattie said so softly Beth almost didn’t here her. Beth looked and almost screamed herself as she saw the triangular face, with its sunken cheeks, and thin narrow lips grinning in the window at her. the eyes almost seemed to glow in the shadows of its bowler hat. It dragged one bony hand down the window then sank out of sight.
“ one two, coming for you” a voice whispered in her mind. she screamed and almost shot out the window with her pistol. But only just barely managed to keep from pulling the trigger. Something bumped under the RV, then again, like a subterranean beast knocking at the basement floor. The kids screamed in terror.
Mikhail slipped across the lot in the confusion, moving from shadow to shadow. Keeping to cover, refusing to worry about the undead. the grenade launcher he had picked up at the Army base had failed to do much against the monster military truck, but he had delayed it long enough to get more zombies past the gates.
Entering the ring of big trucks, he smiled as he saw men on top of some of trailers firing towards the zombies they could see. Mikhail moved towards the back of their camp, and then scaled a ladder mounted to the side of an RV to its roof, counting on the fact that the people inside would assume it was one of the defenders. Every one knew zombies didn’t climb, and they all knew that only the good guys were outside fighting the undead..
He crouched there in the darkness watching Jared’s woman. She was good, he thought watching as she calmly fired into the mass of zombies pushing into the camp. Jared’s team fell back again drawing the zombies in deeper where the defensive fire from the RV’s began to take its toll.
He smiled as he loaded a smoke grenade into his launcher, flipped up the ladder sight and let fly. He had only minutes, to do what he came do. Assuming he didn’t want to get eaten. he suspected that once his partner set the undead loose, they didn’t, couldn’t stop till they had killed the living. He dropped the launcher and tensed himself, fixing her position in his mind. as the smoke began to billow up cutting of their sight. He leaped off the roof of the RV and charged into the smoke.
Jill coughed as the smoke engulfed her. That idiot Ryan she cursed silently. She back pedaled trying to get clear of the smoke and get a glimpse of Jared.
“ fall back, straight back. don’t turn around, just walk backwards” Jared said over the radio.
She could still hear a lot of gunfire, but it was distant muffled. Then something struck her hard behind the knee. She fell turning it into a shoulder roll and bounced back to her feet. She didn’t bother with her rifle she dropped it, then saw a shadow move in on her.
She slid backwards twisting at the waist, her left arm sweeping down and out barely blocking and deflecting the strike that would have struck her solar plexuses. She spun into a kick, and was blocked and locked. She heard a mocking laugh, and leaped up and used her one free foot to deliver a kick that struck something and the lock was broken. She cart wheeled and then drew her katana as she came to a stop, assuming the mid guard position. Her sword tucked in at her right shoulder, held upright edge out, her weight rested on the ball of her extended right foot.
“ not bad, not bad at all” A mans voice said from the smoke. Slightly muffled like he was wearing a mask. Which he most likely was to keep from breathing in the smoke.
“ I think hurting you will definitely hurt him” a voice with an accent from her left. a Russian accent she realized. “ Michael isn’t it” she said calmly.
“ Bravo, you have gotten it in one as you say though that is the American version of my name. Mikhail is what I was born with” and then suddenly fire was pouring thru her limbs as she jerked and twitched falling to the ground, her sword falling from her hands. the sharp popping of a taser loud in the smoke.
“ Sadly for you, I do not have the time I wanted to fight you hand to hand.” Mikhail said as he loomed above her. He reached down and unzipped her jacket and fondled a breast for a moment. “ I really wish I had the time, but sadly there are zombies and the smoke will fade soon”
he picked her up and slung her over his shoulder then ran to the right away from where he had last seen Jared. the smoke thinned and he saw five zombies ahead of him, but they were cut down by gunfire from the RVs, he tucked his head down and ran into the center of the Rvs, just another man carrying a comrade to safety.
“ Michael isn’t it” Jills voice said over the radio and Jared’s blood turned cold as he tried to see thru the smoke. He heard one eyes response and then the transmission stopped. He refused to let the panic take him. but God please don’t do this, I cant lose her. if you have to take some one take my lousy ass. He prayed as his emotions surged thru his body equal parts rage and fear
Steve stared at him. Every one with a radio had heard that transmission. “ Go get her back, brother” he said. Jared nodded and the team plunged back into the smoke which was starting to thin. Jared slammed into a zombie barely avoided being bitten; he shoved the barrel of his Rifle under its jaw and pulled the trigger blowing its brain out.
