” For all we have and are,
For all our children’s fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate!
Our world has passed away,
In wantonness o’erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day
But steel and fire and stone!”
The storage center where Jared had kept excess gear and things he didn’t want in his house, was on the north east side of town in a wooded area with little population. The entire 2 acre site holding 36 storage buildings, was completely enclosed by seven foot high fence topped with Razor wire. Usually all a client had to do was drive up and swipe their access card. But that was when the power was on.
A few zombies lingered around the gate of the complex, but they didn’t seem to interested in the interior. Jared lowered the scope and considered that. It might mean no one was inside or that someone had been inside and had joined the ranks of the enemy as it were.
He wasn’t too worried as long as they didn’t spend more than forty minutes inside. There were maybe, seven houses, a convenience store and a hair salon along the road that fronted the storage center. So there would be little threat from that direction, it was the interstate a half mile away he was worried about. Any shooting and he would lay good odds that a few thousand zombies would show up pretty quickly.
Jared sighed and loosened his pistol in its holster. “Get me to the gates “ he told Ori.
“ You got it o bravest of the brave, lord amongst men, keeper of the…… “ Ori replied with a grin, that actually looked genuine.
“ Why are you sucking up now. If I die its just a wasted attempt anyway,” Jared asked, almost laughing.
Ori chewed on his lip thoughtfully. “ Good point. Well have it at it old boy. I’ll just sit here in the truck and cover your ass. “ He replied with another grin.
“Remind me to shoot you later” Jared said, giving Ori a crooked smile.
Jared leaped out of the truck as Ori came to a stop fifteen feet from the nearest zombie. Not wanting to cause too much noise for the moment Jared drew the telescoping ASP batons. With a flick of each wrist, he extended them and strode forward.
The closest zombie was a heavyset woman in a floral print dress, half her right bicep was missing. She reached for him, her mouth snapping. Jared slipped to her left and pushed her off balance. She tumbled to the ground and he drove the asp as hard as he could across her neck and heard the bone snap. She fell limply. Good he thought makes things easier.
Something suddenly gripped his shoulder, he cursed heavily as he spun away, snapping teeth barely missing his shoulder. He cracked the ASP across the male zombie’s jaw and breaking it, then broke its leg with a foot strike. As it went down, he crushed its skull. He knew that when this was over he was going to be sick.
A few things still surprised him, he was also sure the list would grow, like how silent they were. No hissing, or moaning, just silent unless they happened to click their teeth together. The other thing was how fast some of the seemed to move when you weren’t looking directly at them.
“Get your head in the game, “ he said aloud as he turned and waded into the remaining zombies, with a vengeance till not a one was moving. Reaching the gate, covered in blood, he stopped and looked into the main parking lot of the storage center before turning his attention to the box that held the key card reader just below the card reader was the emergency manual lock for use during power outages.
All the storage renters were given a key along with their key cards and today, that was going to pay off. He inserted the key, prayed for a moment then twisted. The lock opened with a click. He smiled grimly as he rolled the gate back and stood there on watch as his friends drove past him one by one heading for his storage building.
Once the last truck cleared the gate it stopped and waited while he closed and locked the gate. Down the road he could see ten zombies heading towards the storage center drawn by the sound of the trucks. Just a little to late Jared thought.
He hopped on the bumper and gripped the tailgate as Ori drove up to the Storage center office and parked. Jared leaped off the back of the truck as Ori parked in front of the office door and waited for Ori to join him. The rest of the trucks rolled past, Everyone else would clear the storage lot and then start emptying the company storage building while he and Ori cleared the office..
“ How do you want to do this” Ori asked as he adjusted the angle of his rifles dangle.
“ Silent if we can. But I would rather make noise and live if that’s what it takes” Jared said, with no obvious tension in his voice.
“ Roger that, “ Ori said, flashing Jared a smile that looked more like a nervous grimace than anything involving humor. Jared tried the door and found it open. No surprise there, the place was supposed to be open 24/7 for the customers. He stepped into the lobby and moved to the left, his Khurkri drawn.
It looked almost normal, fake potted plants, cheap posters showing vacation spots, the ever present sign with the rules on it. A pressboard desk with a pile of folders on it. Which Jared had always suspected were placed on the desk so the girl who usually sat there answering the phones looked busy.
It would have been completely normal if the brunette in the skimpy dress had been sitting behind the desk and if there hadn’t been an overturned chair by the coffee table in the waiting area, with what looked like drops of blood on the chair and the floor around it. The drops continued on behind the counter and up to the Manager’s office door. Jared pointed at the blood trail that had soaked into the carpet and Ori nodded.
They moved silently across the carpeted floor, totally alert. Jared’s eyes were darting from side to side, the tension building. Both men had taken shallow breaths to keep from gagging on the rotted meat smells that filled the air the closer he got to the manager’s door. Neither of them pointed out the bloody hand print on the wall, or the blood on the door handle.
Ori flanked him and gave the ready sign. Jared knocked softly on the door and waited. From the other side, he thought he heard a thump. Then something made a soft scratching noise on the other side of the door.
He and Ori exchanged glances. Not a good sign, that scraping noise. Only one-way to do this he thought as he slammed a boot into the door. The bolt tore free of the frame and slammed into something on the other side, and bounced back towards the two men.. Jared kicked the door again and whatever was blocking it fell with a thud. As the door swung open Jared rushed into the room. The only light in the room was from the narrow rectangular window high on the wall behind the desk.
A Zombie lay on the floor, struggling to get to its feet. Arnold Greer, had been a nice enough guy. But in death he was anything but. With unnerving silent savagery, Arnold lurched up right and actually threw himself at Jared. Oh, I really hope they all don’t start moving like that Jared thought as he stepped forward inside the reaching arms and rammed the Khurkri into Arnolds eye. Arnold stopped dead, literally, then folded over and collapsed. Jared pulled out his Khurkri and wiped it on Arnolds shirt.
“ Poor bastard” Ori muttered, his face completely blank.
“ Must have gotten bit outside and ran in here to hide “ Jared said as he knelt and studied the body. He found the bite marks a moment later on Arnolds side and right wrist. “ Let’s finish this, “ he said, rising and they moved to the closet door. Jared eyed the door handle for a moment. Part of him wishing he really didn’t have to open it.
Ori moved to stand to one side of the closet door, his hand resting on the door knob. Jared stood ready, when the door opened Ori would be covered by the door and Jared would take the brunt of whatever might be inside. He nodded, and Ori opened the door Jared saw nothing inside. Breathing a sigh of relief Jared led the way towards the bathrooms.
By the time Jared and Ori had rejoined the group in the storage room, the lot had been cleared and Ronny had put down the only zombie inside the fence. A skinny drug addict looking guy, who had been hiding towards the back near the storage room..