Another zombie appeared out of the smoke grabbing at his arm. Jared knocked it away with a scissor kick, landing he clubbed a second one down with his rifle. A third grabbed his rifle, he let it go and back flipped. “ get back out of the smoke “ Jared shouted drawing his Khukri and combat knife. From now on I carry one of the Tomahawks, He silently vowed.
The team quickly fell back with only minor injuries and no bites which was a miracle of some not. The moment they were clear of the smoke, they brought their fire arms to bear on the zombies that had followed them out of the smoke. “ Stay here, Ill find her” Jared told Steve. “ I mean it don’t follow me” he said determined not to get any one else killed with him.
“Jared I think I saw them” Beth said suddenly breaking into their Channel. He could hear the kids crying and screaming in her Rv and something that sounded like pounding “ some one ran out of the smoke carrying a woman and climbed up on Coles Rv, I think it was Jill but she wasn’t wearing her normal leathers.
“ bless you” Jared said and ran to the right. The few zombies that tried to follow him were cut down by the people in the RVs. He practically flew up the ladder and landed on the roof with ease. Driven by fear for Jills safety.
There he thought looking past the Semi’s he could see a figure running across the lot towards the back fence and away from all the undead who seemed not to notice. Jared leaped into the path between the camp and the vehicles and landed on two zombies taking them to the ground. He kicked free and ran with out stopping to kill them; he didn’t have time, not right now.
The other zombies in the area began to follow him, but that didn’t matter to him either. Only getting Jill back mattered. That bastard knew exactly how to strike at Jared with out killing him. Some would have said it was better to be alone, than to risk that kind of attack. But over the months, Jill had become the center of his world, even if he rarely told her so. Just let me get to her in time and I’ll make sure she knows how I feel Jared vowed.
Mikhail had reached the fence and was lifting Jill as if to toss her over. Jared dropped the combat knife and drew his Mk23 on the run. In another life Jared with a pistol could have been a gunslinger. He didn’t shoot to kill, he shot to wound. the heavy .45 slug took Mikhail in the shoulder. He dropped Jill and whirled on Jared. “ Come on American, always trying to be cowboys “ Mikhail shouted his face scrunched with pain. “ Come a bit closer, but not to close, or she dies” he said with a cold tone, that brooked no argument or allowed even the hint of Mercy. Mikhail made sure Jared could see the scorpion machine pistol he held in his right hand.
Jared advanced moving with a fluid predatory grace that reminded Mikhail of Tiger. “Far enough, the zombies aren’t close enough yet to get you. So we have a moment to talk. Holster the pistol” Mikhail ordered.
Jared complied not that it would make much difference to Mikhail if Jared decided to draw. Jared was not a record holder in Fast draws, but he was close and close in this case was deadly.
Jared could hear the undead getting closer, breaking into that shambling fast walk or slow jog they used to get to their prey fast. They were close, a lot closer than Mikhail wanted him to believe.
“I’m going to kill you American Cowboy, but first I will kill those closest to you. like I killed that little boy.” Mikhail paused as if he expected a reaction, Jared didn’t give him the satisfaction, Jared was listening trying to figure out the timing of what he need to do.
“ you think you are good, you are nothing. Yob tvoiu mat’, I despise you American you are Ti deegeneeraat” Mikhail ranted. There was no real anger behind his words, he was just stating his opinion. coldly, ready to strike out at a moments notice.
In Martial arts as in poker, every opponent, living ones that is, has tell, a crease, a moment when you know they have committed to action even before they make a move. Its something recognized on a subconscious level, when fighting with swords it can result in the famous one stroke duels of Japanese legend. Jared even in the dark at twenty feet from his opponent saw Mikhails tell, recognized the moment Mikhail made his decision. He could never have said what it was that he saw, but he knew and reacted.
Jareds hand flashed down and then up pistol in hand and fired twice in about the same time it took a person to blink. Mikhail screamed in pain, the machine pistol falling from his hand. Jared burst into furious motion leaping to the side tucking into a roll and out of the way of the rushing zombies. He came up firing into the undead till the slide locked back and the pistol was empty.
Two zombies were still up that Jared had to deal with, giving Mikhail time to scale the fence and vanish into the night. Jared flowed forward, the khukuri reversed as he lunged into its arms driving the blade up thru soft flesh under its jaw into the base of its skull. He let go of the knife and spun up to his full height, flowing forward. he grasped the last zombies outstretched left arm and pulled it forward and to his right ramming his left palm into its elbow shattering it. he never stopped moving he just twisted himself up along its arm and rammed his elbow into the back of the zombies head, the bone shattering under the Hammer blow delivered by his elbow. It fell forward hitting the ground with a wet smack and lay still.