Jared gazed at the zombie corpse for a moment with no expression on his face. Probably, Jared thought, That was the one that had bitten Arnold. The lot was as secure as they could make it at that point. Jared didn’t waste time he unlocked the doors to his rented storage room and the group began loading everything they thought could be of use into the enclosed trailer.
Jill stared into the building, with something like shock. Then cast a quick puzzled glance at Jared. What in the hell had they been planning that they needed all this. Racks of backpacks, cases of MRE’s and other food stuffs. More rope than most S&M places could use, harness’s, carabineers, pitons, axes, stoves, packages of clothes and much more.
But what really stood out were the cases and cases of Military Ammo boxes stacked in the large room and the gun safes in the back. This entire storage building was like a Militarized outdoors shop. Noticing the looks she was giving the building and himself, Jared smiled at her.
Jared had to grin most of the ammo crates were actually packed with supplies of one kind or another, instead of the ammo they had once held.. But all she saw were labels, like Mortar round HE, or some other nasty sounding ammo type. In truth, there was less ammo here than what he’d kept at home. Much less actually.
“ Business Jill, we sold Firearms, ammo, reloading tools, Die’s, the works to select customers. You’d be amazed at how many people show up for a guided hunt and end up forgetting ammo, or screw up their weapons, or just plain want a new one.” He shrugged “ Besides, I didn’t have enough room to store the excess, so it got stored here.”
“And we were planning on taking over the world, instituting a Woman must go topless, free plastic surgery for ugly people program. But the zombies beat us to the taking over the world part” Ronny commented as he walked past with a crate in his arms.
Jared gave a bark of tense laughter and stopped Rob, who was passing by carrying a crate that was supposed to contain LAWs. He opened the clasp and flipped the lid open, revealing the box contained bandage sealed in plastic. “A friend of mine gives me all the crates, ammo boxes and barrels I want. I use them to store supplies in.”
“Oh,” Jill replied.
Once they had the ammo and weapons loaded, which was much less than Jared wished. But the total count of the groups ammo including what was here in storage was, Five thousand rounds of .223, two thousand rounds each of 7.65 and 5.56, and about five thousand rounds between six different calibers. He wasn’t sure how much extra ammo the guys might have with them.
Every man in the group carried seven magazines and an eighth in the weapon, which came up to 1680 rounds before they started shooting. It sounded like a lot, but in a real firefight or against a massive horde of zombies, they could burn thru the ammo pretty fast.
Even with the extra ammo, they should try to avoid engaging large groups of the Undead or find an intact armory to loot for more ammo. He grinned slightly, any ground pounder always wanted more ammo. But at this point he would settle for an arty battalion and air support. He shrugged slightly, sooner or later they would run out of ammunition, even with the reloading gear.
Jared had everyone go through the stored gear for any equipment they might not have or needed to replace. Mark and Steve put together a full kit for Carol and helped Jill pick out extra gear she didn’t have and wasn’t sure about. Then waited while she transferred her own stuff from the battered old pack and duffel she had started with. All in all it added another half hour to their time in the Lot. Jared, Ori and Ronny stood guard outside the building, watching the slowly increasing numbers of undead that were gathering along the fence line across from the rental room. .
“ We can’t wait much longer” Ori said, watching a Goth dressed Female zombie walk into the fence, its eyes fixed on the people it could see.
Jared turned to Chris and said “make sure the crossbows and the two compound bows are loaded in the trailer too.” Chris nodded and headed back into the storage building with Mark.
As Chris and Mark finished loading the last of the gear, Jared took one of the crossbows and handed to Jill. “ Figure it might come in handy “ Jared said as she eyed the contraption dubiously.
“ So I take these little arrows in that clip thing and load them here “ she asked pointing. She wasn’t stupid, but she had no idea what those things were called or how to use a crossbow
“ Those are called bolts, and yes.” He said then launched into a description of the weapon and how to use it. While the group finished loading Jared her practice cocking and loading the crossbow a few times before he let her put the weapon in the truck. “I’m going to set you up with a rifle later, but for now the cross bow is better and its quiet and even better is the fact we can retrieve the bolts if we have time.” He explained.
“ And it goes with the whole warrior goddess, end of the world, leather dominatrix look” Ronny said as he stood at the door to his truck.
“ Does he ever stop?,“ she asked.
“ Not until Mary has a conversation with him. Which usually leads to him getting slapped upside the head a few times” Jared replied, with a shake of his head. “Most times she just skips the conversation part and moves straight to Gibb slapping him or spanks him.”
“Ah the joys of being engaged, I always thought I’d only be abused once I got married. “ Ronny said, “I am happy to say I didn’t have to wait.”
“ Okay smart ass get in here and get ready to go, ” Mary said from inside the truck. “ When I’m done with you, your picture is going to be in the dictionary under Broken in and totally whipped”
“Only if you promise to spank me, I’ve been bad!” Ronny said with an evil grin that faded as he looked at the fence and the undead who stood on the other side.
“Don’t know who she is fooling his picture has been under that definition, since a week after they started dating” Ori said as he climbed into his truck.
“Okay folks, it’s time to go” Jared called out. “No one groan, but I have a plan.”
Jared’s plan for leaving was simple, the whole group moved to the rear fence and sat there with motors idling all the while talking loudly. He and Ori returned to the manager’s office, entering thru the rear office door, and watched the gate from a window till there was only a small number of undead at the gate. Once that happened, they would alert the trucks who would start for the gates. Jared and Ori would have the gate area cleared and open for the group to pass thru.
“Looks like that’s as thin as its going to get” Jared said counting ten Zombies close enough to the gate to be a problem. Ori was looking stressed again, but that wasn’t unusual for him.
“You know, I can’t stop wondering what happened to Clare” Ori said suddenly.
Jared shook his head looking puzzled. “ Who the hell is Clare?” He asked.
“You know the cute girl with the big boobs that worked here” Ori said. “You mean you never knew her name.”
“I forgot okay. You were the one that haunted the office flirting with her.” Jared said. “ And I wouldn’t worry about her, her car isn’t out front so she at least got out of here. Probably holed up at her house.” Jared pointed out. Ori was silent for a moment, then visibly straightened up as he put on his game face. He is one of the oddest guys Jared thought.
“Ready? “ He asked Ori who shrugged.
“ As Ready as I can be “ Ori replied, his voice strained but steady.
“ Keep it together son, it’s no worse than some of the other shit we have been involved in.” Jared told him calmly.
“ If I remember right, no one was trying to eat us alive back then” Ori pointed out.
“You have a point” Jared admitted, then pushed the button on his radio. “ Stand by moving to the gate now”
The stench got worse as they approached the gate and the ten zombies on the other side. Beyond them, maybe sixty feet back were six more zombies who must have sensed Jared and Ori’s approach or heard them somehow, because they turned slowly and began to shuffle back to the gate.
Since there were only six of them and they were spread out, they would not be much of a threat and wouldn’t reach the gate till the other ten were dead. All in all they were not going to pose much of a threat.
In the back of the lot he could hear motors revving and knew that his group was loaded up and ready to roll. “ Ready” Jared asked. Ori nodded dropping into a combat crouch. Jared opened the lock and as he rolled the gate back Ori began to fire. That was the only signal the group needed, the vehicles were on the move before the second shot was fired. .
“ I really hope Carol can scoot over once she gets here. I’d hate it if she got wedged into the seat by the steering wheel “ Ori said, as he watched a fresh group of zombies appear out of the trees across the road.
“ That was truly insensitive” Jared replied.
“ That’s me, Pappy Sloan Jr.” Ori shot back, grinning his tension gone now that he was committed and in action.
Ronny’s truck led the small convoy through the gate. “ You have a long way to go to match Pappy” Jared replied, fighting the tension that was building in him as more and more zombies appeared. They were all a good safe distance away, but that was no reason to slack off now.
The last two trucks thru the gate slowed, then stopped. Carol opened the drivers door of the Ori’s truck then humped herself across the seat to the passenger side. “ See no problems “ Jared said, Ori gave a slight grin as he jumped in and slammed the door shut, then pulled forward, giving Jill enough room to get Jared’s truck and the Trailer outside and clear of the gate while Jared closed and locked the gate. They might need to come back and get more gear at some point, so there was no sense in leaving the gate standing open..
Jared was uncomfortably aware of how close a few of the zombies were now, as he closed and secured the gate. “ Hurry it up” Jill called out, throwing open the drivers door and then scooting to the passenger side. Jared turned and ran for his truck, actually having to dodge the outstretched arms of one zombie that had somehow gotten ahead of the pack. He leaped into the cab, slammed the pedal down and was accelerating away before his door was shut.
They entered the town of Cedar point around 2pm. Passing a line of burnt out cars and trucks that had been placed bumper to bumper across the road each end anchored on both sides by fence lines that enclosed the fields. Someone had rammed through the barricade at some point and Jared bet it was the Semi, with a trailer that sat a hundred yards past the barricade in a ditch. Its front end was crumpled, one of its front tires was shredded and there were more bullet holes in it, than Bonny and Clyde had sported.
They rolled down the road, past a scattering of fields and farms, All seemingly abandoned. Calling Cedar point a town, was really along the lines of calling a tricycle a motorcycle. At its height, the town had boasted a population of a hundred twenty people. The town proper was only five buildings clustered at the four way intersection.
The paint was peeling on the old McDougals Country store that had once boasted the best roast beef sandwiches in the county. The store had also doubled as the local post office and garage and had been proudly run by four generations of McDougals, according to the sign at any rate.
Next door was a cheap portable building with gas pumps outside, and a four thousand gallon above ground fuel tank. Debbie’s Hair and nail salon, sat across the street, a sign in the window announced a Tanning booth was now available.
The BP station was probably the newest building in the town, and all that really meant was the sign was new, the building dated at least back to the 50’s. “ Pull in and lets check the pumps” Jared called out.
Jared climbed out of the truck and stretched, as he looked around. A soft clunking noise caused him to spin around. He saw Ronny at the old Coke machine. The kind that you just opened the narrow glass door after depositing your money and pulled a drink from the rack, he hadn’t seen one of those since he was a kid. “ Coke does a body good” Ronny said, twisting the top off the bottle.
“ That’s milk does a body good you idiot” Mary said, correcting him. “ He always screws up quotes “
“ Ori, you and Mark clear the store “ Jared said, eyeing the sheriffs sub station across the way. There was one patrol car parked out front, which might mean nothing at all.
“ I’ll get on the tanks” Steve said
“ Try the pumps first, see if there’s a manual pump inside the case. Those things look old enough that there’s no fancy control system” Jared suggested.
“ No problems. I’ll give it a shot” Steve replied.
“ Rob, you and Jill come with me, the rest of you. Keep a damn good look out. We’ve made it this far no sense in getting killed at this late of a date.” Jared said then started towards the patrol car parked in front of the substation.
Crossing the road, Jared stepped onto the gravel lot and walked carefully up to the patrol car, Jill and Rob following behind him. He peered into the patrol car and frowned.
“What?” Rob asked, looking nervous as hell.
“The shotgun’s gone.” Jared said
“Considering what’s going on, I don’t find that odd” Jill commented as she gazed at the low brick building that housed the Sheriffs sub station. Jared shrugged, then climbed up the low set of steps to the double glass door, and peered inside. He could see an overturned desk and papers scattered across the floor, but nothing else past the divider.
“ Looks like it was trashed” Jared said, pushing open the door and stepped inside. Reminding himself that he had two newbie’s with him who didn’t have the first clue how to cover his back much less their own.
Once past the overturned duty desk and the divider, was a wide open space with four doors along the back wall. A total of six desks sat in two rows in the middle of the room. Someone had tipped over the filing cabinets, ripped down posters and just generally trashed the place. In the corner, the body of a husky sheriff’s deputy sat on the floor its back against the wall, a bullet hole in his forehead and surprised look on his face.
“ Damn” Jared said softly. Kneeling next to the corpse he noted the duty pistol was gone as well as all the spare mags for the weapon and the man’s cuffs. But a key ring still dangled from the key fob at the dead man’s waist. Jared unclipped the key chain, and rose looking around.
“ What’s with the keys? “ Rob asked. Jared shrugged,
“ Sheriffs station, guns, confiscated items, emergency gear. Who knows. But I’m guessing whoever killed him did it because he didn’t like cops or he had a grudge against this one. Doesn’t really matter, I guess, not any more. Let’s get to looking for stuff we might need”
By the time the vehicles were fueled up and the gas cans were topped off, they had removed half the emergency kits from the substation, along with two shotguns, six hundred rounds of 12ga Jared was actually thrilled with one of the shotguns, an old Ithaca 10ga. With a hundred rounds. If that wouldn’t drop a zombie or a good sized engine block nothing would.
They left the store untouched at Jared’s urging. He suspected that there were still several people, possibly even families left in the town and he refused to leave them to starve when the group had plenty of food supplies for now.
As they drove out town, Jill pointed at a barn in the field He slowed as he saw the barn that someone had taken the time to paint “ Still alive, heading north. CB Channel 19”
Things had gone smooth, too smooth really. They had managed to avoid Gallatin, and using a back road, that barely deserved the name road, they turned east, just south of Westmorland. By three they were avoiding Red Boiling springs. And crossed the Cumberland river on one of the highest bridges in the state. It would have been a really relaxing and pleasant drive across the misty river valley If not for the few undead wandering along the bridge. None of the zombies survived to reach the other side.
Jared had been waiting for Murphy put in an appearance. He rather suspected that Murphy had been pretty busy screwing with so many people over the last 24 plus hours they had slipped thru the cracks. But as soon as Ronny reported trucks parked across the road, he knew that Murphy had just caught up on his backlog and was now turning his attention to One Jared Stone. The road had been steadily rising up the side of a ridge, with plenty of sharp curves that slowed them down and so narrow they couldn’t have turned around if they had wanted to.
The trucks came a stop thirty feet from the Barricade where armed men waited. With a rock wall on one side and a fairly steep drop into a narrow valley on the other Jared’s people couldn’t turn around if they wanted to. So much for backcountry roads being superior to the interstate Jared thought.
“Get out of the trucks” a Florid faced, potbellied man yelled. “ And throw down your weapons”
“ Ori” Jared said over the Radio and nothing else. Ori was the most underestimated man he had ever met. He was short and wiry, and nervous acting. But he was by and away the calmest man Jared had ever seen under stress. One of the four best shooters Jared knew and was a ghost when he didn’t want to be seen or heard.
There had been a time during one hunting season that someone had bet Ori, he couldn’t sneak up on three other hunters. Ori hadn’t wanted to take the bet, but Jared had. And the result had been interesting to say the least. The three hunters sans rifles had walked two hundred yards out. Across a clearing and settled in a brush line. Once they were settled in, someone had yelled go. Ori leaned into Jared and whispered. “ I’ll be right back” Jared turned to say something, he didn’t remember what now and found the space Ori had occupied empty.
Forty minutes later the three hunters yelled and shot upright. Ori had crawled right up to the one in the middle, poked him in the balls with a stick, and said bang your dead. Jared never even saw a weed move in that clearing.
“ What do we do “ Jill asked.
“ Do what they want us to do for the moment “ I’ll climb down. The rest of you stay in the trucks.” Jared said as he opened the door. He stepped out and began to walk towards the barricade. The man who had spoken was bellowing loudly for everyone else to get out. And for Jared to stop where he was.
Jared suspected they were hoping not to have to shoot up the trucks so they could drive them off to loot. “You can stop shouting, they are staying right where they are. “ Jared said still walking forward. “Look, this is the easy way to deal with this. You put up your weapons and move your trucks and we can talk before heading on our way. Or people start dying.”
“ You’ll be the first one to die” the spokesman shouted. For some reason mouth of Sauron floated thru Jareds mind and he almost smiled at the absurdity of such a random thought.
“Maybe so, but then the rest of you will die” Jared said, holding up a hand and showing them the grenade he held. “ Between this and my partner shooting the survivors, you’ll all end up dead.”
He really prayed Ori was in position already. “Spare me, that’s a fake grenade and none of your dumb ass friends have even gotten out of their trucks.” The mouth said. Jared pointed to the man’s chest. The Mouth looked down and pissed himself as he saw the laser dot over his heart.
“ now my friend is a very good shot, but sadly he doesn’t have a fifty only a little old .308. Shoulder your weapons and move those trucks now” Jared said his voice hard. He smiled coldly as another laser dot appeared on another man, Steve had slipped out while the attention was on Jared and taken up position. “ Your choice Duck or bleed”
They chose to bleed.
Just behind the line of trucks were four downed trees on a slope thick, heavy brush covered the lower section fallen tree trunks. Jared cursed as he saw something move, and sunlight gleamed on dull metal. Rifle barrel, he thought as he more sensed than saw the moment the men at the barricade made their decision. Jared was already moving, tossing the grenade, the mouth had been right about it being fake, and began diving to the side of the road behind a pile of rocks.
The first shot would have hit him if he hadn’t moved, the second one hit the rock sending stone splinters into his cheek. “ Son of a Mongolian sheep herder” Jared swore. Knowing that pappy would have done much better in the attempt.
Ori lay in position, waiting and saw Jared dive clear as a rifle fired. The men at the barricade wasted two precious seconds staring at the grenade that Jared had tossed. Ori shot the spokesman first. There was no expression on his face as the man fell behind the barricade his chest a red ring. His next shot was at the man who had been standing next to Ori’s first target. Mouth opened in a silent screaming O, his target collapsed. Then Steve’s M-4 roared as he joined the fight.
Ori held his fire as most of his friends were now out of their vehicles and returning fire. He watched closely, someone had shot at Jared from hiding. And that’s the man he wanted to take out. Ori’s mind ticked over details, Jared had been looking about there, then he moved and there was a shot. He heard Steve cussing as one of his headlights blew out from return fire..
Ori didn’t rush, he had the sniper hide narrowed down to two possible spots and since the sniper couldn’t seem to range on anyone on the passenger side of the first couple of Vehicles. The angles only supported one. He settled his sights on the brush at the base of the logs and smiled as he saw a rifle barrel poke out. “ Gotcha you son of a bitch” Ori muttered as he pulled the trigger barely noticing the rifle buck against his shoulder.
Then the remaining men behind the barricade were screaming and running, the two men Ori had shot were on their unsteady feet, and staggering after them. “ Holy shit” Ronny yelled. The zombies made it a total of five steps before they ceased to exist a second time and this time there was a lot less of them to hit the ground.
“Low life cheating, evil, flesh eating, son of bitches” Steve ranted, then winced as Bridget tied off the bandage. He had been shot in the upper arm during the fire fight. “ You’re supposed to be bitten, to turn into one of them” He protested less loudly. “ Not just from dying”
The group was gathered on the road, tending wounds and doing the repairs they could manage out of the spare parts each truck usually carried for off roading. It could have been a disaster, Steve had been shot, though it wasn’t as bad as it looked, Mark had been grazed twice, and three trucks had varying degrees of damage but nothing vital thank god.
It wasn’t enough that they had to deal with the dead, but idiot humans were making it worse by attacking their own. Ori, Rob and Eric had searched the trucks and cars that made up the barricade before pushing them off the road to tumble into the narrow valley below.
They had collected several weapons, mostly shotguns and hunting rifles, plus some ammo for each. Oddly the sniper, had been using an M1 Garand. A weapon Jared happened to really like.
Jared was however less than pleased with himself, in the way things played out. But what’s done was done and none of my friends were killed. He sat there wiping at the blood on his cheek. Watching as his friends grappled with the fact that anyone that died from any cause, would rise as zombies. They weren’t thrilled with that knowledge. Jared needed to do something or the entire group was going to lose it. Hell he wanted to lose it himself.
“Makes sense, ” he said finally as all of them turned to look at him. “ Think about it. It started sometime early morning, but spread pretty damn fast and all over the world. And Remember some reports did state the dead were rising.” He paused for a moment and organized his thoughts. “ So think about how many people die every day of natural causes in every town, and every country around the world. And how many are killed by the those that had died naturally.
Paramedics are called to the scene and Billy Bob has had a heart attack and then finally dies. The first thing he does is take a bite out of a paramedic. And maybe a few others before the paramedics get him strapped down and in the ambulance. Other ambulances show up to take the other victims to the hospital.
Then there’s wrecks, cops and paramedics and are on site. A few people die, but for the people who didn’t see them die. They just look ill and warped, but have to be alive since they are moving in the wreckage, and one a few more infected on the way to the hospital. Except in one case, a cop drives himself, and stops for coffee, or because he started feeling bad, he dies and starts attacking the nearest group of people. And now more people are bitten.
Soon the whole damn system is overwhelmed, the hospitals are over run. The undead spill out of the hospitals chewing on every one they can catch. No one wants to shoot infected family members or friends at first, and they get bitten. The remaining cops, paramedics maybe even some doctors and nurses head out of town. Because they know what they are facing at last and don’t want to die. Then the whole thing spirals out of control. Just one in a crowd, how many could it bite before someone shoots it. Two, three, five, More?. And if those five each bite five more people.” He paused to let that sink in then added “ Geometric progression of numbers everywhere.“ Jared said, not thrilled with the idea, but it was the only thing that made sense.
The rest of the group looked stunned, as they considered it. “ But, all we have to do is die, that’s it” Ronny said his sense of humor for once totally absent.
“ That’s it, or at least what it looks like. I mean there wasn’t a bite mark on those guys “ Jared said, turning to look at Rob and Chris who had looked over the corpses. “ Not one sign of a bite, and the way their buddies lit out of here, they weren’t expecting it either. And they would if those two had been bitten. And the sniper Ori shot was coming back to life, or whatever, when we went and checked, no bites on him either”
“ Well ain’t this just some real happy shit” Eric said finally breaking his silence.
“ Well, it’s a shit filled happy meal that’s a fact” Jared said, standing and brushing away Mary’s hand as she tried to tend the wounds on his cheek.
“ This changes everything “ Chris said softly.
“ Bullshit Chris, it changes nothing. It started like this, we just didn’t know it. So we go with not getting bit and worry about the rest when someone kicks over.” Jared looked from one to another. “ Or we just give up right here and eat a bullet, ” he didn’t wait for an answer, he just turned and headed for his truck.
They reached the Sand pits an hour before sunset. After clearing the buildings, They made camp and settled in and spent maybe an hour talking over an MRE Dinner before setting up a watch schedule and retiring for the night. By dawn they were loaded up and on their way again.
Their luck cratered around noon the next day, when they encountered a massive wreck on the bridge they had to cross. Ten or so undead staggered around the wreckage, then drawn to the motors began to head for the trucks.
“That’s the first undead we’ve seen in this area “ Jill said, Jared only nodded as he turned the truck around in the yard of a farm house. “ Head on back the way we came folks, looks like we have to go thru Livingston” Jared said. “ Ronny out front no more than a mile ahead.”
An hour later as they passed thru another town nestled between two high hills and a river, Jared pointed to a nursing home, the grounds were filled with undead that wandered around aimlessly, till the noise of the convoy attracted them. There had never really been a chance that whatever this was hadn’t spread this far out.
Jared wished that Jill talked more, he really didn’t need time to dwell on the situation. Not yet at any rate. But here he was, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was going on. He couldn’t point to any one thing that set off that internal alarm. But there it was ringing its happy ass off.
He glanced at Jill for a second taking in her profile, she wasn’t the same woman from the gym, not anymore. That was a shame really. She was harder, distant but she was what she had to be to survive in the world of today. But he would have to watch her and the others, he didn’t want them cracking up. Not after they had made it this far. But how much farther would they have to go before this nightmare ended. He asked himself, and he had no answer.
He reached over and turned on the CD player, he really didn’t need to spend any more time in his own head.
They rolled into Livingston, to Ac/Dc’s “sink the pink. As good as any other song, as an Apocalypse theme, Jared thought tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. Livingston, was thankfully Lacking in road blocking wreckage and barricades. Here and there he saw a few zombies, but nothing approaching the numbers in and around Nashville. He wondered idly, how Cookeville might have fared. He had no real desire to drive over to the college town and see how many college students were enrolled in Zombie U.
As they approached the center of town, the radio crackled to life. “ You might want to check out the elementary school as you pass, there’s a shit pot of those things clawing at the front door” Ronny said, he was a mile ahead of them scouting out the roads and this was the first time he had called back to them since leaving the sand pits. “ Roger that, ” Jared replied.
“ There it is, ” Jill said a couple of minutes later pointing at the school. Not that she needed to point, only a blind man could have missed it. He slowed and saw a crowd of zombies surrounding a long single story brick building with lots of windows set up high in the wall. The sign by the road declared it an Elementary school.
“Oh shit” Jared muttered, thinking of the hell who ever inside was going through. And there had to be people inside for those things to be so interested in the school they hadn’t noticed the trucks yet. “ Well that that explains why we saw so few when we first rolled in” Jared said eyeing the mob at the school.
“ Hey man what’s up” Ori asked over the radio from where he was bringing up the rear.
“ Some ones in the school” Jared replied watching as Mark and Steve tapped their brakes up ahead and slowed so they didn’t get to far ahead of Jared or the trailer with all their supplies.
“ if your thinking what I think your thinking, hold off for a few and lets get a few miles up the road Jared.” Ronny called back. Jared nodded to himself If they were going to do anything they needed a place to stop and make a plan. .
And as luck would have it, some of the zombies closer to the road had noticed the sound of the motor’s and were finally turning and starting towards the trucks. “ All right, lets go” Jared said accelerating away.
Twenty minutes later, they were parked in a graveled lot off the road and hidden by thick trees. State Highway trucks and equipment were parked haphazardly around the area. Jared had the idea that the workers had just parked where ever in the haste to get to their own vehicles and home as the world ended.
“ You want to rescue them don’t you “ Ronny asked as he climbed from his idling truck looking around for any sign of the undead.
“ We can’t leave a bunch of kids in there to starve or worse if those things get inside,” Jared replied. From his tone of voice, his friends knew he wasn’t going to budge on this.
Not that Ronny didn’t feel exactly the same about it, leaving kids, possibly kids he thought. It could be the Swedish sunbathing team in there. Now that would be awesome. He kept the totally inappropriate smile off his face as he leaned on the hood of his truck meeting Jared’s Green eyes.
“ Not saying I want to Jared and we don’t know that who ever is in there are kids. But how exactly do you propose to get to them. There’s maybe three or four hundred of those things outside. And we aint Special Forces guys with air support and arty on call.” Ronny pointed out. Jill climbed up on the roof of the Jared’s truck and sat down, keeping on eye out for any undead that might appear.
“ And if we do get in there, and there’s more than two or three how are we going to get them all in the trucks.” Ronny continued. Jared looked around for moment thinking. Ronny had a point, a damn good point. If they died trying to get to the survivors in the school, it was over. If they busted in and found out there wasn’t enough room to get the survivors out it was over. And if they just left the survivors behind? Well frankly Jared wouldn’t be able to face himself in the mirror for the rest of his life.
Oh sure he knew he couldn’t save every one. But if he didn’t try, especially for kids, Well that was just damn wrong. “I saw a school bus in a drive way two miles back “ Jill interjected. Jared’s mind raced at that, considering options and discarding them one by one till finally he settled on something that might work.
Ronny glanced at Mary as they drove back into town, followed by Mark and Chris. As they drew even with the schoolyard, they all began to honk their horns. Mary cranked the window down and fired shots into the crowd. Zombies began to turn and head for the trucks, intent on ripping apart the people inside them.
Ronny pulled away slowly, followed by his friends and grinned as they were followed. A sizable knot of the dead remained in front of the school clawing at the windows and doors. Jared and the others will just have to take care of them till we get back he thought as he led the zombies on a slow speed pursuit that not even OJ could have rivaled. He keyed his radio “ we are rapidly crawling away now. Give us ten minutes then go in”
“ Roger that, Good luck” Jared responded
Jared watched from the Passenger seat of Steve’s truck as they rounded the curve and could finally see the School. “ Not to bad” he muttered as he saw only sixty or so of the undead. Ronny had pulled a lot of them away, with his decoy ride.
“ Your definition of not bad and mine are totally different “ Steve said as he looked over the parking lot that was filled with undead. . Jared grinned then looked back to see the school bus was right on their butts. Bridget had volunteered to drive it, since she had at one point been a school bus driver. This was more experience than the others had. Though Ori had argued it couldn’t be any harder than driving a Duece and half.
“ Well lets clear the road” Jared said and braced himself as Steve sped up and bumped over the curb and into the parking lot of the school. He winced as the large truck rolled over Zombies. Trying to ignore the crunch and dry snapping noise of breaking bones. Ori stayed behind the Bus, covering the rear as Bridget stopped on the road waiting till Jared and Steve had cleared a way to the door.
They pulled up under the rain cover that sheltered students from the rain as they left the building to board the buses, there were still ten Zombies standing between the truck and the front doors of the school. As one they turned and staggered for the truck. Jared and Steve donned ear protection and then Jared began to fire into the crowd, dropping the last of the zombies in the doorway.
With the immediate area around the door cleared, they made another pass thru the lot, Steve running over every thing he could reach that moved. As they swung around and headed for the doors again, Bridget pulled into the parking lot and followed the truck at a distance.
The remaining zombies closest to the entrance stumbled thru the hedges at the edge of the parking area and stumbled under the rain Cover. The zombies left in the parking lot were to far at the moment to pose a danger. They seemed to have a hard time navigating between the parked cars. “drop me at the doors, Ill finish off the last ones on foot, then you pull up near the street entrance on this side and keep that area clear. “ Jared said, Steve nodded not happy about this part of the plan.
As they passed under the Rain cover Steve slowed allowing Jared to leap out. Praying this wasn’t a mistake Steve sped away leaving his best friend alone and on the ground.
The smell was incredible; the closest zombie struggled over the bodies on the ground, reaching for Jared. Her slack face twisted with a deep hunger as her mouth pistoned open, half her teeth were broken off at the root. For some reason, he thought she had been a teacher. He slammed the butt of his rifle into her mouth breaking the last of her teeth, the force of the blow sent her flying back to land on her undead ass before he put a bullet into her head.
He shifted to the right and shot down a zombie in Sports shorts and a high school football team t-shirt. The former coach fell heavily. Another zombie tripped over a corpse and fell to the ground. She was, or had been a heavy set woman, who had been gnawed on pretty well, her iron gray hair stood up wildly from her head, and the flower pinned to the label of the old fashioned paisley dress she wore was splattered with blood. “ Mrs. Hartwell” he muttered. Granted half her face was gone, what was left had gravel embedded in it. But she reminded him of his fourth grade teacher, the evil Harpy who had kept all the kids in waking terror of attending school. He shot her down easily, then shot her again just in case.
He had to step carefully over the bodies that littered the ground. A zombie lunged out from between two cars in the Handicapped parking spaces, he fired twice sending it sprawling on the pavement.
“Well at least there’s no clowns” he muttered as he shot down a buck toothed 12 year old zombie, the former nerds now unneeded glasses dangled from its oversized ears. The WWJD tshirt the boy wore was covered in blood. “ rest in peace Kid” Jared said, shaking away the black mood that threatened to overwhelm him as the small frail body fell over. And I’m worried about the others falling apart he thought.
Then suddenly he was at the school doors and began pounding. “ Watch your ass “ Steve said over the radio. “ There’s a group of shamblers on the road coming your way. And some of the ones we ran over aren’t dead yet, just deadish.” Jared beat on the door again harder this time then turned and placed his back against the door.
Steve was doing a good job of taking out the ones that remained in the parking lot, which would buy Jared some time. But all the gunfire would draw ever walking corpse in town sure as hell. Might as well just fill a hot tub with BBq sauce and take a tranq before climbing.
Four feet from him a zombie dragged itself forward, its spine broken from being run over, its jaw dislocated but still snapping as it tried to reach him. He fired a shot and its head exploded. He rammed the butt of his rifle against the door and shouted for them to open up if they wanted to escape. He shot two more crawlers who were dragging themselves over the crushed and mangled bodies in their way. The ten zombies on the road were now staggering into the parking lot. Steve came to a stop and began to shoot out his window. Ori was firing now too, as several zombies rounded the far end of the school building drawn by the gunfire.
Fire flared in Jared’s ankle, white-hot fear shot thru him as he looked down and saw a Zombie was worrying at his ankle. Teeth buried in his boot. He shot it, then shot it again. Panic subsided as he realized it hadn’t managed to bite thru the boot. “Oh thank god” He muttered. If I had been wearing those crappy zip up the side boots, Id be well on my way to zombiehood.
How in the hell had he missed seeing one that close. I won’t make that mistake again he swore to himself as he began looking more closely to make sure there wasn’t another crawler before he turned back to the doors.
“ damn it open the freaking doors” Jared bellowed. He saw more zombies coming from the yards across the street. God knows why they hadn’t been here already but really it didn’t matter. They were heading this way now. The bus finally pulled up rolling over and crushing the last Crawling zombie he could see.
The bus came to a stop, the doors folding back. Jill out of the bus a pistol in each hand covering Jared’s back as he turned and beat on the door again. This time through the glass he saw some one move in the shadow filled hallway.
. Don’t let it be a zombie he thought as he shot out the narrow window next to the door and reached in and pushed the release bar.
“ if there’s any one alive in here, this is your rescue call. “ Jared opened the door and bellowed into the dark hallways.
“ Who are you “ a girls voice asked. Jared relaxed slightly as finally saw the little girl who stood in the shadows clearly.
“ the Calvary, are there any zombies inside with you.” He asked.
“ No” the girl replied
“what about other people, any other kids or adults” Jared asked.
“yes” She replied.
“ Get your friends and come to the front door” Jared said, about ready to walk in and knock them all unconscious.
“ Ms. Harper is sick and we aren’t supposed to talk to strangers” the girl said. Oh hell he thought but kept his frustration from showing as he walked down the hall toward her.
“ We got a slight problem here. but I am dealing with it” Jared said over the radio.
“ We have a problem too, seems the sounds of shooting and breaking glass was more interesting to the walking pus bags behind us. Most of them are heading back your way.” Ronny responded.
“ Oh that’s just great and I blew out a window. So its either get them out now or leave them to die.” Jared said
“ Get er done” Mark said. Jared could almost see the wild grin on the mans face.
“ Look is Ms. Harper awake” Jared asked the girl
“no” she said again
“ Can I see her.” Jared asked
“ No” the girl replied, you could tell from her voice she was terrified.
Son of a bitc…. He chopped the thought off. But before he could say anything else another voice came from down the right hand hallway.
“ Sally get in here. Mister, I got a gun and I can use it. Walk to the intersection and keep your hands were I can see them.”a teen age male said. He sounded shaky and his voice rose to high and broke
“ Look we don’t have a lot of time. Im here to get you out, all of you.” Jared said as he looked back through the front doors to make sure they were still clear.
Jared stopped in the intersection. Peering down the shadow filled hallway, he saw a boy maybe 14 with a pistol pointed at him. The boys narrow face was pinched with fear. Jared center slung his weapon and knelt on one knee Ignoring the sudden fusillade of gunfire from outside.
“ Come on Kid, let’s go” Jared said softly. “ I’m really here to save you.” The boy was shaking, and then nodded in relief, as tears started sliding down his cheeks, Jared could almost see the hope that flared in his eyes.
“ Sally you and Jenny get the kids together and get them into the hallway. Ill go get the others. “ the boy said turning his head to look into the doorway behind him, where Sally and the others sheltered.
“ How many do you have with you” Jared asked the shaken young teen,
“ twenty five” the boy answered then ran down the hall and vanished around a corner.
In moments Sally, a tiny seven year old blond girl, led the other children into the hall, they held hands and were obviously badly scared, flinching every time a weapon fired outside. Jared felt his heart go out to them. Then forced the emotion away. Now was not the time.
“ Id hurry it up Jared” Jills voice cracked out of the radio. “ We are getting more and more showing up”
“ Roger that hold em if you can. If not leave me” Jared replied.
“ We aren’t leaving you” Steve said hotly.
“To hell you aren’t. Someone has to come back and get me when they surround the place. Won’t do much good to have all the calvary inside” Jared replied.
“ Boss those things are everywhere, coming out of the woodwork” Rob said suddenly breaking in. He and Eric were positioned down the road, where they were supposed to keep the escape route open.
“ You have maybe five minutes Jared, before a few hundred hungry, really pissed off, mostly dead folks get in the parking lot.” Steve said. “ So speed it up”
Jared suddenly felt a cold chill as what the girl, sally, had said finally registered with him. Ms. Harper was sick. Oh shit, he thought as he rose and strode towards the children. “ I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to check on Ms. Harper” Jared said as the kids shrank back from him. “ You go wait at the intersection for me.” He said as he stepped past them into the classroom.
Ms. Harper, lay on some nap mats. She seemed to be asleep. “ What are you doing? “ The boy with the pistol asked from the doorway.
“ Just checking on your teacher.” Jared said smoothly
“Don’t hurt her” the boy said flatly obviously willing to shoot Jared if he even thought that the teacher who had saved these kids was in danger.
“ If she dies, she will come back as one of them” Jared said gently.
“ she wasn’t bit” the boy protested. Jared didn’t argue the point, there was time for that later.
“ What happened to her?” Jared asked.
“ She fell and hit her head.” The boy said, which at least was more helpful.
“When did it happen” Jared asked about tired of having to ask a question for every little thing.
“Earlier, when a bunch of trucks came thru. Guess it was you guys. She stacked some desks and climbed up to look out the window to wave at you, and the desks fell.” The kid said, pointing to the tumbled desks below the high narrow windows.
Jared felt a bit of relief at that, then knelt and lifted the slender, and very cute in a Sandra Bullock sort of way, woman to his chest. Now would be the time she dies and rips out my throat he told himself.
“ Jared if you and those kids are going to be leaving you need to get on this bus right now” Jill called out. The gunfire outside was almost steady now. “ Ronny and the rest are back, but that huge crowd, they led off are just down the road. We can see them now.”
“ Let’s go kids’ Jared said, walking from the room carrying Ms. Harper. He headed for the front doors with twenty-five crying and terrified kids, trailing in his wake. He stepped outside and passed the teacher to Jill who was in the process of reloading her pistol.
“ I’ve got it Jill, you take her.” Jared said. Jill nodded and carried the woman onto the bus.
He turned to the children “ get on the bus kids, ” he said unslinging his rifle and began picking targets. He felt a flicker of surprise as he noted the number of undead. They were coming from every house, and store in sight. A wave of rotting flesh preceding the even larger crowd they had drawn off earlier with the diversion. The gunfire, the damned gunfire had drawn in every zombie in the area.
“ Remember when I said, leaving your house was the best way to avoid large numbers of these things, well, I was wrong” Ori said over the radio.
“ My testicles for a Napalm strike” Jared muttered.
“ I can shoot mister” the Boy. Said appearing at Jared’s side. “ I really can” he insisted desperate to be of some use. “ Been shooting since I was a kid, and had to shoot the Cafeteria lady when she killed Mr Johnson” Jesus Jared thought then nodded towards the Bus.” What’s your name?” Jared asked not needing the distraction not at the moment.
“Ben” the kid replied, trying not to show his fear.
“ Well, Ben, I need you to get on that bus and be ready to protect the kids. They know and trust you” Jared replied, giving the Ben a glance. Ben waffled for a second. Brave kid that one Jared thought.
“ I will, I promise” Ben said as he ran to the bus and started helping to get the scared kids on board. Jared lifted his rifle and began servicing targets again.
“ Holy shit” Steve said suddenly over the radio. “ Maintenance shack, left side. Some guy was hiding in there, the idiot is trying to make the bus.”
Jared cursed, whoever that guy was he was on the wrong side, there were at least thirty zombies that way. “ I’ll cover him” Steve said.
“ No, that uncovers the road. We can’t risk it. I will handle it” Jared said as he ran to the front of the bus and began to lay down fire. Jill, thank god had the kids still waiting to get on the bus turned away from the scene. The man tried to go wide around the group of zombies between him and safety. Jared ran dry and ejected the spent magazine and slapped in another. He knew it was too little too late, but he was going to try no matter the outcome. The Man, whoever he was, had almost gotten free. But his luck ran out, he stumbled and went to one knee, that one second cost him his life.
Jared dropped the first zombie, then the second. But four more managed to close the distance and piled onto the screaming man. Jared stood there for a heartbeat, looking into the pleading eyes of the poor bastard and then put a bullet into the mans head, hoping that some one would do the same thing for him if it came to it.
He continued shooting down the zombies, thinning the horde and buying time and space for the last of the kids to get on board the bus. But there were more undead and like the tide the horde swept closer and closer.
If this took much longer there would be way too many on the road to get thru easily. The trucks were jacked for off roading, so he wasn’t too worried about Centering out. But the bus, it would never make it thru a huge crowd of those things.
Luckily, the largest concentrations of zombies were coming from the direction opposite the one the group would be going.
“Jared, the kids are loaded. We need to haul butt “ Jill shouted from the bus.
“ Now would be a good time, to get the hell out of dodge Hoss” Ronny said over the radio. Jared looked and saw that all the kids were on the bus and Jill was sitting with the teacher. No doubt ready to put a bullet in her the second she opened milk white-eyes.
“ Mounting up now” Jared replied as he ran to Steve’s truck and climbed in. Steve popped off a few more rounds, then leaped into the driver’s seat and in seconds they were in motion. Jared fell back into the seat and breathed a sigh of relief. “ I really hope not to do that again any time soon” he said.
They stopped only long enough for Jared to get back behind the wheel of his own truck, Sharon gladly returning to Marks truck. Two minutes later they were leaving the Town of Livingston and its undead to their own devices.
From Livingston they had to switch roads repeatedly driving up into Kentucky then Driving back into Tennessee using the roads that went thru the National forest.
Before the Zombies, this area had been sparsely populated, but you would see the occasional driver, or farmer running his tractor thru fields. But not today, today there wasn’t a soul in sight. They stopped only once to strip an ambulance they found on the side of the road, its doors open and blood all over the back. They debated on taking it with them, but in the end decided it would draw too much attention to their convoy.
By five they turned down the narrow, rutted path that served as a road to the camp, trees scrapping the sides of the vehicles. Bridget was sweating by the time they reached the clearing where the cabins sat. She had almost gotten stuck twice, but in the end, Steve had come up from behind, locked into four low and pushed the bus out of the rut that wanted to keep it.
The bus had barely made it the last mile; tree limbs had scraped the hell out of its sides. It had almost gotten centered at one point, but it had made it a bit worse for the wear. As Jared slid from the from his truck and watched Ori and Steve run for the tree line with the duffle bags containing the perimeter alarm systems. It wouldn’t stop a zombie, but the loud shriek each unit emitted when the trip wire was sprung would wake the dead. Well, wake Jared and the others up, at any rate. The dead didn’t seem to be interested in sleeping anymore.
The bus came to a stop next to him and the doors folded back. “ How’s the teacher, ” he asked Bridget.
“ Awake, Jill used smelling salts on her. So maybe she isn’t going to die” Bridget replied.
Jared nodded. “ Let’s park that thing by the main Cabin. Get the kids ready while I clear the building, ” he said.
Jared walked to the porch of the main cabin and found it locked. Which was a good sign, assuming that no one had slipped thru the windows and died inside. With that thought in mind he walked slowly around the cabin peering into the few windows and saw nothing. Even the canoes they had left last trip were still chained in place on the rack behind the cabin.
Returning to the porch, he unlocked the door with his key and stepped into the large living room and looked around. It didn’t look as if anyone else had been inside since they had last been here in late May. The bathroom door stood open, as did one of the two bedroom doors downstairs. He knocked on the closed door, and listened but there was only silence. He refused to assume that the place was empty. That’s when he would get bit in the ass and have to drag a lock jawed zombie around till he died.
Jared opened the door slowly and breathed slightly easier finding the room was empty.
He worked his way upstairs and threw open the first bedroom door and then checked the closet. Then it was the last door’s turn. He threw the door open, and stepped back rapidly as a figure lunged forward its crooked hands grasping at him.
Jared snapped off a shot that missed. Swearing, he pivoted on his left heel and smashed his rifle butt into the zombie’s head. Bones shattered under the blow and the body of Kelly Boyle, the man who was supposed to maintain the cabins dropped to the floor and didn’t move again. Jared heard boots pounding up the stairs and Ronny shouting questions. “ It’s all clear now, ” he called out as he knelt and rolled the corpse over. There were still strips of tape and some gauze hanging from the Boyd’s shoulder that had once covered the gaping bite wound. “ Be careful there might be more around here, ” he said unnecessarily.
They found Boyd’s truck in the barn where he had parked it. There was blood on the seat. thankfully Boyd had been the only zombie on the property. He must have been bitten in town and drove up here to hide. Jared decided, shaking his head. That would suck to die alone, not even knowing if you were the last person left on the planet.
The kids sat huddled together in the living room area. Some crying softly. Beth Harper, still unsteady sat with them telling them stories trying to calm them. She kept glancing up at the men and women who had saved her and the children. Jared again felt anger at the story she had shared with Jill on the ride up here. She saw him watching and gave him a shaky smile.
He gave her a tight smile in return, but the anger he felt refused to go away. Seeing the look on Jared’s face, Ori knew exactly what his best friend was thinking about.
“ I still can’t believe those ass holes ran off and left their students behind.” Ori said softly.
That wasn’t exactly true, they knew that. But the last few days had drained them, leaving them angry, bitter and frustrated not to mention scared though they never spoke of it. They masked their feelings with black humor where possible, or misplaced anger.
The truth was there had been many that had fled the school, but not all. Beth had explained in detail how Beverly Fletcher a fellow teacher and three others had commandeered school buses, loading as many kids as they could and escaping, Beverly had been the last and waited as long as she could, getting as many students on board before having to flee undead hanging on the bus as it drove away leaving Beth and her students alone.
“ All but her” Ronny said, jerking a thumb at Beth. “ her and a teen age kid that ran over there to help after having to get a gun off a corpse and shot a woman.”
There were times Jared was surprised at Human behavior even when he shouldn’t be. But this, he felt the anger start its slow burn. As he pictured the scene in his mind, terrified children left standing at the doors as the last bus took off fleeing the zombies that swarmed the parking lot.
In some ways he understood, and he didn’t doubt that many of the teachers and school employees had died trying to help and that the survivors had probably stayed as long as possible trying to get kids out. He didn’t want to admit it to himself but he hated them for failing. He hated the last few who had seen the futility and had fled knowing there was nothing else they could do to save the kids still trapped inside.
He was shaking with anger as he thought about how the kids had seen friends, and parents being ripped apart as they tried to get to the doors and to their trapped kids. But when the last bus had vanished into the distance and the last parent had died the dead had turned and came for those kids and only one teacher and scared shitless but very brave teen-ager named Ben had stood between them and death. Steve had come up quietly and wrapped a thick arm around Jared’s shoulder.
“ Chill brother, every one of those ass hats are dead now. And we wont let those kids down. My word on it” Steve said quietly.