Jared froze as his eyes fell on a figure that stood between the cab of one semi and the back of the trailer of another. It was a hunch backed figure, with long dangling arms and an bowler hat perched on its oversized head. a head that seemed just a bit to large for the thin neck that supported it. It just stood there for a moment then stepped behind the trailer. Like it knew, Jared had no firearms to use at the moment and wanted to taunt him.
“ Fuck you” Jared yelled at it, as he retrieved his pistol. He slapped a fresh mag into the weapon and smiled coldly. “go ahead pop that ugly ass face out buddy, I’ll blow that oversized nose right off your face” he called out as he turned and ran towards Jill. Who was sitting up, groaning. “ are you okay’ he asked kneeling next to her. Noting the gunfire in and around the camp was dropping off.
“ Ass hole tasered me” she said and then touched her shoulder and winced “and I think he dislocated my shoulder.”
“good you’ll live” Jared said as he helped Jill get to her feet. “ my katana” she said looking around anxiously.
“ he didn’t have it when he climbed over the fence so its around here some where.” Jared said as he saw ten zombies heading towards them. he didn’t even have to worry about them, Steve along with team one, and Coles team appeared behind the zombies and cut them down. Jared held her for a long moment, then whispered in her ear “ I love you Jill, God how I love you baby”
She smiled up at him “ I love you too, you lump” she said.
They started towards the Rest of the team, with Jared helping Jill who hadn’t completely recovered from the Taser. “ did you see it” Jared asked as he and Jill drew close.
“ see what” Steve asked.
“ the bowler hat wearing freak of a zombie” Jared replied.
“ no sorry but theres no way he escaped, I mean he is a zombie right” Steve replied.
“ He didn’t act like one, just stood there and watched me Kill a few zombies and shoot Mikhail.” Jared said.
“ and you didn’t shoot the bowler hat.” Logan asked.
“ look around here, you shot ten, notice how many more are scattered around back there. I ran dry and didn’t have time to reload.” Jared said looking around and spotted his Sykes fairbain combat knife. He retrieved it and slipped it back into his boot sheath.
“ he just doesn’t want to admit he is getting older and its harder to see in the dark” Logan quipped. Steve the traitor actually laughed though it sounded more like a release of stress.
“ I’ll deal with you later” Jared vowed. “ did we lose any one” he asked.
“ Bill, one of Coles guys, got dragged out of a truck. wasn’t much left of him to be honest. And Lincoln another of Coles people had a heart attack and died. He was put down with no losses” Steve said as Cole nodded. “ Ty, on Team three got Shot, but will live. Murphy, a girl that came in with Logan was shot it might have been a miss from another RV, we don’t know but she was shot while shooting out the window of an RV. she didn’t make it.
“ damn Im sorry man” Jared said seeing the pain in Coles eyes. They had three dead, one wounded. It wasn’t a good night.
“Lets get a group together to dig graves, while every one else gets ready to head out.” Jared said feeling the loss of so many people but refusing to let it get to him.
Two hours later Jill’s shoulder was back in place and the group was ready to leave. Every zombie inside the fence may have been dead but there were more outside just lining the fence just waiting to get to the living inside. The Group buried their dead and said a hasty prayer for them, then headed to their vehicles.
Jared sat down in the RV, ready to leave this place behind. Ori and Steve had searched the area, but not a single sign of the Bowler hat wearing zombie could be found. Which was flatly impossible since there was only one way in or out and it was blocked.
No zombie would have hidden, they never hid they just attacked and either killed or were killed. But then again no zombies just stood and watched people either, nor did they taunt people. He thought remembering what Mary and Beth and told him and Daws night mare story. He didn’t know what to believe anymore more. the dead weren’t supposed to walk, much less eat people. and now he was finding it hard to believe that one of the undead could be acting odd compared to the rest. This in a world where the dead come and talk to people in dreams, and deliver cryptic warnings. How hard can it be to believe anything else Jared thought.,
“ Lets roll out! “ Jared said over the radio.
Beast one pulled away from the gate and the zombies began to flood in once more, Beast two led the way, and the column rolled thru the undead crushing anything in their way. Beast one fell in at the rear and followed them out.
There was little to see in the wash of the headlights, but deep shadowy woods, fallow farms and then the town of Olanta, population 613 according to the leaning official sign.
The town was little more than a collection of shadow cloaked buildings as they passed. and oddly no zombies, but maybe not so odd, most of the zombies that had attacked the camp had probably come from here.
They passed a Trayven’s funeral home and then Carla’s nail and spa, citizens bank was dark no one would be making a withdrawal ever again. the parking lot of Sues Hair Institute, school of Cosmetology was empty of cars and people. finally they left the shadowy haunted streets of Olanta to its ghosts and its dead and headed southwest.
** ** **
Mikhail leaned against the side of the newest truck he had taken, the old one had finally given up the ghost. He took a deep steadying breath then climbed into the slide in camper on the back. who ever had originally owned it had actually secured the camper to the frame and made an access doorway into the king cab. Mikhail turned on the LED lantern and then unwound the strip of cloth on his hand, the wound on the back of his hand, hurt like hell but was thankfully only a graze, Jared had barely missed, with either bullet, considering the distance and that it was night meant Jared was a hell of a shot. assuming of course he had actually been aiming for Mikhail’s hand or the weapon he held. The second bullet had take off his pinky finger. He lit the gas stove, rummaged in a drawer till he found a wooden spoon that he placed in his mouth and then shoved the stump of his finger into the flames.
His entire body tensed, he trembled and bit down on the spoon till it cracked. He never made a sound, not even a whimper. Finally he pulled the stump from the flames and inspected the cauterization and nodded in approval.
With the first aid kit, he treated the graze. Hopefully the peroxide and anitbac gel would keep him from getting an infection. “ I should have just done the job there in the smoke. But if the zombies had gotten her, he wouldn’t have known that I had been the one to disable her, but if she had become a zombie it would have served the same purpose” he said aloud.
If only his partner could control the zombies better, keep them from attacking him while he dealt with business. but maybe it didn’t care if he was killed, he was a tool after all. And tools can be discarded when no longer useful.
Not that it mattered really, he had removed the lock and opened the latch on the gate for the zombies, and his partner had made sure no zombies were along the route that he had used to get back behind the camp. He had killed and or wounded a few others in the camp and he was sure his aborted attack on Jill had affected Jared, who would be scared of losing her in the future and if Jared forced her away, or held her back from a critical fight or moment, Then Mikhails partner would benefit.
Mikhail shrugged in dismissal, and removed his shirt and then the body armor, that had protected his shoulder. It would be sore and bruised but he could still fight and shoot. Twenty minutes later he heard motors and doused the light. The Convoy rolled past heading into town. Smiling he climbed up into the drivers seat, started the truck and drove out to the main road turning towards town he followed them.
The convoy wound thru the dark countryside. Dark trees, no longer cleared by road crews, loomed over the roads. Shadows danced and sway outside the lights of the vehicles, twisting and twining like secret lovers who vanished when the lights swept over them. The occasional collapsed bridges sent them searching for new ways around the obstacles. And all through the countryside, zombies turned at the sound of motors and headed towards them only to stop and stumble off in another direction when the sound faded away.
The convoy rumbled through Hebron Crossroads around 0130 and found ruins. Between fires, flooding and storms the town was a sagging washed out Derelict. Debris littered the road, from pulped magazines, childrens toys and old clothes. An old church spire jutted drunkenly up into the night sky, its bell long gone and now only a roost for birds.
Here and there the going got rough as they encountered roads that had been washed out, or asphalt that had crumbled away. The vehicles bounced and jolted, occasionally almost bogging down.
Jared worried they might have to divert to larger more well traveled roads like the interstate. And after the attack earlier he wasn’t eager to get trapped on a road full of undead.
They skirted Kingstree around 0300, seeing a few hundred zombies wandering the side road they were on. But they had no trouble getting past them and ten minutes later they turned north on a state road to avoid I 52 then swung southwest again going wide around Greelyville. By sunrise they had passed St. Stephan and were pulling thru the gates of a Rustic Campground on the shores of Lake Moultrie.
Once the Teams swept the Camp ground putting down the zombies they found there, they set up camp and settled in. Team three, checked and secured the few RVs, and campers that had been in the campground since last june collecting any canned food, gear or supplies inside them that might benefit the group.
Jared, peeled off his tshirt and tucked it into the back of his pants as he walked down to the shore while Ronny brought the Duck in for a landing and then taxied to shore where he tied the plane off to a tree. Splashing thru the water to Jareds side, Ronny was smiling.
“ I took a flight down the river for a ways, and Buddy I spotted ten boats with people, two of them look like Houseboats” he said excitedly. Jared smiled himself it was great to hear about other survivors. “ Write up a some notes with radio channels, and were we are headed put them in bottles, when we leave take Ryan with you and drop them as close to the Boats as you can.”
“ And if they need help right now” Ronny asked.
“ They are just going to have to save themselves unless they are on our way. We have to get to the forts Ronny. Once we get that out of the way, we can start sending out teams to locate and bring people back. we will have a two islands to clear and populate and after that, there’s islands all up and down the coast we can clear as time goes by.”
“ I hate to bring this up, but we are going to have to find a place that used to restore old aircraft and get some manuals or something. The Duck is starting to have a few problems. Roger and I have done all we can think of to keep her up in the air. but if she doesn’t get an overhaul soon, I might need a parachute.” Jared sighed and shook his head. it was always something.
“ I’ll see about where one might be, and Imagine we are going to need the tools there too. I don’t think your average tool box would have everything needed to work on an Aircraft.” Jared said hoping they could find what they needed in a small out of the way airport. The last thing he wanted was to try to hit an Airport like the one in Charleston or the Naval Air station.
They walked up from the lake to where the RVs were parked. The camp was crowded beyond anything the owners had ever planned. Assuming they were still live somewhere.
Beth stood outside her Rv talking to Carol, and Stephanie, who both were now sharing their RVs with the kids from the school. Carol waved and flashed Jared a warm smile. “ Beth told me when we first got here that the kids are to scared to go outside after last night. Cant say I blame them” Jared said.
“ Neither can I” Ronny agreed. “ it was bad enough for the adults, and then hearing what Beth said about that one zombie.” His voice trailed off as he shuddered. “ do you think they are getting smarter?” he asked.
“ No, not really they all acted just like normal last night but that one.” Jared said then stopped, placing a hand on Ronny’s shoulder. “ We should be on sullivans island in two maybe three more days, Tomorrow we head for that Marion state park, its a lot of swamp and such. But that places us so close to where we need to be, we could reach it in another two hours. But when we get there I want you to fly over the route we are going to take, we need to know ahead of time if there’s any major road block’s. Because if there are, we are going to have to figure out how to clear them fast and easy. If we cant, the only other route will take us thru Charleston and its outlying areas. And I really want to avoid a few thousand zombies and narrow streets”
Jil, dressed in Jeans and a tank top watched Ronny and Jared as they stood under a oak tree talking. She smiled as she watched the Muscles ripple and flex under Jareds tan skin as he gestured or moved.
There were times she wondered what he would have been like to date before the zombies. but the simple truth is, she would never have known the real man before the zombies. Society had been to tame and restrictive to see the man that hid below the surface of civil society. Strong, tough, and deadly but not evil or callus. She smiled to herself at her luck. She just wished her sister had lived to meet him.
“ Where’s Linda” Steve shouted as he ran past. Jill turned in surprise almost panicked afraid that something was wrong. “ Its Sharon, she’s in labor” he called back over his shoulder as he headed for the MMC. Linda met him at the door, with a bag in hand and ran with him back to the RV.
Jared trotted up grinning like a damn fool Ronny at his side. “ well don’t just stand there” Jared said as he waved at her to follow, in minutes Team one was outside Steves Rv, and as the word spread, almost all the camp showed up. only the men in the two patrols were absent.
Even they wanted to be there to see, the birth of the second child they knew about since z day. it bound the small community in a way none of them had even thought about. People silently prayed for luck, or to God for a good and safe Birth. Ori was acting like he was the father he was so excited, passing around flasks of Shine. He even produced a few cigars he had stashed away. Those he only gave to Marks friends, since Mark wasn’t there to hand them out.
Even Pappy put in an appearance, carried by Jeff and Ian, the old coot was actually polite and soft spoken. He looked at Jared and grinned. “ they had better name that kid after his daddy that was a good and brave man” he said stunning Jared with the praise.
Two hours rolled by and then they heard a baby wail inside the Rv, and a wall of applause rolled across the camp. Jill was crying as Jared hugged her, she noticed he had tears in the corners of his own eyes. Twenty minutes later the door opened revealing Steve with a huge smile on his face, holding Marks Baby in his Arms. The applause was Thunderous, it echoed across the lake and bounced off the trees and came back at them. “ Every one meet Mark Junior.” Steve said.
Jared was silent as he stood there with his arm around Jill but she could feel the tremors that wracked his body as he looked at the baby. “ wish you were here to see him Brother” Jared said softly as he gazed wistfully at Jill for a moment then dismissed the idea that floated thru his mind.
Night fell over the City of Charleston, leaves, trash and debris littered the streets. Wrecked vehicles blocked intersections. In places whole blocks had burned down, only the wind whispered thru its streets stirring leaves and trash.
Where once American Patriots had fought and died for Freedom, the undead shuffled thru its streets, past its historic harbor, its court house, and its homes and towers, where a handful of the living huddled in fear just praying to survive another day.
But even they felt something in the air like a building electric tension that sang thru their nerves and blood. And in their dreams they heard “ by the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes”